“Take that flag off, boy!”

17/08/2018
abbie-hoffman-and-shirt

When police ripped Hoffman’s shirt off his back they found he had a Viet Cong flag painted on his skin! pic from www.racked.com

You might have thought that an American wearing a shirt with the stars and stripes on it would be considered patriotic.  Right?

Wrong!  In 1968, Abbie Hoffman, co-founder of the Youth International Party was arrested in Washington for wearing a shirt that resembled the design of an American flag.

The prison authorities treated him badly for his “desecration” of the oh-so-blessed flag:

Authorities at the maximum security penitentiary did their worst to harass and humiliate him. They gave him a preventive de-lousing. They took a blood sample against his will, without affording him the sterile courtesy of a disposable syringe.

Two months later, Abbie was hospitalized in New York City for serum hepatitis. The recuperative process didn’t prevent him from helping doctors to organize themselves against some of the oppressive tactics of the medical profession.

(https://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-krassner/the-trial-of-abbie-hoffma_b_2334.html)

In court, Hoffman’s lawyer asked how wearing a flag-shirt could be dishonouring the flag.  “Does Uncle Sam, when he marches in the parade on July 4th, dishonor?”

The prosecutor shot down that line of reasoning.  “Uncle Sam himself is a national symbol, just as the the flag is a national symbol, and one national symbol, recognized as such, cannot deface and defile and cast contempt upon another national symbol.”

Of course it was a load of crap, a prosecution out to get him because of who he was, a prominent Yippie advocating squatting and use of drugs.  Plenty of clothing features flags in their design, but Hoffman is the first and only person to be arrested for wearing a flag shirt and charged with desecration of a flag.

Abbie Hoffman courted controversy and was fine with breaking the law.  He wrote a book on how to survive with no money – he titled it Steal this Book.  Plenty of would-be readers followed his sage advice and stole copies, leading to a number of book shops refusing to stock it.

In 1973 he was arrested and charged for possession and supply of cocaine when he made a drug deal with undercover police.  So in 1974 he went on the run and the police failed to track him down – even though he was hardly keeping a low profile, helping coordinate an environmental movement seeking to protect the Saint Lawrence River, and writing as the “travel” columnist for Crawdaddy magazine under name pseudonym Barry Freed US Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, before whom Hoffman testified at a hearing about winter navigation, said he had no idea the environmental posing as Freed was Hoffman — “and no one else did either.”

He turned himself in eventually, in 1980,  and ended up serving four months.

According to ABC News, “the Yippies were known for street theater pranks, and were once referred to as the ‘Groucho Marxists’.” Hoffman himself described his views like this:

You are talking to a leftist. I believe in the redistribution of wealth and power in the world. I believe in universal hospital care for everyone. I believe that we should not have a single homeless person in the richest country in the world. And I believe that we should not have a CIA that goes around overwhelming governments and assassinating political leaders, working for tight oligarchies around the world to protect the tight oligarchy here at home.

In 1989 Hoffman killed himself by taking 150 phenobarbital tablets and liquor.  I’m sure he had his reasons – as he did for everything else he ever did.

“Free speech means the right to shout ‘Theater’ in a crowded fire.”

“The first duty of a revolutionist is to get away with it. The second duty is to eat breakfast.”

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Google censoring searches in China again

02/08/2018
google-logos

Google has a new logo and updating its image – but under the surface it’s still that pre-2010 half-evil censor

Eight years after Google pulled out of the censored Chinese internet, they’re back.  It’s been reported that the company is working on a mobile search app that would block certain search terms and allow it to reenter the Chinese market.

Google has engaged in the China-controlled internet space before: but in 2010 it pulled out, citing censorship and hacking as reasons.  It didn’t pull out completely – it still offered a number of apps to Chinese users, including Google Translate and Files Go, and the company has offices in Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai – But the largest of its services – search, email, and the Play app store – are all unavailable in the country.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin told the Guardian in 2010 that his opposition to enabling censorship was motivated to his being born in Soviet Russia.   “It touches me more than other people having been born in a country that was totalitarian and having seen that for the first few years of my life,” he said as Google exited the Chinese market after 4 years of cooperating with the authorities.

But now they’re back, working on a mobile search app that would block certain search terms and black-listed material.  The app is being designed for Android devices.

According to tech-based news site The Information, Google is also working on a censored news-aggregation app too. The news app would take its lead from popular algorithmically-curated apps such as Bytedance’s Toutiao – released for the Western market as “TopBuzz” – that eschew human editors in favour of personalised, highly viral content.

Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International, called Google’s return to censorship “a gross attack on freedom of information and internet freedom.”

In putting profits before human rights, he said, Google would be setting a chilling precedent and handing the Chinese government a victory.

This is important because many computer users will set a search site as their homepage and even find content by entering key-words into the url bar of their browser.  Because of Google’s ubiquity, it is frequently set as default search engine on browsers, meaning that millions of users will find that their experience of the internet is that delivered through the lens of Google.  If that lens is smudged or cracked by censorship, all these users’ internet experience is skewed.  So it is essential to highlight the fact that Google is not the neutral, trustworthy agent that many users think it to be.

GreatFire, an organisation that monitors internet censorship and enables circumvention of the “Great Firewall of China”, said the move “could be the final nail in the Chinese internet freedom coffin” and that “the ensuing crackdown on freedom of speech will be felt around the globe.”

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Is it antisemitic to hate Israel?

31/07/2018
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Corbyn risks his party being torn apart if he can’t sort out this anti-semitism business (pic from the Independent)

What does anti-semitic mean?  The top three online dictionaries (of a Google search) say:

anti-Semitism discrimination against or prejudice or hostility toward Jews (www.dictionary.com)

anti-Semitism Hostility to or prejudice against Jews (oxforddictionaries.com)

anti-Semitism the strong dislike or cruel and unfair treatment of Jewish people (dictionary.cambridge.org)

Well, that seems simple enough, right?  Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple.  Some people want the term antisemitic to cover a lot more than anti-Jewishism.  And it’s tearing the Labour party into strips when Britain badly needs a working Opposition to the Conservative government.

So what is the problem?  Some people want the Labour party to adopt an “official” international definition of anti-semitism.  The definition they have chosen to push is that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).  Their definition is:

Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed towards Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

Even this definition isn’t too bad.  But the main problem is the examples that go with the definition.  These include “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour,” and “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”  Basically, criticism of the state of Israel should be viewed as anti-Semitism, as should any equivalence of their racist policies and those of Nazi Germany.

Why should criticising Israel be labelled anti-Semitic?  Generally it is accepted that anti-Semitism is wrong.  So now criticising Israel is wrong too?  That country can do no wrong?  And why is it wrong to point out that Israel’s foreign and domestic policies are racist?  I mean, those policies are racist, inasmuch as they are hostile to Palestinians.  And how exactly does pointing out this racism deny the Jewish people their right to self-determination?  Israel is denying Palestinians their right to self-determination… but to point that out is anti-Semitic?  My head’s starting to hurt.

The organisation that first drafted this definition, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, recognized it was contentious – it drafted but never adopted the definition.  And the UK government, which has adopted the “working definition” and the examples, was warned by the Commons home affairs select committee in October 2016 that in the interests of free speech it ought to adopt an explicit rider that it is not antisemitic to criticise the government of Israel, or to hold the Israeli government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent (the government sadly ignored this advice).

Unfortunately for the Labour Party and its leader, some party members and supporters of the leader have come out with some awful stuff on this subject.  Peter Willsman, for instance, has said some stuff that is just plain wrong and he needs to resign.  But the party should not adopt the IHRA definition.  And if supporters of Israel don’t like that country’s policies being criticised, maybe they should call for those policies to be changed.  To be made less racist.  Less likely to be compared to those of that old Nazi Adolf Hitler.

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So all you want is bloody poetry huh?

17/04/2016

I try to blog as often as I can.  But I’m really depressed that only my poems get Likes.  My political, cultural and other entries get next to no interest.  I’m not going to stop posting stuph about politics, culture, privacy, security and the other subjects that get me riled.  And the poetry of course (bread and circuses FFS).  I’d just be happier if my “serious” posts got more attention.

Also, even the poems get next-to-no Comments.  I need Comments so I can hopefully improve. Please please, poetry Likers, could you also Comment?  I’d really appreciate it.  Thanks for reading.

UPDATE: as of 18 April (day after posting) I’ve received two Likes: from anthonymize and Juansen Dizon.  Just general, click-the-Like-button likes, and no comments.  Likes please me, as I have an ego that enjoys beeing stroked; but the whole point of this post is that I want Comments too.  If you’re too shy to make Comments readable by everyone who visits the blog post, there’s a Contact Form button at the top of the page.  You can put your Comments there, abd if you want anonymity that’s what I’ll give you – your name etc will not be kept on record if that’s what you want.

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Leave Comments, damn your eyes!

This blog isn’t an anthology of what I consider my best work.  I put works-in-progress here, meh stuph that I’d love to be reviewed and love to get Comments on.  So pleeeze! – if you have the time, write something in the Comments or Contact Form.  Comment on my blog, I’ll come look at your blog, if you have a blog of course, and if I can create a window in my already bursting bag of commitments.  That last bit is a joke of course.  But in all serious, Comment on me and I’ll Comment on yours.  Quid Pro Quo I think it’s called: washing each others’ backs.

Cheers, Martin X!


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Thank the Goddess I’m not a Palestinian – cos the Israeli “defence” forces are wiping them out!

18/11/2014

First, a truly incomprehensible attack on innocent Jewish men, women and children, using the excuse there are a lot of Israelis “in danger” from “Palestine officials”.

Let’s examine the charges by Israeri concerning the “oh-so-dangerous Militants”:
Here’s the low-down on why Netenyahu is overseeing these brutality. The Israelis have state-of-the-art firearms, whereas the Palestinian community have virtually nothing left.

Sling vs helicopter gunships, automatic rifles, grenades, the rape of Palestinian women and children... how can any sane person see the Israeli response as proportional???

Sling vs helicopter gunships, automatic rifles, grenades, the rape of Palestinian women and children… how can any sane person see the Israeli response as proportional???

An example (thanks to the Guardian: after Palestinians allegedly killed in a terrorist attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, 2 PFLP suspects (note that word: suspects) killed “in retaliation by Israeli “security” forces. Netenyahu ordered the destruction of the homes of alleged suspects (no judicial oversight, no rule of law, Netenyahu decides these men did the attack, and not only killed the “suspects” but also ordered the demolishment of these so-called “suspects” homes. Was that proportionate action? Making families homeless, even though the people living there would have had no idea of what, if anything, the “suspects” may have been up to. This is not justice: it’s a bare-faced landgrab, designed to make Palestinian families homeless and leave the way clear for more Kibbutzin and other illegal “settlers”.

US leader Obama criticized the attack on the Synagogue, which killed four innocent people, including US citizens Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine, and Moshe Twersky, and injured several more. He said:

There is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians.

“The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the victims and families of all those who were killed and injured in this horrific attack and in other recent violence. At sensitive moment, it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence and seek a path forward towards peace.”

So you can see, Obama deplores the attacks on the Jews in Synagogue, but didn’t make any mention of the fact that the families of the alleged killers have had their homes demolished. Isn’t there something in American society about the right for private, family life? Oops, I nearly forgot: Any provisions in the US constitution only apply to US citizens. Palestinians being forcibly removed from their homes is okay as far as Uncle Sam is concerned. Plus Israel is an important ally of the USA’s. Whereas the USA, like Israel, consider Palestinians to be the enemy. Even the children are viewed as terrorists-in-waiting. It’d be funny, if you didn’t realize it was about actual living human beings. Fucking Netanyahu, fucking Obama.

This is a public service announcement... with wrecking balls!!!

This is a public service announcement… with wrecking balls!!!

Why oh why doesn’t someone put an end to the Israeli’s war on innocents and its seizure of Palestinian property? Can someone explain to me: let’s assume one of the “suspects” did something wrong. Surely the suspect should be arrested and face a fair trial. But no, the “suspects” are killed, or tortured, or similarly disappeared. And an entire family is made homeless. Is this right? I’d love to hear a rational argument from pro-Israeli figures on this subject.

The Israeli government is despicable. Collective punishment, ghettoization, arrest and murder of innocent people. That’s the kind of crap the Nazis got up to. And now the Israelis are up to it. Makes me feel disgustingly sick. I hate the authorities in Israel, and I hate the Western powers (eg USA, UK, France) who support them. Leave the Palestinians alone FFS! Even the Nazis didn’t keep up their war of terror for this long!

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We’re all gonna get kippered!

26/10/2014

Ukip are getting more and more powerful. An Opinium/Observer poll published today (26 Oct) shows 31% would vote for Ukip if they thought Ukip could win in their constituency! That is some result. We could all get kippered, if that 31% actually come to believe that Ukip are a credible outfit.

Don't blame me, blame Google Images!

Don’t blame me, blame Google Images!

I’m not going to rehash a Ukip discussion. All I’ll say on the subject is that Ukip are dangerous regardless of Farage’s friendly smile and “common sense” image. Don’t vote for them. FFS!

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Why aren’t terrorists considered as political prisoners?

19/08/2014

Seems to me that many terrorists are the epitome of political prisoners. According to MI5:

Although there is no generally agreed definition of terrorism internationally, in the UK the Terrorism Act 2000 new window defines terrorism as:

The use or threat of action designed to influence the government or an international governmental organisation or to intimidate the public, or a section of the public; made for the purposes of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause; and it involves or causes:

serious violence against a person;
serious damage to a property;
a threat to a person’s life;
a serious risk to the health and safety of the public; or
serious interference with or disruption to an electronic system.

See my emphasis there? If someone is in jail for a politically-motivated act, surely he is a political prisoner?

Groups like Amnesty International pick and choose amongst politically-motivated prisoners – from Wikipedia:

AI uses the term “political prisoner” broadly. It does not use it, as some others do, to imply that all such prisoners have a special status or should be released. It uses the term only to define a category of prisoners for whom AI demands a fair and prompt trial.

In AI’s usage, the term includes any prisoner whose case has a significant political element: whether the motivation of the prisoner’s acts, the acts in themselves, or the motivation of the authorities.

“Political” is used by AI to refer to aspects of human relations related to “politics”: the mechanisms of society and civil order, the principles, organization, or conduct of government or public affairs, and the relation of all these to questions of language, ethnic origin, sex or religion, status or influence (among other factors).

The category of political prisoners embraces the category of prisoners of conscience, the only prisoners who AI demands should be immediately and unconditionally released, as well as people who resort to criminal violence for a political motive.

See how airy-fairy their definition is? It’s a nonsense.

Look at the case of Nelson Mandela. He was almost universally viewed as a political prisoner. But was he non-violent? Again, from Wikipedia:

Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in association with the SACP he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961, leading a sabotage campaign against the apartheid government. In 1962, he was arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the state, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.

Bloody hypocrisy. “One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter” blah blah, okay, but surely he’s a political prisoner whether you sympathise with him or not?

Go see Martin McGuinness, deputy first minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and ask him if he was a political prisoner. When he was tried for being near a car containing 250 pounds (110 kg) of explosives and nearly 5,000 rounds of ammunition, he refused to accept the legitimacy of the court and declared his membership of the Provisional IRA without equivocation: “We have fought against the killing of our people… I am a member of Óglaigh na hÉireann and very, very proud of it.”

Martin McGuinness of the IRA... political prisoner or not?

Martin McGuinness of the IRA… political prisoner or not?

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