June 12th: Remembering the Pulse Massacre

Two years ago the Supreme Court closed the Obergefell v. Hodges case in a 5-4 decision guaranteeing the right to marry to same-sex couples federally. It was a day of peak national pride for me. The federal government had really gotten something right and there was so much radiant joy, from the rainbow spotlights on the Obama White House to a gay coworker of mine whose face beamed as soon as the topic came up, to one of my friends here who put it perfectly, “Isn’t it just better when everyone is included?”.

A year later Omar Mateen opened fire at the Pulse Nightclub killing 49 and injuring 53 — the deadliest mass shooting by a single person in U.S. history.  It strikes a demoralizing contrast to the previous year’s supreme court decision.  This wasn’t a random target. Mateen chose the Pulse because it was a gay club and there’s evidence to suggest that he struggled with unrealized or latent homosexuality, which is often expressed as fear or hatred towards homosexuals. This day is a reminder that homophobia is not victimless.

Remembering the Victims of the Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Orlando, Orlando Sentinel

 

 


Weekly Update

Middle East and North Africa

Cholera Death Toll Tops 849 in War-Torn Yemen as U.S. Backed Saudi Assault Continues, Democracy Now!

In Yemen, a civilian is dying nearly every hour from a massive cholera outbreak, as the ongoing U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing campaign and naval blockade has devastated the country’s health, sanitation and water systems. The World Health Organization says the number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen has now reached 101,820 and continues to rise, accounting for 859 deaths. Yemen’s healthcare system is also on the verge of collapse as many hospitals have shut down because of the ongoing U.S.-backed Saudi war. Only 45 percent of Yemen’s hospitals are still operational.

Karbala suicide bombing: 30 killed in Iraq terror attack, Bethan McKernan, The Independent

At least 30 people have been killed in a suicide bombing south of Baghdad, Iraqi officials have said, in an attack claimed by Isis.

The female assailant blew herself up on Friday in Musayab, just east of the holy Shia city of Karbala, killing 30 civilians and wounding another 35.

U.S.-led Forces Accused of Using White Phosphorus in Syria and Iraq, Dan MacGuill, Snopes

On 8 June 2017, the citizen-journalist group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently posted a video on Twitter showing what looks like white phosphorus munitions exploding over what the group said was a Raqqa neighborhood:

 

 

 

 

Trump

Today Trump lost in another ruling on his travel ban targeting majority Muslim countries in both the US Court of Appeals 4th and 9th circuits:

Trump Loses Travel Ban Ruling in Appeals Court, Adam Liptak, The New York Times

The two courts employed different reasoning to arrive at the same basic conclusion. The Fourth Circuit said the revised executive order violated the First Amendment’s prohibition of government establishment of religion.

The Ninth Circuit, by contrast, rested its conclusions on statutory grounds. It said Mr. Trump had exceeded the authority Congress granted him in making national security judgments in the realm of immigration without adequate justification.

A story co-published by ProPublica and the New York Times investigates Trump’s son-in-law and go-to for peace in the Middle East Jared Kushner’s maltreatment of tenants.

The Beleagured Tenants of ‘Kushnerville’, Alec MacGillis, ProPublica

Tenants in more than a dozen Baltimore-area rental complexes complain about a property owner who they say leaves their homes in disrepair, humiliates late-paying renters and often sues them when they try to move out. Few of them know that their landlord is the president’s son-in-law.

Jeremy Corbyn

When Theresa May and the Tories called for a three-year-early snap election, they were polling well and looked to strengthen their hold on the House of Commons heading into Brexit negotiations. It didn’t turn out as planned. Despite being maligned by the neoliberal/Blairite faction of his own party, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn led the party to a substantial victory Friday, taking enough seats to end the Conservative Party’s majority, resulting in a hung parliament.

Why Corbyn Won, Bhaskar Sunkara, Jacobin

Labour’s surge confirms what the Left has long argued: people like an honest defense of public goods. Labour’s manifesto was sweeping — its most socialist in decades. It was a straightforward document, calling for nationalization of key utilities, access to education, housing, and health services for all, and measures to redistribute income from corporations and the rich to ordinary people.

Jeremy Corbyn is Leading the Left out of the Wilderness and Toward Power, Mehdi Hassan, The Intercept

Corbyn has showed how it is possible for progressives to build a coalition between the young, people of color and cosmopolitan liberals on the one hand and, yes, those dreaded white working class communities on the other. It is a fiction to claim that leaders on the left must choose between them, or play one marginalized group off against another. White ex-UKIP voters in the north of the country returned to Labour last week in their hundreds of thousands.

Jeremy Corbyn (FULL) Interview on Andrew Marr (11/06/17 – BBC News

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#Sanderswouldhavewon


JPTV: The People’s Summit and the Premiere of the Nina Turner Show

People’s Summit:

Justice Visionaries and Visions of Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben Jealous — Former NAACP president running for governor in Maryland

 

 

 

And of course, Bernie Sanders was the headliner

 

Nina Turner Show premieres with Bernie Sanders

 

 

 

 

 

 


. . . thank you for scrolling

JP124: June 5th

Scroll some of column A, scroll all of column B

55f84ce3df7aefd98388fbfd5a0ce4c413c20198_1200.jpg

(Rainbow ice cream cones to celebrate the passage of marriage equality in Taiwan, Nadine Kirchner, Creative Boom)

Airwars

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 2.11.58 PM.png

Military Reports — June 2017

June 1st – June 2nd 2017
Iraq 13 strikes (12,821-12,833)
Syria 19 strikes +5*  (9,094- 9,117)
Confirmed actions: US


Weekly Roundup

Spoiler of the week: The great slanderer, our dear leader Donald Trump is exploiting this weekend’s London massacre in order to promote his unconstitutional and ill-conceived travel ban on 6 majority Muslim countries. In characteristic repugnance, the American president took to Twitter in order to berate Mayor of London Sadik Khan by taking a quote from a recent address out of context:

“At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reson to be alarmed!'”

Spoiler alert: Mayor Khan was referring to the increased police presence in the city stating:

“My message to Londoners and visitors to our great city is to be calm and vigilant today. . . you will see an increased police presence today, including armed officers and uniformed officers. There is no reason to be alarmed by this.”

What Trump and Duterte said privately about the North Korean Nuclear Threat, Jeremy Scahill, Alex Emmons, Ryan Grim, The Intercept

Part 2

“We can’t let a madman with nuclear weapons let on the loose like that. We have a lot of firepower, more than he has times 20, but we don’t want to use it,” Trump told Duterte. (In fact, the U.S. has 6,800 nuclear warheads and North Korea is thought to have about 10.) “You will be in good shape,” he added.

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte joke that his soldiers can rape women under martial law, Elizabeth Elizalde, New York Daily News

“If you go down, I go down. But for this martial law and the consequences of martial law and the ramifications of martial law, I and I alone would be responsible, just do your job I will take care of the rest,” Duterte said, according to a transcript cited by The Guardian.

He then said if any of his men were to rape three women, he would claim responsibility.

Rainbow ice cream cone artwork celebrates Taiwan’s landmark ruling on same-sex marriage, Katy Cowan, Creative Boom

Earlier this month, Taiwan’s top judges ruled in favour of gay marriage, paving the way for the country to become the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex unions. In celebration of this cultural shift, artist and designer Alexandra Plesner has created Series 1 (Culturescape) – a rainbow coloured ice cream cone artwork, reflecting the set of beliefs, practices and ideas that program us to see and function in the world.

German foreign minster says Trump has made the West ‘weaker’ with destructive policies, Jason Silverstein, New York Daily News

“Anyone who accelerates climate change by weakening environmental protection, who sells more weapons in conflict zones and who does not want to politically resolve religious conflicts is putting peace in Europe at risk,” Gabriel said.

“The short-sighted policies of the American government stand against the interests of the European Union. The West has become smaller, at least it has become weaker.”

Brazilian diplomats criticize Temer over protest crackdown, Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press

Several dozen protesters were injured and several news organization captured images of military police firing live rounds at protesters. After scenes of vandalism, Temer issued a decree to use troops to protect public buildings in Brasilia, a measure that was criticized by a Supreme Court justice and key leaders of Congress. The president, whose popularity has fallen into the single digits, said it was a necessary measure to block anarchists that trashed the government area, but he withdrew the soldiers.

Palestinian Prisoners’ Hunger Strike in Israeli Jails Ends, Yaniv Kubovich and Jack Khoury, Haaretz

According to Palestinian official Jamal Mohsin, “the strike ended after 41 days and following struggle, steadfastness and long negotiations, including with the leaders of the strike headed by Marwan Barghouti.”

Haaretz has learned that over the past two weeks senior officials from the Shin Bet security service met with senior Palestinian officials and discussed with them the prisoners’ demands. The meetings showed that the defense establishment was intending to meet some of the prisoners’ demands and improve their conditions. However, the Shin Bet demanded that the hunger strike end first.

Thousands rally in Morocco for release of Zefzafi and ending corruption, Middle East Eye

Thousands of young people clashed with riot police in northern Morocco on Friday night, following a general strike called for by activists demanding the release of a protest leader.

Nasser Zefzafi, who emerged as the head of the grassroots al-Hirak al-Shaabi, or “Popular Movement,” was arrested on Monday after three days on the run.

Death toll rises to 206, 68 still missing, DailyMirror

The death toll from the adverse weather conditions in the country had risen to 206 last evening while 68 persons were still said to be missing,disaster Management Centre said yesterday. The highest number of deaths were reported from Ratnapura-84, while 63 deaths were reported from Kalutara, 31 in Matara, 05 in Hambantota, 15 in Galle and 04 in Kegalle.

Motherhood is Complex and So Am I, Rachel Siemens, Man Repeller

The longer I’m a parent, the less of an identity I have other than mom.” I found that quote on a private Facebook group for moms. I read it on occasion for its eyebrow-raising, hyper-granola content. Like, reusable-toilet-paper levels of granola. It was in response to a question a woman had posted about not having anything to talk about with her husband after having kids. Other commenters sympathized, some even responding along the lines of not caring if you’re boring to other adults as long as you’re superheros to your kids. This is a notion I wholly reject. It’s possible to be both a functional, intellectual being and an invested parent.


al-Latheeth

About a month ago I heard some Animal Collective for the first time in a while and have been on a kick since. Couple of my favorites for ya:

Who could win a rabbit, Sung Tongs, Animal Collective (Lyrics)

Banshee Beat, Feels, Animal Collective (Lyrics)


. . . thank you for scrolling

JP124: Howard Wallace

0-OB5W9IZf3eJyzdiC.jpg

(Picture from: 7 Union Heroes to Remember)

Howard Wallace

(Susan Edgar, Beyond Chron)

As he moved into the 1960s, Howard’s broad involvement included most of the movements of that era. He joined the ranks of the anti-Vietnam War, helping to found Denver’s Stop the War Committee, and organizing an international defense campaign for Lt. Henry Howe who was court-martialed and sentenced to a dishonorable discharge from the military and a year’s hard labor for attending a 1965 antiwar demonstration. He supported Chicano rights through his work with the New Hispano Party in 1966 and his efforts against police brutality in the Mexican-American community, which united African Americans and Chicanos over several years.

He also joined the Denver branch of the Socialist Workers Party. In 1962 Howard was involved in organizing the Denver Fair Play for Cuba Committee., and in 1965 he was the SWP candidate for the Denver School Board. He remained a member of the SWP until the mid-seventies, when he left over the party’s reluctance to take on LGBT issues. . . . Continue reading


Weekly Roundup

Trump Called Rodrigo Duterte to Congratulate Him on His Murderous Drug War. “You Are Doing an Amazing Job.”, Jeremy Scahill, Alex Emmons, Ryan Grim, The Intercept

Part 1

IN A PHONE CALL from the White House late last month, U.S. President Donald Trump heaped praise on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, one of the world’s most murderous heads of state, for doing what Trump called an “unbelievable job” in his war on drugs. Trump offered an unqualified endorsement of Duterte’s bloody extermination campaign against suspected drug dealers and users, which has included open calls for extrajudicial murders and promises of pardons and immunity for the killers

Two Stabbed to Death Protecting Muslim Woman in Portland, Emma Henderson, The Daily Beast

A stabbing in Portland, Ore. on Friday has left two people dead and one person injured. The three victims were stabbed by a man after they tried to stop him from yelling anti-Muslim and racist remarks at passengers on the MAX train.

We must look to the past, not Isis, for the true meaning of Islam, Robert Fisk, The Independent

Emir Abdelkader was a Muslim, Sufi, sheikh, humanist, protector of his people against Western barbarism, protector of Christians against Muslim barbarism, so noble that Abe Lincoln sent him a pair of Colt pistols

Tunisia protester ‘accidentally’ killed in south, AFP, Daily Mail

A young protester was killed Monday after a national guard vehicle “accidentally” ran him over in south Tunisia, raising fears of mounting social unrest in a region rocked by weeks of protest.

Tulsi Gabbard Condemns Saudi Arabia Arms SaleBig Island Video News

The $110 billion deal, signed today overseas, does not sit well with the Hawaii Congresswoman who is pushing for a bipartisan Stop Arming Terrorists Act

Tulsi Gabbard is Not Your Friend, Branko Marcetic, Jacobin

Tulsi Gabbard is hailed as a progressive champion. But her views on Islam and support for far-right leaders suggest otherwise.

Oil spill costs Marion thousands in cleanup, Evie Allen, WSIL ABC 3

MARION — An oil spill in a Marion creek taught folks an important environmental lesson.

Marion City leaders say an employee at a local business caused a serious oil spill in the city’s West End Creek. City workers found gallons of oil in the water and along its banks just north of the town’s sewage treatment plant.

This Virtual Reality Experience Shows what Facing Abortion Clinic Protesters Is Really Like — And It’s Making an Impact, Emma McGowan, Bustle

At abortion clinics across the country, women and their companions are faced with harassment — and sometimes even physical violence — as they try to access safe and legal abortions. Protesters range from Catholics silently doing the rosary to members of anti-choice groups and churches who scream, call names, and may even attempt to physically block clinic access. It’s a horrifying situation for people who are often already going through a really hard time, but it’s a situation that you can’t truly understand unless you’ve been in it yourself. Until now

 


JPTV

Planned Parenthood produced a virtual reality video showing what women face on their way to getting an abortion. It uses actual audio from outside an abortion clinic

That newly elected Rep. Gianforte assaulted a reporter is inexcusable; far beyond the pale. Listen to how his supporters respond to this apology. It’s clear they don’t think he did anything wrong. That is disturbing. President Trump has called the media “the enemy of the American people”.

Director of US Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney questioned by Senator Sanders over CBO report on Trump Budget

Barbara Ehrenreich on the toxic culture of Optimism, The School of Life: Sunday Sermons

 


al-Latheeth

To close my labor-themed month, I’m posting an old favorite of mine, “Soup is good food” by the Dead Kennedys, which is about the great downsizing that began in the 1980s.


…thank you for scrolling

JP124: César Chávez

Scroll the jewels fast…

biography.com_.jpg

César Chávez

César Chávez was a folk hero and symbol of hope to millions of Americans. In 1962, he and a few others set out to organize a union of farm workers. Nearly everyone told them it was impossible. But for a time they succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings. An ardent advocate of nonviolence, Chávez was one of the most inspirational labor leaders of the 20th century, with an influence that stretched far beyond the California fields.


Weekly Roundup

“Leaked NSA Malware is Helping Hijack Computers Around the World”, Sam Biddle, The Intercept

In mid-April, an arsenal of powerful software tools apparently designed by the NSA to infect and control Windows computers was leaked by an entity known only as the “Shadow Brokers.” Not even a whole month later, the hypothetical threat that criminals would use the tools against the general public has become real, and tens of thousands of computers worldwide are now crippled by an unknown party demanding ransom.

“No Left Turns”, Chris Lehmann, The Baffler

So as our toddler-tyrant chief executive continues raging into the void, let’s briefly review the past month’s worth of canny ideological machinations in our elite liberal media. The com-symps at the helm of the New York Times rejiggered their op-ed lineup with the addition of former Wall Street Journal deputy opinion editor (and rainy-day Islamophobe/climate-change denier) Bret Stephens. MSNBC, the cable megaphone for the anti-Trump resistance, rejiggered its pundit lineup with the addition of noted Tory reactionary (and rainy-day climate-change denier) George Will, who’s already an op-ed fixture at the pinko Washington Post. Getting fully into the swing of things, James Bennet, the erstwhile Atlantic magazine caretaker now captaining the Gray Lady’s opinion franchise, sought to capitalize on the abortion debate roiling the activist wing of the Democratic party with a deranged sermonette from a right-to-life apparatchik deriding the economic case for reproductive rights as “dehumanizing,” “patronizing, and patently dishonest.”

“Democratic Socialist, Kamau, Elected to South Fulton City Council”, Gloria Tatum, Atlanta Progressive News

(APN) ATLANTA — On April 18, 2017, the voters of the City of South Fulton, the newly created city in south Fulton County, elected a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, khalid kamau, to the District 6 South Fulton City Council seat.

“The Folk Singer vs. the Millionaire: A Berniecrat Aims for Montana’s House Seat”, Joseph Bullington, In These Times

I first heard of Rob Quist last fall, when I saw him play in White Sulphur Springs, Mont., the conservative ranch town of 900 people where I grew up. Until recently, this is how most Montanans knew him: a folk musician they had seen in bars, gymnasiums and fairgrounds across the state. Quist grew up on a ranch outside the small town of Cut Bank, on the border of the Blackfeet Nation, and has made his living playing music since the 1970s.

“Buffet is Voting All Shares in Favor of Wells Fargo’s Board”, Laura J Keller and Noah Buhayar, Bloomberg

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is voting all of its Wells Fargo & Co. shares to support the re-election of the bank’s board.

Berkshire, Wells Fargo’s largest investor with a stake of about 10 percent, has already voted most of the holding, Debbie Bosanek, an assistant to Buffett, said in an email Thursday. Buffett, 86, is also voting shares he personally owns, she said.

“Pressure on Democrats Pays Off as Chuck Schumer Picks Consumer Advocate for FTC Nominee”, David Dayen, The Intercept

As reported by The Intercept in March, Schumer had previously been considering his ex-Chief of Staff David Hantman — a former lobbyist for Yahoo and Airbnb who opposed regulation on Silicon Valley firms — for the position. After details of Hantman’s past work became public, Schumer last month told the International Business Times that he would not be submitting Hantman’s name.

“Apple Raises $7 Billion in Debt Ahead of Trump’s Proposed Tax Holiday”, Joe Rossingnol, Macrumors.com post

Apple has raised $7 billion in debt in a six-part bond sale, according to the company’s final pricing term sheet filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission today. The fixed and floating notes mature between 2020 and 2027.


JPTV

“Global Capitalism: The US Position Weakens”, Dr. Richard Wolff, Democracy at Work

Bernie Sanders interview Bill McKibbon, The Bernie Sanders Show

“No Desk Duty This Time: Cop Quickly Charged in Murder of Unarmed Teen”, Kim Brown interview Nina Turner, The Real News Network

 


al-Baqia

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”
Directed by: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Kurt Russell

I went and saw Guardians 2 last week and thought it was great — basically as good as the first one. It trips up a little on your usual sequel problems with a shot through exposition and some relationship manufacturing, but none of that matters because this cast is incredible. They have some great chemistry and it keeps this movie fun — even if it does drag a teensy bit in the middle. Also looks good — love the very colorful palette we were introduced to in the first movie — and, of course, the mixtape vol. 2 is also incredible. Been listening to it all week.


…thank you for scrolling

JP124: May Day

Scroll against the machine…

HaymarketRiot-Harpers.jpg(The Haymarket Riot, Harper’s Weekly – http://www.chicago.org/hadc/visuals/59v0460v.jpg)

“Eight Hours for Work, Eight Hours for Rest,
Eight Hours for What We Will!”

“The Haymarket Affair”, William J. Adelman, Illinois Labor History Society

No single event has influenced the history of labor in Illinois, the United States, and even the world, more than the Chicago Haymarket Affair. It began with a rally on May 4, 1886, but the consequences are still being felt today. Although the rally is included in American history textbooks, very few present the event accurately or point out its significance”

William J. Adelman


The 124

There’s a famous curse, which Bobby Kennedy dubiously designated a “chinese curse”,  which condemns: May you live in interesting times. These are interesting times. The “elected” executive of the most powerful government in history is a buffoonish, talentless, heir and the opposition party, the Democratic Party, long in decline, is hindered by a rift between the empowered neoliberal faction and a leftist, new deal uprising. A rash and reckless Republican Party should be easily contestable, but may continue to gain power due to the Democratic Party’s inability to reconcile its contradictions.

By influence of political history scholar, Thomas Frank,  it is my view that the only way to change the reactionary tide is for an authentic people’s party to emerge — be it the Democratic Party or otherwise.

Perhaps revisiting this nation’s illustrious, but too often neglected labor history could be a source of inspiration. In honor of May Day, this month’s 124 will be dedicated to heroes of the labor movement.

Labor Hero of the Week: Lucy Gonzalez Parsons

Lucy_Parsons.1920.jpg
(Lucy Parsons 1920, wikipedia.org)

“Never be deceived that the rich will allow you to vote away their wealth”
-Lucy Parsons (1853-1942)

“More Dangerous Thana Thousand Rioters: The Revolutionary Life of Lucy Parsons”, Kelly Gallagher, The Nation

There is one word we should all be thinking in these first days under president-elect Donald Trump. One word that we should be shouting as we begin the work of combating the racist and misogynist policies that will inevitably come. One word we should embody now more than ever: Organize. Under Trump, we will need to come together in radically new ways, ways we haven’t even envisioned yet. In moments like these, artists have an especially unique role, actively encouraging community and care, critiquing misogyny and white supremacy, and resurrecting important histories of resistance and rebellion.


Weekly Roundup

“This May Day, Don’t Go to Work, Take to the Streets and Strike”, Michelle Chen, In These Times

From the Muslim ban to the border wall, President Donald Trump’s first 100 days have unleashed a blitzkrieg of terror. But on May 1, the communities he thought he’d backed into a corner will put him on the defensive with equal and opposite force.

Bernie Sanders with investigative journalist Jane Mayer, author of ‘Dark Money’, The Bernie Sanders Show

“‘Fear City’ Explores How Donald Trump Exploited The New York Debt Crisis to Boost His Own Fortune”, Naomi Klein, The Intercept

When I published “The Shock Doctrine” a decade ago, a few people told me that it was missing a key chapter in the evolution of the tactic I was reporting on. That tactic involved using periods of crisis to impose a radical pro-corporate agenda. They said that in the United States that story doesn’t start with Reagan in the 1980s, as I had told it, but rather in New York City in the mid-1970s. That’s when the city’s very near brush with all-out bankruptcy was used to dramatically remake the metropolis. Massive and brutal austerity, sweetheart deals for the rich, privatizations. In classic Shock Doctrine style, under cover of crisis, New York changed from being a place with some of the most generous public services in the country, engaged in some cutting-edge attempts at racial and economic integration, to the temple of nonstop commerce and gentrification that we all know and still love today.

“Black Politicians are Fighting a ‘Stand Your Ground’ Resurgence”, Mike Spies, The Trace

Soon after the start of his first term as a black lawmaker in the fifth-whitest state in the country, State Representative Ras Smith brought his hoodie to work. For the eleventh year in a row, elected officials in Iowa were going to take up a “stand your ground” proposal, authorizing residents to use lethal means to protect themselves in certain situations. In other states, similar laws have disproportionately justified the fatal shootings of African-Americans.

“Which Way to the Barricades?”, Steve Fraser and Nelson Lichtenstein, Jacobin

Rise, like lions after slumber,
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many—they are few.

Shelly’s “Masque of Anarchy” has been a spectral presence for nearly two hundred years, summoned at climactic moments of civil warfare. Composed to memorialize the 1819 Peterloo massacre, the poem commemorates the sixty thousand people who gathered at the very dawn of the industrial revolution to demand a radical expansion of suffrage, especially to those laboring in England’s dark satanic mills. Dozens died, hundreds were wounded.

“Brazil on Strike”, Lucas Iberico Lozada, Dissent

As darkness fell in Rio de Janeiro’s historic center on Friday evening, the smell of tear gas hung heavy. It had been a day of mass mobilization across the country: more than a million Brazilians in at least 254 cities participated in a day-long general strike on Friday, according to organizers; more are taking to the streets today for May Day, a national holiday here. The strike, said to be the biggest in decades, was meant to rally opposition to an aggressive pension reform plan that would weaken labor laws and raise the retirement age by a decade—the centerpiece of an array of austerity measures put forth by President Michel Temer, whose approval rating sits at a dismal 4 percent.

“Why Muslims are marching for climate”, Nana Firman, CNN

From the cropless farmer to the beleaguered first responder to the person forced to evacuate their flooded home, we all have our reasons for caring about climate change. As an Indonesian-born Muslim living in California, it is my faith that compels me to protect our earth.

“Gods of War”, Siddhartha Deb, The Baffler

When the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore flew in 1932 from Calcutta to Bushehr in Iran, he made a brief stop in Baghdad. It was a long journey, and although Tagore was extremely well traveled, this was only his second time on an aircraft. Seventy-one years old, curious about the world but critical of the violence and rigidity of modernity, Tagore was mostly unimpressed by his experience of commercial aviation. It brought to mind the mythical account in the Mahabharata of the warrior Arjuna being taken up into the air, making him reflect that Arjuna had lost intimacy with the earth by flying, his physical distancing resulting inevitably in a moral distancing that would allow him to kill from the air with­out compunction.

“Basic Income in a Just Society”, Birshen Rogers, Boston Review

“Amazon needs only a minute of human labor to ship your next package,” read a CNN headline last October. The company has revolutionized its warehouse operations using an army of 45,000 robots and other technologies. Previously workers known as “pickers” would walk among shelves to find goods. Now robots bring the shelves to them; pickers select goods, scan them, and put them into bins; after robots whisk the shelves away. A network of automated conveyer belts then sends the bins to “packers,” who spend just fifteen seconds on each, sealing boxes with tape that is automatically dispensed at the perfect length. “By the time you take an Amazon delivery off your stoop, walk into your home, find a pair of scissors and open the brown box,” the story intoned, “you’ve already spent nearly as much time handling the package as Amazon’s employees.”


al-Baqia

Daniel Suhre, who writes the Unknown Minstrel section on this blarg has written some damn fine songs. No Minstrel this week, but y’all should check out the demos he has up on his bandcamp — special attention to the labor anthem, “May Day”, which has a verse for our Labor Hero of the Week Lucy Parsons.

“Ghost in the Shell”
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Cast: Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Otsuka, Koichi Yamadera

No real surprise that Rupert Sanders’  yellowfaced and superficial adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell” was a dud — good riddance. Let’s use this as an excuse to revisit Mamoru Oshii’s classic:

There are some complicated ideas explored in this film, here’s a great video from wisecrack to help out


…thank you for scrolling, comrades

JP124: Jury Duty

Take a quick scroll…

The 124 on Jury Duty

It’s been a busy few weeks, honest! First it’s Easter and now I have this jury duty summons! But excuses are like assholes, right? Or maybe that’s opinions. . . anyway, going to have to walk back my commitments to doing 124s on Terrorism and Israel/Palestine for the time being. Turns out they’re rather daunting and all time management problems aside, I’d like to devote a little more time to those two topics regardless. This week: The Roundup, Unknown Minstrel Week 5, and some baqia.


Weekly Roundup

“In Indonesia, pious “punks” promote Islam”, Tommy Ardiansyah, Johan Purnama, Kanupriya Kapoor, and Nick Macfie, Reuters

My knee jerk response to this headline was to remember the Christian Rock garbage I was encouraged to listen to at summer camp, the sort of music to which Hank Hill famously opined “You’re not making Christianity better, you’re making rock and roll worse!”. But comparative religions is risky business and I’m not here to be a critic. Interesting contrast to the Orientalist image.

Ahmad Zaki, one of the movement’s founders, believes the genre of punk is often associated with a “tendency towards misbehaviour” but he wants to change that.

“We can redirect ourselves to better, more positive things,” he said.

“The Airline Industry Is a Starving Giant That’s Gnawing at Our Economy”, Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

When the Carter administration began deregulating the airlines in the late ’70s, it did so in the name of fostering price competition. Sure, relinquishing public control might jeopardize smaller, rural cities’ access to convenient air travel, but free-market competition would also make flying more affordable for the vast majority of Americans.

But thanks in no small part to lax antitrust enforcement by President Reagan and his successors, deregulation ultimately turned a public quasi-monopoly into a private one.

War and Peace

“What We Do Best”, Patrick Blanchfield, n+1

Last night, on the centennial of America’s entry into World War I, President Donald Trump authorized the launch of fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles against a Syrian government military base. There has been no call for mass mobilization, no avuncular injunction to report to your local recruiting station. Donald Trump can launch $94 million of cruise missiles from the comfort of Mar-a-Lago; he does not Need You to do anything. But that won’t stop us.

“Trump’s Indonesian Allies In Bed with ISIS-Backed Militia Seeking to Oust Elected President”, Allan Nairn, The Intercept

Associates of Donald Trump in Indonesia have joined army officers and a vigilante street movement linked to ISIS in a campaign that ultimately aims to oust the country’s president. According to Indonesian military and intelligence officials and senior figures involved in what they call “the coup,” the move against President Joko Widodo (known more commonly as Jokowi), a popular elected civilian, is being impelled from behind the scenes by active and retired generals. . . .

. . . Like many officials I spoke with, Kivlan said that the current army-backed street movement and crisis began as a result of the Symposium, a 2016 forum organized by the Jokowi government that allowed survivors and descendants of ’65 to publicly describe what had happened to them and to discuss how their loved ones died. For much of the army, the Symposium was an intolerable outrage and in itself justified the coup movement. One general told me that what most outraged his colleagues was that “it made the victims feel good.” The Symposium, of course, had nothing to do with Gov. Ahok or with religious questions of any kind. It was about the army and its crimes.

Discrimination and Hate Crimes

“Chechen police ‘kidnap and torture gay men’ – LGBT activists”, Laurence Peter, BBC

Gay men are fleeing brutal persecution in Chechnya, where police are holding more than 100 people and torturing some of them in an anti-gay crackdown, Russian activists say.

Poverty and Class Struggle

“Investors are paying college students’ tuition — but they want a share of future income in return”, Frank Chaparro, Business Insider

Melissa Gillbanks is no fan of student loans, so when she was looking for a way to pay for her senior year at Purdue University, she was happy to sign away a portion of her future income in exchange for a very different way to raise cash for college.

Oligarchy

“Oligarchy in America”, Andrew Levine, Counter Punch

Ironically, though, over the same period, income and wealth inequality and other problems associated with plutocracy have gotten worse; voting hasn’t helped with that at all.   Indeed, many less well off voters nowadays vote for candidates and policies that make the problems associated with plutocratic rule worse.  So much for expropriating the expropriators through the ballot box!

There are many reasons why this has happened: false consciousness comes immediately to mind; it is surely part of the explanation.  For evangelicals and others with retrograde social views in the United States, so is “values voting.”

But the most important part of the explanation, in the American case, is the lack of a real opposition party that the system in place does not thoroughly marginalize.  The Democratic Party is useless for that.  To be sure, even Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have been known to mouth off about the evils of inequality.  But you don’t need a bullshit detector to see that they are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Israel/Palestine

“Hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails begin hunger strike”, Nidal Almughrabi, Ori Lewis, Jeffrey Heller, and Alison Williams, Reuters

Hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails began a hunger strike on Monday in response to a call by prominent prisoner Marwan Barghouti, widely seen as a possible future Palestinian president.


Unknown Minstrel Week 5
By Daniel Suhre

Back at it again this week, this time returning to my PNW roots to pay homage to Kind of Like Spitting, a project of Ben Barnett that started around 1995 and lasted 10 or so years (with occasional releases/tours after 2006).

A friend introduced me to KOLS only last year, and what I found was a lot of music, probably created under less-than-ideal circumstances (though not without a sense of humor. Take a look at the cover of Professional Results:1999-2014 for instance).

What I like so much about Ben’s songwriting is he seems perfectly at home channeling Leonard Cohen as Death Cab for Cutie, and doesn’t get mired in purity struggles. On The Thrill of the Hunt we hear covers of much loved classics by Big Star (‘Thirteen’) alongside Dean Martin psuedo-deep cuts (‘Lay Some Happiness on Me’), all in an endearing bedroom folk configuration.

It’s telling that Ben chose to make an entire album of Phil Ochs covers. It was central to Phil’s music never to bow to the ideological demands of the folkies (Take, for example, the infamous Gunfight at Carnegie Hall album, a joyous romp of Elvis medleys and songs by Merle Haggard and Buddy Holly, complete with a telephone bomb threat, Phil smashing the box office window, and a three hour second set ended only by Carnegie Hall cutting the power).

I hear Ben’s music as somewhat of a continuation of Phil’s legacy. Class politics come through subtly on many KOLS releases, perhaps most pronounced on In the Red from 2005 (not coincidentally, this is my favorite KOLS album).

Around 2009, Ben started releasing songs with the band Blunt Mechanic, so more recordings to check out there. For now, listen to Sherriff Ochs (presumably about Phil Ochs, though I can’t verify that) from In the Red.

“There’s more to life than lovers and chores / there’s more to life than an office at the top floor”

https://kolsband.bandcamp.com/track/sheriff-ochs


al-Baqia

Jury Duty

In 10 minutes I’m going to sign in for my jury duty summons. While the timing is inconvenient, I’ve looked forward to jury duty since my 1st grade teacher Ms. Swenson was summoned in the spring of 1995. I hear it’s boring, but I’m also sappypleased to be doing my civic duty.

In honor of this life landmark, I’m posting the trailer to Pauly Shore’s Jury Duty, easily one of the funniest movies ever made about jury duty.


. . . thank you for scrolling

JP124: Orientalism

Take a nice scroll…

The 124 on Orientalism

d96e229552d0a9065bc81e6fead70eebc99c424d.jpgJean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, The Grand Odalisque, 1814, oil on canvas (Musée du Louvre, Paris)

Orientalism. What is it? Once upon a time it could be found on the course bulletin of every major university and it indicated the study of the orient,  land typically encompassing north Africa, the Middle East, and East Asia.

Literature professor and founder of post-colonial studies at Colombia, Edward Said (sigh-Eid, not sed) , analyzed this academic tradition and redefined it as the cultural component of imperialism, by which Europeans distinguished themselves, the enlightened Occident, from the near and far east or exotic Orient. He theorized that emphasizing the exotic was effective as justification for the violence and brutality of imperialism.

To this day it remains as a cultural lens through which the West views and defines the East disallowing the East from representing itself. Interesting to me is how amorphous the depiction is. There is little consistency to the orientalist representation, which once upon a time was a picture of lavish overindulgence and unabated sensual appetites. Hardly recognizable next to the today’s representation of rigid reactionaries who value piety and punish pleasure.

If the concept of Orientalism is new to you, I would encourage you to keep it in mind the next time you see Muslims depicted in movies, television or the news. Are you seeing common people you can relate to or something more exotic or fanatical?

That’s my two cents and you should take it for exactly what’s it’s worth. Here are a couple videos to elaborate:

“Edward Said – Framed: The Politics of Stereotypes in News” — Al Jazeera English

 

“What is Orientalism” — Quran Speaks

Exploring Prejudice

Stereotypes are often reinforced by the process of confirmation bias, the demonstrated human propensity to favor information that confirms our beliefs over contradictions to them. A relevant example: if you believe that Muslims are typically pious reactionaries, then the image of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may be easier to recall than Safiyya Ally and Shabir Ally, even if you’ve been exposed to both. I think it illustrates it okay, but for more:

“Confirmation Bias”, David McRaney, You Are Not So Smart

The Misconception: Your opinions are the result of years of rational, objective analysis.

The Truth: Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information which confirmed what you believed while ignoring information which challenged your preconceived notions.

For the reading list

“Orientalism”, Edward Said ($9.50 used from Powell’s)

I first encountered “Orientalism” 8 years ago when I was studying Arabic in Morocco and we translated sections of the text from English into Arabic. Since then I’ve thumb through it a few times and have each time been impressed by Said’s profundity. After years of periodic grazing, I’ve finally purchased my own copy and will be reading it cover-to-cover very soon.

In the introduction, Said quotes from Italian marxist Antonio Gramsci’s “Prison Notebooks”, giving me one of my all time favorite quotes:

“The starting-point of critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one really is, and is ‘knowing thyself’ as a product of the historical processes to date, which has deposited in you an infinity of traces, without leaving an inventory. Therefore it is imperative at the outset to compile such an inventory.

Antonio Gramsci, “Prison Notebooks”

“Native Believer”, Ali Eteraz

By happenstance I came across Ali Eteraz’s novel “Native Believer” on KPFA’s “Against the Grain” podcast. It’s about a secular Muslim living in the United States. Here’s the NYT Books review:


Weekly Roundup

“When Marx Meets Islam”, Ma Tianjie, Foreign Policy

Almost every Chinese person with even a middle school education must, at some point, run into the famous statement about religion by Karl Marx: “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” It is enshrined in textbooks that introduce students to the philosopher’s materialistic interpretation of the world, which considers religion as a “fantasy” used by reactionary forces to disarm the revolutionary proletariat by promising salvation in the afterlife while preaching endurance in the current one.

“Top Democrats Are Wrong: Trump Supporters Were More Motivated By Racism Than Economic Issues”, Mehdi Hasan, The Intercept

IT ISN’T ONLY Republicans, it seems, who traffic in alternative facts. Since Donald Trump’s shock election victory, leading Democrats have worked hard to convince themselves, and the rest of us, that his triumph had less to do with racism and much more to do with economic anxiety — despite almost all of the available evidence suggesting otherwise.

War and Peace

“The Spoils of War: Trump Lavished With Media and Bipartisan Praise for Bombing Syria”, Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

In every type of government, nothing unites people behind the leader more quickly, reflexively or reliably than war. Donald Trump now sees how true that is, as the same establishment leaders in U.S. politics and media who have spent months denouncing him as a mentally unstable and inept authoritarian and unprecedented threat to democracy are standing and applauding him as he launches bombs at Syrian government targets.

Climate Change and The Environment

“BLM Replaces Mountain Landscape Photo with Coal Seam on Home Page”, Kirk Siegler, NPR

On the top of its home page, the Bureau of Land Management, which manages more than 200 million acres of public land under the U.S. Department of the Interior, swapped out a photo of a young boy and his companion backpacking across a mountain meadow in favor of one showing a massive coal seam at a mine in Wyoming.

screen-shot-2017-04-06-at-6.20.00-pm_custom-522cadb84a19c6e48c27ad1753723c15b858bf95-s800-c85.png

screen-shot-2017-04-06-at-6.11.37-pm_custom-90a47691f392cdd6c5c4dcb52bd378026e3960f1-s800-c85.png

Public Health

“Trump’s EPA moves to dismantle programs that protect kids from lead paint”, Chris Mooney and Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post

Environmental Protection Agency officials are proposing to eliminate two programs focused on limiting children’s exposure to lead-based paint, which is known to cause damage to developing brains and nervous systems.

Poverty and Class

“Don’t Blame the Boomers”, Matt Bruenig, Jacobin

I was inspired by this piece in the Boston Globe, about how baby boomers have ruined everything, to go into the Survey of Consumer Finances and see just how well the boomers are actually doing, at least as far as wealth goes. The answer, as with all things, is it depends on what class of boomer you are talking about. Rich boomers are doing well. Poor boomers are not.

“At U-Va., a ‘watch list’ flags VIP applicants for special handling”, T. Rees Shapiro, The Washington Post

The University of Virginia’s fundraising team for years has sought to help children of wealthy alumni and prominent donors who apply for admission, flagging their cases internally for special handling, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

American Oligarchs

“Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel”, Adam Entous, Greg Miller, Kevin Sieff, and Karen DeYoung, The Washington Post

The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials.

“Notorious Mercenary Erik Prince is Advising Trump from the Shadows” Jeremy Scahill, The Intercept

Erik Prince, America’s most notorious mercenary, is lurking in the shadows of the incoming Trump administration. A former senior U.S. official who has advised the Trump transition told The Intercept that Prince has been advising the team on matters related to intelligence and defense, including weighing in on candidates for the Defense and State departments. The official asked not to be identified because of a transition policy prohibiting discussion of confidential deliberations.

State Violence and The Carceral State

“Police Arrested This Cop Watch Activist — But Recorded Themselves By Accident”, George Joseph, The Nation

Last August, Jose LaSalle, a prominent New York City Cop Watch activist, was arrested after filming a stop-and-frisk near a housing project in the South Bronx. Though filming the police is legal, LaSalle was charged with “obstructing governmental administration.” LaSalle claims he was standing far away from the incident. To continue documenting his own arrest, the veteran activist left his two phones and a GoPro camera turned on and recording as he was being taken to a nearby police station.

“Video released of police killing Utah man, firing at him with his own gun”, Sam Levin, The Guardian

Utah police officers fatally shot a man after disarming him and then firing at him with his own gun, according to law enforcement officials and body-camera footage that captured more than a dozen bullets fired.


Unknown Minstrel — Week 5
By Daniel Suhre

Will be back next week. Promise!

In the meantime, check out….

“Goodbye, Oh Goodbye”, Andrew Jackson Jihad


Your Essay or Whatever-you-want-really Here

I’m encouraging you to start a news blog and then to share a little something that I can post right here. It’d be an exchange and I’ll send something to you too. This is a good idea. This is a fun idea.


al-Baqia

Fifty years ago Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his speech “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence” much to the distress of his friends, allies, and political patrons. Criticizing Vietnam was a bridge too far for the American establishment and the next morning Dr. King was condemned by the press, the president, many Democrats, and much of white America. By his assassination a year later, he was penniless and unpopular. The last Gallup poll before his death showed him as having 32% positive and 63% negative approval rating.

The last couple years of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life are largely overlooked; his legacy whitewashed in what Dr. Cornell West has called the “Santa Claus-ification”.

“Beyond Vietnam — A time to Break Silence”, Martin Luther King, Jr., April 4, 1967

“I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”


thank you for scrolling