Croatia’s Lady President…and India’s BJP

Final France vs Croatia

I got a Whatsapp message this morning from a longtime acquaintance in Calcutta.

This man — a good man otherwise — is a diehard BJP and RSS member, and runs a party newspaper too. He was passing on a message, praising Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, the woman president of Croatia, and her on-field gestures after the World Cup football final in Moscow — gestures that became viral instantly.

[If you didn’t watch it, She and France’s president Macron were standing there on the field, soaked with torrential rain, and she was hugging each of her players with a big smile and admiration.]

Now, this Calcutta newspaper man’s message said, “Did you know that Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic speaks five languages, and spoke with Putin in Russian and Macron in French, during the prize distribution?”

The message continued, “Did you know that the highly educated lady who charmed men all around the world by her beautiful body (verbatim, I’m translating from Bengali) is also a trained commando, and a sharp shooter?”

Etc. The praise went on.

In case you didn’t know, BJP is the Hindu fundamentalist party ruling India now with overwhelming majority in the parliament, and is a strong supporter of Donald Trump. BJP’s mentor is the grassroots social movement organization RSS, of which the ruling BJP is the political front. (Also, RSS’ former member Nathuram Godse killed Mahatma Gandhi, but that’s another story we’ll talk about later.)

So, BJP is using the now-famous Croatia president’s World Cup gestures big time. What is the substance of the social media propaganda? That a “conservative” leader, she spent her own money to travel to Russia, sat in non-VIP gallery, and her ability to speak five languages, etc. And “her beautiful body to charm men” everywhere. Etc.

Why are they doing it? Because it helps them to blast “communist” Russia [communist Russia — what a joke!] and Putin and “leftist” France and Macron.

I thought I’d let you know where the hypocrisy was in circulating their well-organized message on social media.

First, in stark contrast with what the Croatia president did, BJP’s Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has been traveling all over the world spending billions of rupees of Indian people’s money. (That is, not his own money.)

Second, in stark contrast to Kolinda’s attire, Modi after his inauguration proudly wore a million-rupee suit presented by corporate India, and justified it when media started to criticize.

Third, Modi and BJP leaders don’t want to speak anything but Hindi, and are adamant about imposing Hindi across India to be the official language, replacing and downgrading many rich and historically precious regional languages and dialects.

Four, Modi and most BJP leaders have no idea what football is. As I said before, their mentor is Hindu supremacist RSS, and RSS doesn’t believe in “foreign” games. When I was with them for fifteen-plus years as an active member, our leaders forbade us from playing cricket or football. Foreign games were denigrated.

Five, and this is the most important thing, contrary to what they say now about the Croatian president, RSS and BJP do not want women to be so free, confident, and out on the field by themselves in the first place. And a woman hugging men, in front of the entire world, soaked in torrential rain? Ask BJP leaders, and you will find out.

Hypocrisy, lies and brainwashing all have assumed a new level. Here in the U.S., we have Trump. And back there in India, we have their counterpart.

With a deep sigh,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Photo courtesy: New Strait Times (for non-profit, education use.)

World Cup Football: Final Thoughts

Child labor 1Photo courtesy: for non-profit, educational use — The National.

World Cup: Thoughts on the Finals, and Some Final Thoughts.

Okay, wonderful. International Labor Organization (ILO) says Pakistan eliminated child labor in their football (soccer) manufacturing industry. If you didn’t know, small boys and girls used to make most of the $140 billion products — for very little money. I don’t know how much the adults are making now.

But I read a report in The Guardian that the ban on child labor in Pakistan football-making industry has driven the poor children into worse jobs. But nobody talks about it.

Now, Even if that ILO report is truthful assessment (which I do not believe will eliminate poverty for these families, unless there is supportive economy and government, and there isn’t any), then why can’t they use that model to end child labor in other sports and entertainment areas?

Why are they still allowing Disney to make toys and costumes in other poor countries, and in China, violating human rights? Here is a 2018 report.

Why are they not stopping child slavery in the fishery and seafood industry? Here is a 2018 report.

The chocolate industry in Ivory Coast? Here is a recent study.

Garment industry in Bangladesh? A 2016 report is here.

Firecrackers industry in India? Here’ another 2016 report.

Why is there zero media coverage on the enormous sex trafficking and porn industry? Read this 2016 story by a young woman who was a sex slave to Europe’s elite at the age of six.

Did you know that next to weapons and drugs, sex- and porn-related business is the third largest?

Before watching the World Cup final game on Sunday, can you think about the 2000+ migrant workers who already died building the football stadiums in Qatar, site of the next World Cup in 2022? Oh, you didn’t know? Okay, read this 2017 report.

Qatar’s human rights record is absolutely miserable, and they don’t care about activist pressures.

I’m telling you that unless you come up with an alternative, sustainable, humane economy, the so-called elimination of child labor and slavery — like the one in Pakistan’s football-manufacturing industry — would not work. I don’t care what ILO says.

Find out what is going on. As I tell my students every time I teach, “Don’t believe a single world I say. Do your own research.”

That is, of course, if you care. If not, have fun. Don’t even bother. Watch you finals.

Sincerely Yours,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Football, Cricket, or Politics: Why I’m Never Going to Support England

Bengal Famine 1943It is the biggest lie that England invented football. Or, soccer.

I mean, do you believe that in five thousand years of glorious history of China, Egypt, India, Inca, Maya, Aztec, Arabia or Africa, nobody ever knew that playing a ball with feet was possible? With a set of rules?

Like in Bengali we say, “Shala, what garbage!” This white supremacist violent axis of evil killed us in the stomach, looted our countries, made us poor, and put our brains to sleep too. And we praise them!

***

A labor union leader here in New York whom I respect a lot just told me he read about the British-created famine in Ireland, driving mass exodus of Irish immigrants, who were treated in USA like animals.

So, I told him how we read about the biological aspects of the Irish famine back in Calcutta: the fungus causing Late Blight of Potato, etc. But we didn’t know the political history then. They never told us.

We thought maybe, it happened out of thin air. Actually, we didn’t think anything. Thinking was not a part of our education. That is, the education British shoved down our throats. Or, down other body parts.

What we knew though is that British powers violently colonized India in 1757, and in ten years, we saw a historic, unthinkable famine that killed millions. And five years before they left India in 1947 after sucking our blood, we saw another Great Famine caused by Churchill that killed three million people only in Bengal.

Bengal and India never knew what hunger and death out of starvation was. British powers in two hundred years transformed one of the richest countries into one of the poorest. They never apologized for their tyranny. There was never any demand of reparation the South Africa way.

Our “independent” rulers sucked up to them, and later, to American powers.

FOOTNOTE: Shashi Tharoor’s book Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India says that in 1703 (before their violent occupation), India was 24% of the world economy. One and a half centuries of occupation, 1903, India was reduced to only 4% of the world economy. The British plunder was unprecedented in history. But Indian history books don’t discuss simple arithmetics.

If you are even thinking of supporting the British supremacist, violent, looting, lying hegemony, please, you are not my friend. I shall never support any British hogwash.

Is it important to talk politics during the 24/7 World Cup fun? You bet it is. This is the best time to do it. Especially when Indians and Americans are going gaga with British football.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Women and Immigrants Rising in America. Can India Learn?

ap_18178174410938

A new social revolution is happening in the United States of America. It is exciting, and I hope you notice. I hope you participate. This is history in the making.
Minority and immigrant women are winning in mainstream elections. Yet, this is not news in India or countries that copycat USA. People in India, in particular, are totally uninformed about this new nonviolent revolution. Media never highlight them.
The people of power never allows them to discuss about women’s empowerment, and they use corporate media as a brainwashing machine. They never inform people about how middle-class, working-class women are fighting back in America — how they are rising at home, on the streets, at schools and colleges.
Big media never tell us especially in a country like India how these brave women are fighting elections from city councils to congress — against all odds. Why? Because it may be dangerous for the ruling class.
Of course, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh all have had women prime ministers, but these are three countries I know that have fallen way behind the rest of the world, when it comes to overall empowerment of women. The situation is pathetic, with the rape epidemic, acid throwing, bride burning and dowry deaths, and massive domestic violence — major and minor.
Yet, even Muslim countries like Morocco, Tunisia, Indonesia, Malaysia, or even Saddam Hussain’s Iraq, and Latin American countries like Uruguay, Columbia, Brazil have better social and economic situation for women. We are never told that in these countries, women have more economic freedom and equality than what we have in India.
We have  a strange misconception that only Muslims are responsible for the population explosion in India. Our social leaders have told us that Muslims have four wives, wearing hijab, and they have too many children. And we have always blamed Muslims, without any reality checks.
I have hundreds of Muslims friends. As a rights activist and labor educator, I have attached with hundreds of Muslims — both men and women — from Bangladesh to Bolivia, Iran to Indonesia, Pakistan to Peru. That “four wives, countless children” propaganda is bogus. I am sure some backward places, they still practice it, but so do orthodox Hindus, Christians and Jews. In many areas here in the U.S., ultraconservative Christians are against any scientific family planning.
But many of us fall for propaganda and rumor, and they are brainwashed by media talks and newspapers and social media. Over time, many people have completely lost their ability of thinking rationally.
America is changing at the grassroots level. On one hand, ordinary people are standing up against Trump, his white supremacist administration, and their corporate power.
On the other hand, a revolutionary change is happening in the world of women and immigrants. Black leader Stacey Abrams is a strong candidate for the governor of Maryland. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28 year-old young Latina, defeated big Democratic party congressman Joseph Crowley, here in New York City. She is a Democratic Socialist from Barney Sanders’ camp. I have worked with Pramila Jayapal, recently-elected Congresswoman from Washington state. A young Muslim woman Ilhan Omar defeated another Democratic Party big boss in the state of Minnesota. These are the bright faces of hope and modernism. They help us believe in a progressive, revolutionary change unfolding on the ground.
True, fascism, hate politics, gun violence and such extremism are overwhelming us. At the same time, bright young women and immigrants are rising up, assuming political power.
I keep my torch of optimism aflame.
Sincerely,
Partha Banerjee
Brooklyn, New York
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The Legal vs. Illegal Immigrant Debate

TEASER-no-blacks-no-irish-no-dogs

Let’s have some fact checking on the “Illegal vs Legal” Immigration debate. That is, let those of us who want to check facts, and not go by hearsay and propaganda.
Trump is using his white supremacist, racist violent politics against immigrants, and even some of our union members are falling for it. Here’ss some quick points for those who care to read and think.

(1) Immigration does not happen overnight; nobody wants to leave their country unless they are desperate. I wouldn’t have left India to come to America, had I not been desperate.

(2) Find out what our ruling class has done in Mexico and across the world to drive this exodus from Mexico. Check out what Clinton’s NAFTA did to destroy Mexico’s economy.

(3) Illegal or paperless immigrants do not fit in one box: for example there are 185 types of visa to enter and remain in USA, and countless people are trying for 10, 20 or 30 years to get papers. Their children were born and grew up here.

(4) Even today, crossing the U.S. border without papers is not a criminal offense. It is a civil offense. There is no criminality involved.

(5) It’s not the poor immigrants that you should go after; catch the real criminals who are forcing these people to come, and then exploiting them as slaves. Private prison industry is making billions in profit by jailing poor blacks and undocumented immigrants.

(6) All immigrants pay taxes: sales taxes, and even pay income taxes and Social Security deductions (literally billions of dollars each year). In many cases, these income taxes are stolen by their unscrupulous American employers using forged IDs.

(7) About the history of immigration in America (in case anybody is interested to know history), check out this short video. Quickly, you’ll find out how “illegal” most of American ancestors were with no English speaking abilities.

(8) Trump and his white supremacist, racist people in power are using the immigrants as scapegoats to cover up their own evil acts.

(9) All the anti-union people have joined hands on this game including Koch Brothers, Heritage Foundation, NRA, KKK, and more.

Etc. Etc. Etc. All fact, and no hearsay or rumor.

At the end of the day, if you are afraid that immigrants take away your jobs, don’t worry, White America was built on genocide, war, violence, slavery, and racism. They even had publicly posted signs such as “No Dogs or Irish or blacks Allowed.”

Let alone signs such as “Whites Only. No Spanish or Mexican.”

Look, you’re not reading or learning: you are just falling for the traps the 1 percent created for you, to keep us divided and hateful. It serves their purpose, and not yours or mine. What is the difference between what your ancestors faced and what these immigrants are facing now?

Thank you for thinking.

The vast country of America is falling apart, and just like India, hate, bigotry and violence have taken over.

Extremism on one hand, and deliberate ignorance on the other have conquered America and India — the two countries I know.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Whites only sign

Flip-Flop Trump Stops Separation of Children, for Now. Media Never Discusses Why Undocumented Immigrants Come to America.

CNN children separated

CNN photo courtesy: for non-profit, educational use.

Trump now signs an executive order to stop separation of immigrant children from their parents. In a day, he changed his position 180 degrees! Even his own Republican Party (the so-called moderates) imploded.

This is not law and order. This is outrageous dictatorship, however way big media spins it. And many Americans (including many union workers) are viciously against “illegal aliens” because “they broke the law and must be deported, period.” Or, they are equally confused about the issue of immigration and immigrants, and believe there must be a way to keep “check and balance on the out of control” border crossing.

Why is there so much opposition and confusion by Republicans and Democrats alike? Because media and politicians — CNN, Fox, NYTimes or whatever — practically never discusses the reasons behind such a massive migration.

They never talk about U.S.-inflicted wars across the globe (Vietnam to Angola to Bangladesh to Salvador), and CIA-Kissinger’s support of tyrant dictators (Suharto, Pinochet, Marcos, the Shah of Iran…) that made millions flee.

Who destroyed stability in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and to keep in power which power…we all know who. Who helped to create Taliban, IS. They never talk about corporate America’s war on food, water, agriculture, small businesses, and environment. They hardly ever talk about Clinton’s NAFTA that destroyed Mexico’s economy.

Bill Clinton’s repressive anti-immigrant law passed in 1996 never features on media discussion, even today!

Without any knowledge about what American rulers have done for decades, the ordinary American people must remain opposed or confused. Media and politicians from the two parties would not talk about the above, because their hands are bloody.

Check out the facts before you start another meaningless conversation.

New York Times published a good report on the immigration scenario. You can get the numbers from the study. But this day and age, nobody cares to read anything serious. People are driven by hate, rumors, fear, and yes, media lies and half truths.

You decide what you want to do.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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NYTimes immigration map

New York Times map on immigration around the world. Read the article to know the numbers of immigrants in various countries. USA has a much lower percent than some other countries. But people do not know.

Trump Is Destroying Lives of Immigrants.

migrant-caravan Newsweek

Photo Courtesy: Newsweek web (for non-profit, educational use only)

Against any common decency, ethics, and morality, let alone due process and legal procedures, Trump and his administration is destroying lives of poor immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico borders, by separating children from their parents. This is unheard of in the modern history of America.

Here’s the most recent story from New York Times.

Yet, there is very little outcry outside of the New York Times beltway. As if the entire country that brags itself to be the Land of Immigrants, went into deep slumber. The world-famous liberal American leaders such Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama are yet to be seen with their fiery human rights speeches! Sure, I know the first ladies denounced it. But their cry is feeble, and not making any impact at all.

Americans have lost their humanity, it seems, when it comes to undocumented, poor immigrants and their children. They do not matter to them much. Life goes on.

Trump is a known racist. He called immigrants “criminals” and “rapists” many times during his election campaign. He even called them “animals.” And corporate media and the big politicians did not come out strongly enough against his obnoxious racism.

Democratic Party and its pro-Clinton corporate leaders — not much different from their Republican counterparts — did not want to deal with the sensitive issue of immigration, for the fear of losing American votes. In fact, Clinton and Obama both deported undocumented immigrants in very large numbers, and Clinton passed one of the most brutal anti-immigrant laws in U.S. history.

Democrats lost anyways, and Trump’s policies after he became elected as the president, moved so far to the right that even the moderate Republican leaders now cringe.

But it’s too late for them to turn the clock back.

Meanwhile, at the borders, hundreds of thousands of poor children and their parents are being forcibly separated by U.S. border security forces. A country that brags about its Christianity and religious morale, is blatantly putting countless children in serious jeopardy. It is impossible to know how many children and their parents will be lost in this horrific brutality, and in that extreme heat and waterless, shelterless situation in the desert.

I have been there. I was a part of a pro-immigrant group of activists. We visited the borders of Arizona, Mexico, and the perilous Nogales desert trail many immigrants use, with help from often dishonest agents called coyotes. American media never report what kind of risks these people take to save their children’s lives. Many women and children drop dead, and then they bring their bodies, if recovered, to morgues for identification.

It’s an unbelievably inhumane situation down there. It’s a war zone. I have seen it.

American media and politicians also never discuss in what circumstances immigrants leave their own countries to come to America. The war, dictatorship, police brutality, land grabbing, loss of farms, loss of small business, any livelihoods — destruction of which is often inflicted by American powers — directly or indirectly. There is never any comprehensive discussion on the above on big media. Nobody knows.

Millions and millions of people are losing their lives because of a brutal and inhumane American ruling class. Now, the ruling class has a president who is as ruthless as Hitler.

Hitler separated Jewish parents from their children. We know the history.

Trump is repeating the history. Yet, there is so little outrage!

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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“Don’t even believe a single word I say.”

Optical Illusion
This is how I teach my labor union workers here in America.
People call me by my first name. “Partha,” they say, “I have a question.” Questioning, challenging, doubting what the teacher preaches is totally okay.

No, over the 30+ years I’ve lived in America, I have not changed my name to Pat or Paul. I have been adamant that my American students, teachers, colleagues and even neighbors pronounced my name correctly. If not, tough luck, I will not reply.

I teach a critical-thinking, interactive workshop to about 1500 union workers each year. Each class, I have about 30-40 students who go through the class I put together on a different subject each year. This year, we’re discussing extremism. Last year was human rights. The years before were climate change, immigration, economic inequality, etc.

Every class is attended by a group of union workers, and we do interactive discussion for six hours — with help of documentary video clips, fact sheets, individual and small-group brainstorming, and Q/A with help from peer-reviewed research. At the end of the day, we become more conversant on our own questions — pertaining to the subject of discussion.
This year, I’ve been using a special catch phrase. “Don’t even believe a single word I say,” I tell them in the beginning of class. “You do your own research, and find out. Then come back, and share your research with the rest of the class.” That’s how open and free my class is. That’s how I teach.

Unlike India, calling the professor by their first name is not a big deal here in the U.S. If and when somebody addresses me as Dr. Banerjee, I practically become uncomfortable.

I never believed in fake respect, and I never cared for the British colonial education, that would put the teacher at a higher, artificial pedestal — where anything but addressing a he-teacher as Sir and a she-teacher as Madam would be unacceptable, and even punishable.

Surprised? I even eat potato chips and my students drink their coffee in classroom, while teaching and learning. Then we clean up the classroom spic and span — ourselves. Doing your own chores is a lifestyle here.

India has joined the rat race to “become like America.” But India has not changed its feudal, prehistoric education system even by an inch, or by a millimeter.

Sincerely,
Partha Banerjee
Brooklyn, New York
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World Cup Begins. I Refuse to Follow It.

Putin world cupPhoto courtesy (for non-profit, one-time use): Daily Beast.
____________________
In this day and age, when nobody cares to read, or think, I am almost sure nobody outside of my few close friends and followers would read this post either. But because I have no other power than writing, I do this stupidity one more time: express my honest, heartfelt feelings.

I was a huge football (soccer) fan, and actually, quite a good player too. In Calcutta (Kolkata) where I grew up, football back in those days was the biggest sport. We played alley football (with a baseball-size rubber ball), and we also played field football (using an old, worn-out size 5 football with an inflatable rubber bladder inside the thick, rough leather skin). A number of times, at various leagues — mostly neighborhood leagues — I won the top scorer award, winning a small silver cup or more often a towel, which I flaunted to my classmates and family members.

Injuries were very common. Had countless doctor visits and minor surgeries. Then, playing cricket on a neighborhood London park, I broke my knee, ending my football career once and for all. Then, I coached for a while in upstate New York.

Some of my friends and I were almost like encyclopedia of football history. How many goals Pele scored in 1958, 1962, 1966 and 1970 World Cup. How disingenuous was Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal. How England players brutally hurt Pele in 1966, and referee was silent! How Argentina’s Mario Kempes, Or Italy’s Paolo Rossi became household names overnight. And then, the long list of celebrity players like Socrates, Eusebio, Gordon Banks, Cryuff, Platini, Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Cameroon’s West-undermined Roger Milla…all the way to today’s Germany’s seven goals against Brazil … to Spain’s Xavi and Iniesta … to Neymar, Ronaldo and Messi … I can really give you a one-hour fun presentation on football.

Nobody knows, but our Calcutta was our champion Brazil. We loved Brazil, and we loved football.

But I don’t follow World Cup anymore — just the same way I have now unfollowed cricket and Olympics.

World Cup football, just like World Cup cricket and Olympics, has now become anything but sports. It has lost its gamesmanship, and billions of dollars of profit and corporate advertisements have taken over. Practically, all the major outcomes are pre-determined, and fixed. Players and clubs are extremely rich, making billions, and they couldn’t care less about the unbelievable income and wealth disparity the world sees right now. Players — except for a small few like Drogba of Ivory Coast — don’t care about the unthinkable poverty, health crisis, environmental crisis, and illiteracy their own countries see right now, let alone the vast number of unfortunate around the world.

Olympics and World Cup games are now huge distractions created by big media worldwide to distract people’s attention from real-life issues. The games have become one more powerful weapon in the arsenal of the ruling class, who divert people’s attention from issues such as the children who make the balls, boots, jerseys, and countless items these big events use — earning slave wages. Million of poor workers — countless child labor included — live and work in abominable conditions. Nobody cares to talk about them, and their lifelong suffering.

Football stadiums are built using blood and sweat of hapless immigrant workers. Millions of impoverished people are displaced, and their homes are neighborhoods are destroyed. Those who protest are thrown in jails, or killed mercilessly.

Russia is now a new ruthless, violent power, with dubious connections with autocrats, supremacists, and crazy megalomaniacs like Trump. But these few weeks, nobody will talk about them. Nobody will talk about Putin. Media will make us forget all about it.

In 2022, four years from now, Qatar will host World Cup football. Already, thousands of slave-like workers have died in the desert, building stadiums. Workers from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and such countries in particular. Nobody cares to talk about them either.

It has truly become an era of post reason. Nobody wants to know the truth.

I refuse to be a part of this inhumane, cruel, violent, exploitative history, in the name of fun. I refuse to follow these games.

I hope you join me too.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Italy, France, and U.S. — Fast Trains!

high-speed-train-italy

When I was a TV journalist, I did a story for ABC network on America’s “new, fast trains.” Many years later, two weeks ago, I realized how incomplete my story was.

My story was on the Acela Express that U.S. launched back in those days. And my story was on that, given ABC TV slash their owner Disney slash American corporations slash my employers would love to show their consumers how great the accomplishment was.

Like, [drum roll] “One more feather on this mighty American cap: we have a very fast train launched, that can travel at a marvelous speed of…[drum roll]...150 miles an hour!” [cheers and claps]

And everybody in America would cheer and clap.

Problem is, that speed is laughably low.

Two weeks ago, we had a chance of a lifetime to travel Italy and France. In France, we did not have a chance to ride the fast trains. But definitely, even the commuter trains were much faster, greener, and cleaner compared to what we see here in the U.S. At least, what we see here in New York, where we live, and curse the subway system everyday. America’s commuter trains are slow, unclean, and almost always not on time.

Even my poor Calcutta’s subway trains and platforms are spic ‘n span, compared to the rat-infested, smelly New York Metro. Believe me, I’m not unnecessarily putting New York down. I truly love this city. I said it many times, if I can’t live in Calcutta, I would live in NYC.

And it’s not the fault of the hundreds of thousands of NYC workers who work very hard to maintain the trains and their schedules. A rampant, out-of-control privatized, pro-car, pro-oil system has defunded public transportation, driving it to doom. Add to it American’s strange psyche of car ownership, with zero regard for the environment.

But in Italy, we had a chance to ride the Italo trains — to travel between Rome and Naples, and back. The average speed was 300 kilometers an hour, which is 186 mph. We were awed. But that’s really an average speed for Europe’s trains, as shown in the picture above. Italo’s record speed is 575 km an hour, which is 357 mph!

Wow! We had no idea.

Japan, for your information, has a Maglev train that can reach up to 603 km/hour. But we never visited Japan, so we can’t tell you how it would feel to ride. Nausea, dizzy, nightmare?

On that Italo train with an “average” 300 kmph speed, however, we didn’t even realize it was going so fast. Everything seemed normal. And normal, average Italians were calm and cool: even that English-zero woman who asked me to get her luggage down to the platform (and profusely thanked me in Italian) never blinked when another train with an equally stormy speed stormed past us, and zoom-crossed almost in split seconds.

American powers and their corporations and media have all the money for making wars and bombs and drones and mines and Agent Orange around the world. They have all the money to bail out big banks that broke us down to bankrupt. But they have no money to upgrade their public transportation.

As I mentioned in my ABC TV story so many years ago — obliquely — that America’s train tracks are prehistoric. They are not capable of carrying trains like Italo or Maglev. Even Long Island Railroad or New York’s Metro North trains, with their miserably low speed, are crashing every now and then. Given that situation, I am thankful to God U.S. doesn’t have high-speed trains at all.

American powers and corporations and politicians and media are also thankful. They are thankful that the American people don’t have a clue how far behind this country is, compared with the rest of the developed, capitalist world.

The world turns faster today. Here in America, the speed is slow. Very slow.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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