Back to School August 2018 Hiroshima, Japan

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One of the most severe mudslides caused the highway to collapse into a pile of mud on top of the commuter train line below.

Schools in Japan typically operate on a trimester system, so it’s not the start of a new school year, but it is the end of summer vacation. August is when, according to Shinto tradition, the dead return en masse to the world of the living. But these imperialist ghosts are also joined in August in Hiroshima by the ghosts of the victims of the atomic bombs. The number of living hibakusha (atomic bomb victims) are declining along with the population of this country, which has suffered the slow burn of neo-liberalism since the 1980s Nakasone government.

The public high school where I work has only about 600 students now, compared to 1200 a quarter century ago. And the future of public schools here does not look good. In a picture typical of any system you might find globally where the government has been completely captured by capital, public infrastructure is allowed to crumble while school curriculum is reduced to the churn of human resources to feed the corporate machine.

As a more disturbing illustration of the damage global capital is doing to my local school district, I present the case of the landslides, and flooding which left some of the more mountainous areas outside of Hiroshima in chaos and cut some communities off almost completely from the rest of the country. As you can see in the video I’ve included, the main highway connecting Kure, the suburb where I live, to Hiroshima, where my school is located, has collapsed and what used to be the railway line below, is buried under several meters of mud and rock. At the beginning of the summer, my home, like many thousands of my neighbors’ homes, was without running water. We relied on military supply stations for drinking water and even laundry and bathing facilities

In short, this was my first direct experience with the extreme environmental harm wrought by global climate change. Like the levees in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, the drainage systems, roads and river bridges in our community just couldn’t withstand the onslaught of a super-storm. To hold capitalism responsible for such disasters doesn’t mean that I believe Sony or Mazda or Tepco or Ratheon or Amazon somehow ordered up this storm. It just means that these companies have too long held the human and environmental costs of their enterprises at arms-length as externalities or liabilities.

When the trains start running again, and as my commute time returns to normal in the next few weeks, I intend to teach about the connections between these seemingly disparate phenomena: mudslides, atomic bombs, and decaying schools.

Dorothea Lange’s Censored Photographs of FDR’s Japanese Concentration Camps — Anchor Editions

The military seized her photographs, quietly depositing them in the National Archives, where they remained mostly unseen and unpublished until 2006.

Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother photograph from 1936 Dorothea Lange—well-known for her FSA photographs like Migrant Mother—was hired by the U.S. government to make a photographic record of the “evacuation” and “relocation” of Japanese-Americans in 1942. She was eager to take the commission, despite being opposed to the effort, as she believed “a true record of the evacuation would be valuable in the future.” The military commanders that reviewed her work realized that Lange’s contrary point of view was evident through her photographs, and seized them for the duration of World War II, even writing “Impounded” across some of the prints. The photos were quietly deposited into the National Archives, where they remained largely unseen until 2006.

Source: Dorothea Lange’s Censored Photographs of FDR’s Japanese Concentration Camps — Anchor Editions

30 Years of “Doonesbury” on Donald Trump: Cartoonist Garry Trudeau on the GOP’s “Natural Born Toon” | Democracy Now!

Cartoonist Garry Trudeau has been writing about Trump and a possible run for the presidency for nearly 30 years, prompting Trump to call him “a third-rate talent,” “a sleazeball,” “a jerk” and “a total loser.” Trudeau is the creator of the popular comic strip “Doonesbury” and the first cartoonist to win the Pulitzer Prize. In September 1987, Trudeau published a series of comic strips that now seem prophetic. In one strip, reporters ask Trump a series of questions about his political ambitions to run for Congress, and Trump responds, “President, think president.” Trump has remained a frequent character in “Doonesbury” ever since, giving Trudeau a chance to make fun of everything from Trump’s hair to his ego to his rampant use of insults. His cartoons have just been collected in a new book titled “Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump.”

Source: 30 Years of “Doonesbury” on Donald Trump: Cartoonist Garry Trudeau on the GOP’s “Natural Born Toon” | Democracy Now!

Korea’s Comfort Women: The Fight to Be Heard – The New York Times

After hearing about Korean women who were forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese Army during World War II, Yunghi Kim photographed survivors struggling to get their stories heard.

Source: Korea’s Comfort Women: The Fight to Be Heard – The New York Times