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This killing, in combat, would have been labeled a war crime

Michael Brown was Killed Because He Didn’t Prostrate Himself to Police Authority

 

What’s wrong with Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson’s killing of the unarmed 18-year-old black teenager, Michael Brown, and with a Grand Jury decision not to indict him for that outrageous slaying, is what is wrong with American law enforcement and American “justice” in general.

Both actions were permeated not only with racism, which clearly played a huge rule in both the verdict rendered by a Grand Jury composed of nine whites and only three blacks, and in this tragic police killing by a white cop of a black child, but also by a mentality on the part of police -- and apparently by at least a majority of the citizen jurors on a panel evaluating Wilson’s actions -- that cops are authorities who must be obeyed without question, on pain of death.

Let’s recall the most crucial evidence in this killing: According to the New York Times it was two shots into the top of the head by Officer Wilson that killed Brown -- shots that multiple witnesses confirm were fired after the unarmed Brown was on his knees, already seriously wounded by four other apparently non-lethal shots to arm, neck and upper right chest, with his hands raised and pleading “Don’t shoot.” The Times also reports that those shots, apparently fired when Brown’s head was leaning forward, or from a position above him, appeared to have been fired “not from close range,” -- determination based upon an absence of gun powder residue around the area of the entry wounds.

It should not matter in the slightest whether or not Brown had first struck Officer Wilson inside his squad car during a scuffle, as claimed by the cop, or even that the officer, as he testified in an unusual appearance before jurors, “felt terrified” at that time. Nor does it matter, beyond being evidence of an inherent racism, that Wilson says he thought that Brown, approaching him at his car initially, “looked like a demon.” If the non-lethal shots that first hit Brown in arm, neck and upper chest had been fired at that early point, perhaps Wilson would have been justified in firing them in self defense, but it’s what happened after Brown tried to leave the scene that matters.

Michael Brown, dead in the road, Ferguson cops on patrol, and Brown's killer, Officer Darren WilsonMichael Brown, dead in the road, Ferguson cops on patrol, and Brown's killer, Officer Darren Wilson
 

Oh no! The American jihadis are coming!

Stoking Fear as the US Prepares for the Next War in the Middle East

 

You read it in USA Today: The latest “threat to America” is “thousands of jihadis” with Western passports,” returning from battle in Syria and Iraq to wreak havoc and destruction in the “US homeland.”

It’s a nightmare profoundly hoped for by the US Department of Homeland Security, that massive security-state bureaucracy looking for a raison d’être.

According to the USA Today article, there “may be” thousands of so-called Islamic State fighters who have western passports, including “perhaps” some 150-300 Americans. The fear expressed in this heavy-breathing piece is that since these fighters, once in Syria or Iraq, will be coming under fire by US planes, which are bombing IS forces and, reportedly, killing hundreds of them, and that they will turn their anger from the apostates they went abroad to fight to the US government and perhaps the American people who were supporting this campaign that is trying to kill them and their IS comrades-in-arms.

Another way to look at this would be to say, “A fine mess you’ve gotten us into Mr. Obama!”

What we’re talking about here, really, if these numbers are to be believed (and who knows if they are correct really?), is old-fashioned blow-back -- that term hailing from the cloak-and-dagger Cold War world of the CIA and KGB that refers to how covert wars and covert overthrows of governments can have a nasty habit of producing unintended consequences which end up turning the tables on the initiator of an action. The CIA’s overthrow of the elected government of Iran and installation of the dictatorial Shah of Iran is a good example. It led ultimately to an anti-American revolution led by the fanatic if anti-imperialist imam Ruhollah Khomeini and the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran -- hardly the intent of the original CIA plotters and their Washington masters.

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 orchestrated by Vice President Dick Cheney and his neo-con braintrust is another example of blowback. By destroying the government of Saddam Hussein, Cheney and his gang destroyed the country of Iraq, ignited a vicious civil war between Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites, and ultimately brought forth the Islamic State forces. In a smaller example of blowback, the CIA and Pentagon secretly trained and armed fanatic Islamic Sunni fighters opposed to Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad, only to have those fighters decide a better target was the oppressive Shi-ia regime in Iraq. The US-trained Sunni fighters became the core of the Islamic Republic which the US is now committed to trying to destroy. Hence the concern about US jihadi fighters who are part of the IS army turning their wrath on the US.

Syrian Islamic rebels receiving weapons and training from US, UK and French special forces in Lebanon in 2013 (How's that workin' out?)Syrian Islamic rebels receiving weapons and training from US, UK and French special forces in Lebanon in 2013 (How's that workin' out?)
 

It's not about justice, it's winning convictions

Prosecutors Falsely Push Prison Term for Innocent Teen

 

Nasheeba Adams was both ecstatic and sad as she stood outside of Philadelphia’s Criminal Justice Center courthouse recently hugging her son Tomayo McDuffy.

She was ecstatic because minutes earlier Philadelphia’s District Attorneys Office had withdrawn highly suspect charges against her nineteen-year-old son -- charges that could have stuffed him in a prison cell for 80+ years. McDuffy, who wants to study engineering in college, experienced his eighteenth birthday while held in Philadelphia’s most violent adult pre-trial prison, as he was unable to post an onerous $500,000 bail for attempted murder and nine other charges.

Adams, while ecstatic that prosecutors withdrew as groundless all charges against her son, was also sad though, because the nearly two-year long battle to free her son forced her into bankruptcy and drove her family from their home thanks to lawyers fees and other expenses related to the effort to free McDuffy..

“I fought for his freedom and I got it! This taught me that you don’t ever give up,” Adams said at the courthouse. “From now on, every day will be Mother’s Day for me!”

Despite her joy, Adams carried a sinking feeling from the fact that Philadelphia police and prosecutors had repeatedly rejected strong evidence that the crime causing her son’s arrest never occurred –- evidence that was clear and compelling withing just weeks following McDuffy’s May 3, 2013 arrest.

The ordeal of Tomayo McDuffy is yet the latest example of the egregiously overzealous prosecutions that fuel mass incarceration across America. All too often prosecutors disregard their legal and ethical duty to ‘seek justice,’ and instead engage in relentless and unprincipled efforts to secure convictions irrespective of compelling evidence of innocence. Prosecutors recklessly ignore evidence of innocence because convictions –- not exonerations -– are the currency for promotions and other job performance perks.

Tamayo McDuffy and his mother Nasheeba Adams (l) and Philadelphia's not so new (and not so ethical) DA Seth WilliamsTamayo McDuffy and his mother Nasheeba Adams (l) and Philadelphia's not so new (and not so ethical) DA Seth Williams
 

US news organizations dispense propaganda, not news

Forget ‘Fair and Balanced,’ US Corporate Media Give Only the Government’s Side

 

One searches almost in vain for honest reporting on the Ukraine conflict in the US corporate media, which is simply parroting the US government position, which is that the rebels in eastern Ukraine are simply tools of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Yet the murderous shelling of the people of the rebel regions of Lugansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine is almost certainly wholly the work of an aggressive Kiev-government led Ukraine military, which has been ramping up its forces in the east in preparation for a renewed assault on the two separatist states of Lugansk and Donetsk.

Each time there is a report of shelling of either city, Lugansk or Donetsk, the US media either completely fail to mention who might be responsible, or they report that “both sides” accuse each other of being responsible, though this is clearly absurd, since even those same media also refer to Donetsk and Lugansk as “rebel-held” or “separatist-held,” or as “rebel strongholds.” Why, one ought to ask, would the rebels shell their own territory, much less the capitals of their respective rebel regions?

The model for how such incidents are to be reported was set on Oct. 6 by America’s version of Pravda, Voice of America. In its article that day, headlined NATO Concerned about E. Ukraine Cease-Fire Violations, it states:
 

The new head of NATO said the Western military alliance is concerned about the large number of violations of the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, which he indirectly blamed on pro-Russian separatists.
 

Following in lockstep with that approach, here’s what the US media had to say about the conflict in recent weeks:
 

The New York Times (Nov. 9):

A shaky cease-fire in eastern Ukraine looked ever more tenuous on Sunday as European monitors confirmed reports of unmarked military vehicles driving through rebel-held territory while Donetsk, the region’s biggest city, endured a nightlong artillery battle.

The monitoring group, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said that long columns of unmarked military vehicles, some towing howitzers, were spotted over the weekend. The monitors did not speculate as to the origins of the trucks or the people inside them, but Ukrainian officials said the statements bolstered their claims that Russia was again arming and training separatists.

...On Sunday, after what journalists in Donetsk described as the heaviest night of artillery shelling in and around the city in at least a month, the O.S.C.E. observers saw two more unmarked military columns. The observers noted 17 trucks in each column, some equipped with Grad ground-to-ground rocket launchers and others towing more howitzers.
 

Comment: Notice the focus here on the unidentified military vehicles, but not a word about who would have been firing that heavy artillery barrage into rebel-held Donetsk. A real news organization -- as opposed to a propaganda organ -- would have asked that question and would have sought answers. Clearly the rebels weren’t bombarding their own capital city, but the Times didn’t mention that absurdity.
 

Does this look like something rebel fighters in east Ukraine would have done to their own 'stronghold' and capital of Donetsk?Does this look like something rebel fighters in east Ukraine would have done to their own 'stronghold' and capital of Donetsk?
 

They’re everywhere!

NY Times Report Documents Metastasizing of the Police State of America

 

The latest news on the burgeoning police state in the US -- a page-one investigative report in the New York Times disclosing that at least 40 agencies of the US government from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Supreme Court (!) are using undercover agents to spy on and even to entrap law-abiding American citizens -- suggests that we have passed the tipping point.

One can no longer speak in terms of the US as a country that is moving towards becoming a police state. We are living in a police state.

The Times reports that IRS personnel have been going undercover posing as accountants and even as physicians to root out tax fraud, that the Supreme Court has been dispatching some of its guards (all of whom have been trained in undercover work) “dressed down” in civilian clothes to mingle with protesters (notably abortion-rights activists) to spy on people simply exercising their First Amendment rights outside the court building, that the USDA sends out agents posing as Food Stamp recipients to try and entrap shop-owners to commit Food Stamp fraud, and that even NASA and the Smithsonian Institution have undercover operatives. Undercover cops and agents are assuming the identities of teachers, doctors, journalists and even priests.

This information has to be put together with the rampant militarization of local police forces, who have become an occupying army, and with the proliferation of spying activities by state and local police agencies, encouraged by the establishment by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security of myriad “Joint Anti-Terrorism Strike Forces, and of 76 so-called Fusion Centers. These latter are totally unregulated operations that meld the spying activities of state and local cops and the myriad three-lettered intelligence units of the federal government, as well as private corporate security units, with no specific agency assuming oversight responsibility.

I used to scoff at the wild-eyed claims made by people on the right and left who said that we were living in a police state. Having lived for a year and a half in China, where a police state has been operating now for 65 years, and having visited police states in Eastern Europe during the days of the Soviet Union, I have seen and experienced what life is like when the police, secret and overt, run rampant, and I knew the US was not like those places.

I’ve changed my mind, though. The only difference I see now, knowing what we know about the breadth and depth of police activity in the US, between what’s happening here and what happens in places where police states have long existed, is that in long-standing police states, everyone knows they are being watched and are subject to arbitrary arrest. while here in the US, many Americans remain blissfully ignorant of what has happened to their vaunted freedoms.

 Inside the Houston Fusion Center (l), and militarized cops confronting First Amendment protestersImages of Police State USA: Inside the Houston Fusion Center (l), and militarized cops confronting First Amendment protesters
 

When expediency calls for principles

Obama on Net Neutrality: Principle or Politics?

 

The week before last, our President made a pronouncement on Net Neutrality that pleasantly surprised activists and won him favorable coverage in the newspapers: both rare outcomes these days.

In both timing and content, the short speech (aptly broadcast over the Internet) was stunning. The President hit all the major points of contention and controversy in what has become a searing debate over the Internet's future and his talking points mirrored all the arguments progressive Internet activists have been making. It was among Obama's most forward-looking speeches.

Obama Speaks on the Internet over the InternetObama Speaks on the Internet over the Internet
 

Not only did he land on the right side of issues like assuring full and equal access and speed for all users and content providers but he came out in favor of the demand that has now emerged as the focal point for the Net Neutrality campaign: applying Title II to all Internet providers. In layperson's language, that means treating all Internet companies like FCC-governed utilities. That's what they did with phone companies and that's why phone service is, today, "service neutral" and the change would lay the groundwork for Net Neutrality's protection.

While calling it a victory for the Net Neutrality movement, however, activists salted their celebrations with a bit of skepticism. This is the man, after all, who has turned the Internet into the largest surveillance network in history while forging one of the most aggressive interventionist and homicidal foreign policies in the country's history. The speech was great but will it make a difference? And does the President really care? The President is, above all, a master politician and so the question arises: was this speech less policy than politics?

The Last Two Rounds

Is Lame Duck Obama Ready to Fight?

 
 
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena … who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.
          -President Theodore Roosevelt, speech, Paris, France, 1910, a year after leaving the White House
 
 
Many on the left gave up on Barack Obama years ago; or else they were convinced from the beginning he was just another stooge for the nation’s corporate and military elite. His blackness was just an electoral novelty, not unlike the novelty of a Bush father and two-son dynasty or a Clinton marriage dynasty. The right, of course, has been effectively disabling Obama since the beginning, an effort that has now achieved some level of gloating satisfaction with the mid-term rout of Democrats.

Fox News and the leaders of the Republican Party assumed the rout was a silver stake through the president’s heart, leaving him no choice but to kowtow to their triumphant leadership.

 Is he finally ready to fight for the left?President Barack Obama: Is he finally ready to fight for the left?

But not so fast. Is it possible Barack Obama is so pissed off by this smug notion of having been driven to the mat that he’s now ready in the last two rounds to get up and fight?

There are indications: Immediately after the midterm election, he announced a secret deal with the powerful President Xi of China on carbon emissions. It relies on the good faith of both nations to adhere to the promises agreed to, but it establishes a cooperative process between two potentially hostile powers instead of letting the matter fester while rattling sabers. It’s long view thinking reliant on science instead of the usual quarterly-focused crisis-managing. It’s a crack of light suggesting there might be a future without doom and gloom and war without end. The deal seems to recognize US decline as a reality to be adjusted to. Obama followed it up with an announcement of a $3 billion injection of funds to the developing world to encourage them to join the US/China effort.

Next, President Obama made it clear he’s going to use his power of prosecutorial discretion to extend a friendly hand to some five million illegal immigrants mostly from Latin America. Times center-right columnist Ross Douthat suggests this is “creeping caudillismo” on a scale unprecedented in American political history.

Thank you for your service or your business?

Veterans Day at a Funeral Home in Ambler, Pennsylvania

The irony of all these flags and a banner saying "Thank you for your service" has apparently been buried (photo by DavThe irony of all these flags and a banner saying 'Thank you for your service' has apparently been buried (photo by Dave Lindorff)

New poem:

Black River


 
 

Ebola, “Black River”,
Thank-you for giving your name
To a killer virus.
Those scientists, those doctors,
The ones who discovered the germ,
They looked at a map
And they saw the river Ebola.
That’s a good name!
They almost named it Yambuku
After the town
Where the virus was actually discovered.
It was three o’clock in the morning.
That’s how these things go.
Now in the midst of all the fear,
The suffering,
Paranoia and heroism,
And the usual belated scrambling
To do the right thing,
I am thinking,
What a beautiful name
For that little river in the Congo:
Ebola, Black River.
 

--Gary Lindorff

The ThisCantBeHappening! news collective loses a founding member

Charles M. 'Chuck' Young (1951-2014)

 

The ThisCantBeHappening! collective has lost a friend and a perceptive and peerlessly witty analyst of the American political and cultural scene, while Rock& Roll has lost its leading critic. Charles M. Young (Chuck to his friends), has died, following a year and a half of battling an aggressive brain tumor.

When Dave Lindorff decided back in the Spring of 2010, to convert his thiscantbehappening.net blog into a collectively-owned and collectively-run news site, he immediately contacted three friends and journalistic colleagues--John Grant, Linn Washington, Jr. and Chuck Young. All three immediately jumped for the idea. But Chuck's response was classic Young. His lip curling up in a sign that cued a listener that he was about to crack a joke, he said, "Wait, let me get this straight: a newspaper that has no editor? It sounds like a dream come true! Sign me up!"

Charles M. 'Chuck' Young, Presente!Charles M. 'Chuck' Young, Presente!

 

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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.

Donate $50 to ThisCantBeHappening.net and get a free signed copy, postage paid, of Dave's classic tome The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin's Press, 2006). Just click on the cover image to go to the Paypal payment page, make your payment, and send a note to Dave calling his attention to the payment, and giving your mail address and the name you want the inscription addressed to.

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by Dr. Radut