Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Weekend Edition

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

NAACP & ADL approach against Facebook is not very bright

Friday, July 3rd, 2020


PHOTO/Duck Duck Go

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is just interested in money

he has met Trump so that he doesn’t act against Facebook

hateful stuff is common on Facebook and other social media sites

Facebook is under pressure to take off hate-inciting materials

Zuckerberg is so powerful that he doesn’t care about such things

that is, up until now

NAACP, ADL, others joined hands to force advertisers to boycott Facebook

the ADL or Anti-Defamation League is an Israel Lobby in the United States

it silences people who are critical of Israeli occupation of Palestine

NAACP’s record is not unstained either

it supports big harmful corporations to get a bit of money

some of the big companies have started the boycott of Facebook

the list is growing by leaps and bounds

the boycotts are all temporary and won’t have much effect on Facebook

what is really needed is to ask people en masse to quit Facebook

this could be made possible by involving Democratic Party leaders

they with celebrities and others should convince people to boycott

this will save the people from more ignorance and misinformation

it will also help them to escape the clutches of Zuckerberg

B. R. Gowani can be reached at

The fruits of anger

Friday, July 3rd, 2020


American Civil Rights activist Malcolm X (left) pictured in New York in 1963. His radicalism helped shape public discourse. PHOTO/Robert L Haggins/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

To those who say anger is destructive or pointless: Not so! Getting angry spurs and sustains us to take action for justice

You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

Greta Thunberg, 23 September 2019, New York

At her speech at the United Nations summit on the impending climate crisis, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg spoke with passion and anger, calling out those who have been apathetic towards bringing about global warming. Her speech was criticised by many for Thunberg’s bellicosity, which allegedly put off potential sympathisers to the movement. Anger is alienating, upsetting and even exclusionary under particular circumstances – yet one can’t help but feel that Thunberg’s anger is at least partially justified. After all, it is decades of unbridled carbon emissions and industrialisation that have led us to the mess we are in today.

Thunberg’s speech – and what we make of it – epitomises an age-old conflict between those who oppose anger for its seemingly counterproductive consequences, and those who find anger a natural and appropriate human emotion with value in both public and private spheres. From the righteous, worldwide anger that launched the 2017 Women’s March, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the United States, to the nihilistic anger propelling the anti-extradition bill movement in Hong Kong, to the fearful anger emanating from the ongoing anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests across India – the question is the same: what is the value of anger?

For Aristotle, anger was ‘a desire accompanied by pain for perceived revenge caused by a perceived slight, of the sort directed against oneself or one’s own, the slight being undeserved’. Anger is thus reactive towards a perceived violation, and embeds within it a vindictive yearning for revenge. Think about that time your best friend lied to you, or when your cherished bike was stolen – it hurt, but it also made you feel as if you were owed answers.

The philosopher Amia Srinivasan at the University of Oxford is an advocate of anger’s merits. Her work makes the case for anger by drawing extensively on fields ranging from political science and sociology to feminist epistemology. Among the many arguments in her seminal article, ‘The Aptness of Anger’ (2018), she notes that anger can be productive epistemically – that is, in the production, shaping and organising of our knowledge and understanding. It better enables victims to make sense of their oppression by heightening their emotions and allowing them to focus on specific features of their victimisation. Victims of injustice or circumstance are often told by their oppressors to blame themselves; consider, for instance, the black single mother blamed for ‘choosing’ to become a ‘welfare queen’, or those languishing in caged homes in Hong Kong, who are told that their socioeconomic circumstances are their own fault. Gaslighting and dismissal of their lived experiences are part and parcel of everyday life for the voiceless. Anger supplies those who are wronged or slighted with the resilience to say: ‘No! It is not my fault.’ It clarifies the injustice that befalls them, enabling individuals to make sense of their situations by access to their authentic feelings.

Anger is epistemically valuable not just for the individual, but also for those around them. The philosopher Alison Jaggar at the University of Colorado Boulder observes in Just Methods (2014) that ‘anger becomes feminist anger when it involves the perception that the persistent importuning endured by one woman is a single instance of a widespread pattern of sexual harassment’. It is an emotion that both transcends and unites people by providing context for an individual’s grievances. Those on the 2017 Women’s March found solace and reassurance in their shared anger, in knowing that they were not the only ones outraged by the country’s decision to elect Trump as its president. When co-opted skilfully by just causes, anger enables victims to identify similarities in their lived experiences, overcoming the superficial differences that drive them apart.

Aeon for more

Bollywood stars criticized for posting about racial equality while endorsing skin whitening creams

Friday, July 3rd, 2020


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas wedding ceremony VIDEO/You Tube

Priyanka Chopra showed support for Black Lives Matter but has been called out for failing to speak out against injustice in India.

Bollywood stars have taken to social media in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and racial injustice protests across the United States. But critiques of selective activism have also emerged, pointing out that these same stars have promoted skin whitening creams or have failed to speak out for the plight of migrant minorities in India.

Priyanka Chopra — whom Forbes called “arguably the most successful Bollywood actor to cross over to Hollywood” — Sonam Kapoor — winner of India’s prestigious Filmfare Award in 2017 — and Disha Patani — who starred alongside Jackie Chan in the film “Kung Fu Yoga” — were among those criticized for posts promoting social justice and arguing that all skin colors deserve respect. 

They previously served as brand ambassadors for Garnier, L’Oréal or Pond’s “fairness” creams, which are widely promoted in India as a means of reducing darker skin.

In a 2017 Vogue interview, Chopra said she had second thoughts about her skin-whitening campaign and was singled out as a child for her darker skin tone. Nevertheless, she received additional criticism on Wednesday after her husband, American singer Nick Jonas, posted a thread vowing that the couple would take a stand against “systemic racism, bigotry and exclusion.” 

Critics were quick to argue that Chopra — referred to as “Pri” in Jonas’ post — had yet to make similar statements against systemic racism within India, particularly the lynchings of Indian Muslims, the country’s largest religious minority. 

One person pointed out that Jonas and Chopra invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — whose government has been accused of inaction in preventing violence against Muslims — to their wedding. 

Huffington Post for more

The origins and plight of senso koji (war orphans) in postwar Japan

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020


Senso koji in Kita-ku, Osaka, using an empty can to cook.
Many [war orphans] lived in railroad stations, under trestles and railway overpasses, in abandoned ruins. They survived by their wits—shining shoes, selling newspapers, stealing, recycling cigarette butts, illegally selling food coupons, begging (Dower 1991: 63).

Abstract: In Japan, senso koji (war orphans) are often identified as fur?ji (juvenile vagrants). The dominant image of senso koji is therefore a street child engaging in a variety of adult survival activities in such cities as Tokyo after the war’s end. This essay aims to problematize this myth. In the first part, I reconsider the meaning of koji, senso koji and furoji as socially “constructed” terms after the onset of the Meiji Era (1868-1912). In the second part, I focus on the voices and experiences of the majority of senso koji, who were taken into their relatives’ homes immediately after the loss of their parents. The war took the lives of many children. Senso koji survived. However, it was only since the 1970s that they began to speak about their wartime and postwar experiences to fulfill their obligation. Did the wartime state truly “protect” the nation’s children? Their ultimate goal seems to be to answer this question. 

Senso (war) koji (orphan) is the Japanese term for “war orphan.”1 In contemporary Japan and in the Anglophone world, people associate sens? koji with the images that John Dower provided in the context of the postwar era, that is, after Japan’s defeat by the Allied Powers on August 15, 1945. Hence, the documentary film on senso koji made in 2015, for example, bears the title of Senso koji tachi no yuigon: Jigoku o ikita 70 nen [The Testament of War Orphans: Having Lived in Hell for 70 Years], that is, 70 years since Japan’s defeat. Yet, many of these children became orphans, days, months, or even years before Japan’s capitulation. If so, why did they suddenly appear, as if someone placed them on the stage of postwar Japan, that is, a product of the defeat? Did they all experience the lives of street children as described by Dower? Who are senso koji after all? Have they ever achieved liberation from that name? This essay presents my pursuit of answers to these questions.

War Orphans Who Were Not Named Sens? Koji

The word koji (??) originates in ko (?), one of the six categories of mukoku no tami (????), meaning “those people (tami) who are alone in the world and have no one to turn to (mukoku).2 Ko was defined as “a child younger than age 16 without a father.” Koji, however, seems to have been used as a standard word for “orphan” since the beginning of the Meiji Era (1868-1912), when the state began to incorporate all school-age children into the system of national education.3 A dictionary definition of koji is a “a child who is deprived by death of parent(s).” Yet, the meaning of koji also includes cases involving the disappearance of the parents, as well as of the child having become lost or otherwise separated from parents, who have not come forward to claim it. In this case, war, natural disaster, such as earthquake, famine or epidemics, or the poverty of the parents is often seen as the root cause of the child’s status as koji. Regardless of its cause, the image of koji is always negative: alone, unhappy and poor.

The Asia-Pacific Journal – Japan Focusfor more

Apartheid is a Crime: Portraits of the Israeli Occupation of Palestine (book review)

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020


Apartheid is a Crime: Portraits of the Israeli Occupation of Palestine, by  Mats Svensson. PHOTO/Book Cover

Apartheid is a Crime: Portraits of the Israeli Occupation of Palestine by Mats Svensson.  Cune Press, Seattle, 2019.

In Apartheid is a Crime, Mats Svensson has created a very accessible clear expression of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

It is composed primarily of photos of the Palestinian situation. Not photos of the wars, the fighting, and the blood, but of the people and their dispossession under martial law. The faces do not show rage and hatred, but range from resigned acceptance, through steadfastness, passive resistance, and on to – somehow – a seeming ironic happiness – ironic in that it is difficult to imagine anyone smiling or laughing under these conditions. When Israeli shoulders are viewed, their faces are impassive, uncaring.

The landscape is presented in three themes. The first shows the abandoned landscapes from the nakba – houses untended and decaying, the native plants, and significantly the native cactus claiming their own space in the ruins. The demolition of homes highlights the daily ongoing military actions, piece by piece, of the slow demolition of the remaining cultural and civil landscape. Finally, the wall looms above all, combined with wide swaths of cleared ‘buffer’ zones, separating families, farms, businesses, and civic interaction.

Preceded with a foreword by Ramzy Baroud, the photos are accompanied by short text excerpts from many well-known names: Tom Segev, Richard Falk, Nelson Mandela, Edward Said, Moshe Dayan, and Presidents Obama, Carter and Bush. Among them are lesser-known names of Palestinian and Jewish voices, speaking equally as eloquently as the readily recognized names. The general theme of the comments is of apartheid and colonialism, the unfortunate silence of the diplomats, and the daily humiliations and struggles of the people suffering under the apartheid system, a system that always and ever has denied a two-state solution.

The juxtaposition of comments and photos provides a strong message concerning the plight of the Palestinian people. It is concise, not needing a historical background, hitting the reader on an emotional level more than an intellectual level. For those just becoming familiar with the Palestinian problems Apartheid is a Crime is a good starting position; for those already cognizant of the situation and many of its political/legal backgrounds, Apartheid is a Crime presents a visually emotive reminder with concise quotes and references reinforcing longer discourses.

Palestinian Chronicles for more

Rebellion, confusion, scoundrels and kente cloth

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020


Rebellion, confusion, scoundrels and kente cloth

Black rebellion brings insecurity to those in power, as editors, mayors and even long dead criminals are being called to account.

Everything has changed since the world witnessed George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police. Suddenly, workers are publicly criticizing their bosses. Politicians are back pedaling and newspapers face revolts when they are caught spreading propaganda. In Europe and the United States monuments to genocidaires are defaced and pulled down.

But no one should think that the black misleaders have given up allegiance to their overlords among the Democratic Party donor class. The scoundrels are giving lip service to change but are committed to business as usual and they co-opt the language and imagery of the movement to do it. 

In addition, the movement itself is sometimes a source of confusion. While well meaning, proposals such as defunding the police are highly problematic. They do nothing to address the foundational nature of state violence and allow budgetary sleight of hand to create new methods of law enforcement. The demands for community control and abolition must remain at the top of the list.

“The scoundrels co-opt the language and imagery of the movement.”

While people of good will sincerely debate, the black political class does everything in its power to make sure that nothing much is accomplished at all. The Congressional Black Caucus pulled out their kente cloth prop and added taking a knee with Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer in one of the worst photo opportunities of all time.

They are proposing reforms which will never be approved by the Republican controlled Senate or Donald Trump. They are also keeping their police-empowering Protect and Serve Act in place. Protect and Serve makes assaulting a police officer a federal offense, and nearly every victim of police violence is again victimized by this spurious charge.

The chicanery must be pointed out, yet it must be acknowledged that changes are far reaching and events are occurring which no one would have predicted just a few months ago. Kente cloth charlatans are not only the ones being exposed. When New York City mayor Bill deBlasio’s daughter was arrested at a protest the police union revealed her name to the press in an effort to embarrass him. In return, deBlasio defended cops who drove vehicles into a crowd, beat protesters and bystanders alike, and even arrested legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild. 

“The Black Caucus are keeping their police-empowering Protect and Serve Act in place.”

In response, New York City employees signed an open letter  to the mayor condemning his supine support of a police department which hates him. They broke every rule of politics and conventional wisdom given to employees anywhere. The dictum of never criticizing a boss has gone out the window along with everything else.

Black Agenda Report for more

Save the insects, save the farmers, save ourselves: New global report calls for end of industrial agriculture

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020


A praying mantis. PHOTO/patrickkavanagh/CC BY 2.0

“The evidence is clear: pesticide use is wiping out insect populations and ecosystems around the world, and threatening food production.”

A new report released Tuesday draws attention to the worldwide decline in insects and calls for global policies to boost the conservation of both agriculture and the six-footed creatures.

The publication, entitled Insect Atlas, comes from two progressive networks: Brussels-based Friends of the Earth and Berlin-based Heinrich Böll Foundation.

“The global loss of insects is dramatic,” Heinrich Böll Foundation president Barbara Unmüßig said in a statement.

The report points to various studies documenting that loss, including 2018 research finding 41% of insect species are in decline and that one-third of all insect species are threatened by extinction. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) estimated that 10 percent of insect species are endangered, and another study cited in the new analysis found that at least one in 10 bee and butterfly species in Europe is threatened with extinction.

While there’s no definitive count of the global loss of insects, Insect Atlas says the trend is unmistakable.

Image from Insect Atlas. (Bartz/Stockmar, CC BY 4.0)

Image from Insect Atlas. (Bartz/Stockmar, CC BY 4.0)

That decline has major impacts on food. 

“Three-quarters of the world’s most important crops exhibit a yield benefit from pollinators: they contribute directly to around one-third of global food production,” says the report.

The methods used for that production have a huge impact on insects.

“Alongside climate change and light pollution, the spread and intensification of farming is by far the most important cause of the global decline in insect numbers,” the report adds.

Common Dreams for more

Greenback, greenback dollar bill

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020


“Greenback, greenback, dollar bill / Just a little piece of paper, coated with chlorophyll”

Ray Charles

Economist Ann Pettifor makes the case for a radical transformation of the international monetary system — and the end of US dollar supremacy.

Things are falling apart. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. Globalisation cannot hold.

We know that because Henry Paulson, once CEO of Goldman Sachs, and then US Treasury Secretary during the last crisis, is rallying the world’s capitalists to defend globalisation from reshoring, protectionism and immigration controls. Paulson understands that this is a war of ideas. He warned in the columns of the Financial Times that “the impending battle will pit forces of openness rooted in market principles against those of closure across four dimensions: trade, capital flows, innovation and global institutions.”

This “impending battle” is already skewed in favour of the world’s creditor class — backed as they are by central bankers, and in particular by the Federal Reserve, deploying its most potent weapon, the US dollar, that “ little piece of paper, coated with chlorophyll.” Their actions have made clear that there may be no international committee to save the people from a global pandemic, yet there is an international committee creating a “giant safety net” to save private finance from the pandemic. Central bank governors have engaged in decisive, expansive and internationally co-ordinated action to save rentier capitalism even while the governments of Presidents Trump, Bolsonaro, Modi and Johnson clown around, grievously mishandling the Covid-19 crisis. The rise of nationalism and protectionism that has raised these authoritarian leaders to power, coupled with extraordinary central bank action in support of Wall St and the City of London, are all reactions to, and consequences of, negative externalities that are globalisation’s hall marks: connectivity and integration. The pandemic too is a consequence of the systemic health risks inherent in the connectivity and integration of the globalisation project.

Progressive International for more

Will the coronavirus change the world?

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020


Horrified by Free Xero. IMAGE/Used under a creative commons license.

The prophecies are here and it is a foregone conclusion: the post-coronavirus world will look fundamentally different from anything that we have seen or experienced, at least since the end of World War II.

Even before the ‘curve flattened’ in many countries that have experienced high death tolls – let alone economic devastation – as a result of the unhindered spread of the COVID-19 disease, thinkers and philosophers began speculating, from the comfort of their own quarantines, about the many scenarios that await us.

The devastation inflicted by the coronavirus is likely to be as consequential as “the fall of the Berlin Wall or the collapse of the Lehman Brothers,” wrote Foreign Policy magazine in a widely read analysis, entitled ‘How the World Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic.’

While major newspapers and news media outlets jumped on the bandwagon of trying to construct the various post-coronavirus possibilities, Foreign Policy sought the views of twelve thinkers, each providing their own reading of the future.

Stephen M. Walt concluded that “COVID-19 will create a world that is less open, less prosperous, and less free.”

Robin Niblett wrote that it is “highly unlikely… that the world will return to the idea of mutually beneficial globalization that defined the early 21st century.”

‘Mutually beneficial’ is a phrase deserving of a completely different essay, as it is a claim that can easily be contested by many small and poor countries.

Be that as it may, globalization was a focal point of discussion among many of the twelve thinkers, although a major point of contention was whether globalization will remain in place in its current form, whether it will be redefined or discarded altogether.

Kishore Mahbubani wrote that, “the COVID-19 pandemic will not fundamentally alter global economic directions. It will only accelerate a change that had already begun: a move away from US-centric globalization to a more China-centric globalization.”

Toward Freedom for more