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Mistreatment Of Dr. King's Legacy By New Jersey Officials Sparks Sharp NAACP Rebuke

Does delay evidence discrimination?

House in Camden, NJ where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. plotted a protest that produced his first lawsuit against discrimination.House in Camden, NJ where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. plotted a protest that produced his first lawsuit against discrimination.
 

The New Jersey State NAACP Conference has demanded rejection of an unusual study commissioned by New Jersey’s Historic Preservation Office (HPO) that discounts the significance of the first lawsuit against discrimination ever filed by legendary civil right leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

NAACP State Conference President Richard T. Smith, in a recent letter to HPO, strongly criticized the recommendations and the “very formation” of that study conducted by a team of researchers from Stockton University in New Jersey.

New Jersey’s Historic Preservation Office paid $20,000 for that study as part of its review of an application seeking historic designation for a property in Camden, New Jersey where Dr. King stayed occasionally while attending seminary school in Chester, Pennsylvania nearly 70-years-ago.

King formulated the protest that produced his first lawsuit at that Camden property according to documentation unearthed over the past four years by a New Jersey researcher.

Richard Smith’s letter, on behalf of the NAACP Conference composed of 41 branches in 21 counties, “strongly” urged HPO to reject the study that discounted King’s first lawsuit, a salient event in King’s development as a civil rights activist. The NAACP letter characterized events surrounding that lawsuit as “very significant to American and New Jersey history…”

The NJ Historic Preservation Office had no comment on the NAACP’s letter because that office had not received the NAACP’s letter a HPO spokeswoman stated six days after the NAACP sent its letter.

That controversial study is the first study ever sought by the HPO for a New Jersey Historic Register listing. Because the HPO had placed over 51,000 properties and sites on the NJ Historic Register without a study, Smith’s letter stated that fact “alone causes us serious concern.”

Philadelphia's Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident

Ross fails racism test...again

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross explains his cops' actions in arresting two black patrons in Starbucks (click on image to play video)Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross explains his cops' actions in arresting two black patrons in Starbucks (click on image to play video)
 

Philadelphia’s top cop, Richard Ross, an African-American, has once again exhibited his blind spot on racial bigotry by police during his defense of a specious arrest of two black men inside a Starbucks coffee shop recently that triggered strong condemnation from the mayor of the so-called City of Brotherly Love.

The arrest of those black men for trespassing while they sat inside a Starbucks awaiting their meeting with a white developer to discuss a possible real estate investment deal sparked social media outrage, an apology from the corporate head of Starbucks and a strident assessment from Philadelphia’s Mayor James Kenney.

That Starbucks incident, Kenney said, “appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.”

Yet, despite wide-ranging condemnations and growing protests at the Starbuck located in Center City at 18th and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Ross made a Facebook video two days after that controversial arrest where he continues to declare that his officers “did absolutely nothing wrong.”

Ross said his officers “were professional” in providing a “service” to the Starbucks employees at that coffee shop located in a ritzy residential area of downtown Philadelphia. Reports indicate the Starbucks shop personnel initially said the pair were loitering, later insisting their offense was trespassing. Ross' defense ignored the bigotry that ignited the encounter producing the arrest, bigotry not addressed by the predominately white group of arresting officers.

Ross said police responded to a 911 call from that Starbucks reporting a “disturbance” – apparently a reference to the non-confrontational refusal of the two men to leave the coffee shop as demanded by that shop’s manager. The men insisted that they were waiting for a third party to arrive and join them. (That third person, in fact, the developer, arrived as cops were cuffing the two black patrons. He reacted angrily to police demanding to know why they were arresting his associates -- to no effect.)

A cellphone video of the incident, taken by a customer, does not show any disturbance or even loud resistance to police by the pair, who calmly submitted to the arrest.

Police held the pair for over seven hours before their release after midnight. That release resulted from Starbucks personnel, who claimed a disturbance, declining to press charges and Philadelphia’s District Attorneys Office stating there was a “lack of evidence that a crime was committed.”

No Indication in the US that the Country is at War Again

Keeping it normal in the world's leading rogue nation

 

It was a beautiful sunny Spring day yesterday in Philadelphia, birthplace of the United States. Crowds of people took advantage of temperatures that were in the '80s for the second day in a row to stroll the streets of Center City, shopping and patronizing the various restaurants and coffee shops. The only sign that the US had just attacked the capital of another Middle East country with a shock-and-awe blitz of cruise missiles was a small group of Marxist protesters gamely standing in a line along 15th Street on the west side of City Hall, holding up signs criticizing the attack on Syria and pointing out how US military spending and endless wars are robbing schools, health care and other human needs of funding.

The hastily arranged protest by several dozen activists was not derided by the strolling tourists and passing drivers so much as it was simply ignored like a part of the scenery.

April 14 demonstration against Trump attack on Syria outside Philadelphia City Hall (Lindorff photo)April 14 demonstration against Trump attack on Syria outside Philadelphia City Hall (Lindorff photo)
 

Totally missing was any protest action by the larger peace and justice organizations like United for Peace & Justice or groups like MOVE or True Blue Democrats -- the ones that are now calling themselves the "Resistance" to President Trump. Indeed, the so-called Resistance has been seeking pledges from supporters to come out on the street the moment Trump tries to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. Obviously the organization has a huge mailing list, but it sure didn't use it to call people to action in protest of Trump's criminal launching of an attack on Syria, ostensibly intended to "punish" Syrian leader Barhar Al-Assad for an alleged, but not proven, chemical attack on Douma, a suburb of Damascus on April 7.

How could such organizations have taken action? The Democratic Party "leaders" of this "Resistance" -- people like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) were actually cheering the Trump attack on Syria, as were many other Democratic members of Congress who keep talking about "resisting" Trump. Even Sen. Bernie Sanders was just demanding that the president first get Congressional approval before attacking.

Never mind that the attack on Syria was both a major war crime under the UN Charter, a treaty drawn up largely by the US, approved by the US Senate and signed into law in 1945, or that Trump had absolutely no authority under the Constitution to launch the attack, since Syria posed no threat, imminent or otherwise, to the US or its allies.

It's almost as if the attitude among the broader "Resistance" movement against Trump just went, "Phew, that's over. At least he didn't attack the Russians and get us into WWIII!"

Screenshot of video purporting to show White Helmets treating victims of alleged Syrian chemical attack in Douma on April 7Screenshot of video purporting to show White Helmets treating victims of alleged Syrian chemical attack in Douma on April 7
 

The response of the American public, save for a few dedicated soulslike those gathered at the City Hall protest in Philly, has been largely ho-hum. Uptown a bit at Temple University, students were strolling around the campus also enjoying the nice weather, some of them completely unaware that their nation had just launched a major attack on another country. There was no sign of protest there either. Indeed, a Google search for protest only turned up events relating to the earlier threats of action or to last year's launching of a smaller cruise missile attack on Syria by Trump. There were protests planned for today, and a few around the country for yesterday, but really one had to look abroad to Greece to find an example of a major protest against the attack on Syria, even though the US was joined by token forces from the UK and France, both members of NATO and the European Union.

President Trump’s War Crime is Worse than the One He Accuses Assad of Commiting

'Mine is bigger!'

 

The single most important thing that happened last night when the US military on President Trump’s orders launched a wave of over 100 cruise missiles against Syria was that once again the US violated the most profound international law of war: initiating a war of aggression against a nation that posed no threat, imminent or otherwise, to the US or its allies.

Called a “Crime against Peace,” this violation (whose perpetrators, under the precedent set in the Nuremberg Trials that followed World War II, can face capital punishment), is considered worse than any other war crime because, as US Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson explained in his argument at the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals, a war of aggression is “not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

President Trump, during his televised White House announcement just after the launching of his bombing attack on Syria, said, “The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons…We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”

He was making the argument that the US, acting on its own authority without any sanction from the UN Security Council as required under international law, somehow had a duty to, on its own, punish Syria for its alleged violation of a Geneva Convention against the use of chemical weapons.

US destroyer launching cruise missile at Syria (US Navy photo)US destroyer launching cruise missile at Syria (US Navy photo)
 

Putting aside for a moment the important question of whether the Syrian government actually did use chemical weapons in the Douma suburb of Damascus, which is in fact highly suspect, even if that country’s leader, Basher al Assad, did order the use of a banned chemical weapon, Assad’s crime would be far less serious than the crime Trump and the US perpetrated under international law.

Fortunately, it appears as if saner members of the largely crazy Trump administration — notably Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general — prevailed over the neoconservative warmongering chicken hawk John Bolton, recently ensconced in the ever-changing National Security Advisor spot, with the result that the much ballyhooed US cruise missile attack on Syria’s purported “chemical arms infrastructure” was limited to three sites.

More importantly, earlier talk of hitting “command-and-control” centers like government buildings in Damascus, or Syrian air bases — places where Russia had warned that it had its own military personnel and that could have provoked a Russia military response — was pushed aside and such targets were left off the hit list. That meant the risk, about which Mattis pointedly warned in recent days, of this US attack morphing uncontrollably into a war between the two nuclear superpowers operating in Syria, the US and Russia, was minimized.

As US Government and Corporate Media Beat War Drums, Here's UK Ex-Syria Ambassador Peter Ford's View

Marching off to Armageddon in Syria

The US media, awash in retired generals who work on the boards of big arms industry players and "experts" from neoconservative and neoliberal "think tanks" all calling for a US attack on Syria, have Americans cheering for yet another war, this time involving a very likely direct confrontation with the Russian military.

Nowhere in all this propaganda, can people hear a voice of sanity and genuine expertise such as Peter Ford, the former British ambassador to Syria.

To help in our small way to rectify this problem, here is a recent interview of Ambassador Ford from BBC Radio Scotland. Listen to all six minutes, as Ford gets his point out despite interruptions from a clearly unsympathetic BBC interviewer:

Former UK Syrian Ambassador Peter Ford (click on image to play the interview)Former UK Syrian Ambassador Peter Ford (click on image to play the interview)

Here's another recent BBC interview with Ford, who notes that even US Secretary of Defense Mattis concedes that the facts aren't in to prove that a gas attack has even happened in Gouda.

At this point, massive opposition in the streets is the only thing that can break through this war hysteria. Here's one place to find out about a protest action near you:

Spring Action 2018/

Spending a Night in the Concord Jail When Martin Luther King, Jr. was Assassinated

Martin and me

 

XX

I never met Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., or attended a march or rally where I could hear him speak, but on the evening of April 4, 1968, an hour or so after he was assassinated, I was in a jail cell in Concord, Mass. writing a freshman paper about King, Gandhi and Thoreau, and their shared ideas about the power of non-violent political protest.

It had all started out when I found myself with a classic case of writer's block, unable to get started on an end-of-the-term paper for my philosophy class at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. The topic I had chosen was tracing Martin Luther King’s political roots back through the thought and practice of Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi and philosopher and anti-war protester Henry David Thoreau.

Stuck for words, I decided on a whim or in desperation on the morning of my birthday to hitchhike, for inspiration, up to Concord and to Walden Pond, where Thoreau famously had built a small cabin in which he was living when he wrote Walden, and also his famous and hugely influential essay On Civil Disobedience — the latter work by way of explaining his decision to refuse to pay his taxes because of what he considered the United States’ illegal war against Mexico.

The US was, of course, at the time of my little pilgrimage, waging a similarly illegal and far more vicious and destructive war on the people of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia — a war that I had already decided a year earlier that I would not participate in.

I had, the prior October, gone down to Washington DC to join the historic Mobe March on the Pentagon, and had been arrested on the Mall of that huge building dedicated to war, spending several days locked up in the federal prison at Occoquan, Va. on misdemeanor charge of “trespassing” on federal property and, because I had gone limp and forced the marshals to carry me, "resisting arrest" (I got a five-day suspended sentence and was fined $50).

I had made a firm decision while still in high school that I would not allow myself to be drafted, and was waiting to be called up, when I would have to face the consequences of that refusal, having decided not to file for a student deferment while in college, which I decided was unfair to those young men who were not able to go to college to escape the war. (My being called up became a certainty later when the draft lottery was established and my number came up as 81.)

One of the big influences in my decision, shortly after my 18th birthday in 1967, to go to the local draft board and register for the Selective Service, at the same time telling the woman staffing that office that I would not allow myself to be drafted, was reading about King’s momentous address at Riverside Church in New York, made on April 4 of that year, in which he clearly linked that criminal war and its violent repression of the Vietnamese people to the brutal racism and class struggle at home in the US. (I urge all those reading this piece to take the time to read his remarkable, revelatory, heartfelt and sadly prophetic address in full or, better yet, listen to him deliver it ihimself here.) It was a lot to take in for an 18-year-old high school kid but King made it crystal clear that all these things were connected, and that making real change meant tackling them all, with a broad coalition. (Many, myself included, believe that it was that speech, so dangerous to the Establishment power structure, that sealed King's fate a year to the day later, with a bullet whose timing seemed ominously designed to send exactly that message.)

Winnie Mandela: Never Half-Stepping On Road To Freedom

An activist who cared

 

In many ways Winnie Mandela – the iconic South African anti-apartheid activist – was the appropriate choice for keynote speaker at the historic October 1997 ‘Million Woman March’ in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Winnie Mandela, the second and best-known wife of the legendary leader Nelson Mandela, courageously confronted issues from racism to sexism, classism to capitalism. Those issues were embedded in the impetus for staging the Million Woman March, an event that drew over a million predominately black females from around America to Philadelphia.

Winnie Mandela defied demands to capitulate to the dictates of the powerful. She bowed to neither South Africa’s once apartheid government nor bigwigs of the party that succeeded the apartheid government: the ANC, the African National Congress that her husband Nelson once headed.

MWM organizers also defied demands to capitulate. Organizers endured criticism for failure to surrender their vision to other black women who critics in positions of power deemed were better situated to lead that event because they were 'more respectable and better known.’
 
Winnie Mandela at 1997 Million Woman March in Philadelphia, Pa. LBWPhotoWinnie Mandela at 1997 Million Woman March in Philadelphia, Pa. LBWPhoto
 

And Winnie Mandela maintained an unwavering commitment to uplifting those who were left out. MWM organizers shared Mandela’s commitment to the have-nots and like her, identified with the ‘grassroots.’

Winnie Mandela was a voice for the ‘little people.’ That posture often ran Winnie Mandela afoul of international power brokers and forces inside South Africa (both white and black) who were intent on maintenance of an apartheid-like economy. That inequitable status quo has left large segments of South Africa’s non-white populations profoundly impoverished.

Ouch-ouch-ouch-ouch-ouch

 
 
Sometimes being in the United States
Is like walking barefoot
Over broken glass,
Or walking on hot sand.
Having a conversation with someone
Who doesn’t get a thing about me
Feels like being brushed by nettles.
Am I even wearing clothes?
Everything gets through!
The climate here is chilling.
Where am I?
Is this still home?
Where did all those corners come from
That I keep bumping into.
I'm not accident prone;
It's the environment that has become
Angular, unnavigable.
The news is acidic and keeps coming back up!
It's like someone installed an invisible fence:
I keep getting zapped.
Yesterday I was listening to someone’s story
About how they dealt with a pest
And my heart skipped a beat
When their supposedly amusing story
Morphed into a confession
Of unconscious cruelty.
Like a splinter
Burying itself in my unsuspecting hand.
Or simply seeing what they’ve done
To places that used to be beautiful
Feels just plain shitty.
My native land can be a very painful place to live,
And I’m an educated White man.
I can’t imagine what it’s like,
Can’t imagine what it’s like,
Can’t imagine what it’s like
To be a person of color
In the United States.
 
 
--Gary Lindorff

Is Trump Going Off the Rails or Just Possibly Getting Back on Track?

A crazy thought:

 

Here’s a bizarre contrarian thought — one admittedly based on limited and dubious evidence, that flies in the face of a more than a year’s contrary evidence, and that is more along the lines of a desperate hope than reality, but what the hell. Bear with me:

Suppose for a moment that President Donald Trump, a narcissistic man of little intellect and even less intellectual rigor, but with a pretty acute sense of the nation’s political mood, has realized that he has been pushed by the so-called “permanent government,” over the past year, far away from his stated intention expressed during the 2016 campaign to re-set relations with Russia on more friendly terms, and away from his call to pull the US military back from its over-extended involvement in wars in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and eastern Europe, and to instead focus on rebuilding the US economy. Suppose that his recent behavior and decisions, which the corporate media for the most part are portraying as the desperate actions of a man abandoning his advisors and deciding to “go by his gut instincts instead,” are not that at all. Suppose instead that he has decided to fight back against the concerted effort over the past year by the Washington foreign policy and intelligence establishment to hem him in and prevent him from doing those things he had wanted to do.

Okay, I know it’s a stretch, but if all that were in fact the case, could the tossing out of another 60 Russian diplomats in support of Britain’s spurious and fact-free accusation of a Putin-ordered poisoning of a former Russian double agent and the naming of the horrifying Neocon warmonger John Bolton as his new and third national security advisor have been something different than they appear? Could they be not a sign that Trump wants to both ramp up a new Cold War against Russia and to launch wars against North Korea and Iran, but rather actions designed to shore up his conservative wing, while he actually returns to his original campaign-enunciated intention to de-escalate US foreign policy, and build a new era of cooperation and friendship with Russia?

 crazy or crazy like a fox?Trump: crazy or crazy like a fox?
 

The only real evidence for this wild speculation I’m offering here is the rambling campaign-like speech Trump gave on Thursday to assembled union workers in Ohio, in which he claimed that the US campaign in Syria — where over 2000 US special forces troops are leading a group of anti-Assad rebels ostensibly against ISIS forces, though also often against Syrian government troops — is “winning” and that those troops will “be home soon.” He also, in that speech, decried, as he did a month ago, the alleged $7 trillion the US has spent on military campaigns in the Middle East, from Libya to Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan, which he correctly notes have won the US “nothing,” and he promised to end those efforts, to bring the troops home, and to refocus government policy on “building jobs and infrastructure at home.”

Poem by Athalia Allen to commemorate a powerful day

My wife, Shirley, and I attended a rally and march in Rutland Vermont, Saturday, 3/24/18, the day of March For Our Lives, a true milestone in American history, not just because of the size of the turn-out nationwide and world-wide, but because all of the marches and rallies were largely organized and led by youth. If there wasn’t a movement before, there is now.

This hauntingly beautiful poem is by Athalia Allen, freshman at (Vermont) Rutland High School. Actually these words are lyrics to a song she composed and sang for the rally in Main Street Park, to a gathering of 500.

I Hear You Crying
 
Breathe in blood red moon,
I hear you crying.
Breathe out dark sky,
I feel you shining.
On my face
When the night falls.
And the brook calls your name.

 
Tiptoe waiting wind
I smell the rain.
Challenge me crashing waves
I feel your spray.
On my face
When my dress and my soul fly in the wind.
Closed are my eyes,
For I too am crying.

 
You can't pull a trigger and murder the sun.
Yet you can put a hole in the ground.
My soul is speaking and so is my mind.
Yet my voice doesn't make a sound.

 
Breathe in blood red moon,
I hear you crying.
Breathe out dark sky,
I feel you dying.
You're exhausted
When the night falls.
And the brook calls your name.

 
Breathe in blood red moon,
I hear you crying.

 
 
--Athalia Allen

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by Dr. Radut