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Activists Demand Nazi regime Release Ahed Tamimi

Human rights defenders rally for Ahed Tamimi in Washington, DC’s Union Station. [Staff Photo Phil Pasquini]

Some 50 human rights defenders rallied inside Washington, DC’s Union Station during the Jan. 10 evening commute, calling on Israel to release Ahed Tamimi and all Palestinian children from Israeli prisons and detention centers. At least 400 Palestinian children are presently being held in Israeli jails. Often arrested during the night, no family member is allowed to even speak to the child—who, once in custody, often is subjected to physical, psychological and verbal abuse and humiliation.

Tamimi was arrested in her home in Nabi Saleh in a pre-dawn raid on Dec. 19. The previous day, a video of the 16-year-old slapping an Israeli soldier outside her home, following the point-blank shooting of her 14-year-old cousin in the face by Israeli soldiers, went viral on the Internet.

Chanting “Free, Free Palestine,” “We want justice for Ahed” and “Not another nickel, not another dime—No more money for Israel’s crimes,” many activists held signs reading “Free Ahed” and “Stop the Show Trial.”

An array of groups sponsored the event, including Code Pink, Jewish Voice for Peace, American Muslims for Palestine, American Friends Service Committee, U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights and Veterans for Peace.

—Elaine Pasquini


Human rights defenders rally for Ahed Tamimi in Washington, DC’s Union Station. [Staff Photo Phil Pasquini]


Human rights defenders rally for Ahed Tamimi in Washington, DC’s Union Station. [Staff Photo Phil Pasquini].


Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZI, Human Rights0 Comments

Why tobacco is legal, but cannabis is not?



In the 1700s, cannabis and tobacco were both regularly grown crops.

In the 1800s, the same.

In the earliest part of the 1900s, the same.

Cannabis was to use to make rope and clothe and a new method for making it into paper was invented. It was also used – in tincture form, not smoked – as a medicine.

And then, after Prohibition was repealed, it was made illegal and became the biggest make-work program for cops and prison guards imaginable.

Posted in USA, Health0 Comments

Contextualising sexual harassment

Sexual harassment

By Lawrence Davidson

Primitive instincts

Sigmund Freud published his book Civilisation and Its Discontents in 1930. Having witnessed World War I, Freud knew that discontent was part and parcel of the human condition. The question he sought to answer was why that was so.

The short answer he came up with goes like this:

Human beings have instinctual drives such as sex and violent aggression – expressions of the identity. Left unchecked they would destroy any hope of settled life and high culture. According to Freud, civilisation is the vehicle humans have created to control these inherent drives. Civilisation and its various component cultures create rules and regulations – as well as feelings of remorse and guilt (expressions of a culturally attuned superego) – that result in either suppression or sublimation of these primitive drives.

However, the results are not perfect, especially when it comes to controlling violent aggression. Indeed, as a consequence of the mass slaughter that was World War I, Freud came to the conclusion that human beings have a deep and permanent “death wish”. Even at less drastic levels of aggression, most societies experience frequent episodes of domestic violence, and a high degree of across-the-board neuroses.

In the Freudian scheme, control of the instinctual sexual drive (itself another form of aggression) is supposed to be a bit easier. Eros can be sublimated into the creation of beauty (art) as well as various intellectual achievements. Yet here too, what has evolved are imperfect controls, especially when encapsulated in cultures that promote male domination.

If one does not like Freud’s ideas, the whole issue of the activation and control of aggression and sex can be looked at in terms of brain function. In other words, our brains have evolved to promote survival and reproduction – originally in the pre-state, pre-tribal primate bands of distant prehistory. These tasks involve multiple parts of the cortex and amygdala, thalamus and hypothalamus, and so forth. There is one area of the brain that is particularly important in keeping instinct from running amok – the prefrontal cortex. Slow to mature (it is not fully on line until one’s mid-twenties) it is this part of the brain that exercises “executive function”. It encourages you “to do the right, though perhaps harder, thing”.

The role of culture

Despite the fact that the physical manner in which most individuals experience these primitive and instinctual drives is similar, culture makes a difference in how aggression and sexual urges are expressed. For instance, most of the world’s cultures are patriarchal. That is, they overtly assign authority, both in the public and private realms, to men. Men are supposed to exercise that authority within the confines of their culture’s rules and regulations. Sometimes these are relatively strict, damping down the “macho” impulses that rationalise aggressive physical and sexual behaviour. More often they condone or even encourage “macho”.

Keep in mind that the assignment of authority is the assignment of power, and power is the ability to act with aggression. Thus, in a patriarchy, it is with men that the issue of control is most immediate. If there are not sufficient mechanisms within such cultures that identify specific aggressive behaviour as unacceptable, or promote public shaming, or just generate a heck of a lot of remorse and guilt, you are going to have high degree male recklessness – everything from schoolyard bullying to criminal violence, as well as the sexual “acting out” we now see as not just rape, but also sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment as a worldwide problem

The common definition of sexual harassment is as follows: “uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behaviour of a sexual nature especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate (such as an employee or student)”. The legal definition in the US pertains chiefly to the workplace, where the unwelcome approach has the connotation of blackmail – something like, “Do this with me or you won’t get promoted.” There are also a myriad number of state and local laws that cover a wide range of situations. Many of these have been on the books only since the 1960s and, unfortunately, are not uniformly enforced.

It is hard to get exact numbers unless you start adding up the results of hundreds of surveys and polls that address the whole range of harassment-related situations. And these only give you the approximate numbers of reported incidents. Time Magazine had a series of particularly scandalous cases at Cornell and Harvard Universities in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and came up with an estimate that “as many as 18 million American females were harassed sexually while at work in 1979 and 1980”.

If this estimate is anywhere near accurate, the problem of sexual harassment has to be huge. We know it can’t be just a US problem. It has to be a worldwide phenomenon.

Sad to say, such a horrid diagnosis should not be surprising if sexual aggression stems from evolution-based drives and societal accommodation to this primal instinct through the encouragement of machismo male characteristics.

What to do?

If in nothing else, Freud was correct in seeing that culture is, albeit imperfectly, our only plausible line of defence. It takes on this role by serving as a guide for the prefrontal cortex – a guide to the “right, though harder, thing to do”. The problem is that, to date, patriarchal cultures have not defined the protection of the subordinate gender as a necessarily “right” thing. They are more interested in directing male aggression into pathways compatible with patriarchal power structures. In other words, the guide is corrupt.

Although this is the way it is, it is not the way it has to be. It is possible to reshape cultural concepts. For better or worse, religions and empowered ideologies have been doing this for a long time. However, their targets have not been male aggression, sexual or otherwise.

But now we may have a window of time when this important subject can be rethought – rethought to the end of improving the cultural assistance given to the mature prefrontal cortex. Along these lines, here are some potential steps to consider. All should be pursued in a non-ideological way. Let’s keep religion and politics out of these efforts, and let science and evolutionary awareness be our tutors.

— Educate both men and women about the nature of the primitive instincts they are subject to. As it is, most individuals grow up without having a clue about what they are experiencing. Explain the need to manage these instinctual urges in reasonable ways. Explain that this means maintaining responsible cultural values.

— Sexual egalitarianism should be implemented by law and then taught as “what is right” from kindergarten through college. The gender biases inherent in patriarchy should be seen as part of an unfortunate past history – like racism.

— Devise instructional lessons to prepare young folks for serious relationships and marriage based on egalitarian principles. Such lessons should be at least as detailed as those needed to get a driver’s license.

— Use the media to create a popular cultural environment that strongly condemns sexual harassment and other forms of aggression. The media should encourage serious remorse among bullies and harassers.


Do these suggestions sound like some civil authority should be allowed to shape how we think? Sorry, but in every culture, past and present, something like that has always been the case. You can also safely assume that those primitive instincts have always been playing with your mind.

And what have all the age-old, status quo cultural rules brought us so far? Civilisation? Well, perhaps. But it is a civilisation that still suffers periodic outbreaks of aggressive violence and rationalises a tradition of unwanted sexual behaviour abetted by patriarchal values. Not surprisingly, current laws, as they reflect the current state of culture, haven’t been very effective in holding either form of aggression back.

Now that the sexual harassment genie seems to have escaped the bottle, we can see the problem more clearly. It’s time to pursue serious culture renovation – to take on those primitive instincts and thoughtfully develop better, non-doctrinaire cultural ways to manage them. One thing is for sure, they are not going to go away on their own.

Posted in Politics0 Comments

The Devastating Impact of Plastic Waste: David Attenborough, Britain and “Environmental Missions”



Featured image: Sir David Attenborough (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Few documentaries have had quite this impact, so much so that it has ushered in the unfortunate combination of war and plastic, two terms that sit uneasily together, if at all.  Tears were recorded; anxiety levels were propelled as Sir David Attenborough tore and tugged at heart strings in his production Blue Planet II.  The oceans, warned the documentary maker, is becoming a toxic repository, and humans are to blame. 

More than eight million tons of plastic eventually finds an oceanic destination.  Decomposition will take centuries.  For Attenborough, one scene from the series stood out. 

“In it, as snowflakes settle on the ground, a baby albatross lies dead, its stomach pierced by a plastic toothpick fed to it by its own mother, having mistaken it for healthy food.  Nearby lies plastic litter that other hungry chicks have regurgitated.”   

For Attenborough, plastic supplies a certain demonology for the environmental movement, a vast and urgent target that requires mass mobilisation and action.

“There are fragments of nets so big they entangle the heads of fish, birds, turtles, and slowly strangle them.  Other pieces of plastic are so small that they are mistaken for food and eaten, accumulating in fishes’ stomachs, leaving them undernourished.”

To firstly declare war against something deemed valuable, even indispensable, to preservation, distribution and storage over a multitude of products, to name but a few purposes, is lofty.  To also identify the casus belli against the inanimate again finds haunting resonance with other failed conflicts: the war against drugs, for instance, or that against terrorism. Will this war go the same way?

Guilty consciences are powerful motivators, and fewer guiltier than the affluent, or mildly affluent.  Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May is one, a figure who has decided to embrace the environmental cause with vote grabbing enthusiasm.

“In the UK alone,” she intoned, “the amount of single-use plastic wasted every year would fill 1,000 Royal Albert Halls.”

May’s direction is far from surprising.  There is Attenborough propelling a movement, and there are the votes that went begging in 2017.  A Tory think-tank, Bright Blue, found that many who refused to vote for her party in the last general election considered environmental initiatives key.  Its polling “shows that climate change is the second highest issue younger people want senior politicians to discuss more, second only to health, and actually the top issue for 18- to 28-year-olds.”

In getting on the cart against plastic, May has attempted, unconvincingly, to reassure critics that moving Britain out of the EU would not result in a lowering of environmental standards.  Britannia will remain responsible.  Her government, she spoke with confidence at London Wetland Centre, would “leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it”. 

What Sir David says, goes, though May has suggested a slow approach that would eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042.  (What, then, is unavoidable?  The question remains unanswered.)  “Plastic-free” aisles are to be encouraged; taxes and charges on takeaway containers are being proposed.  None of these, it should be noted, entails Parliamentary regulation, retaining the old British approach of gradualism in action. No revolutions, please.

Supermarket chains smell climbing profits, luring the ecologically minded to shelves and fridges like willing prey.  One such outlet is Iceland, a chain that wasted little time getting on the radio and airwaves to ride the green belt.  Targets have been advertised, and it promises to remove plastic packaging from all its own labelled products over the next five years.  Even better, goes the fine print, it will enable those with less heavily laden wallets to shop and stay green.

Companies such as Proctor & Gamble, makers of Head & Shoulders Shampoo, have collaborated to produce a recycled shampoo bottle using plastic found in beaches.  This, in turn, pads out it advertising campaigns.  Use our shampoo, and feel good about yourself.

The guilty consciences were whirling and emoting on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday as callers spoke of efforts to spend a week free of plastic, but ignobly failing before their friends, neighbours and fellow citizens, all of whom had managed to go one day further.  There were accounts about how French and German supermarkets ensure that fruits and vegetables are free, emancipated from the confines of plastic, and, it would seem, ready to salve the conscience of the green consumer.

In Britain, Attenborough’s environmental influence has become priestly for such individuals as Oswestry schoolteacher Mandy Price.  She has roped her daughter in as well in what has become a social media campaign featuring #doitfordavid, shared 125,000 times within a matter of hours.

“It has been shared on every continent apart from Antarctica,” praises Emily Davies of the Border Counties Advertiser.

This arms race of satisfying a bruised conscience has an undeniable merit in so far as it acknowledges some of the disastrous consequences of humanity’s addiction to the accessible and the easy.  Ambitious Mandy, for instance, speaks of her Facebook page “receiving photographs from lots of different people who are collecting plastic, even from holidaymakers in Cuba who have seen the posts and have recorded their own two-minute beach clean on the beautiful oceans there.”

But within such wars lie the seeds of, if not failure, then the coming of another problem.  In the British case, enduring snobbery is pointed to.  In Australia’s Northern Territory, environmental groups conceded in dismay that a ban single-use plastic bags less than 35 microns in thickness introduced in 2011 had not reduced plastic bag litter at all. On the contrary, the amount had increased.

This is a battle against human behaviour, against patterns of consumption and use in the human estate. It is, if nothing else, an attempt at behavioural adjustment and revolution.  Such a tall order, such a mission, but one that provides Mandy with rosy affirmation rather than dimming scepticism. 

Posted in Health, UK0 Comments

Is Bitcoin a Reaction to US Dollar Hegemony?


Blockchain technology and the birth of the so-called cryptocurrencies finds deep roots in three contributing factors: the advance of technology: the manipulation of global economic and financial rules; and the persistent attempt to weaken the national economies of countries that geopolitically challenge the US power system. In this first article I address these issues from a financial point of view, in the next analysis I intend to dive into the geopolitical aspects and broader the perspective on how Russia, China and other nations are taking advantage of a decentralized financial system.

Many national economies seem to have begun the process of protecting themselves from what seems like an inevitable economic trend. De-dollarization — dumping dollars for other goods of value — has become popular not only with countries but also with ordinary individuals as a result of global technological growth and increasing access to the Internet. The financial markets are generally reflecting this same trend.

The US dollar is the world’s most dominant reserve currency. The planning and financial rules that accompany this situation are decided in the United States for the benefit of Washington and a few of her allies. This has been reflected in the creation of the petrodollar, the abolition of the gold standard, and the most recent financial crisis of 2008, with the senseless process of quantitative easing. All these economic decisions have been made with the precise aim of prolonging American domination of the global economy, artificially propping up an unsustainable financial system.

The practical consequences of this unsustainability have led over time to thoughts of a practical alternative, both to escape from the domination of the dollar and to re-anchor the economy to real value. The need to circumvent this situation has become especially urgent for countries with a large amount of dollar-denominated debt, or where they face the prospect of being excluded from the SWIFT international payment system.

It is therefore not accidental that countries like Iran and Venezuela, but also Russia and North Korea, have resorted to alternative methods to operate in the global economic space. Washington’s political decision in 2012 to remove Iranian banks from SWIFT immediately set off alarm bells for several countries. The need to escape from the possibility of being excluded from SWIFT became urgent for countries under the threat of Washington. An alternative payment system was thus born in 2015, christened the Cross-Border Interbank Payments System (CIPS), unsurprising founded by China. Basically a copy of the SWIFT system, it serves the role of being a backup system should the Americans seek to exclude from SWIFT recalcitrant countries. A more radical solution has been sought by Venezuela, with the country creating its own virtual currency. President Maduro has announced the creation of a crypto state currency based on the value of oil and supported by barrels of oil worth over five billion dollars. Venezuela has been forced to take this step because of a scarcity of US dollars in the country brought on by the economic warfare visited on the it by Washington, which has succeeded in driving the country into a deep crisis.

This search for fresh liquidity is a gamble for Maduro, who even hopes to be able to trade with allied countries in the new currency, thus circumventing international bans. Even North Korea is said to operate in bitcoin, thereby circumventing the international system of prohibitions and blockades.

The sanctions on Russia, and the influence that Washington exerts with the dollar on the global economic system, has led Moscow and Beijing to a de-dollarization agreement, establishing the yuan gold standard. Russia sells hydrocarbons to China, which pays for them in yuan, then Russia immediately converts the yuan into gold at the Shanghai Gold Exchange, in the process bypassing Washington’s sanctions.

This situation is being replicated in country after country. The United States increases financial and economic pressure on countries through such international bodies as the IMF and the World Bank, then these countries organize amongst themselves to push back against the interference. Technology has facilitated this strategy of decentralization against the center that is London and Washington, the financial heart and primary cause of manifold global problems. Firstly, the possibility of the unlimited printing of dollars has distorted global economies, inflating stock markets and causing national debts to grow out of control. Even the gold markets are manipulated by virtue of the abundance of easy money and such ponzi-scheme tools as derivatives and other forms of financial leverage. All too predictably, as seen in 2008, if it all comes crashing down, the central banks are going to bail out their partners through the mechanism of quantitative easing, guaranteeing unlimited cashflow and leaving taxpayers, along with the small players in the financial markets, to carry the burden.

It is probably too early for the common man to understand what is happening, but in fact the dollar is depreciating in relation to some more tangible assets. But gold continues to be corralled by parallel financial mechanisms and other financial instruments created for the sole purpose of manipulating the financial markets on which the common man depends in search of modest gains. As with others, the gold market suffers from the combine power of the US dollar, centralized financial institutions and market manipulation. Entities such as the FED (and their owners), criminally colluding and working with private banks, hedge funds, rating agencies and audit companies, have made immense wealth by driving the world into a debt scam that has stripped normal citizens of their future.

What is happening in the cryptocurrency markets in not only occurring in parallel with the spread of the Internet, smartphones and the increasing ability to operate in the digital world, but is also seen as a safe haven from centralized financial regulators and central banks; in other words, from the dollar and fiat currencies in general. Whether bitcoin will prove to be a wise long-term investment is yet to be seen, but the concept of cryptocurrencies is here to stay. The technology behind the idea, the blockchain, is a definitive model for decentralized economic transactions without any intermediary that can manipulate and distort the market at will. It is the antidote to the debt virus that is killing our society and spreading chaos around the world.

Washington is now left to deal with the consequences of its demented actions against its geopolitical adversaries. The decision to remove Iran from the SWIFT system, and the ongoing economic war against Russia and Venezuela, have pushed the People’s Republic of China to obviate any direct attacks on its financial system by creating an alternative economic system. The goal is to warn the United States and her allies that an economic alternative exists and is already operational, ready to be opposed to the Euro-American system if necessary. Washington does not seem to want to renounce the role of manipulator and ruler of world speculative finance, and the obvious result of this is the creation of a financial system that is slowly working against the current one. Lack of anonymity and the centrality of systems seem to be the two fundamental elements of the current financial system that orbits around London and Washington. An anonymous, decentralized and technologically reliable system could be exactly what Washington’s geopolitical adversaries have been looking for to end the US-Dollar hegemony.

Posted in Politics, World0 Comments

“Fractures, Fears and Failures:” World’s Ruling Elites Stare into the Abyss

Next week will see some 2,500 bankers, hedge fund managers, corporate CEOS, government officials and celebrities descend once again on the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Paying $55,000 a head as the price of admission, one could well assume that the representatives of the financial and corporate oligarchy drawn to the annual meeting, and the lavish parties that accompany it, have a lot to celebrate.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index published last month established that the fortunes of the world’s wealthiest 500 billionaires—many of whom will be in attendance—rose 23 percent over the past year, making them $1 trillion richer than at the end of 2016. And the obscene amounts of wealth keep rolling in, with the Dow closing at 26,000 Wednesday, recording its fastest ever 1,000-point rise.

Yet the principal report issued as the basis for the four days of meetings and closed-door discussions presents a picture of a global ruling elite living in mortal fear that growing economic and social crises, and, above all, the threat of world war and social revolution, may rob them of not only their fortunes, but their heads as well.

Titled “Fractures, Fears and Failures,” the WEF’s 2018 Global Risks Report includes subheads such as “Grim Reaping,” “The Death of Trade,” “Democracy Buckles,” “Precision Extinction”, “Into the Abyss”, “Fears of Ecological Armageddon” and “War without Rules.”

The report was drafted in conjunction with a survey conducted among nearly 1,000 banking and business executives, government officials and academics, which found that 93 percent of them feared a worsening of confrontations between the major powers in 2018. Fully 79 percent foresaw a heightened threat of a major “state-on-state” military conflict. The report cited both the confrontation between the US and North Korea, which has created the greatest threat of nuclear war since the height of the Cold War, and the increasingly complex inter-state conflicts produced by Washington’s military intervention in Iraq and Syria.

The fears of global war are well-founded. Last month, US President Donald Trump presented his new National Security Strategy, targeting Russia and China as “revisionist powers” standing in the way of the US assertion of global hegemony, and outlining an aggressive first-strike nuclear war policy, including against adversaries using conventional or cyber weapons.

This policy has been further fleshed out by a draft Nuclear Strategic Posture document to be unveiled by Trump later this month calling for the development of new smaller and more “usable” nuclear weapons for deployment on battlefields in Eastern Europe and Asia, making a full-scale global conflagration all the more likely.

This year’s gathering at Davos—sealed off and surrounded, as always, by thousands of troops and police—will be overshadowed by the attendance of Trump, the first US president to make an appearance since Bill Clinton 18 years ago. Aides indicate that Trump intends to deliver his standard “America First” tirade to the final session of the gathering.

While Trump’s speech may provide a particularly crude rebuff to the official slogan of this year’s forum— “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World” —it will constitute only one of the more noxious symptoms of the unraveling of the entire previous framework for international economy and politics under the impact of capitalism’s deepening contradictions and the incapacity of the various rival capitalist state to create a new “shared future” or mend the world’s fractures.

The contents of the WEF risk report point to the deep and insoluble character of the crisis gripping global capitalism.

The document states that while “headline economic indicators,” i.e., the soaring rise in share prices that have fattened the portfolios of the Davos attendees, are positive, this only “masks continuing underlying concerns.”

“This has been the weakest post-recession recovery on record,” the report states, adding, “Productivity growth remains puzzlingly weak.”

The world capitalist economy, it continues, is beset by “unsustainable asset prices, with the world now eight years into a bull run; elevated indebtedness … and continuing strains in the global financial system.”

In a section titled “Into the Abyss,” the document warns:

“Against a backdrop of domestic and international political strife—and with economic policy-makers already operating in uncharted territory—the eruption of another global financial crisis could overwhelm political and policy responses. A systemic collapse of the sort that was averted in 2007-2008 could push countries, regions or even the whole world over the edge and into a period of chaos.”

In addition to “rising military tensions,” “military buildups,” “proxy conflicts” and multiple “flashpoints” threatening war, the document points to the danger of rising social tensions within every capitalist country.

“In many countries the social and political fabric has been badly frayed by many years of stagnating real incomes,” it states, pointing to figures illustrating decelerating wages and rapidly rising social inequality.

“High levels of personal debt, coupled with inadequate savings and pension provisions, are one reason to expect that frustrations may deepen in the years ahead,” the report states.

It also recalls the 2014 WEF Global Risk Report’s warning that one of the world’s greatest threats was a level of youth unemployment so high that it threatened to create a “lost generation.” The report notes dryly that in the four years since, this level has remained “broadly static.” It warns that with so many millions of young people without work, “generational clashes over fiscal and labour-market policies” may erupt.

Concern over explosive social divisions is coupled with a worried section dealing with the Internet, headlined “Digital Wildfires”. It decries “the intentional use of social media to spread misinformation,” i.e., exposures of the real conditions confronting working people in every country, as a challenge to “global governance.” The report welcomes measures taken by Google and Facebook, as well as governments, to crack down on the “disruptiveness of online misinformation” through outright censorship.

The political conclusions drawn by the report are particularly stark:

“Democracy is already showing signs of strain in the face of economic, cultural and technological disruption. Much deeper damage is possible: social and political orders can break down. If an evenly divided country sees polarized positions harden into a winner-takes-all contest, the risk increases of political debate giving way to forms of secession or physical confrontation. In these circumstances, a tipping point could be reached. A spiral of violence could begin, particularly if public authorities lost control and then intervened on one side with disproportionate force. In some countries—with widespread ready access to weapons or a history of political violence—armed civil conflict could erupt. In others, the state might impose its will by force, risking long reverberating consequences: a state of emergency, the curtailment of civil liberties, even the cancellation of elections to protect public order.”

In other words, the world’s financial oligarchy is assembling in the exclusive and scenic Alpine resort of Davos to hold a frank discussion on the prospects for a new world war, the eruption of social contradictions into civil wars and the imposition of police state dictatorships.

What is described in the WEF report are conditions already emerging in the United States and every major capitalist country.

In 1938, on the eve of the Second World War, Leon Trotsky wrote of a capitalist ruling class that “toboggans with closed eyes toward an economic and military catastrophe.” While the WEF risk report suggests that at least some elements of today’s ruling elite see the catastrophe on the horizon, they are as powerless as their forebears of 80 years ago to prevent it.

This places the greatest urgency upon the working class formulating its own independent strategic response to the global capitalist crisis, based on the perspective of uniting workers of every country in the fight to reorganize society on socialist foundations.

Posted in Politics, World0 Comments

Slapping Nazi Soldier More Newsworthy than Shooting a Palestinian Child in the Face

Slapping an Israeli Soldier More Newsworthy than Shooting a Palestinian Child in the Face
Coverage of Ahed Tamimi obscures Israeli violence and occupation

Israeli soldiers shot 14-year-old Palestinian Mohammad Tamimi point-blank in the face with a rubber-jacketed bullet on December 14, 2017, in Nabi Saleh, a small village in the occupied West Bank. The boy had to undergo six hours of surgery and was placed in a medically induced coma.

An hour later, Mohammad’s cousin, Ahed Tamimi, slapped and kicked at an armed Israeli soldier. Early the next week, after video of Ahed’s actions went viral, Israeli soldiers raided the Tamimi home at 3 a.m., arresting Ahed and confiscating the family’s phones, computers and laptops.

Ahed has been denied bail and could face years in prison. (Nour Tamimi, a 16-year-old cousin of Ahed’s who is also in the video, was also arrested and has been released on bail. Ahed’s mother Nariman was arrested later that day when she inquired about her daughter, and she remains in custody.)

Erasing the shooting

A January 1 Newsweek article described the incident as Ahed “assaulting Israeli soldiers,” “threatening two Israeli soldiers and then hitting them in the face,” “pushing the soldiers as well as kicking them, hitting them in the face and throwing stones at them.” The piece referred to Ahed’s actions as “assaults” and an “attack.” It failed to report that Israeli soldiers had just shot and severely injured her 14-year-old cousin.

Ahed Tamimi in Newsweek

Newsweek‘s depiction (1/1/18) of Palestinian prisoner Ahed Tamimi (left), “16-year-old who attacked Israeli soldiers.”

CNN (1/8/18) also ran a piece that left out the most serious act of violence that day, as did Reuters (12/28/171/1/18). An Associated Press report (12/28/17) had the same deficiency, leaving the false impression that the soldier was attacked without provocation.

The Newsweek piece also failed to note that the Israeli soldiers are members of a military force that has been occupying the West Bank for 50 years. Nor does CBS’s December 21 account mention the occupation, which structures every interaction between Palestinians and Israelis. (The fact that occupied people have a legal right to resist occupation is left out of all of the articles discussed in this piece.)

A report in the New York Times (12/22/17) does not mention that Mohammad Tamimi was shot in the face with a rubber bullet until the 13th paragraph, as though this fact is of minimal importance. The Times describes Nabi Saleh as having “long-running disputes with a nearby Israeli settlement, Halamish, that Nabi Saleh residents say has stolen their land and water.” The Times does not note that, as a colony on occupied territory, Halamish is illegal under international law.

Normalizing military tribunals

The Newsweek piece says Tamimi “has now been indicted on five counts of assaulting security forces,” and that she is “charged with interfering with the soldiers’ duties by preventing them from returning to their post.” It notes that “in May, she was charged with interfering with soldiers who were trying to arrest a protester throwing stones,” and refers to her indictment two other times, including in the headline. At no point does the article mention that the proceedings are taking place in a military court. Similarly, an Associated Press(1/9/18) report refers to “Israel’s hard-charging prosecution” and “the charges” against Tamimi, without mentioning that she is being tried by the same occupying military that shot her cousin.

Omitting that information makes it sound like Tamimi will receive a fair legal process, but the evidence suggests the opposite. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are subjected to a military court system that “does not grant the right to due process and the rights derived from it,” whereas Israelis illegally colonizing the Occupied Territories have the rights and privileges of a civilian legal system.

In the military courts, the age of majority is 16, which means that Palestinian teenagers can be tried as adults, while 18 is the age of majority for Israelis. Defence for Children International Palestine (DCIP), a group that has consultative status with the UN, reports that Israeli military court judges, who are either active duty or reserve officers in the Israeli military, “rarely exclude evidence obtained by coercion or torture, including confessions drafted in Hebrew, a language most Palestinian children do not understand.” The Israeli military courts’ conviction rate of greater than 99 percent underscores how stacked they are against Palestinians.

Framing Resistance as PR Stunts

The New York Times’ framing of Tamimi’s story suggests that the case’s central issue is whether Palestinians or Israelis would have been better off if the soldier had reacted more violently to being slapped. The Times’ David Halbfinger says

that Israelis could not decide whether the soldiers were virtuous pillars of forbearance and strength . . . or an embarrassing advertisement of national paralysis and vulnerability.

Palestinians, meanwhile,

debated whether the video might have damaged their cause, by showing their oppressors behaving gently, or helped it, by showing that resistance can be effective even when one is unarmed.

The paper even implied that Palestinians may be happy that Tamimi was arrested, writing that “the scene of the young woman being hauled away may have given Palestinians the clear-cut propaganda coup they had been denied by the original confrontation.”

NYT: Acts of Resistance and Restraint Defy Easy Definition in the West Bank

The New York Times (12/22/17) placed the same emphasis on life-threatening violence and social media tactics: “The latest incident, filmed in the family’s backyard, occurred within hours after a cousin of Ms. Tamimi’s was shot in the face with a rubber bullet, and it was streamed live on Facebook on December 15.”

CNN similarly trivialized Tamimi’s arrest, noting that Israelis call her “Shirley Temper” because of “her long ginger curls” and because they accuse her of “starring in carefully choreographed ‘Pallywood’ videos, a dismissive characterization of protests considered staged for the camera.”

While the Times and CNN provide a forum for speculation about whether Palestinians want their own children to suffer because it makes for good public relations, there is much this framing overlooks. For example, none of the above-mentioned articles mention the risk of Tamimi being seriously harmed in Israeli jails. Yet UNICEF charges Israel with subjecting Palestinian youth to “practices that amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture.” These include children “being aggressively awakened in the middle of the night by many armed soldiers and being forcibly brought to an interrogation center tied and blindfolded, sleep-deprived,” and “threatened with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault, against themselves or a family member.”

Israel’s well-documented mistreatment of Palestinian youth is ignored in these reports, which suggests it is not Palestinian parents but Western reporters who are interested in crafting a public relations spectacle.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human Rights0 Comments

Masses defend Louisiana teacher arrested for speaking up


Masses defend Louisiana teacher arrested for speaking up

Deyshia Hargrave speaking up at school board meeting.

Deyshia Hargrave speaking up at school board meeting.

People throughout the United States were shocked and outraged to see that a Louisiana middle school teacher was arrested and assaulted by a police officer after speaking out at a public school board meeting in Kaplan, Louisiana. The teacher, Deyshia Hargrave, taught English at a middle school in southern Louisiana where she won a teacher of the year award in 2016. A video of the arrest was recorded by a local television station and went viral on Facebook where the incident angered millions of people across the United States.

Hargrave was speaking out against the superintendent of schools Jerome Puyau for accepting a 30 percent raise while teachers, cafeteria workers and other school employees had gone 10 years without a permanent raise. “Superintendent, how are you going to take a raise when classes have grown from 21 to 29 students?” she asked. Hargrave spoke to the fact that Puyau was essentially taking money from the teachers’ pocketbooks when it is the educators at schools—not the bureaucrats like himself—who do the real work of educating youth.

At that moment, she was ruled out of order by the school board and was removed from the school board meeting by a police officer. She was wrestled down to the ground in the hallway outside the meeting by the officer while several witnesses watched. “What are you doing? Are you kidding me?” Hargrave cried. “Sir, hold on, I am way smaller than you!”

The arrest was posted to YouTube where it has close to three million views. School Board President Anthony Fontana inexplicably blamed Hargrave for the incident and in an act of extreme condescension called her a “poor little woman.”

The police charged Hargrave with “remaining after having been forbidden” and “resisting an officer.” Yet in a great show of the power of working class solidarity, the charges were dropped after a rally last week in support of Hargrave which attracted hundreds of supporters, many of whom wore black in solidarity. At the rally Hargrave took to the microphone to chants of “Stand by Dyeshia” where she urged people to attend local meetings and fight for what is right.

This incident was not an isolated affair. It was indicative of the alienation that exists for many teachers who work in public education who feel powerless when decisions pertaining to everyday working conditions are made without regard for how it will impact students. These decisions are made by bureaucrats who do not teach themselves and who in many cases have in fact never taught a day in their lives and are far removed from the realities of the classroom.

In public education under capitalism, as is the case with most fields of employment, those who do the real work are disregarded when it comes to making important decisions. It is a slap in the face to every worker in Louisiana’s Vermillion Parish School District that the  superintendent receives a huge raise while teachers and the school workers on the ground received nothing for a decade. It was an injustice, but a wrong that is common and familiar to educators and workers across the United States.

It is also emblematic of a troubling trend in the United States where voices of dissent are silenced. Anyone who dares to criticize society and the institutions that maintain the rule of the bosses can either be slandered or put in jail. Basic democratic rights such as free speech are under attack in this country. This incident also shows what role police play in capitalist society: Cops exist to protect the interests of the bosses and suppress the workers.

In a statement in a video posted last week Hargrave describes how students and parents have been supportive of her efforts in light of the incident—that the community she serves as well as people across the United States rallied to her defense and got the charges against her dropped. It was an inspiring act of working class unity, and if educators fight the bosses and capitalist class across district boundaries and state lines we can achieve real gains towards winning the schools that students deserve. If workers unite to fight the ultra-rich—our common oppressor—together we can win a new society.

Posted in USA, Human Rights0 Comments

Trump deals new blow to TPS immigrants


Trump deals new blow to TPS immigrants

Los Angeles pro-immigrant rally. Liberation photo: Ben Huff

Los Angeles pro-immigrant rally. Liberation photo: Ben Huff

Continuing its attack on immigrants, the Trump administration on Jan. 8 cancelled the Temporary Protected Status for 200,000 Salvadorans who were allowed to stay in the United States since 2001, when two earthquakes shattered El Salvador that year.

The Salvadoran TPS designation was maintained until now by continued renewals during the Bush and Obama administrations, due to conditions of gang violence and poverty in El Salvador. It was ended by Trump’s Department of Homeland Security Jan. 8. Trump revoked Haitian and Honduran TPS status in November, setting the stage for deeper crisis in those communities.

The Temporary Protected Status is a federal program that began in 1990, after intense mobilization by Central Americans and their supporters.

For any country granted a TPS designation due to armed conflict, natural disaster or other extraordinary crisis, their nationals can remain in the United States for a period of time, but only if they were already in the United States at the time of the designation. That status can be extended. More than half of the Salvadorans under TPS were already living in the United States, many who escaped the terror of a U.S.-backed dictatorship during the 1980s civil war.

TPS has enabled immigrants to build their lives in the United States and raise families, especially with the economic crisis and pervasive gang violence back home.

Whether they are Central American, Haitian, Syrian, Mexican or Yemeni, millions of immigrants are forced to flee the economic and military destruction of their countries by U.S. imperialism.

Now the future for TPS Salvadorans and their children — who are mostly U.S. citizens — could be drastically affected.

Thousands of Salvadorans being targeted in most recent attack

There are 192,700 U.S.-born children of the Salvadoran TPS recipients, according to research by the Center for Migration Studies. A total of 273,000 children of Salvadoran, Haitian and Honduran TPS recipients were born in the U.S.

On Nov. 6, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security terminated TPS for Nicaraguans, ordering a deportation date of Jan. 5, 2019.

On Nov. 19, DHS terminated TPS status for 59,000 Haitians. They face a deportation deadline of July 22, 2019.

Haitians had been granted TPS after the 2010 catastrophic earthquake, which killed at least 300,000 Haitians. Haiti’s crisis has worsened in its aftermath, with a cholera epidemic and more than 80 percent of the people living in poverty, 55 percent in deep poverty.

Remittances from immigrants to TPS-designated countries are a major source of revenue and stability. Haiti alone depends on remittances that are 25 percent of its Gross Domestic Product.

TPS has been extended for Hondurans to July 5, 2018, but their status is also threatened, given the Trump administration’s now-predictable anti-immigrant actions.

Over 94 percent of all TPS members come from just three countries, El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras, 302,000 people. The other seven countries whose citizens have TPS status in the Untied States — some 18,000 people — are Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Effective immediately, Trump’s decision means Salvadorans who were on TPS lose their employment rights, and must leave the country by Sept. 9, 2019.

Causing economic hardship

Blocking TPS members from work will create economic hardship. Deportation will force a cruel separation of their families. Their children will have to live alone if they remain in the United States, or move with their parents to a country they never knew.

A much larger crisis of families being split up is on the near horizon, according to a 2017 study by CMS director Donald Kerwin and demographer Robert Warren.

The study shows that 3.3 million U.S. households are of mixed status, that is, one or more family members have residency or citizenship status — including 5.7 million children under 18. Others in the household are undocumented and face possible deportation.

The TPS attacks follow another blow: Trump announced the end of the program for 800,000 youth known as “Dreamers,” effective next March. Brought to the United States by their parents as minors, they qualified to stay in the U.S., to work and study, under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, implemented by President Obama in 2012. Now DACA youth are set to lose their jobs, driver’s licenses, financial aid for college and be deported. Their parents face deportation, too.

Interview with Salvadoran-American community activist

Ramón Cardona is director of Centro Latino Cuzcatlán in the Bay Area and a longtime Salvadoran-American community activist. He said today, “The terrible notice of cancelling TPS is a nightmare that the Salvadoran community will suffer until September 2019. They are filled with anguish that they could be deported. It is the same for Haitians, for Hondurans and Nicaraguans, who barely know their country of origin anymore and whose children have no history there.

“DHS says El Salvador has overcome the conditions that created the TPS status. That is a lie. There is no way for those countries to receive them in an integral way, with such high unemployment and generalized crime.

“This is a true humanitarian crisis,” continued Cardona. “We have received calls and visits from TPS recipients all day, people crying, who tell us ‘I don’t know what I will do, maybe go to Canada.’ The vast majority is in shock.” He estimates that only about 15 percent of the TPS Salvadorans have possible options to file for some legal status.

Even Salvadoran President Salvador Sánchez Cerén called Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen last Friday, to urge her to postpone her decision until a Congressional solution could be found. She refused.

Cardona emphasized major steps in the coming fight.

“We must continue the struggle to create a favorable public opinion. We know that with this anti-immigrant phobia motivated by Trump, who gives carte blanche to white supremacists, it is not easy. But we have no other option.”

Cardona explained that a National TPS Alliance, “Salvemos al TPS,” has joined together affected communities and organizations in more than 32 cities to mobilize and fight for legislation that will allow permanent residency for TPS people.

Community organizing

The first Alliance conference was June last year. The second in October drew close to 400 people, with two-thirds being TPS recipients.

The next assembly will take place in Washington DC, Feb. 4-6. They plan to fill the halls of Congress to argue their case for legislation to protect TPS and raise visibility for the cause.

“We have done it before, during the 1980s when we fought in Congress and in 1990 TPS came into being,” says Cardona. “We sued the INS because it discriminated against the ABC settlement (American Baptist Church). Then, when Clinton signed the 1996 arch-reactionary, anti-immigrant law (IIRIRA), we succeeded with CARA, the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act.

Cardona has no illusions about the ominous situation ahead. “When DHA said Haitians’ TPS should expire, claiming they were no longer in danger, that was our alarm. Haiti is in worse condition economically and socially than any other group, and yet they have been denied.”

A severe restriction in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996, pushed and signed by President Bill Clinton, provides that anyone who entered the United States “without inspection” and has lived here more than a year, once deported, is barred from applying for re-entry for 10 years. Before Clinton’s law, if that person became married to a U.S. citizen, he or she was allowed to remain in the United States while applying to legalize due to their marriage status. Or they could be sponsored by a family member who became eligible to do so. After IIRIRA, now that person must leave the United States for 10 years, and apply from abroad, with no guarantee of being granted permission to return.

“Without inspection” refers to someone who entered without permission, versus the other scenario, entering with a visa. But someone who overstays an entry visa, usually a tourist, can remain in the United States while processing for legalization, if they meet other criteria.

The IIRIRA law has contributed to widespread racist discrimination against poorer immigrants from oppressed countries, especially Latino immigrants whose only usual option is to enter by crossing the Mexican-U.S. border.

“Brown-skinned immigrants, Mexican, Central American, are blatantly discriminated against. In 2017 for instance, the immigrants who overstayed their tourist visas the most are Canadians, 142,000. Only 74,000 Mexicans overstayed visas. Over 600,000 people, Europeans, Canadians, overstayed, but you don’t see them targeted,” said Cardona, exasperated. “This is so racist.”

Protests will continue to take place where TPS recipients are in higher concentration, including Los Angeles, Houston and Washington DC. A mass meeting of TPS recipients is expected Dec. 13 at the Salvadoran consulate in San Francisco.

In a protest at the S.F. Federal Building on Dec. 5, immigrants from several TPS communities spoke of the real crisis they now face. But they also promised to fight with determination and unity for their right to stay home in the United States.

Cardona says, “We will continue the popular struggle so everyone understands immigrants have contributed so much, economically, socially and in many practical ways. From DACA to TPS and all immigrants, these are intolerable attacks on vibrant, hard-working people.”

The racist, anti-immigrant offensive by Trump’s government must be strongly opposed by all. There are no borders in the workers’ struggle!

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Nazi regime Can’t Handle Quaker Solidarity with Palestine

The American Friends Service Comittee (AFSC), a American Quaker organization founded in 1917, was among the twenty organzations recently banned by Israel for its support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

For a century, the AFSC has helped populations affected by war around the world. In 1947, the organization won the Nobel Peace Prize for rescuing refugees from Nazi Germany. It might seem surprising then that, amongst the banned organizations, the AFSC has been a particular target of pro-Israel advocates. For Israel and its supporters, it seems hard to fathom that an organization, which rescued Jews during World War II, could stand in solidarity with Palestinians suffering under Zionist rule. But AFSC’s solidarity is rooted in its historical commitment to human rights. This makes it particularly difficult for the apartheid state to deal with the group.

The Quaker faith has long been synonymous with working for the oppressed. The group’s history of non-violent boycott dates back to the late 18th century, when members of the faith initiated the Free Produce Movement, to boycott goods produced through slavery. On the eve of World War II,  a delegation of American Quakers traveled to Nazi Germany to protest the anti-Jewish progroms, which followed ‘Kristallnacht’ (1938). Nazi Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels ridiculed the move, and some participants were even arrested by the Nazis.

In bestowing the peace prize on AFSC for its work on behalf of Jewish refugees, the Nobel committee praised the organization for its deep commitment to humanity:

The Quakers have shown us that it is possible to translate into action what lies deep in the hearts of many: compassion for others and the desire to help them – that rich expression of the sympathy between all men, regardless of nationality or race, which, transformed into deeds, must form the basis for lasting peace. For this reason alone the Quakers deserve to receive the Nobel Peace Prize today.

Following Israel’s brutal creation in 1948, the AFSC provided humanitarian aid to Gaza, as Israel’s ethnic cleansing activities were ongoing. Early on, the organization called for a political settlement and repatriation of Palestinians into the newly formed Israeli state. At the start of this year, the AFSC reaffirmed that, as long as Israel violates human rights, the organization “will continue to support Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions efforts as effective nonviolent tools for realizing political and social change.”

Criticizing Israel’s blacklisting of the group despite its historical assistance to Jews, Israeli journalist Chaim Shalev wrote for Haaretz that “Jewish history is apparently of no interest to the Israeli government.” As the banning of AFSC shows, anyone advocating for equality and human rights for Palestinians is persona non grata in Israel. Because Israel’s survival depends upon the subjugation of the Palestinians, even those groups that have supported the Jewish people are not safe.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human Rights0 Comments

Shoah’s pages


January 2018
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