Friday, November 13, 2015

When our wars come home

The response to the attacks against Charlie Hebdo have been varied, from sympathy for the victims, to journalists promising to publish more, from Wikileaks calling for the release of more cartoons, to racist Islamaphobes calling for the death of all Muslims.  But one question has still not been asked. Why did they do this? Yes they can claim it was about cartoons, and it might be that simple that it is about only blaspheming Muhammad in satirical cartoons, but remember that our Judeo/Christian 10 Commandments teach against blasphemy as well. (See also here where I wrote more about this)
Blasphemy is contrary to the respect due God and his holy name. It is in itself a grave sin.
but if it turns out to be true that they were, or identified with, Al Qaeda in Yemen (as appears to be the case), then we can see a larger picture emerging that is not being talked about here.  Yes this was an attack on a newspaper possibly only over cartoons.  But it was still an attack in the streets of Paris, and while it is a rare event, it is happening more frequently.

Our wars are coming home.

We have been at war for more than a decade in almost a dozen countries.  We no longer fight them in our home countries or on our borders.  We send thousands of troops to the other side of the planet and occupy countries for 10 years, arresting all of the men, raping the women, torturing prisoners, bombing neighborhoods and massacring the population.  We don't hear about the everyday atrocities in the news.  Instead we hear platitudes about "supporting our troops" and how we are "freeing people from dictators and tyranny."  Meanwhile when people condemn the violence our soldiers commit in war this is the response.
We go to work, we do our errands, pay our bills, entertain ourselves, and then Muslim terrorists kill in our streets and we wonder why, and then proceed to unify against our enemy.

While I condemn violence, terrorists attack us for a reason, as I wrote on Twitter
Odd how terrorists and governments both say same thing "stop bombing us and killing innocent civilians or we will attack you in response"
We only seem to respond to terrorism when it occurs where we live, ignoring it when it is us who carry out attacks, or when the killers are not Muslim, for instance school shootings.  Democracy Now! had two great interviews last week discussing Yemen with Jeremy Scahill and terrorism and cable news terrorism "experts" with Glenn Greenwald.

Glenn said about terrorism that
every time there’s an attack where the assailant or the perpetrator is unknown, the media will say it’s unknown whether or not terrorism is involved. And what they really mean by that is: It’s unknown whether or not the perpetrator is Muslim. And as soon as they discover that the perpetrator is a Christian or is American, a white American, they’ll say, "We now have confirmation that this is not a terrorist attack." It’s something else—someone who’s mentally unstable, some extremist, something like that. It really is a term that functionally now means nothing other than Muslims who engage in violence against the West.
I remember there was an individual named Joseph Stack who flew an airplane into a government building in Texas, into the side of the IRS, actually. And for the first several hours of the reporting, it was said that the suspicion is that this is a terrorist attack, because it was on a government facility. And then when it was discovered that he was actually a right-wing, anti-tax, anti-government American, they said, actually, this isn’t a terrorist attack, this is just kind of this crazy person who did this for political ends.

same day as Hebdo was car bomb in Yemen
A large car bomb exploded outside a police academy inYemen’s capital, Sana, early Wednesday, killing or wounding dozens of applicants who were lined up at the building’s gate, according to security officials.
An Interior Ministry official said that at least 38 people had been killed and that more than 90 had been wounded.
Investigators said there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing. The attack was the deadliest in the capital since October, when a suicide bomber killed nearly 50 people at a protest.
Yemeni activist is republishing the cartoons

shooter ties to Syria fighting probed

2011 response to Charlie Hebdo publishing cartoons

France's own War on Terror in Africa

France has been fighting it's own War on Terror in Africa which has largely been absent from the headlines.

Operation Barkhane began in August 2014, replacing Operation Serval, the French military mission in Mali, and Operation Epervier, the mission in Chad according to the French Ministry of Defense.

As usual those who scream "Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood, Democracy" intervene when these values interfere with their own definition of the words, usually Western governments or their global allies fighting against people they define as "terrorists"

When France was weakened by World War II, the peoples of West Africa organized to regain their independence and it was in this region where there were the loudest calls for the establishment of a United States of Africa- then called Union of Independent African States. Soon after the independence of Ghana in 1957, the leaders of Ghana, Guinea and Mali proclaimed a unity based on Pan-African cooperation. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Sekou Toure started this union that was later joined by Modibo Keïta of Mali. Mark DeLancey in his bibliographical essay on the The Ghana - Guinea - Mali Union: exposed the deep interest in that elementary Union and the deployment of western intellectuals to understand the internal dynamics of that Pan African experiment. [1] After the western intellectuals came the military interventions. First Ghana met the fate of the removal of Nkrumah in 1966 and then in 1968 General Moussa Traoré organized a coup d'état against Modibo Keïta, and sent him to prison in the northern Malian town of Kidal.
In the book, France Soldiers and Africa, Anthony Clayton laid out in graphic detail the military system of France and its impact on both France and Africa. One of the little known aspects of this militarization of Africa was how the French intellectual culture was negatively affected by the history of military engagement and interventions. Between 1960 and 2012 France had undertaken more than one hundred military interventions in Africa. The lowest point of this engagement and its intellectual variant was when France invaded Central Africa to assist those who were carrying out genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
The US and France have increasingly partnered in the war on terror in Africa, launching operations in almost every country as Vice reports (video report Part 1 here)
All of this comes as part of what analysts have dubbed the US military's "pivot to Africa." Although the US has engaged in counterterrorism activities in Africa since 2002, military operations have grown rapidly under the Obama administration. Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti remains the only official, permanent US base in Africa, but over the last decade, a constellation of sites, including "intermediate staging bases," and "cooperative security locations," have spread across the continent. A near-constant rotation of US military personnel, intelligence operatives, and private military contractors who engage in humanitarian missions, civil affairs activities, bilateral training exercises, and covert operations is now underway in almost every country in Africa. (emphasis mine)
"You could call it a fourth front in the war on terror, and it is not very much talked about," Reeve said.
Right.  but it should at least be talked about when once in a while, the war makes it's way back home.

As refugees currently come to Europe by boat from Libya, destroyed by the NATO/US bombing in 2011 that toppled Qadaffi and created a failed state with 2 rival governments, and the more recent refugee crisis from Syria makes headlines, these refugees are supposed to be a reminder that wars abroad have consequences at home.  

Unfortunately for most Europeans and certainly most US politicians, it is just another example of how evil the rest of the world is and how "they" are the ones trying to destroy "our civilization."

Yeah, sure.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Missing from American News, Context over clashes in Jerusalem

**this is a draft**

As clashes have increasingly erupted in Jerusalem between Palestinian rock throwers and the IDF since September/Rosh Hashanah, with Prime Minister Netanyahu escalating the response, allowing stone throwers to be shot, and cutting off larger parts of Arab neighborhoods from Jerusalem, what is missing from American news about the current crisis is the context (an often occurrence since the media only reports on the latest incident in a longer, more complicated situation that is never explained in corporate news media) about what started the conflict, specifically Netanyahu's policies in Jerusalem. 

Israeli historian Ilan Pappe describes in this article how members of Netanyahu's government including the Ministers of Education and Agriculture as well as other politicians put Jerusalem into a Jewish only context, ignoring cultural and religious teachings of Christianity and Islam in favor of the Jewish dream for Jerusalem and it's holy sites.

as he writes 
The only explanation official Israel and its supporters could give for why Palestinians have risen up lately is that they were influenced by Islamic propaganda. That propaganda so easily incited the “impulsive and unpredictable” Palestinians in recent weeks, according to Israeli spin.
fearing future of Al Aqsa is
a realistic analysis of the ideology of some of the potent political forces today in Israel, who are represented in Benjamin Netanyahu’s current government.
Netanyahu repeatedly calls it Jerusalem the "undivided Jewish Capital" which is political code that has stopped any real chance of peace negotiations with Palestinians, as the "Palestine Papers" leak showed the behind the scenes history of failed negotiations over the last 20 years.

The biggest failure in negotiations was not Palestinians refusing offers by peace-loving Israelis, but actually Israelis rejecting a Palestinian offer as I wrote in this blog post

quoting from the leaked secret negotiations called the Palestine Papers

Israel spurned offer of 'biggest Jerusalem in history'
The concession in May 2008 by Palestinian leaders to allow Israel to annex the settlements in East Jerusalem – including Gilo, a focus of controversy after Israel gave the go-ahead for 1,400 new homes – has never been made public.
All settlements built on territory occupied by Israel in the 1967 war are illegal under international law, but the Jerusalem homes are routinely described, and perceived, by Israel as municipal "neighbourhoods". Israeli governments have consistently sought to annex the largest settlements as part of a peace deal – and came close to doing so at Camp David.
Erekat told Israeli leaders in 2008: "This is the first time in Palestinian-Israeli history in which such a suggestion is officially made." No such concession had been made at Camp David.
But the offer was rejected out of hand by Israel because it did not include a big settlement near the city Ma'ale Adumim as well as Har Homa and several others deeper in the West Bank, including Ariel. "We do not like this suggestion because it does not meet our demands," Israel's then foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, told the Palestinians, "and probably it was not easy for you to think about it, but I really appreciate it".
Thanks to the Palestine Papers leak we can see Israel behind the scenes. The problem is when American Mainstream Media keeps these facts behind the scenes.

Stories of the Palestine Papers (NPR, January 24-28 2011) were later overshadowed by the Egyptian Revolution that ousted Mubarak (January 25-February 11 2011)

Just as President Obama announced that troops will not be leaving Afghanistan as he promised, and sadly Bernie Sanders agrees with Obama that we need some US troops there, occupations, wherever they are, are the issues that create wars and make them last longer, from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan and Israel/Palestine "forever wars."

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Netanyahu, the Mufti, and the British White Paper

There was something I realized recently.

Because I was educated by Israelis at Hebrew School and Jewish summer camps, I learned nothing true about Israel.

But there was actually something that I did learn about from Rabbi Joseph Telushkin's excellent book Jewish Literacy, given to me when I graduated Hebrew school.***

***(That counts as them teaching me right? LOL.  Actually it was everything they didn't teach me, plus a few more lies about Israel).  The Jewish summer camp gave me Myths and Facts---everything is the opposite in that book......)

When recently Prime Minister Netanyahu claimed that in 1941 the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, convinced Hitler to kill the Jews of Europe instead of letting them just leave and emigrate to Palestine,

to the Zionist Congress on Tuesday night that “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews.” The prime minister said that the mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, had protested to Hitler that “they’ll all come here,” referring to Palestine.
“ ‘So what should I do with them?’ ” Mr. Netanyahu quoted Hitler as asking Mr. Husseini. “He said, ‘Burn them.’ ”
there was something Netanyahu, son of a historian (and personal secretary to Ze'ev Jabotinsky) knew he was leaving out.....the White Paper of 1939.

The news articles that I saw also left this out as part of the answer to Netanyahu's revisionist history.  While Israel focuses too much on the Holocaust in my opinion, as IDF soldiers recently showed how well they have learned lessons on their annual trips to Poland to visit concentration camps----there is one thing that we must remember.  Almost no country would take Jewish refugees during the war.  Not America, Canada, British Mandate Palestine, only the Dominican Republic offered to take in Jews in 1938, ironic because now they are kicking out Haitian descendants born in the Dominican Republic.

***OK one paper mentions the White Paper---The Times of Israel, in a contradictory argument that Netanyahu is right
The Grand Mufti’s meeting with Hitler was driven by his concern regarding the consequences of a possible expulsion of the Jews from the Reich, many of whom were likely to end up in Palestine, thus strengthening the Yishuv.[13]
However this prospect was no longer an option in 1941 because the British had barred the Jews to immigrate in Palestine by means of theWhite Paper[14]. As no other country was prepared to welcome Jews anyway, the Nazis concluded that the only remaining solution, which had to be final, consisted in systematically and industrially exterminate them.
Netanyahu rightly to remind that at the time of the meeting between the Grand Mufti and Hitler the Nazis were still expelling Jews,
last sentence in article, "the Nazis were still expelling Jews" when the Mufti met Hitler in 1941 contradicts the beginning of the excerpt that states that the White Paper barred emigration to Palestine and no country would welcome Jews anyway.  Expel them where??

another error---
Netanyahu never stated the Grand Mufti gave Hitler the idea of the Final Solution, but rather that he played an important role by campaigning relentlessly against Jewish emigration from Germany.
back to Netanyahu's quote
“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews.” The prime minister said that the mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, had protested to Hitler that “they’ll all come here,” referring to Palestine.
“ ‘So what should I do with them?’ ” Mr. Netanyahu quoted Hitler as asking Mr. Husseini. “He said, ‘Burn them.’ ”
Netanyahu certainly puts words in the Mufti's mouth beyond just "don't expel Jews from Germany."  Netanyahu does credit the Mufti with the final solution, telling Hitler not only to kill the Jews but to burn them. 

The 1939 British White Paper forbidding Jewish immigration to Palestine during World War 2.
After the outbreak of war in September 1939, the head of the Jewish Agency for Palestine David Ben-Gurion declared: 'We will fight the White Paper as if there is no war, and fight the war as if there is no White Paper.'[21]
The White Paper
called for the establishment of a Jewish national home in an independent Palestinian state within 10 years, rejecting the idea of the creation of a Jewish state and the idea of partitioning Palestine. It also limited Jewish immigration to 75,000 for 5 years, and ruled that further immigration was to be determined by the Arab majority (section II). Restrictions were put on the rights of Jews to buy land from Arabs (section III). Further, it promised that only with Palestinian support would Britain allow Jewish state. This greatly upset Zionists because of the increasing persecution of Jews in Europe at the onset of World War II, particularly in Germany.
Netanyahu clearly lied, but the newspapers explaining the history left out an important piece as well. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Here I laugh at Hillary Clinton's new position on banks and the financial crisis

As Hillary Clinton has shown during her 2016 Presidential campaign, as well as her 2008 campaign and every move in her political life, everything is calculated to follow public opinion.  If she was a real leader she wouldn't have to wait to make these decisions.

Recent examples include TPP, Keystone XL, and Black Lives Matter, where after a second meeting she decried racism as America's original sin and vowed (after Bernie Sanders issued his policy) to ban private for-profit prison corporations.  Here is me laughing about that!

Before I learned that private prison corporations are funding her campaign

and after

July 29 Hillary Clinton won't answer Keystone XL pipeline question
Hillary Clinton on Tuesday declined to say whether she supported the Keystone XL pipeline expansion, telling a New Hampshire voter that if the matter is still undecided by the time she becomes president, she will give him an answer then.
The question came from Bruce Blodgett, a software developer from Amherst, New Hampshire, who told CNN he identifies as a Republican and supports building the pipeline, the 1,179-mile-long project that would move oil from Canada to refineries in the United States.
During a town hall in Nashua, Blodgett asked, "As president, would you sign a bill, yes or no please, in favor of allowing the Keystone XL pipeline?"
"I thought she avoided the question completely. Her excuse was she didn't want to step on President Obama while he was still in office," he said. "I just thought that was a very weak answer. I just wanted to know where she stands on it one way or another."
Then in September after Clinton finally decided to answer the question Chris Cillizza wrote well in The Fix about why this hedge was wrong, especially when she has come out strongly on other issues still up for debate, like the Iran Nuclear Agreement, which was her excuse on Keystone.
Look. When you are running for president -- whether or not you served in the current administration -- you are going to be asked to take positions on issues that the current president is dealing with. As long as we hold elections that begin two years (or more) before the current president is set to leave office, that's going to be a thing candidates need to contend with.
just because it's politically disadvantageous to take a position doesn't mean Clinton should be allowed to avoid doing just that.
This was pure politics by Clinton. It was a gamble based on the idea that the disgust over her failure to answer a direct question would be far less damaging than the fallout if she did offer her opinion.

Now this week, it's banks and the 2008 financial crisis. Remember that it was Bill Clinton's 1999 repeal of Glass–Steagall that lead to the "too big to fail" phenomenon.  Otherwise the banks would have simply failed for making bad bets.

Clinton courts left with promise to break up risky banks

Hillary Clinton lets big banks off the hook for financial crisis

While Bernie Sanders is not perfect, Jill Stein is not allowed in the debates, let alone is she or Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb or Lincoln Chaffee getting any media coverage.

I forgot that Jim Webb was running for President until I saw an ad for the debate on CNN.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Update on shooting of Dontre Hamilton by Officer Christopher Manney

On April 30, 2014, 78 days before Eric Garner was killed and 101 days before Darren Wilson shot and killed Mike Brown in Ferguson Missouri, Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney shot and killed Dontre Hamilton.

Watch Dontre's brother react

After Dontre Hamilton was spotted sleeping in Red Arrow Park across from City Hall, two police officers showed up after being called, looked at the situation and then left.
Hamilton, an unarmed man with a history of paranoid schizophrenia, was killed April 30.
Workers at the nearby Starbucks called police to complain about Hamilton, 31, sleeping in the park. A pair of officers checked on him and found he was doing nothing wrong.
Manney, the beat officer in the area, was not aware the other officers already had been to the park when he retrieved a voice mail regarding Hamilton's presence there.
then officer Christopher Manney arrived
Police Chief Edward Flynn said the 38-year-old officer, a 13-year veteran of the department, had been dispatched to the park about 3:30 p.m. after a call involving the suspect.
When he arrived, the suspect was lying on the ground near the park, Flynn said at a news conference outside City Hall.
Flynn said the officer helped the suspect to his feet and began to speak with him. As the officer began patting the man down, a struggle ensued. The officer withdrew his wooden baton and began to defend himself, Flynn said. During the struggle, the man took the baton from the officer and began to beat the officer in the head.
"The officer withdrew his sidearm and fired several shots at the individual, striking him numerous times and ultimately causing his death," Flynn said.
Flynn said he did not know how many of the shots struck the man. An autopsy has been scheduled.
In October 2014, Police Chief Edward Flynn fired Officer Manney, not for excessive, unjustified use of force against a mentally ill unarmed black man, but for not following police procedure during the stop and after the shooting occurred
fired because he did not follow department procedures for dealing with emotionally disturbed people, Chief Edward Flynn announced Wednesday.
The officer, Christopher Manney, did not use excessive force when he shot Hamilton 14 times, Flynn said; rather, the officer did not follow department rules in the moments leading up to the shooting.
Chief Flynn added 
"We're not talking war crimes here. We're not talking that every cop that makes a mistake has to face grand juries and go to jail, but there has to be a consequence," Flynn said. "We don't need to demonize this officer in order to hold him accountable for his decisions."
Manney is entitled to appeal his dismissal to the civilian Fire and Police Commission.
No one on either side of the issue was happy that Officer Manney was fired
Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn's decision to fire the officer who fatally shot Dontre Hamilton at Red Arrow Park has not satisfied people on either side.
Not the Hamilton family, who see the firing as a good step, but want the officer, Christopher Manney, criminally charged. Not local protesters, who support the Hamilton family and believe the shooting is symptomatic of larger issues within the department.
Not the police union and many of Manney's fellow officers, who decried the chief's decision as cowardice. And certainly not Manney himself, who "vehemently" disputed the dismissal and filed for duty disability retirement, saying the April 30 shooting and its aftermath resulted in severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
After claiming severe PTSD resulting from the media coverage of the shooting of Dontre Hamilton, Officer Manney filed for disability benefits.  Because he filed for disability before he was fired in October, even though Dontre was shot in April, Officer Manney could still get his benefits.
Two days before the firing, Manney filed for disability retirement, a program designed as a safety net for Milwaukee police and firefighters who suffer physical or psychological injuries on the job. If approved, Manney's retirement — which would include about 75% of his salary, tax-free — will take precedence over his dismissal because he applied before he was fired.
Manney is among an increasing number of officers suspected of misconduct who have applied for duty disability claiming debilitating stress — sometimes even citing the department's investigation or media coverage as the cause of that stress.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation published last year found at least five police officers had received duty disability during or after a disciplinary investigation since 2006. Because the former officers don't have to pay taxes on the money, their take-home pay is about the same as when they were working. Manney, who was hired in 2001, received total pay of about $72,000 in 2012.
I had originally remembered that Manney was claiming PTSD from media coverage of the shooting, but in his response to the charges he says his PTSD is from the actual shooting (or it's not clear which "incident" he refers to)
He also talks about how "dangerous" it is to be a police officer
The reason cops "fear for their lives" is that they are trained that way.  They don't watch videos of unarmed people being killed by police the same way we do.  They're reaction is that no one wants to be arrested so they all say "take me to the hospital instead" or "I can't breathe."  They don't see it as a cry for help, they see it as resisting arrest.  When asked about police brutality they deflect onto "black on black crime" They watch police being killed at traffic stops instead.
what is less-known outside of law enforcement circles is that police officers have their own canon of disturbing videos: a collection of widely viewed and much-discussed field recordings in which their fellow officers are killed or gravely injured in the line of duty.
And if that wasn't enough, Officer Manney then sued to get his job back (and luckily lost). The hearing was the first time he had been heard from in public since the shooting in April 
"I want to return to duty," Manney said. "I want to return, it's who I am. I'm a cop. The doctors, they say I can't, but that doesn't hide the fact that I was wrongfully terminated."
Manney was not criminally charged in the shooting, nor was he disciplined for the use of force. 
Manney testified during the fourth day of his disciplinary appeal, which is similar to a trial with a panel of three Fire and Police Commission members taking the role of jurors.
During the first phase of the hearing 
the panel must determine whether Manney broke a rule. If so, the appeal moves to a second phase in which the panel determines whether the discipline imposed is appropriate.
Manney's defense then called Robert C. Willis, who is considered an expert in Defense and Arrest Tactics.
"I believe the pat-down was lawful and there were many, many reasons the pat-down was lawful and as I said earlier, I'm not even sure the pat-down even commenced," Willis testified.
Willis is a frequent expert witness in police misconduct cases and has a history of backing police officers.
And Officer Manney is still allowed to appeal this decision as well 
Manney can still appeal his termination in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. The panel's decision does not affect his pending application for duty disability retirement because he applied before he was fired.
In May he filed his appeal to get his job back
Manney has filed an appeal in an effort to get his job back.
The appeal was filed Tuesday, May 5th with the Milwaukee City Attorney’s Office and the Fire and Police Commission.
In final and unanimous decisions, a Fire and Police Commission panel ruled March 23rd Manney would not get his job back. The decisions came after a five-day appeal hearing. The panel ruled Manney violated MPD policy and procedure when he performed that pat down, and also that Manney’s use of force on April 30th was a violation of policy. The panel then decided to uphold Manney’s permanent termination from MPD.
Phase one of Manney’s appeal hearing involved two questions: 1) Did Manney violate MPD’s protocol and code of conduct in his pat down of Dontre Hamilton — and 2) Did Manney’s use of force violate MPD’s protocol and code of conduct?
The Fire and Police Commission panel said “yes” to those questions — with all three commissioners on the panel signing the ruling. In phase two, the commissioners ruled that Chief Flynn’s firing of Manney was appropriate and justified.
In his firing of Manney, Chief Flynn said Manney’s actions escalated the interaction with a mentally ill man to the point deadly force was necessary. In his closing statements during the appeal hearing before the FPC panel, Chief Flynn’s attorney argued Manney should be held responsible.
The case now goes back to the court system. A judge will decide whether Manney will get his job back.
The Fire and Police Commission has five days to notify the circuit court that an appeal has been filed. Once the court is notified, the appeal will be assigned to the court and a judge.
In December, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced Manney wouldn’t face criminal charges in this case.
In June as part of the larger Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Act (H.R. 2578) Wisconsin Representative Gwen Moore introduced an amendment related to the killing of Dontre Hamilton that 
transfers $2 million into the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act for the purpose of expanding and improving police training to safely and appropriately respond to mentally ill individuals.
Mr. Chair, indulge me for a moment while I tell you a story about a 31-year- old man in my home district of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who, unfortunately, is no longer with us today. His name was Dontre Hamilton. Dontre, like many people in this country, suffered from a mental illness. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia 1 year prior to the incident and had been off his medication due to an insurance issue. On April 30 of last year, Dontre was taking a nap on a public park bench when employees of a nearby Starbucks called the police. Two police officers came and did a wellness check and left the scene, discerning that Mr. Hamilton was no threat to himself, nor to anyone in the park or the public. Soon thereafter, yet another call came from the Starbucks employee because this gentleman was sleeping on the public park bench. Another police officer, Officer Manney of the Milwaukee Police Department, arrived and started to pat down Dontre. This pat-down turned into a struggle, and Officer Manney pulled outhis baton to help him subdue Mr. Hamilton. The struggle escalated, and Dontre got control of the baton and swung it at Officer Manney. This caused Officer Manney to draw his firearm and shoot 14 bullets into Dontre Hamilton. Officer Manney was terminated for conducting a pat-down in contravention of his training on dealing with mentally ill individuals but faced no charges in the death of Dontre Hamilton. Mr. Chair, perhaps this tragedy could have been prevented. Too often, our mental health infrastructure is woefully inadequate for many Americans. A lack of treatment can turn a treatable mental illness into a severe debilitating condition. Many can’t hold a job or pay rent. Many end up homeless on the streets. In fact, more than 124,000 of the 610,000 homeless people in the United States suffer from a severe mental illness. As a result of many failures in our system, our Nation’s police officers have de facto become our country’s first responders to crisis calls, including those individuals experiencing mental illness. Too often these calls, many intended to be out of concern for the individual in crisis, become a tragic fatality. As we know, mentally ill persons are not generally dangerous, Mr. Chair. In fact, they are actually more likely to become victims themselves than actual perpetrators of violence. Many of these tragic encounters could be prevented if police officers are trained and follow proper procedures.
Then in July Representative Moore and Senator Baldwin sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch regarding the Department of Justice investigation into the shooting of Dontre Hamilton
In response to mounting frustration over the Department of Justice’s lack of expedience in the assessment of potential civil rights violations in the officer-involved shooting death of Dontre Hamilton,Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-04) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) sent the following letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch:
Attorney General Lynch, We write to express our concern about the slow pace of the federal review of potential civil rights violations in the officer-involved shooting death of Dontre Hamilton, and federal “pattern and practice” review of the Milwaukee Police Department. We respectfully encourage the Department of Justice to expedite these reviews and to provide the Hamilton family with an update on the status of its efforts around Dontre’s death. It has been more than fourteen months since that tragedy occurred. It has been more than six months since Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm declined to file charges against Office Christopher Manney in relation to the shooting and U.S. Attorney Jim Santelle announced a federal review of the case. However, according to the Hamilton family, they have not received any updates as to the status of this review. Furthermore, U.S. Attorney Santelle began to solicit information from members of the Milwaukee community as early as October 2012 in support of a potential “pattern and practice” investigation of the Milwaukee Police Department. This announcement came after the July 2011 in-custody death of Derek Williams, which the medical examiner ruled a homicide. While we understand that the Justice Department continues to solicit community complaints about the conduct of the Milwaukee Police Department, we share the concern and frustration of the Milwaukee community with the pace of this review. We continue to hear from Milwaukee constituents who are fearful and distrustful of law enforcement, particularly after the deaths of Derek Williams and Dontre Hamilton. We believe tangible progress on these federal investigations will help to restore trust between the Milwaukee Police Department and the broader community and can lead to the implementation of policies and practices that will better protect our officers and better serve the people of Milwaukee. Law enforcement personnel have extremely difficult jobs and they put their lives on the line every day to help keep our communities safe. In Milwaukee, there has been an alarming increase in violence in recent months and, now more than ever, we must ensure that there is trust between police and the people they serve to help reduce crime and strengthen this community. Thank you again for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to working with you going forward. Sincerely, Senator Tammy Baldwin Representative Gwen Moore
We will not stop until we get Justice for Dontre Hamilton and the too many more unarmed black men and women and transgender people killed by police with no accountability! 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Nathan Ener Finally Makes the Mainstream News!

Nathan Ener, the former prison guard who threatened Black Lives Matter activists who came to Texas is finally making national news!!

Next we need to hear that he was arrested for his death threats.

Another example of social media forcing mainstream media to cover an important story.


Shotgun-toting Texan calls for violence against activists to avenge cop’s death in racist rant: 'A thug’s life don’t matter'

Police News
The Houston Police Officers Union has asked the FBI to investigate viral videos posted online that call for violence against officers, KCPR reported.
One video posted on YouTube by a man named King Noble states, “It’s open killing season on cops.”
Another video posted by Louis Farrakhan, a Nation of Islam leader, tells audience members to “rise up and kill those who kill us.”
On the other side of the spectrum, another YouTube video by Nathan Ener blames the death of Deputy Darren Goforth on African-American protestors and threatens to hunt them down, saying “a thug’s life don’t matter,” while brandishing a shotgun.
Yolanda Smith, a member of the Houston chapter of the NAACP, said she would like to see federal agents investigate Ener’s statements as well. She said the NAACP does not condone violence against anyone.
Powder keg! Texas community leader: Attack anti-cop activists

East Texas community leader, former jailer issues call to attack anti-police activists

Black Lives Matter more than being polite even to our so called allies

It's now been one year since the killing of Michael Brown brought #BlackLivesMatter into the national spotlight almost a year after it was created following the Trayvon Martin killing and trial and acquittal of George Zimmerman.  (who enjoys gloating about his freedom while waiting for "karma")

While it has brought needed attention to a national audience about the issue of police brutality that the black community has known about since slavery, recently #BlackLivesMatter has upset it's allies in the Democratic party by interrupting Bernie Sanders at an event in Seattle celebrating the anniversary of Medicare and Social Security (and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley at Netroots Nation and Bernie Sanders' response--I thought Jose Antonio Vargas' questions were tough until I heard Tia Oso!)

But it is the fact that Black Lives Matter interrupted Sanders that has gotten the most press.

Here is Daunasia Yancey of BLM Boston speaking about Hillary Clinton's record and why BLM activists are interrupting Democratic "allies" first instead of the criticism heard about why they are not going after Republicans
AMY GOODMAN: And in what capacity was she responsible? Talk about her history, how you hold her responsible.
DAUNASIA YANCEY: Well, she advocated for, as FLOTUS and as senator, for policies that have increased the penalties for minor drug offenses and things like that. Back in '94, there was $17 billion divested from HUD, from public housing, and $19 billion put into prison construction. And so, with situations like that, that we've seen her publicly support, we really wanted to hear from her what has changed in her that she would not continue to promote practices like that.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And how do you respond to folks who say that, well, the Black Lives Matter now has been confronting several Democratic candidates, but the Republican candidates, of which there are many more, have largely been so far unscathed on the question of answering their policy issues in terms of the black community and of police violence and on mass incarceration?
DAUNASIA YANCEY: Yeah. But, well, every presidential candidate should expect to hear from us and expect to be held accountable. It’s actually a practice called "power mapping," where it’s similar to lobbying, where you actually map who’s closest to you on the issue and go to those folks first in order to force them to articulate their stance and then hold them accountable to it. So this movement is very strategic, and that’s what we’ve been doing.

Here is a discussion of Black Lives Matter from Left Forum. It is an important discussion.  (Sorry I cannot embed it)

What seems to be forgotten is the history of protest in the fight for civil rights.

Today, the March on Washington is remembered as a historic event where people gathered peacefully and heard speeches about civil rights.  Martin Luther King is almost entirely remembered for his "I Have a Dream" speech.

But what has not been a legacy of the march is the correlation to Black Lives Matter interrupting their "allies" today, considering that the March as well was aimed at the Democratic President who had spoken favorably for civil rights in June of that year, sent federal troops to protect James Meredith as he faced rioters at the University of Mississippi.  Two people were killed and more than 300 wounded, including 1/3 of the US Marshals.  So Kennedy's actions on civil rights, while not enough and certainly criticized by many, was to an extent an ally of the cause and it was seen as impolite to lead a march in Washington calling for him to do more.

LBJ, who actually got the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Acts passed, was angry when Martin Luther King turned against the Vietnam War in 1967.  King gave the speech against the war in Vietnam twice that I know of and have heard, April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church, and April 30, 1967 as a Sunday sermon (audio).

His friends advised him against giving the speech and antagonizing an ally in the fight for civil rights, President Johnson
One of his great advisers and great admirers, Stanley Levison, who was always with Dr. King in his corner, was against Martin giving this speech. So practically everybody in his inner circle was against him giving it - one, because they knew the kind of pushback he was going to get. And secondly, so many civil rights leaders were opposed to him giving it because LBJ had been the best president to black people on civil rights. He passed the Voting Rights Act. He passed the Civil Rights Act. And so the question was, Martin, why would you antagonize the president who has been our friend?
Martin Luther King brilliantly linked civil rights, economic justice and fighting imperialism and war as 3 parts of the same fight.  The fight for civil rights was useless without fixing the economic inequality that was a legacy of institutional racism as King famously asked
“What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter if you can’t afford to buy a hamburger?”
“You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums”
The mainstream press viciously attacked King for speaking out against the war, and said he tarnished his role as a civil rights leader.  The New York Times, Washington Post and more than 160 other papers wrote against King's speech against the war.

Speaking on April 30, 1967 here was King's response to the media that attacked him for his April 4th speech against the Vietnam War
They applauded us in the sit-in movement--we non-violently decided to sit in at lunch counters. The applauded us on the Freedom Rides when we accepted blows without retaliation. They praised us in Albany and Birmingham and Selma, Alabama. Oh, the press was so noble in its applause, and so noble in its praise when I was saying, Be non-violent toward Bull Connor;when I was saying, Be non-violent toward [Selma, Alabama segregationist sheriff] Jim Clark. There's something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say, Be non-violent toward Jim Clark, but will curse and damn you when you say, "Be non-violent toward little brown Vietnamese children. There's something wrong with that press!
The media attacked his speech against the war in Vietnam just as fellow preachers had told King to wait to fight for civil rights.  King responded with A Letter from Birmingham Jail

A Call for Unity
Just as we formerly pointed out that "hatred and violence have no sanction in our religious and political traditions," we also point out that such actions as incite to hatred and violence, however technically peaceful those actions may be, have not contributed to the resolution of our local problems. We do not believe that these days of new hope are days when extreme measures are justified in Birmingham.
We urge the public to continue to show restraint should the demonstrations continue, and the law enforcement official to remain calm and continue to protect our city from violence.
We further strongly urge our own Negro community to withdraw support from these demonstrations, and to unite locally in working peacefully for a better Birmingham.
A Letter from Birmingham Jail
I think I should indicate why I am here In Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here.
I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
You deplore the demonstrations taking place In Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.
In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action. We have gone through an these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good-faith negotiation.
As in so many past experiences, our hopes bad been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community.
You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.
The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.
One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society
when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you no forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" – then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.
You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may won ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there fire two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."
Malcolm X was even tougher on the civil rights leaders and on politicians and the March on Washington which he criticized as tamed down by white leaders

Malcolm X
delivering his "Message to the Grass Roots" speech in November of 1963, less than three months after the March on Washington. In that same speech, he goes on to criticize the, quote, "Big Six," the six leading civil rights organizers at the time: Martin Luther King, James Farmer, John Lewis, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young.

This is what they did with the March on Washington. They joined it. They didn’t integrate it; they infiltrated it. They joined it, became a part of it, took it over. And as they took it over, it lost its militancy. They ceased to be angry. They ceased to be hot. They ceased to be uncompromising. Why, it even ceased to be a march. It became a picnic
Black Agenda Report wrote about how Malcolm X would denounce those black leaders today who have sided with capitalist "bloodsuckers" and has asked where Black Lives Matter criticism of our current leaders, just like Malcolm X would do, is.
Last month folks whom Alicia Garza described as “part of our team” disrupted two minor white male candidates at NetRootsNation, the annual networking event for paid and wannabe paid Democratic party activists, embarrassing them with demands over structural racism and “say her name”. If they were positioning themselves for careers inside the far-flung Democratic party apparatus, it was a smart move, because Hillary wasn't there. Hence they got noticed in that crowd of Democrat operatives without antagonizing the people with the real money and connections.
still, the protests worked

This was Bernie Sanders after Black Lives Matter interrupted him.

Statement on Racial Justice
Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Samuel DuBose. We know their names. Each of them died unarmed at the hands of police officers or in police custody. The chants are growing louder. People are angry and they have a right to be angry.

BLM Seattle statement on Bernie protest
Today BLM Seattle, with the support of other Black organizers and non-Black allies and accomplices, held Bernie Sanders publicly accountable for his lack of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and his blatantly silencing response to the ‪#‎SayHerName‬ ‪#‎IfIDieInPoliceCustody‬ action that took place at Netroots this year.
Bernie’s arrival in Seattle is largely significant in the context of the state of emergency Black lives are in locally as well as across America. The Seattle Police Department has been under federal consent decree for the last three years and has been continually plagued by use-of-force violations and racist scandals amongst their rank and file. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has refused to push any reform measures for police accountability, not even the numerous recommendations of his self-appointed Community Police Commission. The Seattle School District suspends Black students at a rate six times higher than their white counterparts, feeding Black children into the school-to-prison pipeline. King County has fought hard to push through a plan to build a $210 million new youth jail to imprison these children, amid intense community criticism and dissent. The Central District, a historically Black neighborhood in Seattle, has undergone rapid gentrification over the past few decades, with Black people being displaced from the only neighborhood that we could legally live in until just years ago. While white men profit off of the legalization of marijuana, our prisons are still filled with Black people who are over-incarcerated for drug offenses.
This city is filled with white progressives, which is why Bernie Sanders’ camp was obviously expecting a friendly and consenting audience for today’s campaign visit. The problem with Sanders’, and with white Seattle progressives in general, is that they are utterly and totally useless (when not outright harmful) in terms of the fight for Black lives. While we are drowning in their liberal rhetoric, we have yet to see them support Black grassroots movements or take on any measure of risk and responsibility for ending the tyranny of white supremacy in our country and in our city. This willful passivity while claiming solidarity with the #‎BlackLivesMatter‬ movement in an effort to be relevant is over. White progressive Seattle and Bernie Sanders cannot call themselves liberals while they participate in the racist system that claims Black lives. Bernie Sanders will not continue to call himself a man of the people, while ignoring the plight of Black people.

Keep up the protests, and don't forget the leaders in power, even when they do what we want.  If we let the pressure fade they will go back to ignoring us. 

Black Lives Matter Seattle protests timeline

A few articles discussing the Bernie Sanders/Hillary Clinton protests

Black Agenda Report on BLM and Hillary Clinton

BAR on Bernie and Netroots

BAR on disruption and collaboration

self determination