True North Humanist Perspective - February 2015

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A Jew reports from Israel

Brilliant writer of critical analyses in prose and poetry
provides a new series about the Israeli-Palestine crisis
 
Editor's Note: In 2012 I had the privilege of a brief conversation with Lia Tarachansky at a dinner table in Ottawa Canada. During more than half a decade of publishing True North Perspective I was wary of stepping into the churning cauldron of Israeli-Arab relations. I just didn't have the depth of background to make sense of it all. During the half-hour I spent talking with Lia Tarachansky I learned that she was working as a journalist in Israel and, most important, I concluded that she had a profound grasp of the conflict and a brilliant, critical, creative mind. She gave me permission to use  her work in True North Perspective. I'm happy to say here that we will begin with a story of her life and will continue in each issue with her journalism and creative work. This way, True North Perspective readers will be able to learn in prose and poetry about the reality of that tortured area of the world, well away from those who lie by commission and omission for narrow vested interests. Lia Tarachansky's copy will go a long way to satisfy True North Perspective's abiding quest for learning, and knowledge, and seeking the truth. — Editor, Carl Dow.

The Russians came, the Russians stayed

A response to Uri Avnery

Lia Tarachansky is an Israeli-Canadian filmmaker and journalist. Her work has appeared on The Real News Network, Al Jazeera, USA Today, The Huffington Post, and now, True North Perspective. Tarachansky’s upcoming documentary, Seven Deadly Myths, profiles Israeli denial of the events of 1948 and the roots of the modern conflict. The trailer and details on how to support it are available online at www.sevendeadlymyths.com.

In a recent article, seasoned veteran of the Zionist Left Uri Avnery claimed that the influx of Russian-speaking immigrants to Israel, living in self-imposed ghettos, is what pushed the country to the right politically. Lia Tarachansky counters that the Russian-speaking community never ‘mingled’ with other Israelis because it was never invited to do so, and that Avnery is ignoring the many contributions the immigrants made to the country.

By Lia Tarachansky

I was born in Kiev into a shifting, uncertain reality. While I was only learning to read, my parents split, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor blew up and the Soviet Union collapsed. I was too young to understand what was happening when we evacuated the city and prepared for what would turn into years of economic devastation.

One night my mother woke my sister and me and told us to pack only what we absolutely couldn’t live without because we were moving to Israel. She told us Tel Aviv was lined with promenades where banana-eating monkeys sit in palm trees and that there we will no longer be “The Jews” because in Israel, everyone is Jewish.

In typical Soviet paranoia we weren’t allowed to tell anyone we were leaving. When we finally made it to the Romanian border after days on the train, we were stripped of our citizenship and promised we will never set foot again in the land where my parents and grandparents were born. My mother didn’t care. To this day she remains a dedicated Zionist even after learning that monkeys don’t sit in palm trees, that not only Jews live in Israel, and that indeed we are not all free.

I went from being the only Jew in my Soviet kindergarten to being the only Russian in my Israeli elementary school. My mother went from being a computer engineer to changing diapers in a retirement home. In the Soviet Union we were hated because of our “piatii punkt” or “fifth clause” after the first and last name, date and place of birth; our nationality clause would read “Jew” on our identity documents. This is why the cynicism that dominates our community in Israel is so strong. We went from the façade of “equality for all comrades” to the façade of “equality for all Jews.”

Months later the rest of the Soviet immigration came, changing the demography of Israel just as it was coming out of the First Intifada. Once again, we were in the middle of uncertainty, discovering the Palestinians through the stories of our Israeli colleagues, bus drivers, and school teachers.

In his latest column, entitled “The Russians Came”, former Israeli Knesset member, renowned activist, and globally syndicated writer Uri Avnery wrote about our immigration. Despite often disagreeing with him, I read his columns regularly because he writes about interesting historical anecdotes picked up from being involved in the Israeli Left for 65 years. My criticism is the same as Tikva Honig-Parnass’s – that while he calls himself “post-Zionist,” Avnery represents the Israeli Left, which for the most part refuses to reject Jewish supremacy, Israeli colonialism, and draws the red line only at 1967, ignoring the entire ethnocratic ideology on which Israel was built in 1948. I’ve kept my criticisms to myself because Left sectarian politics and identity issues don’t interest me, but then I read Avnery’s latest column and my jaw dropped. (More)

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The slaves that time forgot

27 December 2013

We've all been taught the horror's of the African slave trade. It's in all the school books and in plenty of Hollywood movies.

But for some reason the largest group of slaves in the British Colonies in the 17th Century doesn't get mentioned at all: the Irish.

Most people have heard of the Great Famine, which reduced the population of Ireland by around 25%.

That pales in comparison to the disaster that England inflicted upon Ireland between 1641 and 1652, when the population of Ireland fell from 1,466,000 to 616,000.

Then things got worse. (More)

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Saudi human rights record worst in region

One beheading every 4 days: Kerry is amused

19 January 2015
rt.com

As long as Saudi oil is seen as a valuable resource for US oil corporations, the US will maintain relations with the feudal regime regardless of what that means for the rights of Saudi people, Sara Flounders, of the International Action Center, told RT.

RT: Time to time we hear about executions and human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. How do you see the situation with that country at the moment?

Sara Flounders: Saudi Arabia from the very beginning has had a very special relationship with the US based on oil, based on huge military support for a completely corrupt feudal regime. The punishment, the absence of any rights for the people go hand and hand. It is not covered here and it should be known because there is one beheading on average every four days in Saudi Arabia, it is so common. Along with other horrendous forms of punishment, of course the beheadings are absolutely outrageous, offensive around the world, [there’s] great outrage when it is carried out by ISIS, but when it’s done in Saudi Arabia it’s not even publicized. And other punishments, to sentence someone to 1000 lashes, that is almost a death sentence. It is so horrendously torturous. And these are common punishments in Saudi Arabia.

It is important to know that women have absolutely no rights in Saudi Arabia: not to work, not to drive, not to have any funds of their own, not to travel, not to step foot out of the house without the permission and accompaniment of a male family member. The immigrants have no rights whatsoever in Saudi Arabia. Although that’s a third of the population, doing everything from the highest level technical jobs to the lowest level housekeeping, garbage, and so on.

At every level Saudi Arabia is dependent on these foreign work force, and this woman is from Burma, I don’t know her exact circumstances, but certainly as a woman and as a non-Saudi, as an immigrant she would be absent any kind of appeal or rights. And other way there are no rights, there is no appeal within Saudi Arabia even for the Saudis. There is a great deal of poverty although there is extreme wealth. There is an enormous amount, the highest in Arab world, of illiteracy in Saudi Arabia and this is what unending US military support has meant to the population of Saudi Arabia. (More)

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From the Desk of David Pouliot

White supremacy on display in Paris

A celebration of Western hypocrisy

14 January 2015
 
By Ajamu Baraka
commondreams.org

The "civilized" have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their “vital interests” are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death; these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the “sanctity” of human life, or the conscience of civilized world.  — James Baldwin

I have witnessed the spectacle of Eurocentric arrogance many times over my long years of struggle and resistance to colonial/capitalist domination and dehumanization. The grotesque, 21st Century version of the “white man’s burden,” which asserts that the international community (meaning the West) has a moral and legal “responsibility to protect,” is one current example; the generalized acceptance by many in the West that their governments have a right to wage permanent war against the global “others” to maintain international order is another.

Yet, when I think I have seen it all, along comes the response to the attack at the racist, Islamophobic publication Charlie Hebdo. Even though I shouldn’t be surprised, I am still left in complete wonderment at the West’s unmitigated self-centeredness and self-righteous arrogance.

The millions who turned out on Sunday claimed to be marching in solidarity with the victims at Charlie Hebdo and against terrorism. They were joined by political leaders from across Europe, Israel and other parts of the world – on the same weekend reports were emerging that 2,000 Nigerians may have lost their lives at the hands of Boko Haram, another Muslim extremist group.

Surely there would be expressions of solidarity with the survivors in Nigeria at a gathering ostensibly to oppose terrorism and uphold the sanctity of life. But the expressions of solidarity never came. In fact, based on the attention the massacre received from the Western press, it was if the massacre had never happened. (More)

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Wrangling leaders stage phony photo-op march re Charlie

A shameless parade of hypocrites with blood on their hands

#IlSontHypocrites:

Why should Charlie Hebdo deaths mean more than those in East Ukraine?

16 Januaary 2015
 
By Nebojsa Malic
rt.com
 
Nebojsa Malic is a foreign policy analyst and blogger, working in Washington, DC. A columnist for Antiwar.com and Strategic Culture Foundation, he occasionally appears on RT

Though US pundits have been the loudest in calling for another “war on terror,” American officials were nowhere to be seen on the Sunday 13 January march. Only the US Ambassador attended the event, while President Obama, Vice President Biden, or even top diplomat John Kerry were conspicuously absent. The highest-ranking US official in Paris was Attorney General Eric Holder, who had announced his resignation in September 2014.

The leaders that did attend weren't above using the march for their own political purposes. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to the march, even though the French government asked him not to. Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also attended, but as soon as he returned, President Recep Erdogan publicly declared the massacre a French false-flag operation, for which the mayor of the Turkish capital Ankara, Melih Gokcek, blamed the Israeli Mossad.

Perhaps the most hypocritical of all was the Kiev junta, whose leader, Petro Poroshenko, hastened to Paris to claim he too was a victim of “terrorism”, even as his forces restarted the terror shelling of civilians in dissenting Donetsk. Poroshenko paraded before the cameras, dutifully made accusations of yet another “Russian invasion,” again accused Russia of being behind the downing of flight MH17, and begged for money from the West to bail out his bankrupt government, and to fund another military expedition against the civilians of Donetsk and Lugansk. (More)

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Sorry Charlie you're a silly vulgarian not a satirist

Nuns masturbating, popes wearing condoms, Muhammad in pornographic poses

'Muslims have a right to be angry'

08 January 2015

By William Donohue
Eurasian Review

Killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be unequivocally condemned. That is why what happened in Paris and the killing of 12 people at the office of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo cannot be tolerated. But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction.

Those who work at this newspaper have a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures, and this is especially true of their depictions of religious figures. For example, they have shown nuns masturbating and popes wearing condoms. They have also shown Muhammad in pornographic poses. (More)

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From the Desk of David Pouliot

In wake of Charlie, West leaders hold brief free speech rally

Will demo for Snowden, Assange, Manning, Vanunu be next?

Sunday 11 January 2015

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I have been thinking more about the terrorist attack in Paris. I read that the arch Zionist and Democratic Party apologist Bill Maher and a few others were discussing the nature of Islam on Maher’s show on Friday.  They all seemed to agree that Islam is a religion with “bad ideas.”  The author Sam Harris described it as the “Mother Lode of bad ideas” on a previous show and Maher concurred, “That’s just a fact.” he replied.  Maher said Friday that the killers were “avenging the prophet.” and that too is “A bad idea. Martyrdom, a bad idea.”  

I unconditionally condemn the attacks on Charlie Hedbo’s office as others have on this blog. Though many of the cartoons I saw are clearly racist and misogynistic, and in these cartoons and most caricatures of Muslims, they are always portrayed as dark skinned Semitic people when they actually come from all backgrounds and ethnic groups. Albanians are Muslims, they are not Semitic people. There are Chinese Muslims, Indian Muslims, Indonesians etc. Still I do not believe we can tell people what they can or cannot write.

Mind you, it seems the Christian religion has some “bad ideas” of its own like gays being an abomination, abortion murder and the cause of much of the world’s problems.  One only has to read the first five books of the Bible to understand how bizarre the ideas in the Jewish Bible are when compared to modern society and today.  The Ultra-Orthadox Jews pray to god thanking him for not creating them as women.  Zionists drive the indigenous people from Palestine because they claim god gives them authority to do so. Then there’s Revelations---oh my!

On the show Friday, Carly Fiorina, the former head of Hewlitt Packard added her two cents pointing out that, “The subjugation of women — a bad idea,”. Well, thank you Carly. Glad to see you are against the subjugation of women except when they work for you or one of your subcontractors in Asia. As for women, just about all of the religions have bad ideas in that department. What relieves women of some of these pressures in the advanced capitalist economies has to do with politics, not the religion itself or its hierarchy. It is women’s political struggles against religion that have brought them more rights. (More)

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German Angela Merkel: Queen of Europe

Could quickly lose her throne on 2015 tests

By Byan MacDonald
rt.com

Bryan MacDonald is a Russia-based Irish journalist and media commentator who focuses on Russia and its hinterlands and international geo-politics.

17 January 2015

For decades, the rest of the world wondered who to call when they needed to speak to Europe. Since Angela Merkel became the continent’s dominant politician and Germany asserted itself as its superpower, that question no longer applies.

In 2015, Merkel faces the pivotal year of her reign as “Queen of Europe.”

When Ronald Reagan courted Europe’s leaders 30 years ago, urging them to stand firm against the USSR, things were more complicated. Britain, France and West Germany were equally significant - and divided on the ‘Soviet question’ - so a balancing act was required. Margaret Thatcher was rabidly anti-Communist and needed little coaxing to Washington’s worldview. On the other hand, Helmut Kohl managed a Bonn government still in touch with ‘Ostpolitik’ and Francois Mitterrand’s socialist administration was largely ambiguous in its intentions.

Today, for Barack Obama, it’s much simpler. The US President need only recognize one top-dog - Angela Merkel’s Germany. While paying lip-service to London and occasionally massaging French egos, it’s apparent that the White House has effectively delegated responsibility for Europe to Berlin.

For its part, Russia also clearly comprehends the reality. Whereas Mikhail Gorbachev once placed huge importance on relations with Thatcher, Vladimir Putin essentially ignores David Cameron. The Kremlin does treat the French with more warmth than the Americans manage. This goes back to the Iraq War when Putin stood firm with Jacques Chirac - and Gerhard Schroder - in firm opposition to the conflict. There's also the fact that Paris remains relatively hostile to US interests and avoids much of the 'Stockholm syndrome' its neighbors exhibit when dealing with Washington. (More)

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Minimum wage costs … Everyone

'…something (is) wrong with the business plan of a company whose profit depends on (or is enlarged by) the public purse.'

By David McLaren

David McLaren is a creative writer living on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. He worked in the arts industry in the 1980s and served on the Board of the Alliance of Canadian Television and Radio Artists. He has also worked in the private sector (advertising) and in government.

It was Andrew’s first day at his new job. It paid minimum wage but, hey, it was his first job ever. His task was to stack bins that had just been washed out and disinfected. He was given rubber boots and gloves but no apron. So when chemicals from one of the bins sloshed out and down his legs, it filled his boots. He was rushed to hospital with burns from his waist to his feet. No safety training, no proper protection, no union, and now, no job.

Judy works in a big box store stocking shelves on the night shift. It’s supposed to be part time work, but she’s expected to fill in for people who go on holidays or are sick or don’t show up. So it’s full time work at $12 an hour and few benefits with no “promotion” in sight. All the full time positions are filled anyway—all four of them. To make things worse, she has 3 kids in school and spousal support honoured more in the breech, than in the payment. She’s stuck—behind the eight-ball and below the poverty line.

Both Andrew and Judy (not their real names) are in what academics call precarious work: low wage, full time or part time or short term jobs. Whatever you call them, the paycheque won’t get you to the end of the month. Sometimes they are dangerous. (More)

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Man who killed The Sniper goes on trial in March

It wasn't an insurgent in a foreign battlefield who ended famed "American Sniper" Chris Kyle's life in February of 2013, but a traumatized veteran named Eddie Ray Routh, at a shooting range in Texas. In the June 2013 issue of The New Yorker, Routh was profiled as a troubled young man who succumbed to his inner demons after a tour of duty. His father recalled one telephone call from Iraq in which Routh hinted that he had killed a child.

In the Crosshairs

Chris Kyle, a decorated sniper, tried to help a troubled veteran. The result was tragic. (More)

By Carl Gibson
Reader Supported News
 
27 January 2015

One American sniper called Iraqi natives “savages,” compared them to American welfare recipients, and bragged about looting their homes after killing them. Another American sniper became so disgusted by what he had done that he started the first-ever antiwar blog, and is actively encouraging his fellow soldiers to use their First Amendment rights to speak out against what he calls an “illegal occupation” in Iraq. Guess which one had a blockbuster movie made about him, and which one got ignored?

Between February 2004 and February 2005, Garett Reppenhagen was a sniper in Iraq’s Diyala province, serving as a cavalry scout with the U.S. Army. It was his job to conceal himself near roadsides and kill anyone he saw planting IEDs. He was also ordered to wait in fields and target Iraqi insurgents pulling up in pickup trucks to launch mortars on American bases. While Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who killed more than 160  during his time in Iraq, relished in pulling the trigger and wrote “I only wish I had killed more” in his memoir, Reppenhagen became increasingly more remorseful after each kill.

“Every time I pulled the trigger, I had to really convince myself that I was saving a buddy of mine. And it got increasingly difficult,” Reppenhagen told an audience at Colorado College in May of 2011. (More)

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Mainstream media masks economic desperation in the U.S.

The State of American Society as 2015 Begins

Food Stamp Statistics Data
Total annual cost of food stamp program $69,800,000,000
Number of Americans using the food stamp program 41,170,732
Percent of population on food stamp program 14 %

‘One would never know from reading the American press, watching the evening news, or listening to the statements of politicians that hunger, poverty and long-term joblessness remain at their highest levels in decades.’

06 January 2015

By Andre Damon
World Socialist Web Site

As the New Year begins, the social crisis gripping tens of millions of working people in the United States is worsening. Hunger, poverty and long-term joblessness remain at the highest levels in decades, while vital social services continue to be slashed.

One would never know this from reading the press, watching the evening news, or listening to the statements of politicians. The official discourse is dominated by the supposed revival of the American economy, characterized by record corporate profits and stock prices.

The fact that the great majority of the population finds it increasingly difficult to make ends meet finds no reflection in the media or official politics.

Cutting corporate taxes, planning new wars…

The incoming Republican-dominated Congress, working with the Obama administration, will focus on cutting corporate taxes and business regulations, planning new wars, and expanding the repressive apparatus of the state.

No representative of the political establishment, including the supposedly outspoken liberal Elizabeth Warren and the “independent socialist” Bernie Sanders, is proposing any significant measures to address the deepening social crisis.

The constant of domestic policy—enthusiastically pursued by both big-business parties—is an unrelenting assault on the working class.

Critical social programs are being cut further. Last week, funding for a two-year temporary increase in fees paid to doctors who treat Medicaid patients expired, leading to a reduction in payments of up to 43 percent.

The fee cut will lead doctors to stop accepting Medicaid patients under conditions where millions more low-income people are being added to the Medicaid rolls as part of Obamacare.

This week, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that another one million people are scheduled to lose food stamp benefits next year as a result of the imposition of a three-month limit on food stamps for childless adults. Federal food stamp funds were cut by billions of dollars on two separate occasions over the past three years.

Antisocial Policies

These regressive and antisocial policies are being reproduced at the state and local level. The city of Detroit, which just exited from the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history after slashing municipal workers’ pensions and health benefits, is notifying the owners of 35,000 occupied homes that they will be foreclosed upon unless they pay back taxes. The threatened foreclosures could affect nearly 100,000 people, or one in seven of the city’s residents. (More)

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28 January 2015

Murdered Mexico students ‘mistaken for rival gang’
 
The 43 Mexican students who disappeared four months ago were murdered on the orders of a drug cartel which mistook them for members of a rival gang, Reuters reported, citing officials. The government earlier said only that the students were almost certainly murdered after clashing in the southwestern city of Iguala with corrupt police officers, who handed them over to members of local drug gang Guerreros Unidos. Their disappearance on the night of September 26 led to massive street protests in Mexico.

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Parents of missing Mexican students

reject official explanation of their deaths

Parents of 43 college students missing since last year have rejected the Mexican attorney general’s declaration that the youths were killed and incinerated after being seized by police in the southern state of Guerrero, AP said. The parents accused the government on Tuesday night of seeking to wrap up the investigation and hold out hope of finding their children alive. Lawyer Vidulfo Rosales, who is representing the families of the students, presented a 10-point argument explaining why they believe the investigation must continue. It included, in particular, a lack of conclusive forensic results.
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How the Israel Lobby Protected Ukrainian Neo-Nazis

Rep. John Conyers wanted to block U.S. funding to neo-Nazis in Ukraine
But the ADL and Simon Wiesenthal Center refused to help
 
By Max Blumenthal
AlterNet
 
November 18, 2014 — AlterNet has learned that an amendment to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have forbidden US assistance, training and weapons to neo-Nazis and other extremists in Ukraine was kept out of the final bill by the Republican-led House Rules Committee. Introduced by Democratic Representative John Conyers, the amendment was intended to help tamp down on violent confrontations between Ukrainian forces and Russian separatists. (Full text of the amendment embedded at the end of this article).
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10 January  2015

Globalization is barbarous, multinationals rule world

– Marine Le Pen

rt.com
 
Globalization is a barbarity, believes Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front party, adding that now the world is in hands of multinational corporations and large international finance.

“Globalization is a barbarity, it is the country which should limit its abuses and regulate it [globalization],” Le Pen wrote on her Twitter account.

The problems of multinational corporations and their worldwide influence were also highlighted by France’s far-right leader.

“Today the world is in the hands of multinational corporations and large international finance,” Le Pen said.

Immigration “weighs down on wages,” while the minimum wage is now becoming the maximum wage, said Le Pen, adding that now France is “dying of physical, legal and fiscal insecurity.”

Le Pen is a vocal critic of Transatlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA), also known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States. France is now in the process of negotiations with the US on the controversial deal. (More)