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In This Edition

Noam Chomsky examines, "Edward Snowden, The World's "Most Wanted Criminal."

Uri Avnery shares his, "Patagonian Dreams."

Glen Ford comes out swinging in, "Molefi Asante's Insane War On BAR And The Black Radical Tradition."

Pepe Escobar finds, "The Future Visible In St Petersburg."

Jim Hightower watches, "Moral Monday On The Move."

David Swanson considers, "Afghan Elections: Pick Your Poison."

James Donahue asks, "Is Agenda 21 A Good Or Bad Idea?"

John Nichols explores, "Activist, Academic, Candidate: Zephyr Teachout Bids For Governor Of New York."

Chris Hedges concludes, "We All Must Become Zapatistas."

David Sirota with a, "Reminder To Government."

Paul Krugman explains, "On Inequality Denial."

Ken Gude joins us with, "Why The Five Taliban Detainees Had To Be Released Soon, No Matter What."

Brittney Cooper says, "Yes, Maya Angelou Was A Doctor: A Lesson For The Ignorant."

Us Court of Appeals judge Gladys Kessler wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

David Suzuki returns with, "The Challenge Of Sustaining Our Oceans."

Glenn Greenwald wonders, "What Excuse Remains Now For Obama's Failure To Close GITMO?"

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Budget Cheat Day Lets Government Splurge On Anything It Wants Once A Week" but first Uncle Ernie is, "In This Land Of Situational Ethics."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Keith Knight, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Ruben Bolling, Jeff Daly, Jared Rodriguez, Zephyr Teachout, Steve Greenberg, Moral Monday, EPI, Shutterstock, Reuters, AP, University of Arkansas, PandoDaily, The Onion, The Intercept, Black Agenda Report, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Vidkun Quisling Award...
The Cartoon Corner...
To End On A Happy Note...
Have You Seen This...
Parting Shots...

Welcome one and all to "Uncle Ernie's Issues & Alibis."

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In This Land Of Situational Ethics
By Ernest Stewart

And I went down to the demonstration
To get my fair share of abuse
You Can't Always Get What You Want ~~~ The Rolling Stones

I Believe in American Exceptionalism with Every Fiber of My Being ~~~ Barack Obama

"We don't yet know how the military has been handling Mr. Dhiab's force-feeding since Judge Kessler's May 22 order. He was force-fed over the holiday weekend, but we have not yet been able to obtain detailed information about it. We haven't spoken with Mr. Dhiab since last Thursday, and are trying to arrange another phone call with him for this coming Thursday." ~~~ Jon Eisenberg Dhiab's lawyer

"We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give." ~~~ Winston Churchill

Last week I titled my Issues and Alibis column, Me Transmitte Sursum, Caledoni what I left out of that "Beam me up Scotty" was, Et Hic Non Est Intelligens, "There Is No Intelligent Life Here." Somewhere, in the seventh circle of Hell, I'd be willing to bet that my old Latin prof Mrs. Beardsley is as proud as punch! I'd only add to that, Scientia Timorem or "Knowledge Brings Fear" -- our old alma mater's motto!

This week, it seems that there's been much ado over Barry swapping five Talibaners for one American GI. The Rethuglicans suddenly forgot about Benghazi and jumped on the "how dare Barry bring a kidnapped soldier home when letting go five kidnapped politicians being held illegally without even trumped up charges, for 12 years, in Gitmo," bandwagon. Which is strange to me on many levels. The first that springs to mind is, in Afghanistan the Taliban is their equivalent of our Republican party; just plain folks, huh? You know, Ozzie & Harriet types.

Thus, the question arises, is what Barry did a crime; and if not, then why doesn't he get rid of Gitmo like he promised to do? Either Congress can impose limits on the President's actions, or they can't. Or is it a case of situational ethics, i.e., it depends upon the situation and who makes money off of it, whether or not the law is the law -- and which set of laws does it fall under. The laws under which the 99% live, or, the laws for the 1%. Either the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are followed; or they're not. Simple, huh?

Is it "do as we say, but not as we do?" Or, for that matter, is "we" plural or imperial? That may sound silly; but it's best in this day and age to think like an attorney. Remember, most of the House and Senate are lawyers -- experts at obscuring the truth. An example might be our love of euphemisms, i.e., "The Patriot Act;" if there was any truth to it at all it should have been named the "Traitors Act" -- for the people who wrote it and signed it.

Meanwhile, Barry is off to Poland to beat a fast-fading NATO back into line against Russia, along with our former partners in crime, the European Union, which is busily joining in the EurAsian axis and building new "silk roads," while leaving old ties and alliances behind. No biggie -- just some chickens coming home to roost, America!

In Other News

I'm having another deja vu, all over again! That's the problem with studying history and political science. Basically, nothing is new; it's just the same ole, same ole, being constantly recycled! The only thing new is the weapons that keep getting upgraded with which to kill us. The reason they can keep getting away with the same ole is that most folks don't pay attention -- too busy, too many things to do to pay attention; and since politicians not only realize this simple fact, but are the cause of it, they keep getting away with it! They've been programming us to believe their big lies for hundreds of years!

What brought this on was Barry's visit to West Point, where he droned on and on about American exceptionalism. Barry's been on that exceptionalism kick for years now. You know, keep telling the same lie over and over, and pretty soon the Sheeple will believe it -- no matter how obvious it is that it's a lie. Why am I having a deja vu about all this? You may remember Herr Hitler was on a similar kick about the Germans being der Master Race!

Barry tells this lie for the very same reasons Hitler did: to cover up his constant and many illegal wars and war crimes. I mean, all those unexceptional peoples, especially Arabs with all that lovely oil going to waste; shouldn't we help them out by lending them a hand in its disposal? It is, after all, for their own benefit. Beware of Americans bearing gifts! The scariest thing in the world may be hearing that America is going to bring democracy to your country!

Barry went on and on about how we're number one, and how that makes us special; but he left out what being number one has always meant -- and how one becomes number one. You only get to be number one by being the meanest, nastiest, evilest, sons-of-bitches, that ever drew breath; that's how you become number one! That's American exceptionalism in a nut shell. Makes you proud to be an American, huh? Just remember how being der Master Race worked out for Hitler and Germany, to see how it's about to work out for us!

And Finally

By now you've probably heard about United States District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Gladys Kessler? Gladys recently sentenced an innocent man to be tortured down in Gitmo -- like so many others. Gladys had issued a temporary restraining order on the Feds, but overturned it after pressure from above made her. Here's the substance of that order:
"Mr. Dhiab's physical condition was swiftly deteriorating, in large part because he was refusing food and/or water.

"Mr. Dhiab has indicated his willingness to be enterally fed, if it could be done at the hospital in Guantanamo Bay, if he could be spared the agony of having the feeding tubes inserted and removed for each feeding, and if he could be spared the pain and discomfort of the restraint chair.

"If he could have been enterally fed in that manner, it would have then been possible to litigate his plea to enjoin certain practices used in his force feedings in a civilized and legally appropriate manner. The Department of Defense refused to make these compromises.

"The court is now faced with an anguishing Hobson's choice: reissue another Temporary Restraining Order ('TRO') despite the very real probability that Mr. Dhiab will die, because he has indicated a continuing desire to refuse to eat and/or drink liquids, or refuse to issue the TRO and allow the medical personnel on the scene to take the medical actions to keep Mr. Dhiab alive, but at the possible cost of great pain and suffering.

"The court is in no position to make the complex medical decisions necessary to keep Mr. Dhiab alive. Thanks to the intransigence of the Department of Defense, Mr. Dhiab may well suffer unnecessary pain from certain enteral feeding practices and forcible cell extractions. However, the court simply cannot let Mr. Dhiab die.
So guess what I did? I wrote her a letter, but you knew that already, didn't you?!
Hey Gladys,

I see your Pentagon puppet masters pulled your strings and you jumped up, and asked, how high sir?

Let me get this straight, Gladys, please correct me if I'm wrong. An innocent man who was kidnapped by us and illegally held for over 12 years and then was found not guilty and was supposed to be released from his daily hell five years ago, but wasn't, and who, because of his being constantly tortured wanted to end his miserable life, can not escape his torture, thanks to you, but will be tortured three times a day because his life belongs to you to do as you see fit with? Is that correct, Gladys? Instead of forcing Barry and the boys to release him, give him a few billion and our humblest appologies for our war crimes against him, it was your brilliant decission to keep torturing him, more now, than ever before. Is it just me Gladys?

Wouldn't an honorable person at this point fall on their sword? I know you won't fall on yours Gladys, so, couldn't you lend Mr. Dhiab your sword instead of insisting his torture go on? Just a couple more questions Gladys: How do you look yourself in the mirror in the morning while putting on your make up without cutting your miserable throat? How is that possible, Gladys? And in the dark of the night can you here Mr. Dhiab's screams and moans?

Ernest Stewart
Managing Editor
Issues & Alibis Magazine
PS. Congratulations Gladys, you've just won this week's "Vidkun Quisling Award." Our weekly award for the biggest traitor in America!
If you'd like to share your thoughts with Gladys write her at:

United States District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Gladys Kessler
333 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001

Or call her in her chambers at: (202) 354-3440

And if you do, tell her Uncle Ernie sent you!

Keepin' On

I guess it's three strikes and you're out, huh? For three weeks, your donations came flooding in; but not so much this week. Currently (hopefully subject to change), we're still a few hundred short of making our June pile of bills -- one of three piles, that must be paid if we're going to keep on keeping on for you and yours. Another pile becomes due at the end of July, and another one the first of November. Then we're good for a year.

Normally, by now, we'd have the money for June's bills and most of July's bills, too; some years we'd have all the money that we need to publish; but again, not so much this year. I'd remind every one that no one who works in or with the magazine makes a dime. We all do it because we feel that we must. Where else will you find people who do what they do because they care for their fellow man -- not for a six or seven figure paycheck?

Ergo, if the truth about what's happening in, around or to you, matters to you, then we ask that you help us pay the bills. Sorry, but the Internet is NOT free. The folks who keep us on the web, who allow us to use other folks copyrighted materials and such aren't doing it out of love, but to make a living; so you can see our dilemma. If what we do is important to you, then please send us whatever you can, as often as you can, and we'll keep bringing you the truth, that you need to survive, in this mad house called Earth.


05-05-1926 ~ 06-01-2014
Thanks for the laughs!


We get by with a little help from our friends!
So please help us if you can...?


So how do you like Bush Lite so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2014 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 13 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Visit the Magazine's page on Facebook and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, The World's "Most Wanted Criminal"
By Noam Chomsky

In the past several months, we have been provided with instructive lessons on the nature of state power and the forces that drive state policy. And on a closely related matter: the subtle, differentiated concept of transparency.

The source of the instruction, of course, is the trove of documents about the National Security Agency surveillance system released by the courageous fighter for freedom Edward J. Snowden, expertly summarized and analyzed by his collaborator Glenn Greenwald in his new book, "No Place to Hide."

The documents unveil a remarkable project to expose to state scrutiny vital information about every person who falls within the grasp of the colossus - in principle, every person linked to the modern electronic society.

Nothing so ambitious was imagined by the dystopian prophets of grim totalitarian worlds ahead.

It is of no slight import that the project is being executed in one of the freest countries in the world, and in radical violation of the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights, which protects citizens from "unreasonable searches and seizures," and guarantees the privacy of their "persons, houses, papers and effects."

Much as government lawyers may try, there is no way to reconcile these principles with the assault on the population revealed in the Snowden documents.

It is also well to remember that defense of the fundamental right to privacy helped to spark the American Revolution. In the 18th century, the tyrant was the British government, which claimed the right to intrude freely into the homes and personal lives of American colonists. Today it is American citizens' own government that arrogates to itself this authority.

Britain retains the stance that drove the colonists to rebellion, though on a more restricted scale, as power has shifted in world affairs. The British government has called on the NSA "to analyse and retain any British citizens' mobile phone and fax numbers, emails and IP addresses, swept up by its dragnet," The Guardian reports, working from documents provided by Snowden.

British citizens (like other international customers) will also doubtless be pleased to learn that the NSA routinely receives or intercepts routers, servers and other computer network devices exported from the United States so that it can implant surveillance tools, as Greenwald reports in his book.

As the colossus fulfills its visions, in principle every keystroke might be sent to President Obama's huge and expanding databases in Utah.

In other ways too, the constitutional lawyer in the White House seems determined to demolish the foundations of our civil liberties. The principle of the presumption of innocence, which dates back to Magna Carta 800 years ago, has long been dismissed to oblivion.

Recently The New York Times reported the "anguish" of a federal judge who had to decide whether to allow the force-feeding of a Syrian prisoner who is on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment.

No "anguish" was expressed over the fact that he has been held without trial for 12 years in Guantanamo, one of many victims of the leader of the Free World, who claims the right to hold prisoners without charges and to subject them to torture.

These exposures lead us to inquire into state policy more generally and the factors that drive it. The received standard version is that the primary goal of policy is security and defense against enemies.

The doctrine at once suggests a few questions: security for whom, and defense against which enemies? The answers are highlighted dramatically by the Snowden revelations.

Policy must assure the security of state authority and concentrations of domestic power, defending them from a frightening enemy: the domestic population, which can become a great danger if not controlled.

It has long been understood that information about the enemy makes a critical contribution to controlling it. In that regard, Obama has a series of distinguished predecessors, though his contributions have reached unprecedented levels, as we have learned from the work of Snowden, Greenwald and a few others.

To defend state power and private economic power from the domestic enemy, those two entities must be concealed - while in sharp contrast, the enemy must be fully exposed to state authority.

The principle was lucidly explained by the policy intellectual Samuel P. Huntington, who instructed us that "Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate."

Huntington added a crucial illustration. In his words, "you may have to sell [intervention or other military action] in such a way as to create the misimpression that it is the Soviet Union that you are fighting. That is what the United States has been doing ever since the Truman Doctrine" at the outset of the Cold War.

Huntington's insight into state power and policy was both accurate and prescient. As he wrote these words in 1981, the Reagan administration was launching its war on terror - which quickly became a murderous and brutal terrorist war, primarily in Central America, but extending well beyond to southern Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

From that day forward, in order to carry out violence and subversion abroad, or repression and violation of fundamental rights at home, state power has regularly sought to create the misimpression that it is terrorists that we are fighting, though there are other options: drug lords, mad mullahs seeking nuclear weapons, and other ogres said to be seeking to attack and destroy us.

Throughout, the basic principle remains: Power must not be exposed to the sunlight. Edward Snowden has become the most wanted criminal in the world for failing to comprehend this essential maxim.

In brief, there must be complete transparency for the population, but none for the powers that must defend themselves from this fearsome internal enemy.
(c) 2014 Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is co- author, with Gilbert Achcar, of Perilous Power: The Middle East & U.S. Foreign Policy: Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice. His most recent book is Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire.

Patagonian Dreams
By Uri Avnery

DURING HIS short visit to Israel, Pope Francis laid a wreath on the grave of Theodor Herzl.

That was not a usual gesture. Foreign heads of state are obliged to visit Yad Vashem, as did the pope, but not the grave of Herzl. It is not like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris.

So why Herzl's grave? Obviously, this gesture was intended to emphasize the Zionist character of the state.

Herzl was the founder of modern political Zionism. He is officially called "the Visionary of the State." His is the only picture decorating the Knesset plenum hall. If we had saints, he would be St. Theodor.

PROBABLY, FRANCIS did not give another thought to this gesture. If so, it's a pity. The Argentine Pope could have found a lot of interest in this colorful Viennese journalist and playwright.

Because if Herzl had had his way, Francis would have been greeted by President Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu in Spanish. He would have honored Herzl's grave in the Jewish State somewhere south of Buenos Aires.

If Francis had never heard of this episode, he is not the only one. The vast mass of Israelis has not either. It is not taught in Israeli schools. It is hidden rather shamefully.

Israelis know about "Uganda". Shortly before his early death, Herzl was invited by the British government to implement his ideas in part of British East Africa (actually, it was the Kenyan highlands, a plateau with a mild climate, which later became a part of Kenya.)

By that time, Herzl had despaired of getting Palestine from the Turkish Sultan. The Kenyan project, which could be implemented at once, attracted him and his main supporter, Max Nordau, who advised him to take it at least temporarily, as a "night asylum."

But the Russian Zionists, the bulwark of the movement, rebelled. Palestine or nothing. Herzl was overruled by his admirers and died soon after of a broken heart, it was said.

THIS EPISODE is well known. Much has been written about it. Some would say that if during the 1930s a Jewish Commonwealth had existed in Africa, many European Jews could have been saved from the Nazis.

But the Argentine chapter has been erased. It did not fit the image of the Visionary of the State on the walls.

HERZL'S LONG trek to Zionism started when, as a Hungarian-born Jewish student in Vienna, he encountered anti-Semitism. His logical mind found the answer. Being a playwright, he described the scene: all Austrian Jews, except himself, would march in an orderly fashion to the Cathedral and convert en masse to Catholicism. The pope would have been enthusiastic.

However, Herzl soon learned that neither would the Jews accept baptism ("the Jews are afraid of water," Heinrich Heine once joked), but the nationalist Goyim did not dream of accepting them into their ranks. How could they? Jews were everywhere, in many different countries, so how could they sincerely join any national movement?

That's when Herzl had his historic insight: if the Jews could not join any of the national movements that were mushrooming in Europe, why shouldn't they constitute themselves as a separate, new-old nation?

For Herzl, that was a sober, rational idea. No God involved, no Holy Scriptures, no romantic nonsense. Palestine did not enter his mind. Nor had he any interest in the religious fantasies of Christian Zionists in Britain and the US, like Alfred Balfour.

Herzl's project was fully completed, up to the smallest detail, and written down in the brochure that became the Zionist Bible "Der Judenstaat", before he even started to think seriously about the place where it should be realized.

THE PAMPHLET started as a speech he made to the "family council" of the Rothschilds, the richest Jews on earth. He expected them to finance the project.

The text is immortalized in his Diaries, a very well-written document covering several books. On page 149 of the first book of the original German print, after explaining his plans, he remarks that "I can tell you everything about the 'promised Land' except its location." This will be left to a conference of outstanding Jewish geographers, who will decide where to set up the Jewish state, after examining all the geological, climatic, "in short, the natural circumstances, taking into account the most modern investigations." It is a "purely scientific" decision to make.

In the end, when the pamphlet came out under the title "Der Judenstaat", the location was almost ignored. Less than a page was devoted to it, under the expressive title: "Palestine or Argentina?"

HERZL CLEARLY preferred Argentina. The reason for this has also been forgotten.

A generation before Herzl, Argentina consisted mainly of the north of the country, around Buenos Aires. The vast south, called Patagonia, was almost empty.

At the time, Argentina started a campaign of conquest, that many today consider genocidal. The indigenous pre-Columbian population, including a tribe of "giants" (two meters tall) was annihilated or pushed out. That was called, almost in Zionist fashion, "the desert campaign".

Such genocidal campaigns were at the time quite usual. The US ran one against the "red Indians". The Germans committed genocide in today's Namibia, and the mass-murderer was feted in the Kaiser's Germany as a national hero. The King of the Belgians did something similar in the Congo.

What Herzl saw with his mind's eye was a huge new country more or less empty, just waiting to be turned into a Jewish state. He thought that the Argentine government would give it up for money. The remaining local population could be pushed out or enticed to move somewhere else, but "only after they had exterminated all wild animals."

(Anti-Israeli propagandists use this sentence as if it was aimed at the Palestinians. That is quite untrue. Herzl could not possible have written such a thing about Palestine as long as the Muslim Caliph was the sovereign of the country.)

PATAGONIA IS a very picturesque country, with many different landscapes, from the seashores of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to the incredibly beautiful ice-covered mountains of the Andes. The climate is generally cool, even cold. The most southerly town in the world is located on its southern tip.

The rational approach of Herzl was soon swamped by the irrational character of his movement - a mixture of religious fantasies and East European romanticism. The plan to resettle the Jews in a safe environment turned into a Messianic movement. This has happened to the Jews before, and always ended in disaster.

HERZL DETESTED Palestine. Most of all he detested Jerusalem.

Curiously enough for the prophet of Zionism, he long refused to visit Palestine. He crisscrossed Europe from London to St Petersburg, from Istanbul to Rome, in order to meet the Great of the World, but did not set foot in Jaffa until he was practically compelled by the German Kaiser.

Wilhelm II, a romantic and rather unstable type, insisted on meeting the Leader of the Jews in a tent near the gates of Jerusalem. It was in November, the mildest month in this country, but Herzl suffered terribly from the heat, especially as he would not take off his heavy European suit.

The Kaiser, a born anti-Semite, listened politely, and later remarked: "A good idea, but impossible to do with Jews."

Herzl fled the town and the country as quickly as he could. The Holy City, for which his successors are today ready to shed much blood, looked to him ugly and dirty. He escaped to Jaffa, and there climbed in the middle of the night onto the first available ship going to Alexandria. He claimed to have heard rumors about a plot to kill him.

ALL THIS could have been food for the pope's reflections, if he had been focused on the past. But Francis lives in the present and held out his arms to the living, especially the Palestinians.

Instead of entering the land through Israel, like everybody else, he loaned a helicopter from King Abdallah II and flew directly from Amman to Bethlehem. This was a kind of recognition of Palestinian statehood. On his way back from Bethlehem to the helicopter, he suddenly asked to stop, went up to the occupation Wall and laid his hands on its ugly concrete, as his predecessors had done at the Western Wall. His prayer there could only be heard by God.

From there the pope flew to Ben-Gurion airport, as if he had just arrived from Rome. He marched on the red carpet between Peres and Netanyahu (since neither of the two would cede the honor to the other).

I don't know what the pope found to talk about with this shallow duo, but I would surely have enjoyed listening in to a conversation between the two intelligent Argentinians, Francis and Herzl.
(c) 2014 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Molefi Asante's Insane War On BAR And The Black Radical Tradition
By Glen Ford

We were the subject of a rambling screed posted late last month on the Facebook page of Dr. Molefi Asante, the liar, charlatan, hustler, and current agent of white corporate power at Temple University, in Philadelphia. At more than 4,300 words, it was an incoherent mess, beginning with the insane assertion that the "Black Radical least the public head of it, was the Black Agenda Report headed by Glen Ford." Without a hint of sarcasm, Asante, chairman of what he calls the Department of Africology at Temple, then proceeded to dismiss "the so-called Black Radical Tradition" as "nothing more than a weak ideological propaganda gallery of Africans trying to imitate white Marxists."

Only a loon would describe Black Agenda Report, a seven-year-old publication that barely keeps its head above water, as the repository of anything so grand in scope as the Black Radical Tradition, which encompasses much of the political legacy of an entire people. Make no mistake, Asante is a loon. But he is a madman on a mission: to delegitimize, de-Black, and de-African the Black Left in the Diaspora and on the Continent. Thus, in his first sentence, he describes the Black Radical Tradition as a "thin strip of intellectual curiosity" - as if hardly worth confronting. The Black Left is further diminished by positing BAR, a small weekly magazine of news, commentary and analysis, as the Black Radical Tradition's leading manifestation. Asante attempts to make Lilliputians of everyone, past and present, that does not subscribe to "Systematic Nationalism," which is not a tradition or movement, but the title of one of his books. In furtherance of his commercial and political enterprises, Dr. Asante consistently makes common cause with white corporate power, which shares his hatred of the Left. (This article will not touch on Asante's mentor Ron Karenga's role in the deaths of Black Panthers Bunchy Carter and John Huggins, in Los Angeles, in 1969 - although these crimes should never be forgotten.) Asante's eager complicity with Temple administrators in terminating Dr. Anthony Monteiro's contract with the Department of African American Studies is yet another episode in his jihad against the Black Left.

It is a wildly asymmetric alliance. Like its corporate educational siblings in major cities around the country, Temple is both a local real estate developer and a player in global capitalism. Its relationship to Black and brown Philadelphia, and to the emerging peoples of the planet, is inherently predatory. Asante is a small peddler of cultural products who sells his Black persona to predators, to advance their common goal of weakening the influence and cohesion of the Black resistance. Although Asante and his ilk drape themselves in African garb and mouth super-nationalist rhetoric, in practice their role is to buttress white corporate power and privilege. Thus, in his diatribe against the Black Radical Tradition, Asante said: "Universities reserve the right to choose their faculties; Temple never gave up that right to the community and was not expected to do so by anyone except those who did not understand the rules." Kashara White, a student of African American Studies, native North Philadelphian and a leader of the campus/community coalition, understands "the rules" perfectly well. The problem, she told Black Agenda Report, "is not that the school isn't following its policies, but that their policies are unjust." Ms. White and her comrades are "fighting for students and community people to have a real voice at the university" concerning curriculum and faculty - for which Temple students pay tens of thousands of dollars a year - and issues like gentrification of surrounding Black neighborhoods. It turns out that Super-Black Asante's credo is actually "All Power to the Administration!"

Asante's books and lectures are filled with talk about Africans wielding agency, making their own history. But he pretends that Kashara White, fellow Black student leader Paul Conge and the many other Black and brown campus activists who have denounced his behavior don't exist. Instead, Asante gives whites all the credit. "The white students used their propaganda talents to attach Monteiro's fight to numerous other grievances, gentrification, police brutality, Mumia, poor housing, and corporate power. Few black students joined this movement."

What a slur against the Black people of Temple University and North Philadelphia, who, according to Asante, don't have the sense or "talents" to mobilize against racial oppression and corporate dictatorship on their own. And, What a damnable and deliberate lie! The vibrant movement that resulted in Asante becoming department chairman, last spring, was comprised of the same community/labor/student coalition - and the very same organizers - that are now denouncing him. The demands then were much the same as the demands now: an end to gentrification and police brutality; real student and community influence over university policy; and a fair deal for campus workers. The difference is, the Department of African Studies (Africology?) is now run by the Black turncoat who fired a principal organizer of the first protest: Dr. Monteiro.

Since all the facts indict Dr. Asante, he is left only with lies. His narrative is as fraudulent as his politics.

Dr. Monteiro enjoys broad Black support; whites are a helpful minority. A February rally and press conference at a union meeting hall drew preachers, politicians, and labor officials. On March 10, no less a union notable than the president of Local 1199C of the Hospital Workers Union, the legendary Henry Nicholas, urged the crowd to move inside Sullivan Hall, where Temple's board of trustees was meeting, to stage a direct action.

Asante, who is second to none in belittling Black people's mental capacities, writes that Dr. Monteiro "asked a few community people who did not understand university rules to come to a rally. When they understood that they were being manipulated many of them backed away from the last protest." Asante invents scenarios out of whole cloth. But Sacaree Rhodes, the anti-hunger and homelessness activist, has the prevaricator's number. "People like Asante sit around and plot on Black people. And then use the word African-centricity. What the fuck is that? You've got to stop romanticizing about treachery," she told the March 10 rally.

Treachery, as in "betrayal" and "backstabing." The facts are not in dispute. Dr. Monteiro urged skeptical coalition members to back Dr. Asante for African American Studies chairman at the conclusion of the 2013 protests. Dr. Monteiro was terminated in December. At first, Asante claimed the firing was Liberal Arts dean Teresa Soufas' decision. "Did she consult with me to tell me what she was going to do? Yes, she did. I didn't provide any guidance at all," he told the Philadelphia Tribune. But he had already been contradicted by Soufas, who said Asante got rid of Monteiro because he was "making some exciting curriculum changes in the department and wanted different fields of study to be covered by instructors." The university provost confirmed that firing Monteiro was Asante's initiative. Cornered by the facts, in March Asante told his Facebook followers: "In Monteiro's case the African American Studies department had changed its academic direction to seek a more cultural orientation based on an Africological interpretation of African American, African Caribbean, and African experiences in Africa and in South America." Then the shameless liar defamed his former colleague: "There is almost nothing noteworthy or notable in Monteiro's career at Temple University and the faux demonstrations are examples of defrauding the public." The protest "headlined by Cornel West and Marc Lamont Hill" a few days before "was a spectacle of misguided and misinformed people eager to be a part of a public event." West and Hill were "dupes" and Pam Afrika had been "trapped in [Monteiro's] web," said Asante. The Temple students and 250 educators who denounced Asante were under the sway of white communists in their midst. Marxists were promoting "anti-African ideas."

That's when BAR called Asante a "dashiki-wearing J. Edgar Hoover" in an article titled "Molefi Asante: Portrait of a Redbaiting Bootlicking Rat" (May 14), followed by "Molefi Asante Must Go, Say Students and Educators" on May 21.

The man was frothing. In his muddle-headed wrath, he had provided Monteiro with all the ammunition necessary to make the legal case that his firing was a political dismissal, actionable in court.

Asante's latest, 4,300-word assault on the Black Radical Tradition should be read by every Black activist and academic throughout the Diaspora, so that there can be no doubt about the absurdity - and menace - of his politics.

Asante has conjured up a vast, chocolate-cherry conspiracy (brown on the outside, red on the inside) to undermine his cultural product-peddling business. The Black Radical Tradition is the means of subversion (under the direction of Glen Ford and Black Agenda Report). So, spread the word, as revealed by Molefi Asante:

"For its propaganda success, the so-called Black Radical Tradition needed a trained cadre of black imitators of white theorists, who, with a little reading of Marx, Lenin or Trotsky, could be prepared, after mastering the European critical tradition, to attempt to stamp out Systematic, that is, Black Nationalist Thought"...which is "the only real and historical radical tradition in the African American community."
Finally, near the end of his message, a descent into total incoherence:
"The only black radical tradition has always been Systematic Nationalism in the vein of Prosser, Turner, Vesey, Sengbe, Delany, Garnet, Tubman, Crummel, Garvey, Booker T. Washington some of the time, and the later Du Bois, Muhammad, Robeson, Hare, Harding, Malcolm and Karenga."
Asante claims I called him an "Afrocentric Nigger" - another lie. However, he has earned every other epithet imaginable, and should be denounced and shunned until his last breath for his betrayals and for the damage he has done to sanity in Black discourse. Shaming and shunning can be quite effective, since Black stooges and agents for white corporate power lose their usefulness the minute Black folks disown them. Asante's current symbiotic relationship with Temple University is quite fragile - as is the man's hold on reality.

Reinstate Anthony Monteiro! Molefi Asante Must Go! Long Live the Black Radical Tradition!
(c) 2014 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at

The Future Visible In St Petersburg
By Pepe Escobar

"The unipolar model of the world order has failed." ~ Vladimir Putin, St Petersburg, May 22

In more ways than one, last week heralded the birth of a Eurasian century. Of course, the US $400 billion Russia-China gas deal was clinched only at the last minute in Shanghai, on Wednesday (a complement to the June 2013, 25-year, $270 billion oil deal between Rosneft and China's CNPC.)

Then, on Thursday, most of the main players were at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum - the Russian answer to Davos. And on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, fresh from his Shanghai triumph, addressed the participants and brought the house down.

It will take time to appraise last week's whirlwind in all its complex implications. Here are some of the St Petersburg highlights, in some detail. Were there fewer Western CEOs in town because the Obama administration pressured them - as part of the "isolate Russia" policy? Not many less; Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley may have snubbed it, but Europeans who matter came, saw, talked and pledged to keep doing business.

And most of all, Asians were ubiquitous. Consider this as yet another chapter of China's counterpunch to US President Barack Obama's Asian tour in April, which was widely described as the "China containment tour."

On the first day at the St Petersburg forum I attended this crucial session on Russia-China strategic economic partnership. Pay close attention: the roadmap is all there. As Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao describes it: "We plan to combine the program for the development of Russia's Far East and the strategy for the development of Northeast China into an integrated concept."

That was just one instance of the fast-emerging Eurasia coalition bound to challenge the "indispensable" exceptionalists to the core. Comparisons to the Sino-Soviet pact are infantile. The putsch in Ukraine - part of Washington's pivot to "contain" Russia - just served to accelerate Russia's pivot to Asia, which sooner or late would become inevitable.

It all starts in Sichuan

In St Petersburg, from session to session and in selected conversations, what I saw were some crucial building blocks of the Chinese New Silk Road(s), whose ultimate aim is to unite, via trade and commerce, no less than China, Russia and Germany.

For Washington, this is beyond anathema. The response has been to peddle a couple of deals which, in thesis, would guarantee American monopoly of two-thirds of global commerce; the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - which was essentially rebuked by key Asians such as Japan and Malaysia during Obama's trip - and the even more problematic Trans-Atlantic Partnership with the EU, which average Europeans absolutely abhor (see Breaking bad in southern NATOstan, Asia Times Online, April 15, 2014). Both deals are being negotiated in secret and are profitable essentially for US multinational corporations.

For Asia, China instead proposes a Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific; after all, it is already the largest trading partner of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

And for Europe, Beijing proposes an extension of the railway that in only 12 days links Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, to Lodz in Poland, crossing Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus. The total deal is the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe network, with a final stop in Duisburg, Germany. No wonder this is bound to become the most important commercial route in the world.

There's more. One day before the clinching of the Russia-China gas deal, President Xi Jinping called for no less than a new Asian security cooperation architecture, including of course Russia and Iran and excluding the US. Somehow echoing Putin, Xi described NATO as a Cold War relic.

And guess who was at the announcement in Shanghai, apart from the Central Asian "stans": Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and crucially, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The facts on the ground speak for themselves. China is buying at least half of Iraq's oil production - and is investing heavily in its energy infrastructure. China has invested heavily in Afghanistan's mining industry - especially lithium and cobalt. And obviously both China and Russia keep doing business in Iran.

So this is what Washington gets for over a decade of wars, incessant bullying, nasty sanctions and trillions of misspent dollars.

No wonder the most fascinating session I attended in St Petersburg was on the commercial and economic possibilities around the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), whose guest of honor was none other than Li Yuanchao. I was arguably the only Westerner in the room, surrounded by a sea of Chinese and Central Asians.

The SCO is gearing up to become something way beyond a sort of counterpart to NATO, focusing mostly on terrorism and fighting drug trafficking. It wants to do major business. Iran, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Mongolia are observers, and sooner rather than later will be accepted as full members.

Once again that's Eurasian integration in action. The branching out of the New Silk Road(s) is inevitable; and that spells out, in practice, closer integration with Afghanistan (minerals) and Iran (energy).

The new Crimea boom

St Petersburg also made it clear how China wants to finance an array of projects in Crimea, whose waters, by the way, boasting untold, still unexplored, energy wealth, are now Russian property. Projects include a crucial bridge across the Kerch Strait to connect Crimea to mainland Russia; expansion of Crimean ports; solar power plants; and even manufacturing special economic zones (SEZs). Moscow could not but interpret it as Beijing's endorsement of the annexation of Crimea.

As for Ukraine, it might as well, as Putin remarked in St Petersburg, pay its bills. And as for the European Union, at least outgoing president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso understood the obvious: antagonizing Russia is not exactly a winning strategy.

Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, has been one of those informed few advising the West about it, to no avail: "Russia and China are likely to cooperate even more closely ... Such an outcome would certainly benefit China, but it will give Russia a chance to withstand US geopolitical pressure, compensate for the EU's coming energy re-orientation, develop Siberia and the Far East, and link itself to the Asia-Pacific region."

On the (silk) road again

The now symbiotic China-Russia strategic alliance - with the possibility of extending towards Iran - is the fundamental fact on the ground in the young 21st century. It will extrapolate across the BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Non-Aligned Movement.

Of course the usual shills will keep peddling that the only possible future is one led by a "benign" empire. As if billions of people across the real world - even informed Atlanticists - would be gullible enough to buy it. Still, unipolarity may be dead, but the world, sadly, is encumbered with its corpse. The corpse, according to the new Obama doctrine, is now "empowering partners."

To paraphrase Dylan ("I left Rome and landed in Brussels"), I left St Petersburg and landed in Rome, to follow yet another episode in the slow decadence of Europe - the parliamentary elections. But before that, I was fortunate to experience an aesthetic illumination. I visited a virtually deserted Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences, where two dedicated, extremely knowledgeable researchers gave me a private tour of some pieces belonging to arguably the most outstanding collection of Asian manuscripts on the planet. As a serial Silk Road traveler fanatic, I had heard about many of those documents, but I had never actually seen them. So there I was, on the banks of the Neva, a kid in a (historical) candy store, immersed in all those marvels from Dunhuang to Mongolia, in Vedic or Sanskrit, dreaming of Silk Roads past and future. I could stay there forever.
(c) 2014 Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His latest book is "Obama Does Globalistan." He may be reached at

Moral Monday demonstration in North Carolina

Moral Monday On The Move

Rosa Parks became a powerful symbol of courage and defiance in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s by simply refusing to give up her seat to a white man and move to the back of the bus, as the racist culture of that time dictated she was supposed to do.

Only, there was nothing simple about it. As personally courageous as she was, Ms. Parks was not alone that day, nor was her defiance simply the spontaneous reaction of a woman who was tired - tired after a long day of work, tired of domineering white rule, tired of going along to get along. Parks was part of a deep and wide grassroots movement for African-American rights and dignity. It was this movement that developed the sit-down strategy, trained Parks for this moment of refusal, and surrounded her with the support and love she needed to withstand the clamor of hate that followed. Rosa Parks was not alone on that bus.

Half a century later, a new movement for justice is following in the footsteps and in the spirit of those earlier civil rights activists. Steadily building broad grassroots coalitions of civil rights groups, labor, church leaders, students, teachers, environmentalists, retirees, and others, this movement is literally moving through southern states. It is gaining popular support by directly confronting the immorality of extremist governors, legislators, and corporate lobbyists who're denying health care to poor families, preventing both the elderly and students from voting, gutting state funding for public education, and generally legislating a permanent state of inequality and injustice for millions of people.

This promising progressive uprising began last year in North Carolina as the "Moral Monday" movement, named for its weekly peaceful protests at the state capitol. It has now spread to "Moral Monday Georgia" and "Truthful Tuesday" in South Carolina. To follow its progress and offer support, go to
(c) 2014 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Afghan Elections: Pick Your Poison
By David Swanson

No human being wants to be ruled by their people's murderers. Forgiveness through restorative justice may be possible, but being ruled by murderers is asking for too much.

Yet, that seems to be the Hobson's choice behind the Afghan presidential election, which is into its run-off between Dr. Abdullah / Mohaqiq's team and Dr. Ashraf Ghani / General Dostum's team, neither team having won more than 50% of balloted votes in the first round.

Both teams have members who are warlords accused of human rights abuses, as reported by the New York Times, including Dr. Abdullah Abdullah's running mate, Mohammed Mohaqiq, and General Dostum, who is Dr. Ashraf Ghani's vice-presidential candidate.

General Dostum, allegedly on the CIA's payroll in the past, apologized for his past war crimes when he registered as Dr. Ashraf Ghani's vice-presidential candidate. One of those crimes is the Dasht-e-Leili massacre which occurred in the fall of 2001. New York Times and Newsweek investigations alleged that hundreds or even thousands of surrendering pro-Taliban prisoners died of thirst, hunger and gunshots when they were stuffed into shipping containers for transport to an Afghan prison.

Both presidential hopefuls in the run-off elections on June 14th have already vowed to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement, which President Obama mentioned in his surprise visit to Bagram Air Base in Kabul, not even bothering to visit President Karzai who declined to visit him at Bagram.

Article 7 of the Bilateral Security Agreement, states that, "Afghanistan hereby authorizes United States forces to control entry to agreed facilities and areas that have been provided for United States forces' exclusive use..." and also that "Afghanistan shall provide all agreed facilities and areas without charge to United States forces."

Article 13 includes this: "Afghanistan ... agrees that the United States shall have the exclusive right to exercise jurisdiction over such persons in respect of any criminal or civil offenses committed in the territory of Afghanistan." It is understandable that President Karzai isn't willing to sign the agreement. It may leave a disastrous legacy.

I asked an activist who has been working in Afghanistan for ten years what he thought about the run-off in Afghanistan's elections. "Many Afghans, and people all over the world, are getting more and more cynical about elections," he told me. "And they should be, because how did our psyche become conditioned to accept that by electing corrupt, selfish, proud, wealthy and violent elites every four or five years, our ordinary lives will be changed? Our planet is exasperatingly unequal and militarized. To place in power the ones who continue this status quo is bizarre."

Bizarre, yet disturbingly familiar.
(c) 2014 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Is Agenda 21 A Good Or Bad Idea?
By James Donahue

It has been common knowledge that the world as we know it is in the midst of extreme change, nations are locked in unrest, and we are facing racial, environmental, and overpopulation issues that threaten to push us all into violent confrontation.

World leaders have been watching this develop for decades and have been looking for solutions. In 1992, during a United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, a 300-page document known as Agenda 21 was signed by then President George H. W Bush and 177 other world leaders.

At the time the document was hailed as a voluntary blueprint for cities, regions and nations to follow on a voluntary basis to promote sustainable development in the face of a rapidly expanding global population.

Agenda 21 was best accepted and implemented in many parts of Europe, Australia and Africa but the United States has been blocked by the conservative political movement. The rejection is coming from mostly the Tea Baggers powered by conspiracy warnings by radical FOX News personality Glenn Beck, who claims it is a movement to take away American freedoms and seize property.

So should we be listening to Beck and his followers, or should we be taking a serious look at Agenda 21 as a plan for solving global issues that are growing like a storm cloud looming over our heads?

From what we understand about the document, there are four important parts to the plan that would deal with social, environmental, education and research issues. The overall document appears to take a socialistic approach to building world-wide equality among all nations. And if we can learn to do away with warfare and start working together as one large family, it may still be possible to stop the destructive forces and start building a grand future for everyone.

Agenda 21 appears to be an excellent plan, offering a good start for humanity to begin healing the woes of the world. We should all take time to study this document and give it some serious thought rather than listen to the insane and banal arguments against the plan now being voiced by Mr. Beck, his Tea Party followers and a segment of the Republican Party.

In more detail, the four parts to the document are:

--Social and Economic Dimensions: dealing with world poverty, changing patterns of consuming resources, promoting health, achieving better population control and building moderate housing for everybody.

--Conservation and Management of Resources: a plan for dealing with deforestation, atmospheric, land and water pollution, conserving biological diversity, protecting fragile environments and managing radioactive waste.

--Strengthening the Role of Major Groups: improving the roles of children, women, minorities and indigenous people, workers for business and industry and farmers.

--Means of Implementation: supporting research in science, technology, education, financial mechanisms and international institutions.

All of these areas offer broad spectrums of interpretation, some of which may be twisted to levels deemed unpopular by some people if not a majority of the population in certain areas. But the overall plan appears to be an honest effort to solve issues that have plagued us all for generations.
(c) 2014 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

Zephyr Teachout, a Working Families Democrat, is running for Governor.

Activist, Academic, Candidate: Zephyr Teachout Bids For Governor Of New York
By John Nichols

Zephyr Teachout, with her roots in the insurgent Howard Dean presidential campaign, ties to the Occupy movement and history of spirited activism of democracy issues, reflects the inside-outside sensibility of many progressives who have maintained a frustrated relationship with the Democratic Party.

She's worked inside the party, developing groundbreaking online strategies for Dean's 2004 campaign, yet she has been outspoken in her criticism of Democrats who fail to uphold progressive values. Just two weeks ago, after Federal Communications Commission chair Tom Wheeler advanced a proposal that would undermine net neutrality, Teachout wrote a Politico piece headlined "Obama Should Fire His FCC Chair."

And Teachout has been at odds with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, pressuring the business-friendly Democrat to use his political muscle to reform campaign finance laws and reduce the influence of corporate cash on elections and government. Cuomo has disappointed plenty of progressives in New York, not just on the campaign finance issue but on everything from fracking to education policy. And now there is a prospect that Teachout will offer them an alternative on the ballot line of the state's Working Families Party.

"It feels like Cuomo is part of this broken system, and he is not going to fix it," she says. "Voters in New York want a real choice, and right now, with just [Republican Rob] Astorino and Cuomo-they seem to just be fighting about who can give more tax breaks to the billionaires."

The tech-savvy academic, who teaches law at Fordham University, is up with a website on which she declares, "I'm running because New Yorkers need an economy and democracy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected." She's identifying herself as the "Working Families Democrat for Governor."

The WFP has not yet committed to back a Teachout run. But the party's leadership will debate the prospect this weekend.

A powerful force in the politics of New York City and the state, the WFP backed Cuomo in 2010-giving its nomination to the Democratic candidate, as is allowed under New York's fusion rules for combining the votes of candidates on various ballot lines. But this year, party activists have wrestled with the question of continuing to support a governor who often veers to the center on economic and environmental issues.

For weeks now, there has been talk of running an alternative to Cuomo, with names such as Diane Ravitch, a former US assistant secretary of education who has emerged as an outspoken champion of public education, surfacing as prospects. (Ravitch isn't running, but she remains critical of Cuomo.)

A number of key labor leaders and top elected officials with close ties to the WFP, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, have backed Cuomo, but have reportedly urged him to make concessions to the WFP in hopes of obtaining its ballot line this year. The governor has signaled a willingness to move on some issues, but the frustration runs deep on the WFP state committee, which will meet Saturday to consider how to approach the governor's race.

The party committee could back Cuomo. It could back Teachout as a challenger. It could name Teachout as a so-called "placeholder" while continuing to pressure Cuomo.

But the party must have a nominee. Under New York law, the party must have a candidate for governor topping its ticket in 2014, and that candidate must attract 50,000 votes in order to maintain ballot status. With Cuomo as the nominee, the votes would be assured, as liberals who want to send a signal to the governor to move left could vote for him on the WFP line. But would it work with a lesser-known candidate such as Teachout?

When Siena College polled New Yorkers early in April, Cuomo was at 58 percent, while his Republican challenger, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, was at 28 percent.

When the Siena poll asked what voters would do if an unnamed WFP challenger running to the left of Cuomo were to enter the race, however, the governor dropped to 39 percent, Astorino dropped to 24 percent and 24 percent for the hypothetical contender.

Similar numbers have turned up in other public and private polls.

So, does that mean that Teachout, if nominated, would start with a quarter of the vote?

Not necessarily. Hypothetical prospects in polls often get bigger numbers than named contenders. And Cuomo is working to shore up his left flank. At last week's Democratic convention, Cuomo was endorsed by Mayor de Blasio and a host of progressives in a video that featured New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, musician and activist Harry Belafonte and labor leaders from unions with a strong presence in New York City (and its politics), such as the Local 1199's George Gresham and key figures with other Service Employees and Communication Workers of America locals.

Just as President Harry Truman did in 1948, when he was challenged from the left by former Vice President Henry Wallace, Cuomo has space to move left and to work with key unions to attract votes from folks who have been dissatisfied with him. Already, he's sounding progressive themes, telling the Democrats who renominated him last week that he wants to address the "social tragedy that a majority of children from wealthy families attend college, but only 10 percent of children of poor families attend college."

Additionally, if poll numbers showed Astorino becoming competitive, the fear of a Republican win could cause many Democrats to "come home" to a governor who does not always meet their approval.

But is there also space for Teachout?

New York's third parties are fluid projects. They can run strong, go weak and run strong again. They have lived and died, gained ballot lines and lost them. They have provided margins of victory in presidential races. They have won major elections in New York City and statewide. Former New York Mayor John Lindsay was re-elected in 1969 on the old Liberal Party line. James Buckley was elected US Senator in 1970 on the Conservative Party line. Before becoming New York City's Public Advocate, Tish James started her political rise by winning a city council seat on the Working Families Party line.

Teachout does not start with the advantages of a Lindsay or a Buckley. But the rise of progressive activism on election reform, income inequality and environmental issues gives her room to run. And the greatest accomplishments of New York's third parties, on the left and the right, have not always been electoral wins; often, they have used their ballot lines to pull the politics of the state toward new ideas and new approaches.

In that sense, Teachout is a particularly intriguing prospect.

She's always been ideas-driven. And she knows how to communicate-in person and on the digital platforms that are increasingly definitional in our politics.

If the WFP nominates her, it's a safe bet that she'd get the 50,000 votes needed to keep the ballot line. And she could get a lot more with what she promises would be a populist "people-powered campaign" that is "dedicated to breaking up the power of Wall Street banks" and "committed to making our politics more responsive to the needs and values of working and middle-class families."
(c) 2014 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

We All Must Become Zapatistas
By Chris Hedges

Subcomandante Marcos, the spokesman for the Zapatistas (Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional, or EZLN), has announced that his rebel persona no longer exists. He had gone from being a "spokesman to a distraction," he said last week. His persona, he said, fed an easy and cheap media narrative. It turned a social revolution into a cartoon for the mass media. It allowed the commercial press and the outside world to ignore traditional community leaders and indigenous commanders and wrap a movement around a fictitious personality. His persona, he said, trivialized a movement. And so this persona is no more.

"The entire system, but above all its media, plays the game of creating celebrities who it later destroys if they don't yield to its designs," Marcos declared. The Zapatistas form the most important resistance movement of the last two decades. They are a visible counterweight to the despoiling and rape of the planet and the subjugation of the poor by global capitalism. And they have repeatedly reinvented themselves-as Marcos has now done-to survive. The Zapatistas gave global resistance movements a new language, drawn in part from the indigenous communal Mayan culture, and a new paradigm for action. They understood that corporate capitalism had launched a war against us. They showed us how to fight back. The Zapatistas began by using violence, but they soon abandoned it for the slow, laborious work of building 32 autonomous, self-governing municipalities. Local representatives from Juntas de Buen Gobierno, or Councils of Good Government, which is not recognized by the Mexican government, preside over these independent Zapatista communities. The councils oversee community programs that distribute food, set up clinics and schools and collect taxes. Resources are for those who live in the communities, not for the corporations that come to exploit them. And in this the Zapatistas allow us to see the future, at least a future where we have a chance of surviving.

"This figure was created, and now its creators, the Zapatistas, are destroying it," the EZLN spokesman said to roughly 1,000 people who turned out for a May 24 memorial in the village of La Realidad for a Zapatista teacher, Jose Luis Solis Lopez, who was murdered by Mexican paramilitary members. "And we saw that now, the full-size puppet outfit, the character, the hologram, was no longer necessary. Time and time again we planned this, and time and time again we waited for the right moment-the right calendar and geography to show what we really are to those who truly are."

The May 2 murder of the teacher-known by his nom de guerre as "Galeano"-appears to have been part of a drive by a government-allied paramilitary group, CIOAC-H, to assassinate rural Zapatista leaders and destroy the self-governing Zapatista enclaves. The Fray Bartolome Human Rights Center said that 15 unarmed Zapatista civilians were wounded May 2. Attacks on that day also saw the destruction of a Zapatista clinic, a school and three vehicles.

The address last month was the first public appearance by Marcos since 2009. He spoke to the crowd in a downpour in the early hours of May 25. He has been the public face of the Zapatistas since the group emerged as an insurrectionary force Jan. 1, 1994, in Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico. Marcos, who is mestizo rather than Mayan, spoke about his rise as a media figure following the uprising and how the movement had catered to the demands for an identifiable leader by a press that distorts reality to fit into its familiar narratives.

Just a few days later [after the uprising], with the blood of our fallen still fresh in the city streets, we realized that those from outside did not see us.

Accustomed to looking at the indigenous from above, they did not raise their eyes to look at us.

Accustomed to seeing us humiliated, their heart did not understand our dignified rebellion.

Their eyes were fixed on the only mestizo they saw with a balaclava, that is to say, one they did not look at.

Our bosses told us then:

"They only see their own smallness, let's make someone as small as them, so they may see him and through him they may see us."

A complex maneuver of distraction began then, a terrible and marvelous magic trick, a malicious play of the indigenous heart that we are, the indigenous knowledge challenging modernity in one of its bastions: the media.

The character called "Marcos" started then to be built.

The clandestine movement began, like all rebellions, with a handful of idealists.

"When the first group arrived in 1983, 1984, we were in the densest part of the jungle," Marcos said in "Remembering Ten Years of Zapatismo," a documentary produced by the Chiapas Independent Media Center and Free Speech Radio News. "We are talking about a group of four or five, six people that repeated to themselves every day 'this is the right thing to do,' 'the right thing to do.' There was nothing in the world telling us this was the right thing to do. We were dreaming that someday all of this would be worth something."

Early Jan. 1, 1994, armed rebels took over five major towns in Chiapas. It was the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect. The EZLN announced that it no longer recognized the legitimacy of the Mexican government. It denounced NAFTA as a new vehicle to widen the inequality between the poor and the rich, showing an understanding of free trade agreements that many in the United States lacked. It said it had resorted to violence because peaceful means of protest had failed. The Mexican government, alarmed and surprised, sent several thousand members of the military and police to Chiapas to crush the uprising. The military handed out food to the impoverished peasants. It also detained scores of men. Many were tortured. Some were killed. There were 12 days of heavy fighting in which about 200 people died. By February the Zapatistas, who had hoped to ignite a nationwide revolution and who were reeling under the military assault, agreed to negotiate. Most had retreated into the surrounding jungle. The insurgency, Marcos said, faced a fundamental existential choice. He spoke about this choice at last month's memorial to his assassinated comrade:

Should we prepare those who come after us for the path of death?

Should we develop more and better soldiers?

Invest our efforts in improving our battered war machine?

Simulate dialogues and a disposition toward peace while preparing new attacks?

Kill or die as the only destiny?

Or should we reconstruct the path of life, that which those from above had broken and continue breaking?

... Should we have adorned with our blood the path that others have charted to Power, or should we have turned our heart and gaze toward who we are, toward those who are what we are-that is, the indigenous people, guardians of the earth and of memory?

Nobody listened then, but in the first babblings that were our words we made note that our dilemma was not between negotiating and fighting, but between dying and living.

... And we chose.

And rather than dedicating ourselves to training guerrillas, soldiers, and squadrons, we developed education and health promoters, who went about building the foundations of autonomy that today amaze the world.

Instead of constructing barracks, improving our weapons, and building walls and trenches, we built schools, hospitals and health centers; improving our living conditions.

Instead of fighting for a place in the Parthenon of individualized deaths of those from below, we chose to construct life.

All this in the midst of a war that was no less lethal because it was silent.

The movement's shift from violence to nonviolent civil disobedience was evidenced during the memorial. Zapatista leaders said they knew the identities of the vigilantes who had carried out the attacks. But those in the crowd were cautioned not to turn their vengeance against the killers, who, they were told, had been manipulated to murder in the service of the state. The focus had to remain on dismantling the system of global capitalism itself. The shift from violence to nonviolence, one also adopted half a world away by the African National Congress (ANC), is what has given the Zapatistas their resiliency and strength. Marcos stressed this point:
Small justice looks so much like revenge. Small justice is what distributes impunity; as it punishes one, it absolves others.

What we want, what we fight for, does not end with finding Galeano's murderers and seeing that they receive their punishment (make no mistake this is what will happen).

The patient and obstinate search seeks truth, not the relief of resignation.

True justice has to do with the buried companero Galeano.

Because we ask ourselves not what do we do with his death, but what do we do with his life.

This transformation by the EZLN, chronicled in some astute reporting by the Mexican novelist Alejandro Reyes, is one that is crucial to remember as we search for mechanisms to sever ourselves from the corporate state and build self-governing communities. The goal is not to destroy but to transform. And this is why violence is counterproductive. We too must work to create a radical shift in consciousness. And this will take time, drawing larger and larger numbers of people into acts of civil disobedience. We too must work to make citizens aware of the mechanisms of power. An adherence to nonviolence will not save us from the violence of the state and the state's hired goons and vigilantes. But nonviolence makes conversion, even among our oppressors, possible. And it is conversion that is our goal. As Marcos said:
Maybe it's true. Maybe we were wrong in choosing to cultivate life instead of worshipping death.

But we made the choice without listening to those on the outside. Without listening to those who always demand and insist on a fight to the death, as long as others will be the ones to do the dying.

We made the choice while looking and listening inward, as the collective Votan that we are.

We chose rebellion, that is to say, life.

(c) 2014 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, ""Death Of The Liberal Class."

Reminder To Government
In the Internet era, you can't un-dump a document dump
By David Sirota

A little less than a month ago, Pando published secret documents outlining how one of the Wall Street's biggest firms generates huge fees for itself from state taxpayers and public employees. Though these documents are related to business with state governments - aka the public - they have nonetheless been kept secret.

Following a New York Times forum on Pando's reporting, financial sleuth Susan Webber of Naked Capitalism discovered 12 other sets of documents from private equity firms - these, in particular, doing business with the state of Pennsylvania, which spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on Wall Street fees. Amazingly, she discovered them buried on the state's own website, which might lead some to believe such documents aren't really being kept secret at all. But, in a move underscoring just how much both government and Wall Street are indeed trying to hide the lucrative fees and terms they are negotiating, the Pennsylvania State Employee Retirement System has now removed the documents from the state's website. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

The Pennsylvania Public School Employees' Retirement System "has made the decision to remove alternative investment contracts posted prior to 2012 from the Treasury Department Website," spokeswoman Evelyn Tatkovski tells me. That's after I asked PSERS about statements by Susan Webber, the financial consultant who runs the Web site under the pen name Yves Smith, that the documents posted by PSERS on the Pennsylvania State Treasury Web site provide a "treasure trove" of seldom-seen fee and operations information on funds managed by Cerberus, KKR, TPG and other large hedge funds that run money for chronically underfunded PSERS.

PSERS had no immediate comment when I asked if there was a legal basis for the agency's about-face and suppression of public documents, or whether money managers had threatened to drop the state as a client unless it surrendered.

Here's the good news, though: no matter how angry the politicians or Wall Streeters may be, the proverbial toothpaste can't be put back into the tube in the age of the Internet. Indeed, just as the Blackstone documents Pando uncovered are available for all to see, Webber has made sure all the documents she obtained remain available through her website. As the SEC promises greater scrutiny of these deals, these document releases will become all the more significant in educating the public about the relationships being forged between governments and the so-called "alternative investment" industry.

No doubt, that's precisely why state and local governments are so frantically trying to keep these documents secret.
(c) 2014 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist, a staff writer at PandoDaily and the best-selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota.

On Inequality Denial
By Paul Krugman

A while back I published an article titled "The Rich, the Right, and the Facts," in which I described politically motivated efforts to deny the obvious - the sharp rise in U.S. inequality, especially at the very top of the income scale. It probably won't surprise you to hear that I found a lot of statistical malpractice in high places.

Nor will it surprise you to learn that nothing much has changed. Not only do the usual suspects continue to deny the obvious, but they keep rolling out the same discredited arguments: Inequality isn't really rising; O.K., it's rising, but it doesn't matter because we have so much social mobility; anyway, it's a good thing, and anyone who suggests that it's a problem is a Marxist.

What may surprise you is the year in which I published that article: 1992.

Which brings me to the latest intellectual scuffle, set off by an article by Chris Giles, the economics editor of The Financial Times, attacking the credibility of Thomas Piketty's best-selling "Capital in the Twenty-First Century." Mr. Giles claimed that Mr. Piketty's work made "a series of errors that skew his findings," and that there is in fact no clear evidence of rising concentration of wealth. And like just about everyone who has followed such controversies over the years, I thought, "Here we go again."

Sure enough, the subsequent discussion has not gone well for Mr. Giles. The alleged errors were actually the kinds of data adjustments that are normal in any research that relies on a variety of sources. And the crucial assertion that there is no clear trend toward increased concentration of wealth rested on a known fallacy, an apples-to-oranges comparison that experts have long warned about - and that I identified in that 1992 article.

At the risk of giving too much information, here's the issue. We have two sources of evidence on both income and wealth: surveys, in which people are asked about their finances, and tax data. Survey data, while useful for tracking the poor and the middle class, notoriously understate top incomes and wealth - loosely speaking, because it's hard to interview enough billionaires. So studies of the 1 percent, the 0.1 percent, and so on rely mainly on tax data. The Financial Times critique, however, compared older estimates of wealth concentration based on tax data with more recent estimates based on surveys; this produced an automatic bias against finding an upward trend.

In short, this latest attempt to debunk the notion that we've become a vastly more unequal society has itself been debunked. And you should have expected that. There are so many independent indicators pointing to sharply rising inequality, from the soaring prices of high-end real estate to the booming markets for luxury goods, that any claim that inequality isn't rising almost has to be based on faulty data analysis.

Yet inequality denial persists, for pretty much the same reasons that climate change denial persists: there are powerful groups with a strong interest in rejecting the facts, or at least creating a fog of doubt. Indeed, you can be sure that the claim "The Piketty numbers are all wrong" will be endlessly repeated even though that claim quickly collapsed under scrutiny.

By the way, I'm not accusing Mr. Giles of being a hired gun for the plutocracy, although there are some self-proclaimed experts who fit that description. And nobody's work should be considered above criticism. But on politically charged issues, critics of the consensus need to be self-aware; they need to ask whether they're really seeking intellectual honesty, or are effectively acting as concern trolls, professional debunkers of liberal pieties. (Strange to say, there are no trolls on the right debunking conservative pieties. Funny how that works.)

So here's what you need to know: Yes, the concentration of both income and wealth in the hands of a few people has increased greatly over the past few decades. No, the people receiving that income and owning that wealth aren't an ever-shifting group: People move fairly often from the bottom of the 1 percent to the top of the next percentile and vice versa, but both rags to riches and riches to rags stories are rare - inequality in average incomes over multiple years isn't much less than inequality in a given year. No, taxes and benefits don't greatly change the picture - in fact, since the 1970s big tax cuts at the top have caused after-tax inequality to rise faster than inequality before taxes.

This picture makes some people uncomfortable, because it plays into populist demands for higher taxes on the rich. But good ideas don't need to be sold on false pretenses. If the argument against populism rests on bogus claims about inequality, you should consider the possibility that the populists are right.
(c) 2014 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times

The Quotable Quote...

"Silence, they say, is the voice of complicity. But silence is impossible. Silence screams. Silence is a message, just as doing nothing is an act. Let who you are ring out & resonate in every word & every deed. Yes, become who you are. There's no sidestepping your own being or your own responsibility. What you do is who you are. You are your own comeuppance. You become your own message. You are the message. In the Spirit of Crazy Horse"
~~~ Leonard Peletier

File video frame grab taken from a Taliban propaganda video of Sgt. Bergdahl in 2009

Why The Five Taliban Detainees Had To Be Released Soon, No Matter What
By Ken Gude

Less than forty-eight hours after securing the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo, Republicans in Congress and conservatives in media began attacking the deal. In doing so, they are refusing to accept the reality of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan and the way wars end.

The United States is engaged in an armed conflict in Afghanistan against al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces authorized by Congress under the 2001 Authorizations to Use Military Force. It is remains controversial whether this armed conflict extends beyond Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan, but what is not in doubt is that of the enemy forces party to this conflict, the Taliban is confined to Afghanistan and Pakistan. President Obama recently announced that the combat role for the United States in the armed conflict in Afghanistan will end this year and all participation will completely cease by 2016.

When wars end, prisoners taken custody must be released. These five Guantanamo detainees were almost all members of the Taliban, according to the biographies of the five detainees that the Afghan Analysts Network compiled in 2012. None were facing charges in either military or civilian courts for their actions. It remains an open question whether the end of U.S. involvement in the armed conflict in Afghanistan requires that all Guantanamo detainees must be released. But there is no doubt that Taliban detainees captured in Afghanistan must be released because the armed conflict against the Taliban will be over.

Sgt. Bergdahl was a U.S. soldier captured in an active zone of combat. The circumstances of his capture make him a Prisoner of War, not a hostage as some have erroneously claimed. In traditional conflicts, both sides would release their prisoners at the conclusion of hostilities. This is not a traditional conflict, however, and the Obama administration rightly had no expectation that Sgt. Bergdahl would have been released when U.S. forces redeployed out of Afghanistan. As that date neared, any leverage the United States possessed would have been severely undermined.

Conservative critics, however, are stuck fighting the political fights of the last decade and refuse to appreciate the cunning maneuvers that secured the release of the lone American soldier taken prisoner in Afghanistan at little risk to the security of the United States.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) said of the move, "I believe this decision will threaten the lives of American soldiers for years to come." Other Republicans have joined in the chorus since the deal was announced, including Rep. Howard "The Duck" McKeon (R-CA), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, calling for hearings over the agreement. Even though Rogers is the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, he offered no evidence to support his charge. That's because the evidence demonstrates that the Obama administration has been remarkably successful at preventing detainees it has released from Guantanamo from engaging in militant activities against the United States.

Statistics from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence show that only 6 percent (5 in total) of Guantanamo detainees released during the Obama administration have been assessed to have potentially engaged in militant activities. That compares with a rate of nearly 30 percent under the Bush administration. While these statistics have been criticized as including activities that no one should consider threatening the security of the United States, such as writing op-eds critical of U.S. policy, no one is arguing that they are undercounting those detainees who potentially have committed violent acts upon release.

So the statistics show that there is a 5 percent chance at most that these detainees will engage in militant activities upon release, they will be in Qatar for at least a year by which time the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan will be over, and they would have had to be released soon anyway. When put in the proper perspective, obtaining the release of the sole U.S. prisoner in Afghanistan is a masterstroke and worthy of congratulations.

The five detainees that were included in the deal would have to be released soon anyway because the U.S. involvement in the armed conflict against the Taliban is ending. And the Obama administration has been exceptionally good at preventing released Guantanamo detainees from engaging in militant activities against the United States, especially compared to the Bush administration. It's time to move on from the constant political fights of the last decade and conservatives critics should simply be celebrating the return home of Sgt. Bergdahl.
(c) 2014 Ken Gude is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he focuses on issues involving detainees, privacy, and technology.

Dr. Maya Angelou

Yes, Maya Angelou Was A Doctor: A Lesson For The Ignorant
Deference has never been automatically conferred to black women. The death of a regal light was no different
By Brittney Cooper

Maya Angelou's work and words were a mainstay of my childhood. I vividly remember my mother's copy of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" lying around the house. She most likely purchased it after Angelou read a poem at the inauguration of Bill Clinton in early 1993, when sales of the book, first published in 1969, skyrocketed. Even though I didn't read "Caged Bird" until college, mistaking it, as I did, for some of my mother's fluffy self-help literature, I became aware of Angelou's poetry when her words were featured in the 1993 movie "Poetic Justice." And then a year later, I watched one of my speech and debate teammates do a dramatic interpretation of her poem "Phenomenal Woman" as a competition piece.

Long before I understood her literary and artistic importance to American life and letters, I was seduced by her poetic lyricism, enamored of her regalness, thankful for her light. She carved a road that I could walk not upon first sight, but certainly in my own good time. Mine was a decidedly black girl's introduction to her work, and I marvel now - recognize now - the privilege I had to grow up in a house and in a world shaped by her work and her words.

In college I finally grappled with "Caged Bird" in an honors seminar focused on African-American autobiography. In that seminar, we used black writers' life stories to craft our own; in many respects Maya Angelou's narrative helped to give me the tools and the courage to tell my own story - to know that my small town Southern life, my enduring love for my grandmother and the many dusty, barefoot, country summers we spent together had value not just personally but in terms of collective African-American experience.

"Caged Bird" is one of the few texts in the African-American literary nonfiction canon to give us a vivid picture of early 20th century black girlhood. And it is part of a cadre of texts that kicked off the black women's literary renaissance at the beginning of the 1970s. These are things I learned on my way to becoming a scholar of African-American's women's lives, literatures and histories.

But on my way to becoming a grown woman, Maya Angelou's wisdom deeply shaped and equipped me to engage in healthy relationships. She once told Oprah, "When people show you who they are, believe them the first time." My mother told me that in my early 20s and then remixed it for me: "People will tell you who they are, if you only listen." These two statements rise to the level of biblical truth for me, making me listen carefully to the things that people both tell me and show me about who they are."God," my mother always says, "never lets His children go into situations uninformed." I call this Motherwit at its finest.

And that information frequently comes in the form of people showing us who they are. But these words don't just constitute a personal truth for me. They constitute a political truth.

Unfortunately, in the less than seven days since Maya Angelou passed away, among the many well-deserved, loving tributes to her have been people challenging her importance and credibility. These misguided people show us who they are, their subtle racism, and in so doing, show us a continuing ugly side of who we as a country are. Writing last week at the New Republic, Mark Oppenheimer railed against our reference to Maya Angelou as Dr. Maya Angelou. Though she has over 50 honorary doctorates, Oppenheimer apparently believes that on the occasion of her death, it is important and appropriate to challenge our right to refer to her as a Dr.

Oppenheimer notes that Dr. Angelou went by this appellation on her website and in her Twitter handle, and was referred to in this manner by Wake Forest where she was a member of the faculty for over 30 years. He accuses Wake Forest of "going along with the ruse."

To him and his ridiculousness, I say, "Oppenheimer, be for real." I have an earned doctorate and I balk sometime at the way that members of the African-American community fawn over the title "Dr." I am frequently appalled at the ease with which students and others will refer to men as Dr., whether they have a doctorate or not, while continuing to refer to me and other female professors as Miss. So I understand some of the frustration with the misappropriation of this title.

But I also know that when my stepfather's preacher friends refer to him affectionately as "Doc" they are conferring respect for his age, and his more than 40 years as a minister and pastor. Their informal conferring of that title hearkens back to a moment when black people had far more limited access to means of higher education, and were frequent targets of disdain and disrespect from white people. Cultural practices frequently outlast political realities. And conferral of this title fits within a long tradition of African-Americans' naming their children things like "Mister" and "Lieutenant" and "Honorable," the latter two having been names of men in my home church.

Maya Angelou's scores of honorary doctorates honor a life of work befitting the conferral of doctoral status, since doctorate signals the ultimate mastery of a field. And a master she undeniably was. But the title is also part of an attempt to signal via a title that Dr. Angelou is deserving of a certain level of respect and deference. That deference has never been automatically conferred to black women. It has always been contested ground.

This refusal of deference is the reason why, when I researched my doctoral dissertation, I found it hard to locate some of the local women I was researching because they frequently went by monikers like "Mrs. S. Joe Brown" or "Mrs. N.F. Mossell." Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Mossell were nationally known black women, but the fact that they adopted their husband's initials was very much about demanding respect in a world where white women and men younger than them called them by first name, if not simply "girl."

More than a century after these women lived, showing respect to black women, even in death, is so difficult that the infamous Westboro Baptist Church feels the need to come protest Angelou's funeral. In her defense, a group of self-proclaimed American patriots known as 2 Million Bikers to D.C. has pledged to build a wall to ward off the protesters. Are black women not allowed dignity in death? Must their funerals become a brawl and a ruckus?

So while we might need a conversation about our societal infatuation with titles, that is not a conversation that should be waged on Dr. Angelou's grave. We are in no way diminished by conferring her the honor of the title "doctor." On the contrary, it is clear that we acknowledge the importance of her contributions in the way she saw fit.

I know black women say this kind of thing often, but it holds true. I stand on the shoulders of Dr. Maya Angelou. She is one among a cloud of black women witnesses who helped me to know that my story mattered, that the wisdom my grandmother and mother and black women in my community taught me could take me all the places I will ever need to go. In writing down her story and letting it tell our political and cultural truths, she makes it possible weekly for me to write my own story.

So many of us, uncaged, fly free because she, through her words, her power and the special way she cared for us, gave us roots and wings.
(c) 2014 Brittney Cooper is a contributing writer at Salon, and teaches Women's and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers. Follow her on Twitter at @professorcrunk.

The Dead Letter Office...

Gladys gives a grin, thinking about torturing prisoners

Heil Obama,

Dear Berufungsgericht Richterin Kessler,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your shilling for the Pentagon over torture, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "judicial whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 07-05-2014. We salute you Frau Kessler, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

June 8 is World Oceans Day.

The Challenge Of Sustaining Our Oceans
By David Suzuki

It's a fitting time to contemplate humanity's evolving relationship with the source of all life. For much of human history, we've affected marine ecosystems primarily by what we've taken out of the seas. The challenge as we encounter warming temperatures and increasing industrial activity will be to manage what we put into them.

As a top predator, humans from the tropics to the poles have harvested all forms of marine life, from the smallest shrimp to the largest whales, from the ocean's surface to its floor. The staggering volume of fish removed from our waters has had a ripple effect through all ocean ecosystems. Yet the ocean continues to provide food for billions of people, and improved fishing practices in many places, including Canada, are leading to healthier marine-life populations. We're slowly getting better at managing what we catch to keep it within the ocean's capacity to replenish. But while we may be advancing in this battle, we're losing the war with climate change and pollution.

In the coming years, our ties to the oceans will be defined by what we put into them: carbon dioxide, nutrients washed from the land, diseases from aquaculture and land-based animals, invasive species, plastics, contaminants, noise and ever-increasing marine traffic. We once incorrectly viewed oceans as limitless storehouses of marine bounty and places to dump our garbage; now it's clear they can only handle so much.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's recent report described how ingredients in the ocean's broth are changing dramatically. Life in the seas is closely linked to factors in the immediate surroundings, such as temperature, acidity or pH, salinity, oxygen and nutrient availability. These combine at microscopic levels to create conditions that favour one form of life over another and emerge into complex ecosystems.

The oceans now absorb one-quarter of the atmosphere's CO2. That's bad news for organisms with calcium carbonate shells that dissolve in acidic conditions. We're witnessing the effects of ocean acidification on shellfish along the West Coast of North America. Earlier this year, a Vancouver Island scallop farm closed after losing 10 million scallops, likely because of climate change and increasing acidity. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has also linked oyster die-offs along the Pacific coast to climate change.

While we may be getting better at figuring out how to sustainably harvest crabs, lobsters and sea urchins, we're just starting to investigate whether they can even survive in oceans altered by climate change.

Whales also offer a glimpse into our changing relationship with oceans. From the 17th century until well into the 20th, commercial whaling in Canada left populations severely depleted. Now, our most endangered whales are threatened by industrial activity. The St. Lawrence beluga population, for example, was decimated by hunting until 1979. Today's biggest threats include contaminants, vessel traffic and industrialization, including a proposal to develop an oil port in the heart of their critical habitat. Although the conservation challenge is daunting, nurturing functioning ecosystems offers hope. Healthy oceans ensure we can continue to enjoy seafood - and they're more resilient to increasing human impacts. If the global fishing industry wants to ensure its survival, it should advocate for marine ecosystem conservation.

By continuing to improve fisheries, protect habitat, carefully control industrial activities and create marine protected areas, we can maintain marine ecosystems that are better able to adapt to the pressures of climate change and other human activities. That's happening on the Pacific North Coast, thanks to a partnership between the B.C. government and First Nations to develop marine plans to guide future ocean uses.

Although there's much to lament about the state of the oceans, I remain inspired by the David Suzuki Foundation's Ocean Keepers and others working to defend our precious coastal waters. With less than five per cent of the oceans explored, we have much left to discover and learn.

As the late American marine biologist, author and conservationist Rachel Carson wrote, "It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose, should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist: the threat is rather to life itself."
(c) 2014 David Suzuki is a well-known Canadian scientist, broadcaster and environmental activist.

What Excuse Remains Now For Obama's Failure To Close GITMO?
By Glenn Greenwald

The excuse-making on behalf of President Obama has always found its most extreme form when it came time to explain why he failed to fulfill his oft-stated 2008 election promise to close Guantanamo. As I've documented many times, even the promise itself was misleading, as it became quickly apparently that Obama - even in the absence of Congressional obstruction - did not intend to "close GITMO" at all but rather to re-locate it, maintaining its defining injustice of indefinite detention.

But the events of the last three days have obliterated the last remaining excuse. In order to secure the release of American POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the Obama administration agreed to release from Guantanamo five detainees allegedly affialited with the Taliban. But as even stalwart Obama defenders such as Jeffery Toobin admit, Obama "clearly broke the law" by releasing those detainees without providing Congress the 30-day notice required by the 2014 defense authorization statute (law professor Jonathan Turley similarly observed that Obama's lawbreaking here was clear and virtually undebatable).

The only conceivable legal argument to justify this release is if the Obama White House argues that the law does not and cannot bind them. As documented by MSNBC's Adam Serwer - who acknowledges that "when it comes to the legality of the decision [critics] have a point" - Obama has suggested in the past when issuing signing statements that he does not recognize the validity of Congressional restrictions on his power to release Guanatanamo detainees because these are decisions assigned by the Constitution solely to the Commander-in-Chief (sound familiar?). Obama's last signing statement concluded with this cryptic vow: "In the event that the restrictions on the transfer of Guantanamo detainees in sections 1034 and 1035 operate in a manner that violates constitutional separation of powers principles, my Administration will implement them in a manner that avoids the constitutional conflict."

Both Serwer and a new Washington Post article this morning note the gross and obvious hypocrisy of Obama and his Democratic loyalists now using Article-II-uber-alle signing statements to ignore Congressionally enacted laws relating to the War on Terror. Quoting an expert on signing statements, the Post - referencing Obama's Bush-era condemnation of signing statements - sums up much of the last six years of political events in the US: "Senator Obama had a very different view than President Obama."

But the eagerness of many Democrats to radically change everything they claimed to believe as of January 20, 2009 is far too familiar and well-documented at this point to be worth spending much time on. Far more significant are the implications for Obama's infamously unfulfilled pledge to close Guantanamo.

The sole excuse now offered by Democratic loyalists for this failure has been that Congress prevented him from closing the camp. But here, the Obama White House appears to be arguing that Congress lacks the authority to constrain the President's power to release detainees when he wants. What other excuse is there for his clear violation of a law that requires 30-day notice to Congress before any detainees are released?

But once you take the position that Obama can override - i.e. ignore - Congressional restrictions on his power to release Guantanamo detainees, then what possible excuse is left for his failure to close the camp? As Jason Leopold notes in an astute article at Al Jazeera, this week's episode "has lead one human rights organization to question why the Obama administration has not acted to transfer dozens of other detainees who have been cleared for release for many years." He added:

Raha Wala, an attorney with Human Rights First, told Al Jazeera if the administration can make the argument that the five Taliban detainees are transferrable "without any significant problems under the congressionally imposed transfer restrictions" then certainly "the same argument can be made for the detainees who have already been cleared for release."
Obama defenders seem to have two choices here: either the President broke the law in releasing these five detainees, or Congress cannot bind the Commander-in-Chief's power to transfer detainees when he wants, thus leaving Obama free to make those decisions himself. Which is it?
(c) 2014 Glenn Greenwald. is a journalist, constitutional lawyer, commentator, author of three New York Times best-selling books on politics and law, and a staff writer and editor at First Look Media. His fifth book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Security State. has just been released. Prior to his collaboration with Pierre Omidyar, Glenn's column was featured at Guardian US and Salon. His last bookbook is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book"How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy," examines the Bush legacy. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Keith Knight ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Budget Cheat Day Lets Government Splurge On Anything It Wants Once A Week

WASHINGTON-With lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agreeing that everyone deserves to be a little naughty once in a while, sources revealed Thursday a newly enacted budget cheat day that allows government officials to splurge on spending once per week. "It's so much easier to be fiscally responsible when you know that, come Saturday, you'll get to indulge in whatever expenditures you want," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, adding that he didn't mind treating himself to a $200 billion upgrade of the nation's interstate highway system if he's "been good" during the preceding six days. "Honestly, I'd lose my mind if I had to stick to my allocated funds the whole week. Now I know that if I can just hang in there, there's a massive investment in the nation's freight infrastructure waiting for me on the weekend." At press time, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was skipping budget cheat day, as he had reportedly been binging on immigration enforcement all week long and didn't think he deserved it.
(c) 2014 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 14 # 22 (c) 06/06/2014

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