Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Zinnia, Sunflower, & Tiger lily floral photography from my garden

by Cassie Kinney

Organizations that help Palestinian people

The everyday struggle of Palestinians is not part of the mainstream vernacular. Much of the conflict is not seen or heard in Western mainstream television. This could be because it’s part of the problem considering the West has been funding the war against Palestinians by arming Israel. In fact, Palestine has historically been occupied by outside military forces. Israel has invaded and militarily occupied the West Bank in Gaza for the last 50 years. Throughout this time, political activists have been imprisoned, civilians murdered, and culture has been removed. As the ongoing struggle of Palestinians continues to unfold, some humanitarian efforts have been made to fight for a better world. This article dives into the organizations that have been helping Palestinians for decades, and how everyone globally can offer support to combat violence against Palestinian people. 

Moreover, one organization is the Islamic Relief organization that has been working for the past two decades, since 1994. The Islamic Relief organization provides humanitarian relief, and being a voice for those affected by violence of the military and apartheid. Islamic Relief has women and children’s programs, as well as orphan programs, food aid, emergency response, information on religious holidays and campaign for donations for winter clothes and mattresses for refugees. It is a reminder that people are sleeping in makeshift shelters, with no amenities, dealing with psychological trauma. Islamic Relief works in nearly 30 countries with an extensive network to combat the devastation of those faced with this struggle. For instance, the organization has internships, career opportunities, podcasts, blogs, and publications to unite in the fight for justice.  

Secondly, Al-Haq (translated to “The Law”) works similarly within their organization. Al-Haq was established in 1979 by Palestinian lawyers that worked in the West Bank city of Ramallah. It focuses its efforts on documenting and researching human rights violations to advocate for laws and policies that help Palestinian people. In 2009, Al-Haq opened a center for Applied International Law as the first of its kind. The goal for the center is to compile research, educate and train activists and students to use their knowledge for practical application. The center has workshops, seminars, training courses, and conferences to meet their goals. Additionally, since 2011, Al-Haq has provided an archive on their website of individual’s stories of their rights being violated. 

Likewise, Adalah (translated to “Justice”)—The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, is an organization of lawyers and activists advocating for laws and policies on behalf of Palestinian citizens. The center was established in 1996 by Hassan Jabareen and Rina Rosenberg working in Haifa, north of Israel. For 20 years, Adalah has campaigned for justice and reparations to Palestinian civilians who have been impacted by apartheid and the military. Particularly, the center defends clients, taking on human rights court cases. Adalah, much like Al-Haq, addresses discriminatory laws and educates students and activists to combat the violation of human rights. 

These organizations seek to educate, and through growing social media, these organizations provide the voices of those affected. Because of the dedication of these organizations, people’s stories are read, heard, or seen globally, thus people are beginning to recognize this as a global issue. More than ever does citizens recognize that Israel is continuing to expand settlements and the US still holds an interest in the Middle East for oil. Collectively, people will be in solidarity with the Palestinian people, demand compliance with all nations, and put an end to all war and global domination. Likewise, people will put pressure on governments to protect Palestinians, and ensure for their freedom and equality.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

From June 19th to July 4th Independence Day

June 19th is an emotional day for many, because it is a reminder how much African Americans have sacrificed to get where they are today, and the injustices they are still facing today. June 19th known as "Juneteenth" symbolized the day that slavery was abolished. In Congress, it was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, and on January 31, 1865 by the House. That was only 152 years ago, so it begs the question if slavery ever ended when lynchings still occurred and white-black segregation existed until the 1960s. Additionally, enslavement is still in question considering there are more black men in prison now than there were enslaved in 1850. And if you don't think slavery and prison are connected--consider that the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime!

Furthermore, the prison population is disproportionately made up of innocent people who are imprisoned on suspicion alone. Many people are wrongfully convicted of crimes but wait years for their trial. Half of people are in prison for drug possession, but selling drugs shouldn't be a crime. Government-approved drugs get to be sold when they profit but street drugs are criminalized because the government doesn't get a cut--same with weapons. Many people are in prison for possession of a weapon (and some people die at the hands of cops even with a license to carry aka Philando Castile.) Having a gun or other weapon in your possession will either get you killed or get you locked up if you're black or brown, but if you're a white cop or white soldier, then you can kill, beat, rape, torture, and get away with it everyday.

June 19th is a signal of how July 4th Independence Day is only for the independence of white America. July 4th Independence Day refers to a select few Americans declaring their own nation from the British. The majority of Americans were obviously omitted from the The Declaration of Independence as having any rights like Indigenous Americans, African Americans, and women. Interestingly, four days after the Declaration of Independence was read on a balcony in Boston, the "Boston Committee of Correspondence ordered the townsmen to show up on the Common for a military draft. The rich, it turned out, could avoid the draft by paying for substitutes; the poor had to serve" (Zinn, p. 75.) The New Deal programs came after factory workers were on strike everyday for years and hundreds of strikes occurred during the Great Depression, and although the New Deal programs didn't apply to African Americans or women (despite African Americans and women working no matter who says they didn't work), people became pacified by the New Deal program and the military work. For instance, the New Deal reduced unemployment from 13 to 9 million; and World War II created millions of new jobs for better wages and benefits. It was a tactic, of course, which was to illicit patriotism and make it harder for people to mobilize against corporations as they had been doing.

The Declaration of Independence is like the Bible in the way that people pick and choose what they like and forget about the bad stuff that's in it. God and guns has always ran this country even though we have been told that church and state is separate. This has never been true, and the only thing that has been separate is the fact that churches don't pay taxes. Schools and education, the military, rehab, the pledge of Allegiance, money-- all have elements of religion. And guns is fetishized and romanticized in ways that people want to connect weapons to heroism, patriotism, and masculinity. But going back to the history of the U.S. Constitution and guns: Philando Castile was not protected under the 2nd Amendment although he had a license for a gun and told the officer he was in possession of a gun. From this perspective and many other stories of Black gun-owners, the 2nd Amendment only applies to protect the White gun owner, the white police officer, the white soldier.

There is a quote from the Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 by a Harlem bookseller Lewis H. Michaux: "The white man that landed here, he came with two great weapons. One is the Bible and the other was the gun. If it didn't humble you with the Bible, it'd crumble you with the gun." That isn't to say that believing in a god or a bible or any religion and religious text is wrong, nor is it a statement about guns or a weapon being wrong. But historically, religion and weapons have been used by Presidents who have always justified war by creating a language of 'us vs. them'-- discriminating, killing, or assimilating groups of people that didn't look, act, or think like them. Even Christopher Columbus justified the genocide of Indigenous people because of his religion and weapons, but Americans still celebrate this man because they don't know history.

That is our history that we still live with and that history has been carried on. Knowing the history of America helps to put the present state of our politics and culture into perspective. Knowing our history can help us change to create a world of peace and justice moving forward.

Monday, July 3, 2017

War = Capitalism + Nationalism x Racism (United States' Empire)

More from A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn:

American factories are making more than the American people can use; American soil is producing more than they can consume, which is why expansion to other countries and trade for the surplus of American goods would help the American Empire profit. One argument made by a journal wrote that an increase in wages at home would solve the problem of surplus by creating more purchasing power in the country. Conquest/war with the goal of expansion was to appear like an act of generosity--helping a rebellious group overthrow foreign rule--as in Cuba where by 1898, Cuban rebels had been fighting Spanish conquerors to win independence.
War brought more employment and higher wages, but also higher prices. Foner says "Not only was there a startling increase in the cost of living, but, in the absence of an income tax, the poor found through increased levies on sugar, molasses, tobacco, and other taxes..." (p. 308)
"Americans began taking over railroad, mine, and sugar properties when the war ended. In a few yeras, $30 million of American capital was invested. United Fruit moved into the Cuban sugar industry. It bought 1,900,000 acres of land for about 20 cents an acre. The American Tobacco Company arrived. By the end of the occupation, in 1901, Foner estimates that at least 80% of the export of Cuba's minerals were in American hands, mostly Bethlehem Steel." (p. 310.)

Theodore Roosevelt said that lynching was a good thing and war was ideal for the conditions of human society to present manliness and heroism. Winston Churchill didn't want a black Republic of Cuba (against Spain) like Haiti, whose revolution against France in 1803 had led to the first nation run by blacks in the 'New World.' After the Spanish-American war, Puerto Rico was taken over by U.S. military forces. The Hawaiian Islands had already been penetrated by American missionaries and pineapple plantation owners. For a payment of $20 million in December 1898, the U.S. took over Guam, and the Philippines as well. McKinley said he prayed to God to find answers in occupying the Philippines, and said that he was told that we could not give them back to Span, nor turn them over to France or Germany, that these countries were unfit for self-government and they would have anarchy, we needed to educate Filipinos by 'Christianizing' them.

Emma Goldman commented that "the cause of the Spanish-American war was the price of sugar...that the lives, blood, and money of the American people were used to protect the interests of the American capitalists." Mark Twain said about the Philippine war: "We have pacified some thousands of the islanders and buried them; destroyed their fields; burned their villages, and turned their widows and orphans out-of-doors; furnished heartbreak by exile to some dozens of disagreeable patriots; subjugated the remaining ten millions by Benevolent Assimilation, which is the pious new name of the musket; we have acquired property in the 300 concubines and other slaves of our business partner, the Sultan of Sulu, and hoisted our protecting flag over that swag...we are a World Power."

Strikes, child labor, lynchings, The National Guard, The Espionage Act

Paraphrased from A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn

At one of the mills--Polish women--shut down their looms and walked out of the mill as their wages became further reduced. Soon ten thousand workers were on strike. Because mass protests occurred in one city and the strikers grew to 50,000 workers that rioted for weeks in the streets. Martial law was then declared with 22 companies of militia and two troops of cavalry occupying the city. Mills were not working amidst of many strikers being sentenced to a year in prison and a young Syrian striker, John Ramy, was bayoneted to death.

Local authorities had passed laws to stop them from speaking; the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) defied these laws because thousands upon thousands of workers left factories to protest the dangerous conditions of their work. For example there was "dangerously broken stairways...windows few and so dirty...The wooden floors that were swept once a year...Hardly any other light but the gas jets burning by day and by night...the filthy, malodorous lavatory in the dark hall. No fresh drinking water...mice and roaches...suffered from the cold...suffered from the heat...youngsters together with the men and women toiled from seventy and eighty hours a week" and including the toxins produced within the factories such as lead.

Among the strikes, protests and picketing, children were going hungry and officials were threatening to take children away. So with the help of socialist groups in surrounding regions, children were taken in temporarily. A group of 40 children assembled on February 24 to go to Philadelphia where they were met with police that filled the railroad station. The police used their clubs to beat the mothers and then were dragged into a military truck with their children. One woman that was beaten while she was pregnant ended up giving birth to a dead child. Not only did the strike confront these issues of dangerous work, low wages, but also that laws such as segregating whites from blacks in meetings was addressed as well as teachers being automatically fired when they became pregnant.

Out of this, unions were formed, workers got their jobs back, some were paid higher wages, some workers' hours were reduced from 17 hour to 9 hour work days. In this time, women's suffrage movement, and the ideas of feminism, socialism and anarchism became popularized. In 1912, women that were doctors, lawyers, architects, actresses and sculptors, waitresses, domestics all marched lining the streets. Emma Goldman spoke that women should refuse to bear children if they don't want them, women should refuse to be a servant to God or anyone, and that no one owns her body except her. Helen Keller questioned: "what good can votes do when ten elevenths of the land of Great Britain belongs to 200,000 and only one eleventh to the rest of the 40,000,000? Have your men with their millions of votes freed themselves from this injustice?" And Keller joked that she would write a book titled "Industrial Blindness and Social Deafness" to her critics that told her because of her deafness and blindness that she is liable to error.

Mother Jones focused on organizing for an end to child labor where 284,000 children between 10-15 worked in mines, mills, and factories. She wrote that in 1903 in Kensington, Pennsylvania, 75,000 textile workers were on strike for better wages and shorter days. 10,000 of those strikers were little children. Jones described that some children had no hands or had a thumb missing, some with their fingers off at the knuckle, and so Jones was moved to take some of the children including their parents to march with banners that read: "We want time to play," and "We want to go to school!" Theodore Roosevelt refused to see them and many organizers were arrested for cases of free speech, pacifist speaking, defense work, and strike organizing.
While these strikes went on in the North, blacks in the South were facing much more injustice. There were lynchings every week, murderous riots against blacks. No President in history cared about the lynchings of black people, which prompted The National Afro-American Council formed in 1903. Another group formed known as the National Association of Colored Women. W.E.B. Du Bois was a voice during this time as the first person of African decent to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard. Du Bois in 1915 of Atlantic Monthly wrote about imperialism of Africa and the roots of war that stemmed from the conquest of gold and diamonds in South Africa, the cocoa of Angola and Nigeria, the rubber and ivory of the Congo, the palm oil of the West Coast.
 Du Bois was also the only black officer, first editor of the NAACP periodical The Crisis. This came after a race riot in Springfield, Illinois. Life got worse for many people who joined organizations, unions, or any groups that seemed to be affiliated with socialism or communism. These groups were seen as a threat to the government and corporations that manipulated the government. In fact, many riots and strikes ended with the National Guard beating or killing strikers who only wanted better pay and better working conditions.

In one instance in 1914, the murder of one coal miner who was fighting against low-pay, bad conditions, feudal domination of their lives in towns controlled by the mining companies themselves ended in the Ludlow Massacre. 11,000 miners in Colorado were on a coal strike and the National Guard used a machine gun to attack the miner's tents. Even after attempted communication between the miners and the guardsmen, the National Guard continued to fire at the tents which killed 13 people and sent women and children to run for the hills. After that, 5,000 people demonstrated in front of the capital in Denver asking for the guardsmen to be tried for murder, but this frustrated the government and 56 men, women, and children were killed.

Additionally, the Espionage Act of 1917 was used to imprison American who spoke or wrote against the war. One person named Eugene Debs spent 10 years in prison, and about 900 people went to prison under the Espionage Act during this time. Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman had already spent 14 years in prison for opposing the draft for the war. Even some people were brutally mutilated for being outspoken.

There were many labor strikes in all different types of factories from shirt workers, electrical workers, broom workers, trash collectors grave diggers. Even within the rubber plant companies alone there were strikes at Firestone, Goodyear, and General Motors. The rubber plant strikers used a sit-down tactic that kept them safe and sheltered from the outside. There were 48 sit-down strikers in 1936, and 447 in 1937. With the rubber plant factories, and the biggest strikes called in the National Guard to break up the strike. Actually, 30 members of a National guard company who participated in the Fisher Body sit-down strike had not been paid. Years later, the Supreme Court even declared sit-downs illegal.

This is a reminder that this is still happening in 2017. Rioters are continually beaten and shot at by the military and police that work for the government. One example of this is the Black Lives Matter protests that always face heightened security and police brutality--not to mention the reason BLM exists because of the Black lives that consistently murdered everyday because of the White police and military. Another example is of the brutal attacks from the National Guard against the Standing Rock protesters. Many of the protesters were in sub zero temperatures all while the police/military forces blasted them with cold water and beat and shot them. One person's arm was mutilated by an officer. But what came out of that was the Pipeline started running (even after it started leaking immediately which was one of the main reasons of the protest), and instead of justice being served: people ended up going to jail and have to pay a fine for being a protester. People are still fighting for basic rights like water in Flint, Michigan. People are still fighting for better wages because of inflation of consumer goods. People are still fighting for human rights across the world because of war, poverty, rape, imperialism and neocolonization.