Monday, 16 October 2017

Mother Nature's fury? Wildfires ecological and social destruction in California

Santa Rosa, CA is an hour away from San Francisco and the SF Bay Area. Sacramento is two hours away. Yet the fires ranging in Sacramento are an hour away in Yuba City and Auburn, CA where the Sierra Nevada Mountain range begins.

It has been known for decades that wildfire across California has been consuming the well known forests ie Los Angeles Forest, North Bay's Muir Woods, Yosemite Park the hills and foothills (Sierra Nevada) that protect nearby towns and cities from nature itself. Every summer, the West Cost of the U.S. catches fire. California is no different from the wildfires in Colorado, Montana, Oregon and Washington State. It is also common knowledge that the Earth has been warming thus the hot record breaking summers every year. Along with fears of heat strokes across the world. Some 100 million trees have been destroyed by wildfires. These trees are posing a threat along with downed power lines to towns and the remaining forests. Now the winds from the Pacific Ocean has picked up and blown embers and ashes further South and East to other North Californian regions. This current fire tops the 1964 Hanley Fire in the Santa Rosa area that was far more slow moving but involved the same amount of damage. California may have a Mediterranean climate, but away from the coast most of inland California is arid to borderline desert. Most of Southern California is a desert. The drought and dry air  in the South or North has also fueled the fire. Environmental policies meant to avoid massive wildfires of this size has somewhat helped. The smoke and emissions from nearby Richmond Chevron refinery, smog the also contribute to the volatile air quality. oil refineries have been threatened by wildfires in SoCal before. The replacement of dead trees leading to Yosemite Park, Santa Rosa or Oroville with new young trees has been at a snail pace and in most cases not done at all. The mother of all environmental organizations Greenpeace has been absent from the safer areas of the Bay Area or Sacramento. Especially when advocating for fire prevention and tree regeneration since the Tubbs and Sierra Nevada fires near Oroville began. Greenpeace website has no mention of the fires nor any sympathetic notification supporting the victims and survivors of the fires. 

Democracy Now: How global warming fueled wildfires and forest destruction


Santa Rosa evacuations from fires

While a few of the fires were started by arsonists or accidentally, most have been caused by the climate itself. California's ongoing drought for the past five years has not helped the current blazes. Teams of fire fighters have been battling the fires with helicopters, on foot and from a distance. The current wildfires are near San Francisco in the neighbouring towns of Santa Rosa, San Rafael, These towns are part of Napa, Menedicino and Sonoma counties. There is also fires near Sacramento in Lake and Butte counties on the Sierra Nevada foothills further up from Auburn, CA. The North Bay fires fueled by Diablo winds has been receiving the most attention since its chewing up the famed Napa Valley wine region. Some wineries have been affected. Mostly homes and businesses belonging to local residents have been destroyed along with 40 people dead and another 130+ people missing. The people living in San Rafeal, Santa Rosa, Napa and Calistoga among other North Bay cities have had to self evacuate on short notices as the fires rage. The fire departments are working overtime. There is also ongoing fires in Anaheim, California affecting hundreds of people and the air quality also. Normally, the wildfires end by the end of summer. Firefighters have noticed that the nature of wildfires have changed signifcantly over the last thirty years becoming deadlier and more uncontrollable than previous fires.

Western United States' forests being consumed by fire over 30 years

Nature's Shock and Awe campaign

 It would seem that Mother Nature is furious with the Trump administration's denial of climate change as some actresses hinted. Even if Mother Nature is furious, it seems that while the U.S. is engaging in wars across Mesopatamia ie Middle East and threatening North Korea, there's a natural bombardment campaign of shock and awe across the United States. Nature has been hammering the U.S. with massive hurricanes, floods and wildfires over the past four months. The Earth has not become sentiment or conscious of the United States' denial of climate change or environmental destruction. For the religious people, no it's not the end of the world or end times. But the recent wildfires and hurricanes does make one think.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Las Vegas terror,

Las Vegas, what happens in Vegas will be heard everywhere

Las Vegas is famous for its bright hypnotizing neon lights. The crazy night time adventures by drunk party goers and excited tourists. It's a city that is forever nocturnal much like New York's famed night life. Unlike NYC, Las Vegas is a resort town for both the young and old that relies on the casino and entertainment business for its tourism revenue. It is also a desert city home to two million people who live outside the Vegas Strip. For them, Las Vegas is more than just slot machines, acrobatic stage performances and glassy hotels. It is like every other city where people go to work, school and carry on with everyday life. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of shock and grief for the 59 people murdered and 527 injured on Sunday October 1st in one of the largest terror attack (yes the Vegas massacre is a terrorist attack and fits the definition of it) or as the media calls it massacre in Las Vegas' local history. The shooting was carried out by 64 years old Stephan Paddock who fired onto the crowd from Mandalay Bay Hotel's 32nd floor room at the Route 91 Harvest Festival's closing night. There were hundreds of ordinary people who saved many lives and drove injured concert attendees to the hospital. They are heroes and risked their lives to save both friends and complete strangers. ISIS tried to claim responsibility but it's claim is false. America's always had its own local terrorists that have nothing to do with religion which is irrelevant in any massacre. Paddock had no connection to any terror groups either in the country or abroad. His brother Eric Paddock was just as shock to hear and tongue tied to what his brother had done. Their father Benjamin Hoskins Paddock was once on the FBI most wanted list from 1969-1977 as a notorious bank robber and con man in Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. Both brothers had been distant from their notorious father who died in 1998. Their mother is still alive and has been speechless.

Eric Paddock reaction and response to brother's crimes

The suspect doesn't fit the stereotype of a crazed gunman

The police and larger society is still shocked by the terrorist actions. Paddock was a well off retired accountant who spent most times gambling and travelling. He lived Mesquite, Nevada a retirement town, some 80 miles North of Las Vegas. He didn't appear to be in any debt. Nor was he a religious or political extremist. He wasn't psychopath or had any mental problems, nor was he a military man. He wasn't a gun lover though he amassed several guns, had explosives in his home. Many are asking how in the world Paddock managed to sneak 50+ pistols, a couple of modified rifles using bump stocks to turn the rifles into semi automatics pass hotel check in desk and hotel staff. The weapons were said to be carried in 10 suitcases. Even so, woman often lightly joke that most men only travel with a few bags even for long trips. Yet one guest coming in with 10 suitcases still didn't raise eyebrows. Also how did he seal his hotel door shut and bust out two windows at good distance while simultaneously firing the two modified rifles for 9-11 minutes? Perhaps he snapped. RT News was able to track down the Dominos pizza delivery guy who was the last to see Paddock right before the shooting.

The Vegas shooting is not the only deadliest mass shooting in US history. It is a shame that the United States' holds the world record for the deadliest shootings each year. No other Western or wealthy country has as much gun deaths. Even in post war countries that are stabilizing it is not common to hear of mass shootings that leave 20+ people dead in less than a day. Countries such as Australia, UK, Japan and Canada have gone to great lengths to prevent any future mass shootings by passing gun laws that value life over the screaming gun advocates. It still shocks the world that the American gun rights advocates, gun owners and NRA or bust supporters take the 2nd Amendment so literally. When the 2nd Amendment was originally written in 1791 and hasn't been changed or altered since, there were no police departments, sheriffs or SWAT teams.  There were no high powered rifles or pistols. The writers of the 2nd Amendment would be mortified to witness the types of weapons that are on the streets of the U.S. The right wing writers and newscasters and moderate pundits insists that gun control laws is one step away from taking away guns away from every American. That every gun owner should fight tooth and nail to keep their guns. The near paranoid support for my gun, my rights attitudes encourages pro gun lobby, defence businesses, organizations like the NRA to keep the congressmen and women from addressing the topic,  annual mass shootings that are preventable, ongoing deaths, insane amounts of guns across the country and downplaying that access to high powered rifles and modifying weapons (despite being illegal) even with responsible gun owners continue to lead to terror attack aka mass shooting. It's already been said how American culture and society nurtures and normalizes guns as part of life no matter what. Until 1980s, mass shootings used to be condemned even by the NRA and Congress passed the assault weapons ban in 1986 and Brady Bill being the most well known of the anti-gun laws. Over the last 30 years, Congress being caught in the NRA's web has grown indifferent to the ongoing gun violence despite the majority of Americans calling for anti-gun legislation and even getting rid of the 2nd Amendment and replacing it with a more civilized amendment.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Catalonia Independence Now: If Kurdistan can why not Catalonia

The referendum day has finally arrived for Catalonia today October 1, 2017. Millions of Catalonians are going to the polls to vote on independence. Some 760 people have already been injured by Spanish riot police excessive use of violence and force. Catalonia, like many of Spain's 17 autonomous regions (yes every province has some form of autonomy) has its own regional police force Mossos d'Esquadra that is more or less on the voters' side. Spanish police smashed windows and doors to polling stations, physically pulling voters away from the polling places, pulling ballot boxes out of stations and clashing with voters eager to get the referendum through.This is the same violence the Basque Country has been faced with for years by Madrid government. Some say, Spain hasn't entirely reformed its former Fascist police tactics since 1979. If the violence was happening in Hong Kong, Cameroon, Egypt, Iraq (Again, the Kurdish independence referendum was peaceful), Russia or the United States; Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch or UN among many other Human Rights organizations would be up in arms. The media pundits and geopolitical analysts would be critiquing, "Look at the regime using such military and repressive tactics to deny their citizens' human rights and mocking democracy." The referendum won't be extended in spite of the violent interruption today. The results will start coming in gradually.

Voters clash with Spanish police Al Jazeera

This is not the first time Catalonia or Catalunya is holding an independence referendum. Famously, a symbolic but widely popular independence vote was held on November 9, 2014 following a week after Scottish voters got cold feet over voting for their own independence. Unlike the Scottish voters who were scared with economic disasters and financial ruins by Westminister government and London banks, Catalonians have put their feet down on any fear of economic woes and even use of force by Madrid government. Catalonia is not afraid to vote for independence. Catalonians have been demanding independence since the days that Democracy was restored to Spain in 1980s following 30 years of the Fascist regime of Francisco Franco. Catalonians suffered through repression, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, government denial of Catalan identity, the force adaption of a Spanish identity at the expense of the local Catalan identity not unlike what the Turkish Kurds experience (minus the insurgency in Catalonia) not to mention a repression of the Catalan language. Yes, Catalan is different from Spanish despite it resembling a mixture of French and Spanish it is not intelligible with either language. The Catalan accent is also different from the Spaniard accent. The EU has been anxious on Catalonia's vote given the seperatist movements across Europe who have also tried to push for independence. The current fears of self determination for Catalonians has highlighted the hypocrisy of the U.S. and Spain who don't mind supporting separatist movements and independence in Iraq with the Kurds, South Sudan splitting from Sudan, Kosovo breaking from Serbia along with the collapse of Yugoslavia, critique Russia for getting back Crimea, the possible balkanization of the Middle East, the tension on the Korean Peninsula, Taiwan's long quest for independence, Tibet (which is justified) or Kashmir. But when it comes to Catalonia or any provinces or state wanting independence within the Western countries, the governments responded with eye rolls and cynical "hell no don't even think about it" declarations. Than unity is preached as the all encompassing means of keeping the country together for the betterment of society. Catalonia is one of the wealthy regions of Spain who have managed to avoid being dragged down by Spain's ongoing economic decline, like Greece, the debt, austerity measures, high unemployment. Catalonia has a strong provincial economy making up a fifth of Spain's economy. The Catalan capital Barcelona is balancing itself with tourism, research, technology and business industries, shipping and trade instead of relying on a monoproduct economy.

Spanish government cracks down on Catalan independence vote

Government's Independence fears of a domino effect

The Madrid government has sent riot police without a hint of irony to arrest the pro independence leaders and even try to halt the ballots from being printed for tomorrow's vote. It is not just the Catalan government that agrees on independence, the millions of ordinary Catalans (From kids to elderly) have reiterated their support for Catalan independence regardless of what Madrid says. Nothing will change their attitude or beliefs in the justice for Catalan self determinations. The Madrid government and Mariano Rajoy have been terrified of Catalonia's independence for years. If Catalonia's independence vote goes through than the Basque Country, particularly separatists that has continued a 50 year old insurgency against Madrid government and who have their own unique language and culture will also push harder for independence via referendum. The autonomous region of Andulacia might also say, "Well if Catalunya can do it, why can't we." Than there's the Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco that used to be part of North Africa and still is but is considered an overseas Spanish territory. But the Canaries are seen as an occupied territory in the same vain as Western Sahara. Technically, any province in Spain can declare independence unilaterally. But under the Spanish Constitution it is illegal in practice for any Spanish province to be independent. For the sake of national unity, Spain is being undemocratic in trying to force Catalonia and the rebellious Basque Country to stay part of a unified Spain. It has been seen for years that Spain is not a unified country in the traditional sense. Modern Spain as is known today only came into existence in the 19th Century. Catalonia, the Basque Country, Andulacia historically known as Al Andulus have existed longer as independent kingdoms and pre-nation states before Spain came into being.

U.S. support for separatists and independent movements abroad but no butterfly affect at home

The United States is also watching the Catalonian vote too. Contrary to the image of a unified country, the US. has long had its own low key separatist movements and anti-government referendum groups among them Texas (whose been the loudest since the state joined the U.S. in 1845), California, Vermont, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, etc. Like Spain, it is illegal for U.S. states to become independent countries. The most famous example being the Confederate states breaking away which led to the civil war. If any state were to secede it wouldn't be far fetch to imagine the Washington government or neighbouring states responding similar to Spain. Since Trump's win in 2016 elections, California has been contemplating a Catalunya style independence referendum. The process for a US state to become an independent country is an ordeal of a process that first involves a petition, that has to be placed on a ballot that needs a percentage of voter support, if the ballot is able to clear that round than the vote has to be approved by 38 of the US states, not to mention the constitution would have to be admend to allow states to become independent countries. Unlike a U.S. state, Catalonia doesn't need to walk through the arduous process.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Kurdish independence referendum was success but unrecognized thus far

Why an independent Kurdistan scares Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. Armenian is happy for Iraqi Kurds.

While the war for Mosul is still ongoing between the Iraqi Army and the last remaining ISIS terrorist fighters, Iraqi Kurdistan has finally gotten its wish and voted a resounding 93% for independence for the province. The Kurdish referendum has been perhaps one of the easiest and quickest referendum other than South Sudan's independence vote to get the approval of the Western countries without little criticism or debate. This might inspire Catalunya's stop and go push for its own independence vote that is currently set to take place this Sunday October 1st.  This time it won't be a symbolic independence vote either. The Kurds are celebrating in Erbil and Sulmaniya still. The Turkish and Iraqi governments have already threaten to sanction Iraqi Kurdistan and indirectly invade the border if the Kurdish government goes through the process of acting as a defacto nation state such as officially trading with countries as the State of Kurdistan or continuing to control and operate the oil fields in Northern Iraq without any input from Baghdad. The Baghdad government sees the creation of Kurdish state as a second Israel that only benefits Western countries ie US, UK and the wider EU and Japan at the expense of the neighboring countries.

The Yes vote has terrified Turkey whose own Kurdish minority has long protested Turkish government's excessive use of force to put down protests, celebrations of Kurdish culture and language (outlawing the use of Kurdish for many decades), Turkishification in the name of uniting all of Turkey's multiple ethnic groups under a unifying Turkish nation that is secular, collectively punishing Turkish Kurds for attacks by the PKK (Kurdish Workers' Party), YPG in Syria and pro Kurdish supporters in Turkey and even in the Kurdish Diaspora. Turkey has been fighting an insurgency in Turkish Kurdistan in failing hopes of stopping a similar referendum from happening in Turkish Kurdistan. If Turkish Kurdistan were to join Iraqi Kurdistan or begin the process of voting on independence, Turkey would loose 20% of its territory. Not all Kurds want full on independence. The Turkish Kurds would prefer for now more autonomy and gradually move onto independence. The Iranian Kurds have also been celebrating the referendum in Mahabad and Sananjad happily.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians from Mosul's city proper have relocated and some cases pushed out to nearby IDP camps. Many Mosul residents are traumatized by the ongoing bombing campaign around the city. On the heels of Iraq's recycling fights with Al Qaeda and ISIS in Mosul and on the border with Syria, there is one Iraqi province  that has been mostly stable and relatively peaceful. We're talking about Iraqi Kurdistan. The Project for a New American Century has long viewed the Middle East in terms of ethnic and religious states to be divided up into bantustans and unnecessary mini states as the only solution to solve the geopolitics of each country's respective socio-economic problems. Many woes have less to do with religion and more to do with marginalization, heavy handed corruption from the government, torture and violence from the mukhabarat and secretary intelligence police, lack of basic social services, etc. These were the same complaints the Kurds have brought forth to the Iraqi government both past and present.

The geopolitical chessboard of fracasos 

The realpolitik US foreign policy legend and big wig Zbigniew Brzezinski outlined the breaking up of Middle East into mini states in his magnum opus The Grand Chessboard and his lesser work Strategic Vision. He further outlined the need to keep America's hegemonic, unipolar strangle hold on Eurasia as part of the US geostrategy abroad to remain a superpower. He is not the first to pivot toward Eurasia following Halford Mackinder's Heartland Theory nor the last. American self interests and concerns also extend to Africa and Latin America. He is most remembered by ordinary Americans for having supporting the Mujahideen Afghanistan against the Soviet Union in 1979. Brzezinski is both the former National Security Advisor to former President Jimmy Carter and an advisor to both Lyndon Johnson and JFK in the 1960s. Now a days, the 89 year old Brzezinski serves as a counsellor for the Centre for Strategic and International Services, lectures and occasionally interviews as a neoconservative pundit on American Foreign Policy. He has rarely changed his perspective on foreign policy. With the exception being the recent events in Middle East and U.S. cooperation with China. Like Henry Kissinger who is still living, is much respected by the neoconservative and liberal pundits when it comes to the history and future of U.S. Foreign Policy no matter how corrupt or disproportional. It's not coincidental that his daughter Mika Brzezinski is a political pundit on Morning Joe at MSNBC. Unlike her father, the younger Brzezinski is not heavily involved in politics of foreign policy. It is worth noting, Brzezinski has been observing Trump's foreign policy moves and doesn't know what to make of Trump as of yet.

Since 2003, US-UK invasion, occupation and dismantlement of pre war Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan has enjoyed and taken full advantage of its autonomy as a self governing de facto nation state. Kurdistan has been transformed over the years from the once bombarded and least developed province of Iraq into one of its most prosperous and peaceful. Iraqi Kurds not only have their independent government, control their own territories, airways and border checkpoints, Kurdish language, culture and people have thrived and been spared from the horrors of continual low intensity war elsewhere in Iraq. The Kurds are seen as the most pro-West (for lack of a better word), appreciative, understanding and flexible of all Iraqis. The love for Kurds in Western countries is in contrast to the mainstream media's anti-Arab and Islamic paranoia about ISIS taking over the world via mass migration and aslyum seekers. Now Kurdish leaders in Erbil are waving the success of independence in front of Baghdad's, Ankara, Damascus and Washington's face. The Kurdish Democratic Party or KDP have hinted that the Kurdish parliament is not necessary for a referendum vote. The independence vote is a surprise to no one. Many pundits, historians, geopolitical analysts have been warning for years if not decades that the Kurds want nothing short of self determination for their multiple country territory that straddles Iran, Turkey, Syria and Iraq. The Kurds have suffered bombings, identity, language and cultural repression under brutal dictatorships of Saddam Hussein, Turkish military dictatorships, Syrian father/son duo Hafiz and Bashar Assad and their grievances and needs were cast aside by Iran's Islamic revolutionary government for the most part.

Following World War I, the European colonial powers drew lines in the sand of Mesopotamia and Palestine (once known as Greater Syria) to create the modern day countries of Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Jordan. Still following divide and conquer tactics, British colonialists promised favoured ethnic groups ethnic states of their own for their cooperation and support of British troops against the then dying Ottoman Empire. The Kurds were promised a mountainous state in the center of the Middle East. This promise also coincide with the Armenian Genocide and the need for the Armenians to have a state of their own as a permanent refuge from genocide and a place of healing. Modern day Armenia came into existence in 1922 and was protected by the Soviet Union more or less for most of its existence. Now 90 years later, the Kurds are attempting to deliver on the long neglected promise of a homeland of their own. Even if it is not recognized yet.

No friends but the mountains?

It is no secret that the U.S. and Western powers have long emphasized with the suffering of the Kurdish people not only in Iraq and Syria. Turkish Kurds' decades old grievances are generally minimized when it comes to U.S. and Turkish foreign and diplomatic relations. Whenever Turkey accuses the PKK of terrorism both real and imagined, the U.S. is both cautious and tongue tied on Turkish Kurdish rights. Because of the long standing diplomatic attrition of a sorts between Iran and the U.S., the Iranian Kurds are often forgotten. The Syrian Kurds have been honorably mentioned in mainstream news for fighting against Modern day barbarians at the gate ISIS and its takfiri cousins as they should be.

Rohingya People targeted by their own government Democracy Not

While the world has been focusing on the climate change in Caribbean, the earthquake and its aftermath in Mexico City and the wars in Iraq and Syria and the upcoming Kurdish referendum, the Rohingya people from Rakhine State in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) have been chased literally out of their homeland. For 75 years, since 1942, the Rohingya Muslims have been treated as persona non grata by their own Myanmarese government even before the military junta came into power in Yangon in . The Rohingya are Myanmarese like their former Buddhist neighbours in Rakhine state. The Myanmar government has historically turned a blind eye to stripping of Rohingya of citizenship and purposely ethnic cleansing the Rohingya from Rakhine state and other provinces across Myanmar. The Rohingya are not asking for their own state nor have been launching a decades long insurgency movement like Bangsa Moro people in Mindanao, the on and off street clashes in South Thailand or the often forgotten Moaist insurgency across India. All of the mentioned insurgencies are driven by socio economic and political grievances towards the government's abuses, corruptions and neglect and not religion or spirituality for the still blinded people.

Buddhist Monk U. Wirathu says Islam is putting Burmese Buddhist Culture at risk

Unromanising Buddhism: Even Pacifists can be brutal
There is a centuries old stereotype that all Buddhists are the most pacifist people in the world. No matter if they live Myanmar or in Japan. While that maybe true for some countries or people, it is a sugar coated myth for Burmese Buddhists. Utra nationalist, islamophobic and racist Buddhist monks and priest among them the famed hate vigilante turned leader Ashin Wirathu have been at the forefront of demonizing, dehumanizing and encouraging violence against Rohingya Muslims. Some Buddhist groups have discouraged sympathy for Rohingya. The violence goes well beyond nationalistic xenophobia to paranoa that sees all Muslims and Islam as terroristic regardless of the people at the other end of the atrocities and attacks are innocent.

The Rohingya along with the Palestinains are the oldest stateless people in the world. Both peoples have been dehumanized by their government and ignored until recently by the world. With the exception of . Myanmar borders Bangladesh to its West and has treated Rohingya as though they are part of the larger Bangladeshi people across the border. Despite the fact that Rohingya were born, grew up in Myanmarese culture, society, language and way of life. Many Rohingya have rarely visited Bangladesh despite living near the border. If not for the government sanctioned ethnic cleansing and massacres, most wouldn't be in Bangladesh unless for tourist visits or curiousity. Many Rohingya don't see themselves as part of Bangladesh but as Myanmarese. Many millions of Rohingya Muslims want to return to their home towns and villages in Rakhine and across Myanmar.

The Myanmar government much like the former Junta (who are still seen as the hidden hand of the current "Democratic government") have tried to excuse the mass exodus and migration of Rohingya people to other parts of Myanmar, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Indonesia. The West's champion of Myanmar Democracy Aung San Suu Kyi has mostly dodged answering to the horrors faced by Rohingya her own countrymen. It was only this week, that Suu Kyi finally commented specifically on the Rohingya by dancing around the question of the massacres and genocide. Most of the Myanmar government officials have lied or downplayed what is happening to the Rohingya by blaming the victims ie the Rohingya are burning their villages, killing their own families, and attacked their Buddhist neighbours in a twisted justification for ignoring their long standing grievances, expulsion and stateless. Like many other governments, the Myanmarese officials have labeled Rohingyas fighting against the massacres and ethnic cleansing as terrorists. Many neighboring governments have also used the War on Terror to brutally and cruelly punish their respective ethnic and religious minorities under the banner of fighting terrorists. Terrorism has become the catch all term to inflict excessive violence against innocent people who protest government or call for human rights or respect of their humanity. Throw in irrational fears of terrorism, security police state and justified Islamophobia by Myanmar government and larger society and eventually the denial of rights and humanity of the Rohingya becomes clearer right before millions of eyes.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Puerto Rico & Caribe: The Game of Hurricanes

Food, culture and love for Puerto Rico

Right now, at the height of hurricane season, the country or U.S. territory of Puerto Rico and its neighbors Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Virgin Islands, St. Martin, Cuba, Antigua and Anguilla are being bombarded by Hurricane Irma. Barbuda has lost 98% of its infrastructure while St. Martin's capital Phillipsburg was half destroyed. Bahamas lost its shoreline in a freak water vaccuming by Irma. Barbuda's joint island of Anguilla was also 70% destroyed along with its capital. The Virgin Islands both St. Croix and St. Thomas and Tortola are now facing 50% of infrastructural damage, hundreds of uprooted large tress that normally prevent soil erosion and destruction caused by hurricanes and destroyed roads in the capitals and a shortage of water, food, gasoline and shelter. These are rich Caribbean islands that rely on tourism and natural beauty for economic reasons. They are regularly advertised to tourists as the ultimate destination vacations so is Puerto Rico and Dominician Republic. It appears that the other storm that was gaining strength Jose, has dropped to a Category 1 but is hanging around Bahamas and Katia. It is telling that the feared triple threat hurricanes all have Spanish names.

This hurricane comes on the heels of another devastating Hurricane Harvey that delivered a nightmare to Texas' largest city and metropolis Houston. Puerto Ricans have been preparing and scrambling to find limited shelters and refuge with relatives even before Hurricane Irma made landfall on the island of 3.4 million people. The island is a major tourist destination not only for U.S. visitors but for neighbouring countries and large world. Many of the cruises that leave San Juan had to be cancelled along with flights. One Carnival cruise ship chose to keep sailing without a port of call after being caught on the sea and unable to return to is scheduled Caribbean port to avoid Hurricane Irma altogether. To add insult, many airlines cruelly and selfishly increased the prices for departure flights from Florida to $1,000 putting profit over the lives of everyday people. Rising sea levels and floods have long been a threat to island nations not only the Caribbean but in the Pacific region as well where many island countries have lost both infrastructure and land to the ocean and annual increases in dangerous typhoons and tsunamis. Despite the decades of experience with hurricane preparedness and evacuations, nothing could have prepared any survival instincts for Irma.

Hurricane Irma a massive wake up call to the Climate change deniers

Now, after the over $100 billion in damage Harvey has caused, Hurricane Irma has caused insurmountable damagw to numerous cities and islands in the United States and the Caribbean. Mother Nature is proving to be more of a national security threat (if it wasn't already) to Puerto Rico, Caribbean and U.S. than North Korea and terrorism. The more superstitious people would say that the back to back hurricanes was an omen from the joyous Solar Eclipse on August 21st. It crossed entire continental the United States (rarity on many levels) bringing the country together for a brief amount of time. Or that the universe particularly the environment is trying to open the eyes of the climate deniers across the country to Earth's environmental destruction, global warming, the petro pollutions in the Gulf and the contaminated waters in Flint, Beaumont, TX, Florida and the Caribbean islands. As with every hurricane that heads toward the United States, each one passes through the Caribbean like a pinball machine. The Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico has helped to grow many hurricanes from category 1 to at the most category 3. A category 4 or 5 hurricane is generally a once in a few years event and tends to cause more damage to the Caribbean or Caribe than to the United States. As mentioned before, Cuba, Antigua, Bahamas, etc all have experience with dangerous hurricanes and systems in place to save ordinary citizens who aren't able to flee or are caught off guard by 185 mile winds.

Author's Note: Until Harvey, the United States had not experience such a massive scale of destruction from hurricanes since Katrina flooded New Orleans in 2005 and revealed to the world the gross first world and third world situations in the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans. Louisiana has since returned to Texas to help the people of the fourth largest city in the U.S. through ordinary people, the good Samaritans, Cajun Navy, fire department, National Guard, etc. 

Monday, 28 August 2017

Chaldeans facing deportation from Detroit

On immigration, when one thinks of illegal immigrants, Chaldeans don't come to mind. It's already been known that the stereotype of illegal immigration is someone from either Mexico or Central America. Many pundits and city officials are quick to forget that illegal immigrants come from multiple regions of the world ie Asia, Europe and Africa. This week, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) an appropriate name for its raison d etre and modus operandi, has rounded up hundreds of illegal immigrants across the country. ICE has been busy in Detriot as well rounding up and detaining Chaldeans that ICE claim will be deported for previous crimes ranging from mild and hard.

Michigan has been facing its share of both environmental and social breakdowns over the past few years. The ongoing poisoned water crisis, rashes and skin diseases suffered by the children and parents of Flint has not ended. It is not surprise for many Americans who are familiar with the United States' long stand infrastructure damage. No other city represents the decay of the U.S. and particularly the Midwest rust belt as Detroit. One of the largest and more well known cities in the mitten shaped state on the border with Canada, Detroit is a case study in the history and present of American decline and infrastructural collapse. Parts of Detroit resemble pieces of Chernobyl or an abandoned gold mine town. The city government and a few residents have tried to change Detroit's image as the "Chernobyl of the U.S." around for years with a few success. But the image of a destroyed and rusted Detroit still reminds.

Among the Detroit residents who call the Motor City home are the Chaldean Americans and Arab Americans. Detroit of all the cities in the Midwest, is home to the largest Arab American population outside of the Middle East and Europe. It has one of the larger Yemeni, Iraqi, Palestinian and Lebanese communities in Michigan itself. Chaldens or Iraqi Christians have been living in Detroit, Michigan for a few decades now. Chaldean Town used to be one of the largest Chaldean areas in Detroit but has slowly disappeared. Chaldeans are another name for Assyrians as in the Assyrian Empire in Iraq or in ancient times, Mesopotamia. Few Assyrians also refer to themselves as Arameans. All three refer to Assyria or Chaldea (its pronounced Kawdiya). Oh yes, not everyone from the Middle East is Arab or Muslim. The Kurds, Turks, Persians and Chaldeans (Assyrians) are not Arabs and do not like being confused with Arabic speakers. It has nothing to do with hatred or disrespect to their fellow Iraqis. Chaldeans are among the oldest Christians in the world alongside Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and Coptic Christians in Egypt and Sudan. Chaldeans and other non Arab and non Arabic speaking Christians are often ignored by the geopolitical pundits and media analysts on the Middle East. There distinction tend to be glossed over between the various ethnic groups nor realize that there are millions of Christians still in Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine (the birthplace of Christianity). Just how there are Yemeni, Iranian and Tunisian Jews in their respective countries who have no intentions of ever running to Israel. Why would they? Chaldean Americans own businesses, most of the gas stations in Detroit, restaurants and churches in the metro area. They tend to get lumped in with the wider Arab Americans despite having their own identity. Iraq like many countries in the Middle East is multiethnic, religous and multilingual. Lumping every ethnic group in Iraq into an Arab group has caused many eye rolls and lectures on the often ignored diversity of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The same goes for Palestine and

Author's Note:
Being Arab is not a straight forward question. Arab identity is based more on language and culture than ethnicity. By this definition Moroccans, Algerians, Tunisians, Southern Egyptians, Sudanese and Libyans wouldn't be considered Arabs, they are actually Berbers or Imazighen African peoples. Except for Sudanese who are mostly Nubian, as in Ancient Nubia, Niolitic and West African peoples. Back to the