PACIFIST FIGHT CLUB

We will fight for peace, but we will do no violence.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Nonviolent Quakers 1775

"From our past experience of the clemency of the king and his royal ancestors, we have grounds to hope and believe that decent and respectful addresses from those who are vested with legal authority, representing the prevailing dissatisfactions and the cause of them, would avail toward obtaining relief, ascertaining and establishing the just rights of the people, and restoring the public tranquillity; and we deeply lament that contrary modes of proceeding have been pursued, which have involved the colonies in confusion, appear likely to produce violence and bloodshed, and threaten the subversion of the constitutional government, and of that liberty of conscience for the enjoyment of which our ancestors were induced to encounter the manifold dangers and difficulties of crossing the seas and
of settling in the wilderness."

"We are therefore incited, by a sincere concern for the peace and welfare of our country, publicly to declare against every usurpation of power and authority in opposition to the laws and government, and against all combinations, insurrections, conspiracies, and illegal assemblies; and as we are restrained from them by the conscientious discharge of our duty to Almighty God, “by whom kings reign and princes decree justice,” we hope, through his assistance and favor, to be enabled to maintain our testimony against any requisitions which may be made of us, inconsistent with our religious principles, and the fidelity we owe to the King and his government, as by law established; earnestly desiring the restoration of that harmony and concord which have heretofore united the people of these provinces, and been attended by the divine blessing on their labors."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ernest Hemingway: About War



"The title of the book is A Farewell to Arms and except for three years there has been war of kind almost every year since it was written. Some people used to say, why is the man so preoccupied and obsessed with war, and now, since 1933 perhaps it is clear why a writer should be interested in the constant, bullying, murderous, slovenly crime of war. Having been to too many of them, I am sure that I am prejudiced. But it is the considered belief of the writer of this book that wars are fought by the finest people that there are, or just say people, although the closer you are to where they are fighting, the finer the people you meet; but they are made, provoked and initiated by straight economic rivalries and by swine that stand to profit from them."

-Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

MORE IRAQIS CONVINCED: ISIS IS ACTUALLY US INVENTION



BAGHDAD -- It’s all a ruse, some Iraqis say, nothing more than a carefully thought-out plan to destabilize their bloodied country even more.

Twelve years after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and three years after U.S. forces pulled out, the U.S. role in fighting the Islamic State group here is met with great distrust.

Conspiracy theories abound, with many Iraqis insisting that the United States is actually funding and supporting the Sunni extremist group in order rip apart what’s left of the country and strengthen Iraqi reliance on the West.

“I think ISIS is something that the United States made up,” Aia al-Marsoumy, a 25-year-old dentist in Baghdad, told The WorldPost. “They want their army to be in Iraq. They want Iraq to be helpless without the support of the United States.”

Monday, March 30, 2015

Propaganda Bot Trolls


That Moron Who Spews Garbage and Doesn’t Listen to Reason May Be a Bot

Rampant Disinformation

NATO has announced that it is launching an “information war” against Russia.

The UK publicly announced a battalion of keyboard warriors to spread disinformation.

It’s well-documented that the West has long used false propaganda to sway public opinion.

Western military and intelligence services manipulate social media to counter criticism of Western policies.

Such manipulation includes flooding social media with comments supporting the government and large corporations, using armies of sock puppets, i.e. fake social media identities. See this, this, this, this andthis.

In 2013, the American Congress repealed the formal ban against the deployment of propaganda against U.S. citizens living on American soil. So there’s even less to constrain propaganda than before.

Information warfare for propaganda purposes also includes:
The Pentagon, Federal Reserve and other government entities using software to track discussion of political issues … to try to nip dissent in the bud before it goes viral
Controlling, infiltrating, manipulating and warping” online discourse
Use of artificial intelligence programs to try to predict how people will react to propaganda
Automated Propaganda

Some of the propaganda is spread by software programs.

We pointed out 6 years ago that people were writing scripts to censor hard-hitting information from social media.

One of America’s top cyber-propagandists – former high-level military information officer Joel Harding – wrote in December:


I was in a discussion today about information being used in social media as a possible weapon. The people I was talking with have a tool which scrapes social media sites, gauges their sentiment and gives the user the opportunity to automatically generate a persuasive response. Their tool is called a “Social Networking Influence Engine”.

***

The implications seem to be profound for the information environment.

***

The people who own this tool are in the civilian world and don’t even remotely touch the defense sector, so getting approval from the US Department of State might not even occur to them.
How Can This Be Real?

Gizmodo reported in 2010:


Software developer Nigel Leck got tired rehashing the same 140-character arguments against climate change deniers, so he programmed a bot that does the work for him. With citations!

Leck’s bot, @AI_AGW, doesn’t just respond to arguments directed at Leck himself, it goes out and picks fights. Every five minutes it trawls Twitter for terms and phrases that commonly crop up in Tweets that refute human-caused climate change. It then searches its database of hundreds to find a counter-argument best suited for that tweet—usually a quick statement and a link to a scientific source.

As can be the case with these sorts of things, many of the deniers don’t know they’ve been targeted by a robot and engage AI_AGW in debate. The bot will continue to fire back canned responses that best fit the interlocutor’s line of debate—Leck says this goes on for days, in some cases—and the bot’s been outfitted with a number of responses on the topic of religion, where the arguments unsurprisingly often end up.

Technology has come a long way in the past 5 years. So if a lone programmer could do this 5 years ago, imagine what he could do now.

And the big players have a lot more resources at their disposal than a lone climate activist/software developer does. For example, a government expert told the Washington Post that the government “quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type” (and see this). So if the lone programmer is doing it, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the big boys are widely doing it.
How Does It Work?

How does this work?

We have no inside knowledge, but we can imagine some possibilities:
Any article that includes the words “Russia” or “Ukraine” automatically triggers comments accusing Russia of seeking to form a new empire, Putin of being the new Hitler, and the Russians invading and being responsible for all of the violence Ukraine
Any article including the words “NSA”, “spying” or “mass surveillance” automatically triggers comments saying that the government is just trying keep us safe, and anyone who questions their actions is a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist who lives in his mom’s basement
Any article mentioning the phrases”Federal Reserve” or “quantitative easing” automatically launches comments saying that the Fed is doing the best it can under difficult circumstances, and that the economy would be much worse without QE

So that moron who keeps spewing garbage – and doesn’t seem like he’s even listening to your responses – may actually be a bot.
How Effective Are Automated Comments?

Unfortunately, this is more effective than you might assume …

Specifically, scientists have shown that name-calling and swearing breaks down people’s ability to think rationally … and intentionally sowing discord and posting junk comments to push down insightful comments are common propaganda techniques.

Indeed, an automated program need not even be that sophisticated … it can copy a couple of words from the main post or a comment, and then spew back one or more radioactive labels such as “terrorist”, “commie”, “Russia-lover”, “wimp”, “fascist”, “loser”, “traitor”, “conspiratard”, etc.

Given that Harding and his compadres consider anyone who questions any U.S. policies as an enemy of the state – as does the Obama administration (and see this) – many honest, patriotic writers and commenters may be targeted for automated propaganda comments.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Want To Disappear? Your Government Can Help.



Habeas Corpus is the oldest and most fundamental of our civil liberties. Dating from the Magna Carta in the Anglo-American tradition, it is enshrined in our Constitution. 

The principle denies government authorities the right to arbitrarily detain citizens. Most of our criminal jurisprudence flows from this ensconcing of habeas corpus. There is nothing more hallowed in word and deed.

Yet the Congress has passed, and President Obama -- the constitutional law professor -- has signed into law legislation that directly contravenes that principle. 

The Act requires the Executive to apprehend, imprison and detain indefinitely any person who it judges to be a threat to the safety and security of other Americans, i.e. a potential terrorist. 

These actions involve no due process whatsoever, are to be kept secret, and even the victim's family members kept in the dark. 

In short, persons are to be "disappeared" as in Argentina under the military Junta, as in the old Soviet Union, as In North Korea today.

An ignorant Congress, an ignorant MSM and an ignorant public thus shred our most basic civil liberty without public debate. 

Although there is no guarantee that fuller awareness of what habeas corpus is and has meant would have prevented Congress and Obama from this blatantly unconstitutional act, such knowledge might have agitated the public and given our rulers pause.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

LIES ABOUT AFGANISTAN


A few weeks ago, President Obama held a White House ceremony to mark the end of the Afghan war. A neat photo-op lapped up by the media. .

Yet, the factual truth is that the United States' military engagement has not ended and will not end.

Yes, on several occasions the President had stated that American forces numbering about 10,000 would remain in place to train the Afghan national Army and to provide passive Intelligence support. That has changed, though -- officially.


The President announced late last year that our forces would continue to participate in search-and-destroy missions and to operate attack helicopters (not just drones) on an 'as needed" basis. That has been confirmed by recent reports of American troops leading raids, and by statements of newly confirmed Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

Therefore, the United States' war-fighting role is not over.

Whatever one thinks of the policy, the important thing is that the President has gone back on a solemn pledge that he made to the American people. He obscures the fact by hosting a ceremony to mark an ending that is contradicted by his actions. And he has felt no obligation to explain why the reversion.

The MSM and the political class have ignored this shell game -- in part because their brains had forgotten what was said earlier.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Orwellian Misinformation

General Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA), declared before a public body in 2005:

"the phrase 'probable cause' is not in the fourth Amendment. If there is any amendment to the Constitution that we are familiar with at the NSA, it is the fourth." If there's any Amendment to the United States Constitution that the National Security Agency is familiar with, it's the Fourth."

That is an outright lie -- one that he told repeatedly. None of the MSM reporting on his remarks pointed that out. The vast majority of listeners took Hayden's statement at face value. Doubtless, they had only foggiest idea of what the fourth amendment actually says and/or were too lazy to check it. Hayden, by no means a stupid man, found it convenient to misstate the amendment's wording to justify the illicit spying on Americans he was conducting.

The benefits of having the facts at one's disposable are three-fold. First, they immediately tell you that the high official up on the stage addressing a crucial civil liberties issue was engaging in gross misrepresentation. Second, in reaching for a bowdlerized version of the Constitution, he was trying to hide something that he otherwise could not defend. Third, the stark evidence of this public lying would alert you to subsequent lies on the same subject by General James Clapper, his successor, before the Senate Intelligence Committee, by CIA Director John Brennan, and by President Obama himself.

Here’s what the Constitution actually says about your right to privacy:


“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

READ MORE HERE

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Oath of the Prophet Mohammed to the Followers of the Nazarene.









THE FULL TEXT OF THE "ASHTINAME" WRITTEN BY THE PROPHET MOHAMMED (AD 626) AS A RULE OF PROTECTION FOR CHRISTIANS BY MUSLIMS.


"This is a letter which was issued by Mohammed, Ibn Abdullah, the Messenger, the Prophet, the Faithful, who is sent to all the people as a trust on the part of God to all His creatures, that they may have no plea against God hereafter. Verily God is the Mighty, the Wise. This letter is directed to the embracers of Islam, as a covenant given to the followers of Nazarene in the East and West, the far and near, the Arabs and foreigners, the known and the unknown.

This letter contains the oath given unto them, and he who disobeys that which is therein will be considered a disobeyer and a transgressor to that whereunto he is commanded. He will be regarded as one who has corrupted the oath of God, disbelieved His Testament, rejected His Authority, despised His Religion, and made himself deserving of His Curse, whether he is a Sultan or any other believer of Islam.

Whenever monks, devotees and pilgrims gather together, whether in a mountain or valley, or den, or frequented place, or plain, or church, or in houses of worship, verily we are [at the] back of them and shall protect them, and their properties and their morals, by Myself, by My Friends and by My Assistants, for they are of My Subjects and under My Protection.

I shall exempt them from that which may disturb them; of the burdens which are paid by others as an oath of allegiance. They must not give anything of their income but that which pleases them—they must not be offended, or disturbed, or coerced or compelled. Their judges should not be changed or prevented from accomplishing their offices, nor the monks disturbed in exercising their religious order, or the people of seclusion be stopped from dwelling in their cells.

No one is allowed to plunder the pilgrims, or destroy or spoil any of their churches, or houses of worship, or take any of the things contained within these houses and bring it to the houses of Islam. And he who takes away anything therefrom, will be one who has corrupted the oath of God, and, in truth, disobeyed His Messenger.

Poll-taxes should not be put upon their judges, monks, and those whose occupation is the worship of God; nor is any other thing to be taken from them, whether it be a fine, a tax or any unjust right. Verily I shall keep their compact, wherever they may be, in the sea or on the land, in the East or West, in the North or South, for they are under My Protection and the testament of My Safety, against all things which they abhor.

No taxes or tithes should be received from those who devote themselves to the worship of God in the mountains, or from those who cultivate the Holy Lands. No one has the right to interfere with their affairs, or bring any action against them. Verily this is for aught else and not for them; rather, in the seasons of crops, they should be given a Kadah for each Ardab of wheat (about five bushels and a half) as provision for them, and no one has the right to say to them this is too much, or ask them to pay any tax.

As to those who possess properties, the wealthy and merchants, the poll-tax to be taken from them must not exceed twelve drachmas a head per year (i.e. about 200 modern day US dollars).

They shall not be imposed upon by anyone to undertake a journey, or to be forced to go to wars or to carry arms; for the Islams have to fight for them. Do no dispute or argue with them, but deal according to the verse recorded in the Koran, to wit: ‘Do not dispute or argue with the People of the Book but in that which is best’ [29:46]. Thus they will live favored and protected from everything which may offend them by the Callers to religion (Islam), wherever they may be and in any place they may dwell.

Should any Christian woman be married to a Muslim man, such marriage must not take place except after her consent, and she must not be prevented from going to her church for prayer. Their churches must be honored and they must not be withheld from building churches or repairing convents.

They must not be forced to carry arms or stones; but the Islams must protect them and defend them against others. It is positively incumbent upon every one of the Islam nation not to contradict or disobey this oath until the Day of Resurrection and the end of the world.


**






Some have argued that the Ashtiname is a resource for building bridges between Muslims and Christians. For example in 2009, in the pages of The Washington Post, Muqtedar Khan translated the document in full, arguing that:


Those who seek to foster discord among Muslims and Christians focus on issues that divide and emphasize areas of conflict. But when resources such as Muhammad's promise to Christians is invoked and highlighted it builds bridges. It inspires Muslims to rise above communal intolerance and engenders good will in Christians who might be nursing fear of Islam or Muslims.


The Ashtiname is the inspiration for The Covenants Initiative which urges all Muslims to abide by the treaties and covenants that were concluded by the Prophet Muhammad with the Christian communities of his time.


HISTORY OF THE ACHTINAME OF MUHAMMAD


According to the monks' tradition, Muhammad frequented the monastery and had great relationships and discussions with the Sinai fathers. The document claims that the Prophet (570–632) had personally granted by charter in the second year of the Hegira, corresponding to AD 626, the rights and privileges to all Christians "far and near". It consists of several clauses on such topics as the protection of Christians living under Islamic rule as well as pilgrims on their way to monasteries, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and to own and maintain their property, exemption from military service and taxes, and the right to protection in war


READ MORE HERE>


NOTES
[Haddad, Anton F., trans. The Oath of the Prophet Mohammed to the Followers of the Nazarene. New York: Board of Counsel, 1902; H-Vahabi: Lansing, MI: 2004]


For other translations of the Ashtiname, including the lists of witnesses, refer to The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World (Angelico Press / Sophia Perennis, 2013) by Dr. John Andrew Morrow.


*English Translation of the Ashtiname by Anton F. Haddad





CIA PLANS TO STEAL YOUR DATA




According to the Black Budget, U.S. intelligence agencies have tech companies dead in their sights with the aim of breaking or circumventing any existing or emerging encryption or antiviral products, noting the threat posed by “increasingly strong commercial” encryption and “adversarial cryptography.”

The Analysis of Target Systems Project produced “prototype capabilities” for the intelligence community, enabled “the defeat of strong commercial data security systems” and developed ways “to exploit emerging information systems and technologies,” according to the classified budget. The project received $35 million in funding in 2012 and had more than 200 personnel assigned to it. By the end of 2013, according to the budget, the project would “develop new capabilities against 50 commercial information security device products to exploit emerging technologies,” as well as new methods that would allow spies to recover user and device passwords on new products.

Among the project’s missions:

— Analyze “secure communications products, both foreign and domestic produced” to “develop exploitation capabilities against the authentication and encryption schemes.”

— “[D]evelop exploitation capabilities against network communications protocols and commercial network security products.”

— “Anticipate future encryption technologies” and “prepare strategies to exploit those technologies.”

— “Develop, enhance, and implement software attacks against encrypted signals.”

— “Develop exploitation capabilities against specific key management and authentication schemes.”

— “[D]evelop exploitation capabilities against emerging multimedia applications.”

— Provide tools for “exploiting” devices used to “store, manage, protect, or communicate data.”

— “Develop methods to discover and exploit communication systems employing public key cryptography” and “communications protected by passwords or pass phrases.”

— Exploit public key cryptography.

— Exploit Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, which allow people to browse the Internet with increased security and anonymity.

The black budget also noted that the U.S. intelligence community partners with “National Laboratories” to conduct the type of research presented at the CIA’s annual Jamboree conference. It confirms the U.S. government’s aggressive efforts to steal encryption and authentication keys, as occurred in the NSA and GCHQ operations against Gemalto, the world’s largest manufacturer of SIM cards, through the use of Computer Network Exploitation attacks. In that case, spy agencies penetrated Gemalto’s internal networks and cyberstalked its employees to steal mass quantities of keys used to encrypt mobile phone communications.

The CIA’s Information Operations Center is currently the second largest of the spy agency’s specialized centers. It not only conducts cyber-ops, but has operated covertly in other nations, working to develop assets from targeted countries to assist in its cyber-surveillance programs, according to the Black Budget. At times, its personnel brief the president.

When the Chinese government recently tried to force tech companies to install a backdoor in their products for use by Chinese intelligence agencies, the U.S. government denounced China. “This is something that I’ve raised directly with President Xi,” President Obama said in early March. “We have made it very clear to them that this is something they are going to have to change if they are to do business with the United States.”
But China was actually following the U.S. government’s lead. The FBI has called for an expansion of U.S. law, which would require Apple and its competitors to design their products so that all communications could be made available to government agencies. NSA officials have expressed similar sentiments.
“Obama’s comments were dripping with hypocrisy,” says Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. “Don’t get me wrong, his actual criticism of China for attempting to force tech companies to install backdoors was spot on — now if only he would apply what he said to his own government. Since he now knows backdooring encryption is a terrible policy that will damage cybersecurity, privacy, and the economy, why won’t he order the FBI and NSA to stop pushing for it as well?”


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Are You Living In A Dystopian Society?




If your Government is one of the largest military forces on the planet, you might be living in a Dystopian Society.

If your Government spends more on the military than the other 8 largest nations on the planet, you might be living in a Dystopian Society.

If your Government is spying on your phone calls, email, and text communications,  you might be living in a Dystopian Society.

If your Government executes its own citizens without a trial or even formal criminal charges,  you might be living in a Dystopian Society.

If your Government imprisons journalists who attempt to expose their war crimes,  you might be living in a Dystopian Society.

If your Government has been at war for 214 years out of the last 235, then you might be living in a Dystopian Society.

If your Government hires, or threatens journalists in order to have them write false news stories, and even film fake execution videos that advance their propaganda,  you might be living in a Dystopian Society.

If your daily news shows are filled with a combination of trivial entertainment and stories about why you should remain fearful of a variety of dangers all around you,  you might be living in a Dystopian Society.

If your nation currently imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation on the face of the planet,  you might be living in a Dystopian Society.

If your local police are carrying automatic weapons, driving armored military vehicles and indiscriminately killing innocent, unarmed people on a daily basis,  you might be living in a Dystopian Society.

If more people in your nation are currently on anti-depressant medications than any other nation on earth,  you might be living in a Dystopian Society.

If more than 50 percent of the children in your nation are living below the poverty line,  you might be living in a Dystopian Society.

If large corporations have more power over the laws, the policies, the courts, and the politicians than you - a tax paying, registered voter,  you might be living in a Dystopian Society.

If the most popular "news" source for most people in your country is actually a comedy show that routinely exposes the truth about your Dystopian society,  you might be living in a Dystopian Society.




Monday, March 2, 2015

Wake Up America.

America is a place where more people will condemn a movie than the president's recent request to send ground troops back to Iraq. We're a nation where a racist Tweet will send hundreds of thousands into righteous indignation, without ever wondering why 27.4% of African-Americans and 45.8% of black children (under the age of 6) in America still live in poverty. American outrage is why Brian Williams has been demonized, but Bill O'Reilly's lies have increased his ratings. We don't like liars, except when the people we agree with are doing the lying.

We don't like war, but 40% of Americans still favor sending other Americans off to fight; even after over a decade of two wars where American soldiers have been in combat longer than at any point in U.S. history. In a truly Orwellian state of being, we're more concerned with the notion of a movie being a propaganda ploy (to make us more warlike), without ever questioning why we've sent U.S. Special Forces to fight in 133 countries in 2014.

We'll also condemn the loss of innocent lives in terrorist attacks, but shrug our shoulders at the over 1,000 innocent lives who've died in our drone strikes. If it feels good, we'll take action (write a short Tweet or post something on Facebook), but if it requires asking why "terror" hasn't been defeated after 6,845 American deaths, close to 1 million Americans injured, and close to $6 trillion, we for some reason just can't muster up the energy.

Why ask questions when you too could be the next person beheaded by ISIS? After all, of the 17,891 deaths from terrorism in 2013 according to the State Department, 19 (including the Boston bombing) were American. The murders of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and Kayla Mueller were horrendous, but ISIS doesn't represent an existential threat to the U.S. Far more Americans have died in mass shootings than ISIS terrorism, but Fox News never confuses mass shootings with being a greater threat than "terror."

There's also a reason why two deranged terrorists who didn't belong to ISIS managed to kill three Americans and injure hundreds of others in Boston, but again, let's not question whether fighting them "over there" will keep us safer at home. ISIS might invade our shores with their navy tomorrow and behead all of us, and only another war will stop this threat. Just watch Fox News to see why we should send even more American soldiers to the Middle East, even though recent wars have failed to end the scourge of extremism.

[READ THE FULL STORY WITH VIDEO HERE]

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015

DEBATE: "It's Just War": Christian Perspectives From Both Sides

 
On March 28, 2014, Anchor-Cross Publishing and Followers of the Way sponsored a debate on the subject of just war. We sought to bring leading thinkers together to discuss the issue in historic Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston. Speaking of behalf of just war were Dr. Peter Kreeft (professor of philosophy at Boston College) and Dr. J. Daryl Charles (Berry College). Speaking against just war and for biblical nonresistance were David Bercot and Dean Taylor.

BLACKLISTED: The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You A Terrorist

The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.


“If reasonable suspicion is the only standard you need to label somebody, then it’s a slippery slope we’re sliding down here, because then you can label anybody anything,” says David Gomez, a former senior FBI special agent with experience running high-profile terrorism investigations. “Because you appear on a telephone list of somebody doesn’t make you a terrorist. That’s the kind of information that gets put in there.”








The fallout is personal too. There are severe consequences for people unfairly labeled a terrorist by the U.S. government, which shares its watchlist data with local law enforcement, foreign governments, and “private entities.” Once the U.S. government secretly labels you a terrorist or terrorist suspect, other institutions tend to treat you as one. It can become difficult to get a job (or simply to stay out of jail). It can become burdensome—or impossible—to travel. And routine encounters with law enforcement can turn into ordeals.






READ MORE AT: THE INTERCEPT

Monday, February 2, 2015

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dear Officer: We See You.


Please watch the video linked here. I want to say a few things about it and you'll need to have watched it to understand everything I'm trying to say.

Watched it? Good. Here's my response:

First of all, I agree with much of it. Honestly, being a cop is a difficult, challenging, and largely thankless job. Anyone willing to put themselves in harm's way to "protect and serve" on a daily basis is worthy of our support and respect.

There was once a time in my life when I wanted to be a cop. Largely because of what I had been exposed to in TV and Movies. 

I thought being a police officer would be exciting and fun.

But then I read a book that was a colletion of interviews with actual, real-world police officers and that changed my mind in hurry. These guys talked about walking into houses where people had been dead for weeks and how the smell nearly suffocated them. They talked about getting calls to dangerous neighborhoods in the middle of the night and discovering that it was a trap and there were guys with shotguns waiting to kill them when they entered the dark warehouse. They talked about cleaning the brains of their partner off their uniforms after a deadly shoot-out.

That's when I decided that I should stick to writing.

Police work is more difficult and challenging than most of us will ever - ever - know.

Having said that, there is much in this video that I disagree with. Actually, a whole lot.

Those who created this video have done so largely as a response to "those who crucify (cop's) character while minimizing (their) cause", and by that they mean people who make up the "very vocal and sparse opposition (who) flood social media with their misplaced passions and their idea of justice." [To quote the video above]

The incidents they are referring to, no doubt, include the recent shootings of unarmed black men (and women) by police officers over the last year or so. For more specifics on who those people were and how many, you can see a short summary here.

What I object to is the suggestion that those who are critical of the specific police officers who shot and killed these unarmed black people are guilty of "crucifying" the character of every other police officer.

Question: Would it be "crucifying the character" of every school teacher to criticize the few school teachers who (about every other month it seems) get caught having sex with their under age students? 

Would you accuse someone who spoke out about priests who sexually molest children in their congregations of having "misplaced passions" or "wrong ideas of justice?"

Yet, whenever someone (like me) shares a link on Twitter or Facebook about yet another police officer shooting involving an unarmed black man or woman, the response is often a very vocal "Shame on you!" for daring to even mention such behavior in a negative light - much less write an actual blog article (like this one).

Furthermore, would we be ok if those teachers were caught molesting our children on video, and yet a Grand Jury decided not to prosecute them, and then they were put back into the classroom again where they could continue to harm more children? Would that be ok?

With priests, isn't it true that we hold them to a higher standard of accountability simply because of the authority and trust we put in them as people who are sworn to integrity and honor? And when evidence of widespread abuse of that authority by church leaders comes to light, are we not outraged about that and moved to action? Don't we want those people to be put on trial, and for justice to be done and for the victims to have a voice?

So, why is it that when a police officer - someone who is equally held in high esteem and honor within our society - breaks that trust, commits a crime, or kills an unarmed person, we suddenly look down on anyone who cries out for justice, or stands up for the victims, or speaks out?

The video clip does make a few good points about policemen: Most are good, hard working, conscientious people. They love their children. They love their wives and husbands. They love their dog and they laugh and cry and bleed just like every other person on the planet.

What I would like to challenge, however, is the idea that every police officer is automatically "honorable...courageous..." and "...worthy of a nation's support".

Really? What about Christopher Dorner? He was a US Navy officer who served honorably and received several commendations for his service in Bahrain, and then went on to join the LAPD. Soon after, he was fired for attempting to blow the whistle on another officer who was using excessive force. After that termination, he went on a shooting spree and killed several innocent people until he was eventually cornered and shot.

Even the most ardent supporter of police officers would have to admit that there are some police officers who are not worthy of the badge.

And if we really want people to trust the police officers in our community, and to reasonably teach our children to do so, then we need to start seeing abuses of power dealt with and punished - not covered up and shouted down.

Not every police officer is automatically "honorable, courageous and worthy of a nation's support."

Neither is every school teacher automatically a great person, or a wonderful member of society.

Nor is every member of the clergy someone that every one should respect and honor.

The only people worthy of our honor and our respect are those who are actually honorable.

If a police officer shoots and kills an unarmed 12 year old, he is not honorable or courageous or worthy of our support.

If a school teacher sexually assaults a student, he is not worthy of our respect.

If a priest or a pastor takes advantage of a child, he is not someone we should honor.

We even hold NFL football players to higher standards than police officers. That's insane.

Back to the video clip above: I won't even try to get into the fact that this video features a cast of 23 white people and only 2 African Americans, or argue with their statistic that "Every 53 hours an officer is killed in the line of duty"  - which is totally false and can easily be refuted with a quick Google search. (Actual numbers are about half of that).

At one point the narrator says, "I wish I knew how to fix it." But what she wants to "fix" isn't the seemingly endless barrage of unarmed black people shot by police. Nope. What she wants to know how to "fix" is the way police officers are perceived in the media, and by the American public. Specifically, she wants to stop people from criticizing police officers, regardless of why they criticize them.

One idea: Start eliminating "bad cops" who use excessive force. Stop punishing "good cops" who try to blow the whistle. Start weeding out applicants at the Police Academy level who tend to be bullies who can't wait to get that badge and gun. Start putting police officers who use excessive force on trial for their crimes. Start prosecuting cops who choke people to death on the sidewalk, or who shoot 12 year olds dead in the park, etc.

Any of those ideas would be a great start. But it's much easier to just make a video.

I'm all in favor of honoring the good cops who genuinely care about the people they protect and serve. Let's do all we can to help them. We need their tribe to increase.

But at the same time, let's please also do all we can to eliminate the bad cops who give those good cops a bad name.

Why would anyone be against the idea of doing both?

**
MORE STATISTICS
Out of roughly 400 reported police killings annually, an average of 96 involved a white police officer killing a black person.

African-Americans and the mentally ill people make up a huge percentage of people killed by police.

27 police officers were killed in 2013, according to the FBI.

In Germany, there have been eight police killings over the past two years.

In Canada — a country with its own frontier ethos and no great aversion to firearms — police shootings average about a dozen a year.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015

AMERICAN SNIPER: IN HIS OWN WORDS


Chris Kyle:

ON KILLING:
"It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don't regret it. My regrets are for the people I couldn't save: Marines, soldiers, buddies. I'm not naive, and I don't romanticize war. The worst moments of my life have come as a SEAL. But I can stand before God with a clear conscience about doing my job."

ON HIS ENEMIES: 
"Savage, despicable evil. That's what we were fighting in Iraq. That's why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy 'savages.' There really was no other way to describe what we encountered there....“I couldn’t give a flying fuck about the Iraqis.” "




Thursday, January 8, 2015

20 Lessons I Learned From 40 Years Teaching Social Justice by Mike Rivage-Seul



[EXCERPT]
Together our intentionally subversive approaches to history and faith were intended to expose students to the untold history of the United States, and to the untold story of Jesus of Nazareth.  From all of this, I drew the twenty conclusions I mentioned earlier. Remember, my students could never reach such conclusions. My hope is that someday (if they continue reading outside the dominant culture) they might:

  1. Historically speaking, the United States is the country Adolf Hitler and his backers imagined Germany would be had they triumphed in World War II – the absolute ruler of the capitalist world at the service of corporate interests. In short, the U.S. has become the fascist police state Adolf Hitler aspired to lead.
  2. As such the principal enemies of the United States are those Hitler imagined being the protégés of “Jewish Madness”—viz. the world’s poor and disenfranchised.
  3. These are (and have been since the end of World War II) the objects of what C.I.A. whistle-blower, John Stockwell, has termed the ”Third World War against the Poor” located throughout the developing world. It has claimed more than seven million victims.
  4. This war by the United States has made it the principal cause of the world’s problems in general and especially throughout the former colonial world, as well as in the Middle East, Ukraine, and in the revived threat of nuclear war, along with the disaster of climate change.
  5. Its war against the poor has made the United States a terrorist nation. Compared to its acts of state terrorism (embodied e.g. in its worldwide system of torture centers, it unprovoked war in Iraq, illegal drone executions, the unauthorized bombings in Syria, its preparations for nuclear war), the acts of ISIS and al-Qaeda are miniscule.
  6. Far from “the indispensable nation,” the United States is more aptly characterized (in the words of Martin Luther King) as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” Without the U.S., the world would be far less violent.
  7. At home, “our” country increasingly tracks the path blazed by Nazi Germany. It has become a state where corporate executives and their government servants are excused by one set of laws, whereas U.S. citizens are punished by another. Following this regime, law-breakers go unpunished; those who report them are prosecuted.
  8. This type of law is increasingly enforced by a militarized police state in which law enforcement officers represent an occupying force in communities where those they are theoretically committed to “protect and defend” are treated as enemies, especially in African-American and Latino communities.
  9. As a result, new wave of “lynchings” has swept the United States at the hands of “law enforcement” officers who execute young black men without fear of punishment even if their murders are recorded on video from beginning to end.
  10. In addition, disproportionate numbers of blacks and Latinos have been imprisoned in for-profit gulags that rival in their brutality Nazi concentration camps.
  11. The point of the militarized police state and prison culture is to instill fear in citizens – to discourage them from constitutionally sanctioned free speech, protest and rebellion.
  12. As in Nazi Germany, the dysfunctions of “America’s” police state (including poverty, sub-standard housing and schools, drug addiction, and broken families) are blamed on the usual suspects: the poor themselves, especially non-white minorities. They are faulted as undeserving welfare dependents and rip-off artists. Systemic causes of poverty are routinely ignored.
  13. In reality, welfare and other “government programs” represent hidden subsidies to corporate employers such as Wal-Mart and McDonalds. These latter pay non-living wages to their workers and expect taxpayers to make up the difference through the programs just mentioned.
  14. Government programs such as food stamps could be drastically shrunk and limited to the disabled, children, and the elderly, if all employers were compelled to pay their workers a living wage adjusted for inflation on an annual basis. Currently, that wage must be at least $15.00 an hour.
  15. Moreover, since education quality and achievement are the most reliable predictors of students’ future poverty levels, the U.S. education system should be nationalized, teachers’ salaries should be dramatically increased, and all facilities K through 12 regardless of location should enjoy highly similar quality.
  16. All of this should be financed by declaring an end to the so-called War on Terror, withdrawing from foreign conflicts and reducing by two-thirds the U.S. military budget.
  17. Instead, the current system of corporate domination, state terrorism, war against the world’s poor, and lynching of minority men is kept in place by rigging the nation’s electoral system in favor of right wing extremists. They control the system through practices such as unlimited purchase of government (the Citizens United decision), voter suppression tactics (e.g. voter I.D. laws), redistricting, and rigged voting machines. They do not want everyone to vote.
  18. U.S. citizens are kept unaware of all this by a mainstream media and (increasingly) by a privatized system of education owned and operated by their corporate controllers.
  19. As a result, revolution has been rendered inconceivable.
  20. The only hope and prayer is for a huge general economic crash that will awaken a slumbering people.

    READ THE FULL BLOG ARTICLE HERE>

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

America's Third World War: Over 6 Million Dead (So Far)



"Enemies are necessary for the wheels of the U.S. Military machine to turn." - John R. Stockwell.

John R. Stockwell is a former CIA officer who became a critic of United States government policies after serving in the Agency for thirteen years serving seven tours of duty. After managing U.S. involvement in the Angolan Civil War as Chief of the Angola Task Force during its 1975 covert operations, he resigned and wrote In Search of Enemies, a book which remains the only detailed, insider's account of a major CIA "covert action."