Posted by TAG - September 8, 2013 | Comics




I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again

– Pete Townshend

 

Posted by TAG - September 3, 2013 | News



It’s a long way from Oslo to Syria
– and back to Saigon
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 
I think it is vitally important to organize an alternative campaign to the 13-year-long commemoration of the Viet Nam war now being promoted by the Department of Defense, with a budget of $65,000,000. I am pleased to be working with Veterans for Peace (VFP) — of which I am an associate member — on this project. This link http://www.ncveteransforpeace.org/memorial/ will take you to an Open Letter I hope you will sign in support of the campaign. It explains the background of the DoD initiative, and suggests some ideas for getting started.


The opposition to war and military intervention strikes at the roots: it rebels against those who economic and political dominion depends on the continued (and enlarged) reproduction of the military establishment, its “multipliers,” and the policies which necessitate this reproduction. These interests are not hard to identify, and the war against them does not require missiles, bombs and napalm. But it does require something that is much harder to produce — the spread of uncensored and unmanipulated knowledge.

Herbert Marcuse, Eros And Civilization

At this point, I see our role as informing and suggesting. We hope that people will connect with the campaign in whatever ways make sense in their own local and work contexts. It would be great if communication and coordination could be created between those interested in working on a counter-commemoration, and we (and VFP) are prepared to help move this forward. A Working Group has been created within Veterans for Peace. We are confident that people’s creativity and initiatives will come into play, however and in whatever ways they want to connect directly to our work.

 
You are welcome, of course, to generate your own ideas, and we hope you will want to work together with us on this campaign! We would like you to circulate the letter for more signatures and help formally launch the alternative commemoration.

 

In a few weeks we will also be launching a petition campaign on the US government web site. This petition will be shorter and aimed at a broader audience. To get a response from the Obama Administration, we need 100,000 signatures in a month.

 
Howard Machtinger
Associate Member
Veterans For Peace
hm@nextleftnotes.net


[T]he established society seems to be apprehensive of the subversive contents of memory.

Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man




National Writers Union members at the 50th anniversary March On Washington
(Photo: National Writers Union / UAW)

 




On the steps of Staten Island’s Borough Hall: a cry for justice
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 

NEW YORK — July 20, 2013. Standing together in the midday sun on a hot July Saturday, members of Staten Island’s diverse progressive community cried out for justice: justice for Trayvon Martin; justice for the Martin Family; justice for all of the children – and their parents – who have suffered as a result of gun violence, and lastly; justice for George Zimmerman who was not afforded an opportunity to atone for his actions.

 
They were not alone. Across the harbor — at One Police Plaza in lower Manhattan — and across the country, progressives held rallies. The “Justice for Trayvon Martin” rallies were part of a “National Day of Action in 100 Cities” called by Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. The “100 City” rallies were organized locally by NAN and other groups including the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, the NAACP, and MoveOn.




At Police Plaza: a call to “Boycott Florida”
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

 
The protesters were clear in their single demand: they called on Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice to file charges against George Zimmerman for the racial profiling and killing of Trayvon Martin. Civil Rights organizations backing the rallies argued that Zimmerman violated Martin’s civil rights when the neighborhood watch captain shot and killed the unarmed teen. A secondary demand, voiced at many rallies, was a call to the Obama Administration to overturn the Stand Your Ground law, in Florida and across the U.S. This is the law that made Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict possible. When legal scholars argued, on television and in print, that the prosecution’s case was weak, Civil Rights advocates responded by pointing out that Zimmerman was ordered to stand down by police and failed to do so. The NAACP and others have argued that racism informed the verdict and if the situation was reversed the outcome would have been different.

 
NLN had team coverage of the rallies: Bud Korotzer covered One Police Plaza and Thomas Altfather Good was at the Staten Island protest. Here are some images from the events:

 

Staten Island

 




Speaking out on Staten Island
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 




On the steps of Borough Hall
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 




Spreading the word…
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 




Bobby Digi of Island Voice calls for justice
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 




City Council member Debi Rose (l) and Rev. Kathlyn Barrett-Layne (r)
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 




Peace Action’s Sally Jones
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 

 

One Police Plaza

 




The jury of six had one African American member
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

 




Reverend Al Sharpton speaking at “1PP”
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

 




Members of Trayvon Martin’s family at the rally
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

 




Hazel Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

 




Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY 13)
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

 




“We are all Trayvon Martin”
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

 




Outside 1PP…
(Photo: Bud Korotzer / NLN)

 

Click HERE To View All Of The Photos and a Video From The Staten Island Protest…

 
Bud and Fran Korotzer contributed reporting to this article.


Click HERE To View Video

 
NEW YORK — July 19, 2013. Last Sunday thousands of New Yorkers filled Union Square to protest the ‘Not Guilty’ verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. The trial of the man who shot and killed unarmed Trayvon Martin ended in a verdict that sparked outrage across the United States and caused many observers to wonder if the trial wasn’t as troubling as the shooting itself.

 


Attorney-Author Randy Shaw
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 

I wish I could say I was surprised by George Zimmerman’s acquittal. I wish I could say that I thought this nearly all white jury would be different. I wish I could say that I thought the facts were so obvious that no jury could sanction Trayvon Martin’s killing. But we have seen this script before. And since reading Paul Ortiz’s Emancipation Betrayedreviewed in these pages in 2005 — I’ve known that Florida’s history of racial violence against African-Americans is as bad as that of Alabama or Mississippi, only less publicized.

Activists are trained to use extreme examples of social or racial injustice to mobilize the public to prevent future wrongs. And I applaud those responding to the Trayvon Martin injustice in such a manner. But when you see episodes of violent racism against blacks repeated year after year, decade after decade, it is hard to be optimistic. The United States is retreating in its commitment to racial justice. The Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, and put affirmative action on life support. States are passing voter identification laws to deter minority voting. The media can analyze the specifics of the trial all it wants, but the bottom line is that like Emmett Till, the 14-year old lynched in 1955 for meeting the eyes of a white woman, Trayvon Martin was killed solely because he was African-American—and in both these cases and thousands more, their murderers were acquitted.

When I studied constitutional law, many of my fellow law students went to great pains to find “objective” legal reasons for court decisions obviously driven by the judges racial and class biases. Having committed to a field allegedly built on legal reasoning and case precedents, these students could not accept that racist and elitist judges issue rulings to advance their personal views.

This conscious suppression of racial realities explains media coverage of the Trayvon Martin case. Each day, the performances of the prosecutor, defense counsel, witnesses and judge were carefully analyzed. Much attention was given to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” defense, which was seized upon by those desperate to find a non-racial basis for the outcome.

The media treated the Zimmerman trial as if Florida’s and the nation’s long history of racial bias in trials involving the killing of African-Americans would not be determinative (while Zimmerman is Latino, he was identified as white by the police that refused to arrest him after the murder). The trial judge barred overt discussions of race, even though that’s what millions of Americans knew the case was about.

Many of us held out a shred of hope that this would be the rare case where a nearly all white Florida jury would do what white juries in the South and much of America have almost never done: convict an armed white-identified man for killing an unarmed black man.

But anyone thinking there was a chance of Zimmerman’s conviction had to know the fix was in when the top law enforcement officer testified he believed the killer’s story despite its many inconsistencies. If the police, who did not even arrest Zimmerman for the murder, believed his claim of self-defense, how could the jury find otherwise?


Randy Shaw, author of Beyond The Fields, a history of the UFW
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 
Obama’s Post-Racial America

After Obama’s election, a narrative emerged that we were in a “post-racial” America. Yet as the Trayvon Martin case and many other examples confirm, Obama’s 2008 victory and his re-election in 2012 heightened fears among many whites that blacks and Latinos were “taking over” the country.

That’s why gun sales have exploded, and why House Republicans openly talk about the Latino “threat” to American values. Right-wing talk radio sees George Zimmerman as a hero. As Daily Kos’s Markos Moulitsas only half-jokingly said prior to the verdict, Zimmerman will either go to jail or be a keynote speaker at the 2016 Republican Convention.

The white backlash against the federal civil and voting rights acts of 1964-66 has not gone away. And Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election left white racists feeling under siege.That Latino votes helped elect Obama in both 2008 and 2012 intensified these feelings, as did demographic trends that show the percentage of white voters in national elections decreasing.

Paula Deen is not the only prominent white person openly expressing racist views. Sirius XM employs a nighttime sports talk host, Dino Costa, who described Hank Aaron as “disgusting” for criticizing baseball’s lack of outreach to African-Americans. Costa, like Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and others, know that as long as they don’t use the “n-word” any disparaging comments about blacks are fair game.

The extreme market fragmentation caused first by cable and then the Internet enables white media figures to thrive selling anti-black racism to their audience. And many whites in law enforcement or who end up serving on juries like that for Trayvon Martin listen to these shows and become even more fearful and resentful toward blacks.

The traditional media could not come out and say that a nearly all-white Sanford, Florida jury would never convict a white-identified man for killing an African-American. But this verdict is consistent with America’s shameful history, and Trayvon Martin joins a long list of victims.

Randy Shaw is Editor of BeyondChron. This piece originally appeared in the July 15, 2013 edition of BeyondChron – reprinted with permission from the author.




Whistleblowers and Supporters(L to R):
Thomas Drake, Jesselyn Radak, Kevin Gosztola and Debra Sweet

(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 
NEW YORK — NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake and his attorney, a journalist covering the Bradley Manning trial, and a longtime political activist were participants in a panel discussing “The National Security State” on Sunday.

 




NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake spoke at the Left Forum on Sunday
Click to see Video

 
Former NSA employee Thomas Drake spoke at the Left Forum on Sunday. Drake discussed his attempts to report “high crimes and misdemeanors,” committed by intelligence agencies after 9/11, to the federal government. Drake recalled how his life changed after he became the subject of an FBI investigation in retaliation for his whistleblowing activities.

 




Whistleblower attorney Jesselyn Radak also spoke
Click to see Video

 
Attorney Jesselyn Radack also spoke at the Left Forum panel on whistleblowers. Radak discussed the treatment whistleblowers receive from the Government as well as her own experiences as an attorney who represented pariahs — individuals some regard as people of conscience but whom the federal government sees as enemies of the state.

 




Journalist Kevin Gosztola discussed the Bradley Manning case
Click to see Video

 
firedoglake.com journalist Kevin Gosztola has been reporting on the Bradley Manning trial. On Sunday Gosztola discussed the historical importance of the Bradley Manning case, the military’s efforts to muzzle the press, and the prosecution’s notion that Manning lacked agency — Gosztola disputed the Army’s assertion that Manning acted as an “agent” of wikileaks, hence committed espionage.

 
With the National Security Agency being in the press this past week it is an interesting coincidence that Bradley Manning is being tried at Ft. Meade — home of the NSA. The video clips presented here shed some light on the issues surrounding those persons whom some regard as heroes and the government — in particular the Obama administration — prosecutes under the 1917 Espionage Act. Eugene Debs was prosecuted and imprisoned for violating this act. His crime consisted of speaking out against World War One.

 
Sunday’s panel was sponsored by the World Can’t Wait and moderated by WCW’s Debra Sweet.






QOTD: Hell is truth seen too late. — Hegel
Quote from The Hip Pocket Guide To Offbeat Wisdom by William Sauer

“Inverted Totalitarianism” – common objects painted per Mick Jagger’s recommendation and decorated with a concept from three prominent social psychologists (Reich – the apple, Marcuse – the cube, and R.D. Laing – the soup can). The title is a reference to the theories of Sheldon Wolin, an academic who supported the Free Speech Movement.


(Photo: St. Louis Can’t Survice On $7.35)

 
ST. LOUIS — May 13, 2013. Fast food workers in St. Louis, Mo. took to the streets in a strike against 30 different fast food chains last week, according to St. Louis Can’t Survive on $7.35 An Hour Communicator Shannon Garth-Rhodes.

 
The strike, which included demonstrations on the streets of the city, lasted for two days – May 8 and May 9. One-hundred different workers joined the strike against 100 different fast food locations, but the strike was merely a portion of a campaign to gain formal union representation for local fast food workers. Missouri’s minimum wage is currently at the federal minimum which is 7.35 dollars an hour. Similar campaigns are underway in New York City and Chicago. The Chicago campaign included both fast food and retail workers.

 
St. Louis fast food workers’ goal is to attain a living wage relative to the cost of living in St. Louis which Garth-Rhodes said is 15 dollars an hour. She also said that many fast food workers rely on government programs such as welfare checks, local health clinics, food stamps and the earned income tax credit to survive. The fast food industry is a billion dollar industry and its’ payroll in only 300,000 dollars, according to Garth-Rhodes.

 
St. Louis Can’t Survive on $7.35 an Hour Community Director Martin Rafanan used to be the director of at Gateway 180, a shelter for homeless women and their families in St. Louis. Many of the people who stayed in the shelter worked in fast food or retail. He said that the government is providing subsides for fast food corporations through social welfare programs and that if workers could attain a living wage more of their income would circulate into local business and not back into the profits of huge corporations.

 
“These jobs can be middle-class jobs,” Rafanan said. “And they’re not jobs that are going to China.”

 
St. Louis Can’t Survive on $7.35 an Hour partnered with local clergy and organizations like Jobs with Justice on the campaign in the effort. The St. Louis Organizing Committee, an organization which is an outgrowth of St. Louis Can’t Survive on $7.35 an hour, hopes to act as the union for fast food workers. Although the fast food chains have yet to meet with the workers on a union, Garth-Rhodes and Rafanan said the effort will be ongoing. Rafanan said that no single worker lost their job in the strike and that clergy and community activists accompanied the workers back to their restaurants to show support.