5.25.2016 TOF

OF STRIKES & OTHER STRIKING EVIDENCE OF ELITE IGNORANCE & FRAUD
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/05/verizon-strike-bernie-sanders-new-yorker-picket-line-negotiations/ –  In the context of the United States having become a disengaged plutocracy that operates primarily on the basis of plunder and treachery, double-dealing and hypocrisy, an entry from the new Marxist and Democratic Socialist magazine, Jacobin, that advances the simple and quite likely incontrovertible truth–in relation to the ongoing strike among Verizon workers–that policies and protocols that benefit workers must involve the workplace and laborers themselves with some sort of manifestation of power, and if necessary protest, therein, a notion that plenty of erstwhile ‘liberals,’ not to mention neoliberals, would prefer to overlook or ignore or distort, a point that any number of thousands of items from a given period of time might affirm or otherwise support, here to begin a longer-form assessment from Red Wedge Magazine that advances the proposition that inequality essentially shows up as one version or other of Apartheid, in which the ‘haves’ manage to keep themselves separate from those whom they’ve robbed and on whom their elevation depends; to continue a report
from Salon about the Verizon workers’ union, the Communications Workers of America, on a visit to the Philippines where SWAT teams threatened the labor bureaucrats as they sought to see how the company’s call centers so far from home actually operated; to persist, an incisive critique from World Socialist Website that calls into question the working class bona fides of CWA officials, whom the denizens of the Fourth International portray as being more or less in league with their erstwhile class enemies at Verizon, to the point that the union’s leaders are again about to accede to ‘arbitration’ that has delivered defeat after defeat in the recent past; to delve more deeply an analysis from Portside Labor, via Bloomberg News, that points out the plausibly deep-seated fissures that separate different unions and groups of workers from each other; and to conclude, for today, a briefing from Common Dreams that points out what many commentators who are not corporate hacks are noting, which is to say that working class resistance in Europe is spreading outward from France and that the conditions for a General Strike may soon be apparent, a nexus for action of which scrappy scribes and stalwart citizens here might want to apprise themselves, a condition of solidarity instead of the fulfillment of the robber baron’s prophecy that he “can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half:”  “But beyond specific contract issues, the strike is drawing out the distinct paths forward for a labor movement that faces a strategic fork in the road.  The CWA, through the strike and its decision to endorse Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary, exemplifies one approach: high-risk, high-payoff, militant labor action paired with a break from the blank-check relationship with establishment Democrats.  (Many IBEW locals have also voted to endorse Bernie Sanders, while the international has held off.)
CC BY-NC-ND by mopaw
CC BY-NC-ND by mopaw

That approach has not sat well with much of the commentariat.  They have embraced Verizon’s description of the landline business — and of the workers who make it possible — as ‘legacy,’ frequently quoting Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam’s assertion that the strike is about ‘nostalgia for the rotary-phone era.’


(M)ost contemptible was Mark Gimein’s New Yorker essay about ‘the Verizon workers’ shrinking world.’  Gimein, who is under the impression that ‘a picket line is to a Democrat what a revival meeting is to an evangelical,’ argues that labor’s future lies in a tamer, more policy-oriented road, without loud strikes and rudely still-existing workers.

(Such condescension overlooks salient facts, such as the still-requisite necessity of skill.  Moreover), (w)e still need strikes, and unions.  Gimein writes that the ‘greater hope in the labor movement these days comes not from the picket line but from legislative efforts such as the union-backed minimum wage initiative Fight for 15.’  This is a bizarre leap of logic.  Fight for 15’s goals might be legislative, but its primary tactic has been — wait for it — strikes.  To be sure, many on the Left have criticized Fight for 15 for prioritizing media optics over worker organization.  But Gimein’s argument is almost precisely the opposite.  As he writes: ‘The way forward now is less in getting people to join unions and more in taking seriously the question that Sanders raised: what can be done for the millions of workers who don’t have a union and never will?’

(As well), (t)he legislative route is a dead end.  Part of Gimein’s argument seems to be that because CWA members comprise a small slice of the Verizon workforce, this makes them irrelevant and their decent pay and work conditions, perhaps, unfair.  But what the striking workers lack in numbers they make up for with their strategic position.  As Verizon’s sole unionized beachhead, CWA members will play a pivotal role in spreading unionization to the rest of the company’s ranks — the wireless and retail side in particular.
smartphone twitter social media
A strike defeat would forestall, if not foreclose, the possibility of organizing these workers — giving Verizon free rein to cut wages and attack working conditions.  It would also make organizing harder in the retail industry more broadly, relegating millions of people — disproportionately women and people of color — to desperate poverty.  A successful strike, on the other hand, could shore up union strength, steadying the foundation for a drive into the ranks of the non-unionized.

For Gimein, the problem seems to be that strikes are difficult and workers are outmatched.  But that’s always been the road that labor has had to travel, through narrow passes and in enemy territory.  When it wins, however, it greatly expands what’s considered politically possible for working people.”—Jacobin

CC BY by JeepersMedia
         “The union that is on strike against corporate telecommunications giant Verizon alleges that its representatives were confronted by a heavily armed ‘SWAT team’ in the Philippines, where it says it discovered undeclared offshore operations.  Verizon strongly denies the accusations.  Chris Shelton, president of Communications Workers of America, or CWA, says his union was contacted by call center workers in the Philippines who work for Verizon.  CWA says it sent four representatives to the Philippines this week, where they ‘discovered that the extent to which Verizon is offshoring work is far beyond what has previously been reported and what the company publicly has acknowledged.’rect3336 space
CWA alleges that Verizon is offshoring U.S. customer service calls to centers in the Philippines, where workers are paid as little as $1.78 an hour.  The union says that Filipino workers told it they are being forced to work overtime an extra one to two hours each day, along with another full eight-hour sixth day, and are not receiving additional overtime compensation.  In a statement, CWA also claimed that, when it discovered the alleged offshored operations, the company sent armed forces to intimidate union representatives in the Philippines.

Verizon flatly rejected the union’s accusations.  Salon reached out to the company, and spokesperson Rich Young described the allegations as ‘misguided assertions.’ …Shelton, in turn, criticized Verizon’s claims.  ‘Verizon has doubled down on its deception, claiming workers were on a ‘vacation.’  Let’s be clear: being on strike, exposing Verizon’s lies about off-shoring and being harassed by Verizon armed security guards is no vacation,’ he said.rect3336 space
CWA says a delegation of union officials — including its own representatives along with reps from the UNI global union the Filipino union KMU— confronted Verizon officials in its corporate headquarters in the Philippines on Wednesday, May 11.  The delegation claims that Verizon officials refused to speak to the union representatives.  ‘Presumably, it is difficult to justify paying workers $1.78 an hour when the company’s CEO made $18 million last year, and the company has piled up $1.5 billion a month in profits for the past 15 months,’ CWA wrote in a statement.”—Salon
money_flying-transparent
         “Even as leaders vow that organized labor will be united behind the Democratic candidate, the appeal of the presumptive Republican nominee, real-estate developer and television personality Donald Trump, could peel away rank-and-file votes in the fall.  ‘A lot of people are just fed up with establishment politics,’ said Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers Union Local 1999, which represents 1,400 Indianapolis workers about to lose their jobs because Carrier Corp. is moving operations to Mexico.  Jones’s local endorsed Democrat Bernie Sanders, whose anti-free trade stance has won the support of many rank and file workers.
         (Political disaffection means a lack of unity).  The disarray for organized labor follows a long decline.  Membership peaked in the mid-1950s, at about one-third of the U.S. work force.  In 2015, the percentage was 11.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  While the movement was born in steel mills, auto assembly lines and coal mines, much of the modern rank-and-file is found in classrooms, state and local office buildings and prisons.  Public sector and service-union membership outnumbers that of trade unions by 5-to-1.  And the gap is getting wider.

         (This structural disparity overflows into issues of whether neoliberal Democrats will do anything to assist wage-earners).  The dynamic is complicated by Clinton’s record in support of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which her then-president husband championed more than two decades ago.  Sanders calls trade pacts ‘disastrous’ while Trump pledges to renegotiate or scuttle Nafta. Some workers have taken note.rect3336 space

          Geno DiFabio, 53, a truck driver and a former member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union, said he was a Democrat since he started voting at 18.  Then, he took a Republican ballot in Ohio’s March 15 primary to vote for Trump.  DiFabio, who is from the hollowed-out steel center of Youngstown, said he has been increasingly turned off by the positions that Clinton and other Democrats have taken on immigration, gun rights and abortion.
         ‘The leadership is a lot closer to the Democratic Party than the average union worker is,’ said Deppert, who led the organization from 1989 to 1997.  ‘They elected Obama and expected great things, but the average guy in the factory doesn’t see much difference.  The jobs are still slipping away.'”—Portside Labordiego rivera work labor art
         “Over the  last  two month France has been rocked by mass protests, occupations and strikes, as a new generation takes to the streets to expresses its rage at labor reforms and growing inequality.  Over a million people have mobilized across the country to say on vaut mieux que ça — ‘we are worth more than this.’  Similar to the Occupy Wall Street, Indignados and the Gezi Park movements, #Nuitdebout (‘Night on our Feet’) is part of a new global movement that seeks to challenge the rule of the 1 percent by taking back public space.  Thousands gather every night in Place de la République to discuss and debate how to construct a more participatory form of politics.

The streets and squares of Paris are alive with democracy, and if the Spanish and US examples are anything to go by, this participatory and chaotic movement could play an important part in creating transformative change.  The link between these movements is clear.  On May 15th they jointly organized #GlobalDebout – over 300 actions across the world demanding real democracy, economic justice and sustainability.  There were major demonstrations in Madrid, a general assembly in Mexico, a free orchestra in Brussels and occupations across Italy.

They manifest a commonly held feeling that something has gone profoundly wrong with the political system.  After 30 years of neoliberal policies, unemployment in France sits around 10%.  The French government’s big plan address this problem, destroying communities across the country, is more of the same.  They propose a new labour reform that will make it easier for companies to fire staff and reduce payouts to laid-off employees, and it threatens the 35-hour workweek.

Yet the protest movement quickly became about more than just one law, it became a rejection of the neoliberal system that regards profit as the main goal and purpose of human society.  A system that believes ‘the market’ should govern every action, that poverty drives efficiency and environmental destruction is necessary.

On March 31st, over 1.2 million people took to the streets across France in a massive strike against the new labour law.  And this time protestors decided not to go home.  This was the beginning of #Nuitdebout (Night on our Feet).   The occupation has now continued for a month, and engaged a new generation in politics.rect3336 space
The beauty of the square occupation model is that it enables people to express themselves in myriad ways.  At #nuitdebout there is a television station, endless political debates, direct action protest, free food and live music – all run by the participants.  Centered around participatory decision-making structures and the belief that people should have a much greater say in democratic processes, it reaches out to people who have never been involved in politics before.  This process can be transformational on both a personal and collective level.”—Common Dreams

5.26.16 DIH

pfunked Deviant Art
pfunked Deviant Art

Today in the U.S.A. is National Paper Airplane Day, while, more soulfully, Australia marks this date as a National Day of Healing; in Rome nineteen hundred ninety-nine years back, Germanicus returned to Rome as a conqueror of German tribes west of the Elbe river; four hundred and thirty four years subsequently, in 451, the rising Persian Sassanid Empire sent forces to defeat Armenian rebels at the Battle of Avarayr, the upshot of which was the Armenian right to practice Christianity;six hundred and eighty-eight years before this point in time, William of Ockham and some of his Franciscan colleagues fled Avignon in anticipation of excommunication or worse from the Pope as schism loomed; two hundred ten years subsequently, in 1538, the leaders of the Swiss canton centered on Geneva exiled John Calvin and all of his ‘protesting’ followers; ninety nine years hence, in 1637, British leaders in New England practiced the fine art of divide-and-conquer by recruiting Mohegan Native Americans to join Colonial troops in slaughtering five hundred or more Pequot villagers in Connecticut; one decade later exactly, in 1647, also in Connecticut, colonial authorities killed the first ‘witch’ in British North America by hanging her for her putative beliefs; precisely one hundred twenty-three years later, in 1770, the Orlove Revolt erupted, and met ignominious destruction by Ottoman rulers in Greece; thirteen additional years in time’s march, in 1783, across Europe and the wide Atlantic, the new United States declared a jubilee day to celebrate its recent victories over British forces; a hundred ninety-five years back, Greek rebels constituted the Peloponnesian Senate en route to their successful establishment of an independent Greek state; a thousand ninety-six days beyond that revolutionary conjunction, in 1824, again across Europe and the wide Atlantic, men and women shoe workers in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, rose up in the continent’s first ‘coed’ strike;four years subsequently, in 1828, Northward in Germany, authorities came across an apparently feral child wandering the streets of Nuremberg; two years thereafter, in 1830, across the Atlantic in the Southern United States, the Indian Removal Act took effect, disfranchising and destroying indigenous communities throughout

from Espresso Stalinist
from Espresso Stalinist

the Southern Appalachians, especially the Cherokee; twenty seven years after that point, in 1857, the estimable former bondsman Dred Scott received his freedom for a brief period before thugs and reactionary courts re-enslaved him; a dozen years past that passage, in 1869, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts chartered Boston University; a decade down the road from that, in 1879, Russia and England ‘disposed’ of the future of Afghanistan through the machinations of the Gandamak treaty; a decade and a half henceforth, in 1894, the Western Federation of Miners went on strike in Cripple Creek, Colorado, for the 8-hour day and higher wages; three hundred sixty-five days further along, in 1895, the baby girl was born who would grow up as insightful photographer and social chronicler, Dorothea Lange; another year beyond that conjunction, in 1896, Charles Dow issued the first compilation of the Dow Jones Industrial Average; another three hundred sixty-five days along time’s arc, in 1897, Bram Stoker celebrated a somewhat different publishing event across the Atlantic with his publication of Dracula; three years further up the temporal stream, in 1900, Colombian factions fought each other in civil strife that happenstantially served United States interests in Panama; eight years more proximate to the present, in 1908, the first big oil strike in Southwest Asia took place in Persia, which the Anglo-Persian Oil Company instantly claimed as the property of the British Empire; half a decade yet nearer to now, in 1913, a hundred or so New York performers aggregated themselves as the Actors Equity Union; one year later still, in 1914, the respected and probing photographer and documentarian, Jacob Riis, drew a final breath; half a dozen years ago, in 1920, the International Workers of the World helped to organize a strike of transport workers in Philadelphia to gain some of the luchre that shippers had made during the war, and a female child entered our midst en route to a life as the crooner and wordsmith Peggy Lee; four years past that exact instant, in 1924, acclaimed cellist and music maker Victor Herbert, who founded the  American Society of Composers, Artists, and Publishers, breathed his last; an additional one thousand four hundred and sixty-one days in the direction of today, in 1928, the baby boy was born who would become ‘Dr. Death,’ AKA Jack Kevorkian; nine years further forward in time, in 1937, labor unrest unfolded as 100,000 steelworkers in seven states struck against fascist employers for their human rights as the Memorial Day weekend began, and Nazi sympathizer Henry Ford called out goons on United Auto Workers organizers in the Battle of the Overpass near Detroit; one year subsequent to that moment, in 1938, in Washington, the House Un-American Activities Committee held its first session, and six thousand miles away in Russia, a female infant entered our midst who would mature as the acclaimed storyteller, writer, artist, and performer Lyudmila Petrushevskaya; two years subsequent to that juncture, in 1940, back in the U.S. a male child uttered its first cry en route to life as the iconic musical performer and songwriter, Levon Helm; eight years still further on down life’s highway, in 1948, the United States made its Civil Air Patrol a permanent institution; a mere year yet later on, in 1949, a baby male took an initial breath on his way to becoming Ward Cunningham, the creator of the World’s first Wiki, while another baby boy shouted out who would come to sing and write as the redoubtable bard and singer, Hank Williams, Jr., and across the Atlantic, an infant male opened his eyes who guitar music art performancewould rise as the scrappy scribe and political wizard, Jeremy Corbyn; two decades passage toward now, on the dot, in 1969, the Apollo moon program’s ninth rocket returned to Earth, having tested all the systems and components that would be necessary to carry out a moon landing on the next mission or so; three years in the future from that precise point, in 1972, the U.S. and the Soviet Union agreed to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a step back from the cusp of Holocaust that leaders now would do well to recall; four years further on, in 1976, philosopher of being and time and occasional follower of reaction, Martin Heidegger, was no more; twenty-two years henceforth, in 1998, Australia inaugurated its first “National Sorry Day,” in which some million citizens or more offered and accepted apologies for all and sundry sins and wrongs; six years further onward, in 2004, Terry Nichols stood in the dock as a jury of Coloradans found him guilty of a hundred sixty-one murders that he and cohort Timothy McVeigh had committed in Oklahoma City; four years still farther down the pike, in 2008, filmmaker and screenwriter Sidney Pollack died.

5.26.16 Quote

“I thank the Prime Minister for advance sight of his statement—it is absolutely a master class in the art of distraction.  I am sure that he will join me in welcoming the outstanding journalism that went into exposing the scandal of destructive global tax avoidance that was revealed by the Panama papers.  Those papers have driven home what many people have increasingly felt: that there is now one rule for the super-rich, and another for the rest.  I am honestly not sure that the Prime Minister fully appreciates the anger that is out there over this injustice.  How can it be right that street cleaners, teaching assistants and nurses work and pay their taxes, yet some at the top think that the rules simply do not apply to them?

CC BY by ToGa Wanderings
CC BY by ToGa Wanderings
       What has been revealed in the past week goes far beyond what the Prime Minister has called his ‘private matters,’ and today he needs to answer six questions to the House, and—perhaps equally importantly—to the public as a whole.  First, why did he choose not to declare his offshore tax haven investment in the House of Commons Register of Members’ Financial Interests, given that there is a requirement to ‘provide information of any pecuniary interest’ that might reasonably be thought to influence a Member’s actions?  The Prime Minister said that he thinks he mishandled the events of the past week.  Does he now realise how he mishandled his own non-declaration six years ago, when he decided not to register an offshore tax haven investment from which he has personally benefited?Bonus Army Clash demonstration depression poverty
Secondly, can he clarify to the House and to the public that when he sold his stake in Blairmore Holdings in 2010, he also disposed of another offshore investment at that time?  In particular, were any of the £72,000 of shares that he sold held in offshore tax havens?money international yuan china trade tpp
The ‘Ministerial Code’ states that ‘Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or could reasonably be perceived to arise, between their public duties and their private interests, financial or otherwise’” and that all Ministers ‘must provide…a full list…of all interests which might be thought to give rise to a conflict,’ including close family interests.  So did the Prime Minister provide the permanent secretary with an account of his offshore interests and if not, did he not realise that he had a clear obligation to do so, when part of his personal wealth was tied up in offshore tax havens and he was now making policy decisions that had a direct bearing on their operation?  For example, in 2013 the Prime Minister wrote to the President of the European Council opposing central public registers of beneficial ownership of offshore trusts.  So, thirdly, does the Prime Minister now accept that transparency of beneficial ownership must be extended to offshore trusts?money
The Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca registered more than 100,000 secret firms in the British Virgin Islands . It is a scandal that UK overseas territories registered over half the shell companies set up by Mossack Fonseca.  The truth is that the UK is at the heart of the global tax avoidance industry.  It is a national scandal and it has got to end.  Last year, this Government opposed the EU Tax Commissioner Pierre Moscovici’s blacklist of 30 un-co-operative tax havens.  That blacklist included the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands.  So my fourth question is: will the Prime Minister now stop blocking European Commission plans for a blacklist of tax havens?  It turns out that Lord Blencathra, the former Conservative Home Office Minister, was absolutely right when he wrote to the Cayman Islands Government in 2014 to reassure them that our Prime Minister was making a ‘purely political gesture’ about cracking down on tax havens at the G8.  It was designed, he said, to be ‘a false initiative which will divert other member states from pursuing their agenda.’money_flying-transparent
Last June, Treasury officials lobbied Brussels not to take action against Bermuda’s tax secrecy.  According to the European Union’s transparency register, the tech giant Google has no fewer than 10 employees lobbying Brussels.  Bermuda is the tax haven favoured by Google to channel billions in profits.  Conservative MEPs have been instructed on six occasions since the beginning of last year to vote against action to clamp down on aggressive tax avoidance.  This is a party incapable of taking serious, internationally co-ordinated action to tackle tax dodging.  Across the country and on the Opposition side of the House, there is a thirst for decisive action against global tax avoidance scams that suck revenues out of our public services, while ordinary taxpayers have to foot the bill.  It undermines public trust in business, politics and public life.  It can and must be brought to an end.credit card debt money monopoly
We welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement today about new measures to make companies liable for employees who facilitate tax cheating, but it is also too little, too late.  In fact, it was announced by the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury a year ago.  People want a Government who act on behalf of those who pay their taxes, not those who dodge their taxes in offshore tax havens.  Yesterday, my hon Friend the shadow Chancellor set out a clear plan for transparency.  He is a Member of this House who has spent all his time in Parliament exposing tax havens and tax avoidance.  His paper included a call for an immediate public inquiry into the Panama papers revelations to establish the harm done to our tax revenues and to bring forward serious proposals for reform.laptop computer accounting
I say gently to the Prime Minister that a tax taskforce reporting to the Chancellor and the Home Secretary, both members of a party funded by donors implicated in the Panama leaks, will be neither independent nor credible.  So will the Prime Minister back a credible and independent public inquiry into the abuses revealed by the leaks?desk media computer journalism
Our task transparency plan called for a specialised tax enforcement unit to be properly resourced, which is key.  Since 2010, there have been only 11 prosecutions over offshore tax evasion—a situation that the Public Accounts Committee described as ‘woefully inadequate.’ Having slashed resources and cut 14,000 staff since 2010, will the Prime Minister today guarantee that resourcing to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs will increase in this Parliament?
We support real action to end the abuses that allow the wealthy to dodge the rules that the rest of us have to follow.  We need to ensure that trust and fairness are restored to our tax system and our politics and to end the sense and the reality that there is one rule for the richest and another for everybody else.  The Prime Minister has attacked tax dodging as immoral, but he clearly failed to give a full account of his own involvement in offshore tax havens until this week and to take essential action to clean up the system, while at the same time blocking wider efforts to do so.  There are clear steps that can be taken to bring tax havens and tax dodging under control—[Interruption.]
Aitor Calero Flickr Stop complaining
Aitor Calero Flickr
Stop complaining

Mr Speaker: Order.  There is a Minister standing at the Bar shrieking in an absurd manner.  He must calm himself and either take a medicament if required or leave the Chamber.
Jeremy Corbyn: Thank you, Mr Speaker.
I suggest that the Prime Minister’s record, particularly over the past week, shows that the public no longer have the trust in him to deal with these matters.  Do he and Conservative Members realise why people are so angry?  We have gone through six years—yes, six years—of crushing austerity, with families lining up at food banks to feed their children, disabled people losing their benefits, elderly care cut and slashed and living standards going down.  Much of that could have been avoided if our country had not been ripped off by the super-rich refusing to pay their taxes.

Trello from LifeHacker
Trello from LifeHacker

Let me say this to the Prime Minister: ordinary people in the country will simply not stand for this any more: they want real justice; they want the wealthy to pay their share of tax just as they have to pay when they work hard all the time.

5.25.16 dih

Towel Day 2005, Innsbruck, Austria, where, by his own account, Adams got the inspiration to write the Guide.
Towel Day 2005, Innsbruck, Austria, where, by his own account, Adams got the inspiration to write the Guide.

Today is International Missing Children’s Day and Geek Pride Day, &, in honor of the work of Douglas Adams, it is also Towel Day, while the African Union marks this date as African Day, and aficionados in the United States celebrate National Tap Dance Day; on the Italian Peninsula two thousand five hundred eighty-three years ago, forces under Servius Tullius moved forward Roman dominance in all of Italy with their victory over Etruscans; three hundred twenty-seven years forward in time, in 240 BCE, what would in the future bear the name of Halley’s Comet committed its first recorded perihelion passage; thirteen and a quarter centuries subsequently, in 1085, a reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula began with the forces of a sixth Castillian Alfonso’s taking control of Toledo from earlier Islamic conquerors; four hundred ninety-five years before the here and now, Holy Roman Emperor Charles the 5th ended a meeting of the Diet of Worms with the declaration that Martin Luther was a heretic; sixteen decades beyond that momentous juncture, in 1681, iconic Spanish poet and playwright Pedro Calderon de la Barca drew his final breath; two hundred and seventy-eight years in advance of today, an internecine struggle among English colonies intense enough to merit the title of a war between Maryland and Pennsylvania came to an end with a treaty and exchange of prisoners; six decades thereafter, in 1978, the United Irishman Uprising continued with the Battle of Carlow at which the British enforced their policies of summary execution of suspected insurgents; and five year later, in 1803, a baby male entered the world in England who soon enough became poet and essayist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, and on the other side of the Atlantic, a baby boy came along en route to a life as the ‘transcendent’ philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson;  six years exactly more proximate to now, in 1809, Peruvian rebels inaugurated Spanish colonial wars of independence with the Chuquisaca uprising; three hundred sixty five days after that point, in 1810, Argentinean

Buenos Aires Luis Argerich
Buenos Aires Luis Argerich

insurgents joined the fray by expelling the Spanish Viceroy and declaring Argentina independent; a hundred seventy nine years ahead of this moment in time, another group of colonials, this time French speakers in Southern Canada, rebelled against their metropolitan masters, this time in London; twenty-eight years hence, in 1865, hundreds of workers and soldiers and civilians died when an ordnance depot in Mobile, Alabama ignited and exploded; thirteen years beyond that unhappy pass, in 1878, English theatre goers delighted to the premier of the Gilbert and Sullivan program, H.M.S. Pinafore; eight additional years in the direction of now, in 1886, a male child entered the world in Scotland who would emigrate to the United States as Philip Murray and go on to lead the United Steelworkers of America and the Congress of Industrial Organizations throughout the 1940’s and early 1950’s, till his death; nine years further along time’s path, in 1895, across the Atlantic in England Oscar Wilde faced a conviction for homosexual acts that led to his imprisonment, and on the opposite side of the planet, European Imperial interests orchestrated the separation of Formosa, now Taiwan, from China; three decades after that, in 1925, only weeks after his arrest, John Scopes faced indictment for the crime of teaching his students the truth about evolution; two years yet later on exactly, in 1927, a male infant took his first breath who would mature as a popular writer of thrillers Robert Ludlum; one thousand four hundred and sixty-one days henceforth, in 1932, the first ‘troops’ of the Bonus Army arrived in Washington to besiege their government for their promised service bonuses from World War One; three years afterward, in 1935, just a few hundred miles north at the Big Ten Track & Field Championship, African American athlete Jesse Owens broke several world records in his performance; a year afterward exactly, in 1936,  American Federation of Labor unions led a strike against the arms manufacturer Remington Rand that elicited what analysts termed the Mohawk Valley Protocols of vicious repression against union organizers; seven hundred and thirty days after that point, to the day, in 1938, across the wide Atlantic in war-torn Spain, fascist planes bombed Alicante and killed hundreds of people, and a baby boy was born who would grow up as the dour narrator and critic Raymond Carver; eleven years subsequent to that instant in space and time, in 1949, a baby girl opened her eyes who would rise as the brilliant and prolific writer and thinker Jamaica Kinkaid;four years still later, in 1953, the U.S. conducted its only open air test of a nuclear artillery device in Nevada, and in a more positive development, Houston TX opened the first public television station in the country, and a baby girl cried out en route to life as the liberator and gadfly of human possibility, Eve Ensler; three hundred sixty five days after that point, in 1954, legendary photojournalist Robert Capa breathed his last; seven years subsequently, in 1961, President John Kennedy addressed congress and delivered his speech that promised a man on the moon before 1970; a mere year in the future from that point, in 1962, in a much less ambitious and yet much more difficult program, the American Federation of Labor sought to reduce unemployment by lowering the average workweek to 35 hours; an additional year forward in time, in 1963,diplomats met in Ethiopia to create the Organization of African Unity, and back in North America, a male infant gave his first cry of joy on his way to a life as the comic, thinker, and creator Mike Myers; around the world, three years later, in 1966, the Cultural Revolution began to mao communist chinaunfold in China with the posting of the first dàzìbào; seven years past that intersection, in 1973, Greek sailors rejected the imperially favoured fascist dictatorship installed in their stead in Athens and, during a NATO exercise, dropped anchor in an Italian port and refused to return to Greece; four years along time’s arc, in 1977, George Lucas released the first Star Wars installment, and in a decidedly different expression of cultural evolution on the other side of the world, Chinese authorities effectively ended the so-called ‘Cultural Revolution’ and removed the ban on Shakespeare’s works in their country; four years further down the road, in 1981, aristocratic and reactionary states favored by the United States and Britain, centred around Saudi Arabia, formed the Gulf Cooperation Council; seventeen years back, the U.S. released an investigative analysis, the Cox Report, that detailed Chinese nuclear program espionage since the 1970’s; nine years nearer to now, in 2008, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Phoenix Lander began to explore the so-called Green Valley region of Mars for evidence of water and microbial life;a year later on the nose, in 2009, North Korean authorities for their part alleged a second nuclear weapons test; two years even closer to the current context, in 2011, Oprah Winfrey aired her last network program before she started her own channel; one year more on time’s forward dance, in 2012, the commercial space vehicle, Dragon, became the first privately-owned extraterrestrial vehicle to rendezvous with the International Space Station.

5.25.16 quote

“The chief advantage that would result from the establishment of Socialism is, undoubtedly, the fact that Socialism would relieve us from that sordid necessity of living for others which, in the present condition of things, presses so hardly upon almost everybody. In fact, scarcely anyone at all escapes.  Now and then, in the course of the century, a great man of science, like Darwin; a great poet, like Keats; a fine critical spirit, like M. Renan; a supreme artist, like Flaubert, has been able to isolate himself, to keep himself out of reach of the clamorous claims of others, to stand ‘under the shelter of the wall,’ as Plato puts it, and so to realise the perfection of what was in him, to his own incomparable gain, and to the incomparable and lasting gain of the whole world.  Pixabay Image 690444
These, however, are exceptions.  The majority of people spoil their lives by an unhealthy and exaggerated altruism—are forced, indeed, so to spoil them.  They find themselves surrounded by hideous poverty, by hideous ugliness, by hideous starvation. It is inevitable that they should be strongly moved by all this.  The emotions of man are stirred more quickly than man’s intelligence; and, as I pointed out some time ago in an article on the function of criticism, it is much more easy to have sympathy with suffering than it is to have sympathy with thought.  Accordingly, with admirable, though misdirected intentions, they very seriously and very sentimentally set themselves to the task of remedying the evils that they see.  But their remedies do not cure the disease: they merely prolong it.  Indeed, their remedies are part of the disease.sick-banner cancer health
They try to solve the problem of poverty, for instance, by keeping the poor alive; or, in the case of a very advanced school, by amusing the poor.  But this is not a solution: it is an aggravation of the difficulty.  The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible.  And the altruistic virtues have really prevented the carrying out of this aim.  Just as the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system being realised by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, in the present state of things in England, the people who do most harm are the people who try to do most good; and at last we have had the spectacle of men who have really studied the problem and know the life—educated men who live in the East End—coming forward and imploring the community to restrain its altruistic impulses of charity, benevolence, and the like.  They do so on the ground that such charity degrades and demoralises.  They are perfectly right.  Charity creates a multitude of sins.money international yuan china trade tpp
There is also this to be said.  It is immoral to use private property in order to alleviate the horrible evils that result from the institution of private property.  It is both immoral and unfair.  Under Socialism all this will, of course, be altered.  There will be no people living in fetid dens and fetid rags, and bringing up unhealthy, hunger-pinched children in the midst of impossible and absolutely repulsive surroundings.  The security of society will not depend, as it does now, on the state of the weather.

Socialism, Communism, or whatever one chooses to call it, by converting private property into public wealth, and substituting co-operation for competition, will restore society to its proper condition of a thoroughly healthy organism, and insure the material well-being of each member of the community.  It will, in fact, give Life its proper basis and its proper environment.  But for the full development of Life to its highest mode of perfection, something more is needed.  What is needed is Individualism.  If the Socialism is Authoritarian; if there are Governments armed with economic power as they are now with political power; if, in a word, we are to have Industrial Tyrannies, then the last state of man will be worse than the first.

At present, in consequence of the existence of private property, a great many people are enabled to develop a certain very limited amount of Individualism.  They are either under no necessity to work for their living, or are enabled to choose the sphere of activity that is really congenial to them, and gives them pleasure.  These are the poets, the philosophers, the men of science, the men of culture—in a word, the real men, the men who have realised themselves, and in whom all Humanity gains a partial realisation.  Upon the other hand, there are a great many people who, having no private property of their own, and being always on the brink of sheer starvation, are compelled to do the work of beasts of burden, to do work that is quite uncongenial to them, and to which they are forced by the peremptory, unreasonable, degrading Tyranny of want.  These are the poor, and amongst them there is no grace of manner, or charm of speech, or civilisation, or culture, or refinement in pleasures, or joy of life.  From their collective force Humanity gains much in material prosperity.  But it is only the material result that it gains, and the man who is poor is in himself absolutely of no importance.  He is merely the infinitesimal atom of a force that, so far from regarding him, crushes him: indeed, prefers him crushed, as in that case he is far more obedient.rect3336 space
Of course, it might be said that the Individualism generated under conditions of private property is not always, or even as a rule, of a fine or wonderful type, and that the poor, if they have not culture and charm, have still many virtues.  Both these statements would be quite true.  The possession of private property is very often extremely demoralising, and that is, of course, one of the reasons why Socialism wants to get rid of the institution.  In fact, property is really a nuisance.  Some years ago people went about the country saying that property has duties.  They said it so often and so tediously that, at last, the Church has begun to say it.  One hears it now from every pulpit.  It is perfectly true.  Property not merely has duties, but has so many duties that its possession to any large extent is a bore.  It involves endless claims upon one, endless attention to business, endless bother.  If property had simply pleasures, we could stand it; but its duties make it unbearable.rect3336 space
In the interest of the rich we must get rid of it.  The virtues of the poor may be readily admitted, and are much to be regretted.  We are often told that the poor are grateful for charity.  Some of them are, no doubt, but the best amongst the poor are never grateful.  They are ungrateful, discontented, disobedient, and rebellious.  They are quite right to be so.  Charity they feel to be a ridiculously inadequate mode of partial restitution, or a sentimental dole, usually accompanied by some impertinent attempt on the part of the sentimentalist to tyrannise over their private lives. rect3336 space
Why should they be grateful for the crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table?  They should be seated at the board, and are beginning to know it.  As for being discontented, a man who would not be discontented with such surroundings and such a low mode of life would be a perfect brute.  Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue.  It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.  Sometimes the poor are praised for being thrifty.  But to recommend thrift to the poor is both grotesque and insulting.  It is like advising a man who is starving to eat less.  For a town or country labourer to practise thrift would be absolutely immoral.  Man should not be ready to show that he can live like a badly-fed animal.  He should decline to live like that, and should either steal or go on the rates, which is considered by many to be a form of stealing. rect3336 space
As for begging, it is safer to beg than to take, but it is finer to take than to beg.  No: a poor man who is ungrateful, unthrifty, discontented, and rebellious, is probably a real personality, and has much in him.  He is at any rate a healthy protest.  As for the virtuous poor, one can pity them, of course, but one cannot possibly admire them.  They have made private terms with the enemy, and sold their birthright for very bad pottage.  They must also be extraordinarily stupid.  I can quite understand a man accepting laws that protect private property, and admit of its accumulation, as long as he himself is able under those conditions to realise some form of beautiful and intellectual life.  But it is almost incredible to me how a man whose life is marred and made hideous by such laws can possibly acquiesce in their continuance.rect3336 space

             However, the explanation is not really difficult to find.  It is simply this.  Misery and poverty are so absolutely degrading, and exercise such a paralysing effect over the nature of men, that no class is ever really conscious of its own suffering.  They have to be told of it by other people, and they often entirely disbelieve them.  What is said by great employers of labour against agitators is unquestionably true.  Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people, who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community, and sow the seeds of discontent amongst them.  That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary.  Without them, in our incomplete state, there would be no advance towards civilisation.  Slavery was put down in America, not in consequence of any action on the part of the slaves, or even any express desire on their part that they should be free.  It was put down entirely through the grossly illegal conduct of certain agitators in Boston and elsewhere, who were not slaves themselves, nor owners of slaves, nor had anything to do with the question really.
              (In essence, then), (p)rivate property has crushed true Individualism, and set up an Individualism that is false.  It has debarred one part of the community from being individual by starving them.  It has debarred the other part of the community from being individual by putting them on the wrong road, and encumbering them.  Indeed, so completely has man’s personality been absorbed by his possessions that the English law has always treated offences against a man’s property with far more severity than offences against his person, and property is still the test of complete citizenship. no trespassing sign capitalim
The industry necessary for the making money is also very demoralising.  In a community like ours, where property confers immense distinction, social position, honour, respect, titles, and other pleasant things of the kind, man, being naturally ambitious, makes it his aim to accumulate this property, and goes on wearily and tediously accumulating it long after he has got far more than he wants, or can use, or enjoy, or perhaps even know of.  japan mask theater theatre 17th_century_Noh_mask
Man will kill himself by overwork in order to secure property, and really, considering the enormous advantages that property brings, one is hardly surprised.  One’s regret is that society should be constructed on such a basis that man has been forced into a groove in which he cannot freely develop what is wonderful, and fascinating, and delightful in him—in which, in fact, he misses the true pleasure and joy of living.  He is also, under existing conditions, very insecure.  An enormously wealthy merchant may be—often is—at every moment of his life at the mercy of things that are not under his control.  If the wind blows an extra point or so, or the weather suddenly changes, or some trivial thing happens, his ship may go down, his speculations may go wrong, and he finds himself a poor man, with his social position quite gone.  Now, nothing should be able to harm a man except himself.  Nothing should be able to rob a man at all.  What a man really has, is what is in him.  What is outside of him should be a matter of no importance.
.
With the abolition of private property, then, we shall have true, beautiful, healthy Individualism.  Nobody will waste his life in accumulating things, and the symbols for things.  One will live.  To live is the rarest thing in the world.  Most people exist, that is all.”   Oscar Wilde: “The Soul of Man Under Socialism”–1891

5.24.16 TOF

TOP OF THE FOLD

A FILM ANNIVERSARY THAT REVEALS AMERICA’S REACTIONARY SEXISM

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/05/thelma-louise-holds-up-wella-little-too-well/484121/ – In a context in which, more than ever, the powers-that-be depend on division and selective victimization and blaming victims and using blame to divert attention from real culpability, a lovely review essay from Atlantic Magazine about the twenty-fifth anniversary of Thelma & Louise’s release, a story which examined issues of rape and sexist presumption and brutality as its central premise and which concluded that homicidal sprees and suicidal leaps might be the only choices available other than submission, subjugation, the bowed head and subtle nod of the routinely sodomized; an assessment in any event that fits all to chillingly well with a just-released Human Rights Watch report  about the retaliation that soldiers who report rape face, often for a lifetime, a topic about which Salon weighs-in with revelations of how the assaulted female soldiers end up with completely vidious and stupid labels of having personality disorders for disliking rape and insisting on its punishment; an assessment in addition that merges in noisome perfection with an item that DailyKos is passing on from local reporting in Tennessee about a pair of pastors who have been profiteering in a sex-trafficking prostitution slave ring–all of which dovetails with complete perfection with the fascist attacks on women’s abortion and bodily rights, a subject that The Jewish Daily Forward examines elliptically from a male point of view, with the recollections of now middle-aged men who helped a young woman obtain an abortion half a century back, that ViceNews covers  joyously with a briefing from Ireland, where women are insisting that the State arrest them because they have chosen to use pills to end their pregnancies, and that a pair of items, one from Salon the other from ThinkProgress, investigate in regard to the hideous crucifixion with which the Nazis of Indiana are seeking to ruin the life of Purvi Patel for the ‘crime’ of inducing an end to an unintended and unwanted pregnancy of which she was ashamed and afraid, a case that Thelma and Louise would have made their own in a heartbeat: “Thelma & Louise’s plot revolves around the consequences of an attempted rape: Harlan, a smarmy guy Thelma meets in a roadside bar—a guy she drinks with, and dances with, and flirts with—takes her out back, to the bar’s parking lot.  In the guise of taking care of her—she drank a little too much, and dizzied as they danced—he kisses her.  She resists him.  Things escalate.  He hits her.  He unzips his jeans.  He ignores her flailing protests.  He tries to rape her.  Louise finds them in the parking lot, and brandishes the gun Thelma has brought with them on their road trip.  He stops, finally.  ‘In the future,’ Louise informs him, icily, ‘if a woman’s crying like that, she ain’t having any fun.’

"SIG Pro by Augustas Didzgalvis"
“SIG Pro by Augustas Didzgalvis”

But Harlan remains unrepentant, and Louise snaps. It happens instantly, as if by electric impulse: She shoots him.  Dead.  It’s the action that sets all the other actions in Thelma & Louise in motion.  But it’s not, it turns out, an isolated incident.  We learn later that Louise’s fateful shot was the result not just of her loyalty to Thelma, and not just of her simmering frustration with disappointing men, and not just of her knowledge that Harlan had likely raped before and would likely go on to do it again; it was also the outcome of a more isolated event.  Louise, it turns out, had been a victim of rape herself.

But the fundamental fact of Thelma & Louise—the one that ultimately drives its plot, and the one that makes it feel so disappointingly fresh today—is the women’s recognition that they can’t trust the law, because the law doesn’t trust them.  ‘No one would believe us’ runs like a refrain through the film’s taut dialogues, and it underscores pretty much every decision the two women make during their road-trip-turned-crime-spree.  The women thought about going to the cops, at first, toying with the notion of confessing and explaining what had happened; they realized, though, that it would be their word against a dead man’s, and that the dead man’s would prevail.  ‘Just about 100 people saw you dancing cheek to cheek with him,’ Louise tells Thelma, explaining why no one would see their side of the story.  ‘We don’t live in that kind of world, Thelma!’

And that’s the sad aspect of Thelma & Louise’s high-flying, early-’90s feminism: In many ways, we still don’t live in that kind of world.  We live in a world in which ‘slut-shaming’ and ‘she asked for it’—not to mention ‘police militarization’—are still part of the mainstream vernacular; in which the Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz carried her dorm-room mattress around campus, a silent protest against both the man she alleged had raped her and the university that retained him as a student; in which a woman wrote about beating her alleged rapist because she didn’t trust that law to bring him to justice; in which, according to RAINN, only 32 percent of rapes are reported to police.  And we also, of course, live in a world of laws that sometimes seek, in ways overt and subtle, to control women’s bodies.  As Rebecca Traister put it in her recent book, single women in particular are ‘taking up space in a world that was not built for them.’

Today, there are 20 women serving in the U.S. Senate, which is very far from 50.  Thelma & Louise is a movie, at its most basic level, about a road trip; 25 years later, it is a cinematic and searing reminder that roads can be winding and rocky and, above all, long.”—Atlantic Magazine

 

“Liz Luras enlisted in the US Army because she came from a patriotic family – her father served in Vietnam and her grandfather fought in World War II – and to help pay for college.  Her family, who lived in Oregon, couldn’t afford a car.  To pay for her ballet classes, Liz and her mom cleaned the ballet studio and sewed costumes.  ‘[Enlisting] seemed like the perfect solution,’ she said.  ‘To serve my country and make sure I had a way to pay for my education.’

Liz excelled in boot camp and training.  Her superiors encouraged her military career and said they would nominate her for the military academy at West Point.  Her future seemed assured.  ‘It was the most exciting time,’ she said.  ‘I felt so empowered as a patriot, soldier and woman.  I could run, huck a rucksack, shoot an M16, and I loved it.’  Then everything changed.  Her date to the Marine Corps ball raped her, and her ‘battle buddy,’ a partner assigned by the military, reported the assault to superiors.

The rape set off a series of events – including physical hazing, sexual harassment and two more rapes – that led ultimately to Liz being forced out of the military career she loved.  Despite being honorably discharged, she was unfairly labeled as having a ‘Personality Disorder’ or PD in her discharge papers – although she was never diagnosed by a doctor and showed no signs of PD in her pre-army screening.  Because of this black mark on her record, when she applied for law enforcement or government jobs – where veterans are often given preference – she didn’t even get interviews.  Only later did she learn that PD discharges, a term used to describe a mental health condition that can disqualify someone from military service, were once considered the easiest way to get rid of someone in the military and to silence them.

CC BY-SA by joelogon
CC BY-SA by joelogon

Based on more than 270 interviews, documents from US government agencies in response to public record requests, and data analysis, a new Human Rights Watch report illuminates the impact of ‘bad discharges’ on military personnel who left or were forced out of the military after reporting a sexual assault.  In response to public pressure the military has taken some steps in recent years to improve how it handles sexual assault cases.  But almost nothing has been done to reverse the harm to veterans who reported sexual assault in the past.  Like Liz, many lost much more than their military careers, and have no effective recourse to correct their records.

(In a complex skein of deprivation and treachery, she has managed to weave a life).  For the past six years Liz has worked in suicide prevention for veterans.  ‘I tell everyone to find what you would die for and live for it.  Because one voice can make a difference and that difference begins with you.’  She pauses. ‘ That’s the whole reason why I stand up and start talking about this and don’t bury it.  I want Congress to wake up.  And I want them to step up and start helping us.  Our warriors deserve justice.'”—Human Rights Watch

WAR plane russia

“Most rapists attack someone they know, which means that holding them accountable means tearing apart whatever community — school, work, friend group — that the accused and accuser belong in.  Often, it feels just easier to pressure the accuser to shut up and go away so everything can return to normal, even though that often requires ignoring that there’s a sexual predator in your midst.

rect3336 space

In a report released on Thursday, Human Rights Watch turned up alarming evidence that, in the military, forces that want to shut accusers up and make them go away have found a disturbingly potent weapon: Misogynist stereotypes.  By leaning on prejudiced beliefs that women, especially outspoken women, are either dishonest or crazy, the military was able to get rid of women who came forward with rape accusations.

rect3336 space
The 124-page report, Booted: Lack of Recourse for Wrongfully Discharged US Military Rape Survivors, found that many rape victims suffering from trauma were unfairly discharged for a ‘personality disorder’ or other mental health condition that makes them ineligible for benefits.  Others were given ‘Other Than Honorable’ discharges for misconduct related to the assault that shut them out of the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system and a broad range of educational and financial assistance.  The consequences of having ‘bad paper’ – any discharge other than ‘honorable’ – or being labeled as having a ‘personality disorder’ are far-reaching for veterans and their families, impacting employment, child custody, health care, disability payments, burial rights – virtually all aspects of life.rect3336 space
Dismissing women as crazy or liars or both is a long-standing tactic of rape denialists, who feed of false social beliefs about women being less mentally stable or straightforward than men.  That’s how, for instance, Bill Cosby was able to coast so long, despite having settled a lawsuit out of court in which the plaintiff had 13 women ready and willing to speak out.rect3336 space
The belief that women are inherently off somehow is so ingrained that it was easy for the public to believe that more than a football team’s worth of women was just doing this out of a female strain of crazy vindictiveness.  It wasn’t until the numbers swelled to the dozens that most of the public had to start questioning whether it might just be possible that the explanation for the accusations was that they were true instead of that women are crazy monsters who lie for sport.”—Salon

CC BY-NC-ND by UN Women Gallery
CC BY-NC-ND by UN Women Gallery

“Human traffickers (are) all around us.  If you’re buying or selling, you are part of the $150 billion business — and part of the crime.  Two of the men arrested during the sting were church pastors.  Jason Kennedy, a pastor for children aged birth through fifth grade at Grace Baptist Church responded to ads soliciting underaged girls.  The TBI records say he negotiated a $100 fee for a half hour of sex with two females — one girl being a minor.  The other pastor is Zubin Parakh of Lifehouse Church in Oak Ridge, right outside of Knoxville, was also charged for responding to an ad for sex with a female minor.  Three hundred contacts were made in response to ads posted onBackground.com (a google search shows the site no longer exists).

A public awareness campaign was launched last year in Tennessee called ItHasToStop.  The operation also helps identify victims of sex/human trafficking and offers services that include housing, counseling and addiction treatment.

As for the victims of human trafficking, many are right in front of us in hotels, airplanes, nail salons, truck stops, in elder care centers … they are held captive through coercion, force and threats.  There are an estimated 20.9 million victims of human slavery, with 1.5 million in North America.  Sex-trafficking is often the most common and most lucrative in the business of selling human beings.

 

TED talk speaker Tony Talbott makes an incredibly disturbing summation about sex trafficking:  ‘It’s all about the money.  Human trafficking is insanely profitable.  If you really think about it; You can sell a kilo of Heroin once; (y)ou can sell a 13-year-old girl 20 times a night, 365 days a year.'”—DailyKos

5.24.16 quote

As you are reading this letter, the young men and, women shown above are in Mississippi performing an act of faith and courage that is so extraordinary that I find myself struggling for words to describe my feelings toward them.  They are some of the more than 1000 volunteers who have come from all over our country to spend this summer in the most terror-stricken area of the south – Mississippi, where 900, 000 Negroes live in feudal conditions unimaginable to the outsider.

roberlan deviantart
roberlan deviantart

The gravest of dangers await these courageous workers.  Some details of what they face are given in the enclosed article reprinted from Newsweek.  The first of the summer volunteers have already been arrested; project offices have been attacked and even bombed.rect3336 space

God knows what may happen between now, as I write this letter, and when you receive it.  All of us are waiting anxiously and still praying for the safety of the three young people who have disappeared.rect3336 space

And yet, they are coming; teachers , nurses , technicians , college students , legal advisors — both Negro and white.  They are coming: on a unique mission, an unofficial peace corps for the south, bringing their skills and courage to communities which have been almost completely shut off from the American mainland.rect3336 space

These courageous young people will staff a wide range of programs whose goal is nothing less than to help bring the Mississippi Negro into the 20th century.  Their undertakings will include: 1) the establishment of Freedom Schools teaching everything from the techniques of non-violent protest to technical skills and remedial reading; 2) expanded voter registration drives; 3) supporting Negro candidates for public office; 4) the creation of community centers across the state.rect3336 space

The director of the Mississippi Summer Project is Robert Moses, a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. SNCC will be the driving force in carrying out the entire project.  Bob Moses is a brilliant, 29-year old Negro who was educated at Hamilton and Harvard, then gave up an excellent teaching appointment to work in the civil rights movement.

"Selma to Montgomery Marches" by Peter Pettus - Library of Congress.
“Selma to Montgomery Marches” by Peter Pettus – Library of Congress.

Not many of us can leave jobs and families to spend a whole summer in Mississippi.  But all of us can help see to it that these courageous young people have enough food to eat – sorely needed books and teaching materials – medicines for illness and injury- legal aid to keep them (or get them) out of jail.rect3336 space

These young people belong to us — they are our sons and daughters.  But just being proud of them won’t help.  Mayor Thompson, of Jackson Mississippi, says ‘They won’t have a chance. ‘  I ask you to help give them a chance by sending a generous contribution for the Mississippi Summer Project and to send it NOW.rect3336 space

Please send as much as you can — every dollar you can spare will be put to direct and immediate use.“    James Baldwin, from an August, 1964 appeal letter that he wrote, which is available as two of the roughly two thousand pages that are available in his Federal Bureau of Investigation COINTELPRO files

5.24.16 DIH

CC BY by ocherdraco

Just two years shy of eight centuries ago, as if the past were truly merely prologue, the Fifth Crusade left its occupation headquarters in Acre, now in Syria, for an invasion of Egypt; three and a quarter centuries further along the temporal arc, in 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus, a monumental scientist and typically ‘modern’ gadfly of reactionary views of the world, breathed his last; in another portent of the current context, fifty-two years subsequently, in 1595, Leiden University’s library issued the first printed catalog of such an institution’s holdings; a dozen years onward from that juncture, in 1607, across the wide Atlantic, plus-or-minus one hundred colonists left their conveyance from England behind to set foot in what they would call Jamestown, Virginia; just short of two decades past that point, in 1626, the Dutchman Peter Minuit ‘bought’ Manhattan from its indigenous occupants for a ‘mess of pottage,’ or beads, as the case may be; six decades precisely henceforth, in 1686, a little baby boy bounced into the world who would grow to become the inventor and thinker Daniel Fahrenheit; a thousand ninety-six days past that conjunction, in 1689,across the English Channel, the United Kingdom Parliament passed the Acts of Toleration for Protestants only, consciously excluding members of the Catholic faith from such protection; seven times seven years later, in 1738, John Wesley underwent a conversion experience that came to mark the initiation of the Methodist faith; six decades onward from that intersection in space and time, in 1798, also in the British Isles, United Irishmen rebels rose against English rule—an uprising that blended issues of religion, revolution, nationality, and ant–colonialism and that led to barbarous repression by the crown’s forces—in an outburst of rebellion that continued till the early Autumn; a decade and a half thereafter, roughly five thousand miles Southwest in 1813, Simon Bolivar led llama chile andesthe troops that started the invasion of Venezuela and sounded the death knell of Spanish colonialism in South America; just over three decades further in the direction of today, in 1844, North in Washington, D.C., Samuel Morse inaugurated an entirely different sort of revolution when he sent the first long-distance telegraphic communication, pronouncing via code “What God hath wrought” to an associate in Maryland; half a dozen years afterward, in 1850, a baby boy opened his eyes who would rise as the spokesman of a ‘New South’ after the civil war, Henry Grady; an additional six years forward along time’s arc, in 1856, nearly halfway across the continent in the Kansas Territory, John Brown led a small force that captured and summarily executed pro-slavery Whites in retaliation for the ‘sacking’ of Lawrence by Southern forces, whose members had been bragging of their unswerving intention to make Kansas a slave State; a hundred thirty-seven years back, the fierce thinker and journalist and publisher and activist, William Lloyd Garrison, took a final breath on his exit from this realm; four years forward on the march to today, in 1883,workers completed and opened for actual traffic the Brooklyn Bridge that had required fourteen years to finish and entailed the loss of nearly thirty laborers’ lives in the process; seventeen years yet nearer to now, in 1900, South and East across the Atlantic six thousand miles or so, England’s imperial imprimatur asserted sovereignty over the Boer Orange Free State; five years hence, in 1905, many thousands of miles Northward, a male infant first cried out who would mature as Mikhail Sholokhov, the masterful novelist and storyteller, whom the Nobel Committee

By Emmanuel Huybrechts from Laval, Canada
By Emmanuel Huybrechts from Laval, Canada

would honor with its literary laurels; sixteen years yet later on, in 1921, the fraudulent trial of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti commenced in Massachusetts; precisely nineteen years past that instant, in 1940, a Soviet assassin unsuccessfully sought to murder Leon Trotsky in Mexico, and the male child shouted out, back in the U.S.S.R., en route to a life as the critic and writer and expatriate to the United States, Joseph Brodsky, who would win the Nobel Prize in literature for his work; three hundred sixty-five days subsequent to that passage, in 1945, two American baby boys entered our midst in standard fashion who would go on to fame and fortune as the rocking writer of popular lyrics, Bob Dylan, and the insightful critic of political theory and cognitive science, George Lackoff; seven years even closer to the current context, in 1948,across the Atlantic and through much of the Mediterranean, Egyptian forces succeeded in capturing an early Kibbutz, a tactical victory that permitted an overwhelming Israeli counterstrike only days later; a year past that marking of carnage, in 1949, would-be assassins shot and nearly killed labor leader Victor Reuther outside his home in Detroit, one of multiple attacks on him and his brother over the years; six years along the temporal arc, in 1955, the girl child bounded into our midst who would mature as the estimable guitar music art performancesinger-songwriter and child of ‘musical royalty,’ Roseanne Cash; one year more in the direction of the present instant, in 1956, halfway round the world in Burma, celebrants marked the 2,500th anniversary of Buddha’s birth at the end of the Sixth Buddhist Council, and in Switzerland, the first ever Eurovision Song Contest took place, with its own measure of controversy as the host country’s entry won when their judges were able to vote twice, once for the Swiss and once for the absent Luxembourg arbiter;seven hundred thirty days farther down the pike, in 1958, an early monopoly media merger transpired when the United Press and International News Service syndicates joined to form United Press International; three years still later, in 1961, Southern Freedom Riders gave them a story to write about when they found themselves under arrest for the crime of riding busses while Black and White together; a mere year after that exact point in time, in 1962, Scott Carpenter became the second American to orbit the Earth as part of the Mercury Space Program; another year onward toward the here and now, in 1963, U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy met with prominent Black cultural workers, including James Baldwin, and some actual civil rights activists, an awkward meeting that generally confirmed establishment ignorance about the depth of bigotry, on the one hand, and commitment to equality, on the other hand, that were abroad in the land at that moment in time; a decade thereafter, in a 1973 confirmation of these deep-seated issues, prisoners at the Lucasville, Ohio Maximum Security

Bob Jagendorf
Bob Jagendorf

Federal Penitentiary went on strike against the human rights violations that were common at the facility; fifteen years additional in the direction of today, in 1988, England passed a local governments bill that made illegal the promotion by authorities of homosexuality; two years hence, in 1990, more or less sixty-five hundred miles West in Oakland, California, provocateurs detonated bombs that nearly killed Earth First! activists, including the estimable Judi Bari; a further three hundred sixty-five days along time’s flowing current, in 1991, the iconic feminist film and celebration of resistance to rape, Thelma and Louise, premiered in America; three years afterward, in 1994, a Federal Court sentenced World Trade Center bombers to 240 years apiece for their role in terror attacks the year before; a different sort of conflict unfolded one year later on the dot, in 1995, when plus or minus 2,300 rubber-workers returned to their jobs without a contract after a lengthy strike; a half decade yet more in proximity to the present day, in 2000, Israel withdrew its troops from Lebanon who had held stations there since 1978; two years exactly closer to now, in 2002, the United States and Russia reached an accord on the Moscow Treaty that called for sharp reductions in thermonuclear weapons of mass destruction, a signing event that at least in theory made mass collective suicide slightly less likely; eleven years subsequently, in 2013, also in Moscow, the accomplished and beloved filmmaker, Pyotr Todorovsky, lived out his final scene.

5.23.2016 TOF

SUPERDELEGATES, SUPERFRAUD, DEMOCRACY’S DEMISE, & MORE

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/05/how-the-democratic-party-became-undemocratic-the-history-of-the-superdelagates.html

One of those articles that takes a willing scrappy scribe or stalwart citizen behind the screen where the wizard pulls his levers and manipulates the way the world turns, in this case, via Democracy Now! from Naked Capitalism, in which host Amy Goodman and reporters from In These Times and other political observers examine the way that the so-called ‘Super-Delegate’ process came into being, how it happened, and why Party regulars are so committed to its continuation, points that In These Times itself develops astutely in several articles in its most recent issue, for instance in a basic overview of what this expression of party politics is, for example in an analysis that explores how these machinations will likely strip Bernie Sanders of his chance to be the Democratic nominee, for example in an interview  with a member of the Hunt Commission that created this systematically anti-democratic methodology; all of which is particularly pertinent inasmuch as a dogged whistleblower is writing constantly about ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ that are standard operating procedure at the Clinton Foundation, a set of assertions and perspectives that the analysts at Wall Street on Parade warn are all too plausible, echoing as they do those who sought to blow the whistle on Bernie Madoff before his Ponzi scheme fell to pieces along with the rest of the United States economy; the sum of which stands in stark contrast to the integrity and real progressive guts that Bernie Sanders shows the world in making his nominations for the Democratic National Committee, an undeniable fact that Common Dreams reports incisively and as a juxtaposition to the shenanigans of business as usual: “(Topsy-turvy indeed have been the past)few days for the Democratic Party, from the contested Nevada state Democratic convention Saturday to the split results Tuesday night in primaries Kentucky—in both Kentucky and Oregon.  Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared victory against Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the primary on Tuesday in Kentucky, though it is razor-thin margin, while Sanders won a decisive victory in Oregon.  Last night, Sanders spoke to about 12,000 supporters in Carson, California, directly addressing the Democratic Party leadership.

.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: In almost every case, whether it is a national poll or a state poll, we do much better against Trump than does Secretary Clinton.  Just—poll just came out, I think it was yesterday, the state of Georgia, not a very good state for us: Trump was beating Secretary Clinton by four points; we were beating him by five points.  AUDIENCE: Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!

CC BY-NC-ND by mopaw
CC BY-NC-ND by mopaw

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: If the Democratic—if the Democratic Party wants to be certain that Donald Trump is defeated—and that, we must do—we, together, are the campaign to do that.
AMY GOODMAN: The relationship between the Sanders campaign and the Democratic Party leadership has been challenging from the start of the primary race, when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began with a more than 400-delegate lead by securing support from superdelegates—the 712 congressmen, senators, governors and other elected officials who often represent the Democratic Party elite.  Well, a new article from In These Times by Branko Marcetic uncovers ‘The Secret History of Superdelegates,’ which were established by the Hunt Commission in 1982.  Jessica Stites is executive editor of In These Times and editor of the site’s June cover story.  Still with us, Rick Perlstein, Chicago-based reporter and author of several books, including Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America.

JESSICA STITES: Our reporter, Branko Marcetic, actually went down to the National Archives and dug up the transcripts of this entire commission, that debated for months about Democratic Party rules reforms and came up with the superdelegates as their answer.  And basically, what had prompted this were the losses of Carter and McGovern, and so this fear that the Democratic Party wasn’t nominating sort of electable, winnable candidates.  And so, these sort of party insiders sat down and said, ‘What do we do?’  And their instinct was, ‘Well, we need to take control.  We need to take control of the nominating process.  We’re worried that sort of if we let the people decide through primaries, they’re going to pick the wrong person.’  And so they instituted the superdelegate, who could act as a corrective, essentially, to the popular vote by, at the convention, casting votes for whomever they chose.  And what really the sort of psychology you saw there—and this comes up a lot in the transcripts—is this fear of the activist or the outsider candidate that might disrupt the party, might not work with the Democrats the way they want once that person comes to the presidency, and so in this sort of sense that the elites kind of know best, and ‘we have a particular political acumen.’—Naked Capitalism

CC BY-NC-ND by Daveblog
CC BY-NC-ND by Daveblog

“Despite holding a nationwide series of presidential primaries and caucuses in which millions of voters participate, the Democratic Party still maintains a system of 712 party insiders who often have the final say on who the nominee is.  Why did the party choose to institute such a system?  To answer that, you need to go back to the Hunt Commission, which in 1982 invented the ‘superdelegate.’

rect3336 space

The proceedings of the Hunt Commission have never been published.  In These Times gained access to documents housed in the National Archives, excerpts of which are reproduced below.rect3336 space

The pages here represent only a sample of the total material looked at by In These Times, which itself makes up a small percentage of the total proceedings of the Commission.  Nevertheless, the documents presented here provide an exclusive window into the deliberation and motivations that led to the creation of superdelegates.”—ITT; ‘Hunting the Hunt Commission’rect3336 space

“Since its launch, a specter has haunted Bernie Sanders’ run for the Democratic nomination.  It’s not his age, though at 74 he would be the oldest president in American history.  And it’s not that he’s an avowed socialist, the label that a mere eight years ago was used to smear Barack Obama as a sinister, alien threat to the American way of life.  Rather, it has been the so-called superdelegates—the 712 Democratic Party insiders who are free to vote at the nominating convention for the candidate of their choosing.rect3336 space

The corporate media’s early inclusion of the superdelegates in the delegate count created the impression of an inevitable Clinton nomination.  Seventy-three percent of superdelegates—520 of the 712—have pledged their support to the former secretary of state, but superdelegates are free to change their minds any time before the Democratic National Convention in July.


There have been widespread calls to abolish the superdelegate system—and not all from the Sanders camp.  Even Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, called the system ‘unfair.’  The attitude of Democratic Party bigwigs hasn’t helped.  When a Sanders supporter criticized superdelegate Howard Dean for sticking with Clinton despite Sanders’ landslide victory in Vermont, Dean tweeted back: ‘Superdelegates don’t ‘represent the people’ … I’ll do what I think is right for the country.’


(The origins of this distortion of democracy by Democrats lie in the Hunt Commission, which hammered out the present protocols over seven months in 1982.  In These Times has studied this record).  The records paint a picture of a party eager to win and convinced that, in order to do so, it must return control of the nominating process to top officials.  It’s a strategy that reflects a shift in the party since the 1970s, away from the grassroots—a shift that has led to tensions within the party that are boiling to the surface with Bernie Sanders’ campaign.


(Essentially, Hunt and his cohorts returned to the ‘smoke-filled rooms’ process, which in turn an earlier reform effort, the McGovern-Fraser Commission, had overturned in favor of transparency, majority rule, and grassroots engagement).  Prior to 1970, the nominating process had been anything but democratic.  Primaries, introduced at the turn of the century, were few and non-binding.  Party members had carte blanche to select the candidate at the convention.  At the 1968 Democratic convention, the pro-Vietnam War candidate Hubert Humphrey won the nomination over antiwar Sen. Eugene McCarthy by courting party honchos, having not run in a single primary—meanwhile, McCarthy had won more primaries than any other candidate.”—ITT; Impact of the Secret History of Superdelegates

“There’s a new (Harry) Markopolos (who dogged the Securities and Exchange Commission about Bernie Madoff) in town with that same brand of leave-no-stone-unturned tenacity and he has his sights set on the charity operations of Hillary and Bill Clinton, known as the Clinton Foundation and its myriad tentacles.  Ortel’s actions come just as Hillary Clinton makes her final sprint for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States with Bill in tow as her economic czar.  Like Markopolos, Charles Ortel does not mince words.

In a 9-page letter dated yesterday and posted to his blog, Ortel calls the Clintons’ charity the ‘largest unprosecuted charity fraud ever attempted,’ adding for good measure that the Clinton Foundation is part of an ‘international charity fraud network whose entire cumulative scale (counting inflows and outflows) approaches and may even exceed $100 billion, measured from 1997 forward.’  Ortel lists 40 potential areas of fraud or wrongdoing that he plans to expose over the coming days.
Like Markopolos, Ortel has an impressive resume. Ortel’s LinkedIn profile shows that he received his B.A. from Yale and an MBA from Harvard Business School.  He previously worked as a Managing Director at investment bank Dillon Read and later as a Managing Director at the financial research firm, Newport Value Partners.  In more recent years, Ortel has been a contributor to a number of news outlets [which are, one mustnote uniformly reactionary in their biases] including the Washington Timesand TheStreet.com. …

(But ‘liberal’ media have also expressed reservations about what their reporters have discovered).  In a 2013 New York Times article, ‘Unease at Clinton Foundation Over Finances and Ambitions,’ reporters Nicholas Confessore and Amy Chozick hint that Hillary Clinton’s political operatives are occupying offices at the Clinton Foundation headquarters, writing that they ‘will work on organizing Mrs. Clinton’s packed schedule of paid speeches to trade groups and awards ceremonies and assist in the research and writing of Mrs. Clinton’s memoir about her time at the State Department, to be published by Simon & Schuster next summer.’ …
(A Wall Street Journal expose also saw conflicts and possible malfeasance).  (Kimberley)Strassel goes on to provide the specific names of staffers who are deeply conflicted in their political work for Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions and  their ties to the charity.  An article by James Grimaldi in the Wall Street Journal as recently as May 12 of this year charges that a ‘$2 million commitment arranged by the nonprofit Clinton Global Initiative in 2010 went to a for-profit company part-owned by friends of the Clintons.’ The Clinton Global Initiative is a program associated with the Clinton Foundation.”—Wall Street on Parade

5.23.16 DIH

Today over much of the Earth marks World Crohn’s and Colitis Day, as well as World Turtle Day, while Mexico celebrates Students’ Day and Germany commemorates its Constitution; on the Iberian Peninsula eleven hundred seventy-two years ago, the Battle of Clavijo, purportedly because of a ghostly saint’s intervention, favored a significantly outnumbered force of Christian Asturians who were fighting the troops of the then-ascendant Emir of Cordoba; almost a decade and a half less than four centuries subsequent to that conjunction, in 1430, Joan of Arc, whose rebellion in a later, more internecine, European struggle threatened both the Church’s rule in and the crowned heads of Europe, fell into the hands of Burgundian captors as she led troops to relieve Compiegne; sixty-eight years henceforth, in 1498, another continental imbroglio concluded with the hanging and burning at the stake of Girolamo Savonarola for his actions in favor of the French and against the Pope’s imprimatur; exactly seven decades later, in 1568, the Netherlands pronounced independence from Spain, which Dutch rebels made tangible with a defeat of Spanish-supported forces at Heiligerlee that initiated the 80 Years’ War; forty further years onward toward today, in 1618, Protestant insurgents threw representatives of Catholic nobility out of windows in Prague, a defenestration which sparked the Thirty Years’ War; three hundred fifteen years before this instant in space and time, a prominent privateer, William Kidd, who, like many of his fellows, had upon the withdrawal of permission to loot and plunder from on high, gone into business as freelancers, died at the end of a rope on a gallows in London;one and a quarter centuries, plus a year, farther down time’s path, in 1827, the first ‘nursery school’ in North America opened in New York City, both to facilitate more

efficient exploitation of young mothers and to inculcate ‘market

Jill Brown flickr
Jill Brown flickr

values’ among youngsters; seven hundred thirty-one days past that intersection, across the wide Atlantic and much of Europe in 1829, an Austrian garnered the patent for the world’s first accordion; seventeen decades back, meanwhile, back in North America, Mexico’s President ‘unofficially’ but really declared war on the United States; a hundred thirty-three years prior to the present pass, a baby boy was born who would grow up as the performer and filmic storyteller, Douglas Fairbanks; eight years onward from that, in 1891, over the great north Atlantic, a male child opened his eyes who would rise as the Nobel Literary Laureate and poet and writer, Par Lagerkvist; seven years subsequently, in 1898 California, another male infant first cried out who would mature as a prolific storyteller, one who would compose dozens of children’s yarns, in addition to many other volumes, as Scott O’Dell; half a decade further along, on the other side of the continent in 1903, as many as a hundred thousand or more textile workers, including over ten thousand children, went on strike for union recognition, higher wages, and better working conditions; a thousand ninety-six days hence, in 1906, the powerful and critically acclaimed dramatist and thinker, Henrik Ibsen, lived through his final scene; another five years in the direction of now, in 1911, the New

CC BY-NC by weesen
CC BY-NC by weesen

York Public Library opened its main branch in Manhattan, which still serves the public a century and five years in the future; three additional years on the trek toward today, in 1914, a female infant called out en route to her destiny, the life and work of journalist and columnist Celestine Sibley; eighteen years afterward, in 1932, police-state killers in Brazil shot down four students who were participating in aManifestation against Rio’s dictator, and their names formed the letters of the revolutionary organization that would later, temporarily, restore democracy in the land; seven hundred thirty days nearer to now, in 1934, back in the U.S., police picked a fight in the “Battle of Toledo” when they arrested strike leaders for the crime of advocating a union at the Auto-Lite plant, which caused ten thousand or more picketers to close access to the facility, resulting in police murder of several strikers and the turning out of the National Guard, though the organizing demands were ultimately successful, in any event; a dozen years after that instant, in 1946, the class war continued in the aftermath of World War as it had before, and railway workers throughout the U.S. went on strike for a fairer share of their ‘surplus value;’ three hundred sixty-five days more proximate to the present passage of time, in 1947, a little baby girl cried out who would go on to life as the poet and critic Jane Kenyon; still another year yet later on, in 1948, the U.S. envoy to the transition of Mandatory Palestine to Israel, Thomas C. Wasson, died at the hands of an assassin as he returned to the consulate in Jewish-controlled West Jerusalem from attempts to negotiate an end to carnage; just a mere year down the pike, in 1949,the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany came to pass, along with ‘Allied’ agreement as to the new nation’s ‘basic law;’ nine years henceforth, in 1958, a boy child first shouted out on his way to a life as the journalist and popular chronicler, Mitch Albom; another near decade forward in time, in 1967, across the Atlantic and through much of the Mediterranean, Egypt, acting as the United Arab Republic, engaged the geopolitical mayhem of the Northern Africa and Southwest Asia when it announced the closing of the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli

"Oil well"  Flcelloguy at en.wikipedia - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
“Oil well” Flcelloguy at en.wikipedia – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

shipping, thereby laying the basis for war in short order; a quarter century farther down time’s path, in 1992, across the choppy Mediterranean, Sicilian Mafia gangsters exploded a half ton car bomb, killing a prominent anti-organized-crime judge, his wife, and three bodyguards, in what many observers call a ‘turning point’ in Italy’s longstanding conflict with Mafioso; three years still later in space and time, in 1995, developers released the first version of the Java computer programming language; seven years after that, in 2002, Iceland’s ratification fulfilled the first condition of the establishment of the United Nations Kyoto climate protocols as international convention; an additional six years forward on the trek to this moment, in 2008, the estimable activist, crooner, and lyricist Utah Phillips sang his swan song;another half dozen years forward in time, in 2014, mass murder unfolded in Santa Barbara, near the University of California campus, with seven deaths, including the shooter, and fourteen serious injuries.