Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Grass Roots Organization RootsAction-Questions U.S. Foreign Policy
Since the end of the Cold War, the United States of America has systematically violated the prohibition against the threat or use of force contained in the UN Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact. It has carved out a regime of impunity for its crimes based on its UN Security Council veto, non-recognition of international courts and sophisticated "information warfare" that undermines the rule of law with political justifications for otherwise illegal threats and uses of force.

                                    Former Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin B. Ferencz has compared current U.S. policy to the illegal German "preemptive first strike" policy for which senior German officials were convicted of aggression at Nuremberg and sentenced to death by hanging.

                                    In 2002, the late U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy described post-September 11th U.S. doctrine as "a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept." And yet the U.S. government has succeeded in assembling alliances and ad hoc "coalitions" to support threats and attacks on a series of targeted countries, while other countries have stood by silently or vacillated in their efforts to uphold international law. In effect, the U.S. has pursued a successful diplomatic policy of "divide and conquer" to neutralize global opposition to wars that have killed about 2 million people and plunged country after country into intractable chaos.

As representatives of civil society in the United States, the undersigned U.S. citizens and advocacy groups are sending this emergency appeal to our neighbors in our increasingly interconnected but threatened world. We ask you to stop providing military, diplomatic or political support for U.S. threats or uses of force; and to support new initiatives for multilateral cooperation and leadership, not dominated by the United States, to respond to aggression and settle international disputes peacefully as required by the UN Charter.

We pledge to support and cooperate with international efforts to stand up to and stop our country's systematic aggression and other war crimes. We believe that a world united to uphold the UN Charter, the rule of international law and our common humanity can and must enforce U.S. compliance with the rule of law to bring lasting peace to the world we all share.

This petition will be sent to all the world's national governments.

Click here to sign as an individual.

Click here to sign as an organization that you are authorized to sign on behalf of.

After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.

This work is only possible with your financial support. Please chip in $3 now.

-- The Team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Reverend Pinkney: The Civil Rights Leader You May Not Know

TBR- Special to TBR, Reverend Edward Pinkney
In the struggle to preserve civilization and the rule of law, Reverend Edward Pinkney stands in virtual isolation against a very real fascist threat in the tiny lakeside town of Benton Harbor, Michigan. His ability to stand up against the fascist machine, his organizing abilities, and his endless goodwill and positivity put him in a category with civil rights heroes such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.
Pinkney will without a doubt go down in history as either a great civil rights hero who fought-off a racist and fascistic tide in America, or he will go down as the civil rights activist who warned the world that

 "fascism is coming to your town next" but whom no one listened.
Please help us keep Pinkney out of prison to continue his fight against the Whirlpool corporate takeover in Michigan. Visit to help Rev. Pinkney avoid life in prison. He can't fight fascism from a jail cell!

Contacts: 269-925-001
David Sole
Joe Peery
Submitted by Polly Hughes: 217-638-5314

"ACLU of Michigan Supports Release of Faith Leader, Activist, in Election Fraud Case
Constitutional rights violations alleged in case of Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor"
GRAND RAPIDS—The trial of Rev. Edward Pinkney, 66, of Benton Harbor violated his constitutional rights according to a motion filed with the Michigan Court of Appeals. Supporters of Pinkney—including ACLU of Michigan who filed an amicus curiae brief backing the motion—are calling for his immediate release on bond pending appeal.
A veteran community activist from Benton Harbor, Pinkney was convicted last November on five felony counts of forgery based on allegations that he changed five dates on a petition intended to recall Mayor James Hightower. Currently in Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater, he maintains his innocence and faces 30 to 120 months in prison. According to the ACLU brief, his appeal is “almost certain” to lead to the reversal of the conviction. Pinkney has already spent over seven months in prison since his sentencing last December. Visitors from around the state attempt to monitor his health and safety.
“There are so many violations of Rev. Pinkney’s rights it’s hard to believe. Three witnesses stated emphatically that Rev. Pinkney was not present when another person altered the petition,” said Michigan civil rights attorney Hugh Buck Davis. “The prosecutor in the case was allowed to use Rev. Pinkney’s community activism as evidence. This is a serious violation of the Reverend’s First Amendment rights and due process. When the defense attorney raised objections, the judge called his constitutionally-based arguments ‘emotional rhetoric.’”
Pinkney and his supporters believe his human rights activism has made him a target of political persecution by local government and business interests. According to Davis, "Given the thousands of irregularities in election petitions in Michigan every year, it's clear that this is political prosecution in retaliation for successful community and electoral organizing. They like it until it looks like you are going to win. Two-and-a-half to ten years? He's a political prisoner.”
In just one recent example, Pinkney’s arrest warrant for the non-violent charges was served by a SWAT team surrounding his home at gunpoint. Such tactics, Pinkney says, are designed to intimidate all Benton Harbor residents who speak up against Whirlpool Corporation and local officials. Supporters charge that the unjustified prosecution amounts to election fraud.
Pinkney and other members of the Benton Harbor community group, BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization), have led multiple petition drives to recall local officials as one strategy of their campaign to promote democracy, civil rights, and economic justice in the county. Whirlpool Corp. is headquartered in Benton Harbor, which is 96% African-American and has among the highest unemployment and poverty rates in the state. Mayor Hightower’s opposition to a city income tax that would have affected Whirlpool Corp. resulted in the community’s effort to recall him.
BANCO and Pinkney have protested the four emergency managers, appointed by the governor under Michigan’s controversial Emergency Manager Law, who have operated the city instead of democratically-elected officials. BANCO was also among the most vocal opponents of the Harbor Shores golf course and luxury development that appropriated lakeshore land formerly designated as a Benton Harbor city park.

Updates at: @FreeRevPinkney
Facebook: Detroit Organizing in Support of Reverend Pinkney

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I Did Not Serve In Iraq, To Return To A War Zone.

TBR-Garett Reppenhagen, Iraq War Veteran, Contributor

 As an Iraq War Veteran, I understand the dangers of firearms and the importance of keeping them out the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.

As a Coloradan, I also have a deep and abiding respect for our national tradition of gun ownership in this country and our rights to defend family and property.

I believe it is possible to hold both of those views simultaneously -- that there is a way to change our gun laws while respecting the constitutionally protected right to bear arms. Ensuring all Americans pass a background check to guarantee that those who carry weapons are law abiding citizens would be a good first step.

As the debate over gun violence prevention reignites after yet another mass shooting, it's important that veterans (our nation's foremost experts on weapons), military family members, and VoteVets supporters make our voices heard.

Sign my petition: Tell Congress to pass commonsense gun laws that will keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.

Throughout my military experience, I trained and performed combat missions with a conservative magazine limit. Every soldier carried a full combat load and the magazines were constructed to minimize malfunction and to be effective in tactical situations.

Currently some states allow the same size magazines I was issued as a Cavalry Scout and in some cases the clips they are allowed to carry have a larger capacity. Basically, these laws allow our citizens to be more combat effective in our communities than I was in Iraq.

In the military, every recruit is scrutinized for any moral deficiency and criminal history before entering basic training and being issued a weapon. But here at home, criminals are able to get their hands on this kind of firepower without even passing a background check.

It makes no sense, and Congress must act.

Sign my petition: Tell Congress to pass commonsense laws that will keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.

During the Iraq War, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld compared the violence in Iraq to Chicago, saying about both, "It's a tough part of the world."

We should strive for better. And if Congress acts on this issue, we can save lives.

Thank you for reading,

Garett Reppenhagen
Iraq War Veteran

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Some thoughts on "Straight Outta Compton".

TBR-Speech Thomas of Arrested Development

I applaud Ice Cube, Gary F Gray & Dr. Dre because they know how to tell a great story! The accurate portrayal of a hiphop producers heart.... wanting to make something special...well done. The vicious sharks that swim in music industry waters...greatly exposed. The acting, promotion and soundtrack... superb! In a country where excellence in black film on the big screen isn't seen enough, it's proudly exhibited here.
But from the perspective of the ancestors, they got some explaining to do. Centuries of struggle by our men, women and children who were thoroughly desolate with only one hope. The hope that through their perseverance, future generations would have it better than they did. Many died for that very reason.
That's the African-American legacy.
It was just two weeks ago, we all were discussing how soiled America still is from the horrors of slavery and the following systematic racism.
Blacks for hundreds of years purposely portrayed in every advertisement, news article, play, TV show and movie as dangerous, vile, uncaring, simple, roguish brutes, with intelligence a tad higher than a monkey. Year after year, decade after decade, century after century... And here we are today - as white trigger happy cops shoot blacks. It doesn't matter if they're unarmed, cuz in the minds of so many, blacks are always armed with centuries of dangerous propaganda. And a lie can run around the world twice before truth can get her shoes on!
And in comes Hollywood pushing yet ANOTHER movie with that same ole narrative... Straight Outta Compton! With the convenient subtitle - "the worlds most dangerous group"
Is that literal or it's figurative? None of them came from the most dangerous of street life but Easy E. right? I often hear that they're dangerous because of Cube's defiant lyrics & fierce determination to speak "truth" to power. Ummm, that sounds honorable.
But I'm sure I can come up with a few more suggestions more appropriate than NWA. The black panthers for instance might be better suited for such an honor. With fierce determination they defied an entire system at risk of their very lives! They REALLY fought for justice and most paid the ultimate price. An epic bio pic that shows how these brave young men and women organized change for all races and genders, showing true devotion mixed with legal prowess... that's a film suggestion! And can I get a witness that NWA's "F*** the Police" is only the prevailing anti-police brutality anthem BECAUSE the music industry championed it. It didn't take the FBI long at all to see that NWA was ultimately a harmless group because their other songs & political savvy was thoroughly misguided and non-directional. As opposed to the earlier & less popular "F*** the Pigs" that the black panthers often shouted as they persevered through police harassment as actual freedom fighters, not as drug dealers and pretend thugs. Historically there were activists that started as thugs but TRANSFORMED into purposeful revolutionaries.
I've heard some say, the title "most dangerous" is as far as MUSICAL groups are concerned.... Ummm wouldn't PUBLIC ENEMY better fit that definition? But see a movie like that would simply be too dangerous, it might cause people to do more than ooo and aaah over the financial success of a music producer & rapper who made nice movies and headphones. It might cause REAL change.
NWA may be the most dangerous, but not because they fought against a racist and oppressive system... but because they were effective ambassadors of that very system! I like to call it white supremacy on wax! Who else could have done such a great job at spreading the age old message that blacks are morally sub-human? Many things white supremacists say about blacks is what NWA confirms in their most popular songs. And yes, in 2015 Twitter is going nuts praising the film and much of the hiphop world is bowing down to NWA as heroes in the genre. But I applaud a good number of blacks that "don't believe the hype"!
Bio pics about rap artists are few and far between, but take notice to WHICH rap movies Hollywood green lights for major motion picture release? And have you ever thought about WHY these particular movies?
Biggie's Notorious, Eminem's 8 Mile, 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Trying and NWA's Straight Outta Compton! Most of which come straight outta Jimmy Iovine's & Dre's storehouse of thuggery, and celebrate the "American Dream" thru gritty accounts of drug deals, crack addicted communities, strip clubs, friends that deceive each other and gun battles gone wrong. And then the inevitable transformation from rags to riches. As they live happily ever after (in their death though). Oh yeah, Biggie was about right, that if you're're nobody til somebody kills you!
To quote Public Enemy... "Burn Hollywood Burn!" They're pretty much about money and judging by this past weekends ticket sales... THEY'RE WINNING! Stay tuned for a Tupac, Ice T and whomever else da cap fits bio pic for us all to swoon over!
Feed us our illusions, Hollywood has no skin in the game, it's just money to them. But don't we as blacks literally have skin in the game?
It's our SKIN that signals brainwashed cops to pull us over just because we didn't use a turn signal. Or blow our brains out for trying to start our car while being questioned. Or get choked to death, spines snapped, or just walking home wearing a hoodie.
There's gotta be a point where we WEIGH the pains we feel from years of being mis-represented against the joy we feel seeing another black thug soliloquy on the big screen! The pain lasts for years, the joy last 2 and a half hours. You do the math.
There's gotta be a breaking point when we make a critical decision. Directionless expression or real freedom? I know, I know... no one screams when Scorsese does a gangster film, why pick on rappers? Because Jewish people aren't making these movies WHILE simultaneously getting shot down in the streets by their own kind, arrested in astronomical rates and their rappers literally getting assassinated like they were in a Middle East war zone!
When is enough... ENOUGH!?
Consciousness didn't start with NWA, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar's "To Pimp a Butterfly", nor ‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬.
It's been in full effect since slavery and we must keep our eyes on the prize to reach the finish line!
On the big screen, these rappers are portrayed as bigger than life heroes and even somehow "freedom fighters"! But TRUE heroes like Julian Bond, Garvey, Harriet & Parks deserve a bio pic, because they served US all! But would we support it?
It NEVER was enough to have a conscious song or two on an otherwise "white supremacist" gangsta record. It's not enough to have things "go in cycles"... (people say that to me all the time about music)
It's about standing on the shoulders of those that stood before us until we get out from the ditch that hides our humanity!
Our values are so backwards that fathers, mothers, educators, intellectuals & activists don't fill today's memes and murals. Instead it's Tupac, Biggie, NWA and maybe a Jay-Z. The murals you see painted in the ghettos, (I've even seen em in the outskirts of Africa!) Memes of these rappers floating around on the Internet and interviews at the end of albums with their "prophetic" words. 3D holograms of them in front of wooing crowds. Supposed martyrs packaged and shrink wrapped in a CD. "Heroes" of the people - celebrated, applauded, jailed and assassinated, with a level of admiration that you'd think they died because of political resistance or activism, but no. It's simply a petty beef or a record executive hungry for more money.
We have so lost our way, that we celebrate their temporary success - in lieu of our own lasting success.
Behind the riches of every Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Easy E. or Suge Knight are quiet little Jewish & White guys in polo shirts that are even richer than them.
They play golf and listen to Bach while they count their money. Meanwhile we wallow in these decadent, century old stereotypical, blaxploitation flicks and albums, their kids fly in private jets and vacation in Belize. Our kids suffer just walking to school.
Yes, Straight Outta Compton is very good and yes, these men have immense talent, but Italian mafioso refused to sell crack to their own communities. They insisted on separating their families from their illegal business.
We sell this "crack music" to our little kids and we infest the whole world with it!
It is NOT just entertainment. We are getting killed in real life. We influence Africa, South America and everywhere there's poor people that need inspiration. It has never been simple entertainment and it has far out reached the block.... it's racist propaganda. And it hurts the soul of humanity!
And by the way ITS NOT HONEST, it's not what we see in the hood. It's an embellishment of it, it's "reality" on steroids, it's someones story on performance enhancers! And the things that destroy these communities has become a Satanic virus, packaged and shipped out to every other community to infect those that were previously healthy.
That's my problem with NWA - not the music (it's brilliant) NWA endorsed the worse traits of the hood, promoted these traits and to justify their lust for fame they revised their purpose claiming it's a noble freedom of speech movement.
And many have bought that revisionist history, poured it in our glasses & ummm that kool aid taste sweet! White supremacy is happy, blacks got our thug heroes and the world keeps on turning.
So, sit and eat your popcorn, sip a Coke, enjoy a well-deserved break from lifes stress.
I know I did. I also know I made Ice Cube, Dr. Dre Gary Gray and a host of white dudes a bit richer! I'm alright with that. May God bless em.
But even as I'm entertained by the film, I know that unless we change our dynamics and moral infrastructure as black people, WE really are the entertainment. The silly blacks that can't realize the difference between an Arnold Schwarzenegger fiction and a propaganda missile aimed at the very demise of our freedom, dignity and culture.
GIL scott was right....The revolution will not be televised it will be screened in a theater near you.
Two thumbs up.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Pro Se, “For one's own behalf; in person. Appearing for oneself

TBR-Leighton Bradford, Editor-in-Chief
Pro Se, “For one's own behalf; in person. As in the case of one who does not retain a lawyer and appears for himself or herself in court”.

Allowing attorneys to advertise on television undermines jurisprudence. As a result, justice goes towards the highest bidder? And if the plaintiff does not have the means; the cold weal of market forces should not dictate who receives justice. In college a professor once asked me what is just? My retort-apparently not the merits of my study within his class?  Not the current judicial process-fairness must come into play. The bottom-line or a profit margin must not influence due process. Our court system seems to reward association and alumni legal status. You rarely see a barrister accepting pro bono work? Honestly! Do you think an attorney is going to give weight to someone who is financially challenged?  Its obvious that the integrity of this profession is diminishing. The routine of the lesser courts judicial system trumps substantive or procedural due process. “So and so, for the people”!
Substantive Due Process:

The substantive limitations placed on the content or subject matter of state and federal laws by the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

In general, substantive due process prohibits the government from infringing on fundamental constitutional liberties. By contrast, procedural due process refers to the procedural limitations placed on the manner in which a law is administered, applied, or enforced. Thus, procedural due process prohibits the government from arbitrarily depriving individuals of legally protected interests without first giving them notice and the opportunity to be heard.

The Due Process Clause provides that no person shall be "deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law." When courts face questions concerning procedural due process, the controlling word in this clause is process. Courts must determine how much process is due in a particular hearing to satisfy the fairness requirements of the Constitution. When courts face questions concerning substantive due process, the controlling issue is liberty. Courts must determine the nature and the scope of the liberty protected by the Constitution before affording litigants a particular freedom. (

Procedural Due Process:

noun due process of law, legal fairness, legal safeguards, protection against deprivations, protection guarantees, protection of deprivation of accepted legal principles Generally: fundamental fairness Specifically: Fifth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment
Associated concepts: 
procedural due process, right to confront accuser.(legal dictionary)


To that claim, Judge Hillman wrote: "To require the town to provide any greater level of procedural due process at the pre-discipline stage would unnecessarily intrude on the town's interest in temporarily removing an unsatisfactory employee and in efficiently administering its personnel system”.

The aforementioned text offers insight into the basic concept or meaning of due process. The blind fold has been lifted off of the face of justice within Desoto and Shelby County courts; and legal venues throughout our nation. The good ole boy system includes people of color as well.  A receding culture holds on to the last vestige of social stance, in lieu of social change. The Thwarting of Black males is the presumed understanding. Meaning; male individuals of African descent have an unsaid prison social contract.  The privatizing of prisons requires Black souls! The various state legal bars lack the oversight as it relates to its wayward offspring. Routine or manufactured precedent prevails. A first responder remarks “When the judge etc...” becomes an obvious flag of a manufactured precedent. This person or entity knows the outcome?  The incident has an identified result. The almighty dollar seems to dictate jurisprudence. Lawyers will seek fortune and will not embrace the constitution or serve the needs of the ongoing public with due diligence. Money or paper, should not dictate whether or not justice is served!  The body politic is not best served with the hold host of barristers! The modern day paper chase is an embarrassment towards the profession. Individuals of African descent continue to be wronged within our justice system, but our white house leadership concentrates on foreign or alternative lifestyles? The white house seems to scoff at the fundamental needs of individuals of African descent; moreover, forgoing public opinion. The working man needs to rebuke a system that cultivates an exclusive lawyer stance.  The poor continue to suffer from the lack of due process. The recent Supreme Court decisions do not integrate the constitutionality of a given subject, but offer biased political remedy. County, State, and Municipal provinces make their own rules, and scoff at constitutional attributes.  If an individual wants to embrace a pro se stance, what say the body politic? Is it a guaranteed loss? Do lawyers feel insecure about an individual representing themselves? It’s all about the paper “G”! The legal profession is diminished when justice is associated with the bottom-line. The constitution becomes a mere parchment adopted by old white dudes unless it’s given defined meaning. The United States will become a tier below a third world country if finances influence the outcome of court decisions.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Rahm Emanuel: A Symbol of Much of What Is Wrong with America

TBR-special to-
By Paul Bucheit,
Nearly 60 percent of his 103 donors received "contracts, zoning changes, business permits or some other tangible benefit"

 April 06, 2015 "ICH" -   America's is a sickness of the mind, the unwavering belief by people in power that free-market capitalism will somehow work for everyone.

As with a virus that refuses to die, the effects are insidious, because the very rich have convinced themselves that they made it on their own, and that others have only themselves to blame if they are poor.

Rahm Emanuel is Mayor 1%. He speaks a politician's words to entice many Chicagoans to vote for him, but his actions are on behalf of his friends and colleagues in the business world.

Snubbing the Needs of Average People 

The author of Mayor 1%, Kari Lydersen, tells the story of Helen Morley, a resident of the southwest side of Chicago and a regular patient at one of the mental health clinics closed by Mayor Emanuel. At Chicago's 175th birthday party in 2012, Morley pleaded, "Mayor Emanuel, please don�t close our clinics! We�re going to die...There�s nowhere else to go." Emanuel ignored her. According to Lydersen, Morley and others believed that the mayor "didn�t understand the role these specific clinics played in their lives and the difficulty they would have traveling to other locations."

The same can be said for Chicago's shuttered public schools, once the vital centers of their communities. The state of Illinois cut education spending by a greater percentage than any other state in fiscal 2012, and for 2013 it was third-worst in percentage cuts per student. Privatizers rushed in and blamed the public system. As a result, 50 neighborhood schools were closed in Chicago, opening the way for charter schools, which take taxpayer money but have little accountability to the public and an obligation only to their investors. In the end, 2,000 public school employees were fired by Emanuel, including over 1,000 teachers.

Parent Ronald Brooks, whose daughter's school Lafayette was shut down, spoke in the aftermath of the mayor's action: "Lafayette was more than a school. It was an institution....the heart and soul of our community."

Lafayette, which was reportedly underutilized, was replaced by a selective publicly-funded contract arts school with approximately the same enrollment as before the closing.

Cozying Up to Cronies 

According to the Chicago Tribune, "The mayor regularly courts his benefactors behind closed doors.." Nearly 60 percent of his 103 donors received "contracts, zoning changes, business permits, pension work, board appointments, regulatory help or some other tangible benefit."

Democracy Now cites a report by the International Business Times which found that Emanuel uses no-bid, no-contract voucher payments to quietly pass along money to his contributors. It was also reported by the Chicago Tribune that the lawyers for Chicago's infamous parking meter deal contributed over $100,000 to Emanuel's campaign chest. City attorneys touted the 'benefits' of the deal.

In another egregious episode, Mayor Emanuel appointed Deborah Quazzo, a managing partner at GSV Advisors, to the Chicago Board of Education. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Quazzo's business affiliates subsequently tripled their business with the public schools. Tellingly, GSV founder Michael Moe related his goal for the future: "An education revolution in which public schools outsource to private vendors such critical tasks as teaching math, educating disabled students, even writing report cards."

Making Deals that Send Our Tax Dollars to Wall Street

Rahm Emanuel has made Chicago look good for tourists, sprucing up the downtown (Loop) business district, adding retail stores and office space. But the funding comes at the expense of average citizens. The mayor's plan for a South Loop hotel and basketball arena is using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds (our tax money, meant for blighted neighborhoods), and stands to enrich a hedge fund that contributed to Rahm's campaign fund and then invested in the hotel as the deal was being finalized.

According to Crain's Chicago Business, Emanuel has borrowed high-interest money that won't come due until he's out of office. For example, instead of paying $120.8 million in bonds owed now, he refinanced, thus adding another $228.8 million in interest over 30 years. Like Mayor Daley before him, Rahm hides the costs until someone else is around to take the blame.

Even the vital area of pre-K education is set up to benefit big business, with progressive-sounding social impact bondslikely to double the profits of Goldman Sachs and other investors in the next few years. Said Chicago reporter Rick Perlstein: "[The mayor] struck a deal with a bunch of investment banks to use the preschoolers of Chicago as collateral.." The deal was arranged with little debate, and with little understanding of the long-term risk.

And what about Chicago's (and Illinois') massive deficit? In recent years the state's largest corporations have been payingonly about a third of their required state taxes. Threats to leave the city seem empty in one of the nation's busiest trading centers. Yet Mayor Emanuel opposes even a tiny tax on the quadrillion dollar business of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, whose profit margin in recent years has been higher than any of the top 100 companies in the nation.

His Legacy

The mayor claimed credit for a minimum wage increase, even though he didn't act until the State of Illinois began putting the plan in place. He took credit for a longer school day for the kids, but he didn't provide the necessary funding. He took credit for coal-burning power plant closings that resulted largely from neighborhood activism.

Like its mayor, Chicago has two faces. The rest of the nation sees the glitz and glamour of Chicago's magnificent downtown, but the city's south and west sides, according to urban analyst Daniel Hertz, are more dangerous than in the 1990s. This is part of the sickness: a persistent inequality, moreso of wealth than of income, that plagues America and manifests itself in the questionable dealings of a man like Rahm Emanuel. He may best be remembered as the privatizerof Chicago and, as Perlstein suggested, "a strikingly corrupt mayor." 

 Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, a member of US Uncut Chicago, and the editor and main author of American Wars: Illusions and Realities (Clarity Press). He can be reached at

#content afforded via UFAA Alain Larreau

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Orion Test Lab Mockup for Next Flight Finished


LM mockupThe construction of an Orion crew module and crew module adapter full-scale mockup has been completed at the Littleton, Colorado facility of Lockheed Martin, NASA’s prime contractor for Orion. This mockup was transferred to the company’s Orion Test Lab on May 13, where engineers will configure it with the exact harnessing, electrical power, sensors, avionics and flight software needed to support Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the first flight of Orion atop NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. Orion’s team of engineers will use the mockup to verify the configuration of these vehicle components for EM-1, which ultimately saves assembly time and reduces risk. The mockup will then be connected to hardware emulations of the full EM-1 stack (Orion crew module, European Service Module, second stage booster and the Space Launch System) as well as ground support equipment. Once it’s connected, the team will simulate and test every aspect of the EM-1 mission from launch to splashdown. Orion will enable astronauts to explore new destinations in the solar system, including an asteroid and on toward Mars.

Rachel Kraft, NASA public affairs officer, left, Frank Culbertson, Executive Vice President

Sunday, April 5, 2015

One-Year Mission to Station Advances NASA's Journey to Mars

TBR-NASA,  NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden

 NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden

Today we launch an American astronaut and Russian cosmonaut to live and work in space for an entire year. It’s the first time an American astronaut will have been in space for that length of time. It’s an important stepping-stone on our journey to Mars and will give us detailed medical data recorded throughout the one-year expedition. President Obama recognized this significant American space exploration milestone in his State of the Union address this year, noting: “[We’re] pushing out into the solar system not just to visit, but to stay…as part of a reenergized space program.”

This mission is part of the critical roadmap we’ve been undertaking with bipartisan support since the President challenged us five years ago to plan for a human mission to an asteroid and later to Mars.
When American astronaut Scott Kelly is in space, he’ll not only carry out the research and technology demonstrations that our astronauts have been helping us develop during the past 14 years of continuous human habitation aboard the International Space Station (ISS), he’ll also participate in a unique experiment.
Scott has an identical twin brother, Mark – also an astronaut – who will be here on Earth. We’ll compare the brothers’ vital signs and learn how space affects the human body on orbit. Throughout Scott’s mission we’ll gain new, detailed insights on ways long-duration spaceflight can affect things like bone density, muscle mass, strength, vision and other aspects of human physiology. We’ll also look at mental changes and challenges astronauts may face when they embark on longer-duration missions.

We will also get an opportunity to see how microgravity affects the human genome. This information might affect every one of us on Earth as we get a unique insight into genomic changes.
Unfortunately, Scott won’t launch on this important mission from the United States on an American spacecraft. However, that’s not for a lack of trying on the part of the Obama Administration.
Five years ago, the President laid out a plan to ensure we had an American system to transport our astronauts to the International Space Station once the Bush Administration’s plan to retire the Space Shuttle went into effect. That plan looked to the ingenuity of U.S. industry to develop private space transportation systems to get crews to the ISS. Regrettably, Congress did not fully fund this plan and delayed its implementation until 2017. It is my hope that the plan is fully funded this year, as full funding this year is critical to ending our sole dependence on the Russians as soon as possible.
Kelly’s launch is one key aspect of NASA’s efforts to meet the President’s goal of a human mission to Mars, but much work is underway throughout the agency to meet this vision. Technology drives exploration and NASA has integrated its work to focus on developing the technologies to reach deeper into space. Our Space Launch System rocket, which will be the most powerful ever built, has moved from being a concept into development. Just this month we’ve tested the booster and the rocket engines for this powerful vehicle. The Orion spacecraft, in which astronauts will travel to farther destinations in deep space, performed flawlessly on its first flight test in December. We have completed the first round of detailed reviews and are now looking even closer at the heat shield through destructive evaluation. This data review will help us improve Orion’s safety and performance as we prepare for a crewed flight.

We’re also working on the advanced technologies for propulsion, landing and radiation shielding, among many others, that humans will need to travel farther than we ever have before. While that work is rapidly advancing, our commercial partners’ innovation will make it possible for the next generation of astronauts to travel once again to space on American systems. We couldn’t be more proud of our astronaut corps, our innovative engineers and scientists and the industrial gumption of our partners. Together, they’re helping to create a whole new segment of the economy that is driving the inspiration and competitiveness of the future.
Scott Kelly’s launch is more than simply one person’s journey to the International Space Station. At the end of his mission, he will become the record holder for longest stay in space by an American. But as he works off the Earth, for the Earth, he stands on the shoulders of the great NASA achievements that made the Space Station possible. He is helping us reach higher and take those next great leaps in exploration. His historic mission is one more sign that our nation’s space program is thriving and continues to lead the world.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Netanyahu: He Came, He Saw, He Conquered. The Power of Israel over the United States

TBR-Op-Ed, By Prof. James Petras,
"There is only one reason that Netanyahu is received as a Viceroy overseeing and dictating strategic policy to what clearly is a servile colonial legislature," By Prof. James Petras

"There have been times when history has played tricks with man and..has magnified the features of essentially small persons into a parody of greatness". Rabindranath Tagore (on Benito Mussolini)

How is it that the ruler (Benjamin Netanyahu) of a puny country (Israel) of 8.2 million (6.2 million Jews) with the 37th biggest economy (GDP in current prices) in the world dictates war policy and secures the willing submission of the legislature of the largest economy and most powerful military empire in the world?
What significance does Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress have, beyond the fact that he uses it as a platform to attack the elected President of the US, to denounce US peace negotiations and to demand that Congress adopt policies designed to precipitate a war with Iran?

Netanyahu’s Dominant Presence in the US
There is only one reason that Netanyahu is received as a Viceroy overseeing and dictating strategic policy to what clearly is a servile colonial legislature: over the past quarter of a century, Israel’s proxy in the US , an entire panoply of Zionist political organizations, government officials, propaganda mills, media moguls, billionaires and millionaires, have deeply penetrated the legislature, executive and administrative centers of decision making. Netanyahu’s arrogance and “brazen” presumption (Financial Times, 3/4/15, p. 6) to dictate policy to the US Congress is rooted in the pre-existing power base created by the proxy Zionist power configuration.
Netanyahu can sneer, with a crooked smile, at the US President, because, after several decades of Zionist permeation of the US state, he knows that he comes not as an outside power but as a leader and spokesperson of an inside power.
His presence was hailed by all the mass media as a major event, as international news, for over a month in advance. With Napoleonic presumption he dared to announce in advance that he would advance a war thesis in the fashion of any head of state. He can act as an unelected dictator because the elected officials have been converted into docile and complicit subjects by his proxy power structure. Netanyahu follows the political precept of his predecessor Ariel Sharon, who faced with Israeli worry- wards criticizing his obstreperous intervention in US politics , once stated “Don’t worry.We lead the US by the nose”.
The crucial theoretical point is that the conditions that enabled Netanyahu to come, to see and to conquer, were not of his doing. His presence in the US Congress and his message is derivied from the power of his supporters, deeply embedded in the structure of political power in the US.
Otherwise, who would take serious his delusional military fantasies, his clinically paranoid vision of peaceful adversaries, conspiring to “nuke Israel” and then the world, without a single nuclear bomb!
Prominent among Netanyahu’s financial backers are a group of prominent Zionist lumpen bourgeoisie,billionaires who lent to millions of borrowers at extortionate rates(between 1400 and 4000% ) and played a leading role in the fraudulent mortgage induced crises of 2009-forward.They include Al Goldstein co-founder of AvantCredit and CashNetUSA;Sasha Orloff and Jacob Rosenberg founders of Lendup;Daniel Gilbert founder of QuickenLoans- a predator subprime lender;Ronald Arnall owner of Ameriquest….. .They used part of their ill-gotten gains to ease their consciences by donating millions to Israeli and US jewish causes.Being generous to Israel provides a sort of perverse “forgiveness” for screwing millions of Americans ..
One does not need much imagination to envision them cheering Netanyahu’s AIPAC and Congressional diatribes. It is not surprising that the lumpen bourgeoisie backs a lumpen prime minister.
The best and the brightest of the Zionist phalanx of pundits, professors, lawyers, economists and financiers have created an aura of gravity and profundity, around this vulgar beerhall brawler.
This raises a basic question: Why do upwardly mobile, prosperous and elite educated Zionist majorities, enthusiastically pledge unconditional loyalty to an authoritarian foreign ruler who humiliates their country of birth?
Why did ten thousand American born Zionist professionals, stand and cheer, as they did the day before his congressional speech, as Netanyahu dictated his rabid bellicose political line to them, at the AIPAC conference?
Is it because they believe he is their Chosen Leader of their Chosen Fatherland?
Netanyahu, with all his vulgarity and mediocrity, strikes a deep and abiding chord in the soul of his Zionist followers. They believe they are the collective geniuses of a superior species, who need not abide by the protocols of non-Zionist states and international laws which hinder his colonial rule over millions of Palestinians.
What else but that identity of superiority allows the educated and prosperous, the humane and the cruel, to bond and welcome Netanyahu, as a modern secular Moses crossing the Potomac, delivering “the Jews” (for the messianic Netanyahu claims to speak for “all Jews”) from the mortal threats (Iran) cultivated by gentile politicians. The great majority of Zionist activists are deaf, dumb and blind to those who criticize and refute his infantile and grotesque lies, the scrofulous screeds about non-existing “existential threats” which infest his speeches.Worse they will terrorize and cow any critic,demand that their employers fire them,as they have done over the past two decades. They believe that the Palestinians, who Israel bombed into the Stone Age, are threats to Israel. They believe that nuclear weaponless Iranians, facing hundreds of Israeli nuclear bombs, are a threat to Israel. They believe there is one “truth”: that all measures, speeches and actions which enhance the power and glory of Israel are virtuous. It is this “truth” that motivates hundreds of thousands of “virtuous” Zionists to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to buy and/or intimidate Presidents and Congresspeople,
Governors and Mayors, University Presidents and faculty, police informers and academic thugs. It is this Zionist power configuration which allows a political low-life like Netanyahu to enter and dominate the legislative chamber and tell US citizens where and when their next war should take place. It is for this power configuration that Congress “performs”; applauding and doing jumping jacks on cue for each and every one of Netanyahu’s emotional ejaculations.
Broad sectors of the Israeli public was immensely impressed by Netanyahu’s capacity to humiliate the President; by his willingness to dictate policy to the US: by the hyperkinetic docility and submissiveness of US Congress people. But this is not surprising. After all Israelis are used to dominating Palestinians and torturing them into submission and colonizing a whole people. Why shouldn’t they gloat, or be proud, if Netanyahu speaks and acts as a viceroy to the US? After all their leader is dominating a so-called ‘world power’!
No doubt the Israeli empire loyalists will overwhelmingly vote for Netanyahu, even if the “opposition” claims they also denounce the US-Iranian peace negotiations. Opposition leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni don’t have Netanyahu’s gangster look, that crooked smile that says to the US leaders, “we lead you by the nose and you love it”.What the rest of the world thinks of a braying burro led by the nose is not hard to imagine:world leadership certainly is not foremost in their minds…
There is much idle chatter from liberals, leftists and progressives, claiming that Netanyahu’s ‘brazen intervention’ would backfire; that it would damage relations with the US; that it would weaken, undermine US-Iranian relations and allow Iran to secure nuclear weapons. Liberal zionists claim that Netanyahu’s speech would weaken support for Israel among Democratic congress people; that it would undermine US-Iranian relations and allow Iran to secure nuclear weapons. Liberal Zionists claim that Netanyahu’s speech would weaken US support for Israel (God forbid!).
These lamentations have no substance; they are mendacious concoctions of minds which lack any capacity to understand power especially the permanent power of the Zionist power configuration.
Even a cursory reading of the political facts which preceded accompanied and followed Netanyahu’s Congressional dictates, demonstrates the exact opposite.
Immediately after Netanyahu’s intervention, Congressional leaders moved ahead to fast track legislation to heighten Iranian sanctions, to veto any Executive agreement. The Republication majority and over half of the Democrats chose to back the “foreign Viceroy” on policies of war and peace.
Far from “prejudicing” relations with the Obama regime, the Administration in the person of Secretary of State John Kerry vetoed a measure passed by the UN Human Right Commission condemning Israel’s savage war crimes against Palestinians… Obama’s United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power did the usual belly crawl for Israel at the AIPAC conference following Netanyahu’s rousing diatribe. US-Iranian “negotiations” in Switzerland increasingly turned on exactly the issues Netanyahu demanded.. US Secretary of State Kerry insisted on on-going intrusive inspections of Iran’s entire nuclear and military installations; retaining most sanctions for a decade; eliminating most enriched uranium …In a word disarming Iran, increasing its military vulnerability to an Israeli nuclear attack, without any deterrence or retaliatory capacity! Iran is formally negotiating with Kerry on behalf of the 5 plus 1, but the agenda and demands are set by the raucous over-voice of Netanyahu, who is the most influential invisible presence.
In other words there is ample evidence that Netanyahu’s intervention far from ‘damaging’ US-Israeli relations, further reinforced Israel’s power over the US. By securing the Administration’s declarations of unconditional loyalty while humiliating the President and seizing executive prerogatives, Israel demonstrates to the world that it can and will dictate US strategic policy and denounce its President with total impunity.
Netanyahu is far from being ostracized. He has a global platform from which to spew his rabid chauvinist diatribes against peace and negotiations. His speech, its content and style, received front page and extended prime time coverage. His war-mongering resonated with the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and US News and World Report.
Netanyahu’s political line inspired AIPAC’s ten thousand ultra-Zionists, who stormed Capital Hall and demanded Congress people and Congressional staff to act on His message. Not a single dissenting voice emanated from the Presidents of the 52 Major American (sic) Jewish organizations whose first loyalty continued to be toward Israeli interests as defined by their Prime Minister.
The voices of dissent among the few dozen Jews on Capitol Hill, and outside the AIPAC conference hall, did not register in Congress or among the vast majority of Jewish community leaders or in the mass media.
Contrary to the lamentations and claims that Netanyahu has “weakened” Israel, the facts on the ground demonstrate that he has strengthened his “leadership” among the billionaires who buy US Congressional leaders. He has demonstrated that US officials, even ones who he insults and attacks, will continue to support Israeli war crimes in international forums; regale Israel with $3 billion a year in military aid to enhance its military supremacy in the Middle East; and incorporate its demands in any strategic negotiations with ‘Islamic’ countries like Iran, even if it undermines the bases of any negotiated agreement.

Clearly Netanyahu alienated a minority of US Congressional Democrat but mostly on procedural issues of protocol rather than on the more substantive issues of mongering for war and sanctions against Iran. Netanyahu’s messianic claim to speak for “all Jews” did arouse over 2,000 American Jews and non-Jews to sign a paid advertisement denying his status as the Second Coming of Moses.
But as the rousing welcome and conclusion to his speech by the Congressional majority and the unanimity of AIPAC’s thousands demonstrate, Israel’s formidable Zionist power configuration still dominates US policy in the Middle East.
The ‘debate’ over Netanyahu’s episodic presence in the US Congress and humiliation of the US President, is misplaced.What really needs to be debated is the more fundamental question of the permanent presence, power and prerogatives of the Zionist power configuration in the making of US Middle East policy.
No other visiting Prime Minister or President can be recieved with so much media attention and political fanfare, as Netanyahu because none possess the formidable, organized, well financed and disciplined political apparatus which Israel possess. An apparatus which defends and promotes US wars on behalf of Israel, Israel’s war crimes, land seizures and torture of Palestinians. That they support Netanyahu’s gross humiliation of Obama is not surprising – it merely confirms the “Law of the Return”: that for American Zionists there is only one true state of the Jews –and that is Israel; and that their only “true” leaders, are Israelis… As it happens today he is called Benjamin Netanyahu. And that any US policy, negotiations or agreements in the Middle East have to be in accord with their leader.
Congress knows that.
The “52” know that.
Only the majority of the American electorate, who still believe they live in a free and independent country are not privy to that. Even as Netanyahu’s intervention tells them otherwise.
But then we live in a peculiar sui generis ‘meritocracy in which the opinions of 2% of the chosen people counts more than that of 98% of our citizens.
The critics, Jews and non-Jews ,must realize that their problem with Netanyahu requires them to delve deeper; and that their opposition needs to become more systematic and more directly confrontational with the Zionist power configuration. Otherwise there is no basis for believing that the US can end national humiliations and regain its status as a free and democratic republic.
James Petras is the author of four volume study of US – Israeli relations. The most recent is The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle East (Atlanta: Clarity Press 2014). Contributor-Alain/UFAA          

Friday, February 13, 2015

Revolution's Matchstick: The Trans-Pacific Partnership

Above: Rivera Sun, an Auburn native now living in Taos, N.M., performs her one-woman act, “The Education of Lala Girl,” on Sunday at the Olin Arts Center at Bates College in Lewiston. Sun Cook performs the story of Lala, an African-American girl growing up in the small town of Lovely, Kan., chronicling her spunky, indomitable spirit. The Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal.
Rolling down the corporate-political assembly line is a trade deal so treasonous to the peoples of the world that it should serve as revolution’s matchstick. The treaty is secret, but one fact is well known: the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is being negotiated by transnational corporations without a single US legislator present.
Each time I hear this, my eyes blink in disbelief. Without a single legislator present . . . without their presence at negotiations, without so much as seeing a draft of the deal, and most treacherously, without objection or outcry at their exclusion!
The President has requested our legislators to “fast track the TPP”, which would allow him to sign the deal prior to sending it to Congress for approval or disapproval. If they agree to this, then Congress eschews its right – and its responsibility – to reject parts of the trade deal and reopen negotiations.
This complicity of the part of our legislators sinks an iron weight in my gut.
It smacks not of exclusion, but of willing collusion with transnational corporations that have a proven track record of criminality, destruction, and abuse. In my short lifetime, large corporations have been responsible for poisoning two major gulfs with oil spills, blowing up more than five hundred mountains, destroying numerous watersheds, wrecking the food system with toxins, and causing one in six Americans to be evicted from their homes. They have used the media apparatus to deny the existence of climate change, fomented wars, and obstructed truth and justice so often that it is practically “industry standard”. The list of grievances can be only partial here, but these abuses alone must sound the alarm bells of our conscience.
The largest trade deal since NAFTA is being written in secret by entities that have consistently abused the global population for the sake of profit.
A single thought rings bell-like in my mind.
We must revolt.
It is a quiet statement. Pragmatic.
Revolution is not a stirring thought. It evokes a great sadness in me, as if a member of my family had sunk so far into alcoholism that I must declare my separation and call on the collective strength of society to rein in his behavior so he does not cause death and destruction to us all. I am old enough to have cut through romantic idealizations of revolution, but smart enough to understand that this collusion of government and pathological corporations must be stopped.
I regret that it has come to this. Even as I steel my heart for the work ahead, I look to the seats of power and wish they would turn their self-involved gazes from their profits and see the suffering they are causing.
Wishes alone will not change anything. Action is required. So, with pragmatic determination, I look out across the unlikely landscape of my nation. Violence seethes just under the surface. Ignorance abounds. Despair, helplessness, and apathy afflict us, along with addiction and ill health. Police brutality is on the rise. Authoritarian power is replacing democracy and civil liberties. The pervasiveness of the surveillance state is so widespread that honesty is our only option.
We must, despite these odds, prepare for struggle with great determination.
And since the government knows our secrets, let me tell you one of theirs. They are hoping for violent insurrection. Armed uprisings can be thoroughly and violently suppressed and quell the rest of us into fearful submission. Those who work toward change know that violence is not only strategically unwise, it is exactly what our opponents want.
Our politicians control the largest, most well funded military in the world. The corporations employ private mercenaries. And, while there are many noble reasons to advocate that the people use nonviolent struggle, the most strategic one is this: by using violent means, we will have chosen the very type of struggle in which our opponents excel. Their superiority is unquestionable at this time.
Realistic alternatives exist. Strategic nonviolent action has been used around the world to dismantle regimes far more repressive and overtly controlling than our own . . . but these nonviolent struggles require that the populace rouse itself from stupor, apply their minds to understanding how such strategic nonviolent action succeeds, and set their hearts firmly on the effort towards a truly democratic society.
Striving for revolutionary change is never easy, but the haystack of tyranny and injustice has been piled high by the abuses of the government and the corporations. Every citizen will find a different matchstick for revolution; the Trans-Pacific Partnership is mine.
Author/Actress Rivera Sun sings the anthem of our times and rallies us to meet adversity with gusto. In addition to her most recent novel, The Dandelion Insurrection, she is the author of nine plays, a book of poetry, and her debut novel, Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, which celebrates everyday heroes who meet the challenges of climate change with compassion, spirit, and strength.