There is a group of islands right next to mainland China (see the photo) claimed and controlled by Japan. Such claims of territorial ownership are leftovers of past colonial times. After subject nations won their independence, some neighboring islands remained in the hands of the colonizers. A more egregious example is the Malvinas, or as the British Government calls them, the Falkland Islands, right next to Argentina.
Yesterday, the Argentine Government issued a threat to companies that drill on the islands and their coast for oil, with heavy fines and jail time for their executives, if they don’t stop. They stated that “The Argentine government has protested against and rejected all of the United Kingdom’s attempts to promote and authorize such hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities in the area of the Argentine continental shelf”, saying that drilling and taking the oil is in violation of the UN resolution reached over the dispute between the two governments which led to war, 30 years ago.
Meanwhile, last Saturday, China issued a new map of its air defense zone covering Diaoyu islands (as they’re called by the Chinese, or Senkaku called by the Japanese), requiring that any aircraft entering the specified airspace must notify Chinese authorities beforehand; otherwise, it’ll be considered a violation of Chinese airspace. The move was interpreted as an effort to reassert Chinese claim over the islands towards possibly a joint control or administration by both governments. The claim was quickly rejected by the Japanese, and of course, by the US, which has hundreds of aircraft stationed in the area, saying they would not comply. And, to show they couldn’t care less with the newly drawn air defense map, the US flew two B-52 bombers over the area on Wednesday, saying it was an “exercise”. Incidentally, the US does such exercises right under the nose of North Korea, too, which lost 3 million people to US bombers not that long ago.
These are of course two entirely separate and unrelated cases, but the two incidents, separated by only two days, brought them both into focus, as if to remind us that despite much progress, colonialism is not entirely a thing of the past and still threatens humanity with wars and exploitation.
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After I wrote about the violent and crazed behavior of New Mexico police officers against Oriano Ferrell, a black single mother, and her four children, I got angry and admonishing responses from couple of people who didn’t like my take on that incident, and reminded me of the need for “deference” to those who “protect and serve”, and for respect for “authority”. One even accused me of playing “the race card” for taking the side of the black single mother, rather than the white police. For him, the problem was “the mentality of black women”. I realize there are individuals who either disagree with me or have mixed feelings about this particular incident. Their disagreement is generally based on whom or what they put their focus on: the error in judgement of a black mother of five who feared the police and panicked and did the wrong thing, or the violent and clearly criminal reaction of police officers acting like rabid and crazed hunting dogs that put the lives of four children in danger, much more than their speeding mother ever did. Ms. Ferrell made a mistake in running from the police, probably because of her fear of police and because she did not want to be separated from her children by going to jail. But, her actions or error of judgement was not nearly as criminal or dangerous as the actions of the police who broke the window of the car on the passenger side with children inside and then shot at the car, with total and complete disregard for the safety and well being of those children.
The reaction of such people to my opinion piece is understandable because the frame of reference for their judgement is they themselves who have lived a sheltered life and whose only experience with police has been either what they’ve seen on TV or possibly from getting a speeding ticket from a cop who didn’t mistreat them the way white police have treated black people for generations. For them, reality only hits them only when they themselves experience it firsthand, themselves. It is this kind of narrow and individualistic thinking, created and reinforced by corporate media, that insulates them also from the suffering of people overseas that are subjected to the brutality of the US war machine that massacres them in the thousands. Children killed by drones mean no more to such people than innocent teenagers getting killed in the hands of racists like George Zimmerman or young black men getting shot on the back by white police who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan to fight enemies within.
The reason I talk about this again here is twofold:
1. Police violence is a pressing problem that’s out of control and getting worse by the day, especially for blacks and Latinos.
2. Far too many people still remain ignorant of this pressing situation and make excuses for police, which in turn makes changing the situation that much harder. This is not too different from the issue of the NSA spying on all citizens. In that case too, some reacted by defending the actions of the “authorities” and the police state which is increasingly tightening the noose around people’s neck.
The number one priority of the police should not be to make sure, at any cost and with any means possible, that those suspected of breaking the law don’t get away. Their number one concern should be the safety of people; after all, that’s what we’re told is their job. But the reality is anything but. It is far more likely to be killed by police than by terrorists. Yet, billions are spent in the name of fighting “terrorism” which is a red herring, and none on stopping police violence and shootings. Likewise, there is far more chance of getting beaten by police than by strangers you may encounter on the streets – depending, of course on your social and economic status. The white middle class liberals sometimes forget about the rest of the population who don’t quite have the same protections and safety they do.
What we must most worry about is not African American mothers running from the police, but, rather, a police force with warrior mentality, treating citizens as enemy and our city streets as their war zone. What we must also be concerned about is racism which is alive and well and as strong as ever despite our first African American president.
Watching the video showing the encounter between Oriana Ferrell, a black single mother of five, with New Mexico police, in the presence of her terrified children, makes me so mad that I can’t bear to watch it to the end.
Can you imagine the horror those four children must have gone through when a crazed police officer smashed their car window into their face while they were all sitting in the car? Did it not occur to the officer that those kids could have got injured from broken glass being smashed into their faces? Another officer even shot three bullets at the car, with all the children inside!
And can you blame Ms. Ferrell for not wanting to be arrested and taken away from her kids by white cops? I can’t? And how do you suppose that 14 year old boy is going to feel about white cops from now on, after watching the violent behavior of those cops towards them? They had them all lying on the pavement face down to be handcuffed after she gave up! I hope that boy doesn’t feel as angry about it as I do, but, I’d want to shoot any cop I see. I’m not too optimistic though. By the age of 14, most black boys have seen enough to want to do just that. You see, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s never ended. Stay tuned, for it will return with a roar.
Brutality by racist police, especially against minorities, is a recurring problem. Over zealous cops with warrior mentality continue beating, brutalizing and shooting, with impunity, unarmed people who run from them or who refuse to immediately comply with their orders. There is a sense among them that their badge and gun gives them the ultimate power and the right to do whatever they please, without any fear of repercussions. As Mark Furmann, one of the police officers involved in beating Rodney King said, they feel like God on the streets. They view citizens as the enemy they have to fight and defeat. They’re trained like soldiers and let loose on the public like mad dogs.
But, it’s not just their training. All the laws that protect them and make it a crime to resist or disobey them, and the lack of real and serious punishment by their superiors when they commit such acts, as well as a biased court system that fail to convict them, make them feel invincible and gives them a sense of power and entitlement? If you feel you have the right to hit someone, you’re much more likely to act on that supposed right, than if you thought you didn’t have that right. But, the legislative and judicial branches are not likely to change that because they are, in the final analysis, the protectorate of the rich and want people to be afraid of the police. Why? Because they’re afraid of the people. I’m sorry, but, I must agree with them here. They have every right to be afraid of the people. We, the people, are indeed scary to them because they know that when we rise up, we will raise hell with us. We won’t just send the oppressors and exploiters to hell. We will bring hell to them!
It’s been reported that the Obama Administration is planning to leave between 7,000 to 8,000 troops in Afghanistan, for at least another decade, which really means indefinitely, as they have done in South Korea, Japan and Germany, among others.
In the face of continued killing of US troops in the hands of Afghan people who, for some unknown reason, don’t want to be occupied by a foreign occupation force, as well as the Americans’ dissatisfaction with the war, which has gone on for 12 years and cost thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, Obama announced, two years ago, plans for withdrawal.
Reportedly, the US installed government of Hamid Karzai, who was on CIA payroll before the war began in 2001 and was flown from Washington to Afghan Capital and made president, is asking for at least twice as many US troops to remain in the nation, in order to help his corrupt and highly unpopular government remain in power.
This change of heart on the part of the US military establishment is being reported in the media to have been caused by continued “concern” for “security”, and that should all US troops leave, the country will be unstable and fall into chaos and the government will not be able to provide needed security and stability. What that really means is that the US installed Karzai government will not be able to remain in power, without US occupation forces. “Security” and “stability” are, after all, relative terms. What security and stability means to one, means occupation by and imposition by force, of a foreign country’s military and corporate interests, to another. It should not surprise any of us that an unpopular and corrupt “president”, forcefully installed by and accountable to foreign corporations and their government, would want those troops who brought him to power to remain there and continue to give his government the “security” it needs from his own people.
The truth is: first of all, war and occupation is the cause of chaos, violence and instability, and secondly, US occupation isn’t for the interests of the Afghan people or prevention of terrorism, but the geopolitical, economic and military interests of the Empire. Keeping troops in Afghanistan is for the control of the nation’s policies and politics and using it as a stepping stone towards “containing” China and Russia and a military base to confront neighboring Iran and influence events in the region for US corporate interests. But, the number being proposed by either side is as much political, as it is military. Although he needs the US troops, Karzai doesn’t want to be viewed completely beholden to the US. The US, in turn, also doesn’t want to be seen as continuing to occupy the country and cause US casualties and unsustainable expenditures, as well as ill will among world Muslims; hence, the middle ground of keeping thousands of troops plus security and other contractors while claiming to “leave”.
We’re taught to be moral individuals early on in life: to treat others with respect, fairness and consideration. Yet, the government which claims to be ours and claims to represent us in the world acts absolutely with no sense of morality, decency or justice. And, such state of immorality and indecency and unbelievable level of violence and injustice brought onto people overseas, which, needless to say, is also an injustice against us, also has the undesirable effect of pushing the government towards more secrecy, more policing, more spying and more paranoia against its own people, not to mention siphoning off all the money that could be spent on providing healthcare, education, jobs, housing and curing diseases into endless wars and atrocities, whether it’s drone attacks or bombings or outright wars and occupations that kill thousands of innocent people. Every day that goes on with such criminal government in power is one day too long.
On Monday, Rev. Al Sharpton commemorated Veterans’ Day in his own way: by giving more praise to President Obama in his MSNBC show and saying that “Obama kept his promises to veterans”. And what was that promise? To send more people to war for the Empire that leaves those who take the bait and go unemployed and poor for life, if they return, at all? He then thanked his guest, Patrick Murphy, former US representative and Iraq war veteran for his “service” – twice.
Mr. Sharpton who has made a name for himself for standing up against racial injustice against African Americans gives the official line of the US Empire to the viewers that US wars of aggression that cause the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, including thousands of children, is somehow a “service” to the nation which deserves giving thanks to those who went and participated. While he speaks up against racially motivated attacks against and killing of blacks in this country, he ignores the fact that such wars are sold to Americans with the help of racism against brown people. What he also chooses to ignore is that racial injustice is not just about physical attacks and shootings, but also and especially economic, which Dr. King stressed before getting assassinated.
This is not just a case of defending and praising the first African American president, unconditionally and regardless of what he does, including all his policies. That itself is absurd since such a “first African American president” could very well be, and indeed Obama has been, nocuous to the interests of African Americans and all the poor, in general. The statistics of the last 5 years of his presidency which shows a sharp rise in hunger and poverty among the poor, especially among African Americans, in parallel with a steep rise in corporate profits and the wealth of the already wealthy, speaks for itself. But, repeating the propaganda of the Empire with its unending penchant for war which Dr. King called “the biggest purveyor of violence in the world” and thanking its soldiers for their “service” to the “military industrial complex” and its corporate beneficiaries is beyond reproach. You would never hear Mr. Sharpton mention Dr. King’s opinions about US imperialism and that’s no coincidence. The difference between these two men could not have been starker. The reaction of the ruling class to each man is telling enough. One was spied on and placed on a list of individuals to be eliminated and was finally assassinated – with the help of “some unknown government agency”, as the court hearing the civil law suit brought by Dr. King’s family concluded – while the other has a high paying job at NBC for praising Obama, every single day.
What such African Americans as Obama and Sharpton can do for the Empire – one ostensibly as its leader and the other as a spokesman and defender of the oligarchy of the bankers and multibillionaires and its wars against brown people – is invaluable and crucial. And hence it’s no less crucial for us to expose such traitors and the disservice they do to the very people they claim to represent and defend.
The hypocritical cries of Mr. Sharpton against racism sounds hollow and void of sincerity when he defends the president’s wars, drone attacks on innocent people that has killed hundreds of children, assassinations and force feeding inmates in Guantanamo. In fact, Mr. Sharpton agrees with Obama more than Obama agrees with himself. After Edward Snowden revealed the NSA’s massive and unconstitutional spy program on American citizens, Obama was forced to admit “we needed this conversation” – mind you, only after Snowden forced that very “conversation” on him which Obama admitted was needed which he and Sharpton nevertheless went on to vilify him and called him traitor for. Al Sharpton, however, has yet to admit Obama should have or could have done anything differently.
Of course, he is quick to point out the role of the Republicans in creating such unjust economic conditions, but, he won’t say that it was Obama, not Republicans who gave cabinet posts to Wall Street bosses and continued to take directives from them, while ignoring workers and their unions – whatever is left of them – even while they were under relentless attacks in several states of the Union. It was Obama who continued the infamous neoliberal policies that help depress wages. It’s Obama who is now negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Program (TPP) which is dictated by his corporate bosses with its potential to drive wages further down and profits even higher. And it’s Obama who has repeatedly gone to court on behalf of Monsanto against individual farmers and it is his EPA which has turned a blind eye on frackings going on now by oil companies. Even his healthcare act was written by insurance companies at a time when the cries for universal healthcare were getting louder. I could go on, but I won’t. You get the point. Republicans have become a convenient excuse for reactionary and anti-working class policies.
Imagine for a second, if you will: a defender of civil rights, not only defending wars and drone attacks against brown people and Muslims and injustice in Guantanamo Bay and policies that have raised hunger and poverty among the poor, especially among African Americans, but a surveillance program designed specifically to stop popular leaders such as Dr. King in their tracks before they become a menace to the rule of the corporate oligarchy! So, yes, Mr. Sharpton is right: Obama kept his promises, but, not to those who sent in $10 to help his campaign because that’s all they could afford. He kept his promises to those who gave him millions. Because this democracy is on sale and sold to highest bidder. Screw everyone else.
Either Dr. King didn’t know what he was talking about or Al Sharpton who claims to be a defender of civil rights and the president he defends unconditionally are both frauds.