On this day in history: IWW members imprisoned for anti-war activism

On this day, March 23, 1918, 101 members of the radical labor union Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) went on trial in Chicago for opposing World War I. They were charged with violating the Espionage Act and Selective Service Act for their anti-war activities, such as distributing literature which criticized war and encouraging people to resist the draft.

The jury found them all guilty, and the judge sentenced Big Bill Haywood and 14 others to 20 years in prison. 33 others were given ten years each, 34 received five year sentences, and 18 received two year sentences. They were also fined a total of $2,500,000.

The trial imprisoned almost all of the IWW’s most active organizers — including their national/regional organizers, Executive Board members, and newspaper editors, amongst others, and played a major role in the decline of the IWW over the following years.

Militiamen in Lawrence, Massachusetts use bayonets to hold back crowds of immigrant workers during the Great Textile Strike of 1912, which the IWW played a central role in organizing
(Photo: Militiamen in Lawrence, Massachusetts use bayonets to hold back crowds of immigrant workers during the Great Textile Strike of 1912, which the IWW played a central role in organizing)

Glenn Ford, death row prisoner released after spending nearly 30 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit

Glenn Ford, Longest serving death row prisoner released after spending nearly 30 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit Via: The Independent

‘[...] Glenn Ford, Louisiana’s longest-serving death row prisoner, released today after spending nearly 30 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit, managed to neatly encapsulated his loss in a single quote: “My sons, when I left, was babies. Now they grown men with babies.”

Interviewed by CNN directly after his release, dressed in a denim shirt, hat and dark-rimmed glasses, Ford, now 64, responds with remarkable good grace when asked by a reporter whether he harbors any resentment: “Yeah, because I was locked up almost 30 years for something I didn’t do.”

“It’s resentment, not feeling bitter”.

When asked by the same reporter what he’s lost he replies: “thirty years of my life, if not all of it. I can’t go back and do anything I should have been doing when I was 35, 38, 40 stuff like that.”

Asked how it feels to be released: “My mind’s going all kinds of directions, but it feels good,” he says.

Ford is now a free man after being on Louisiana’s death row since August 23, 1988 for the murder of Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport jeweller and watchmaker for whom Ford did occasional yard work. Convicted by an all-white jury Ford has always denied killing Rozeman and always disputed the verdict.

For decades Ford maintained his innocence and filed multiple appeals. [...]

State District Judge Ramona Emanuel on Monday took the step of voiding Ford’s conviction and sentence based on new information that corroborated his claim that he was not present or involved in Rozeman’s death, Ford’s attorneys said. [...]‘

(Read full article here.)

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See also:

* Government Chemist Tampered With 40,000 Cases, Locking Countless Innocent Americans in Prison

* After decades in prison over murders, DNA evidence frees 2 New York men

Freed Ex-Black Panther Marshall “Eddie” Conway on 44 Years in Prison & FBI Surveillance

Freed Ex-Black Panther Marshall “Eddie” Conway who spent 44 Years in Prison before being released‘[...] former Black Panther Party leader Marshall “Eddie” Conway joins us less than 24 hours after his release from nearly 44 years in prison. Supporters describe Conway as one of the country’s longest-held political prisoners. He was convicted of killing a Baltimore police officer in 1970, for which he has always maintained his innocence. The shooting occurred at a time when federal and local authorities were infiltrating and disrupting the Black Panthers and other activist groups. At the time of the shooting, the FBI was also monitoring Conway’s actions as part of its counterintelligence program, COINTELPRO. Numerous groups have campaigne, blackd for years calling for his release, saying he never received a fair trial and was convicted largely on the basis of testimony from a jailhouse informant. Politically active in prison, Conway founded Friend of a Friend, a group that helps young men, often gang members, resolve conflicts, and published a memoir, “Marshall Law: The Life & Times of a Baltimore Black Panther.” In his first interview since being released, Marshall details his time behind bars and the government surveillance he faced as a prominent Black Panther. [...]‘

Read full article: http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire/2014/03/05/freed-ex-black-panther-marshall-eddie-conway-on-44-years-in-prison-fbi-surveillance/

Welcome to “post-racial” America …

Happy Black History Month, everyone, courtesy of last night’s all-white ‘College Jeopardy panel’! In the second round of play, the contestants sailed through five of the categories—including “International Cinema Showcase,” “Weather Verbs,” and “Kiwi Fauna”—but avoided the sixth like the, ahem, black plague. That category was “African-American History.” 
In other words, these kids were more confident in their knowledge of weird animals in New Zealand than black human beings in America.

(via Jezebel)

Recently jeopardy show where "African American History" category didn't have a single question answered until the very end ...

NSA / GCHQ covert online propaganda teams

“Documents leaked by the US National Security Agency whistleblower and published by NBC news Friday detail strategies used by the Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group (JTRIG), a spy unit whose existence has been classified, to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt” adversaries. The slides [such as the one pictured here], which were used in 2010 and 2012, showed that the JTRIG completed their mission by “discrediting” them via misinformation and hacking their communications.

The leak details two primary methods of attack, cyber operations and propaganda efforts. The propaganda missions include mass messaging and the manipulation of stories on social media platforms like Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube.”

(Source)

Computer network information operations slide from NSA talking about propaganda, deception, and pushing news stories via social media to manipulate the public

Note that in their own words they are saying that they are trying to deceive the public, spread propaganda, and psychologically manipulate people on a massive scale. This is not a “conspiracy theory”. This is how they talk about what they are doing in private.

deception, effects, information operations, gchq, covert propaganda

What they are talking about here is a massive program of social engineering, based on deception, where they spread misinformation in the hopes of “making something happen in the real world”. These people are not only liars and manipulators, but they are doing so consciously and deliberately.

You might also want to take a look at the following sites:

* Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media (Guardian, March 2011)

Israeli students to get $2,000 to spread state propaganda on Facebook (Electronic Intifada, January 2012)

Happy Killed Captain Cook Day!

On February 14, 1779 Captain James Cook of the British Royal Navy was killed by natives in Kealakekua Bay, on the Big Island of Hawaii. Cook was a true savage, who sailed across the world bringing murder, rape, disease, and colonialism to native peoples all over the Pacific. When he was killed, Cook was trying to kidnap the Hawaiian Aliʻi (tribal chief) Kalaniʻōpuʻu in response to an unknown person stealing a small boat. In the process, he had threatened to open fire on the islanders.

At this point, the Hawaiians decided they had enough of Cook’s bullshit. Realizing that he had been manipulating them throughout the course of his stay in Hawaii, witnessing the sexual depredations of Cook’s men, seeing how brutish and toxic European culture really was … and now being threatened with mass murder and the kidnapping of one of their tribal leaders, the Hawaiian islanders finally gave this piece of shit what he deserved: a beatdown on the beach, and a knife to the chest. This put an end to a lifetime of predatory behavior and conquest of lands in the service to the British empire.

So how about instead of celebrating a boring consumerist holiday like Valentine’s Day, we celebrate something awesome, like the death of Captain Cook … Happy Killed Captain Cook Day!

The killing of Captain Cook by Hawaiian islanders after he threatened them and tried to kidnap their tribal leader

Statist “gun control”: promoting an elite monopoly on armed violence

The most common solution put forth (by the corporate media) to address the high levels of gun violence in the United States is “gun control” –  that is, asking the state to regulate the manufacture, sale, and use of firearms. Gun violence is a problem, and something needs to be done about it  But federal/state “gun control” legislation is not the solution.

"Photo of victims killed in drone strike on wedding convoy from Yemeni journalist & being circulated widely on social media."

Photo of victims killed in drone strike on wedding convoy (December 2013) … The mass murderers who did this are the same people who are clamoring for “gun control”. Do you trust them to make good decisions about who should be armed?

There are several problems with asking the U.S. government to stop gun violence by controlling who has access to firearms and ammunition. The most obvious of these is that the US government is the single largest perpetrator of gun violence on the planet. It spends over $500 billion per year on military, police, and intelligence forces that kill far more people than civilians with guns. They are also the world’s largest arms dealer — giving billions of dollars worth of weaponry to foreign dictatorships (Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Bahrain, etc.), paramilitary death squads, and domestic police forces. They oversee the largest prison system in the world (something that can only be maintained through the constant employment of violence). Why would we rely on these people to stop armed violence? When bureaucrats like Diane Feinstein (whose top campaign donors included several weapons manufacturers, and who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee which has overseen the torture and assassination of thousands of people) get up and talk about “gun control”, what they really mean is that they want to be in control of all of the guns, so they can continue using them to murder people who threaten corporate profits.

The second problem is that “gun control” does nothing to address the social causes of violence in our society — racism, militarism, sexism, economic exploitation, etc. Yes, it is true that firearms are frequently used by abusive men to murder their partners. However, when police are twice as likely to be domestic abusers as the general population, why would we expect that granting police a monopoly on firearms would protect women from gun violence? When we send millions of young men and women overseas to murder people in the name of the U.S. military, why do we act surprised when they come home and commit gun violence here? … The point is that we need to work towards social changes that address the root causes of violence, if we want it to stop.

The “gun control” debate (promoted by the corporate media) is totally backwards. The people need to disarm the police and military, rather than the other way around. If we really want to gain control of gun violence, we need to go after the largest perpetrator (the US government) first. Only after we have disarmed the state, and replaced the police and military with community self-defense groups, should we start working on a local level towards voluntary disarmament, once arms are no longer necessary to defend our communities against violence.

“Today’s empire is tomorrow’s ashes …”

Mumia Abu-Jamal (U.S. political prisoner, journalist, black panther)“Contrary to popular belief, conventional wisdom would have one believe that it is insane to resist this, the mightiest of empires… But what history really shows is that today`s empire is tomorrow`s ashes, that nothing lasts forever, and that to not resist is to acquiesce in your own oppression. The greatest form of sanity that anyone can exercise is to resist that force that is trying to repress, oppress, and fight down the human spirit.”

–Mumia Abu-Jamal

“I want them to be worried that we’re watching. I want them to be worried that they never know when we’re overhead.” — Police Chief in Dayton, Ohio

Hawkeye aerial surveillance optics FLIR

“I want them to be worried that we’re watching. I want them to be worried that they never know when we’re overhead.”

That’s what Police Chief Richard Biehl of Dayton, Ohio told the Washington Post while referring to the people of his city as he supported new aerial surveillance technology that would allow his officers to “track every vehicle and person across an area the size of a small city, for several hours at a time.”

Focused on the work of Persistent Surveillance Systems—a Dayton-based company that is already providing aerial surveillance for large events, like political rallies and sporting events—the Post’s reporting reveals that even as “Americans have grown increasingly comfortable with traditional surveillance cameras, a new, far more powerful generation is being quietly deployed.” [...]

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Read full article at: https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/02/06-1

Skyview Aerial Surveillance System

Prying native people away from their lands: how narco-traffickers assist with corporate land/resource grabs in Honduras

“[...] Honduras is now infamous for its staggering rates of drug-related violence, but links between drug trafficking and Lobo’s resource-grabbing agenda are rarely made. In fact—especially in La Mosquitia—it is narco-traffickers who act as shock troops in the assault on native homelands, ruthlessly dispossessing residents and rapaciously converting forest commons to private pasture primed for sale. And traffickers simply do not care who owns what. If they want it, it’s theirs. Many observers consider most of the Mosquitia—including the newly titled areas—to be effectively controlled by drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs). But the narcos are not in the land-grabbing business for themselves alone; in the Mosquitia region, they represent the thin end of the corporate wedge prying native peoples from native lands. [...]

A landing strip used by drug traffickers near a native community in Honduras, 2011. Photo by K. McSweeney.

A landing strip used by traffickers near a native community, 2011 (Photo by K. McSweeney)

Cocaine has been smuggled along the Mosquitia’s remote coastline since the 1970s. But the region’s trafficking importance grew after 2006, when Mexican DTOs shifted their operations southward after anti-drug crackdowns at home. Then, in 2009, the Honduran coup was followed by a brief suspension of U.S. military aid, temporary withdrawal of U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents, and a political vacuum within the country. DTOs pounced on the opportunity to further entrench themselves in Honduras. Cocaine flows through eastern Honduras subsequently skyrocketed. By 2012, it was estimated that 86% of drug flights from South America landed first in the Mosquitia.

Traffickers are drawn to the Mosquitia for its strategic location and convenient isolation. Cocaine shipments (by sea and air) are sent to airstrips cleared from interior savannas and forests near indigenous communities. The DEA and Honduran military monitor these “cocaine movements” from three new forward-operating bases. But they rarely reach the ever-shifting landing sites in time to intercept drug shipments, which are quickly transferred to dugout canoes, boats, or 4x4s for transit to inland redistribution hubs.

The flow of drugs leads to land dispossession because traffickers have to secure and control these transit zones, to launder their vast illicit profits, and to legitimize their presence under the guise of frontier cattle ranching. Buying up land accomplishes all three. Where there are pre-existing land titles, local bureaucrats are bribed to falsify title deeds and manipulate tax payments in order to separate long-time residents from their ancestral lands. Traffickers also saturate regional and state bureaucracies with payments to ensure impunity for their illegal land purchases. Those who dare to speak out about the process face death threats and violence. Once-crusading indigenous leaders have been silenced. When they petition state prosecutors for protection or help, their claims are lost or permanently postponed.

If the land is not already in pasture, traffickers pay local residents to clear the very forests they have long used and defended. This “improvement” greatly enhances the land’s value in the Honduran market. Narcos can then profit from the speculative land market that they create. In the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, for example, we saw the narco land rush drive land values up by 300% between 2002 and 2010. In some areas, locals report that the low-level traffickers who are buying and clearing these lands are selling to, or are contracted by, foreign narcos (from Mexico, Spain, Colombia, the United States) keen to invest in the Honduran land market. It seems quite possible, then, that the narco-driven enclosure of the Mosquitia is at least partly coordinated and/or financed by external DTOs. If so, this exemplifies a pattern of DTO diversification into rural economies (especially through agribusiness and mining) seen in Mexico and elsewhere.

In the Mosquitia, the result is widespread dispossession, impoverishment, and ecological devastation. Entire communities have scattered; families that stay often survive as hired hands for rancher-traffickers (narcoganaderos). Residents speak under their breath about the climate of fear. As one Tawahka man told us, “There’s too much money, too many weapons—people are scared, I mean, to open their mouths. They’ve killed people!” A Miskitu resident put it simply: “We are afraid of them because they carry guns and threaten to kill us. There is no one here to stop them.”

Satellite imagery attests to this dispossession. The Mosquitia has long been an agricultural frontier, where settlers have chipped away at forest along the region’s western and southern edge. But since trafficking intensified after 2006, pasture clearing has accelerated sharply. Time-series satellite images reveal how the biodiverse patchworks of field, fallow, and forest—characteristic of native landscapes—are giving way to a narco-scape marked by massive, hastily cleared pastures proliferating cancer-like in the heart of indigenous homelands.

If destroying indigenous lives, lands, and livelihoods were not enough, narco-trafficking also intensifies social inequalities within native communities. The very few native families who are complicit in drug trafficking have grown conspicuously wealthy, with lavish homes and consumer luxuries (flat screen TVs, generators, motorboats). Many act as brokers for their own community’s land—consolidating their neighbors’ smallholdings on behalf of narcos further up the chain. As they are enriched at the expense of their neighbors, the governance norms on which indigenous political solidarity is built are profoundly undermined. One villager told us: “the community has disintegrated…everybody fled…All of this conflict is related to the conflicts over land…[Narcos] want to create conflict and division within the communities to continue amassing lands in our area.”

In short: narcos are paving the way for corporate investment in the Mosquitia. In many ways, the Lobo administration could not have engineered a more effective process for quickly and quietly converting biodiverse indigenous commons into ecologically simplified private holdings “open for business.” Narco-trafficking has, after all, been astonishingly efficient at weakening once-powerful indigenous political coalitions, silencing once-outspoken indigenous leaders, and creating a climate of fear in which land is grabbed with impunity. Already, narco-led forest-to-pasture conversion has created a booming (if entirely illegal) land market, attracting outside (criminal) investors. Further, the presence of traffickers justifies militarized intervention in the region. According to many natives, the military presence is used as much to “secure” elite interests in indigenous lands as it is to deter traffickers. The predictable result is an intensification of violence overall: indigenous residents are now killed and intimidated by both narcos and anti-narcotics forces. [...]

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Read the full article at: http://nacla.org/news/2014/2/4/prying-native-people-native-lands-narco-business-honduras

“Harriet Tubman: A Woman Called General Moses”

“She has been gone for almost a century, and still her name is on millions of lips; her memory sacred among those who love freedom. Her parents named her Araminta, the daughter of Black slaves in the Tidewater area of Maryland, perhaps in 1820 (or 1821 — no one is sure). As a baby, the slaves shortened her fancy name into the nickname, “Minty.” History remembers her by her married name: Harriet Tubman, freedom fighter.

She began on the road to freedom as a child, for she wasn’t even 10 years old when she ran away from cruel slaveowners, people who used naked violence against babies and children to force them to do their will. Harriet was a tender 5 years old, when she was forced to take care of a white baby, to keep house, to work day and night for others. She was all of 7 years old when she got caught eating some sugar, food that only white people were allowed to eat. Threatened with a beating, the girl fled, and running so fast that her little legs gave out, she fell into a hog slopping sow. Hunger forced her to return to the house of her ‘mistress’, where she was promptly and viciously flogged by the ‘master.’ This child no doubt learned an important lesson by the violence, but doubtless it wasn’t what the slaveowning class wanted her to learn. They wanted to instill the seed of terror into the child, so that she never thought of running away again. Instead, it appears she learned that if she ran, there would be no return.

She married a ‘free’ man, John Tubman, who was free in name, and in law, but hardly in mind. When she talked about freedom, he shouted at her to stop it. “You take off and I’ll tell the Master. I’ll tell the Master right quick,” he threatened. As she looked at her husband, a feeling of disbelief washed over her, “You don’t mean that.” But, in her guts, she knew. He did mean it. Yet, she meant to be free. No doubt she learned another important lesson. Everybody can’t be trusted. She must be watchful, attentive, and observant.

When the time came, she left, walking through thick forests, over rivers, and over hills. She avoided open roads. She followed the North Star, and when she got to Pennsylvania (a so-called ‘free’ state), she noted: “I had crossed the line. I was ‘free’: but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land; and my home, after all, was down in Maryland; because my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and friends were there. But I was free and they should be free! I would make a home in the North and bring them there!” She said it. She meant it. She did it.

Harriet Tubman (c. 1820 – March 10, 1913), far left, with family and neighbors, circa 1887, at her home in Auburn, NY.

Harriet Tubman (c. 1820 – March 10, 1913), far left, with family and neighbors, circa 1887, at her home in Auburn, NY.

She returned repeatedly to the Tidewater, and carried folks off, with cleverness, courage, and determination. She returned to the plantation 2 years after her escape for John Tubman, but the ‘free Negro’ had remarried, and thinking himself free, didn’t want to leave Maryland! Still, this wouldn’t deter her from her sacred mission: freedom. She carried a pistol, and once, while leading some 25 captives North, came within a hair’s breadth of using it. One of the men, bone-tired, hungry, and scared, decided that nothing was worth this scampering through the swamps. He refused to be persuaded to move on, until she moved close to him, and aiming the weapon at his head, said, “Move or die.” He moved. In several days they were in Canada. Harriet knew that a returned slave would be tortured until he told all he knew, thus endangering all who wanted to be free. To her, it was freedom or death. That simple.

She would later say, of her upbringing, and of slavery itself: “I grew up like a neglected weed — ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it. I was not happy or contented: every time i saw a white man I was afraid of being carried away. I had two sisters carried away in a chain gang — one of them left two children. We were always uneasy …. I think slavery is the next thing to hell.” Her raids into the prison-states of the South led to the freedom of literally hundreds of Black people — including her own aged parents, Harriet and Benjamin Ross. It is thought her family originally came from the Ashanti people, a tribe which hails mostly from the West African coast. (The central region of Ashanti life would be modern-day Ghana.)

Her life, from beginning to end, was one of resistance and struggle in freedom’s cause. There may have been 15 to 19 raids led by her into the South to free Black captives. In these raids, she liberated between 300 to 500 people. Recruited to aid the Northern forces during the U.S. Civil War, Tubman organized and led the Combahee River raid in South Carolina, which netted some 800 slaves, and caused thousands of dollars damage to Southern installations. She reported with glee the sight of so many people escaping bondage. Tubman would later recall the scene: “I never saw such a scene. We laughed and laughed and laughed. Here you’d see a woman with a pail on her head, rice-a-smoking in it just as she’d taken it from the fire, young one hanging on behind … One woman brought two pigs, a white one and a black one; we took them all on board; named the white pig Beauregard (a Southern general), and the black one Jeff Davis (president of the Confederacy). Sometimes the women would come with twins hanging around their necks. It appears I never saw so many twins in my life; bags on their shoulders, baskets on their heads, and young ones lagging behind, all loaded” ….

Harriet Tubman left this life in 1913, living into her nineties. Her name has come to mean freedom fighter. It is a holy name, high on the altar of freedom.

– Mumia Abu Jamal, “Harriet Tubman: A Woman Called General Moses