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Two Men Who Made Their Mark On History

Truth defenders

 

One man enhanced the legacy of a legend revered around the world.

Accomplishments of the other man include his involvement in a seminal court battle where the trial judge issued a pivotal ruling about racism that sparked enraged denials among authorities in that nation.

These two men made historic marks that had wide ranging impact in the countries that each adopted as their home.

While both of these men lived over 5,000-miles apart, they shared many similarities.

Both men experienced poisonous smacks from British colonial racism. Both men spent time in America. The civil rights/freedom struggles of African-Americans influenced both men. And, both men died recently, just days apart.

These two men are: Ngugi Githuka and Darcus Howe.
 
Ngugi Githuka talks with tourists outside Mandela House Museum. LBWPhotoNgugi Githuka talks with tourists outside Mandela House Museum. LBWPhoto

Historian Githuka often worked as a tour guide in Johannesburg, South Africa. Influential activist turned journalist Darcus Howe made his mark London, the capital of Great Britain.

President MOABA: Mother Of All Bullshit Artists

A Metaphoric, Right-Brained Essay

 
Painting isn’t an aesthetic operation; it’s a form of magic designed as mediator between this strange hostile world and us. . . . It’s an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.
        -Pablo Picasso

I think it's a terrible shame that politics has become show business.
        - Sydney Pollack

Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art.
        -Twyla Tharp
 
To call the ever-shifting decisions and actions from Donald Trump and his team of Billionaire Big Shots a dark comedy is a natural defensive response. I do it all the time. But it may be time to recognize it has become inadequate to address our condition as citizen/victims of a looming train wreck. Donald Trump is not funny anymore.

As a New Yorker review of Stephen Colbert’s Late Show painfully suggests, the satire/journalism of a Colbert and a Jon Stewart, while sanity-saving, come up short in the face of Donald Trump as president of the United States. Bill Maher works better, because he has much more edge. It's also true that superlatives like preposterous begin to fall short.

Donald Trump's political world as a Jackson Pollack painting called "Jump In"Donald Trump's political world as a Jackson Pollack painting called "Jump In"

As we watch classic authoritarianism seep into what’s glibly touted as a constitutional republic, how does journalism respond? In a “post-truth” intellectual environment where a presidential adviser can with a straight face propose “alternative facts,” how does one report anything? When absolutely everything is in question, how can answers be anything but opinions? What does journalism do when the ground underneath it is destabilized and all the truth-seeking oxygen is sucked out of the air by a Mother Of All Bombs set off in the middle of the country’s most revered faith in a free press?

The real news is the Trump phenomenon makes sense only as dark theater or evil art. This President has roots and experience not in the Law or the Military or Governing -- but in the world of Finance and Entertainment. He’s a self-proclaimed master of the Art of the Deal. He made himself a TV star by his willingness and relish for firing people. He deals in superlatives; when he likes you you’re wonderful; when he doesn’t, you’re a worthless dog subject to the cruelest ridicule. The pivot from one to the other is “transactional” and can be virtually instantaneous. One minute he’s strangely sucking up to Vladimir Putin who can do no wrong and in the next he’s condemning him and bombing Russia’s close protectorate in the Middle East. For such a narcissistic Artist Of the Real, the nation itself becomes a personal canvas. Dawn Tweet storms and monstrous bombs become like concentrated daubs of cobalt blue or violently flung gobs and slashes of cadmium yellow onto the canvas of state.

Yo, Donald! Decapitating Heads of State is a Risky Business

Wackos in Washington

 

Back in the 18th century, there was an unwritten understanding in the conduct of warfare that one didn’t kill the generals in battle. This wasn’t about protecting the elite while the “grunts” of the day slaughtered each other. It was a matter of common sense: If you killed the general, there was no one in a position to order a withdrawal or to surrender, once it became clear that one side was winning. With no general in command, things could become chaotic, leading to more bloodshed than necessary.

In the US, ever since the brief presidency of Gerald Ford, and in the wake of the Senate’s Church Committee hearings into the nefarious activities of the CIA and other secret agencies during the Nixon administration and earlier -- particularly efforts to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro and some other national leaders -- it has been US policy not to kill heads of state. In fact, a Ford executive order, number 12333, signed by President Ford in the mid 1970s, specifically bans the killing of government leaders, however brutish.

If one wants to see an example of why this is a logical policy, just look at what happened during the Obama administration, when Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafy was murdered by his US-backed captors (with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s enthusiastic support), leaving Libya in a state of total chaos from which it has never really recovered.

Yet now there is talk by President Trump and his increasingly neoconservative- dominated National Security and Pentagon team of advisors of “taking out” North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, even as an aircraft carrier attack group steams towards the Korean peninsula.

Trump's using a carrier battle group to 'take out' North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un could lead to unintended consequencesTrump's using a carrier battle group to 'take out' North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un could lead to unintended consequences
 

Getting rid of Ford Executive Order 12333 would be no difficult hurdle for President Trump, who has been “governing” the country through ill-though-out executive order issuance -- most of them written by his political strategist Stephen Bannon, since he assumed office Jan. 20. Bannon, now being sidelined by more traditional cold war neo-cons, may not be writing those orders for his boss now, but someone else could easily do it, erasing E.O 12333 with the stroke of a pen.

What would such a change mean?

What am I shouting?

New poem:

 

XX
 

I saw a photo of an elephant in a concrete cell
alone,
so alone.
She was holding her own tail with her trunk
to close the circle of
herself,
a loop of loneliness,
standing, eyes closed
to the long sentence of her life.
I just would like to know. . .
What?
I just would like to know!
How can the intelligence that created such a creature
stand by and watch it suffer so.
And then I realized,
that's me.
That's all of us,
holding our tails in our trunks.
But were we not created to thunder
and trumpet
and love each other
as only elephants can,
crossing the great grasslands together
as a family?
And as we slumber,
to be painted silver by the moon?
So, is that it?
Because,
because . . . so many years of standing back
and watching things unravel
have taken a toll on me,
on my elephant nature.
And so I shout out
into the tornado,
but what I shout
even I don't
know.
 
 
--Gary Lindorff
https://garylindorff.wordpress.com

Yet Another President Commits the Ultimate War Crime of Launching a War of Aggression

Here we go again:

 
NOTE: To find an anti-Syria War protest near you, go to: UNAC's Facebook page
 

President Donald Trump campaigned last year making the sensible argument that the US should no longer engage in a policy of regime change, and should attempt to have friendly relations with other countries like Russia and China. Yesterday he blew those ideas out of the water by launching 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria's Shayrat airbase (reportedly killing nine civilians and injuring more) and by calling for the removal of Syria’s leader, Bashar al Assad.

The pretext for the US cruise missile blitz, an alleged attack on a rebel-held town called Khan Shiekhun in Idlib province, where some 70 people, including children, were reported to have died from illegal Sarin-gas bombs said to have been dropped by Syrian planes, has yet to be investigated by any independent observers. US aircraft also recently killed over 200 civilians, mostly women and children, in bombings in Mosul in Iraq.

Like many pretexts for war that have been used by the US to justify its illegal attacks on other nations over the years, dating back at least to the faked claim of a North Vietnamese attack on a US destroyer of the country’s coast in the Gulf of Tonkin which led to an all-out US war against the peoples of Indochina, and the fraudulent claim that Saddam Hussein was building “weapons of mass destruction” that led to the US invasion of Iraq, there are many questions about who really used Sarin gas at Khan Shiekhun, a city under the control of an Al-Qaeda rebel group. All information about the attack has come from sources there, where no Western reporters or independent investigators are allowed, and from the so-called “White Helmets” -- a supposedly humanitarian volunteer organization that calls for the overthrow of the Syrian government and that openly backs Al-Qaeda rebels. (Critics have noted that high-quality photos of the dead appear staged, with White Helmet rescuers shown not using any protective clothing or even gloves, even though residue of Sarin, a nerve gas, can kill or injure even those whose skin touches it.)

Syrian air base after an attack by 59 US Tomahawk cruise missiles ordered by President TrumpSyrias Shayrat air base in Homs Province after a massive attack by 59 US Tomahawk cruise missiles ordered by President Trump
 

We already know that the supposed Sarin gas attack on a neighborhood in Damascus, which nearly led to an all-out attack on Syria by the US under President Obama in 2013 -- a criminal war that was only prevented by Russia stepping in with a deal to supervise the removal and destruction of all of Syria’s stocks of chemical weapons -- was actually a “false flag” attack conducted by Syrian rebels using Sarin supplied from Turkey -- the same rebels who now control Khan Shiekhun. Unmentioned in US reports and government statements about the missile attack is the fact that the UN's Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had already investigated and monitored the removal and the destruction of all Syria's chemical weapons by 2016, and had declared that such chemicals and weapons had all been eliminated or removed from the country under the terms of an agreement reached between the US, Russia and Syria.

Commemorate This!

A piece of cake and a pin for your service

The VA in Maine recently partnered with the Pentagon to hold a “fiftieth anniversary observance of the Vietnam War.” I’d caught a brief notice about the event in the county weekly. Vietnam veterans would be recognized for their “valor and sacrifice,” and those in attendance would “receive a commemorative pin in recognition of their service.” Among the fifty states, Maine is 39th in size and 41st in population, or slightly larger than South Carolina, and slightly less populous than Hawaii. A disproportionately high number of Mainers served in the military. The Veterans Administration here has its largest campus at Togus near the state capital of Augusta, and the parking lot that morning was crammed with the dusty pickups and SUVs of Nam vets who’d driven in for this gathering from every backwater of our rural state.

Maine Governor Paul LePage and the Pentagon's commemoration project sealMaine Governor Paul LePage and the Pentagon's commemoration project seal

This is my health provider, so over the past few decades I’d been to Togus more times than I care to count. But until that morning, I’d never been aware of the two hundred seat theater behind a paneled wall in the corridor I pass through every time I come here. All those posters I’d seen on the walls about events I had no interest in, this was the venue where they held them. I walked in a half hour early and loitered in the aisle hoping to get a few guys to tell me bits of their stories; I looked for anyone wearing something – usually a ball cap – that said Vietnam. It’s a delicate business. I ask, Hey who’d you serve with?, and usually get back a few mumbled monosyllables in reply. My typical reflex to this brushoff is the unkind thought that perhaps their experiences in-country weren’t hairy enough to back up the tough war vet exterior they’re now projecting; but the formality of being an object of attention breeds caution in this population, and maybe they just want to get to their seats.

PA Dept. of Corrections Tells Court It Will Finally Treat Mumia Hep-C infection, But Only Because DOC Neglect has Caused Cirrhosis

New anti-viral medication treatment to begin next week

 

After two years of being denied appropriate treatment for his active Hepatitis-C infection, Mumia Abu-Jamal, a black journalist and activist who has been in a Pennsylvania jail for 35 years, 29 of them on death row, will finally receive the latest medicine to treat the deadly disease, but according to Amy Worden, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Corrections, the only reason for this is that, as she put it in a statement to Washington, DC television news station "inmates are prioritized for treatment based on the progression of the disease." She claimed that, "based on recent testing, he’s now eligible."

The DOC had informed the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in a status report filed today about the decision to start offering treatment -- which involves giving him 12-24 weeks of daily anti-viral pills, but without that dire explanation for the department's change in handling his case. The department currently has an appeal pending before the Third Circuit, asking that panel to stay a lower federal district court's injunction ordering immediate treatment to be offered to Abu-Jamal. Last week, the Third Circuit judicial panel had rejected that appeal for a stay and Abu-Jamal's attorneys were preparing to ask District Judge Robert Mariani to find the DOC in contempt and to order an immediate start to the medication.

Johanna Fernandez, a member of Abu-Jamal's legal team, tells ThisCantBeHappening! that Abu-Jamal is "quite angry." She reports that on Friday he told her that "The prison doctor visited with him today to say that he has developed cirrhosis. In short, the prison has allowed his condition to worsen, and although it is expected that he will recover once he gets the Hep C cure, he and others who develop cirrhosis are more likely to develop liver cancer over the course of their lives."

Ab-Jamal's own doctor has not been shown the prison medical records yet, and thus cannot comment on the claim that he has cirrhosis.

The DOC's denial of treatment has been going on for exactly two years, dating from March 30, 2015, when inmate Abu-Jamal, already suffering from a terrible skin rash and unexplained dramatic weight loss, collapsed and had to be rushed out of the prison to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with serious case of diabetes. That’s when he was finally tested to see if he had a Hepatic C viral load in his blood (he did).

The DOC already had known at the time for three years that Abu-Jamal had contracted the potentially deadly virus, thanks to a routine blood test he was given as part of the process of transferring him from the super-max SCI-Greene death row prison outside Pittsburg to his current regular-population prison at SCI Mahanoy, where he is now serving a sentence of life without parole following the overturning of his death sentence on constitutional grounds.

Mumia wins one at 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal in years' long struggle to get treatment for his prison-contracted Hep-C infectionPennsylvania drops effort to deny Hep-C medicine to Mumia after a 3rd Circuit panel denies latest appeal for a stay of a lower court order demanding that treatement begin.
 

Since the discovery of the active infection, which medical experts say is the reason he suddenly contracted a serious case of diabetes and which also explains several other debilitating ailments he has been suffering, the DOC has fought a two-year legal battle against efforts by Abu-Jamal and his attorneys to obtain the appropriate medicines available for treating his underlying Hep-C infection.

The Real Figure for Military Spending by the US is 66.3% of the Discretionary Federal Budget

In case you were wondering how Europeans have health care, great trains and roads and great schools...

 

Economist Dean Baker, in an article published at NationofChange, complains that the New York Times never explains the federal budget in a way that Americans can comprehend, because it publishes big numbers, like the $17.3 billion budgeted to be spent on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or the $40 billion budgeted to be spent on foreign aid this year, but never notes that neither of those "big" numbers amounts to even 1% of the 2017 federal budget. His critique is correct as far as it goes, but like all too many liberal analysts, Baker studiously fails to note a few really BIG numbers in the budget that also don't get mentioned by the Times and the rest of the corporate media, either as a number or as a percentage.

This is a big failing of the liberal left: not calling out the Hannibal's war elephant in the room.

Military spending, even when it does get reported, is often only referred to in terms of the increase being proposed, without the total budget outlay ever being provided. It is reported (including in the Times!) wrong in so many ways. For example, while the actual Pentagon budget outlay is sometimes mentioned, the amount of the interest on the debt that is for prior military spending that was financed through borrowing is not included. Nor is the spending on veterans' health care, which is surely part of military spending. Nor is the share of the Energy Department budget that is for nuclear weapons included. According to the National Priorities Project, the 2015 budget for the military was $598 billion, which represented 54% of all federal discretionary spending. That number didn't include over $100 billion in veterans spending and $26 billion for nuclear weapons, bringing the total to about $730 billion. 2015 total discretionary spending was $1.1 trillion,so including nuke spending and veterans spending, spending on the military represented 63% of the total. In other words two-thirds of your tax bill!

XX(National Priorities Project chart)
 

Trump in No Hurry to Staff ‘Enemy of the People’ Offices

Hostility towards media or just administrative chaos?:

 

(This article was written on assignment for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) and was published on March 21 at www.FAIR.org
 

The New York Times on March 12 reported that the Trump administration, for a variety of reasons, was filling the offices of administrative agencies at a glacial pace. From the Department of Agriculture to the Weather Service, over 2,000 mid-level political-appointee positions were still unfilled; the Times called it “the slowest transition in decades.”

One place that slowness has showed up clearly is in the staffing of what are variously called Public Affairs offices, Newsrooms or Media Offices of these government departments and agencies—the very offices that reporters in both Washington bureaus and in newsrooms around the country depend on to get routine information about what these departments and agencies are doing, or, in the case of more investigative assignments, to ask basic questions and set up interviews with key personnel...

Image of the 'Media Contacts' page of the Trump Administration Commerce Department on March 22 over two months into Trump's presidencyImage of the 'Media Contacts' page of the Trump Administration Commerce Department on March 22 over two months into Trump's presidency
 

For the rest of this article, please go to: FAIR.org

Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice

Resume inflation at the NSC

 

In the annals of human conflict, the Gulf War of 1991, when the US dispatched half a million troops and a huge armada of ships, planes and tanks into the desert south of Iraq and Kuwait and then crushed Iraqi forces in both those countries in a six-week blitz from Jan. 17-Feb. 28, surely has to rank as one of the most one-sided wars since Hitler’s Wehrmacht marched through Holland in four days in 1940.

That war, called Operation Desert Storm by the Pentagon, was really just a massive live-fire exercise for US forces, which suffered only 146 casualties, 35 of them in “friendly-fire” incidents and 111 to enemy fire. Iraqi losses were estimated at 35,000, most of them killed in US air strikes as they were trapped trying to retreat to Iraq up a Kuwaiti highway that became known as the “Highway of Death,” where fleeing Iraqi troops -- most of them hapless draftees -- were bombed and strafed mercilessly and nonstop as they sat trapped in an epic traffic jam caused by strategically destroyed vehicles along the route.

It was also the “war” in which President Trump’s new National Security Adviser pick, Lt. Gen. Herbert Raymond McMaster, “earned” his much touted Silver Star. Then a young captain in charge of a unit of nine Abrams battle tanks, he stumbled onto a dug-in group of some 80 Iraqi tanks which he then succeeded in completely destroying without losing a single one of his own tanks or men.

It sounds at first blush like something out of Gen. Erwin Rommel’s autobiography, but this “heroic action” on Gen. McMaster’s part was actually nothing more than a case of having much better equipment. The Abrams tanks he was leading were a couple of generations advanced over the antique Iraqi Russian-built T-62 and T-72 tanks and a few Chinese Type 69 tanks that he was confronting. For one thing, the Abrams tanks are constructed with depleted uranium armor -- especially on the front-facing part of the vehicle -- a dense metal which is virtually impenetrable to conventional Iraqi tank shells, rockets and RPGs. For another, the Abrams tanks were firing anti-tank shells that were also tipped with depleted uranium penetrators, which can puncture through normal tank armor as if it were cardboard, igniting the interiors and turning them into infernos, exploding the ordnance inside and incinerating a tank crew instantly. Furthermore, the significantly longer range of their primary cannons meant McMasters and his men could stand off in complete safety and fire at the Iraqi tanks, while the Iraqi tank shells all fell short of their targets, making the whole idea of a “battle” a joke.

McMaster’s tank action was later glorified with a name: the “Battle of 73 Easting,” and is featured in a number of books about the war, including one by novelist Tom Clancey. This is no surprise, given the limited number of actual firefights in the Gulf War that could remotely be characterized as combat, much less qualify as a “battle” worthy of immortalizing with a name. The war was really just a much larger version of the Reagan invasion of Grenada, where a US naval armada and swarming ground troops bravely battled a handful of Grenadian soldiers and a crew of Cuban airport construction workers while garnering a total of 7000 battle awards for their efforts.

 Capt. McMaster's vastly superior Abrams tanks were able to destroy Iraqi tanks at a distance, out of range of any Iraqi returning fire, makinTurkey shoot: Capt. McMaster's vastly superior Abrams tanks were able to destroy Iraqi tanks at a distance, out of range of any Iraqi returning fire
 

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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.

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