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US Media Fudge Rebels' Douma Surrender Date to Imply Alleged Assad Chemical Attack Turned Tide

Shifting timeline to oonfirm US propaganda

 

Investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have only recently reached Douma, scene of an alleged chemical bombing attack on April 7, and have not yet had time to test samples they collected to see if banned poison chemicals were actually used, but already US mainstream media reporting on the situation in the Damascus suburb where the alleged chemical attack is said to have occurred is starting to shift. That shift tends to make the story to fall more comfortably in line with the US government position that the attack, if it happened, was the work of the Syrian military, and that Assad's "attack" caused rebels to surrender and agree to leave the embattled city.

The problem is, though, that back on April 1, a week before the alleged attack, the Associated Press was reporting something quite different: namely that rebels in Douma were beginning to evacuate the area they had held for years, under a safe passage agreement negotiated with the Syrian government, according to which buses would be able to remove them to safety in the north of the country. That report made clear that the rebel resistance had already collapsed g and that the rebel fighters were going to be evacuated in following days by chartered buses, which had already begun moving them out of the city well before April 7.

A French state television report on April 1 also reported that on that date:
 

Negotiators in the last rebel-held bastion in Syria's eastern Ghouta reached a deal on Saturday with the Russian side to evacuate the wounded from Douma to rebel-held northern Syria, local sources familiar with the deal said.
The agreement was reached by the negotiating committee that comprises both civic leaders and representatives of Jaish al-Islam, the rebel faction in control of Douma, the sources said.
The committee has been negotiating a deal to spare the city a military assault by the Syrian army and its allies who encircle it. They have threatened to storm the city if rebels do not agree to surrender the last patch in the enclave in return for safe passage to insurgent-held territory in northwestern Syria.
 

Rebels fleeing Douma by bus caravan under a Russian-negotiated 'safe passage' agreementRebels fleeing Douma by bus caravan under a Russian-negotiated 'safe passage' agreement
 

These accounts of course raise serious questions as to why Assad would opt to drop a few chemical bombs as he’s accused by the US of doing, killing a few dozen local residents while predictably angering the world community and giving the US an opening to bomb his forces. Why do that if Assad’s military forces had already won full control of the last rebel stronghold in Syria’s capital city region, with an agreement, already being implemented, to ship the rebels out of the city?

The coming world that should be

New TCBH! poem:

 
 
There is a world coming that should be.
I can see it.
It’s close to being the world we have
But different in some important ways:
More food for the hungry,
More love,
More honesty,
Less gas and oil and meaningless death and wars,
More love,
Oh, I already said that, more love.
 

And let it be soon
Before it’s too late
And the door closes
For the creation of would-be worlds.
But whether there is a new world
The time for the end to this old world has arrived
With a clap of thunder,
So loud it makes your brain go numb.
It makes your ears ring
Like the great gong
In the courtyard of a Buddhist temple
To an ant climbing on the gong,
When the gong is struck 33 times
For the 33 faces of the Buddha.
 

Starbucks has a Racism Problem, but the Police, both Racist and Authoritarian, are Worse

Shut up or you’re under arrest

 

At a time when we have over a millions young high school and college students march in the streets demanding a ban on assault-style semi-automatic rifles, and an end to mass shootings, as well as continued protests over police shootings of unarmed and all too often black or latino young people, it might seem trivial to see a wave of national outrage over an incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks shop involving two black men who were arrested by police for refusing a manager’s order to leave because they weren’t buying anything.

But when you look at the story closer it becomes clear that, as horrible as the Starbucks manager at this one store, and Starbuck corporate management, have been shown to be, this ugly incident really is also about the more serious issue of the increasingly militarized and authoritarian behavior of our nation’s police — a problem which we as a society have come to accept as normal.

Consider for a moment what transpired: Two 23-year-old black men, Rashon Nelson and Dante Robinson, casually but well-dressed, last week entered a Starbucks located in a toney mostly white residential section of central Philadelphia at Spruce and 18th Street and sat down to wait for a white property developer who was going to discuss a potential real estate deal with them. One of the men, Nelson, needed to use the restroom, which required obtaining a key or an access code as many urban coffee shops do. He was denied access by the store manager, allegedly because they hadn’t purchased anything yet. The manager then went over to the two seated men and told them they had to leave, according to Nelson. Offended because, of course, many customers — at least white ones — routinely use Starbucks restrooms without buying something first, they went back to their seats to wait for the person coming to meet them, as countless people do who arrive early for a planned meeting at Starbucks.

The manager then took things further, dialing 911 and calling for the police to come and evict the two. It was an outrageous act, and would have been even if she had waited until the men had been sitting for some time without buying anything. After all, Starbucks patrons (at least white ones), routinely go into Starbucks, sit for long periods of time talking, reading or using electronic equipment, and using the restrooms, and then leave. Reportedly a local white jogger actually trotted in and used the restroom at this particular Starbucks as this incident was developing, without anyone complaining or stopping him. I myself, a white freelance writer who works at home all day, often take a break and visit my local Starbucks to work for a while with my phone and computer, just to have some human contact. I may meet a friend from the neighborhood, or just hear other conversation while I work. Often I’ll buy a coffee, but not necessarily if I’m already over-caffeinated. Nobody bothers me, or any others I see just sitting and reading a paper or talking with a friend, again often at an empty table devoid of coffee product. But admittedly as I think of it, most of those sitting around staring into computers or smartphones or reading are white or Asian, not black.

Developer Andrew Yaffee objects to police arresting two men waiting to meet him for to discuss a business deal at a Philly Starbucks (twitter vid screen grab)Developer Andrew Yaffee objects to police arresting Rshon Nelson and Dante Robinson (center) waiting to meet him for to discuss a business deal at a Philly Starbucks (twitter vid screen grab)
 

After the manager called 911 and reported that two men were refusing her demand that they leave her store, Philly’s Finest raced to the scene, apparently in force with between six and eight officers converging on the location by car and bike. Most of those who showed up were white, including a supervisor whose presence indicated the cops were expecting trouble.

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.

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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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by Dr. Radut