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Put Those Police Cameras on Bankers

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This copy is mirrored from CounterPunch.

American Police are the Gatekeepers of the National Inequality Policy

Put Those Police Cameras on Bankers

by JESSE JACKSON
A week ago Sunday, five St. Louis Rams professional football players entered a game with their hands up, protesting the killing of Michael Brown. They stand in the lineage of John Carlos and Tommie Smith, of Muhammad Ali, identifying with the pain in their communities and turning protest into power.The gesture turned tochants — “Hands up; Don’t Shoot” in demonstrations across the country. Protesters shut down major thoroughfares from Manhattan to Chicago to Los Angeles to decry the Staten Island grand jury that refused to indict the policemen who killed Eric Garner, turning his plea — “I can’t breathe” — into a call for justice.In these cases, there was no cross examination and thus no indictments. “Justice” rings hollow across the nation. Injustice reins.

These demonstrations, largely by young and remarkably multi-racial crowds, are not the first. They were preceded by Occupy Wall Street, indicting the 1 percent and spreading to hundreds of cities. They were foreshadowed by the dreamers, children demanding the right to come out of the shadows of the undocumented.

They were accompanied by record numbers of workers in low wage jobs at fast food restaurants and the Dollar Stores walking off their jobs in some 190 cities.

They were complemented by women demanding gender equality, particularly at the workplace where discrimination and sexism are still rife.

The streams of alienation and disparities are converging into a river. Injustices in this new age are not only inflammable, they are increasingly inflamed.

The official reaction to police immunity for the killing of unarmed black boys and men Ferguson and Staten Island and Cleveland and Brooklyn has focused, not surprisingly, on the police. The president has created a Task Force on 21st Century Policy, with instructions to report in 90 days. He’s committed millions to put cameras on police.

But he might be better advised to put cameras on bankers. Reckless, unaccountable and murderous police behavior must end, but the police are simply the gatekeepers assigned to keep order.

Behind the gate is the American policy of isolating poor people of color in ghettos, ghettos deprived of jobs, of capital, of decent health care, of affordable housing, of good schools.

Police are assigned to patrol these zones of despair, part of the only thriving industry in these neighborhoods — the jail-industrial complex of more police, police stations, courthouses, bondsmen, jailors, judges, lawyers and prosecutors, court recorders and guards and much more. In this pressure cooker, all of us are vulnerable — none of us are safe until all of us are safe.

In the Civil Rights Movement, the Bull Connors were the violent enforcers. But they were not the issue: The issue was legal segregation that deprived African Americans of their rights and locked them into second-class citizenship.

Today, the police killing of unarmed Blacks is unacceptable and reaching crisis proportions. But the issue is a national policy that abandons poor people of color in their ghettos. If we put cameras on the police, we may get better policing and less injustice (although Eric Garner’s killing was on camera). But what we need is an urban development policy that attacks segregation by race, rebuilds poor neighborhoods, invests in the health and education of poor infants and children, erects affordable housing, offers training for and transport to jobs that exist.

The demonstrations are about justice for Michael Brown and Eric Garner and others that can be and will be added to the list. But they aren’t just about those killings. They are about a national ghetto policy, a national worker impoverishment policy, a national inequality policy.

The slogan “No justice, no peace,” reverberates throughout the country. And the demonstrations are growing and spreading. Different streams of protest are coming together. Occupy Wall Street exposed the 1 percent. The strikes of low wage workers expose the global corporations. The “Hands up, Don’t Shoot” demonstrations expose the harsh injustices of the jail-industrial complex.

Dr. Martin Luther King taught us: “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politics, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.” Today, across America, more and more Americans are standing up for what is right.

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

Welcome to the Sixteenth Century, Eureka

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I had to reprint this article from Firedoglake:


User Picture

Welcome to the Sixteenth Century

By: masaccio Sunday November 30, 2014 10:57 am

.
113014_Damned-to-Hell-Demons Please don’t murder us in the streets. We work hard so we should be paid a living wage. Bankers should be treated as equal before the law. Please stop spying on us. We’ve lived here all our lives, don’t deport us to a foreign country. Please stop killing people everywhere in the world. We are entitled to be treated like other people. Please stop poisoning the dirt that grows our food and the water we drink and the air we breathe. The minimal nature of the demands of millions of protesters measures the decrepit state of our nation. It also tells us that the rich people who run this country loathe and despise us.

We killed your kids with impunity. Take that tiny paycheck, and supplement it with government benefits, and punch out before you clean up your work station. Bankers are the engines of prosperity and if they get a bit greedy, it can’t be prevented without destroying capitalism. We spy on you to protect you from immigrants with Ebola and sharp swords. Get back into that closet. You’ll eat and breathe oil and you’ll love it. OK, you noisy group can get married. Now aren’t you happy? Remember, we have the guns, the tanks, the tear gas, the pepper spray, the kettles, the rifles, the humvees, the assault rifles, the MRAPs, and the drones, and we have your data and your phones and your computers and your emails and your facebook pages and your tweets, and we know who you are. And just ignore those thugs on the roofs, those plain-clothes men with AR-15s, they’re either our regular troops or our irregulars, our vigilantes, just out to protect our private property.

As bad as this is, the worst part is that there are millions of people who aren’t elites, who aren’t rich enough to financially survive a lost job or a divorce or a sick kid, but who think this is just fine. Those people vote for the system not just in elections, but by their hatred for their neighbors. Who could have predicted so many citizens would enjoy watching their neighbors thrown out of their houses rather than figure out some way to help? Who would have thought so many citizens would be thrilled to see families broken up and deported? Who would have thought so many citizens would be happy to drink oil instead of water for any reason? Who would have thought that so many citizens would prefer not just to let corporations pay so little to their neighbors, but also to support cutting off all government benefits to those workers? Who would have thought so many citizens would be happy to have some government agent collecting their phones and email and internet search histories?

The optimists among us point to a bunch of liberal issues on which a plurality of citizens agree according to pollsters. That’s great, and it may even be true. But the fact is that our Constitution is set up to prevent government action against the will of a small minority. It gives tiny Red States plenty of 19th Century Senators who under Senate rules can block any action they don’t like. The House is thoroughly gerrymandered, so that the will of the majority isn’t even represented. Presidential candidates must win the money primary, insuring that they will support the interests of the richest and most retrograde among the top .01% who own 11% of the total wealth of the nation. The Supreme Court has always protected property at the expense of every other interest or value, so even if a decent piece of legislation passed, the five conservative hacks on the Court will strike it down.

It seems to me that this nation is infected by a nameless, faceless dread, a fear of something awful just beyond our ability to grasp. The media, right-wing politicians and demagogues, acting on behalf of their filthy rich patrons, actively exploit that fear to get what they want: a divided nation at war with itself. You don’t have to watch Fox News or listen to Rush Limbaugh or worse to get this; you can feel it in the air, and get all the examples you need from The Daily Show or Colbert or Oliver. Where does this come from? This is a country rich in resources, armed to the teeth, with a powerful technological infrastructure that should allow a lot of material progress and solutions to any real problems. And yet there’s this:

As of 2014, it’s estimated that nearly half of Americans — 49 percent — say natural disasters are a sign of “the end times,” as described in the Bible. That’s up from an estimated 44 percent in 2011.

How do you explain technological marvels sitting alongside this kind of pre-Enlightenment fright? One explanation comes from @Billmon1, a great Twitter follow. He says that a large part of the US missed the Enlightenment altogether. That part, largely the Red states, but all over the country, is embedded in the 16th/17th centuries:

To be more specific: rooted in 16th/17th century British isles — Scotland, English border lands & Ireland, to be precise. “Celtic fringe.”

About as backwoods, parochial, & religiously bigoted part of W. Europe as you could have found in that era — an era of religious bigotry.

We have a great recent example of this culture in Northern Ireland. After a century of war with itself and its Catholic neighbors, Northern Ireland has turned from religious bigotry to racial bigotry. There are plenty of problems in Ireland, many of which are the result of unbridled capitalism like the short-sighted decisions of the leaders to pay off all depositor loses caused by Irish banks and the outrageous tax schemes that enable the likes of Apple to screw the US out of needed tax revenues. But really, a few immigrants are the problem?

It’s a mirror image of the US. The “Other” is the problem. It isn’t the unjust distribution of wealth, it isn’t the exploitation of the worker by the filthy rich, it isn’t unequal schools, it isn’t poverty or any other structural condition. It’s witches. It’s demons. It’s unholiness. It’s impurity. It’s smoke.

It isn’t fixable. The most you can hope for is bottling up that rage and fear in fewer and fewer people. Instead the media stokes those fires. Self-ordained ministers tell people that it’s sin that cause fires and floods and earthquakes and eclipses. Rage freaks like O’Reilly and Limbaugh and the incomparably stupid Hannity tell their listeners that the end times are coming. Politicians like Lindsey Graham shriek that terrorists are coming to kill them while they sleep. These pre-moderns are now in control of both the House and Senate, and the Supreme Court.

I’m thinking about being a bit fearful myself.

Photo by Georges Jansoone under Creative Commons license


–Joe

Crybaby Pounds Ranter

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091214_DUMBASS-WarningMy personal bent is to let everyone say what they want, within minor limits, especially if they blog. Those limits are when they and their cadre of sycophants personally attack me. Which is exactly what happened with these two bloggers. So, I’m in Seventh Heaven when I read a whack job like this: THE CHIV’D AWARD THIS WEEK GOES TO………………………

If they want to post opinions, that’s fine – just be decent and recognize that is what they are writing, an opinion. Most opinions are just plain worthless; nothing more than conjecture, speculation and cheap guessing – fantasies rattling around in an empty head. That doesn’t say that the opinionator is worthless. Unless he correlates him or herself with their opinions. If so, then they are psychotic and need help.

You can find the blog the Tuluwaa babies are talking about here. You’ll have to scroll down a ways until you get to this: Thanks to Jon and HCDCC members but Linda Atkins needs to learn basic civility. Based upon my own personal experience with John Chiv I’d say he needs to learn how to practice what he preaches. The same goes for Jon Yalcinkaya. From what I read I’d say these two individuals are two kinds of the same hypocritical slime.

People that live in glass houses should never throw stones. – Unspoken words taken right out of my mouth:

Guess what Mr. Chiv’d….you are a public figure as well. You have a political blog and put yourself out there as a member of the media. As a public figure, you may be criticized the same as anyone else. For instance, you claim to be accepting but you are terribly small minded and in many ways a complete bigot!

If these three specimens of humanity only knew how much the general population hate their political guts, they’d crawl back under their rocks and never out again. Either way, they are like snakes eating their own  tails. They are proven void of all credibility.

Man! Do I love it when I’m right.

–Joe

Written by Joe Blow

September 12, 2014 at 10:37 pm

Gossipmonger Caught with Pants Down

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090414_CrybabyLooks like the North Coast’s number one gossipmongering crybaby got caught trying to pass off another crock of crap on the unsuspecting. That of course does not include the cadre of Tuluwa apologist crybabies and their standard fare nonsense. 

Tuluwa(a) ROT:

NO BRIDGE FOR YOU! CLAM BEACH DESTROYERS.

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/hey-sundberg-no-motorized-vechicles-on-clam-beach/

The Mad River Union is reporting that the California Coastal Commission is forcing the County to adhere to the process and obey the law to the letter. What a bummer for the County, who apparently went behind the public’s back in a probable Brown Act violation and secretly sent in an application to install a 90 foot railcar style bridge. A bridge that would have allowed easy vehicle access to Clam beach.

Well the Coastal Commission said sorry Rex, Ryan, Virginia and Estelle you actually have to complete Environmental studies before we can consider your request. We all know what those environmental studies would show!  So it looks like they are going to avoid that embarrassment and just say they can afford to do them. Boo hoo!

So rest easy snowy plovers and regular beach goers you’re safe for now thanks to the California Coastal Commission

I expect Tuluwa’s verbose enforcer Mola to come out with a couple of thousand words to put poor Clueless in his place for daring to question the veracity of this blog and the people that support it. 

You obviously have no idea how the permitting process works. You must first submit an application to a regulatory agency and in return they will tell you what studies should and need to be done. This is always the case with the Coastal Commission. Did you ever think that perhaps the County submitted the permit due to the pressure it was receiving but knew wholeheartedly that the Coastal Commission would come back with dozens of conditions and recommended studies? By just submitting the permit application, the County received what they wanted to hear — no way a bridge is being constructed due to the impacts to wetlands and sensitive dunes.

Believe me, I know exactly what I am talking about. All you did was spew out misinformation. You are the one that should be embarrassed!

 When it comes to “adhere to the process and obey the law to the letter” these two-faced hypocrites are the last ones to be spouting off their self-righteous ridicule. It is impossible for any of them to be “embarrassed.” That requires a modicum of self-respect and they don’t have any. 

–Joe

Written by Joe Blow

September 4, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Even Brownshirts Step In It, Once In Awhile

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Tuluwat ROT

083014_TE_protect-and-serveIT’S TIME FOR EUREKA CITIZENS TO HAVE A ROLE POLICING THE POLICE

This is a timely issue that all Eurekans and residents of Humboldt County need to address. It’s interesting that the people at this blog were able to see this problem in this community and write about it, but cannot see just how big a pile of shit they stepped in themselves. They can condemn the Eureka Police Department, the Chief of Police and the City Council for gross “crimes against humanity,” BUT what they cannot see is what they ARE themselves – that, in their own way, they do and commit the same kinds of crimes. They need a Review Board to check and censure their own “criminal” conduct.

Sadly, their hypocrisy totally negates any credibility they might have. If you want proof of this observation just follow the comments.

Until people can learn to take responsibility for their own lives and what they do, Review Boards are nothing more than an empty panacea. If you want accountability, then you first must learn to actually STOP at all stop signs.  Problem is, I don’t expect anyone over at that blog to understand that…

–Joe

Fred’s Little Piece of Paradise

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082814_Paradise-RedwoodsWhen I read Fred’s latest – Fred and Marcy Sittin’ In a Tree… – and I thought about why I commented on his previous article (Why Repair Brick Chimneys?), it occurred to me why we are where we are in our Democracy. It would be nice to live in a utopian world, especially here on the North Coast. Good, decent, efficient, uncorrupt elected government representatives, just courts, police that protect and serve EVERYONE, an unpolluted bay and rivers, no homeless, no drugs and no bad effects of the decades-long criminal marijuana business. But, then that might be too boring for Paradise.

Thinking about how it is today in Eureka – Humboldt County actually – reminded me of how it was for my parents right after the war. My father was logging in Southern Humboldt, decided to buy a 40 acre piece of land that bordered a county road and build a home. So, he opened up a road to a place with a great view and began. No issues with connecting to the county road. Not long afterwards a PG&E truck pulled up, the driver wanted to know if my father wanted them to run a line to the house, a house he hadn’t even started building yet. Wouldn’t cost him a dime, all he had to do was set a pole for a meter box. Over a period of time my father, with some family and friends help built a beautiful home. He installed his own sewer system, water system and built a two car garage. Not one time that I can remember was he ever hassled by a county building inspector. He paid taxes on the home and property, so they must of signed off on the home at sometime. I don’t remember periodic inspections either. I know he often talked about making sure everything met building codes. Today that would be unthinkable. When I read Fred’s naivete I know why. The Planning Commission has become and institution unto itself.

The problem is that the more laws everyone is subject, not to mention the self-imposed laws the police subject everyone to, the more lawless everyone becomes. Then there are the so-called “good citizens,” like Fred setting standards for everyone with their brilliant opinions. They got their noses in everyone’s business. If they can’t tell you what to do they’ll tell you how to think and what to believe. No one ever grows up. And, so goes Paradise.

In my lifetime, paradise was for my mother’s and father’s generation. Growing up in those years, I can tell you, and you too Fred, IT WAS NOT BORING!

–Joe

Cornel West slams ‘counterfeit’ Obama’s presidency

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Re-printed from RT.

082614_Cornel-West

Published time: August 25, 2014 16:45

Cornel West, activist and professor at Union Theological Seminary, ripped Barack Obama’s “Wall Street presidency,” calling him another neoliberal “counterfeit” after posing as a progressive in his initial campaign for the White House in 2008.

“We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency,” West told Salon.com’s Thomas Frank.

“The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair.”

Public intellectual West lamented Obama’s failure – or refusal – to attempt a revival of democratic principles at a time of “an empire in decline.”

“Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life. You would think that we needed somebody—a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility.”

West said at a time of deep need for solutions, for a change of culture in the gilded halls of Washington, Obama was another “opportunist.”

“It’s like you’re looking for John Coltrane and you get Kenny G in brown skin.”

Looking back, West said he believes Obama’s “motus operandi” has always consisted of seeking to placate the powers-that-be and to occupy the “middle ground,” even though he acted the part of a transcendent figure during his campaign 2008, the year that saw the beginning of the Great Recession.

“And so what did he do? Every time you’re headed toward middle ground what do you do? You go straight to the establishment and reassure them that you’re not too radical, and try to convince them that you are very much one of them so you end up with a John Brennan, architect of torture [as CIA Director]. Torturers go free but they’re real patriots so we can let them go free. The rule of law doesn’t mean anything.”

West also chided US Attorney General Eric Holder for his cozy relationship with Wall Street.

“Eric Holder won’t touch the Wall Street executives; they’re his friends. He might charge them some money. They want to celebrate. This money is just a tax write-off for these people. There’s no accountability. No answerability. No responsibility that these people have to take at all.”

Looking back, West said he believes Obama’s “motus operandi” has always consisted of seeking to placate the powers-that-be and to occupy the “middle ground,” even though he acted the part of a transcendent figure during his campaign 2008, the year that saw the beginning of the Great Recession.

“And so what did he do? Every time you’re headed toward middle ground what do you do? You go straight to the establishment and reassure them that you’re not too radical, and try to convince them that you are very much one of them so you end up with a John Brennan, architect of torture [as CIA Director]. Torturers go free but they’re real patriots so we can let them go free. The rule of law doesn’t mean anything.”

West also chided US Attorney General Eric Holder for his cozy relationship with Wall Street.

“Eric Holder won’t touch the Wall Street executives; they’re his friends. He might charge them some money. They want to celebrate. This money is just a tax write-off for these people. There’s no accountability. No answerability. No responsibility that these people have to take at all.”

West said Holder will likely step down by the end of the year, as he is “concerned about his legacy as if he’s somehow been swinging for black folk ever since he’s been in there. That’s a lie. He’s been silent, too. He’s been relatively silent. He’s made a couple of gestures in regards to the New Jim Crow and the prison-industrial complex, but that’s just lately, on his way out. He was there for six years and didn’t do nothing.”

The post-Obama era will be “an America in post-traumatic depression,” West said, and the likely successor in the White House, “neo-liberal opportunist par excellence” Hillary Clinton, will be “much worse.”

“Hillary Clinton is an extension of Obama’s Wall Street presidency, drone presidency, national surveillance, national security presidency. She’d be more hawkish than he is, and yet she’s got that strange smile that somehow titillates liberals and neo-liberals and scares Republicans. But at that point it’s even too hard to contemplate.”

Does Hamas Hate Peace?

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counterpunch02

 

 

[CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names » Does Hamas Hate Peace? ]

Does Hamas Hate Peace?

Ignore Them at Your Peril

by RON SMITH

Certainly, the consistent message of Western Media seems to suggest that this is the case. HAMAS represents the most popular wing of that Western bogeyman, Political Islam, in Palestine. It has been labeled by Western governments as a terrorist group, and is seen as an organization bent on the destruction of Israel. It is also a pragmatic organization that has captured a small majority of Palestinian support for its public refusal to accept the most heinous proposals offered by the Israeli occupation in the interminable peace process. There are no small numbers of Palestinians who bitterly oppose HAMAS’s policy domestically, but in this bloody summer of 2014, proffer their full support for HAMAS’s acts of resistance against the occupation and the siege in Gaza. Here, I hope to provide a critical analysis of the false pretense reproduced as Western media repeats phrases such as “HAMAS rejects Egypt’s cease fire proposal” and HAMAS “opposes terms for ceasefire”, and to explore the importance of HAMAS in the current political landscape.

I have made the siege of Gaza the focus of my research for the last 5 years, and have had the privilege of entering Gaza multiple times to see, first-hand, the effects of Israeli policy on the civilian population. What I have encountered could be considered nothing other than collective punishment, itself a crime against humanity. The strength of the resolve of HAMAS is that it draws upon the deep frustration Gazans have with Western-oriented FATAH leaders who excuse and accept the continued human rights catastrophe that is the Israeli siege.

It is easy to forget that HAMAS won the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, largely the result of a protest vote against FATAH leadership who seemed disposed to negotiate Palestine into oblivion. FATAH insisted on using the terms of the 1993 Oslo interim agreement as a starting point with any negotiation with Israel, while Israel regularly violates the terms of these accords. The FATAH Palestinian Authority leadership is ossified, seen by many Gazans as trading the crumbs of VIP checkpoint passes for the politicians in the West Bank and access to international donors’ funds for any possible future peace with justice for the wrongs of the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine. The terms of Oslo were themselves an absurd step backwards for Palestinian liberation, splitting the West Bank into 3 zones (Areas A, B, and C) and fragmenting potential areas of a future Palestinian state into isolated Bantustans. Gaza itself was completely isolated by Israel, and though the Oslo accords treat Gaza and the West Bank as inseparable, Israel has done all in its power to subvert this collective identity. In effect, the very notion of “facts on the ground” was reified by the FATAH leadership, further empowering Israeli intransigence and an unwillingness to negotiate in good faith.  The extent of this enabling was documented in the Palestine Papers, published by Al Jazeera, wherein PA negotiators allegedly went so far as to ask Israel to reoccupy the Philadelphi corridor along Gaza’s southern border in order to help topple HAMAS.

In contrast, HAMAS, once it came into power in the Gaza Strip followed another tack: HAMAS insisted that Israel honor UN resolution 242 that demands Israel withdraw to its pre-1967 boundaries, Israel must follow the norms of international law, and in return HAMAS would enforce a 99-year truce with Israel. The idea of this proposal is that while the parties to any current agreement are themselves the victims of countless atrocities, if a 99 year truce can be maintained, the progeny of the signatories would have no personal grudges, no personal experience of the pain of occupation, and would be willing to create a permanent solution. HAMAS has made this proposal numerous times, though these proposals are unsurprisingly missing from US media portrayals of the Islamist group.

To begin with the Oslo accords, and to accept further expansion of settlements and the ever greater limitation of Palestinian political aspirations was more than most Palestinians could accept. In the intervening years, Gazans suffered under the brutal regime of the Israeli siege, and many suffered from problematic policies put into place by the HAMAS government itself, which become more professionalized, bureaucratized, and seemed to be unable to settle on a coherent policy of resistance, the very reason they were voted into power in the first place. When I was most recently in Gaza, earlier this summer, I saw a population that was growing tired of HAMAS refusing to support popular positions, and one that spent the majority of its time quashing resistance and democratic movements among the youth and non-affiliated sectors of the population. This was a HAMAS that prevented groups from firing rockets into Israel and enforced the terms of ceasefire agreements with Israel, a far cry from the bastions of armed resistance that had made HAMAS a popular option in the elections. The HAMAS that signed on to the unity government was not in a position of strength, and as the West Bank PA leadership played games with the terms of the agreement, HAMAS struck back by closing the banks across Gaza, a move sure to further alienate it from a people already suffering from the artificial humanitarian crisis of the siege.

Once the Israeli attacks on Gaza began, it became clear that HAMAS was now in a struggle for its own existence, in addition to being the voice of the armed resistance in Gaza. Their popularity has skyrocketed since the invasion began, and they are seen once again as an alternative to the avarice and cowardice of Mahmoud Abbas’s leadership in the West Bank. All of this is in the context of the failure of Arab leaders across the Middle East to take meaningful stands against the occupation. Egypt, after the fall of Morsi, continues to actively aid the Israeli and international community’s enforcement of the siege, and to spread propaganda about the threat Gaza poses to the Egyptian homeland.

Israel has emphatically denied the targeting of civilians, and insists on the humanitarian nature of its operation. This claim, however, comes from the same military and civil organizations that for 2 years denied Gazans access to chickpeas for hummus, bath sponges, and unfertilized chicken eggs (GISHA). Instead, Israel has repeatedly targeted civilians and fundamental civilian infrastructure. This same infrastructure has been made all the more vulnerable by repeated Israeli invasions since 2000 and punitive siege measures that prevent the entry of materials that would allow vital repairs to keep the water flowing and the electricity running.

Many observers fail to understand the importance of this infrastructure. Gaza, as many have pointed out, includes refugee camps which are the most densely populated areas on earth. A lack of electricity is not an inconvenience, it is a calamity. All aspects of clean water provision require uninterrupted electric service, throughout the water chain. This includes the pumps at the wells, the reverse osmosis filters in the desalination plants, the distribution pumps, and even the small electrical pumps in the multistory apartment buildings in the camps, where water and electricity must be present at the same time in order to fill the rooftop tanks. The electricity supplies the refrigerators and the fans in the overcrowded rooms in the camps, often housing 15 people in two 3 by 3 meter rooms, in an area of high humidity and summer temperatures of up to 100 degrees. This same electric supply is all that keeps the lights and incubators on at the hospitals.

This is to say nothing of the sewage systems, again repeatedly targeted in this and all other Israeli bombing campaigns, which create sewage tsunamis, floods, and destruction of the marine ecosystem. This ecosystem sustains the few brave fishermen that return to the seas to face the violence of .50 caliber guns on the Israeli navy ships that patrol the ever decreasing fishing boundaries to augment the protein intake of Gazans and to promote the rich fish-based culinary culture.

Gazans are a resourceful group, by necessity. In the face of the international siege, Gazans moved underground, and created a tunnel economy that by some accounts included as many as 3000 tunnels. These tunnels were regulated by HAMAS, and the goods from the tunnels populated the markets, the convenience stores, and the home goods stores for the entire strip. These tunnels were dug by hand in the sandy soil along the Southern border, using hand-drawn maps. They represented a challenge to the international boundary, and were built in open defiance of the siege. Along with the products smuggled through the tunnels came the expected distortions of Gazan and Egyptian economies. Tunnel owners became relatively wealthy, while the workers were paid less and less as the tunnels became more common. Soon electrical goods flooded the market, from televisions to refrigerators to air conditioners, but what good were these items with no electricity to run them? In the end, this warren of tunnels under the border were ended by the US-supported Sisi regime, and flooded with sewage. The tunnels, for the most part, came to an end, and the largest source of employment disappeared. The economic impacts of the destruction of the tunnels were significant, as more and more Gazans became dependent on international food aid, reaching 80 percent of the population. Population densities in the camps actually increased, as young Gazan families were unable to afford rents on apartments, and moved back in with their extended families. This contributed to an increase in diseases such as scabies and lice, and a resurgence of mumps in the confined spaces of the camps.

Why is HAMAS so reluctant to accept a ceasefire? Because life before the invasion was intolerable. With the ascendence of Sisi to power in Egypt, Gazans are completely dependent on Israel, a hostile occupier, for all goods entering the strip, for electricity, for water, for safe passage. All the while, Israel denies its responsibilities under international law to maintain the wellbeing of the occupied population, and engages in wholesale transfer of populations, another violation of human rights. All the while, the world turns a blind eye to these violations, and Israel becomes ever more blatant in its disregard for common human decency. This is a scenario no country would accept.

It is important to ask at this time, why would HAMAS increase in popularity so dramatically, if, as Israeli and numerous US media pundits would have us believe, that they themselves are to blame for the massive civilian deaths throughout the Gaza Strip since the beginning of Operation “Protective Edge”? Herein lies the contradiction of collective punishment. Gaza’s siege has created unbearable hardship for Gazans throughout the strip, and across class, politics and geography. Gazans that I have met have been harsh critics of the HAMAS regime. Those critiques, by and large, have largely been focused on domestic policy, perceived local mismanagement and the lack of progress in bringing the siege to an end and softening the occupation. HAMAS’s support before the current invasion was far greater in the West Bank, where Palestinians suffer under Israeli colonialism and FATAH collaboration with the Israelis. In the end, this is the explanation for the significant expansion of public support for HAMAS in Gaza. They have come to represent resistance. Resistance in the context of the siege, of periodic invasions, the day to day humiliations and injustices, the lack of clean water, electricity, housing, and medical care, the constant firing on fishermen, farmers and rubble gatherers, is the embodiment for many of sumoud, the spirit of steadfastness that permeates popular Palestinian society. As one Gazan blogger recently posted, “People find it hard to understand, the youth, we hate Gaza, we only want to leave, but we love it and will fight for it. We will not be refugees again, it is our home.”

It is Israel that drops 1-ton bombs into overcrowded housing. It is Israel that attacks UN schools that it acknowledges are shelters. It is Israel that shuts off power and water supplies, and limits the entry of food through the Karm Abu Salem terminal. It is Israel that has killed 1900 Gazans, the overwhelming majority civilians. To blame Gazans or even HAMAS for this is unconscionable, and nonsensical. This was a war of choice, based on false premises. Ostensibly the original justification was the abduction of three teenagers on the West Bank, which all, even Israel, now acknowledges, was not the act of HAMAS. Israel has created and taken advantage of an opportunity to attempt to destroy HAMAS and to try to crush Palestinian resistance through bombs, bullets, and missiles. It will fail, but at an unacceptable human cost. With each Gazan child killed, the pain of international culpability in the siege and the invasion is further exacerbated.

HAMAS’s rocket fire and tunnel strategy, as impotent as it may very well appear, may be the only thing preventing a shift to genuine terrorism. The repeated calls in the US congress to denounce HAMAS activities as human rights violations are intolerable hypocrisy in the face of one of the most advanced militaries on the planet deliberately targeting civilians, their homes, and their infrastructure. Israel does this knowing that unless its siege is lifted, it will be almost impossible to rebuild. HAMAS is not the ideal, neither for Gazans, the West or for Israel. They are, however, a group which carries the support of large sectors of the population, and the democratically-elected leaders of Palestine. This is something Israelis, and the West need to fully comprehend: HAMAS is your partner for peace and for negotiations. Ignore them, or attempt to destroy them at your own peril. It is the very violations of international humanitarian law, the wanton destruction of civilians and UN hospitals, clinics, and schools, and the unwillingness of the world powers to condemn these actions, that makes violent armed resistance, including that aimed at civilian targets, an attractive option to a population that has been deserted by the world. Peace is not a ceasefire. For these reasons, alternatives to violence must be pursued. The most promising of these non-violent forms of resistance is the global grassroots solidarity movement encapsulated in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.  BDS is not only practicable, it is also gaining more and more traction in light of the intransigence and complicity of the West in the violations of decency, humanity, and human rights law.

Ron Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Department of International Relations at Bucknell University.

This article originally appeared in Logos.


–Joe

Written by Joe Blow

August 8, 2014 at 6:56 pm

The American Way

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Another Murderous Milestone: 60 Years of Carnage

WRITTEN BY CHRIS FLOYD
SATURDAY, 28 JUNE 2014 16:15

 

This month, the world has marked significant historical milestones: the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landing (and unmarked, except in Russia, the 70th anniversary of the Red Army’s Operation Bagration, the largest battle in world history, in which the Soviets broke the back of the Nazi army); and the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, the spark that led to the First World War.

But this week saw the anniversary of another major turning point in modern history, a campaign that became — and remains — the enduring template of foreign policy for the world’s most powerful nation. We speak, of course, of the 60th anniversary of Washington’s “regime change” operation in Guatemala, overthrowing a democratically elected government.

It was not the first such American “intervention,” of course (and was preceded in the previous year by a more indirect role in overthrowing democracy in Iran), but it set in train more than six decades of violent attacks on democracy by the “leader of the free world.” (A fine tradition carried on by Barack Obama in Honduras.) In fact, a hatred of democracy — a genuine, visceral revulsion at the idea of people choosing their own leaders and their own form of society — has been a driving force in American foreign policy for generations. Democracy and freedom are only allowed if they lead to outcomes that advance whatever the agenda of the American elite happens to be at any given time. They hate democracy abroad; they hate it at home; they hate it everywhere, all the time. The historical record is remarkably consistent on this point.

The Guatemala regime change was noted at the London Review of Books, however, in a piece by John Perry. Below are some excerpts:

Over ten days in June 1954, a decade after the D-Day landings, the CIA sent twelve planes to drop bombs and propaganda on towns in Guatemala in support of a coup against the elected government of Jácobo Arbenz …. …

In the last raid on 27 June, the SS Springfjord, a British merchant ship that had survived capture by the Nazis in 1940, was attacked in the port of San Jose. It was alleged to be unloading arms. After a warning pass – the ship’s captain gave the pilot a friendly wave – a 500lb bomb was dropped down its chimney. It turned out to be loading coffee and cotton.

Guatemala was one of the first countries in the region to emerge from military dictatorship. Arbenz was the second democratic president, elected in 1951 with 65 per cent of the vote. A strongly nationalist military officer, he was convinced that the central problem in a mainly agricultural country was land: 70 per cent of it in the hands of only 2 per cent of the population, of which only a quarter was being cultivated. In 1953 he decreed the takeover of more than 200,000 acres of unused land belonging to the United Fruit Company. The company responded with a propaganda campaign to convince Eisenhower not to be ‘soft on communism’.

It worked. Arbenz, realising that a coup was being plotted, bought a secret shipment of arms from Czechoslovakia. Uncovered by the CIA, this enabled Eisenhower to warn of a possible ‘communist dictatorship’ and support Arbenz’s rival, Carlos Castillo Armas. His insurgents invaded on 18 June, but failed to take control of the towns they targeted. The coup could easily have been a flop. But the CIA raids that culminated in the bombing of the Springfjord unnerved the Guatemalan army command, who withdrew their support from Arbenz. By the evening of 27 June he’d resigned.

Within a month, military dictatorship had resumed under Castillo Armas, with a new government recognised by Eisenhower. After a visit in 1955, Vice-President Nixon said that Guatemala was the ‘first instance in history where a communist government has been replaced by a free one’. US-backed military regimes ruled until 1996. By then some 200,000 people had died in civil war, most at the hands of government forces.

Our 21st century intervention in Iraq has killed far more people much more quickly, of course. But as we gear up for yet another round of slaughter in the country we have recently demolished, it’s good to be reminded that none of this is new or unusual; it is, very simply — and quite horribly — the way the bipartisan American elite do business. Violence is their profession, their religion, their guiding light. They use violence to advance their agenda, then use more violence to deal with the inevitable horrific consequences spawned by their violence, on and on in an endless cycle.


–Joe

Written by Joe Blow

June 28, 2014 at 10:42 pm

The Brownshirt Solution is a Real Life Tragedy

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Where it all starts: The Brownshirt Real Life Tragedy as they touch REAL people with Totalitarian Solutions.

In the 150 years or so since the Civil War you would naturally believe, after all the World Wars, all the fighting and dying, all the sacrifices that were paid for the right to be free men and women we would be living in a modern utopia of glutinous freedoms and liberties, with universal justice. Rather than living in a world of barbaric cannibals daily gorging themselves on – eating our rights to be free and independent citizens charting our course in this life to all our unalienable rights, i.e.,

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

What we get, and this is a good example, of the real time social barbarism and terrorist philosophy that drives or empowers such dark age beliefs. In America the victims are just thrown into solitary confinement for life – a form of tortured murder or execution. It’s called indefinite detention without trial, in some cases. These beliefs are then translated into laws that justified some of the worlds most abhorrent despots and murderous tyrants. Today millions of Americans are incarcerated and for what? Not being white? How many innocent people were forced to plead to a police frame-up that stupid or racist jurors and corrupt judges rubber-stamped into prison?

I’m talking about this blog and this particular article: “Another tragic incident, with a pitiful outcome well short of Justice” – Be sure to read the comments to get the full impact.

It all seems innocuous enough, right. Just conversation trying to work out a reasonable solution.

What makes this serious for everyone is how this kind of conduct extrapolate into real life and dramatically affects our social community to its everlasting detriment. You can’t spit on the sidewalk without committing a felony. The police are lawless in their own right and replicate that attitude when dealing with everyone. When was the last time anyone challenged Humboldt Superior Court Judge Dale Reinholtsen for that position or any other Superior Court Judge?

Knee-jerk justice speaks for itself. Extreme knee-jerk laws tend to create injustice. You can’t cure a disease by trying to treat the symptoms.

When I first read this article I accidentally reblogged it as a test of the feature. When it didn’t show up on my Blogger Page I assumed it didn’t work. WordPress Reblog only works on WordPress Blogs. When I noticed it had worked I decided to leave it with an additional caveat. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was supporting a Brownshirt blog.

–Joe

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