Posts Tagged ‘America’

The Assassination of Fred Hampton

Posted in Curated Links on December 4th, 2014 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Fred Hampton by the Chicago Police. Five years ago, on the fortieth anniversary, Democracy Now aired a retrospective.

On December 4th, 1969, Chicago police raided Fred Hampton’s apartment, shot and killed him in his bed. He was just twenty-one years old. Black Panther leader Mark Clark was also killed in the raid.

While authorities claimed the Panthers had opened fire on the police who were there to serve a search warrant for weapons, evidence later emerged that told a very different story: that the FBI, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and the Chicago police conspired to assassinate Fred Hampton. Noam Chomsky has called Hampton’s killing “the gravest domestic crime of the Nixon administration.”

See the full report: “The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther” | Democracy Now!.

One Night In Ferguson

Posted in Commentary on December 2nd, 2014 by Thomas – Be the first to comment

Editor’s Note: What follows is a first hand report from the streets of Ferguson from my son, Thomas, who went there on the night that the Grand Jury decision was announced. Pictures to follow.

On November 24th, 2014 shortly before 8PM CST I was out for dinner at our local Buffalo Wild Wings with my brother and friends.

One of them noted “all of these TVs and only one of them is showing the news.” It was true, out of at least 15 screens mounted on the wall it appeared all anyone cared about was Monday Night Football and other various sportscasts.

A few minutes after eight an Anonymous Twitter account tweeted that there would be no indictment in the Darren Wilson case. I felt uneasy.  I wasn’t exactly surprised by the decision, but I had hoped for the best – and this wasn’t it.

My friend Luke said “I think we should go to Ferguson to take pictures of whatever happens tonight.”

We headed home still contemplating.  I turned on a St. Louis County police scanner (via a Ustream channel link on my timeline) and saw the number of channel viewers increase nearly 1000 people per minute from 7000 to almost 10,000.

8:33 – First report of shots fired.

9:02 – Police car being destroyed.

9:03 – Shots fired at the police department.

We got in the car and headed to Ferguson, about 130 miles away. I turned on my 5-0 Radio app so we could continue listening in the car.

9:26 – Reports of a journalist hit in the head with a brick.

9:26 – Shots fired in front of the fire department.

It took about two hours to get to Ferguson, but the anxiety from not knowing what we would encounter was enough to make it seem much longer. When we got off the Interstate, right away we saw a group of 4 or 5 police cars, lights on, flying past us.

Upon our arrival we first noticed the local businesses that had been damaged – the broken windows and evidence of looting.

As we drove another block, I noticed the “Seasons Greetings” banner displayed over the street.

“Holy Shit!” We had seen the banner in online videos earlier that evening, but had no idea that’s where we would end up until we got there. We were a little awestruck.

We pulled into the now infamous Boost Mobile parking lot. There were newscasters, protestors, and cars full of people. It was hard to draw the line between activists and spectators. It was even harder to spot the other individuals, present only to take advantage of the situation.

However, it was not especially hard to identify the unmarked police car and officers positioned in the parking lot to spy on everyone.

On the sidewalk, protestors stood in solidarity as they watched the police officers, who were dressed in full riot gear across the street in front of the Ferguson Fire Station. They held shields and batons, and wore helmets with masks.

I watched as multiple officers pulled down their masks. I wasn’t sure if we should expect smoke next, or maybe they just needed to feel the warmth of their breath. It was a cold night, and no one would be leaving soon.

We walked down the street to begin taking pictures. As we were walking more police vehicles had come to establish a roadblock. “No more traffic in,” was their plan. We approached the roadblock because we had to cross in order to move about the area. One officer asked me “Where do you think you’re going? What are you guys doing?”

After that encounter we believed that if we crossed their line, we might not be able to make it back to our vehicle and that wasn’t a risk we were willing to take, so we hurriedly headed back to the parking lot across from the fire department.

While we waited to see what the night would come to, we talked to some of the individuals. It appeared that because I was holding a camera, people wanted to tell us how they felt about the matter. Some even asked me what my views were. I knew how I felt, but I wasn’t sure what to say.

“Mike Brown had a right to live, and it was taken from him.”

“I think people should let the world know what happened here.”

Things were relatively calm where we were. We had turned off our police scanners, so we were unaware of most other on-going incidents.

A man and his friend approached Luke and I and asked if I would take a photo of them. I agreed, but then was attacked by this man. He forcibly tried to take the camera. I held on, to it and to him. He stumbled to the ground. I think it was clear he couldn’t take the camera so he began to back away. I was shocked. At least 30 of the many police officers in the area witnessed this occurrence, and they did nothing.  They saw us all the same. I felt as if I had entered a foreign country, the presence of police in combat and riot gear was nearly overwhelming.

It was getting late, and we made the decision to leave. Once we got on the road I returned to listening to the police scanner. Cars and buildings had been set on fire, and more would follow.

More than a week after the announcement that there would be no indictment in the case, the barrage of opinions being posted to social media continues. The number of individuals condemning Mike Brown, and the protestors, is bewildering to me.

Of course there is a difference between a protest and a riot.  There is a difference between those who protest and those who take advantage of the situation for personal or even political gain.

But my time spent in Ferguson, as short as it was, allowed me to see more than just a glimpse of the chaos that had erupted. It also allowed me to see and meet dozens of peaceful individuals holding signs and raising their voices in a simple plea for justice.

1% Rake In More Than Cost of All U.S. Social Programs

Posted in Curated Links on November 5th, 2014 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

According to a report highlighted on Alternet, each year since the recession, America’s richest 1% have made more than the cost of all U.S. social programs.

The numbers are nearly unfathomable. Depending on the estimate, the 1% took in anywhere from $2.3 trillion to $5.7 trillion per year.

Even the smaller estimate is more than the combined total budgets for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the entire safety net for SNAP, WIC, Child Nutrition, Earned Income Tax Credit, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Housing.

Read more: 5 Facts About How America Is Rigged for a Massive Wealth Transfer to the Rich | Alternet.

Jeffco Rises Up

Posted in Curated Links on October 29th, 2014 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

David Long reports on the eruption of protest in Jefferson County, Colo., in response to a conservative school board’s attempt to censor the U.S. history curriculum.

Read the report: The Jeffco rebels | SocialistWorker.org.

Detroit Up For Grabs

Posted in Curated Links on October 23rd, 2014 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

Jerry White of the Social Equality Party describes how Detroit is currently being carved up by the bankers in what will become a model for other American cities in decline.

Detroit, the former auto capital of the world, is in the final stages of a bankruptcy process that has from the start been a conspiracy of the banks against the city’s working class population. Closing arguments in federal bankruptcy court are scheduled to begin next week, a legal formality before the city’s brutal restructuring plan is approved by the judge.

The so-called “Plan of Adjustment” will gut the pensions and health benefits of more than 30,000 current and retired city workers, sanction the sell-off of public assets, and provide a legal fig leaf for the termination of water and other vital services to entire working class neighborhoods.

Last week, some 200 investment bankers from throughout the US gathered at the Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance at the University of Michigan to discuss the business opportunities emerging from the carve-up of Detroit.

Read more: The carve-up of Detroit – World Socialist Web Site.

From Dublin City to San Diego

Posted in Music, Video on October 13th, 2014 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

David Rovics sings of the Saint Patrick Battalion, in concert at Belfast.

The Deep State

Posted in Curated Links on September 5th, 2014 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

Long time Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren writes about the real rulers of the United States.

Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose.

Read More: Essay: Anatomy of the Deep State | Blog, Perspectives | BillMoyers.com.

Understanding the Latest Wave of Immigration

Posted in Curated Links on July 9th, 2014 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

Justin Akers Chacón offers some context with regard to the latest wave of immigration from the South.

The children and youth coming to the U.S., chiefly from Central America in the current wave, are victims of faceless economic, political and military policies engineered and implemented by the U.S. government, either unilaterally, or working through ruling elites in the region.

These young migrants are journeying north to be reunited with their families or in a desperate search for work and security. It is a further indictment of the U.S. government’s inhuman immigration policy that these innocent victims are treated as criminals and undesirables.

Please read the full article: Children forced on a dangerous journey | SocialistWorker.org.

Marx and America

Posted in Curated Links on July 4th, 2014 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

Here are some words of wisdom from James Patrick Cannon’s essay, written for July 4th, 1951. He says that if you go to Marx, you find America.

It is wrong to confuse internationalism with anti-Americanism; to relinquish the revolutionary traditions of our country to the reactionaries; to let the modern workers’ revolutionary movement, the legitimate heir of the men of 1776, appear as something foreign to our country.

Read it at the Northern Worker: James Cannon on the 4th of July.

Happy Independence Day!

For Flag Day

Posted in Essays on June 13th, 2014 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

This is an article that I wrote in June of 2003, long before I began blogging. In anticipating Flag Day, I realized that I hadn’t yet published it on this updated version of the Weblog. It explains pretty well, I think, why I don’t fly the Stars and Stripes much anymore.

Among the Believers

“In each generation, with toil and tears, we have had to earn our heritage again. If we fail now, we shall have forgotten in abundance what we learned in hardship: that democracy rests on faith, that freedom asks more than it gives, and that the judgment of God is harshest on those who are most favored.

“If we succeed, it will not be because of what we have, but it will be because of what we are; not because of what we own, but, rather because of what we believe. For we are a nation of believers.”

– Inaugural Speech of Lyndon Baines Johnson, January 1965

For many years I would fly an American flag at my home on every day that weather permitted. From my earliest recollection it has represented something very deep and spiritual to me. It has represented unity.

At first, it was the unity of national identity – my tribe. In Oreana, Illinois, USA the tribe’s members were typically native midwestern, Anglo and Christian, but I had the sense very early that there was a bigger tribe. I was taught that America was a big place where all kinds of people came from all over the world. E Pluribus Unum – “From the Many, One.” What made us “one” people? Why did so many folks come from so far away and endure such hardship? They did it because they wanted to be free. So, sometime during grade school the flag began to represent freedom.

As I grew a little older, I began to learn that freedom is relative. I remember seeing Norman Rockwell’s depiction of “The Four Freedoms” – freedom from fear, freedom of worship, freedom of speech, freedom from want. Growing up in the 1960s, it was easy to sense that some people living among us weren’t completely free. The ideal wasn’t being fully expressed and experienced yet. We had to keep working for it. This was only right and just and our duty as Americans. So the flag began to represent justice.

When I was 11 we moved to Decatur and I still recited dutifully with my hand over my heart every morning in home room – “with liberty and justice for all.” The flag was so beautiful. It embodied the most noble and desperate longings of humankind, and it belonged to me. It belonged to all of us at Stephen Decatur High School. It belonged to the Blacks and the Italians and the Greek girls who came to school with ashes on their foreheads at the beginning of Lent. It belonged to my history teacher, who was Jewish. It belonged to every creed and race, even us mutts of generic European extraction. It belonged to us all. The ideal belonged to us all. The dream belonged to every one of us, and we belonged to each other. One tribe out of many. E Pluribus Unum.

Now that I’m older, I realize how naïve some of my perceptions may have been about our distance from the ideal. The truth is that for many people in our society the words “liberty and justice for all” have sometimes been akin to a cruel joke. Despite that, I’ve never once doubted the ideal itself.

People used to poke fun at me for flying my flag all the time. “What’s up with the flag? It’s not a holiday today.” Then it seemed as if overnight that changed. Suddenly, there were flags everywhere. Stores were sold out of flags that had collected dust for years. People put flag decals on their cars and taped newsprint flags to their windows.

I’d like to fly my flag along with the others, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean the same thing to me as it does to most of the people waving it so frantically these days. In fact, the sentiment expressed by many is like some dark, shadow version of my American Ideal. It’s full of anger and revenge and political partisanship blended with no small measure of religious and racial bigotry. My flag isn’t like that. My flag isn’t about hatred or fear.

I worry about my flag and my country. The America we live in today seems so different from the America of my enduring imagination. I wonder if that America will survive this age of abundance. We’re obviously at a crossroads, at a time both of great opportunity and grave danger, and may well look back on this decade as a defining moment for generations to come.

I don’t know how well my generation will stand the test of “toil and tears” required to earn our heritage. I do know that what we have and what we own, our military and economic hegemony, these things will inevitably pass. What we are, what we stand for – unity, freedom, justice – these ideals will last.

Can we become, finally and truly, “a nation of believers?”