Leftrants

All the news that doesn't fit on my other blog

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Washington's Military Aid to Israel

We Americans have funny notions about foreign aid. Recent polls show that, on average, we believe 28% of the federal budget is eaten up by it, and that, in a time of austerity, this gigantic bite of the budget should be cut back to 10%. In actual fact, barely 1% of the federal budget goes to foreign aid of any kind.

In this case, however, truth is at least as strange as fiction. Consider that the top recipient of U.S. foreign aid over the past three decades isn’t some impoverished land filled with starving kids, but a wealthy nation with a per-head gross domestic product on par with the European Union average, and higher than that of Italy, Spain, or South Korea.

Consider also that this top recipient of such aid — nearly all of it military since 2008 — has been busily engaged in what looks like a nineteenth-century-style colonization project. In the late 1940s, our beneficiary expelled some 700,000 indigenous people from the land it was claiming. In 1967, our client seized some contiguous pieces of real estate and ever since has been colonizing these territories with nearly 650,000 of its own people. It has divided the conquered lands with myriad checkpoints and roads accessible only to the colonizers and is building a 440-mile wall around (and cutting into) the conquered territory, creating a geography of control that violates international law.

“Ethnic cleansing” is a harsh term, but apt for a situation in which people are driven out of their homes and lands because they are not of the right tribe. Though many will balk at leveling this charge against Israel — for that country is, of course, the top recipient of American aid and especially military largesse — who would hesitate to use the term if, in a mirror-image world, all of this were being inflicted on Israeli Jews?

(Source: azspot)

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afsc-org:

Putting a human face on Gaza.

(Photos from AFSC’s Palestine Youth Program in Gaza over past few years)

Join us in calling for a peace that offers equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians at bit.ly/ceasefirenow

27 notes

State’s job growth defies predictions after tax increases

Dire predictions about jobs being destroyed spread across California in 2012 as voters debated whether to enact the sales and, for those near the top of the income ladder, stiff income tax increases in Proposition 30. Million-dollar-plus earners face a 3 percentage-point increase on each additional dollar.

“It hurts small business and kills jobs,” warned the Sacramento Taxpayers Association, the National Federation of Independent Business/California, and Joel Fox, president of the Small Business Action Committee.

So what happened after voters approved the tax increases, which took effect at the start of 2013?

Last year California added 410,418 jobs, an increase of 2.8 percent over 2012, significantly better than the 1.8 percent national increase in jobs.

(Source: azspot)

45 notes

A $398 billion project for 2,443 F-35s (that’s the cost for the initial purchase; upkeep could run over a trillion dollars) that don’t actually work can be officially called a boondoggle. So why is Congress still committed to the F-35?

The answer lies with Lockheed Martin’s suave contracting strategy. What the company has done is incorporate subcontractors all over America (across forty-five states, in fact) into the process of manufacturing the F-35, keeping Congress more invested in funneling tax payer dollars to certain favored constituents than in offering said taxpayers a functioning plane. As former Pentagon acquisitions official Thomas Christie told Foreign Policy earlier this month, “An upfront question with any program is: How many congressional districts is it in?”

The F-35 is in being built in a lot of congressional districts. Which explains why the dysfunctional plane has its own caucus in Congress, creatively named the Joint Strike Fighter Caucus.

Boondoggles like these are more than just examples of Congressional incompetence, or even of corporate greed. They illustrate something very fundamental about how our government works: its primary function, at this point, is to funnel public money to corporations. As the last thirty years of America’s economic history as shown us, this grand transaction doesn’t necessarily equate to more jobs or rising salaries or a stronger middle class.

And unfortunately, in this instance, it doesn’t even mean that we get what we paid for.

When Lockheed Gives You Lemons

(via majoringindebt)

(via govtoversight)

14 notes

We used to run all the time and we grew tired of our running…our screams…our wailing…so that we came to turn a blind eye on our daily pain. You all slaughtered Gaza, you all reaped from her heart and you shut your doors and ears in her face. You saw that she is a black spot on your beautiful lives and she has become a burden on your hearts and wellbeing. Before the aggression all of you contributed to her disappointment and you perceived the nourishment of the small children as begging. You said what had not been said about her, but every time she would remind you that she is greater than calling you out on your sins. For who among us is sinless, O gentlemen? But she is a rose whose delightful fragrance wafted with the sea of blood that restored your senses and your love and perhaps your hatred. Some have expressed this hatred and some retreated and some turned a blind eye and some unsheathed their strength to extract her nectar with the hissing of the Israeli warplanes.
‘I Do Not Wish For You To See Gaza As Anything But a Rose’ (via azspot)

(via azspot)

1,289 notes

america-wakiewakie:

"The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make a criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. This is the press, an irresponsible press. If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing."
— Malcolm X

america-wakiewakie:

"The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make a criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. This is the press, an irresponsible press. If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing."

— Malcolm X

(via cultureofresistance)

8 notes

It must be emphasized that, despite the terrible human suffering caused by the blockade, the situation in Gaza should not be viewed as a humanitarian crisis that can be resolved through the provision of international aid and assistance. Rather, the current situation in Gaza is a political crisis that can only be resolved through political action. All of the impacts outlined above are the direct result of Israeli actions and policies, and ending the crisis in Gaza therefore requires ending the blockade and Israel’s continued occupation of the Palestinian territory, which are at the root of the crisis.
American Friends Service  Committee. Gaza under siege (via protoslacker)

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Look at the survival struggle in Detroit under a corporate police state, which denies water to people, because that is what we will all get in years to come if we do not fightback now. Food riots, water rebellions, and other struggles over the basics of human survival denied and/or regulated by the gov’t and corporations.
Lorenzo Kom’Boa Ervin  (via america-wakiewakie)

(via cultureofresistance)

2,380 notes

fotojournalismus:

Thousands flee Gaza’s Shujaiyah after night of terror | July 20, 2014

They walked in their thousands, barefoot and in their pyjamas, streaming out of the eastern Gaza district of Shujaiyah after a night of non-stop Israeli bombing.

They described hours of terror, as tank shells slammed into homes, with no electricity and no way to escape.They called ambulances, but there was no way for the vehicles to get in under the constant fire.

So in the end, thousands of desperate residents fled on foot at first light, walking two hours or more into Gaza City. They left behind the bodies of the dead in the streets of their neighbourhoods — in Nazzaz, in Shaaf and in other parts of this flashpoint area between Gaza City and the Israeli border.

One of those fleeing was Sabreen Hattad, 34, with her three children. “The Israeli shells were hitting the house. We stayed the night because we were so scared but about six in the morning we decided to escape,” she said. “But where are we supposed to go? The ambulances could not enter and so we ran under shell fire.” Three other men pass by in a hurry clutching bedding in their arms. Asked what they had seen they would only answer: “Death and horror.”

Many of those escaping Shujaiyah made for Gaza’s central Shifa hospital, which was engulfed by chaotic scenes and ambulances ferrying the dead came in a steady steam, among them a local TV cameraman Khaled Hamad and paramedic Fuad Jabir, killed during the overnight offensive, wheeled out wrapped in a bloody plastic shroud. "He wasn’t a fighter, he was a fighter for humanity," wailed one relative as the family buried him. ”He was an ambulance worker, did he deserve to die?” 

Shifa hospital administrator Dr. Hasan Khalas confirmed that 112 Palestinians were killed across Gaza last night, at least 60 dead in Shujaiyah only. Dozens of victims in Shujaiyah haven’t been identified. ”This is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Doctor Said Hassan, who has worked at the hospital for eight years.

More than 60 Palestinians were killed, including 17 children, and 210 injured in Shujaiyah massacre so far. The ongoing Israeli military attacks on the Gaza Strip have so far displaced more than 135,000 Palestinians, according to a report. The death toll is expected to rise as Israeli shelling continues and more bodies are uncovered, while today’s total across the Gaza Strip has passed 90 already, bringing the 13-day total death toll to more than 410, with at least 3,000 injured.

Photos:

1. Smoke rises during what witnesses said were heavy Israeli shelling at the Shujaiyah neighbourhood. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

2. A wounded Palestinian man reacts after the death of his relatives, who medics said were killed during heavy Israeli shelling at the Shujaiyah district, at a hospital. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)

3. A Palestinian woman wearing clothes stained with the blood of other relatives, who medics said were wounded in Israeli shelling, cries at a hospital. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

4. Palestinians flee the Shujaiyah neighbourhood. (Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters)

5. A Palestinian woman reacts after the death of her relatives, who medics said were killed during heavy Israeli shelling at the Shujaiyah district, at a hospital. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)

6. Palestinians flee the Shujaiyah neighbourhood. (Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters)

7. A Palestinian woman, who medics said was wounded during heavy Israeli shelling, stands at a hospital. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

8. Palestinians flee the Shujaiyah neighbourhood. (Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters)

9. Palestinian policemen and medics carry a man, who medics said was wounded in Israeli shelling, at a hospital. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)

10. Palestinians flee the Shujaiyah neighbourhood. (Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters)

(via misuse-of-power)

251 notes

america-wakiewakie:

Watch Hillary Clinton vs. Jon Stewart on Gaza: The former Secretary of State places blame for conflict squarely on Hamas | Table Mag
This past Monday on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart devoted two-and-a-half minutes to tackling the current conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. The segment was seen as so one-sided in its excoriation of the Jewish state that it went viral among the country’s opponents, and provoked a full rebuttal from David Horovitz, the editor of the Times of Israel. Online columns, however, are no match for viral video—while Horovitz’s columnracked up an impressive 10,000 Facebook shares, the clip of Stewart’s segment has been viewed over 700,000 times. But the next night, a guest on Stewart’s own show challenged his assumptions about who is to blame for the current violence: Hillary Clinton.
The widely presumed Democratic presidential frontrunner joined the show for a far-ranging interview about her life and political aspirations. Naturally, the conversation soon turned to the war in Gaza. “Can we at least agree the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is overwhelming,” Stewart asked, “and that the world must do more for the people who are trapped by this conflict?” Clinton agreed with the premise–and then turned it on Hamas. “Yes, and they’re trapped by their leadership. Unfortunately, it’s a two-pronged trapping. They have leadership that is committed to resistance and violence, and therefore their actions are mostly about ‘how do we get new and better missiles to launch them at Israel,’ instead of saying ‘hey, let’s try and figure out how we’re going to help make your lives better.’”
Stewart interjected soon after and asked, “If you’re living in that situation, couldn’t you see yourself thinking, ‘these are our freedom fighters,’ even if they might be viewed differently?” Clinton immediately rejected this characterization of Hamas. “I don’t agree with that for a couple of reasons,” she said. “You know, when Israel withdrew from Gaza … they left a lot of their businesses–there was a really very valuable horticultural business that was set up by the Israelis who had lived in Gaza. And the idea was that this would be literally turned over–money was provided, there would be a fund that would train Palestinians in Gaza to do this work. And basically the leadership said ‘we don’t want anything left from Israel’ [and] destroyed it all. That mentality to me is hard to deal with.”
The pattern repeated itself throughout the interview, with Clinton drawing on her own extensive experience in the Senate and as Secretary of State to buttress her points.
Watch the complete exchange here [Fair warning, it’s a bunch of victim-blaming].
As it turns out, it’s not just Hillary Clinton who places the onus on Hamas for the current fighting. In an interview today, former President Bill Clinton was even more pointed in his assessment, telling an interviewer, “Hamas was perfectly well aware what would happen if they started raining rockets on Israel. They fired a thousand of them, and they have a strategy designed to force Israel to kill their own civilians so that the rest of the world will condemn them.” Like his wife, Clinton called for a return to peace negotiations, noting that “over the long run, it is not good for Israel to keep isolating itself from world opinion because of the absence of a viable peace process.”
Editor’s Note: Democrats are as imperialist and colonizer-minded as Republicans. This is why no liberal is going to bring about the dismantling of oppressive policies because, as I have said here (and repeatedly elsewhere), electoral politics is not meant to end oppression — it’s purpose to is generate the veneer of legitimacy for it, to facilitate oppression. In terms of ending US aid to apartheid Israel, that leaves us with fewer options. 

america-wakiewakie:

Watch Hillary Clinton vs. Jon Stewart on Gaza: The former Secretary of State places blame for conflict squarely on Hamas | Table Mag

This past Monday on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart devoted two-and-a-half minutes to tackling the current conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. The segment was seen as so one-sided in its excoriation of the Jewish state that it went viral among the country’s opponents, and provoked a full rebuttal from David Horovitz, the editor of the Times of Israel. Online columns, however, are no match for viral video—while Horovitz’s columnracked up an impressive 10,000 Facebook shares, the clip of Stewart’s segment has been viewed over 700,000 times. But the next night, a guest on Stewart’s own show challenged his assumptions about who is to blame for the current violence: Hillary Clinton.

The widely presumed Democratic presidential frontrunner joined the show for a far-ranging interview about her life and political aspirations. Naturally, the conversation soon turned to the war in Gaza. “Can we at least agree the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is overwhelming,” Stewart asked, “and that the world must do more for the people who are trapped by this conflict?” Clinton agreed with the premise–and then turned it on Hamas. “Yes, and they’re trapped by their leadership. Unfortunately, it’s a two-pronged trapping. They have leadership that is committed to resistance and violence, and therefore their actions are mostly about ‘how do we get new and better missiles to launch them at Israel,’ instead of saying ‘hey, let’s try and figure out how we’re going to help make your lives better.’”

Stewart interjected soon after and asked, “If you’re living in that situation, couldn’t you see yourself thinking, ‘these are our freedom fighters,’ even if they might be viewed differently?” Clinton immediately rejected this characterization of Hamas. “I don’t agree with that for a couple of reasons,” she said. “You know, when Israel withdrew from Gaza … they left a lot of their businesses–there was a really very valuable horticultural business that was set up by the Israelis who had lived in Gaza. And the idea was that this would be literally turned over–money was provided, there would be a fund that would train Palestinians in Gaza to do this work. And basically the leadership said ‘we don’t want anything left from Israel’ [and] destroyed it all. That mentality to me is hard to deal with.”

The pattern repeated itself throughout the interview, with Clinton drawing on her own extensive experience in the Senate and as Secretary of State to buttress her points.

Watch the complete exchange here [Fair warning, it’s a bunch of victim-blaming].

As it turns out, it’s not just Hillary Clinton who places the onus on Hamas for the current fighting. In an interview today, former President Bill Clinton was even more pointed in his assessment, telling an interviewer, “Hamas was perfectly well aware what would happen if they started raining rockets on Israel. They fired a thousand of them, and they have a strategy designed to force Israel to kill their own civilians so that the rest of the world will condemn them.” Like his wife, Clinton called for a return to peace negotiations, noting that “over the long run, it is not good for Israel to keep isolating itself from world opinion because of the absence of a viable peace process.”

Editor’s Note: Democrats are as imperialist and colonizer-minded as Republicans. This is why no liberal is going to bring about the dismantling of oppressive policies because, as I have said here (and repeatedly elsewhere), electoral politics is not meant to end oppression — it’s purpose to is generate the veneer of legitimacy for it, to facilitate oppression. In terms of ending US aid to apartheid Israel, that leaves us with fewer options. 

(via cultureofresistance)