Friday, April 17, 2015

Suck It Up - Suckers


A demonstration in non-cooperation.

WEEKEND EDITION APRIL 17-19, 2015
Group Hug in Hell
The Election that Matters will Take Place in the Streets
by ROB URIE
Be Gone Labor, Environment

Whether it is broadly perceived at present or not, an economic bomb was just dropped on the loose coalition of political and economic interests— Black Lives Matter, the $15 minimum wage movement, the residual of Occupy and the immigrants’ rights movement, by the political Party that a half-century or so ago nominally represented like issues, the Democrats. With President Barack Obama getting ‘fast-track’ authority for the uber-corporate friendly, anti-labor and anti-environment TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) and establishment candidates Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush the likely contenders for President in 2016, both mainstream political Parties are doubling down on the neoliberal, neoconservative status quo.

As Mr. Obama most certainly understands, the ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) provisions of the TPP render ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’ civil labor and environmental proposals moot— issues like a minimum wage and what type of fuels U.S. utilities can burn will be decided by corporate lawyers in tribunals outside of civil jurisdiction. Appeals to Hillary Clinton to oppose the agreement— Jeb Bush and Congressional Republicans have already signaled their support; illustrate the folly of political ‘lesser-evilism.’ Ms. Clinton is a committed neoliberal and any opposition she might offer would most certainly be an election ploy. Given the ‘political capital’ that Mr. Obama is expending to get the TPP passed, it is reasonable to assume that it represents the culmination of the neoliberal takeover that has consumed the Democrat Party for the last half-century.

Informing modern political theory, in the late nineteenth century the German philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey developed the ‘telos of becoming,’ the purpose (telos) that becomes evident through subsequent history. When applied to American politics a trajectory from Jimmy Carter’s neoliberal resurgence to Bill Clinton’s social capitulation accompanied by NAFTA and deregulating the banks led to Barack Obama’s current push for the TPP. With polls consistently showing the American public well to the left of mainstream Party policies, modern Republicans lack the finesse for the political long con. With the TPP as soon-to-be-accomplished fact, from bank bailouts to the revived unitary Presidency, from extra-judicial drone murders to endless wars, Barack Obama is the gifted salesperson for a new corporate totalitarianism.

The Rationale

By accounts Mr. Obama does have a rationale for his support of the TPP, a ‘strategic vision’ that illuminates the interests at stake— as well as the utter irrelevance of the electorate and the broader American people in the ‘deal.’ The logic goes approximately like this: multinational corporations— banks, arms manufacturers, oil and gas companies and various and sundry industrialists already rule ‘the world.’ The choice from this point forward is between ‘our’ corporations and Asian, mainly Chinese, state-sponsored corporatism. The problem for the rest of us is that this is an updated eighteenth century European ‘royalist’ view— it is neutron bomb politics where the 99.9% of us who also occupy the planet, and the planet itself, have been assumed away. The ghettoization of the political and economic ‘leadership’ classes has facilitated a deeply delusional internal logic in policy ‘circles.’

From within this view the rest of Mr. Obama’s policies make sense. The bailouts of banks and bankers were to keep the ‘real’ players in the game. U.S. sponsored chaos across the Middle East is a contest for regional, and global, dominance where the lives of the ‘little people’ who are its casualties are irrelevant to the ‘higher purpose.’ Obamacare expands the proportion of the domestic population tied to the corporate model of social relations. Domestic surveillance is the hierarchical model of corporate control applied to a network of engineered social relations— technology defines the realm of social possibility through the inclusion and exclusion of broader social possibility. Left apparently unconsidered is that this unchecked corporatism seems at present the quickest path to mass extinction of most living things on the planet.

Group Hug in Hell

For Democrats in particular the election cycle revives the preference for religious imagination with increasingly toxic results. This imagination has been joined with the capitalist idea of progress through embedded history presented as the new and improved product line. If only we elect a ______ to the Presidency the world will be right. Had these aspirations ever borne meaningful relation to actual outcomes the conceit might make some sense. Margaret Thatcher demonstrated that a woman can force a hard-right turn as well as any man. Clarence Thomas was appointed to the Supreme Court because he proved himself useful to the institutional hard-right by throwing tens of thousands of hard-fought anti-discrimination lawsuits by the poor and disenfranchised into the dustbin without review. Absent a miraculous end-of-term conversion the neoliberal, neoconservative Barack Obama is set to make Jimmy Carter into a retrospective Democrat hero.

It is more than a bit ironic that in a country with nominally democratic aspirations the quest for a leader who will deliver ‘the people’ from their bonds becomes abdication, infinite ‘progress’ that never quite relates last year’s savior to this year’s bonds. Coincident is the want for more emotionally satisfying incantations, better explanations for the facts that are their opposite. Neocons and neoliberals are statespersons and responsible economists when the Blue Party is in office and war-mongers and readers of economic goat entrails when the Red Party is in office. The totality of the ideological distance between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton can be found in the few names that don’t overlap on their contributor lists. The pragmatists hoping for ‘a seat at the table’ don’t appear to have realized that they are once again on the menu.

The root of this electoral delusion lies in the contradiction between political and economic democracy. Posed as compatible, even complimentary, American democracy was conceived in plutocracy and slavery, in the three-fifths a chattel person slaves accrued to those who owned them. Two centuries before the Supreme Court’s ‘Citizen’s United’ ruling the owner of fifteen slaves held the political ‘personhood’ of nine slaves (3/5 = 0.6 X 15 = 9) plus himself. Fealty to legislative and judicial precedence has antique white guys in fact and spirit communing with the social facts of past centuries that have been so skillfully reconstituted in modern social technologies. ‘Private’ contributions to political campaigns approximate the distribution of income. Representative democracy has the same representatives representing the interests of factory owners and ‘their’ employees. Labor leaders who are paid like bosses act like bosses.

The recurring ritual of liberal and progressive commentators pleading with Democrat candidates to consider their policy prescriptions conveys the well-padded chairs in well-appointed offices that will greet their ritual humiliation once the votes have been counted. Self-important distinctions between REDBLUE voters and the ‘irrelevant’ left will be on public display until the first Presidential ‘compromise’ hits the news. The first few compromises will be ‘pragmatic,’ a signal that HILLBUSH wants to ‘reach across the aisle’ to accrue political capital for the important votes. The next few will be accedence to the Conservative / Christian temperament of the voters whose divided vote called for small ‘c’ change. And the next few still will signal the inability for transformative organization by the liberal-left until the current savior needs to rouse the troops for the next election.

The (Corporate) People Will be Heard

For those occupying less hospitable environs, a/k/a the overwhelming preponderance of persons on / in the world, the pageantry of radical irrelevance which is electoral politics retains some entertainment value from the distance. The perpetual chide that not voting accedes political power to those who do accepts at face value that political power is gained at the ballot box. The only major Democrat to win in the 2014 mid-term elections, Pennsylvania’s Tom Wolf, just put forward the most radically neo-liberal state budget in modern history. While ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) has been partially exorcised from the utterly corrupt Pennsylvania state legislature due to bad press, Democrat Wolf’s election victory brought back the ALEC platform without the political baggage. Who says voters don’t have a voice?

While Tom Wolf is but one Governor and Pennsylvania but one state, the tie between the mainstream political Parties and impossible-to-dislodge political and economic interests transcends local politics. The class dynamic at work in Pennsylvania is mirrored nationwide: a group of moderately literate, self-interested neoliberal opportunists are using the residual agrarian / urban, state / city frame to enrich themselves by looting the cities under the cover of neoliberal ideology. How many privatized school cheating scandals, misbegotten student debts and industrial sewers that used to be town water supplies need exist before the distance between words and deeds is obvious?

The political dynamic being brought to the fore is rapidly increasing class antagonism. Those either too busy or disinterested to understand exactly how far down the neoliberal rat hole the Democrat Party has descended will be seeing it in their paychecks and health insurance premiums in coming weeks and months. With fortune (Machiavelli’s ‘fortuna,’ not banker script) in play, the TPP may be Hillary Clinton’s undoing. It places the Democrat Party so decisively in the pockets of the corporate-totalitarian right that the more prescient forces of the liberal-progressive establishment might choke on their continuing support for Democrat policies. Republicans are ‘worse’ in the sense of being less skilled at selling corporate interests as those of ‘the people.’ But given that the actual policies of both Parties are close to identical, the political choice is either for the existing system or against it without the faux distinctions of Party politics.

The present amorphous coalition of Black Lives Matter, the $15 minimum wage movement (why not $21 plus benefits?), the residual of Occupy and the immigrants’ rights movement embody the political with economic issues that sum to true political opposition to the heavily cloistered political mainstream. Crude materialist theories of political interests, the first ______ President, etc., have been the tools of cynical political opportunists selling similar policies with carefully circumscribed difference for some decades now. Barack Obama has his reasons for pushing the TPP. But if you believe that they are ‘your’ reasons you haven’t read the fine print. The only politics likely to matter in the next few years will be decided in the streets, not at the ballot box. -- Via CounterPunch.

Rob Urie is an artist and political economist. The images that accompany this piece are his iteration of previously existing images. This approach derives from a social theory of art.

--Joe

Friday, April 10, 2015

What you call, Rule of Law

When Anger Management Leads to Gun Confiscation
Anti-Second Amendment zealots are sure to be stirred up by a new study that claims 22 million Americans have severe anger issues andaccess to guns. The study1, conducted by researchers at Harvard, Columbia and Duke universities, goes on to identify these angry people as generally young or middle-aged men living in suburban areas and having a history of impulsive and explosive anger issues. Next up: Gun confiscation.
The study’s authors note2 that, while laws are already on the books limiting gun access for people with felony convictions or misdemeanor domestic violence convictions, there have been few attempts to limit access for people with documented anger management issues or alcohol abuse.
In recent years, newly minted federal and state laws focused on limiting gun access to people with mental illness, but so far the results have been mixed. While it has been possible to prevent some mentally ill people from owning firearms, there are also cases where perfectly healthy individuals have had their guns confiscated after being swept up in this dragnet. Furthermore, the study’s authors point out that, even if mentally ill people are removed from the equation entirely, it would reduce violent crime by only 4-5%.
The study concludes that it’s time to widen gun restrictions to include people with other misdemeanor convictions and documented behavior that, according to its findings, indicate the potential for gun violence. The anti-gun lobby is sure to latch onto this study as it continues its fight to remove firearms from private ownership.
Certainly there are people so mentally unstable that they shouldn’t own guns. But who gets to decide just how angry people must be before we revoke their Second Amendment rights? Is it, for example, throwing a rock through a neighbor’s window, or is it something mundane like raising one’s voice in a heated discussion about picking up the trash? 
Everyone expresses anger, and, while the study defines an “anger problem” through a series of aberrant behaviors like repeatedly destroying property or getting into physical altercations, lawmakers may not adhere to such a strict definition. Nor does it instill confidence that the execution of laws meant to curb gun ownership by so-called angry people will be administered without prejudice. We need only look at the gun-grabbing effect of laws already on the books to prove this point.
Take the case of Michael Roberts3, a law-abiding citizen in California who had his 21 firearms, including some irreplaceable family heirlooms, confiscated in 2010 when his doctor filed a restraining order against him. The matter was peacefully resolved, but the police refused to return Roberts' guns despite a court order instructing them to do so. In the end, he sued for and received the cash value of his guns, but the police, who had no such authority under the law, destroyed the firearms.
Sadly, the Roberts case is not unique. States with strict gun laws — California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, et al. — often operate on a confiscate-first, ask-questions-rarely mentality. These types of cases happen under the radar and often go unreported in the media, leading people to think lawful gun owners needn’t fear having their guns confiscated and destroyed by government officials.
The gun grabbers who hide behind state and federal laws count on the bureaucracy to mask their actions and to prevent people from seeking restitution if their guns are confiscated. Oftentimes, the cost of litigation, fees and fines are too great for gun owners to pay, and they have little recourse as their firearms are seized for ginned up reasons.
The right to own firearms is protected by both the Second Amendment and the Fifth Amendment, which covers private property. But if government officials and anti-gun zealots are making the rules, the status of legal gun ownership will remain on precarious ground. [Picture Source]

Via Patriot Post
--Joe

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Who Rules California

Drought-stricken California’s fracking operations used 70 mn gallons of water last year

Energy companies in California used 70 million gallons of water for the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process to unearth oil and gas reserves, according to officials. The figure comes during the state’s increasingly urgent push to conserve water.
That amount is of water used is less than previously projected by industry -- which estimated fracking used about 100 million gallons of water per year. Nevertheless, water in California is at premium. The state is entering its fourth year of record drought, and a mandatory water reduction plan was announced last week by Governor Jerry Brown. California may only have 12 months’ worth of water left, as snowpack measurements for the year are set to hit record lows. Yet fracking operations are not included in the conservation efforts.
To unleash oil or natural gas from shale or other areas, the fracking process requires blasting large volumes of highly pressurized water, sand, and other chemicals into layers of rock. Once used, toxic fracking wastewater is then either stored in deep underground wells, disposed of in open pits for evaporation, sprayed into waste fields, or used over again.
“Hydraulic fracturing uses a relatively small amount of water – the equivalent of 514 households annually,” Steven Bohlen, the state oil and gas supervisor, told Reuters, which first reported the water usage figure.
Bohlen added that fracking uses more than fresh water, including “produced” water that surfaces during the fracking process that cannot be used for drinking or agricultural purposes.
Patrick Sullivan, a spokesperson for the Center for Biological Diversity and Californians Against Fracking, said while the state’s fracking water use may only equal 514 households, much of that contaminated water can’t be used again, unlike most common household water usage.
“It is water that most likely cannot be put back into the water cycle,” Sullivan told ThinkProgress. “It’s water that is by and large gone for good.”
Reuters also reported last week that environmentalist groups have estimated that oil and gas developers in the state go through 2 million gallons of fresh water per day for oil production.
Fracking has been linked to groundwater contamination, heightened earthquake activity, exacerbation of drought conditions, and a variety of health concerns for humans and the local environment.

Oil and gas companies are under increasingly intense pressure nationwide to respond over increased transparency of chemicals used in the fracking process. As RT has reported, industry has avoided divulging -- often under the cover of official regulatory agencies -- just what chemicals are involved in their toxic injection fluids. Yet drillers insist the chemicals do not endanger human health, contradicting findings by scientists and environmentalists.
“What [oil and gas producers] have been doing, especially in the [California’s agriculturally fertile] Central Valley, is injecting this very contaminated, very salty -- often containing benzene -- water into shallow aquifers and shallow water supplies,” Helen Slottje, of the Community Environmental Defense Council, told RT.
“Water is not replaceable, we don't have any alternative sources for water. But we do have alternative sources for natural gas and oil.”
In March, disclosures in California revealed that a bevy of toxic, cancer-linked chemicals in fracking wastewater are routinely injected back into the ground.
In February, it was reported that California officials permitted oil and gas companies to dispose of waste and other fluids into aquifers containing drinking and irrigation water more than 2,500 times. Significantly, 46 percent of these permits were authorized within the last four years – the same timeframe during which the EPA warned California that regulators were not sufficiently protecting underground water reserves in the drought-stricken state.
In October 2014, the state found that the oil and gas industry had illegally injected about three billion gallons of fracking wastewater into central California drinking water and farm irrigation aquifers.

The executive order signed by Gov. Brown mandates cities and towns to reduce water usage by 25 percent over the next nine months to save approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water “or nearly as much as is currently in Lake Oroville,” the statement said.
The order also allows California to replace 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought tolerant landscaping in partnership with local governments; direct the creation of a temporary, statewide consumer rebate program to replace old appliances with more water and energy efficient models; require campuses, golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscapes to make significant cuts in water use; and prohibit new homes and developments from irrigating with potable water unless water-efficient drip irrigation systems are used, and ban watering of ornamental grass on public street medians.
Alas, fracking operations are exempt from the reduction plan.
“Governor Brown is forcing ordinary Californians to shoulder the burden of the drought by cutting their personal water use while giving the oil industry a continuing license to break the law and poison our water,” Zack Malitz, of the environmental activism group Credo, told Reuters last week.
“Fracking and toxic injection wells may not be the largest uses of water in California, but they are undoubtedly some of the stupidest,” he added.
-Via RT

--Joe

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Bystander Effect


If they're like most people in Eureka -- NOTHING!

Assault on the Subway: What Can a Bystander Do?

There are ways to intervene that don't involve putting yourself in danger.

It was nearly dawn on October 20, 2012, when Elisa Lopez hopped on the 4 train downtown from the Bronx* to head to her boyfriend's apartment. Lulled by the subway's rock and rumble, she fell asleep, head cradled by the Plexiglas divider between her seat and the doorway.

That's when one of the other riders, Carlos Chuva, sidled up to Lopez. He started caressing her, and put his hand up her skirt. Lopez did not wake as Chuva molested her. And no one on the train did anything to intervene, except for Jasheem Smiley, who captured about 30 seconds of the incident on his cell phone. When Lopez finally stirred and found Chuva's hands on her body, she says she punched him in the face. As she ran off the train onto the platform, she quickly glanced around the car, realizing that other passengers had been standing by silently.

"I stood there for a minute, like, What just happened?"Lopez told Cosmopolitanlast December. "I see some guy staring at me and the doors closed and the train left. I started crying, because I realized no one helped when this guy did something to me."

It seemed like a textbook example of the bystander effect: The more witnesses there are to an emergency, the less likely any one of them is to step in. The phenomenon is not a reflection of human heartlessness; it's more that our sense of personal responsibility is inversely proportionate to the number of people around us. When we see nobody else intervening, it normalizes and enforces an idea that there isn't a way to help—or maybe that help just isn't needed.

Last week, after more than two years of Lopez crusading for justice and working through the psychological trauma of the incident, Chuva was charged with first-degree felony aggravated sexual assault. His arrest was greatly helped by the evidence in Smiley's video—which, after the assault, traveled from his phone to a free porn website, then to Gothamist before going viral. Smiley, who came under fire for not doing anything to physically stop Lopez's assault, has stated that, in fact, he went immediately to the authorities with the video. But it's not clear how it made it online—which, as Lopez has stated, was a whole separate trauma.

"You should have been in my shoes to know what I was thinking," Smiley has said. "You shouldn't judge. I did the best I can."

What should have Smiley, or any of the other passengers on Lopez's train, done as witnesses? Can we blame the bystanders that her assault went on as long as it did?

"It's easy for outsiders to look at this story and say, 'How could you not help?' and 'What kind of people were they?'" says Dorothy Edwards, the executive director of Green Dot, an organization that offers bystander-intervention training for different forms of violence worldwide. "But put in the same situation, every person would run up against their own barriers."

By barriers, Edwards means the very legitimate cultural, psychological, or physical hurdles an individual might be confronted with when witnessing a violent assault like Lopez's. You might reasonably fear for your own life by physically intervening: Who knows if the perpetrator is armed? You might not speak the right language or know what to say to get them to stop. Maybe you've had your own trauma, and seeing something similar is too much to bear.According to a 2007 survey, 63 percent of New York City subway riders reported that they'd been harassed on a train. Ten percent said they'd been assaulted.

Faced with any form of violence, what can a bystander do? There's no single prescription, says Edwards. The trick is to recognize your own personal barriers in responding to an emergency, and then the range of options you actually have to help the victim. Whether you're in a crowd or all alone, "you can be direct, you can distract, or you can delegate," says Edwards. "Those are the basics."

Taking a direct tack is the most obvious option: You insert yourself directly into the situation to attempt to stop it. "But that's stranger danger," says Edwards. "Probably 97 percent of us would be intimidated by that."

And if that includes you, distraction is a useful alternative. You can make a noise, throw something against the wall, swear, talk loudly on your cellphone—anything to create a scene, and in a case like Lopez's, wake the victim up. "There is a lot of power in letting to perpetrator know they're being seen, and that neither they or the victim are invisible in this," says Edwards. "Making noise can also be a catalyst for someone else to step in and help in some other way."

If that doesn't work, or if you're not comfortable creating a distraction, delegate. Find somebody else who's willing to step in to help. "You can create momentum," says Edwards, by simply asserting to other people that something needs to be done.

And what about cell phones? Edward strongly condemns the fact that Smiley's cell phone footage made it online: "It's outrageous. It's its own broken law and violation." But, she says, capturing video is a legitimate and powerful mode of intervention. It lets the perpetrator know they're being watched, and can obviously be later used to prosecute, as with Chuvas. "Or you could just throw your phone at the guy's head," says Edwards, only mildly kidding.

Finally, maybe obviously, you can go the authorities. On New York City's subway, some cars are equipped with intercoms that you can use to alert the conductor. MTA has also been rolling out platform "help points" since 2011, which contact emergency personnel in a jiffy. A spokesperson from the NYPD, which patrols the subways, also pointed out that some stations get cell service, and you can call 911 that way.

Could cities do more to prevent public transit assaults? Studies have found that more law enforcement dedicated to patrolling transit could deter sexual harassment and assault. Surveillance cameras might help emergencies, too. As CityLab wrote in 2012, research shows that by making us all a little more self-aware, cameras can actually reverse the bystander effect. An MTA spokesperson stated that while most NYC buses are equipped with surveillance cameras, subway cars aren't—but a roll-out is in the works.

For Edwards, reducing violence is about creating an aggregate social effect, intervention by intervention—small, uncomfortable, and imperfect as our interventions may be.

"When we as a society watch something like that on the train happen over and over, it communicates two things: One, it says to both victim and perpetrator that what's happening is socially acceptable enough that none of us will act. And two, that to the other bystanders that this isn't worth reacting to in any way," Edwards says. "We can reset these norms by taking small steps to diffuse these situations. It's the sum total that counts."

As for Lopez's assault, "Watching that video made me want to vomit," Edwards says. "Of course I wish someone had intervened. But I also have empathy about how hard it is to act."

*CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Lopez was traveling on the 4 train from Queens." Lopez was traveling from the Bronx.

--Joe

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Is This What's Wrong With the City of Eureka?

When the City of Eureka was looking for a new Police Chief they had, what was supposed to be several opportunities, meetings, where local Eureka citizens could voice their wants and needs in their selection. What I heard was the strong desire of the many to avoid hiring someone with the policing policy like the retiring Murl Harpham. However, the voting citizens had already voiced their opinions when they elected the various members of Eureka City Council. Those public meets turned out to be nothing more than a ruse to placate some people who honestly believed they might have some say in the actual selection - they did not. Problem was, the person ultimately responsible for that choice, the City Manager, was a person selected without any public input. So what did the people of Eureka get for a new Police Chief. Someone that serves the people of Eureka, someone that upholds and enforces law, or the City Manager who serves the political interest of the City Council? We've had over a year for him to define and answer that question. Tragically, from what I've observed, the Eureka people got another Murl Harpham. Either way, that's what the people voted for.

Ferguson City Manager Faulted in DOJ Report Resigns

The city manager of Ferguson, Missouri, has resigned in the continued fallout from a federal probe into systemic racial bias. In its report last week, the Justice Department blamed John Shaw for overseeing a municipal system that targets African Americans for arrest and then profits off of their fines. Ferguson Mayor James Knowles announced Shaw’s departure.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles: "I think the city and John came to a mutual agreement that we want to be able to move forward as a community. John and the city felt this was an opportunity to do that and start fresh."

As city manager, Shaw was the most powerful local official in Ferguson. His departure comes one day after the local municipal court judge, Ronald Brockmeyer, was also forced to resign his post. A court clerk and two police supervisors were forced out last week for sending racist emails.
Here's a description of the Eureka City Managers job in Eureka as detailed on the city's website.
"Duties and Responsibilities: Serves as the chief administrative officer of the City and is responsible to the City Council for the effective administration of all affairs of the City; attends all meeting and sessions of the City Council; recommends for adoption by the City Council such measures as deemed necessary  or expedient; ensures that all laws, ordinances, and policies of the City Council are faithfully executed; prepares and submits to the City Council such reports as may be required by that body and as he may deem advisable to submit; keeps the Council and the community fully advised of the financial condition of the City and prepares a preliminary annual budget for consideration by the City Council." [Emphasis added]
Then there's is this update on the Ferguson situation: 2 Officers Shot at Ferguson Protest Marking Police Chief’s Resignation - a rather tragic reality to the enforced blanket impunity.
Two police officers have been shot during a protest outside the Ferguson police headquarters early this morning. The shooting came just hours after Police Chief Thomas Jackson quit following last week’s Justice Department report finding widespread racial bias in the city’s criminal justice system. Jackson is the sixth Ferguson official to be forced out in the wake of the report, including the city manager and the top municipal judge. Police say both of the wounded officers have "serious" injuries.
All you have to do is listen to the explanations from St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar and you know exactly why people are so upset in Ferguson. You can readily see what his attitude is.
Yet Belmar believes someone targeted the police, who have braved heated criticism for months, for a reason.
"These police officers were standing there, and they were shot just because they were police officers," he said. [Emphasis added]
Hardly.
--Joe

Monday, March 9, 2015

Real Heroes Still Live

This woman, Diane Nash, will make you proud to be an American. She is a real hero. Something I can't say about the gutless Democrats that walked with Barack Obama. Then there are the turncoats that brought Netanyahu into the austere halls of congress to disparage and insult the country and its President. More importantly she has solutions for dealing with corrupt elected officials and a government that doesn't work for the people. Unfortunately she conflates "nonviolent campaign" with a "campaign of noncooperation."

Civil Rights Pioneer Diane Nash: I Refused to March With George Bush During Selma Anniversary 
One notable civil rights activist who did not take part in this weekend’s commemorative march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma was Diane Nash, who helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She spoke at an event honoring civil rights foot soldiers and explained her opposition was based on the participation of former President George W. Bush. "The Selma movement stands for nonviolence and peace and democracy and fairness and voting rights. And George Bush stands for just the opposite. He stands for violence and war and stolen elections, and, for goodness sake, his administration had people tortured." She argues it is a "huge mistake for Americans to leave the future of this country in the hands of elected officials. … Suppose we had waited for elected officials to desegregate lunch counters, buses, and to get the right to vote. I think 50 years later we would still be waiting." 
AMY GOODMAN: After President Obama spoke, he walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge along with Michelle and their daughters, Congressmember Lewis, former President George and Laura Bush and few dozen others. One notable civil rights activist who refused to take part in the symbolic walk was Diane Nash, who helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Later in the day, she spoke in Selma and explained why. 
Coordinating Committee. Later in the day, she spoke in Selma and explained why.

DIANE NASH: After the event, there was a—like a march, and photographers. And I was all set to march with them. They had—they placed us—they had me in the front line. And then George Bush came out and got in the march. And I left. I decided I wasn’t marching anywhere with George Bush. The Selma movement stands for nonviolence and peace and democracy and fairness and voting rights, and George Bush stands for just the opposite. He stands for violence and war and stolen elections, and, for goodness sake, his administration had people tortured. I think this occasion was not appropriate for him to be here. I think for him to appear to be leading people involved in the nonviolent movement in this country, for photographs of that to go across the world would make it look as though we have sold out. I think that is an insult to people whose lives were taken—Reverend Reeb, Jimmie Lee Jackson, Viola Liuzzo. It’s an insult to me. And I think it’s an insult to everybody who really does believe in nonviolence.

That being said, I want to mention just a couple of things that I think might be of value as we continue the struggle now. And the first thing is, I think it would be a huge mistake for Americans to leave the future of this country in the hands of elected officials. Elected officials are not going to do what’s necessary in the interest of this country. It’s important—critical, in fact—that citizens take the interests of this country into our own hands, use nonviolence and make the necessary changes. I like to ask—suppose we had waited for elected officials to desegregate restaurants, lunch counters, public accommodations, buses, and to get the right to vote. I think 50 years later we would still be waiting.

My second point that I’d like to bring up is the issue of protest versus a nonviolent campaign. We’ve seen like the Occupy movement a few years ago, and now the hands up movement, and I believe that young people are on the right track. They are taking matters into their own hands. But one thing that I have observed is that I think sometimes we do not know how to differentiate between protest and a movement. In protests, it’s just what the word says: "I protest this. I do not like this." Very often, the powers that be know that we don’t like what’s going on, but they’re determined to do it anyway. On the other hand, a nonviolent movement or a nonviolent campaign starts where you are right now, causes you to set a very clear, concrete objective. And I like to say also that it should be a written objective. Nobody can give you what you want unless you know what that is.

AMY GOODMAN: That was civil rights leader and SNCC co-founder, Diane Nash, speaking in Selma on March 7th, 50 years after the first Selma march that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

--Joe

Sunday, March 8, 2015

I Couldn't Say This Any Better

Why not lob a nuke at the war profiteers?

By Tim Martin, Eureka Times Standard Newspaper


America is like the school bully that didn’t evolve after graduation. We are still beating up on weaker life forms and acting like we’re the toughest kid in town. Thanks to the dangerous and regressive thinking of our country’s leaders, we are hung up on power and colonialism … Whoops! Excuse me, I mean national security. We’ve been in an almost constant state of war since the 1960s. The U.S. spends close to a trillion dollars a year on our military but the war lobby believes this is not enough. Their mantra is more, more, more.

We have the scent of death in our nostrils and the stain of it on our hands. Why is America so addicted to bloodshed? Who’s in charge here? Why, it’s our military of course, a taxpayer-funded Ponzi scheme with an allegiance to the ultra-rich and a license to kill. Their adventures have become our burdens. Their profits are our sacrifices. Even worse, our paint-by-numbers politicians are either too dumb or dishonest to understand the damage this is causing.

We’re sick of the constant ruses, dodges, and lies from our military leaders. They create imaginary enemies to justify future increases in war budgets, enrich the MIC, and further impoverish our nation. We need to get out of the Toppling Dictators and Empowering Rebels game and stop arms manufacturers from dictating our foreign policy. It’s a recipe for disaster.

We’re tired of the depths of insincerity within our government. The amount of blood letting and de-humanizing of people who live outside (and inside) of the U.S. is sickening. America cannot solve religious war in other countries. Besides, we have terrorists to fight here at home. The KKK, the Family Research Institute and the Family Research Council immediately come to mind. These hate groups claim to be Christian, but they are to Christianity what al-Qaida is to Islam.

We’ve had it with conflict. It’s destroying our young men and women. Sending soldiers off to war and telling them to come back sound of mind is like telling a person heading out in a rainstorm not to get wet. Our troops return to us from countries where the ground can no longer soak up the blood that’s being spilled. They arrive home angry, frightened, and wrapped too tight. Others come home wrapped in body bags.

We’re nauseated with battle. We no longer fight for freedom, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. Our wars are waged to maintain an empire of banks and multinational corporations. We can count on one hand the number of times U.S. military intervention has worked since the end of WWII. We worry deeply about the unintended consequences of the next military venture, and the part our young men and women will play in it.

One does not have to be Sun Tzu to understand that the best way to win a war against terrorists is to stop making more terrorists.

We’re burnt out on hostilities and the lame reasons our leaders keep coming up with to start new ones. Crying wolf about “weapons of mass destruction” doesn’t cut it anymore. Chemical weapons are no different. It’s odd how chemical war becomes a “game changer” when small, powerless countries engage in it. Remember how we dumped Agent Orange from one end of Vietnam to the other? How about Israel and its horrifying use of white phosphorous on Palestinian civilians, and the chemical weapons we supplied Saddam with to use against Iran?

Is this a pathetic case of the pot calling the kettle black, or what?

We’ve had our fill of war. Americans are no longer in a blissful stupor of cheering on our favorite hawkish politician. We want to end the military bloodletting and our mounting war debt. We want to stop slaving and dying for greedy national security contractors. We realize that missile technology has made war seem “cleaner” and “more sanitized” in our collective minds, but only because we’ve become jaded by the horrendous collateral damage caused by a drone strike. We know that war does not create jobs or provide us with cheap oil. It only benefits companies like United Technologies, the Carlyle Group, L-3 Communications, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics, BAE Systems, and Halliburton.

So let’s turn off that patriotic music and put away those flag magnets. Banging the war drums is doing nothing to advance peace or preserve our national security. It’s time for Americans to forever say no to war. Are you ready to give peace a chance?

Tim Martin resides in Fortuna and writes this column for the Times-Standard. Email him at tmartin@northcoast.com.

I couldn't have said it any better. Other than add, if you really want peace stop cooperating with the psychotic police state and its lawless impunity. Stop voting for the corrupt liars and their arrogant gods.
--Joe