Category Archives: Racism

Racism and Bias at the Court of Arbitration for Sports

Sun Yang

Over the past 5 years,  the sports “anti doping movement” has been distorted into a political tool to attack Russia and now China. This article reveals the bias behind the decision to ban Chinese athlete Sun Yang for eight years. For example, the president of the panel tweeted against a “yellow faced Chinese monster!” and secretly mocked the athlete’s mother in the hearing.  I hope the facts presented here help get a new fair hearing for Sun Yang.

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Introduction

One of the world’s all time top swimmers, Sun Yang of China, has filed an appeal to overturn the decision banning him from competition for 8 years. That decision was made by the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) based in Switzerland. CAS decisions can only be appealed to the Swiss Federal Tribunal on a limited number of grounds.

A previous article described some reasons why the CAS decision against Sun Yang was unfair. This article explains why the Swiss Federal Court should hear the appeal and overturn the decision.

Three Possibilities

There are three theoretical possibilities as to how this incident occurred:

Possibility 1: Sun Yang was doping.  As suggested by the WADA attorneys,  he created a controversy  and disrupted the test to avoid having his blood and/or urine tested.

Possibility 2: Sun Yang was not doping and had nothing to hide. However, he impulsively aborted the test and refused to let the test team depart with the blood sample. Sun Yang is innocent of doping but guilty of interfering in a legitimate “Out of Competition” collection.  The CAS decision is unfortunate but necessary to maintain anti-doping standards.

Possibility 3:  Sun Yang was not doping and had nothing to hide. The sample collection team from IDTM violated regulations to such an extent that Sun Yang was justified in aborting the test and retaining the blood sample.

This case involves one athlete, Sun Yang, but it has wider importance.  What are the constraints on private doping testing contractors?   Are innocent athletes being victimized under the banner of “fair play”? Are international sports organizations neutral and impartial or politically biased?

 Background

The controversy revolves around an aborted blood and urine sample collection on 4 September 2018. The Asian Games in Jakarta Indonesia had just finished two days before. Sun Yang had won gold medals in the 200, 400, 800 and 1500 meter freestyle. He was tested five times during the Games, none of which resulted in an adverse analytic finding (AAF). The Asia Games ended on 2 September. Sun Yang’s swim coach, Australian Denis Cotterell, says “I advised Sun Yang to have a break of about a month as I always have for my swimmers after the main International event of the year.”

Leaving Jakarta early morning 4 September, Sun Yang travelled by plane to Shanghai then drove three hours to Hangzhou. Arriving after 10 pm, he was met by a doping collection team from the private contractor International Doping Tests & Management (IDTM).  There were three persons on the team: a doping collection officer (DCO), a blood collection officer (BCO) and a doping control assistant (DCA).

The test began normally, with blood being drawn from Sun Yang. The trouble began when Sun Yang observed the doping control assistant surreptitiously filming and photographing him. Feeling this was an intrusion of privacy rights, Sun Yang asked to see the authorization documents of each of the three person team. Only the DCO had this; the blood collection officer and assistant had no anti-doping credentials.  According to Chinese Anti Doping Agency rules, every member of a test team should be trained and certified. Sun Yang consulted the swim team captain and doctor. The swim team doctor, Dr. Ba Zhen,  came over to witness what was going on.

Sun Yang asked the DCO to have a qualified assistant sent to continue the blood and urine collection. The DCO consulted with the IDTM manager in Sweden but did not agree to this.

Dr. Ba Zhen consulted his senior doctor who is also an anti doping expert. All agreed the test team was not qualified, the test should be aborted and blood sample not taken away due to the potential for malfeasance.

The contention continued for several hours. Sun Yang’s advisors talked with the test team leader (DCO) who was also talking with her supervisor in Sweden. The DCO said they could not leave the equipment on the premises. Finally, a bottle holding the blood tubes was broken to allow them to be removed. Dr. Ba Zhen wrote a statement saying that because BCO and assistant did not have proper certification “the urine test and blood test cannot be completed. (The blood sample that has been collected could not be taken away.)”  The test team members all signed as witnesses before departing.

Over the coming days, both Sun Yang and the DCO filed reports about the incident. Because of conflicting narratives, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) commissioned a doping panel to decide the case. On 3 January 2019 they issued their decision that Sun Yang’s had NOT committed an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV). They agreed that the test team did not have proper credentials and Sun Yang was not given required warning.

For reasons that are subject to debate, the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) was reportedly “furious” about  the FINA doping panel decision. They decided to file an appeal at the court which handles high level international sports cases,  the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).  On 15 November 2019, CAS conducted a public hearing on the case WADA vs Sun Yang and FINA.  On 28 February 2020 CAS issued its decision that “Sun Yang is guilty of a doping offense and sanctioned with an 8-year period of ineligibility.”

Sun Yang insists that he is innocent. The following facts and factors are relevant to this particular case and the broader issue of “Fair Play”.

1) The CAS panel was biased

The CAS panel was comprised of three adjudicators: two from the UK and one from Italy. The hearing was marred by severe translation problems. If at least one of the judges had been proficient in Chinese,  some of the problems would have been reduced.  According to the CAS website, in their list of arbitrators there are 11 who speak Chinese. Why were none of these on the panel?  If nationality is considered to be a potential source of  bias, why were all three judges from countries from the West?  By contrast, in the CAS case regarding the American sprinter Gil Roberts, one of the three panelists was from the USA. That case did not have the complexities and translation difficulties experienced in the Sun Yang case yet CAS chose to not have a Chinese speaker in the panel. Why?

Cultural and language issues complicated this case. The bias of the panel is shown by their written accusation that Sun Yang did not respect the court’s authority, tried to shift the blame, did not have regrets about the incident and “appears to have a forceful personality, and seems to have an expectation that his views should be allowed to prevail. This was apparent during the hearing.” On the contrary, this is NOT apparent in the public hearing.  Sun Yang was never asked if had regrets about the night. His reliance on the swim team captain and doctor were not presented as excuses; they were presented as facts. There may be cultural differences and a different type of relation with coaches and trainers than in the west. The panel’s  extremely negative assessment suggests bias and prejudice.

The public hearing video shows that Sun Yang was respectful of the court. Even the court president initially saw nothing wrong with his effort to get a better translation. Judge Frattini said, “I hope the parties will not object if you support a better translation. You can go ahead please.”  Ultimately Sun Yang could not go ahead with a better translator and was required to continue with the WADA translator. The panel distorts this event and  suggest Sun Yang “did not respect the authority of others, or established procedures”.

The panel bias is also evidenced in the mocking comment after Sun Yang’s mother testified. The panel President, Franco Frattini, quietly commented to other panelists “A very strong witness, ha-ha”. ( https://vimeo.com/373377323  at 52:20).  The mother wanted to describe events but was not allowed because of the carefully controlled hearing process. If the panel had included a Chinese panelist,  he could have explained that courts of law in China are much less constrained and it is common for there to be emotional and longer testimonies.  Instead, the CAS panel president disrespected the mother (without intending for it to be heard).  What mother would not be upset when her son’s career and reputation is under severe threat?  The issue is not that the court should change to suit different personalities or cultures,  but it should be respectful and not prejudiced.

Judge Frattini, the panel president, is hostile to China to the point of racism. This is clearly shown on his social media account. Less than six months before the CAS hearing Frattini wrote:  “This yellow face chinese monster smiling while torturing a small dog deserves the worst of hell!! Shame on China pretending to be a superpower and tolerating these horrors!!”

He made other posts including:

“Torturing innocent animal is a flag of chinese. Sadics, inhumans with the protection of chinese authorities …. Shame on china and their protectors!” 

“Show the HORROR. THIS IS CHINA TODAY!! I’m sure nobody will have the courage to respond to me!!! Ambassador of China to Italy, where are you?? Are you silent on the tortures on dogs in Yulin??”

“Old yellow-face sadic trying to kill and torture a small dog this is China’s picture!!! Westerners doing rich business with China bear in mind these atrocities.”

Judge Frattini is upset at the controversial practice of eating dog meat and stories about the Yulin festival.  According to this Chinese dog lover, media reports are exaggerated, the vast majority of Chinese have never eaten dog meat and the festival is also criticized within China. Frattini negatively characterizes 1.4 billion “yellow face” Chinese on the basis of a sensationalized animal rights campaign. This appears to be textbook racism. Of course, Frattini makes no mention of  Swiss farmers who eat cat and dog meat.

Fratinni has been a significant player promoting the western foreign policy of invasion and “regime change”. As Italy’s foreign minister in 2003, Frattini said the invasion of Iraq was a “legitimate intervention” despite it having failed to gain UN Security Council authorization. The invasion has led to many hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi citizens.  In 2011, Frattini was again Foreign Minister and supported the overthrow of the  Libyan government. This has resulted in a failed state with competing war lords, hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees and the return of slave markets. Frattini was considered for the position of  NATO Secretary General.  Frattini’s political bias is confirmed in his public messages condemning China.

The political bias of Belgium/UK arbitrator Romano Subiotto is also clear. In early 2019 he sent a message to  the American arch hawk John Bolton suggesting how to help overthrow the Venezuelan government. “Parachute the aid into Venezuela: remember Berlin! This would multiply the points where aid is received and make it practically impossible for the Venezuelan military to control the influx.”  He sent a similar message to the US appointed coup leader, Juan Guaido.  Here we have an international arbitrator who apparently does not know or agree that sending planes over another country to drop “aid” to insurgents violates international law and the UN Charter regarding intervention in the internal affairs of another country.

The third and final arbitrator is Mr. Philippe Sands. He was counsel for the Philippines in their dispute with China over claims in the South China Sea. As such, one can question his impartiality in a case concerning a Chinese national.

In short, the entire panel was politically biased and led by someone who appears to be racist and hostile to the home country of the athlete under review.

2) The distinction between ISTI and Guidelines is NOT clear

There was much debate regarding the requirements and regulations for conducting a legitimate blood and urine  test sample of an athlete. Did each member of the team need to be authorized or could anyone act as an assistant? Did the test team need to show evidence that they were authorized to go to the athletes home at this time?  The expert witness, Stuart Kemp, had a major conflict of interest: he is an employee of  the appelant in the case (WADA).  He said the Guidelines indicated “best practices” while the “International Standard for Testing and Investigation” stated the requirements.

The CAS decision says, “The Panel does not dispute Mr. Kemp’s testimony and fully adheres to his logic that WADA’s Guidelines are not binding. Such Guidelines are merely intended to promote best practices, whereas binding provisions are only set out in the ISTI.”  This was an  important point because the test team requirements in some Guidelines supported the Sun Yang case.

But in reality the distinction is not so clear. For example:

* Blood Sample Collection Guidelines  have “ISTI” on the cover page.

* Urine Sample Collection Guidelines have “ISTI” on the cover page.

* Sample Collection Personnel Guidelines does NOT have “ISTI” on the cover and explicitly limits its scope (unlike the other guidelines).

* There is a requirement in the  Blood Sample Collection Guidelines which explicitly has priority over the ISTI. Section 1.0 says, Blood Sample collection shall be consistent with the local standards and regulatory requirements regarding precautions in healthcare settings where those standards and requirements exceed the requirements set out in ISTI Annex E – Collection of Blood Samples.”

The plain truth is there is ambiguity and confusion over some requirements. In addition to the ambiguities in English, consider the situation when it is translated to Chinese.  Is it any wonder that  athletes, their doctors and trainers are sometimes confused or have misunderstanding? The Chinese Anti Doping Agency goes by the “best practices” but in this case the test team from IDTM did not.  Is it “playing fair” to destroy the career of an athlete because of this confusion?

3)  The Doping Control Officer had a conflict of interest

Doping Control Officers are required to have no conflict of interest in the outcome. Yet the actions of this DCO suggest  she intentionally provoked the situation. She may have sought revenge on Sun Yang because of a dispute the year before.  At that time she was an assistant, but did something so abnormal that it caused Sun Yang to complain in writing about her.

The CAS panel says this is not credible because Sun Yang did not immediately complain and because Dr. Ba Zhen did not include this in the written summary of events. But this interpretation seems unrealistic. It seems that Sun Yang chose to give her a second chance rather than immediately complain.  And it was not included with Dr. Ba Zhen’s statement because she had not revealed what she was going to do.

4) The Blood Control Officer did not have valid credentials

The Blood Control Officer did not have IDTM documentation and her Shanghai nursing credentials were not valid in Sun Yang’s city of Hangzhou. This may be because Shanghai is under a “municipality administration” by the national government while Hangzhou is part of the standard provincial administration.   ISTI E.4.1 says “Procedures involving blood shall be consistent with the local standards and regulatory requirements …”   The CAS panel ignored this and asserted “She was duly accredited and authorized to be involved collecting samples from the Athlete.”  The panel offered no evidence of this and according to the expert witness at the public hearing, it is untrue.

5) The test manager in Sweden provoked the conflict instead of resolving it

The test team manager in Sweden, Tudor Popa, played a big role on the controversial night. According to his LinkedIn profile, Popa has no background in doping testing or sports. His previous job was with a travel/tour agency.  He was new to the field,  hired to the position just nine months earlier.  His job was to assign the DCO for the sample collection and to advise her in the event of troubles.

The way Popa acted calls into question whether he was trying to resolve the situation or provoke it. He assigned as DCO the one person whom Sun Yang had previously written a complaint about.  When it became clear that the assistant was unqualified, Tudor Popa could have resolved the conflict by getting a replacement. IDTM has tested Sun Yang dozens of times so they must have a network of qualified people.  Why did the manager refuse to bring in a qualified assistant?  Finally, why did Tudor Popa tell the DCO that the equipment could not be left at the residence, requiring Sun Yang to remove the blood tubes?  The equipment could have been left there without harm and picked up later, after discussion with authorities and resolution how to proceed. By insisting on removal of the equipment, the IDTM manager unnecessarily forced the situation.

6) The Doping Control Officer did not document the situation as required

An athlete’s career and livelihood can be destroyed by an ADRV (anti doping rule violation). Thus it is essential that an athlete understand if their actions are being considered a “refusal to comply”  thus an ADRV.  Instead of warning Sun Yang that she considered that he was refusing to comply and tampering with a valid sample, the DCO said to Sun Yang “go ahead” and “do what you have to”.  Instead of writing a statement of events as she saw them,  the DCO signed the statement prepared by Chinese swim team doctor.

Clearly something of this importance cannot be left to “He said, she said” ambiguities. That is why it is common practice in society to document warnings in writing. Whether it is for a driving traffic violation or school suspension or housing infraction,  warnings are put in writing to make it clear and unarguable. Such should obviously be the case with anti-doping as well.

The CAS panel came to the conclusion that the DCO gave Sun Yang sufficient warning and he failed to heed the warning. They say, “The Panel is satisfied the DCO did repeatedly warn the Athlete.” One reason they came to this conclusion was that it was “corroborated” by the test manager in Sweden. The panel says Mr. Popa “testified that he actually heard the DCO warn the Athlete as to consequences while he was on the phone to her.” We can be skeptical how he would know this since they were conversing in Mandarin, which he does not speak.

This is key example of the disastrous consequences of fuzzy regulations and why the Sun Yang case could be a milestone either giving a green light to sloppy unprofessional doping tests or a turning point to strengthen and improve essential regulations.

The rules need to be clarified further but they are clear enough to say the CAS panel conclusion is wrong on this essential point. The requirement to document events is confirmed at ISTI 5.4.8:  “If Sample Collection Personnel observe any matter with potential to compromise the collection of the Sample, the circumstances shall be reported to and documented by the DCO.”

The requirement is also at ISTI 7.4.6 which says, “At the conclusion of the Sample Collection Session the Athlete and DCO shall sign appropriate documentation to indicate their satisfaction that the documentation accurately reflects the details of the Athlete’s Sample Collection Session…”

The Blood Sample Collection  guideline requires an effort to get witness signatures if there is a problem.  “The DCO shall endeavor to obtain Witness signatures to confirm the Athlete’s refusal, and shall contact the Testing Authority and/or Sample Collection Authority for further instructions as soon as possible.”

The DCO failed to write a statement or get witness signatures. On the contrary, she signed the statement describing the events as seen by Sun Yang’s doctor!  If she disagreed with the description of events by Dr. Ba Zhen, the onus was on her to write a contrary statement.

It is an obvious failing that the requirements are not spelled out more clearly in the ISTI, but what is there is clear enough. The DCO needed to document events not just after the event, but at the event. She did not.

This is important because if the DCO had done as required, the entire situation would have changed. If she had documented that Sun Yang’s  actions could constitute a failure to comply and tampering, as she did AFTER the event, Sun Yang and advisors would have reconsidered.

This tragic episode with all its costly consequences has been caused by the failure to follow the rules by the DCO.

Conclusion

It is highly probable that Sun Yang was innocent of doping and did not intentionally disrupt the doping test.  He was coming from successful competition where he was tested many times. He was about to start a vacation. He was again tested shortly after the night in question. All tests were clean. If he had anything to hide, he could have skipped the test since an athlete is allowed two missed tests and he had not missed any in the previous 12 months.

On the night in question, the situation spiraled out of control. Sun Yang may have made a mistake by not allowing the blood sample to depart. But the test team did not meet standards and the DCO failed to give the required warning. The FINA Doping Panel ruled in favor of Sun Yang. The CAS court which ruled against him was influenced by prejudice, bias, poor translation, conflicted witnesses, and unclear regulations.

This case is important because it will indicate whether ambiguous rules can be used to exonerate a private test team contractor and punish an innocent athlete.  WADA should be encouraged to clear up the areas of ambiguity and contradiction. The rules about test team members should be reviewed so that athlete rights are protected.

This is not just about Sun Yang.  The Swiss Federal Tribunal should reconsider this case in the interests of all international athletes and the public.

• Originally published at SportsIntegrityInitiative.com as “Why the Sun Yang Decision Should be Overturned”

Reference: The Sun Yang Public Hearing before CAS

Part 1    https://vimeo.com/373204016

Part 2    https://vimeo.com/373351335

Part 3    https://vimeo.com/373377323

Part 4   https://vimeo.com/373416320

Why Does Israel Celebrate Its Terrorists?

Israeli media and Zionist apologists everywhere are busy whitewashing Israel’s globally-tattered image using the rare indictment of an Israeli terrorist, Amiram Ben Uliel, who was recently convicted for murdering the Palestinian Dawabsheh family, including an 18-month-old toddler in the town of Duma, south of Nablus.

The conviction of Ben Uliel by an Israeli three-judge court on May 18, is expectedly celebrated by some as proof that the Israeli judicial system is fair and transparent, and that Israel does not need to be investigated by outside parties.

The timing of the Israeli court’s decision to convict Ben Uliel of three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder was particularly important, as it followed a decision by the the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to move forward with its investigation of war crimes committed in Occupied Palestine.

Considering how Israel’s extremists, especially those living illegally in the Occupied West Bank, are governed through a separate, and far more lenient system than the military regime that governs Palestinians, the seemingly-clear indictment of the Israeli terrorist deserves further scrutiny.

Israel’s apologists were quick to celebrate the verdict by the court, to the extent that Israel’s own internal intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, known for its notorious torture methods of Palestinian prisoners, described the decision as “an important milestone in the battle against Jewish terror”.

Others labored to separate Ben Uliel’s grizzly attack from the rest of Israeli society, implying that the man was a lone wolf and not the direct outcome of Israel’s unhinged racism and violent discourse directed at innocent Palestinians.

Despite the clear indictment of Ben Uliel, the Israeli court was keen on accentuating the point that the Israeli terrorist acted alone and that he was not a member of a terrorist organization. Based on that logic, the court argued that the judges “could not rule out that the attack was motivated by a desire for revenge or racism without Ben-Uliel actually being a member of an organized group.”

The verdict was a best case scenario for Israel’s image under the circumstances, as it deliberately absolved the massive terrorist network that spawned the likes of Ben Uliel and the Israeli army that protects those very extremists on a daily basis, while whitewashing Israel’s deservedly bad reputation as a violent society with an unjust judicial system.

But Ben Uliel is, by no measure, a lone wolf.

When the Israeli terrorist, along with other masked assailants, brokeinto the house of Sa’ad and Reham Dawabsheh at 4 am on July 31, 2015, he was clearly on a mission to elevate his name within the ardently racist, extremist society which has made the murder and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians a sort of a divine mission.

Ben Uliel achieved his objectives completely. Not only did he kill Sa’ad and Reham, but their 18-month-old son, Ali, as well. The only surviving member of the family was 4-year-old Ahmed, who was severely burnt.

The murder of the Palestinian family, little Ali in particular, quickly became the source of joy and celebration among Jewish extremists. In December 2015, six months after the murder of the Dawabsheh family, a 25-second video clip that went viral on social media showed a crowd of Israelis celebrating the death of Ali.

The video showed a “room of jumping, dancing men wearing white skullcaps, many with the long sidelocks of Orthodox Jews. Some of them are brandishing guns and knives,” the New York Times reported.

“Two (of the celebrating Israelis) appear to be stabbing pieces of paper they hold in their hands, which the television station identified as pictures of an 18-month-old child, Ali Dawabsheh.”

Despite Israeli police claims that they were ‘investigating’ the hate fest, there is little evidence to suggest that anyone was held accountable for the unmitigated celebration of violence against an innocent family and a toddler. In fact, Israeli State prosecutors later claimed that they had lost the original video of the dancing extremists.

The celebration of Israeli terrorism carried on unabated for years, to the extent that on June 19, 2018, Israeli extremists chanted openly, taunting Ali’s grandfather as he was leaving an Israeli court, with such obscene slogans, as “Where is Ali? Ali’s dead,” “Ali’s on the grill”.

The heinous murder of Ali and his family, and the subsequent trial were added to an array of other events that starkly challenged Israel’s carefully concocted image of being a liberal democracy.

On March 24, 2016, Elor Azaria killed a Palestinian man, Fattah al-Sharif, in cold blood. Al-Sharif was left bleeding on the ground while unconscious after, per Israeli army claim, trying to stab an Israeli soldier.

Azaria received a light sentence of eighteen months, soon to be freed in a massive celebration, like a conquering hero. Israel’s top government officials, including Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, supported the cold-blooded murderer throughout the trial. It will not come as a complete surprise if Azaria claims a top position in the Israeli government at some point in the future.

The celebration of murderers and terrorists like Ben Uliel and Azaria, is not a new phenomenon in Israeli society. Baruch Goldstein, the Israeli terrorist whonkilled scores of Palestinian worshippers while kneeling for prayer at Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Al-Khalil (Hebron) in 1994, is now perceived as a modern martyr, a saint of biblical proportions.

In such cases, when the nature of the crime is so overwhelmingly violent, the extent of which forces itself on global news media, Israel is left with only one option – to use the indictment of ‘Jewish terrorism’ as an opportunity to reinvent itself, its ‘democratic’ system, its ‘transparent’ judicial proceedings, and so on. Meanwhile, Israeli media and its affiliates worldwide labor to describe the collective ‘shock’ and ‘outrage’ felt by ‘law-abiding’, ‘peace-loving’ Israelis.

The murder of the Dawabsheh family, although one of the numerous acts of violence perpetrated by Jewish extremists and the Israeli military against innocent Palestinians, is the perfect case in point.

Indeed, a quick look at the numbers and reports produced by the United Nations indicates that the Jewish settlers’ murder of the Palestinian family was not the exception but the norm.

In a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in June 2018, UN investigators spoke of an exponential rise of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians.

“Between January and April 2018, OCHA documented 84 incidents attributed to Israeli settlers resulting in Palestinian casualties (27 incidents) or in damage to Palestinian property (57 incidents),” the report read. That trend continued, at times markedly increasing, with very little accountability.

The Israeli rights group, Yesh Din, has been following up on the small percentage of settler violence cases that were opened by the Israeli military and police. The group concluded that, “of 185 investigations opened between 2014 and 2017 that reached a final stage, only 21, or 11.4%, led to the prosecution of offenders, while the other 164 files were closed without indictment.”

The reason for this is simple: the hundreds of thousands of Jewish extremists who have been transferred to permanently settle in the occupied territories, an act that starkly violates international law, do not operate outside the colonial paradigm designed by the Israeli government. In some way, they too, are ‘soldiers’, not only because they are armed and coordinate their movement with the Israeli army, but because their ever-expanding settlements lie at the heart of the Israeli occupation and its continued project of ethnic cleansing.

Therefore, Jewish settler violence, like that committed by Ben Uliel, should not be analyzed separately from the violence meted out by the Israeli army, but seen within the larger context of the violent Zionist ideology that governs Israeli society as a whole. It follows that settler violence can only end with the end of the military occupation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, and with the demise of the racist Zionist ideology that spews hatred, embraces racism and rationalizes murder.

A Thought about Racial Tension

I recently came across a tweet, where the tweet writer proclaimed:

I am convinced that 90% of racial tensions remaining in the West would evaporate within 5 years if lefties\liberals stopped racializing everything, stopped obsessing over and judging based on skin colour and stopped re-opening stale historical wounds unnecessarily…

My immediate thought was that I needed to reply and refute this misinformation as quickly as possible. Then as quickly as it came, that thought was replaced by a realization that a response to this could never and indeed, should never, be an off-the-cuff reactionary response. So, I let it sit and simmer; allowing the statement time to really sink in.

Let us begin with a definition. What is tension? The dictionary describes the meaning of tension as:

  • the act of stretching.
  • the condition of being stretched or strained; the degree to which something is stretched or strained.
  • the partial pressure of a component of a gas mixture or of a gas dissolved in a fluid, such as oxygen in the blood.
  • hostility between two or more individuals or groups.

Extrapolating from the above, we can, therefore, imagine racial tension is a pushing and pulling between races. This pushing and pulling would happen if there is a power differential where one race historically held a dominant sway or over the other. In the presence of equality, this tension would not exist.

In an ideal world, I could stop right here for having already refuted the entire assumption of the tweet. Nevertheless, I would be committing the same offence as the tweet above. To propose a statement like this into a system that is already fraught with inequality and discrimination without proper reasoning, insightful thought or discerning reflection would be irresponsible, to say the least.

The tweet-writer above states their conviction that racial tension would disappear if not encouraged by people who have a more left-leaning social or political view. In my humble opinion, pitting a ‘capitalist right’ against a ‘socialist left’ or turning this into a political argument is not only tantamount to mixing oil and water but as equally impossible. This is not a political argument, although politics, as it inevitably does, plays a significant part in stoking the fire of racial tension.

Racism is a vile, reprehensible and loathsome ideology that permeates the entirety of the North American continent and the World. Whether we choose to accept this or not, this is a reality. This particular flavour of racism does not resemble the one which birthed slavery. It is far more clandestine. Shrouded in systemic obscurities and concealed in ambiguousness it is as dangerous and debilitating to its victims as surely as the whip was to many a slave’s back. It can be found in politics, healthcare, policing, the workplace, the financial system…anywhere you take the time to look you will find it. Ask Canadian rapper, John River, who experience it in his foray into the healthcare system.

Of course, it’s ridiculous to believe that all White people are racist. In fact, in my experience in Canada, I would say the majority are not. What they don’t know is the negative impact of systemic racism. After all, how can they? The system was built for them. So, when people of colour call out that systemic racism, they should not feel that we’re calling them racist. We are highlighting the inequities in the system. The ideology, that like a silent, deadly force quietly steals their humanity, belittles their personhood and diminishes their distinctiveness.

That is what we must call out. Every single time.

That is what must be fought against. By everyone who claims to love Freedom and Equality.

That is what we must stop. For us to really be free!

The Black Animal

Recently, during a meaningful conversation about the effects of racism and colonization with a friend he mentioned that he did not understand why people of colour seemed to want to be categorized as victims. To support this argument he cited the great misdeeds and evil that was visited upon his ancestral Scottish people. Indeed, the Scots were abused by the Empire. “However,” my friend continued, “they continued fighting and never fell into becoming the victims of the horrors that were visited on them.” He continued to expound on this and although every fibre of my being was screaming that he was wrong, a part of my brain was also thinking about the rationality of this argument. What he said “sounded reasonable”.

My feelings about the stress that people of colour face is reflected deeply in my poetry and my writing. However, I have never allowed victimhood to be a part of my narrative. I envision that victimhood comes from a place of weakness and when I look at the majority of people of colour in my country and the small Canadian town I live in, I do not see weakness. So why did this reasonable-sounding argument, feel so fundamentally wrong? Instinctively I knew that this position was not tenable, but the argument was reasonable.

In my upcoming book, A Sliver of a Chance, I wrote a poem called “Animal”. It was inspired by a picture of an Australian Aboriginal man, dressed in Western clothes and chained to a tree. You can see the discomfort he is in largely written on his face. The poem “Animal”, is not from this poor wretch’s point of view. It is from the person who had him caught and bound to the tree. That was the answer to my question. Bound up within that person was a belief, so insidious and profound that, upon realising it, I was visibly shaken to my core.

I decided to put my theory to the test and went back to read accounts of the horrors visited by the British upon the Scots. There is no denial, they were brutalized. All manner of horrendous atrocities were visited upon them. They were disenfranchised, suppressed and repressed. They were forced from their homes by landowners, to make way for sheep. The potato famine that blighted the Highlands in the 1840s brought yet another wave of clearances and emigration and disenfranchisement. Yet, try as I might, I found one thing missing. One crucial, yet fundamental aspect of their suffering. There is no denying that there was cruelty, but it was visited by one man upon another; and, in fact, a Scot eventually became King of England.

Now, armed with this knowledge, let us turn our attention to people of colour. I have no doubt, dear reader, that you have already discerned the direction of my argument. But, bear with me a while as there is one more point left to make. Before we delve into the reason why the experience of the Scots under the British thumb differs vastly from that of people of colour we must understand religion. Specifically, Christianity. Or at least a specific version of Christianity.

I have often wondered how people who claimed to follow Christ could reconcile the violence visited on other people. Simplistically put, religion did play a role where one side felt the other subscribed to a bastardized version of the ‘real religion’ and therefore were not rightfully under the protection and mercy of the crown that believed in the ‘real religion’. However, what about our poor Aboriginal man tied to a tree? Or the slave dragged from his homeland, bought and sold, whipped and slaughtered for a period of over 200 years? Or the East Indians, whose country was raped and pillaged of all its riches while it’s people were pressed under the British boot? Didn’t the Bible say that it was necessary to bring the word to every human being? Well, yes it did!

To every Human being!

The definition and categorization of these two words would become the line drawn between the rulers and the ruled. These words would be used to justify untold cruelty across the globe in the name of religion. They would be used to defend and rationalize unspeakable horrors upon people of colour, Aboriginals and Indigenous peoples across the globe. It’s easier to defend compelling an animal do the hard work after all precedent was set with horses, camels, cattle and other beasts of burden. These sub-humans from the African plains, on the Indian continent and in the Americas were exactly that. They looked human, and could even be trained to act somewhat human, but, in reality, they were not. This meant that using them for slave labour was an act of mercy; a Christian thing to do. Of course, it was understood that Biblical promises were not meant for them, but this was a moral and ethical argument, not an economical one.

Therein lies the difference. The British thought of the Scots as mortal enemies. They hated them and brutalized them but there is no indication that they ever thought of them as less than human. On the contrary, a Scot would eventually sit on the British throne.

Finally, I felt that while the argument my friend made sounded reasonable, it was not. However, there is one final consideration. Many of the systems in North America, like policing, healthcare, justice, business and banking were created on the specific needs and requirements of one particular type of people. While over the ensuing years, people of colour can now interact with these systems, some of the intrinsic prejudices that represent the founders and the foundation of these systems still exist. These historical biases, preconceptions and bigotry are oftentimes so subtle as to be easily missed. For example, the racial bias in pain assessment and treatment recommendations, and false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites still haunts the halls of medicine.

What we all need to understand is that people of colour are not downplaying the historical violence that may have been visited upon other races. What they are saying is that while that is now in your past, they are still struggling against those prejudices today. Negative assumptions are still being made and acted upon because of their colour. This is a distinction worth making and it is a wrong that must be made right.

BrianSankarsingh is an accidental poet who, for many years, was standoffishly embroiled in social and political commentary; and who has now decided to maddeningly scream his message from whatever rooftop he can find. You can reach him at: moc.sregornull@rohtua.

Trump wins! Completing Obama’s Pivot to Asia and the Confrontation with China

Even before becoming the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump had one consistent foreign enemy – China. Partly fueled by his intrinsic white supremacy and his antipathy for the liberal elite “globalists” who evoked his personal inferiority complex, Trump has never waivered from his fierce opposition to what he saw as the “yellow peril” from China.

So when the Obama Administration announced in 2011 that the US would make “a strategic pivot” in its foreign policy to focus its military and political attention on the Asia-Pacific, particularly Southeast Asia, which meant China, it was one time that Trump supported Obama’s position – but for very different reasons.

For Trump, the problem was the cozy relationship between finance capital and the transnational corporations they funded during the neoliberal period of rapid and deepening globalization of production. The result of that relationship was that much of the industrial base of the U.S. economy was transferred first to Mexico and then mainland China. Altering that relationship and bringing those jobs “back home” as part of his “America first” position became a campaign issue and his intended first order of business once he assumed the presidency.  Shifting trade relations in favor of his capitalist base in the U.S. was a primary objective with Chinese containment being a necessary but almost secondary objective.

Trump’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the “gold standard of trade deals” according to Hilary Clinton before she pretended to oppose the treaty during her 2016 campaign, was seen by the elite as the signature deal that would provide the leverage to contain China’s ambitions in the Asia-Pacific region and globally, while also ensuring the continuity of economic relationships for U.S. transnational capital to utilize China as a profitable zone for the production of goods and services for the U.S. and European markets.

Trump’s opposition to the TPP and his comments regarding the entire architecture of the global neoliberal project of the last forty years was seen as reckless and made him a threat. The financial and corporate transnational elite moved swiftly operating though the state and media to destabilize his administration, even before he took office. That fraction couldn’t care less about his rhetoric on race, Muslims and immigration; in fact, his theatrics became a very valuable distraction while they completed the strengthening of the national security state under Bush and Obama and plotted to either get rid of Trump or impose the discipline of their agenda on his administration.

As Trump saw it, completing the pivot to Asia required one strategic angle – reducing tensions with Russia with the intent to bring them into the fold of “Europe” in order for the U.S. and Europe to combine forces to discipline China. What Trump hadn’t anticipated and was clearly unprepared for, was the ferocity of the efforts to make it impossible for him to govern. Russiagate became the issue that would block his plan to reconcile with Russia and bring the full force of the state against China.

But, today, after having survived the unprecedented efforts by unelected power to undermine his presidency perhaps in the history of the U.S. nation/state short of actual assassination, Trump has the support of a growing coalition of forces across the ruling class spectrum that represent a new and growing consensus that China is out of control and is a real threat to U.S. global hegemony.

What changed?

Limiting China to a specific role in the international division of labor was always part of the plan even when China received “most favored Nations status” in the 90s and membership in the World trade Organization.

The relationship between U.S. transnational capital and the Chinese state was seen as a win-win. China served as platform to produce goods and services for U.S. markets providing jobs for Chinese labor and revenue for the state while providing price competitive products for U.S. consumers. In the process it was assumed that China’s integration and participation in the global capitalist order would result in the “liberalization” of their economy and political system and open up an enormous new market for U.S. capital.

The problem, of course, was that the Chinese had their own plans.

The new bipartisan, ruling class consensus that more aggressive measures were needed to contain China was captured in the now infamous “pivot to Asia” announced by Barack Obama in 2011.

Today the growing ruling class consensus that has given new life to Trump’s anti-China campaign is reflected in the positions that say economic integration with China did not result in any transformation of China into a “regular” capitalist nation. And with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) introduced by Chinese president Xi Jinping, China is an existential threat that can only be countered by military means.

War Against China, COVID-19, and Black Working-Class Position

“Not One Drop of Blood from the Working Class and Poor to Defend the Interests of the Capitalist Dictatorship” (Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) Slogan)

The psychopathology of white supremacy blinds U.S. policymakers to the political, economic, and geopolitical reality that the U.S. is in irreversible decline as a global power.  The deep structural contradictions of the U.S. economy and state was exposed by the weak and confused response to COVID-19 and the inability of the state to provide minimum protections for its citizens and residents. But even in decline, the U.S. has a vast military structure that it can use to threaten and cause massive death and destruction.

This makes the U.S. a threat to the planet and collective humanity because U.S policy-makers appear to be in the grip of a death-wish in which they are prepared to destroy the world before voluntarily relinquishing power, especially to a non-European power like China.

For example, when Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo declared in public that the United States and its Western European allies must put China in “its proper place,” this represents a white supremacist mindset that inevitably will lead to monumental errors of judgment.

This white supremacist, colonialist mentality is unable to accept the full and equal humanity of non-Europeans and, therefore, are driven to an irrational obsession with preventing what is now inevitable – global hegemony passing to China.

To prevent this objective eventuality, U.S. policymakers are openly advocating war with China. Not only war, but a war that some of them argue must take place before 2025!

And this is not some wild construction from the Trump Administration.

More than a decade ago military strategists war-gamed on how to defeat the Chinese concentrating on fuel supplies and trade routes. The RAND Corporation described during the Obama Administration how the U.S. could defeat China in a conventional war and in 2011, the Council of Foreign Relations began to urge the U.S. to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF )Treaty which it did in 2019 in order to redeploy intermediate range missiles off the coast of China.

COVID-19, that the Trump Administration constantly refers to as the Chinese virus, and the blame game being played, is preparing the public to support conflict with China.

However, The Chinese are aware of the dangerous turn of events with COVID-19 and are preparing accordingly. And here is the real danger.  Forces within the Chinese Communist Party and military are warning that the nation must prepare itself for all contingencies, including armed conflict.

For African Americans we must resist all efforts to draw us into a conflict that has nothing to do with us. We must be clear that we are not going to allow our sons and daughters to be sacrificed in yet another war of aggression on behalf of white capitalist/colonial power.

We must reject anti-China propaganda being directed at our communities using lurid stories of Chinese anti-black racism in China and the alleged attempts by the Chinese to “colonize” Africa, a position that is both absurd and insulting in how it trivializes the brutal reality of European colonization that the continent has yet to recovery from.

Trump is winning the propaganda war on the Chinese issue because at its core the U.S. is susceptible to appeals to cross-class white racial solidarity against the uncivilized hordes. Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations did not just resonate with right-wing audiences but was an acceptable commentary on the challenges of Western modernity.

However, we must remain clear about who our enemy is. It is not the Chinese who are beating us down in the streets for not social distancing, who have denied us medical care, imprisoned us, killed us, poisoned our water, and forced us to face death on a job just to survive.  We got a historical beef, but it ain’t with China, Russia, or any of the enemies of the U.S.

Michigan Has Nothing on Texas

George Hughes front-right

The “good,” gun-toting white goons who recently protested safety measures necessitated by COVID 19 at the Michigan state Capitol had nothing on “good” white folks in Sherman, Texas ninety years ago today. They burned down their own courthouse to get at a black suspect, and then burned him as well.

On May 9, 1930, a 41-year-old African American man named George Hughes was asphyxiated and then burned to a crisp in Sherman, Texas.

According to reports, Hughes had moved to the area from Honey Grove only a few months before. He had worked on various farms and was then employed at Ned Farlow’s place approximately five miles south of Sherman.

By late April he had grown frustrated with Farlow over back pay. At 10:00 am on Saturday, May 3, Hughes apparently stopped working the fields and headed to the Farlow residence carrying a double-barreled shotgun. A neighbor called the Grayson County Sheriff’s Department (from a nearby cotton gin) and Deputy Sheriff Bart Shipp responded. By the time Deputy Shipp arrived, Hughes had left the Farlow home and was walking into an alfalfa field. When Hughes spotted Deputy Shipp’s vehicle, he fired on it twice, one shot going through the windshield. Deputy Shipp emerged from his vehicle uninjured and, as Hughes’s shotgun was empty, arrested him.

It is unclear what transpired at the Farlow residence, but it can be assumed that Mrs. Farlow was alone and Hughes made an ill-advised visit to address unresolved issues of unpaid wages. Whatever occurred, Hughes was later charged with criminal assault. One account suggested Hughes had bound Mrs. Farlow’s hands and feet with bailing wire; another report stated that Hughes had sexually assaulted Mrs. Farlow.

Due to the volatile nature of the charges, Grayson County authorities had Hughes transferred out of the county jail for his own safety. On Tuesday, May 6, a white mob attempted to retrieve Hughes and law enforcement personnel confronted the vigilantes, firing into the air to warn them off. District Attorney Joe Cox appeared and informed the mob that Hughes was not in the facility, but the mob was distrustful and requested that Cox allow a mob “committee” to search the jail. Cox acquiesced and the committee was unable to find Hughes.

After the mob’s first attempt to seize Hughes, Grayson County authorities contacted state officials and requested assistance from the Texas Rangers. On May 7, Texas Ranger Captain Frank Hamer, Sgt. J. B. Wheatley, J. E. McCoy and J. W. Aldrich left Austin at 4:25 pm and arrived in Sherman that evening.

On March 9, Hughes’s short-lived trial began and the events that followed are best conveyed by eye-witness participant, Captain Hamer:

On the morning of the 9th of May the negro was brought into the court room. The jury was empaneled, the trial proceeded to get under way. It was while the first State witness was on the stand testifying, that the crowd made a rush on the District Court room to get the prisoner and in their attempt to do so, two double doors opening into a hallway near the District Court room were broken down. The District Judge [R. M. Carter] ordered the prisoner locked up in the District Attorney’s [second-story] vault and then we immediately proceeded to disperse the mob, which we did by use of our guns, without firing, and tear gas bombs. The District Judge and other officials then decided that a change of venue should be ordered in the case. The crowd made two other attempts to rush the court room on the second floor and was beaten back each time. I instructed my men that the next time they rushed the courthouse that I would fire on the mob, but for them to hold their fire until I gave orders to shoot. In a few minutes the mob attempted to rush the court room again, coming up the stairways and I fired a shotgun loaded with buckshot, wounding two men, so it was reported to us, this stopped the mob. I had heard a number of them say prior to the time that I fired on them, that ‘you can’t shoot us.’ It never occurred to me what they meant until a newspaper man came up stairs and showed me a message that he said he had received over the A. P. wires reading as from the Governor, ‘protect the negro if possible, but do not shoot anybody.’ I informed him that I had received no such message, however, at this time, this report seemed to have been well-circulated among the crowd.

I saw the District Judge and told him about this report and informed him that I didn’t believe the Governor would issue such orders, because we probably could not hold the prisoner if such order was issued. One of the agitators walked to the foot of the stairway and asked me if I was going to give the prisoner up to them, I told him we were not, he says ‘well we are coming up to get him,’ I said ‘any time you feel lucky, come on, but when you start up the stairway once more, there is going to be many funerals in Sherman.’ For twenty or thirty minutes, things were quiet. They started breaking windows down stairs, the sheriff and deputies had previously gone down stairs, leaving myself and men to guard the negro and the stairways, then all at once the flames from the lower story of the courthouse swept up the stairways and on up to the ceiling over our heads to the second floor and myself and men barely escaped the burning building. The flames cut us off from the vault and we could not have opened the vault if we could have gotten to it, as we did not know the combination, so we came out and down into the crowd.

When the mob was unsuccessful at taking custody of Hughes by force and then couldn’t get Captain Hamer to relinquish custody of him, vigilantes threw gasoline into the basement or somewhere along the first floor and ignited it. As squadrons of the Sherman Fire Department arrived and attempted to fight the conflagration, members of the mob held them back and severed their fire hoses.

When three hundred National Guardsmen (sent by Governor Moody) arrived to assist the Rangers in getting the situation under control, the mob—which had grown to number in the thousands—and Guardsmen clashed in pitched battles. As the Guardsmen were vastly outnumbered and generally disinclined to fire on American citizens, they suffered dozens of injuries and were forced to retreat to the county jail and fortify it to protect themselves and other members of law enforcement personnel.

The mob eventually learned that Hughes had been placed in the District Attorney’s large, second-story vault and set about laying hold of him. By 4:00 pm, the courthouse was gutted but the vault was still standing. The mob repeatedly, but unsuccessfully placed dynamite (utilizing ladders) to open the vault door and then employed it in conjunction with cuts to the outer casing by an acetylene torch. Later that evening a blast finally blew in the vault door and Hughes was discovered unconscious (one account indicated that part of his head was smashed in). Hughes’s body was dropped down one of the ladders and struck the ground with a dull thud.

Members of the mob tied a chain around Hughes’s body, affixed the chain to an automobile and dragged him “down to niggertown.” The gruesome cavalcade ended at a tree near a two-story office building which housed several African American businesses, including a drug store, a beauty shop, an undertaker and a tailor. Hughes’s body was hung from the tree by a chain and vigilantes piled up boxes underneath it. The mob set the boxes on fire and then burned down the African American office building. A reinforcement of Guardsmen arrived at approximately 2:00 am and the mob dispersed.

On Saturday, May 10, images of the mob, the riot and the courthouse fire appeared in newspapers across Texas and the nation. Just after dawn, the Rangers and Guardsmen cut down Hughes’ remains and sent them to a white undertaker (as the African American undertaker’s parlor had been torched) and then sought out the hundreds of Sherman’s black citizens who had fled into the surrounding thickets, hidden under homes or otherwise taken refuge. The Guardsmen transported them back to the African American section of the community. According to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, “not a negro was seen in the town from 2 p. m. Friday until Saturday daybreak, although Sherman claimed a negro population of 1,500 to 2,000.” When the returning African Americans and their escort got back to their neighborhood, they discovered typewritten ultimatums warning black citizens to leave the city within twenty-four hours.

Fifteen suspected mob participants were arrested and several injured National Guardsmen were transferred to a Dallas hospital. As further rioting was expected, state officials ordered additional Guardsmen to Sherman and these reinforcements were supplemented by almost fifty law enforcement personnel from surrounding counties. A Fort Worth contingent, for example, was ordered to protect the main school and church in the African American section of Sherman and set up machine gun positions at vantage points on streets leading to these locations. Guardsmen prohibited white citizens from entering black neighborhoods without specific, approved reasons.

The Telegram would later refer to the rioting the night before as an “orgy” of violence and destruction, and Sherman Mayor J.S. Eubank [Though a Grayson County native, Jessie Shain Eubank (January 20, 1884 – June 7, 1942) was mayor of Corsicana from 1923-1925 before he served as mayor of Sherman.] would blame it on outsiders, claiming “Sherman has been made a victim of circumstance.”

At 10:45 pm on May 10, Governor Moody declared a state of martial law after noting that “reputable citizens and officers of Sherman, including Judge B.M. Carter, have reported to me that the mob threatens to form again,” further endangering the safety and security of the community.

By May 11, Guardsmen were posted with machine guns at the county jail and every corner of the courthouse square. They began patrolling the city and forbade the congregation of more than three citizens at a time on any city street.

On Monday, May 12, a military court began conducting a probe into the rioting, gathering testimony that would be used when the Grayson County grand jury convened the following week.

On Tuesday, May 20, the grand jury indicted fourteen suspects in seventy counts of five separate offenses, including rioting, rioting to commit arson, utilizing explosives to commit arson, rioting to commit murder and burglary of the courthouse—no one was indicted in the death of George Hughes.

The Sherman citizens charged were Jimmie Arnold, C.E. Briggs, Leslie Cole, Jeff (Slim) Jones, Jim May, J.B. McCastland, Alvin Morgan, Horace Reynolds, Bill Sofey and Cleo Wolfe. Four other men from Van Alstyne were charged: Roy Allen, Leonard (Baldy) O’Neal, Web Purdom and Jess Roper. The bond for every suspect was set at $5,000 and their cases were transferred to Dallas County for trial.

On Saturday, May 24, martial law ended at 12:00 noon and the Sherman rioting suspects were transferred to a Dallas jail. On May 27, federal charges alleging a civilian attempt to disarm national guardsmen was filed against Sherman residents John Edwards, Will Hamilton and Floyd Sheppard and Waxahachie resident John Simmons, each man’s bond being set at $2,000. Hamilton and Edwards immediately posted bond and the officials of Grayson County filed a $100,000 insurance claim on the courthouse even though the policy the county carried on the courthouse contained a disclaimer invalidating recompense in the case that the edifice was destroyed by rioting.

On June 23, 1930, Dallas County District Court Judge Charles A. Pippen denied a plea to reduce the bond set for the Sherman riot defendants and postponed the trial until September. By early September, ten of the riot defendants had posted the $5,000 bonds, leaving only Arnold, McCasland, Morgan and Wolfe in Dallas County custody. On September 10, Judge Pippen announced that the hearings for the Sherman riot defendants would commence on September 29. On September 26, Judge Pippen postponed the hearings until November because the Grayson County District Attorney was busy with several other cases.

When the Sherman riot trial began, Defense Attorney J.A. Carlisle filed two separate motions to postpone the case again and transfer the hearings back to Grayson County. Judge Pippen overruled both motions and then had a disheartening encounter with an ugly Dallas County mindset.

Of the sixty-eight prospective jurors interviewed for the trial, sixty—almost 90%—declared openly that they would not convict the defendants even if the State demonstrated their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Attributing prospective juror prejudice to the publicity the riot had received, Judge Pippen noted that Dallas County sentiment “is overwhelmingly against the State’s case without regard to the facts or guilt of those engaged in violation of the law” and transferred the hearings to the Travis County District Court.

J.B. McCasland’s arson trial commenced in Austin in June of 1931 and he was convicted in a matter of weeks. In July he pled guilty to a charge of rioting and the three other charges against him were dismissed. McCasland was sentenced to two years for each offense, and the sixty-six cases against the other defendants were then transferred to Cooke County (Gainesville).

In Gainesville, County Attorney William C. Culp asked for a dismissal of the indictments against Roy Allen, Jimmie Arnold, C.E. Briggs, Leslie Cole, Jim May, Alvin Morgan, Leonard (Baldy) O’Neal, Horace Reynolds, Bill Sofey and Cleo Wolfe because he believed the evidence against them was insufficient to ensure a conviction. The court agreed and released all ten. Cases against remaining defendants Jeff Jones, Webb Purdom and Jess Roper were scheduled for January 1932.

On June 3, 1932, the indictments against Jones, Purdom and Roper were dismissed (with the consent of the Grayson County district attorney) due to insufficient evidence by Cooke County Judge Ben W. Boyd.

  • Excerpt from Black Holocaust: The Paris Horror and a Legacy of Texas Terror (Eakin Press, 2015).
  • When Homeless Means Homelandless: Guatemalans in Lincoln County

    Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

    It doesn’t take a lockdown to pull from some of us humanists the universality of how deep the emotional, cultural, societal, economic and spiritual divide is between the have’s and have’s not.

    As we move from “top” to “bottom” in the daily stories of how these forced social distancing measures, draconian business closures, far-reaching travel bans and the like are affecting lives, we need to have more humanistic ways of parsing out the realities of the homeless, or in the case of people from Guatemala, the homelandless.

    There are many reasons Guatemalans have come to this county, crossing that borderline without the proper Gestapo paperwork and billets for the own lives.

    After tragedy, Oregon Christmas tree industry buoyed by bill | KOMO

    The stem of the immigration tide to an area usually starts with one family or one group of cohorts ending up in a place like Newport and loving it as a new promise, a new start, maybe a new homeland. For a time, there were seasonal jobs in the fishing, hospitality and salal harvesting arenas.

    Most Guatemalans get here with very little. Some have children in schools. Many do not speak Spanish, let alone English.

    In many ways, coming from Huehuetenango and other places where violence is prolific,  Guatemalans thought they’d be happy with the chance “to make it” in the USA since back in their native land the per capita annual income for lower economic groups is  $1,619. Add to this challenge of more than two dozen Mayan languages spoken in that part of Mesoamerica and none spoken here.

    A Tales of Two Cities, Many Cultures, Infinite Mentalities

    For many, watching daily TV-YouTube-Facebook antics of Trump and Company, Hollywood perversions, other rich and famous, and  even run of the mill policy makers “deal” with their seclusion and isolation makes the blood boil. Lovely gardens, three triple-wide fridge/freezer combos full of Whole Foods delectables; manicured lawns for croquet surrounding terra cotta pools; superfood smoothies laced with plethora of vitamins and herbs; soaking in Clorox-laced bathtubs and tips on how to dose one’s body with ultraviolet showers.

    As we go further and further down the food chain and feeding trough, one more week of lock-down can parlay into more than ennui and cabin fever: for millions, one more week is less food, more anxiety, fear of the unknown, downright depression and suicidal tendencies.

    Being homeless in a Time of Covid highlights how unhealthy, psychologically-stressing, and legally-precarious these days are. There is no social distancing when six or seven people share a campfire, a can of beans and smokes.

    Now imagine that homelessness is coupled with the state of being homelandness.

    Lighting Up Latin America – Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Assn

    There should not be a question of legal or illegal immigration. People came and immigrated to this country from the time of the Indians. No one’s illegal. They should just be able to come.

    — Linda Ronstadt

    Linda Ronstadt has come a long way from home | Music | tucson.com

    Guatemalans might be staying four-families-to-a-beat-up-RV on the Oregon Coast, but not speaking English, appearing like “the other” and having not only no cash reserves but also zero confidence in accessing local (and governmental) food and financial aid add up to be literal hunger.

    Social Justice Starts with Who You Associate With!

    Ironically, I use singer Linda Ronstadt’s quote “declaring there are no illegal aliens” because after my family moved to the US from stints in the Azores, Germany, France and UK, we ended up in Tucson, Arizona of all places.

    I learned how to make tamales and mole from aunts and cousins of Linda’s. She even swept into one of these kitchen forays and planted a kiss on my forehead. Que lindo. Un chico hippie blanco haciendo tamales con mis tías (How cute. A white hippy boy making tamales with my aunties.)

    Her brother Peter was Tucson’s Police Chief when I was a reporter there and in southern Arizona. His policies were virtually hands-off on immigrants, with or without papers.

    I’ve been on this battle line for social justice in Latin America since age 19, when I was active as a student journalist and activist against US military aid to El Salvador and Guatemala. Then, a few years later, I was working in Southern Arizona as a reporter for a small newspaper group owned by a family. The two dailies — Bisbee Review &  Sierra Vista Dispatch — and a few other weeklies were run by two quirky brothers. My stories often times were front page doozies.

    Tombstone Epitaph Newspaper Building, 1927 | Special Collections

    It was a crazy time for a young newspaper journalist:  In the morning covering the Bisbee rose club, and then five hours later, on the scene covering the drug tunnel found connecting Agua Prieta with Douglas. Funky stories about fence-jumping turquoise pirates getting into abandoned mine shafts at the Copper Queen open pit, to covering one of the deepest exploratory oil wells our near Tombstone. Drug-running, gunrunning, and nuts and bolts county planning and zoning. I interviewed Jesse Jackson when he came out to our neck of the desert to help settle down the Cochise County Sheriff Department going after a group of African Americans they were serving papers on.

    Google: The Miracle Valley shootout and a confrontation between members of the Christ Miracle Healing Center and Church (CMHCC) and Cochise County law enforcement and Miracle Valley, Arizona.

    Kick-ass stuff for a reporter, having just gotten back from a year in Scotland and Europe, part of a trip to be a writer after spending four years at the University of Arizona, the college daily, and the school’s lab newspaper in Tombstone (The Epitaph).

    Just a few months after Europe, I was part of the news-gathering brethren penning these sorts of headlines: “Salvadorans Fight Over Urine . . .  14 Border Crossers Die in Arizona Desert, Organ Pipe National Monument.”

    That was July 5, 1980. I was 23 years old.

    Crossing Borders, Crossing Philosophical Lines

    I was in the thick of things journalistically, working with literally homeless-homelandless people, some individuals spending thousands of dollars to coyotes to get them across that bullshit borderline. Earlier, in my senior year of high school, I had met Chileans living in Tucson who were here through the good graces of activist miniseries. Because of these adults’ leftist college activities, union membership and outspoken positions against right-wing despotism and violence — the Pinochet years – many were imprisoned, and some lost loved ones and comrades to the general’s death squads.

    Eventually, I ended up in the Highlands of Guatemala, and along the US-Guatemala border. More than 200,000 Guatemalans were murdered in the dirty wars, a system of genocide fed by the USA and its “foreign” policies and School of the Americas at Fort Benning.

    Then, in El Paso two years later, I was a graduate student at the University, I worked with refugees at Ruben Garcia’s Annunciation House and wrote some stories for both the El Paso Times and the now defunct El Paso Herald-Post on the good work at Ruben’s sanctuary.

    Guatemala - Why Are So Many Guatemalans Migrating to the U.S. ...

    I taught college classes in prisons and also part of a college program for children of migrant workers.

    Ruben Garcia Opens The Door To Humanity | The City Magazine

    My tutelage in covering varying levels of homeless and homelandless was fast and furious!

    Fast-forward, and I skim through many years in activism — revolutionary social work, education, environmental journalism, more. I worked with adults living with developmental disabilities for United Cerebral Palsy of Southern Washington and Oregon, with Foster Youth teens as case manager for Life Works NW, and with homeless veterans and their families for the Salvation Army.

    Oh yeah, I was with Portland’s Big Kahuna of homeless and addiction services —  Central City Concern — as an employment counselor.

    I was working with people I consider to be brothers/sisters/comrades – “detritus” the rich, the beautiful people, mainstream and even social services folk might call them. Or I’ve heard “the dregs of society,” “bottom of the barrel,” and from those a bit more evolved on the human scale, “those disenfranchised humans.”

    In every case over the decades, I worked with people who either had no home (prison, transitional housing, foster homes are not homes) or who were looking for a better home than their dangerous and precarious situations beheld.

    Many moons have passed, and, lo and behold, I have been on the Oregon Coast with my spouse since December 2018, after going toe-to-toe with the “Starvation Army” in Beaverton on some really corrupt leadership decisions and dangerous situations in which these poverty pimps put both the clients and staff.

    One thing led to another. I was quickly working as a substitute K12 teacher in Lincoln County; I created my own column in the arts and entertainment rag, Oregon Coast Today; wrote for the Newport News Times (now it’s pro bono because of dropped ad revenues); and, now, going on one year, manage for both Lincoln and Jefferson counties an anti-poverty program for Family Independence Initiative.

    I am working with low income households in a state-supported social capital research project. Families or individuals living in Lincoln and Jefferson counties receive $840 each for a year to do monthly 10-minute “journaling.”

    Guatemala - Why Are So Many Guatemalans Migrating to the U.S. ...

    Love and Death in a Time of Panic-Demic!

    Things have changed since the SARS-CV-2, as the non-profit I work for as a 1099 contractor is now distributing (and helping other non-profits distribute) $32 million in places like Chicago, Boston, Seattle and Detroit. These are cash assistance lump sums: so-called unconditional cash transfers. Starbucks a la Schulz has thrown in with a $500-per-person Covid fund ($6 million total) for King County; and other cities like Boston, Chicago and Detroit are having FII move millions of bucks for each household to receive a $2,400 cash transfer.

    My months working with families, face to face, at various places like the housing authority’s Ocean Spray Family Center in Newport, and the libraries throughout the county, as well as Homeless Education Literacy Project, have put me front and center close to my roots in Mexico and Central America.

    I have talked to many immigrants who have come from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

    There is an underground labor network, shadow economy, cash under the table mode of work. There are people who are supporting Guatemalans with translators and help navigating the school systems for their children.

    Chapina Express - Los Angeles Food Trucks - Roaming Hunger

    Earth Day 2020 Zoomed

    I am also involved in the American Cetacean Society and other movements in the county tied to Surfrider beach clean-ups and the legal process of banning aerial spraying of agent orange-like herbicides onto clear-cuts. I was asked to be a speaker on the Zoom Earth Day 2020, and in that planning, it was obvious to me I was back with what I term Greenie Weenies/Meanies.

    I was told that “putting a downer” on the Zoom Earth Day event would be a no-no. This is the sort of group-think silliness and reckless false hope I have been dealing with since, err, I was 13 living in Paris with my mom and sister while my US Army old man was in Vietnam shooting brown people.

    Then, a day after that April 22 event, I end up talking to Ginger Gouveia, who is working with Guatemalans, who are homeless and precarious, AND starving in Lincoln County. Thanks to the deadly combination of Obama-Trump-ICE-Racism-Lockdown.

    This is really what ecological social justice is about. Nothing in the current mainstream and big green environmental movement in the USA gets the class divide, the power of poverty to tear at the soul of a country, the globe.

    And to cut into our Guatemalan neighbors.

    Trump threatens Guatemala after its court blocks asylum deal with ...

    Here’s Ginger’s letter to me:

    I am writing to you as a member the group, Acompañar Relief Fund.  We are concerned citizens who are seeking donations on behalf of immigrants who have lost their jobs and do not qualify for any assistance.  All of whom have been hard working asylum seekers with families.  Our focus is on providing as many families as we can with some food assistance.

    Since starting this fundraiser, we have been grateful for the generosity of our community, friends and families. The need is GREAT and our goal is to be able to include as many families as possible.  This population will not recover for many months and will not receive any financial assistance, no stimulus check and no unemployment. We are looking for ways to continue providing some support for as long as this financial disaster continues.

    This week we were able to give $60, or gift cards, as well as rice and beans and some Masa to 20 families.  The families with the greatest need are being referred by agencies working with them.

    Sincerely, Ginger Gouveia, Acompañar Coordinator

    “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” – Karl Marx

    Marx’s quote is taken out of context. He did see religion like opium which, of course, benefits for the sick and ailing —  it reduces people’s immediate suffering and provides them with pleasant illusions giving them the strength to carry on.

    Almost all Guatemalans coming to USA, Oregon and Lincoln county place religion as both panacea and strength, community and spiritual sustenance.  In the past few years many unaccompanied minors and women with children from Central America have been crossing the border (at a rate of 180,000 per year). These are Mayans. Not the gringo Latin Americans. These are the Native Americans.

    University of Oregon Professor Lynn Stephen has documented threats of violence, extortion, and torture against children and indigenous Guatemalan women whose husbands leave to go north:

    “They’re leaving them in vulnerable, unprotected positions in communities. If you don’t have a male protector, women and children may become marks.”  Hundreds have ended up in Lane County and many others are in the Portland area.

    “This is when it’s most amazing when it’s young people who are 15, 16, 14, deciding on their own to leave. My youngest son is 16. I can’t imagine what it would be like for him to make the journey,” Stephen said.

    Rising hate drives Latinos and immigrants into silence | Cronkite News

    These are cautious people, and the people working with refugees do not want to be named or identified in this anti-immigrant climate.

    Gangs in Guatemala keep tabs on the new arrivals: harassment and extortion are common for the families back home when the gangs find out money is being sent to Guatemala by those working and living in the US.

    Living close by, worshiping together, and being part of the shadow economy is how Guatemalans in Oregon survive, and thrive. Forming their own churches and then creating that kind of community is commonplace.

    Right now, in Lincoln County, there isn’t enough support coming in to support Guatemalans. Churches are asking for help, per Ginger’s plea for donations.

    No proporciona ningun beneficio en EUA….

    That was the public service announcement mantra under the Obama Administration – USA does not provide any benefits.

    U.S. pressure on Mexico to interdict refugees was pulled back for a few years and so many refugee workers have seen a new wave of Central Americans coming to Oregon. Many of those that got political asylum are still in Oregon.

    They set down roots, enroll kids in schools, become part of the fabric of our towns and cities. With the lockdown and pandemic hitting the world and here in Lincoln County, our Central American homelandless brothers and sisters are struggling. These are valuable humans on their own accord, but invaluable as part of our community.

    A while back, I read a letter to the editor of the Newport News Times railing against Oregon Coast Community College nominating an undocumented as Student of the Year. He was Guatemalan. He spoke eloquently at the podium why he came here and how he wanted to better his life.

    The letter writer bashed this young person’s character. He brought up the old canard of having no papers is breaking the law. He called it a slap in the face to all the students who go to the college who were here “legally.” He felt the Guatemalan college graduate should not have been recognized!

    In the end, we all are so-called illegal aliens – those with no Native American roots. That includes all the slaves forcefully brought to these shores. All those Spanish, French, Portuguese, and English armies and any number of people who immigrated here, either with paperwork or without.

    All uninvited guests with no preapproval and passports given to them by the great First Nations tribes.

    No one asked the Confederated Tribes of Siletz if the pioneers could come rushing into Oregon to steal their ancestral land.

    It is 2020, a year that beguiles us all. Certainly, many of us five decades ago had 2020 vision about what would happen under predatory-parasitic-casino-disaster-neoliberal-neocon capitalism.  Yet now, in this 21st Century, there is obvious myopia and, worse, enabled blindness when it comes to really deal with this pandemic fairly, justly: it takes a village, state and country to raise a community, and the same to deal with pandemics.

    I learn everyday from Guatemalans, including one of the country’s poets.

    • First, here are some Guatemala proverbs that say it all in a few words each –
    • Better to eat beans in peace than to eat meat in distress.
    • Do not bear ill will toward those who tell you the truth.
    • Everyone is the age of their heart.
    • It’s not the fault of the parrot, but of the one who teaches him to talk.
    • There’s no ill that doesn’t turn out for the better.
    • Your true enemy lives in your own house.

    Better yet, a poem by Guatemala’s most famous poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1967: Miguel Angel Asturias. According to The Review of Contemporary Fiction, “Asturia was a man who believed deeply in maintaining Native American culture in Guatemala, and who championed those who were persecuted. His literature was critically acclaimed, but perhaps not always appreciated. As an artist, his complexity is such that readers and critics often shy away from his elegant beauty.

    Caudal (The Fortune)

    To give is to love,
    To give prodigiously:
    For every drop of water
    To return a torrent.

    We were made that way,
    Made to scatter
    Seeds in the furrow
    And stars in the ocean.

    Woe to him, Lord,
    who doesn’t exhaust his supply,
    And, on returning, tells you:
    “Like an empty satchel

    Is my heart.”

    Miguel Ángel Asturias - Pueblo e Historia de Guatemala

    Cold War of Trump/Navarro v. China: More Dangerous than COVID-19

    It is getting ugly, extremely ugly.

    It is increasingly looking like a war – at least a new ‘cold’, ideological war.

    But in the shadow of COVID-19, it goes almost unnoticed.

    The blind horseman, who hates China intuitively, without knowing hardly anything about it, is leading the pack, pushing his president into a confrontation with the most populous country on Earth. His name is Peter Navarro.

    Not that the president is ‘innocent’. Under him, the White House has become a haven of bigotry, of anti-Chinese racist sentiments. Here, not only China, but also Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and Russia are hated. It was already converted into the global headquarters of the combat against the much more logical and humane, socialist, systems.

    Red warning lights are blinking. All indicators are pointing downwards; economic ones, social ones, as well as medical. More disastrous is domestic policy of the Empire, more aggressively it behaves towards the world. U.S. warships are repeatedly being deployed near Taiwan and the South China Sea. They are right near the territorial waters of Iran and Venezuela.

    And the insults, terrible insults, are flying.

    Trump and Navarro are abusing China publicly, with no shame. There is no diplomacy and no restraints. Nation which just a few months ago stood alone, facing an unknown enemy, battling and at great cost but rapidly defeated the pandemic all over its vast territory, is now smeared day after day.

    All this is being done shamelessly and arrogantly.

    The world is watching. Part of it in disbelief and outrage, and the other part lethargically and submissively as always.

    On April 19, 2020, the New York Post reported:

    White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Sunday called on China to prove that a Wuhan laboratory played no role in the coronavirus pandemic — and accused the nation of hoarding personal protective equipment and profiting off the outbreak.

    Navarro took aim at China on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” accusing the country of taking several actions that worsened the ongoing crisis and “led to the deaths of many people worldwide.”

    First of all, the virus was spawned in China. Second of all, they hid the virus behind the shield of the World Health Organization. The third thing they did was basically hoard personal protective equipment and now they’re profiteering from it,” Navarro said.

    U.S. President Trump, perhaps taking Navarro’s advice, has already cut all funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), something until recently unimaginable, considering that the Planet is in the middle of a war with the virus, and the WHO is at the frontline of it. But the WHO is being accused of “colluding with Communist China”, which this administration increasingly sees as its greatest enemy.

    One day later, on 20th April, 2020, Reuters carried a report about Peter Navarro’s accusation of China for withholding data on COVID-19:

    One of the reasons that they may not have let us in and given us the data on this virus early, is they’re racing to get a vaccine and they think this is just a competitive business race, it’s a business proposition so that they can sell the vaccines to the world,” Navarro told Fox Business Network.

    But we’re going to beat them. We’re going to beat them because of President Trump’s leadership. We’re going to beat them because HHS has already got a five-company horse race,” said Navarro, referring to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    The attacks against China are bordering on hysteria. Trump and his advisors appear to be thoroughly desperate.

    And this extreme desperation, this fear of losing a grip on power, all over the world, is extremely dangerous for the survival of humanity.

    China, but also Russia, have been extremely patient. They use diplomacy, instead of threats and insults. They are observing the behavior of the U.S. leaders with certain amusement, as if it was the behavior of a spoiled child who is throwing a tantrum. But their patience has boundaries. Once the U.S. attitude begins harming the lives of Chinese or Russian citizens, two big and independent countries will be forced to act. And the U.S. is pushing, as if, paradoxically, the confrontation was the only chance for its survival.

    It is pushing, provoking, on all fronts: from the South China Sea and Taiwan to Hong Kong, from Venezuela to Iran, from insulting China and Russia, to a bizarre battle already being fought on the COVID-19 front.

    One scratch, one tiny error in the Iranian territorial waters, or in the South China Sea, and the fragile peace may go up in flames. Nerves are stretched.

    The world had been tolerating, uneasily but tolerating, the aggressive behavior of Washington, for years and decades. But now, with the COVID-19 confusion, and with the imminent global economic and financial collapse, almost all countries are extremely edgy. This is not the same world as we knew it to be just a year ago. Trump, Navarro and the others in their ‘camp’ should pay close attention, if they want to avoid a global tragedy.

    Unfortunately, they do not seem to be trying to avoid a conflict. They are trying to provoke one, by all means!

    *****

    This has to be repeated, again and again: You cannot call China, a country which was first attacked by the coronavirus, and which defeated it, alone and with great determination and sacrifice, “a country which infected the world”, or “a country which is profiteering from the crisis”. That would be insane, incorrect, and thoroughly vulgar.

    If anything, China has helped almost the entire world to fight this pandemic. It also quickly shared expertise, and helped those nations which have been hit the most, with both advice and invaluable medical equipment.

    Statements such as those of the White House trade adviser Peter Navarro calling on China to prove that a Wuhan laboratory played no role in the coronavirus pandemic, are extremely irresponsible and dangerous, and could easily lead to dire consequences.

    Many experts worldwide, actually believe that it was the U.S. that brought the virus to China. Earlier, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian tweeted one of the theories, which says that it was the US military that brought the new coronavirus to the central city of Wuhan.

    But in the end, the Chinese officials decided not to point fingers in the direction of Washington, at least for now, as these are extremely explosive topics and exceptionally volatile times.

    The United States, however, has misread these wise and conciliatory moves of the Chinese government and the Communist Party, as weakness. It has turned the tables around, and began the lowest imaginable set of ideological attacks, obviously convinced of its invincibility.

    Eventually, Washington crossed all the lines. And now it has become almost certain that its propaganda salvos will not go unanswered.

    *****

    The attacks against China are unjust and racist.

    They smell of cultural supremacy and of a superiority complex.

    The Western world in general, and the United States in particular, have brought death and destruction to hundreds of millions of human beings, all over the world. Washington has no moral mandate to lecture any country on our planet, particularly not China, which has no history of imperialism or harming humanity.

    “Hiding facts”, or using chemical and biological warfare is something that is in line with Washington and its ‘foreign policy’. China has no chronicle of such behavior.

    One should just recall Indochina, Iraq, Cuba and many other places, to see what Washington is capable of.

    Both Trump and Navarro are thoroughly ignorant about China. Navarro’s lack of knowledge about the country he keeps smearing and provoking, has been exposed even by countless members of the (otherwise obedient) U.S. academia.

    For both Trump and Navarro, China is the most convenient political and economic punch bag. It is governed by the Communist Party, it is greatly successful, both economically and socially. And it owes its success to the enthusiasm and hard work of its people, not to colonialism or imperialism, not to the plundering of other nations. Therefore, it is offering a totally new alternative model to our planet. And alternatives are not allowed, by Washington, London and Paris.

    In summary: to the neocons and Western supremacists, China is the greatest nightmare. It clearly shows that different world is possible.

    *****

    The old fundamentalist ideological theology of the West reads: “If you cannot compete with it, smear it; destroy it!”

    By now, it is all way beyond even pretending there is something like fairness and ‘objectivity’. How Washington behaves, has nothing to do with the concern for our world, and for the people inhabiting it.

    It is all raw, brutal and bad-mannered. It is all about dominance; about not losing that dominance.

    Trump, Bolton, Pompeo, Navarro, Bannon… many others. They are present-day crusaders. Fighters for the white race, and the Western “culture” of expansionism. Their deeds are not often defined in this manner. But there is hardly any more honest way to describe what these individuals are trying to achieve.

    *****

    And the present pandemic? What is happening around us is predominantly not about saving lives. The fight against COVID-19 has become an ideological war, a murky economic war, not a war for the survival of millions of human beings.

    Again, and again, China, Russia as well as Cuba have clearly demonstrated where they stand. Their airplanes brought hope and desperately needed help. Grateful Italians sung the Chinese national anthem. Many in the U.S. began paying attention to Russian humanitarian airlifts. Cuba sent its legendary medical brigades to some of the hardest hit areas of the world.

    The response from the West? Ungrateful, repulsive cynicism. Even some Italian reporters opted for writing sarcastic pieces questioning the Russian and Chinese altruism.

    U.S. politicians were quick to begin disputing the fact that Russian aid to New York was fully free, or at least half free, in some cases.

    While Trump was snatching the deliveries of Chinese medical equipment bound for Germany and other countries, from transit airports in Thailand and elsewhere; while he was trying to literally bribe a German pharmaceutical company, so it would produce COVID-19 vaccine exclusively for the United States, while the EU showed no solidarity with Italy and other members when the solidarity was most needed, China, Russia and Cuba displayed grace under pressure, behaving like human beings, like responsible members of the international community.

    That, precisely that; this tremendous contrast between two world systems, during the hour of great global crises, had to be covered up by Washington, so, god forbid, the world would not notice that there is something essentially wrong with the North American and European imperialist regime, and its extreme, fundamentalist capitalism.

    People like Mr. Navarro or Mr. Trump cannot see the world in any other way, anymore; only through the paradigm of profits, control and supremacy. Instead of cleaning their own house, and improving their regime, they rather smear and attack those who are building a much better world.

    *****

    We are still not sure what real danger COVID-19 represents. We cannot precisely calculate the mortality rate, or spread of the pandemic. We can only guess how many millions of lives will be ruined by the global economic downfall.

    But we know what a confrontation between U.S. and China or between U.S. and Russia would bring.

    We also know what Washington’s novel Cold War combatants are counting on: that Beijing and Moscow (but also Teheran, and others) will accept anything; that in order to save the planet, they will always back up, trying to de-escalate tensions with the West. After all, it has been like that, up to now.

    But lines are being crossed.

    The recent statements, insults uttered by Trump and Navarro, accusing China of spreading the virus, or even manufacturing it in its labs, are pushing Beijing too far. It is like defying logic, and then spitting in the faces of the true victims, and those heroes who fought and died at the frontline in Wuhan, for their city, their country, and the world.

    Such lies, such insults can never be forgiven.

    What next? Washington may now impose more of the insane sanctions, then bring its NAVY to the South China Sea, or near Taiwan, and keep funding rioters in Hong Kong, as well as Uyghur terrorists in Syria… It is actually precisely what it is doing right now.

    But watch out! Trump and his people are playing with fire. They are not almighty, not anymore. A few weeks more of this, and they may inherit the storm, such a terrible storm, that it could make even COVID-19 look like a gentle breeze.

    • Originally published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook,  a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences

    Hating Arabs as a Common Ground: Why Israel’s Coalition Government is Likely to Survive

    Shortly after an agreement to form a “national emergency government” in Israel, leader of the Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) party, Benny Gantz, tweeted triumphantly that ‘democracy’ in Israel has been ‘safeguarded’.

    But how is a deal that would grant Israel’s right-wing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, a veto power over the very judicial system which will determine his fate, a form of democracy?

    In January, Netanyahu was indicted on multiple counts of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. His trial is scheduled for May 24.

    By making such an assertion, Gantz is simply deluding himself, following one the most disgraceful acts of political betrayal in the country’s modern history. By agreeing to join Netanyahu’s Likud party, Gantz has demolished his own parliamentary group which unified several major parties in one single bloc, all with the aim of removing Israel’s longest-serving leader from power.

    The Blue and White, which until recently consisted of three parties (Hosen Li-Israel, Yesh Atid and Telem), presented itself to Israeli voters as a political force that would finally restore some credibility to Israel’s ailing political institutions.

    Clearly, Israel was not ready for such a mission.

    It is convenient to blame Gantz for the collapse of Israel’s once-burgeoning opposition, but the problem with Israel’s political elites is far more complex than that of a single individual.

    Israeli leaders insist that democracy, transparency, and inclusion are achievable, even when millions of the country’s Arab citizens are marginalized and continue to be victims of institutional racism that dates back to the very foundation of Israel.

    In actuality, Gantz could have formed a government with the help of the Joint List, a coalition of Arab and progressive parties, which is the only Israeli political bloc that represents hope for a better, more inclusive future.

    The supposed Israeli ‘centrist’, however, opted to join Netanyahu – and to, consequently, alienate his own allies, Yesh Atid and Telem – than meet the reasonable conditions of the Joint List.

    The Joint List, which had eventually endorsed Gantz to form a government, had merely requested the removal of the Nation-State Law (which defines Israel as a Jewish State), the Kaminitz Law (which restricts building in Arab communities in Israel) and ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine, in accordance with international law.

    The Arab parties’ demands were simply too much for Gantz to handle, for several reasons.

    One, Gantz is essentially a right-wing politician and a military hawk, who favors the annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories and has called for even harsher wars on Gaza.

    Two, the Blue and White would have never been able to build a wider coalition if it adhered to any of these demands. This much was made clear by the head of Yisrael Beiteinu leader, Avigdor Lieberman.

    Three, Member of Knesset (Parliament) Zvi Hauser, one of the most influential figures of the Blue and White, is among the main forces behind the racist Nation State Law of July 2018. Expecting Hauser to cancel the jewel of his political achievements would be most unrealistic and would have further destabilized a party that has already lost nearly half of its supporters in a matter of days.

    Hauser is an interesting character, an ambitious politician and a person to watch, as he will play an important future role in Israel’s coalition government.

    Hauser will now become the “proverbial long arm of the Judicial Appointments Committee,” according to Yossi Verter, writing in Haaretz. This committee, in particular, was the main stumbling block in the difficult negotiations, which preceded the announcement of a government coalition deal between Gantz and Netanyahu.

    According to the deal, Netanyahu can accept or reject any of Hauser’s future appointments. Hauser is unlikely to find Netanyahu’s interference unacceptable, simply because he is used to the idea of being Netanyahu’s point man.

    Yes, indeed, Hauser entered public service in 1994 to serve as the Likud party’s spokesman under Netanyahu who, at the time, was the country’s opposition leader. In fact, Hauser’s political career throughout the years seems to be intrinsically linked to Netanyahu’s own.

    And here, yet, is another common ground between the Likud and the Blue and White, which could make the planned annexation of parts of the occupied Palestinian West Bank and Jordan Valley very much possible.

    The text of the coalition government agreement spoke of potential annexation of parts of the occupied territories as early as the summer, in accordance with the US President Donald Trump’s “Vision for Peace”.

    This understanding was by no means a concession on the part of Gantz, who, too, supports some form of annexation.

    That’s where Hauser’s role becomes vital once more, for it was Hauser himself who headed the ‘Coalition for the Israeli Golan’, which championed and promoted Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

    Hauser’s wish received a huge boost in March 2019, when Trump signed the order recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli.

    Despite its difficult birth and the Blue and White setback, the Netanyahu-Gantz coalition has more in common than meets the eye:

    For one, Gantz seems to have abandoned his strategy of getting rid of Netanyahu through the court system. With Hauser as a middle man, Netanyahu, at least for now, is somewhat safe.

    Secondly, not only is the annexation of Palestinian territories (despite strong Palestinian and international rejection to such a move) not a point of contention between the coalition partners, but a point of agreement as well.

    Thirdly, with Gantz’s rejection of a coalition that includes the Joint List, and Netanyahu’s complete disregard for the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians are entirely erased from the political map of Israel’s ruling elites. This is unlikely to change in the future as well.

    There is one positive aspect in Israel’s unpromising government coalition, and that is clarity. Knowing of Netanyahu’s anti-Palestinian, anti-peace, and anti-international law long legacy, we should have all the clarity needed to understand that no just peace can possibly be achieved when Netanyahu is still at the helm.

    The same can be said of Gantz as well, who preferred to willingly shake the hand of the devil than to find common ground among the leaders of Israel’s Palestinian Arab community.

    Even when Netanyahu’s eighteen-month term as Prime Minister expires, a Gantz-led Israeli government is unlikely to fare any better.

    If Farm Workers Are “Essential,” Why Are They Treated So Badly?

    On March 19, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, spurred to action by the coronavirus pandemic, issued a memorandum that identified the nation’s 2.5 million farm workers as “essential” workers.  Soon thereafter, agribusinesses began distributing formal letters to their farm laborers, also declaring that that they were “essential.”

    Of course, it shouldn’t have required a government-business effort to establish this point.  Without farm workers, there is no food.  And the American people need food to survive.

    But, remarkably, over the course of U.S. history, farm workers, although essential, have been terribly mistreated.  Whether as slaves, indentured servants, sharecroppers, or migrant laborers, these millions of hardworking people endured harsh and brutal lives, enriching others while living (and usually dying) in poverty.

    Nor is the situation very different today.  Farm labor remains hard, grinding physical toil, often requiring long hours of bending and repetitive motion to gather crops under conditions of extreme heat.  Back strain, poisoning by pesticides, and other injuries, sometimes leading to death, contribute to making agriculture one of the nation’s most hazardous industries.  Employment is often seasonal or otherwise precarious.

    Some problems hit portions of the farm labor force particularly hard.  Roughly half of all farm workers are undocumented immigrants, a status that places them in constant fear of being arrested, deported, and separated from their families.   Furthermore, women farm workers face high levels of sexual harassment, thereby confronting them with the difficult choice of reporting it and facing the possibility of being fired or remaining silent and allowing the harassment to continue.

    In recent decades, the federal government has prosecuted numerous growers and labor traffickers in the Southeastern United States for what one U.S. attorney called “slavery, plain and simple.”  These cases revealed farm workers were lured to the United States under false pretenses and, then, deprived of their passports, chained, held under armed guard, and forced to work.  If they refused, they were threatened with violence, beaten, drugged, raped, pistol whipped, and even shot.  In 2015, President Obama awarded the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which exposed these practices, the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts in Combatting Modern Day Slavery.

    Although people performing some of the hardest and most essential work in the United States certainly seem to deserve a break―or at least reasonable compensation―they have not received it.  In 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, a quarter of all farm workers had a family income below the official poverty level, while most of the others teetered just above it.  Most of them were forced to rely on at least one public assistance program.  Even after some of the more progressive states raised the state minimum wage, the average wages of farm workers remained abysmal.  In 2019, they earned only a little more than half the hourly pay rate of all American workers.

    Moreover, they now face enormous danger from the coronavirus pandemic.  Greg Asbed, a leading voice for agricultural laborers, has pointed out that, for farm workers, “the two most promising measures for protecting ourselves from the virus and preventing its spread―social distancing and self-isolation―are virtually impossible.”  Many farm workers live, crowded together, in decrepit, narrow trailers or barracks, ride to and from their workplaces in crowded buses, have little access to water and soap once in the fields, and cook and shower in the same cramped housing facility.  Rapid contagion is almost inevitable, and very few have access to healthcare of any kind.

    Despite the heightened danger, though, working―even working while sick―is the only practical option for farm workers, for, given their impoverishment, they cannot afford to be unemployed.  Very few receive paid sick days.  Some, to be sure, will be assisted by the one-time $1,200 payment Congress voted for members of low and middle income families.  But undocumented workers, who constitute so many of the nation’s millions of farm workers, are excluded from the provisions of that legislation.  Nor are undocumented workers eligible for unemployment insurance―although, of course, they pay the taxes that fund these programs, as well as the programs that are now bailing out America’s multi-billion dollar industries.

    Meanwhile, the Trump administration is getting set to deliver yet another blow to farm workers.  Almost a tenth of that work force is comprised of Mexican guest workers, legally admitted to the United States for short periods under the U.S. Agriculture Department’s H-2A program.  As America’s big agricultural growers are perennially short of laborers to harvest their crops, they have pressed hard for the admission of these guest workers.  But they dislike the fact that, to avoid undercutting the wages of American workers, the H-2A program sets the wage level for guest workers at local American wage standards.  And in states like California, the state’s rising minimum wage has lifted the wages of farm workers considerably beyond the pitiful federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.  As a result, the growers have fought for years to reduce the wages paid to guest workers.  Finally, in April 2020, the news broke that their dream of cheap labor would soon be realized, for the Trump administration is now laying plans to lower the guest worker wage rate to $8.34 an hour.  These plans, made at the same time that farmers and ranchers are about to receive a $16 billion federal bailout, will cut between $2 and $5 per hour from the pay of guest farm workers.

    Naturally, small labor organizations like the United Farm Workers, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee are fiercely resisting the continued exploitation of the 2.5 million people who grow and harvest America’s food.  But there are severe limits to their power, given the greed of the agribusiness industry, plus the nakedly pro-business policies of the Trump administration and its Republican allies in Congress and many states.  For the time being, at least, farm workers seem likely to remain essential, but expendable.