Saturday, March 31, 2018

When is enough truly enough?

Fox News show host Laura Ingraham announced on her show late Friday that she is taking next week off. I think it was a wise decision given the fact that almost a dozen advertisers have dropped her show after the chauvinist talk show host mocked David Hogg, 17, a teenage survivor of the Florida school massacre, on Twitter on Wednesday, accusing him of whining about being rejected by four colleges to which he had applied.

Hogg called for a boycott of her advertisers in the show, "The Ingraham Angle.

Hogg is one of the survivors of the Feb. 14 mass shooting that killed 17 students in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland suburb of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Soon after the mass shooting, he and his surviving friends have become the new faces of activists calling for stricter gun control.

Fox News is part of Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., and has been a strong supporter of the NRA and of course, President Trump. Naturally, it has been on the other side of the hot debate around gun control. For weeks, instead of supporting the genuine demand of the youths towards gun control it has been berating the activists and spreading fake news about them. And Ingraham, a known hatemonger who has been accused of being a racist and a bigot, has outshone others within Fox in spreading such fake news. Essentially, she became the ‘hound bitch’ (or ‘dog’) for merciless attack against the surviving youth activists.

Now the advertisers are saying ‘enough is enough’ with Ingraham’s TV program and are pulling out their ads, which had been the lifelines for the program. Their pull out has forced the conservative pundit to take a vacation. I hope she never returns and leaves the task of journalism to real journalists, and not to charlatans like her.

Last Thursday, Ingraham tweeted an apology "in the spirit of Holy Week" (i.e., the Easter holiday), saying that she was sorry for any hurt or upset she had caused Hogg or any of the "brave victims" of Parkland. But her apology did not stop companies from departing. The companies announcing that they are canceling their ads are: Nutrish, the pet food line created by celebrity chef Rachael Ray, travel website TripAdvisor Inc, online home furnishings seller Wayfair Inc, the world's largest packaged food company, Nestle SA, online streaming service Hulu, travel website Expedia Group Inc and online personal shopping service Stitch Fix. According to CBS News, four other companies joined the list Friday: the home office supply store Office Depot, the dieting company Jenny Craig, the Atlantis, Paradise Island resort and Johnson & Johnson which produces pharmaceuticals as well as consumer products such as Band-Aids, Neutrogena beauty products and Tylenol.

Hogg wrote on Twitter that an apology just to mollify advertisers was insufficient.

Hogg is right. Spiteful chauvinists like Ingraham are an embarrassment to the noble profession of journalism. Sadly, since sensationalism sells and the ideological divide between the Democrats and the Republicans are growing fast in the Trump era, neocons like Murdoch has found it easy to employ yellow journalists like Ingraham and Sean Hannity to support their so-called conservative cause and, of course, their immoral avatar - president Trump. They are all birds of the same feather! They talk of conservative family values, something that is not to be found in their life dictionary.

As it has become rather too common these days, another member of the Trump cabinet – Dave Shulkin who ran the Veteran Affairs -  is gone. Reportedly, he has opposed privatization of the department – whose annual budget is $200 billion. In a Twitter message, the president named Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, the chief White House physician, as the next VA secretary.

With a handshake and a presidential kiss on the cheek, Hope Hicks, the press-shy communications director, bid farewell to the White House on Thursday, taking a rare moment in the spotlight on her final day in Donald Trump’s administration. She departed on her own terms and was not fired by her boss.

The exit of the president’s most trusted aide highlights continuing uncertainty among Trump aides and White House staff about who might be the next to go.

Rumors are that EPA secretary Scott Pruitt may be next in line to go. He now finds himself at the center of an expanding controversy over his decision to rent a room in Washington, DC, from the family of an energy lobbyist. As it has happened before with the HUD (Housing and Urban Development) Secretary Ben Carson and recently-fired VA (Veterans Affairs) Secretary David Shulkin, the White House officials began learning about this issue only from media reports, and not Pruitt himself, thus embarrassing the Trump Administration.

Pruitt rented a room in a condo from Vicki and Steven Hart, lobbyists whose firm has lobbied the EPA on behalf of an Oklahoma Energy company, ABC News and Bloomberg reported. According to Bloomberg, Pruitt leased a room for around $50 a night, only paying when he stayed there. In total, Pruitt paid $6,100 for the room over six months, a rate significantly lower than market value.

CNN has confirmed Pruitt's landlords, the Harts, were political donors of his when he was an Oklahoma state official. According to campaign finance records, Steven Hart hosted a "fundraising reception" for Pruitt's 2014 campaign for Oklahoma attorney general. The contribution report filed with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission states that Hart spent $1,616.43 on the expense. Read More

In addition, Hart and his wife Vicki made a $500 contribution to Pruitt in October 2010, a $1,000 contribution to Pruitt in September 2011 and a $250 contribution to Pruitt in April 2012.

As rumored before, Lt. General H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, was replaced by John R. Bolton, an advocate for the illegitimate invasion of Iraq. He was hired by Trump over White House Chief of Staff (Retired) General John Kelly’s objections.

It is worth recalling what Bolton said in 2002 while he served as President George W. Bush's Under Secretary of State for arms control and international security: "We are confident that Saddam Hussein has hidden weapons of mass destruction [WMDs] and production facilities in Iraq." He did everything he could to prompt the launch of the US invasion -- under the pretext of WMDs that never existed.

The illegal 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq has, thus far, left approximately 1 million Iraqis dead. That is roughly 5 percent of the total population of that country. Murderous neocon advocates like Bolton deserve to be tried for their horrendous crimes against humanity (let alone the unnecessary death of thousands of American soldiers). Surely, they don’t deserve getting hired.

Knowing of his past mass murderous instincts, it is not difficult to guess what Bolton’s forthcoming agenda may look like and what he may be hiding in his dirty sleeves.

While Trump promises to pull out American soldiers from Syria, once again disproving himself, his newly appointed national security adviser may isolate the USA from the rest of the NATO by scraping the Iran nuclear deal and/or draw him closer to opening new war fronts against Iran.

It is clear from Trump’s decisions on firing and hiring that the POTUS likes to surround himself with sycophants and not genuine advisers who care about the greater good of the nation (although I must admit here that none of his cabinet members included anyone who can be considered a good human being; the fired ones are probably the best amongst the worst of the bunch).

His appointment of Mike Pompeo as the Secretary of State and John Bolton as the national security adviser speaks volumes about his evil intentions about making ‘America great again’ and the world he wants to carve out. That message is not lost to war criminals like Netanyahu of Israel who praised Israeli troops, a day after they killed at least 16 Palestinian protesters at the border with Gaza.

UN chief Antonio Guterres called for an “independent and transparent investigation”, as did European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas declared Saturday a day of national mourning and in a speech said he held Israel fully responsible for the deaths.

Like Bolton, Pompeo is no angel, and is known to be an endorser of torture and war crimes. After visiting the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in 2013, Pompeo remarked that some inmates who had declared a hunger strike looked like they had put on weight. He also defended the CIA after the 2014 release of a Senate report on torture, which detailed such practices as waterboarding. He declared: "These men and women are not torturers, they are patriots." The CIA tactics, he said, "were within the law, within the constitution".

He was accused of Islamophobia, and rightly so, for remarks he made following the deadly 2013 Boston marathon bombing. Pompeo had taken to the House floor to suggest some Islamic faith leaders might be tacitly encouraging terrorist attacks.

"When the most devastating terrorist attacks on America in the last 20 years come overwhelmingly from people of a single faith and are performed in the name of that faith a special obligation falls on those that are the leaders of that faith," he said. "Instead of responding, silence has made these Islamic leaders across America potentially complicit in these acts and, more importantly still, in those that may well follow."

If past deeds are any measures to judge what a person may do in the future there is nothing to feel good about Mr. Trump and his new appointments – from the secretary of state to the CIA chief Gina Haspel. The latter was deeply embroiled in dark episode in the C.I.A.’s interrogation program, endorsing waterboarding.

President Trump himself is deeply embroiled in sex scandals, let alone financial misdeeds. His exploits seem to make Berlusconi an angel. Had it not been for the Republican lawmakers that control both the Houses in the Capitol Hill he would have been impeached long time ago. He has also the lowest approval ratings of any president in modern history, with nearly half of Americans considering him mentally unstable.

Trump has proven himself to be a joke in politics and an embarrassment for the top post in the USA. To his credit, he has been a skillful spin master; but none of his ploys has worked, thus far, to raise his approval rating.

Under such circumstances, American presidents have been known to have used diversionary tactics to regain their trust. No one should be surprised if President Trump tries to follow his predecessors to deflect public opinion in his favor. As we have seen though such ploys, no matter how meticulously planned and brilliantly executed, were never able to fully hide the ugly facts – not for too long anyway, but more importantly, cost the nation more than it could be burdened with.

It is prudent to say that enough is enough with Trump and do what is morally right. But that requires unflinching moral courage – something that is in short supply in the Capitol Hill, where sadly, our politicians find it difficult to put aside their partisan politics and do what is morally right, esp. when they themselves are mortgaged to powerful lobbies whose interests and agenda are often at odds with those of their electorates.

We can only blame ourselves for the choices we made!

Netanyahu praises Israeli troops day after they 'kill 16 Palestinian protesters'

Benjamin Netanyahu has praised Israeli troops, a day after they were accused of killing at least 16 Palestinian protesters at the border with Gaza.
In a message posted on Twitter in which he thanked soldiers for allowing the nation to celebrate the Passover holiday, the Israeli Prime Minister, wrote: “Well done to our soldiers. Israel acts vigorously and with determination to protect its sovereignty and the security of its citizens.”
He posted the message a day after thousands of Palestinians rallied on the Gaza side of the border fence, throwing stones and rolling burning tyres at Israeli soldiers. Israeli troops responded with live fire, killing 16 protesters, according to Palestinian officials, in what marked some of the deadliest violence in recent years. On Saturday, as many as 70 Palestinians were injured as clashes continued, though more sporadically.
Israel, as it routinely does, said its soldiers had only fired in self defence and said there were efforts by Palestinians to break through the fence that separates Gaza from the rest of the country.
But Palestinians accused Israel of using disproportionate force, saying the soldiers opened fire on protesters who did not pose a threat. Human rights groups questioned Israel’s use of live fire.
UN chief Antonio Guterres called for an “independent and transparent investigation”, as did European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas declared Saturday a day of national mourning and in a speech said he held Israel fully responsible for the deaths.
The Associated Press said thousands of Palestinians attended funerals for 14 of those killed – two were buried on Friday – with mourners holding Palestinian flags and some chanting “revenge” and firing into the air. The protests were mainly organised by Hamas, the group which won power in Gaza and which it said was the start of a six-week-long protest campaign against a stifling decade-old blockade of the territory.
Protests are aiming to culminate in a large border march on May 15, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding.
Israel will target militant groups inside Gaza if violence along the territory’s border with Israel drags on, the chief military spokesman said on Saturday, seeking to put the blame on the Palestinians. As it was, on Saturday, the clashes were significantly reduced with just small groups of Palestinians throwing stones.
However, the Gaza Health Ministry said as many as 70 Palestinians were injured by live Israeli fire and tear gas, according to Reuters. The AP said in two separate incidents, a reporter for the news agency saw two men who walked close to the fence get shot in the legs by soldiers.
Palestinian health officials said at least 15 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire and more than 750 hit by live rounds on Friday, making it the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 cross-border war between Israel and Hamas.
In Friday’s confrontations, large crowds had gathered near the fence, with smaller groups of protesters rushing forward, throwing stones and burning tyres.
Israel’s military initially claimed on Friday that “thousands of Palestinians are rioting in six locations throughout the Gaza Strip, rolling burning tyres and hurling stones”. But video released by the army appeared to show less actually engaged in direct violence.
On Saturday, the chief army spokesman, Brig Gen. Ronen Manelis, said that while thousands of Palestinians approached the border Friday, those engaged in stone-throwing were in the hundreds.
Mr Manelis denied soldiers used excessive force, saying those killed by Israeli troops were men between the ages of 18 and 30 who were involved in violence and belonged to militant factions.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Oxford's Neo-Orientalism

Slowly but surely the world is coming to terms with the gruesome reality of Burma's genocide of the Rohingyas. As early as 2015 London Queen Mary College's State Crimes Initiative alerted the international community of the ongoing genocide in Arakan. Hardly anyone paid heed to that ominous warning. Eventually, as the situation in Arakan took a turn for the worse, taking a heavy toll on Rohingya lives, livelihood and liberty, the progressive elements among the international community acknowledged the unpalatable reality.
The People's Tribunal on State Crimes of Myanmar, in two subsequent sittings in March and September 2017 in London and Kuala Lumpur respectively, unequivocally termed the atrocities committed by the Burmese government as "genocide". The UN special rapporteur on human rights situation of the country has clearly stated that such actions bear the "hallmarks of genocide". Without mincing his words, the French President Macron has expressed his disgust of Myanmar's genocide. Even the unpredictable British Foreign Secretary termed it as "industrial scale ethnic cleansing". The Holocaust Museum acknowledged it as a genocide and expressed solidarity with the victims. Nobel laureates Bishop Tutu and Amartya Sen have labelled it as "slow burning genocide" while the Rohingya diaspora moved the High Court of Australia demanding that visiting State Counsellor of Myanmar Suu Kyi be arrested for crimes against humanity.
Despite this growing trend guided by corporate, military-industrial and strategic interests, many powerful states vie with one another in placating the murderous Burmese authorities, shunning their obligations under international human rights law. Some among those attempt to draw a distinction between the erstwhile icon of freedom, State Counsellor Suu Kyi and the military; though over time actions and statements of the former have rendered such distinction increasingly untenable.
As horrendous narratives of survivors and images of Burmese genocide began to secure space in the global print and electronic media and in the reports of reputed institutions, the lies meted out by the Burmese authorities have been gradually exposed. Satellite imagery and uncovering of mass graves further vindicated the scale of their barbarity.
As an integral component of the genocidal act, the military governments of Burma over the last four decades have launched a campaign denying the ethnic Rohingya identity to the community. The policy is being pursued in full steam under State Counsellor Suu Kyi's government. The central theme of the campaign has been to deny the legitimacy of the Rohingya claim as an ethnic community and to present the community members as recent illegal entrants from neighbouring densely populated Bangladesh, conveniently labelling them as Islamic terrorists.
The official narrative, though spuriously grounded, is being assiduously pushed forward by the Burmese government. Over the decades the Burmese political-military establishment has been largely successful in incorporating the revisionist history in the country's academic curricula that celebrate the supremacy of Buddhist-Bhama nationalism and relegate other ethnic groups. In this specious discourse the Rohingya identity has been completely obliterated. Thus generations of Burmese have identified Rohingyas as undesirable Muslim foreigners in the pristine Buddhist land and had no problem in terming them as "kalars" or "Bangalis". In this official discourse Buddhist Rakhines are presented as indigenous, and Rohingyas as illegal aliens.
Over the last few months a storm has been brewing in the academic circles as the prestigious University of Oxford decided to appoint a French academic Jacques Leider to author a reference article on "Rohingya: Emergence and Vicissitudes of a Communal Muslim Identity in Myanmar" for Oxford University Press's (OUP) Oxford Research Encyclopedias: Asian History series. Dr Jacques Leider is a well-known adviser to the Burmese military including that of the Armed Forces Historical Museum in Naypyidaw and reputed for his denial of Rohingya identity, their unique history, and the crime of genocide the group has been subjected to for decades. Speaking on public events in Burma, including those sponsored by the Burmese military, Leider is on record reiterating his position that Rakhine identity is a “real ethnic identity”, whereas the Rohingya group identity is an “invented political identity”, created by politically motivated Muslims in the 1950s, in spite of all historical and official records to the contrary.
The Rohingya community, particularly those in the disapora, was baffled at the selection of Leider as an “authority” on their community. For the Rohingya community, Leider writing the piece would constitute "a classic colonial act", a racist White Man disliked by the subject is commissioned to put together a piece about the subject people, despite the latter's rejection of him as "an expert" on their affairs, including their identity and history. They find the decision of the Oxford University Press as "adding insult to their injury".
Eighty academics from different parts of the world, including two Emeritus Professors of Oxford University, Barbara Harriss-White and Barbara Harrell-Bond, Princeton University Professor Richard Falk, MIT Professor and linguist Noam Chomsky, Columbia Professor Gayatri Spivak, eminent peace scholar Johan Galtung, Queen Mary University of London Professor Penny Green, genocide scholar Gregory Stanton and founding editor of the journal The Holocaust in History and Memory Rainer Schulze, have called upon the Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford to desist from commissioning Leider with the task. Their concern was a publication of the reputed university will inflict long-term damage as it will misinform a new generation of students of history and identity. As Rohingya scholar Maung Zarni cogently reminds, “A single racist choice of not recording Rohingyas in the colonial censuses has been used by the genocidal governments and apologists as the basis for exclusion and disenfranchisement of Rohingyas as a group. It was an arbitrary choice out of administrative expedience for taxation and population control on the part of the colonial administrators in Burma, but one with deep and dark consequences”.
Further evidence of Leider's collusion with the Burmese establishment are his attempts to disparage and derail the Berlin Conference on Myanmar Genocide held last month by manipulating the sensitivity around Shoah (Nazi Genocide of the Jews). Leider portrayed Columbia University Professor Gayatri Spivak, the keynote speaker of the Conference and an ardent champion of the Rohingya cause, as “anti-Semitic”. Spivak has been long known for her "boycott Israel" campaign.
In its much delayed response to another group of concerned East Oxford residents, the Oxford University Press noted that “The history of the Rohingya is a complex and contentious area of research and, as always, the Press's goal is to represent this history with accuracy, balance, and sensitivity.” OUP defended its editorial board's decision saying that Dr Jacques Leider was selected for his "subject-matter expertise". It went to claim that the “decision on whether to accept his article for publication will be informed principally by the outcome of an external peer review exercise and the scholarly assessment of the Press's editorial board, which is composed of career historians of Asia”.
The OUP's defence that its strict refereeing process would ensure fairness and accuracy is not acceptable. Critics have noted that the fact that only Rohingya communalism was made the focus of the article suggests that there is at least a tacit acceptance of the opposing Rakhine community's claim of its own authenticity as an ethnic group. Quite justifiably a case can be made that for all fairness a similar piece examining Rakhine Buddhist communalism be commissioned and published simultaneously with the piece on the Rohingya. That call also went unheeded.
One surely has reason to feel disturbed at the OUP's selection of the expert who is still hooked on to the binary of “real ethnicity” and “political ethnicity” at a time when Benedict Anderson's seminal work Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (1983) clearly posits that nations, national sentiments and national identities are all products of collective imaginations.
It is interesting to note that thus far OUP has not approached perhaps the most authoritative scholar on the subject matter, Michael Charney of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) to review Leider's submission. His University of Michigan doctoral thesis (1999) focused on religious communalism in Rakhine through the colonial period. Charney has sustained his engagement on the issue till this day, and drawing evidence from historical sources maintains that “No group in Arakan would pass the test of 'indigenous'”.
As the deadline for the publication of the volume looms large, there is little indication that Oxford University authorities have paid attention to the concerns expressed. It is unfortunate that an institution reputed for its academic excellence and deemed as a source of new knowledge "based on facts, accuracy and fairness" has remained adamant on its imprudent decision.

CR Abrar teaches international relations at the University of Dhaka and was a signatory of the letter to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

Oh Rohingya, who are you? And where is your homeland? - a poem by Dr Maung Zarni

Oh Rohingya
you are many things to many people.

Oh Rohingya
you are a name 50 million Myanmar are brainwashed to hate who know next to nothing about what's in a name.

Oh Rohingya
you are the content to erase from textbooks whose "not real" identity the snake-tongued Suu Kyi seeks to ban in her dubious Diplo-Speak

Oh Rohingya
you are a fundable project in the name of "local partners"

Oh Rohingya
you are an award-winning subject of reportage or documentary

Oh Rohingya
You are a legal volleyball played by human rights rights lawyers

On Rohingya
you are a security threat to nations and regions, potentially as "radical Islamicists";
never mind that you have not blown yourselves up in 40 years since your lot's genocide began.

Oh Rohingya
you are a new 'boat people' whose survival flights at night the United Nations bleached as "irregular movements"

Oh Rohingya
you are a subject of surveillance to many a "anti-terror sickos"
For you pray out loud to Allah when your infants are burned alive, and the world stand idly by.

Oh Rohingya,
you are a subject of worldwide charity, but the one which triggers no real solidarity.

Oh Rohingya
you are a subject of interest which neo-Orientalist academics & experts dissect, from Asian Studies to the US Institute of Peace

Oh Rohingya
you are sources of memories to extract, collate, compile and deposit in some posh Ivory Tower

Oh Rohingya,
you are an agenda item which UN councils will debate, closed doors, with neither substance nor results, for decades.

Oh Rohingya
you are creatures whose children have been orphaned by the hundreds of thousands

Oh Rohingya
you are a people whose women have been widowed, raped, maimed, & terrorised.

Oh Rohingya
you are this deeply pathetic world's Celebrities from Hell

Oh Rohingya
you are a subject of endless TV shows, academic debates, photography exhibits, and policy masturbation

Oh Rohingya
you are Myanmar Commander-in-Chief's "unfinished business",
the High Command's objects to exterminate,
the ground troops' preys of mass-rape, whom burn alive, mutilate, blow up, fire upon, bayonet, behead or cut throat, literally.

Oh Rohingya
you are our world's largest tribe of Survivors with No Promised Land to run to

Oh Rohingya
you are a people stranded on our Earth, shoved around like dirt by sovereign states,
you are a people without the Right to Belong or Settle-down

Oh Rohingya
you are a people in desperate need of a Protected Homeland.

The downward spiral of vulnerability in Rohingya camps

Yasmin Khan is a doctoral candidate in human geography and women and gender studies at the University of Toronto. I reproduce  her article below.
Last May, on my first day visiting the Rohingya refugee camps, I witnessed my Rohingya guide attempt to retrieve a child who had been kidnapped by a man who had hired her to clean his house.
"She is 12-years-old. He is 50. We know where she is, her family wants her back," he spoke into one cell phone. He translated the answer he received to another phone. A few minutes later, he hung up both phones, sighing.
"The man took her as his second wife. We know where she is but we can’t go get her," he said. "He is Bangladeshi and we are Rohingya." He had been talking to his contact at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the agency in charge of the approximately 200,000 "unofficial" Rohingya refugees and new arrivals living in makeshift camps last May, 2017. On the other phone, he had been talking to the father of the girl who had been kidnapped. He could elicit no help from the IOM, the police, or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to retrieve the girl. As new arrivals from Myanmar, the family did not fall under the protective authority of any agency. The girl fell into a bureaucratic gap between agencies, a perilous position created by lack of coordination between agencies and governments, a dynamic that still affects thousands of Rohingya. The arrival of more than 50 local and international aid agencies called in to help with the 700,000 Rohingya who flooded over the Myanmar-Bangladesh border starting August 25, 2017 has not eliminated these gaps in protections.
Gaps in protections increase the vulnerability of women with limited mobility and economic means. Women are not inherently vulnerable, they have survived years of violence, suppression, and environmental catastrophes in both Myanmar and Bangladesh. With access to basic resources, such as stable livelihoods and reliable health care, women are resilient. Female refugee populations’ vulnerability is created by state-centered relationships among governments and agencies, relationships that often leave the needs of women and girls last.
Along with Bangladeshi women and girls, Rohingya women and girls have been sold into sex trafficking around Cox’s Bazar for years, a forced "livelihood" that many women and girls endure to feed their families. But the multiple levels of vulnerability don't stop at trafficked women and girls. The massive August influx includes 30,000 to 60,000 pregnant Rohingya women (numbers that vary depending on what agency you ask), many of whom are due to give birth in the middle of a historically deadly monsoon season which begins in April.
Pregnant refugee women are in a uniquely precarious situation because they have limited access to medical care since the Bangladeshi government has forbidden aid agencies to work in camps after 5 pm, leaving women to deal with high-risk births on their own during the night. Experienced Rohingya midwives have been attending home births, but the overcrowded camp environment with its poor sanitation facilities, low-lying regions prone to floods and mudslides, and lack of mobility in case of an emergency, put mothers and babies at risk. Within this pregnant population, there is another set of women and girls who are in an even more precarious state: those who became pregnant as a result of the brutal systemic rape campaigns by the Myanmar military in August. Agencies say they are concerned for newborns conceived through military rape who will look physically different from the population around them. These babies will be born to mothers suffering from severe trauma and won’t have biological connections to males within the camp, further restricting the economic options of both mom and baby. 
The  environmental risks inherent to living in coastal Bangladesh, combined with being stateless, pregnant, trafficked, economically repressed, and speaking a language distinct to the host community and aid workers highlights the multiple levels of vulnerabilities Rohingya women and girls face in refugee camps. These vulnerabilities are created through the lack of communication, trust and common goal of protection that divides the host government, humanitarian aid agencies, and the people they are charged with protecting.
As for the 12-year-old girl who was kidnapped last May - divided from her family by an invisible yet powerful barrier of rightlessness - she still has not been returned to her family as of March 20.
 

Laura Ingraham - the chauvinist - should be fired

A survivor of last month’s Florida school mass shooting has called on a US television chat-show host who mocked him to step down.
David Hogg said Fox News presenter Laura Ingraham should quit as he rejected her apology for accusing him of “whining” over being rejected by four colleges.
Ms Ingraham had apologised to Mr Hogg for her controversial tweet after seven companies took Mr Hogg up on his suggestion that they pull their advertising from her show.
But the student, who has led a high-profile campaign for gun control since the massacre that left 17 people dead, rejected her apology and said it was “great” that corporate America was standing behind him and fellow pupils who were standing up for reform.
Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder for the 14 teenagers and three adults who died at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Valentine’s Day.
At a March For Our Lives rally in Washington DC, Mr Hogg told a crowd of thousands that politicians supported by the National Rifle Association should get their “resumes” ready. There was widespread anger when one website compared him to Hitler over the way he held an arm up in the air.
The host of the Ingraham Angle show also had a dig at him, tweeting: “David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it. (Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA [grade point average]... totally predictable given acceptance rates.)” A grade point average of 4 is considered a top mark.
In response, Mr Hogg suggested on Twitter that advertisers boycott her show, and other social-media users slated her for being “mean-spirited” and a “cyber-bully”.
Nestle US, Hulu, Nutrish, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Wayfair and Johnson & Johnson all cancelled their adverts with the Fox show.
Ms Ingraham then issued an apology, saying: “Any student should be proud of a 4.2 GPA.” She added: “On reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week, I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland.
"For the record, I believe my show was the first to feature David immediately after that horrific shooting and even noted how ‘poised’ he was given the tragedy.”
Mr Hogg, a self-styled “#neveragain activist”, said after her apology: “I think it's great that corporate America is standing with me and the rest of my friends.
“I think it’s important that we come together as both corporate and civic America to take action against these people and show them that they cannot push us around, especially when all we're trying to do here is save lives. And when people try to distract like Laura’s trying to do from what the real issue is, which is gun violence in America, it’s not only sad, it’s just wrong.
”From a journalistic standpoint, I’d say she needs to be more objective and needs to stand down because I’m not the issue here. The issue needs to be gun violence in America. She’s trying to distract from that and I hate it.”

He said he did not accept Ms Ingraham’s apology.

“She’s only apologising after a third of her advertisers pulled out and I think it’s really disgusting that she tried promoting her show after ‘apologising’ to me. I think it’s wrong and if she really wants to do something she could cover things like inner-city violence.

“I know she’s a talk-show host but as such she has a responsibility to show both sides of the story.”

Netanyahu urges bill be passed to prevent Muslim call for prayers

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday asked the chairman of the government coalition to push the “Muezzen Bill”, which outlaws the Muslim call for prayer – athan, to get Knesset approval, Arab48 reported.
The bill was shelved for about a year after it passed an initial reading in the Knesset. Analysts expected the renewal of the proposal to lead to a new coalition crisis as the bill is opposed by the ultra-orthodox Jewish parties.
The bill initially banned Muslims from using loudspeakers at mosques to call for prayer, it was later modified to include the use of loudspeakers from 11pm to 7am in an effort to appease ultra-orthodox Jews who were worried it would hinder their religious rites.
Violators of the ban would be fined 10,000 shekels ($3,000).

Palestinians get bulldozed for doing what the U.S. State Dep’t is doing

By 
The news from Israel Tuesday was that the finance minister had waived all building permit and rezoning requirements so as to allow the U.S. State Department to ramp up construction on a consular building in South Jerusalem that is to become the new U.S. Embassy, perhaps as early as May.
The Times of Israel reported that Minister Moshe Kahlon said he would sign the waiver because moving the embassy is such a political priority:
“As we promised, we won’t let unnecessary bureaucracy delay the move of the American embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital,” he said in a statement. “…This is a strategic diplomatic move for the State of Israel.”
Israel’s i24 channel said this would save months or years of delays, and Yaacov Lozowick, the Israeli archivist, celebrated: “The elected politicians have succeeded in twisting the arms of the bureaucrats. This is no small feat.”
The green light for the Americans only highlights the red light that Palestinians almost invariably get under the same system. They can’t even wait months or years; their plans to build are routinely denied because Israel is seeking to frustrate the growth of Palestinian areas. And when they do build, Israel often comes in with bulldozers to demolish the construction. A whole organization, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, arose to fight this pattern; nearly 1000 Palestinian buildings are destroyed every year. The phrase that appears most frequently in its reports is this:
 The house was demolished on grounds of lacking an Israeli-issued building permit.
The human rights organization Adalah reported last year that permits are unobtainable to Palestinians, whether in Israel or in occupied Jerusalem:
official permits … are technically unobtainable to [Palestinians] due to decades of systematic discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel in land allocation, and deliberate neglect of the land and housing rights and needs of the occupied Palestinian population in Jerusalem
Adalah said that a law passed last year “gives the state expanded administrative powers to demolish homes and seek prison sentences and more severe financial penalties as punitive measures for breaches of the state’s discriminatory planning and building laws.”
The building-permit process is an administrative figleaf for unequal treatment; and worse, the process is an instrument that is used by the state to stifle Palestinian life, economy and culture. This is not the “rule of law,” which means that the law is applied evenly to everyone. Because the law is always applied differently when it comes to Palestinians.  Though if you’re in the right group you get rubber-stamped, because you’re in the “strategic” interest of the state.
So the good news for the special relationship between Israel and the U.S. illuminates something else: the bureaucracy of apartheid.

For Bolton, the Slaughter of 1 Million Iraqis Is a Job Qualification

By Dahr Jamil
The illegal 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq has, thus far, left approximately 1 million Iraqis dead. That is roughly 5 percent of the total population of that country.
If a foreign military superpower invaded and occupied the US and annihilated 5 percent of the total population here, that would be 16,300,000 dead US citizens.
President Donald Trump's incoming national security adviser, John Bolton, still thinks the mass destruction of Iraq was a good idea.
"We are confident that Saddam Hussein has hidden weapons of mass destruction [WMDs] and production facilities in Iraq," Bolton said in 2002 while he served as President George W. Bush's under secretary of state for arms control and international security. He did everything he could to prompt the launch of the US invasion -- under the pretext of WMDs that never existed.
Then, 12 years later, with 5 percent of the total population of Iraq dead, thousands of US troops dead and trillions of dollars of taxpayer funds bled away, he told the Washington Examiner that he still thought the Iraq War was worth it. He even commented that "the worst decision made after that was the 2011 decision to withdraw US and coalition forces."
I witnessed the carnage firsthand in Iraq. I saw the destruction of an entire country. I watched women, children and the elderly slaughtered in Fallujah by the US military. I walked through freezers full of decayed bodies that were the detritus of Bolton's US empire project.
The fact that this individual is about to become national security adviser feels like a true nightmare about to revisit us.

Two Peas in a Pod

In their refusal to acknowledge reality, Bolton and the president are just alike. They share a disdain for anything that contradicts their fabricated versions of reality -- and they both actively work to undermine whatever happens to challenge their positions.
Bolton was rightly accused of manipulating US intelligence about WMDs during the buildup to the invasion of Iraq. But that didn't slow him down. Bolton claimed, "We estimate that once Iraq acquires fissile material -- whether from a foreign source or by securing the materials to build an indigenous fissile material capability -- it could fabricate a nuclear weapon within one year."
This deceitful strategy went beyond Iraq: In 2002, Bolton had his staff prepare a speech for the president that alleged that Cuba had an active biological weapons program, which was patently untrue. The lead bioweapons analyst for the State Department at the time refused to sign off on the preposterous claim.
Now, he has already openly argued for attacking North Korea, and has spoken out publicly against diplomatic efforts, including the upcoming talks in May between Trump and Kim Jong Un.
Similarly, Bolton has repeatedly called for bombing Iran. He has a record of favoring unilateral solutions to delicate issues such as these -- "solutions" that would almost guarantee the loss of another million lives, for starters.
Meanwhile, he has consistently disparaged the UN and shown an open disdain for diplomacy, advocating military solutions at every turn.
"There's no such thing as the United Nations," Bolton has said. In 1994, he also said that if the United Nations Secretariat building in New York "lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."
And let us not forget about the so-called "Axis of Evil" -- North Korea, Iraq and Iran: Bolton claims this "axis" went beyond rhetoric, and that there was "a hard connection between these regimes -- an 'axis' along which flow dangerous weapons and dangerous technology."
One would think that this kind of man would have made himself irrelevant by now, and beyond disqualified for any sort of public office. But in the world of Trump, where truth does not matter -- and is often viewed as an inconvenience -- Bolton has become the perfect man for his job.
We don't have to guess what Bolton's "national security" strategy would be. I saw it with my own eyes on the streets of Iraq.
This time, when the US goes on the attack -- against North Korea, Iran or someone else -- there will be even less slowing it down.
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Dahr Jamail

Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.
His third book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with William Rivers Pitt, is available now on Amazon.
Dahr Jamail is also the author of the book, The End of Ice, forthcoming from The New Press. He lives and works in Washington State.
For his Truthout work on climate change and militarism, Dahr Jamail is a 2018 winner of the Izzy Award for excellence in independent journalism.

Saudi Crown Prince Meets AIPAC, Other Jewish Leaders During US Visit

By Jason Ditz
Amid recent reports of improving Saudi-Israel ties, at least behind the scenes, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is visiting the United States, has met with the leaders of a number of US Jewish organizations.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg
The prince visited with officials from AIPAC, Stand for Israel, the American Jewish Committee, ADL, the Jewish Federation of North America, and others. The visits were revealed in a leaked copy of his itinerary, and were not meant to be publicized.
It’s not just that these groups are Jewish, as such, or even that they’re broadly pro-Israel. Much of the controversy is seen as many of the groups are both involved in the Israeli settlement venture, illegal under international law and widely criticized in the Middle East, and are anti-BDS groups.
Analysts familiar with the situation say that these meetings are being done broadly for the benefit of how the Saudis believe it looks to the Trump Administration. The Saudis apparently think such meetings show the prince as much more willing to engage with Jewish groups, and by extension to align themselves with the administration’s pro-Israel policy, than previous Saudi leaders have been.

Israeli army kills 15 Palestinians in Gaza protests


More than 1,400 others wounded by Israeli forces during march calling for return of Palestinian refugees to their lands.
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The Palestinian Authority has declared Saturday a day of national mourning after 15 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces as thousands marched near Gaza's border with Israel in a major demonstration marking the 42nd anniversary of Land Day. 
"Schools, universities as well as all government institutions across the country will be off on Saturday, as per President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to declare a day of national mourning for the souls of the martyrs," a statement issued on Friday said. 
More than 1,400 others were wounded after Israeli forces fired live ammunition at protesters and used tear gas to push them back from a heavily fortified fence, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. 
Friday's demonstration commemorated Land Day, which took place on March 30, 1976, when six unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli forces during protests against the Israeli government's decision to expropriate massive tracts of Palestinian-owned land.
Organisers of Friday's march, dubbed the Great Return March, said the main message of the demonstration was to call for the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
Some 70 percent of Gaza's two million population are descendants of Palestinians who were driven from their homes in the territories taken over by Israel during the 1948 war, known to Arabs as the Nakba.
Protesters in Gaza gathered in five different spots along the border, originally positioned about 700 metres away from the fence. 
According to the ministry, the majority were injured in live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas inhalation. 

'Violation of international law'

Mohammed Najjar, 25, was shot in the stomach in a clash east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, while Mahmoud Muammar, 38, and Mohammed Abu Omar, 22, were both shot dead in Rafah, the Palestinian health ministry said in a statement on Friday.
The other 11 victims were identified as Ahmed Odeh, 19, Jihad Freneh, 33, Mahmoud Saadi Rahmi, 33, Abdelfattah Abdelnabi, 22, Ibrahim Abu Shaar, 20, Abdelqader al-Hawajiri, Sari Abu Odeh, Hamdan Abu Amsheh, Jihad Abu Jamous, Bader al-Sabbagh and Naji Abu Hjair, whose ages remain unknown.
Earlier on Friday, Omar Waheed Abu Samour, a farmer from Gaza, was also killed by Israeli artillery fire while standing in his land near Khan Younis, just hours before the demonstrations.
There has been no confirmation from the Israeli army of the attack that killed Samour. 
Adalah, a legal centre for Palestinian rights in Israel, condemned the Israeli army's use of force, calling it a violation of international law.
"Live gunfire on unarmed civilians constitutes a brutal violation of the international legal obligation to distinguish between civilians and combatants," the group said in a statement.
It also said that it would launch an investigation to "demand that those found responsible for the killings be brought to justice".

Land Day

According to Israeli media, Israel's army deployed more than 100 snipers on the other side of the border with permission to fire.
The march was called for by all political factions and several Palestinian civil society organisations in the besieged enclave.
Speaking to the protesters, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya said: "The Palestinian people have proved time after time that they can take the initiative and do great things. This march is the beginning of the return to all of Palestine."
Friday's protest also kicked off a six-week sit-in demonstration along the border leading up to the commemoration of the Nakba on May 15.
It is expected that the United States will be transferring its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem around the same time, following President Donald Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017. 

International reaction

At Kuwait's request, the United Nations Security Council was scheduled to meet later on Friday to "discuss developments" in the occupied Palestinian territories, according to Kuwait's state news agency.
The Jordanian government also issued a statement laying responsibility on Israel for the deaths of the Palestinian protesters. 
Mohammad al-Momani, spokesperson for the Jordanian government, said: "As an occupying power, Israel bears responsibility for what happened in Gaza today, as a result of the Israeli violation of the Palestinian right to protest peacefully and the use of excessive force against them".
The Turkish and Qatari governments released similar statements, condemning Israel's use of force.