Colombia witnessed a series of mass protests at the end of April following a call for a national strike in the city of Cali. Still ongoing, the protests have many causes: an apparent “tax reform” that was going to transfer even more wealth to the 1 percent in Colombia; the failure of the most recent peace accords; and the inability of Colombia’s privatized health care system to contain the COVID-19 crisis. In response to these ongoing protests, the government has killed dozens, disappeared hundreds, imposed curfews on multiple cities, and called in the army. But the protests continue—because they are, at least in part, a repudiation of the militarization of everything in the country.
In the background of the uprising in Colombia is the question of land. A multi-decade civil war has led to millions of peasants being thrown off of their land, which ended up in the hands of large landowners or was used for corporate megaprojects. In the ongoing corporate land grab that has been taking place in Colombia for the last few years, there is a new and frightening weapon: the militarization of environmental conservation. In a countrywide series of military operations beginning in February, involving a large number of soldiers and police, the army captured 40 people, whom the attorney general accused of deforestation and illegal mining, in six different locations in the country. In an earlier operation, the army captured four people for crimes against the environment, who have been labeled as “dissidents of the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)” by Colombia’s President Iván Duque, according to an article in Mongabay. In another operation in March 2020, soldiers trying to capture illegal ranchers in national parks picked up 20 people, 16 of whom turned out to be peasants who did not own land or cattle, according to Mongabay. According to the Colombian military, eight operations were carried out in 2020, through which it had “recovered more than 9,000 hectares of forest,” while capturing 68 people, 20 of whom were minors, stated the article in Mongabay.
What the military calls “recovered” forest is a territory emptied of its people. The overall initiative, which began in 2019, is labeled “Operation Artemis.” It deploys what one article in the City Paper (Bogotá) calls “Colombia’s full-metal eco-warriors” in an effort to reduce deforestation by 50 percent, as President Duque told Reuters.
With so much military defense of the forest taking place, the question that arises is, is deforestation a problem that can be solved with the use of weapons? Can the forest be saved through mass arrests? Can the same military that killed thousands of innocent people, including peasants, in an attempt to inflate their body count statistics, be trusted to protect the environment?
I hope you caught Ann's "Jeffrey Epstein's Circle of Sewage" yesterday. She is noting the always expanding Jeffrey Epstein scandal. Mr. Epstein is a pedophile who died in prison -- to the relief of many powerful people that he might have taken down with him. One of his big friends to emerge this month? Bill Gates. FOX NEWS notes:
Reports of a possible friendship between billionaires Bill Gates and Jeffrey Epstein have been stirring since the former Microsoft co-founder announced his divorce from wife Melinda Gates.
The Gateses announced their plans to divorce last week after "a great deal of thought and a lot of work" on their 27-year marriage, spurring rumors of what caused the pair to split.
People familiar with the couple’s divorce proceedings and a former employee of their charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, told The Wall Street Journal that Melinda was supposedly concerned with her soon-to-be ex-husband's relationship with Epstein, a disgraced financier and convicted sex offender, in the years leading up to the divorce.
Those familiar with the matter said Melinda’s concerns regarding Epstein, who was convicted of soliciting an underage prostitute in 2008, dated back as far as 2013 when the couple first met Epstein together.
Other reports suggest that Bill Gates' ties may date back earlier than 2013. Gates reportedly met with Epstein multiple times in 2011 — just three years after his first conviction — including at least three meetings in Manhattan at Epstein's townhouse, The New York Times reported in 2019, citing interviews with more than a dozen people familiar with the relationship and documents.
[. . .]
Sources told the Journal that Melinda told her husband she was uncomfortable with Epstein after the couple met him in 2013, but Bill reportedly continued a relationship with Epstein, despite her concerns. Gates reportedly flew on the financier's private plane in 2013 from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey to Palm Beach, Florida, where Epstein had a house that played a large role in his alleged sex-trafficking ring, according to prosecutors.
And Melissa Gira Grant (THE NEW REPUBLIC) maintains:
There is almost no schadenfreude in the Matt Gaetz downfall. The latest chapter unfolded Monday, with the Florida congressman’s ostensibly now-former wingman, Joel Greenberg, pleading guilty to sex trafficking a minor and promising his cooperation in a federal investigation reportedly involving Gaetz himself. During the proceedings, a plane flying near the Orlando courthouse dragged a banner reading, “Tick Tock Matt Gaetz.”
The vast majority of men facing federal sex trafficking charges in the United States do not hold such political power. Nor do they wield the kind of brute influence once wielded by someone like Jeffrey Epstein, who courted billionaires and philanthropists and sometimes men who were both. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was apparently one of them, a relationship that may have even been a factor in his recently announced divorce. As in the example of Gaetz, the alleged sex trafficker Gates met with repeatedly was hiding in plain sight.
The Epstein and Greenberg cases bear little resemblance to the pop crime depiction of a sex trafficking ring, a fact that may (rather belatedly) help unwind the influence of a two-decades-long war on sex trafficking fueled by salacious myths and racialized caricatures. And contra QAnon and centuries of associated sex slavery panic, there is no nefarious elite cabal orchestrating a great sex trafficking cover-up. The Gates and Gaetz stories may expose a more uncomfortable truth: The people who associate with such high-profile men accused of or involved in sex trafficking may see no disconnect between those relationships and their own claims to be fighting sex trafficking.
When Gates was being entertained by Epstein at the financier’s Manhattan townhouse, several years had passed since a sex trafficking investigation resulted in Epstein’s very publicly pleading guilty to charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution. “Gulliver’s playfulness had unintended consequences,” Epstein told The New York Times a few months before his brief incarceration, likening himself to the narrator of Jonathan Swift’s novel, all in the course of being interviewed on his own private island. “That is what happens with wealth. There are unexpected burdens as well as benefits.” It was a “burden”that meets the federal definition of sex trafficking. Since then, the Department of Justice has charged many more men who were alleged to have solicited commercial sex with the crime of sex trafficking. In 2019, according to the Human Trafficking Institute, 103 people faced sex trafficking charges for soliciting sex—about 10 percent of all federal trafficking defendants.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
Thursday, May 20, 2021. Turkey continues to terrorize Iraq, Mustafa al-Kadhimi remains inept one year later, and much more.
Around the world, millions of people are shocked and outraged at the brutal terror bombings, ethnic cleansing and communal violence being carried out by Israel, a US client state, against the people of Gaza.
Two hundred and twenty-seven people, including 63 children, have been killed in Israel’s ten-day-long assault on Gaza, a figure nearly 20 times higher than the number of Israelis killed in the conflict.These crimes are committed using American armaments, funded by American tax dollars, and with the approval of the American government. They are facilitated by arms deals and military alliances created behind the backs of the American population and orchestrated to facilitate the predatory interests of the US financial oligarchy.
On Monday, after a week of murderous bombardment of the Gaza’s civilian population, US president Joe Biden began a telephone discussion with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu by declaring, in the words of the official readout, “The President reiterated his firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks.”
When on Tuesday Biden visited Dearborn, Michigan, the city with the nation’s highest percentage of Arab American residents in the United States, he was greeted by thousands of people protesting the crimes Israel is committing with US support.
Asked if he would take a question on the conflict from a reporter as he was test-driving a new Ford truck, Biden replied, “No, you can’t. Not unless you get in front of the car as I step on it.”
Journalists laughed at his comments. They sucked up hard. They should have been disgusted. But they throw their itty-bitty, baby egos out the window when the insult comes from one of their higher ups. At that point, they just lick the boots.
So busy spit polishing, they never seemed to grasp just how offensive Biden's remarks are. The Israeli government is terrorizing the Palestinians. Can Joe be asked a question? Only if you're willing for him to drive you down in the vehicle he's in.
The way, right before the start of the Iraq War, Rachel Corrie was killed? That's how she was killed on March 16, 2003. She was protesting on behalf of the Palestinian people and an Israeli miliatry bulldozer ran over her.
Is that what Joe's threatening?
Oh, by all means, laugh it up.
Tom Elliott Tweets:
As you watch these reporters giggle in delight at Biden's playing with this car, remember - regardless of your view on Israel/Palestine - that there's a savage war going on for which Biden bears direct responsibility. Seems, at least, to be bad optics to being playing with toys.
So that's one point with regards to Andre Damon's article.
The second point?
Is WSWS ever going to note the Kurds in Iraq? Is their hatred of the Kurds just going to mean they continue to be silent?
More 'reports' of Turkey 'neutralizing' Kurds in Iraq. Murdering them. Claiming they're terrorists. Invading Iraq on the ground and dropping bombs from war planes.
How did we get to the point where the Israeli government could so openly and wantonly murder Palestinians? By people looking the other way for years. By the press ignoring the realities.
What's it going to take for the press to wake up to what the Kurds are doing?
Most of them covered for nearly 100 years -- covered for Turkey, looked the other way with regards to the Armenian genocide that Turkey carried out.
Hundreds of Kurdish villagers have been forced to flee their homes in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq due to Turkish bombing — and are being replaced by jihadists imported from Syria.
An agricultural worker from Barwari Bala in the mountainous Duhok province, which borders Turkey, told the Morning Star that he had abandoned his land and home due to the intensity of the aerial bombardment.
“Every day, every night, for the past weeks we are being bombed. Our lands are being destroyed: we cannot grow our crops,” he said.
“Nearly all of us have left — there is nothing for us. Our future is being destroyed, and they give our homes to Daesh [Isis].”
“We are civilians: farmers, children. Why are they doing this? The world does nothing to help because we are Kurds. Everyone wants to kill us.”
He insisted that there had been no guerilla fighters in the villages — Turkey’s pretext for invasion — but added that the people supported the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Turkey deems a terrorist group, as the only force preventing a genocide.
“If I see them, I hug them,” he said. “Without them, Turkey would kill us all.”
Turkey’s illegal invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan, codenamed Operation Claw Lightning, started on April 23, the anniversary of the start of the Ottoman Armenian genocide in 1915, during which 1.5 million men, women and children were systematically exterminated.
Why the silence from WSWS? Were the Kurds anti-Trotsky or have some long ago beef with SEP? Maybe Eric London could write an article about that -- another long winded confusing article, as Mike pointed out.
The Kurds are being attacked. This is genocide. Turkey is carrying it out in Iraq and Syria as well as within the Turkish borders.
Podcaster Peculiar Blend wonders:
To hear the Turkish government tell it, they never kill or injure civilians in Iraq. It's always terrorists, according to them. To hear the Turkish government tell it, the Armenian genocide never happened. Cableee3 points out:
Turkey gets away with it. They get away with attacking anyone. Even Americans on US soil. Barack Obama was president then and he looked the other way. Sorry, Barack, diplomatic immunity does not cover assaults. Those people should have been charged and put on trial. They should not have been allowed to slip out of the country.
Meanwhile, Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reports:
Weapons in Iraq are not the solution to the crises the country is facing, Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi said as he encouraged citizens to participate in the upcoming elections to create a change for the better.
Iraq faces serious issues, from a dilapidated healthcare system, corruption and war-battered economy, to the task of reining in armed groups that operate outside the state's authority.
The country has witnessed dozens of assassinations and targeted killings of activists and reporters in recent months by unknown gunmen, the latest was Ihab Al Wazni who was murdered last month in the southern city of Karbala.
"There is anarchy in Iraq’s planning system that has caused the accumulation of a large number of problems. The use of weapons is not the solution, rather elections and a large voter turnout is needed to change for the better,” Mr Al Kadhimi said during a visit to the southern governorate of Wasit.
Well, Mustafa, you've had a year and what have you done?
It was May 7, 2020 that Mustafa became prime minister. A year later, what can he claim to have accomplished?
No killed of activists has been brought to justice. The report, the government report, remains suppressed, he's the one refusing to release it -- despite repeated, public promises. The Iraqi people continue to suffer.
Turkey has set up a base in Iraq and Mustafa won't address that. He was supposed to be a one term prime minister -- by his own statements -- but instead he's trying to get a second term -- even going so far as to form a conditional alliance with cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
What has he accomplished?
What has he done? You could say "develop diplomatic ties" if you ignored that fact that his recent flurry of phone calls have to do with his attempts to shore up support for a second term.
The following sites updated: