Ending Monopoly Control of the Electronics Industry

Rebel Geeks: Meet Your Maker

Al Jazeera (2016)

Film Review

This documentary concerns the Maker Movement, Massino Banzi and the Arduino. Banzi created the Arduino in 2003. The latter is an Open Source one chip computer control device that allows ordinary people to create their own electronic devices without training in electronics or engineering. People have used them to create their own Open Source 3D printers, drones, smartphones, robots and other electronic devices.

The Arduino has played a pivotal role in the Maker Movement, a campaign to end monopoly control over the electronics industry. If you allow corporations to control all the electronic devices and services you use, you allow them to control your choices.

Safecast, the international Citizen Science movement that installed tiny Geiger counters across Japan in 2011 used Arduinos to build them.

See The Citizen Science Movement

 

The Intelligence Career of Lee Harvey Oswald

Agent Oswald

Dark Journalist (2013)

Film Review

This documentary, filmed for the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, starts with a brief summary of the physical evidence indicating that Lee Harvey Oswald played no role whatsoever in Kennedy’s murder.

It then reviews the major evidence that Oswald was a long time CIA operative at the time of his arrest. This includes archival interviews of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (who investigated and prosecuted one of the actual co-conspirators), Oswald’s New Orleans paramour Judyth Vary Baker, the late L. Fletcher Prouty (who served with Oswald in Japan at a top secret U2 spy base), late CIA asset George DeMohrenschildt (Oswald’s CIA babysitter in Dallas), and Cuban exile Antonio Veciano (a CIA operative in the Alpha 66 paramilitary group) and the recorded deathbed confessions of David Atlee Phillips (who ran all CIA western hemisphere operations in 1963) and E Howard Hunt (who was chief of CIA covert operations in 1963).

How to Be Homeless in Japan

How to Be Homeless in Japan

Our Human Planet (2018)

Film Review

This two-part documentary focuses on homelessness in the Japanese city of Osaka. When the Japanese economy collapsed in the 1990s, many older workers lost their jobs. Last year Osaka (pop 19 million)  had 18,000 homeless, mostly men. It’s easier for women who lose their jobs to return to live with family.

Part One (How to be Homeless in Japan) focuses on an 63-year-old man who makes a living collecting aluminum cans to sell at a recycling center. His work day starts before dawn, and he makes roughly $8 a day. In Osaka, one of the most expensive cities in the world, this earns him two meals of day old rice and fish, a cup of tea and a cup of sake. His spends his afternoons in the library reading.

Part Two (Japanese Homeless Fight Back) focuses on organizing efforts by Osaka’s homeless to protect themselves and better meet their needs. In addition to setting up an immaculate tent city on the grounds of a national monument, a number of them run a charity that uses expired supermarket food to provide two hot meals a week for all Osaka’s street people.

It also features a march Osaka’s homeless organized to protest the death of a homeless man kicked to death by unemployed youth.

 

Hidden History: The US Wars Against Japan, Korea and Vietnam

The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia

By James Bradley

Back Bay Books (2015)

Book Review

This book details numerous myths about the origin of the US wars against Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Bradley begins by revealing how the Roosevelt administration was hoodwinked by the overt fascist Chiang Kai-Shek and Christian missionaries into believing China was ripe for wholesale conversion to Christianity and US-style capitalism. Deceived by Chiang’s promises to wage war against Japan,  Roosevelt poured billions into the civil war Chiang was waging with Mao Se Tung. FDR also created an illegal covert mercenary Air Force for Chiang, a major motivator in the Japanese decision to attack Pearl Harbor.

Had FDR listened to advisors who understood the strong support Mao enjoyed from China’s rural peasants, he never would have supported Chiang – or been forced to open a second front (against Japan) the US was totally unprepared for.

In addition to his greater popularity and military strength, Mao was also genuinely interested in establishing a trade relationship with the US.

According to Bradley, the civil war Mao won in 1949 was actually a war of liberation from European colonial powers, just like Kim Sung Il’s war of liberation in Korea and Ho Chi Minh’s war of liberation in Vietnam. Owing to the total ignorance of Asian society and culture, advisors in the Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy administration mistakenly viewed these wars of independence as part of a global communist conspiracy and military aggression the only possible response.

The China Mirage traces the  history of each of these conflicts (Japan, China, Korea and Vietnam) in a clear and compelling way, starting with the massive fortune Roosevelt’s grandfather amassed via the opium smuggling the US and UK forced on China via two opium wars.

For me the most interesting part of the book concerns the US oil/steel embargo that supposedly triggered the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. According to Bradley, Roosevelt opposed the embargo. It was surreptitiously enacted by members of his administration while he was at a secret meeting in Canada with Winston Churchill.

The 1968 Global Revolt and the Brutal 1969 Global Crackdown

1968 Global Revolt – Part 3 The Explosion

DW (2018)

Film Review

Part 3 focuses on 1969 and the extreme police and military violence directed at anti-government protests in the US, Japan, Italy and Germany.

In the US, 1969 saw the occupation of derelict University of California-Berkeley property for the formation of a People’s Park and the formation of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The latter would be destroyed by heavy CIA/FBI infiltration and assassination and false imprisonment of many of its leaders. 1969 also saw the sidetracking of many US antiwar protestors into environmental activism, women’s and gay liberation and alternative lifestyles (the hippy peace, love and truth movement, Woodstock and communal living).

In Germany, the students rejecting bourgeois capitalist lifestyles formed the Kommune movement. The filmmakers erroneously describe the Baader-Meinhoff Gang (aka the Red Army Faction), responsible for setting fire to department stores and warehouses, as a fringe offshoot of the the Kommune movement. The Baader-Meinhoff Gang was exposed in the early 90s as a CIA/NATO-driven product of Operation Gladio.*

The filmmakers also mischaracterize Italy’s Red Brigades as a violent offshoot of the Italian antifascist movement that mobilized tens of thousands of workers and students. The Red Brigades, responsible for tens of thousands of false flag bombings and assassinations, was also created and run by Operation Gladio. The Italian government used the Red Brigades “terrorist” activities events to justify the adoption of extreme repressive measures, including the imprisonment of 30,000 antifascist activists.

Also disappointing is the filmmakers’ failure to identify the root cause of Japan’s anti-American protests (ie the CIA funding of their single party government). In his book Blowback, Chalmers Johnson compares Japan’s US-controlled post-war government to East Germany’s dictatorship. Also see CIA supported Japan’s ruling party during Cold War era

*Operation Gladio is the code name for a CIA/NATO backed paramilitary network that carried out thousands of false flag terrorist operations to justify repressive government legislation to suppress grassroots anti-capitalist organizing. It was exposed in a 1992 BBC documentary.

 

 

1965-75: The Decade that Nearly Dismantled Capitalism?

Global Revolt – Part 1 The Wave

DW (2018)

Film Review

This is a four-part documentary series, based on archival video footage, of a global uprising that took place between 1965-75. Although the uprising began with student protests opposing the Vietnam war, disgruntled workers and farmers joined in with students in France, Italy, Chile and Brazil and Japan. The main weakness of this series is the absence of a unifying thread. Although the historical film footage is superb, the scattershot approach and the misidentification of various Operation Gladio programs (as genuine leftist movements) makes it impossible for the viewer to draw any real conclusions.

Part 1 mainly focuses on the US anti-Vietnam War movement. However it also briefly examines the youth uprisings that occurred in the UK, Italy, Germany and Japan, as well as the first international conference of the Non-Aligned Movement* in Havana in 1963.

For me, the most interesting part of the film was the International War Crimes Tribunal Jean Paul Sartre and Bertrand Russell organized in 1967 to investigate US war crimes in Vietnam.


*Operation Gladio is the code name for a CIA/NATO backed paramilitary network that carried out thousands of false flag terrorist operations in Cold War Europe. The goal of these operations was to justify repressive government legislation against grassroots anti-capitalist organizers. It was exposed in a 1992 BBC documentary:

**The Non-Aligned Movement is an organization of sovereign countries that refuse to ally themselves with or against any of the major power blocs (US, Russia, China).

The Rohyngya Crisis: Is Myanmar the New Syria?

For nearly a year now, the western media has been flooding us with images of Muslim Rohingya fleeing Rakhine state in Myanmar. Since October 2017, an estimated 700,000 (roughly half the Rohingya population) have fled into Bangladesh where they live in primitive refugee camps or in the open air on the roadside. Most of are women fleeing the Myanmar army, which has been burning their villages, gang raping them, killing their husbands and, in some cases, their children. Since 2016, some of the 700,000 Rohingya who remain in Myanmar having been living in camps (some under military force – others voluntarily for protection from Buddhist vigilantes).

We read occasional vague references to the current “civil war” in Rakhine state. And listen to hysterical rants by Amnesty Internationali spokespeople condemning Myanmar president Aung San Suu Kyi for her failure to speak out against the army’s brutal treatment of Rohingya Muslims. AI is also calling for Burmese leaders in the International Criminal Court – which is impossible as Myanmar isn’t an ICC member.

Is a New Proxy War Brewing in Myanmar?

In most cases, the western media tells us virtually nothing about the civil war that is the root cause of the current Rohingya refugee crisis. Why not? In exploring non-western media accounts, I get the uncomfortable inkling I am witnessing a burgeoning proxy war in Myanmar, similar to the civil war in Syria, with Saudi Arabia and possibly other US client states supporting the Rohingya rebels. Obviously this background in no way justifies recent terrorism by the Myanmar army against Rohingya civilians. At the same time, the world is growing weary of the US and their allies using human rights violations as justification for military intervention. In Myanmar, as in Syria, the only sustainable solution is a political settlement, ie an international agreement that protects Rohyngya autonomy and human rights while ending interference by foreign players.

Myanmar’s 70-Year Civil War

The current Rohyngya crisis was triggered in August 2017 when the Arakanii Army (AA) and the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a new extremist group, launched a concerted attack on Myanmar army and police. The government of Myanmar has been fighting armed Rohingya separatists since it first won independence in 1948. During World War II when Japan occupied Burma, local Buddhists supported the Axis forces and the Bengali Muslims remained loyal to the British crown. Tens of thousands died during mass mutual reprisals. As Burma negotiated independence from the UK, Muslims in northern Arakan appealed to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) to annex this area. When the both Burmese independence hero Aung San and Pakistan’s founder Muhammed Ali Jinnaha rejected this appeal, Arakan Muslims launched a mujahideen insurgency

Simultaneously fighting communist and ethnic insurgencies among the Karensiii, the Kachensiv and other marginalized groups, the Burmese army could only control major cities and towns in Arakan. The mujahideen controlled large parts of rural Arakan, leading many Buddhist villagers to flee to the southern part of the state.

It wasn’t until late 1954 that the last mujahideen camps fell to the Burmese army, with most insurgents retreating into East Pakistan. The Burma/East Pakistan (Bangladesh) border has always been extremely porous (like the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan) with Rohingya militants moving in and out of northern Burma to launch attacks on police and army outposts.

Two years after Burma’s 1962 military coup, Muslim youth from rural Arakan formed an underground movement called the Rohingya Independence Force (RIF). In 1998 various RIF factions united to form the Arakan Roningya National Organization (ARNO). It was at this point they began receiving financial and material support from the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), which operates out of Saudi Arabia.

The Rise of the Arakan Army

The 2004 downfall of Prime Minister Kihn Nunt and the collapse of his military intelligence network would result, in 2012, in the emergence of the Arakan Army (AA). Recruiting Rakhine laborers working in Phakant jade plants in Kachine state, the AA agreed to open a new western front in Rakhine state when the ceasefire between the Myanmar military and the Kachine Independence Army (KIA) broke down in 2013, Between March 2015 and April 2016, the AA killed 13 Myanmar troops, which, in turn, captured 57 AA troops.

At present, the government estimates there are 300 AA and ARSA troops operating along the Myanmar-India-Bangladesh border and another 200 fighting with the KIA. They enjoy strong support from the civilian population. Rohingya refugees describe young villagers picking up clubs, knives and sticks to join attacks against Myanmar police and military.

Saudi Support and the Methamphetamine Trade

According to the Muslim World League website, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia continues to support the Rohingya with financial and material support. According to International Crisis Group, Rohingya separatists also get major financial support from wealthy Rohingya refugees living in Saudi Arabia.

Rohingya militants also seem to be involved in methamphetamine smuggling, with the army seizing 26.7 million meth tabs from suspected militants in 2015 and 37.7 million tablets in 2017. There are also concerns they may have links with the Pakistani Taliban and possibly Islamic State militants.


i Amnesty International is increasingly playing a cheerleading role for US military intervention in Syria and non-aligned countries exhibiting “human rights” violations. See Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War . . . Again

ii Arakan (now known as Rakhine state) is a historic region bordering the Bay of Bengal to its west, Bangladesh to its north and Myanmar to its east.

iii The Karen, Kayin, Kariang or Yang people encompass a number of individual Sino-Tibetan language speaking ethnic groups, many of which do not share a common language or culture. These Karen groups reside primarily in Karen State, in southern and southeastern Myanmar.

iv The Kachins are a coalition of six tribes whose homeland encompasses territory in Yunnan, China, Northeast India and Kachin State in Myanmar.

I originally published this article in OpEd News

(Image by Tasnim News Agency [CC BY 4.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)