Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listens to a speaker during the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York September 24, 2014
The past two weeks have seen enormous clashes in the Holy Land, with a wave of violence between Palestinians primarily in the occupied West Bank but also in Gaza clashing with Israeli soldiers, settlers, and civilians.
The violence has many believing that a third Palestinian intifada, uprising against the occupation, is brewing. This uprising is taking a different form, with Hamas in Gaza and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the West Bank both sitting out the fighting. Rather, young Palestinians are self-organizing as part of raucous protests, while others have, in frustration, engaged in knife attacks against Israeli civilians which have spread fear and terror.
Last night, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton weighed in on this violence by essentially forgetting that the Palestinian casualties of this violence even exist:
Here are some of the facts of what has happened to Palestinians during the past two weeks:
The Wounded: Over 1,000 Palestinians have been reported woundedsince October 1st.
Attacked By Settlers: Although the Israeli settlement movement is not employed by the Israeli government, it is shielded by it, with settlers often attacking Palestinians with Israeli soldiers at their flank. October saw a spike in attacks by settlers, with 130 logged in the month so far. The PLO has charted this:
It is not incredibly surprising that Clinton would posture as pro-Israel – she isseeking the support of one of her long-time funders, Haim Saban, an Israeli-American who is a strong supporter of the Israeli government. However, writing the Palestinians out of her statement altogether is a step the U.S. government itself rarely takes, and may be a sign that she is trying to distance herself from President Obama, who has been criticized for his few moments of disagreement with Israel’s government.
Nobody expects the Republicans to speak up for the Palestinians, but it is disappointing that Clinton’s rival Bernie Sanders has not put out any statements on this issue over the past two weeks, despite his words many years ago condemning Israel for the exact same sort of behavior it is conducting right now.
Your soft cotton tee shirt is the ultimate warm fuzzy. Snuggling gratefully into its soft fibers, you feel virtuous about buying a product that was made of natural organic materials. Think of all those barrels of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers that weren’t sprayed on foreign cotton fields thanks to you. Think of the smiling cotton farmers in Turkey and India growing those pure white organic tufts for you to snuggle into.
Bet you a tidy sum that the label boasting of organic fiber on that shirt says nothing about the luscious color. And for good reason.
We tend to be blissfully unaware of the myriad health problems attributed to the textile dyeing process, as most of our clothing is not from around here.
Yet somewhere in India, a river runs fluorescent pink. Or electric blue, or tangerine orange.
Perhaps the most infamous of these is India’s Noyyal River, which carries toxin-dense waste water from factories in Tirupur — a metropolis also known as “Knit City.” The effluent resulting from dyeing that imported cotton shirt you love pours from the dyeing plant into the Noyyal and other Indian and Chinese streams and rivers, carrying with it toxic chemicals – cancer-causing cadmium, lead, chromium, mercury, and more.
But one Seattle woman believes that we don’t have to pay such a heavy price for our penchant for color, and she is sharing her passion for plant-based, low-water dyes, adding to a “slow clothing” movement.
On a sunny recent August afternoon, Kathy Hattori leads a small band of acolytes to the cutting flower garden on Jubilee Farm, an organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) grower in Washington state’s fertile Snoqualmie valley.
She stops in front of a backdrop of enormous sunflowers and faces her students from behind a row of blanket-flowers, a daisy-like bloom glowing with streaks of orange, gold, pink, and coral. “Gaillardia,” she pronounces. “Let’s cut these – we should get some good color.”
The gloved throng bends to gather the bright flower heads, filling baskets.
Despite the jeans and encyclopedic knowledge of plant-based dyes, Hattori’s past career was rooted not in textiles or art but in the corporate world.
“The specter of Death drove me from the high-tech world,” she joked in an earlier interview.
A degree in environmental studies originally led to a job with the EPA. Her administrative flair led to a highly-paid but draining stint in the Silicon Valley. But discontent with the unfulfilling work led her to establish a new life in Seattle.
Leveraging her business background and following a long-time love of textiles, Hattori went to work for a natural dye company. There she became aware of the toxicity bedeviling conventional clothing. It was the 2005 GreenPeace report, “Toxic Threads” that galvanized her explorations with natural dyes.
She learned about places like “Knit City,” where about a third of nearby villagers find themselves suffering from a range of ailments attributed to dye-related pollution, including gastritis, joint pain, and more.
Azo dyes, which are used for about 70% of textiles made, carry significant health and cancer risk, as do other chemicals used in the process like benzidine, pthalates, and formaldehyde.
Large amounts of precious potable water in clothing producing countries like China, India, and Bangladesh, is diverted from human and animal use, to be used in the dyeing process and then released back into streams. Neighboring farmland can be rendered unusable, exacting a heavy toll on health, livelihoods, and the environment.
The clothing produced arrives in the shopping bags of first world consumers with toxic residue, continuing the threat of toxic run-off to our own local water supplies. This is particularly concerning with regard to children’s clothing.
“I’d known that there were some pretty aggressive chemicals in the textile dyeing industry,” Hattori said. “But I didn’t realize just how toxic the substances are, and I hadn’t known about the amount of effluent produced and the enormous amount of water used in these processes. It had a huge effect on me.”
In 2010, she formed her own company, Botanical Colors, producing natural dyes for hobbyists and eventually for the fashion industry.
“I now work with small designers,” Hattori told me. “Younger designers are frustrated by not being able to make sustainable designs.”
To that end, Hattori collaborates with New York design house Eileen Fisher, overdyeing gently-used clothing for Eileen Fisher’s clothing recycling initiative, Green Eileen.
Re-sellers like Green Eileen address a related concern of Hattori’s: the impact of the enormous amount of clothing we purchase in the developed world — as much as 70 pieces of clothing per person per year, by some estimates.
Producing dyes in bulk is a part of Hattori’s commitment to sustainability.
“National brands find it difficult to adapt to using natural dyes, but many of them have committed to fix their supply chains by 2020. I want to figure out how to bring the process to the point where it is practical for them to use; to be an evangelist,” she said as we sat in her Ballard facility. “If I can get their attention and then their buy-in, we can start to make a change. But natural dyes are challenging to mass-produce. You never eat the same piece of spinach twice, and it’s that way with natural dyes.”
But by accumulating large quantities over a season, maintaining disciplined procedures, and exercising her artistry – assessing and modifying the color as her eye tells her – Hattori is succeeding. Well-known Dharma Trading Company, a California-based fiber art supply company, now uses Hattori as one of their suppliers.
Even so, Hattori keeps what she calls “a visceral attraction to the work of the hand” at top of mind, accepting teaching requests in an ever-wider geographical range. That is how we find ourselves in that idyllic field, dipping organic and locally-raised wool into pots of water infused with color from blanket flowers, marigolds, and cochineal insects. Blouses, wool skeins, and even canvas shoes find their way into vats of indigo. As we lift out skeins of wool, now glowing with intense yellows, oranges, reds, and delicate green, depending on the ingredient, I ask Michael Fromberger, a Google programmer, what has drawn him to this decidedly low-tech pastime.
“I think that through human history, we’ve been surrounded by plants and used them in all kinds of ways. Now we seem aware of only a small number, and we think of them only as food,” he muses. “What I enjoy about this is that it reminds me that we’re not so alien from the natural world, and I love having this skill.”
Melissa Bob, an artist of Coast Salish heritage who has also joined the class, wanted to learn the methods her ancestors used to create their distinctive textiles and adapt them to her own work. Beth Murphy, herself a knitwear designer, and Jade Getz, an artist and photographer, are interested in sustainable clothing and art. Enthusiasts of the Fiber Shedmovement, which is dedicated to locally and sustainably-produced clothing, they were keen to expand their skills to produce and enhance fibers for their art and their clothing. Several participants likened the growing movement to the organic food crusade of a generation ago.
Anna Dianich, owner of Tolt Yarn and Wool, which offered the class, underscored that commitment.
“People like to know the farmer when it comes to yarn and natural dyeing goes along with that,” she said. She sees evidence of that in registrations for the classes offered by Tolt; summer classes generally fill slowly but Kathy Hattori’s natural dyeing and indigo classes filled almost immediately.
As we spoke, the gathering of artists, and hobbyists lay freshly dyed clothing on the grass under a late summer sun. On the other side of the earth, workers in China and India – and increasingly, in other less industrialized Asian countries – were laboring among vats of synthetic dyes laced with toxins. That’s what Kathy Hattori wants to change.
“Someone dying for my clothing is wrong,” she says.
When Bernie Sanders announced he would be running for president late in the Spring of 2015, many observers didn’t take it seriously – making analogies to failed perennial candidates like Ron Paul, who had a fervent base but did not make traction in the election.
The problem with these early predictions is that it quickly became clear that they were underestimating the Vermont Senator’s campaign.
In three key areas, Sanders is actually exceeding the insurgent campaign Barack Obama ran in 2007 and 2008.
Over the summer, it became clear that Sanders was drawing some of the largest crowds in Democratic primary history – with tens of thousands pouring out into cities to see the senator.
Up until this point in 2007, the largest rally Obama had held was a rally in New York City, our nation’s most populated location, that brought out 24,000 people. Sanders has exceeded that in numerous locations that are actually much smaller in population – Boston, Portland, and Los Angeles.
Sanders also has a campaign that is working hard to translate these crowds into volunteers. In late July, his campaign mobilized over 100,000 people for community meetings to support his bid; today, his campaign has developed a map that shows all of the organizing events currently planned:
At the end of September, the Sanders campaign announced that it had hit one million donations – faster than any presidential campaign in history. This was a target that the Obama campaign did not hit until February 2008 during its own challenge to Hillary Clinton.
Perhaps even more remarkable is that this milestone was achieved with an average contribution of $24.86; although the Obama campaign was quick to boast of its sizable number of small donors, 47 percent of his money ended up coming from small donors, less than half.
Polling Stronger Than Barack Obama
Obama managed an upset of frontrunner Hillary Clinton that few believed to be possible. But at this point in his initial campaign, he was polling well behind her. Real Clear Politics has a chart showing polling averages among major pollsters for that primary. In early October, Obama was at 22.6 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 48.2 percent:
Sanders is at 25.4 percent to 42 percent for Hillary Clinton, meaning that the gap is around 17 points, when it was 26 points between Obama and Hillary at this time.
None of this is to say that Sanders will necessarily defeat Clinton. Much of that depends on his ability to defeat her in early primary and caucus states, which would give him the momentum for Super Tuesday and the rest of the nation’s primary elections. The Obama campaign’s strong ground teams in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina gave him the momentum to increase turnout and defeat the frontrunner who was trouncing him just a few months prior.
For Sanders, these early elections will be the deciding days, to see if he can continue on a viable path to the White House.
But that has changed in the city of Medicine Hat, Alberta, where all 60,000 residents now sleep soundly in a safe environment with a roof. Thanks to a new policy in the Canadian city, housing is mandated for everyone who has spent 10 days in a shelter or on the streets.
Now, when officials of the city learn of an individual living in these circumstances, they move him or her (or the family) into a house or apartment. Mayor of the town, Ted Clugston, says 10 days is the absolute limit an individual may live on the streets – even though the city is normally quick to find housing for homeless individuals.
Housing First puts everything on its head. It used to be, ‘You want a home, get off the drugs or deal with your mental health issues. If you’re addicted to drugs, it’s going to be pretty hard to get off them, if you’re sleeping under a park bench.
In 2009, the city began building new homes for the homeless and has since moved nearly 900 people off the streets. Really, it all comes down to economics: An individual living on the streets costs the city about $100,000, compared to about $20,000 to house the individual. Since adopting Housing First, police calls about homeless people and emergency room visits have decreased dramatically.
When a city opts to care for its most troubled citizens, a bold statement is made about the people of the town and the leaders who manage it.
“This is the cheapest and the most humane way to treat people,” said Clugston.
A Democrat that makes sense. Wow. Wait till Hillary declares Hawaii the stronghold of terrrorists and Russians and will do another benghazi on it. She serves on the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services and Foreign Affairs.
Tulsi Gabbard tells Steve Kornacki: If we focus on overthrowing secular dictator Assad instead of defeating our real enemy, Islamic extremists who attacked us on 9/11, we’ll see a repeat of exactly what happened in Iraq, exactly what happened in Libya where ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, will walk in the front door, take over the country of Syria and they will be a greater threat to the people on the ground as well as the world with their heightened military capability.
Welcome to Obamaland, the mysterious, schizophrenic world where the truth is inverted. Washington is rapidly losing the microscopic amount of respect it had around the world, as US propaganda is becoming more childish by the week. Any rational person who is even remotely informed just sits back in amazement at the volume of deceptive, deceitful, and outright ludicrous statements constantly spewing from the mouths of top US officials. One of the latest comical episodes was when the US President, Barack Obama, actually tried to argue that Russian airstrikes against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS/IS/ISIL) are “only strengthening ISIL”:
The moderate opposition in Syria is one that, if we’re ever going to have a political transition, we need. And the Russian policy is driving those folks underground or creating a situation in which they are [debilitated], and it’s only strengthening ISIL.
So in Obama’s mind, Russia pounding key ISIS positions and other affiliated terrorist groups isn’t halting the groups rise, but “strengthening” it. In the real world, however, Russia has been severely weakening ISIS and fellow extremist forces in Syria through bombing terrorist command centers, weapons warehouses, training camps and other enemy positions. Russian airstrikes have illuminated the complete sham of the US-led coalition against ISIS, as Russian airstrikes have been far more effective already, comparative to America’s campaign.
Russia has once again outmaneuvered the West in relation to Syria, after a stroke of diplomatic genius from Moscow in 2013, which led to the Syrian government giving up their chemical weapons arsenal and averting a full-scale invasion by Western forces.
Obviously, the Western narrative that there are “moderate” terrorists fighting in Syria which we can trust and we should arm, is (and always has been), a total fallacy. “In reality, from the beginning, there were never any moderates,” as Tony Cartalucci wrote in his article for New Eastern Outlook: “US Complains As Russia Bombs its Terrorists”. “The Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI (al-Qaeda in Iraq), are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,” was the assessment of the Defense Intelligence Agency in their declassified intelligence report from 2012. Just in case Obama doesn’t understand his own intelligence reports, al-Qaeda does NOT qualify as a “moderate” rebel group, they are as extreme as you can possibly get!
US Bombs a Hospital One Day after Claiming Russia Targets Civilians
You just can’t make this stuff up. One day after numerous countries – including the US – accused Russia of targeting civilians in Syria; the US committed a war crime by bombing a hospital in Afghanistan, which was run by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)). This abhorrent, repugnant and inexcusable act, killed at least 19 civilians (including at least three children), and wounded 37.
The previous day, large sections of the Western media had been filled with false stories that Russian airstrikes had killed civilians in Syria, with the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, even calling on Russia to “cease attacks on civilians”. Quoted in an article by Sputnik, Putin replied to these accusations by stating:
As for any information in the media on civilians suffering [from Russian airstrikes], we were ready for such information attacks. I draw your attention to the fact that the first reports on civilian casualties emerged before our planes even left the ground.
Author and independent researcher, Vanessa Beeley, wrote an excellent article for 21st Century Wire where she dissects the humanitarian propaganda promulgated by the West, and the role played by organizations such as the George Soros connected group, the White Helmets, in spreading this disinformation. Beeley also documents the fact that the US-led coalition in Syria and Iraq has killed civilians, a reality that other news outlets such as the Guardian have reported on – the US-led coalition is accused of killing civilians in 71 separate air raids.
Could John McCain Be More Hawkish?
In an interview with Fox News, US Senator John McCain was asked: “If you were President… would you shoot down those Russian planes?” to which McCain said “no”, but he then went on to state that: “I might do what we did in Afghanistan many years ago, to give those guys the ability to shoot down those planes – that equipment is available.” I suppose US policy is quite consistent, as the US was also aiding extremists in Afghanistan by supporting the Mujahideen to fight the Soviets.
The interviewer then asks the US Senator “who would be shooting them down?” and McCain replied: “The Free Syrian Army, just like the Afghans shot down Russian planes after Russia invaded Afghanistan.” McCain also asserts that “we need to have a no fly zone” and “a buffer zone for refugees” in Syria.
The US Senator has been one of the most prominent public figures who has called for the overthrow of the Assad government. In 2013, he was accused of illegally entering Syria in violation of the country’s sovereignty to meet Syrian rebels, with McCain even being photographed talking with the so-called caliph of ISIS, Ibrahim al-Badri (who is also known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi).
Syria: Where the Wolfowitz Doctrine Dies!
There won’t be many people in Washington who are more distraught at the news that Russia is pounding the West’s proxy armies, than Paul Wolfowitz. Regime change in Syria has been an objective of Wolfowitz since as far back as 1991, a man whose previous roles include serving as the President of the World Bank, and the US Deputy Secretary of Defense. In a 2007 speech, former four star general and NATO commander, Wesley Clark, discusses a meeting he had with Wolfowitz in 1991:
It came back to me, a 1991 meeting I had with Paul Wolfowitz. In 2001 he was Deputy Secretary of Defense, but in 1991 he was the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy – it’s the number three position in the Pentagon… I said to Paul (and this is 1991): Mr Secretary, you must be pretty happy with the performance of the troops in desert storm? And he said: Well yes, but not really. Because the truth is, we should have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein and we didn’t… But one thing we did learn; we learned that we can use our military in the Middle East, and the Soviets won’t stop us. And we’ve got about five or ten years to clean up those old Soviet client regimes – Syria, Iran, [and] Iraq – before the next great superpower comes along to challenge us.
Clark adds that the US “was taken over by a group of people with a policy coup; Wolfowitz, and Cheney, and Rumsfeld, and you could name another half dozen other collaborators from the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). They wanted us to destabilize the Middle East, turn it upside down, [and] make it under our control.”
I have previously written about the PNAC group, and their desire to topple the governments in “North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria”. How the neoconservative war hawks will respond to Russia’s policy in Syria is difficult to predict, but most probably it won’t result in the US peacefully backing down.
The proxy armies of the West, Gulf states, Turkey and Israel, are getting annihilated by Russian airstrikes, which moves Syria one step closer to stability and a lasting solution to the refugee crisis.