Saturday, 30 May 2020

Protests in USA over the death of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of police - 25 cities have imposed curfews

NB: Justice-loving people the world over will sympathise with Americans fighting police brutality and racism - made all the worse by the neo-Nazi in the White House. Salute! DS
The Guardian’s Ankita Rao, reporting from New York, on the mayor’s controversial late-night statements: Mayor Bill de Blasio took to the podium on Saturday night to tell protestors across the city that they were “heard, loud and clear”. But the response from some New Yorkers made it clear that they felt otherwise. Over the course of two days, thousands of protesters swarmed through the streets of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens – holding signs, wearing masks and stopping traffic – to call for justice for the extrajudicial killing of George Floyd, and the countless other black men and women at the hands of the police.

Source: CNN
The protests were angry yet largely peaceful, but several videos and documentation of police arresting minors, brutalizing protesters and at one point, driving their car into crowds, surfaced as well. One woman was filmed being pushed over by cops, before she went into a seizure and was taken to the hospital. In response, de Blasio’s main message appeared to be to keep the NYPD safe, and that violence against the police would not be tolerated. He told people they had made their point and should go home, and blamed the agitation on outsiders coming to the city. 

Notably, de Blasio responded to questions about the police vehicle driving into protestors with a flippant, “they shouldn’t have done that” and complained about damaged vehicles. 
The speech was a stark departure from Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta, who described how she felt when she watched Floyd’s killing, saying she “hurt like a mother would hurt” in a speech to her city, or Muriel Bowser, the DC mayor, who called out Donald Trump for hiding “behind his fence afraid” and said she stood with the people exercising their first amendment right. read more:

Racial wounds rip open under a president with a history of exploiting them
Donald Trump is following China’s authoritarian lead

May 1968 - June 1989. It's been five decades since 1968, and things are somehow worse

May 1968 and June 1989 are two of the most significant months of the historical period after the second World War. In fact 1968 and 1989 in their entirety witnessed a sequence of world changing events. They were both the high watermark of the cold war and the beginning of its end, with the re-ordering of the global balance of power.

They saw unmanageable political crises unfold in the Western capitalist world as well as in the Soviet bloc and the People’s Republic of China. 1968 was the height of the Vietnam war, that most deeply affected my generation, and 1989 was when both the PRC and the USSR were shaken to their foundations. And here is a description of  America today:

These events were crowded and there is much to say. One term that I have used to describe them is ideological implosion - this is also linked to the collapse of legitimacy. In this sense the events of '68 led inexorably to those of '89. A glance at the AV's listed below will give readers an idea. The labels and links below lead to more posts

Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being is set in Czechoslovakia, 1968

Audio-visuals of some major events of 1968
Anti Vietnam-war Demonstrations (1968)
Vietnam War protest in Washington
European anti-Vietnam War Protests
Anti-Vietnam War Demonstration In New York & San Francisco
Anti-Vietnam War Demonstration In Berlin

Tet Offensive
Tet Offensive War Footage
 Vietnam War - Tet Offensive

Prague Spring
Prague spring 1968 - Warsaw Pact tanks in Praha (French Audio)
Prague Spring 1968
The Prague Spring of 1968 

Polish Crisis
March 1968. The last exodus of Polish Jews

Paris, May 1968: The Student Revolt
"All Power to the Imagination"

Mexico Olympics
Olympic Flashback: Mexico City 1968 (00:00 - 01:52)
1968 Massacre at Tlatelolco (01:09 - 03:22)

1960's Women's Liberation Movement - A PBS Documentary Trailer
Why did feminists protest against the Miss America pageant in 1968?

Martin Luther King
MLK Assassination and Watts Riots - 1968
Martin Luther King - Assassination and Aftermath- CBS News Special Report April 5, 1968

Siddharth Varadarajan: In Modi 2.0, Democracy Has Been Quarantined

never before in independent India has there been such impunity for those connected to the establishment. If you are a member of the ruling party or support the government’s political agenda, you can advocate violence and even carry it out, spread hatred against religious minorities, humiliate and abuse the poor, without worrying about being asked to render account in a court of law

To understand what Narendra Modi has done to India in the first year of his second term as prime minister, I want you to consider the contrasting fate of two young people, Amulya Leona and Anurag Thakur. Leona, still in her teens, has been in jail for three months now, charged with sedition and other serious crimes for simply shouting ‘Long Live Pakistan’ and ‘Long Live India’ from the stage of a public event in Bangalore. If Leona spoke about living, Thakur, who is junior minister of finance in Modi’s government, spoke about killing.

From the stage of a public event in Delhi, he exhorted a crowd of Bharatiya Janata Party supporters to shout “Shoot the Traitors”. The ‘traitors’ were not an abstraction but the women and men of Shaheen Bagh and elsewhere who had been protesting the government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act. A few days later, in fact, someone actually fired on the protestors at Jamia Millia. However, the police has yet to file a case against Thakur, let alone seek to take him into custody. “The time is not right”, a top law officer of the government told the Delhi high court when asked whether the police intended to register an FIR against the minister.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

The Beacon: Press matters

Colouring Within the Lines: Press in the Hall of Mirrors
In this first of a four part series on the lives we lead, Ashoak Upadhyay untangles the web of illusion obscuring the pivot on which mainstream media turns: a neo-liberal nationalist-statist iniquitous order.

The Boot in the Cracked Mirror
India’s rating on Press Freedoms measured by an index for 182 countries has slipped over the last year and stands way low. The world’s largest democracy must accept the RSF report and improve its ranking, says Raoof Mir.

Saoussen Ben Cheikh: Middle East Governments are using Covid-19 as a Pretext to Crush Human Rights // Palestinians to be “subjects,” not Citizens in Israeli Annexation In response to COVID-19, governments around the world have declared states of emergency, allowing them to take exceptional measures to contain the pandemic. 
Liberal democracies from the United StatesCanada to European countriesMalaysia 
and South Africa imposed emergency measures that restricted mobility under lockdowns. Likewise, in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), authorities declared states of emergency and imposed exceptional measures such as curfews and home confinement.

In a region plagued by decades of instability and conflict, authorities have long used exceptional and temporary emergency orders to justify repression and curb human rights. Based on this precedent, a number of governments are now using the coronavirus crisis to further crackdown on human rights - particularly freedom of expression.

Justice in America: Authorities are Cracking down Hard on Black Protesters while Treating White Supremacist Reopeners with Kid Gloves

NB: Sound familar? Read this and the other links beneath this post.. DS
My social media feeds have been full of comparisons between the treatment by police of Reopener mobs, some of whom invaded the Michigan state house while fully armed with assault weapons, and the treatment of protesters in Minneapolis regarding the killing of George Floyd by a policemen who kept his knee on his neck. Why does the Far Right all too often get a pass by American law enforcement?
1. The white supremacists and other far right elements are armed to the teeth. There are about 255 million guns in the US, but something like 75 percent of Americans say they don’t own a gun. So between 22% and 31% of Americans, about 80 to 100 million people, own all the guns. Then 3 percent of the population, some 10 million people, own 100 million guns.

Let me underline that. About 40 percent of all guns in the United States are owned by about 10 million people, some 3 percent of the population. So owning guns is legal, and I’m from a family of farmers who hunted with them, and I’m not knocking gun ownership. And I’m sure there are perfectly innocent hobbyists who collect guns the way other people collect vintage automobiles. But a tiny percentage within that percentage of super-gun-owners are far right wing extremists, and law enforcement is understandably reluctant to get them het up.

Final act: The repression of the judiciary in Poland. By Marta Bucholc & Maciej Komornik

As the situation of the judiciary in Poland develops, what was already a conundrum threatens to become completely incomprehensible. Nevertheless, it is crucial that the conflict between the European Union and the Polish government over the ongoing justice reforms is not seen as a mere technicality. On the contrary, it is a major arena in the broader conflict of values in the Union, and for that reason needs to be understood.

Until the beginning of May this year, the situation seemed positive for those hopeful of mobilizing the force of international commitments against the disassembly of the rule of law in Poland. The EU, or more specifically the Commission and the Parliament, was insisting on the prevalence of European law, particularly standards of judicial independence, over non-compliant actions of a member state. This culminated in the ruling of 8 April 2020, concerning the controversial reform of the Supreme Court of Poland. At the request of the European Commission, the ECJ granted a provisional suspension of national provisions. Although the case is still pending, the wording of the ruling could only be interpreted as a signal that the Court’s assessment of the situation in Polish Supreme Court and in the Polish judiciary in general is far from positive.

The ruling of the German Constitutional Court on 5 May 2020 may well complicate this simple picture. In its ruling on the European Central Bank’s Public Sector Purchase Programme, the German Constitutional Court questioned the exclusive competence of the ECJ in matters of European law. This was effectively to declare the matter within the German court’s jurisdiction, despite an unprecedented statement by the ECJ to the contrary. The predictable response from the Polish government to this highly controversial decision was not long in coming. In a letter to Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, the Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki praised the German ruling, as ‘one of the most important judgments in the history of the European Union’. It set clear limitations to the powers of the EU bodies, he argued, and upheld the authority of national constitutions.

The German judgment could not have come at worse time...

see also
The Manifesto of the Anti-Fascist Intellectuals: Written by Benedetto Croce (1925)

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Chitrangada Choudhury, Aniket Aga: India’s Pandemic Response Is A Caste Atrocity // Hartosh Singh Bal: How Modi Failed the Pandemic Test

India has a sickness so serious, that even its response to the Covid-19 pandemic betrays a fatal infection. Nowhere in the world has a lockdown been as inhuman or imposed with such contempt for the lives of its millions of working poor.  The Modi government's turning of a health challenge into a human catastrophe and the approval of a large section of India's elites can only be explained by casteism, which grades people on a hereditary hierarchy of worth, and legitimises the brutalization of 'lesser beings'. The lockdown is in effect a caste atrocity i.e. a wilful act of violence inflicted on marginalized castes, and invisibilized in the name of halting a virus.
On March 23, PM Modi proclaimed he was locking down the country in four hours. Absent wages, work or relief, millions were pushed to the brink, sparking an exodus which is yet to let up or be officially acknowledged. When people have protested in sheer desperation, the state has responded with teargasthrashings and detentions.

Kate Ng: Cuckoo stuns scientists with longest migration (12,000 km) ever recorded“

A cuckoo has completed one of the longest migrations ever recorded by any land bird after flying more than 7,500 miles (12,000km) from southern Africa to its birthplace and breeding grounds in Mongolia. The bird, named Onon, crossed 16 countries in his “mammoth journey”, facing down ocean crossings and high winds on the way. He arrived at the Church Bird Banding Station in Mongolia at 3.22pm local time on Wednesday, bird conservation organisation Birding Beijing said.
  • A cuckoo lands on a branch in the rain
  • A cuckoo lands on a branch in the rain ( Getty Images )

Onon is home! As of 1530 local time on 27 May 2020 he is in the icinity of Khurkh Bird [Banding] Station, where he was fitted with his tag in June 2019, after a round trip of 26,000km, including 27 border crossings involving 16 countries,” said Birding Beijing on its website, which posts regular updates on the whereabouts of the birds.

“Remarkable navigation and endurance. And now he has no time to waste as he needs to set up his territory, defending it from competing males and mate with as many females as possible!” Chris Hewson, senior research ecologist at the BTO, told the BBC the project has revealed much about the knowledge birds that migrate long distances have in order to make the journey....

Hong Kong crisis: riot police flood city as China protests grow

Hong Kong police arrested at least 300 people during day-long protests and skirmishes across the city, as residents railed against controversial legislation aimed at bringing the territory further under Beijing’s control. Police fired pepper-spray bullets into lunchtime crowds as people shouted slogans. Officers stopped and searched residents, including students, and rounded up suspected protesters, forcing them to sit in rows on the ground.

Thousands of armed police had flooded the streets to stop the planned demonstrations aimed at halting a law criminalising ridicule of China’s national anthem. The protests have been given a fresh urgency with Beijing announcing last week plans to force a sweeping anti-sedition law on Hong Kong. Roads around the Legislative Council building (LegCo), where lawmakers were holding a debate on the anthem law, were blocked off and pedestrian walkways open to only those with work passes. Nearby shops were also closed.

Police in riot gear stopped and searched mainly young people outside Hong Kong’s MTR railway stations during morning rush hour and lined walkways as commuters shuffled past, prompting accusations on social media that the city had become “a police state”. Protest organisers on social media urged people to “be water” and keep moving throughout the city, but acknowledged it would be difficult to stop the anthem debate without high risk of arrest. “But you can at least make a statement,” said one post....

George Monbiot: ‘Try to stop me’ – the mantra of leaders who are now ruling with impunity
Interview with Bharat Bhushan: Open up or break up, dissident Yang Jianli tells China
Chinese human rights lawyer ‘totally changed man’ after being jailed

Monday, 25 May 2020

Conversation with Lawrence Lifschultz: The American reporter who investigated the assassination of Mujibur Rahman

there are indications that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia may have had prior knowledge that the coup d'etat would take place. Both countries recognised the "Islamic Republic of Bangladesh" very soon after Mujib's death. Clearly, this represented some level of coordination between Islamabad and Riyadh. The coincidence is simply too coincidental...
Lawrence Lifschultz has been writing on Bangladesh in diverse journals and newspapers from the Far Eastern Economic Review (Hong Kong) to The Guardian (London), the Economic & Political Weekly (Mumbai), and The Nation (New York) for nearly four decades. In this recent interview with Anisur Rahman, Chief Reporter BSS, he reflects on his first meeting with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1970 and the events surrounding Sheikh Mujib's death. Lifschultz once again brings new details of this tragic history to light. (Special to The Daily Star)

Anisur Rahman (AR): Could you recall your personal memories of Bangabandhu during your Dhaka visit in 1970? Lawrence Lifschultz (LL): The first time I visited Dhaka was in July 1970. I travelled overland to East Pakistan from Kolkata via Benepole and then on to Dhaka by road and ferries. The previous year I had lived in Gaya District in Bihar working on a rural agricultural development project run by the Sarvodaya Movement founded by followers of Mahatma Gandhi. I came to India when I was 19 on a programme sponsored by Yale University where I was an undergraduate. It was known as the Five Year BA Fellowship.

It was a remarkable programme because it encouraged those who were selected for the Fellowship to get jobs with organisations working in the third world that were seeking to make a difference among the poorest communities of the world. After this year in India I began a six-month journey through southeast Asia. Most of my time in this period involved a long road and boat trip through Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos at the height of the Indochina War but the first stop on my journey was East Pakistan (of the time). When I arrived in Dhaka, I found a very inexpensive hotel in the Old City. I began exploring Dhaka. One day I made my way to New Market to find a pharmacy to buy some medical supplies.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Derecka Purnell: Black Americans are in an abusive relationship with the Democratic party

I am very tired of Joe Biden. My vote for him was already hanging by a thread before his disastrous interview with Charlamagne tha God on Friday. Interrupting the Breakfast Club host’s explanation that black people needed assurances that our communities will benefit from his presidency, Biden asserted: “If you’ve got a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or for Trump, then you ain’t black.”

Again, I am very tired of Joe Biden. Not because I am a purist, or have inflexible ideological commitments of what it will take to remove Donald Trump from office. But rather because Biden’s condescension towards black communities is intolerable. I want to believe that Biden’s condescension started after the respected senator James Clyburn called the former vice-president an “honorary black man” at a private dinner in March. But his mistreatment of black people, verbally and politically, is decades old, and is a reflection of the Democratic party in general.

Throughout Biden’s career, he has boasted about his ability to bridge partisan divides by sacrificing the needs of black people and poor people in the name of “compromise”. For the last 30 years, Biden has repeatedly talked about freezing, cutting, or raising the age for social security and other benefits – as much as $2tn one time. His response to concerns that these cuts would hurt the poor? “We’re going to do lots of hard things … we might as well do this.”...

Stand With Workers! Support Workers' Dhaba!

Dear All ,
I hope you are safe and doing well! As you are already aware, due to the ongoing lockdown forced by the COVID19 outbreak, the situation in Delhi has been very serious for some time, with scores of people facing starvation. 

To support the working class communities in this moment of dire need, a Workers' Dhaba (Soup Kitchen) was launched on 28 March, 2020, by the Citizens' Collective for Humanitarian Relief (CCHR), in collaboration with the Centre for Education and Communication (CEC).   

We are happy to inform you that over the last month and a half, we were able to estabish two more dhabas and distributed close to 100,000 meals. So far, more than 1100 packets of dry ration have been distributed in the Delhi-NCR region. 

Please click here  and here for media reports on our Workers Dhaba. For daily updates,   follow our Facebook page. For a detailed report on our activities, please see attachment. 

Some of you have contributed previously as well and we are immensely grateful. Given the immensity of the requirement, we humbly request you consider contributing once again.  
If you wish to assist us, visit our ketto page here. Or, you can contribute to the following bank accounts:

A) Bank details for INDIAN CITIZENS ONLY:
Centre for Education and Communication
Corporation Bank
SB Account No: 520101261257941
IFSC Code: CORP0000286
Branch: Greater Kailash, New Delhi

B) Bank details for FOREIGN NATIONALS:
Centre for Education and Communication
State Bank of India
Current Account No: 10786724071
Swift Code: SBININBB710
Branch: Green Park Extension, New Delhi

Once the transfer is made, do not forget to inform us by sending an email to either of the following email IDs along with your name and address. You can also demand a contribution receipt for filing tax returns.

Warm Regards,

Ms. Lokesh
Executive Director
Centre for Education and Communication
173-A Khirki Village, Malviya Nagar
New Delhi 110017
Tel:  +91-11-29541841, 29541858
Fax: +91-11-29542464
Mobile: 8587956746

Juan Cole: The End of the Oslo Accords: Palestinians pull out of Agreements in face of Netanyahu’s Sudetenland Moment

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh announced after a cabinet meeting that his government will move to implement the end of Palestinian cooperation with Israel and the United States and its withdrawal from all agreements it had signed with them. The steps were announced Tuesday by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas had said, “The Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are no longer committed to all signed agreements and understandings with the Israeli government and the American government, including the security commitments.” He added that Israel will now have to “uphold responsibilities before the international community as the occupying power.” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo professed not to understand what in the world Abbas was talking about. 

So Mr. Secretary, since you don’t know much about the Middle East and what you think you know is wrong, let me explain it to you. No one ever thought the Israelis had any claim to the West Bank and Gaza. These territories were occupied during the 1967 War. But the UN Charter forbids the acquisition of neighbors’ territory by force, so Israel is bound to relinquish them. It doesn’t intend to. The 1993 Oslo peace accords between the United States, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization created the Palestine Authority, a sort of limited self-government for Palestinians, who remained under Israeli military occupation.... read more:

see also