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Occupied Albany

By: greenharper Thursday November 24, 2011 7:46 am

(photo: Kevin Gosztola)

When the blogosphere doesn’t see Jane for a time, I’ve learned to wonder what she’s up to.

Once, it was the membership program. Great! FDL got me through the Bush administration.  Now, members can help it stay independent, while nurturing its online community. Count me in.

Then, it was Occupy Supply.  Could I help by meeting FDL’s Kevin Gosztola to reconnoiter needs at Occupy Albany, NY?  So those two projects of Jane’s had me hurtling west for a couple of hours on Tuesday through the winter-bare Berkshires. Albany was the final stop on Kevin’s current Occupy tour.  His bus would come in at 2:30.

From station to Occupy Albany was less than a mile.  OA is in the shadow of the  state house, in the section of Lafayette Park that the City of Albany owns.  This was about Kevin’s 20th Occupy encampment. I’ve read Occupy news from the start and watched Occupy videos obsessively. But, in person, this was my first.

Approaching the tents, we saw signs.   General Lafayette, on prancing horse and with American flag (so many stars already?), to tri-corn-hatted Continental militia:  “Show me what democracy looks like!”  Soldiers: “This is what democracy looks like!”

On a blowup of, I think, the Great Seal from a dollar bill: “E Pluribus Unum does not translate as every man for himself.”  And, on a small piece of brown cardboard: “Where is this curfew posted?”  Good question, as we later learned.


Keeping “Public” In Our Libraries in Amherst, MA

By: greenharper Friday May 20, 2011 2:19 pm

Capital "L" for "Library" from Wikimedia Commons

ast Sunday Glenn Smith wrote a fine post, ‘“The Public” Disappears‘ (May 15, 2011). In response, I wrote the following email to the Fort Worth Library.

Dear Fort Worth Library,

Though a trustee of the Jones Library in Amherst, MA (photo), I lived for a year and a half in Dallas and know a little of its and Fort Worth’s notable cultural life.

The Jones Library is a free public library, and proud of it. Here’s an image of the banner that our facade will shortly sport:

Here’s what it will look like on the building:  <photo included here>

In a country of the people, by the people, and for the people, serving all of the people is — you’ll pardon this, I’m sure — a noble calling.

I look forward to Fort Worth’s reclaiming the honor.


Sarah McKee
Amherst, MA

P.S. For those reading this post, The Jones Library, Inc., a free public library in which Robert Frost wrote and which still houses little blue flowers grown and pressed by Emily Dickinson is seeking a Library Director. If you are interested, have the appropriate library sciences degree and eight years of progressive management experience, Amherst, MA is accepting applications due by 4:30 ET here.

At Quantico: Rallying For Bradley Manning

By: greenharper Tuesday March 22, 2011 9:43 pm
Blurry Prison (from Wikipedia Commons)

Blurry Prison (from Wikipedia Commons)

I drove down from Massachusetts to be at Quantico last Sunday.  Several reporters covering the rally thrust mikes my way and asked why.  Because I once took an oath to support and defend the Constitution.  Took it several times, in fact.  I’m not sure that this computed for them.  To me torture is so obviously wrong that I’m not very articulate about it.

What’s hard to convey is how decent and kind the rally members, and even the local cops at the first, were to one another. One cop said “No problem” when I thanked him. Total strangers smiled at one another, brief encounters and from the heart. Anyway, here’s what I saw and heard:

About 400 Bradley Manning supporters gathered in the cold sunlight Sunday afternoon on a straw-covered construction site across Route 1 in Triangle, Va., facing the entrance to the Marine installation at Quantico.  By the gate is a more than life-size statue of the iconic image of Marines raising the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima.  There were all ages, with probably a preponderance of people in their 50s and 60s.  Many identified themselves by T-shirts or other gear as Veterans for Peace in one organization or another.  Others were veterans of whose service I learned only by chatting with them.  People told me that they were there from Boston, Mass.; Wisconsin; Michigan; Richmond, Va.; Columbia, S.C., as well as from D.C. and Northern Virginia.

Met a woman who was there with her adult son — she said that what the Marines were doing to Manning just wrung her heart, and that her frail, 94-year-old mother had wanted to be there, as well.  Saw one person in a wheelchair, at least one other using a walker, and several using canes, not easy on the soft ground of the construction site to which police had directed us.  One fascinating figure was a young man who looked about 23, slight and handsome, wearing a well-worn Marines’ fatigue shirt with combat ribbons, unbuttoned and over a T shirt. I never felt comfortable approaching him to ask about himself or the ribbons.

A plethora of colorful Free Bradley signs appeared, and scads of others, professional and homemade. “Bradley Manning is a hero.  It’s the empire that has no clothes.”  ”We can’t afford the Pentagon.  We’re broke.”  ”Afghanistan: Just another war for the rich.”  ”Caution:  Whistle-blower Torture Zone.” The best, I thought, read:  ”Guilty until proven guilty???”  Mine said “Briefs for Bradley” on one side; Habeas Corpus Bradley!!” on the other.  A couple of chuckling veterans brainstormed sending their old briefs to Quantico.

John Kerry Investigating Bradley Manning’s Solitary Confinement

By: greenharper Monday February 21, 2011 2:36 pm
Massachusetts Senior Senator, John Forbes Kerry (from Wikimedia Commons)

Massachusetts Senior Senator, John Forbes Kerry (from Wikimedia Commons)

Senator John Kerry hosted a packed and vigorous town hall Saturday February 19, 2011 in Northampton, Massachusetts, home to Smith College. It’s about 20 miles up the Connecticut River from Springfield. The area is so reliably Democratic that national and even statewide candidates frequently give it a miss.

Yet here, on short notice and on Presidents’ Day weekend, was Kerry. He said that he’d come for a dialogue.

Kerry was on fire: clear, cogent, and compelling about how scary the Congressional Republicans are. The science of global warming, and facts in general, seem not to exist for them. It was time, declared Kerry, for Americans to decide what kind of country we want to be.

Could there be a sweeter setup for this question: Do Americans want a country that tortures those innocent until proven guilty? I got to ask it.

Kerry seemed unaware of pretrial torture happening right now in the Marine brig at Quantico, Virginia. I mentioned the investigation of the U.N. Rapporteur on Torture into the pretrial solitary confinement there of PFC Bradley Manning. He’s accused of wikileaking the chilling “Collateral Murder” war crime video and some 250,000 internal State Department cables. “Senator McCain says that solitary confinement is torture,” I added. “He should know.”

Kerry responded that he and Senator McCain would get on the matter.  ”Is Monday soon enough for you?” he asked.

Afterwards, I handed a note with blog posts about Manning to a staffer. He turned out to be Andrew O’Brien, Kerry’s State Director. O’Brien emailed this morning — yes, Monday, though it’s a federal holiday — that he’d got on this with Kerry’s folks in Massachusetts and D.C.

If you’d like to weigh in on this:

Senator Kerry – Boston office: 617.565.8519; D.C. office: 202.224.2742.

Senator McCain – Phoenix office: 602.952.2410; D.C. office: 202.224.2236.

Reinforcement is good!