“I wish we taught the modern generation the true meaning of “love” and the human race. The love for all people regardless of their religion, race, culture or Political beliefs. The love of justice in the face of injustice.The love of wisdom in the face of ignorance, the love of country in the midst of unpatriotic beings and the love of self in the face of wanna be’s.
I wish we showed them that racism is not something that “Human Beings” should accept or brand. I hope we teach them that character matters more than race. I wish we taught them that “Islam” is not the biggest problem that America faces and vengeance, itself, is harm!
In this time of divides, we have seen what the media can do. It has the power to uplift and break a candidate. In this uncertain times, we must be courageous as Americans and stand for what’s right, not what the media think is.
In this time, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Donald J. Trump will not and can not fundamentally change this country.
It will take you, as an American to liberate your minds from hate, racial divides, injustice, and discrimination. It will take you as an American to rethink Islam, Health Care issues, Free Education for all, Unemployment, Environment and Climate Change, Obesity, Foreign Relations, Illegal Immigration, Equality Between Men and Women, and Individual Liberty vs. Government Control
JUAN GARRIDO (LEFT) (DIEGO DURAN, HISTORIA DE LAS INDIAS DE NUEVE ESPANA
E ISLAS DE LA TIERRA FIRME, 1581)
(The Root) — Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 2: Who was the first African to arrive in America?
Like many of you, I was always told that the first Africans to arrive in what is now the United States were the “20 and odd” Africans who arrived as slaves in Jamestown, Va., from what is now the country of Angola, in 1619. But this turns out not to be true. As a matter of fact, Africans arrived in North America more than a century before both the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock and before these Angolans arrived in Virginia. What’s more, we even know the identity of the first documented African to arrive. His name was Juan Garrido, and more astonishing, he wasn’t even a slave. Next year will be the 500th anniversary of his arrival in Florida, and the state plans to commemorate this remarkable event.
Juan Garrido was born in West Africa around 1480. According to the historians Ricardo Alegria and Jane Landers, Garrido’s notarized “probanza” (his curriculum vitae, more or less), dated 1538, says he moved from Africa to Lisbon, Portugal, of his own volition as a free man, stayed in Spain for seven years, and then, seeking his fortune and perhaps a bit of fame, he joined the earliest conquistadors to the New World. All the sworn witnesses to this document affirm that Garrido was “horro,” or free, when he arrived in Spain. Sailing from Seville around 1508, he arrived on the island of La Española, which is today called Hispaniola, the island on which the Dominican Republic and Haiti reside. He later settled in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Garrido is the first documented black person to arrive in this country, and he is also the first known black conquistador. And like the other conquistadors, Garrido soon succumbed to the lure of wealth and fame in the New World. He joined Diego Velazquez de Cuéllar and the legendary Juan Ponce de León in the colonizations of Cuba and Puerto Rico, respectively. Then, in 1513, he joined de León’s well-known expedition to Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth, when he became the first known African to arrive in this country. Continue reading Who Was the First African American?
by Maria Popova – May 16th, 2016
* * * *
“In its passivity and resignation, cynicism is a hardening, a calcification of the soul. Hope is a stretching of its ligaments, a limber reach for something greater.”
I have long relished the commencement address as one of our few cultural forms that render us receptive to sincerity — receptive to messages we might dismiss as trite in any other context, but which we recognize here as the life-earned truth of the human being at the podium, shared in a spirit of goodwill with a group of young humans just starting out on the truth-earning gauntlet called life.
We on the Left often talk about low information voters more than they do on the Right, but that’s only because the Right depends on them so much to stay in power. Without the low information voter and the low effort thinkers, Republicans would never have been able to grab onto and retain the political power they currently enjoy and abuse, not only on the national level, but at the state level, too. An informed voter would never vote for a Republican unless that voter was a greedy, rich, selfish bastard who couldn’t care less about helping his or her fellow human beings who are in trouble (often due to Republican policies.) And face it. If you aren’t greedy, rich, or selfish, you really have no reason to vote for a member of a party that openly admits to doing things that help the super rich far more than they help you or anyone else you personally know. I mean, seriously, do rich people need more tax cuts?
We are talking about taxing income beyond a ridiculously high point at which they’ll literally be bringing in (not necessarily earning) more money than they can possibly use in their life times or their grandchildren’s, so why do Republicans insist on lying and acting like taxing more of that income will take away all incentive to make money? That’s pure selfishness talking, not sound public policy. And if it’s sound public policy you want out of your public servants, then why on Earth would you vote for Donald J. Trump? What possible argument could you have?
It can’t be because of sTrumpf’s positions on any of the major issues. In addition to the fact that Trump often speaks in incoherent phrases, he has often been unable to state a position and stick to it. Whether it’s on taxing the rich, paying down the national debt, a woman’s right to exercise her constitutional right to an abortion, the minimum wage, money in politics, defeating ISIS, following international laws, immigration, H-1B visas, border control, the Syrian refugee crisis, banning Muslims, being so popular with white supremacists, the KKK and David Duke, the multi-national Iran nuclear deal, or even healthcare in the US, sTrumpf has often stated, then reversed, then modified whatever position he had, sometimes within hours. He expressed three separate and conflicting opinions on abortion in less than an hour and a half. Continue reading Low is not only a measure, it’s also a condition
via Alternet by Janet Allon – Dec. 2015
* * * * * * * *
A new study clears up any lingering doubt that the Republican Party engaged in the tactic of dog-whistle politics in the 2008 presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain. The study, which was published online this month in Public Opinion Quarterly, shows that the McCain campaign’s negative ads about Obama overwhelmingly featured him with a darker skin tone in a subtle attempt to appeal to voters’ racial prejudices.
Analyzing 126 advertisements from the presidential campaign in 2008, the authors first digitally measured the darkness of the two nominees’ skin in each spot, then sorted the ads into categories based on themes. President Obama and his opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), looked very different in various advertisements depending on how the footage was edited and produced.
That was particularly the case in negative advertisements, in which each campaign manipulated the images of its opponent to shadow or wash out his face for dramatic effect. Interestingly, though, when McCain’s campaign aired spots that connected Obama with alleged criminal activity by liberal groups, the producers almost always used images that made Obama’s skin appear very dark.
According to the study’s authors, 86 percent of the ads featured images of the president with a skin tone that fell into the darkest quartile of the ads they looked at. As the Post reports, the closer the election got, the darker Obama’s skin became in McCain’s desperate ads. And while Obama’s skin darkened, McCain’s skin grew lighter and pastier.
While the Washington Post and the study stop short of calling the strategy intentional, we won’t. After all, per the Post: A large body of evidence shows that racial prejudices are stronger against African Americans with darker skin. For example, jurors are more likely to sentence to death black defendants with stereo-typically African facial features, even when accounting for the severity of the crime.”
Another study, by Solomon Messing of the Pew Research Center, Maria Jabon, a software engineer who works for LinkedIn and Ethan Plaut at Stanford University measured voter’s responses to Obama’s skin tone in photos and found that when his skin was darkened, respondents matched words corresponding with anti-black stereotypes, like “crime” and “lazy.”
Dog-whistle politics is alive and well in the Republican Party today, with Donald Trump’s fear-mongering about Mexican immigrants and Muslims and Jeb Bush’s comment that black voters might not get “free stuff” if he wins the White House.
via Truthout – by Charles Derber and Yale Magrass – May 19th, 2016
GOP leaders secretly admire and envy his power as a bully.
This article by Charles Derber and Yale Magrass was originally published in Truthout.
Donald Trump’s flagrant bullying — much denounced even by the Republican Party establishment, with both President Bushes refusing to endorse him — is no sign that he will lose the presidential nomination or election. The dirty secret is that GOP leaders secretly admire and envy his power as a bully. Worse, Trump’s bullying resonates not only with his hardcore supporters, but also to many in the elite classes and much of the population.
There has been endless elite and media bemoaning of Trump as a bully. Much of this misses the key point and is hypocritical, for Trump’s bullying is largely a reflection of the establishment’s own bullying and the centrality of bullying in our culture and society.
The mainstream media and party establishments say, “Isn’t it terrible that Trump is such a bully?” Many ordinary people say the same thing. But the truth is that Trump’s bullying is a deep part of US culture. If we look honestly in the mirror, we will likely see some reflection of Trump. This is especially true of the political and media establishments, who present themselves as being civil and anything but bullies.
The inconvenient truth is that bullying is embedded in our culture, our governing elites and our most powerful institutions: the military, the corporation and the state. Whatever our personal values, we all live in a bullying society — militarized capitalism — and must learn to play by its rules.
Many GOP leaders genuinely want to stop Trump. His threats of “riots,” his egging on of supporters to punch out protesters at rallies and the death threats by Trump’s most hardcore followers to wavering Republican delegates represent extreme bullying that is dangerous, because it threatens to expose the disguised bullying built into the Republican Party and the kind of capitalism and militarism it embraces.
The Republican Party’s neoconservative establishment embraces a global militarism that threatens and bullies all nations opposing US interests. And it embraces an unfettered, neoliberal capitalism with few restraints on corporations bullying workers and consumers. But these policies are packaged in moral ideals about preserving freedom and American exceptionalism. High-flown rhetoric hides the underlying GOP establishment’s commitment to institutionalized bullying. Although Trump preaches many of the same values, with a pledge to “make America great again,” he is embarrassingly explicit in his embrace of xenophobia, nativism and even torture. Continue reading Bullying is as American as apple pie
via Shadowproof by Kevin Gosztola – May 17th, 2016
* * * * * * * *
Days after a convention in which leaders incited chaos and disorder, the Nevada State Democratic Party demonized supporters of Bernie Sanders in a letter written to the Democratic National Committee.
“We believe, unfortunately, that the tactics and behavior on display here in Nevada are harbingers of things to come as Democrats gather in Philadelphia in July for our National Convention,” declared Bradley S. Schrager, the state party’s general counsel. “We write to alert you to what we perceive as the Sanders campaign’s penchant for extra-parliamentary behavior — indeed, actual violence — in place of democratic conduct in a convention setting, and furthermore what we can only describe as their encouragement of, and complicity in, a very dangerous atmosphere that ended in chaos and physical threats to fellow Democrats.”
The letter written by leadership of the Nevada State Democratic Party appears to be an attempt to control the narrative, so that citizens throughout the United States view what happened at the convention as the result of “violent” Sanders delegates, who had no respect for the rules, and not as the result of anti-democratic conduct by the state party.
Nevada State Democratic Party leaders “claim that the Sanders campaign has a ‘penchant for violence,’” Sanders said in a statement. “That is nonsense. Our campaign has held giant rallies all across this country, including in high-crime areas, and there have been zero reports of violence.”
“Our campaign of course believes in non-violent change and it goes without saying that I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals. But, when we speak of violence, I should add here that months ago, during the Nevada campaign, shots were fired into my campaign office in Nevada and apartment housing complex my campaign staff lived in was broken into and ransacked.”
The Nevada State Democratic Party held its caucus on February 20, and Hillary Clinton won more pledged delegates. However, Nevada has a tiered system, where there are county-level conventions prior to the state convention. Delegates must show up, and when they don’t, it produces an outcome, like what happened in Clark County, which flipped from having more Clinton delegates to more Sanders delegates at the county convention. This increased interest among Sanders supporters, who saw the state convention as a final opportunity to pick up more delegates for Sanders to send to the national convention.
Privatizing America’s Public Land How the Raid on Malheur Screened a Future Raid on Real Estate
By William deBuys on Tomsdispatch – May 2016
It goes without saying that in a democracy everyone is entitled to his or her own opinions. The trouble starts when people think they are also entitled to their own facts.
Away out West, on the hundreds of millions of acres of public lands that most Americans take for granted (if they are aware of them at all), the trouble is deep, widespread, and won’t soon go away. Last winter’s armed take-over and 41-day occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon is a case in point. It was carried out by people who, if they hadn’t been white and dressed as cowboys, might have been called “terrorists” and treated as such. Their interpretation of the history of western lands and of the judicial basis for federal land ownership — or at least that of their leaders, since they weren’t exactly a band of intellectuals — was only loosely linked to reality.
At least some of them took inspiration from the notion that Jesus Christ wrote the Constitution (which would be news to the Deists, like James Madison, who were its actual authors) and that it prohibits federal ownership of any land excepting administrative sites within the United States — a contention that more than two centuries of American jurisprudence has emphatically repudiated.
The troubling thing is that similar delusions infect pockets of unrest throughout the West, lending a kind of twisted legitimacy to efforts at both the state and national level to transfer western public lands to states and counties. To be sure, not all the proponents of this liquidation of America’s national patrimony subscribe to wing-nut doctrines; sometimes they just use them.
Greed can suffice to motivate those who lust for the real estate bonanzas and resource giveaways that would result if states gained title to, say, the 264 million acres presently controlled by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). General combativeness and hostility toward government also play their roles, and the usual right-wing mega-donors, including the Koch brothers, pump money into a bewildering array of agitator groups to help keep the fires of resentment burning.
The louder the drum chant of crazy “facts” gets, the more the Alice-in-Wonderland logic behind them threatens to seize the popular narrative about America’s public lands — how they came to be and what they represent. This, in turn, prepares the way for the betrayal of one of the nation’s deepest traditions and for the loss of yet more of its natural heritage. Conversely, those who value American public lands have been laggard in articulating an updated vision for those open spaces appropriate to the twenty-first century and capable of expressing what the unsettled “fruited plains” and “purple mountain majesties” of the West still mean for our national experience and our capacity to meet the challenges of the future. Continue reading No more wide open spaces
Conference Report Vote — Exempts Certain Public Officials from Late Filing Fees (SB 127)
Conference Report Vote — Authorizes Certain License Plates for Employees of Manufacturer Headquarters (HB 202)
Nonconcurrence Vote — Authorizes Certain License Plates for Employees of Manufacturer Headquarters (HB 202)
Concurrence Vote — Amends Certain Law Enforcement Procedures (SB 94)
Passage With Amendment — Amends Certain Law Enforcement Procedures (SB 94)
Passage — Requires Non-Profit Organizations That Publicize Legislator Voting Records to Disclose Names of Financial Supporters (SB 127)
Passage — Amends Speeding Fine Revenue Reporting (SB 134)
Passage — Establishes a Constitutional Authorization for the Creation of an Opportunity School District (SR 287)
Passage — Requires Insurers to Offer Coverage for Children with Autism (HB 429)
Passage — Expands Sunday Sales Times for Alcohol (HB 535)
Passage — Authorizes the Sale of Alcoholic Beverages 1 Sunday Each Year (SB 103)
Passage — Authorizes and Regulates the Sale of Consumer Fireworks (HB 110)
Passage — Amends Gasoline Tax (HB 170)
Ok, so please go to http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/default.aspx and research these newly implemented laws to see who and what they benefit, and who is harmed by them. Of special interest are HB 555, HB 757, HB 859, SR 675, SB 134, and SB 127, which IMHO should never have seen the light of day in any 21st Century State or Country. One clear item of contention is HB 127, which started as an adjustment to campaign and voting mechanics, but at the last minute became something else. Here is a article on Forbes that references this perfidy. The framing and details of much of SB 127 and the other referenced laws in the initial, middle, and ending phases amply demonstrates the degree to which certain segments of society will go to assist their personal causes at the expense of the general public.
The Christian Prayer Center is a website that claims to have thousands of people pray for you for a payment of 35 dollars. Never receiving detailed complaints before, whether or not the service was actually fulfilled was never investigated. That is until a family with a child dying of a rare terminal illness wrote a furious letter to the Attorney General. They were hopeless and looking for a miracle. This website claimed to have thousands of people praying who are being led by a pastor. The website was even complete with testimonials of how their prayers were answered and miracles were happening.
As it turns out, it all was a sham and this family’s child is still dying. After being charged a second and third time, the child’s father contacted the Attorney General. As a result, the owner of christianprayercenter.com and its Spanish-language counterpart, oracioncristiana.org, have been ordered to pay up to $7 million in restitution to an estimated 125,000 desperate consumers who reached out for prayers in their times of need. The website ownerBenjamin Rogovy doesn’t believe he was committing a crime here but agreed to pay the money.
Imagine a world in which a man who is repeatedly investigated for a string of serious crimes, but never prosecuted, has his slate wiped clean every time the cops fail to make a case. No more Lifetime channel specials where the murderer is unveiled after police stumble upon past intrigues in some old file – “Hey, chief, didja know this guy had two wives die falling down the stairs?” No more burglary sprees cracked when some sharp cop sees the same name pop up in one too many witness statements. This is a different world, one far friendlier to lawbreakers, where even the suspicion of wrongdoing gets wiped from the record.
That, it now appears, is exactly how the Securities and Exchange Commission has been treating the Wall Street criminals who cratered the global economy a few years back. For the past two decades, according to a whistle-blower at the SEC who recently came forward to Congress, the agency has been systematically destroying records of its preliminary investigations once they are closed. By whitewashing the files of some of the nation’s worst financial criminals, the SEC has kept an entire generation of federal investigators in the dark about past inquiries into insider trading, fraud and market manipulation against companies like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and AIG. With a few strokes of the keyboard, the evidence gathered during thousands of investigations – “18,000 … including Madoff,” as one high-ranking SEC official put it during a panicked meeting about the destruction – has apparently disappeared forever into the wormhole of history.
Under a deal the SEC worked out with the National Archives and Records Administration, all of the agency’s records – “including case files relating to preliminary investigations” – are supposed to be maintained for at least 25 years. But the SEC, using history-altering practices that for once actually deserve the overused and usually hysterical term “Orwellian,” devised an elaborate and possibly illegal system under which staffers were directed to dispose of the documents from any preliminary inquiry that did not receive approval from senior staff to become a full-blown, formal investigation. Amazingly, the wholesale destruction of the cases – known as MUIs, or “Matters Under Inquiry” – was not something done on the sly, in secret. The enforcement division of the SEC even spelled out the procedure in writing, on the commission’s internal website. “After you have closed a MUI that has not become an investigation,” the site advised staffers, “you should dispose of any documents obtained in connection with the MUI.”
Protester Bob Bowes, of Somerville, Mass., displays an American flag featuring corporate logos outside a meeting of U.S. elites in Boston. (Steven Senne / AP)
The artifice of corporate totalitarianism has been exposed. The citizens, disgusted by the lies and manipulation, have turned on the political establishment. But the game is not over. Corporate power has within its arsenal potent forms of control. It will use them. As the pretense of democracy is unmasked, the naked fist of state repression takes its place. America is about—unless we act quickly—to get ugly.
“Our political system is decaying,” said Ralph Nader when I reached him by phone in Washington, D.C. “It’s on the way to gangrene. It’s reaching a critical mass of citizen revolt.”
This moment in American history is what Antonio Gramsci called the “interregnum”—the period when a discredited regime is collapsing but a new one has yet to take its place. There is no guarantee that what comes next will be better. But this space, which will close soon, offers citizens the final chance to embrace a new vision and a new direction.
This vision will only be obtained through mass acts of civic mobilization and civil disobedience across the country. Nader, who sees this period in American history as crucial, perhaps the last opportunity to save us from tyranny, is planning to rally the left for three days, from May 23 to May 26 at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., in what he is calling “Breaking Through Power” or “Citizen’s Revolutionary Week.” He is bringing to the capital scores of activists and community leaders to speak, organize and attempt to mobilize to halt our slide into despotism.
“The two parties can implode politically,” Nader said. “They can be divided by different candidates and super PACs. But this doesn’t implode their paymasters.”
“Elections have become off-limits to democracy,” he went on. “They have become off-limits to democracy’s fundamental civil community or civil society. When that happens, the very roots shrivel and dry up. Politics is now a sideshow. Politics does not bother corporate power. Whoever wins, they win. Both parties represent Wall Street over Main Street. Wall Street is embedded in the federal government.”
Donald Trump, like Hillary Clinton, has no plans to disrupt the corporate machinery, although Wall Street has rallied around Clinton because of her predictability and long service to the financial and military elites. What Trump has done, Nader points out, is channel “the racist, right-wing militants” within the electorate, embodied in large part by the white working poor, into the election process, perhaps for one last time.
Much of the left, Nader argues, especially with the Democratic Party’s blatant rigging of the primaries to deny Bernie Sanders the nomination, grasps that change will come only by building mass movements. This gives the left, at least until these protofascist forces also give up on the political process, a window of opportunity. If we do not seize it, he warns, we may be doomed.
He despairs over the collapse of the commercial media, now governed by the primacy of corporate profit.
“Trump’s campaign has enormous appeal to the commercial mass media,” Nader said. “He brought huge ratings during the debates. He taunted the networks. He said, ‘I’m boycotting this debate. It’s going to cost you profit.’ Has this ever happened before in American history? It shows you the decay, the commercialization of public elections.”
The impoverished national discourse, fostered by a commercial mass media that does not see serious political debate as profitable and focuses on the trivial, the salacious and the inane, has empowered showmen and con artists such as Trump. Continue reading Chris Hedges – Where we are now…
Washington’s Military Addiction And The Ruins Still to Come
By Tom Engelhardt
There are the news stories that genuinely surprise you, and then there are the ones that you could write in your sleep before they happen. Let me concoct an example for you:
“Top American and European military leaders are weighing options to step up the fight against the Islamic State in the Mideast, including possibly sending more U.S. forces into Iraq, Syria, and Libya, just as Washington confirmed the second American combat casualty in Iraq in as many months.”
Oh wait, that was actually the lead sentence in a May 3rd Washington Timespiece by Carlo Muñoz. Honestly, though, it could have been written anytime in the last few months by just about anyone paying any attention whatsoever, and it surely will prove reusable in the months to come (with casualty figures altered, of course). The sad truth is that across the Greater Middle East and expanding parts of Africa, a similar set of lines could be written ahead of time about the use of Special Operations forces, drones, advisers, whatever, as could the sorry results of making such moves in [add the name of your country of choice here].
Put another way, in a Washington that seems incapable of doing anything but worshiping at the temple of the U.S. military, global policymaking has become a remarkably mindless military-first process of repetition. It’s as if, as problems built up in your life, you looked in the closet marked “solutions” and the only thing you could ever see was one hulking, over-armed soldier, whom you obsessively let loose, causing yet more damage.
How Much, How Many, How Often, and How Destructively
In Iraq and Syria, it’s been mission creep all the way. The B-52s barely made it to the battle zone for the first time and were almost instantaneously in the air, attacking Islamic State militants. U.S. firebases are built ever closer to the front lines. The number of special ops forces continues to edge up. American weapons flow in (ending up in god knows whose hands). American trainers and advisers follow in ever increasing numbers, and those numbers are repeatedly fiddled with to de-emphasize how many of them are actually there. The private contractors begin to arrive in numbers never to be counted. The local forces being trained or retrained have their usual problems in battle. American troops and advisers who were never, never going to be “in combat” or “boots on the ground” themselves now have their boots distinctly on the ground in combat situations. The first American casualties are dribbling in. Meanwhile, conditions in tottering Iraq and the former nation of Syria grow ever murkier, more chaotic, and less amenable by the week to any solution American officials might care for.
For years the conversation in America regarding economic, social, and political inequality has been allowed to center on an moronic divide known as the 99% vs the 1%; when what is equally important is the divide between “most-people” and the “others”, on both the upper and lower categories.
According to recent statements, polls and articles the “Middle Class” in America circa 2015 had a gross income in the range of $50k to $150k annually. But this presentation disguises several realities, including components, structure, and incidentals of income. For example: does this range describe per-capita or household income? Is this gross or net usable income? What are the participation rates by segments within that range? Where along the scales is the “average” person?
One quick interlude suggesting an unpleasant observation was provided on Quora which follows below:
Census: What percent of individuals in America earn more than $150,000 per year?
2.41% of people 15 years and over (as of March 2013) earned more than $150k in total money income (excluding capital gains) in 2012, before payments for personal income taxes, social security, union dues, medicare deductions, etc. (For more on money income definition and data sources: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/i…)
Male > $150k: 4,698,000
Total Male: 121,111,000
Female > $150k: 1,328,000
Total Female: 128,912,000
Total > $150k: 6,026,000
Which demonstrates clearly that less than 3% of the U.S. Population makes more than the upper limit of “Middle Class” income, while 97% make less; but the presentation by OWS and others suggest we should concentrate on only the 1-99% inequality, partially due to the oversize influence and power held by the extremely wealthy, especially the “billionaire class” while giving a pass to the other groupings up and down the scale.
Despite having lived in Israel for 22 years with no criminal record of any kind, Omar Barghouti was this week denied the right to travel outside the country. As one of the pioneers of the increasingly powerful movement to impose boycotts, sanctions and divestment measures (BDS) on Israel, Barghouti, an articulate, English-speaking activist, has frequently traveled around the world advocating his position. The Israeli government’s refusal to allow him to travel is obviously intended to suppress his speech and activism. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was one of the world leaders who traveled last year to Paris to participate in that city’s “free speech rally.”
As the husband of a Palestinian citizen of Israel, Barghouti holds a visa of permanent residency in the country, but nonetheless needs official permission to travel outside of Israel, a travel document which – until last week – had been renewed every two years. Haaretz this weekreported that beyond the travel ban, Barghouti’s “residency rights in Israel are currently being reconsidered.”
The travel denial came after months of disturbing public threats directed at him by an Israeli government that has grown both more extreme and more fearful of BDS’s growing international popularity. In March, Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri threatened to revoke Barghouti’s residency rights, explicitly admitting that this was in retaliation for his speech and advocacy: “he is using his resident status to travel all over the world in order to operate against Israel in the most serious manner . . . . he took advantage of our enlightened state to portray us as the most horrible state in the world.”
Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch told The Electronic Intifada that “Israel’s refusal to renew Barghouti’s travel document appears to be an effort to punish him for exercising his right to engage in peaceful, political activism, using its arsenal of bureaucratic control over Palestinian lives.” She added: “Israel has used this sort of control to arbitrarily ban many Palestinians from traveling, as well as to ban international human rights monitors, journalists and activists from entering Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.”
But the threats to Barghouti from the Israeli Government extend far beyond his right to travel. Last month, Amnesty International issued an extraordinary warning that the group “is concerned for the safety and liberty” of Barghouti, citing threats from Israeli Minister of Transport, Intelligence and Atomic Energy Yisrael Katz who called on Israel to engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence. As Amnesty noted, “the term alludes to ‘targeted assassinations’ which is used to describe Israel’s policy of targeting members of Palestinian armed groups.”
Regardless of one’s views on BDS and the Israeli occupation, anyone who purports to believe in basic conceptions of free speech rights should be appalled by Israeli behavior. I spoke with Barghouti yesterday about this latest Israeli attack on his core civil liberties, the growing extremism in Israel, and broader trends with free speech and BDS activism. “I am unnerved,” he told me, “but I’m certainly undeterred.” You can listen to the 25-minute discussion on the player below; a full transcript appears below that. Continue reading An interview with BDS co-founder
Take without giving is one of the doctrines defining male culture, (a personified by sTrump as a case in point), in which one’s capacity to love or what passes for it is hoarded, and the accumulation of the love of others is an indication of a weakness in them that can be manipulated to one’s advantage. Need for the love of others must be disguised by aggrandizement and apparent indifference and, consequently, of success in the economic struggle for love (or assets).
The prevailing prescription of male culture/sTrump is self-enhancement and the minimization of the resources, powers and defenses of others: greater wealth, greater access to dominance, greater sexual potency, a greater range of powers used to control others and a greater system of defenses to keep these others who are engaged in reciprocal attack upon one’s self from succeeding.
However, to accumulate without return soon becomes a wearisome task in which the value being sought and hoarded loses its significance as the other who is manipulated through this unequal exchange soon loses value and becomes, in fact, instrumentally useful but humanly worthless.”
We have all seen the articles online suggesting marijuana is useful in the treatment of cancer. It even generated a meme on the Internet about Willie Nelson and former President Carter. Evidence exists that forgoing chemo/radiation and smoking pot instead, for many loci of cancer, could make the last years more worthwhile, less painful, draining, and in many cases the survival duration would be the same or slightly longer. Pot has -not- been proven to -kill- cancer – but it certainly can be used to offset the effects of the malignancy.
The medical industry has lots of disincentives regarding objective truths, especially unpleasant ones, such as being straight-up with cancer patients, and the elderly – which can be perceived by patients as grounds for being suspicious of provider orientation, treatment options, and even intent. The industry needs to be coerced into doing a much better job with end-of-life care and terminal illnesses/disease. Currently the typical person in America spends over 70% of all their medical outlays during the last year of life. That’s nuts !!!
“Hospital patients represent only a fraction of the total population at risk of experiencing a medication-related error. In 1998, nearly 2.5 billion prescriptions were dispensed by U.S. pharmacies at a cost of about $92 billion.13Numerous studies document errors in prescribing medications,14,15dispensing by pharmacists,16and unintentional nonadherence on the part of the patient.17Medication errors have the potential to increase as a major contributor to avoidable morbidity and mortality as new medications are introduced for a wider range of indications.”
Thus it is wise for anyone enmeshed in end-of-life, cancer, or terminal illness cases to carefully examine all evidence, options, and ramifications before simply submitting to the presentations of a health care provider. Additionally one should study the data from non-affiliated medical specialists who do not have evident ‘skin-in-the-game’. The following is a worthy article in that regard.
The revolt in France is growing! Up to 500,000 people went on strike and took to the streets across the country to protest unpopular pro-business labor reforms that would leave many people unemployed and would be an attack on worker’s rights. France’s largest cities saw a new wave of street demonstrations and strikes as student groups and unions tried to maintain pressure on the government just days before the bill is brought to Parliament.
A new movement against labor market deregulation is taking shape in France. Since February, when the Socialist Party (PS) government of François Hollande and Manuel Valls announced a proposed reform of the French labor code (code du travail), a wave of protests has swept across the country. On March 9, 500,000 people participated in a national day of action; an additional 1.2 million joined trade union demonstrations on March 31; and on April 9, tens of thousands more marched in Paris and other French cities against the law.
One of the impressive aspects of the new movement is the sheer number of cities and towns where protests have been organized: more than 250 on March 31 alone. That day, bad weather depressed turnout in the French capital. But despite the rain, hundreds of protesters gathered that night in Paris’s Place de la République, in the first of the “Nuit Debout” occupations.
In the weeks that followed, copycat Nuit Debout, (up all night), events started popping up all over France. Tens of thousands flocked to République to participate in nighttime mass meetings.
The occupation polarized French political opinion. The conservative philosopher Alain Finkielkraut denounced the Nuit Debout protesters as “fascists,” after he was loudly insulted when he tried to slip into one meeting. Marine Le Pen’s National Front (FN) released a statement demanding the movement’s suppression, calling it a “source of violence and degradation.”
And just this week, former President Nicolas Sarkozy gave a speech in which he attacked the protestors as “brain-dead,” and labeled them “thugs.” Never one to mince words, Sarkozy compared the occupation of République to a “burning fire which undermines the state’s authority.”
All of this comes at a time of heightened repression and police violence. Despite the “state of emergency” that’s been in force since the November 13 attacks in Paris, officials have so far shied away from an outright ban on the gatherings. But the government’s suspension of civil liberties has given France’s famously violent national police a green light to crackdown on protests against the labor law.
Demonstrations have been tear-gassed; protesters have been violently dispersed; in many cities, activists have been beaten and arrested, High-school students have faced particularly harsh measures: in late March, video of one student at a north Paris high school being beaten by the CRS sparked national outrage (leading prosecutors to file charges against one of the officers involved).
On the Anglophone left, there has been a great deal written on the Nuit Debout protests. Many observers have pointed out the similarities between these gatherings and Occupy Wall Street or the Indignados in Spain. Less attention has been paid, however, to the struggle that launched Nuit Debout — the movement against the French government’s proposed reform bill. Continue reading Labor protests in France involve 500,000
Right now, as a resident in Austin, Texas, I am unable to call an Uber or Lyft. As of 8 am today, both companies have left the city of Austin with no public intention of ever coming back. The reason why the ridesharing companies left was because Proposition 1, a proposition that required a special election for the city of Austin on May 7th, failed. The Daily Dot has had fantastic coverage on the issue, and summarizes it as follows:
Prop. 1 would have replaced an ordinance adopted in December that required TNCs to conduct fingerprint-based background checks. Both Uber and Lyft have argued in the past that their own background check systems are sufficient, and that fingerprinting is unnecessary and not as comprehensive.
Uber and Lyft reportedly spent an unprecedented $8.6 million on their Ridesharing Works campaign asking voters to vote for Prop 1.
Given that Uber and Lyft are such recognizable companies, have loyal users, and spent so much money on campaigning, how could they possibly have lost by almost 12% in this election?
You can break it down into two major points:
They spent too much money on advertising & their campaign was inauthentic
Their target demographic of voters simply do not vote
Advertising and Being Genuine
As a loyal Uber user since the black car service was available in Los Angeles, I’m a huge fan of the company and love the work that they do. However, they completely butchered the way that they presented their campaign to the City of Austin and came across as incredibly corporate, attempting to weasel their way into our city by not playing by our rules. And this is coming from someone who supports them, I can’t imagine the worse insults heralded by their opponents.
I think the corporate takeover can best be described by the amount spent for both campaigns. As mentioned previously, Uber and Lyft reportedly spent $8.6 million on their campaign. However, the opposition spent closer to only $200,000. Uber and Lyft had the resources to call and text anyone who has used an Uber/Lyft enough in Austin to be considered a potential voter. And believe me, over 20 texts and 4 phone calls later, they definitely did not give up on that form of marketing. No matter how many times you hung up or told them you weren’t able to vote (out-of-state student right here) they honestly didn’t seem to care. They just kept going (and are currently being sued for it).