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Musings While On The Road

I’ve been on the road lately and started my trip with a flight from NYC to California. When I picked up the bag I checked at Kennedy Airport I was surprised to see the lock missing. When I opened the bag I found a card from the TSA explaining that in order “to protect you and your fellow passengers, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is required by law* to inspect all checked baggage.”

The law referred to is Section 110(b) of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001, 49 U.S.C. 44901(c)-(e).

While I understand the need for security measures on flights – considering how effectively we (in the U.S.) make enemies due to the brutal and unfair way we treat virtually every other nation on the planet – I didn’t understand why my bag wasn’t inspected in front of me. What if I had something in my luggage not allowed on airplanes that I wasn’t willing to part with? I should have been able to give it to a friend to leave in New York. Instead, I have to allow the Department of Homeland Security to confiscate it and just be content with losing it? I don’t see how it would be more efficient to check luggage in a secret place unseen by the public than right there in the terminal where it’s already been put on conveyor belts. What do TSA employees do with items they confiscate from the public they serve? Shouldn’t we be allowed to see what they do with our belongings?

I went online to see what items the Department of Homeland Security prohibits from being stored by U.S. citizens in luggage on domestic flights. Most seemed ridiculously obvious at first glance, such as weapons, tools and sharp objects. Then, I thought about what the danger of tools and sharp objects would be in the luggage compartment since passengers don’t have access to it. We aren’t able to grab these items and do anything with them onboard so why ban them in checked baggage?

One section in the list of banned items was medical equipment. That means that many disabled people are unable to travel on planes. That seems unfair. Apparently it isn’t profitable to take the time to check the safety of items for people in need.

Another item, or group of items, I noticed on the list was food. I didn’t see anything specific about precisely which food items are banned or if all food items are prohibited on flights. Being a person of “low income” status I always bring a few food items when I travel (which is almost always via train or bus). The prices charged at airports, train and bus stations, on Amtrak trains and at most places that sell food near transportation transfer points are obscene.

Now, the part that intrigued me. I had food items in my bag and they weren’t confiscated. I guess the inspector doesn’t like organic vegetable soup or brown sugar. The rest of my food items were in the backpack I brought onboard. The Himalayan salt and oregano oil underwent a chemical analysis right in front of me and I was questioned in detail about both items, but was allowed to keep them once it was determined they weren’t flammable or combustible.

If the soup and opened box of sugar were OK what were they looking for that wasn’t detected by a metal detector or X-ray?

I’m not thinking about anything deeply secret about these rules. I know that most of what the government and military do in the name of “democracy” and “protecting the homeland” is merely protecting the corporate interests of wealthy people. The state religion (demonology?) of Capitalism is murderous and suicidal so it must never be questioned. If people were to realize the wanton destruction of all life on the planet in the service of this system it would collapse like a house made of cards.

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Protect the profits, not the prophets…

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Help Requested For Political Prisoner Herman Bell After Brutal Attack By Prison Guards

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The following is from the Free Mumia NYC website:

Dear Friends,

We are asking people to write letters to Anthony Annucci, Commissioner of New York Dept. of Corrections, making the following demands (a sample letter follows that we would like you to use):

That Herman Bell be immediately given adequate medical screening and attention at an outside hospital;

That CO J Saunders and the other officers responsible for the beating be fired;

DROP THE CHARGES – That the ridiculous charges brought against Herman be dropped immediately

Mr. Bell should be returned at least to general population (he had been on the Honor Block at Great Meadow and despite his request was never given a reason for being moved to general population);

That Mr. Bell’s family visits be reinstated;

That Mr. Bell be moved to a facility where his family visiting can take place and be rescheduled at the earliest possible date.
_____________________________________

Anthony Annucci
Commissioner
Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
1220 Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12226

Dear Commissioner Annucci:

I am writing in concern and outrage over the unprovoked beating by Great Meadow C.F. correctional officers of Herman Bell, #79C0262.
On September 5th, with no provocation, correctional officers assaulted this widely respected elder. The recreation yard was being closed following a disturbance in which Herman had no part. He was told to line up with hands behind his back, which he did. When all other men on the yard were escorted through one door back into the prison, only Herman was escorted into a separate entrance and into a hallway with no one around except correctional officers—and with no surveillance cameras. In the hall, one officer began beating Herman in the face, breaking his glasses and knocking him to the floor. That guard continued to punch and kick Mr. Bell while he was on the ground. Around 5-6 additional guards arrived at this scene and joined in, punching and kicking Mr. Bell all over his body while he was on the ground. He was kneed in the chest and stomach, breaking two of his ribs. One guard then grabbed his head and slammed it into the ground three times, at which point Mr. Bell thought his life would be ending. He was excessively maced at close range all over his face and eyes, causing temporarily blindness and inability to breathe.

After being brought to the prison infirmary, Mr. Bell was not treated right away but was left alone for hours in an isolation cell. When staff finally looked in on him, he asked why he was there and was told he was accused of assaulting one of the officers. This charge is absurd.

The idea that this 69-year-old man would have hit an officer is ludicrous, as he was about to have a family visit (the first in two and a half years) and was beginning preparations for an appearance at the Board of Parole this coming February. People who had spoken to Herman on the phone the day before the incident attest to the fact that he was looking forward to the family visit with great anticipation, and that he was optimistic about his chances at the Board, given recent changes in parole regulations and the appointment of new commissioners. He had expressed similar thoughts and feelings to many of his friends and family. There is absolutely no doubt that he did not commit any infraction on September 5th; he also has not had a ticket in the past 20 years. He has never been accused of assaulting staff.

This brutal assault by Great Meadow guards constitutes not only staff abuse but also elder abuse. Mr. Bell will be 70 years of age in four months. He was badly injured in the beating. An X-ray, the only diagnostic screening he received for his injuries, revealed two cracked ribs, and he has a massive, swollen black eye and bruises all over his body. He has suffered severe headaches due to the beat-down, and the vision in his left eye – which remains completely red – is seriously impaired. Mr. Bell requires both a CT scan of the head and an ophthalmology examination.

I write to demand that you take these actions:

That Herman Bell be immediately given adequate medical screening and attention at an outside hospital;

That CO J Saunders and the other officers responsible for the beating be fired;

That the ridiculous charges brought against Herman be dropped immediately and that he be returned at least to general population (he had been on the Honor Block at Great Meadow and despite his request was never given a reason for being moved to general population);

That Mr. Bell’s family visits be reinstated;

That Mr. Bell be moved to a facility where his family visiting can take place and be rescheduled at the earliest possible date.

Sincerely,
NAME/ADDRESS

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In This Corner…

Sometimes the world is like an insane, criminally dysfunctional boxing ring in which insidious corruption is the rule as opposed to the exception and the “referee” joins in the fight – for one side.

“In this corner we have a sensitive, 69 year old political prisoner with the moral courage to stand up for his principles in the hopes of making the world a better place to live in regardless of what may happen to his health, his freedom and his life.”

“And in the other corner we have a brutal gang of violently immoral, barbaric, well-armed white supremacists with low intelligence who willingly obey the sick, twisted orders of psychopaths working for the financial benefit of a ruling class bent on dominating a society to the point of rendering them mindless and devoid of their humanity.”

The following is from the Free Mumia NYC website:

Suzanne, for the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal Slideshow

info@freemumia.com [MumiaNYC] MumiaNYC@yahoogroups.comHide
To MumiaNYC MumiaNYC@yahoogroups.com

New York City Jericho Movement
View this email in your browser
Political Prisoner Herman Bell Assaulted

Black Panther Party political prisoner Herman Bell was viciously assaulted by guards at Great Meadow Correctional Facility (Comstock) on September 5, 2017. While being “escorted” by a guard back to his housing unit, a guard struck Herman, age 69, in the face causing his glasses to drop to the floor. This same guard then repeatedly punched Herman about the face, head and body. Responding to a commotion, 5-6 other guards arrived and joined in the assault. One of them was able to knee Herman in the chest causing two cracked ribs. Another guard took out a bottle of mace and sprayed it all over Herman’s face, eyes and mouth.

Herman was then taken to the prison infirmary. X-rays have confirmed fractured ribs. Herman’s left eye is damaged from the mace and blows. He has bruises to his body and is suffering headaches, a sign of a possible concussion.

Herman Bell has now been charged with “assault on staff”. Defying common sense, they allege that Herman, for no apparent reason, slapped the guard escorting him. He did this, they claim, in a location out of the view of all inmates but in the presence of other guards. He is now in the Special Housing Unit (box) at Five Points Correctional Facility where he was transferred after the incident.

Herman Bell has not had a disciplinary violation in over 20 years. He was scheduled to begin a three day family visit with his wife a few days after the incident, their first such visit in over 2 1/2 years. In addition he is to appear before the parole board, for the 8th time, in February 2018.

Herman has, however, been the target of guard harassment due to his political background. Visitors report that guards processing them and in the visiting room comment that they are visiting a “cop killer” or “terrorist”. Some guards have been seen passing around the book “Badge of the Assassin” written by Herman’s prosecutor.

At this time, we are encouraging everyone to take the time to write to Herman or send him a get-well card, so that the authorities know we are paying attention and are concerned for Herman. Stay tuned for updates as we develop this campaign.

Herman Bell’s new address is:

Herman Bell 79 C 0262
Five Points Cor. Fac.
P.O. Box 119
Romulus, N.Y. 14541

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The Wisdom of Kwai Chang Caine

“I seek not to know all the answers but to understand the questions.”

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Please Help Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Lawyers

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Dear Mumia Abu-Jamal Friend and Supporter:

The prolonged fight to free this celebrated journalist and former Black Panther began in December 1981. He was framed for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner by the Philadelphia Police Department and the city’s judicial system, as well, for a crime he could not have committed.

A recent landmark Supreme Court decision (Williams v. Pennsylvania) ruled that judges must remove themselves from any case that they had a hand in prosecuting. On April 24, 2017, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker heard 16 petitions from 14 Pennsylvania prisoners (including Mumia Abu-Jamal) to determine if the ruling applied to their cases.

Ronald Castille was Assistant Philadelphia DA at the time of Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial and Philadelphia District Attorney when his office opposed Abu-Jamal’s direct appeals in 1988. It was under DA Ron Castille’s reign that the infamous “Jack McMahon training tape” was produced to train Philly prosecutors to ignore a U.S. Supreme Court ban on racial discrimination in jury selection. In the tape, McMahon instructs prosecutors: “Blacks from low-income areas are less likely to convict….you don’t want these people on your jury.”

Abu-Jamal’s attorneys twice challenged Castille to recuse himself when Abu-Jamal’s appeals reached the state’s highest court.

On April 28, Judge Tucker issued an order to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office to release all records and memos regarding Castille’s involvement in Mumia’s case; pretrial, trial, posttrial and direct appeal proceedings; communications between Castille and his staff; and any public statements Castille made about Mumia’s case during and after his tenure as district attorney of Philadelphia. On May 30, the DA’s office failed to follow the judge’s order, only releasing documents already available in public records.

Lawyers and Mumia defenders are demanding that these files be released immediately.

The legal costs for defending Mumia mount as the efforts to get these files continue. (We also need to support the lawyers who fought successfully for over two years to get Mumia the hepatitis medication he desperately needed.)

Donations in whatever amount you can afford will be passed on to Mumia’s lawyers, as they work to secure these documents in this sustained effort to win Mumia’s ultimate release from prison. Thirty-five years in prison for a crime not committed is more than an outrage. Please send what you can.

Please mail your tax-deductible check payable to:

National Lawyers Guild Foundation. On the memo line, be sure to write: “For Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Defense.” Mail your check directly to Johanna Fernandez, 158-18 Riverside Drive W., Apt. 6C-50, New York, New York 10032.

Thank you!

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Capitalism

From the Dictionary of Sanity & Truth:
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How Prison Labor is the New American Slavery and Most of Us Unknowingly Support it

As we all know, there is no democracy in the United States today. We left that behind years ago when we decided to trade in freedom and dignity for efficiency, technological advances and gadgets of convenience.

Then, it was cemented when we decided to place more importance on protecting the wealth of wealthy people and nonsensical, patriotic flag waving than on taking care of our fellow citizens. We protect the health of the economy, but not the health of the people. We protect the Second Amendment while shitting on the First Amendment. We build prisons and banks while defunding schools.

Is it any wonder so few people in the U.S. know anything about the Constitution or even care about civil rights? We know the names of the newest television stars, but don’t know how our government is supposed to work.

Since we sold the rights to what was once our elections to corporate interests, the only way we have to make our opinions known is to vote with our wallets. The following, which I found through the site The Most Revolutionary Act, is the type of information we need to spread to everyone. We need to know who not to trust and prevent them from continuing to rape the economy:

 

Source: How Prison Labor is the New American Slavery and Most of Us Unknowingly Support it