Archive for September, 2009

Health Care Reform Direct Action. Senator Vitter’s Predilection For Prostitutes. Iraq Drawdown, Pacific Shakes.

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Yesterday the Democrats proved how much they have been bought off by the Insurance Industry by showing how they could not get a public option out of the Senate Finance committee. Money from corporate lobbyists rules. We the people need to force the Democrats to vote for a public option. Mandatory health insurance without a public option is nothing but a sell out to the insurance industry. We should not pass a bill without a public option. What will keep the insurance industry honest if we don’t have another place to go?
Today Alan Grayson Congressman of Florida apologised to the 44,000 Americans who died last year because they did not have health insurance after he noted last night that the Republican health plan is for Americans to die if they get sick. Republicans seem to be upset. All he seems to be doing is responding in kind to the Republican lies about health care reform. The Republicans have for over a month been calling the Democratic health plans ‘Death Care”. Much ado about nothing.
We have to keep the pressure on Congress to give us real health care reform. Write letters, join single payer groups and if there is a group in your area storming the insurance companies like the people did yesterday in New York.

This is from the City Room Page of the New York Times

September 29, 2009, 6:20 pm 17 Held in Protest Outside Health Insurer’s Offices
By Colin Moynihan
Right-wing and anti-government activists — a few of them wielding not only signs but even loaded firearms — have organized some of the angry protests surrounding the health care debate. But in Midtown Manhattan on Tuesday morning, a different sort of health care protest took place, led by left-leaning groups who accused insurers of greed and called for nationwide, single-payer health insurance.
The police said that 17 people were arrested after refusing to leave the lobby of an office building on Park Avenue where the insurance company Aetna has offices. They were charged with criminal trespass. In addition, the police said, three of those arrested were charged with obstructing governmental administration.
Organizers said it was the first step of a national campaign meant to publicize their views and challenge claims made by right-wing radio hosts and Republican officials.
“The myths about government death panels are pure hysteria,” an organizer, Mark Milano, said on Park Avenue. “The real death panels are people who are paid by insurance companies to deny health care to patients.”
About 50 people arrived at the building, at Park Avenue and 40th Street, at 10 a.m., participants said, and sent a representative to the Aetna offices upstairs to demand that the company agree to immediately approve “lifesaving” health care requests made by doctors. When that person was turned away, organizers said, 16 protesters entered the lobby of the building and sat on the floor.
Soon the police arrived and a senior officer used a bullhorn to inform those in the lobby that they were breaking the law and subject to arrest. By 10:45, officers could be seen removing the last of the demonstrators and ushering them into the back of police vans.
“This is very much a dignified, nonviolent response to what some people call the howler movement that erupted in August,” said Katie Robbins, part of an advocacy group called Healthcare Now.
Ms. Robbins advocates on behalf of a bill before the House of Representatives that would, essentially, expand Medicare to cover all citizens. She said organizers from several groups across the country, with networks in 40 states, had been working together for about six weeks on a campaign they called Mobilization for Healthcare for All.
The groups have organized using a Web site and Twitter. So far, organizers said, 300 people have signed up to take part in additional protests using civil disobedience and aimed at insurance companies that are being planned for October, while legislators are expected to be working on health care issues.
“We’re going to be in Chicago next week and L.A. the week after that,” Ms. Robbins said. “We’re timing this around the legislative efforts of Congress.”

This is from the Bay Area Indy Media. It is a press release from the Mobilize for Healthcare for all group.

“Time to go to Jail; Civil Disobedience Campaign “Patients NOT Profits: Healthcare for All”
by NO Insurance Companies
Saturday Sep 26th, 2009 10:09 PM
Starting Sept 28th in NYC and following in other cities
We all know the American health care system is broken and that our nation deserves much better. Despite a national debate on health care - real reform is in jeopardy.
The insurance companies are spending millions to confuse and scare the public to keep us from ending their grip on our health and our money. With teabagger town hall protestors and the right-wing noise machine on one side and elected officials from both parties putting insurance industry profits ahead of the necessity of the people, the defenders of the status quo are winning. We can’t let that happen. It’s time to take the fight to the real villain in the health care debate. It’s time for a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience to turn the tide.
On September 29th in New York City, the Mobilization for Health Care for All is launching a campaign of “Patients Not Profit” sit-ins at insurance company offices to demand an end to a system that profits by denying people care and puts insurance company bureaucrats between doctors and patients. We want the real “public option”: improved Medicare for All, a national single payer plan that cuts out the profit and puts patients first.
Private insurance death panels are killing people every day and blocking real health care reform. It’s time for nonviolent civil disobedience to turn the tide.

Sign up to sit in for Patients Not Profit!

The private health insurance companies are the real death panels in America. They make billions in profit and millions for their CEOs while millions of Americans have no health insurance and over 45,000 die every year because they can’t get the care they need. That’s more than 120 people dying every day.
So beginning on September 29th in New York City, and continuing in Chicago on October 8th and in cities across the country on October 15th, over 100 people will put our bodies on the line to challenge the real death panels. We will enter the offices of the major insurance companies and demand that they cover the care they are denying to their members. We won’t leave until they do - or we’re arrested. Visit and sign up.
Just like the lunch counter sit-ins in the civil rights movement did for segregation, our sit-ins can make it impossible for the United States to ignore how outrageous the status quo of private insurance is. We want to save the lives of some of the people who are being denied critical care today but we know we can save countless lives in the years to come by putting a spotlight on just why our system is broken and how urgently we need fundamental change — a national health program funded by a single payer.
It only takes a small group of people to do a sit-in in your community, but our actions can inspire every American who has been abused by the insurance companies and believes it’s time for real reform to stand up and fight for it. If you are a patient who has been denied care, sign up and let us know. If a friend, neighbor or relative has been denied care urge them to contact us. This campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience will continue until the insurance companies no longer stand between the American people and the health care that is our right.
Already, patients in need of care, nurses, doctors, and people just like you are signing up to be one of the 100 ordinary but courageous people who will launch this battle to end private health insurance abuse and win health care for all. Join us! We can’t wait any longer - every day more people die because of the insurance company death panels. Now is the time to do whatever it takes to win this fight once and for all.

Sign up to sit in and join the battle today at

Katherine Robbins
Kevin Zeese
Prosperity Agenda Kai Newkirk
Center for the Working Poor
The Mobilization for Health Care for All is a nonviolent campaign initiated by Healthcare-NOW!, Prosperity Agenda, and the Center for the Working Poor.
ProsperityAgenda.US is a project of Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics

2842 N. Calvert St.
Baltimore, MD 21218

Senator Vitter who is calling for a racketeering investigation of ACORN is now facing a complaint by a public advocacy group CREW who wants him brought up on charges for his being involved in prostitution.

This is from a Blog site called Bayou

“CREW Files Complaint In Louisiana Against Sen. David Vitter For Sex Crime

Written by: BayouBuzz Staff

Washington D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a bar complaint with the Louisiana Office of Disciplinary Counsel against Senator David Vitter (R-LA) for violating Louisiana’s rules of professional conduct for lawyers.
In 2007, it was revealed that Sen. Vitter’s telephone number was included in the so-called “D.C. Madam,” Deborah Jeane Palfrey’s, list of client telephone numbers. The senator confirmed he had sought Ms. Palfrey’s services, saying in a statement, “this was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible.” Two other women also alleged Sen. Vitter had engaged the services of prostitutes. Jeanette Maier, the “Canal Street Madam,” claimed Sen. Vitter visited the New Orleans brothel several times in the mid-1990s. In addition, a woman who worked as a prostitute under the name of Wendy Cortez said Sen. Vitter was a regular client of hers between July and November 1999.
Under D.C. and Louisiana law, it is a crime to solicit for prostitution. CREW filed a complaint against Sen. Vitter with the Senate Ethics Committee, which dismissed the matter without action in September 2008.
Louisiana Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) provides it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to “commit a criminal act especially one that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.” By repeatedly committing the crime of soliciting for prostitution, Sen. Vitter violated the rules of professional conduct for lawyers and should be investigated and disciplined for his misconduct.
CREW executive director Melanie Sloan stated, “Sen. Vitter’s zeal to see ACORN criminally investigated for offering advice in setting up a prostitution ring reminded me he has yet to be held accountable for his own role in a prostitution ring. While ACORN’s conduct is indefensible, so is Sen. Vitter’s and what is good for the goose is good for the gander.”
13 former prostitutes were forced to testify at the trial of the DC Madam, who committed suicide shortly after her conviction. Sloan noted that one, a former Navy supply officer and Naval Academy instructor, lost her job because the Navy requires those who serve “to adhere to a standard of conduct that reflects the Navy’s values of honor, courage and commitment.” Sloan said, “It is a shame the Senate has no such standard of conduct. It will be interesting to see what sort of standard the Louisiana Disciplinary Board chooses to apply.”

Loads of fun for the whole family. Enough dirt for one night.

More Earth action with two big earthquakes in the Pacific by Samoa and Indonesia. There was a tsunami that struck Samoa 5 minutes after the Earthquake yesterday. Hundreds are dead. This after typhoons in the Philippines. It seems like the planet is getting more and more volatile.

Good News in Iraq. General Odierno says he might be able to draw down the troops to 50,000 by next summer. Now lets hope they go back the the USA and don’t get diverted to Afghanistan. Lets cheer for the return of the troops and get the USA out of the rest of the world.

Zionist/Jewish/Hindu/Christian/Gnostic Stuff.

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

This is from my friend Dean. I liked it so much I decided to use it as my blog posting tonight with my response which you will find below.

“some interesting ideas-Go beyond the beginning.

Israel: Not a Jewish State, A Zionist State
by via AIC
Monday Sep 21st, 2009 2:44 AM
The Zionist movement and its State—ISRAEL, do not represent the Jewish people. They never did. They represent a particular trend within the Jewish people, namely—the nationalist trend. To find out whether Israel is a Jewish State or a Zionist State one need only ask any religious Orthodox Jew anywhere. His answer will be unambiguous: a Jewish State must be ruled by Jewish religious law—“Halakha.” Israel is not ruled by “Halakha” laws, but by secular laws. Therefore Israel is not a Jewish State. The fact that it provides refuge to Jews does not make it a Jewish State. Zionism and Judaism are different entities. They have contradictory qualities.
Although Zionists claim to represent all Jews the Zionist movement is merely the JNP (Jewish National Party) within the Jewish people. It is one of two trends which emerged in European Jewry in the 19th Century. These trends are: 1) The Cosmopolitan secular trend, and 2) The Nationalist trend (“Zionism”). Marx, Freud, Einstein, Bob Dylan and Abbie Hoffman, belong to the Cosmopolitan trend. Herzl, Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Begin, Sharon, Netanyahu, belong to the Nationalist trend. The misleading image of Israel as representative of world Jewry is due to the fact that Israeli politicians participate in international forums and make public statements purporting to represent all Jewish people. Actually they represent Zionist interests, not Jewish interests. In every case of a conflict between Jewish and Zionist interests the latter prefers its own interest. The best example is the treatment of Holocaust survivors in Israel. Though Germany paid the Israeli government money to compensate them the Israeli government used the money for its own purposes without passing it on to the Holocaust survivors living in Israel. The survivors had to resort to strikes and demonstrations against the Israeli government to get their money. The issue is not settled to this very day.

Until the 19th Century all Jews everywhere lived every act of daily life according to religious rules. To be “A Jew” meant one thing—to live ordinary daily life according to 613 religious rules for the conduct of every act of daily life. Religious rules dictating daily behaviour—not common language, common history, circumcision, or genetic features—kept the Jewish communities, dispersed all over the world, as a single coherent, unified, entity.

During the 19th Century, after the “Codex Napoleon” banned all legal restrictions against Jews and the Industrial Revolution offered them many new economic opportunities, most European Jews moved from their Ghettoes into the host societies and a process of fragmentation began in European Jewish communities. They split into three major fragments: 1) Religious 2) Secular and 3) Nationalist. Each of these fragments split further into secondary fragments: The Religious split into Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Traditional. The Nationalists—into Assimilationists, and Zionists, the Secular—into Marxists, Liberals and Cosmopolitans.

Within 100 years (1800-1900) 80% of European Jews ceased to live daily life according to the 613 religious rules. They became secular Cosmopolitans, Assimilationists, or Zionists. Only some 20% continued to live according to the religious rules. This happened in all Jewish communities in Germany, Austro-Hungary, Russia, Lithuania, Poland, Britain, France, USA, Italy, Holland, and Belgium. In 1900 only 20% of European Jews still observed all 613 religious rules while 75% became secular assimilationists, socialists, or cosmopolitans. Only 5% became Zionists. Most Zionists were atheists. Like all atheists they saw all religions as superstitions and obstacles to enlightenment, modernization and progress. A similar fragmentation process began among Jews in Asia and Africa a few decades later.

The relative sizes of the fragments (20%-Religious, 75%-Secular, 5%-Zionists) changed after the Nazis came to power in Germany, to 20%-50%-30%. The Jewish response to the rise of Nazism was a rise in Zionism. German nationalism culminated by creating Auschwitz and by trying to conquer Russia. Jewish nationalism culminated by conquering Palestine and by creating a Zionist State. Contrary to its claims, a Zionist State is not a Jewish State as a Jewish State is one ruled by Jewish religious law (“HALAKHA”) whereas the Zionist State is ruled (mainly) by secular law. Religious law is based on worship of God. Secular law is based on worship of the Nation. Zionism is Ethnocentric and worships the Jewish Nation. Judaism is Theocentric and worships the Jewish God. Religious Judaism considers the worship of the Jewish nation as blasphemy. Orthodox Jews in Israel refuse to serve in the Israeli Army, not because they are pacifist, but because they oppose a secular State pretending to be “Jewish.” Some refuse to vote in the elections, or to stand at attention when the national Anthem is played, some refuse to carry an Israeli passport. They consider Israel a State of blasphemers, not a “The Jewish State.”

Although the desire to resurrect Biblical Jewish independence in Palestine is expressed in every Passover meal for millennia religious Jews relegate this task to God. Rabbis emphasize that only when all Jews repent, return to worship God alone, and cease to worship false gods like money, nation, or state, will God relent and resurrect Jewish independence in Palestine (Biblical “Zion”). They warned against any human attempt to carry out this task. Their warnings went unheeded when many European Jews supported the Jewish Kabbalist Shabbtai Zevi (1626-1676) trying to resurrect Jewish independence in Palestine in the 17th century. His opponents were vindicated when his movement ended in a fiasco. He converted to Islam, disbanded his movement, and caused a major crisis in Judaism. No wonder this episode is glossed over by the Zionist state-education in Israel.

The fragments mentioned above formed political parties in Israel and their relations and deals shape Israeli politics. From 1922 to 1977 the major fragment in the Jewish community in Palestine, consisting mostly (but not entirely) of Zionists, was the Zionist Labour movement. It was a Social-Democracy committed to nationalism and atheism. Labour Zionism created all Israeli State institutions, the Knesset, the Legal system, the Police, the Army, the educational and health systems, and most of the economy. After the UN resolution to create two States in Palestine, one for Jews and one for the Palestinians (29.11.1947) Ben-Gurion, leader of Labour Zionism, acted to prevent a conflict between Religious Jewry and a Zionist state. He offered a compromise (known as “The Status-Quo Agreement”) between the Zionist State and Religious Jewry. He proposed that all traditional Jewish Holydays will be State Holydays, and all matters of marriage, divorce, and burial, be decided by religious law. Most Religious Jews accepted this compromise which has been in force ever since 1947. It averted Religious Jewish opposition to Israel. B/G. wanted to prevent a situation where Religious Jewry—all over the world – would challenge a secular Zionist state and its image as “The Jewish State.” His “Status-Quo” agreement achieved this. That is why there is no civil marriage in Israel and no Constitution (the religious demanded a religious one) and why Israeli children of mixed marriages born to non-Jewish mothers are legally bastards.

To understand the mutual relations between the secular majority and the religious minority in Israel one must understand the Jewish religion.

Most people assume that since Judaism is Monotheistic—like Islam and Christianity—it hardly differs from them. This is a mistake. Judaism differs qualitatively from Christianity and Islam. The first difference is the bond between Jewish religion and ethnicity. The Jewish religion is not Universalist like Christianity or Islam. It is an ethnic religion. It is the religion of the Jews, not of Humanity. Jews make no attempt to convert non-Jews to Judaism. Rabbis raise obstacles to those who wish to convert to Judaism. As for Jewish ethnicity—all its qualities have a religious character. Jewish religion is ethnic and Jewish ethnicity is religious. In Judaism religion imparts an ethnic identity. A Jewish believer is a member of the Jewish ethnic group. A convert to Judaism becomes a member of Jewish ethnicity. This is not the case in Christianity or Islam who do not endow one with ethnic identity. A convert to Christianity does not become a member of a Christian ethnic group. He keeps his former ethnicity. In Christianity and Islam the community of the believers is a religious entity, not an ethnic entity. In Judaism it is both. A German convert to Judaism becomes a member of the Jewish nation. He may hold a German Passport and speak German but—if he lives his daily life according to the 613 religious rules—he is not only a Jew by faith but also a member of Jewish ethnicity. This unusual bond baffles many people, including most Jews, but it was confirmed in Israeli Law by the verdict of the Israeli High Court (1962) in the case of Oswald Rufeisen (“Brother Daniel”). The verdict stated that as Rufeisen converted to Christianity he lost his Jewish ethnicity and ceased to be a member of the Jewish nation.

The bond between religion and ethnicity in Judaism is the source of a unique problem for “lapsed Jews” who do not live daily life according to the 613 religious rules but insist that they are still Jews by ethnicity. Defining their secular Jewish ethnicit6y is problematic. Any specific quality they try to attribute to secular Jewish ethnicity exists also among non-Jews. Moreover, no definition of secular Jewish ethnicity can achieve consensus among all Jews. Most “Lapsed Jews” provide personal definitions that suit their personal taste, but none of these is accepted by all Jews. Group identity is a quality determined by the group, not by its individual members. No member of, say, “Manchester United F.C.” can determine the qualifications for membership in the club. This is determined by the club’s management, not by individuals. Definitions suiting an individual are not recognized by the club. Various attempts in the last 150 years to define secular Jewishness in a way that would be accepted by all Jews have been tried— and failed. They continue—and so do their failures. The continuation of these efforts testifies to their failures.

The State of Israel itself is the central effort to define a core for secular Jewish ethnicity. The Zionist secular State is expected to play the role that God plays for the religious. The question is—Can a secular State be Jewish? Religious Jews say: NO! Secular Jews who insist that they are still Jews, say: YES! But they cannot define features that make a secular State—specifically Jewish. Speaking Hebrew is not—and never was—a hallmark of all Jews. Circumcision is performed also by non-Jews. Moral considerations guide Christians more than they guide religious Jews. Declaring all Jewish Holydays as official Holydays exacerbates the problem, as all Jewish Holydays have a religious character. They either commemorate a religious event or fulfil a religious function. A secular State celebrating religious Holydays does not provide a secular identity; it only deepens the confusion of the confused.

The only way to maintain Israel as a pseudo “Jewish” State is to maintain in it a numeric majority of “lapsed Jews” who no longer live according to the 613 religious rules but keep insisting they are Jews even though they cannot define their Jewishness. Anyone who thinks this is an abstract psychological problem should be reminded that Israel’s atheist PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, in his recent reply to US President Obama’s speech in Cairo, which demanded that Israel accept the principle of a Palestinian State, insisted that the Palestinians must first recognize the “Jewish character” of Israel. This unusual demand by an atheist (no religious Jew would demand this) expresses the anxiety of secular Zionists that unless they maintain a numeric majority in Israel they will lose their ethnic identity. When the guarantee of ethnic identity is mere quantity—rather than specific qualities—a psychological anxiety dictates politics. Religious Jews do not fear to be in minority. Their ethnic identity is shaped by their daily observance of the 613 religious rules. They never ask others to recognize the “Jewish nature” of Israel. Only Zionist “lapsed Jews” demand this.

The central aim of Israeli politics is to secure Israel’s “Jewish Identity” (rather than its military security or economic stability) by maintaining a numeric majority of secular, lapsed Jews, in Israel. Israel’s “Jewish” identity worries them far more than its Defense or economy. The latter are means to ensure the former. The former is not a means, but an end. The “Jewish Identity complex” of “lapsed Jews” does not affect the religious Jews who have a secure religious and ethnic identity with—or without— any state. They do not fear to be a minority and do not seek refuge in numbers

To rebuff Netanyahu the Palestinian need only tell him: “We shall do so only when the Orthodox religious Jews recognize Israel as a Jewish State.”

No honest secular Jew can contest this requirement. No honest Orthodox Jew will recognize a secular State as “A Jewish State.”

The second unique feature of the Jewish religion, which does not exist in Christianity or Islam, is the duty of the believer to live daily life according to the 613 religious rules for the conduct of ordinary life. Every issue of food, dress, work, leisure, sex, cleanliness, etc. must be carried out according to strict religious rules. A religious Jew practices his belief not only by prayers but by obeying these rules in every daily act. The point is to live every act of daily life as an act of worship of God. This is a consequence of the third unique feature of Judaism—its Theocentrism. In Judaism—unlike in Christianity or Islam—worshipping God is done for God’s sake alone, not for the sake of the believer. This Theocentric principle is illustrated and publicized by the Bible story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac to God. The believer is tested by demanding that he perform an act which violates morality and his own interests. Only those who are willing to obey such a demand and put loyalty to God before loyalty to Humanity, morality, or self, are true Jewish believers. Christianity overturned this principle by positing a God who sacrifices his son to save humanity. Christianity and Islam are Anthropo-centric; they worship God as a means to improve the lot of Humanity—or of the believers. Judaism is Theo-centric. It posits God’s worship for its own sake—whatever the cost to the believer, or to humanity. Religious Jews believe this practice elevates its practitioners from a state of mere physical existence to a state of spiritual existence wherein they constantly feel the presence of God. In Christianity and Islam religious worship is a means to an end—the welfare of the believer—or of humanity. In Judaism worship of God is not a means to an end but the end itself. It has precedence over all interests of the believers—or of humanity. It does not serve life. It defines the purpose of all existence.

Two more features of the Jewish religion play a role in Israeli politics today:

1) The idea that whatever happens in history is due to God’s will
2) The idea that eventually God will redeem the Jewish people, send his saviour (“Messiah”) to resurrect the religious Jewish State, and rebuild His Temple in Jerusalem.

These two ideas motivate Israeli Religio-Nationalist settlers in occupied Palestine today.

Until 1948 most Orthodox religious Jews opposed Zionism. After the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 some argued that this is God’s will and joined the coalition headed by the atheist Labour Party. They were a subordinate partner puzzled by what God meant in using atheist Zionists to set up Israel. However, after the stunning Israeli victory in the 1967 war, when all of Palestine—especially the holy city of Jerusalem—came under Israeli sovereignty, the trend of Religio-Zionists began to attract many young believers, who argued that this victory signified God’s will and the “Countdown to Redemption.” Although the atheist Levi Eshkol, Israel’s Labour PM in 1967, forbade any settlement in the territories conquered in 1967 hoping to trade them for peace, Rabbi Moshe Levinger entered occupied Hebron as a tourist and then declared that he intends to settle there, because God promised it to Abraham. The Deputy PM, [Yigal Alon]—a militant atheistic Socialist Zionist—.went to negotiate with Levinger, but instead of evacuating him, congratulated him. This was the Kanossa of Labour Zionism. At the zenith of its political power Labour Zionism—committed to atheism— capitulated ideologically to Religio-Zionism. The reason? as socialists Labour Zionists opposed colonialism and justified the colonization of Palestine by arguing that Palestine was desolate and unpopulated, and therefore the Zionist project was not Colonialism. Until 1967 Labour Zionism argued that Palestine was “A country without a people for a people without a country.” The conquest of 1967 revealed the Palestinian people inhabiting hundreds of villages and dozens of towns in Palestine. The traditional Labour argument collapsed, but not its wish to colonize the whole of Palestine. As the religio-nationalists substituted a religious argument (“God gave this country to the Jews”) Zionist Labour bowed down to the new colonizatory zeal of the religio-nationalists. From that time on the ideological hegemony in the Zionist colonization of Palestine was in the hands of the religio-nationalist minority. It created facts and all Israeli governments accepted them. The religious minority ideologically dominated the “lapsed Jewish” majority due to two reasons: First—it had a clear (religious) justification for colonizing Palestine, and second—it had a clear definition of Jewish identity.

All Jews today accept two definitions of Jewish identity: the Rabbinical and the empirical. The Rabbinical definition states: “A Jew is one born to a Jewish mother.” The empirical states: “A Jew is one obeying daily the 613 religious rules for the conduct of daily life.” All other definitions are not accepted by all Jews. “Lapsed Jews” do not contest these two definitions. They contest their exclusivity, arguing that there are other valid definitions.

The Rabbinical definition is flawed on three counts—1) It is logically circular. What has to be defined (“Jewishness”) is a condition of the definition (the “Jewishness” of the mother). 2) As it depends on the Jewishness of the mother—and of her mother—one must check the Jewishness of the matrilineal line. How far back? 3) It ignores the person’s actual own faith. A person converted to Christianity, whose mother was Jewish, is considered by all Rabbis as “A Jew” (though a “sinner”) because his mother was Jewish. All Rabbis agree on this. The Israeli secular High Court in its verdict on Oswald Rufeisen (1962) endorsed this. However, the Israeli Court ruled that since Israeli law is NOT religious Jewish law, the secular court does not recognize Rufeisen as “A Jew” because he converted to Christianity. The empirical definition is easy to assert, clear, and unambiguous. It takes into account the person’s actual adherence (not just his declarations) to Judaism as practiced daily in ordinary life. Anyone living daily life according to the 613 religious rules is a Jew. No Jew contests this definition. What “Lapsed Jews” contest is its exclusivity. They argue that in addition to this definition there are other valid definitions of “Jewishness.” However, all other definitions have two flaws – 1) Many non-Jews qualify as well (e.g. circumcision is practiced by many non-Jews). 2) Many other Jews, especially the religious, reject all other definitions.

As 80% of those who define themselves today as “Jews” do not live their daily life according to the 613 religious rules their “Jewish” ethnic identity is vague. This vagueness often generates an obsession to resolve it and becomes an identity complex. If it is acute it becomes a neurosis and as it is shared by many people it becomes a collective neurosis. This collective neurosis is the source of Zionism—and of Israeli politics. Unlike all other politics the prime aim of Israeli politics is to secure Israel’s secular Jewish identity, not its military security or its economic stability. The latter are means, not ends. The end is a secure ­SECULAR—Jewish ethnic IDENTITY. Zionism created the secular Zionist State as the core of the secular Jewish identity. Loyalty to the secular State has replaced loyalty to God. Loyalty to Israel has become the core of Jewish Identity for most “Lapsed Jews” everywhere.

But this is only a semblance of a solution, not a genuine solution, because the basic problem remains: Can a secular State qualify as “Jewish”? If yes, then what specific qualities make it “Jewish”? As there are no universally accepted answers to both questions (since all religious Jews reject them) Zionism— and Israeli politics— seek refuge in the numbers of “Lapsed Jews” who suffer from the Jewish ethnic identity complex. Their solution to this problem is to have a numeric
majority in Israel of “Lapsed Jews” who share this situation. The recent demand of Israel’s PM that the Palestinians recognize the “Jewish nature” of Israel (which he is unable to define) or the fear of “the demographic threat” (i.e. that Palestinians become a majority in Israel) reveals the urgency of the problem. No religious Jew would ask others to “recognize” his Jewishness that he practices by obeying the 613 rules. For him such recognition is irrelevant. In matters of identity religious Jews have a clear advantage over “Lapsed Jews”, they have a secure, universally accepted, definition of their Jewishness “Lapsed Jews” lack a secure, universally accepted, definition of their Jewishness.

In Israel 80% of the electorate do not live their daily life according to the 613 religious rules. Only 20% do. Therefore, despite its numeric inferiority the 20% minority has superiority in ideological controversies concerning the nature of the State of Israel. One of these controversies concerns the future of the Palestine territories conquered in 1967.

According to the Bible these territories were promised by God to Abraham and therefore belong to Jews even though they were inhabited continuously for 1300 years by Palestinian Arabs. Israeli TV often shows religious Jewish immigrants from the US in a new settlement in territories conquered in the 1967 war, cutting down olive trees planted by Palestinian owners of the land, who have inhabited it continuously for many centuries, cursing the Palestinians as intruders. Many Israeli “Lapsed Jews” oppose this behaviour but cannot present Jewish arguments against it. They can present Humanist arguments but these carry no weight with religious (or nationalistic) Jews since Judaism is Theocentric, not Anthropocentric.

PM Rabin’s assassin (1995) the Religio-Nationalist Ygal Amir, when asked by the police interrogator why he refused to admit that he has committed a crime, replied: “I did not act according to my own whim. Before acting I consulted some Rabbis. They said that if a Jew endangers the lives of many Jews it is a religious duty to kill the one and save the many.” The interrogator then asked: “And what about morality?” Amir replied: “If I were a soldier in Joshua’s army conquering Jericho, and God ordered me to kill all the babies in Jericho (as stated in the Bible A.O.) I would do it without any moral scruples. If it is God’s command morality is irrelevant.”

Amir’s Religio-Nationalist colleagues, who spearhead the settlement of occupied Palestine, feel the same about morality—and legality. Convinced that they obey God, they consider morality or legality irrelevant. One can distinguish them visually from traditional Orthodox Jews as they wear ordinary clothes and a knitted, blue-white, skullcap. Traditional Orthodox Jews wear black clothes and a black silk skullcap. These two groups are hostile to each other since the Orthodox worship the Jewish God alone, while the religio-nationalists worship also the Jewish nation and the territory of Palestine. Their motto is: “The Land of Israel to the People of Israel by the Bible of Israel.” In Israel today the traditional Orthodox number some 15% while the Religio-Nationalists number some 10%.

Most Zionists today are “Lapsed Jews” living outside Israel. Their emotional support of Israel shores up their insecure Jewish identity. Most of them are nationalistic and support Israeli politics uncritically. A small minority is critical of Israeli politics. Zionists visit Israel but have no intention to immigrate. Ben-Gurion used to say: “A Zionist is a Jew who pays another Jew to immigrate to Israel.” Today most Israelis are not Zionists. Being born and raised in Israel they relate to it as a Frenchman relates to France. They have their own, Israeli, nationalism. Their Israeli identity is shaped by speaking Hebrew as a mother-tongue, by serving three-years in the Israeli Army, and by daily life in Israel. Most of them rarely visit a Synagogue, rarely pray, and totally ignore the 613 religious rules for conduct of daily life. Israeli sociologists describe Israelis as “Hebrew-speaking gentiles.” When they live outside Israel they find more in common with local non-Jews than with local religious Jews. The Israeli Ministry of Education became worried when it realized that the Israeli identity is replacing Jewish identity among Israelis and de-Zionizes them. To counter this process the Ministry of Education organizes regular visits of Israeli High-School pupils to Auschwitz. They are shown the heaps of suitcases, shoes, eyeglasses, and hair left by the Jews killed there. Then their teachers lead them to draw two conclusions: 1) Hatred of Jews is a permanent feature of Humanity. 2) Only a Zionist State can save Jews from persecution. The first conclusion fits the Zionist argument that as Jew-haters define Jews it hardly matter how the Jews define themselves. The second conclusion fits the Zionist argument that Jews fleeing from the Nazis died because no country was willing to accept them. Therefore a Zionist state is necessary as a reliable shelter for Jews. Both conclusions are flawed. 1) If persecution defines one’s ethnic identity one develops dependence on persecution.

One has a vested interest in its continuation since its absence threatens one’s identity. 2) Positing Israel as a shelter for persecuted Jews ignores the possibility that the shelter itself might be attacked. Suppose a Zionist state existed in the 1930s and Jewish refugees from the Nazis found shelter in it. Had Rommel won the battle of El-Alamein in 1942 and conquered Egypt and Palestine, the fate of the Jews there would have been the same as in Nazi-occupied Poland. Jews were saved in all places that Nazis did not conquer. A Zionist state is no shelter. Today lives of Jews in Israel are threatened far more than lives of Jews in other countries. A “shelter” is often a trap rather than a safe place. To overcome racist persecution one must defeat racism, rather than seek shelter from it.

Some “Lapsed Jews” become Zionists or Israelis to secure their Jewish Identity, but manyy—whose numbers grow constantly—reject both options. Their fuzzy “Jewish Identity” creates a problem. They assimilate formally but feel culturally alien. This is due to another feature of Jewish religion, namely, its ban on symbolizing God. Religious Jews are forbidden to make any picture, sculpture, or sign symbolizing God. They are forbidden to mention His name and must refer to Him only as “Blessed be he.” The reason for this ban is simpley—people tend to worship symbols rather than what they symbolize. By banning symbolization of God Judaism almost escaped symbol-worship common to other religions, almost but not quite, because most Jewish believers worship Biblical texts. Biblical texts are “Holy” and are worshipped by many Jews. The Religio-Nationalists are steeped in Biblical text-worship.

The insistence on God’s worship as an end in itself with the ban on symbol-worship created reverence for abstract entities. This often persists even when believers become a-theists or anti-theists. Though they no longer believe in God they retain respect for the abstract. For this reason the percentage of “Lapsed Jews” among Pure Mathematicians or Theoretical Physicists far exceeds their percentage in the population. Respect among Jews for abstract entities is a cultural—not a genetic—quality. It also explains why many Jews do not consider physical reality as the only—or the main—force determining human behaviour. This causes many assimilating Jews to feel “outsiders” in a sympathetic (but materialistic) host society that does not discriminate against them. Obsession with materiality bores them. Feeling “Jewish” without being religious, Zionist, or nationalistic, often produces a creative urge. Those afflicted by it seek to assert their uniqueness by creating something new. This is a positive response to the “Jewish-Identity Complex.” Despite all resistance all over the world Tribal-Identity gradually gives way to Ethnic-Identity which gradually gives way to Cosmopolitan Human-Identity. Electronic communication, TV, Internet, and Mobile phones, enhance this process.

Concern for ALL human beings, rather than for one’s own tribe or nation, is a positive trend. “Lapsed Jews” can use their ethnic-identity-complex to promote a new “All-Human” loyalty, superseding all ethnic, tribal, or religious, loyalties. It is a worthy role. Far worthier than narrow ethnic loyalty fearing and fighting other ethnic loyalties.…

Very cool. Makes me wish I were Jewish, just to experience a different kind of angst than the Catholic Martyr complex. Gaudia Vaishnavism has a similar conception of reality being a personal construct of the deity. In fact they consider the Jewish Rabbinical Thread to be a holdover from the time when Jews were in Bharat before they migrated westward. The land from which Abraham migrated is thought to be India and the battle spoken of by Melchizedek is thought to be the same as the battle of Kurukshetra described in the Mahabharata.

A site called Global Oneness says this is from the Hebrew Bible.
“In the Tanakh, Melchizedek brought bread and wine to Abraham (then Abram) after Abraham’s victory over the four kings who had besieged Sodom and Gomorrah and had taken his nephew Lot prisoner (described in Genesis 14). (Gen. 14:18.) Melchizedek blessed Abraham in the name of “God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.” (Gen. 14:19.) In return, Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth, a tithe, of the spoils gained from the battle. (Gen. 14:20.) In some translations, Psalm 110:4 names Melchizedek as representative of the priestly line…”

This is the Krisna line. The believe that Lord Krishna is Melchizedek

“There is a place in South India that dates back to antiquity that has and still bears the name of Salem. It is the priest-king of Salem who greets Abraham after the Battle of the Kings and blesses him:

“And Melchizedek, King of Salem, brought forth bread and wine (the Holy Sacraments of the Last Supper and Holy Communion): and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, saying, “Blessed be Abraham of the most high God… and blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies unto thy hand.“ And he (Abraham) gave him (Melchizedek) tithes of all.“ (Gen. 14:18-20)

It is from this action of Abraham that the concept of “tithing“ or giving 1/10th of one’s income or wealth to God (i.e., for religious purposes) originates. Obviously this great priest-king Melchizedek was highly honored by Abraham. Who was he? Very little is known about him, but references to him and to what he was can be found in the New Testament as well, specifically in The Epistle of Paul to The Hebrews.

In this Epistle, St. Paul points out that Jesus Christ was not a descendant of the Levitical priesthood, having been born from the House of David, a tribe of Judah, “of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.“ (Heb. 7:13) Instead, Jesus was called by God to be the Highest Priest and was, therefore, superior to the priests of the Order of Aaron; i.e., the Levitical priests of the temple:

“So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made a high priest; but God hath said unto Him (Jesus), ‘Thou art My Son, today have I begotten Thee.’ As God saith also in another place, ‘Thou art a priest forever after the Order of Melchizedek… And being made perfect, Christ became the author of Eternal Salvation unto all them that obey Him; called of God an high priest after the Order of Melchizedek…

“If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood… what further need was there that another priest should rise after the Order of Melchizedek, and not be called after the Order of Aaron?… For it is evident that Our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing regarding priesthood.

“And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude (or likeness) of Melchizedek there ariseth another priest, Who was made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life… The Lord sware and will not repent, ‘Thou (Christ) art a priest forever after the Order of Melchizedek.’“ (Heb. 5:5,6,9,10; 7:11,14,15,16,21)

Paul then goes on to describe who this Melchizedek was:

“For this Melchizedek, King of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him: To wohm also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of Righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of Peace;

“Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this Man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.“ (Heb. 7:1-4)

Clearly these passages indicate the existence of a Son of God - an Avatar - that predates the arrival of Jesus Christ with Whom the patriarch of the Jews had contact. It is also interesting to note that the Epistle is directed not just to the tribe of Judah, but to all of the Hebrews or sons of Abraham.

Considering the mounting evidence that testifies to the link between India and the forefathers of the Hebrews, and also considering the abundant evidence that Abraham himself came from the Kashmir Mountains in the North of India as well, it has been suggested that the great Priest-King Melchizedek - this Son of God of the period of Abraham - was not from the Middle East at all, but was located in India itself.

Abraham was born somewhere around 2000 B.C., although many theologians and scholars have put his date of birth earlier by at least a few hundred years (i.e., 2500 B.C.) After Abraham left Haran (India) and after his arrival in the Palestine area, The Bible records a great Battle of the Kings. Initially Chedarlaomer, the wicked king of Elam (Elam was an area located east of Mesopotamia or the Iraq/Western Iran area; i.e., the area of Eastern Persia and what was the Northwestern section of ancient India) along with some compatriots wage war with five other kings, defeating them in the process. Thence onward, for 12 years, these five defeated kings have to do the bidding of Chedarlaomer. But during the 13th year, the five kings rebel, and during the 14th year, the great Battle of the Kings occurs. It is after the slaughter of the kings (which Abraham takes part in) during which the evil king and his allies are defeated and killed, that Abraham is met and blessed by the priest-king Melchizedek.

A parallel to this story in The Bible can be found in what could be called the Hindu Bible - The Mahabarat. In The Mahabharat and evil king, along with his allies, defeats (through deception) five other kings who are then sent into exile for 12 years. On the 13th year, the five kings go “incognito“ so the evil king cannot find them. And during the 14th year, a great war takes place - a Battle of the Kings - where kings and their armies are slaughtered in great numbers, the battle taking place in Kurukshetra in Northwest India. This great slaughter or war of the kings is said to have taken place around 2000 to 2500 B.C. or so.

Further, there indeed was a Son-of-God, an Avatar, on Earth at that time Who was also a King; i.e., Lord Krishna, said to be the Poorna Avatar - the Full Avatar of the Unmanifest Lord Himself. In addition, prior to the outbreak of the war, Lord Krishna went as a Peace Messenger to the evil king to persuade him not to go to battle, and to return all the property and goods he had taken from the five other kings. He came as an envoy of Peace and the King of Dharma or Righteousness. But the evil king, puffed with pride and ego would not listen. Hence the battle took place.

Lord Krishna was pleased with the outcome of the war as well, and did bless all those who had come to the aid of the five kings. Could Lord Krishna of India and Melchizedek of Salem be One and the same Supreme Person? Only the Lord Himself knows for sure, but clearly from The Bible itself we see that Christ was not the only Son of God to have visited the Earth! For, as the Prophet Mohammed has said: “The Messiah, the Son of Mary, was a Messenger; certainly, He was preceded by other Messengers.“ (Koran V: 79)“

In fact the very concept of the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God appears to have ist roots in India with this idea of God incarnating in Human Form to be found in the earliest Holy Scriptures know to man, The Upanishads. According to several scholars (including Rudolph Otto and Dr. Radhakrishnan), while references to the Messiah are sprinkled throughout the Old Testament, one of the most vivid descriptions of Him - including the varous titles He will bear - is to be found in The Dead Sea Scrolls in The Book of Enoch (written approximately 80 B.C.), where the entire process of His Spiritual Ascent to God in Heaven is recounted. This process of spiritual ascent, etc. is found in India in The Kaushitaki Upanishad which was composed long before The Book of Enoch or any other scripture of Israelite or Jewish origing.

From: Rejoice! The Scriptures Are Fulfilled! The Phoenix Has Come! By: Kristina Gale-Kumar, Cardinal Enterprises, P.O. Box 1363, Hilo, Hawaii 96721-1363. ISBN 0-9611204-7-9.
Sai Baba with materialized golden statue of Lord Krishna-Melchizedek”

When you get into literature on these things from India, you can literally spend the rest of your life just catching up with these basics. This is probably why up until recent times Indian culture was mostly concerned with absorbing this tradition. Little time would be left for dealing with petty stuff like developing a better mouse trap. Enjoy.

Incidents in Leonard Peltier’s Case, Gadhafi On Larry King, Modern Slavery

Monday, September 28th, 2009

2 people are turned into slaves every hour according to Benjamin Skinner on CNN tonight. Julia Ormond says that there are sex slaves and labor slaves. They estimate there are 27 million slaves in the world today. Every product should have a “slave free” logo. That is the new world standard. Just like Dolphin free food is important so are slavery free products. It really is a problem.

My girlfriend is coming back. I hope. At least she said she is. After missing her for over six months. I am really happy and I don’t like to talk about my sex life, but she is totaly cool.

They had pictures of flying pigs on CNN today. Moammar Gadhafi is on Larry King tonight. Finally Larry is over losing Michael Jackson. President Reagan attacked Libya and killed one of Gaddafi’s children. Libya was blamed for the bombing of the airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland.
President Bush allowed Gadhafi to return to the fold of America’s friendly nations. Colonel Gadhafi has never been to America now. He says he has no idea of what America is all about because he has so much security he has not been able to see anything.
Gadhafi supports the United Nations but he says that the UN does not respect its own charter. It has become insignificant. He thinks he had a good reception at the UN.
The crash of Pan Am 103 in Lockerbie. The man who was convicted of the bombing was greeted with honor and respect. Why such respect Larry asks? His friends, his family and his tribe are the ones who received him. The fact that he is ill, he does not think it is proper to speak badly of the man says Gadhafi.
Larry asks Gadhafi why the convicted killer was welcomed as a hero? Were you saluting a criminal? Gadhafi is saying you cannot refuse to let his friends receive him. I cannot talk about it Gadhafi says. What do you have to say to the victims? They may ask his family why they received him is what Gadhafi says. This issue has been buried. It is not good to dig it up again he says. The families have put an end legally and financially. To talk about it is sensational. THe opinion of the world changed. When they killed 400 children there was a sentence of death. Observers attended this fair trial. After intervention from the President of France this sentence was commuted. They were handed over to Bulgaria to receive their sentence. When they were flying to Bulgaria they were forgiven and the President of Bulgaria received them. They were given standing ovations. The families in Libya watched this. They were a group of children killers. There was not any protest. Are we not human beings and they are? That is What Gadhafi has to say.

There is a documentary about Leonard Peltier and the events at the Pine Ridge Reservation called “Incident at Oglala”.
The American Indian Movement protected the Indian People. John Trudell’s wife, mother in law and children were killed. Over 60 traditional Indians and AIM members were killed at Pine Ridge. They went to the Oglala reservation invited by the older women to protect them from being killed by the Government Indians and the FBI. All 15 armed persons escaped that day from the FBI after the two agents were killed. The AIM people escaped by following an eagle. The FBI was shooting automatic weapons at them. They climbed to the top of a hill to escape. Two Indian Brothers with horses took them to his Grandpas’ house and he told them to come in and visit.
Leonard Peltier was arrested in Canada 5 months later. Robert Robideau and Dino Butler were let off. Kunstler was their lawyer. They got off for killing FBI agents but the FBI were upset and crying. The FBI framed Leonard Peltier. Ana May was shot and Myrtle Poor Bear was intimidated into testifying. She was interviewed by the film makers and she said they made her testify threatening to kill her like Ana.


Case Number CR77-3003

(Note: The court never permitted a jury to hear this testimony)


MR. TAIKEFF: Myrtle Poor Bear.
MYRTLE POOR BEAR, being first duly sworn on the sacred pipe, testified as follows:
MR. TAIKEFF: May I inquire, Your Honor?
THE COURT: You may inquire.

Q: Last night did you tell me you were frightened?
A: Yes, I did.
Q: What were you frightened of?
A: I don’t know. I am scared of the Government.
THE COURT: What was her answer?
MR. TAIKEFF: I don’t know. I am scared of the Government.
Q (By Mr. Taikeff): Did anyone from the Government ever say anything to you to make you afraid?
A: The agents are always talking about Anna Mae.
Q: What did they say about Anna Mae?
A: Oh, they just would talk about that time she died.
Q” What did they say about it? You can tell the Judge, it is all right.
(Counsel confer.)
MR. TAIKEFF: May counsel approach your Honor?
THE COURT: You may.
(Whereupon, the following proceedings were had at the bench:)
MR. TAIKEFF: Your Honor, I would ask that your Honor briefly advise her that she is under oath and that you want to hear what she has to say providing it is the truth, and that she has nothing to fear by telling the truth.
She is very frightened, your Honor. She told me last night she is afraid that she is going to be killed, and that’s why she is so upset at this particular moment.
MR. CROOKS: Yes, I suspect that she is afraid she is going to be killed. It sure isn’t from the FBI.
Your Honor, I would object at the bench to going into anything concerning Anna Mae Aquash for the reasons — even on the offer of proof — it has no relevance or bearing to this matter whatsoever. I have no idea what she is going to say, but I think it is completely immaterial and I don’t see that there is any justification for going into that in any shape or form.
MR. TAIKEFF: Well, it influenced her conduct in the past in connection with this matter. I think it is highly relevant.
MR. LOWE: The FBI used it as a direct threat to her.
MR. CROOKS: I would ask counsel to state, first of all, what they intend to elicit on that. They certainly know what she is going to say.
MR. TAIKEFF: I will tell you what she told me last night. At first she refused to speak to me on the way back from the airport. Mr. Engelstein was a witness to all that went on, and finally she told me that the reason she didn’t want to talk is that she was afraid she was going to be killed; and I asked her, “Who are you afraid of?” and she said, “The agents,” and I said, “Why are you afraid of the agents?” and she said that they told her that they were going to do the same thing to her that happened to Anna Mae Aquash.
MR. CROOKS: This is so preposterous, your Honor, This is the same statement that counsel made in court two or three days ago that was supposed to have been made by the witness, and now he tells us it was said last night.
MR. TAIKEFF: That was based on what her sister told us. Her sister told us she was hiding away and that she was petrified, afraid of the agents.
MR. CROOKS: Your Honor, this is why the United States has been objecting to this matter going before the jury in any manner, shape or form.
MR. CROOKS: As far as I am concerned, the Anna Mae {4605} Aquash matter should not be inquired into in any manner, shape or form, it had nothing to do with this case or even these proceedings; and I think it is grossly prejudicial. I would assume that counsel is speaking for the galleries, not for the Court, because it has no relevance to even these proceedings.
MR. TAIKEFF: You can make that assumption. I am telling you that. According to what she has to say, that is what in part influenced her earlier conduct in connection with this matter. She volunteered that fact to me.

Q: Did the FBI ever give you any money?
A: Yes, they did.
Q: How much and when?
A: I don’t remember, That time I was going to Iowa.
Q: That was for your travel expenses?
A: Right.

Q: Did the agents ever talk to you about the possibility of your going to jail?
A: Yes, they did.
Q: What did they say about that?
A: (No response.)
Q: Please tell the judge what they said about that.
A: They said that I could go to jail for court conspiracy.
Q: Did they say what kind of conspiracy?
A: No, they didn’t.
Q: Did they say how long you could go to jail for?
A: About fifteen years.
Q: Anybody from the FBI ever talk to you about AIM or the American Indian Movement?
A: Yes. The agents did.
Q: What did they tell you about the American Indian Movement?
A: They told me that they were going to kill me.

Q: Did Mr. Wood ever say anything about the subject of getting away with killing people?
A: I think he did.
Q: Do you recall what he said?
A: He said that they could get away with killing because they were agents.
Q: Did this have anything to do with signing the papers?
A: I don’t know.”

It was based on her testimony that Leonard Peltier was extradited from Canada to the USA.

This is from the John Graham Defence Commitee.

“Who killed Anna Mae?

by Rex Weyler, Vancouver Sun, January 8, 2005

In the 1970s, two First Nations youths, John Graham from Yukon and Anna Mae Pictou from Nova Scotia, set out to help win native rights. They stumbled into a violent American maelstrom that cost Pictou her life and left Graham facing a murder charge.

On February 24, 1976, rancher Roger Amiotte walked his fence line on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, in South Dakota. The fence ended at a steep ravine, which had failed to restrain his livestock. Planning to extend the fence, Amiotte paced the embankment until he rounded a curve and came upon the body of a young woman.

The rancher stopped twenty feet from the corpse. She wore blue jeans, a burgundy windbreaker, tennis shoes, and a single turquoise bracelet. Animals had apparently gnawed at her ear. Amiotte returned home and called the Tribal police. Within two hours, a dozen law enforcement officers – Sheriff’s deputies, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) police, and FBI agents – combed the scene.

At the Pine Ridge morgue, a doctor and nurse found blood on the woman’s head. However, BIA pathologist Dr. W. O. Brown, described the case as “awfully routine,” reported no blood, and concluded the woman had died from “exposure” two weeks earlier, in early February. On FBI instructions, Brown severed the victim’s hands for later identification and approved a burial.

“It was the darndest thing I ever saw,” said mortician Tom Chamberlain, “an unidentified corpse buried without a death certificate or burial permit.” On March 3, 1976, the anonymous body rested in a pauper’s grave on Pine Ridge. On that day, the FBI identified the dead woman as 30-year-old Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash from Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, a member of the American Indian Movement (AIM). The Bureau notified the Pictou family in Canada that Anna Mae had died “by natural causes.”

The family requested another autopsy, and AIM lawyer Bruce Ellison petitioned the FBI to exhume the body. On March 11, Dr. Garry Peterson examined the corpse, noticed “a bulge in the dead woman’s left temple and dry blood in her hair,” and revealed the actual cause of death: a .32 calibre bullet “shot at close range into the back of her head.”

Extradition Case

The FBI now claims AIM executed Aquash as a suspected informer. They possess a video confession from 50-year-old Arlo Looking Cloud, from South Dakota, who admitted being present when John Graham allegedly shot Aquash. Looking Cloud remains in custody, convicted of aiding first-degree murder.

The U.S. wants Graham returned to South Dakota to face the murder charge. His extradition case opened in Vancouver on December 6 and resumes next week before Justice Elizabeth Bennett. Canadian Crown attorney Deborah Strachan represents the U.S.

To prepare this story, I reviewed court transcripts and evidence summaries from the Looking Cloud trial, the Vancouver extradition hearing, and other related cases; FBI memos; and sworn affidavits and public statements by the interested parties. I interviewed Mr. Graham, other native leaders, and attorneys in Canada and the U.S., on both sides; and I reviewed the extensive public record compiled over thirty years.

A U.S. summary of evidence cites witnesses who claim Looking Cloud, Graham, and AIM member Theda Clark kidnapped Aquash from a house in Denver, Colorado in December 1975. Others witnessed Graham and Looking Cloud with the victim on Pine Ridge Reservation shortly thereafter.

“The Judge in an extradition hearing has a very narrow scope,” Strachen explains. “All we have to show is that this is the person the requesting state [the U.S.] is looking for and that, if believed, the evidence could lead a reasonable jury to convict the accused.” This is a “prima facia” argument that on “first appearance” the evidence seems adequate. “We do not argue the quality of that evidence,” Strachen said.

Canada’s extradition treaty with the U.S. presumes that evidence supplied is accurate. A U.S. Attorney – in this case Robert Mandel in South Dakota – certifies the evidence. On first appearance, the evidence against Graham does indeed seem compelling.

However, Graham’s attorney, Terry LaLiberte, pointed out inconsistencies, which he claims the U.S. “deliberately or negligently” failed to disclose. Alleged witness Al Gates “had been dead for nine months,” said LaLiberte, when the U.S. “claimed he was available for trial.” Witness Frank Dillon, to whom Graham allegedly confessed, claims he did not make the statement attributed to him.

The only potential eyewitness, Arlo Looking Cloud, now alleges that detectives plied him with alcohol and drugs, coerced the testimony from him, and denied him the right to have a lawyer of his choice. His new attorney, Terry Gilbert from the Centre for Constitutional Rights in New York, claims that Looking Cloud’s court-appointed lawyer incriminated his own client. “Looking Cloud was a homeless alcoholic for more than 20 years,” said Gilbert, “vulnerable to manipulation by the detective in Denver.”

Outside the Vancouver courtroom, LaLiberte recalled that in 1976, Canada extradited AIM member Leonard Peltier with evidence coerced from a similarly vulnerable Myrtle Poor Bear, who later testified that FBI agent David Price frightened her into making false statements.

Crown attorney Strachan says the Poor Bear incident, “is history. How is it relevant to this case? Just because the FBI did something once, is not evidence that they’re doing it here.” Aquash’s daughter, Denise Maloney-Pictou, agrees. “This is 2004, not 1976,” she says. “We just want to see Graham stand trial, and for a jury to hear all of the evidence.”

“History is what this case is all about,” replies Matthew Lien from Graham’s Defense Committee. “The FBI wants to rewrite the record. The perpetrators of this crime are behind the prosecution.”

Brave Hearted Woman

Anna Mae Pictou was born on March 27, 1945, on the Mi’kmaq reserve five miles east of Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia. Her mother, Mary Ellen, traded housekeeping for a room in a small house and earned babysitting money to feed Anna Mae and two older sisters, Rebecca and Mary. Their father, Francis Levi, died in 1948, Mary Ellen remarried, and they moved to the Pictou Reservation on the Northumberland coast.

At the reservation school, Anna Mae earned straight A’s, but at St. John’s Academy, off the reservation, where she endured racial taunts, her performance slumped. When her stepfather died and her mother left with her third husband, Anna Mae stayed with Rebecca and her husband.

In 1963, with her boyfriend Jake Maloney, Anna Mae drifted to Boston, where she gave birth to two daughters, Denise and Deborah. She earned $200 per month as a seamstress and felt prosperous. However, when Jake had a love affair, Anna Mae left with the girls. She volunteered at the Boston Indian Council, an outlet for her rage concerning the plight of native people. At her first demonstration, she met AIM leader Russell Means and devoted her life to native rights.

In 1973, Anna Mae left her daughters with her sister Mary Lafford and traveled to South Dakota with Ojibwa activist Nogeeshik Aquash. They joined AIM activists protesting tribal council corruption and BIA police violence. The group occupied the hamlet of Wounded Knee, the site of an 1890 massacre of 200 men, women, and children by the U.S. Seventh Calvary. During the ensuing seige, Anna Mae Pictou and Nogeeshik Aquash married in a traditional ceremony.

Anna Mae earned a reputation as a devoted advocate for native people. At Pine Ridge, she became known, in the Lakota tradition, as “a brave hearted woman,” someone who could be counted on to stand up for the weak and dispossessed. She advanced through the AIM ranks in Boston, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles.

Pine Ridge

Traditional Lakota leaders on Pine Ridge Reservation cite their 1868 Treaty with the U.S. as the basis for a 160,000-square-mile territory west of the Missouri River. However, after gold discoveries in the Black Hills, the U.S. reduced Lakota title to five reservations, less than 10 percent of their treaty land. The “traditionals” claimed that the BIA further eroded their land base by granting leases without Lakota approval. In 1972, Richard “Dickie” Wilson, controlled the tribal council and fashioned his own police force, the Guardians of Oglala Nation, the GOONS, who harassed Wilson’s opposition with beatings and drive-by shootings.

When chiefs Matthew King and Fools Crow traveled to Washington D.C. to redress their grievances, vigilantes sprayed King’s modest house with bullets and burned Fools Crow’s home to the ground. “It was those BIA police and those goons,” claimed King.

When traditionals Raymond Yellow Thunder and Wesley Bad Heart Bull were murdered, the elder women gave AIM permission to occupy Wounded Knee to expose the violence. For 71 days, AIM activists armed with .22 gauge hunting rifles, faced off against the vigilantes and BIA police bolstered by SWAT teams and U.S. Marshals with M16s and grenade launchers. Two Indians – Frank Clearwater and Buddy Lamont – died from bullet wounds.

The siege ended with a promise from U.S. Attorney Leonard Garment to investigate the BIA police and Wilson’s goons, but there is no evidence an investigation ensued. Before 1973 ended, seven more traditional leaders had died violent deaths, including Pedro Bissonnette, head of the Oglala Civil Rights Organization, shot at close range with a twelve-gauge shotgun by BIA policeman Joe Clifford. No charges were filed against Clifford.

Into this maelstrom walked Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash and John Graham, two wide-eyed young Canadians eager to advance native rights.

Armed and Dangerous

While Aquash became a leader of the movement, successfully raising funds from celebrities in Los Angeles, Graham became a loyal foot soldier in AIM security.

Graham was born on August 31, 1955, in Champagne, Yukon, the traditional territory of the Aishihik First Nations of the Southern Tutchone. In the summer of 1969, he came to Vancouver for a Rolling Stones concert. In 1974, he joined a “Native Caravan” to Ottawa, and then headed south, into the U.S., to find his younger sister Joan, who had been taken from their family and placed in a foster home. He did not find her, but a year later, Graham arrived on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota as a full-fledged member of the American Indian Movement.

Since the death of Pedro Bissonnette, fourteen more traditionals had died from gunshots or beatings, including Pedro’s sister-in-law, Jeanette Bissonnette. On March 21, 1975, Edith Eagle Hawk drove toward Rapid City to testify in a federal court about violence on Pine Ridge, when White rancher Albert Coomes ran her car from the road, killing her, her four-month-old daughter Linda, and her three-year-old grandson Earl Janis. The FBI issued no indictments.

The Traditional Council of Chiefs signed a unanimous request for AIM to protect them. AIM had long since crossed the threshold between protest and armed defense of their people. They established a camp on the property of Harry and Cecilia Jumping Bull, a stronghold in the heart of the traditionalist community. Leonard Peltier, Dino and Nilak Butler, Bob Robideau, and teenager Norman Brown lived among this hard-core group of defenders. Anna Mae and John Graham visited the encampment.

The FBI had thoroughly infiltrated AIM by this time. In June, they transferred approximately 40 agents into South Dakota, including Jack Coler, who possessed a detailed map of the AIM camps on Pine Ridge. On the morning June 26, 1975, Coler and agent Ron Williams drove into the Jumping Bull property, ostensibly to look for a teenager who had allegedly stolen a pair of cowboy boots. Williams and Coler carried high-powered rifles and ammunition. A shootout erupted, and by 2:30 that afternoon, Coler, Williams, and Lakota native Joe Stuntz lay dead.

News reports, quoting the FBI, claimed the agents had been “ambushed .. dragged from their cars .. and executed.” According to John Graham, he and Anna Mae heard about the shootout in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “We have to go back in,” Anna Mae said. Graham says they drove all night and arrived in Pine Ridge amidst a massive FBI manhunt. They located Peltier and others hiding in ravines as helicopters passed overhead. “We made it out of there,” Graham says, “and I helped several brothers get into Canada. Then I hung out in Detroit and Denver.”

Aquash and Graham had crossed a legal threshold themselves, vulnerable to charges of aiding and abetting first-degree murder. Both believed the AIM response amounted to self-defense, but the FBI would not see it that way. Within days of the shooting, Ottawa RCMP received an FBI report naming Aquash as a suspect, and an FBI field report described her as “armed and dangerous.”


Aquash took refuge at a tent encampment on the Rosebud reservation adjoining Pine Ridge. Dino and Nilak Butler camped nearby. On September 5, 1975, she awoke to shouting, stumbled from her tent half-dressed, and stared into the barrel of an M16 rifle. “You,” FBI agent David Price said to her, “I’ve been looking all over for you.”

Fifty agents in battle fatigues ransacked the camp. She later told her friend Candy Hamilton, “I heard the agents smashing things and laughing, throwing eagle feathers and beadwork around. They verbally abused me, accusing me of things I hadn’t done.”

At the Federal Building in Pierre, South Dakota agents charged her with illegal possession of dynamite, which they claimed to have found at the scene. When she asked for a lawyer, an agent told her, “You’re not going to get a call through unless you talk to us first.” They asked her about June 26th, “where two men were killed.”

“Three men,” said Aquash.

The agents insisted that she had witnessed the shooting of the agents, although Aquash denied it. She later told AIM lawyers that agent David Price threatened that if she did not cooperate “you won’t live out the year.”

“You can either shoot me or throw me in jail,” the FBI account quotes her. “That’s what you’re going to do with me anyway.”

Dino Butler reported that agents told him flatly: “Cooperate and live, don’t cooperate you die.”

Aquash spent the night in jail, made bail the next day, and called her sister Rebecca Julian in Nova Scotia. Speaking in their native Mi’kmaq, she told her sister that she feared for her life. Rebecca urged her to come home. She promised she would, but added, “If you could see the people, they way they’re treated here, you’d understand.”

The FBI added firearm possession to their indictment, and Anna Mae faced two felony charges. Court-appointed attorney, Robert Riter, relayed the FBI’s deal: testify against Dino and Nilak Butler for shooting agents Coler and Williams, and they would drop one charge and allow her to plead out on the second charge. Otherwise, she faced a long jail sentence.


Anna Mae and Nilak Butler fled to Los Angeles where they organize a vehicle to spirit Peltier and AIM leader Dennis Banks into hiding. In November, they headed north in a Dodge Explorer motor home, owned by actor Marlon Brando. The fugitives included 20-year-old Ka-Mook Nichols Banks, eight months pregnant and carrying her one-year-old daughter. Friction had developed among the group. Anna Mae had had an affair with Dennis Banks, alienating Ka-Mook Banks. More seriously, each fugitive harboured fears about informers.

Eight months earlier, Dennis Banks had discovered that AIM security chief, Douglass Durham, worked for the FBI. Anna Mae had suspected Durham when he arrived at Wounded Knee claiming to be “one-fourth Chippewa.” She noticed that he died his hair and provoked gratuitous violence. She had expelled him from the Los Angeles AIM office, but Durham endeared himself to Banks and infiltrated the Defense Committee the Wounded Knee trial in St. Paul.

The former Marine had served as a CIA operative in Cuba and Guatemala. In Iowa, he worked on the police force while engaged in drug smuggling. The Des Moines police fired him after a violent fight with his pregnant wife over his pimping. He boasted that he headed “the largest criminal organization in Iowa.” He flew AIM leaders around in U.S. Army planes and framed AIM members with violent crimes.

In one chilling assignment, he seduced Jancita Eagle Deer from the Rosebud Reservation. At the age of 15, Eagle Deer had reported to her school principal that reservation public defender William Janklow had raped her. Janklow denied the charge but the Rosebud Council barred him from the reservation. Janklow became a U.S. senator and is now serving jail time for vehicular manslaughter. Eagle Deer announced to AIM members that she would marry Durham.

In January 1975, she accompanied him to Gresham, Wisconsin, where Durham instigated a shootout with local sheriffs, arousing an armed citizen’s vigilante group. When Aquash and others expelled Durham, he fled with Eagle Deer. She was last seen alive staggering along a deserted road near Aurora, Nebraska, just before a speeding vehicle ended her life. No charges were ever filed in her death.

A month later, AIM exposed Durham at a news conference in Chicago. His disruption of AIM fit the FBI’s strategy, documented in memos from the era, to “disrupt or neutralize” leftist, black, and American Indian groups. William Sullivan, former head of FBI Intelligence stated that, “We were engaged in COINTELPRO [counter intelligence] tactics to divide, confuse, weaken … an organization.”

In a 1968 memo, the FBI described a tactic called “snitch-jacketing,” to “create the impression that leaders are informants for the Bureau.” Ka-Mook Banks testified at the recent trial of Arlo Looking Cloud, John Graham’s co-accused, that by 1975, many within AIM suspected Aquash was an informer.

The FBI knew about the fugitives in the motor home, and on the night of November 14, 1975, Oregon police stopped the vehicle near the Idaho border. Peltier and Dennis Banks escaped into the night, but Aquash, Ka-Mook Banks, her daughter and unborn child, and two other native men remained in custody.


“My efforts to raise the consciousness of whites,” Aquash wrote to her sister, “is bound to be stopped by the FBI.” She told an Idaho reporter, “If they take me back to South Dakota, I’ll be murdered.” Aquash returned in chains, but was released. Fearing for her life, she fled west. The FBI filed a ten-count indictment against her for a variety of violent crimes.

In Los Angeles, she uncovered information about Douglass Durham’s involvement in framing two AIM members with a gruesome murder. She promised to meet her journalist friend Paula Griese in Minneapolis in January, but never arrived. The last weeks of Anna Mae’s life are the subject of the cases against John Graham and Arlo Looking Cloud, and their counter-charges against the FBI.

Someone shot Aquash in the back of the head with a .32 calibre handgun, between December 20, 1975 and early February 1976. The prosecution’s theory states that AIM executed her, and that Graham pulled the trigger. The defense theory is that the FBI killed Aquash, and that David Price, Douglass Durham, or someone from the Pine Ridge goon squad pulled the trigger.

U.S. prosecutors claim that Graham, Looking Cloud, and Theda Clark kidnapped Aquash from the home of Troy Lynn Yellow Wood in Denver, took her to South Dakota, interrogated her with other AIM leaders, and executed her. Yellow Wood and four others witnessed the party leaving the Denver home. Two of those witnesses recall Aquash bound with rope, but Irving told a reporter in 1999, “Anna Mae walked out on her own.” Witnesses Cleo Gates and Candy Hamilton testify that they saw Aquash with Graham on the Pine Ridge Reservation in December, and Hamilton says Aquash seemed upset. Graham acknowledges that the four drove from Denver to Pine Ridge, visited Cleo and Dick Marshall, and travelled to Bill Means’ home in Rosebud.

Here, the stories diverge. Graham says they dropped Anna Mae at safe house on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The U.S. attorney’s summary of evidence states that Graham told his friend Frank Dillon, “We had to off her.” The summary states that native spiritual leader Al Gates will testify that Graham admitted being present at Aquash’s death. However, Dillon now claims he did not say this and Gates is dead.

Asked how the U.S. certified the dead Gates as a witness, U.S. Attorney Jim McMahon, replied, “I’m not sure how long he’s been dead.” McMahon would not comment on the impact to his case of losing the testimony of Gates, Dillon, and Looking Cloud.

Looking Cloud’s eyewitness account is the evidence that Graham killed Aquash, but he has recanted and stated that he will not testify against Graham.

AIM is sharply divided over blame for Aquash’s death. Ka-Mook Nichols Banks, Russell Means, John Trudell, and Bob Robideau have stated that someone in AIM may have ordered her death, and that they believe Graham might have carried out the execution. Others, such as Peltier, Vernon Bellecourt, and Dennis Banks claim that the FBI has intimidated witnesses, fabricated evidence, and planted media stories to create this impression. In either case, the FBI has clearly succeeded in their stated effort to disrupt, neutralize, and divide AIM.

Due Process

“In Canada,” said Graham’s lawyer, Terry LaLiberte, “I’d drive a truck through the holes in this case.”

“AIM did not execute informers,” he says flatly. Anna Mae’s biographer, Johanna Brand, concurs, “There was no precedent for such treatment of informers.” When AIM exposed Durham, they brought him before a public press conference. They did not execute or harm Bernie Morning Gun, Virginia “Blue Dove” DeLuce, or any of the dozens of informers they uncovered. AIM leaders supported Norman Brown, the teenager whose mother begged him to cooperate in fabricating evidence.

On the other hand, Brown himself now believes AIM may have been involved in the slaying. “As for the Movement leaders,” he says, “I have seen them and experienced their b.s. as so very few people saw and or could ever imagine.”

During the 1975 trial of Dennis Banks and Russell Means, Judge Fred Nichol found prosecutors guilty of counseling witnesses to commit perjury, suppressing evidence, infiltrating the defense team, and lying to the court about their activities. Nichols grew so distraught, he dismissed the charges, commenting, “The waters of justice have been polluted.” The following year, a U.S. Commission on Civil Rights examined Lakota complaints and, according to investigator William Muldrow, found the FBI guilty of “threats, harassment, and search procedures conducted without due process of law.”

The defense points to the handling of the Leonard Peltier extradition from Vancouver as a shameful precedent. In 1976, RCMP and Hinton, Alberta Municipal police arrested Peltier at the camp of Cree leader Robert Smallboy. Canada extradited Peltier to the U.S. on the basis of two affidavits signed by Lakota woman Myrtle Poor Bear, who claimed to have witnessed the shooting of the two agents.

Myrtle Poor Bear had been a radio dispatcher for the BIA police at Pine Ridge, a single mother struggling with alcoholism and depression. Hotel receipts show that between February 19 and 23, FBI agents David Price and William Wood held her in a hotel room in Nebraska. Poor Bear says they bullied her to sign the affidavits against Peltier. Her first affidavit, from February 19, alleges she was Peltier’s girlfriend and that he confessed to her. The two affidavits signed four days later claimed she witnessed the murder first hand. Crown prosecutor Bill Halprin presented the last two versions to a Canadian court, which sent Peltier back to the U.S., where he remains in prison today.

Before Judge Paul Benson in Fargo, North Dakota, Poor Bear testified that she had been coerced, that she had not witnessed the shootings, had not been Peltier’s girlfriend, and had never met him. “I was forced to sign those papers,” she said. She claims Price and Wood showed her pictures of the dead Anna Mae Aquash. “The agents are always talking about Anna Mae … about the time she died.” A year later, in Canada, she said, “He [Price] showed me pictures of the body and said that if I don’t cooperate this is what may happen to me.” She claims that agent Wood “said that they could get away with killing because they were agents.”

FBI agent Nicholas O’Hara acknowledged to the Rochester, Minnesota Post-Bulletin in 1992, “Myrtle Poor Bear’s affidavits were falsely made and were then used to help extradite Peltier from Canada.”

Judge Donald Ross, during Peltier’s appeal in 1977, said the Myrtle Poor Bear affidavits show “the United States is willing to resort to any tactic in order to bring somebody back to the United States from Canada.”

Canada’s Choice

Former Canadian Minister of Indian Affairs, Warren Allmand, declined to intervene in the Peltier extradition on the advise that, “justice would take its course.” He now feels “betrayed and insulted … [by the] FBI’s deliberate use of fraud.” In 1992, fifty-five Canadian MPs filed a brief to a U.S. court affirming that Canada had been duped.

Paul DeMain, editor of News From Indian Country in the U.S., and Anna Mae’s daughter Denise Mahoney-Pictou both claim, “There’s no Myrtle Poor Bear in this case.” DeMain believes the phoney affidavits are irrelevant. “The FBI framed a guilty man,” he says of Peltier.

“That’s not how our legal system is supposed to work,” says Graham in Vancouver. He claims FBI agents visited him in the Yukon in 1989 and urged him to accuse others of murdering Aquash. “They told me that if I didn’t cooperate, they’d go after me.” In 1995, former BIA policeman Bob Ecoffey visited Graham in Whitehorse with an RCMP officer present. Graham claims Ecoffey offered him “immunity,” if he cooperated. “Immunity from what? I asked him.”

Ecoffey and Denver detective Abe Alonzo arrested Looking Cloud in 2003, and a South Dakota jury convicted him of aiding first-degree murder. Looking Cloud’s new lawyer, Terry Gilbert, says his video testimony was coerced. An appeal will begin on January 10 in St. Paul, Minnesota. On October 19 last year Looking Cloud refused to testify against Graham before a Grand Jury and claims he will not testify against Graham in the future.

David Seals, with a Lakota human rights group, interviewed Looking Cloud at Pennington County jail in South Dakota, and writes that Looking Cloud told him, “It was a set-up … I was drunk. They were giving me drugs and alcohol.” Seals claims the video confession is “almost incoherent, and the police were asking a lot of leading questions.”

In the Vancouver courtroom LaLiberte said before Justice Bennett, “My lady, you are being misled by the United States of America. Evidence certified by [U.S. Attorney] Robert Mandel appears not to exist… They have been negligent, if not deceitful. Canadian courts should and can demand more.” Outside court, LaLiberte declared, “This whole case has been concocted by Ecoffey.”

“Bob Ecoffey was a BIA cop at the height of the reign of terror on Pine Ridge,” Graham says. Ecoffey, claims that in the BIA office in 1976, he heard “a young woman crying” through the intercom and that a “medicine man” told him this was the spirit of Anna Mae seeking justice. Janis Schmidt from Pine Ridge claims Ecoffey is “a fraud. He never said who the medicine man was. He tried to claim Selo Black Crow as his Grandfather, which he isn’t. Selo said that Bob came around and asked a lot of questions, even accused him of killing Anna Mae. How does he know the cyring voice wasn’t Jeanette Bissonnette or Edith Eagle Hawk looking for justice?”

In September of last year, Ecoffey married witness Ka-Mook Nichols, who has testified that Aquash feared AIM. At the Looking Cloud trial Nichols admitted to receiving $25,000 in 2004 in connection with her cooperation on the case, money she maintains is compensation for her expenses in traveling to collect evidence.

Amnesty International has not commented on the details of Graham’s case, but has expressed “concerns about … apparent efforts by the Federal Bureau of Investigations to prejudice the fair trial rights of AIM leaders.”

Anna Mae’s daughter, Denise, is now the executive director of Indigenous Women for Justice, seeking resolution in her mother’s murder. She believes AIM ordered the execution and that “John Graham murdered my mother.”

Graham’s daughter Naneek feels differently. “My dad never hurt anybody,” she said outside the Vancouver courtroom.

“I don’t blame Anna Mae’s daughers,” says Graham. “They’re being led to believe that by the FBI. They want justice for their mother. But they don’t know the history of the FBI. This whole thing is a rerun. If I go back to South Dakota, I’ll get railroaded just like Leonard.”

Retired Hinton, Alberta police officer Bob Newbrook, says he now regrets participating in the arrest of Peltier. “I’m afraid that Canada will get duped again with the same sort of trumped-up evidence that the U.S. used to get Mr. Peltier.”

In the Vancouver courtroom, Judge Bennett will decide whether or not the evidence supplied by the U.S. is sufficient to return Graham to South Dakota for trial. If she rules that it is, Graham’s case will go before Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler. The Minister has more leeway than the judge to assess the history and quality of the evidence before him. In any case, Canada must decide, in light of its previous experience with Leonard Peltier, if it trusts the U.S. with the fate of a Canadian First Nations citizen.

Norman Brown, a teenager when he met Anna Mae, recalls, “the times when she stood with the warriors, when very many men didn’t … [they] have no idea the sacrifices we all made for each other.”

One thing we know: Anna Mae did not deserve what happened to her.”


Leonard Peltier was framed.

What Is Going On Here?

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s Chief of Staff, is beholden to the health care industry. He used their money to fund blue dog Democrats elections, this according to Max Blumenthal author of “Republican Gomorrah”. At least that is what he said on KPFK today.
This is the reason why Obama has not taken a populist approach to passing health care. Instead he has decided to make back room deals with the industry. Medicare for all was taken off the table before the health care debate even began. The only thing being negotiated is do we have a public option or do we simply trust the private insurance industry to do the right thing.
Blumenthal thinks Obama should mobilize those people who were enamoured with him durring the election and get them out in the streets.
He states that the religious right has an emotional need to be validated by the anti-Obama rhetoric. They are mostly angry white southerners who form the base, the shock troops so to speak of the right wing. Blumenthal is an advocate of the belief that the Republican party has been taken over by the extreme religious right.
Ian Masters is alluding to the conspiracy theory people when he talks about the lunatic left who he is affraid might take over KPFK, the Los Angeles Pacifica radio station. He is fundraising for the station. As a former community Radio DJ I understand the agony of fundraising. It is also in the middle of the Pacifica Foundation elections. Masters is advocating for what he calls the responcible faction. That is those who do not waste their time on conspiracy theories but try to make changes that are real and concrete like heath care reform. I am not an advocate of conspiracy theories. There are secret government bodies but that does not mean we have a secret government. Governments do things in secret and then those secrets get found out. Some secrets take years, others only weeks or days. I don’t think a conspiracy like 9/11 could be kept for this many years if there was a conspiracy, not with the level of unpopularity of the Bush administration and with the dubious manner in which it came to power. Too many journalists have been digging around at the edges of that government for this to pass.
What can I say about conspiracy theories? I studied Kennedy assassination theories and those have more probability than 9/11 but even those are pretty tenuous. Without a confession of guilt there needs to be compelling circumstantial evidence. The station is committing to a debate on air between implosion engineers and airplane strike engineers at KPFK about the 9/11 controversy because of the difference of opinion over what happened.
The evidence is pretty clear that the people in America are suffering some form of a traumatic disorder. Perhaps the whole world is. The last century was pretty tough on humanity. We have been all interconnected in a manner that is new in history.
Call it future shock call it the third wave, call it shock capitalism. But in the last century we have gone from a world that was being transformed by the industrial revolution. We had reached the point of social organization that we could socialize. Instead we had a devastating series of wars and a stand off between premature socialism and overdeveloped capitalism that almost destroyed the planet. The socialists gave in, admitting that they were premature and let the capitalists take over. The gamble was that capitalism would collapse under the weight of its own contradictions. Perhaps that is what is happening now.
As capitalism reaches the end of its ability to incorporate the resources of the world and through that process has exploited to the maximum the peoples of the world, there will come a cry for some more rational method of distribution of the wealth of the world. Up until now there had not been a more efficient means of wealth distribution than capitalism. Bureaucratic methodologies of Marxist pseudo science only muddied the waters, created a new class the technocrats and eventually gave socialism a black eye.
Now with the information technology refined to the degree that it is we can bypass the market place entirely. We don’t need markets we have computers. What we need now is an efficient method of allocating value that matches the speed at which computers allocate data. Capitalism with its cumbersome financial modalities and credit scoring systems and financially pegged system of value matched to the antiquated system of compound interest has created too many bottle necks and instabilities in the system.
Simply regulating capitalism, ie slowing it down, doesn’t solve the problem. What we have is an inadequate system of value allocation. Wealth is determined by productive transformation of one form of matter into another by human or mechanical labor. As machines do more and more of the work and the human labor involved becomes more one of programing, quality control and consumption, the very concept of labor is being transformed. We do not need much of the labor involved in production except on the craft level where machines are too costly to tool for single efforts or for hand finishing functions that are still easier for humans to do. These hand finishing functions are generally not well paid. Neither are service industry functions such as waiting on tables, cashiering, janitorial services, etc. Medium level salaries are paid to expensive machine tenders, accountants and bookkeepers, programmers, teachers, nurses, reporters and managers. Higher level salaries are paid to specialist medical practitioners, financial speculators, some sales representatives, talking heads of various sorts in the entertainment industry, actors and professional sports figures.
Unions in the past helped equalize industrial workers pay and in some industries such as that of sports figures the salaries have gone through the roof. But others such as the music industry have bottomed. As unions have become less powerful because of their national base in an international marketplace they have become increasingly swept aside. As have nation states themselves. Now capitalism itself is becoming the problem as people see that these expensive computer programs that are created to predict the stock market and move cash from one area of the market to another to take care of increasingly slight fluctuations in value, that because of the volume of the shifts can create overwhelming changes that throw what was once a semi rational system into complete chaos.
We cannot base economic decisions on 1/4 cent differences in the value of x currency over y currency. We cannot let stock market plays, elaborate insurance schemes or bundling of risk into more palatable slices determine how we value labor and allocate wealth. It is increasingly irrational in a world where computers can move assets in nanoseconds from one market to another. It throws all planning out the window and allows for irrational factors to determine wealth that have nothing to do with the Adam Smith Market Place except in the most tenuous theoretical manner.
On the other hand we have tools now for allocation that are faster than the market. We can determine desire and need, evaluate the difference and factor in the real cost without haveing to go into the elaborate and antiquated falderal of a financial marketing system that only works to make its developers fabulously wealthy and others wealthy or not based on a system of values that have become more and more divorced from any concept of labor that has any relationship to any system of values.
What we need to do is scrap capitalism and determine value according to need and desire vs. labor intensity and resource requirement to produce said value. What people receive should be based not on what they produce but simply by the share of that labor pool they represent with all labor treated equally. Incentive should be based on social need not personal desire. In other words if we need a widget producer and don’t have enough we should value widget production. If we need garbage collectors we should value garbage collection and it should be strictly based on criteria of need. All things being equal some things take longer to learn and that means learning curve time should be compensated. Anticipating certain needs should be part of the projectional aspect of the programming and therefore compensation for a need should start upon taking up the field not upon completion of a training program. If we need doctors, that compensation should start as soon as the study begins. Not at the time of graduation from a program of study. The person should be integrated into the chosen field based on competency exhibited not on any set program of study. As education should be continuous there should be no division between student and worker. Students are workers in an earlier phase of the work. Just as a corn plant is a corn plant from the seed to the completion of growth. A doctor is a doctor and the level of skill is determined by the level of experience, not by the number of degrees.
I am not saying a doctor is a doctor from birth, but I think compensation should begin at the time a field is chosen. The rate of pay should be based on the social need. The training should be included in the social cost as should be the clean up after and the replacement cost. What we need is a social system that rewards flexibility, intelligence and diligence. Not degrees, status or accumulation of wealth. Wealth is social and relative to the well being of the society as a whole and it should not be an indicator of how well someone does in playing according to the rules of capitalism. One should be rewarded based on ones ability to provide for a social need. When that need is over one should be capable of retraining for a new need. One should not be stuck in one field or another for fear of losing income by retraining or because one field is more lucrative than another. The value of a field should be determined by the social need and how well one performs that social need. But there should be a base that rewards all persons equally and there should be an understanding that people are attracted to some fields over others because of inclination. But because one person is inclined to physical labor and another is inclined to mathematical labor, should not mean that one is rewarded more than another except when the society needs a function to be filled and there is a shortage of those willing to fill it. Otherwise all needs should be meet equally out of the collective pot.
In other words incentives should be based on interest and desire not financial. Only when there is a shortage in an area should financial incentives be used. Generally attracting people to one area over another can be done in a society where financial incentives are no longer important by simply asking for volunteers.
Some say people won’t work without financial incentive. People would simply lay around all day and have sex and watch soap operas and attend sporting events and nothing would get done. Perhaps. And if we were a society where we had just been beamed up from the jungle and put in a complex modern civilization that might happen. But we have a complex society, not because we are all forced to work but because we like complexity. It is a human trait. On the other hand if you take away the financial incentive perhaps some things would simply not be done. Like wars. Perhaps nobody could be motivated to kill. But I doubt it. People become enraged and when they do things happen. I don’t think you can eliminate crimes of passion. But you might be able to eliminate robbery if all you had to do to get something would be to sent for it on the internet. You might be able to eliminate crimes based on envy or of desperation driven by financial despair. What you cannot get rid of would be sex crimes. But then if you don’t have to pay for sex, or if you don’t have to be the biggest mucky muck to attract a mate, perhaps people will mate for reasons other than financial gain. The original basis for marriage was to determine property rights of inheritance. Marriage didn’t even exist in many cultures among the poor until recent times.
Besides in a full employment society we don’t need all that much labor from people. Only a couple of hours a day. Much labor could be done in a game format that would make it not even seem like work and with education ongoing work life and study and play would be integrated again as it was when we were literally living in the jungle. It is simply more efficient for life to be a pleasure than for it to be a grind.
What is now considered to be painful will be recognised for what it is, the confusion of a mind adjusting to a new pattern. The heat felt when one makes a mistake, the so called experience of shame is simply the corrective mechanism built into every human being to help them determine if they are on the right course or not. Otherwise we would never know if we were lost or not. Ok done with my day dreaming about a post capitalist society. We have degenerated to such a degree from where we were 40 years ago that such thinking, common then is now considered to be pie in the sky idealism. Why? Because we have let the profiteers who believe in capitalism convince us it is so. There is no reason why we cannot pick up were we left off decades ago. We only have to want to. Meanwhile we suffer along and people like me shake my head in bewilderment. Do people really enjoy this?

What we have in America in my mind is a great amount of pressure to produce and conform to certain standards of fiscal discipline. The average person is either forced to become an expert or pseudo expert on the markets, or become marginalized. Most of us cannot afford to hire financial experts, but those who have money soon find that there are plenty of service industries ready to cater to their interests and needs. When poor persons win the lottery they for the most part lose that wealth rapidly because they did not grow up in the culture of money. They do not pay close attention to interest rates, and rates of returns and value on investment dollars. They are unfamiliar with the language.
To become educated in a sophisticated manner in how capitalism works and to invest wisely means dedicating a large portion of ones time to dealing with financial matters. One doesn’t need a degree, but one does need to invest time to develop an understanding just as it takes time to develop an understanding of political matters.
I have taken a good chunk of my own time to understand history and politics. The average person would not want to dedicate as much time as I do. The other problem is understanding how much time is required for discerning the differences between the disinformation and real facts. In the blogisphere we find a huge mix of facts and factoids. On top of that the academic information that should be accessible is only available at a price or to those with academic credentials. That deliberate withholding of information is done to force people to participate in the academic game of paying to become a student and thus become indebted to an academic institution.
There is much talk of maintaining academic standards but much of this is simply a matter of copyrights. People want to be paid for access to the information they have researched. The Universities become the gateway to access.
This may be legitimate, although why one path to understanding and knowledge is rewarded financially and another path is not is a subject that should be questioned. Personally I believe knowledge should be shared. I find the internet to be liberating. It allows me to share what I know without any intermediary other than the need for access to a computer. But this has led to a devaluation of the journalistic trade. By doing what I do for free, I make it hard for someone else to charge money for the same information. It also brings up the question of paying others for the work they did. If I asked for money then I would expect to pay others when I copy and paste what they write. But I don’t ask for money. I pay for my living expenses through a day job.
It limits my ability to produce original journalism. I am not subsidized by any academic endowments. I am not supported by any commercial advertisers nor am I a non profit. In exchange for not asking for support, I am free to say whatever I please. The only standards I accept are my own standards of fairness and integrity.
This is an unsustainable method of sustaining a journalistic enterprise because I have insufficient means to empirically verify the factual basis of what I write about. Therefore this is no more than an impressionistic account of life on planet earth as I see it at this point in time. It is perhaps the height of human understanding and the depths of human delusion that is represented by the independent blogger.
Realistically though if the paid journalists were all to go out of business, if they were no longer accepted as a socially needed vehicle for informing the public, then bloggers such as myself would be all there is as long as the internet is relativly free and accessible. But what comes up when a search is made is also problematic. I rarely go past the first page in a search for information when I do a google search. That has been because I mistakenly believed that the sorting of data on google was based on how recent the data was. I assumed that the most recent was the first and that as it went back in time it went back in the list. That is not true. Some order is based on the number of hits a site receives and others on how much a site pays to the server to be on top of the list. There is no such thing as order in terms of social relevance or importance. How would you determine that?
Personally I think the order should be random but that would imply that people understood that was how it worked. Or it should be based on the specificity of the search request.
How to determine truthfulness is another question. Should there be a truth police? Should there be standards regarding slander. Certainly one should be able to block out sites one does not prefer, but how do you determine truthful sites vs. lies? I know there are viewpoints I prefer, and I try to prefer truth over lies. Or at least attempts at discovering truth over disseminating lies. And I try to be aware of when I am being fed a line of BS. But we all have our biases based on our life experiences.
Journalism has standards of impartiality. I studied journalism long enough to get the basic concepts. I even did some journalism for a few years before I got tired of working in restaurants to pay the bills. I got a job in the printing business and had a family and now years later I have picked up the electronic pen again in an attempt to speak the truth as I see it.
But to understand if something is true or not takes a talent for ferreting out lies. You have to have an instinct to discern bullshit when you hear it. Also you need to understand that there are times when something is absolute bullshit and when it is simply bullshit for you at this time and place. It may be perfectly true and applicable under a different set of circumstances. That is when things get tricky. For instance I saw a French movie of course, where a resistance fighter team had to kill one of its members, not to save their skins but because that was what the person would have wanted them to do to save the cause they were fighting for, to liberate France from Nazi occupation. The woman at issue had been captured by the Nazis who told her they would make her daughter a prostitute on the eastern front if she did not turn in her comrades in the cell. She could not kill herself and she did not want her daughter to be a prostitute so she lied to the Germans, told them that she did not know where the cell members were because they moved all the time. She told them she would turn in her partners if she could find them. The Nazis being honorable let her daughter go and sent her out to find her comrades. She had in the meantime got a message out to them that she had been captured by the Nazis. They deduced from the information she gave them that not only did she out fox the Nazis but that she wanted to be killed. So they went for a drive and the best shot did a drive by and shot her dead. But only after the leader of the cell had convinced him that that was what she wanted him to do. Very interesting huh. A moral dilemma that demands rational thinking. If they had been sentimental like the shooter who at first refused to shoot her she would have been forced to turn them all in. It would have destroyed her morale and it would have helped the Nazis. But by letting them kill her it saved her daughter and the funcioning of the cell.
As an afterward at the end of the film it was noted that all of the other cell members were eventually caught by the Nazis and killed anyway. So did they do the right thing or did they commit a moral wrong? Were the Nazis correct in capturing them and executing them all or were they doing the right thing? Or was the shooter right when his first instinct was to let her turn them in and let them all die because she was such a good and valiant member of the resistance? In any case they all died. As do we all. So do we stand up against injustice or do we stand up for the sanctity of life? The woman could not commit suicide for an unstated reason, probably because she was a Catholic. If that was the case was she selfish by not wanting to go to hell for taking her life or was following the dictates of the church the right thing? Interesting questions. As I said it was a French film, an American film would never have asked the questions. To a post modern we would probably have said what is so bad about being a prostitute? But then a mother’s instinct is to protect her child. It takes a pretty twisted society to take that away.

China Vs. India And Buddhist Terrorist Governments

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

I am concerned about the violence that seems to be emerging in Buddhist run nations. A religion that was founded by a prince concerned about the human suffering in the world seems to have found itself enmeshed in violent repression of minorities. What has happened the spirit of the great Gautama and the king Asoka who renounced violence and build hospitals in that early Indian Buddhist kingdom?
This is a simple description from Wikepedia.

“Adherents recognize the Buddha as an awakened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings escape the cycle of suffering and rebirth. The Buddha’s teachings provide instructions on how to understand the true nature of phenomena, end suffering, and to achieve nirvana.
Buddhists use various methods to liberate themselves and others from the suffering of worldly existence. These include ethical conduct and altruism, devotional practices and ceremonies, the invocation of Bodhisattva’s, renunciation, meditation, the cultivation of mindfulness and wisdom, study, and physical exercises.”

What do people who want to end human suffering do when they are in government. Modern Buddhist run states are Myanmar(Burma), Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Thailand, and Cambodia. Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, Tibet, China, Taiwan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Vietnam and Laos all have large Buddhist populations. There are perhaps 300-500 million practicing Buddhists in the world today
Sri Lanka has just finished defeating a Tamil minority insurgency and many people are locked up in camps. The Myanmar junta is waging a revived conflict with its minorities encouraged by the success of the Sri Lankans. The regime in Sri Lanka comes under scrutiny yet they succeed in getting away with many human rights violations. Myanmar is regularly denounced for its practices yet they manage to get by with the support of the Chinese and their fellow Buddhist governments.

This is from a site called Mizzima that specializes in News on Burma,

“Burma, Sri Lanka to counter terrorism
by Mizzima News
Wednesday, 05 August 2009 18:18

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Burma and Sri Lanka have agreed to step up bilateral cooperation ranging from curbing terrorism to going in for investments, trade and tourism during the second joint bilateral meeting held in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.
Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win and Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama during the second joint meeting on bilateral cooperation on Monday agreed to increase cooperation on counter terrorism and to boost bilateral investment and trade.
The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister said despite the elimination of the Liberation Tamil Tiger Elam (LTTE), the outfit’s network overseas continues to be active and that Sri Lanka is working to neutralise the group’s networks.
“Both sides condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and expressed their views on continuing joint and separate actions to curb the menace which is a threat to regional peace and security and an obstacle to regional cooperation,” a statement by the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said.
Nyan Win, on the other hand, reaffirmed to Sri Lanka that Burma would not allow any group or individual to use its territory for hostile acts against Sri Lanka.
Besides, the two foreign ministers during the meeting also agreed to increase bilateral trade, with Bogollagama inviting Burmese investors to explore possible business opportunities in the island state.
Nyan Win, who is on his fourth visit to Sri Lanka, is accompanied by several businessmen including those from the Myanmar Chamber of Commerce, who are eyeing business ventures.
Bogollagama said Burma and Sri Lanka are also looking into avenues of providing free visa facilities to pilgrims visiting the two countries.
“Our future discussions in Myanmar [Burma] will try to secure free visas for pilgrims visiting both countries,” Minister Bogollagama said.
Both Burma and Sri Lanka, being predominantly Buddhist countries, devotees often visit each others countries on pilgrimage and will benefit from the two governments agreement to waive visa fee.
At present a Sri Lankan citizen has to pay US $36 for a visa to Burma.
With the two countries having no direct air communication, the ministers also discussed starting a direct air route to boost tourism, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister said.
Bogollagama also requested the Burmese delegation to provide a favourable solution to the currency problem by exploring the possibility of introducing Asian currency units.
Currently the official value of the Burmese Kyat is about 6 kyat to 1 USD, while in the black market 1 USD is about 1200 Kyat, leaving a huge gap between the official and black market exchange rates.
While Sri Lanka has never been an important bilateral trade partner for Burma, the ruling military junta, faced with increasing international pressure for its appalling human rights records, has been exploring diplomatic relationship with the island state.
In June, following the military victory over the LTTE, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa paid a state visit to Burma and signed several Memoranda of Understanding on several issues including tourism, and cultural cooperation.”

Here is another story on the subject by a blogger

“Burma-Sri Lanka Connection: Religion and Terrorism
Monday, 15 June 2009
By Arkar Monday
Sri Lankan President Mahindra Rajapakse paid an official visit to Burma on Sunday to cement ties between the two countries.
Burma was the first country to be visited by President Mahindra Rajapakse after his government defeated the Tamil Tigers guerrilla forces in May.
Inside sources in Burma said that Burmese military leaders who recently launched a military offensive against Karen rebels in eastern Burma were impressed by Mahindra Rajapakse’s military strategy used against the Tamil tigers.
Deputy Minister for Defense Maj-Gen Aye Myint said at the 8th Shangri-La Dialogue Meeting in Singapore in May: “The world has recently witnessed the successful end of a long-standing insurgency in Sri Lanka. But, people have forgotten about insurgency in Myanmar [Burma]. Why? Because there is no more major fighting erupted in Myanmar in recent days. But it does not mean Myanmar has completely brought to an end of its internal insurgency. We have realized that hard power alone is not fully effective in winning the counter-insurgency campaigns. Therefore, we are painstakingly, patiently and time-consumingly [sic] solving the problems of insurgency.”
The Burmese regime donated US $50,000 to the Sri Lanka government to assist internally displaced persons in the Northern area of Sri Lanka.
Snr-Gen Than Shwe warmly welcomed President Mahinda Rajapaksa and expressed appreciation for his visit to Burma as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in 2004 to participate at the World Buddhist Conference in Rangoon.
The visit also commemorated the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations established between the two countries.
The state-run newspapers in Burma stressed the Theravada Buddhism that the two countries share.
But aside from religion, the two governments agreed to enhance their military cooperation.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama who accompanied the president said that the decision of President Rajapaksa to choose Burma as the country for his first overseas tour after successfully defeating terrorism is of significant event for both nations.
Minister Bogollagama noted that Snr-Gen Than Shwe had commended that the “bold steps” taken by the government to fight terrorists organizations. The regime in Burma often labels ethnic rebel groups in Burma as terrorists.
According to the official government news portal of Sri Lanka, President Rajapaksa also agreed to offer placements for two officials of the Burmese armed forces to be trained at the Kothalawala Defense Academy as a follow-up to a MoU signed on Intelligence Exchange Cooperation in 2007 to strengthen cooperation in combating terrorism and intelligence sharing.
Dr Tint Swe, a self-appointed minister for information of the exiled Burmese government, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, told The Irrawaddy that the regime in Burma is deceitful to use the religion card in light of its brutal crackdown on monks in September 2007.
Ashin Issariya, a leader of the All Burma Monks Alliance (ABMA) in exile, said: “Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country and exercised Theravada principles. The government (in Sri Lanka) allowed Burmese monks to demonstrate in the country in 2007 (to protest against brutal crackdown in Burma). But they did not condemn the Burmese military junta.”
Minister Bogollagama said that Burma and Sri Lanka maintained a close and cordial relationship as both nations are influenced by Theravada Buddhism.
“Both countries are linked through political, religious and cultural heritages that have an extended history of over 20 centuries,” he said.
Minister Bogollagama said that President Rajapaksa expressed a willingness to offer scholarships to Buddhist monks from Burma to pursue higher studies in Sri Lankan Universities.
But to political analysts in Burma, see the visit by the Sri Lanka president as not about religion, but rather that the generals are increasingly finding it difficult to contain insurgent groups in the country’s northern frontier and are willing to learn some fresh lesson from President Mahindra Rajapakse on how to defeat the enemy.

The situation in Sri Lanka is not clear. Since the defeat of the Tamil Liberation Tigers many Tamils have been rounded up and placed in camps. This was supposed to be a temporary situation. This has been going on now for months. Tamils are the largest ethnic group in Southern India and were the only area of India not subjected to Moslem rule durring the centuries when the north of India was conquered. Many Tamils live on the island of Ceylon across a narrow strait from southern India. Ceylon, now the nation of Sri Lanka is ruled by a Budhist majority government.

This is an article from Tamil Sydney about the situation in Sri Lanka.

“Human Rights abuses in Sri Lanka – In UN Kevin Rudd Says He’s Watching
Courtesy : Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press
UNITED NATIONS, September 22 — With the internment camps in northern Sri Lanka still full, Inner City Press on Tuesday asked Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd what his country will do, including since Australian UNICEF staff member James Elder was ordered expelled from the country for speaking of the detainees’ plight. Rudd, after answering about climate change and the UN’s use of peacekeepers from militarily-ruled Fiji, said Australia is “monitoring human rights” in Sri Lanka and will take the “necessary action with respect to any individual.”
Even less firm was an answer by the UN Spokesperson’s Office, when asked what if anything Lynn Pascoe accomplished in Sri Lanka about the two UN system staffer who were grabbed up by the government and, they say, tortured. Spokesperson Michele Montas said, twice, the Pascoe had “raised” the issue to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. But what is being done?
Inner City Press asked, again, if it is the UN’s position that it national staff are immune, at least within the scope of their employment for the UN. Ms. Montas declined to answer, saying that lawyers have been provided for the two staffers. On whether the UN in Sri Lanka, as it does elsewhere including Sudan, assert immunity, Ms Montas said, “I will have to find out.”
Later on Tuesday, the UN Spokesperson’s office issues three separate statement about Sudan. But nothing about Sri Lanka… Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was grilled about Sri Lanka over the weekend. One wonders how, then, simple questions like those posed on September 18 can remain unanswered.
Footnote: UK Foreign Minister David Miliband is said to be arranging by invitation only press briefings on September 23 inside the UN. It is not clear if any Sri Lanka follow up question will be asked or even allowed.

This is from a story from the BBC about the situation in Sri Lanka with a description of how the government managed to get the wherewithall to defeat the Tamils after a long standing international call for cease fire did not work.

“Saturday, 23 May 2009 11:38 UK By Chris Morris
Sri Lanka’s new chapter
The authorities in the capital of Sri Lanka have declared the rebel leader of the Tamil Tigers, Vellupillai Prabhakaran, dead and the war over. Exactly how he died may never be known. TV pictures released by the army showed a corpse dressed in trademark fatigues, with eyes open wide. It looked like he had been shot in the head at close range.
Ironically, the man who identified the body (of Prabhakaran) had been the commander of the Tamil Tigers in the eastern province, when all those policemen were killed.
Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by Tamil Tiger supporters
Col Karuna broke with Prabhakaran in 2004, fatally weakening the rebel movement.
Now, he is the minister for national reconciliation in the Sri Lankan government. Life is sometimes strange.
And what are the chances for national reconciliation?
The Tamil community in Sri Lanka is battered and bruised. Thousands of civilians have been killed in the last few months. Hundreds of thousands are now displaced and held in government-run camps.
They have no idea who will protect them, or even who they need protection from.
But Prabhakaran’s death, and the military defeat of the Tamil Tigers, presents an opportunity to break out of the stalemate of the past.
Certainly the outside world is concentrating on Sri Lanka as never before. India - where Rajiv Gandhi’s family are still in power - was never going to do that much while Prabhakaran was still alive. Now it is scrambling to push for a political solution.
It is not just about concern for the suffering of civilians just off its southern shores. Official India is also slightly spooked by the role China played in helping Sri Lanka win the civil war.
Beijing has provided huge stocks of weapons to Sri Lanka in the last few years, at the same time as it has been building a new deep water port on the island’s southern coast.
It has not gone unnoticed that China’s oil supplies from the Middle East pass through the waters of the Indian Ocean, along the sea lanes just south of Colombo.
Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict has lasted nearly three decades
And now that China has helped Sri Lanka defeat the Tamil Tigers, it may be looking to call in a few favours, as it slowly extends its influence across the region.
All this at a time when the Sri Lankan authorities are casting around for new friends.
They have bitterly resented Western criticism of their conduct of the war.
Suggestions that the treatment of civilians demands an investigation into possible war crimes are angrily rejected.
The symbol of the rebel movement - a roaring Tiger on a red background, backed by two automatic rifles - dominated the north for most of the last 25 years. No longer.
And that has led to scenes of great rejoicing in the rest of the country. The fear of the bomb and the bullet, they hope, has finally been lifted.
And yet Prabhakaran is still a hero to many Tamils, particularly those in the diaspora, scattered around the world; many refuse to believe that he is really dead.”

The Question comes up does Buddhism even have a concern for human rights with its emphasis on this world being the source of all pain and suffering.
This is from a paper on the subject.

“Are There “Human Rights” in Buddhism?

Damien Keown
Lecturer in Indian Religion, University of London, Goldsmiths

In the autumn of 1993 the Parliament of the World’s Religions met in Chicago to determine whether a consensus on basic moral teachings could be found among the religions of the world. The meeting was attended by representatives of the major world religions as well as ethnic and other minority groups. Representatives of many Buddhist schools, including Theravaada, Mahaayaana, Vajrayaana, and Zen were present and the main closing address was given by the Dalai Lama in Grant Park on September 4th.
One of the major fruits of this interfaith convention was a document known as the Declaration towards a Global Ethic. The Global Ethic sets out the fundamental moral principles to which it is thought all religions subscribe. Many of these principles concern human rights, and the Global Ethic sees the universal recognition of human rights and dignity by the religions of the world as the cornerstone of a “new global order.”
A related aim of the Global Ethic was to provide “the basis for an extensive process of discussion and acceptance which we hope will be sparked off in all religions.” [2] The present paper is a contribution to this process from a Buddhist perspective. Its aims are limited to an exploration of some of the basic issues which must be addressed if a Buddhist philosophy of human rights is to develop. I say “develop” because Buddhism seems to lack such a philosophy at present. Buddhism is a latecomer to the cause of human rights, and for most of its history has been preoccupied with other concerns. It might be suggested, in defense of Buddhism, that concern for human rights is a post religious phenomenon which has more to do with secular ideologies and power-politics than religion, and it is therefore unreasonable to accuse Buddhism of neglect in this area. I will suggest below that such an understanding of human rights is mistaken, but leaving the specific issue of human rights to one side there is no doubt that Buddhism lags far behind religions such as Christianity and Islam in developing the framework for a social gospel within which questions of this kind can be addressed. For such an intellectually dynamic tradition Buddhism is a lightweight in moral and political philosophy. A fig-leaf of a kind may be found in the suggestion that since much Buddhist literature remains untranslated there may be hidden treasures in these areas awaiting discovery. Such appeals to the unknown, however, lack credibility. For one thing, it would be curious if only texts on these subjects had been lost to history while literature on all manner of other topics abounds. Nor can it be a coincidence that these subjects are absent from the traditional monastic curricula. The absence of a discipline of philosophical ethics in Indian culture as a whole makes it much more likely that Buddhism simply invested little time in questions of these kinds.
Political events in the course of this century, however, have forced the issue of human rights to the top of the agenda. The Chinese invasion of Tibet, the bitter ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, and the experience of military dictatorship in countries such as Burma have all provided contemporary Buddhism with first-hand experience of the issues at stake. Another development which has done much to focus attention on social and political themes is the emergence of “socially engaged Buddhism,” a movement whose very name implies a critique of the more traditional (presumably “disengaged”) forms of Buddhism. Leading Asian and Western Buddhists now routinely express their concern about social injustice in the Western vocabulary of human rights. What I wish to consider here is how appropriate this language is for Buddhism, and what grounds there are for supposing that Buddhism is committed to the cause of “human rights” or has any clear understanding of what the concept means. Given the lack of intellectual effort down the centuries in articulating, promoting and defending rights of the kind which the world (and especially the West) is now called upon to secure for oppressed groups like the Tibetans, the more cynical might suggest that this late conversion to the cause is born more of self-interest than a deep and long-standing commitment to social justice. In calling for respect for human rights today, then, is Buddhism simply riding on the coat-tails of the West or is there, after all, a commitment to human rights in Buddhist teachings?”
One suggestion as to how human rights can be grounded in Buddhist doctrine has been made by Kenneth Inada. In a discussion of “The Buddhist Perspective on Human Rights,” Inada suggests “there is an intimate and vital relationship of the Buddhist norm or Dhamma with that of human rights.” He explains the relationship as follows:

Human rights is indeed an important issue, but the Buddhist position is that it is ancillary to the larger or more basic issue of human nature. It can be asserted that the Buddhist sees the concept of human rights as a legal extension of human nature. It is a crystallization, indeed a formalization, of the mutual respect and concern of all persons, stemming from human nature. Thus, human nature is the ultimate source, the basis from which all other attributes or characteristics are to be delineated. They all have their respective raison d’etre in it. They are reflections and even byproducts of it. The reason for assigning human nature the basic position is very simple. It is to give human relations a firm grounding in the truly existential nature of things: that is, the concrete and dynamic relational nature of persons in contact with each other, that which [sic] avoids being caught up in rhetorical or legalistic tangles.
Few would disagree with the proposition that human rights are grounded in human nature. Towards the end of the extract, however, Inada seems to move away from his initial suggestion that human nature is the “ultimate source” of human rights towards the view that the ultimate ground is the “dynamic relational nature of persons in contact with each other.” In other words, it is in the interrelatedness of persons rather than in the persons themselves that the justification for human rights is to be found. This is confirmed a little later:

Consequently, the Buddhist concern is focused on the experiential process of each individual, a process technically know as relational origination (pa.ticca-samuppaada). It is the great doctrine of Buddhism, perhaps the greatest doctrine expounded by the historical Buddha. It means that, in any life-process, the arising of an experiential event is a total, relational affair.
How is the link between dependent-origination and human rights to be forged? The argument reaches its conclusion in the following passage:

Like a storm which consumes everything in its wake, an experience in terms of relational origination involves everything within its purview. Hence, the involvement of elements and, in our case, human beings as entities should not be in terms of mere relationship but rather a creative relationship which originates from the individual locus of existence. In other words, each individual is responsible for the actualization of an “extensive concern” for everything that lies in his or her path of experience. So, we may say that the sum total of the “extensive concerns” can be referred to as a mutually constituted existential realm, and it thereby becomes a fact that there will be mutual respect of fellow beings. It is on this basis that we can speak of the rights of individuals. These rights are actually extensions of human qualities such as security, liberty, and life.

In simple language, the argument seems to be as follows. Human beings, like everything else, are part of the relational process described in the doctrine of dependent-origination; since no-one exists independently we should look out for one another; looking out for one another means respecting each other’s rights; examples of the rights we should respect are security, liberty and life.”

This is from a Buddhist Blog Called The Buddhist Blog. It has an inteview with the Dali Lama on violence.

“Thursday, May 19, 2005
Buddhism and Violence
I cannot think of anything more controversial in Buddhist circles then the issue of violence. The Buddha and our teachers preach against violence and to promote peace. This stance of non-violence was one of the things that attracted me to the path of the middle way.
Is there EVER a place for violence?
Such as defending yourself or are you to just let people kill you? The other example I have is in defending your country and defeating evil such as in defeating Hitler in World War II. Do you not have a right and obligation to stand up to forces that would threaten to destroy the world and the balance of the middle way that is found in the various forms of democracy in the world?
The current Dalai Lama said in a recent interview with Canadian Broadcast News for example that some violence may be necessary in the short term but that it should be a last resort:

Yes, in particular circumstances, under particular circumstances, yes, it could be justified. However, this is not the full answer for long run.

Hana Gartner: But this is extraordinary. The Dalai Lama said violence under certain circumstances you could see as justified?

Dalai Lama: Possible. Look, First World War, Second World War. I think Second World War, at least, although millions of people killed, suffer, immense, but really I was against war because war is some kind of legalized maximum violence. I’m always against. However, and like Second World War and Korean War, at least to protect the rest of the democratic civilization, and Korea, South Korea protected. As a result, more prosperity and democracy, freedom, these things. So sometimes… But then I think the difficult thing is when violence is started, eventually there’s always a danger the situation become out of control, chain reaction, chain violence like Vietnam. All those same motivations, same strategy, same goal, but fail. Therefore, I always believe right from the beginning, must avoid violence.

Hana Gartner: But while you can concede that sometimes it’s necessary, there are those in Tibet who believe there is justification that if you do not stand up, if you just are a pacifist, you empower the person who is oppressing you.

Dalai Lama: Individual case? For example, if mad dog coming, almost certain now bite you. Then if you say, non-violence, non-violence and compassion…

Hana Gartner: You get bitten!

Dalai Lama: That’s kind of foolish! You have to take use of self-defence. But without harming, without serious harming another, I think that’s the way I feel. If someone try to shoot on you, then there is no possibility to run away, then you have to hit back. Then possibly not on head, but leg or something like that. So that’s not serious hit back, but more lenient way, more gentle way.

I found an excellent article on this issue by Roger Corless in which he said:

At the moment that the being is our enemy we may have no choice but to kill our former friend, but we will kill with regret and compassion for someone who has, as it were, become temporarily insane and does not recognize us.

However one of the Buddha’s sermons says flat out that violence is wrong:

Even if thieves carve you limb from limb with a double-handed saw, if you make your mind hostile you are not following my teaching.
Kamcupamasutta, Majjhima-Nikkaya I ~ 28-29

The Buddha was quite clear in his renunciation of violence: “Victory creates hatred. Defeat creates suffering. The wise ones desire neither victory nor defeat… Anger creates anger… He who kills will be killed. He who wins will be defeated… Revenge can only be overcome by abandoning revenge… The wise seek neither victory nor defeat.”

After waging many wars, Emperor Asoka was so moved by sayings such as these that he converted to Buddhism and became the model for later Buddhist kings. Buddhism retreated from India, China, Vietnam, and other countries rather than involve its believers in armed struggles to preserve itself. Again, this illustrates the strengths and the weaknesses of Buddhism.”

And that leaves the west still off the hook. China seems to be the main supporter of regimes that are pariahs in the west. China supports Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Sudan. China helped Pakistan get its nuclear program going when the Soviet Union was helping India. Iran is shielded from the wrath of the west by Russia and China.
China needs resources to feed its bustling economy. India is now becoming the main competitor of China. India has gone in the direction of being more high tech, the brains of the new economy while China has become the brawn. China has sent its representatives all over Africa and Asia seeking the oil and minerals it needs to feed its industrial machine. India having focused on areas that are less raw material intensive by developing its mental talent has managed to skirt some of the imperialist imperatives that drive China. The Buddhist world has become a shadow player in the games of China, who has played upon the needs of other governments to repress irritating minorities to parlay its way into access. Deep water ports in Sri Lanka for its oil fleet. Oil in the Sudan, and bases in Myanmar to keep tabs on India and to provide an outlet to the ocean for Yunnan.

This is an interesting article on Chinese interests in Myanmar and the Indian countermoves. It is a bit dated but basically it is still sound. It is from Asia Pacific Media Services Limited.

“China’s Ambitions in Myanmar
India steps up countermoves
WHILE MYANMAR remains shunned by the West, the country’s two giant neighbours, India and China, are jockeying for influence in Yangon. Since the beginning of the year, India’s army chief General Ved Prakash Malik has made two trips to Myanmar and his Burmese counterpart General Maung Aye has visited both India and China. These top-level exchanges have highlighted Myanmar’s importance in the strategic competition between Beijing and New Delhi.
China enjoys a considerable head start in the race to woo Yangon’s military leaders. Since 1988, Myanmar has become China’s closest ally in South-east Asia, a major recipient of Chinese military hardware and a potential springboard for projecting Chinese military power in the region. During Maung Aye’s trip to Beijing in June to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties, his host, Chinese Vice-President Hu Jintao, noted that strengthening Sino-Myanmarese relations was ‘an important part of China’s diplomacy concerning its surrounding areas’.
The alliance has alarmed India, which in recent years has shifted its strategy away from supporting Myanmar’s opposition movement towards cementing ties with the junta. New Delhi has offered Myanmar favourable trade relations and cooperation against ethnic insurgents along the Indo-Myanmarese frontier. India also appears to be exploiting a rift between Maung Aye and the head of Myanmar’s powerful military intelligence service, Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, viewed as far more pro-Chinese than the army chief. New Delhi has engaged in a charm offensive to encourage Maung Aye to take a more independent foreign-policy stance.
Intelligence analysts say that China’s economic political and military influence in the country has already become so strong that it would be hard for Yangon radically to reorient its foreign policy But the demise of Myanmar’s elder generation of military leaders could present opportunities for India to woo Myanmar away from China.
Myanmar emerged as a key Chinese ally on 6 August 1988, when the two countries signed an agreement establishing official trade across the common border hitherto - isolated Myanmar’s first such agreement with a neighbour. Significantly, the signing took place while Myanmar was in turmoil. Two days later, millions of people across the country took to the streets to demand an end to army rule and a restoration of the democracy the country enjoyed prior to the first military coup in 1962.
China was eager to find a trading outlet to the Indian Ocean for its landlocked inland provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan, via Myanmar. The Myanmarese rail-heads of Myitkyina and Lashio in north-eastern Myanmar, as well as the Irrawaddy River, were potential conduits. But the relevant border areas were at the time controlled by the insurgent Communist Party of Burma (CPB), which China had previously supported.
The isolation and condemnation experienced by both countries in the wake of the Yangon massacre of 1988 and the violent suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests the following year helped to draw them closer together. But China’s calculations were also strategic. Close to the key shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean and South-east Asia, Myanmar could help China to extend its military reach into a region of vital importance to Asian economies The bulk of Japan’s Middle East oil imports, for example, pass through the area. China also wanted to check India’s growing strategic influence.
By late 1991, Chinese experts were helping to upgrade Myanmar’s infrastructure, including its badly maintained roads and railways. Chinese military advisers also arrived that year, the first foreign military personnel to be stationed in Myanmar since the 1950s. Myanmar was becoming a de facto Chinese client state. Ironically, shrewd diplomacy and flourishing bilateral trade had accomplished for China what the insurgent CPB had failed to achieve.
At first, India had tried to counter China’s influence in Myanmar by supporting the country’s pro-democracy forces. But around 1993, India began to re-evaluate this strategy, concerned that it had only served to push Yangon closer to Beijing. According to a senior Indian official, Myanmarese generals signalled to New Delhi that it should take a greater interest in development work to reduce Yangon’s heavy dependence on China.
During his two-day visit to Myanmar in January this year, Malik discussed plans for curbing insurgent groups based in Myanmar that have been active in northeastern India. Maung Aye then went to the north-eastern Indian town of Shillong - an unusual visit by a foreign leader to a provincial capital - where he held talks with senior officials from the Indian trade, energy, defence, home and foreign-affairs ministries. After this exchange, India began to provide military support equipment to Myanmar. Most of the uniforms used by Myanmarese troops along the common border now come from India. New Delhi is also reported to have leased helicopters to the country’s army. Malik paid a follow-up visit to Yangon in July.
The success of India’s new strategy appears to have been reflected in the outcome of Maung Aye’s trip to China in June. The trip was partly aimed at finalising plans for a trade route between China and Myanmar. Intelligence sources in Myanmar say that the idea was to use a fleet of barges to transport goods from Bhamo on the Irrawaddy river, close to the Chinese border, to Minhla, some 1,000 kilometres down-river. From Minhla, a road is being built across the Arakan Yoma mountain range, running via An to Kyaukpyu on the coast. Kyaukpyu has been chosen as the site for a new deepwater port.
Myanmar’s military government is caught in a dilemma. When no other country was prepared to support or trade with Yangon, it had to accept Chinese aid. But what began as a modest trade agreement has developed into heavy political and military dependence. Moreover, tens of thousands of illegal Chinese immigrants have moved across the border over the past ten years and taken over local businesses in northern Myanmar, causing friction with the local population. Some communal clashes have already taken place between immigrants and local tribesmen in the area. Maung Aye, a staunch Myanmarese nationalist, is said to be more concerned about these demographic changes than defence and trade agreements with China.
This article first appeared in IISS Strategic Comments, July 2000″

And I will wind up with that. We have Buddhists caught up in the world of real politics. The Dali Lama comes to the west begging bowl in hand hoping to stir up some opposition to China to see if he can drive a wedge in their control over Tibet. India gives him refuge because China and India are competitors for influence in Asia and the world. India is the home of many of the world’s ideas in philosophy, medicine, math and religion. China has been the worlds preeminent imperial force for most of recorded history basically picking up where the Egyptians left off as the dominant force in world affairs shortly before the time of the Christian era began.
Buddhism was the religion that swept the orient. From its founding in the 6th century BC in India it moved to take over central, southern and eastern Asia and was in the first millennium AD probably the largest religion in the world in terms of the number of its adherents. Asia is in its cultural understanding of the world mostly Buddhist with Hindu and Moslem beliefs second and third. One could argue that Hinduism is the mother of Buddhism.
Islam came from the west and gradually moved to replace Buddhism as the dominant religion of the region. But culturally it is more complicated as Islam is a more recent historical innovation. Christianity came last. In its Nestorian earlier incarnation it swept through Asia as did Manichaeism. Both held sway for a while in central Asia but then disappeared. Current Christianity came with the western traders and imperialists.
The Japanese attempt in the 20th century to create a pan Asian imperial hegemony could be seen as part of a world Buddhist attempt to repel the western imperial invasion. Seeing how the Chinese faltered in the 19th century under the technical superiority of the west, the Japanese determined to learn from the west and then to replace China as the dominant power. The Japanese knew they only had a short window of opportunity and they gambled on it. They foundered on the might if the American Industrial machine that supported the Chinese.
Now China is back and it is returning to its normal position as the world’s premier imperial force.
We have China developing its resources with an amoral political philosophy that says what is good for China is good for China. They make no bones about it. There may be some historical play on former Chinese imperial contacts in the Indian Ocean that go back centuries. A Chinese fleet made voyages in the 15th century all the way to the east coast of Africa and stopped to visit with the rulers of Ceylon.
India, the land that considers itself to be the mother of civilization and since it broke off from Africa and pushed its way into Asia during an ancient geological period, perhaps it is the literal mother of mankind when it was part of Africa. But India’s climate does not make for industriousness. It is more a land for dreaming and meditation. Perhaps with AC if it could draw enough power to air condition its millions, then it would become an industrial power house. But I would think climate change would defeat that effort. Already Bangladesh is drowning. We shall see.

Burma Killing Fields. Are We Better Than That? Rambo On.

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Goal, to reach the end of the world in one piece, more or less. I read about 2012. I am told it is like some kind of pot of gold at the end of some kind of a rainbow. That rainbow is the end of the world.
Whatever it is we have to live in the world while it is still here. So I am going to write about that shit war in Burma. Because that country is suffering and we just ignore it.
Anyway this Rambo movie came on about blood and guts in Burma and I thought what the hell might as well learn something while I watch this blood fest.

This is from a squidoo lens called Burma War

“Civil War and the Forgotten…

I created this lens to Raise Awareness of the situation in and around Burma and to donate any proceeds earned through this site to my friend Lise’s orphanage in Mae Hong Son, Thailand. She looks after 45 children who are orphans from the war in Burma.

58 Years of Civil War and Nothing has Changed

It’s been 58 years and counting since the Civil War in Burma began. Shortly after Burma’s Independence from Britain in 1948, the KNLA and the Karen National Union (KNU) have been in conflict against the Burmese Military Government.
A battle between the Karen people and the Burmese Military has left innocent people brutally tortured, abused, raped and killed.
The people most affected, the Karen, are the largest of the ethnic minority groups living in the mountain ranges of eastern Burma and northwestern Thailand. There are over six million Karen in Burma, and over 400,000 in Thailand.
When I mention the war in Burma to people in America, they look at me dumbfounded and completely unaware of it. Why is it so hidden, so covered up?
Living in northern Thailand, I see how it has affected the locals EVERY DAY. As I sit here from my air conditioned condo looking outside of my window, I see torn up shacks, illegal Burmese kids running around, orphans and people living through such hardships.
My observances of the local Burmese living in Thailand are this: They are the kindest, most down-to-earth and most judged people of anyone in Thailand. The Thai people look down on them and anyone who associates with them. They are impoverished beyond belief. Many of them have escaped the War in Burma, traveled for days with no food, risking their lives to make it into Thailand (safe ground) and turn away from the war. Then when in Thailand they are happy to be alive, but a whole new slew of problems arise because they are not THAI. Many are local farmers who work 12-16 hour days and make 30-50.00 USD per month. Since they are working their children are usually running around on their own, taking care of themselves. It’s dangerous, there are thousands of orphans of the war and people are painfully unaware…until now anyway…”

This is from some Christian Site called Christianity Today. They have some nasty anti Buddhist propaganda which makes me wonder if they would be any better if the shoe was on the other foot.

“Burma’s Almost Forgotten
Christians find themselves battered by the world’s longest civil war and a brutally repressive regime
Benedict Rogers
On the Burmese side of the Moei River, the reality of the Burma Army attack was there for all to see. Where just a few weeks before had stood a thriving community with a church, school, houses, and clinic, there was now little more than ashes.
In an operation that plays out regularly in eastern Burma, the troops had set fire to the homes, looted and destroyed the clinic, burned the crops, and set the church ablaze. This particular village had good intelligence systems; the people knew the military was on its way. Villagers crossed the river into Thailand and remained there until it was safe. Not for the first time, they watched their village burn. Had the people not escaped, they would have been killed, raped, or taken for forced labor. They moved a few miles upriver and built a new community, in the knowledge that it too would someday be destroyed.
“We have to leave village after village, house after house,” the pastor told me. “But it increases our faith. We are Christians; we know God will help us. But please remember us in your prayers. Please do not forget.”
North Americans rarely read about Burma (also called Myanmar) in their newspapers, though the courage of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi garnered a few stories last year. Neither the plight of the 5 million Karen and the few hundred thousand Karenni nor the persecution of Burmese Christians is likely to see much news coverage. That news gap is troublesome because the situation in Burma is one of the most brutal in the world.

‘Buddhist’ Terrorism

The nearly 4 million Christians in Burma are among the 250 million members of the worldwide persecuted church. The U.S. State Department has ranked Burma as one of the six worst violators of religious freedom.
But the persecution is tied up with politics. The Karen, Karenni, Chin, and Kachin ethnic minority groups, struggling for freedom from a brutal Burmese regime, include substantial Christian populations.
In an effort to terrorize the ethnic groups into submission, the Burma Army uses religion as a weapon of war. When it is convenient to do so, the army cloaks itself in Buddhism and stirs up anti-Christian sentiment. Churches are often the first targets in attacks on ethnic villages, while more often than not Buddhist temples are left untouched. In Chin state, which is 90 percent Christian, soldiers tear down crosses and force villagers to build Buddhist pagodas. Burma does not affirm Buddhism as the official state religion, though Buddhists total nearly 83 percent of the population.
But it is not only Christians who suffer. The Burmese regime, known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), oppresses all who oppose it. The regime, which seized power in a coup in 1962, held elections in 1990. It lost those elections overwhelmingly but has tightened its grip on power.
Suu Kyi won the elections but remains under house arrest, and many of the elected politicians are still in prison. Over a million people from the Karen, Karenni, and Shan ethnic minorities are displaced in the jungles of eastern Burma, many without shelter, food, or medicine. At least 150,000 refugees have fled to camps in Thailand, while thousands of Chin, Arakan, and Rohingya are displaced along the India and Bangladesh borders. There are at least 1,200 political prisoners.”

This is a recent article from the New York Times.

“Myanmar Army Routs Ethnic Chinese Rebels in the North By THOMAS FULLER
Published: August 30, 2009
BANGKOK — The Myanmar military has overwhelmed rebels from an ethnic Chinese minority in the northern reaches of the country, the junta’s second victory over armed opponents in three months.
Ng Han Guan/Associated Press
A refugee camp in Nansan, China. Fighting in the northern reaches of Myanmar has caused thousands to flee the country.
Fighting has occurred in the border town of Laiza.
The routing over the weekend of the forces of the small, Chinese-speaking Kokang ethnic group gives Myanmar’s governing generals momentum in their campaign to quell armed opposition before elections and the adoption of a new Constitution next year.
Several well-armed groups, notably the Wa and Kachin, still stand in the way of the junta’s goal of complete control over the country. But a recently announced agreement of solidarity among the rebel groups, which had the potential to slow the central government’s advance against the Kokang, may be fraying.
The Myanmar government’s strategy, analysts say, appears to be to challenge the groups one by one and to try to capitalize on the many factions within each group.
In June, the military defeated ethnic Karen insurgents along the border with Thailand, aided by a local militia of Karen Buddhists who led an attack on forces that were largely made up of Karen Christians.
To defeat the Kokang, the small ethnic group in the north, the junta allied itself with a defector and chased out troops loyal to the Kokang’s chairman, Peng Jiasheng.
A force of 2,000 Wa soldiers had initially come to the assistance of the Kokang, but they retreated Friday, according to Aung Kyaw Zaw, a former rebel based on the Chinese side of the border. This appeared to undercut a mutual-assistance agreement that the rebel groups reached several weeks ago.
Late on Sunday, Myanmar’s official media broke their silence on the fighting with a television broadcast announcing that clashes had ended and providing what appeared to be a preliminary death toll of 26 members of government security forces and 8 Kokang militiamen, The Associated Press reported. “The region has now regained peace,” the official announcement said.
Chinese state media said that two Chinese citizens had also been killed in the fighting.
News services reported from southern China that Kokang forces were continuing to flee across the border into China on Sunday on the heels of what United Nations and Chinese officials estimated were as many as 30,000 civilian refugees. Nearly half the estimated 1,500 members of the Kokang militia have crossed the border and handed their weapons to the Chinese authorities, according to Mr. Aung Kyaw Zaw.
The central government’s assaults on the Kokang, which began last week, have put other ethnic groups on alert, according to Brang Lai, a local official in the Kachin headquarters in Laiza, along the Chinese border.
“People are very concerned,” Mr. Brang Lai said in a telephone interview. On the Chinese side of Laiza, residents have put Chinese flags on their roofs in the hope that they will be able to avoid any additional fighting. Officers from the Myanmar military’s Northern Division were in Laiza over the weekend to call for calm, Mr. Brang Lai said.
Followers of Mr. Peng, the Kokang’s chairman, were spotted by reporters on the Chinese side of the border buying civilian clothes to replace their militia uniforms.
“There was no way we would win,” Ri Chenchuan, a Kokang rebel, said as he shopped for new clothes, The A.P. reported.
The Myanmar government has signed more than a dozen cease-fire agreements with ethnic groups over the past two decades, but the fighting with the Kokang raised questions about the military’s intentions.
Aung Din, executive director of the United States Campaign for Burma, an advocacy group that opposes the junta, said the generals apparently had adopted a more aggressive posture, partly influenced by the Sri Lankan government’s military victory over Tamil rebels in May.
Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, met with Myanmar’s generals in June in what was his first overseas trip after the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. The visit might have inspired Myanmar’s senior general, Than Shwe, who has spent much of his military career battling ethnic groups, Mr. Aung Din said.
“It was an encouragement to the regime to do away with the insurgency once and for all,” Mr. Aung Din said. “Their thinking has changed.”
The motives and strategies of Myanmar’s leaders have long been difficult to divine. General Than Shwe is a very secretive man and the state-run media are highly selective in their reporting. The report on Sunday evening was the first time they had mentioned the campaign against the Kokang.
The fighting appears to have strained Myanmar’s relations with China, especially since the Kokang are ethnically Chinese. The Chinese Foreign Ministry warned Myanmar on Friday to “properly handle domestic problems and maintain stability in the China-Myanmar border region.”
Analysts said that the Chinese government had asked Myanmar’s generals to refrain from initiating military campaigns before the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic on Oct. 1.
In that light, China could view Myanmar’s campaign as provocative, especially since China is a large investor in Myanmar and plays the role of the junta’s protective big brother in the United Nations and other international forums.
Mr. Aung Kyaw Zaw said he suspected that the Myanmar generals wanted to demonstrate their independence to Chinese leaders. Their message, he said, is that “if we want to fight along the border, we can fight.”
“This is a political game,” he added.”

That is about all I have to say. We need to stop supporting regimes that oppress their own people even indirectly. But then when we do the same thing, where do we get off? Nowhere when we torture and blow innocents up from our predator drones. We are no better than the worst in Burma, unless we take a stand against this killing in the name of one ideology or another. On the other hand when Arjuna asked Krisna about all the killing, Krishna replied, I have already killed them, you are just my means. Think about that for a while and see if it doesn’t rock your boat.

ACORN Update, Zazi Accused Of Bomb Making, G20 Protests, Anglo-Saxon Gold, Beck Slavery Screw Up

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Najibullah Zazi has been arrested for making a hydrogen peroxide bomb. At least that is what he is being accused of by the FBI. Two others were arrested one in Illinois and one in Texas for planning to blow up bridges and buildings.
This is from the Wall Street Journal.

“Colorado Man Is Charged in U.S. Bomb Probe
WASHINGTON — A grand jury indicted a 24-year-old Afghan immigrant on a charge of conspiring to carry out bombings in the U.S., alleging he and unnamed others planned to make explosives from hair products and household cleaners in what officials say may be the first al Qaeda cell disrupted on American soil since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Prosecutors unsealed a single-count indictment Thursday charging that Najibullah Zazi, an airport-shuttle driver from Aurora, Colo., was involved with others in a plot to bomb “persons and property within the United States” — a plot Mr. Zazi allegedly remained committed to until his arrest last weekend.
Lawyers for Mr. Zazi said in court that they hadn’t received nor reviewed the new charges and supporting documentation, and had no comment. If convicted, he could receive up to a life sentence, prosecutors said. He is being held without bond.
Prosecutors detailed alleged actions over more than a year, starting with a 2008 trip to what the Federal Bureau of Investigation called an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan, then accelerating during the three months leading up to Sept. 11, 2009.
In that period, Mr. Zazi and his associates allegedly scoured beauty supply shops and checked home improvement stores to get the ingredients for explosives favored by al Qaeda and similar to those used to bomb commuter trains and a bus in London in July 2005, killing 56. Among the products Mr. Zazi and his associates purchased — in some cases while being recorded on video — were “Liquid Developer Clairoxide” and “Ion Sensitive Scalp Developer,” authorities said.
Chemical residues created by apparent efforts to cook bomb ingredients in an Aurora hotel room used by Mr. Zazi were also found by FBI technicians, prosecutors said.
Mr. Zazi, who is a legal permanent resident in the U.S., allegedly had recipes for the explosives in his laptop that were emailed to accounts that he controlled while he was still in Pakistan.
U.S. officials have long warned that al Qaeda leaders had re-established a safe haven in the tribal areas of Pakistan and were seeking to train operatives they could send into the U.S.
It is unclear whether the individuals alleged to have traveled to Pakistan with Mr. Zazi were also trained, or whether they are the same associates who later allegedly made chemical purchases in Colorado. The FBI has said the plot extends to Pakistan, Colorado, Queens and beyond.
In December 2008, while Mr. Zazi was still in Pakistan, authorities allege that photo images were emailed to two accounts he could access. They contained nine pages of handwritten notes detailing specifications for making explosives, including the recipe for Triacetone Triperoxide, known as TATP, prosecutors said. The notes were later found on his laptop computer.
TATP is the explosive used in the London transit bombings and a foiled follow-up plot, and the FBI has warned for about the past two years of what it calls al Qaeda’s growing interest in the explosive. The three main components in TATP are hydrogen peroxide, acetone and a strong acid, such as hydrochloric acid.
—Chad Bray and Stephanie Simon contributed to this article.
Write to Cam Simpson at and Evan Perez at”

Things are heating up it seems. The USA keeps going around the world attacking poor Muslims and Muslims continue to get fed up and decide to take the struggle back to the Americans. All we have to do is stop interfering in the affairs of the rest of the world and we at least will be able to take the moral high ground. Stopping torture is a good first step, but we need to do much more. We need to stop attacking countries like Iraq and Afghanistan and mind our own business. What policy goals are we furthering in either country? Iraq is a state we have destroyed. We should get out and send financial aid to make up for the damage we have done. Afghanistan is another state that we have destroyed. First we help start Al Qaeda and then when they turn on us we go after the very country we helped them liberate from the Russians. Although reinstating islamic fundamentalist rule after we destroy a socialist government is hardly what I would call liberation.
We have bombed every potential target in Afghanistan and we have helped set up a narco government similar to the one we established in Columbia. The CIA and other agencies need these narco states to help them fund their black operations that are off budget. This drug dealing is disguised as a war on drugs which is really an excuse to get in there and enforce their role getting a cut of the profits from the drug trade. This is naturally not the primary source of funding for the CIA and other covert intelligence units but it has been an integral part of US policy at least since the Vietnam War.

Today the G-20 summit protests began in earnest with anarchist and environmentalist protesters battling with cops in the streets of Pittsburgh.

This is from something called the Thaindian News

“Police fire tear gas at G-20 protesters in Pittsburgh
September 25th, 2009 - 3:51 am ICT by Aishwarya Bhatt -
Pittsburgh, Sep 24 (THAINDIAN NEWS) Police clashed with the unpermitted anti-capitalist protest march G-20 protestors on the streets of Pittsburgh. The police had to resort to tear gas and pepper spray to try to disperse the crowd, after the protesters barricaded the street as well.
According to news agency reports, officers made their announcement over a loudspeaker telling people to leave or face arrest or “other police action.”
The police authorities were ready for trouble on the eve of the G-20 summit, officers ordered several hundred protesters from a group which calls itself the G20 Project Resistance to stop their protest march, which the police said was not sanctioned by the city.
Protesters paid no heed to the police warnings and are reported to have turned violent, overturning six rubbish bins that were being used to barricade the street and rolling them with speed towards the police. Some protesters are also said to be using pallets and corrugated steel to block a road.
Leaders of the all the G20 nations, including US President and other high profile dignitaries, began arriving in Pittsburgh after the end of the UN General Assembly in New York. The two-day summit is aimed at shoring up the world economy and tightening rules after the financial crisis, so as to prevent further economic melt-downs.”

Senators Charles Schumer and Jay Rockefeller are calling for a roll call vote on public option amendments they are offering tomorrow. Senator Schumer thinks it is an uphill battle in the Senate Finance committee but once it gets out into the general senate he thinks it has a much better chance of passing. Senator Schumer says this is just the beginning of the battle in the Senate. He made these comments on Rachel Maddow’s show.

Glenn Beck made an absurd comment about the intent of the Constitution regarding slavery and the amendment limiting the Congresses ability to eliminate the importation of slaves before 1808. This is from Media Matters.

“Does Glenn Beck support the slave trade or is he just an “idiot”?
September 23, 2009 8:16 pm ET
Beck claims to provide authoritative explanation of Constitution’s meaning
Beck explains to “idiots” what “our Founding Fathers really intended” in the Constitution. In the introduction to a chapter titled, “The U.S. Constitution: Lost in Translation,” Beck mocks “idiots” who don’t share his interpretation of the Constitution:
How many times have you argued with your idiot friends about what’s constitutional and what isn’t? You may even show them the Constitution, but the disagreement continues. That made me think that maybe the problem is that the entire Constitution is written in English — a language that is very difficult for the average idiot to comprehend. In addition, there are several words in the document longer than three letters, making it a tougher read than the “Dick and Jane” books they normally struggle through.
What follows is a translation (from English to Idiot) of several important parts of the U.S. Constitution, leaving no doubt as to what our Founding Fathers really intended. [Beck, et. al, Arguing With Idiots, Page 267]
Beck praises constitutional provision protecting slave trade
Beck praises “Migration or Importation” tax provision in taking cheap shot at “immigrants.” In the chapter, Beck reprints and then praises Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 of the Constitution. Beck specifically highlights in yellow the phrase “ten dollars for each person”:
Section 9. The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
That’s right, the Founders actually put a price tag on coming to this country: $10 per person. Apparently they felt like there was a value to being able to live here. Not anymore. These days we can’t ask anything of immigrants — including that they abide by our laws. [Arguing with Idiots, Page 278]
Provision Beck praised actually “barred Congress from ending the international slave trade before 1808.” As noted by Yale Law School professor Akhil Reed Amar: “To make matters worse, despite the new Congress’s general Article I, section 8 power over international commerce, section 9 barred Congress from ending the international slave trade before 1808. By that time, the Deep South hoped to have enough extra muscle in Congress, based on white migration and slave importation, to thwart any possible antislavery constitutional amendments and perhaps even to weaken any proposed ban on further slave importation. … [T]he 1808 date itself was exempt from constitutional amendment under Article V.” [Amar, America’s Constitution: A Biography, Page 91]
“$10 per person” provision Beck praised incentivized slave trade. According to Amar: “The big money would likely flow [to the federal government] — and after 1789 did in fact flow — from federal levies on imports, yet these levies fell outside the ambit of the three-fifths clause. Indeed, by capping pre-1808 federal taxes at ten dollars per imported slave, Article I gave slave importers a special twenty-year exemption from the plenary taxation power that Congress would enjoy over all other imports.” [Amar, America’s Constitution: A Biography, Page 94]
Constitutional Convention delegate recognized that “$10 per person” provision protected slave trade. According to James Madison’s notes from the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Connecticut delegate Roger Sherman — who supported the 1808 clause and other efforts by the South to protect slavery in the Constitution — recognized that the $10 tax limit that Beck highlighted prevented Congress from taxing the slave trade out of existence. According to Madison, Sherman “observed that the smallness of the duty shewed revenue to be the object, not the discouragement of the importation.”

At least now people know about Acorn. It is a pretty decent group as I have indicated before. Rachel Maddow has dug up the source of the anti Acorn people. Richard Berman is a corporate lobbyist who has dedicated his “Employment Policy Institute” that is a non profit that is funded by corporations to go after Acorn. He is head of a laundry list of front groups who take on causes for the sake of corporate groups. He has a site called “Rotten” where he hypes his anti Acorn rhetoric.

Here is an article from the Washington Post that has some factual information about ACORN.

“For ACORN, Truth Lost Amid the Din

By Harold Meyerson
Thursday, September 24, 2009

So what does ACORN actually do, anyway?
What’s been obscured amid all the polemics, or the polemics passing as news reports, is what ACORN is and does. Founded in Little Rock in 1970 as an organization agitating for free school lunches, Vietnam veterans’ rights and more hospital emergency rooms, ACORN has grown in the past four decades into the nation’s largest community organizing group. Based in low-income neighborhoods, it has nearly 500,000 dues-paying members, recruited by door-to-door canvassers, with chapters in 110 cities in 40 states. Nationwide, it has more than 1,000 staffers.
What are the projects on which all these staffers and members work? Raising the minimum wage, for one. ACORN conceived and led the successful initiative campaign to raise the wage in Florida in 2004 and in four more states in 2006. In the past four years, it successfully pressured seven legislatures in other states to raise their minimum wage as well.
Another major campaign has been to limit the interest and fees that banks charge homeowners. In the 1990s, ACORN spearheaded a number of legal actions, often joined by states’ attorneys general, that compelled such lenders as Citigroup to change many of their practices. The group has led successful drives to outlaw the most egregious predatory lending in nine states. It also counsels thousands of inner-city homeowners and home buyers.
ACORN’s third focus has been to expand the electorate. In the 2007-08 election cycle, it registered 1.3 million new voters in the nation’s inner cities. This activity particularly vexed many Republican politicians, who have repeatedly accused the organization of massive voter fraud. The Bush administration’s politicization of the Justice Department — its widely reported firing of U.S. attorneys for their failure to bring voter fraud indictments (all of them looked and could find scarcely any instances of same) — stemmed from the administration’s apparent desire to depress minority turnout, a goal it sought to accomplish by demonizing ACORN.
Now, how much of this would you know from following the stories about ACORN that have been running in even the best of the media? Little to nothing, as Peter Dreier, a professor of politics at Occidental College, and Christopher R. Martin, a professor of journalism at University of Northern Iowa, just concluded in an exhaustive study of news coverage of ACORN. Looking at the 647 stories on the group that ran in leading newspapers and broadcast networks in 2007 and 2008, they found that not only did a majority of such stories focus on allegations of voter fraud but also that 83 percent of the stories that linked ACORN to those allegations failed to mention that actual instances of voter fraud were all but nonexistent.
Dreier and Martin also note that newspapers in cities where ACORN has long been active against predatory lending and in voter registration — they studied the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Cleveland Plain Dealer — provided more balanced stories and relied less on partisan sources than the national papers did. But with some national newspapers shuttering their domestic bureaus, the truth about ACORN — the nation’s premier tribune for the poor — may be harder and harder to find.”

I cannot add any more Rachel Maddow says she is fighting mad about the Lies being spread about ACORN. Good for you Rachel. What has the President done? Nothing. This former community activist seems not to be interested when fellow activists, advocating for the poor are attacked by a campaign of slander and lies. Come on Obama speak up for your fellow community activists.

Today a gold horde found in England was announced. It is the biggest horde yet found in England. I am a real fan of that period of history the early middle ages. I hope a decent museum gets this find and takes it on the road. Read some of these descriptions. It seems positively delectable.

This is from CNN Europe.

“Englishman’s metal detector finds record treasure trove
•Amateur metal detectorist found treasure in a field in Staffordshire, England
•Hoard described as the largest ever found, including more than 1,500 pieces
•Value of find said to be “priceless,” team to assess collection over next year
•Hoard includes five kilograms of gold, 2.5 kilograms of silver, jeweled items

LONDON, England (CNN) — A man using a metal detector in a rural English field has uncovered the largest Anglo-Saxon gold hoard ever found — an “unprecedented” treasure that sheds new light on history, archaeologists said Thursday.
It’s an “incredible collection of material — absolutely unprecedented,” said Kevin Leahy, an archaeologist with the Portable Antiquities Scheme, a voluntary group that records finds made by members of the public. “We’ve moved into new ground with this material.”
The hoard was discovered in July by Englishman Terry Herbert, who was using a metal detector he bought more than a decade ago in a jumble sale for only a few pounds (dollars). He belongs to a local metal detecting club in Staffordshire and was just out enjoying his hobby when he made the find.
Herbert found 500 items before he called in experts, who then found a further 800 articles in the soil. Officials aren’t saying exactly where the gold was found, other than to say it was in Staffordshire, in north-central England.
The pieces are almost all war gear, Leahy said. There are very few dress fittings and no feminine dress fittings; there are only two gold buckles, and they were probably used for harness armor, he said.
Sword hilt fittings and pieces of helmets, all elaborately decorated, are among the more remarkable finds.
“The quantity of gold is amazing but, more importantly, the craftsmanship is consummate,” Leahy said. “This was the very best that the Anglo-Saxon metalworkers could do, and they were very good. Tiny garnets were cut to shape and set in a mass of cells to give a rich, glowing effect; it is stunning.”
“It looks like a collection of trophies, but it is impossible to say if the hoard was the spoils from a single battle or a long and highly successful military career,” he said.
Many of the objects are inlaid with garnets, which Leahy called “stunning” and “as good as it gets.” The filigree on the items is “incredible,” he said.
Some are decorated in an Anglo-Saxon style consisting of strange animals intertwined with each other. That decoration appears on what is believed to be the cheek-piece of a helmet, decorated with a frieze of running, interlaced animals.
A strip of gold bearing a Biblical inscription in Latin is one of the most significant and controversial finds, Staffordshire Council said. One expert believes the lettering dates from the 7th or early 8th centuries, but another is sure it dates from the 8th or 9th centuries.
The inscription, misspelled in places, is probably from the Book of Numbers and reads: “Surge domine et dissipentur inimici tui et fugiant qui oderunt te a facie tua,” or “Rise up, o Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed, and let them that hate thee, flee from before thy face.”

I can hardly wait for it to tour LA. Maybe I will go to England to see it on display in Birmingham. And I think I will end on this upbeat note. Paul Kirk is the 60th democrat in the Senate. He has just been selected to take the Kennedy post by the Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick.

KPFK Board Elections, Anti-Racist Action’s Endorsements and My Response. 2012 Brouhaha

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

This is my opinion on the KPFK Board Elections. KPFK 90.7 FM is the Radio Station that I am a listener member of in the Los Angeles region. It is the Pacifica network station for our area and the regions premier source of alternative radio and left perspective.

I am a former DJ and Programmer on community radio. I used to do programing on KGNU in Boulder, I am a personal acquaintance of David Barsamian who still produces “Alternative Radio programing there. I also DJ ed at KFAI in Minneapolis which I am glad to hear is still on the air and was broadcasting durring the protests last summer as was KGNU. I also DJ ed at KUSF in San Francisco. I mostly did music, punk, new wave, reggae, afrobeat and ska as well as some news and public affairs. I did this over a period of 5 years 1978-1982 before I lost interest.

Most of the New Age programing on KPFK is unlistenable self promoting psychobabble. The few programs that are well produced and listenable are Amy Goodman’s show and Ian Master;s show. Both of which are excellent and well produced as well as informative. Some of the morning shows, particularly Lila Garrett is good. The rest of the programing I find to be either stridently out of sync with reality or simply too poorly produced to be taken seriously.
FSRC news is a borderline affair with hit or miss quality. Mid East In Focus is generally good although I don’t hear it often enough. “Some Of Us Are Brave” is decent and so is Jim Lafferty’s show. I like Rosanne Barr but she is a little too indiscriminate, she reminds me of myself when I get wound up.
There is no anarchist programing that I have heard, although some of the Marxist shows are not too dogmatic. The RCP hour on Tuesday night sometimes is funny but not because it is good but because it is so bad. The rest of the time I generally turn to NPR.
I give more money to KPFK than any other community effort in the LA region. I think it is worth the effort and if there wasn’t such an ego trip and petty competitiveness around producing a program I would offer to do a show there myself, but I got tired of all the ego battles around community radio back in the 80’s and haven’t felt motivated to even try to do a show.
I do think we need a serious anarchist communist program on the station durring the drive time. Probably 5-6 one day a week or even one day a month would be good, but I can’t see that happening in the near future. A show that had RAC, Black Riders, South Central Farmers, Anarchist Black Cross, Cop Watch, Anti-Racist Action and some independent activists would be a great idea though and I might be interested in a collective effort if some one wanted to do it with me, but otherwise I have little to say about the board elections.
It is unfortunate that the best programming in terms of useful information is run by the more conservative personal and by national players like Amy Goodman, but the surest way for the station to collapse is to have a staff that is strictly made up of well intentioned politically correct amateurs. The best is a mix of the two factions to have professionalism and dedication to the cause. The station needs an increase in paying listener-ship. It needs an action news type vehicle to get on the spot reporting and it needs to participate in cable like Amy Goodman does around the country. There is no reason why KPFK can’t have a video stream of the on air programing.
The musical interludes are good. I like the Sunday afternoon Reggae show. The Saturday programing is generally really weak though and I only listen when I am driving and there is nothing else on. On the other hand I never miss Background Briefing and even though Ian Masters may be a bit too mainstream his show is really the best on the station. I consider him to be a left wing Bill Buckley, I don’t agree with everything he says but I think he puts on a class act.
That is my two bits. on the elections. I would say read the bio’s and vote for whomever seems to represent your interests.
I got a mailer from a “Committee to Strengthen KPFK” candidate slate and I would probably not vote for any of them, just on the principal that community radio should not be wasting precious resources on such a blatant self aggrandizing effort. I hope station funds were not used for this direct mail piece. Postage is expensive!

This is the piece by Michael Novick who wrote his endorsements for the KPFK elections.

Endorsements in the election for KPFK Local Station Board
Posted by: “Michael Novick” part2001
Tue Sep 22, 2009 10:39 am (PDT)

The war of words in the Local Station Board (LSB) elections for KPFK
and other Pacifica radio stations is heating up. An open letter from
Jim Lafferty, host of The Lawyers Guild (as well as a staffer at the
National Lawyers Guild chapter in L.A. and a former interim station
manager at KPFK) and a vicious counter-attack from Ian Masters, host
of a double-serving of “insider analysis” by intelligence community
honchos and academics, Background Briefing and Live from the Left
Coast, are the latest salvos in a struggle over the direction of the
station and the network that are some of the most valuable assets of
the so-called left or progressive movement. As in any election, there
is no possibility of bridging the gap — decisive and exclusionary
choices must be made by everyone, no matter how much we may hate the
in-fighting, name-calling, and finger-pointing that passes for debate
when the left forms up its circular firing squad.

And in fact, in this election, the choice is clear. One side, the
side of current LSB member and acting Executive Director of Pacifica
Grace Aaron, of her husband Ken, a candidate for LSB, of Ian Masters
and other staffers and hosts, is committed to purges, bannings and to
‘rule or ruin’ Pacifica as an adjunct of the Democratic Party under
the mantle of ‘fiscal responsibility’ . The other side, supporting a
platform of a few key principles including loyalty to the Pacifica
mission, has backed a list of grassroots activists from various
communities around the KPFK listening area who have signed on to the
following points of unity:

* Implementing the core values of the Pacifica Mission: voices
by and for people not commonly heard in the mainstream media
* Greater autonomy and local decision-making for our radio station
* Fiscal transparency and responsibility: people, not corporate
underwriters, supporting people’s radio
* Local, diverse, multilingual, and young voices from and for
our communities
* Spanish language programming to bring progressive messages to
Spanish language communities
* Effective, participatory governance that is accountable to
listener-sponsors and responsive to the diverse needs and interests
of the Southern California listening community

I have endorsed these principles, although I am not running for
anything myself. I have worked — both in the context of
KPFK/Pacifica and in the broader social and political movements of
southern California — with a number of the candidates who have
endorsed those principles as the basis of their campaign and as their
commitment of accountability to the listeners. At
www.takebackkpfk. org, you can see the list with the “official” voting
order. I am making personal endorsements here, and giving my personal
knowledge and experience of many of these candidates. (A word about
my own qualifications to make such endorsements — in addition to
being a participant in almost every major coalition effort in Los
Angeles since I arrived here in 1982, I was elected at a KPFK town
hall meeting as a listener member of the News Director search
committee some years ago, participated in efforts to rewrite the
Pacifica bylaws, and was an elected listener member and elected chair
of the KPFK interim Program Council.)

Khallid Al-Alim, a current member of the LSB despite efforts to keep
him off, is a parent activist in the Coalition for Educational
Justice whom I have worked with as a former member of CEJ myself and
as a ‘chapter chair’ (shop steward) in United Teachers Los Angeles.
Khallid’s name is printed on the ballot — but you must vote for him
as a write-in, because his nominating petition was ruled invalid. I
urge you to vote for Khallid (as a write-in on the bottom of your
ballot) and ranked number one to insure him the strongest possibility
of getting elected under the circumstances that some people may
unwittingly vote for by marking the line by his name and thereby
waste their vote. Khallid is a survivor/resister of police brutality
by the LAPD which resulted in a police-prosecutoria l frame-up; based
on that first-hand experience, he has also worked with me in the
Jericho Amnesty Coalition to Free All Political Prisoners, defending
Mumia, Leonard Peltier, the San Francisco 8 and other victims of
injustice and political incarceration.

Lawrence Reyes of the Puerto Rican Alliance, a listener-member of
many LSB committees, another ally in the Jericho Amnesty Coalition to
Free All Political Prisoners, was singled out for particular
vituperation by Ian Masters, probably because Lawrence has been one
of the most outspoken and principled internationalist opponents of
imperialism, war and colonialism. He, too, is a parent of an LAUSD
student, a social worker and union member, a community cultural
activist who has brought artists, dancers, exhibits and speakers to
Los Angeles to educate the community about the Puerto Rican people
and their struggle against US colonialism. Lawrence has fought long
and hard for the interests of the listeners, for the needs and voices
of the communities of poor, oppressed, working and struggling people
in Los Angeles and southern CA to be heard on the air and in the
governance of the station and the network. KPFK and Pacifica have
been built with the blood, sweat and contributions of volunteers and
listeners like Lawrence, and the station and foundation must not be
hijacked by a cabal of well-funded Democratic Party partisans to
serve their own narrow interests. Lawrence’s experience and
commitment means he would be a bulwark on the Board against any
abandonment of Pacifica’s mission, and a spark plug for maintaining
the relevance and connection of the station and its programming to a
new generation of young people, in the growing demographic groups of
southern California.

Chuck Anderson is stalwart in the struggle for peace, civil liberties
and justice. Like me a grandfather, he retains a connection to
younger people just coming in to such struggles. Based in Orange
County, he is tireless in his efforts to reach out and organize, to
connect with the Palestinian and other Arab and Muslim communities,
to oppose the USA PATRIOT Act and other manifestations of a police
state, and to struggle for democracy within Pacifica, as well as
grassroots community activist access to the airwaves.

John Parker may be the best known of the candidates endorsing the
principles noted above. He is a leader of the International Action
Center, and has been involved for many years in struggles for social
and economic justice, against racism and US wars of occupation and
aggression, in the effort to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and other political
prisoners, and in fighting for the interests of working people. He
would bring valuable skills in coalition building to the station board.

Ruby Medrano has a long history of activism and grassroots community
work, particularly in East Los Angeles, going back to work with the
United Farm Workers. She has many years experience with the United
Food and Commercial Workers Union. She has also been a leader and
activist in the Democratic Party, which honestly is not my cup of
tea, but unlike the Aaron slate, she is not trying to turn the
station and network into the voice of the Democratic Party, and is
willing to work in coalition with others to ensure that KPFK and
Pacifica remain committed to free speech and a broad airing of
diverse views and debate.

Cuco (Refugio Ceballos) is a danzante with the Danza Azteca
Cuautemoc, those tireless multi-generational
cultural/political/ spiritual workers whose commitment to resistance,
internationalism, healing and decolonization inspires and amazes
marchers and on-lookers alike at protests around the southland. Cuco
is a member of the community board and a teacher at Tia Chucha’s in
the north Valley, and he was also involved in community efforts to
roll back the horrible budget cuts at LAUSD and to create a
liberation school effort when LAUSD slashed summer school classes
earlier this year. His commitment to educating and making space for
young people is unquestionable.

Tej Grewall is an intellectually- curious young woman of Indian
descent who does street level radio journalism as a volunteer,
working with the “People Without Borders” collective at KPFK and also
serving as a listener-member of the LSB’s Outreach Committee helping
build the audience and the station’s connection to new, younger
listeners like herself. She has been on Dedon Kamathi’s “Freedom Now”
and out on the streets participating in and covering protests for
educational justice or against genocide in Africa.

Luis Garcia is a former member of the “Local Advisory Board” under
KPFK’s and Pacifica’s former system of governance. He has been a
strong advocate for Spanish-language community-based programming on
KPFK. I worked with Luis, who is a former probation officer and a
“pragmatic prison abolitionist” and member of Families to Amend
California’s Three Strikes (FACTS) in the Criminal Justice Consortium
years ago, and more recently in CURB, Californians United for a
Responsible Budget, in the effort to slash spending on the
prison-industrial complex and release non-violent offenders from
brutal and corrupt prisons into community diversion and reintegration programs.

Ian Johnston (c) is a current member of the LSB and participant in
LSB and PNB committees who has long roots in the Venice community and
has been an activist against CIA criminality and the use by the Bush
regime of 9-11 to carry out war and repression. He is a former
volunteer board operator and sometime programmer/producer of “Another
World View is Possible.” He is running for re-election to the Board
as a strong advocate for listener access to the airwaves and the
board meetings, and against making the station and network a sounding
board for partisan, state or “intelligence community” operatives.

Three other candidates who have endorsed the same principles as the
ones I have mentioned here are Fred Klunder, Dutch Merrick, and Sandi
Stiassni, but I have no first-hand knowledge or shared political
practice with them aside from hearing them speak on-air or in person.
I join in endorsing them based on their commitment to the principles
and their endorsement by people I know and trust from common work
over a long period, such as Leslie Radford, Sherna Gluck, Bernie
Eisenberg, and the candidates with whom I have stronger connections.

This election is vital — that sounds like a cliche, but in this case
I believe it to be true. My analysis, which I believe has been proven
out over a number of years, is that “corporate liberal” forces
affiliated with the national Democratic Party had taken over and were
prepared to bankrupt and destroy Pacifica a decade ago. That was made
possible because too many on the “white left” did not respond when
the Pacifica purges began with attacks on revolutionary- minded,
grassroots community oriented programming by people of color, such as
Dedon Kamathi, Family Tree with Kamal Hassan, Jan Robinson Flint and
other Black programmers, Ron Wilkins’ Continent to Continent, Miya
Iwataki of East Wind, American Indian Airwaves, homeless radio
producer Michael Taylor, who drew the attention of L.A. to Mumia
Abu-Jamal when few on the west coast were aware of his existence, and
others. That failure to act paved the way for the complete takeover
and makeover, so that by the time they came after Amy Goodman, Dennis
Bernstein and Larry Bensky, it was almost too late to act. I am
convinced that the Democratic Party forces that had control at that
time, via a self-perpetuating board of Pacifica financing itself and
national operations out of revenues from commercialization of the
stations’ “sideband” frequencies, would have bankrupted the
foundation and stations through endless lawsuits — except for the
fact that Bush stole the 2000 election. At that point, needing to
keep Pacifica alive for their own purposes, they backed down, settled
the lawsuit, created a joint interim Board that adopted
restrictively- ‘democratic’ bylaws, and grudgingly agreed to allow a
certain number of grassroots community voices of people of color back
on the air. Now, with the Democratic Party enjoying control of the
White House, the Congress and Senate, these same forces are prepared
to break the social contract and coalition that has sustained KPFK
and Pacifica as free-speech community oriented media outlets. They
want to rule or ruin, with all power and access in their own hands.
They plan to seek foundation funding and underwriters, big ticket
donors and thereby free themselves from concern about or
accountability to the listeners. They are following the same strategy
of purging programmers and staffers of color who do not toe their
line, such as Bernard White in NY and Jerry Quickley in L.A. If you
want the station and the network to survive in any meaningful form,
let alone to thrive as a breath of fresh air politically, culturally
and artistically, you must vote for the list of candidates I have
named. Otherwise, KPFK will be doomed to increasing irrelevance, its
audience shrinking and aging, its airwaves alienating rather than
inviting the new generation of young people in struggle for a better,
freer future, for liberation and decolonization.

–Michael Novick, editor “Turning the Tide: Journal of Anti-Racist
Action, Research & Education”
Anti-Racist Action-Los Angeles/People Against Racist Terror (ARA-LA/PART)

Interesting news. The Mayor of Memphis gave the brother handshake to the Dali Lama today.
A strip club is giving free flu shots.

And bullet manufacturers cannot keep up with the demand. They call it the Obama effect.

What is all this talk about 2012? Web Bot predictions, and Time Wave theory? I don’t know but there are plenty of people making a living off of it.

Letter To Obama, Yes Men Screwed Post, Zelaya Wins One, Vietnamization Of Afghanistan.

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Zelaya out foxed the Coup government and slipped back into Honduras. He is in the Brazilian embassy and asking his supporters to protest the illicit overthrow of his presidency. The evening news in Tegucigalpa has the citizens of Honduras being beaten by riot police. Not a pretty sight. More likely to gain support and sympathy for him than for the new regime.
Monday the Yes men put out a bogus edition of the New York Post with the headline “We Are Screwed”. The edition is all about environmental devastation. It is part of a series of protests leading up to the Copenhagen summit.

It seems like Obama is going to get hit up with a request for more troops for Afghanistan. This is starting to look more and more like the buildup in Vietnam, a weak corrupt local government, demands for a stronger military presence or else things will collapse. Almost identical to the build up in Vietnam. Except Afghanistan has not been anybodies colony. Afghanis chased out the Russians. Afghanis totaly destroyed a British imperial force. Only one man survived and he was left only to warn the others to stay out. The Great Alexander had to marry a local princess to win the loyalty of the Afghanis. They stayed loyal to Greek Satraps for centuries until the Sakas came and took over and they moved in en mass. Perhaps if the USA is willing to send millions to migrate to Afghanistan we would then win the nation over to our ways. Otherwise all efforts are doomed to fail. Half a million Russians couldn’t make a difference so what makes us thing a few thousand Americans and our NATO allies can?

I wrote a letter to the President.

Greetings Mr President,
First may I congratulate you on winning the Presidency. I voted for you and even gave some money to your campaign. I normally vote Green or for Nader but you impressed me.
Policy issues. 1) Support President Zelaya. Cut off all aid the the illegal regime in Honduras including military aid until he is reinstated.
2) Lets get out of Afghanistan. Do you realize that we are getting sucked up in a quagmire that no western power has ever been able to succeed in? Alexander the Great had to marry a princess of the land to win them over. I don’t think your wife will let you marry a modern Afghani princess.
3) We need the Public option in Health Care. We really should have gone for a universal medicare plan like President Johnson envisioned, but we need a Public option to keep this from becoming a total victory for the Insurance industry.
4) Lets get moving on cleaning up the environment. Investigate the new Natural Gas option. Find out if it can be accessed without wasting too much water in the process. Lets get mass transit moving with bullet trains and mandatory 50 mile a gallon automobiles. Encourage local food sources, and re-engineering cities so that we live in walking or mass transit distance of work. Move people out of single family housing into more cooperative housing with tax incentives.
5) Food policy needs to change. Outlaw or tax junk food and sodas to incorporate the health care cost of obesity and diabetes. Bring back gymnastics and encourage yoga and Tai Chi for people who don’t like sports. A big part of bringing health care costs down is going to be encouraging healthy living.
6) Pardon Leonard Peltier
Thanks, Gary

I don’t have much to say tonight. if you want me to write about a particular subject sent me a message and I will give you my honest opinion.

Blather or Rather? Brick City, Reform Or Revolution?

Monday, September 21st, 2009

I was listening to an NPR piece driving home about a special produced by Forest Whitaker. It is on Sundance Channel about the city of Newark. The new mayor Cory Booker is the hero of the piece, a “white negro” as Amiri Baraka calls him. He is an up and coming Yale and Oxford graduate who is as some have said making a name for himself in Newark on his way up the Democratic party ladder. This is the liberals best hope. Make the Black folk police themselves. Then the white folks won’t have to worry about the black folk coming to get them in the middle of the night. Booker says he is trying to make this an Obama nation.
The series is a documentary called “Brick City” named after a common name for Newark. In one sequence in the interview with Whitaker they play a bit from a speech by Baraka’s son the Principal of a local high school. He is lecturing the students about how murders and killings are not normal and that the life being lived by many inner city kids is not normal with all the gang banging and early deaths.
Gee you think? Whitaker is optimistic saying the new mayor is a wonder playing midnight pick up basketball after a meeting with Jewish leaders where he speaks Yiddish. The reporter asked if he was for real. His efforts seem to be heroic and Whitaker goes into a rap of his own about the every day heroics of people trying to live a normal life in the inner city war zones. He noted that kids in the inner cities are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder twice as much as the veterans of the war in Iraq.
The Mayor of Newark imitated the British in putting up over 100 cameras in the city. These cameras are for survelance and they do not inhibit crime. As has been noted crime does not go down because of cameras, it goes indoors. This mayor is the white mans lated hope. The problem is he is a hero. He is a one in a hundred or one in ten thousand. What he is doing should not take a hero. It should be normal.
What was not mentioned at all, was why this is happening. This is a symptom of racism and capitalism. Capitalism needs poor oppressed minorities to provide cheap labor and to provide a readily available labor pool to keep the existing work force from striking. It has been a historical fact that poor blacks have been brought in to bust up strikes and one of the origins of the racial division in the work force has been this tactic used by the ruling classes to divide and conquer by using black strike breakers against white workers. In more recent times Hispanics have replaced blacks as some blacks have been integrated in the federal work force and another portion of the black population have been integrated into the military. An equally large portion provides the fodder for the prison industrial complex which has replaced welfare as the aid plan of choice of the current ruling class. They have used the war on drugs as a war on blacks and Hispanics, raking off profits at the entry point to fund secret wars of the CIA and at the exit point for keeping depressed rural communities sustained with prison jobs. A more recent development has been the private prison with its lower paid workers and its more efficient warehousing of the prison industrial force.
There is a smaller fraction of the black community that is used for low wage labor as maids, janitors, etc and another percentage that is the black bourgeoisie. They are like the white bourgeoisie the helper class to the ruling class and they provide a safety valve for any truly smart and lucky members of the under class that make it through the racist and class war structure that keeps the vast majority out of the power elites.
Some of what I have said may seem to be a blast from the past. This might seem like rhetoric better suited to the world of 40 years ago. But it is my contention that after the riots of the 1960’s the government came up with a series of concerted plans to defuse the radical black community by killing off the most dedicated, buying off those who could be bought and generally separating the black middle class from the black underclasses. In the 1980’s the Reagan administration implemented the very racist and genocidal crack cocaine plan to finance the wars in Latin Amercia based on the model used by the CIA in its wars in southeast Asia using Heroin.
We are seeing a return to the use of Heroin in the inner cities with the emergence of the Afghani heroin trade. This time it seems that Obama wants to keep the dope out of the domestic market here and there seems to be an emphasis of developing a market in Russia and in the emerging countries, the Brick nations seem to be targeted as the new source of underclass addicts although there is still a domestic market. This is simply good business.
Addicts are generally people with anti-social tendencies who if left to their own devices might not participate in the capitalist economy or might find themselves drawn to revolutionary advocates of radical change.
This is a great subject of debate in the radical community since there are always local or federal government agents performing surveillance functions. It is certainly more cost effective to get an activist side tracked. in the USA you get the best justice you can afford unless someone is trying to make an example out of you. It is all about juice. If you don’t have any at all then you end up as a cog in the prison industrial complex and support some prison guard family in Soledad or some other god forsaken place.
America is corrupt. It is not a democracy it is a semi functioning oligarchy with remnants of a republican structure. It is very similar to the situation in Rome at about the time of the late republic. I am not sure if Obama would be the equivalent of one of the Gracchi brothers or of an even later period. If you don’t know history then you are not able to appreciate the niceties of this analogy.To make educated judgements about current affairs each citizen needs to understand history. At least the history of civilization on earth. By deliberately miss educating people the public becomes an illiterate mob. That is the dumbing down that has occured over the last few decades. It is ironic that as more and more information is available, fewer people in this country have the mental tools to be able to analyze the facts in a context.
The dumbing down of the electorate, of the sub electorate, as there is only a partial ability of the people to elect. By gerrymandering the two parties have insured they have a firm lock on the access to the federal government. There is not access for any other party. The rules are stacked to keep power in the hands of a few. Those who do not agree are turned into marginal geniuses like Ralph Nader who are prophets crying in the wilderness or they are turned into a dealer to addicts like Huey Newton or become marginalized harmless small time capitalists like Bobby Seal. Anyone who tries to carry the revolution foward will end up dead like the Symbionese Liberation Army members for those of you who can remember that far back.
Sometimes I think that most people have even forgotten the history they lived through. The collective amnesia that we are inoculated with is so strong that many people can barely remember what happened last year. That is the true nature of the cloud. It is an artificial memory device that has systematically been replacing human memories with computer memories. Just as calculators led us to forget how to do math, computers will lead us into forgetting things that were normally parts of every day consciousness. I never learned how to spell. If I depended on spell check I never would. Like most Americans I cannot speak more than one language. When we reach the point where we have truly forgotten then the data on the cloud can be simply wiped away or changed at will. Who will remember the truth?

This is from Atlantic Monthly July 1986

“The first installment of this two-part article described why black urban ghettos are poorer and more isolated today than they have ever been. The question remaining is how to reverse the effects of what has become a self-sustaining culture
by Nicholas Lemann

I. European Norms

Today’s black ghettos were created by two migrations: first the migration of rural and small-town black southerners to cities, usually in the North; then, for the past twenty years, the migration of the cities’ black middle and working classes to middle-class neighborhoods. The problems that now seem overwhelming in the ghettos — out-of-wedlock childbearing, unemployment, crime, poor educational achievement — have existed in the ghettos for more than half a century. When the ghettos were multi-class societies, their leadership tried to keep the problems in check by preaching a classic immigrant ethic of assimilation — if not into white society, at least into a society with middle-class values.

In the late sixties, however, when the leadership left the ghettos, it stopped preaching to those who stayed behind. In fact, far from preaching to the ghettos, the official voices of society, both black and white, began defending the ghetto culture, arguing that it was merely a rational response to social and economic conditions and would change only when those conditions were changed by whites, and that to condemn it was to impose white values on a distinctive, valid, resilient culture.

See each installment of this article:

Origins of the Underclass
(June, 1986)
The flight of middle-class blacks from ghettos has left a disastrously isolated underclass — one formed less by welfare or a lack of jobs than by its rural-South heritage
Earlier this year Joyce Ladner, a professor of social work at Howard University, wrote in the National Urban League’s annual report on the state of black America that no problem is “more threatening to future generations” of blacks than teen-age pregnancy. In 1971, though, in her book tomorrow’s tomorrow, Ladner was writing, “Conceivably, there will be no ‘illegitimate’ children and ‘promiscuous’ women in ten years if there are enough middle-class white women who decide that they are going to disavow the societal canons regarding childbirth and premarital sexual behavior.” The next year the National Urban League published a book called The Strengths of Black Families; in the foreword Andrew Billingsley, a sociologist who is now at the University of Maryland, wrote, “‘The operation of General Motors, the State Department, and the Ford Foundation have more to do with the structure and functioning of Black family life than the attitudes, desires, and personal proclivities of all the young men and young women who have been the subject of sociological analyses.” In his 1968 book Black Families in White America Billingsley complained about “the deeply held view that patterns of responses generated, practiced, or sanctioned in the white community are normal. and that any deviations from those norms which might be relevant or common in the black community are abnormal deviant, and to be highly disvalued.” As a solution he suggested that “all the major institutions of society should abandon the single standard of excellence based on white European cultural norms.”

I saw this coincidence of the defense of ghetto culture and the migration out of the ghettos most plainly during time I recently spent in the ghetto in Chicago, when I met Al Sims, who was running a small branch office of the Urban League out of a former parochial school in the middle of the Cabrini-Green housing project, Chicago’s most notorious. Sims was born in New Orleans and moved north with his family at the age of six. His father was a farm laborer in Louisiana; he came to Chicago in 1956, worked in construction, and after a year sent for his wife and nine children and installed them in an apartment at Cabrini-Green. “I remember very vividly getting off the train at Twelfth and Michigan and being picked up and taken here,” Sims said. “It seemed like Shangri-la.” Cabrini-Green was then all low-rise, and it housed many Second World War veterans and their families, both black and white. Today it is mostly high-rise and all black. The population of the high-rises is as much as 75 percent poor; 65 percent are under twenty-one and 80 percent are in female-headed families. The project has virtually no church attendance or legitimate business activity. The high school that serves it has a dropout rate of 89 percent. Four major gangs and close to a hundred subfactions are active there.

All nine Sims children made it out of Cabrini-Green and into the middle class. “We were poor as dirt,” Sims said. “But at a certain hour I had to be home. Mr. Sims wouldn’t have it any other way. I credit my father. And the six or seven guys I hung out with, my buddies, they had smaller families, but they turned into zero. Tapped out. And they didn’t have fathers.”

These days, he said, stories like his don’t often happen. Why not? He said, “I believe America can make what it wants to work, work. White America would not allow white people to live like this. No way. The concept of genocide is very real, it gains meaning, when you think about black people in this town.”

He was fatalistic about ghetto culture — it was not something within the power of the residents of Cabrini-Green to control, because the outside forces that had created it were so powerful. Couldn’t teenagers stop having children, and finish school, and get jobs, and get out? “It’s just not going to happen that way. We can’t turn back the clock and have Ozzie and Harriet.”

Sims had mentioned that he had a young daughter; I asked him what he would do if, as an unmarried teenager, she got pregnant. He looked at me with utter shock; we were no longer talking abstract social forces. “I would die. That would kill me,” he said.

Of the millions of black Americans who have risen from poverty to the middle class since the mid-sixties, virtually all have done so by embracing bourgeois values and leaving the ghetto. So it is worth exploring why black and white leaders have fiercely resisted telling these secrets to the people left behind.

One reason is pure compassion — a feeling that anyone who understood where the problems of the ghetto had come from and how deep-seated they were could not expect lower-class blacks simply to set them aside. Another, maybe more important, reason is that for almost two centuries whites, especially in the South, have argued that blacks make up a separate caste, because they are immoral, irresponsible, and of inferior intelligence. In the black view, what whites have done, to justify keeping all blacks down, is to point to problems that the whites themselves have created, through centuries of slavery, segregation, and enforced poverty and ignorance. So a tradition has grown up of not discussing within the hearing of whites issues like out-of-wedlock childbirth, poor educational achievement, and crime. This prohibition was especially strong in the late sixties, when the old racial barriers were finally being broken down, and it is still strong. Over and over I heard from middle class blacks the belief that public discussions of ghetto problems would affect the way they were treated, or at least thought of, by whites.

Glenn Loury, a professor at Harvard who is a prominent member of a new generation of conservative black intellectuals, last year in an article in The Public Interest offered a more cynical explanation for the resistance of established blacks to soul-searching about the underclass:

“More fortunate blacks benefit, through the political system, from the conditions under which the poorest blacks must live…. The growing black ‘underclass’ has become a constant reminder to many Americans of a historical debt owed to the black community. Were it not for the continued presence of the worst-off of all Americans, blacks’ ability to sustain public support for affirmative action, minority business set-asides, and the like would be vastly reduced…. The evidence suggests that, for many of the most hotly contested public policies advocated by black spokesmen, not much of the benefit “trickles down” to the truly poor.”

Loury told me recently that after he wrote an earlier article criticizing the black leadership, Benjamin Hooks, the executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, called him. “He said, ‘Look, I’m a civil-rights leader. Sure, I know these problems exist, but my job is to hold white people’s feet to the fire. In these years of Ronald Reagan and turning the clock back, how can I go around criticizing little black kids?’ Then I had a private meeting with a group of black leaders: Carl Holman, of the National Urban Coalition; John Jacob, of the National Urban League; Walter Fauntroy [the District of Columbia’s representative in Congress]; Joseph Lowery, of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Coretta King. I made a one-hour presentation. I said the real problem is the problem of the black poor, and civil-rights activism is largely irrelevant, though not” — he winked — “if you want to own a TV station. I said, ‘You people have exhausted a lot of moral capital with your whining.’ The reaction was quite amazing. I got no real rebuttal. They said, ‘We appreciate your contribution. We’re proud of you. A young black scholar like you being on the faculty at Harvard is what we were fighting for in the sixties. But you have to be careful of when and how you say these things.”‘

It is not only the black leadership that has a strong interest in avoiding the subject of the underclass. The black equivalent of Middle America does too. The primary link between the black middle class and the underclass has been one of blood kinship. The underclass was not a neatly defined national issue — it was Aunt Mary, whose husband had left her and who had gone on welfare and moved to the projects. That is changing now, as members of the underclass lose social and family contact with their better-off friends and relatives. But there is still a link during the workday. An unusual proportion of blacks work for government — 27 percent as against 16 percent of whites. Many of these jobs are in the ghetto: schoolteacher, postal worker, social worker, bus driver, police officer. The middle-class black neighborhoods in Chicago are full of people who commute to the ghetto to work. The daily contact leads many middle-class blacks to see the ghetto as a collection of individual hard-luck stories rather than as a problem that would be solved through some sweeping new government policy.

Because the bifurcation of black society is still young, for many middle-class blacks the subject of the underclass strikes close to home. Glenn Loury grew up in a middle-class neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. He fathered two children out of wedlock, and says that his family made economic progress in large part because his relatives ran speakeasies and sold marijuana. He says that he grew up being encouraged to keep a string of girlfriends and to refer to all women as “bitches.” Although he does not bristle at condemnations of illegitimacy, crime, and the pimp ethos among ghetto blacks, many people with his life story would.

II. Blaming the Victim

The public debate about the underclass has for many years been dominated by two views of poor blacks, one considering them collectively (blacks are the victims of racial, economic, and welfare policies not in their power to change) and the other considering them individually (blacks can make their lives better through personal effort). In black politics and intellectual life the debate was symbolized for most of the twentieth century by a struggle between the followers of W. E. B. Du Bois and those of Booker T. Washington. Du Bois, whose family had been free for generations, belonged to the small group of blacks whose suffering consisted primarily of caste barriers, rather than ignorance, hunger, poverty, or social disorganization. He and the organization with which he was long identified, the NAACP, championed the cause of complete legal equality; although he was well aware of the social problems of the black lower class, they weren’t at the center of his political agenda. Washington, born a slave on a plantation, was willing to put civil rights off for another day and concentrate on a program of self-help for the great mass of poor blacks, which was intended to turn them into a segregated but economically self-sufficient working and artisan class. Over the years, the Du Bois position gained ground. The idea of self-help for blacks was all but forgotten in the legal struggle over civil rights; the idea even became unrespectable.

In the late fifties and early sixties, when the migration from the South swelled the urban ghettos until they were impossible to ignore, liberals began to discover the problems of the black lower class. At the time, the conservative and centrist position in the northern cities, articulated by Mayor Richard Daley, of Chicago, among others, was that blacks were just like any other immigrant group and would gradually move into the mainstream of city life. (Daley’s own group, the Irish, had a large and troubled underclass in the nineteenth century.) Liberal intellectuals began to focus on how blacks differed from other immigrant groups — the much greater degree of oppression they had suffered, as this country’s only non-voluntary immigrants and only slaves, and the deep psychological scars left by the black experience. The implication was that society had to do something special for blacks, though it hadn’t for other immigrants; the ghettos would not heal themselves.

Three books that give the tenor of liberal thought at the time are Slavery, by Stanley Elkins (1959), Crisis in Black and White, by Charles Silberman (1964), and Dark Ghetto, by Kenneth B. Clark (1965). Elkins, a white historian, compared slaves to the inmates of Nazi concentration camps, as a way of showing the harshness of the system and the psychological devastation that was its legacy. Silberman, a white journalist, was prophetic about the coming explosion in the ghettos and about the underclass. Clark, a black social scientist, was still more prescient; he predicted in terms that must have seemed extreme that crime, unemployment, and a splintered family life would be characteristics of the ghetto for a long time. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famous 1965 report to President Johnson on the Negro family was very much of this school of thought; its characterization of ghetto life as a “tangle of pathology” — which some black scholars, including Andrew Billingsley, attacked as racist — came directly from Clark. Its subtitle was, significantly, “The Case for National Action.” Moynihan saw it as the intellectual underpinning for new government programs.

Blacks did not like being characterized as devastated and pathological, especially by whites; it was insulting. Also, it seemed a short step from the liberal position that the ghettos were horrible and needed help to the conservative position that the ghettos were horrible and should be given up on. And so emerged an odd, hybrid ideology that had the force of absolute consensus: Yes, the ghettos were devastated, but from without; there was nothing wrong with the people in them. The final nail in the coffin of Booker T. Washingtonism was a brilliant three-word phrase: “blaming the victim.” Its inventor, William Ryan, a psychology professor at Boston College, wrote an early, influential attack on the Moynihan report, and in 1970 published a book titled Blaming the Victim. Explaining the phrase, he wrote, “This is how the distressed and disinherited are redefined in order to make it possible for us to look at society’s problems and to attribute their causation to the individuals affected.” In other words, ills that are society’s fault are attributed to the people suffering from them, whose fault they manifestly are not.

The growth of the idea that the ghetto was a valid “community” came just at the time when it was ceasing to be a community, because its leaders and institutions were moving away. Nonetheless the idea was responsible for the federal Community Action Program, a part of the War on Poverty, in which ghetto residents, instead of intrusive social workers, were supposed to be the agents of their own progress. In Chicago this led to the awarding of federal communication funds to “community leaders” like the Blackstone Rangers (forerunner gang of the El Rukns) and the Vice Lords. Silberman, who caught some of the early community action enthusiasm, ended his book with a glowing chapter on the regeneration of the Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago through the organizing efforts of Saul Alinsky’s The Woodlawn Organization. At the time, TWO was widely publicized as a model of effective community development. Today TWO is still respected in Chicago, but it certainly did not revive Woodlawn. The census figures available when Silberman was writing showed that Woodlawn had 81,000 residents. In 1970 it had 54,000, and in 1980 it had 36,000 — 38 percent of its black residents moved away in ten years. The way up was not through community development. It was through getting out.

The view that conditions in the ghetto would change only when white society decided to change them seems contradictory to the creed of community development, but it really isn’t. The connection is this: if there is not a self-defeating culture in the ghettos, and if the ghettos nonetheless have problems, then white society must be to blame — who else could it be? The changes by white society that would heal the ghettos were usually described as “deep,” “sweeping,” and “structural.” Ryan wrote that “the solution lies in action to change the balance of power.” The trouble with this argument is that it is defeatism clothed in hope. This country so far has been unideological and uninclined to engage in deep, structural change except by accident and in order to meet pressing needs. To single out poor blacks as the one group in our society that will really suffer unless deep, structural changes are made, or unless an entirely different value system takes hold, is to consign them to suffering for the foreseeable future.

I got to know a group of people in Chicago who had grown up in the town of Canton, Mississippi, migrated north in the fifties, and mostly done well there. They regularly talked to me about the importance of making something of oneself, with a fervor that would cause Norman Vincent Peale to blush. But they also felt entirely comfortable with the view of black problems in America as collective ones: they were comfortable with the opinions voiced by the black leadership, and they reflected the collective view in the way they talked about their own lives. The view of blacks as masters of their own fate and the view of blacks as objects of the will of whites exist simultaneously. I often heard conversations salted with references to “Mister Charlie” and “Miss Ann” or just “the Man,” symbols of the all-powerful white. That all whites can be consolidated into one symbolic personage suggests a feeling among blacks that whites work in perfect concert while blacks work individually and often quarrelsomely — exactly the opposite of a view common among whites. The persistence of black anti-Semitism long after the Jewish merchants have left the ghettos — replaced in Chicago by Arabs, ironically — further testifies to the enduring appeal of the idea of an all-powerful white villain, in this case not “Mister Charlie” but “Goldberg.” The sneaking admiration that some middle-class blacks who would never dream of joining the Nation of Islam feel for Louis Farrakhan is stated in terms of his standing up to whites, being unintimidated by them. He’s what St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton, in their 1945 book about the Chicago ghetto, Black Metropolis, called a “Race Man”: “Negroes tend to admire an aggressive Race Man even when his motives are suspect. They will applaud him, because, in the face of the white world, he remains ‘proud of his race and always tries to uphold it whether it is good or bad, right or wrong.’”

III. The Ghetto Today

Black Americans at every level — even those in the very bosom of the bourgeoisie, who work for white companies and live in affluent and sometimes integrated neighborhoods — still feel themselves to be apart from white America. It is impossible to imagine any other ethnic group able to support a slick commercial magazine like Ebony wanting to — the other groups are too much a part of the mainstream culture. (Ebony, by the way, constantly preaches both self-help and collective action for blacks.) As apart as all of black life is, ghetto life is a thousand times more so, with a different language, economy, educational system, and social ethic. White society, though physically less than a mile away from the Chicago ghetto, is so distant that in the ghetto I rarely heard an, hint of the intense race consciousness that pervades the rest of black society. Everything that has happened to lower-class blacks over the decades, every new twist, from segregation to the migration north to the civil-rights movement, seems to have separated them from society even more — separated them from whites, from the South, from middle-class black life, and finally even from uplifting preachment. They are immigrants who not only have not assimilated in the new land but may even have become more insular there. The ghetto today has schools and hospitals, heat and running water; those of its residents who use the system of welfare and food stamps have enough to eat. But the institutions that are supposed to ameliorate ghetto life (schools, public housing, the police, welfare agencies) give off a feeling not of hope or progress but of containment — of not letting things get out of hand to the point where life outside the ghetto would be directly affected.

Orr High School, on the west side of Chicago, was designed by Mies Van der Rohe. It is a good example of his institutional style, with exposed steel girders, brick walls, and broad expanses of glass windows. Inside it is divided into several “houses” with their own libraries, cafeterias, and other facilities, in order to foster a feeling of educational intimacy. “The design of this building is not the design needed in a neighborhood like this,” says the principal, Kenneth Van Spankeren, and it has been altered. Most of the glass has been replaced with an unbreakable plastic material called Lexan, which has turned cloudy. The parking lot is surrounded by a fifteen-foot wire-mesh fence and kept locked during the school day. An unarmed security guard is posted at the entrance, one of five on duty in the school every day and an armed policeman patrols the corridors. The interior stairwells are kept locked and are monitored by teachers.

A few years ago the Chicago Tribune published an article about Van Spankeren, presenting him as an unusually successful inner-city high school principal. What this means is that he has been able to maintain order. The students have to wear plastic ID cards at school, can’t wear gang symbols (the Vice Lords control the area), can’t leave the building, and can’t move freely inside the building. “We have a very close relationship with the Eleventh District police,” Van Spankeren told me. “The area outside is under constant surveillance.” On the morning when we met, preparations were under way for a school dance, to be held at three in the afternoon and under tight security in order to avoid violence. The next morning, during first period, Van Spankeren’s voice came over the loudspeaker, congratulating the students on the fact that the dance was held without incident. “We appreciate that, and we expect it,” he said. “Students, make sure you have your ID cards, and they’re on. Teachers, check and take attendance. Thank you, and have a nice day.”

There are 2,000 students at Orr, 800 of them freshmen; as at all the ghetto schools nowadays, the faculty has to worry less about how to handle overcrowded classrooms than about whether there will be enough students to maintain the ratio needed to avoid layoffs. Eighty percent of the students are black, 20 percent are Hispanic, and most are from poor, single-parent homes supported by welfare. The great majority are well below their grade level in achievement. In most recent years about 200 have graduated. The PTA has twenty members. Because it is virtually impossible for a Chicago teacher to be fired or even transferred, Van Spankeren has little leeway in picking his faculty. Most of the teachers I met at Orr were dedicated, but they had almost given up on teaching the students — instead, their emphasis was on maintaining a cheery atmosphere during class.

I dropped in on Cindy Slevko’s remedial mathematics class for freshmen. The students were working at their desks. “Right now they’re working on homework they didn’t do,” she told me. “We’re supposed to have eighteen in the class, and we have twelve today, which isn’t too bad. In the sophomore demote class we’ll have eighteen and only six will show up.” She had me look at some of the students’ answers to problems: 4/8 = 1/4; 15 14/10 = 15 4/10; 21/12 = 19/12. Sleyko said, “Now, look at problem twenty-nine here. They’d all get that wrong.” The problem was 7 minus 4 2/3.

In Pat Michalski’s earth-science class the students were watching the movie Forbidden Planet as a lesson in astronomy and also as a reward for finishing a difficult part of the course; it would take up three full class periods. Michalski, sitting in a small office off the classroom, said, “You have to regulate everything with these kids. Rules all the time. A lot are used to being hit. Their homes are constant noise.” A deep voice came out of the room where the students were watching the movie: “Where Miss Michalski at?” She walked in, consulted with one of the boys, and came back to her office. “He wanted to know if that was the monster. That kid’s a senior!” She pointed to a hand-lettered sign she’d hung over her desk, which said:

YOU Ever Know
That Your My
And Everything
I’d Like TO Be:

“That’s by a junior! I know it looks like third grade,” Michalski said. She motioned me into a corner of the classroom and whispered, “You wouldn’t believe which of these kids are parents.” I counted while she pointed: seven.

In Joe Valenziano’s American-history class, the students were finishing their homework from the night before, which consisted of answering a series of questions by copying the answers out of textbooks. For handing this in the students would get five bonus points on their next exam. Valenziano said, “This is the old rote method of learning. You read it, you write it down. It seems to be working for me. I’ve been here sixteen years, and I’ve tried everything. ”

A student put a paper on his desk. Some of the answers were copied correctly and others were not: Who was George III? “He was a spy.” Explain the role of blacks in the Revolutionary War: “forming of America.” Valenziano glanced at the paper and wrote a 5 on it. “If it looks good and they answer the questions, they get five points,” he said. “I want them to copy! I call it sharing. See, these kids can’t do homework like you and me. I learned this from working in an inner-city school. Sure, when I first came here I had all these pie-in-the-sky ideas. People might say it’s cheating, but we all copy as adults. We all plagiarize as adults. There’s nothing wrong with it.”

Du Sable High School, which has 1,900 students, has even worse demographics than Orr — its parents are 100 percent poor — but the atmosphere is warmer, perhaps because it has a long history as one of the linchpin institutions in what was once a real community. The assistant principal, Luke Helm, who has been at Du Sable for twenty-five years, told me one morning, “Historically, this has been the stepping stone to the black middle class — from poverty to the middle class. But we’re no longer working with the same population. The people we’re getting now, sixty-eight percent come from Robert Taylor Homes [a massive housing project across the street]. We have a fifty-one percent dropout rate. The reasons are legion; pregnancy is the biggest. [Du Sable became famous last year because its clinic began to dispense birth control to students. ] There’s one gang here, the Disciples. We do not have gang problems in the building. We’ve been very lucky. We’re pretty much in control of the building. They understand turf. This turf is ours. We know who the gang leaders are, we do talk to them, and we do have an understanding.”

The overwhelming majority of Du Sable parents live within two blocks of the school, but the PTA, called Parents United to Save Du Sable, has just fifteen members, and it exists only because of the efforts of an energetic mother named Brenda Holmes. In 1982 it didn’t have any members. Only 60 percent of the parents come in to sign their children’s report cards, which is a three-times-a-year duty. Of the 800 boys at Du Sable, as many as a hundred are former inmates of a home for juvenile criminals.

One of the classes I went to at Du Sable was an introductory English class made up of fourteen- and fifteen-year-old students who read at between the third- and the sixth grade level. The teacher, Anthony Eirich, a big, energetic man, was teaching Julius Caesar. “‘And he will, after his sour fashion, tell you what great events have taken place today.’ See, he’s saying, ‘What’s happening?’ Remember when we had a fighter named Cassius?” No response. “Cassius Clay.” He went around the class asking the kids to read lines out loud. Some did pretty well, but a couple obviously couldn’t read at all. One wouldn’t even open his book when Eirich asked him to read. “Why doesn’t he like Cassius — because he’s what?” Eirich said.

One kid called out, “Fat!”

“No, he’s lean and hungry. Cassius is smart. What wouldn’t the slavemasters let the slaves do?” No response. “Go to school! Can Vrdolyak roll over Mayor Washington?” A chorus of nos. “Why not? Because he’s smart! Look at Ebony. Forty years of progress. People speaking their mind. Cassius thinks too much. Julius Caesar was a famous man. See, Doctor King, they’ll be writing plays about him one day.”

In another English class, while the students were busy copying the definitions of words out of the dictionary, the teacher, Gwendolyn Jones, showed me some homework she had graded A. The students were asked to summarize famous short stories. One was Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”: “He old man is a deaf man who is tiring to make a living.” “He don’t cares about anything but his self…. When the clock hits 3 o’clock he get very mad.” “He tries to kill his self by hanging his self by rope.” On Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”: “He don’t want to kill the old man…. When he do kill him cuts off the head.”

Jones showed me the TAP (Test of Aptitude and Proficiency) reading scores for the class, which rank them by national percentile. Most were in the 30s; the lowest was 4; but one was 92. I asked to meet that last student, and Jones called her over. Her name was Lorese Lewis. She didn’t live in the Robert Taylor Homes: she lived in a two-parent home, and her father worked. It was my strong impression that the gap between her and the other kids was one of sociological conditions much more than of basic intelligence.

The usual feeder school for Du Sable is the Beethoven School, which is in the middle of the Robert Taylor Homes. As with other schools in the area, its enrollment is dropping rapidly, down from 1,400 in 1977 to 900 today. Its budget, linked to enrollment, is dropping too, but it is still generous. Sue Fowlkes, the principal. told me, “My total budget in ‘85 was three-point-two million. In the early eighties additional funds were channeled into the school as a result of a desegregation decree. It was felt that otherwise our low achievement levels would never go up. But they have not gone up with more money. The scores fluctuate up and down. Up through third grade we’re running about six to eight months below median. In the middle grades it’s a year, a year and a half. In seventh and eighth it’s at least a year and a half or maybe more. The discipline problems start in the primary grades. Every now and then a kid will start acting out in the first grade — hitting the next child. I start to see gang signs with around fourth or fifth graders. In second and third grade you may see them calling out the gang names on the playground. Pregnancy generally starts in the eighth grade. This year” — and it was only three months into the school year when we talked — “I’m running five.”

Of the students who manage to get as far as high school graduation perhaps half will go on to college, but most of these will attend a nearly all black two-year community college in Chicago. The transfer rates from the community colleges to four-year colleges is very low — at the one with the lowest rate, Malcolm X College, on the West Side, only 5.8 percent of the students go on to a four-year college. Most of these students attend Chicago State, which is 80 percent black and has a de facto open admissions policy. By far the most common choice of career for its graduates is education (Chicago State began as a teacher’s college), and most of those who become teachers go to work in the Chicago public schools.

Housing projects in the ghettos, like schools, have such a terrible reputation today that it is easy to forget that as recently as a generation ago there was an aura of hope around them. Even the Robert Taylor Homes, which were meant to contain the tide of black migrants from the South inside the traditional ghetto (an interstate highway runs along their western border and the old ghetto abuts the other three sides), were opened in a spirit of some optimism. For years reformers had believed in Le Corbusier’s precept that high-rise housing built in “superblocks” with no through streets would be the ideal form of urban life. More prosaically, the Robert Taylor Homes replaced an old black lower-class strip of shanties and junkyards with clean, modern, well-constructed buildings that had reliable plumbing and heating. Even today the apartments there, though spartan, are pretty nice. Almost from the start, however, the Robert Taylor Homes had problems. The reason is that they were designed and filled according to what now looks like a perfect recipe for sociological disaster: large-family apartments in high-rises, and little or no screening for residents.

In its early days public housing was in practice barred to the underclass. When the first black public-housing project in Chicago, the low-rise Ida B. Wells Homes, on the South Side, opened in 1941, single-parent families were excluded as a matter of policy. Beyond that, as Devereux Bowly, Jr., wrote in The Poorhouse, a history of subsidized housing in Chicago, “An elaborate investigation was made of Chicago Housing Authority applicants that included: 1) an office interview by a social worker, 2) employment verification, 3) check for a police record, 4) home visit by an investigator, and 5) scoring on a CHA formula giving preference to applicants in substandard apartments with insufficient income to get good housing on the private market.” It is common in Chicago to meet successful blacks in their late thirties and early forties who spent part of their childhood in the projects.

In the mid-fifties, after the reformist director of the CHA, Elizabeth Wood, was forced out and replaced by a retired Army general named William B. Kean, the CHA began to de-emphasize screening. At the same time, it was becoming committed to high-rise buildings, to large-family apartments, and to building only in black ghettos. J. S. Fuerst, a professor at Loyola University who worked at the CHA in those days, says, “You can’t put four thousand units in a place. And if you do, you can’t suck it with the most troubled families. But Elizabeth Wood left, and General Kean said, ‘Oh, no, it’s got to be first come, first served.’ And then they proceeded to accept people twenty years old, with three, four, five kids, and no husband.” In the Robert Taylor Homes the buildings that were completed first are still, twenty-five years later, considered the best, because there was more screening. The ones completed last, and filled using virtually no screening, are the worst. As in the ghetto as a whole, so in the projects: where they became all lower class and cut off from the rest of society, everything fell apart.

Ron Gate, a freelance writer and former radio reporter who grew up in the Taylor Homes (he credits Luke Helm, at Du Sable, with motivating him to get out), was an example of the unscreened Taylor tenant. He is one of nine children who in the early sixties were living with their grandmother in a house on the West Side. Their mother had severe psychological problems (once she was found wandering aimlessly down the street, wrapped in a bedsheet), and left the family. Later the family was evicted from the house and for a while lived at the Salvation Army. From there they moved to the Robert Taylor Homes. Tate doesn’t know where either of his parents or any of his brothers and sisters are today, and he doesn’t know anything about his parents’ families in Mississippi.

One day Date took me back to his old building in the Taylor Homes. Though turnover there is high, a few of his friends were still around. The male contemporaries of his that I met were all unemployed or working odd jobs, and invariably they asked him if he knew where there were any good jobs. His female contemporaries were all single mothers, or single and pregnant.

The worst part of daily life in the Taylor Homes is the constant crime and fear of crime. In a typical four-week period last year seventy-nine felonies and one hundred misdemeanors were reported there — far fewer than the real number of crimes, because in the projects the gangs are more powerful than the police and are known to retaliate against informers. Sergeant Leroy O. Grant, a police-community liaison officer with the Chicago Police Department’s public-housing unit, which has its headquarters in the Taylor Homes, told me, “Once, a mother wouldn’t prosecute a rape of her fourteen-year-old because of fear of retaliation. I don’t know if that happens in any other place in the world. But around here, if somebody knocks on your door at four in the morning to say ‘Don’t go to court,’ there’s no man to answer.”

I got a look at what they were talking about one night when I was with two policemen from the Second District, which includes the Taylor Homes. There was a report of a shooting in a small apartment building. Inside the apartment from which the call to the police had come were four boys in their late teens, two girls, two small children, and an old woman in a wheelchair. A coat lay in the bathtub with hot water running over it, forming reddish pools in the tub. One of the boys was shot in the wrist. His story was that he had been standing on the front steps of the building and was shot by a stranger in a passing car. Everybody had a slightly different version of the incident, always skimpy on the details. “Who do you run with, man?” one of the policemen asked the boys. “The Ds.” The policemen took the boy who was shot to the hospital, where, tight-lipped and grimacing in pain, he refused to file a complaint against anyone or to say anything else about what had happened.

There have always been high crime rates in black ghettos, and a casualness about them in the rest of society. In the early years of this century the black ghetto in Chicago, like those in many cities, was the prostitution and gambling center, and it is courthouse lore that when a black kills another black it is a “misdemeanor murder.” Police foot patrols, which do seem to reduce crime, are intermittent: the corridors of the Tavlor Homes are “visually checked” (a cursory patrol) daily and thoroughly patrolled twice a week. The Second District has four men on foot patrol, but only during the day and only in the commercial strips.

There’s ample evidence in the ghetto to support the liberal theory that poverty and unemployment cause crime, and also for the conservative theory that lax punishment causes it. In Chicago in 1985 there were 277,000 crimes serious enough to be listed in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report. Because Illinois doesn’t keep “offender-based statistics,” which track criminals from arrest through prison, it is impossible to say exactly how many of these crimes were punished, but it was certainly a small fraction. The chance that a criminal will get away with it in Chicago, assuming he is not a murderer or a rapist, is thought to be somewhere between 90 and 95 percent. And these are the odds after an attempt was made to increase punishment: in 1978 the Illinois legislature instituted mandatory minimum six-year sentences, without parole, for major crimes other than murder. The law has had no dramatic effect on the crime rate. The hiring of many new black policemen in the seventies, as the result of a court order, did not affect the crime rate either, though it is rare today to hear the police described as racist. In the vicinity of the Robert Taylor Homes crime has dropped in the past couple of years, but the police attribute this to the depopulation of the area. Nobody in the ghetto has a sense that any kind of reform of legal procedure would significantly reduce crime.

IV. Ways Out of the Ghetto

Discussions in Washington about how to overcome the problems of ghettos through national policy-making tend to flit almost randomly in and out of relevance to real ghetto life. But they cannot be dismissed. Ghettos are a national problem, and aside from continuing to change on their own, they will change because of what happens next in government.

A number of ideas about improving ghettos have been put forward, but two have particular momentum right now: workfare and self-help. Both are conservative causes of long standing that, because of the tenor of the times, are being taken seriously by liberals, too.

Workfare means tying government welfare benefits to work by the recipients. It is an old idea, dating back at least to the workhouses built for the “undeserving poor” of early-nineteenth-century England. The philosophical justification for workfare is that it is wrong for anyone to get money from the government without doing something in return; the practical justification is that welfare dependency does exist, as almost anybody who lives in a ghetto will tell you, and something should be done to guard against it. Ten years ago workfare was routinely dismissed as “slavefare.” Now thirty-nine states have some form of work program for welfare recipients. These range, to cite the two best-known examples, from Massachusetts’s program, which requires signing up but no further participation, to California’s brand-new system, which actually penalizes welfare recipients for not working or joining a training program.

It is a natural guess that the comprehensive study of the welfare system that President Reagan commissioned earlier this year might end with a recommendation for a national workfare program — for example, all welfare recipients except mothers with children under school age might be required to work in order to receive benefits. National workfare won’t happen, however because it would conflict with a deeply held conservative principle: that welfare policy should be made by the states or, if possible, by local governments. The Administration will probably propose giving welfare grants to the states and letting them make their own policy, with a strong hint that workfare is the path of virtue. “I don’t believe it’s possible for the federal government to run a workfare program,” says Robert B. Carleson, who was the architect of President Reagan’s reform of the California welfare system and has been consulted on the welfare-reform study. “The country is too big, with too many variations in the labor market. Detailed federal regulations won’t work for New York City and rural Idaho and Puerto Rico at the same time.” In 1981 the Administration succeeded in rescinding a federal ban on state workfare programs — Carleson, then working in the White House, spearheaded the effort. It is possible that the big northeastern states, which have the worst ghettos, will decide against mandatory workfare programs if given the choice, and the system will stay essentially the same as it is now.

The new self-help movement is essentially a renascence of the old Booker T. Washington creed, minus the acceptance of legal segregation. Its main proponents are conservative black intellectuals outside the old-line elite black national leadership: Glenn Loury; Robert Woodson, of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, in Washington; Thomas Sowell, of the Hoover Institution, at Stanford University; Walter Williams, of George Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia. Self-help proponents believe that poor blacks have been crippled by the habit of looking to government for salvation and that they need to develop a tradition of self-reliance, perhaps through small-scale entrepreneurship. They would have the government and the black leadership promote self-help not by passing legislation and spending money but by pointedly refusing to do these things, and talking about values instead.

Among the many other current ideas about policies for the ghettos two deserve mention. One, which in any Democratic Administration would receive more attention than it does now, is the classic liberal solution: trying to achieve full employment and creating special job-training and public-service employment programs in the ghettos. A working ghetto population would mean less crime and less out-of-wedlock childbirth. The other idea is conservative in origin: creating enterprise zones in the ghettos — small and nearly libertarian states that would have radically lower levels of taxation and regulation than the rest of the country, and would produce many jobs. Enterprise zones, like liberal suggestions for policy, are supposed to help the ghettos by reducing unemployment.

None of these solutions takes as a given the idea that the ghettos have a separate, self-sustaining culture. Therefore none has the goal of wresting people in the ghettos from the grip of the culture. Even the self-help movement, one of whose axioms is the importance of culture in shaping behavior, promotes ideas like the privatization of housing projects — implying that the ghettos can be made to function as real communities. The evidence of black success so far, however, seems to indicate that the best hope for people in the ghettos lies in their establishing some link to the outside world.

Both of the most pressing problems — unemployment and out-of-wedlock childbearing — illustrate how difficult it will be to heal the ghettos without taking on cultural issues directly. More than twenty years ago Kenneth Clark wrote of Harlem. “If all its residents were employed it would not materially alter the pathology of the community.” The statistic that best shows how pathology has outrun unemployment is the rate of labor-force participation — a statistic that includes not only those working but also the unemployed who have looked for work during the past month. The rate of labor-force participation for black teenage boys fell from 60 percent in 1940 to 36 percent in 1970, a fall too great to be accounted for by just unemployment or by the increasing proportion of black teenagers in school. There was a sharp drop in teenage labor-force participation in the ghettos in the late sixties, when national unemployment was quite low.

There is some evidence that participation in the labor force does increase when more jobs become available. In 1980 Houston, which then had a very low unemployment rate and many unskilled blue-collar jobs, had a labor-force participation rate for all blacks that was 13 percentage points higher than Chicago’s. And the percentage of households made up of single mothers was lower in Houston, which might indicate a correlation between more jobs for men and less out-of-wedlock childbearing.

But today a national boom, and even a labor shortage, is under way in unskilled, low-paying, non-industrial jobs. This is bad news for steelworkers but should be good news for black teenagers, as it has been for the new wave of immigrants from foreign countries. The standard argument about why the labor shortage has not affected labor-force participation in the ghettos is that most of the jobs are in the suburbs, and that kids today watch TV and see a swank way of life that makes working for “chump change” seem pointless to them. But these kids’ parents and grandparents saw the sweet life at much closer range, because they often worked inside rich white people’s houses in the South, and still many were motivated enough to move hundreds of miles away, for jobs slaughtering cattle.

A fundamental reason that so many unmarried teenagers have children in the ghetto today seems to be that having them has become a custom — a way of life. The story I heard over and over from teenage mothers was that their pregnancies were not accidental. Their friends were all having babies. Their boyfriends had pressured them into it, because being a father — the fact of it, not the responsibility — is a status symbol for a boy in the ghetto. Welfare does provide an economic underpinning for out-of-wedlock childbearing, but it is rare to hear about a girl who had a baby just to get on welfare. Out-of-wedlock childbearing in ghettos existed before there was any welfare. It is the aspect of life in the ghettos over which the people there have the most control, and it will be the last and hardest thing to change. It is today by far the greatest contributor to the perpetuation of the misery of ghetto life.

Although the problems of the ghettos seem to resist economic solution, they do seem to respond to the imposition of a different, and more disciplined, culture. People who joined the Army or the Marines right after high school credit the decision with getting them out of the ghettos. The Black Muslims, in their heyday, were widely respected in the ghettos for being the only people who could turn around prostitutes and heroin addicts, and they accomplished this through severe dress codes, strictures on drinking, smoking, sex, and diet, and a round-the-clock regimen of work. In Dark Ghetto Kenneth Clark proposed, somewhat apologetically, establishing a paramilitary “cadet corps” in Harlem, which he said would be valuable because of “the relative ease with which uniforms, disciplined organization, and regulations can be used to bolster the self-esteem of young people.”

In the Chicago ghetto today the only institutions with a record of consistently getting people out of the underclass are the parochial schools. They pay their teachers much less than what public-school teachers are paid, but they can screen their applicants, their principals can hire and fire, and they can and do impose many rules on both the students and their parents. (Ghetto public “magnet” schools that are allowed to screen are also successful.) Father George Clements, the pastor of the Holy Angels Catholic Church, describes the regimen at its elementary school this way: “We have achieved honors as an academic institution above the national norm in all disciplines. We bear down hard on basics. Hard work, sacrifice, dedication. A twelve month school year. An eight-hour day. You can’t leave the campus. Total silence in the lunchroom and throughout the building. Expulsion for graffiti. Very heavy emphasis on moral pride. The parents must come every month and pick up the report card and talk to the teacher, or we kick out the kid. They must come to the PTA every month. They must sign every night’s homework in every subject. They must come to Mass on Sundays. They must take a required course on the Catholic faith. The kids wear uniforms, which are required to be clean, pressed, no holes. We have a waiting list of over a thousand, and the more we bear down, the longer the list gets.”

Programs based on the idea of making the ghettos bloom again as communities — in other words, creating a new, healthy, indigenous culture there — should be regarded with extreme skepticism. Enterprise zones would certainly do no harm, but it is hard to believe that even with tax relief employers would want to locate where crime rates are so high. Turning housing projects over to their residents might foster pride, but it would also lead to physical deterioration unless there were heavy subsidies — in the Robert Taylor Homes the tenants’ rent doesn’t even cover the heating bill. Several black leaders, including at one extreme Louis Farrakhan, favor some form of black economic nationalism, in which people in the ghetto would trade only with black firms, in the supposed manner of other immigrant groups. Even if such a nation came into being, it would be a pathetically poor one, because the black middle class wouldn’t join — it is already too reliant on the national economy. Community development is the most appealing idea of all. Everybody knows a story of a great teacher or organizer who made ghetto kids blossom through pure love and encouragement. The trouble is that such people are one in a million and they cannot be legislated into existence. The programs in the ghetto that work best on a mass scale — most notably Project Head Start, the one poverty program widely acclaimed as a success, which starts giving special instruction to children at a very early age — represent not the ghetto’s taking care of its own but an intervention by the mainstream culture.

The best solution for the ghettos would be one that attacks their cultural as well as their economic problems, and that takes place away from the ghettos. One such idea would be to bring back the Work Projects Administration. The original WPA was a big success in the ghettos. In 1940 in Chicago 19 percent of the black male labor force was working for the WPA, and this seems to have helped prevent an unmanageable underclass from developing at a time of catastrophic unemployment; the WPA did function as a conduit into real jobs. In Black Metropolis Drake and Cayton wrote, “During the Depression years an increasingly large number of Negroes were absorbed into the Federal and State Civil Service…. [M]any of these received their first contact with white-collar work on various WPA projects.” The wartime boom seems effortlessly to have absorbed the WPA workers, as well as many people who were on welfare.

A new federal program like the WPA would create jobs where workfare programs only require people to find them. It could pay workers less than the minimum wage, so that private employment would always be more appealing. The work it would do would be outside the ghettos, like repairing highways and operating word processors; this would require, however, overcoming the union opposition that has kept most government jobs programs confined to make-work within the ghetto. Some people now on welfare would be required to join the program or get a job — for instance, single people, and parents whose children are old enough to get home from school and be on their own for a couple of hours. Welfare benefits would have to be adjusted nationally to make the incentives come out right, but that probably should be done anyway.

The great advantage of such a program is that it would enter the lives of ghetto kids when they were eighteen or nineteen and would affect them at a time when most still feel more hopeful than resigned, even if some have been overwhelmed by the traumas of growing up in the ghetto. It would not have the explosive potential to rend the fabric of adult life, the way busing and the scatter-siting of housing projects have done, but it would take the people involved out of the ghetto culture, one big step closer to the national mainstream. (Ideally, the program would be combined with a universal national-service requirement for young people that would bring many middle-class kids to the neo-WPA too.) It would be expensive, though not unrealistically so if it became a conduit to private jobs and supplanted welfare payments for many people. And it is not a wacky scheme requiring a departure from the whole American political system; it is something that America as already done once. It worked and, just as important, it is widely remembered as having worked.

No matter what the specific policies adopted by this or the next Administration, one issue will substantially determine their success or failure. Once it was the simplest of all issues in race relations, and now it is one of the stickiest: integration. Ethnically homogeneous industrial societies can sustain high unemployment rates and operate extremely generous welfare systems, rich in dependency incentives, without creating an underclass. (And when an immigrant group that is looked down upon comes into such a society — West Indians in Britain, Turks in West Germany — the first signs of an underclass appear.) The single overriding factor in the creation of the American ghettos is racial prejudice. The ghettos could not have developed their strongly self-defeating culture in the heart of urban America during the height of the postwar boom if the people who lived in them were of the same color as most of our society. The ghettos are the product of many generations of complete segregation from the neighborhoods, educational institutions, economy, and values of the rest of the country.

The most invisible of all the ghetto’s ills is the sense of racial inferiority that develops there. The endless references in the black official culture to pride and beauty, which to whites may seem to be obvious points not requiring constant restatement, can be explained only by the hold that their opposites, shame and ugliness, had on the minds of blacks for years. John H. Johnson, the publisher of Ebony, was asked on its fortieth anniversary how he would like to be remembered. He said, “I hope future historians will say that we changed the negative image black people had of themselves.”

The feeling is widespread among blacks that whites will always treat them as inferiors and that they will inevitably have to struggle against internalizing this attitude and turning it into self-hate and failure. Thus the appeal of keeping apart is very strong. (It is for many whites, too — for different reasons, of course.) In the black underclass and among blacks thinking about helping the underclass, the pull toward separatism is especially powerful — there is a feeling that any first foray into the wider world is likely to fail and that any such failure would be crippling.

The separatist path, though, often begins by looking in ghetto life for sources of pride, and, given the suite of ghetto life, this is dangerous. It leads to ennobling what people should be escaping, so that whatever pride is generated is misdirected toward staying put. Separatism doesn’t work in the long run — immigrants do stick together in the early stages, but after that the road to success is through assimilation into the fluid national mainstream. The self-loathing that every ethnic American knows as the underside of assimilation is much more corrosive for blacks than it has been for others. If the price of expunging this feeling is staying in the ghettos and giving up on trying to enter ordinary working life, however, it is much too high. People don’t like living in ghettos. They want to get out. Society should be pushing them in that direction.
Copyright © 1986 by Nicholas Lemann. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; July 1986; The Origins of the Underclass.

I didn’t edit out any of this. It is old school but this was written in the middle of Reaganomics. Things have simply moved on to the next level.

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