Friday, August 1, 2014

Gaza and Soweto

Juan Cole. (photo: Informed Comment)
Juan Cole. (photo: Informed Comment)

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment
31 July 14

n June 16, 1976, some 20,000 students rose up to protest in the slum of Soweto on the outskirts of Johannesburg.
Here is a summary of the June 18 NYT article on the repression of the protests:
“Rioting continues for 3d day in Soweto, black township outside Johannesburg, with rioters, mostly young, directing fury at govt bldgs and vehicles. Death toll continues to mount as more than 1,000 armed policemen move into township sts. Official casualty toll put at 58 dead and 788 injured. Only 2 of dead and 5 of injured are white. Rioting is most serious in nation since Sharpeville massacre in ’60. There is widespread feeling that repercussions could be even greater.Gen W H Kotze, police comdr, sees no end to violence. Battle between police and rioters described.”
The students were protesting (white people said “rioting”) because the minority white government had decided that they suddenly would have to study not in English but in Afrikaans, a form of Dutch. Most of them did not know that language and did not want to know it, then seeing it as the tongue of hated colonialists who had deprived them of citizenship in a state and left them stateless.
The summary for the lead article by John F. Burns on Saturday June 19 reports, “Prime Min Vorster says there is ‘no reason for panic,’ TV and radio speech. Declares Govt will not be intimidated. Says instructions have been given to maintain law and order at all costs.” Already 60 had been killed and more than 800 wounded according to the government, but officials admitted that the toll on day 3 was likely far higher. It ends, “Fact that almost all of black leaders who might have influence with radical elements among rioters have been imprisoned under special detention laws is problem for Govt.”
By late August, the South African Apartheid government was still shooting down protesters with live ammunition. It also connived at encouraging tensions between the inhabitants of Soweto and members of the Zulu tribe, hoping to divide and rule. Prime Min Vorster insisted “that white S Africans ‘have no reason to have guilty conscience about anything’.”
As activists were repressed or saw friends killed, some took up arms and became insurgents. They were sought and sometimes captured and prosecuted under the Sabotage and Terrorism Acts of June 1962 and June 1967.
“The 1976 uprising, and subsequent massacres and other atrocities by the security forces, gave new impetus to the struggle. Thousands of new recruits flooded into MK, bringing with them a fresh will to fight the enemy, born of their own bitter experience in fighting a brutal enemy only with stones. New vistas opened to intensify the struggle and to hit back in defence of the people . . .

Between 1976 and 1979 there was a marked escalation of armed actions: about 37 armed actions took place between June 1976 and the end of 1978. Railway lines were sabotaged, police stations attacked, and Bantu Administration offices were bombed. The battle was slowly but surely being taken to the enemy, and MK had moved from concentrating purely on sabotage operations to the first stages of guerilla war.”
The total death toll for the Soweto protests is probably 700 with many times that number wounded. Participants later remembered that the white police and troops were “trigger happy– being racists, you know.”
The repressive and trigger happy white minority regime had many resemblances to the current Likud government in Israel. and the same governments that actively supported Apartheid South Frica are supporting the Likud.
One tactic of the Apartheid South African regime was to consign black Africans to Bantustans, territories that were subordinate to Pretoria. In this way their citizenship could be revoked but they did not gain an actual new state. Gaza is very much like a Bantustan of Israel, surrounded by it and kept weak and disrupted. But in this way the nearly 2 million Palestinians displaced there from their original homes in what is now southern Israel can be denied citizenship in Israel while also being kept stateless with regard to their “Palestine” Bantustan.
As in Apartheid South Africa, resistance to the Apartheid policies of Israel is met with extreme violence. In Israel “law and order” is maintained “at all costs” just as in Apartheid South Africa. If it is necessary to shoot down 700 students and youth for refusing to go along with the dictates of old white men, then so be it. The minority government “has nothing to apologize for.” Just as the sabotage and bombings of Umkhonte v Sizwe were termed mere terrorism and the ANC was demonized as a stalking horse for Stalinist dictatorship, so resistance organizations welling up from the slummy conditions imposed on Gaza are demonized and their very resistance to being denied the rights of human beings is used to justify further repression.
No wonder that today’s South Africa is calling on Israel to cease its ground offensive into Gaza.
Bishop Desmond Tutu defended John Kerry’s use of the term “Apartheid” for Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. He said that he saw a situation in Israel/Palestine that exactly mirrored the forms of discrimination, the pass system, etc., that characterized South Africa.
This is the reason that those who think restoration of the status quo ante is sufficient to end the fighting are fooling themselves. There is only one thing that could bring lasting peace is an end to Apartheid.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jews Stage Massive Anti-War Protests In Tel Aviv, New York and Elsewhere

Opposing Israeli Policy Does Not Make One a “Self-Hating Jew”

A huge anti-war protest is being held tonight by Jews in Tel Aviv:
Embedded image permalink
(Jews and Palestinians have been holding anti-war protests throughout Israel, but the mainstream media has refused to cover them.)
Jews also protested the Gaza war in New York City yesterday:
Not in Our Name: New Yorkers rally against Israeli war in Gaza in lower Manhattan.
Anti-war protests have also been held in other cities throughout the world.
Indeed, many Jews oppose Israeli treatment of the Palestinians:
Postscript: Many devoutly religious Jews oppose Zionism.  So opposing an Israeli policy does not make anti-Semitic … or a “self-hating Jew“.
And we salute Israelis protesting against the war, especially since dissent may subject them to death threats.

The Question is: Are Benjamin Netanyahu and Adolph Hitler are a seed of the same Tree?

Subject: EMERGENCY ACTION FOR GAZA IN NYC: Thu. July 31st Noon
Date: July 30, 2014 5:59:38 PM EDT

This is news...

"Israel Strikes More Than 50 Sites in Gaza" July 8, 2014

"Israel bomb hits disabled centre in Gaza" July 13, 2014

"Gaza faces imminent water crisis: Israel's assault had a devastating impact on Gaza's already fragile water infrastructure." July 17, 2014

"A Place of Indescribable Loss": As Ceasefire Talks Begin, Israel Bombs Hospital, Mosques and Homes" July 22, 2014

"Bombed in Their Homes and in the Streets, Where Can Gazans Flee?" July 24, 2014

"Gaza health ministry says bombardment killed at least 16 people

and injured 150 in UN-run school in Beit Hanoun." July 25, 2014

"Israeli shells hit second UN school, bringing more death to Gazan refugees" July 29, 2014

"Busy Gaza market also attacked, reportedly killing at least 15 shoppers and
wounding scores of others" July 29, 2014

"They Thought They'd Be Safe. They Were Wrong:
20 Gazans Killed in Israeli Bombing of U.N. Shelter" July 30, 2014

"Dozens Killed in Israel's Worst Bombardment of Gaza So Far" July 30, 2014

"Gaza death toll rises as Israeli strikes continue" July 30, 2014

Rabbi Henry Siegman, Leading Voice of U.S. Jewry, on Gaza: "A Slaughter of Innocents" July 30, 2014

More than 1,250 Palestinians killed in 23 days. 



In the name of decency we must act.

As artists and activists we will join together to create an arresting, visual presence on the streets of NYC; We will create a representation of the carnage from the war crimes perpetrated by the State of Israel on the civilian population of Palestinians in Gaza.

New York City Imposes a Used-Car Repair Rule

The city is requiring dealers that sell vehicles that have been recalled for safety defects to handle the repairs.

General Motors has become engulfed in a crisis over its long failure to fix faulty ignition switches in older cars, a defect that G.M. has linked to at least 13 deaths. Already, automakers have recalled a record 37.5 million vehicles this year in the United States, including about 25.5 million from General Motors, city officials said.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Editorial Observer: The Federal Marijuana Ban Is Rooted in Myth and Xenophobia 


An ad for the 1930s film "Marihuana." Credit National Library of Medicine

The federal law that makes possession of marijuana a crime has its origins in legislation that was passed in an atmosphere of hysteria during the 1930s and that was firmly rooted in prejudices against Mexican immigrants and African-Americans, who were associated with marijuana use at the time. This racially freighted history lives on in current federal policy, which is so driven by myth and propaganda that is it almost impervious to reason.
The cannabis plant, also known as hemp, was widely grown in the United States for use in fabric during the mid-19th century. The practice of smoking it appeared in Texas border towns around 1900, brought by Mexican immigrants who cultivated cannabis as an intoxicant and for medicinal purposes as they had done at home.
Within 15 years or so, it was plentiful along the Texas border and was advertised openly at grocery markets and drugstores, some of which shipped small packets by mail to customers in other states.
The law enforcement view of marijuana was indelibly shaped by the fact that it was initially connected to brown people from Mexico and subsequently with black and poor communities in this country. Police in Texas border towns demonized the plant in racial terms as the drug of “immoral” populations who were promptly labeled “fiends.”
As the legal scholars Richard Bonnie and Charles Whitebread explain in their authoritative history, “The Marihuana Conviction,” the drug’s popularity among minorities and other groups practically ensured that it would be classified as a “narcotic,” attributed with addictive qualities it did not have, and set alongside far more dangerous drugs like heroin and morphine.
By the early 1930s, more than 30 states had prohibited the use of marijuana for nonmedical purposes. The federal push was yet to come.
The stage for federal suppression of marijuana was set in New Orleans, where a prominent doctor blamed “muggle-heads” — as pot smokers were called — for an outbreak of robberies. The city was awash in sensationalistic newspaper articles that depicted pushers hovering by the schoolhouse door turning children into “addicts.” These stories popularized spurious notions about the drug that lingered for decades. Law enforcement officials, too, trafficked in the “assassin” theory, under in which killers were said to have smoked cannabis to ready themselves for murder and mayhem.
Continue reading the main story


Evolving on Marijuana

Highlights from the Editorial Board’s changing view of marijuana over six decades.
OPEN Timeline
In 1930, Congress consolidated the drug control effort in the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, led by the endlessly resourceful commissioner, Harry Jacob Anslinger, who became the architect of national prohibition. His case rested on two fantastical assertions: that the drug caused insanity; that it pushed people toward horrendous acts of criminality. Others at the time argued that it was fiercely addictive.
He may not have actually believed his propaganda, but he fed it by giving lurid stories to the press as a way of making a case for federal intervention. This narrative had a great effect at Congressional hearings that led to the enactment of The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which tried to eradicate the use and sale of the drug through heavy taxation.
Mr. Bonnie and Mr. Whitebread report that the witness list for those hearings contained not a single person who had done significant research into the effects of cannabis. Mr. Anslinger testified that even a single marijuana cigarette could induce a “homicidal mania,” prompting people to want to kill those they loved. The bill passed handily; President Franklin Roosevelt signed it into law.

Cannabis Fluid Extract, 1933 Credit National Museum of American History

An ad for the 1930s film "Marihuana." Credit National Library of Medicine
The federal law that makes possession of marijuana a crime has its origins in legislation that was passed in an atmosphere of hysteria during the 1930s and that was firmly rooted in prejudices against Mexican immigrants and African-Americans, who were associated with marijuana use at the time. This racially freighted history lives on in current federal policy, which is so driven by myth and propaganda that is it almost impervious to reason. 


Maureen Dowd: Night at the Opera?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Treated Like Royalty on Vacation, de Blasio Maintained Populist Image

The mayor took pains in Italy to preserve the fine line between Park Slope Dad and V.I.P.

 Still, it was sometimes odd to observe Mr. de Blasio inside the bubble of high power. An obscure politician at this time last year, the mayor arrived at Sant’Agata de’ Goti with a huge security contingent; the town had shipped in officers from at least four Italian forces. Paparazzi swarmed; after the ceremony, the mayor was mobbed by television crews, his aides struggling to hold back the scrum.
 Like it or not, Mr. de Blasio is quickly becoming a member of the global elite. His challenge now is to find a comfortable way to play the part.

Sunday Review »

While waiting for Congress to evolve, President Obama, once a regular recreational marijuana smoker, could practice some evolution of his own. He could order the attorney general to conduct the study necessary to support removal of marijuana from Schedule I. Earlier this year, he told The New Yorker that he considered marijuana less dangerous than alcohol in its impact on individuals, and made it clear that he was troubled by the disproportionate number of arrests of African-Americans and Latinos on charges of possession. For that reason, he said, he supported the Colorado and Washington experiments.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Big City

On the Upper West Side, a House Divided by Income

A development received approval from the city for separate entrances — one for wealthy residents and one for those earning far less who would occupy the project’s affordable units.

The “Upstairs, Downstairs” effect was permissible under a change to zoning codes made during the Bloomberg era that gave developers who provided affordable housing in market-rate projects discretion over these particulars, in addition to the considerable tax breaks they receive. Although the building’s configuration is anathema to the values embraced by the de Blasio administration, forcing the developer to abandon it would involve costly, not entirely tenable litigation, which would slow the progress of the city’s affordable-housing plans, the administration said. The focus now is to reverse the zoning change, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen told me, a process that should take about a year.


Jon Stewart Wants You To Help Him Buy CNN

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Posted: Updated:

Forget that potato salad Kickstarter campaign. Jon Stewart has something much more fun you can do with any money you're willing to throw away.
Stewart wants to buy CNN, and on Tuesday night's "Daily Show," he asked   for your help.
Rupert Murdoch is angling to purchase Time Warner. But since he already owns Fox News, he'd likely be forced to sell CNN, which experts say could fetch $10 billion -- or exactly the amount Stewart is hoping to raise.
"This $10 billion all-cash bid for CNN would secure control of a massive television network reaching over 100 million homes in the US alone, which we could then use to rebuild a news organization befitting this proud land," a statement on Stewart's "Let's Buy CNN" page reads. "Or more likely we'd use it to make a lot more poop jokes."
Like any good Kickstarter campaign, Stewart is offering up some enticing rewards.
Watch the clip above to find out what they are.
Daily Show Correspondents & Contributors
Getty Images

Friday, July 25, 2014

Rick Perry Orders Dallas Cowboys to Mexican Border

(photo: James D Smith/AP)
(photo: James D Smith/AP)

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
24 July 14

The article below is satire. Andy Borowitz is an American comedian and New York Times-bestselling author who satirizes the news for his column, "The Borowitz Report."

In his boldest move yet to address the immigration crisis, on Thursday Texas Governor Rick Perry dispatched the Dallas Cowboys to the United States’ border with Mexico.
In a photo opportunity with the Cowboys and several of the team’s cheerleaders, Perry explained the rationale behind his latest decision. “Those who would cross our borders illegally will have to contend with the power and fury of America’s Team,” he said.
Critics of the move dismissed it as political theatre, noting that once the Cowboys arrived at the border it was unclear what they would do there.
Additionally, there were questions about how effective the Cowboys would be in stopping illegal immigrants, since the team has the worst-ranked defense in the N.F.L.