User Picture

Police Go Nuts Over Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Remote Speech in Vermont

By: williamboardman Thursday October 23, 2014 5:59 pm


By William Boardman – Reader Supported News   


Police Go Nuts Over Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Remote Speech in Vermont  

How a non-event becomes an “event” that ends in anti-climax


When Mumia Abu-Jamal was the pre-recorded speaker at a Goddard College commencement in Plainfield, Vermont, in 2008, almost no one outside the Goddard community paid any attention. This year, when Goddard announced that students had chosen Mumia to do a return engagement at their graduation, Philadelphia police, politicians, media, and Fox News went crazy with angry rhetoric aimed at curbing free speech.


In the end, this breakdown in civil society resulted in nothing worse than hundreds of police-instigated threats of violence to the Goddard community. For the sake of security, Goddard moved the graduation up three hours, with no public announcement, and the full-house ceremony for 24 students went forward with private security and without incident.


In the week between the announcement and the event, “Mumia Abu-Jamal” the symbol served once again as a triggering Rorschach blot exposing aspects of American character in 2014, reflecting and denying realities decades and centuries past. In a sense what Goddard students provoked with their commencement speaker choice was a weeklong confrontation between the symbolic “Mumia Abu-Jamal” and the actual Mumia Abu-Jamal, without much success in joining them in there single, complex reality.


What does “Mumia Abu-Jamal” actually mean, or should he just be? 


Understanding “Mumia Abu Jamal” in full requires more time and space that is available here. The man and the symbol and those who pillory him all have significant complexity, both real and unreal. There are at least two contexts that are fundamental to understanding the Mumia phenomenon itself and the mini-drama it produced at Goddard:


Russia Today Releases MH-17: The Untold Story

By: operationmindcrime Thursday October 23, 2014 4:56 pm

New RT documentary highlighting the Russian evidence and perspective. New video has also emerged of additional eyewitness testimony filmed by Paris Match. To this date the Dutch Safety Board has shown no interest in interviewing the numerous eyewitnesses who reported a fighter jet in the area nor has the DSB attempted to collect the wreckage to conduct a full investigation.

Link to Paris Match eyewitness testimony:

Paris Match witness states “the aircraft flew to the side and went below and then flew off in the direction of Rostov”.

Link to BBC eyewitness testimony:

Link to Russian radar presentation:

A Quick Whirl Around The Fracking World: 23 Oct 2014

By: KateCA Thursday October 23, 2014 1:14 pm

A Quick Whirl Around The Fracking World:

*Everywhere.  Are oil prices plummeting because of “increased US production, slowing economies in Europe and China and steady production from . . . Opec”?  Or an attempt to put the squeeze on Russia and Iran?  Or is Saudi Arabia sitting out the price drop until it proves too much for US oil frackers and they “move out of the business”?  Will falling prices lead to Venezuela defaulting on its debt, taking “painful steps” that will lead to more political instability?  Will Egypt’s former petroleum  minister’s prediction of $60/barrel pan out?  More, including a graph showing the “break-even” point for oil-producing countries, excluding US.

*Everywhere.  The sudden decrease in international oil prices—whatever the cause—is benefitting some countries, the oil importing ones.  That list used to be headed by the US;  this year  China surged to the top.

*Everywhere.  Eight conservation experts from several major universities say we have “significant ‘knowledge gaps’ as to how shale-gas operations impact ecosystems and wildlife.”  There’s  a huge data gap in reporting “on spills, wastewater disposal and the composition of fracturing fluids.” (Related item at WV below.)

*US-France.  Researchers claim they’ve figured out to “distinguish fracking wastewater pollution from other contamination that results from other industrial processes—such as conventional oil and gas drilling”.   Frackers are not required to disclose the chemicals they use, but the new process by-passes that problem.

*US.  Some frackers are reportedly “using 10,000 tons of sand for one well [which is] a mile long train of sand, to just frac one well”, says US Silica Holdings Chief Executive.   They’re anticipating producing 14 million tons of fracking sand by 2016.

*US.  Frackers have a way around federal law requiring “a permit before using diesel fuel in the drilling process.”  Diesel contains benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Why not just use benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene separately since there’s no law against them?  Not only that, but they can be obtained in an even stronger state when purchased separately.

War Culture

By: David Swanson Thursday October 23, 2014 8:52 am


According to a book by George Williston called This Tribe of Mine: A Story of Anglo Saxon Viking Culture in America, the United States wages eternal war because of its cultural roots in the Germanic tribes that invaded, conquered, ethnically cleansed, or — if you prefer — liberated England before moving on to the slaughter of the Native Americans and then the Filipinos and Vietnamese and on down to the Iraqis. War advocate, former senator, and current presidential hopeful Jim Webb himself blames Scots-Irish American culture.

But most of medieval and ancient Europe engaged in war. How did Europe end up less violent than a place made violent by Europe? Williston points out that England spends dramatically less per capita on war than the United States does, yet he blames U.S. warmaking on English roots. And, of course, Scotland and Ireland are even further from U.S. militarism despite being closer to England and presumably to Scots-Irishness.

“We view the world through Viking eyes,” writes Williston, “viewing those cultures that do not hoard wealth in the same fashion or make fine iron weapons as child-like and ripe for exploitation.” Williston describes the passage of this culture down to us through the pilgrims, who came to Massachusetts and began killing — and, quite frequently, beheading — those less violent, acquisitive, or competitive than they.

Germans and French demonstrated greater respect for native peoples, Williston claims. But is that true? Including in Africa? Including in Auschwitz? Williston goes on to describe the United States taking over Spanish colonialism in the Philippines and French colonialism in Vietnam, without worrying too much about how Spain and France got there.

I’m convinced that a culture that favors war is necessary but not sufficient to make a population as warlike as the United States is now. All sorts of circumstances and opportunities are also necessary. And the culture is constantly evolving. Perhaps Williston would agree with me. His book doesn’t make a clear argument and could really have been reduced to an essay if he’d left out the religion, the biology metaphors, the experiments proving telepathy or prayer, the long quotes of others, etc. Regardless, I think it’s important to be clear that we can’t blame our culture in the way that some choose to blame our genes. We have to blame the U.S. government, identify ourselves with humanity rather than a tribe, and work to abolish warmaking.

In this regard, it can only help that people like Williston and Webb are asking what’s wrong with U.S. culture. It can be shocking to an Israeli to learn that their day of independence is referred to by Palestinians as The Catastrophe (Nakba), and to learn why. Similarly, many U.S. school children might be startled to know that some native Americans referred to George Washington as The Destroyer of Villages (Caunotaucarius). It can be difficult to appreciate how peaceful native Americans were, how many tribes did not wage war, and how many waged war in a manner more properly thought of as “war games” considering the minimal level of killing. As Williston points out, there was nothing in the Americas to compare with the Hundred Years War or the Thirty Years War or any of the endless string of wars in Europe — which of course are themselves significantly removed in level of killing from wars of more recent years.

Williston describes various cooperative and peaceful cultures: the Hopi, the Kogi, the Amish, the Ladakh. Indeed, we should be looking for inspiration wherever we can find it. But we shouldn’t imagine that changing our cultural practices in our homes will stop the Pentagon being the Pentagon. Telepathy and prayer are as likely to work out as levitating the Pentagon in protest. What we need is a culture dedicated to the vigorous nonviolent pursuit of the abolition of war.

Sick Man of Europe: Turkey’s infection with the cancer of ISIS

By: Jane Stillwater Thursday October 23, 2014 7:52 am

On October 17, 2014, American journalist Serena Shim was beheaded — and “not with a sword but a cement truck,” to paraphrase T.S. Elliott.

Right before she lost her head in a brutal “accidental” collision with a cement truck the size of a freight train, Shim had reported that not only was Turkey supplying ISIS foreign fighters and terrorists from such places as Pakistan and Chechnya with weapons and material, but Turkey was also spiriting wounded ISIS terrorists back over the Syrian border into Turkey, hidden in NGO aid trucks, so they could be treated in Turkish hospitals.

Turkish Intelligence is highly suspected of setting up this tragic hit on Shim, hoping to silence her — but its actions have backfired and all it has really accomplished is to make the whole world put Turkey under a microscope, asking questions about Shim’s bloody death and the role that the Turkish intelligence agency played in this beheading.

“Turkey. how could you have sunk so low?” the whole world now asks.

“Hey, it was easy,” Turkey replies.  “What else could we do?”  What else could Turkey do indeed — when the usual crew of polished and professional American and Israeli neo-con con-men (not to be mistaken for actual honest, hardworking and sorely hoodwinked Americans and Israelis) simply showed up at its doorstep, waved their magic wands over Turkish president Erdogan’s head and promised to get him the old Ottoman Empire back if only he would attack Syria.  (Or else.)

And then with his eyes dazzled by dreams of glittering booty, Erdogan fell for the con — hook, line and sinker.  Of course he did.  And then he opened Pandora’s box and let ISIS in.

According to Middle East expert Judith Bello, the Washington Post published a map “of the flow of 15,000 fighters flowing into Syria from more than 80 nations, hardly the foot soldiers of a civil war.  Most of these fighters have entered Syria through Turkey.”

A sorry cancer-like epidemic of death, destruction and deceit has spread over the Middle East in the last few decades.  And Turkey, the “Sick Man of Europe,” has been the latest nation to catch it.

Welcome to the cancer ward, President Erdogan.

On Thanksgiving this year, Turkey will obviously have nothing to be thankful for, what with ISIS sitting at its table and expecting its dinner — unless Turkey starts “chemotherapy” immediately.  My prescription for Turkey?  “Stop messing around with ISIS, stop believing the empty promises of American and Israeli neo-con-men, and start behaving in Turkey’s citizens’ best interests instead.”

Turkey has been trying to join the European Union for years now.  But who wants a Turkey in the EU that has already proven itself to be just another Middle Eastern “soiled dove” for American and Israeli con-men?  Erdogan has thrown the baby out with the bathwater here.

Just because Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Yemen, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have all been diagnosed with the kind of fuzzy thinking that can only be caused by cancer of the part of the brain that governs common sense and self-preservation, this doesn’t mean that Turkey has to waste away too.  Beheading a journalist is common in these other neo-con infected countries.  But one would expect that a sophisticated and modern country like Turkey, a potential member of the EU even, might be immune.  But apparently not.

President Erdogan, what were you THINKING!

PS:  Looks like the average American and Israeli isn’t immune from catching the cancer of stupid thinking either.  If we aren’t a lot more careful and watchful and vigilant than we are right now, then we too may soon be contracting this Turkish and Middle Eastern disease — and then watch our own journalists get beheaded too.

Please Help Keep FDL Up and Running

By: Jane Hamsher Thursday October 23, 2014 7:34 am

Last spring FDL was under constant denial of service attack, which many of our readers directly experienced when we went offline. With your help we were able to make upgrades to the site and block many of the attempts to take us down. But there is still a lot that needs to be done in order to modernize the site and protect it from attacks that threaten to silence us.

Can you donate $10 to help protect Firedoglake?

If you’re judged by the quality of your enemies, FDL has a lot to be proud of. Those who have witnessed our defense of whistleblowers like Bradley Manning, Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou have seen us go head to head with the Justice Department, the State Department, the NSA, the CIA and the U.S. military. We’ve published the work of State Department whistleblower Peter Van Buren when other sites thought it was “too controversial.” We covered Bradley Manning’s trial on a daily basis when no other news outlet thought it was worthwhile. We continue to publish John Kiriakou’s Letters from Loretto, and have helped keep his family from losing their home. FDL is not just another website. We do things nobody else does.

And the reason we can do them is because our support comes from readers like you who not only value the work we do, but are active participants in all of these efforts. Our readers are the people who occupy. Who risk their own personal safety to block construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Who are the first to show up and help their neighbors as part of the Detroit Water Brigade.

We don’t chase candidates or play the election horse race game. We don’t go dormant and then re-ignite every two years, hoping this time things will be different. We consistently advocate for the principles and causes that our readership cares about, long before they go on anyone else’s radar (as we did with marijuana legalization). We shine light on the works of today’s biggest thinkers through the Book Salon and Movie Night. We don’t wait for a particular political party to snap its fingers and tell us to care about something. We listen to our community.

This year with your help we’ve been able to increase site security with anti-DDoS software, and we’re proud to be one of the sites chosen by the Freedom of the Press Foundation to install a Secure Drop whistleblower submission system.  But we need your help to modernize our software and bring new features to our community like HTTPS that will protect our readers’ privacy.

The donations of ordinary citizens mean less and less in our electoral system as the donations of corporations grow ever more massive, breaking one spending record after another.  But those same donations are what keep us alive.  So as your email inbox gets stuffed with one after another entreaty for campaign dollars that will all too quickly be forgotten when corporate donors come knocking for their quid pro quo, remember that the day the election is over we’ll still be here doing the things that nobody else does, regardless of the winners and losers.

Please donate today to help Firedoglake stay online 

David Bromwich: American Exceptionalism and Its Discontents

By: Tom Engelhardt Thursday October 23, 2014 7:33 am

This article originally appeared at To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

We’re now passing through a no-name election season of a particularly lusterless sort, but don’t count on that for 2016.  Here, in fact, is a surefire prediction for that moment, which (given the nature of modern presidential campaigns) will kick off with the usual round of media speculation and odds-making on November 5th.  Whoever the presidential candidates may be, expect the political landscape to be littered with references to the United States as an “exceptional nation” and to “American exceptionalism” (as well as its more recent doppelgänger, “indispensable,” as in “indispensable nation”).  And the presidential candidates, baying for the exceptional privilege of entering the Oval Office in 2017, will join a jostling crowd of past presidential candidates, presidential wannabes, major politicians, minor figures, and pundits galore who have felt compelled in recent years to tell us and the world just how exceptional we really are.

Such references were once rare in our politics, but that was back in the days when Americans didn’t doubt our exceptional nature, which meant that there was no need to talk about it ad infinitum.  Like anything spoken of too insistently, recent rounds of exceptionalist comments surely reveal lurking feelings of doubt about this country, its state, its fate, and its direction (which, according to most polls, Americans believe to be downward, as in “wrong track” or “decline”).

So, as an antidote to the creeping sense that the U.S. — that unipolar power, the last superpower etc., etc. — may not be quite all it’s cracked up to be, here’s the beginning of a little post-9/11 list that you can complete at your leisure: six incontestable areas where America is #1.  Once filled out, it should help future candidates for office and leave the rest of us punching the air with a renewed sense of celebratory pride.

We’re #1 in investment in our military and our national security state!  No other country comes within a light year of us!  In 2011, the defense budgets of the next 13 countries combined didn’t quite equal ours and we’ve been dumping up to a trillion dollars yearly into the national security budget since 9/11.  The best news of all: with a new war on our hands and those budgets sure to rise, we’re guaranteed #1 status into the distant future!

We’re #1 in “renditions” (called “kidnappings” when done by the security forces of less noble governments)!  Post-9/11, at least 136 “terror suspects” (some certifiably innocent) were taken by the CIA and other American outfits off the streets of global cities and from the backlands of the planet!  Who in the world can equal that?

We’re #1 in knocking off wedding parties from the air!  At least eight of them in three countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen) in a little more than a decade!  Bridal parties, brides and grooms, hundreds of wedding goers obliterated by American air power!  You tell me: What other country could brag of such a feat?

We’re #1 in military bases on foreign soil!  We have hundreds of them across the planet, some the size of small American towns.  There’s never been anything like it, not from the Romans, nor the British at their imperial heights, and no other country today has more than a handful.  When it comes to bases, we’ve got history by the throat!

We’re number #1 in invading, occupying, and/or bombing Muslim countries, 14 of them since 1980!  I challenge you, find me another country with such an accomplishment — and for the record, it’s never been a “crusade,” just what needed to be done to keep order on our planet!

We’re number #1 in investing in militaries that won’t “stand up”!  At least $25 billion for the Iraqi military alone (and you know how successful we were there, since it recently collapsed, allowing us to rearm it and stand it up again).  And that’s nothing compared to the Afghan military into which our country had poured $51 billion by 2011 and billions more thereafter — and don’t tell me that wasn’t a success, since that force’s desertion rate has long hovered at or near 25% annually!  High fives all around!

American exceptionalism?  Honestly, who could deny it — other than TomDispatch regular David Bromwich, author most recently of Moral Imagination, who explores the special immorality of imagining yourself as the most exceptional of lands. Tom

The Importance of Being Exceptional
From Ancient Greece to Twenty-First-Century America
By David Bromwich

The origins of the phrase “American exceptionalism” are not especially obscure. The French sociologist Alexis de Tocqueville, observing this country in the 1830s, said that Americans seemed exceptional in valuing practical attainments almost to the exclusion of the arts and sciences. The Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, on hearing a report by the American Communist Party that workers in the United States in 1929 were not ready for revolution, denounced “the heresy of American exceptionalism.” In 1996, the political scientist Seymour Martin Lipset took those hints from Tocqueville and Stalin and added some of his own to produce his book American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword. The virtues of American society, for Lipset — our individualism, hostility to state action, and propensity for ad hoc problem-solving — themselves stood in the way of a lasting and prudent consensus in the conduct of American politics.

The Grand Jury investigation of the Michael Brown shooting has been hopelessly corrupted

By: Masoninblue Thursday October 23, 2014 7:23 am

Cross posted from the Frederick Leatherman Law Blog

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Good morning:

The Los Angeles Times is reporting this morning that the United States Department of Justice has condemned the selective leaking by “unnamed officials” of information provided to the grand jury investigating the Michael Brown shooting as an attempt to improperly influence public opinion. According to Andrew Hart at the Huffington Post, Attorney General Eric Holder is ‘exasperated’ by the selective leaking.

I am more than exasperated. I am disgusted because I have never seen anything this blatant.

Yesterday, I asked who is responsible for this over-the-top effort to influence public opinion.

Only one answer makes any sense.

I accuse Bob McCulloch, the St.Louis County Prosecuting Attorney, the office that he directs and supervises and for which he is accountable, and the Ferguson Police Department and Officer Darren Wilson of conspiring to selectively leak information that is exclusively within their possession, custody and control in order to influence public opinion in favor of Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown.

The grand jury should have indicted Wilson for second degree murder two months ago because no one can credibly deny that probable cause (i.e., reasonable grounds) existed to believe that Wilson murdered Michael Brown.

Wilson’s self-defense claim revealed for the first time by the leakers is a laughable self-serving tangle of scripted nonsense designed to fit the known facts.

We have a name for that. We call it subornation of perjury and it is a felony.

Today, we need to ask the next question.

Is there any reason to believe that the blatant and shocking effort to improperly influence public opinion in favor of Darren Wilson by selectively leaking information to the print media and spinning it in his favor is not also being used to influence the grand jury not to indict him for second degree murder?

Is the nation not being groomed and conditioned to passively accept a grand jury decision not to charge Wilson?

We are witnessing such massive corruption and abuse of the grand jury that its decision next month not to indict Wilson will have no legitimacy.

The people responsible for corrupting the grand jury need to be identified, prosecuted, sentenced to prison and disbarred.

The whole world is watching this wretched perversion and it’s time to end it.