Bezos’ space flight

July 20th, 2021

by B. R. GOWANI

Jeff Bezos in his Blue Origin PHOTO/News Asia

world’s richest person dreamt of going into space,

when he was five

who can stop the richest person to realize his dream?

no one …

after 9 hours his rocket will lift off

to reach an altitude of over 100 km

he’ll be fulfilling his own dream,

at the expense of millions of dreams

  • dreams of small business owners whose business he snatched slyly
  • crushing little dreams of his workers by not paying decent wages
  • he’s enemy of people and the state for not paying taxes
  • taxes that could be of immense help to initiate so many programs…
  • to fulfill so many dreams …

in multiple petitions, thousands pleaded:

Do not allow Jeff Bezos to return to Earth

a good idea, but not a very practical one

the minute Bezos announced his space trip, I thought:

“someone could hack his rocket computer and let him stay in space”

after several years his body could be recovered from space

and his brain could be studied as to …

why was Jeff Bezos so, so, so, greedy

why was he so insensitive towards his workers

who had to pee in bottles

or had to wear diapers to relieve themselves

a new disease would then become identifiable

maybe a cure would emerge …

B. R. Gowani can be reached at brgowani@hotmail.com

How to take back control of your mind

July 20th, 2021

by CYNTHIA CHUNG

Hands clasped in friendship, Adolf Hitler and England’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, are shown in this historic pose at Munich on Sept. 30, 1938. This was the day when the premier of France and England signed the Munich agreement, sealing the fate of Czechoslovakia.(PHOTO/AP

Politicians, Priests, and psychiatrists often face the same problem: how to find the most rapid and permanent means of changing a man’s belief…The problem of the doctor and his nervously ill patient, and that of the religious leader who sets out to gain and hold new converts, has now become the problem of whole groups of nations, who wish not only to confirm certain political beliefs within their boundaries, but to proselytize the outside world.” —William Sargant, “Battle of the Mind”

– It is rather ironic that in this “age of information”, we are more confused than ever…

It had been commonly thought in the past, and not without basis, that tyranny could only exist on the condition that the people were kept illiterate and ignorant of their oppression. To recognise that one was “oppressed” meant they must first have an idea of what was “freedom”, and if one were allowed the “privilege” to learn how to read, this discovery was inevitable.

If education of the masses could turn the majority of a population literate, it was thought that the higher ideas, the sort of “dangerous ideas” that Mustapha Mond for instance expresses in “The Brave New World”, would quickly organise the masses and revolution against their “controllers” would be inevitable. In other words, knowledge is freedom, and you cannot enslave those who learn how to “think”.

However, it hasn’t exactly played out that way has it?

The greater majority of us are free to read whatever we wish to, in terms of the once “forbidden books”, such as those listed by The Index Librorum Prohibitorum*. We can read any of the writings that were banned in “The Brave New World”, notably the works of Shakespeare which were named as absolutely dangerous forms of “knowledge”.

We are now very much free to “educate” ourselves on the very “ideas” that were recognised by tyrants of the past as the “antidote” to a life of slavery. And yet, today, the majority choose not to…

It is recognised, albeit superficially, that who controls the past, controls the present and thereby the future. George Orwell’s book “1984”, hammers this as the essential feature that allows the Big Brother apparatus to maintain absolute control over fear, perception and loyalty to the Party cause, and yet despite its popularity, there still remains a lack of interest in actually informing oneself about the past.

What does it matter anyway, if the past is controlled and rewritten to suit the present? As the Big Brother interrogator O’Brien states to Winston, “We, the Party, control all records, and we control all memories. Then we control the past, do we not? [And thus, are free to rewrite it as we choose…]”

Of course, we are not in the same situation as Winston…we are much better off. We can study and learn about the “past” if we so desire, unfortunately, it is a choice that many take for granted.

In fact, many are probably not fully aware that presently there is a battle waging for who will “control the past” in a manner that is closely resembling a form of “memory wipe”.

There is an especial focus to rewrite the history of WWII at this very moment. These revisionists are attempting to rewrite this history since there lies the root from which today’s fascism stems.

Whoever understands this period of history understands today’s fascism.

Greanville Post for more

Marxism and black struggle

July 20th, 2021

LEFT VOICE

Leon Trotsky and C.L.R. James ILLUSTRATION/Sou Mi

For Black August, Left Voice will be presenting a collection of classic Marxist texts about Black liberation. This includes writing by C.L.R. James, Leon Trotsky, T.W. Thibedi, George Breitman, and the Communist International.

The uprisings that have swept the United States have shown something that socialists have long argued: U.S. capitalism was founded on racist oppression. That is why the struggle for Black liberation is one of the driving forces of the struggle to beat capitalism. We have seen the protests against racist police violence mobilize millions of working-class and oppressed people in what might be the largest movement in U.S. history.

A new generation is entering the struggle. To commemorate Black August, we will be publishing classic Marxist texts to better understand the deep link between the struggles for Black liberation and for socialist revolution.

We will publish one text per day for the rest of Black August. We hope this connects the new generation of activists with great revolutionary thinkers from the past. Marxism is a strategy and a theory for the liberation of the working class and all oppressed people. This is why Black revolutionaries like George Jackson, C.L.R. James, and many others studied texts like these. Marxism is not a dogma, but rather a method to understand the world in order to change it.

Introduction

Marcello Pablito and Daniel Alfonso:
The Black Question and the Revolution in Brazil

Racism, Capitalism, and Revolution

The docile Negro is a myth. (…) The only place where Negroes did not revolt is in the pages of capitalist historians. — C.L.R. James

C.L.R. James:
Revolution and the Negro

C.L.R. James:
The Place of the Negro Is in the Vanguard

Communist International:
Theses on the Black Question

George Breitman:
When Anti-Negro Prejudice Began

Peter Hansen:
The Class Character of the American Constitution

Black Resistance Against War

We shall fight for a fraternal unity between all the poor in every country against all the rich. — C.L.R. James

C.L.R. James:
Why Negroes Should Oppose the War

International African Service Bureau:
A Warning to the People of the Colonies

The United States and the Black Question

If the Negroes want that then we must fight against imperialism to the last drop of blood, so that they gain the right (…) to separate a piece of land for themselves. — Leon Trotsky

Arne Swabeck and Leon Trotsky:
The Negro Question in America

C.L.R. James and Leon Trotsky:
Self-Determination for the American Negroes

C.L.R. James and Leon Trotsky:
A Negro Organization

C.L.R. James and Leon Trotsky:
Plans for the Negro Organization

Left Voice for more

Story of the last tamarind leaf

July 20th, 2021

by JAWED NAQVI

VIDEO/NDTV/Youtube

The World Press Freedom Index listed by Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) ranks India at an embarrassing142 out of 180 countries, actually two places worse than Myanmar (140). There’s respite here for Hindutva nationalists. India is three notches better than Pakistan (145). Bangladesh (152) is the worst performer from South Asia. The global field bottoms out with Eritrea (180), making it the one country worse than North Korea (179). Intriguingly, Afghanistan (122), currently, seems more agreeable for journalists than the world’s chest-thumping largest democracy. Conversely (or perversely), a redeeming feature about the likelihood of the Afghan Taliban taking over in Kabul is that it could help make India, Pakistan and Bangladesh look better on the freedom ladder, who knows.

It was heartening, therefore, but also puzzling that Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week spoke up for values enshrined in healthier democracies. Addressing the G7 leaders in Cornwall in a virtual appearance from Delhi on June 13, Mr Modi described India as a natural ally of the group. He saw himself as the G7’s partner in “defending democracy, freedom of thought and liberty from a host of threats stemming from authoritarianism, terrorism, violent extremism and economic coercion”.

As Modi spoke, the police in Uttar Pradesh under the watch of his handpicked chief minister were framing charges of conspiracy to stir communal violence against leading media figures critical of the BJP’s polarising politics. The RSS mouthpiece Organiser described the journalists as propagandists, but the RSF stood firm against the “absurd” charges.

The RSF being a respected body to protect journalists — from recalcitrant states among other detractors — was clear that mischief was afoot. It urged the Uttar Pradesh police “to immediately withdraw the absurd charges, including criminal conspiracy”. The charges were framed against three journalists for tweeting about a video of an elderly Muslim man being beaten up by other men.

The accusation clearly bordered on harassment, RSF said. Brought in the form of an FIR on the evening of June 15 by the police of Ghaziabad, bordering Delhi, the accusation named three journalists — Washington Post columnist Rana Ayyub, writer Saba Naqvi, and Mohammed Zubair, one of the founders of the Alt news website. It also named The Wire, an outspoken news website, and Twitter India.

The journalists, the RSF noted, were accused of conducting a “criminal conspiracy” although all they did was post tweets about a video showing an elderly man identified as a Muslim being badly beaten in Ghaziabad by several other men. The claim that the men shaved his beard and forced him to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’, a Hindu chant that has become a rallying cry for religious extremists, is being contested. The RSS paper claimed the video was faked to help an opposition party.

Before the three journalists named in the FIR tweeted about the video, which went viral on the evening of June 13, it was widely shared and commented on by India’s leading media outlets, including, according to RSF, The Times of India.

“The Uttar Pradesh police nonetheless decided that the three journalists’ tweets sufficed to order their arrest under six articles of the Indian penal code named in the FIR.”

The police charges are instructive because they represent accusations that had been hitherto levelled at the accusers, including by Uttar Pradesh police involving the current chief minister as opposition leader. Provocation to cause riot, promoting enmity between religious groups, insulting religious beliefs, public mischief, criminal conspiracy and common intention to commit a crime, are charges that the BJP and the RSS themselves have had to face in the not very distant past. According to RSF’s research, each of the journalists is facing a possible combined sentence of nine years and six months in prison.

“The accusation brought about by the Uttar Pradesh police is based on absolutely no tangible element and clearly amounts to judicial harassment,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “We urge Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath to recover a semblance of credibility by ordering the immediate withdrawal of the charges against the journalists named in this absurd First Information Report.”

The RSS version quoted state police as speaking of two videos, one in which the elderly man was assaulted, and another in which he blamed his assaulters, who the RSS story says were mainly Muslim, of forcing him to chant a Hindu chant. It may all look absurd but that’s the official view from the police. “The second video, where Saifi could be heard saying he was forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’, was shot in the presence of a maulana in the house of [an opposition politician],” the RSS report said. The police believe the chant angle was brought in to polarise society.

Dawn for more

Philippines: Mr. President Duterte, the issue is competence; the solution is resignation

July 19th, 2021

by WALDEN BELLO

‘When ordinary people…start to register serious doubts about the performance of the administration, that is a sign that it may not be light that is at the end of the tunnel that awaits it, but a crash’

No one expects Rodrigo Duterte to be another Winston Churchill, rallying the country in the face of a savage pandemic that, like the bombs falling on London during the Second World War, has dealt a terrible, swift death to unsuspecting friends and loved ones.

But the country certainly expects a president who does not project the image of a deer – eyes frozen by the headlights of an oncoming car – in the brief addresses he gives the nation. And over the last week, the nation has been deprived even of the chance to hear that paralyzed deer of a president, as he seems to have gone into hiding.

Roque, spinner of fairy tales  

What leadership is provided by Malacañang comes from the presidential spokesperson, Harry Roque, a figure that, no matter how hard he tries, elicits disdain and distrust, with his answers coming across like those of glib salesman selling miracle cures. How can anyone believe a guy that, just a few weeks ago, was defending the administration’s record in dealing with COVID-19 as “excellent?” Bereft of any guidance from Duterte or anybody else in the cabinet, Roque has been left free to concoct lies and fairy tales in press briefings that now border on the surreal.

While it is true that throughout Southeast Asia, COVID-19 cases are surging, the Philippines has, by far, had the worst performance in containing the disease since the latest surge began in the first week of March, eclipsing former leader Indonesia. Since the beginning of the pandemic early in 2020, the Philippines has registered 14,744 deaths, Myanmar 3,206, Malaysia 1,321, Thailand 97, Vietnam 35, Singapore 30, Cambodia 39, and Brunei 3.

With the national vaccine program in tatters, trust in the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for the “NCR Plus” bubble eroded by conflicting voices within the administration, and surges in infections and deaths reaching record levels by the day, the country has been left with the cold truth that as, Vice President Leni Robredo has put it, “Walang tumitimon,” or “Nobody’s steering the ship.” Robredo, in fact, has tried to step into the vacuum, providing a leadership that is rich in terms of emotional empathy but extremely limited in terms of what resources her office can muster. Not surprisingly, the Malacanang troll machine has gone after her with increasingly desperate insults that are recycled within an echo chamber that is rapidly getting smaller.

Desperate troll machine

I had a personal experience with how desperate Duterte’s propagandists are getting. This was when the Director General of the government’s Philippine Information Agency used my Facebook post with a photo of me being inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine to show how, as they put it, “DUTERTE SERVES EVERYONE, NOT ONLY ONE…As you all know, Ex-Partylist Congressman Walden Bello is one of the staunchest critics of this administration…THIS IS PROOF THAT PRESIDENT DUTERTE KNOWS NO POLITICAL COLORS.”

A year ago, the administration might have gotten away with such shenanigans, but not today, when the virus is rolling through the population in such a devastating manner that more and more people not only know individuals who’ve been infected but friends and dear ones whose lives have been prematurely snuffed out. COVID-19-caused death is no longer a a stranger to many of us, and nothing can remove the scales from one’s eyes more effectively than death caused in great part by government incompetence.

LINKS for more

Health care sharing ministries: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

July 19th, 2021

Health Care Sharing Ministries, or HCSMs, advertise themselves as a more affordable, faith-based alternative to health insurance. But John Oliver explains some of the massive limitations these plans can have.

Our Lady of Perpetual Excemption Compilation

Bill Cosby, Britney, and a tale of two American justice systems

July 19th, 2021

by ARWA MAHDAWI

‘It is highly unlikely that Cosby, 83, will ever see the inside of a prison cell again.’ PHOTO/Matt Slocum/AP
Singer Britney Spears and her father Jamie Spears PHOTO/Elan Life/Duck Duck Go

Cosby becoming a free man on the same day Spears lost her latest battle to free herself from a man’s control is almost too on the nose

A tale of two justice systems

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a good fortune and an expensive lawyer can get away with almost anything. See as exhibit one: Bill Cosby. On Wednesday, Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned the disgraced actor’s sexual assault conviction on a legal technicality. Cosby had served two years of a three to ten-year sentence for a 2004 encounter with accuser Andrea Constand; before Wednesday’s surprise reversal he had been expected to serve the maximum time after vowing he wasn’t going to show any remorse for a crime he says he didn’t commit.

It is highly unlikely that Cosby, 83, will ever see the inside of a prison cell again. While he has been accused of sexual misconduct by 60 women, the statute of limitations for all the accusers with enough evidence to bring a case had passed by the time they went public with the allegations. All except Constand. Now, according to Wednesday’s ruling, Cosby cannot be retried for Constand’s assault. In a statement the court said overturning the guilty verdict and blocking any further prosecution “is the only remedy that comports with society’s reasonable expectations of its elected prosecutors and our criminal justice system.”

You know what? That statement is spot on: Cosby walking free is exactly what I’d expect from the US criminal justice system. There is a reason why the dozens of women who accused Cosby of misconduct took years to come forward; there is a reason more than two out of three sexual assaults are estimated to go unreported. Sexual assault victims often don’t come forward because they don’t expect to be believed or taken seriously by the legal system. And these suspicions are well-founded: according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network out of 1,000 sexual assaults, 975 perpetrators go free. Some even go on glitzy careers. A third of the six men on the US supreme court have been accused of sexual misconduct.

If you want to know who the US legal system protects and who it doesn’t, you don’t need to look much further than the events that unfolded on Wednesday. On the same day that Cosby walked free, a judge in Los Angeles denied Britney Spears’s request to be set free from her father’s control. The 39-year-old’s father, Jamie Spears, will remain a co-conservator of her estate under an arrangement Spears has called “abusive” and will continue to make decisions about her life. Let’s just pause for a moment and try and imagine a situation where the sexes were reversed and a 39-year-old male celebrity was under the legal control of his mother. Let’s try and imagine a situation where a 39-year-old male celebrity was deemed fit enough to work, but not fit enough to make decisions about his reproductive choices . I can’t quite imagine that, can you? Indeed, as many people have pointed out, Kanye West has had a high-profile mental breakdown, just like Spears. Rather than being put under a conservatorship, he went on to run for president.

Cosby becoming a free man on the same day that Spears lost her latest battle to free herself from a man’s control is almost too on the nose, isn’t it? If it happened in a TV drama you’d think the writers were being rather too heavy-handed with the social commentary. Alas, this isn’t a TV drama, it’s just another day in the American legal system.

The Guardian for more

Weekend Edition

July 16th, 2021

CJCS …

July 16th, 2021

by B. R. GOWANI

President Trump proceeding to St. John’s Church after Lafayette Park was cleared of peaceful protestors on June 1, 2020.. Seen in the photo in military camouflage is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley. PHOTO/USA Today/Duck Duck Go

it is common for people to keep their mouths shut

when employed …

they open up bravely

when they quit or their boss changes

ditto with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,

CJCS – General Mark Milley

he was Trump’s CJCS and is also CJCS of Joe Biden

Milley’s interview in a new book, I Alone Can Fix It:

“They may try, but they’re not going to f**king succeed.” “[Trump is a] classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose.” “You can’t do this without the military. You can’t do this without the CIA and the FBI. We’re the guys with the guns.”

Milley is totally right about

“we’re the guys with the guns”

Trump’s people had weapons

but they were no match for the US arsenal

referring to an invasion

of the US Congress by Trump supporters, he said:

“Here’s the deal, guys: These guys are Nazis, they’re boogaloo boys, they’re Proud Boys. These are the same people we fought in World War II. We’re going to put a ring of steel around this city and the Nazis aren’t getting in.”

the invaders were a bunch of rowdy unorganized idiots with no leader

Trump is an armchair Hitler wanting power grab without participation

but things rarely work like that

this same CJCS Milley …

had no qualms joining Trump on June 1, 2020

where peaceful protestors

were teargassed and roughed up

on Trump’s imperial orders

then to further show his power …

Trump trotted to St. John’s Church

guess who joined Trump in that walk?

his minions and this tough general

why did he not refuse to join Trump?

because he was a coward …

who now talks after the leader is out of power

nobody can deny that Trump is a horrible person

but equally horrible are people like Milley …

later, Milley apologized

for joining Trump in the walk

“My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.” “As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it.”

but it is too late –

for four long years he kept his mouth shut

now it’s wide open

and all sorts of heroic words are coming out …

but the critical moment is gone ….

B. R. GOWANI can be reached at brgowani@hotmail

The bottom of the food chain

July 16th, 2021

by STEVEN BOROWIEC

PHOTO/Jean Chung/Rest of World

The tragic death of a migrant farm worker has led to self-reflection in South Korean agriculture. But can technology free farmers from their dependence on imported labor?

To enter Yeo Chan-dong’s farm, workers must put on a white lab coat and cap and then pass through an air shower. Inside, shelves of green vegetables are in various stages of growth, under blue and red LED lights that combine to give the space a purple glow. On a wall near the entrance is a screen that states the room’s temperature (24.3), humidity (78.5%), CO2 level (701 ppm), as well as the pH and nutrient solution levels.

The plants grow in water, not soil, meaning that there is no dirt to sully the space’s gleaming surfaces. They absorb water through their roots, so they don’t need to be sprayed. Because the farm is indoors and sealed off from insects, no pesticides are used, meaning visitors can pluck and eat the greens right off the plant. The lettuce is crisp, with a slightly buttery flavor.

Fifty-one kilograms of greens come out of this operation per day, ending up in salads, sandwiches, and smoothies. Yeo, who wears black slacks and a crisp white dress shirt, with spotless eyeglasses and neatly combed hair, claims that this farm, a space smaller than 400 square meters, can produce 40 times more than conventional agricultural land.

Located in Sangdo Station on Seoul’s subway system, the farm is the first one out of five in the city’s metro stations, the result of cooperation between the city government and Farm8, a private company that develops smart farm technology and sells the produce. Amid rising interest in smart farming, Farm8 brought in $47.8 million (54 billion South Korean won) in 2020, up from $7.4 million in 2010.

Rest of World for more