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Green Party's Stein Walks With Poor While Democrats Party

'Clintonville' reflects true horror of poverty in US"

 

Philadelphia -- On the day before the opening of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, as top Democratic Party members settled into swank hotel suites around Philadelphia, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein spent much of that day interacting with the homeless and others in one of Philadelphia’s poorest communities.

Stein, a physician, walked the streets of Philadelphia’s Kensington section, hosted by anti-poverty activists in that community.

Kensington is a community where poverty in certain sections exceeds 57 percent. The unemployment rate in Kensington averages 19.1 percent, a figure that is nearly five times the current national average. Kensington is also a community with high levels of drug addiction and numerous drug sale locations. Stein stopped at an intersection in Kensington known as one of Philadelphia’s top drug sale/use locations.

“Kensington is what too much of America looks like,” Stein said. “In America today most people either live in poverty or are near poverty. This must change! Government today works for the wealthy special interests and not in the interests of most people.”
Jill Stein (left) Cheri Honkala (right) LBW PhotoJill Stein (left) Cheri Honkala (right) LBW Photo
 

Obama Calls for Peace and Comity at Home, But Favors Wars and Killer Drones Abroad

Misusing a quote about peace

 

President Barack Obama made an eloquent plea for sanity and peace following the latest deadly assault on police officers -- this time a gunman with an assault rifle shooting and killing three cops in Baton Rouge and wounding another three, one critically injured.

He struck just the right tone, condemning the killings but also warning against politicians and media talking heads using the incident to stir up more divisions. As he put it:
 

Someone once wrote, “A bullet need happen only once, but for peace to work we need to be reminded of its existence again and again and again.”
 

The president continued:
 

“My fellow Americans, only we can prove, through words and through deeds, that we will not be divided. And we’re going to have to keep on doing it “again and again and again.” That’s how this country gets united. That’s how we bring people of good will together. Only we can prove that we have the grace and the character and the common humanity to end this kind of senseless violence, to reduce fear and mistrust within the American family, to set an example for our children.”
 

It was a moving call to bring this violence-plagued feuding country together -- people respecting the police, and police respecting the people, black, brown, red, yellow and white.

And yet I found myself wondering, why did the president say this only applying to the violence in our own country? This is, remember, the same president who chairs weekly meetings to decide who will be killed next somewhere in the world by our high-tech drones -- remotely piloted killing machines with grotesque names like Predator and Reaper, armed with their obscenely but aptly named Hellfire missiles. Victims who include not just suspected or alleged “terrorists” but also innocent members of their families, including young children, not to mention the all too many innocents who either happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or who are simply victims of targeting errors or “intelligence” errors.

Obama steals and misuses Irish writer's words of peace, while pursuing endless wars and drone killingsObama steals and misuses Irish writer's words of peace, while pursuing endless wars and drone killings
 

The Post-Dallas Kumbaya Window Begins to Close

The Ultimate Attribution Error Fuels War

 

Someone's crying, Lord, kumbaya
- From the Gullah song meaning, Lord, come by here and help us
 

There was a true kumbaya moment after the Dallas cop massacre similar to the moment after 9/11 when sympathy was expressed for America from many unexpected quarters around the world. That window began to close when US leaders took a hard line and vengefully attacked an un-implicated nation to counter the very sense of vulnerability that moved people of the world to sympathize with us. Similarly, the sympathy for attacked cops in Dallas may be evaporating thanks to a familiar sociological dynamic involving in-group, out-group identification.

Sociologists and psychologists call this “the ultimate attribution error.” As explained in an interesting New York Times article by Amanda Taub, it’s when people “attribute another group’s positive actions to random chance or circumstance but assume that [the other group's] negative actions reflect the group’s core nature.” That is, in times of stress, people “circle the wagons” around their own kind based on a belief that their motives are human and honorable; those of the projected enemy are the essence of pure evil. "Once you dehumanize them, it's easier to justify violence," says Professor John Dovidio of the Inter-Group Relations Lab at Yale.

This can be seen on both sides of the Black Lives Matter versus Blue Lives Matter conflict. For me, it involves anger, laziness and a failure of courage to see or listen to or talk with a perceived enemy. Better to huddle up with your own pack and project your fears on the other guy.

Sean Hannity and a Black Lives Matter protesterSean Hannity and a Black Lives Matter protester

As I bounced around cable news in the days following the Dallas cop massacre, no one was worse (maybe I should say “better”) at this than the odious Sean Hannity. (I confess, I’m biased: Sean Hannity is the root of all evil.) Hannity loves to point out his enemy’s shortcomings: that is, for them, examples of bad-cop behavior become an overarching metaphor for all-cops-are-bad and the System is totally based on white supremacy. Good point; that does happen. The trouble is, he then does the same thing ten times over; there's not a dialogic bone in the man's body.

Bernie Sanders Endorses the Candidate of Wall Street and Corporate Power, Hillary Clinton

Dead end in New Hampshire

 

Bernie Sanders threw in the towel today in his epic campaign to win the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, standing on a stage in Portsmouth, New Hampshire beside the woman he had spent the whole primary season denouncing as a tool of the corporate elite and especially of the Wall Street banking cabal, and saying he endorsed her as the party’s candidate for president of the United States.

The event marked the sad, if widely predicted, end to what for a brief time had electrified millions of young and working class voters: a major party candidate for president openly calling himself a socialist, proudly harking back to his days as a radical civil rights activist instead of trying to hide his past and his arrest record, and unabashedly condemning the greed, corruption and lust for power of the nation’s ruling elite.

Bernie Sanders as a brave youthful activist and today, endorsing Hillary Clinton, a woman he had condemned as a corporate shillBernie Sanders as a brave youthful activist and today, endorsing Hillary Clinton, a woman he had condemned as a corporate shill
 

I confess to having been inspired by Sanders’ quixotic campaign myself, and while I’m disappointed that he has ended it in such a dismal and humiliating manner, I’m not sorry he ran. Thanks to Bernie Sanders, the word “socialism” is no longer a pejorative in American politics. It is a political philosophy to which millions of young people are now drawn. That is something that can and will be built upon. For at least two generations it was not possible to call one’s self a socialist and be taken seriously in the United States of Capitalism. Of course, Sanders didn’t achieve this breakthrough by himself. His campaign built directly upon the struggles of the Occupy Movement, which in 2011 gave us “We are the 99%!” and made it clear that it is the 1% of the nation’s wealthiest people who basically own and run the country.

Bernie Sanders took that movement’s legacy and ran with it, literally, taking the country by storm and winning 22 states’ primaries along the way – and he probably would have won and maybe did win more had elections and counting been fairer (a month after that state’s primary was held they were still counting ballots in California!).

The deck was clearly stacked against Sanders’ campaign by a Democratic National Committee leadership that was solidly committed to Clinton and used every trick in the book, from scheduling primary debates at inconvenient times for viewers, like during the Superbowl, to shutting down the Sanders campaign’s access to voter contact records for a time, by a media that never ceased to disparage Sanders, first with red-baiting, then with false stories implying ignorance or incompetence, and finally, in an orgy of pro-Clinton PR, publishing reports that Clinton had “clinched” the nomination while Californians and voters in six other states were still casting their ballots in the last primaries of the season. Throughout the campaign the major corporate news organizations all continued reporting that Clinton had over 500 “super delegates” in her delegate total, an almost unassailable amount for Sanders to overcome, though in fact those delegates were not bound to vote for Clinton at all, but were elected Democrats, lobbyists and wealthy funders who had simply stated their preference for Clinton. By doing this, the media made it appear that Sanders never had a chance from the get go, though he actually came amazingly close to Clinton in pledged delegates without ever taking any corporate payola to fund his campaign.

Seattle's 'Liberals' Get Chance to Finally Start Addressing Police Brutality

Initiative-873 gives small flicker of hope

 

Seattle, WA -- Ever since moving to Seattle it’s become clear to me that though most of its inhabitants identify as liberals, the dominant white culture enables a culture of armchair liberals. When it comes to LGBT rights, Seattle will stand up, but when it comes to addressing issues that actually threaten the comfortable, largely white and privileged population of the Seattle, it’s another story.

In 2015, the Washington State Supreme Court started fining the state government $100,000 a day for continuing to underfund K-12 public education. In 2011, after a 9-month investigation, the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice sued the Seattle Police Department for a "pattern of excessive force” that violates the US Constitution and federal law.

This year, Washington has a second chance to address police brutality and in compliance with international human rights laws.


  

As it currently stands, Washington has some of the most feudal police use-of force-laws in the country. It is essentially impossible to prosecute a police officer for murder. As it is currently written, Washington law states that if a police officer kills someone, as long as the cop acted “without malice and with a good faith belief that such act is justifiable,” he or she is immune from prosecution. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg stated, “This almost perfect defense to a mistaken use of force has kept police officers out of court as defendants."

In fact, according to an analysis done by the SeattleTimes, from 2005 to 2014, 213 people were killed by police officers in Washington only one of whom has been prosecuted.

Earlier this year, House Bill 2907 was considered which would have struck the “malice” clause from the state law, but it wasn’t even voted on. Frustrated with the lack of action from politicians, an activist group called Washington for Good Policing have proposed Initiative-873, which if passed, will strike the “without malice and with a good faith belief” clause from state law. The initiative will need over 250,000 signatures to get placed on the ballot for general voting.

As Police Killings of Minorities Mount, Attacks on Police Like the One in Dallas, While Awful, Are Also Sadly Predictable

‘No Justice, No Peace!’

 

The tragedy that is America has deepened with news that a sniper -- a decorated black Army veteran trained to kill in America's Middle East wars -- slayed five white police officers in Dallas as they policed a protest march and rally against police brutality and killings sponsored by BlackLivesMatter.

The murder of anybody, whether it’s a police officer or someone who is simply stopped by a cop for a minor traffic violation and is then shot because a jumpy officer mistakes reaching for a wallet to be reaching for a gun, as happened just two days ago in suburban St. Paul, is a dreadful thing.

But it has to be said that, with American police -- most of them white -- gunning down over 500 people -- most of them black or brown, most of them unarmed, and some of them just kids -- in just the first half of this year, it was bound to happen that somebody would eventually decide to retaliate by taking revenge on the police (especially given the number of working-class people of all races who have had military training, thanks to this country's endless wars). That’s not to justify what happened in Dallas, where a total of 14 people were shot, including seven wounded police and two civilians. It’s just to say that if the police continue to treat one or several segments of American society as presumptive dangerous felons or even as enemy combatants in a war zone, and if the legal system continues to give brutal and killer cops a pass when they maim or kill innocent citizens, including young children, effectively granting them immunity for their atrocities, there will inevitably be a violent reaction.

Of course, this happened once before, after the controversial police murder of Eric Garner, a black man selling "loosie" single cigarettes on the street who was suffocated by an arresting officer using a choke hold. But the killer who later shot and killed a police officer in "revenge" for that cop killing was a clearly deranged individual who killed his girlfriend too, before shooting a random police officer in his patrol car. This time around, it was a soldier,a man who seems to have thought through and planned out what he was doing as a calculated act of revenge.

Recall the origins of the Black Panther movement, which grew out of a period of urban riots and insurrections across the country to which the nation responded not with jobs, social programs and better school funding, but with military assaults and occupations by armed soldiers. The Panthers openly armed themselves and started shadowing police on patrol in their communities, determined to make it clear that police could not occupy their communities and abuse the residents with impunity. Their bold actions were initially effective, but they brought down on themselves the full repressive force of the federal government, which launched a full-scale attack to destroy the Panther organization, using informants, agents provocateur, dirty tricks, mass arrests and murder.

In the post 9-11 era of military policing, the situation in minority communities today is at least as bad as, and probably worse, than it was in the 1960s. Social welfare programs that were created during the mid-‘60s, have since been ended or have been gutted, causing poverty and hopelessness to spread and deepen. Prisons have been filled with mostly non-white inmates as sentencing guidelines have become harsher, judges stricter and sentences longer. Violence in urban neighborhoods has exploded, and police today in many cities perceive themselves not as “peace officers” but as soldiers operating in free-fire zones, and act accordingly.

Dallas police respond to an organized sniper assault on cops at a protest against police abuseDallas police respond to a sniper attack on cops at a protest against police abuse
 

An Appeal to Our Readers

We know that every day, consistently, we have no fewer than 1000 to 1500 readers visiting this site, even on days when we have not posted new original articles. We estimate that between half and three quarters of these visitors to the site are regulars, who either stop by to check in for new material, or return to re-read an important piece. The others, we assume, are frequent visitors or new readers.

If there are that many people who really recognize the importance of the journalistic work we are doing, and who have come to rely on us, we would hope that there would also be an understanding of the importance of supporting that work financially.

As you surely know, the ThisCantBeHappening! Collective is not a paid or funded organization. We all do this work out of a commitment to write and get out into the larger media news stories and commentary that are simply not being written by not just the corporate media, but even the alternative media. You will not, for example, see our stories being picked up and run by such mushy liberal sites as Truthout or Huffington Post. Even Common Dreams has not run one of our pieces in almost six months. We do get picked up regularly by Counterpunch, Nation of Change, Smirking Chimp and other edgier sites, so we know we're getting pretty wide impact with the journalism we do.

Some of you donate, often generously, and we thank you. But the truth is we don't get much at all in the way of financial support from most of our readers -- even you regulars.

We are hoping you frequent readers will change that situation. Why do we need money? Because right now we all have to do this work for ThisCantBeHappening! in the interstices of our working lives as freelance journalist, journalist/journalism professor, photographer/author/activist, public health physician, progressive media worker/activist and poet. It's not easy. It would be easier to do if we had some resources to allow us to cut back on the work we do to make a living, and devote more of our time to the work we do for TCBH!, and also to cover expenses for travel to do real on-the-scene reporting and especially the investigative reporting that has become rarer and rarer in the larger world of what passes for journalism in the US today.

This will be particularly critical as we gear up to cover the Philadelphia Democratic Convention and the protests in and outside the convention at the end of this month (three of us live in the Philadelphia area).

So this is a special appeal: If you are a regular reader of ThisCan'tBeHappening!, and if you understand the importance of what we do, please send us $!0 (cash or check to David Lindorff at POB 846, Ambler, PA 19002) or use the Paypal button at the top of this page (credit cards can be used for added security). If you can't spare $10, please just send what you can.

You'll see a difference in what we can do immediately! That's a promise.

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A poem about this

 
 
I’m looking at a box of tissues.
It is my supermarket’s brand.
The photo on it is very beautiful and understated.
It shows a swan gliding from the left.
There are no words on the box.
In the background is a man in a rowboat.
He is so far off
That at first I thought he was in a kayak.
Both images are tiny.
The water is close and expansive and there are
Undulating mountains low in the background,
Also understated.
And as I say, there are no words.
(The barcode and the name of the store
Are printed on the bottom of the box.)
The box is mono-tone, mustard-yellow
Like just after the sun has set
And everything is saturated by the afterglow.
There are no waves, only stillness
And perfect reflections.
The subdued color enhances the feel of the scene.
I dreamed of a supermarket last night.
I was passing down spacious aisles
Crammed with food.
I was leaving the store without any items
And felt the need to explain to the cashier why
I wasn’t buying anything:

. . . Because our friends give us food
And because we grow just about everything we need.
In my dream the supermarket is closing for the day
And each time I list another food we grow
Another cashier disappears
Until there is only one checkout station left.
I know that when I leave
This last cashier will disappear.
 
It is July 1, 2016.

An Emancipation Proclamation for the Digital Age

The problematic relationship of Black people and the Internet persists

 

We just celebrated "Juneteenth" (the start of the end of slavery in the U.S.) amid tumultuous and sometimes confusing politics and what appears to be an increase in racist mobilization. For internet activists the situation begs the question: what, at this moment in our history, is the relationship between technology and black people?

It's a critical issue for us all.

Regular readers of this site have read it many times: with expanding globalization and the information economy, the internet has become a major, if not the major, communications technology in today's world. In the United States, it's the most popular tool for direct and group communications, study, research, diversion, journalism, intellectual collaboration and news consumption.

Most people reading this would agree that black people must be a part of that. But that truth is not a function only of a commitment to equality or justice. It's a necessity if we are to preserve the Internet's freedom and functionality and build a truly just and democratic society.

The use of the Internet by Black people has grown...and so have the problems.The use of the Internet by Black people has grown...and so have the problems.
 

That kind of society requires that Black people "sit at the table" of equality in this country and, to do that, they must enjoy a full, robust relationship with the internet that is equal to all other groups of people.

That, today, is simply not the case.

U.S. HIgh Court Ruling Opens Door to New Appeal by Mumia Abu-Jamal of His 1982 Conviction

Supreme Hypocrisy in Pennsylvania

 

One unintended consequence of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a death penalty case that rebuked actions of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice and prosecutors in Philadelphia for conflict of interest was to possibly open a new avenue for activist-journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal to appeal his own 1982 murder conviction because his appellate proceedings were tainted by alarmingly similar conflict of interest, involving the same appellate jurist who was a former DA.

That ruling by America’s highest court sharply criticized former Chief Justice of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court Ronald Castille for his participation in a 2014 death penalty deliberation because that justice had approved seeking that ultimate penalty when he served as the District Attorney of Philadelphia before becoming a state supreme court member.

That U.S. Supreme Court rebuke cited judicial conduct rules in Pennsylvania applicable to judges who had previously worked for a governmental agency like a District Attorney. Those conduct rules urged judges to remove themselves from “a proceeding if [their] impartiality might reasonably be questioned” because of their former position with such a governmental agency.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the recent 5-3 ruling that rebuked Castille, stated that an “unconstitutional potential for bias exists when the same person serves as both accuser and adjudicator in a case.”

Paris Protest For Abu-Jamal. Jacques Lederer (left) and Abu-Jamal Collectif head Jacky Hortaut (right) - LBW PhotoParis Protest For Abu-Jamal. Jacques Lederer (left) and Abu-Jamal Collectif head Jacky Hortaut (right) - LBW Photo
 

Paris protestors for 21 years have held demonstrations monthly to criticize the lack of impartiality by judges in Pennsylvania, particularly judges once employed as prosecutors and/or in law enforcement. Those protestors have also condemned misconduct by prosecutors in Philadelphia like prosecutors unlawfully withholding evidence favorable to defendants.

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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.

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