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Baby-Snatching Practice Blocked Motherhood For 20-million Seconds

Justice system abuses mothers with no apologies

Debbie Africa with son Mike Jr. (right) and lawyer Brad Thomson (left). LBW PhotoDebbie Africa with son Mike Jr. (right) and lawyer Brad Thomson (left). LBW Photo
 
The piercing, bone-deep pain for a parent from having their child forcefully snatched away by authorities is a hurt Debbie Sims Africa knows in horrific ways.

The immense suffering some immigrant parents currently experience -- triggered by the child-snatching/ family separation anti-immigration policies pursued by the Trump Administration on America’s southern border – is something that impacts Africa very personally.

On August 8, 1978 authorities in Philadelphia, literally snatched Africa’s two-year-old daughter from her arms.

A few weeks later when Africa gave birth to her son, Philadelphia authorities snatched him away also.

For more than 39-years Africa could not do what she wanted to do all her life: be a lovingly embracing, nurturing and protective mother.

Those 39-plus years Africa lived with that agony of unfulfilled motherhood are more than 467-months: more that 14,200-days, more than 341,640-minutes and more than 20.5-milion seconds.

On August 8, 1978 Philadelphia police arrested Africa following a shootout between police and members of the radical MOVE organization where a policeman was killed. Africa is a member of MOVE – in fact, a niece of MOVE founder John Africa. (All MOVE members utilize Africa as their last name.)

Some Straight Talk for Younger People on Social Security (and Medicare too)

As the scaremongering begins, this is your fight too!

 

Let me start out with full disclosure: I'm 69 and next April I will start collecting $30.000 a year in Social Security benefits -- the amount I qualify for both on the basis of my highest 35 years of work history as an employed and later self-employed journalist, and because I've waited until I hit 70, the maximum age for starting to collect benefits, before starting to receive my checks.

So it particularly galls me to read news articles about that program (and Medicare) saying things like:
 

New warnings about cuts to Social Security and Medicare are a reson to worry

Social Security is Running Out and Nobody Will Like the Solution

and Ryan's Retirement Won't End the Social Security Debate
 

Such ill-informed and often deliberately scare-mongering pieces make my blood boil, particularly because I know they are targeted at younger readers, where the goal is to make them believe that Social Security is not going to be there for them, and so they should stop supporting the whole program. Take, for example, the dire stories warning that the Social Security program this year has begun drawing funds from the Social Security Trust Fund. Actually, as I explain below, that was precisely why the Trust Fund was created! It was advanced funding for that predictable time when an increase in retirees meant that more funding would be needed.

For years, the defense against a concerted drive by the right to kill Social Security by privatizing it as George Bush tried and failed to do, or to whittle it away as Barack Obama tried and failed to do in pursuing a "Grant Bargain" of benefit cuts and tax increase, has been a solid lobby of the elderly retirees who know full well how important the program is. They for years made it a "Third Rail" that politicians challenged at their own risk. But now the strategy appears to be to say, "We won't take Social Security away from current retirees or people about to retire, but younger people will have to expect something less." The other tactic is to simply do nothing to fix the system, while the cost of doing so rises with each passing year of shameless inaction.

This article is addressed to those younger Americans -- from people just starting to work on up to those in their 40s and early '50s -- because it's really you who are being conned and who need to start fighting to keep what was created for all of us, young and old, some 83 years ago.

President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act (1935) and President Johnson signs the Medicare Act (1965)President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act (1935) and President Johnson signs the Medicare Act (1965)
 

Here's the message: Forget all the propaganda! The reality is that Social Security is not facing an actuarial problem of too many people living too long. It's a socio-political problem: Do we as a people want to adequately fund the retirement of our elderly parents and of those suffering from disabilities or do we want to go back to an era where they ended up starving on the streets and dumpster diving, or as a burden to their children?

If we want a decent, secure old age, the money is there to fund it. What's needed is the political will and the collective power to demand it.

The same can be said of Medicare and of health care in general. Do we as a society want health care to be good for those with money, and shitty or nonexistent for those without it? In the case of both programs, it's not that solutions don't exist. In most of the countries of Europe, and even many in Asia, retirement is generously funded by government programs like Social Security that are not going bankrupt even though benefit amounts paid are much higher and populations are even skewed older than here in the US. Likewise, health care is in most modern countries seen as a right and is fully funded by some kind of state-run program, while we have a jerry-rigged system that relies primarily on for-profit systems and private insurance which, taken as a whole, costs more than double as a percentage of GDP and on a per-capita basis what it costs to deliver in other countries. And state-run systems cover everyone while ours leaves tens of millions unable to see a doctor or to get timely care in a hospital.

To those who might say we as a nation cannot afford the hundreds of billions it would cost to adequately fund these vital programs, my reply is: America is currently spending two-thirds of all federal discretionary funds each year -- about $1.3 trillion a year -- on the military. That's more than the next 10 countries including China and Russia spend on their militaries. $5.5 trillion has been spent by the US just on the so-called "War on Terror" since 2001 (during which time the amount of terrorism around the globe and the number of people committing acts of mayhem have soared, which shows what a waste the whole "war" has been). And then recall that President Obama ordered, and President Trump has backed a $1-trillion 10-year program to "upgrade and modernize" America's nuclear weapons. It's a staggeringly expensive program which serves no defensive purpose and only increases the pressure on other countries to do the same and raises the chance that we -- and they -- will eventually use them.

However Tenuous and Whatever His Motives, Trump's Summit Agreement with Kim is Praiseworthy

One cheer for Trump

 

The summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un was pretty much all symbols and no solid content — basically it’s an agreement to talk further with plenty of wiggle room for either side to back out later. But that said it was a striking departure from the gutless and arrogant refusal of 11 prior presidents to make any move towards ending the state of war between the US and North Korea during the 65 years since fighting ended in the bloody Korean War with an armistice in place back in 1953.

Kudos to both Trump and Kim for that.

Odds are that even if North Korea doesn’t get rid of its nuclear weapons, ultimately the US will have to grin and bear it because South Korea looks ready to sign, either on a four-party basis with the US and China, or bilaterally on its own with just North Korea, a peace treaty ending one of the last relics of the Cold War that began with the end of World War II and the division of Korea, Vietnam and Germany into two parts.

If the pro-peace president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, were to sign a peace agreement with North Korea’s Kim, it would eliminate any justification for the US continuing to keep military bases in South Korea, where 32,000 US soldiers are still stationed as a “trip-wire” in the event of an invasion from the north. At that point the US would lose all leverage for trying to pressure North Korea to eliminate its recently developed nuclear bomb arsenal.

The idea of a neutral Korean peninsula with no US bases is surely horrifying to the neo-conservative strategists of Russia and China containment like Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton, a chicken-hawk war monger who’s never met a war he didn’t like or even promote. But for Koreans and the broader peoples of Asia, getting the US out of Korea would be a blessing. It would remove a crucial component of any potential US first strike against China — the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile launch systems recently installed in South Korea on the bogus justification that they are guarding against North Korean missiles. (Any North Korean missiles aimed at South Korea would necessarily have low-altitude trajectories because of the short distance to target, and would not be vulnerable to THAAD missiles.)

THAAD missiles the US placed in South Korea are targeted at Chinese, not North Korean missilesTHAAD missiles the US placed in South Korea are targeted at Chinese, not North Korean missiles
 

Furthermore, once North and South Korea signed a peace treaty, it would eliminate any ratioale for the still-in-force UN Security Council Resolution 82, a measure which authorized the US-led UN defense of South Korea in 1950 and which has continued to provide the fig leaf of legal cover for America’s continuing colonial domination of South Korea ever since. Even if the US were to continue to veto moves to revoke that Security Council resolution, it would be seen as meaningless with the war officially over.

Surely this was not the intention of President Trump in meeting with Kim, but let him have his moment. Because he desperately needed something positive in the foreign affairs realm to show for his now bumptious, goof-ball 18-month-old presidency, he had to reach an agreement of some kind with North Korea, and now he’s gotten that. The agreement is going to turn out well, too, even if not the way he’d have intended. If President Moon now nominates him and Kim for the Nobel Peace Prize, as he has suggested, they’ll deserve it at least as much as war criminal Henry Kissinger (awarded the prize in 1973 jointly with his North Vietnamese counterpart Le Duc Tho who unlike Kissinger at least had the decency to decline it) and Israel’s Menachim Begin and Egypt’s Anwar Sadat — and surely far more than his predecessor Barack Obama, who proceeded, upon collecting his medal, to ramp up the Afghanistan War yet again, to invade Libya, overthrowing the government there, to meddle in Syria and threaten that country with a missile blitz, and to launch more deadly drone and Special Forces targeted murder attacks against people in numerous sovereign nations than the Bush/Cheney administration ever did.

The Bloody Gun

New poem by TCBH!'s resident poet

 

The soldier was tired of his bloody gun.
He saw a young stranger
And handed him the gun.
Here take this,
The stranger said,
I will take it, but what will I do with it?
The soldier had walked away.
I will give this gun to the ocean.
He gave the gun to the ocean.
I will take it but what will I do with it?
The stranger had walked away.
I will wash the blood off this gun,
I will give it to the depths.
Ocean gave the gun to the depths.
I will take it but what will I do with it?
The sea had closed its ears.
The depths held the gun for a hundred years.
I will give the gun to time.
Time said, I will take it
But what will I do with it?
The depths had closed its heart.
Time gave the gun to the reef.
I will take it, said the reef
But what will I do with it?
Time had passed on.
The reef held the gun for a thousand years
And then a thousand more.
Now the gun said,
I am tired of being a gun,
But what will I do with myself?
I will give myself to peace.
Peace said to the gun, I will take you.
I know what to do with you.
Peace held the gun tenderly,
Tenderly, tenderly,
Because the world had finally changed.
 
 
    --Gary Lindorff

We Need a Mass Movement to Save and Expand Social Security and Medicare

Old, young, men and women of all races fighting together

 

The latest report of the Social Security Administration trustees is out, and as usual they are issuing dire warnings that the Social Security system is heading for the rocks. The Trust Fund — extra money deliberately collected from workers and employers since 1983 to build up a surplus so as to fund the cost of benefit checks to the wave of Baby Boomers who began retiring in 2011 — will “run out” in 2034, they warn, explaining that unless something is done before then by Congress to bolster the program’s funding, everyone for years would have to take a 21% cut in benefits.

Note that the program is not “going bankrupt,” as hyperventilating talking heads on Fox and right-wing radio will claim. In fact, with no change in taxes or income sources Social Security would still continue to provide retiree and disability benefits at that reduced rate indefinitely from that point on just based on the funds paid into the fund by current workers at that point (which is how the program was intended to work from the time it was established in 1936).

The real point though, is that even today, in 2018, the threat of a benefit cut is still 16 years or almost a generation off.

It’s not a demographic crisis. It’s a crisis of Congressional corruption, deceit and spinelessness. For 20 years Congress has known this would happen, thanks to the increasing longevity of retirees and declining birthrates. If Congress had taken steps to increase funding for the system 20 or 10 or even five years ago, they’d have been minor. Now they’ll have to be more dramatic.

Social Security has never been a pension or annuity; retiree benefits have always been funded by current workers' FICA taxesSocial Security has never been a pension or annuity; retiree benefits have always been funded by current workers' FICA taxes
 

I’m trying to think of any other problem facing the US which is 16 years away that creates such hysteria on the right, and that causes such dysfunction in Congress.

For example, we know that most of the east coast of the United States as well as the Gulf Coast, will see sea levels about six inches higher by 2034. In fact, the Mid-Atlantic states will see even worse sea level rise because the land there is still sinking quite rapidly as an after effect of the melting of the Ice Age glacier which reached down across Canada as far as New York City and Philadelphia (that mile of ice depressed the earth under it which then bulged up toe the south in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and North Carolina, which are now in a process of sinking back down to their natural level).

Welcome to Police-State America, Weary Traveler

How to make the tourists feel unwelcome, and citizens sick

 

My wife Joyce and I came home last week from a three-week trip to Manila in the Philippines, and to Hong Kong and Beijing in China.

Even though Philippines President Rodrigo Dutarte has an ongoing program of murdering drug dealers on the streets, and China has a penchant for locking up critics of the regime -- even Nobel Laureates -- and beating up and arresting journalists, there was only one place on that jaunt where I personally felt like I was entering a police state at the immigration checkpoint: the USA.

At the Manila airport, the woman checking our passports was polite and friendly... and unarmed. She examined our passports matching the photos to our faces, stamped them, asked how long we were staying and returned them to us, wishing us a good stay.

In Hong Kong the process was typically swift and efficient, even when the officer, also unarmed, asked about Joyce's work visa, which had an eight-day expiration (she was performing a harpsichord concert for a fee at the government radio station RTHK).

At the Beijing International Airport, where we were entering a full-blown police state, there were fingerprints and photos taken by an immigration officer who was professional, but friendly enough... and unarmed.

But when we got home and back to US immigration after landing at Newark , the scene was altogether different. Every immigration agent had a sidearm as well as a taser on her or his belt. Signs everywhere said phone, cellphone and computer use while in the interminable lines was barred, and hostile-sounding loudmouthed immigration officers were quick to scold anyone who violated that rule by trying to call some relative or friend waiting in the greeting area or to snap a pic of someone with them in line.

If nothing else there is an enormous amount of waste going on in at US border crossings. The INS, a division of Homeland Security, doesn't need a person trained in policing and weapons tactics to check someone's travel documents. All they need is what most countries have at their entry points: a bunch of polite people skilled at scrutinizing travel documents, and then a few people doing guard duty who maybe should be armed, at least with non-lethal weapons (the notion of officers firing their revolvers in a crowded immigration hall is, let's agree, pretty horrifying!).

Armed US airport passport control officer at work (keeping America safe?)Armed US airport passport control officer at work (keeping America safe?)
 

Guns really don't belong in an airport immigration area at all (in fact, tellingly, when you see them being worn by passport control personnel, it's usually in a police state). I mean, really, think about it. If there is one place that you shouldn't have to worry about someone pulling out a weapon, gun or knife or anything scarier than a nail-clipper, it would be an immigration hall full of people who have already gone through at least one airport security check and who haven't even had a chance yet to get to their checked baggage where they might perhaps have stowed a weapon. We folks in the line waiting to get cleared for entry back into the US-- or if we're in the foreigner line, into the US for the first time -- are surely the most certifiably unarmed bunch of people you'll ever find outside of a Quaker meetinghouse So why all the INS goons with guns at their side scrutinizing our passports to see where we've been and asking what we're doing in the US?

The Trump White House is a Chaotic Clown Car Filled with Bozos Who Think They are Brilliant

Trump the 'master of the deal' has nothing to show

 

It's long been an American conceit that the way you negotiate is to demand a surrender by your opponent, and then you hammer out the terms of that surrender.

It worked great in World War II after the Red Army chewed up Germany's elite army and left the country with the choice of being overrun by the Soviets or surrendering at least part of the country to the US, Britain and France. It worked great in Japan too after the US, with a temporary monopoly on an unimaginably powerful new weapon, incinerated two of the country's cities and threatened to keep on doing so until The emperor and his generals gave up or let the Island nation be turned into charcoal.

But the concept didn't work in Vietnam, which drove the US out. It didn't work in Iraq, which is now an client state of Iran, it didn't work in Afghanistan, where the US is still fighting the Taliban 17 years after invading that poorest of countries. Truth to tell, the only time the policy really has worked was against the tiny island nation of Grenada, where the primary resistance to the US armada that assaulted the place was a company of Cuban construction workers working on a new airport. (7000 medals were awarded to US military personnel following that triumphant victory.)

But history doesn't matter for the world's "exceptional nation," and so now we have Trump's key advisors -- the neoconservative nut-job John Bolton, Trump's latest National Security Advisor whose primary asset seems to be hair, not brains or even military experience, and Mike Pompeo, recently shifted from the CIA director post over to Secretary of State, a porcine West Point graduate whose international experience appears to be limited to his having concluded that former President Barack Obama somehow managed to be both an "evil Muslim" and a Commuinist.

This goofy pair, appointed by that wiley deal-maker Trump, have managed to queer the deal on a summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. First to give Kim second thoughts was Bolton who announced that the model for a peace agreement between the two nuclear powers, the US and North Korea, would be Libya, where of course, the US got Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafy to ship off all his nuclear bomb-making equipment to the US, and then orchestrated his overthrow and brutal murder. Bolton has insisted, with no disagreement from his boss, that for starters, North Korea would have to fork over all its nuclear weapons, and destroy all its nuclear weapons-making facilities. Then we can talk, the idea goes.

 Trump (center), Bolton (left) and Pompeo (right)Three White House Bozos: Trump (center), Bolton (left) and Pompeo (right)
 

Kim, of course, no dummy he, especially backed as he is by a treaty with neighboring China which commits China to come to North Korea's aid -- as it did quite decisively only a year after the foundation of the People's Republic of China, remember? -- should North Korea be attacked by the US or any other foreign power, has said no deal. Kim says he is all for denuclearizing the North Korean peninsula (in return for foreign aid and an end to sanctions), but that would include having the US sign an enforceable peace treaty including both China and Russia as guarantors, with the US recognizing his as the legitimate government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It would also include the US pulling its forces out of South Korea, where they used to keep hundreds of nuclear weapons, and are in place to stock up on them again at a moment's notice at present.

Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza

And how does his differ from the Nazis and the Warsaw Ghetto?

 

Hong Kong -- Sitting in this peaceful city on the far side of world from the United States can put some things in perspective. For one thing, the local papers, both Chinese-language and the English-language South China Morning Post today featured front-page images of dead Palestinian protesters lying on the ground in Gaza. Accompanying articles focused on the latest day's slaughter of over 50 unarmed Palestinians (later upped to 61, six of them children) and the deliberate maiming, often with high-velocity fragmentation bullets that reportedly shatter bones and tear huge holes in their victims, of another 1000 or more, including children. Meanwhile, the international edition of the New York Timesfor two days following the shootings has yet to carry such a photo, and has yet to feature a leading article about the latest IDF massacre in Gaza. Instead page one featured a piece about the risks to Israel posed by the US opening of an Israeli embassy in the supposedly international city of Jerusalem.

The slaughter of protesters in Gaza was a minor point in that article.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong readers are elsewhere seeing and reading about the true horror of what has been happening in Gaza.

The killers and maimers there are soldiers of the Israeli army, all of them sitting safely on earthen berms themselves behind three rows of security fence inside of Gazan territory that keep the protesting Gazan "inmates" at bay, way too far off to even pose a threat by throwing stones. Yet the IDF snipers still kill and maim, often, as the viral videos below shows, laughing at the results or their target practice.

Video taken by an IDF soldier of a sniper shooting a Palestinian boy to death and then being cheered by his comrades.Video taken by an IDF soldier of a sniper shooting a Palestinian boy to death and then being cheered by his comrades.
 

This one-sided violence is not a case of self-defense, though the Israeli government ludicrously tries to claim that because Palestinians are throwing rocks or attempting to, David like, use slings to toss them further, and are flying burning kites over the border in hopes if igniting Israeli farmers' fields, they pose a serious threat. Nor is it a case of deterrence, as there's no way Gazans can push through the walls confining them and enter Israeli territory. It is purely a case of asserting authority and attempting to cow a captive population -- for Gaza is in reality the world's largest prison camp, a place where food, medicine, fuel and even water are strictly controlled and limited by the prison owner and operator, Israel. Close to two million Gazans cannot leave this ghetto except with Israeli permission or by stealth -- the former a rarity and the latter a deadly project. Recently the IDF even bombed a tunnel that was used to allow a few Gazans to slip into Egypt, and that had also allowed small amounts of scarce goods to be slipped into this hell-hole of Israeli's making.

Welcome to the Apocalypse

BDSM, #MeToo, Torture and the Drumbeat For War

 
In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity.
                  - NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman upon resigning

I’m not going to sit here, with the benefit of hindsight, and judge the very good people who made hard decisions, who were running the agency in very extraordinary circumstances.
                  - Gina Haspel, before the Senate Intelligence Committee
 
Life and politics are getting weirder and weirder. Now we have a powerful political figure -- the New York state attorney general -- who publicly advocated for, and allied with, the #MeToo Movement, who fought for the physical safety of women vis-à-vis men in the criminal justice system, who is, out-of-the-blue, outed by four women who accuse him of choking and beating them. His immediate explanation is that, whatever he did, he was participating in “consensual sexual ... role-playing.”

It’s becoming so weird it’s now trite to say: “You can’t make this stuff up.”

Gina Haspel and Eric Schneiderman in public happy-face modeGina Haspel and Eric Schneiderman in public happy-face mode

Thanks to Mr. Schneiderman’s predicament I learned a new acronym: BDSM, Bondage, Domination, Sado-Masochism. I also learned about the notion of “safe words.” That is, if Mr. Scheiderman is truthful in his claim that he has “never engaged in non-consensual sex” and the four women are truthful in their accusations of being on the receiving end of violent acts they apparently did not accede to, then the issue seems to be a kinky legal, contractual one. Law school Contracts 101. Did the attorney general get a bit over-enthusiastic and break his contractual agreement? Did the woman in question contractually agree to being choked as long as the attorney general agreed to stop when she said her safe word -- or when she gasped, "I can't breathe!" That is, was it play-acting akin to the plot of bestselling female romance novels and movies like 50 Shades of Gray or was it play-acting NYPD bad cop? There are so many questions looming in a bizarre case like this, thanks to the fact such apparently kinky behavior is naturally kept secret.

Open Letter

 
 
This is an open letter
to those whose egg shell chest
cracks
under the pressure
of their breath
breathing down borrowed air
like they aren’t worth
the photosynthesized miracle
of carbon and oxygen
 
This is an open letter
to those whose sense
of “this is who I am”
is up for grabs
at the hands of too many
unsecured moments
and people
fluttering in and out of their lives
like migratory birds
or rainy seasons
 
This is an open letter
to those whose childhood was marked
by the mental health of their parents
whose ability to survive
relied on accommodations
they made to another's mind
like
feeling out a form in the dark,
and learning
how to dance with it
 
This is an open letter
to those whose bridges
never felt sturdy enough
who never learned to take the chance
to walk across
even our most dilapidated
of structures.
 

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Fightin' Cock FlyerFightin' Cock Flyer

Listen as Chuck, John, Dave and Linn Join Prairie Radical Mike Caddell of the Fightin' Cock Flyer on Radio Free Kansas

Here's the link to prairie radio radical Mike Caddell's Radio Free Kansas program, where you can hear the podcast of the whole group interview that was conducted on Saturday, May 8.

Also, listen to Dave Lindorff on Chris Cook's Gorilla Radio on CFEV Radio in Victoria, Canada.

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