Japanese militarism getting worse

Pictures from Japanese neo-Nazi Kazunari Yamada’s website show him posing with Shinzo Abe’s internal affairs minister, Sanae Takaichi, and his party’s then policy chief, Tomomi Inada

These pictures from Japanese neo-nazi Kazunari Yamada’s website show him posing with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s internal affairs minister, Sanae Takaichi, and Abe’s party’s then policy chief, Tomomi Inada; now minister of war … sorry for forgetting to use the euphemism ‘defence’ … of Japan.

By Peter Symonds:

Japanese imperialism rearms

24 March 2017

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is exploiting the extremely tense situation on the Korean Peninsula to push for its military to be able to carry out “pre-emptive” strikes on an enemy such as North Korea. The acquisition of offensive weapons, such as cruise missiles, for the first time since the end of World War II would be another major step by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to rearm Japan, heightening the danger of war.

Commenting on North Korean missile tests, Defence Minister Tomomi Inada suggested on March 9 that Japan could acquire the capacity for “pre-emptive” attacks. “I do not rule out any method and we consider various options, consistent of course with international law and the constitution of our country,” she said.

Hiroshi Imazu, chairman of the LDP’s policy council on security, was more forthright: “It is time we acquired the capacity. I don’t know whether that would be with ballistic missiles, cruise missiles or even the F-35 [fighter], but without a deterrence North Korea will see us as weak.” The policy council plans to submit a proposal in the current parliamentary session with a view to its inclusion in the next five-year defence plan.

Inada’s caveat notwithstanding, the purchase of weapons of aggression would openly breach Article 9 of the Japanese post-war constitution, which renounces “war … and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes” and declares that “land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.” Such a move would also dispense with the longstanding legal fig leaf that Japan’s existing military forces are purely for self-defence.

To date, Japanese governments have baulked at the acquisition of obviously offensive weapons, such as ballistic missiles, aircraft carriers and long-range bombers, not least because of widespread anti-war opposition among Japanese workers and youth. On Wednesday, however, Japan commissioned the Kaga, its second helicopter carrier. The ships are the largest put into operation by the Japanese military since World War II and could be modified to carry fighter aircraft.

The Abe government, the most right-wing in post-war history, has greatly accelerated the drive to remilitarise Japan and remove legal and constitutional restraints on its armed forces. Since coming to office in 2012, Abe has used the slogan of “pro-active pacifism” to justify increased military budgets, the establishment of a US-style National Security Council to centralise war planning in the prime minister’s office and a shift in the strategic focus of the military from the north to the southern island chain, adjacent to the Chinese mainland.

Abe underscored his confrontational stance toward Beijing at the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos where he drew a false comparison between China today and German imperialism in 1914 so as to brand China as “aggressive” and “expansionist.” He deliberately heightened the dangerous standoff with China over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islets in the East China Sea by insisting his government would not enter negotiations over their status with Beijing.

In 2015, the Abe government provoked huge protests against legislation that, under the deceptive banner of “collective self-defence,” allows the Japanese military to participate in US-led wars of aggression.

Abe has campaigned on the program of making Japan “a normal nation” with a strong military—in other words, for Japanese imperialism to prosecute its strategic and economic interests through all, including military, means. The LDP is pushing for a complete revision of the constitution, including the modification or removal of Article 9. The document has long been regarded in right-wing militarist circles as an “occupiers’ constitution” drawn up by the United States to render Japan impotent.

Abe and his cabinet have very strong links to ultra-right groupings such as Nippon Kaigi, which campaigns for a new constitution, promotes militarism and patriotism, and seeks to whitewash the crimes of Japanese militarism in the 1930s and 1940s. Nippon Kaigi’s parliamentary grouping includes 280 of the 717 parliamentarians in the lower and upper houses. Significantly, Abe is a special adviser to the organisation and 16 of his 20-member cabinet are members. He is now embroiled in scandal over claims that his wife, allegedly acting on his behalf, gave a cash donation to the ultra-nationalist operator of a private kindergarten in Osaka that indoctrinates pre-school children in Japanese patriotism.

The drive to remilitarise is being fuelled by the worsening crisis of Japanese and world capitalism, and the deep concern in Japanese ruling circles about the country’s historic decline, underlined by its relegation to the third largest world economy, behind China. As well as boosting the military, Abe has sought to extend Japanese influence, including military ties, especially in Asia, through the most active diplomatic drive of any post-war prime minister.

The Abe government has prosecuted remilitarisation under the umbrella of the US-Japan military alliance and with the active support of Washington. In part, this is to avoid stirring up memories of Japan’s wartime atrocities in Asia and generating opposition in the region to Japanese imperialism. Abe has also sought to continue to work closely with the Trump administration. He was one of the first world leaders to visit Trump after the US election, and again after Trump took office.

Trump’s installation, however, has profoundly destabilised world politics, including in Asia. His repudiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was a blow to the Abe government, which had invested considerable political capital in overcoming opposition within the LDP, in order to ensure its ratification. Abe regarded the economic pact as critical to countering Chinese economic clout, ensuring a dominant position in Asia for Japan, in league with the US, and overcoming the protracted stagnation of the Japanese economy.

Moreover, Trump’s “America First” demagogy and threats of trade war have not just been directed against China. He has a long history of denouncing Japan for its trade surplus with the United States and “unfair” trade practices. During the US presidential election campaign, Trump also called into question the US-Japan Security Treaty, threatening to walk away if Japan did not pay more toward the cost of US military bases in the country. He even suggested that Japan should protect itself by building its own nuclear weapons.

As in Europe, all the geo-political fault lines that led to two disastrous world wars in the 20th century are emerging again. The Abe government’s determination to rearm Japan as rapidly as possible is not about countering the “threat” posed by North Korea, but defending the interests of Japanese imperialism by every means, compounding the danger of war. As in the 1940s, intense rivalry for markets, raw materials and cheap labour could fuel trade conflicts between US and Japan and a competition to dominate Asia, ending in a catastrophic war that would inevitably engulf the region and the world.

After London atrocity, no to racism, war

This video says about itself:

23 March 2017

In London a vigil is underway for the victims of Wednesday’s attack.

People have been gathering at Trafalgar Square to pay tribute to them.

Among the victims. 48 year old Keith Palmer, the unarmed police officer who was fatally stabbed as he stood guard at an entrance to parliament. Another victim, was 43-year-old Aysha Frade, She was on her way to collect her two daughters, who are seven and nine years old.

From TIME magazine:

Sughra Ahmed, a Muslim woman who traveled from northwest England for the vigil, said she’d been reduced to tears on the square by a woman who embraced her.

“Britain is one,” she said. “An attack on one is an attack on us all.”

MORE THAN £100,000 was raised online by yesterday afternoon for the family members of those murdered in Wednesday’s Westminster terrorist attack: here.

So far, there are only speculations, no facts about the motives of the perpetrator of this atrocity. Maybe we will never know. He killed and was killed without leaving any message as far as we know now. He had a history of involvement with drugs. Did that play any role?

From the Stop the War Coalition in Britain:

22 March 2017

Stop the War condemns the attacks at Westminster today. There can be no justification for the attacks on ordinary people in the street and those working in or providing security in the palace of Westminster. Our thoughts are with all those killed, injured or caught up in the incident. The police have said that they have designated this as a terrorist attack, and it shares some of the features of other such attacks across Europe recently.

Stop the War opposes the wars in the Middle East and South Asia. We believe that these have led to an increase in terrorism which has made life more dangerous not just for people in those regions, but in Britain as well. We have to oppose terrorism but also confront the issues which help to fuel it, and search for a peaceful and just solution to the problems of the Middle East. The role of our government should be to urgently look for such solutions, and not to maintain its involvement in wars which are helping to create this instability around the world.

By Julie Hyland in Britain:

Westminster attacker was known to British intelligence

24 March 2017

Much remains unclear about the terror attack on Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament in London that left five people dead and at least 40 others injured, some critically.

Unusually, it took more than 24 hours for the alleged perpetrator to be named. Khalid Masood, 52, a British citizen born in Kent and thought to have been living in the West Midlands, was killed in the incident.

Just before 3pm on Wednesday, he had driven a rented SUV at speed across Westminster Bridge, knocking pedestrians over, and causing one to jump into the River Thames, before the car struck a perimeter wall at the Houses of Parliament. He then jumped from his vehicle and attempted to force his way through an unlocked gate, fatally stabbing PC Keith Palmer with an 8-inch blade before he was shot by an armed police officer. He died later in hospital.

Parliament was placed on lockdown for several hours, and Prime Minister Theresa May was rushed to safety as armed police searched the building.

In her lunchtime statement before a reconvened Commons on Thursday, May only confirmed that the assailant was a British-born male who had acted alone. He was known to the domestic intelligence agency MI5, although only as a “peripheral figure,” and he was not “part of the current intelligence picture.”

Some 3,000 Britons are thought to be on MI5’s anti-terror surveillance list, but it appears Masood was not among them. May said that his identity was known to the police and security services and that, when “operational considerations allow,” he would be identified. He had once been investigated by MI5 in relation to “concerns about violent extremism.”

According to the Guardian, the original text issued by Number 10 said only that he had been investigated over such concerns, but not by whom. May did not state what these concerns were based on, or whether the subject had ever been arrested. According to subsequent reports, Masood had previous convictions for assault, criminal damage and possession of offensive weapons, but none for terror-related offences.

The patchiness of the prime minister’s statement was underscored by her assertion that the “working assumption” was that the attacker was “inspired by Islamist ideology,” but police “have no reason to believe there are imminent further attacks on the public.”

Despite this, police raided at least six properties in Birmingham, London and elsewhere, making eight arrests.

May also stated that in the absence of “specific intelligence” that a further attack is imminent, the UK’s security level would not be raised and would remain at “severe.” Police patrols would be increased across the country as a “precautionary measure,” including armed police in major cities.

May struck a Churchillian pose, warning that in the face of the terrorists’ efforts to “silence our democracy,” the “oldest of parliaments” would not be cowed and that British “democracy and the values it entails will always prevail.”

There is something profoundly distasteful about the use of such a horror for political grandstanding. The reality is that the MPs gathered in Westminster were probably the safest people in the country at that moment. The Houses of Parliament is the most heavily fortified building in London, complete with concrete bollards, barriers and heavily armed police officers.

Masood only managed to attack PC Palmer because a side gate had been left unlocked. If not, he would have turned his knife, not just his car, on people outside parliament.

Wednesday’s tragedy follows a pattern seen in Germany, France, Belgium and elsewhere.

A lone operative, known to the security services, launches an attack using a lorry, car, knife or some other unsophisticated weaponry to deadly effect. Once again, it is those going quietly about their daily lives who are the victims.

In Wednesday’s incident, these included Aysha Frade, a college worker, and American tourist Kurt Cochran, celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary with his wife, who was injured in the attack. The fifth deceased individual was identified Thursday evening as a 75-year-old man.

In addition to the 12 Britons admitted to hospital, the injured include three French children, two Romanians, two Greeks, one Italian, one Pole, one German, one Irish, four South Koreans, one Chinese, one Italian and one American.

May’s statement, like the wall-to-wall media coverage, is aimed not at uncovering the truth of this incident, its origins and implications, but at concealing, confusing and ultimately silencing any discussion.

Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian wrote, “The bastion of politics now has a human face, as vulnerable as the rest of us to an act of murderous violence.”

Westminster, like “Washington, DC” or “Brussels”, had been shorthand for a “loathed political establishment or distant, overmighty government,” he wrote. Wednesday changed this. MPs “locked in” the Commons chamber trying desperately to contact loved ones, or the images of Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood giving CPR to PC Palmer; all contributed to parliament being “seen not as the widely despised bastion of the political class, but a real place inhabited by office workers, tourists, security guards and groups of visiting schoolchildren.”

Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon summed up the purpose of such wishful prattle, insisting that acts of terror were the responsibility only of the individuals who carried them out. …

The refusal to consider any political or social impulses for terror attacks goes hand-in-glove with the efforts to rehabilitate the discredited and loathed ruling elite, and to excuse the role its wars have played in fostering Islamist terrorism.

Just as the incident unfolded, foreign ministers from 68 countries were gathering in the US to step up their military intervention in Iraq, Syria and Libya. The day before, it was reported that a US-led airstrike had struck a school building in Raqqa, the ISIS capital of Syria, killing more than 33 people. Days earlier, a US strike on a mosque complex in the northwest of the country killed at least 52 people.

While there are no public reports of British involvement in these attacks, in December 2015 parliament voted to authorise UK military airstrikes in Syria.

Then there is the alliance between the US and the UK alongside Saudi Arabia and others, in financing, arming and training Islamic extremists in Syria, Libya and Iraq as its suits their interests. Not only does this increase the danger of terrorism, such reckless actions threaten a global conflagration. But any discussion on these questions is being ruled out of order.

Instead, the UK government follows Trump’s White House in imposing ever more worthless “security” restrictions, such as insisting laptops and tablets carried on certain airlines from specified airports be placed in the hold, rather than in the cabin. This is accompanied by shrill demands for greater police powers.

Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper demanded a massive increase in armed police, while the Daily Mail argued that such attacks make it seem “increasingly perverse to deny the authorities power to eavesdrop on our electronic communications for the purpose of protecting the public.”

As for Freedland and Corbyn’s calls for unity and solidarity, in reality the attack is being used to create an atmosphere redolent of the vicious anti-Muslim campaigns underway in the US, France, Germany, the Netherlands and elsewhere.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Katie Hopkins said London is a “city of ghettoes behind a thin veneer of civility kept polished by a Muslim mayor [Labour’s Sadiq Khan].” She described a “war” taking place in the country, between “those who think it is more important to tip-toe around the cultures of those who choose to join us, rather than defend our own culture.”

Candles at the Trafalgar Square vigil

By Lamiat Sabin and Steve Sweeney in Britain:

We Won’t Let the Racists Divide Us

Friday 24th March 2017

Britain responds to the far-right trying to whip up hatred after the Westminster attack

FAR-RIGHT efforts to exploit the Westminster attack yesterday were overshadowed by calls for unity.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, London’s first Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan, Stand Up to Racism, anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate and the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) urged British people to resist being divided by racial and religious hatred.

Despite wide condemnation of the attack from the Muslim community, including from MCB which described it as “cowardly and depraved,” Stand Up to Racism said that fascist mob Britain First has already jumped to “call a march in London to spew their racism, hatred and division.”

Mr Corbyn urged people not to rush to judgement about Wednesday’s incident in which four people died — a policeman, a teacher from Spain, a tourist from the US and the attacker.

A Kent-born man — named as 52-year-old Khalid Masood, who had a history of convictions including for assault, weapon possession and public order offences — drove a rented car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing it into the fence around Parliament.

He then ran into an out-of-bounds area of the parliamentary estate where he fatally stabbed one officer and tried to attack another before being shot several times by police.

The Labour leader paid tribute to Keith Palmer — the officer who was stabbed to death — the security services and NHS workers who took care of the injured and dying.

“We are united by our humanity and by our democratic values and by that human impulse of solidarity to stand together in times of darkness and adversity.”

His sentiments were shared by Mr Khan. Speaking on Sky News, the London mayor said that such attackers “hate the fact that in London, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, those who are members of organised faith and those who aren’t, don’t simply tolerate each other, we respect each other, we celebrate each other, we embrace each other.

“In the past we have risen, we’ve shown our resilience, we’ve returned to work and returned to normality. We have done it in the past and we will do it again now.”

The Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend), a community-funded NGO dedicated to tackling Islamophobia, expressed shock and sorrow over the incident and paid tribute to the emergency services.

“The Palace of Westminster is the centre of our democracy and we must all ensure that it continues to serve our country and its people with safety and security.”

Hope Not Hate wrote in a statement: “In the coming hours and days, there will be some who call for more hatred. Who want nothing more than to meet violence with violence. That is the path to ruin.”

These statements were made after the former leader of far-right group the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson, took to the streets of Westminster to spread hate against Muslims.

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage also sunk to a new low when he blamed support for multiculturalism for creating a “fifth column” of terror supporters in Western societies.

… And he praised US President Donald Trump for trying to implement his Muslim ban.

In a bizarre string of Facebook comments, Cambridge Labour county councillor Peter Sarris called for the introduction of internment — the detention of people without trial, as was used against Irish Catholic and nationalist communities during the Troubles.

Stand Up to Racism and Mend have called a vigil outside Downing Street at 6pm today.

Muslims at the Trafalgar Square vigil

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Friday 24th March 2017

RELIGIOUS leaders and experts described the Westminster terror attack as a “perversion” of Islam yesterday.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, said every ideology, whether religious or secular, has contained elements of extremism, so Muslims should not be blamed for what happened on Wednesday.

He said: “There is no space for hatred for those who are our friends, for hatred for the Muslim population in general in this country — no reprisals, no sense that we are targeting our condemnation at anybody other than those who perpetrate these things.”

Muslim leaders also condemned the attack, insisting it had nothing to do with Islam. Islamic law expert Mustafa Baig, a lecturer in Islamic studies at Exeter University, said British Muslims should not be “wrongfully blamed for acts that they themselves condemn.”

Calling on people to “stand together” with British Muslims, he said: “This grotesque act of violence was a perversion of the teachings of Islam.”

This Hope not Hate video from Britain says about itself:

24 March 2017

Stand together to spread a message of hope with Brendan Cox

whose wife, Labour MP Jo Cox, was murdered by a white supremacist pro-South African apartheid Islamophobe

and Mike Haines, whose brother David was murdered by ISIS.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Don’t Give Way To Hate

Friday 24th March 2017

JEREMY CORBYN’S insistence that we must not allow “fear or the voices of hatred to divide or cow us,” following the deadly events in Westminster, is wise advice.

His counsel of unity and letting the police carry out their responsibilities without a chorus of ill-judged allegations and supposition meets the needs of the situation.

It stands in contrast to the usual self-publicist renta-gob politicians and commentators who are happy to exploit other people’s grief to peddle their divisive obsessions.

Most politicians have followed advice to adopt a united and dignified attitude towards Wednesday’s unmitigated horror.

They have pointed to the magnificent response by the emergency services and NHS health professionals to events as they unfolded and paid tribute to unarmed police officer Keith Palmer who was murdered as he carried out his duties outside Parliament.

Morally stunted individuals of the ilk of Nigel Farage, Arron Banks and Katie Hopkins blame multiculturalism and mass immigration for “inviting in terrorism.”

They propagate the slander that Muslims and their religion, Islam, are directly or indirectly to blame for an atrocity committed by an individual.

In perpetrating this lie, they ignore the reality that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Britain share a similar approach to life, family, friends and neighbours as everyone else.

Farage’s associate Paul Nuttall accepts that only a “tiny fragment” of the Muslim community in this country has been radicalised.

But even then he can’t help attempting to smear all Muslims by concluding that even a lone wolf’s plans would have been shared by other people and adding: “I just wonder whether more could have been done to stop them.”

His demand that Muslim communities “do more to root out this cancer of radicalisation” amounts to guilt by religious association.

Local Muslim associations across Britain are engaged in constant struggles against those who would tarnish a religion that its believers characterise as peaceful by adopting the hateful views of a death cult.

Even unapologetic arch-war criminal Tony Blair has acknowledged the link between radicalisation and the anger and resentment generated by a succession of Western-directed or backed wars against Muslim states in north Africa and the Middle East.

Yet it is remarkable how few British Muslims have been seduced to enrol in the ranks of the Islamic State (Isis) fanatics who proclaim their goal of rolling back the centuries to create a caliphate of their own imagining.

Much more representative of Muslims in Britain is the swiftly set-up group Muslims United for London that collected £3,000 in its first hour of existence to support the families of those murdered or maimed in Westminster.

The same applies to the Muslim Council of Britain and the Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) organisation working with Stand up to Racism for tonight’s unity vigil in Whitehall.

Their priority is to bring everyone together in opposition to hatred and fear, to racism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia and every other shameful pretext to sow division and discrimination.

Those who reach with a knee-jerk reaction towards their pet bugbears of multiculturalism and immigration to justify scapegoating entire communities are objectively allies of Isis.

They have a shared distrust of and antipathy towards a society in which people from many different backgrounds are not only tolerant but mutually respectful, living in peace, love and friendship alongside each other.

The views of the hate purveyors are outdated and will never achieve dominance as long as people stand up, speak out and refuse to be intimidated.

The far right wants to exploit the Westminster attack. London won’t let it, by Nesrine Malik: here.

BRITISH AUTHORITIES: NO EVIDENCE LONDON TERRORIST HAD CONNECTIONS WITH AL QAEDA, ISIS The senior national coordinator for U.K. counter-terrorism policing also said there was no evidence Khalid Masood was radicalized in prison. [Reuters]

London attack perpetrator was monitored by British intelligence six years ago: here.

Syrian refugee artist donates work in Scotland

This video from England says about itself:

27 August 2014

‘Syria’s Apex Generation’, an exhibition featuring recent works by artists Nihad Al Turk, Abdul Karim Majdal Al-Beik, Othman Moussa, Mohannad Orabi, and Kais Salman. Curated by art historian and Ayyam Gallery Artistic Director Maymanah Farhat, the exhibition will spotlight a new school of Syrian painting in the midst of expansion despite the disintegration of the Damascus art scene, its original centre. This multi-venue group show will be held at Ayyam Gallery’s London location from 7 August until 12 September.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Syrian artist donates work to thank supporters

Thursday 23rd March 2017

A SYRIAN artist who came to live in Scotland as a refugee has donated some of his work to a charity auction to thank those who helped him.

Nihad Al Turk, who had won awards for his artwork in Syria, came to Edinburgh in 2015 on the first flight for refugees from Lebanon.

With support from The Leith School of Art (LSA), Mr Al Turk created a mural to mark Refugee Week.

His work features mythological creatures, used as metaphors for his experiences of war in Syria.

Speaking through an interpreter, he said: “I worked hard for many years to build my career as an artist at home. But the war meant all that was lost and it became too dangerous to stay there.

“My aim is to start all over again and build my reputation in this new country that has been so kind to us.”

He has donated three works to an auction to raise funds for LSA outreach programmes.

Racist murders African American in New York City

This video from the USA says about itself:

22 March 2017

A 28-year-old white man from Baltimore accused of stabbing a 66-year-old black man to death traveled by bus to New York City to the “media capital of the world” to make the biggest splash he could, police officials said. James Harris Jackson turned himself in at a Times Square police station Wednesday morning and was arrested on a charge of murder, two days after his victim, Timothy Caughman, staggered into a police precinct bleeding to death, said Assistant Chief William Aubrey.

From Associated Press in the USA:

Sword death of black man is “assault” on diversity, New York officials say

Published March 23, 2017

NEW YORK – New York City officials are calling the death of a black man who they say was repeatedly stabbed with a sword by a white U.S. Army veteran

Maybe infected with racism, or already existing racism reinforced, by nazi fellow soldiers; to whom the gates of the United States armed forces were opened by the George W Bush administration which wanted more recruits for its Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Or maybe a cavalier attitude to ‘foreign’ human lives in the United States occupation armed forces in Afghanistan, in which this murderer served, contributed to this crime.

from Baltimore, “an assault” on the city’s inclusiveness and diversity.

James Harris Jackson took a bus to New York to target black men when he encountered Timothy Caughman, who was collecting bottles from trash cans, and stabbed him in his chest and back with a 26-inch sword, Assistant Chief William Aubrey said. Jackson, 28, had been wandering the streets in a long overcoat, which concealed the sword, Aubrey said.

He turned himself in at a Times Square police station early Wednesday, about 25 hours after the wounded Caughman staggered into a police precinct.

Jackson, who was arrested on suspicion of murder, told police that he had harbored feelings of hatred toward black men for at least 10 years, authorities said. He traveled to New York on March 17 and had been staying in a Manhattan hotel.

“The reason he picked New York is because it’s the media capital of the world and he wanted to make a statement,” Aubrey said.

Caughman, who was 66 years old and lived nearby in a transitional house, was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. According to his Twitter page, he was an autograph collector and a music and movie lover who tweeted about John Lennon, Chuck Berry and the best St. Patrick’s Day writing. He said that he wanted to visit California someday.

After the attack, Jackson went to the bathroom of a nearby restaurant and washed off the blood from the killing, authorities said.

Investigators said they believed Jackson was considering other attacks, but surrendered after noticing his photo in media reports. He had two knives and told investigators where they could find the sword, which was later retrieved from a trash can not far from the scene, police said.

Video surveillance captured Jackson in the days leading up to the attack, and investigators said he had walked purposefully toward a black man, but did not attack him.

It was not immediately clear if Jackson had a lawyer who could comment on the case. He said nothing to reporters as he was led from a police station. A call to his family’s home phone rang unanswered.

A former neighbor who tangled with Jackson over an apartment in Baltimore recalled him as “a piece of work” who fell months behind on rent.

“He’s just one of those people that you wish you never met,” said Marcus Dagan, who had been informally managing the building on behalf of its then-owner and took Jackson to court over the rent.

Dagan said Jackson moved out in 2015 without paying.

When Jackson moved in in 2014, he indicated he was a military veteran and was in college, studying toward becoming a lawyer, Dagan said. Jackson left behind a collection of war movies in the apartment, the former neighbor said.

Jackson was in the Army from March 2009 to August 2012 and worked as a military intelligence analyst, the Army said. Deployed in Afghanistan from December 2010 to November 2011, he earned several medals and attained the rank of specialist.

The circumstances of his discharge are unclear; the Army cites privacy laws that prevent releasing such details.

Bias attacks have more than doubled this year in New York, and there have been nine bias crimes against black people reported, up from five in the same time period last year.

“We are a safe city because we are inclusive. We are a nation of unrivaled strength because we are diverse,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement condemning the attack. “No act of violence can undermine who we are.”

WHITE MAN WHO PROWLED THE STREETS OF NYC ‘TO KILL AS MANY BLACK MEN AS HE COULD’ Before allegedly fatally stabbing a black New Yorker will face terrorism charges. [HuffPost]

Trump’s air force kills Syrian civilians

This video says about itself:

27 October 2016

Around 300 civilians were killed in eleven airstrikes conducted by the US-led coalition in Syria, which Amnesty International investigated for its latest report. Amnesty says the US must come clean about the civilian toll of its fight in Syria.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

More than thirty civilian deaths in air strike on Syria

Today, 10:02

In an airstrike on Monday at least 33 refugees were killed in northern Syria, who were housed in a school building. This reports the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights …

The Syrian state news agency Sana also reports the massacre was in Mansur, an area in ISIS hands. According to the Observatory, the coalition led by the US against ISIS is responsible for the attack.

Usually, the Observatory is pro-NATO countries’ military intervention in Syria, against the Damascus government.

In the school are said to be housed forty families fleeing the war. Among the victims are women and children. …

And in Afrin [in Syria] ten Kurdish civilians were wounded after Turkish troops had fired at several villages in the region. Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish fighters to be terrorists, although they – like Turkey – fight extremist organizations like ISIS.

Turkish Erdogan regime opposition to ISIS and similar jihadists is very recent, as the regime used to be allies with them. Unfortunately, not only the Erdogan regime considers Syrian (and Turkish) Kurds to be ‘terrorists’. Turkey being a NATO member state, NATO supports Turkish armed forces violence in Syria, and other NATO governments consider Kurds to be ‘terrorists’ as well.

Trump against education, demonstrators against Trump

This video from the USA says about itself:

Public (School) Enemy No. 1: Billionaire Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Pick for Education Secretary

1 December 2016

Donald Trump has tapped conservative billionaire Betsy DeVos to serve as Education Secretary. DeVos is the former chair of the Michigan Republican Party and a longtime backer of charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools.

In response, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said, “In nominating DeVos Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America.” Since 1970, the DeVos family has invested at least $200 million in various right-wing causes. DeVos’s father-in-law is the co-founder of Amway and her brother is Erik Prince, founder of the mercenary firm Blackwater. For more, we speak to former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, Center for Media and Democracy executive director Lisa Graves, and elected member of the Detroit Board of Education Tawanna Simpson.

By Esther Galen in the USA:

Trump’s voucher plan and the right-wing campaign to destroy public education

Part one

21 March 2017

President Trump’s budget proposal released Thursday cuts $9.2 billion from Department of Education funding. But there is one funding boost, the only increase in funding for domestic social programs in the entire Trump budget: a $1.4 billion increase for “school choice” programs. This includes $1 billion for the promotion of school vouchers, where families are given a set amount of money, which they can spend on private, charter, religious or even online schools.

Trump proposed $20 billion for school vouchers during his campaign last fall. He did not present any details except to say the funds would come from existing federal dollars spent on education. During his inaugural address, Trump denounced the public school system, saying it was “an education system, flushed with cash” that “leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge.”

The president is determined to accelerate the decades-long campaign, pursued by Democratic and Republican administrations alike, to dismantle public education and funnel even more money into the hands of private business interests. In choosing billionaire Betsy DeVos for secretary of education, Trump has selected someone with a clear record of seeking to destroy public education.

The United States government is in the process of turning back the clock for public education. CEOs of the largest corporations, the Democrats and Republicans, and the courts all agree that society does not have an obligation to provide all students with a high-quality education.

The mantra of “school choice” means that the capitalist market should determine how—and whether—students get educated. Parents, as “consumers,” will have a choice as to where they send their children to be educated and evaluate what they bought. If they’re not happy with the school giving the education they purchased, they can look for another one, as though they were buying a pair of shoes. And of course, just as when people shop, those who are wealthier can afford better products, in this case, schools. The working class and poor will not be able to afford quality education.

While private schools choose what students to admit and keep enrolled, public schools are legally bound to serve all children, including special education, English as a Second Language (ESL) and low-income students. The purpose of vouchers is to starve the public schools of desperately needed resources to finance private and parochial schools.

Trump says he plans to take the $20 billion for vouchers from already existing funds. Will the federal government end Pell Grants to low-income students to go to college ($22 billion in 2016)? Will it cut Title I state grants ($14.9 billion) that help improve learning of low-income elementary and secondary students and provide them with school lunches? Will special education state grants ($11.9 billion) be hit, or Head Start ($9.2 billion), which is technically funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and provides preschool and other family health services to low-income families?

There are many other federal grants to states that may be cut, including funds for School Improvement, Striving Readers, Math and Science Partnerships, and Rural Education.

Currently, public school funding comes from the federal government (10 percent), local government (45 percent, mostly through property taxes) and state government (45 percent). Much of federal funding has been for programs to assist low-income or disabled students. When these funds are ended, it will devastate whole working class communities.

As to state funding, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes, “Most states provide less support per student for elementary and secondary schools—in some cases, much less—than before the Great Recession.”

But far from increasing funds to public schools, vouchers will destroy them. States have been implementing voucher programs since the early 1990s, starting with the first Bush administration and continuing with Clinton, Bush and Obama. All these administrations passed legislation on public education used to undermine public schools.

State voucher programs

Today, 27 states and Washington, D.C., have some sort of voucher program, and some have more than one type, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The vouchers are also called Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), Tax-Credit Scholarships, Individual Tax Credits and Individual Tax Deductions.

Fourteen states and Washington, D.C., have vouchers that give private schools state funding to pay tuition for students, primarily those who are low-income, have special needs or attend so-called poor-performing schools.

Seventeen states, including Indiana and Florida, have tax credit scholarship programs. A nonprofit scholarship-granting organization is formed to collect donations from individuals and/or corporations, who then get a tax credit; the nonprofit gives private school scholarships to eligible students.

Eight states give tax credits or deductions to parents who send their kids to private schools, according to EdChoice. In Indiana and Louisiana, families can deduct tuition on their taxes, while Illinois and Iowa let parents claim a tax credit for their children’s private school tuition.

In five states, including Arizona and Mississippi, education savings accounts let parents choose how to spend the state’s per-pupil allotment for their child’s education—whether it’s putting them in private school or paying for tutoring.

Vouchers in Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program is America’s longest-running private school voucher program, begun in 1990. About 28,200 Milwaukee students now use vouchers to attend private schools. A big spike in attendance occurred in 1998, when the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that families could use their state vouchers at religious schools.

The program has shifted public spending on education in the city. Milwaukee Public Schools will see a $52.1 million loss this school year to pay for its share of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. By 2014, it was expected the total amount of public money spent on vouchers in Milwaukee would surpass $1.7 billion.

Public school enrollment has declined and a fifth of the students who remain are classified as having disabilities, from learning to emotional to physical. Forty-one percent of all private schools that participated in the Milwaukee private school voucher program between 1991 and 2015 have closed.

Milwaukee Public Radio aired a series with many interviews on the voucher program’s 25th anniversary. Milwaukee School Board member Larry Miller, who has been involved with the district for the voucher program’s entire history, said, “It’s transformed the landscape in the sense of it becoming a free-market competition. This program, in my opinion, started as a program for low-income students and has turned into a movement now to dismantle public education. … I feel that the results that we’re seeing now are the results of a failed experiment.”

Barbara Miner, who wrote Lessons from the Heartland, about the history of education in Milwaukee, is a leading critic of the voucher program, saying it blurs the separation of church and state and leaves Milwaukee Public Schools facing the highest hurdles. “Private schools operate by completely different rules than public schools,” she told Milwaukee Public Radio. “They do not have to follow the federal special education law. They do not have to provide bilingual education,” Miner said. “They can kick kids out and there’s no constitutional right to free speech or due process.”

Alan Borsuk, a senior fellow at Marquette Law School and long-time education reporter, reviewed several sets of studies. He was asked, what have the scores shown since 2010? He responded, “The notion that the voucher program would lead to a major step forward for all students in the City of Milwaukee, unfortunately, has not been true.”

The New York Times recently reviewed research assessing student progress in voucher programs compared to public schools. In 2015, researchers published their assessment of the Indiana voucher program, which involved tens of thousands of students under Mike Pence, then the state’s governor. “In mathematics,” they found, “voucher students who transfer to private schools experienced significant losses in achievement. They also saw no improvement in reading.”

More negative results

Researchers found similar results when they studied Louisiana’s voucher program and released the results in February 2016. “Students in the program were predominantly black and from low-income families. They came from public schools that had received poor ratings from the state department of education, based on test scores. For private schools receiving more applicants than they could enroll, the law required that they admit students via lottery, which allowed the researchers to compare lottery winners with those who stayed in public school. They found large negative results in both reading and math.”

Martin West, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, calls the negative effects in Louisiana “as large as any I’ve seen in the literature—not just compared with other voucher studies, but in the history of American education research.”

In June, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank, released a third voucher study financed by the pro-voucher Walton Family Foundation. It focused on a large voucher program in Ohio. “Students who use vouchers to attend private schools have fared worse academically compared to their closely matched peers attending public schools,” the researchers wrote.

To be continued

The sequel to this is here.

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