August 21, 2013 Leave a comment
A PSA re-enacting the Trayvon Martin shooting.
"I have often been forced to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that there was no place else to go.”
August 20, 2013 Leave a comment
Two news items I ran across today reveal a bizarre fascination Americans, particularly civilians, have with firearms.
An Arizona Minuteman scouting for drug runners and undocumented immigrants allegedly pointed his rifle at a Maricopa County sheriff’s deputy after he mistook him for a drug smuggler, court paperwork stated.
Two sheriff’s deputies were checking mile markers in the same area and as they approached mile marker 140 Saturday night, the deputy flashed his lights and honked his horn. He said that’s a common practice for him while attempting to get drug smugglers to run their vehicles up to his.
Malley appeared from the side of the road armed with an AR-15 rifle, a .45-caliber pistol and a fixed-blade knife, according to the probable cause statement. The two other militia members also emerged from the bushes and identified themselves as Robert Deatherage, 48, and Robert Crooks, 63.
Malley raised his rifle up and pointed it and a flashlight at the deputy, according to court paperwork.
The deputy identified himself as a law enforcement officer while Malley continued to aim the weapon at him and asked for identification, court documents said.
Malley identified himself as a militia minuteman and said he didn’t carry any identification because he feared cartel members would find out he was a Minuteman, court paperwork stated.
The deputy showed Malley the patches on his sleeves, the word “sheriff” across his chest and his badge and told him to lay down his firearms. Malley refused, according to the probable cause statement.
The deputy then told several people there he wanted to wait for additional units to arrive before taking anyone’s firearms for fear of making the situation more complicated.
Malley later said he felt threatened in the middle of the desert and believed the uniformed deputy was a drug smuggler working for a cartel, the court document stated.
Malley stated he felt he had the right to point his rifle at the deputy because he had reasonable suspicion to believe a crime was being committed, according to the court document.
In today’s ‘stand your ground climate I guess it’s ok for people to point guns at one another, and perhaps even shoot each other. What is even stranger is civilians can point guns at law enforcement officers, refuse to obey those officers’ instructions and NOT get shot!!
In the second instance a “preacher”, “pastor” has taken to wondering around the halls of Huntsville, Texas establishments with an AR-15 slung across his back. Pastor Terry Holcomb of Huntsville claims the reason for his armed intrusion into Huntsville businesses is because he wants to “protest a Texas law which permits gun owners to openly carry long rifles but not handguns, which must be concealed and can only be carried by individuals with valid concealed carry permits.” Yes, I don’t understand that rationale either….he wants to be able to carry a handgun openly but because he can’t he’s carrying a military styled rifle openly instead?!? If you want you can see his trek through a local Wal-Mart below. In today’s political climate where we’re told the Obama administration is out to take Americans’ firearms from them, far too many Americans are brandishing their firearms in provocative, intimidating ways that seem to invite government to do just that.
August 19, 2013 Leave a comment
The situation in Egypt is serious and the future seems bleak. Anything can happen. Although the specter of civil war is not yet a reality, one must consider all scenarios and act accordingly. It seems that the Power (both civilians and military) are divided on the strategy to be adopted. Some want to eradicate the Muslim Brotherhood and their organization, others want to impose conditions of survival without power, thus maintaining the illusion of a pluralistic and democratic future. All are reducing their opponents as only the “Muslim Brotherhood”, demonizing and calling them “terrorists” and “extremists.” Repression increases radicalization and justifies, a posteriori, the repression itself. A vicious cycle that we have seen in the modern history of Egypt.
Opponents to the coup, and among them the Muslim Brotherhood, have been rallying peacefully and they continue to demonstrate despite the state of emergency. Resistance, for several weeks, was non-violent and should remain so despite the provocations of military and police whose strategies are known. Mass executions or targeted, bribe of offenders (known as the baltaguiyya) to push them to attack the demonstrators, with, in addition, the increase in fires Coptic churches in order to widen the sectarian divide and feed bills (Sadat and Mubarak had used the same strategy).
While these protests continue to be peaceful, civil society – all tendencies – opposed to violence and military, must mobilize and form a united front around common, clear, bold but realistic position . A national coalition to be formed with women and men of the civil society – secular, Islamist, Copts, women, young activists – who are willing to open channels of dialogue with the authorities and asked:
1. End of repression 2. The release of political prisoners, leaders and members of political parties, which would result, in fact, with the end of demonstrations 3. Determining the steps that should bring back the political process to the civilians, based on a negotiated political agenda and future elections.
Civil society must now speak out and refuse false rhetoric that spreads around that the Army is only opposed to Islamists. What is at stake is the democratic future of Egypt and it will never be positive with the Army in control. Actors of the civil society should indulge in self criticism (for their failure) and, at the same time, work together to overcome the crisis. Being a passive, non-violent observer of violence is, indeed, to make the indirect choice of violence.
When I first heard this news I tweeted, “Abu Gharib anyone” because it certainly seemed to take on the genocidal nature of that infamous, barbaric place in Iraqi/American history when people were rounded up indiscriminately into one central place and tortured, raped and murdered for no apparent reason than someone said they should. That’s what military dictators do; fascism by nature quells even the aspiration to disagree with the State’s oppression, much less demonstrate against it as the people in Egypt are now doing; so killing that desire is most easily accomplished by killing the people who long for it. Whatever you think of what’s happening in Egypt today, the fact that for far too many people it’s ok to kill, murder political opponents and especially those with a reasonable grievance for their dissent, is nothing short of genocide.
The Egyptian government acknowledged that its security forces had killed 36 Islamists in its custody Sunday, as the military leaders and the country’s Islamists vowed to keep up their fight over Egypt’s future.
The news of the deaths came on a day in which there appeared to be a pause in the street battles that have claimed more than 1,000 lives in recent days, most of them Islamists and their supporters gunned down by security forces. The Islamists took measures on Sunday to avoid confrontations, including canceling several protests of the military’s ouster of a democratically elected Islamist-led government.
While confirming the killings of the detainees on Sunday, the Ministry of the Interior said the deaths were the consequence of an escape attempt by Islamist prisoners. But officials of the main Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, described the deaths as “assassinations,” and claimed that the victims, which it said numbered 52, had been shot and tear-gassed through the windows of a locked prison van.
The government offered conflicting details throughout the day, once saying the detainees had suffocated to death in the van from tear gas to suppress an escape attempt, but later insisting that the Islamists died in a prison where they were taken.
In either case, the deaths were the fourth mass killing of civilians since the military took control on July 3, but the first time those killed were in government custody at the time.
The Islamists, followers of the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, have vowed to continue their protests, both against the military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi and the violence of recent days that started with the bloody crackdown on Brotherhood sit-ins that left hundreds dead.
Although it appeared that security forces were more restrained on Sunday — with no immediate reports of killings in the streets — Maj. Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, the country’s military leader, spoke out on national television in defiant and uncompromising tones, condemning the Islamists again as “terrorists,” but promising to restore democracy to the country.
The government has been pursuing a relentless campaign to paint the Islamists as pursuing violence, and has increasingly lashed out at journalists who do not echo that line, especially the foreign media.
This is what America has decided is far more important to have in power in Egypt than the Morsi government. Whatever you may think of what Morsi did or did not do, he was not accused of mass murder of his political opponents or targeting of foreign journalists. Our identification with such a regime can only forebode dire political consequences for America and Egypt in the future, near or far. We have a name for that…..blowback.
So this video was introduced as “satire”? It shouldn’t have been. For far too many people of color this is the reality with which they are perceived but the tragedy is the the foibles that are highlighted in the video are common to all of America’s residents. Hayes did this piece in response to a piece Bill O’Reilly did, and knowing what we know about O’Reilly, it shouldn’t be difficult to parody anything he says or does, because he’s such an anachronism anything said about him today is relevant to an O’Reilly of two hundred years ago.
August 17, 2013 Leave a comment
How Western liberals provided the moral ammo for the massacres in Egypt.
There is ‘world outcry’ over the behaviour of the Egyptian security forces yesterday, when at least 525 supporters of the deposed Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi were massacred. The killings were ‘excessive’, says Amnesty, in a bid to bag the prize for understatement of the year; ‘brutal’, say various handwringing newspaper editorials; ‘too much’, complain Western politicians.
Such belated expressions of synthetic sorrow are not only too little, too late (hundreds of Egyptians have already been massacred by the military regime that swept Morsi from power); they are also extraordinarily blinkered. To focus on the actions of the security forces alone, on what they did with their trigger fingers yesterday, is to miss the bigger picture; it is to overlook the question of where the military regime got the moral authority to clamp down on its critics so violently in the name of preserving its undemocratic grip on power. It got it from the West, including from so-called Western liberals and human-rights activists. The moral ammunition for yesterday’s massacres was provided by the very politicians and campaigners now crying crocodile tears over the sight of hundreds of dead Egyptians.
The fact that General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the head of the Egyptian armed forces who swept Morsi from power on 3 July, feels he has free rein to preserve his coup-won rule against all-comers isn’t surprising. After all, his undemocratic regime has received the blessing of various high-ranking Western officials, even after it carried out massacres of protesters campaigning for the reinstatement of Morsi, who was elected with 52 per cent of the vote in 2012.
Baroness Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s chief of foreign affairs, who, like al-Sisi, is unelected, visited Egypt at the end of July. She met with al-Sisi and his handpicked, unelected president, Adly Mansour. She called on this junta disguised as a transitional power to start a ‘journey [towards] a stable, prosperous and democratic Egypt’. This was after it had massacred hundreds of protesters, placed various politicians and activists in prison, and reinstated the Mubarak-era secret police to wage a ‘war on terror’ against MB supporters. For Ashton to visit al-Sisi and talk about democracy in the aftermath of such authoritarian clampdowns was implicitly to confer authority on the coup that brought him to power and on his brutal rule and actions.
Meanwhile, the US has refused to call the military’s sweeping aside of Morsi a coup. The Democratic secretary of state, John Kerry, has gone further and congratulated al-Sisi’s regime for ‘restoring democracy’. Kerry said the military’s assumption of power was an attempt to avoid ‘descendance into chaos and violence’ under Morsi, and its appointment of civilians in the top political jobs was a clear sign that it was devoted to ‘restoring democracy’. He said this on 2 August. After hundreds of Morsi supporters had already been massacred. If al-Sisi’s forces believe that killing protesters demanding the reinstatement of a democratically elected prime minister is itself a democratic act, a necessary and even good thing, it isn’t hard to see where they got the idea from.
Meanwhile, former British PM turned UN peace envoy Tony Blair has become a globetrotting spokesman for the legitimacy of the al-Sisi regime. The army will have to take ‘some very tough, even unpopular decisions’ in its ‘steering of the country back on to a path towards elections’, he says. Most strikingly, Blair said of al-Sisi’s regime that sometimes an efficient government is more important than an elected one. In executing ‘very unpopular’ massacres in the name of making Egypt run more ‘efficiently’ – the key justification al-Sisi and his forces have given for their clampdown on Morsi supporters – the military regime is reading from a moral narrative provided by Tony Blair.
As well has(sic) being provided with moral cover by leading Western politicians, the al-Sisi regime has benefited from the effective standing-down of the Western human-rights lobby. Certainly those well-connected commentators and activists who normally make a major fuss over foreign military regimes that repress their political opposition have been mild bordering on mute in their criticisms of the new Egyptian dictatorship.
Human-rights groups like Amnesty have played a key role in keeping international eyes off Egypt by trumpeting other, apparently more pressing rights issues, such as Russia’s continued imprisonment of Pussy Riot. Astonishingly, Amnesty has just launched a new campaign called ‘Back on Taksim’, which allows Westerners to ‘check in’ online to Taksim Square in Turkey in order to raise awareness about the heavy-handed policing of the demonstration there and the brutal dismantling of the protesters’ camps. And the massacre of camping protesters in Cairo? Doesn’t that deserve an app, too? Apparently not. It’s only secular, left-leaning protesters that Amnesty and its Hampstead-based patrons are interested in, not bearded, Koran-reading blokes demanding the reinstatement of a religious-leaning president.
In fact, Amnesty has gone further than helping to divert the human-rights brigade’s attentions away from blood-stained Cairo – it has also inadvertently provided part of the justification for the Egyptian security forces’ massacres. One of Amnesty’s chief contributions to the discussion about Egypt over the past two months has been the writing of a report alleging that the pro-Morsi protest camps are abducting and torturing their opponents – that is, supporters of al-Sisi’s military regime. And the regime has enthusiastically cited Amnesty’s claims in its justification of its violent destruction of the pro-Morsi camps. The regime’s foreign minister, Nabil Fahmy, mentioned Amnesty reports in his explanation for why his forces have launched a ‘war on terror’ against Morsi supporters. Amnesty has not only implicitly played down the seriousness of the massacres in Egypt; it has also provided a moral excuse for their execution.
Alongside Western leaders and human-rights activists, the Egyptian left has also provided cover – literally – for the massacre of Morsi supporters. On every occasion when the regime’s forces have mown down its opponents, left-wing supporters of the regime have turned out in their thousands to give a democratic-seeming gloss to these killings of anyone who criticises the coup. The liberal National Salvation Front, much beloved of the Western human-rights lobby, says Morsi supporters bear ‘full responsibility’ for yesterday’s massacres.
Tamarod, the radical group that called for the removal of Morsi back in July, and which is hailed by the celebrated radical American-Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy as a brilliant and inspiring movement, has said it is ‘happy for [the security forces] to play their role in confronting the violence and terrorism practiced by the Muslim Brotherhood’. Both Ms Eltahawy and Tamarod have repeated regime propaganda about the Morsi camps being armed and dangerous, effectively terroristic, and thus apparently deserving of destruction. Tamarod’s provision of some pseudo-liberal, seemingly grassroots spit-and-polish to the regime’s massacres of its opponents isn’t surprising – there are now more and more claims that, in the words most recently of the London Review of Books, Tamarod is not as organic as it seems and has in fact received ‘advice, information and possibly weapons’ from the security forces.
To focus solely on what the security forces did yesterday is to imbibe only half of the story (if that) of what has occurred in Egypt over the past two months. For the security forces’ actions have been implicitly okayed by Western politicians, fuelled by the claims of human-rights groups, and supported on the streets by the Egyptian left. What we are witnessing is not simply a violent clampdown by men with guns, but effectively the Western-approved imposition of brute stability in Egypt and the bringing to an end of the Arab Spring and the idea that lay at the heart of it – namely, that Arab peoples are capable of determining their destinies free from external intervention or internal military control. That positive, spring-like belief might have been physically mown down by al-Sisi’s goons, but their guns were loaded by so-called Western liberals.