Evils that befall the world are not nearly so often
caused by bad men as they are by good men who
are silent when an opinion must be voiced
Dear friends and readers,
It’s been a long while since I wrote a political blog. I feel compelled to as in the past several weeks such horrific shameless slaughtering has been happening as well as (in the US) turn back on civil and legal rights for people of the US, that to carry on describing my particular experience of a death seems an egoistic blindness. This week I came across a number of genuinely explanatory essays on the killing and destruction as well as a group of essays pretending to show hopeful progress (on cancer) where there is no such thing. At the same time in the mainstream media, reporters have disgraced themselves by not reporting the full or real story of what is happening – I do not speak of the overt lies not only on Fox News but other channels where they are spoken and not contradicted (CNN, PBS, MSNBC).
The first essay is a must-read because so filled with information and perception and is by Owen Bennett-Jones, 36:14, 17 July 2014. Bennett-Jones expects you to know that for the last 40 years the US and its imperialist allies have overthrown every secular democratic leader that came to power (and there have been several, one in Iran in 1954) lest any kind of social or economic justice fro the average person out of the natural resources of this land interfere with the huge profits to be made by oil and other corporate companies ensconced in these lands. Bennett-Jones shows how Iraq had disintegrated, how the ISIS or ISIL triumph comes from a various disparate groups of local organizations. The indiscriminate reckless slaughtering (with suicide missions) is what many may come away remembering, and (perhaps) asking how groups of young men can become such crazed people, but what I suggest the reader notice is how Bennett-Jones shows that the Islamic religious regimes do not last precisely because of their continual resort to unrestrained extreme violence and because they do not provide what the majority of people of these regions want: peace, security and jobs. The latter, the article shows, the US and its backers in world banks had not only no interest in increasing but by privatizing corrupted what networks for jobs existed.
As a side area of further information, don’t neglect Patrick Coburn on the battle for Baghdad in the same issue. Nothing has been done about a similar group of young men: Boko Haram. The difference between the US and these others is the US uses massive assault and extreme violence followed by periods of restraint when they go about to set in place their forms of unameliorated capitalism and conditions which allow their companies’ businesses to thrive. The Kurds are operating as a state because these companies are dealing with the Kurds for oil.
To grasp why the leader of Israel used the pretext of the kidnapping of Israeli young men and the resumption of rocket firing (the point of which is to call attention to and bring an end to the the seige and blockade which is destroying Gaza) by Hamas after the burning death (while alive) of a Palestinian boy, to begin killing and destruction in Gaza again (last time 2012); you need to know that Hamas has been accepted by the Palestinian groups in Gaza and was accepting the terms of a treaty that could have led to a Unity government and two states (one Palestine and the other Israel); this is what this Israeli gov’t is determined to prevent. First read Ira Chernas on Israel’s strategy and American mythology. Then for live talk an informative discussion. You can just read the transcript. I recently read an anthology recording the horrifying cruelty visited on Jewish people in the Lodz Ghetto during WW2, and myself had relatives and know of so many people murdered and enslaved during WW2, so when I read of the malicious bombing of the only rehab hospital in Gaza, it is deeply distressing. A people who have themselves known what it is to be subject to barbaric attempts at extermination have now at their head leaders doing this to the Palestinian people. The Israeli prime minister, his gov’t and his army do not think a Palestinian state has the right to exist. Orwell would not be surprised at the absurd doublespeak I have now heard repeated even on PBS that Hamas is responsible for this latest massacre.
Again filling in more information, insight, another from the LRG, much shorter than Bennett-Jones, Mouin Rabbani (much shorter), 36:15, July 31, 2014. Live coverage from Sharif Abel Kouddous on the night of the ground invasion of Gaza by the Israelis. Remember this place has been blockaded for years, occupied and as the first article pointed out starved. Helpless civilians who cannot fight back or protect themselves.
Two other areas are making the news where we see the same lack of any pretense of regard for life or humanity. The immiseration of 52,000 (I think that’s the number usually cited) children from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. These are countries with a horrific murder rate and high incidence of extreme poverty, just now enduring drug wars made far worse by recent US intervention. This immediate reality in these three countries arises also from the overthrown of elected social-democracy regimes, installation of corrupt regimes backed by death squads. In this case Obama has tried to follow the law and, using funds he asked from Congress, to provide care and a long-term solution for these children. What is happening is the illegal and irresponsible deportation of these children with any adults who can be found belonging to them.
A poem by the Israeli poet, Dahlia Ravikovitch:
Get out of Beirut
Take the knapsacks,
the clay jugs, the washtubs,
the battle fatigues,
the bravado, the broken soul,
and what’s left in the street, a little bread or meat,
and kids running around like chickens in the heat.
How many children do you have?
How many children did you have?
It’s hard to keep the children safe in times like these.
Not the way it used to be in the old country,
in the shade of the mosque, under the fig tree,
where you’d get the kids out of the house in the morning
and tuck them into bed at night.
Whatever’s not fragile, gather up in those sacks:
clothing, bedding, blankets, diapers,
some memento, perhaps,
a shiny artillery shell,
or a tool that has practical value,
and the babies with pus in their eyes
and the RPG kids.
We’d love to see you afloat in the water with no place to go
no port and no shore.
You won’t be welcome anywhere.
You’re human beings who were thrown out the door,
you’re people who don’t count anymore.
You’re human beings that nobody needs.
You’re a bunch of lice
that pester and bite
till we all go nuts.
– translators Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld
Spectacularly, a planeload of people was shot down over the Ukraine and everyone aboard died. The plane was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with passengers from at least 10 countries on board, including 173 Dutch nationals, 44 Malaysians and 27 Australians. As many as 100 of the world’s leading AIDS researchers and advocates were reportedly on the plane en route to a conference in Australia, including the pioneering researcher and former president of the International AIDS Society, Joep Lange. The continued demonizing of Putin obscures that there is a second area in Ukraine right now being bombed: the US installed gov’t in Kiev has been inflicting death and destruction on the people of Ukraine in its area. the only discussion of this reality not so much as reported has been by Stephen Cohen on DemocracyNow.org; his recent article is the “Silence of American Hawks on the Kiev Atrocities.” See The Nation too if you are a subscriber. We must remember that NATO was seeking to displace the Russians in control of natural resources and labor in these areas.
This is not to deny that Russian or Moscow backed rebels are strongly implicated. Later addition (7/20, 1:17 pm): it’s emerged the people who shot down the plane were rebels with arms from the Russian gov’t: they are ill-prepared untrained people who did not understand they were shooting down a civilian plane and are now trying to prevent the UN from coming in; there are guidelines which airplane companies are advised to follow to avoid conflict and in this case the Malaysian airlines were not following the protocol (as were Air France, British Airways and others). This from a PBS report I found online. It is important if you want to understand what is going on not to demonize Putin, but rather understand there is a war going on in Ukraine where the US-backed Kiev gov’t is conducting war on recalcitrant cities and with the Russian-backed Ukraine gov’t. So the plane flew into a war zone — to save time and money on fuel.
While on different planes of disregard for life or humanity, the first slanted news on research in cancer which is written to lull the reader into accepting the present situation as nobody’s fault and hopeless, and the second taking away rights by law from real vulnerable people and giving them to powerful people becauset they are incorporated:
I cannot resist pointing to a group of articles which purport to offer real progress in understanding cancer in the July 2014 issue of Scientific American. These articles differ from the others I’m point to tonight: they are the delusionary type one finds in the mainstream press. You know you are in falsifying territory by the opening paragraph which implies the reason we think there is a rise in deaths from cancer is that we are no longer dying from other diseases. Utterly wrong: there has been an exponential increase in cancers for all age groups, rare cancers no longer rare, far in excess of any decrease in deaths from diseases partly conquered. There’s been a 70 per cent rise in 20 years. Secondly it is presented as hopeless to eliminate the carcinogens in our environment. To the contrary read The Politics of Cancer Revisited.
The essays point to new findings in specifics of chemotherapy which may (may) help to predict outcomes for some sufferers from cancer, but as you make your way down the list, at the close you find what is important: no fundamental understanding of the underlying causes for malignant growth have been discovered: first and foremost no one can predict what will be the result of any particular cancer treatment to any person. Central to scientific understanding is to be able to predict.
What these articles show is we are still in a state of knowledge like that of the Ptolomeic picture of the universe. As astronomers added real information on bits and pieces of this and that place in the sky, a cumbrous and confusing picture emerged. Only when Copernicus revolutionized the perspective did everything fall into place. Until Darwin perceived and understood how natural selection worked (based on Lyell’s finding that the natural world is undergoing continual change and there are “laws” controlling the patterns of these changes) we were left with books like Vestiges of Creation, a Ptolomeic-like density of detail with no predictive or analogous capability. It is true that as researchers delve into this or that chemotherapy or operation someone may stumble upon or work out answers.
Anyone who has read any history of medicine will know that the result of this person’s findings which will threaten the huge income of the drug companies and doctors doing these expensive operations (the admiral called these “shows of force”) cutting away the cancers (which often don’t work and leave the person mutilated as he endures death) will find him or herself under severe attack or the subject of ridicule and dismissal. The reason for the startling lack of progress in medicine over the centuries is those making money or at the head of a craft or profession do all they can to maintain the status quo.
I do feel my beloved husband was treated as an excrescence (and thus part of Ravikovitch’s poem) as soon as it was ascertained he had a lethal cancer; before that we had a pretense of concern. There was money to be made on him for an operation, and then the shows of force to enact.
As to the Supreme Court’s decision on Hobby Lobby, see Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times. The principle that we should have a neutral public space where no religion controls what can be done or is done and none shall be allowed to impose its vision on others is being systematically effaced. Since that decision, the court has gone on to increase the numbers of companies who can refuse to grant insurance to cover women’s various contraceptive needs.
Here as a live conversation is Bill Moyers’ talking to Greenhouse and Dahlia Lithwick.