New York Fire Kills the Poor…Again!

Fire on 8th Street blog 1
Too many tragedies for the poor. Endless tragedies.

Exactly four years ago, I woke up at 5.30 in the morning here in Brooklyn, and found out that a house in our backyard was on fire.

My wife and I ran out to discover a lot of fire trucks, police officers in patrol cars, ambulances, and a whole host of media with their big cameras.

I took pictures and videos of the house in blaze, victims being carried out on stretchers, and firefighters throwing burning beds and furniture through the third-floor window on to the street. We learned that three young women — poor and unfortunate — were burned alive in that ill-fated house.

From our rear window on the third flood, we could see the charcoal-black building for years after. I walked past the abandoned house many times after.

Today, in the Bronx — another similar neighborhood in New York City — a similar house fire killed twelve people including two children. Poor and unfortunate, they fell victims to a continuously apathetic and inefficient system that does not care much for the poor and hapless people in this so-called “Best Country in the World.”

The poor and hapless die here in America all the time. Nobody knows. Nobody cares. The president, the governor, the mayor, the city council members…and of course, the privatized, profit-only economic and political system…

On December 20, 2013, I actually had a chance to talk to the media about this never-ending saga of the poor being victims of poverty, illiteracy, carelessness, and a ruthless, pro-1% administration. I told them that the city and country must work to stop these tragedies. Educate the people. Find ways to plug safety violations. Ask the landlords to make sure their tenants are safe. City council members must work for the people, rather than showing their faces once in four years at the time of the elections.

Nobody did nothing. This mighty city and this mighty country went on, rewarding the rich, and punishing the poor. Republicans or Democrats.

At that time, it was an aftermath of a ruthless, pro-rich Bloomberg government and his corporations and media. Now, it is a so-called pro-people De Blasio government, that has not done much at all to save these extremely vulnerable people from death.

The cycle goes on.

There will be a lot of talks, and there will be lot of finger-pointing after this massive, new tragedy. But I am afraid no substantive change will be made.

I hope I am proven wrong.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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BJP Wins Gujarat…and This is How.

Gujarat resultsBJP has won Gujarat 99-80, narrow margin. This is how it works in this fake, America-modeled “democracy” today — especially in India and USA.

(1) You don’t talk about issues that matter to the ordinary people (like, why do I work so hard, but still can’t make ends meet; or, why is my land forcibly taken by Monsanto or Coke; or, why is the pollution situation so horrific; or, why do I get rough treatment in offices when the party thugs and politicians get a royal treatment…etc.).

(2) You talk big, you talk fluff, you brand your opposition traitors, and you blame the Muslims and immigrants for your own failures. You make sure the richest of the rich are happy.

(3) For media, you show the same face of the top leader on TV ’round the clock, but do not ask him (or her) any controversial questions that might cost your media job, reputation, or life. Your questions, if any, are like a bland, barley soup, with no spices or salt.The supreme leader is de facto running for all constituencies and districts. Only his (or her) familiar face matters, and nothing else. The local candidates have little or no significance.

(4) You carefully avoid any sensational tragedy, violence, or crime during the election campaign (like, Roy Moore in Alabama, or the videotaped killing and burning of a Muslim man by a Hindu fanatic in Rajasthan). This is critical.

(5) You never apologize for anything (this is a big-time corporate policy, developed in USA — you never say sorry for any errors, lapses, or crimes). Do not ever admit any errors.This is a proven, corporate management policy. Do not ever give the media any opportunity to cash in on any errors you’ve committed (even though everybody knows it: like BJP’s big corporate donors — media will not surface it, unless you admit it).

With a stupid, toothless, and corrupt-to-the-core, weak opposition, you win. I am very surprised BJP barely managed to win. It shows they are not as smart as some of us think. And even this fake election fiasco brought them almost to defeat. Because their wrongdoings are so many, and so grave.

This cycle has continued, and will go on, forever, with this fake, America-modeled, two-party system. Corporate media will make sure alternative voices are never heard, or are downplayed and undermined. Like, the way New York Times and CNN and Democratic Party trashed Bernie Sanders. In India, it’s even easier, because educated liberals and left — still support Congress Party and its out-of-touch royalty.

By the way, almost ALL of the corporate news media did their own exit polls, and predicted BJP getting a much higher share of seats.

We know why.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

Port Authority Terror Today!

Dec 11 NYC terror
Photo Courtesy: New York Times (for non-profit, one-time-only, academic use.)

I express my sadness, frustration, and anger on such cowardly terrorist acts, and offer my sympathy for those who were hurt. Thank God, nobody lost their life.

Then, we talk about Islamophobia and Immigrant Bashing.

Every time something like it happens, it automatically makes people even angrier against immigrants and especially Muslim immigrants. People start calling names, and refuse to be in any discussion, any dialogue, or any debate.

Some media flare up the sentiment, and profit more. I am sure tomorrow’s papers will be flooded with sensational, front-page stories, with zero substantive discussion about the immigrant communities. In fact, immigrant communities will continue mistrusting one another, and even more.

I am also sure people like Trump of USA and Modi of India do not mind that hiked-up hatred, to win more elections, exploiting the anger. Misplaced anger also diverts attention from other real-life issues, such as money, jobs, education, health, environment. Violence on women and children. Police brutality. War. Gun violence.

It works so well! They have done it over and over again.

Yet, based on reports today, this idiot named Akayed Ullah, who blasted the bomb at Port Authority today lived in Brooklyn, and was from Bangladesh, and I know literally hundreds of Muslims from Bangladesh living in Brooklyn and New York. I live here. I work here.

I have no doubts in my mind that this nut represents a small, miniscule number of nuts, and the vast majority of immigrants — Muslim, Hindu or Christian, with papers or without — do not believe in violence. They believe in peace. They condemn violence of any kind.

Let us not divide ourselves even more, and fall prey to the traders of bigotry and hate.

Let us come together. Let us live in harmony and peace.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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25 Years of Babri Mosque and BJP

babri-masjid

Twenty-five years ago, on December 6, Hindu fanatics (who now support Trump) broke the law, conspired with police and politicians, and rammed through barricades to demolish an old mosque in North India.

They did not do it only to show their anger against Muslims, or to reclaim a piece of land they believed was the birthplace of Hindu god-reincarnate Ram. It was a political ploy to start massive violence and bloodshed across the country, and permanently polarize Hindus and Muslims to consolidate vote banks.

Thousands of innocent people were killed — mostly Muslim men, women and children — by RSS and BJP supporters and thugs. The incredible violence and mass killing brought back memories of horror that occurred during the 1947 British partition. A peaceful land was turned upside down.

BJP, along with their ideological mentor RSS, were not in the seat of power in 1992. The nationwide bloodshed and religious polarization since the Babri Mosque massacres, followed by a similar 2002 communal violence in Gujarat, brought them to the highest seat of power in India. They created and exploited hate. Just the same way Trump created and exploited hate.

Now, their leaders who were once implicated in the bloodshed have stopped talking violence, and media have done their best to make people forget about the history. Now these leaders have new ploys: demonetization (scrapping of currency) and destruction of a traditional, familiar economy.

Absolute, purposeful nonsense!

End result: India is now one of the most polarized places on earth. Hindus and Muslims are more hateful than ever before. The rich is now super rich, and the poor is now…poor. Bollywood stars, cricket players, corporate business leaders, and politicians are incredibly rich and powerful and celebrated by media, and are guarded 24/7 by special security forces, spending public money.

For the 99% in India, a man can be killed any time, a woman can be raped any time, and a child can be molested at school any time. It’s not only impossibly suffocating to breathe air in India. It’s impossibly suffocating to live your daily lives. If you don’t know how to be a part of this cruel, corrupt system, or refuse to be a part of it, you are doomed.

In twenty-five years, India — a place so close to my heart — has forever changed.