August 19, 2018

Tearing our building down

GUEST: Chuck Collins, writer and a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of a new book entitled Is Inequality in America Irreversible?

Mr. Collins has been one of our favorite guests. His institute does studies that provide accurate statistics about the accumulation of wealth at the very top. The result is a precise documentation of class wars.

For example, since 2008 $91 out of every $100 in increased earnings has gone to the very richest of our citizens. And most of that increase is a result in lower estate taxes. We are becoming a "patrimonial capitalist" state.

There are fixes based on enlightened policy, and Mr. Collins thinks those battles can be won with the right constituencies and alliances. The last part of his book describes how these movements might be organized on the grassroots level.

In fact, we are faced with a decision, whether to reform our so called democracy, or to break our capitalist chains and try something new. For myself, I have been hoping for the reemergence of the New Deal, with social and economic justice for all. To get there would require a new third party with its own news media.

It may be that such reforms can't really establish a just and stable economic system. We will probably know the answer in the next twenty years, as greed will soon tear our building down. 

August 14, 2018

Rebellion unhealthy for a corporatized twenty first century

GUEST: Doug Rawlings, Vietnam veteran and a cofounder of Veterans For Peace, talks about how the US media hides our nation's war crimes and reviews the Koch Brothers funded PBS Series, "The Vietnam War."
PBS Series on Vietnam an Emmy nomination?

The Koch Brothers and Bank of America bring you the Vietnam War as the military/industrial complex would like you to remember it.

Doug Rawlings remembers it differently. He was in a foxhole, while the Koch Brothers were busy making billions in the oil industry. It is painfully obvious why these corporate sponsors would try to distort the record of one of America's most hideous wars of aggression. And it was painfully easy to do, Just throw some money at PBS and at the filmmaker named after a cheesy editing technique. War crimes whitewash will be the new Ken Burns effect.

Counterpunch said it best. "The liberal conception of an honorable effort that tragically failed is every bit an obfuscation as the conservative perspective that a well-intentioned but flawed effort that should not have been undertaken if the U.S. was not going to be 'serious' about fighting. But that these two narrow perspective were allowed to fight it out provided the appearance of a free and open media at the same time that the media obscured."

Doug Rawlings takes us through the various omissions the film makes. The GI resistance movement, for example, gets no mention. Those GI's "serving" in Vietnam knew their officers were afraid of sending them out into the field. They were afraid of turning their backs on them, and often reported to their "superiors" that their men were close to mutiny. The Bank of America must have considered this  story of rebellion unhealthy for a corporatized twenty first century.  

August 7, 2018

USS Liberty Survivor Joe Meadors Witnesses Israeli Violence

USS Liberty Survivor Joe Meadors Witnesses Israeli Violence Against Gaza Freedom Flotilla

On June 8, 1967, U.S. Navy Signalman Joe Meadors was standing watch on the USS Liberty off the coast of Gaza. In an aerial and sea attack on the USS Liberty that lasted 90 minutes, the Israeli military killed 34 U.S. sailors and wounded 174. Signalman Meadors watched the Israeli military almost sink the ship including Israeli forces machine gunning lifeboats.

Fifty-one years later, on July 29, 2018, U.S. military veteran Joe Meadors witnessed another brutal Israeli military action, the violent takeover of an unarmed civilian ship named Al Awda in international waters, 40 miles off Gaza. Al Awda is part of the four-boat 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla that began its voyage in mid-May from Scandinavia, and 75 days later arrived off the coast of Gaza. Al Awda arrived on July 29 followed by Freedom on August 3. The two other boats of the flotilla, the Filestine and Mairead Maguire, were unable to complete the voyage due to damages incurred during a storm off Sicily, and maintenance problems.

Meadors said that on July 29, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) appeared when the boat was 49 nautical miles off Gaza. He commented that there were six large patrol craft and four zodiac boats with storm troopers onboard. Meadors said one group of crew and passengers protected the pilot house. The IOF commandoes beat the Captain of the boat, hitting him and knocking his head against the sides of the ship and threatening him with execution if he did not restart the engine of the ship.
Photo of Delegates and Crew on Al Awda (Source: Gaza Freedom Flotilla Coalition)

Four crew members and delegates were tasered by IOF forces. One crew member was repeatedly tasered on the head and neck and a delegate was also tasered repeatedly. Both were in dangerous medical conditions after repeated tasering and only semi-conscious during the seven-hour trip to Ashdod.
Image on the right: Dr. Swee Ang (Source: Gaza Freedom Flotilla Coalition)
Renown orthopedic surgeon from the United Kingdom, Dr. Swee Ang, who is about 4 feet, 8 inches and weighs about 80 pounds was hit on the head and body and ended up with two broken ribs. Dr. Swee wrote that:
“After a while the boat engine started. I was told later by Gerd who was able to hear Captain Herman tell the story to the Norwegian Consul in prison that the Israelis wanted Herman to start the engine, and threatened to kill him if he would not do so. But what they did not understand was that with this boat, once the engine stopped it can only be restarted manually in the engine room in the cabin level below. Arne the engineer refused to restart the engine, so the Israelis brought Herman down and hit him in front of Arne making it clear that they will continue to hit Herman if Arne would not start the engine. Arne is 70 years old, and when he saw Herman’s face went ash colour, he gave in and started the engine manually. Gerd broke into tears when she was narrating this part of the story. The Israelis then took charge of the boat and drove it to Ashdod.
Image below: Larry Commodore on his arrival at the Toronto airport after his medical ordeals while in Israeli prison.
(Image by Photo by Audrey Huntley)

Indigenous leader from Canada Larry Commodorewas thrown to the deck when he requested to have his passport back before the delegates left the ship and injuring his foot. As he told in The Real News Network interview… when he arrived in Toronto, after processing at the Ashdod dock, he was taken to a hospital where his foot was sewn up. He said he passed out several times during the process.

A few hours after his return to Givon prison, he developed bladder problems resulting from his injuries and had to be re-hospitalized as he could not pass urine. Prison guards did not believe he was injured and forced him to drink more water which resulted in a very uncomfortable bladder. He had to wait 10 hours for a doctor to come to the prison and order that he be taken to the hospital where a catheter was inserted. When he was deported and returned to Canada, he was taken to a Toronto hospital where he received further treatment.

Several delegates were not given their prescribed daily medicines creating dangerous personal health situations for each of them…
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu describes the Israeli military as the most “morale” military in the world. Crew and delegates on Al Awda found that the Israeli commandos and military administrative staff and prison staff were brutal and a bunch of thieves.

Already we have written reports from six delegates that cash, credit cards, clothing and personal items were taken from them and never returned. We estimate that at least $4,000 in cash and numerous credit cards were stolen from delegates. Delegates are cancelling their credit cards upon their return home and will be monitoring whether there are charges from July 29 onward as happened in 2010 when IOF soldiers used credit cards of passengers from the six ships of the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla.
Crew & Delegates on Freedom Flotilla (Source: Freedom Flotilla Coalition)
On Friday, August 3, Israeli commandos stopped Freedom, the second ship in the 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, 40 miles off Gaza. Twelve delegates and crew from five countries have been taken to Givon prison where lawyer and consular visits will take place on Sunday, August 5, postponed from Saturday due to religious observations.
Medical Supplies being loaded onto Al Awda and boxes painted by Naples, Italy artists (Source: Ann Wright)

The Gaza Freedom Flotilla Coalition continues its demand that the State of Israel send to Gaza the 13,000 euros of much needed medical supplies, primarily gauze and sutures, in 116 boxes onboard Al Awda and Freedom.

Why have 12 national campaigns organized the 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla? To bring attention to the Israeli blockade and attacks on Gaza.
As Dr. Swee wrote
“In the week we were sailing to Gaza, they had shot dead seven Palestinians and wounded more than 90 with live bullets in Gaza. They had further shut down fuel and food to Gaza. Two million Palestinians in Gaza live without clean water, with only 2-4 hours of electricity, in homes destroyed by Israeli bombs, in a prison blockaded by land, air and sea for 12 years.”The hospitals of Gaza since the 30 March had treated more than 9,071 wounded persons, 4,348 shot by machine guns from a hundred Israeli snipers while they were mounting peaceful demonstrations inside the borders of Gaza on their own land. Most of the gun-shot wounds were to the lower limbs and with depleted treatment facilities the limbs will suffer amputation. In this period, more than 165 Palestinians had been shot dead by the same snipers, including medics and journalists, children and women.
“The chronic military blockade of Gaza has depleted the hospitals of all surgical and medical supplies. This massive attack on an unarmed Freedom Flotilla bringing friends and some medical relief is an attempt to crush all hope for Gaza.”
Joe Meadors, the U.S. delegate on the 2018 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, puts it plainly and simply:
“Rest assured, Freedom Flotillas will continue to sail. Humanity demands they do.”
Image on the right: Joe Meadors in Palermo, Sicily (Source: Ann Wright)
Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army/Army Reserves veteran, a retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. 
The original source of this article is OpEdNews

August 5, 2018

Freeing our minds from America's empire

GUEST: Ahmed Alnaouq, recent graduate of Al-Azhar University in Gaza City, resident of the Gaza community of Deir Albalah, and project manager for "We Are Not Numbers," talks about his dream of advancing the cause of Palestinian human rights and exposing the “human face” of the Israeli occupation.

Here is a UN school in Gaza under attack by white phosphorus. We keep making excuses for what US allies do. We hope that it might change some day, maybe under some new, progressive leadership. It helps not to see or hear about the atrocities that Israel and Saudi Arabia do in America's name, and with America's high tech weaponry.

So read about the lives that your tax dollars cripple and destroy. They are real people in those schools and in those destroyed buildings. They have hopes, and they live in perpetual fear of what Israel's "final solution" might be.

We worked very hard to bring Ahmed to our listeners. It is amazing how difficult it is to record an interview in Gaza. But we finally patched the call through, in part thanks to Ahmed's patience and good suggestions.

Ahmed has the long view of Palestinian freedom, and is willing to devote much of his time to providing a webpage that tells his people's stories. Read some of them. Their personal approaches and disarming honest will teach us the lessons we are denied by our own media and our government.

Some of the stories bring us grief, but a life affirming kind. We discover our own humanity by understanding what our government does to the millions of people who stand in the way of imperial ambitions. We can, in fact, free our minds from America's empire.

August 1, 2018

Barbarism in the face of human need

GUEST: Reza Mazaheri, human rights activist and an attorney in an immigration law firm deeply committed to the free movement of people across borders, talks about his experiences in asylum seeking, deportation defense, family based visas and citizenship cases.

Mirror to Cruel U.S. Immigration Policy & Imperialism

Reza makes no bones about not supporting US immigrant policies. He sees the cases that every day prove his point. Immigrants are treated, well, like Black people in America. Maybe that is at the base of why the current policy doesn't work; it is simply racist. Our politicians pander to white fears of racial miscegenation. It has gone on for a long time, and Trump is just another step in a violent past. There were the slaves, brought over to create wealth for the elites. There were the native Americans, pushed off their lands as we colonized their hemisphere.

More recently, the US has created millions of refugees by overthrowing elected governments and installing pro-American dictatorships. Neoliberalism destroyed many economies, driving even more refugees north. We don't want them because they aren't white enough, a hatred fanned by our racist in chief.

So immigration exposes a great deal about our country that we would rather not think about. No wonder if is a flashpoint. And no wonder our supposed Democracy shows itself incapable of anything but barbarism in the face of desperate human need.