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Solidarity & Resistance: Participatory Journalism

By Ron Ridenour

(Part II of journalist Ridenour’s political autobiography, Solidarity and Resistance: 50 Years With Che)

Wilfred Burchett was a key source of information for many of us who wanted to understand what the United States was doing against Southeast Asians. Burchett was an intrepid reporter for decades. He was the first correspondent to enter Hiroshima after the nuclear bombing and brought the world the military-censored news of its horrors.

Cheri Honkala runs as Robin Hood to become Sheriff of Philadelphia

By John Grant

Some men rob you with a six gun.
Some do it with a fountain pen.

“Pretty Boy Floyd”
Woody Guthrie

_____________________

We hear a lot about what democracy is about in America. Some of it is true and some of it is the usual boilerplate crap. Whatever you hear about the Cheri Honkala Green Party campaign for Sheriff of Philadelphia – and of course there’s a lot of crap going around -- one thing is true, it’s real democracy in action.

TCBH! Exclusive: Statement by President Barack Obama on Release of his Democratic Party Registration Certificate

The intrepid journalists at ThisCantBeHappening! have obtained and exclusive: documentary proof from the White House that President Obama is actually a Democrat and has been since he turned 18. See the president's actual 1979 Democratic Party registration, at www.thiscantbehappening.net Finally we can put this canard to rest...

3rd Circuit Appeal Ruling Favoring Abu-Jamal Smacks Down US Supreme Court

By Linn Washington, Jr.

The federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, in a stunning smack at the U.S. Supreme Court, has issued a ruling upholding its earlier decision backing a new sentencing hearing in the controversial case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted killer of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

The latest ruling, issued on Tuesday April 26, 2011, upholds a ruling the Third Circuit issued over two years ago siding with a federal district court judge who, back in 2001, had set aside Abu-Jamal’s death penalty after determining that death penalty instructions provided to the jury, and a flawed jury ballot document used during Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial, had been unclear.

The U.S. Supreme Court had ordered the Third Circuit to re-examine its 2009 ruling upholding the lifting of Abu-Jamal’s death sentence.

War Crimes Charges Anyone?: New Exposé of Big Oil’s Role in the Iraq War

By James Ridgeway

   When it was  suggested the war in Iraq was about oil, Tony Blair,then the British prime minister, had this to say on February 6,2003:

     “Let me just deal with the oil thing because… the oil conspiracy theory is honestly one of the most absurd when you analyse it. The fact is that, if the oil that Iraq has were our concern, I mean we could probably cut a deal with Saddam tomorrow in relation to the oil. It’s not the oil that is the issue, it is the weapons…”

Talking Revolution: The New Elderly Generation can provide the Spark for an American Rising

By Dave Lindorff

I am 62 and have just reached the age where I could apply for Social Security retirement benefits. Of course, I’d be crazy to do that and collect some $700 a month for the rest of my life, when I could keep working and wait until I’m 70 and get $2000 a month.

But the point is, I’ve arrived. I’m a “senior.” And now I’m paying a lot more attention to what the Right and its paymaster, the corporate lobby, are trying to do, not just to my retirement plan (which is Social Security. period), but also to Medicare, the program upon which my medical care will depend once my wife decides to retire from her university job.

Hedging, Delusion and Dishonesty in Afghanistan

By John Grant

“The Americans have not been honest about this, even among themselves.”

That’s how Mullah Attullah Lodin, deputy chairman of the High Peace Council of Afghanistan sees our nation and its government as it relates to the question of permanent bases in Afghanistan and to his specific portfolio, the establishment of peace in Afghanistan.

Lodin is a former Hizb-e Islami militia commander (they fought the Russians), and he's now in the Karzai government. Some might suggest he has an agenda, which generally means he's not in synch with US policy. Americans don't have "agendas." The presumption is Afghans are backward and corrupt and somehow not as worthy of trust as a westerner or an American. And he's all for talking peace with the Taliban, which makes him radioactive.

An 'Oh Please!' Moment; Is S&P Running Interference for the Right to Help Crush Social Security and Medicare?

By Dave Lindorff

Today’sbreathless anxiety-inducing headline was that Standard & Poors, the rating agency, has issued a “negative outlook” warning on US sovereign debt, claiming that the US, in comparison with other countries with a top AAA credit rating, has "very large budget deficits and rising government indebtedness and the path to addressing these is not clear to us". S&P warned that there was a “a one in three chance that the US could lose its AAA rating in two years because of its mounting debt.”

The ratings firm--one of three global companies that Wall Street relies upon to establish the credit ratings of companies and nations around the world--said its analysts had “little confidence” that the Obama administration and the divided Congress would reach any agreement on a deficit-reduction plan before the next national election in the fall of 2012, and that they doubted that any such plan would be adopted until after 2014, two whole Congressional elections away.

Solidarity and Struggle: 50 Years with Che

Ron Ridenour

(This article is the first of seven pieces dedicated to the Cuban revolution and its defeat of the US imperialist invasion 50 years ago, April 17-19, 1961, and embraces my half-century struggle.)

I. Sharing Che’s Activism

Che’s penetrating eyes stare at me seriously as I write about him. It is strange that I have never written about him before, other than to quote him. Perhaps it is because Che has been too large a figure for me to tackle? I don’t know. This writing, though, is a commemoration of Che and of my 50 years in our common struggle.

Ernesto Guevara was my greatest personal inspiration and Cuba’s revolution was my greatest collective inspiration—along with the Vietnamese resistance fighters. Nicknamed Che, an Argentine expression, he lived and died as he preached. Che’s internationalist ideals, his consequent actions, his integrity and charm, have influenced my life all these decades.

Happy Birthday Jed! You're on the Rolls as a Potential Draftee in America's Wars

By Dave Lindorff

America’s wars came home today in the mail, with a letter from the Selective Service. Enclosed was my son Jed’s draft card, just a week ahead of his 18th birthday.

The card, which unlike the ones in my day, comes in technicolor, arrived along with a glossy brochure advertising the US military as: “The career you were born to pursue.”

The card featured a color photograph of a bunch of Army recruits jogging towards the reader wearing gray T’s and camo pants. Over the head of each of these runners was a career: scuba diver, computer software engineer, occupational therapist, firefighter, public relations, accountant, human services assistant, interpreter, musician, journalist...etc.

The journalist, appropriately, was buried behind the pack, so all you could see was about two thirds of her face. You might say she was “embedded” in the group.

The Battle Over PTSD

By John Grant

The battle over the meaning of a traumatic experience is fought in the arena of political discourse, popular culture and scholarly debate. The outcome of this battle shapes the rhetoric of the dominant culture and influences future political action.

--Kali Tal, Worlds Of Hurt: Reading the Literature of Trauma

There’s a major struggle for meaning going on in America now that centers on war trauma among returning soldiers and veterans of our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and, now, Libya.

Not Licensed to Kill: America's Imperious Attitude in Pakistan is Wearing Thin

By Dave Lindorff

There was a truly bizarre and telling paragraph at the end of a Wall Street Journal news report today on Pakistan’s demand that the US bring home hundreds of CIA and Special Forces personnel operating undercover in that country, and that it halt the drone strikes in the border regions abutting Afghanistan, which have been killing countless civilian men, women and children.

Reporters Adam Entous and Matthew Rosenberg, with no sense of irony, wrote:

The US hasn’t committed to adjusting the drone program in response to Pakistan’s request. The CIA operates covertly, meaning the program doesn’t require Islamabad’s support, under US law. Some officials say the CIA operates with relative autonomy in the tribal areas. They played down the level of support they now receive from Pakistan.

Hail to the Trump: Class Traitor

By Charles M. Young

In the past few months, Obama has had time to play golf. He’s had time to fill out his NCAA basketball playoff bracket. He’s had time to go to Chile, a country prone to terrible earthquakes, and sell them new nuclear reactors. He’s had time to go to Florida and tell Jeb Bush what a great job he did on education. He’s had time to be a “bridge” between John Boehner and Harry Reid.

Obama did not have time to go to Wisconsin.

That would be the same Wisconsin whose unions donated money and turned out for him at mass rallies so that Obama could collect Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes in 2008.

That would be the same Wisconsin which was so demoralized by Obama’s first two years of broken promises that Democrats didn’t turn out in 2010, thus dooming Russ Feingold to defeat in the Senate and allowing the election of Scott Walker as governor.

Trials of Globalization: And We All Melt Down

By Betsy Ross

We are now on the brink of the mother of all meltdowns in more ways than one.

Last weekend, The Times quoted Alan Hansen, a nuclear engineer and executive vice president of Areva NC, a unit of Areva, a French group that supplied reactor fuel to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plan, who spoke before a private gathering at Stanford University. “Clearly,” he summarized, “we’re witnessing one of the greatest disasters in modern time.” What the on-going release of cancer-causing radioactive fragments means in terms of human health and the environment is only beginning to come to light.

How About a Spring Peace Offensive in Afghanistan?

By John Grant

Peace is in the air and its blowing around like little specks of Spring pollen. Maybe it’s a good time for the US government to recognize this hopeful spirit of Spring and try to figure out a new tack in its foreign war policy.

US war policy is still very much bogged down in the paranoid, preemptive strike mentality of the Bush years. We have moved on only in the sense our very sophisticated military is now less concerned about holding large areas and much more focused on the precise task of finding and killing insurgent leaders. Lop off their heads.

At the same time, using its two most powerful tools vis-à-vis the American public – secrecy and public relations – our military is involved in a concerted campaign of face-saving, lest anyone think our forces are in a condition of moral quagmire or military stalemate. Which they are.

Mass Incarceration Creates Big Mess Across America

By Linn Washington Jr.

Herman Garner doesn’t dispute the drug charge that slammed him in prison for nine years.

Garner does dispute the damning circumstance that doing the time for his crime still leaves him penalized despite his having ended his sentence in the penal system.

Garner carries the “former felon” stain.

That status slams employment doors shut in his face despite his having a MBA Degree and two years of law school.

“I’ve applied for jobs at thousands of places in person and on the internet, but I’m unable to get a job,” said Garner, a Cleveland, Ohio resident who recently published a book about his prison/life experiences titled Wavering Between Extremes.

Recently Garner joined hundreds of people attending a day-long conference at Princeton University entitled “Imprisonment Of A Race,” that featured presentations by scholars and experts on the devastating, multi-faceted impact of mass incarceration across America.

New Song by Dave Lindorff: That Tea Party Racket (Ain't Playin' Too Well No More) Blues

(to hear the song, go to ThisCantBeHappening! and click on the link.

New Song by Dave Lindorff:

That Tea Party Racket (Ain't Playin' So Well No More) Blues

Governor Scott Walker tried to
Take union rights away
But the workers of Wisconsin
Are gonna make him pay
We’re working on those recalls
Gonna show those bums the door.
That Tea Party racket
Ain’t playin’ so well no more!

Oh here in Pennsylvania
Corbett’s slashing aid to schools.
That means more local taxes.
They’re playing us for fools
But meanwhile with natural gas
He’s giving away the store.
This Tea Party racket
Ain’t playin’ so well no more!


Over in Ohio
The legislature threw
Union rights of cops away
And firefighters too.
What happens if a fire
Starts on the capital floor?
Then that Tea Party racket
Won’t play so well no more!

There’s twenty percent unemployed
Home prices in the the gutter

Why Are We In Libya?

By John Grant

“…get a man greedy enough and he got the guts to go – go, go, … Vietnam, hot damn.”

-Norman Mailer, Why Are We In Vietnam?

The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the program created by Congress to expend over $700 billion of our tax dollars to prevent a “meltdown of the financial system,” is a “colossal failure.” It’s now official. Neil M. Barofsky, the man hired as TARP’s special inspector general, has come clean.

Why is it a colossal failure? Because, Mr Barofsky says, the act passed by Congress “expressly directs” Timothy Geithner’s Treasury Department to spend hundreds of billions of the TARP money to aid struggling homeowners with their mortgages.

Who Are the Liquidators?

By Charles M. Young

The prime minister of Japan has said that his government is “not in a position where we can be optimistic” about the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Is there any logical conclusion to draw from that statement other than that a large chunk of Japan is going to be uninhabitable?

They’ve got four nuclear reactors right next to each other in various states of disaster and probably meltdown. Two more are damaged. The workers on site are exhausted, sick and dying. The ocean and air around the plant are highly radioactive. The surrounding farms are producing radioactive vegetables. The drinking water in Tokyo is radioactive. If the Fukushima reactors keep exploding and burning and blowing radiation into the reservoirs, how long before Tokyo becomes Jonestown with a population of 13,000,000?

It's Time to De-Escalate the Drug War

By John Grant

“And we never really face what is in front of us, never face what is inside our gutless language of cartels and drug lords and homeland security, never face that forces are unleashed on the land with names like poverty, a fix, murder, and despair, and our tools cannot master these forces. …Things happen and no one says much. Then after a while, no one admits the thing even happened.”

--Charles Bowden on life in Ciudad Juarez

US Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual resigned last week after cables he sent were released by WikiLeaks suggesting he thought Mexican police and military forces were crippled by corruption.

Truth was no defense in Pascual’s case.

Toxic Intervention: Are NATO Forces Poisoning Libya with Depleted Uranium as They 'Protect' Civilians?

By Dave Lindorff

President Obama’s criminal launch of an undeclared and Congressionally unauthorized war against Libya may be compounded by the crime of spreading toxic uranium oxide in populated areas of that country.

This is latest concern of groups like the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, which monitor the military use of so-called depleted-uranium (DU) anti-tank and bunker-penetrating shells.

Images of Libyan civilians and rebels celebrating around the burning hulks of the Libyan army’s tanks and armored personnel carriers, which had been hit by US, French and British aircraft ordnance in the early hours of the US-led assault on the forces of Col. Muammar Gaddafy, could well have been unknowingly inhaling the deadly dust of the uranium weapons favored by Western military forces for anti-tank warfare.

Report Underscores Ticking Time Bomb Of US Nuke Power Plants

By Linn Washington, Jr.

A timely report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, based on data from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), contains troubling news about the state of America’s vast network of nuclear power plants.

The report, which examined serious incidents at 14 U.S. nuclear power plants nationwide from New York to California in 2010, finds fault with both plant operators and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission which is supposed to oversee them.

“Many of these significant events occurred because reactor owners and even the NRC tolerated known safety problems,” states the report, entitled: “The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety in 2010: A Brighter Spotlight Needed.”

While none of the 14 safety incidents tagged in the Union’s report as “near misses” produced harm to nuclear plant employees or the public, the report terms the frequency of these incidents, which averaged more than one per month, “high for a mature industry.”

Veterans Tell Obama White House its War Policy is a Disgrace

By John Grant

A contingent of 20 right-wing veterans with flags and signs declaring their devotion to “our troops,” marched up to the blocked-off Pennsylvania Avenue area in front of the White House. One of the men wore a blue shirt with Army Security Agency printed on it.

“I was in the ASA,” I said to the man, attempting some kind of cordial dialogue. At nineteen, I had been an Army Security Agency radio direction finder in the mountains west of Pleiku.

The heavy-set man glowered at me and said: “I’m sorry to hear that.” It was as if he were somehow the arbiter of who was, and who wasn’t, a good American, as if he alone gave a damn about "our troops."
I shot back at him: “So, what the hell does that mean?” He turned away, and I moved on. So much for dialogue.

Review and Reflection: Thr Great Migration and the New Orleans Diaspora

By Fatima Shaik

Isabel Wilkerson’s first book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, couldn’t have come out at a better time for black New Orleanians, who as 2010 statistics confirmed, but our own hearts knew, lost more than a third of our community in the last decade. As we reassess what we had – good and bad – what we miss and what matters, we may find instruction and solace in this book about a previous era of departures, comparing its lessons to our Diaspora.

The Warmth of Other Suns is a beautiful book. It opens with a quote from author Richard Wright: “I was leaving the South to fling myself into the unknown…respond to the warmth of other suns and, perhaps, to bloom.”

CIA Contractor Raymond Davis Sprung from Murder Rap in Pakistan after US Pays 'Blood Money'

By Dave Lindorff

Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor indicted for the murder of two young Pakistani motorcyclists, whom he gunned down in the back in broad daylight through his car windshield in a busy section of Lahore, Pakistan, has been freed, after the payment of $2.34 million in “blood money,” called diyya, to relatives of the two slain men.

The surprise “deal,” which Pakistani news reports are saying appears to have been forced on the relatives of the two men, who up to March 15 had insisted they wanted no blood money, but only justice, was announced in a court session March 16 in Lahore, at which the prosecution’s case of murder was to have been presented.

Hate to Say It, but We Told You So!

By Dave Lindorff

It seems rather silly now, doesn’t it, all the US concern about terrorism?

The nuclear crisis in Japan, which continues to worsen, threatens to become a total multiple meltdown, combined with the perhaps even more disastrous explosion and fire in one or several spent fuel rod ponds. If any of these things happen, not to mention many of them, several hundred square miles of Japan would be rendered indefinitely uninhabitable, costing hundreds of billions of dollars. And it could be worse. If the winds are blowing south during such a disaster, all of Tokyo, which has a metropolitan population of over 30 million, could have to be evacuated.

A study by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission back in 1997, found that one spend fuel disaster could devastate almost 200 square miles of the US, and cause half a trillion dollars in damage!

The Idiocy and Hubris of Engineers: Will GE Get Whacked for the Catastrophic Failure of its Nuke Plants in Fukushima?

By Dave Lindorff

GE, the company that boasts that it “brings good things to life,” was the designer of the nuclear plants that are blowing up like hot popcorn kernels at the Fukushima Daiichi generating plant north of Tokyo that was hit by the double-whammy of an 8.9 earthquake and a hugh tsunami.

The company may escape tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in liability from this continuing disaster, which could still result in a catastrophic total meltdown of one or more of the reactors (as of this writing three of the reactors are reported to have suffered partial meltdowns, and all could potentially become more serious total meltdowns with a rupture of the reactor container), thanks to Japanese law, which makes the operator--in this case Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) liable. But if it were found that it was design flaws by GE that caused the problem, presumably TEPCO or the Japanese government could pursue GE for damages.

Pennsylvania's Corbett Expands Conservative War on the Middle Class

By Linn Washington, Jr.

Swinging a sledge hammer, Pennsylvania’s first-term Republican Governor Tom Corbett, smashed into educational spending and state worker jobs during his first-ever budget address, following in the footsteps of his conservative cost-cutting confederates across the nation.

While Corbett proposes slashing over a billion dollars in fundis for pre-K through college, he spares the Keystone State’s burgeoning billion-dollar Marcellus Shale natural gas industry from his call for ‘shared sacrifice’ to close a $4-billion gap in the state’s budget.

Corbett refuses to do what over a dozen other oil and gas-producing states do and impose an extraction tax on the natural gas industry--the same industry that low and behold last year lavished him with hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to his gubernatorial campaign.

It's Time for a New Policy Face in Afghanistan

By John Grant

Here’s a modest proposal for President Obama and our policy wizards to consider:
General Petraeus has provided laudable service to his great nation by pulling counter-insurgency theory from the wreckage of Vietnam and giving it CPR, and after his predecessor self-immolated in Rolling Stone, he stepped in and assumed command of US forces in Afghanistan.

But, now, as a New York Times military analysis makes very clear, the mission in Afghanistan has moved on into new territory. According to an independent think tank known as PHOOA, it is time to replace the good General Petraeus with a new commander more appropriate to the reality of the mission.

The new candidate is Bozo The Clown. PHOOA (pronounced P-Hooo-ah!) is an acronym for Pull Head Out Of Ass. It’s time to put someone in charge who perfectly symbolizes the reality of current US war policy in Afghanistan, which is simply in-your-face absurdity.

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