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Three Women Working Against Cruel and Unusual Punishment

As the nation was horrified by another botched execution this summer, a capital defense lawyer in Texas, legal scholar in New York and the former warden of San Quentin work against capital punishment.

There were only three people in the room: Jeanne Woodford, the chaplain and the man strapped to a gurney with tubes coming out of his arms. After hearing the man’s last words, Woodford signaled the corrections officer who was “working the chemicals,” which means in prison argot that he started infusions of lethal chemicals that flowed into the man on the gurney. As warden of California’s San Quentin, …

The Police, the Military, and Ferguson

The dominant visual aspect of the story, however, has been the sight of overpowering police forces confronting unarmed protesters who are seen waving signs or just their hands.

Walter Olson, Cato at Liberty, August 13, 2014

A terrible vision of what happens when authority goes wrong. This is Ferguson, Mo. in August 2014. Even if the person killed by police, a certain Michael Brown, was a black man; even given the automatic response by authorities that it was a case of justified armed violence, we are left with the same nasty taste: policing in the US has become a beast of terrifying …

Sir David Attenborough’s Anguish

Sir David Attenborough (b. 1926) has been the face and the voice of natural history for 60 years. Some of his public television specials include: Life in Cold Blood (2008), Life on Earth (1979), The Private Life of Plants (1995), The Life of Mammals (2002), and Planet Earth (2006).

As well, he is more than just the face and the voice of nature because he travels to the locations and endures the rigors of climbing up to the top of the canopy of the Rain Forest and diving to the depths of the sea beds to bring life on Earth, in …

Modern Capitalism: Wide Open for Anyone to See

The Limitations of the Capitalist System in a Finite World

Capitalism has always been sold as the best way for the greatest number of people to benefit from their own labor. I would agree that was true enough over most of our U.S. history for men of European decent. The real question today is whether or not our unregulated “capitalistic-democracy” is actually working as we’ve been promised it should. Can we really call it a “democracy” where political candidates are voted in by corporate big buck$ to serve only their own financial interests? Can we really call it a capitalist society if the larger majority who, although ideologically may side …

A Blink in the Night

Blistering sirens sound off in the night as the hurricane symphony of nuclear intimidation tactics blare boisterously across the airwaves, signaling to all citizens that the war is, indeed, officially hot. Game on. But the strange rules of this situation deem that there shall be no victor, only losers. Total annihilation is what the bat shit crazy elitists are seeking this time. All the marbles have been thrown. All the cards are on the table. They are gambling with house money and our lives. Two things they don’t really give a hot steaming pile about. It’s a filthy mess.

But who’s …

Calling a Spade a Mother Hucker

when the language of Nixon, Chicago’s mayor, NFL-ers, Generals works for the 80 Percent — time to take off the play-nice gloves as murderers take to the streets, airwaves, Ivy Tower

There is no compunction to call a mother f-er a mother hucker. You know, PC, clean surface America, never allowed to really use the language of George Carlin to express the outrage of each nanosecond in Amerika. So, for the record, “mother hucker,” well, will replace that other epithet or expletive all great presidents and generals and coaches and cops use all the time. Oh, I know, all those Facebook …

Ferguson and Gaza, a Tale of Two Wars

We are tirelessly dedicated to the Obama Administration’s campaign to stop the fighting between oppressors and oppressed and convince them to accept their present status instead of disturbing the peace and making frightening noises on the streets. This goes not only for our own Ferguson, Mo., but by odd coincidence, in Gaza as well. Funny, but its like both events are taking place in the West Bank.

We’re about to investigate an aspect of these wars. That’s the pros and cons of the decision made by the Ferguson Police Dept. to don the garb, the weapons and other accouterments of warfare …

Gaza Changed Everything

Things Cannot Stay the Same after Israeli Genocide in Gaza

After every bloody episode of violence perpetrated by Israel, media spin doctors are often deployed with one grand mission: to absolve Israel of any responsibility in their acts of carnage.

Not only do these apologists demonize Palestinians, but anyone who dares to take a stand on their behalf. The main staple of this Israeli strategy has been blaming the victim. Such a tactic is nothing new in the way the so-called “Arab-Israeli conflict” has been presented in Western media, whose narrative has been much closer to that of Israeli official and media discourses than that of Palestinians. This continued despite the …

Railroad “Bomb Trains” Speeding to Disaster

It’s 3 p.m., and you’re cruising down a rural road, doing about 50.

A quarter mile away is a sign, with flashing yellow lights, alerting you to slow down to 15. It’s a school zone.

But, you don’t see any children. Besides, you’re going to be late to your racquetball match. So, you just slide on past.

You’re an independent long-haul trucker. You get paid by the number of miles you drive. If you work just a couple of hours longer every day than the limits set by the federal government—and if you can drive 75 or 80 instead of 65, you can …

Political Duopoly in Washington Encouraging Ongoing Killing

From Missouri to Ukraine

…in what manner does tyranny arise? –that it has a democratic origin is evident…But when [the tyrant] has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader…Has he not also another object, which is that they may be impoverished by payment of taxes, and thus compelled to devote themselves to their daily wants and therefore less likely to conspire against him?: Clearly….And if any of them are suspected by him of having notions of

In 2008 Israel Agreed to a Protocol for the Port of Gaza

Why not now?

In August, 2008, I and forty-three other participants motored into Gaza by sea in two converted fishing boats, becoming the first to openly succeed in doing so since 1967.  The entry stamp in our passports reads “Gaza port” and was created for the occasion.  We carried a modest cargo of hearing aids for the children of the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children.

Israel tried multiple means of preventing us from succeeding, including threats, jamming of communications, and pressure on the Greek and Cypriot governments, but it did not send naval or coast guard vessels to intercept us, and did not attack …

A Map to Robin Williams’ End

For most of us, being funny, especially extremely so, leaves us looking like a shaded relief map: The funny part juts out, while the rest falls into shadow. When we make another laugh, the catharsis the listener experiences is realized viscerally, like twitching funny bones. Even when comedy takes darkness as a subject (such as Williams’ musings on the Grim Rapper), the listeners see the pain inherent to their lives decontextualized enough to hold close to the heart, and from it, they heartily guffaw, feeling recalibrated. They are healed, if but for a moment. What lies underneath the surface is …

Freedom to Live Ordinary Lives

That's all the Gazans want

I have just received a very disappointing reply from my true-blue Tory MP to pleas for real government action over the slaughter in Gaza.

A similarly worthless response has been received in other parts of the country so I conclude that the ex-Etonian didn’t pen the twaddle himelf. More likely it was the work, as usual, of a Foreign Office scribbler trained by Mark Regev’s hasbara unit in Tel Aviv.

“Israel has a right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks”, it said. But no such right can be claimed when Israel is the illegal occupier inflicting collective punishment on its victim …

All in Its Place

Be not deterred by the overall labor of the challenge before us. Seek only to take those actions in this very day that would move us one step further along toward the desired goal we intend.

And what goal is that?

Resistance of tyranny toward a Renaissance of spirituality and complete Revolution of the soul.

To wit: Taking Mad Scientists and Power Bankers to the cleaners to get their souls washed. And while these foes are away, we can go to work on all the Owned Politicians and Kept Media Propagandists. Then move on to the Religious Charlatans and False Idols.

It is not …

Organization Is the Weapon of the Oppressed

Ferguson, Mobilization, and Organizing the Resistance!

Leaders who do not act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do not organize the people–they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated: they oppress.

– Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

The rebellion in Ferguson, Missouri, against the killing of unarmed Afrikan American teenager Michael Brown has inspired me to reflect on the question of the organizing model versus mobilizing or mobilization model in the struggle for Afrikan liberation in North America as well as the broader humanistic fight for liberation from various forms of oppression. Organizing the oppressed for emancipation is the preferred approach …

War Is Good!

The two major known threats to our continued existence as a species today are global warming ((One should keep in mind that the term “global warming” is not a single phenomenon but, rather, is shorthand for a number of related phenomena:  Not only a global trend in atmospheric warming, but also, e.g., (a) an increase in the number of storms, (b) an increase in their severity, and (c) increased variability, at any given location (more at some locations than others, of course), in weather conditions.  An implication of this latter fact is that the very concept of “climate” is becoming …

Robin Williams, Mental Health, and Social Insanity

We are made miserable … not just by the strength of our beliefs, but by the weight of hard and all-too real situations, as they bear downward, robbing us of control … unhappiness treated by clinicians has much more to do with the sufferer’s situation than with anything about themselves, and for those with few privileges, this unhappiness is pretty well beyond the reach of therapeutic or any other conversation.

– Paul Moloney

Robin Williams’s body was scarcely cold when liberal commentators …

Ten Facts About Police Violence in Ferguson Sunday Night

While the Governor of Missouri is sending in the National Guard to Ferguson, it is worth considering where the real violence is coming from.

One.  Hours before the 12 pm Sunday night curfew went into effect, peaceful nonviolent protestors were legally marching in Ferguson.  Then without warning the police turned on the marchers.  Purvi Shah, a human rights lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, was marching with hundreds of others and reported just after 10 pm:  “Just got tear gassed.  Eyes burning.  No warnings.  People running with someone in wheelchair. This is lawlessness.  Police fired on peaceful protestors.”

Two. …

Borderfree

Here in Kabul, Sherri Maurin and I are guests of the Afghan Peace Volunteers recently formed live-in community for young women. Hollyhocks in the garden reach as high as the second floor of our living space.  Rose bushes, morning glories and four-o-clocks have bloomed, and each day we eat tomatoes, mint and green onions plucked from the well-cared for garden. The water source is a hose and tank outside, (there’s no indoor plumbing) so that’s where dishes and clothes are cleaned. The latrine is also outside, –and unfortunately we’re sharing it with playful neighbourhood cats, but otherwise  Zarghuna, Zahidi and …

Pre-empting Imperial Wishes

Australia Reading the United States

There is a thesis in it.  Versions of it certainly circulate: smaller, and weaker powers, tend to pre-empt the wishes of their masters or those who would promise to protect them.   If performed successfully, rewards might issue from the mighty protector, be it in the form of dispensations and further guarantees of security.

The political environment of a democracy is peculiar in that regard, given that political pre-emption tends to be the internal province of police states.  (To be in the dictator’s special invitations list, best try to predict what his wishes might be.)  The democratic system adds the complication of …