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Stupid-Looking Statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest Comes Down in Nashville

Mother Jones Magazine -

When I heard the news that the incredibly stupid-looking Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in Nashville, Tennessee, was finally taken down after two decades, I thought back to a moment in the John le Carré novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, when the Communist mole (name withheld) says that his decision to defect to the Soviets was “an aesthetic choice as much as a moral one.” I had this thought because taking down this statue was a good aesthetic choice as much as it was a good moral one. In addition to depicting a white supremacist mass murderer, the statue was objectively hideous. 

The fiberglass abomination was sculpted in 1998 by Jack Kershaw, the former attorney for Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassin and the founder of the white nationalist organization the League of the South, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a hate group. Kershaw was seemingly unaware of how dumb the statue looked. When faced with complaints about his creation, he told the Times-Picayune that “somebody (needed) to say a good word for slavery.” 


Deconstructing the Design and Demolition of Confederate Monuments 

Standing 25-feet-tall in plain view of the highway, the statue was an appropriately deranged monument to American racism. It depicted Forrest, a Confederate general who directed the massacre of mostly Black Union soldiers during the Civil War after they had surrendered. Forrest later led the Ku Klux Klan while it waged a domestic terror campaign during Reconstruction. But the statue, which appeared to be screaming in pain or rage, bore only a passing resemblance to Forrest. 

With its maniacal eyes, disproportionate head, and violently contorted posture, it consistently served as fodder for late-night hosts and an embarrassment to the city of Nashville, which passed a resolution to obscure it with vegetation. In 2015, Gawker deemed it “the most fitting monument to the ugly idiocy of southern history” and argued that it should be kept forever because it is “so hilariously stupid.” 

I have some sympathy for this perspective, but it’s also worth congratulating Tennessean motorists, who are no longer cursed with a highway view of one of the ugliest statues in the United States. So, congrats, Tennessee! You’ve rid yourselves of a bad one.

Talking “Peace” US Arms Saudis for Latest Attack on Yemen’s People: Operation Golden Bow

Mint Press News -

HODEIDAH, YEMEN — Inside the ruins of a modest Yemeni home where human and animal remains were strewn together, local rescuers struggled to evacuate a pregnant mother and other potential survivors from the rubble as warplanes circled above. There, they found the body of a toddler covered in ashes beside the remains of a humble dining table. The chaotic cries of rescuers covered in blood filled the scene as they examined his remains, exposing what appeared to be an umbilical cord. Near the boy, they found his young mother covered in rubble, barely groaning in a muffled voice of pain.

Just two days after World Children’s Day and three days shy of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, an unborn baby died when he was torn from his mother’s womb by an American-made bomb that was dropped by Saudi warplanes on the home of Abdullah Sherian in Yemen’s al-Mariri village in the Heis district of Hodeidah. The bomb hit as the Sherian family was gathering for lunch, killing Abdullah, his toddler, and most of the family’s cattle and sheep. The massive blast brought massive devastation, darkness, and chaos to the neighborhood as if were in the midst of the fiercest of battlefronts. “They claim to save us, but they kill us and destroy our property,” a volunteer rescuer in his fifties told a local news crew. Inside the hospital where victims of the blast were being treated, an angry bystander made clear who he blamed for the carnage, declaring: “America is behind these crimes against innocent people.”

A day after the attack, Samirah Sherian woke up in an intensive care room at the al-Hodeidah Hospital and tried hard to recount her story. “It was lunchtime and we were too hungry. We thought the warplanes left after the buzzing disappeared. When we gathered around the dining table, the bomb hit us suddenly,” she said. Samirah was evacuated to the hospital after the attack but lost her unborn baby in the blast and says her husband Abdullah died while looking at his unborn son. “I was waiting for my baby. I needed a hospital to beget him, not an American bomb to smash him and kill my husband,” Samirah concluded, in tears. In the next room, a boy from the same village was being treated for serious injuries after Saudi-backed militants targeted his house with a mortar shell.


Golden Bow’s black rain of death

According to Saudi officials, the attacks are a part of a new operation dubbed “Golden Bow,” which is being carried out in conjunction with the UAE and a number of Saudi Coalition-backed militant groups, including the notorious Giant’s Brigade and Tariq Saleh Forces.

Dozens of civilians, including women and children, have been killed and injured since the operation began on November 19. Saudi officials say their objective is to “destroy military objectives like air defense systems,” insisting that they attack only “legitimate” targets and ask civilians not to gather around or approach potential targets before they strafe the areas — though those targets are never announced in advance.

Warplanes, artillery, and shelling from warships stationed off of Yemen’s Red Sea shores have turned parts of Hodeidah into veritable hellscapes, including strategic directorates in the southern province, just weeks after the Saudi Coalition announced it would be withdrawing military forces from the area. Instead, dozens of warplanes fly over Hodeidah’s Heis, al-Tuheita, al-Khokhah, al-Dreihemi, and al-Jarahi districts on a daily basis, bombing farms and destroying infrastructure.

On the first day of Operation Golden Bow, at least 33 warplanes were recorded flying over the districts of al-Fazah, al-Jabaliyah, Heis, al-Jah and al-Tahita, and 39 spy planes over the airspace of al-Jah, al-Fazah, Heis, and al-Jabaliyah. So far, 300 airstrikes have been launched against some of Yemen’s most densely-populated cities, including Hodeidah, the fourth-largest city in the country. In Sana’a, civilian homes, schools, wells, farms, roads, and hospitals have been targeted and destroyed, and a factory that produced plastic baskets was destroyed by Saudi airstrikes ostensibly targeting a nearby hospital. In the Dhale province, 10 students were injured when a Saudi drone targeted the Zaid Al-Sharji school.

Saudi airstrikes also targeted populated areas and infrastructure in provinces outside of Hodeidah, including in IBB, Taiz, Haradh, and Harf Sufian, as well as al-Jawf and oil-rich Marib.


Staggering, cold numbers

The death toll from the Saudi-led war in Yemen will reach an estimated 377,000 by the end of 2021, according to a new report from the UN’s Development Programme. However, the raids and bombing are not the only tools to claim the lives of Yemeni children. More than 3,825 children have been killed as a result of the Saudi kingdom’s blockade on the country, according to a recent report by the Yemen-based Entesaf Organization for Women and Children Rights.

New data from the United Nations, including a projection for the decade, shows the sheer devastation that the Saudi-led war has left and will leave on Yemen. Source | UNDP

Entesaf issued its report just days after World Children’s Day, reporting that more than 3 million children suffer from blockade-inflicted malnutrition while 300 Yemeni children die every day from malnutrition attributable to the blockade. The organization also says that over 3,000 children suffer from congenital abnormalities and over 3,000 others need open-heart surgery outside the impoverished country. The UNDP also revealed that the number of Yemeni children with various disabilities caused by the ongoing war has reached 5,559 cases and recorded 71,000 cases of tumors developed among children since the beginning of the war.


Biden’s fine words

In response to Operation Golden Bow, thousands of Yemenis took to the streets in major cities across the country to condemn the United States for its ongoing support of Saudi Arabia. The main squares in Hodeidah, Sana’a, and Sadaa were filled with thousands of demonstrators. Protestors gathered under the banners that read “The US supports the military and economic escalation and the continuation of aggression and siege,” and chanted slogans blaming the U.S. not only for the new Saudi escalation but for the humanitarian crisis in the country, and accusing the Biden administration of giving the Saudis a green light to attack Yemen. Activists and families of the victims also resorted to a Twitter campaign, posting thousands of photos of victims of the war.

Indeed, Operation Golden Bow comes in the wake of a new U.S. arms deal with Riyadh. On November 4, the Biden administration approved a $650 million missile sale to the Saudis, including 596 LAU-128 Missile Rail Launchers, containers, support equipment, spare and repair parts, and logistical support services. The move is a tacit approval by the United States of Saudi Arabia’s continuation of war and exacerbation of an already dire humanitarian crisis. It also rewards the oil-rich kingdom for killing children and women, according to Yemeni families present at the demonstration who lost children in Saudi attacks.

Referring to U.S. President Joe Biden’s announcement that the U.S. was ending its support for the war, Yemen’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement:

The statements and positions by many American officials are based on ‘double standards,’ as they pretend to be calling for an end to the war, while actually pursuing their hostile and oppressive policies against Yemen. The U.S. hype is merely a cover for the country’s crimes and systematic terrorism against Yemen. The phony hype and false claims of the United States about its efforts to achieve peace in Yemen are merely a desperate attempt to deceive the public opinion in the U.S. and other countries.”

Referring to the arms deal, Ansar Allah said that recent U.S. support to Saudi Arabia enables its “aggression and horrendous crimes against the people of Yemen.” Speaking at an anti-war demonstration, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a senior member of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council, told protestors:  “It was Washington that withdrew its ambassador at the outset of the Yemen conflict and called on other countries to pull their diplomats out of Sana’a.”

Feature photo | Mourners bury the bodies of Houthi fighters killed fighting Saudi forces during their funeral in Sanaa, Yemen, Nov. 24, 2021. Hani Mohammed | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist based in Sana’a. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post Talking “Peace” US Arms Saudis for Latest Attack on Yemen’s People: Operation Golden Bow appeared first on MintPress News.

Israeli “Visitors” to Al-Aqsa Part of Plan for Third Jewish Temple

Mint Press News -

OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM — Accompanied by police, 150 Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa compound during the Jewish festival of Chanukah this past week. Scores of Jews now force their way into Al-Aqsa regularly, in what many Palestinian Muslims fear signals the imminent destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque to make way for a Third Jewish Temple.

The head of the Likud faction and a member of the Israeli Knesset light candles for the Jewish Hanukkah festival in the nearest place to the Al-Aqsa Mosque near the Mughrabi Gate. The so-called Temple groups boast about 900 settlers storming Al-Aqsa . #Act4Palestine pic.twitter.com/9ipyutcJRV

— Memo Hamada (@MemoHamada16) December 3, 2021

Dozens of Israeli settlers backed by police broke into the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied #Jerusalem on the pretext of celebrating the Jewish Hanukkah holiday, today. pic.twitter.com/Wpa4mnC7fh

— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) December 2, 2021

In October, an Israeli Magistrate Court ruled to allow “silent” Jewish prayer at the Al-Aqsa complex, reversing the status quo of Al-Aqsa being strictly reserved for Muslim worship. The decision came after Rabbi Aryeh Lippo requested the court remove a temporary ban imposed on him by Israeli police when he was caught praying at the Al-Aqsa compound. Israel does not have a law prohibiting Jewish prayer at the holy site but, in order to curtail conflict, authorities have enforced a ban on Jewish prayer there since 1967.

The court ruling was overturned and Lippo’s ban upheld but Palestinian concerns surrounding a potential Israeli takeover of the holy site remain. The justifications for those concerns will be the subject of this article.

“This is an Israeli policy to vacate Al-Aqsa Mosque from the Muslims in order to start a new period for the Jews by rebuilding that temple inside this area,” the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Deputy Governor of Jerusalem Abdullah Siam told MintPress News. “This is the final aim of Israel in the Old City.” MintPress News was unable to speak to Governor Adnan Ghaith because Israel has placed him under house arrest.


Israeli violations of Al-Aqsa

After Israel annexed East Jerusalem following the 1967 Six-Day War, control over the Al-Aqsa compound was given to Jordan through a religious trust called the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf. Non-Muslims are allowed to visit, but prayer is forbidden.

According to the PA’s Jerusalem Governorate, Jewish settler tours of the Al-Aqsa compound occur twice daily – in the morning and again in the afternoon. Nearly 3,900 Jewish settlers entered Al-Aqsa complex in November. Israel’s parliamentary Education Committee also approved educational tours of Al-Aqsa compound for Jewish students.

The Al-Aqsa complex is surrounded by Israeli construction. Settler organization Elad is building a metal structure overlooking Al-Aqsa Mosque atop land belonging to a Palestinian family in Silwan. The Jerusalem Municipality has bulldozed graves in the Bab al-Asbat Cemetery along the eastern walls of the Al-Aqsa compound to make room for a national park. Israeli authorities have desecrated graves in Bab al-Rahma Cemetery, which is also located along the eastern walls of the Al-Aqsa compound. And in 2020, Israel’s National Infrastructure Committee announced plans to build an underground railway tunnel along the edge of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Israeli bulldozers and Jewish prayers aren’t the only activities violating the sanctity of Al-Aqsa. Muslims are frequently prevented from worshiping at the holy site.

On the first day of the holy month of Ramadan this year, Israel banned thousands of Muslims from entering Al-Aqsa on the grounds that they hadn’t received COVID-19 vaccination yet (this as Israel was refusing to provide equitable distribution of the vaccine to Palestinians).

Mr. Siam emphasized that bans on Muslim worship aren’t just reserved for holidays, but occur year-round. “Every morning in Al-Aqsa, [Israel] has started to ask the Palestinian who would come inside, ‘Why you are coming? From where are you coming?’ And if they are youths, they keep their IDs and say, ‘When you get out, you can take your ID,’” Siam said.

Worshipeers take cover as Israeli forces fire tear gas into the al-Aqsa Mosque, May 10, 2021. Mahmoud Illean | AP

The governorate’s office also mentioned how many Palestinians will not only have their IDs confiscated, but may also be called in for interrogation and banned from Al-Aqsa for months or even a full year. “And also in the morning, many police with their uniforms, with their guns, start to walk around inside Al-Aqsa,” Siam continued. “By this way, they want to make the Muslims afraid and move them away from the place that the settlers will go through inside Al-Aqsa. So, the Israeli Police are sharing with the settlers in these attacks of Al-Aqsa.”

In regard to permitting Jews entry to the Al-Aqsa compound, the Israel Police told MintPress:

[T]he police act in accordance with the guidelines that are designated to enable protecting public order, welfare and security, and these are transmitted at the entrance of visitors to the Mount area. We will continue to permit visits to the Temple Mount [what Israel calls Al-Aqsa compound] in accordance with the customary guidelines for visits at the site.”

While a ban on Jewish prayer is purportedly in place, visitors to the Al-Aqsa complex say the police seldom enforce it. Miko Peled, an Israeli-American activist who stumbled upon a Jewish tour of the religious site in May, stated:

The police repeated several times, ‘No praying aloud, no religious symbols allowed.’ But as soon as we walked in, the prayers began, and the police just let them, and stood there and guarded them as they were going through this.”

My reflections on joining a militarized Israeli settler tour of the temple mount of #AlAqsa in #Jerusalem. pic.twitter.com/j8bKVOds7o

— Miko Peled (@mikopeled) May 26, 2021


American charities behind the Temple Mount movement

The Jerusalem Governorate, which monitors Israeli violations of Al-Aqsa, said settler incursions have increased in frequency and size recently. The movement’s booming popularity can largely be attributed to the Temple Institute, the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, and The Open Gate – the main groups promoting Jewish ascension onto the Al-Aqsa compound and the rebuilding of a Third Jewish Temple there.

Orthodox Judaism believes that the rebuilding of the temple – destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E. – can happen only after the arrival of the Messiah, although not all factions support this idea.

The Temple Mount movement network receives funding from the Israeli government, but they are also supported by tax-exempt donations from American charities and foundations.

P.E.F. Israel Endowments Fund, a non-profit based in New York, and Texas-based non-profit Biblical Faith accept donations for the Temple Institute. American charities Israel Independence Fund (IIF) and the Central Fund of Israel (CFI) support the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation. And New York charity One Israel Fund supports The Open Gate. These charities also receive sizable donations from foundations run by some of America’s wealthiest individuals, including recently deceased billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Irving Moskowitz.

According to the most recent Internal Revenue Service tax returns analyzed by MintPress, P.E.F. Israel Endowments Fund received funding from the Benjamin and Susan Shapell Foundation, Mindel Foundation, Dennis Berman Family Foundation, and Ben and Esther Rosenbloom Foundation. The Ben and Esther Rosenbloom Foundation gave the most, contributing $60,000 to the charity in 2019.

The One Israel Fund received donations from the Benjamin and Susan Shapell Foundation, Dennis Berman Family Foundation, and the Cherna Moskowitz Foundation – which contributed the most, at $230,000 in 2019.

And CFI is financed by the Cherna Moskowitz Foundation, C Funding, Carl & Sylvia Family Freyer Foundation, Abraham and Esther Hersh Foundation, Ner Tzion Foundation, Ben and Esther Rosenbloom Foundation, Mindel Foundation, Irving I Moskowitz Foundation, and the Adelson Family Foundation. The Irving I Moskowitz Foundation contributed the most, giving $1,047,000 to CFI in 2019.

Of the organizations cited above, those whose contact information was publicly available were contacted, but only the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation responded to a MintPress inquiry. Tom Nisani – director of Beyadenu, or the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation – said the organization’s goal is the Jewish right to enter the Al-Aqsa complex and Israeli sovereignty of the site.

Revealed: The American Money Entwined with Israel’s Jewish Terrorist Groups

While activists within the Temple Mount movement paint the issue as one relating to religious freedom, Dr. Yousef Nathseh, who retired from the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf in August as the Tourism and Archaeology department’s director, explained the subtext behind these tours is what is so worrisome for Muslims.

“It is not an innocent visit. It is a visit that would like to deliver a political message,” Dr. Nathseh said. “They are not coming here to enjoy the architecture or even to feel associated with the past. No, they are looking to the future.”

Peled, who grew up in Palestine, elaborated that, contrary to mainstream belief, these Temple Mount activists are not on the fringes of Israeli society. Rather, this ideology is fully cemented into the state’s narrative. He recounted:

I remember as a kid that there were a lot of non-religious songs about how building the new temple is part of our national goal. So this is much deeper than most people think. Most people think it’s a bunch of religious fanatics, but it’s not. It’s part of the Zionist national project.”


Tensions brewing

On the first night of Chanukah, Israeli President Isaac Herzog sparked controversy when he lit the candles at Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron in the Occupied West Bank. The site is sacred to both Muslims and Jews, but Herzog’s act was seen as fanning the flames in a historically contentious city.

In 1994, Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Muslim worshippers at Ibrahimi Mosque. Following the massacre, the religous site was split between Muslim and Jewish worship, with Muslim access cut to 40%.

Deputy Governor Siam fears what happened to Ibrahimi Mosque may become Al-Aqsa’s fate. “The settler organizations demarcated [Ibrahimi Mosque]. And this has become a normal thing now in Hebron,” Siam said. “They want to do the same in Al-Aqsa.”

For Peled as well, concerns surrounding Al-Aqsa’s destruction are legitimate, especially when considering today’s discourse in Israeli politics. Goldstein was a disciple of Israeli-American extremist Meir Kahane, and now Itamar Ben-Gvir, a fellow Kahanist, is part of the Knesset (Israeli parliament). On Sunday, Ben-Gvir led a group of Israeli settlers into the Al-Aqsa compound to perform Jewish rituals. This is not the first time he’s entered the compound.

“We are very, very close to this actually happening. We are absolutely very close because [Israel is] destroying everything else,” Peled said. He continued:

They’re destroying all the other monuments that nobody pays attention to, which have any kind of significance to Palestinian history. Al-Aqsa is a little more high-profile, so they’re taking their time with that. But there’s no question that is part of the objective – destroying Al-Aqsa and building a temple.

Feature photo | Islam’s holy Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s Old City is seen through a door decorated with a Jewish Star of David. Oded Balilty | AP

Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News.

The post Israeli “Visitors” to Al-Aqsa Part of Plan for Third Jewish Temple appeared first on MintPress News.

NYC Opens Nation's First Safe Drug Injection Sites; 15 Lives Saved in First Week of Operation

Democracy Now! -

At least fifteen lives have been saved, so far, after the nation’s first supervised illegal drug injection sites opened in New York City about a week ago. The facilities provide clean needles and the opioid reversal medication Naloxone, as well as medical care and drug dependency treatment options. This comes as U.S. overdose deaths topped 100,000 during the first year of the pandemic. While the New York facilities are the first to be government-approved, advocates have long fought for better and safer resources for people with addiction, and there are now over 120 drug injection sites operating worldwide. We speak with Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, who says safe drug prevention sites are effective tools to keep people who use drugs alive, especially in Black and Latino communities that face the added threat of mass incarceration from decades of discriminatory policies.

Biden Restarts & Expands Trump-Era "Remain in Mexico" Policy Despite Widespread Abuse, Kidnappings

Democracy Now! -

In a controversial move, the Biden administration has resumed and expanded the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy that forces non-Mexican asylum-seekers who arrive at the southern U.S. border to wait in Mexico while their cases are resolved in U.S. courts — a process that can take months or even years. We speak with Kennji Kizuka, associate director of research and analysis for refugee protection at Human Rights First, who documented how this puts asylum seekers in grave danger.

U.S. Vowed to Help Prevent New Variants by Closing Global Vaccine Gap, But Plan’s Funding Is Stalled

Democracy Now! -

As the Biden administration faces increased pressure to address global vaccine inequity, USAID administrator Samantha Power announced a plan Monday for the United States to spend an additional $400 million to help increase vaccine access internationally. The move came days after Vanity Fair revealed a $2.5 billion plan to thwart Omicron-like variants has been stalled inside the Biden administration. We speak with reporter Katherine Eban, who broke the story, and says vaccines are piling up in countries that lack the health infrastructure to distribute them quickly. “The problem is shifting from not enough doses to not enough support on the ground to administer doses.” She says the Biden administration has “good-faith” goals to reduce vaccine inequity, but “they have not gone and asked Congress for money in part because they’re facing a narrow Senate majority.”

As World Confronts Omicron Variant, Top 8 Pfizer & Moderna Investors Make $10 Billion in a Week

Democracy Now! -

The eight top Pfizer and Moderna shareholders made over $10 billion last week when their stock holdings skyrocketed after the discovery of the new Omicron variant. This comes as global public health advocates warn the world will keep seeing more coronavirus variants unless wealthy nations and vaccine manufacturers do more to address vaccine inequity. “The companies that make the most are doing the least to share their technology,” says Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now U.K., which is documenting Big Pharma’s profits. “The priority is making enormous amounts of money for some of the richest people in the world.”

As Noam Chomsky Turns 93, He Urges Young People to Create a "Much Better World" Through Activism

Democracy Now! -

Today marks the 93rd birthday of world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author Noam Chomsky, who spoke with Democracy Now! from his home in Tucson, Arizona, and said he finds hope in the activism of young people “to create a much better world than the one we have.”

Chomsky is among the special guests for Democracy Now’s 25th anniversary event airing Tuesday evening, alongside Angela Davis, Arundhati Roy and many more. The virtual celebration begins at 8 p.m. ET. Watch it live here.

Headlines for December 7, 2021

Democracy Now! -

Canadian Pilots Rally to Supply Towns Isolated by Flooding

Mother Jones Magazine -

This story was originally published by Canada’s National Observerand is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

It was cold and near sundown at the Langley, British Columbia, airport Friday afternoon as Shaun Bradley Heaps in his signature shorts greeted a team of fellow pilots returning from an emergency mission delivering food and necessities to flood-ravaged southern BC towns.

“There’s butter chicken and samosas over there,” said the pilot and member of the West Coast Pilots Club, pointing towards the glowing yellow door of a nearby hangar. The coolers filled with curry, boxes of crispy samosas, and chapatis hand-wrapped in aluminum foil were donated by a local Sikh temple earlier that day, he said.

Inside, roughly a dozen other pilots and volunteers were relaxing after delivering essential goods through rugged mountain passes. For more than two weeks, this volunteer flying squad—Heaps’ brainchild—has collected thousands of pounds of food and other essentials from across the Lower Mainland and used privately owned propeller planes and helicopters to deliver it to roughly 30 communities isolated after last month’s floods. Money for fuel and supplies has come out of their own pockets or from donations.

November’s devastating floods storms washed out bridges and roads, including this section of Highway 1, cutting off roughly 30 towns and hamlets across southern BC, including many Indigenous communities, from food and supplies.

Jesse Winter/Canada’s National Observer

On Friday alone, the crew shipped roughly 9,000 kilograms of goods to places like Merritt, Boston Bar, and Siska. “A bunch of private pilots are doing more than the federal government,” Heaps said as he waited for another flight to land.

“We’re just keeping on resupplying and resupplying.”  

While he acknowledged authorities have provided some support, people in the stranded communities are telling him the provincial and federal governments seem content to leave it to volunteers and donations to meet people’s ongoing needs. “So we’re just keeping on resupplying and resupplying,” he said. “How [else] are they supposed to survive?”

The coordination needed to keep the system running smoothly was on full display Friday morning even before the first flights took off. Crews in fluorescent yellow vests hauled pallets packed high with goods out of the West Coast Pilots Club’s airside warehouses to the tarmac where about a dozen planes were waiting.

Held together with plastic wrap, each pile had been carefully built by the volunteers to contain most items on “shopping” lists sent to the group by impacted communities, said Brenda Lennax, the team’s dispatch manager. Lennax runs several small businesses in Maple Ridge, BC. When the floods hit, she told all her clients she was taking time off to help out—even as her own family was evacuated. “I’m supposed to be here,” she explained during a brief lull in the packing frenzy.

Volunteers rush to pack planes with food and necessities donated by community churches, temples, and mosques. congregations.

Jesse Winter/Canada’s National Observer

The first plane was loaded within 15 minutes: Costco-size boxes of granola bars and Kraft Dinner squeezed behind passenger seats. Twelve-packs of water and pop were propped against mega-packs of diapers, baby wipes, and toilet paper. Bags of chicken and livestock feed covered the floor. Fleece blankets filled any remaining crannies before the pilot latched a cargo net over the load to keep it in place.

“It has all been coming from all the Sikh temples, Sikh communities, Hindu temples, Jews, Muslims—all community churches are donating a ton of food,” explained the group’s supplies and provisions manager Pritpal Singh Sekhorn as he double-checked each load. “(The flying squad) is bringing everyone under one umbrella to reach the flood-affected communities as soon as possible.”

There are enough donations to fill three airport hangars and a nearby warehouse nearby—and Heaps said more keeps coming. “It’s endless. And if we need dog food, they send dog food. They bring batteries, horse feed…(we) make a phone call and it shows up.”

Most communities are still weeks or months away from regular road access and people and animals need to eat, so the excess of supplies is unlikely to go to waste. And with Christmas near, the flying squad is doubling its efforts to make the holiday easier for people cut off from friends and family.

“It’s all about love,” Lennax said.


The United States Can Solve the Ukraine Crisis

Counterpunch Articles -

The seeds for the crisis in Ukraine were planted 25 years ago when the Clinton Administration decided to expand the North Atlantic Treaty into East Europe, accepting membership from former members of the Warsaw Pact.  In doing so, Clinton turned his back on commitments from President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker in 1990 not to “leap frog” over a reunified Germany in order to expand NATO.  More

The post The United States Can Solve the Ukraine Crisis appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

The West Helped Create the Conditions That Force Iraqis, Iranians and Syrians to Cross the Channel

Counterpunch Articles -

This is a Government, more than any in British history, that thinks in terms of slogans and headlines. The silliness and impracticality of its proposals to stop desperate people crossing the Channel in overcrowded dinghies is the latest proof of this. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel owe their political careers to exploiting xenophobia, so their failure to cope with a complex problem like the Channel crossings, requiring international cooperation, is not unexpected. More

The post The West Helped Create the Conditions That Force Iraqis, Iranians and Syrians to Cross the Channel appeared first on CounterPunch.org.


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