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Beit Ummar – Life Under Occupation; Wed. Nov. 15, 2017. 7-8:30; Highland Center. 3401 W. 29th Ave. Denver 80211

November 11, 2017

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Colorado Friends: Beit Ummar is a Palestinian town of close to 18,000 people in the West Bank, Occupied Palestine.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2016, the town had a population of 17,892 inhabitants. Over 4,800 residents of the town are under the age of 18. Since the Second Intifada (200-2005), unemployment ranges between 60 and 80 percent due mostly to the inability of residents to work in Israel and a depression in the Palestinian economy. A part of the city straddles Road 60 and due to this, several propositions of house demolition have occurred.

Beit Ummar is mostly agricultural and is noted for its many grape vines. This has a major aspect on their culinary tradition of stuffed grape leaves known as waraq al-‘inib and a grape syrup called dibs. Beit Ummar also has cherry, plum, apple and olive orchards.

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Since the Six-Day War in 1967, Beit Ummar has been under Israeli occupationIt is currently located in Areas B (civil affairs administered by the PNA) and C (civil and military affairs controlled by Israel). Located near Hebron, it is a municipality that has experienced the iron hand of Israeli occupation as harshly as any.

A few examples from the Wikipedia description of the town

  • Several people in the village have been shot and killed by the Israeli soldiers or settlers during Israeli occupation. In January 2011, 17-year-old Yousef Ikhlayl, was reported shot and killed by Israeli settlers. The Israeli court set released the settlers.
  • In August 2014, Hashem Abu Maria was killed by an IDF sharpshooter. Two other Palestinians from Beit Ummar were also shot and killed.
  • In April 2015, 27-year-old Ziyad Awad was shot and killed in a demonstration which started after the funeral of his cousin.

The repression continues….

For more information: htak913@gmail.com

63 Tunisian Youth, Migrant Refugees on Italy’s Island of Lampadusa, Oppose Forced Repatriation, Go On Hunger Strike

November 4, 2017

another boatload of clandestine Tunisian migrants arrive At Lampedusa Harbor

Opposing Forced Repatriation

They face forced deportation back to Tunisia from whence they fled and have announced a hunger strike in protest of being forcibly repatriated. A group of 63 Tunisian youth, many coming from the depressed mining community of Redeyef, near Gafsa, fled the country by boat across the Mediterranean to Lampedusa. In response to the Italian government’s plan to ship them back to Tunisia, the youth have started a hunger strike. According to the last news I could find, their hunger strike had lasted at least five days. In a statement in French, they describe their plight. (The English translation is my informal translation).

Nous sommes un groupe de jeunes venant du Rdeyef (sud-ouest de la Tunisie, là où a émergé le soulèvement du bassin minier en 2008) et d’autres régions de la Tunisie. Devant les défaillances économiques et sociales des politiques de notre pays, l’abandon de l’Etat de ses obligations et l’échec politique à l’échelle locale et internationale, nous avons dû abandonner notre rêve de 2008 d’un Etat démocratique qui garantit la liberté, la dignité et la justice sociale. Et malgré qu’on soit fière de notre pays et de son peuple, nous devions surmonter le danger de la migration non réglementaire direction le nord-ouest de la mer Méditerranée, cette route devenue dangereuse à cause des politiques migratoires européennes qui ferment les frontières à nos rêves et à nos ambitions de tenter une nouvelle expérience d’une manière réglementaire.

(We are a group of young Tunisians, from Redeyef (in Tunisia’s southwest, there where there was an uprising of miners in 2008). Given the political failures of our country’s political leadership to solve the economic and social crisis of our country, along with the state’s neglect to fulfill its obligations, along with the political failures both on the domestic and international level (to fulfill the Tunisian promise of modernism) we have had to abandon our dream of 2008 to build a democratic state, one that guarantees liberty, dignity and social justice. In spite of our pride in both our country and people, we risked the challenge of unauthorized migration across the Mediterranean to Italy; the journey has become especially dangerous as a result of European migratory policy that is closing its legal frontiers to our hopes and dreams.)

Read more…

I-70 Storm Water Diversion in Denver, A Part of a More Comprehensive Plan?…Or D.I.A. Revisited?

November 2, 2017

Some of the 261trees at Denver City Golf Course to be bulldozed for a storm-water diversion project. Is this just one piece in Denver’s plans to create infrastructure in place for a 2026 Olympic bid?

The same week that the city of Denver  agreed to a $4.6 million settlement for a “wrongful death” suit in the killing of Michael Marshall in the custody of the Denver Sheriff’s Department, the city’s mayor, Michael Hancock has also gotten into “the business” of destroying trees.

Between 50 and 75 people showed up at Denver’s City Park Golf Course to protest the destruction of 261 trees there, many more than a century old. It might not sound like a large turn out, but given the fact that the candle light vigil had two day’s notice – and that people showed up from all parts of the city – to protest the mayor’s action – along with media – it wasn’t a shabby showing at all. Remarks by Dennis Gallagher, former city auditor and Candi CdeBaca, a rising aspiring local politician with strong community-activist backing from the Globeville-Swansea area, emphasized the political stupidity – and essential developer greed – behind the project.

It is at best, a very clumsily thought out part of a larger project.

Using federal and state (tax payer) funding, state authorities have plans to reroute a part of the interstate highway – I-70 – underground in what is a northeast section of Denver called the Globeville-Elyia-Swansea neighborhood – an overwhelmingly working class, Chicano neighborhood, that was itself traumatized by the original building of the interstate in the 1960s. Part of the plan involves constructing a storm water diversion project – s essentially a DAM across 2 1/2 miles of north Denver, running 6 blocks south of the Interstate, parallel to it – through a largely Black neighborhood. There it is all funneled underground over to Globeville Landing Park where this collected water will enter the South Platte.  An additional element — flooding about a third of City Park Golf Course, listed on the National Register of Historic Places — was added to help reduce pressure on the existing pipe under 39th Avenue.  Read more…

Quivira National Wildlife Preserve and Cheyenne Bottoms

October 18, 2017

Long-billed Dowagers at Park Smith Pond. Quivira National Wildlife Preserve. Kansas

(Note: Shortly after posting this blog entry on-line, news came from the Audubon of Kansas that 49 whooping cranes had been sited at Quivira National Wildlife Preserve in late October, 2017)

A lot of birds.

As the Arkansas River enters central Kansas it bends first northward and then bends back south in the shape of an upside down “u”. At its most northerly point in this bend lies Great Bend, Kansas, a major crossroad and business center in the region with a population of 16,000.

Two inland wetlands, teaming with fish, birds and wild life, are nearby where hunters and bird watchers intermingle and wonder what in the world there opposites are doing there. People who visit the wetlands can broadly be divided into hunters and birders. I was an in-experienced member of the later, greatly assisted by two Kansas friends, Margy Stewart and Ron Young who are well versed not only in birds but in the plants and insects of the region. Over the course of the three days, we met and talked to a number of locals, who were hunters. They were friendly enough, but at least the ones we spoke with couldn’t understand why anybody would come to the area just to watch birds…when you could kill them and, as one hunter remarked, “really study them up close.” I just gave up on explaining, responding “yes, it’s hard to understand.”

They were friendly enough, but at least the ones we spoke with couldn’t understand why anybody would come to the area just to watch birds…when you could kill them and, as one hunter remarked, “really study them up close.” I just gave up on explaining, responding “yes, it’s hard to understand.”

A few miles north of the city, Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area is the largest wetland in the interior of the United States and as such a great avian crossroads. Run by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, it is a critical resting area in what is known as the central flyway for birds migrating north in the spring to Canada and the Arctic region and then to Texas, Mexico and points south.  Covering an area of about 8,000 acres, about 45 percent of all shorebirds in North America utilize the area. Cheyenne Bottoms is critical habitat for many endangered species, including the whooping crane. While the place is teaming with wildlife any time of year, the best times to visit are in the spring and fall. As many as 600,000 shorebirds from 39 species pass through Cheyenne Bottoms during spring migration and up to 200,000 in fall. At least 340 species of birds of all kinds have been observed there.

That’s a lot of birds. Read more…

Cameroon – French Hypocrisy Renewed

October 9, 2017

Linguistic and social discrimination in Cameroon’s Anglophone western regions

Cameroon – The Crisis Deepens

Since I began working on the translation below, a number of days ago, more information has emerged concerning the repression which the Cameroonian government in Yaounde has unleashed in the Anglophone provinces of Cameroon to crush the movement there for cultural-linguistic-political rights. As usual, the news from Cameroon has hardly made a dent in the mainstream media here in the USA. Officially 17 people have been killed, hundreds wounded by the security forces (advised and armed largely by France). Unofficially, social activists claim that the number killed is between fifty and a hundred, with reports of many still being dragged from their homes, disappearing into custody. There are 300 U.S. Special Forces in the country, working, it is claimed, to counter incursions into Cameroon by Boko haram terrorists operations in the northern border region with Nigeria. Recently Cameroonian military at a base in Cameroon from which the US Special Forces work has been accused by Amnesty International of torturing hundreds of captures members of Boko haram.   It is not clear what role these American military are playing to support the Yaounde government in the Anglophone uprising; their involvement has yet to be confirmed, although there are rumors that they are involved too)

Cameroon – French Hypocrisy Renewed

by Odile Tobner.

(Note this commentary appeared at the website of “Survie” – a French-based organization that monitors the machinations of France in Africa. Odile Tobner is the organization’s president. It can be reached at http://www.survie.org. Below is my own personal translation into English. For the original French text, click here. For more background, click here)

The actual death toll will probably never be known as a consequence of the violent repression and deaths of scores of Anglophone protesters in Cameroon. It continues to mount. Rather than show alarm, French diplomacy blithely comments that “it is following the situation with interest.” This, despite the fact that France is intimately involved with Cameroon’s repressive apparatus. It has nearly been a year now since demonstrations broke out in Cameroon’s anglophone provinces in the west and northwest of the country bordering eastern Nigeria. Read more…

Ivory Coast’s Cocoa – A Blessing and a Curse – 2

September 30, 2017

Ivory Coast during the Civil War in the early 2000s

Ivory Coast’s Cocoa – A Blessing and a Curse – 2

The $ 300 plus million Catholic Church that Honcho Felix built in the Ivory Coast is described as the biggest Catholic church in the world (by some) with the fewest [worshippers] in the pews

His $ 11 plus a billion fortune- French dealings. Some model in Africa!

The plan to exploit so many, and then build a giant Catholic church.

How French..

Jim Hagood

Houphouët-Boigny – France’s Key Man in West Africa

Although he is dead and gone now for 24 years, the spirit of Félix Houphouët-Boigny (pronounced hoofoo bowanyee) lives on in the Ivory Coast….malheureusement! – as the French would say. At his death in 1993 he had acquired an estimated net worth of somewhere between $7 and $11 billion, much of it from the profits skimmed off from the country’s lucrative (for him anyway) raw cocoa bean industry. Cocoa beans are the main export product of Ivory Coast and dominate the country’s economy, referred to as “l’or brun” – “brown gold” in french. The owner of seventeen villas in Europe, at the time of his death Houphouët-Boigny was considered by some sources to have been the largest property owner in Paris, while the country as a whole has been mired in poverty.

Although Houphouët-Boigny started out his career as an anti-colonial nationalist – in fact he was the leader of the cocoa producers’ union for a while and one of the founders of the Rassemblement démocratique africain (RDA) an assemblage of anti-colonial African radicals – by the early 1950s he had, for all practical purposes switched allegiances. But then it was most useful to have a political turncoat who earned his spurs early on in a radical social movement for then France could cover its continued racist and exploitative policies in Africa under the cover of “moderate” African nationalism, which was by the way, neither moderate nor particularly nationalist at its heart. Read more…

Ivory Coast’s Cocoa – A Blessing and a Curse – 1

September 27, 2017

Cocoa beans piling up at Soubre, railroad transit point north of Abidjan, Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire)

It’s called “Belgian or Swiss” (or French or Dutch) chocolate, but in fact there is no such thing. The main ingredient in chocolate, cocoa beans, does not grow in Belgium, Switzerland, France or Italy and never has. all these countries have ever done is add sugar and a few other ingredients, to make it more palatable to European and North American tastes.  It would be more accurate to refer to the stuff as Ghanaian, Ivory Coastal or Cameroonian Chocolate. Originally a equatorial Latin American product, today it grows largely in West Africa, East Asia and a bit in Mexico and Central America.

“It’s white people who eat chocolate, not us” commented a cocoa farmer from the Ivory Coast.

Read more…