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Justice Department and Dreamhost: Stepping Up the Police State!

You could be the subject of a subpeona by visiting a website

 

If the U.S. Department of Justice prevails in a case against web-hosting provider Dreamhost, you can become the subject of a criminal investigation by visiting a website.

You don't have to re-read that. The problem is not with your eyes; it's with your government. If the courts uphold this Justice Department action, the erosion of your privacy rights on the Internet, a process that began with the Patriot Act and picked up full-steam under the Obama administration, will have been completed under President Donald Trump.

A major pillar of a police state will now be in place.

You visit. You are a target.You visit. You are a target.

The sorry saga starts last January when the Justice Department began investigating people who had been organizing protests at Trump's inauguration. In this unsavory combination of the federal government's increasingly intrusive actions and Trump's megamania, Justice lawyers presented Dreamhost with a search warrant on a website -- Disruptj20.org -- which was being used to organize those actions.

Discovering Racism and then Discovering It Anew

Charlottesville awakening

 

I grew up in Storrs, Connecticut, a faculty brat in a university town where minority people were few and far between. There were a few black kids in our high school — the children of people employed at UConn. There were also working-class Puerto Ricans in the area — American citizens but who knew that back then? — who had fled north from the economically devastated US colony of Puerto Rico to work in a big textile mill in nearby Willimantic.

Storrs was a liberal community. The civil rights movement and later the early anti-Vietnam War movement both had early and active support there, our school teachers were for the most part liberals who went beyond the core curriculum to teach us to question things, and (within limits) to pursue our ‘60s-era interest in alternative life-styles and politics.

But I did get a sense for what real racism was about, despite living in such an island of liberalism.

My mother was a native of Greensboro, North Carolina, and her parents still lived down there, just outside of town in a huge log cabin on a pond. Grandpa, a decorated mustard-gassed veteran of World War I, and a super-patriot, was a no-nonsense coach and headed the physical education program for the segregated Greensboro School District.

A generous-hearted woman who left home to serve as a Navy WAVE during World War II, my mother ended up posted at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for most of the war. After meeting and marrying my Dad, and moving to Storrs, where the University of Connecticut had hired Dad as an electrical engineering professor, she become quite liberal in her views, including on race. (Though one vestige of her upbringing — a conviction that mixed-race marriages would never work out — never left her. “Think of the children!” she would say when I'd argue with her, as if it were obvious.)

I remember back in the ‘50s, when I was probably about 8 or 9 years of age, that we drove down to Greensboro to visit my grandparents. It was before the days of the interstate highway system, and in the heyday of that ubiquitous roadside rest stop, Howard Johnsons, a favorite of all travel-weary kids because of the many flavors of ice cream they sold.
XX

When we had crossed over into Virginia, and came upon one of those orange-roofed icons, dad stopped the car and we all piled into the cool lobby. I headed for the men’s room, but was caught up short by the sight of two fountains along the wall, with signs saying “whites” and “coloreds.” I asked my dad what that meant, and he explained to his wide-eyed son.

The idea of people with different skin color having to drink from different water fountains seemed bizarre to me, and I remember going to the colored fountain, more out of curiosity than rebelliousness, because I wanted to see if the water was different. (I don’t know what I expected: colored water?) My mother got upset — I suspect because from her upbringing she was used to such things and probably worried that it might create a scene.

Then I went to find the men’s room and was this time confronted by four, instead of two doors. That really floored me. Even at that young age, I knew that shit and piss were unpleasant smelling and dirty whether they emanated from white or “colored” bodies. I like to think I went into the “colored men’s” restroom, but I can’t remember what I actually did.

I left that Hojo’s with my mind jolted. Now I was noticing lots of black people as we drove along deeper into Dixie, and it was obvious that they were poor, living in usually unpainted shacks and mostly walking, while the whites we saw were driving nice cars and living in nicer houses, where one didn’t notice any black people.

This Is Not Fake News: President Trump Is A Bigot!

Whitewashing Racism Again

Bench on porch at the White House of Donald Trump? No. Apartheid-era artifact in Cape Town, South Africa. LBWPhotoBench on porch at the White House of Donald Trump? No. Apartheid-era artifact in Cape Town, South Africa. LBWPhoto
 
U.S. President Donald Trump is a bigot – ’bigley’ – to use a word that he’s used frequently!

Trump is a bigot as defined as someone who doesn’t tolerate people of different races or religions!

But as despicable as Trump’s bigotry is, it is not the big problem driving America’s problem of deep-seated racism.

Trump’s bigotry is rightly being bashed in the wake of the President’s failure to quickly and forcefully condemn the Nazi-praising white nationalists responsible for the riotous violence that erupted recently in Charlottesville, Va, violence that produced one death and many injuries.

Those proudly prejudiced white supremacists that descended on Charlottesville for odious domestic terrorism proclaimed themselves as fervent supporters of businessman-turned-president Trump.

“Trump’s run for office electrified the radical right, which saw in him a champion of the idea that America is fundamentally a white man’s country,” stated a report issued earlier this year by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization that monitors hate groups in America.

In the weeks after Trump’s November 2016 election the SPLC documented 1,094 hate incidents. “The hate was clearly tied directly to Trump’s victory,” stated a December 2016 SPLC report.

Remember, Trump is the guy who installed a leading advocate of white nationalism (Steve Bannon) as his chief strategist in the White House.

Sobering 2018 National Climate Change Report is Leaked to the NY Times

Government climate scientists take action

 

Embattled climate scientists working in 13 various US government agencies threw down the gauntlet before the Trump administration by releasing, to the New York Times, an over 600-page report on climate change in the US, the work of several years intended to comply with a Congressional requirement for such a report every four years.

The scientists involved in releasing the leaked document — the fifth draft of the 2018 report — told the Times they were releasing the document early in draft form for fear that the Trump Administration and Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, climate change denier Scott Pruitt, would attempt to deep-six, or at least drastically revise their work and conclusions.

Their fears are understandable. Trump has called climate change a hoax and a Chinese conspiracy designed to harm the US, and Pruitt, while recently at least acknowledging that the global climate is getting hotter, claims that it is both impossible to know to what extent human activity is to blame, and that the trend going forward is impossible to predict.

The latest report, however, debunks all of those ignorant assertions by the country’s current leadership, warning that the warming trend both globally and in the US is undeniable, and dire.
Blue Marble (NASA photo)Blue Marble (NASA photo)

According to the document, which is dated June 28 and titled “US Global Change Research Program: Climate Science Special Report” (CSSR):
 

“Since the last National Climate Assessment was published (in 2014), 2014 became the warmest year on record globally, 2015 surpassed 2014 by a wide margin; and 2016 surpassed 2015. Sixteen of the last 17 years are the warmest years on record for the globe.”
 

The report goes on to state that “many lines” of scientific evidence “demonstrate that it is extremely likely” (meaning 95-100% certain) “that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” They explain that “There are no convincing alternative explanations supported by the extent of the observational evidence. Solar output changes and internal natural variability can only contribute marginally to the observed changes in climate over the last century, and we find no convincing evidence for natural cycles in the observational record that could explain the observed changes in climate.”

The grim picture looking out to 2100, which it must be noted is easily within the lifetime of children living today:

Me and The New York Times

Writing in No-Man's-Land

 
The attitude of the great poets is to cheer up slaves and horrify despots
        -Walt Whitman
 
To comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable
        -Traditional adage of journalistic purpose
 
These days, adjusting to Donald J. Trump as “leader of the free world,” I find myself defending The New York Times almost on a daily basis. I tend to do this online on left-leaning lists I wade into and respond to. I just turned 70 and am becoming a rather dialogic-oriented person in my golden years. I've worked as a dirty-fingernail reporter on several newspapers. I’ve written non-fiction and fiction, a distinction that more and more blurs in my mind, as it is blurred in places like Eastern Europe; in Bosnia, for example, the terms simply do not exist. I’ve worked as a self-taught photographer. For over three years, from Philadelphia, I’ve co-hosted a chat radio show out of northeastern Kansas. My dialogic role on the show, called Radio Free Kansas, is to talk about the stories in that day’s liberal northeastern rag, The New York Times.

Charlie, The Times and the beginnings of this essay on the Times Sports sectionCharlie, The Times and the beginnings of this essay on the Times Sports section

The incredible explosion (there is no other word for it) of computer technology and social media has left me in the dust, willfully. I carry a flip cellphone with a cracked face; I don’t use EZ-Pass (I’m afraid they may be tracking me!) or GPS devices (I really love maps!), and I rarely use Facebook or any other social media. I know I’m a human derelict of the past hanging on until the light goes out. I’m too often told I’m wrong by a bureaucratic computer that says something other than what I know is true. Sometimes, I feel like a white haired, stringy-bearded ancient left by the trail wrapped in a blanket as my tribe moves on to the next happy hunting ground. Nowadays, when they leave you alone by the trail to die they leave you with an i-phone: “Here. Keep in touch on Twitter.”

Whoa! It's Really Crazy Here in America!

Thoughts on returning from a short, eventful trip to the UK

 

Back in Philadelphia, USA -- Just got back from an event-filled two-plus weeks in the UK and I though I should share a few thoughts and impressions.

We visited briefly in Edinburgh, Scotland, London, Exeter and Oxford, the ancient university town where our daughter Ariel was graduating with a DPhil in Education — the primary purpose of our visit.

The first thing that struck me coming strait from the States was the scarcity of clearly overweight people. Sure you see a few, but not the huge number of really dangerously overweight people one sees everyday in the US, where bad food products are shamelessly pushed like addictive drugs. Perusing the supermarkets in Britain, it’s clear why this is so: the shelves aren’t bulging with oversized boxes of sugared cereal, potato chips, corn chips and other amalgams of starch, sugars and fats of all types, or aisles full of sweets.

Restaurant meals also offer normal sized portions, not huge quantities of foot that beckon guests to eat until they can’t stand up easily as in all too many US establishments.

The second thing I noticed — even outside of London — was a wide array of newspapers, ranging from junk like the Sun and the Daily Mail to serious journals of the center right like the Financial Times and the Times to left-leaning papers like the Guardian and the Independent. And people actually read the things.

Back in Philadelphia, the two options are the Inquirer and the Daily News, both desiccated shadows of their former selves and owned by the same publisher. If you’re lucky, and are near Center City, you might also find on newsstands a few copies of the NY Times and maybe even a Wall Street Journal, but don’t count on it.

The political scene, meanwhile, bears some small, superficial resemblance to the US at the moment, with a dysfunctional conservative government in power, and a leftist “resistance” in the wings, but that’s where all similarity ends.

US media claims that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is a British 'Bernie Sanders' are misleading. Corbyn's a real leftist with a program and plan to win powerUS media claims that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is a British 'Bernie Sanders' are misleading. Corbyn's a real leftist with a program and plan to win power
 

In the US, the “resistance” is largely an illusion--really a kind of Democratic Party "rebranding" project. On the one hand you have the Democratic Party establishment, led these days by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, a bought-and-paid lackey of the Wall Street banking industry, whose claim to fame is so far keeping his Senate colleagues in line voting as a bloc against every attempt by Senate Republicans to undo Obamacare. On the other hand, there’s Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont who had the Democratic nomination stolen from him by the unprincipled machinations of that Democratic Party establishment during last year’s primary campaign. Sanders, recall, as many had predicted, folded up his battle tent at the end of that manipulated primary contest and meekly endorsed the corrupt winner, Hillary Clinton. Since then he has been talking up his “political revolution,” but has yet to even lay out an alternative “single-payer” Medicare-for-All plan to counter Republicans and Trump and their schemes to steal what little health coverage poorer Americans have now, much less demand that Congressional Democrats stop fudging and commit to health care as a right, and to enacting a Canadian-style system that covers everyone.

Dali’s mustache revisited

New poem:

 

Who cares if Dali’s exhumed mustache is intact?
Who cares if a cat can say his master’s name?
 
Who cares if the Congressman
Thinks that NASA has a secret reason to go to Mars?
 
Who cares if there are nettles growing among the raspberries?
And that my friend is probably right,
 
That the stars are actually the tears of God
Reflecting the light of our souls.
 
My back hurt all night, and it still hurts
Even though my wife rubbed it with Tiger Balm.
 
That’s all that matters.
 
And when your back hurts all night,
I promise not to remind you
Of Dali’s mustache
And the sorrows of God.
 
 

--Gary Lindorff

Humpty Dumpty Word Usage In 'Trump's Wonderland'

Trump's lies fly

Like the famous line from fairy tale figure Humpty Dumpty about his prerogative to pervert words, President Trump and his defender/supporters routinely engage in a putrid practice of altering widely accepted meanings of words to obscure or to outright deceive.

Humpty Dumpty, when talking with Alice in the classic Louis Carroll novel “Alice In Wonderland’ declared that the words he uses are just what he choses those words “to mean – neither more nor less.”

So in ‘Trump’s Wonderland’ defenders of the President blithely downplay the June 9, 2016 impropriety committed by the President’s oldest son, Donald Jr., as the misstep of a “kid” not serious misconduct consciously committed by an adult.

Kid is a word usually used as a descriptor for children from babies to teens but not a 39-year-old man like the junior Donald.

Don Jr. has admitted – in public statements and in emails he released – that in June 2016 he eagerly met with a person presented to him as a representative of the Russian government who would supply him with political dirt on front-running Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Emails released by Don Jr. document that Don Jr. was clearly informed that the meeting to provide political dirt was part of efforts by the Russian government to help his father win the presidential election.

President Trump’s new Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, declared that Don Jr. “is a kid” when proclaiming that Don Jr. did “nothing wrong” by attending that secret June 2016 meeting with a representative of America’s avowed enemy. Scaramucci’s characterization of Don Jr. as a “kid” during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper perverted the traditional meaning of the word kid to minimize the actions of a grown man who Scaramucci described variously as a “great guy” and a neophyte in the world of big time politics.

While Scaramucci spun the line of that June 2016 meeting being a “non-event” Don Jr. obviously saw that event, held at Trump Tower in New York City, as really, really important. The importance of the meeting that Humpty Scaramucci Dumpty termed a “non-event” led Don Jr. to invite his father’s then presidential campaign manager to that meeting.

Uruguay Tells US Drug War to Take a Hike

The Increasing Decline of American Credibility

Newsflash! Uruguay has fashioned a marijuana legalization program that is smart and graceful, yet does not turn the little South American nation into a tourist Mecca like Amsterdam. Legalization only applies to citizens. It may be the best decriminalization model yet.

In the annals of beleaguered US Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- whose obsession with weed I wrote about earlier -- this amounts to another warning shot from the real world making it clear re-invigorating federal anti-marijuana law enforcement is not workable -- unless the plan is to assume an all-out police state mode. Everybody knows the bloodhounds are baying in the woods and getting closer on the scent of Sessions' Russia problem. In a front-page interview with The New York Times, President Trump makes it clear he’s fed up with Sessions for recusing himself on the Russia investigation. The president has bigger fish to fry than pot, and Jeff Sessions may be approaching pariah status in Trump World. Roger Stone, one of the president's loyal attack dobermans, told the New York Times, "there's a lack of aggressiveness with Sessions, unless it involves chasing people for smoking pot."

Uruguay’s actions are part of a general trend in Latin America that suggests leaders there don't give the US Drug War much credence any more. One leader after another has expressed frustration with the US military and police obsession with the supply of drugs from the South, while leaders in the US fail to socially address the demand at home that has always driven the so-called “war.” Latin American leaders are effectively reading the US the riot act. Bastante! Enough. That goes for leaders in Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, Jamaica and even Canada.

One of the most interesting examples of this shift occurred during the notorious summit meeting in Cartagena in 2012. Conservative Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos publicly requested of President Barack Obama that the US do more about demand and let up on Latin America for being the supplier of that dysfunctional US demand. Get your own house in order and stop scapegoating us.

Americans, however, never got this story. As many will recall, what we did get was a raft of juicy scandal stories about the president’s secret service detail getting laid by high-class Colombian prostitutes. (Prostitution is legal in Colombia and thrives in Cartagena.) Was this absence an insidious conspiracy? Or was it, rather, just the exceptionalist American subconscious at work making it clear the United States never recognizes problems having to do with itself. As any morally righteous gringo understands, the real horror was American special agents protecting the president of the United States having sex with dark and furtive Latin women for cash. Elite American warriors compromised by Mestizo honey pots! Now that's a story you can run with in Gringolandia. Editors decided Americans didn’t want to hear that the USA had been using its Drug War to demonize Latin America for supplying it what its population demanded -- as if that isn’t a perfect definition of free private enterprise.

Held Illegally 12 Years by US in Guantanamo, Child Soldier, 15, wins $8.1 Million

Canada apologizes for not aiding its captive citizen

 

The story of Omar Khadr has always been one of the ugliest chapters of the ugly story of the US War on Terror initiated with the Congressional passage of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force and the ensuing invasion of Afghanistan.

Yesterday, Khadr finally won a measure of justice when the Canadian government apologized to him for its failure to defend him against his US captors and to seek his release from confinement at the US prison compound at Guantanamo Bay, and awarded him damages of $8.1 million as compensation for his years of suffering.

Imprisoned at 15 at Guantanamo illegally, child soldier Omar Khadr has finally won vindication, an apology and $8 millionImprisoned at 15 at Guantanamo illegally, child soldier Omar Khadr has finally won vindication, an apology and $8 million
 

His vindication as a victim, and not a villain, was a long time coming.

It was in 2002, during the early days of America’s longest — and still ongoing — war against Afghanistan that Omar Khadr, a 15-year-old native of Canada, was wounded and then captured, still alive, and packed off to Guantanamo Bay, one of a number of child soldiers whom the US, under the Bush/Cheney administration’s rule-free War on Terror, held in violation of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that was signed by the US and that is thus part of US law. It declares that all children under the age of 18 captured while fighting in wars are to be offered “special protection” and treated as victims, not as combatants.

Khadr’s story was never properly told in the US media, which simply lumped him in with all the other alleged “terrorists” held at Guantanamo. His 2010 “trial” — one of the few military tribunals actually conducted at Guantanamo — was a charade of justice which led to his conviction for murder and a sentence of 40 years. That sentence was later commuted to 8 years, to be served in Canada, not at Guantanamo, but Khadr had agree to plead guilty to the worst and most outrageous charges against him in order to escape from q lifetime at the mercy of the sadistic US guards at Guantanamo.

Khadr’s crime, according to his US captives? Murder of one US soldier, and the blinding of another, caused by a hand grenade that the young Khadr allegedly lobbed at them.

The truth? It's hard to know. Khadr had always insisted he did not toss a grenade until the deal under pressure that he agreed to, and even then, in "admitting" to throwing the grenade he insisted he did it out of fear, not a desire to kill. In any event, even if he did toss a grenade, he would have been doing what any courageous wounded soldier in his situation would hope to have the guts to do: defend himself, and take out the enemy at the risk of his own life. That would not be murder in an armed conflict!

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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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