Ebola, Colonialism, & Scientific Imperialism

October 12th, 2014


media4.s-nbcnews.com

Crews in Liberia removing the victims of Ebola to crematoriums.

Ebola is everywhere in the news, replacing Israel and Palestine, replacing Russia and the Ukraine, or typhoons in the Philippines, even IS beheading of westerners has had to play second fiddle to the prospect of the Walking Dead in our daily lives. I wrote a short introduction to the literature on Western Medical interventions in the rest of the world, as sort of intro to Medicine and Science of imperialism if you will. I am posting it for your pleasure below, as I have been so swamped with school and work that my ability to blog has been severely curtailed.


media4.snbcnews.com

Health workers suit up in for work in Ebola contamination zones.

“Historical Legacy of Colonial Medicine and Science: Some Implications of Consequences of Eurocentric Science a Literature Review”

The imposition of a model of scientific experimentation by the powerful developed nations in medicine and science has led to a debate about the nature of the western derived research oriented science that may not take into account the interests of the subjects of these studies. The model of bioethics and its universality when the discourse has been dominated by imperial, colonial and post-colonial powers since the rise of modern scientific medicine in the nineteenth century taints the science and medicine as it impacts vulnerable and less politically powerful constituencies. This dominance has come under scrutiny as the underlying motivations, of the so called scientific and humanitarian efforts of the western powers, is increasingly being questioned as a more holistic, human rights approach may be the path to social reform.


imperialglobalexeter.files.wordpress.com
Image courtesy of Wellcome Trust

Colonial Medical Practice

Looking at European practitioners of tropical medicine, Neill documents how the research and development of treatments for diseases in the tropics were driven by the assumed superiority of these representatives of the imperial powers and how their ethical systems based on an ideal of laboratory research resulted in the discovery of pathogens but limited in their approach to treatment. The researchers and practitioners ultimately served the interests of the colonial powers. Examples from the French colonial practices in West Africa established patterns that during an epidemic of Sleeping Sickness in French controlled Guinea and British controlled Serra Leone the health experts advocated and established concentration camps to isolate and treat victims with largely ineffective arsenic based medications. I think the study seems especially pertinent as it explains some of the background to resistance to medical practitioners in the current Ebola epidemic.


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The_Submission_of_Prince_Dipo_Negoro_to_General_De_Kock

Dutch Colonial Images

The Sleeping Sickness epidemic of the turn of the 20th century is speculated to have been the result of disruptions of the local ecology by the colonial enterprises were enough to set off an epidemic. Neill states “Even at the time, most people agreed that there was a relationship between the rapidity of the disease’s spread and large-scale colonial development projects, economic activities, and military conquest.” The medical culture and the political and economic system of colonialism conflicted as the needs of the commercial interests would thwart the best medical practices this created an us versus them conflict in which the medical practitioners ended up deferring to other interests.


venitism.blogspot.com

French African Policy

The development of an ideology of “pure science” by J.C. Koningsberger and others in the in the Dutch East Indies in the early part of the 20th century is shown by Goss to be another means by which the cultural imperialism of the west was used to dominate indigenous peoples. When, Indonesia was a Dutch colony, the administration and political elites utilized science, although real and useful, as a propaganda tool to justify maintaining its control of the region, especially in the post-World War One era. Nationalist sentiments among the aspiring classes of the native Indonesians who demanded research hospitals of their own to assume some of the responsibly and status of western science were thwarted by the colonial authority until just before the Japanese occupation in World War Two in Goss’s research. The Dutch system turned objective science into a tool for exploitation. It is ironic in my view that the lack of willingness to recognize the abilities of the Indonesian intelligentsia in part resulted in the independence movement. Instead of inviting the local people racist and cultural attitudes of western superiority fueled the resentment of those whom the imperial westerners were supposedly bringing into the enlightenment of the west as Said has so clearly expounded.


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Blatant Racist Imperialism of the 19th Century

Science and imperialism are linked in the development of western science. Arnold shows that India had its own well developed medical traditions when the British gained ascendancy over the subcontinent. The Indian science has been considered to be degenerate by Orientalist writers as a result of Muslim occupation and the chaos after the breakup of the Mogul Empire. The mythology being that western intervention came to rescue a formerly advanced scientific tradition that had succumbed decadence, and needed to be saved from the vicissitudes of fate.
The introduction of the British colonial administration actually disrupted the development of Indian science and medicine which, Arnold shows, has until recently been seen as the introduction of British advanced scientific methods into a stagnant Indian landscape. Arnold states “The idea of a simple diffusion of a monolithic and progressive Western science into passively recipient extra-European lands has been challenged from several standpoints.” Diffusionist views, often held to be the model, considered science to be neutral and not culturally biased, now seems to be somewhat naïve. The idea of a passive indigenous population receiving dollops of western scientific medicine was and is not practical. The interaction between colonial administrations and indigenous subjects had to be mediated by the local practitioners and accumulated field knowledge on the ground. This can clearly be seen in the evidence of people in West Africa running from medical practitioners dressed like aliens, or even attacking aid workers if there is not a proper communication and cooperation.


Last edited by Blackleaf; May 11th, 2014 at 11:40 AM..www.prisonersofeternity.co.uk

British Empire Personified. Rule Britannia.

It is the hierarchical dominance of the British science establishment over the local colonial science and the increasingly marginalized indigenous science in India that is a hallmark of the dominant Eurocentric scientific paradigm that has pervaded science since the 18th century and led to the biases in medical practice to this day. This is reflected in the faith in the civilizing mission of western science and its breakthroughs in technology in the industrial revolution. Indian nationalists often accepted this model of following the western lead to modernity but others rejected it as leaving India always subservient to the West.

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Photograph from “The Decline and Fall of the British Empire” (Corbis)

Members of a British army polo team in Hyderabad, India.

This model of development has had repercussions in modern attempts to fight out breaks of disease as well as the imposition of European based testing models on developing countries. Garrafa and Lorenzo point out that the US and other developed countries perform clinical trials in involving poor third world subjects and the use of double standards in research are a form of moral imperialism. The WMA General Assembly rejection of attempts by the USA to modify the Helsinki Declaration to allow this type of research has led to the American abandonment of the Declaration and developing regional seminars to train local practitioners to spread the model preferred by the US. This is a case of “Indirect Moral Imperialism.”


aldworthapworld.wikispaces.com

Scientific Racism.

Case studies such as that of clinical trials studying “the prevention of vertical transmission of HIV between pregnant women and their babies” used placebos in the control group, which was denounced as unethical. Other examples including the infamous case of the Tuskegee Syphilis study where patients were denied access to penicillin as Smolen writes among many others condemning these actions. The scientists doing the research did not inform the patients of the availability of the drug. Also the director of the program, one Dr. John C. Cutler, ran a program for the Public Health Service and the National Institutes of Health, in Guatemala where patients were deliberately infected with sexually transmitted diseases. This is a case of racist and imperialist medical practice. While there have been efforts to curb such blatantly unethical practices, as noted in the “Belmont Report,” it does not address the basic inequity of a system that pits powerful corporations and medical-governmental-industrial complexes against poor peoples around the world with little institutional support.


www.jillstanek.com

Doctors with ‘patients’ in Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

Research done by Hewitt and Amola on the local cultural response to an Ebola outbreak in 2000 – 2001 in which surveys were done of students, adults and survivors of the outbreak among the Acholi people of northern Uganda has shown that practices of traditional healers have a sound basis. These include isolation of those suffering from an outbreak. Care giving is limited to survivors of an epidemic, or to the elderly, if survivors are not available. Placement of clear identifiers outside the house where the victims are located, and maintaining quarantine for a month after recovery of survivors are among these ongoing practices. This is thought to be a tradition that has preceded the colonial period and mirrors modern medical practice in many respects. Others such as refraining from sex and promoting harmony within the family were also recommended by traditional healers. The research found that other practices related to burial had a negative effect but that with communication between the local traditional healers and the health workers, the local people modified their practices. The ill ran away from ambulance’s sent to take them to the hospital largely because of the practice of not informing relatives of the death of the patient and a fear that westerners would sell body parts. Recommendations suggest a greater sensitivity to cultural practices and working with traditional healers rather than stigmatizing them. The study indicates that unlike the common belief among international health care workers that traditional practices are a hindrance to healing, that they can be helpful as local people have developed their own methods to deal with epidemics.


akorra.com

Guatemalan-STD-Experiment

Toumi takes the position that the UNESCO Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights argues for the medical education system to teach redistributive justice in global health care with an emphasis on the interconnected nature of the world and its heath. Instilling a bioethics that reflects the universal rights of man, there will come a generation of doctors who focus on the needs of the populace of the world as a whole. The need for this holistic approach is an argument that is hard to deny in the face of current world epidemics in which the neglected developing nation health care systems have become the breeding grounds of biological disease. In this there is a basis for hope that a genuinely redistributive allocation of resources will finally compensate for the imbalances caused by the scientific exploitation of the rest of the world by the western powers over the last couple centuries. The medical necessity of insuring global health security may point the way once it is clearly shown that western science has, while helping develop cures for diseases, also is implicated the generations of human misery.


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Looks like my footnotes don’t transfer from word to my blog. If anyone has an idea as to how that works let me know. I am not really up to reformatting everything into MLA style at least not tonight. I will post the bibliography from a previous version, it is not comprehensive but at least it does list the sources I quote. I will have to go back in at some point and put in MLA in text citations, but as a blog, and not an academic paper this should be adequate.

Bibliography

Arnold, David. Science, Technology and Medicine in Colonial India. Port Chester, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press, 2000. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 5 October 2014.
Garrafa, Volnei, and Lorenzo, Claudio. “Moral Imperialism and Multi-centric Clinical Trials in Peripheral Countries.” Cadernos De Saúde Pública, 24.10 (2008): 2219-2226.
Goss, Andrew. “Decent Colonialism? Pure Science and Colonial Ideology in the Netherlands East Indies, 1910–1929.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 40.1 (2009): 187-214.
Hewlett, Barry S. and Amola, Richard P. “Cultural Contexts of Ebola in Northern Uganda.” Emerging Infectious Diseases. 9.10 (2003) 124–1248.
Neill, Deborah. Networks in Tropical Medicine: Internationalism, Colonialism, and the Rise of a Medical Specialty, 1890–1930. Palo Alto, CA, USA: Stanford University Press, 2012. Print.
Smolin, David M. “The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, Social Change, And The Future Of Bioethics.” Faulkner Law Review 3.2 (2012): 229-251. Academic Search Complete .Web. 30 Sept. 2014
Toumi, Rabee. “Globalization and Health Care: Global Justice and the Role of Physicians.” Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 17.1 (2014): 71-80.

War Rhetoric, Bush, Obama, Hannibal, Rome, Hercules Myth & Abrahamic Cult

September 14th, 2014


patriotaction.net

Here we go again. The US seems to have become implacably wedded to war, policing the world and using foreign policy distractions to bolster sagging domestic political fortunes. After 9/11 there was some reasonable justification for going into Afghanistan, to get a little payback although it probably would have been best treated as a police action. below are a couple of speeches by Bush and Obama respectively. They are thirteen years apart. Like empires before and would be imperial powers, the rhetoric needs to be designed to reflect the public willingness to be pulled into a conflict that may or may not be justified. In thinking about this I am reminded of some past efforts to convince others to join in the cause of a more or less just war. Hannibal and his use of the Hercules Myth in his struggle against Rome, is critical to an analysis of the fate of Carthage and its struggle with Rome.

“Seigel and Shuster created Superman from existing material already to hand: the myths of Samson, Hercules…”
From A Shared, Faithless, Modern Mythology: Superheroes as Modern Legends…By Darren April 22, 2012 Comicbuzz.com

My thesis more than the simple statement that nearness to the point of contention, sharpens one’s real politick, there is this interesting issue of manipulation of underlying myths for the sake of propaganda both current and ancient. Hercules was a heroic figure, an intermediary between man and the gods. He often represented the position of people facing the impossible demands of fate, despite his flawed nature, coming through victoriously and in the process thwarting the interests of the bad gods and their minions. Where is this Herculean character in the modern political discourse, certainly in the theatrical production of Marvel and DC super heroes this is the case. Where in the discourse on the level of believed mythologies, on the level of religions of the states involved. This goes to the meta-belief systems which in this case are embedded in the monotheism of the modern world. The patina of the heroic Babylonian-Greco-Roman world is faint and growing fainter as the past is blown up before our eyes in Iraq and Syria. But the monotheistic world, of the Crusader vs the infidel narrative and the relatively insecure position of the Jews plays out now. I shall concentrate on the Herculean myth; refer to modern rhetoric with a brief analysis of the use of the myth of Hercules in the Punic wars and the later Roman absorption of the myth in their own victorious narrative. Thus the issue becomes one of what significance do these meta-stories have in the development of the narrative and the real political issues the narrative deals with.

Bush declaration of attack on Afghanistan and Al Qaeda.

Obama declaration of attack on ISIL in Syria and Iraq.

To go into Syria because of the beheading of a couple of journalists seems to be playing right into the hands of IS. They seem to be getting some strategic benefit from drawing the US into these costly limited wars. Wars that ultimately cannot be won without a serious deployment of boots on the ground to occupy space as well as the enforcement of a political agenda that may mean ramming terms down the throats of unwilling Middle Eastern states, through political, military and economic pressure. I am not sure the USA has the means or the will to pursue such a course and the IS planners like their counterparts in Al Qaeda know that.

“This cartoon, by David Axe and Matt Bors highlights some of the key developments in U.S. drone warfare”
(understandingempire.wordpress.com).
.
The war of attrition by taking out the heads of the leadership via assassination and drone strikes, has been of limited success, as one head is chopped off, Hydra like two more arise to take its place. The implication, if one takes the example of Hercules is that you need assistance on the ground, an ally who is there to cauterize the wound to prevent a new set of heads from emerging.

Hercules battles the multi-headed beast of terror in ancient world.
“The Hydra fighting Heracles | Paestan black figure hydra C6th B.C. | J. Paul Getty”
www.theoi.com

From Hesiod, Theogony:

And third again she [Ekhidna] bore
the grisly-minded Hydra of Lerna, whom the goddess
white-armed Hera nourished
because of her quenchless grudge
against the strong Herakles.
Yet he, Herakles, son of Zeus,
of the line of Amphitryon,
by design of Athene the spoiler,
and with help form warlike
Iolaos, killed this beast
with the pitiless bronze sword.

(Hesiod 316-321)

A lot can be learned from that ancient Greek myth. Hercules was the hero of the ancient world. He is given a more human and tragic by the Greeks with his rage and murder of his family, being thus forced to perform his penance in the 12 labors, one of which was killing the Hydra. This Hydra could not be tamed alone. An ally had to be sought. Herakles, as strong as he was could not fight the beast himself.

High tech warfare in the 3rd century BCE
mikikyqy.pev.pl

The struggle for control of the public image of the heroic is an ancient one. In the context of the Punic Wars Carthage Must Be Destroyed by Richard Miles who has an interesting interpretation of Hannibal’s propaganda wars against the Romans, pitting Hercules/Melqart as the ally of Carthage and her friends as opposed to Rome who had its own myth of Heracles. For the Romans, as described by Dionysius of Halicarnassus a Greek rhetorician in the 1st century BC, Heracles becomes a great liberator of man. During his tenth labor, the restoration of the cattle of Geryon, he descends into Italy freeing the people from the despotism of tyrants such as Cacus (Miles 248-249).

Hercules killing Cacus By Beham, Hans Sebald 1545 in Iconotheca Valvasoriana” Wikimedia.

From Virgil we have the tale of Cacus’s defeat by Hercules in the Aeneid:

Then Hercules
burst wide the doorway of the sooty den,
and unto Heaven and all the people showed
the stolen cattle and the robber’s crimes,
and dragged forth by the feet the shapeless corpse
of the foul monster slain.

(Vergil. 8.262)
Hercules slaying the monster oppressing the local people thus becomes in Virgil, who is citing a tale that had been part of Roman lore. notes the worship of Hercules as preceding the founding of Rome:

our Pinarian house is vowed to guard
the rites of Hercules. An altar fair
within this wood they raised; ‘t is called ‘the Great,’
and Ara Maxima its name shall be.

(Vergil, 8. 262)

This has been noted in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome in the article on “Hercules in Roman Religion” by William Dominik, that Ara Maxima was a very ancient site of worship of Hercules in the forum Boarium and that Hercules who as founder of Gades in Spain under the Phoenician name Melquart had become part of the pantheon of Roman protector gods. Hercules was sent on his labor to retrieve, i.e. raid and steal, the cattle of Geryon, the ancient oil from the other end of the world. On his trip back from the cattle raid, Hercules managed to participate in Roman prehistory becoming the model for Romulus and many other heroic figures in Roman lore and history (Dominik 405).

“Geryon - goodnight argent - In Roman versions of the narrative, on the Aventine hill in Italy, Cacus stole some of the cattle as Heracles slept”
goodnight-argent.weebly.com

Returning to our narrative of the ancient and the modern, as Miles claims, Hannibal aware of the need to win the propaganda war, and understanding the universal appeal of Hercules in Greek, Roman and Phoenician culture and in that of many peoples across the Mediterranean world, decided to appropriate the symbol of Heracles for his own and had a Greek historian in his train write to this purpose:

“Silenus’s portrayal of Heracles-Melqart as Hannibal’s divine companion was thus designed to send out a message to the western Greeks that it was the Carthaginian commander who represented their last opportunity to restore their diminished freedoms [vs a vie the Romans]” (Miles 247-248).

“Limoges enamel depicting Hercules carrying the two columns, by Couly Nouailher, mid-16th century (Walters Art Museum). The columns of the Melqart temple at Tyre were also of religious significance” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pillars_of_Hercules)

Coins were struck of the young Hannibal in Nova Carthago, the headquarters of the Barcid dominated colony in Spain as he aspired to the role of a new Hercules Melquart. This coin with the image of the war elephant on the back is, as Miles indicates, associated the Barcid family, as well as being a symbol of continuity with the rule of his predecessors in Spain (Miles 226-227).

“Hannibal AR Tridrachm. 221-218 BC, Carthago Nova, Spain, Laureate bust of young Melqarth-Hercules left, heavy knotted club behind neck / Elephant walking” below (Wildwinds.com).

Just as Vergil was attempting to create a mythos to justify the new imperial project of his dominating friend Octavian, in the modern world the USA must do the same. The need to promote the heroic value of the invader as the legitimate force for liberation can be seen again in the modern Middle East as the Obama administration struggles to come up with a narrative that will be convincing to the young fighters in Syria and Iraq whom the US hopes to use as proxies in the war against ISIS. There have been videos made from ISIS originals highlighting the horror of the ISIS practices intended to deter potential recruits and to persuade fighters to join or at least not leave the so called moderate Islamic groups in Syria in particular.


Youtube.
State Department video battling ISIS propaganda.

The need to battle ISIS propaganda and to win over the allegiance of the people will be predicated, as with Hannibal, upon the victory of the American backed forces. There is nothing like success to gain recruits. ISIS with its string of successes rapidly gained backing. Hannibal gained early support from the Gauls of Cis-Alpine Gaul with early victories over the initial Roman forces at Trebia. A result of which wavering Gauls became more pliant supporters. Later victories including the massacre at Cannae led to Capua giving support to Hannibal, although limited, not to include a troop levy which may seem somewhat familiar to Kerry as he attempts to hammer together an alliance against ISIS. Southern Greek cities that did go over to Hannibal soon regretted the choice as Rome recaptured them one by one. As the Arab countries now must weigh the long term consequences of supporting the US. Turkey, with a border directly adjacent to ISIS controlled territory and 49 diplomats in ISIS custody, did not even sign onto the statement Kerry hammered together.

John Kerry, wearing suit, speaks with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, right, at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah on Thursday. Reuters

As the Wall Street Journal article “Allies Pledge to Help U.S. Fight Islamic State Extent of Cooperation in Military Operations Still Unclear” by Maria Abi-Habib and Jay Solomon from 9/11/14 indicates, the alliance has very limited and conditional support. Germany has said it would not join air strikes. Russia concerned about the legality of US air strikes over Syria without Syrian government approval would create an barrier to UN support unless the US is willing to ally itself with the Assad regime, something the US claims to be loathe to do. Yet the US has no problem allowing Iranian troops on the ground in Iraq and PPK fighters, on the US terrorist list to work with the US in Kurdish areas of northern Iraq. Strange times indeed, Hannibal would be a worthy adviser as Obama wades back into these perilous waters.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/kerry-holds-talks-in-saudi-arabia-on-anti-islamic-state-campaign-1410445577


“The painting Hercules Firing Arrows at His Children, by Italian artist Antonio Canova was painted in 1799 using oil on paper and glued to canvas. It is 42 X 66 cm. The painting features the infamous madness of Hercules. After being driven mad by the goddess Hera and by drink, he murders his whole family in blind furry. When finally sober, Hercules is surprised and heartbroken by his actions. He agrees to twelve labors in order to partially atone for his sins” Phin Upham http://phinupham.net/hercules-firing-arrows-at-his-children/

Where is the modern Hercules? Is there a universal figure like Hercules? It can’t be Jesus, Jews don’t recognize him and Muslims give little significance the the figure. It can’t be Mohammed for the same reasons. Who is it, we have to go back to Abraham and Issac. Who is the good servant of god? This is a myth that is concurrent with that of Melquart-Hercules. But this is not a self evident narrative in the modern rhetoric. What is, is the question asked of Abraham. What are you willing to do to impose the will of your god? Hercules, was asking a different question, what do I have to do to get these gods off my back? What unifies them is the fact that they both are engaged as intermediaries between the helpless humanity and the gods/fates/demonic forces. Thus the rhetoric reflects a justification of the position vs a vie these powerful cosmic forces and much effort goes into the justification of these efforts. How strange, how typically human and how sad that the dilemma of both Hercules and Abraham still exist today.

“Fresco with image of Abraham to sacrifice his son, Ishmael (Islamic version) on a Haft Tanan museum wall in Shiraz”
Evgenia Kononova (Wikicommons)

The gods make Hercules crazy, a very modern figure, could be a warrior suffering from PTSD. Abraham is tempted to craziness by the Abrahamic god and then is stopped by his better angels. The Romans and Carthaginians fought until one was destroyed utterly. In the modern ethos there is the opportunity to arrest the path to war. Are our better angels going to stop us from war madness?

Selected Works Cited.

Dominik, William J. “Hercules in Roman Religion.” Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2009. Google Scholar. 404-406. Web. 9/14/14.

Hesiod, Theogony. The Works of Hesiod.trans. Richard Latimore. Ann Arbor: U of Mich. P. 1959. Print.

Miles, Richard. Carthage Must Be Destroyed. New York: Viking Penguin. 2011. Print.

Vergil, Aeneid. Perseus Digital Library. U. of Chicago. Web. 9/14/14.

Asian-Mexican Breakfast Review

September 6th, 2014


Wikimedia.org

Prickly Pear which is also known as Cactus Pear or Opuntia has a number of health benefits.

Today I woke up, read some Bio-geography, and then noticed I was dizzy. That is usually a sign of low blood sugar and sure enough mine was down to 52. Normal is 80-120, 200 means take insulin. I took a little glucose tablet and decided to make something to eat instead of taking a shower, my normal morning routine.
\

Hometestingblog.testcountry.com

Testing blood sugar levels

Still a little dazed, I rummaged in the fridge, pulled out some cactus leaf, cactus pear, Italian squash, chayote squash and began chopping and pealing. I turned the gas on the cast Iron pan and the tea kettle, rinsed some chana dal, heated a pot of water and started simmering the dal. I spiced it with the rest of the basil leaves from my wilted plant that I got at Trader Joe’s. I also added a good shake of turmeric, a lot more nutmeg than I planned and some asafoetida. This was an unusual mixture for me to use, a rather radical departure but I was in a daze as I said.


Wikimedia.org

Asafoetida plant

I then took some left over soup from the fridge, and threw that in with the veges, this had a paste like consistency due to my habit of constantly adding ingredients. It was based on an organic mushroom soup concentrate, Pacific brand, that I found in the discount bin at Ralph’s. The soup had been a mix of the base with organic carrots, organic celery, a gala apple, a couple of turkey sausages, a tomatillo, a couple of jalapeno’s, a little chopped yellow onion and a couple of pieces of garlic all chopped up together. This had already been on the stove twice and was about a week old, well seasoned.

Then I threw in a couple of strips of bacon, usually I get turkey bacon, but in this case I found some pork bacon that was on sale.
I used to get soy bacon but that got to be too expensive, I switched to turkey bacon, but that has gone up, so now I just look for what is on sale and isn’t loaded with sodium.

After that came a chopped up tomatillo, some yellow onion and 3 or 4 pieces of garlic chopped up. I threw in a hand full of fresh rosemary spears and let it all simmer some more, all together over half an hour of cooking time.

While this was on low burner, I noticed some fruit flies hanging around a honey dew melon I had bought a month ago that never really ripened. I have noticed lately that there is a lot of fruit that is like this. It is picked early, and often instead of ripening it simply sits and then goes bad. This honeydew had a corner that had become moldy. So I cut it off, scraped out the seeds. and chopped up the rest of the insides but kept the outer casing to form a gourd. I this left the chopped up bits of melon, added the contents of one of those Paige Yogurt cups, the kind with the fruit on the side. I poured in the yogurt sans the cherry fruit concentrate, added a healthy amount of sage, really poured it in, added a little clove powder, and a generous couple of drops of vanilla concentrate. On top of this I placed a dozen or so green organic table grapes, a little salsa and a spoon of honey then added a shake of hot sauce and it was done.

While all this was going on I poured the hot water from the tea pot into a single serving melitta style filter filled with Don Francisco’s fine grind expresso, which sat on my coffee cup in which I had placed a triangle of Ibarra Mexican style chocolate and the cherry jam from the yogurt container. Hand poured style of making coffee demands a fine grind that slows down the water percolation. If you use a regular grind, the water pours through and the coffee is weak, you have to pour it through the filter a couple of times and never tastes right. I always choose a fine grind and a bold or strong coffee to get maximum flavor.


Ranchionlinestore.com

Chana Dal

I replaced the water in the simmering chana dal as there was a lot of white foam. After that the liquid was clear. I should have soaked the dal in cold water for a while before cooking and as it was it was not done in time for breakfast, no matter, I will have it later with another couple of meals. As a habit I cook beans and broil potatoes on the weekend so that I will have them during the week. I also tend to make way more than I can eat on the weekends and save left overs for my week night meals. After a long day of work and school, I rarely have the energy to cook on weekday evenings.

The food on the frying pan was done so I threw in some olive oil, added a couple eggs, and threw a slice of Vogel Mixed Grain bread in the toaster. The bread had come out of the freezer, I buy it from the discount section at Ralph’s where the normally expensive loafs can be bought for a dollar or so. I freeze it because I don’t eat bread often, usually I have tortillas with my meals.

With every thing done I slices up a key lime, squeezed it on top of the fruit gourd, made a plate with the food from the frying pan, slicing the piece of toast in half after spreading some Philadelphia cream cheese with jalapeno on it, then placed the over medium eggs on the toast, added a squeeze of lime, some hot sauce, black pepper and a dash of sea salt on the eggs and the veges on the side of the dish, and I was ready to chow down.

The flavor was intense, acidic and a little hot, from the leftover soup most likely. It has a complexity and was balanced between soft and hard elements.Usually I add potato to cool out the flavor, or have some beans and a grain like rice, but in this case it was the veges that stood alone and once my mental expectations had adjusted to the flavor messages from my taste buds, I enjoyed the dish. It was not too dry or wet, hard or soft, in fact it was tasty. I had no more cilantro so that staple was missing from my plate. The egg on toast was a little more generic than I had expected, when I added some of the bacon it became more flavorful.


media4.onsugar.com

Honeydew melon

As for my gourd of fruit and liquified yogurt, it was very tangy. The clove, sage and vanilla flavor really stood out front and center. The yogurt made it taste like one of those savory Indian yogurt dishes. Most of the fruit sweetness came from the grapes as the honeydew was rather bland and woody, tasting more like chayote than honeydew. But it was a pleasant spiciness, not overwhelming. I deliberately did not add too much honey as I did not want the sweetness to drown out the spiciness. The sage added a nice savory flavor that made the whole dish an exotic and interesting combination for the palate.


smartkichen.com

Chayote squash

Some source info. Since I live in Southern California, I am blessed with access to abundant fresh food, and unlike Florida, the state doesn’t take the hell out of groceries. Chayote, tomatillo, cactus leaf and cactus pear can all be got cheap from Mexican markets, or the discount stores like Food 4 Less. Ralph’s has the organic produce, day old stuff, and especially day old organic meats, I always look for deals on that sort of stuff there. Indian food like asafoetida and dal can be found at some regular markets but most likely you will have to go to an Asian or Indian market. I found the chana dal on the street outside of a church where some kind soul left a bag full of Indian and Middle Eastern grains and legumes. I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I grabbed some of the items. My daily walks often are productive like that.

Labor Day Port Truckers Organizing Meeting.

September 1st, 2014

(Photo)Striking port truck drivers labor action (Jabin Botsford / Los Angeles Times)

Today is still Labor Day in California. I went to a meeting at Banning Park in Wilmington down near the Port of Los Angeles. It was a group of organizers and truckeros who are attempting to organize the truckers at the Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles. The meeting was mostly in Spanish so I did not catch a lot of the conversation but I got the gist of the idea being that pressure needs to be brought increasingly on the Port Authority and the individual shipping companies to allow the truckers to switch back to employees from the independent contractor status they have had since the 1990’s. The Longshoremen union the ILWU and the Teamsters have begun to take an interest but because the truckers are not legally considered to be employees they have little legal room to maneuver, or at least have used that excuse to refrain from organizing a largely Hispanic work force.

Ernie from Port of Azatlan, a representative from the ANSWER Coalition, a representative of the Block the Boat Coalition Against ZIM Ships (Israeli shipping company) and members of the IWW were there as well as a group of truckers who had participated in past actions. All told about 30 or so persons were there.

Many spoke, mostly in Spanish but what I gathered was that some of them had been involved in actions since the 1990’s or before. There are plans for an action on September 13th or there about and if you are interested in labor action this is a good one to participate in, especially now as the Palestinian support groups are now focusing on boycotting the Israeli shippers, activists are again focusing on the ports and if they don’t repeat the fiasco of the Occupy port actions of a couple of years ago, a very powerful coalition may be in the making.

Block the boat for Gaza stops Israeli Zim ship in Oakland. August 2014. By Terri Kay on August 18, 2014 from Workers World

Photo: Ingrid Martin

Gaza, US Middle East Bungling, Anti-Semitism, Plautus, & Ancient Usury

August 31st, 2014

The yellow badge Jews were forced to wear can be seen in this marginal illustration from an English manuscript.

BritLibCottonNeroDiiFol183vPersecutedJews

Summer is almost over as we enter the Labor Day holiday weekend here in the USA. May Day, the world wide labor struggle holiday, which started in honor of American Anarchists in Chicago, is alienated from its radical history here. But the people have struggled to have their voices heard despite the constant media barrage to discourage action and to induce a sense of fear and helplessness.

We can see how people the world over took to the streets when Israel attacked Gaza, especially in Europe, not so strangely the dictatorships in the Arab world remained largely silent, not wanting to encourage more signs of resistance like the Arab Spring. The USA, as leader of the cabal of elite rulers around the world, has rocked the boat when Obama made his seemingly foolish speech in Cairo when he was first elected. It must be attributed to his relative political naïveté in international affairs. He perhaps wanted to distinguish himself from Bush’s administration with its heavy handed interventionist policies. The elites in Saudi Arabia never forgave him for letting Mubarak go. They insisted on returning the military to power and now are busily working with proxies such as the U.A.E. to destroy the independent resistance in Libya and did their best to turn Syria into a quagmire.

The Obama administration, with their desire to turn focus to deal with a rising China, and create an East Asian NATO, has now found itself being out-foxed by the combined efforts of Iran, Russia and China. But I digress into speculation on politics based on my own reading and experience in various domestic anti-imperialist political campaigns.

Little Gaza is a lynchpin irritant; it is the sore that keeps the Islamic world rallying against the presence of Israel. It is such a blatant injustice, that when Islamic regimes give silent aid to Israel, they fuel the forces of Islamic radicalism. It was the Palestinian question and the placement of US bases in Saudi Arabia allowed Osama Bin Laden to inspire so many young Saudi’s and others to such an implacable resistance to the US machinations leading to 9/11.

What to do about Israel? I can admire the Jewish people and their resilience in the face of prejudice, especially on the part of Christians that goes back to at least medieval times. The Greek-Jewish hostility dating back to the Greek Selucid occupation of the Jewish homeland in the Hellenistic period, extended into the Roman times. Witness the riots in Roman occupied Alexandria between Greeks and Jews and the records of delegations to Rome during the time of Caligula, to resolve these conflicts in Philo. The degeneration of relations between Rome and the Jews from the days when Herod was a welcome celebrity in Rome, to the time of the destruction of the second temple by Vespasian and Titus, a subject that I would like to dig into sometime because it would be interesting to see how Jews became Shylocks in the western tradition and a persecuted minority.
http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2010/2010-12-63.html
I am providing a link to a fairly good article from Wikipedia on the subject of the early split between Judaism and Christianity, which resulted in official oppression of Jews once the Christians became part of the government after Constantine. The earlier Roman oppression of the Jews had more to do with Roman practice against rebels than any specific anti-Semitism. Later the attitude of Hadrian, whose Hellenophile enthusiasm, may have influenced his repression of the Jews and renaming Jerusalem as pagan Aelia Capitolina. What has the Greek and Jewish conflict played in the emergence of anti-Semitism is a subject I intend to write about more. As it is I am diverging again.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split_of_early_Christianity_and_Judaism

The Jewish people deserve to feel safe in their place in the world. Yet they must not do so by developing their own version of South African Apartheid on a much smaller and more intensive scale.

This entire discourse was inspired by my reading of Plautus’s play The Mostellaria, reading his rants against moneylenders. His language seems right out of the Biblical Jesus’s excoriation of the money changers. It got me thinking about when were Jews first associated with the reviled loan sharks. Plautus has his hero, the mischievous slave Tranio, say in an aside to the audience “By Pollux, you won’t find a fouler class of/men/Or men less lawful than the moneylending breed!” (Plautus 657-659). He spends a goodly section of the play railing against loans at interest and one gets the impression that this may have been a relatively recent development in Roman culture. Banking with the concept of interest had been criticized by Aristotle and Roman law limited interest to 8 1/3%. Yet in the play the money lender is asking for 10%.
http://americansforfairnessinlending.wordpress.com/the-history-of-usury/

Also in the war with the Carthaginians, the second Punic war, which would have been going on during much of Plautus’s adulthood, the Roman Republic took out many loans and taxed women for their jewel and gold inherited from dead spouses called the Oppian Laws. After the war in 195 BC when the war was long over, the Oppian law was still in effect and the women protested when the Senate was voting on repeal and the tribunes were about to veto repeal. This occurred a decade or so before Plautus died and presumably when he was a well-known playwright.
http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/lesson10.html
So I was thinking about how usury was unpopular among the aristocracy of the day. There had been a crisis in Athens earlier when many farmers had become enslaved for non-payment of debt. Solon famously did much to eliminate that debt and legislated against it. The Greeks famously used their temples as banks. Pawnbrokers and money changing are considered to be Greek innovations. Perhaps the outrage of Jesus was outrage at the Hellenistic practice in the Jewish temple. This would give a nationalist twist to his opposition, or who ever made up the story. The transformation of the payment in interest in grain, where agricultural products naturally created more abundance, as opposed to the innovation of charging interest on money and metals which had no natural increase which caused serious problems in ancient society. But how the Jews, became associated with moneylending had much to do with medieval taxation and land ownership restrictions on Jews and their lack of a natural land base after the diaspora. I am again getting beyond my area of even limited expertise, so I am going to leave it at that.
http://www.myjewishlearning.com/history/Ancient_and_Medieval_History/632-1650/Christendom/Commerce/Moneylending.shtml
I am leaving this off with more questions than answers. I am going to have to read more on the original Greek and Jewish interaction. Perhaps in my Pagan Culture class I will write a paper on this and post it. Meanwhile it is now August 31st and I have not even touched on the issues of migration and police shootings of minorities. I will write more at a later time. Meantime I would love some commentary and addition of some factual information.
Some good sources that I happen to have in my personal library and have read over the years:

Andreau, Jean. Banking and Business in the Roman World. Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press. 1999. Print.
Finnley, M. I. The Ancient Economy. Berkeley: U. of CA. Press. 1999. Print.
Lee, A. D. Pagans & Christians in Late Antiquity. London: Routledge. 2000. Print.
Plautus, Titus Maccius. Four Comedies. Trans. Erich Segal. Oxford: Oxford U. Press. 1996. Print.
Tcherikover, Victor. Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews. New York: Atheneum. 1979. Print.

Police Miltarization, Michael Brown Shooting, Egyptian Massacre Anniversary

August 14th, 2014

From Economist editorial “Cops or Soldiers? America’s Police Have Become Too Militarized”
Posted by Predictable-History at 22.3.14

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, has resulted in several days of tension between the local almost all white police force and the majority black community. Police refusal to name the shooter, and confrontational style of handling protesters with a massive show of military like force, is not helping. Apparently participating in a government program to donate surplus Iraq and Afghanistan military equipment to American police forces, has resulted in a police force that looks and acts more like an occupying army that those sworn to serve and protect. What exactly are they protecting in Ferguson, other than themselves?

‘Don’t shoot us,’ the crowd cries at police in Ferguson, Mo., Saturday after 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by an officer. - David Carson/MCT www.nydailynews.com

Michael Brown, according to the interview with his family I heard on Democracy Now, was preparing to enroll in college this fall. His father said he was someone who brought people together. He used humor to diffuse situations at home. According to the police story Michael was involved in an altercation in which he allegedly attempted to take a gun from a cop. According to an eye witness Michael was running away from the police, when he was shot, turned, raised his hands to surrender, and was shot repeatedly by the officer. Another eyewitness collaborated that story according to the Democracy Now piece. NPR reports that the refusal to turn over the name of the officer is fueling the hostility and suspicion of the police in the community. The story stated that many in the community already know who the officer is and that he has a reputation for hassling young black men.

Democracy Now story about Michael Brown murder, and interviews with citizens of Ferguson.

The link between state violence and the blueprints laid out decades ago by the Trilaterals in the 1970’s for restricting Democracy has been discussed in my previous blog posting. The issue of continued violence against minorities, shooting black people with seeming impunity and locking up poor Latin people simply seeking a refuge from violence in their own countries has become more and more important. The world of Capitalism is literally exploding and as social media increasingly exposes the state, it becomes more and more obvious that radical solutions are required. Radical in the sense that the powers that be may be discomfited by the pressure from the popular masses.

Michael Brown’s father shortly after the shooting.

From Suman Varandani for International Business Times www.ibtimes.com

It is incumbent upon us as citizens, not only of the USA, but of the world, to act to bring about peace and that can only come about with justice. Justice is not going to happen as long as increasing social-economic inequity drives people to despair. The militarization of society is an attempt to tamp down the desires of people for a better life.

The piece below is from a recent Newsweek article on the source of the recent military look of the police.

“How America’s Police Became an Army: The 1033 Program”
By Taylor Wofford
Filed: 8/13/14 at 10:47 PM | Updated: 8/14/14 at 1:21 PM

FergusonCops
Riot police clear a street with smoke bombs while clashing with demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri August 13, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

As many have noted, Ferguson, Missouri, currently looks like a war zone. And its police—kitted out with Marine-issue camouflage and military-grade body armor, toting short-barreled assault rifles, and rolling around in armored vehicles—are indistinguishable from soldiers.

America has been quietly arming its police for battle since the early 1990s.

Faced with a bloated military and what it perceived as a worsening drug crisis, the 101st Congress in 1990 enacted the National Defense Authorization Act. Section 1208 of the NDAA allowed the Secretary of Defense to “transfer to Federal and State agencies personal property of the Department of Defense, including small arms and ammunition, that the Secretary determines is— (A) suitable for use by such agencies in counter-drug activities; and (B) excess to the needs of the Department of Defense.” It was called the 1208 Program. In 1996, Congress replaced Section 1208 with Section 1033.

This whole War on Terror thing, after the War on Drugs, all a result of the military industrial complex looking for more profit centers in which to justify spending our tax dollars, has simply gone too far. Ferguson perhaps will cause Americans to wake up to what has happened to our country. It has become a police state in which minorities are treated like Palestinians are in Gaza, as target practice by the authorities.

President Obama has finally been drawn into the fray to make comments about the situation, and Attorney General Holder has sent Civil Rights lawyers and is doing a side by side investigation of the shooting along with the local authorities.

This is from the transcript of Obama’s comments on Ferguson in the Washington Post.

Put simply, we all need to hold ourselves to a high standard, particularly those of us in positions of authority. I know that emotions are raw right now in Ferguson and there are certainly passionate differences about what has happened. There are going to be different accounts of how this tragedy occurred. There are going to be differences in terms of what needs to happen going forward. That’s part of our democracy. But let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family. We are united in common values, and that includes belief in equality under the law, basic respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protest, a reverence for the dignity of every single man, woman and child among us, and the need for accountability when it comes to our government.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/transcript-president-obamas-remarks-on-unrest-in-ferguson-mo-and-iraq/2014/08/14/c8ce971e-23c7-11e4-958c-268a320a60ce_story.html

His comments are not strong enough and he spends too much time defending the local authorities in his brief commentary. Although I am glad that the Attorney General is getting involved it has taken almost a week of protests and violent confrontations to get the governments attention. Sometimes you have to hit the jackass over the head to get a response.

Protesters in Ferguson, MO.
www.blenderss.com

The poster below is based on the Wobblies old statement “Direct Action Gets the Goods” which was the preferred method of labor organizing a century ago when to be a Labor organizer meant taking your life in your hands. Direct action, done by an aroused population is a powerful means of getting a redress of grievances, especially in a liberal democratic state like the USA.


poasterchild.deviantart.com

Otherwise you end up with a world looking like this:


www.reddit.com
Ferguson, Missouri right now : pics

Or even worse like the poor people in Egypt who are now mourning their own version of Tiananmen square, on the one year anniversary. August 14, 2013 saw the most ruthless slaughter of protesters in modern history.

The dead bodies of Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi lie in a room in a field hospital at the Rabaa Adawiya mosque, where they were camping, in Cairo, Aug. 14, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/08/egypt-muslim-brotherhood-massacre-sisi.html#ixzz3ARLsNQ4A

The Human Rights Watch Report on the Massacre is Damning. This is from the Guardian.

Egypt massacre was premeditated, says Human Rights Watch
Rabaa killing of 817 people was a planned Tiananmen-Square-style attack on largely unarmed protesters, report argues

Patrick Kingsley in Cairo
The Guardian, Tuesday 12 August 2014 04.01 EDT

Egyptian security forces intentionally killed at least 817 protesters during last August’s Rabaa massacre, in a premeditated attack equal to or worse than China’s Tiananmen Square killings in 1989, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has argued in a report.

The 195-page investigation based on interviews with 122 survivors and witnesses has found Egypt’s police and army “systematically and deliberately killed largely unarmed protesters on political grounds” in actions that “likely amounted to crimes against humanity”.

This edition of Democracy Now focuses on the Massacre in Egypt and has an interview with Kenneth Roth, president of Human Rights Watch.

From Ferguson to Cairo, military responses to the concerns of humanity, shows more and more clearly how the elites ruing the world only care about maintaining control and power.

Musings on Democractic Participation, Student Debt, Trilaterals, Nader, Chomsky

August 10th, 2014

At least temporarily, I have decided to stop posting to Facebook. I have time abuse issues with that site. Almost every day I have been spending an hour or more replying and posting. It can become somewhat addictive. Perhaps some of my Facebook friends will follow my return to blogging, I don’t know. This format gives me more room to express my thoughts, although of late most of the time I have simply been posting papers written for classes in school, largely due to time constraints.

With all that is going on in the world right now that has a certain urgency to it, I am beginning to get issue fatigue. There are only so many hours of CSPAN I can watch of politicians and pundits. It is where much of the daily national news is generated though and at least it provides a relatively unbiased perspective on what comes out of the horses mouth’s or should I say horses asses considering we are speaking of politicians in Washington, DC.

I should not be so hard on the politicos, after all they are educated and for the most part sincere believers in pursuing the public welfare, even if they have to spend most of their time sucking from the tit of lobbyists and other big donors. This is a major problem and campaign finance reform is required. With the emergence of all political news cable networks, internet sites and twitter, there should not be any dearth of outlets to get political messages across. What is lacking is a sense on the part of large parts of the populace that their opinion, needs and wants are taken into consideration. The political process is not woven into the fabric of daily life on a conscious level for most of us and I blame the education system for not doing a better job of weaving students lives with the political process at an early age. Starting in elementary school, children should be introduced to public affairs in local neighborhood cleanup drives and traffic safety issues and so on. They should be taken to local city council meetings and encouraged to present proposals as part of class room projects. By junior high students should be taking stands on issues and by high school participating in the junior leagues of the political parties of their choice, which should be active on high school campuses. Participation should be real and effective such as in student governments that have real power on student related issues at as early an age as is intellectually justifiable.

I am thinking that political participation should be as common as sports or video gaming. It needs to be woven into the fabric of daily life if democracy is to be real and not a charade of biennial visits to the voting booth. This is not to say everyone will become political junkies, just as not everyone is a sports fan, but there needs to be that level of participation for the public to be capable of dealing with the challenges of our times.

There has been a conscious effort to tone down democracy, especially after the 1960’s activism among the youth as the Trilateralists wrote in “The Crisis of Democracy: On the Governability of Democracies initially a 1975 report written by Michel Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington, and Joji Watanuki for the Trilateral Commission and later published as a book. The report observed the political state of the United States, Europe and Japan and says that in the United States the problems of governance “stem from an excess of democracy” and thus advocates “to restore the prestige and authority of central government institutions.’” (The Crisis of Democracy, Wikipedia).

Chomsky cites this in writing about the Carter Administration and the development of the modern approach to international order in an excerpted section from Radical Priorities a collection of essays, this being from an essay about the Carter administration written in 1981, as I found by doing a web search on restricting democratic tendencies. As you can read, it is pretty sobering:

The report argues that what is needed in the industrial democracies “is a greater degree of moderation in democracy” to overcome the “excess of democracy” of the past decade. “The effective operation of a democratic political system usually requires some measure of apathy and noninvolvement on the part of some individuals and groups.” This recommendation recalls the analysis of Third World problems put forth by other political thinkers of the same persuasion, for example, Ithiel Pool (then chairman of the Department of Political Science at MIT), who explained some years ago that in Vietnam, the Congo, and the Dominican Republic, “order depends on somehow compelling newly mobilized strata to return to a measure of passivity and defeatism… At least temporarily the maintenance of order requires a lowering of newly acquired aspirations and levels of political activity.” The Trilateral recommendations for the capitalist democracies are an application at home of the theories of “order” developed for subject societies of the Third World.

(Chomsky, The Carter Administration: Myth and Priorities).

Recent attempts on the part of Republicans to restrict voting rights is a less subtle and more partisan attempt by neo-liberals and racist ideologues to keep a true populist from rising, unlike the rather tame Obama who has been well tutored in the ways of the ruling classes, and as a constitutional scholar had any impulses to radical mass empowerment channeled into something more insipid and easily controllable. The challenge is to bring real participation by a pedagogy that realizes the potential of the idealistic youth and not simply provides another form of tamping down of democratic and socialistic aspirations. Capitalist elites or state bureaucratic elites, can be conquered if Ralph Nader is correct, by the mobilization of an energized and idealistic citizenry. This must start with the youth. Nader speaks of an emerging Left Right alliance during an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now:

You’ve got to think of politics in America now as two stratas. On the top, dominating the left-right emerging alliance, are the corporate powers and their political allies in the Congress and elsewhere. And what we’re seeing here is a corporate strategy of long standing that fears a combination of left-right convergence on issues that would challenge corporate power. So, they really like the idea of left-right fighting each other over the social issues. They really work to divide and rule these left-right public opinion and representatives. And so far, they have been dominant, the corporatists.

But they’re beginning to lose. And we have enough historical evidence to show that the tide is running against them. For example, on the minimum wage fight, that comes in 70, 80 percent in the polls, which means a lot of conservative Wal-Mart workers think they should get a restored minimum wage, at least to what it was 46 years ago plus inflation adjustment. That would be almost $11 an hour.

(Democracy Now Monday, April 28, 2014)

This might happen, but it takes an informed and active citizenry and a youth willing to participate. The issue of student debt, linked in with the fight for raising minimum wages can be a way to do this. Student debt is just another means of depoliticizing the young by keeping them focused on jobs to pay off the debt rather than engaging in a dialogue on why students are being burdened with this debt in the first place. Focusing on the issue can be a means of bringing about a restructuring of national priorities away from corporate and elite interests and back to a Jacksonian populist government. Apathy must be replaced by activism if the nation is to be put on a course that reflects the will of the people.

Student debt activist groups are at these links:

studentdebtcrisis.org

occupycolleges.org

Some Thoughts On Current Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

July 20th, 2014

Today I am going up to West LA to the Federal building on Wiltshire to join the protests against the war in Gaza. War is what some people in the media are calling the Israeli assault now. Justifying the action, pro-Israeli pundits always use the analogy, of an enemy launching missiles from Canada as the example. Well history aside, of several American actual invasions of Canada in the 18th and 19th centuries, the analogy is misplaced. What Hamas and other groups in Gaza are doing in striking back at the Israeli settler population is more akin to what if say the Native Americans in Morango, or some of the other reservations in Southern California were lobbing rockets at Los Angeles. It shifts the perspective, from one of two nations with established borders in a conflict to a conquered people, forced onto a reservation, resisting the occupiers. More correctly the analogy would have to be taken back to the 19th century when Native Americans actually had some resources to fight back and still had strong enough identification with their former freedom to resist violently. Just as in Africa the Zulu’s resisted the encroachment of the British and Boers and other tribal groups resisted the European colonists.

The image of Native American casino owners launching missile strikes on near by Palm Springs for example may seem absurd, why would then want to destroy the source of their income after all? But it brings up the point that these people have after two centuries barely clung on to their tribal existence and it is to their benefit that they have found another way to fight, in the US court system to gain the right to operate casinos as they are belatedly recognized as having some sovereign rights. This recognition did not happen in a vacuum, as the Indian gaming rights had resistance from the local states who felt they had authority to regulate gaming within their territorial boundaries. Supreme Court decisions, notably Bryan v. Itasca County, 426 U.S. 373 (1976), in which the court stated “should, as an admittedly ambiguous statute, be construed in favor of the Indians and against abolishing their tax immunities by implication.” Pp. 426 U. S. 390-393. (Bryan v. Itasca County, Justia.com). What I really want to speak to, is not Native American rights, which became encoded in Federal law with the passage of the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, but to the fact that the Gazan’s have no such symbiotic relationship with Israel and thus that reservation, which is all it is at best, at worst an outdoor prison camp, has no reason to accept Israeli terms if there is a chance to resist and gain sympathy for their cause in the court of world opinion.

This is an important thing to recognize beyond the humanitarian disaster that the bombings, air strikes and such represent, that legally Hamas has been driven to this position because Israel will not recognize their authority in Gaza and when the Palestinian Authority and Hamas made a deal earlier this year to form a unity government, Israel could not countenance that, waving the avowed program of Hamas that Israel did not have a right to exist on Palestinian lands. The position of Hamas is no more unjustified than any group of Native Americans claiming that white settlers did not have the right to take traditional tribal lands. That goes into another issue of Native American collective land ownership concepts versus European private land ownership rights, something which was in conflict in Europe itself and the Enclosure movement of the commons there attests to. Israel in fact does negotiate with Hamas and has in the past, what Israel does not want to accept is an independent and prosperous Palestine, hence no Palestinian Gaming Authority, although there was a time not long ago when that very possibility existed. There is the interesting case of the Oasis Casino in Jericho which was opened in 1998 as a result of the Oslo accords in Palestinian territory very close to the Israeli border. It was a major investment meant to attract Israeli gamblers, very much like Native American Casinos rely on local non Native Americans. The exact scenario played out when “[d]uring the first days of the Second Intifada, Palestinian militants reportedly used the casino to fire at IDF soldiers, who in turn blew a hole into its front. Due to security concerns, which led to the absence of Israeli visitors, the casino was closed down shortly after” (Miri, The Tale of Jericho’s Oasis Casino, Green Olive Tours Blog).

How did this impasse come about? Israel had sown the seeds of much of the recent conflict with Gaza by supporting Hamas against the Palestinian authority. Andrew Higgins writes in the Wall Street Journal, ‘”Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation,’ says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades….Instead of trying to curb Gaza’s Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. Israel cooperated with a crippled, half-blind cleric named Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, even as he was laying the foundations for what would become Hamas” (Higgins, WSJ online 24 Jan. 2009). Israel’s divide and conquer policies have led to an unstable Palestine and has thwarted any real efforts on the part of Palestinians to establish an independent and viable state. With hard line conservatives in power, the Israeli position seems to have become one of toughing it out and extending the status quo for as long as possible.

Israel is not the United States where European immigrants swamped the indigenous population and killed them off through disease and warfare. Israel is in a position much more like the old South African regime in which a small white minority used similar tactics, those of apartheid to do much the same as Israel is now. In fact Israel and the old South African regime were close allies and had mutual weapons programs including their nuclear weapons program. Chris McGreal reporting for the Guardian UK wrote in his 2010 article “Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons”:

Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state’s possession of nuclear weapons.

The “top secret” minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa’s defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel’s defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them “in three sizes”. The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that “the very existence of this agreement” was to remain secret.

(McGreal, Guardian 23 May 2010).

Having lost it’s main ally in the 1990’s when South African apartheid was dismantled, Israeli authorities under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin prompted by a sense of real politic signed peace accords with and Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat under the auspices of then President Clinton who was himself looking to carry on in the tradition of the Camp David Accords under former President Carter. But due to bad faith, when the agreed upon date for self rule of 2000 for Palestine did not occur as planed, and the break down of the 2000 Camp David Peace Summit, the Second Intifada, sparked by an incident when Ariel Sharon made a visit to the Temple Mount in September 2000, began the period of periodic Israeli assaults upon Palestinian territories which the Israeli disengagement from Gaza in August of 2005 did nothing to mitigate, because by relinquishing direct authority, it essentially presented the Palestinian Authority with a region it could not rule as Hamas had been developed by Israel as a counter authority, thus playing into the divide and conquer scenario, but resulting in the unintended consequence of Hamas taking its part as a body for the liberation of Palestine seriously and once it was out from under the direct scrutiny of Israel, capable of acting on its own initiative. This is of course an over simplification, but the conflict is both the result of an attempt by Israel to manipulate the aspirations of the dominated Palestinians while it jockey’s for its own survival as an independent polity in a hostile region of the world.

The status quo of cruelty and increasingly harsh tactics has turned Israel from a frontier community, into an increasingly organized prison guard state, Essentially Israel has become something like a community dependent upon it’s ability to guard the prison created for the Palestinians. Like the image of the Dutch dyke builders, holding back the ocean with concrete walls, Israel is doing the same to the Arab world. At some point the unstoppable force plying against the immovable object will win out. It just depends on how long Israeli intransigence is willing to maintain its strained position in this increasingly volatile region of the world. Biblical historical roots or not, the region is predominantly Islamic and if there are to be Christian, Jewish and other minorities in the region, they must find accommodation or eventually perish. The model of South Africa is a real path for the future. If there is an Arabic equivalent to Nelson Mandela, Israel should find a way to integrate and not wall off the Palestinians who are certainly not going away any time soon.

In the meantime I will go join the protests against the Israeli incursion in Gaza for the upteenth time in the last decade.

Long Beach Walk, Protest Israel Assault on Gaza, ERT TV-Greece

July 19th, 2014

Alex’s Bar 2913 East Anaheim Street, Long Beach, CA 90804
Longbeachhappyhour.com

This evening I took a stroll through my town, walking across the mid section of Long Beach down Anaheim Street mostly through Cambodia Town. I was struck by the amount of bars on the windows of shops and the empty buildings and lots in my neighborhood. This is Saturday evening and one would expect people to be geared up for celebrations. Mostly I noticed teenager and twenty something youths hanging around empty lots and bus stops, not looking festive, but more aimless, like they were just looking for something to happen. Most of the businesses were closed, except half a dozen liquor stores, a couple of churches, one with a preacher rapping in amplified Spanish and another with a pretty kick ass band playing rousing Spanish Christan Rock, otherwise only bars getting ready for the night crowds, some cops raiding a local residential hotel, and a drunk who bummed my bus change off me. I didn’t mind, I was walking anyway. There are a couple decent clubs in the area for neo-punk/goth fans. I sometimes listen as I go for my nightly strolls. But all day I have had a feeling of foreboding, something about the events around the world has me feeling that things could get crazy, even here in slumbering America.

Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators holding banners and chanting anti-Israeli slogans walk in Paris, Sunday, July 13, 2014
www.theblaze.com

It could have been me, I have been pondering the explosive world political scene as population pressure on resources is reflected in increased conflict over territory. Ethnic minorities flame up in arms as political solutions, democratic or otherwise increasingly fail to provide satisfactory living environments across much of the planet. Neo-liberals from the affluent post colonial nations try to impose a form of exploitative capitalism upon the struggling nations of the world, encouraging governments and elites to forget social obligations and traditional non-economic relationships, by presenting economic exploitation as the only efficient and inevitable model for the future. This naturally will draw resistance from populations not totally devastated and demoralized.

Protesters run by a fire barricade near the aerial metro station of Barbes-Rochechouart, in Paris, on July 19, 2014. Photo by AFP.

It is one reason that I see the IS as becoming something of a magnet for the disaffected youth of the world who want to do something to fight back against the megamachine of capitalist and western domination. Arabic youth in Europe who feel the cold shoulder of racist, nativist reaction through out the continent are increasingly finding the path to Syria and Iraq as a feasible prospect. The French government’s ban on protests against Israel are not helping. Feeling left out, felling as if they have to conform to western values, which increasingly means chasing the chimera of jobs through education in some sort of version of survival of the fittest now being played out on the former islands of enlightenment, the universities. But in reality as more people gain these degrees they simply become devalued, a bachelor’s degree doesn’t guarantee anything much more than a supervisory position at a Walmart or a fast food chain, the competition for real and not McJobs has just had the ante upped, masters degrees or better now for those good jobs are required. If one is fortunate enough to live in a country with jobs then the debt load for an education can be dream crushing.

New Yorkers protesting unemployment. (file photo). Tue Mar 6, 2012 6:41PM
presstv.ir

I was wandering around the internet this morning, watched a bit of France24, turned to RT coverage of the downed plane site in the Ukraine where they were interviewing locals, watched the Obama take on that bombing on the Website of the Presidents press office, turned to Cuban, Afghan, Polish and eventually Greek TV on the internet. When I got to the Greek channel run by former employees of the now unfunded Greek Public Television, I saw the first hopeful thing I had seen in a while on the airwaves. The channel was positively chock full of creative experimental documentaries and art pieces, cutting edge bands playing interesting mixes of heavy metal and classical music, I could feel the palpable idealistic release of energy as a community of activist programers, freed from constraints to toe some government line, were pouring out their hearts in incisive and radical programing. It was Democracy Now on hyperdrive, Or maybe like what TV would be like if Anarchist college professors and students ran the station. Perhaps they do, or at least a really liberated socialist community of programmers are in charge over there. ERT is the network, EPT Live, one of the stations in the network is showing a French language, Russian subtitled antiwar documentary of some film from the twentieth century. Its about “Basil Zaharoff (born Basileios Zacharias Zacharoff, Greek: Βασίλειος Zαχαρίας Ζαχάρωφ; October 6, 1849 – November 27, 1936) was a Greek-born arms dealer, industrialist and philanthropist.
One of the richest men in the world during his lifetime, Zaharoff was variously described including “merchant of death” and “mystery man of Europe”” (Basil Zaharoff, Wikipedia)

No ordinary Orient Express passenger, Basil Zaharoff – later Sir Basil – was an arms dealer, financier and businessman
www.orient-express.eu

Check out the channel. It is a breathe of fresh air.

Closed Greek Public TV station ERT broadcasting under workers’ occupation via Spanish Public TV. Posted on June 11, 2013 by critical media review

http://greekreporter.com/watch-ert-live/

Now there is footage of street protests in Greece, chanting “the people united will never be defeated” in Greek. My kind of TV, a Greek satirical song based on the tune “Jingle Bells.” how cool is that?

Teachers chant slogans during a protest at the northern port city of Thessaloniki, Greece,18/09/2013
http://www.independent.ie

Protests in Paris, that center of culture and civilization, are growing as the country fails to integrate children of immigrants. Something that has been exacerbated by the economic crisis which still has youth unemployment at 25% to 50% or more in Europe and the USA.


Recent street protests in Paris.
From a site called Paris Through German Eyes (mostly German photos of Paris in WW2).

Tomorrow, Sunday July 20, 2014 I will probably join the protests, at the Federal Building on Wiltshire in LA, against the Israeli assault on Gaza. It is not much but it is something. Just doing nothing would be criminal.

Israeli airstrikes killed five Palestinians in Gaza overnight Monday, with at least 192 killed and 1,400 injured as Israel’s assault enters its eighth day. July 2014.
shahidblog.com

David’s Sling, Anakim, Gaza & Israeli Propaganda

July 12th, 2014


Israel tests David’s Sling next generation anti-missile system.
Source: www.ainonline.com

Responding to a conversation between an Anarchist friend of mine and a relative of his who is a volunteer for AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), discussing their proposed solution for the Israeli-Palestinian problem. The solution suggested by my friend is annexation of the occupied territories and the secularization of Israel. His relative speaks of the fact that Jewish demographics in the region will soon eliminate the Arab problem due to a baby boom among the Jewish settlers. In fact this relative questions who exactly the Palestinians are.
Below are my comments.

Disappearing Palestine
Source: www.a-w-i-p.com

Realistically speaking there were political reasons why Israel could not annex the occupied territories, probably related to US policy at the time, which was more concerned with the cold war and did not want to give the Soviet Union anymore ammunition in the battle for the hearts and minds of the Middle East. They USA was embroiled in the hot war in Vietnam, and had become a net oil importer increasingly dependent on Saudi Oil. Israel was required as a potential base for launching strikes on Soviet supported Arab states, and frankly I don’t think US policy ever had the best interest of the Jewish or Arab people in the region at heart. That is why I think it is vital for the Israeli’s to develop strong local ties, like it seems to have developed with Jordan, the Saudi’s and the current Egyptian strong men.

Israeli Tanks Invading Gaza 7/18/2014.
www.dailymail.co.uk

As for the Israel giving up its Identity as a Jewish homeland, that would be totally against the very essence of Israeli exceptionalism, which is based on the Zionist interpretation of the promise to Moses and the Israelites for a homeland at the end of their punishment of the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, outside of Spotsylvania (but I digress onto another exercise in futility). I am talking about another wilderness, part of the American Civil War, probably not a very good pun. Yahweh literally had a cow when he saw the people wanted to stay in land where they could raise cattle, which I think had more to do with alien dietary restrictions than any misdeeds. Basically I think Yahweh was somewhat lactose intolerant. Here I am referring to the Book of Numbers 13 and 14, where Yahweh punished the would be Israelites for not wanting to enter a land of giants, thinking that they would be better off raising cattle where they were, and then being punished to remain goat herds on the wilderness until they had all died out, perhaps another bad pun.

From an Israeli Tourism Poster.
remnantofgiants.wordpress.com

But whatever reasons the “great one” had for killing off the older generation (wasn’t that Jackie Gleason’s reverential epitath?), most likely to wipe out the collective memories of the good old days in Egypt, what is really interesting is that the Anakim retreated to Gaza after being defeated by Joshua in southern Canaan. Here is a reference to Joshua 3:10 and the clearing of Canaan of the others and as Joshua 11:22 says he drove the giants into Gaza. These descendents of the Nephilim mingled with the Philistines and fought the good fight against David’s airborne advanced technology. Spear chucking Philistines could not compete with the laser accuracy of David’s surgical strikes and supported by the power of the US, I mean Yahweh, the poor residents of Gaza were encircled. The propaganda of the victors turned the story on its head with David as the underdog. It is not ironic that the next generation anti Hamas anti-rocket weapon is called “David’s Slingshot” reflecting underlying Jewish association of Gaza with the Nephilim who were giants driven out of the promised land. It is a coded justification for wars of extermination as Yahweh ordered for the Israelis to do. Because of the association of fear of these giants with betrayal of the Lord, showing a lack of faith, those who would compromise with the Philistines hiding the Anakims, as human shields should be exterminated also. Essentially I am saying that Israel is using this Biblical story to prop up its justification for a racialist attitude toward Gaza both from the perspective of Jewish militant pride, ie David, and the fears of giants ie Hamas and terrorists in general. Playing on the tale of David and Goliath, and the history of the settlement of Palestine is an old game in the Israeli propaganda machine.

Israel critique Hamas Call for Human Shields in Gaza.
www.jewsnews.co.il

Slingers were very effective fighters in the ancient world and armies would recruit them especially from the Balearic Islands where they were known to be experts at that type of medium range missile warfare. Often slingers would be deployed at the onset of battles to soften up the enemy at the beginning of an engagement.

Artists conception of a Balearic Slinger
commons.wikimedia.org


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