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No More Zombie Elections: Vote For The Right To Vote

“Voting is a fundamental right of our democracy and must be accessible to all Americans. And yet, voter suppression and gerrymandering continue to threaten our democracy. We, as voters, deserve to know how our presidential candidates will defend our voting rights, but how can we know if they aren’t asked? During the 2016 race not one single voting rights question was asked during the debates.

Sign the petition: We demand to hear exactly where Democratic candidates stand on voting rights!”

 

This is from one of the saddest e-mails I have ever read. In a country that considers itself civilized and calls itself a democracy, people who want us to cast votes for them need to be forced to discuss the fact that we no longer have a democracy. And to make matters worse, this e-mail is aimed at the political party that actually does care, a little, about the rights of the people – unlike the strong, manly, aggressively patriarchal,  patriotic party which cares about nothing other than continuing the status quo of corporate control, consolidation of personal wealth among the (mostly white male) parasitic class and keeping the masses dazed and confused – as long as we inspire fear and keep “The Others” under our boot heels. Apparently, no one considers it even possible to get GOP voters to care about voting rights. After all, almost all of them are the proper skin tone, exist in a bubble of self-congratulatory ignorance (oxymoronically known as arrogant ignorance) with an acceptable level of docility and obedience  and are virtually devoid of intellectual curiosity.

It sounds to me like material for a skit on the old Monty Python television series. When I was a little kid I’d watch that crazy show that made jokes about things I’d never heard anyone on television talk about – ridiculous things. I used the word ridiculous because back then (pre-Ronnie Raygun Cartoon Administration) it would have been just as ridiculous to think that we’d have to demand our politicians to discuss something so vital to freedom as it was to slap someone with a dead fish. (Those not familiar with Monty Python and the Flying Circus will have to do some research to understand the previous sentence).

What type of society do we have if we don’t have the right to discuss important issues in the political forum? How could we possibly be informed about the people to whom we entrust the well-being of our health, our children, our food & water and our societal structure if we don’t ask them the most pertinent questions related to the duties we need them to perform? How could we get people who care into OUR government? We obviously wouldn’t want a megalomaniacal money-grabber with no moral courage or intellectual curiosity and more desire for personal gain than for the well-being of her or his fellow citizens to take over our government.

Would we?

How could voting rights not be considered important enough to discuss? Is that why we have a racist sexual predator in the White House who embraces the corporate agenda of trading away civil rights in exchange for the right to pollute the planet without penalty? (And we call them trade “agreements” – despite the fact that most of us don’t agree. Remember, slavery was a corporate-inspired trade “agreement”)

Who actually wants things to be like this? I need to know that.

Who doesn’t care that we have children who go hungry, disabled people who are kicked out of their homes, forests necessary for our survival being destroyed every day (along with millions of animals living in them), people in prisons across the country who risked their lives and freedom defending our rights, oceans becoming sewers, working people whose tax burdens are growing while the wealthiest among us either pay the equivalent of a tip for a waitress or, if they’re large enough, no longer even pay taxes…?

This is not in any way an endorsement of the democrats who, though they aren’t nearly as despicable and heartless as the GOP, are merely the junior partners in a huge, centuries long scam to deaden the creative and critical thinking skills of the population in order to allow the ruling class to continue telling us what to think and how to live. We live extremely unnatural lives in which we have learned to ignore compassion, integrity and justice because we break under the pressure of the fear of standing up for what’s right. We seem to expect a “hero” to come along and fight for us. We’ve been conditioned to take care of number one while telling the less fortunate to bite the bullet, stay the course, pull themselves up by the bootstraps (whether they have boots or not), that patience is a virtue (while the least patient often reap financial rewards), turn the other cheek (especially when wealthy people steal our hard-earned wages by raising prices with the setting of the sun) while rewarding obedience and punishing free thinking.

“The Others” look different, the others are different, the others might be dangerous, the others are dangerous – they will take your job and rape your wife!

The connection looks ridiculous, but somehow it seems to work. You just need to pull the strings while people are looking in the direction of the distraction you set up. Our system is a huge, multi-faceted parlor game of manufactured fear, hate, desire and misdirection. Join the game. Just don’t complain when you get hit in the face with the dead fish of ignorance and hope that one day you don’t wind up one of “The Others.”

No More Class War Zombie Elections:

Link to the e-mail I received (though it’s probably been deleted by now): https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/sign-the-petition-tell-the-dnc-to-include-voting-rights-in-the-debates?source=2019VotingRightsinDebates_DK&link_id=0&can_id=b9e4cb204cac5232e4869a524917a51f&email_referrer=email_541024&email_subject=sign-the-petition-include-voting-rights-questions-in-the-debates

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Just Because No One Is Looking Over Your Shoulder It Doesn’t Mean No One Is Watching

While I was happy that my ban from WordPress was done after almost four months, it appears that, for the moment, some sites are more difficult for me to engage than others. I wonder if other WordPress bloggers experience this.

I saw a post by Uprootedpalestinian’s Blog titled “Belfast councillors vote against sending rep on Israel trade trip — Rebel Voice” in the “Reader” section and was prevented from commenting on it. Then I figured I’d tap on “visit site” to leave a comment and nothing happened. I tried many times and was unable to get to the site. I don’t want to automatically assume it’s more censorship, but then, it is about Palestine and Israel, one of the issues I’ve found over the years to be taboo to discuss open-mindedly in the United States – not only online, but even in person where I live, in New York. (I once had a rabid man angrily tell me that Palestinians are literally inferior to Israelis and don’t deserve to live in Palestine. Huh?)

Now, that site has posted regularly for years about the Palestinian struggle for civil rights and freedom and obviously is still online. But I’ve had no problem commenting on a few other sites the past few days. Maybe those who use censorship in the U.S. aren’t consistent on purpose. It’s easier this way to deny anything is going on, that there are just technical difficulties and coincidences.

“How could there be censorship? I see posts all the time about Palestine.”

Well, complete censorship would be obvious and therefore easier to condemn. Maybe people employed to censor just mess with certain sites irregularly to make telling the truth a bit more difficult while keeping the ability to call us crazy people paranoid.

“The United States is a bastion of freedom and democracy! There’s no censorship. Those people are just unpatriotic agitators. They probably work for Socialist billionaires (😂) or some Communist country (😮) trying to destroy democracy!”

Well, I don’t know what’s going on and I’m not going to pretend I do, but I know that after a while “coincidence” just doesn’t cut it. When a pattern develops, to ignore it is illogical.

I’m not going to rant, I already have. I’d like to hear from people about any similar experiences, especially when dealing with Israel, Venezuela and Fundamentalist Capitalism.

 

Other posts about my Censorship experiences:

https://ashiftinconsciousness.wordpress.com/2017/12/08/battle-of-the-airwaves-part-1/

https://ashiftinconsciousness.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/battle-of-the-airwaves-part-2/

 

A post about the danger of corporate media and self-censorship:

https://ashiftinconsciousness.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/end-censorship-end-tyranny/

 

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There Are No Children In War

There is currently a second attempt, in both the House and Senate, to pass legislation protecting the human rights of children in an occupied country under siege by an aggressive military force. The following is about the first attempt:

Co-Sponsors of H.R.4391 – Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act
115th Congress (2017-2018)

Official Title as introduced: To require the Secretary of State to certify that United States funds do not support military detention, interrogation, abuse or ill treatment of Palestinian children, and for other purposes.

These are the co-sponsors of the bill to prevent U.S. taxpayer money to be used for this despicable act, according to congress.gov:

Mark Pocan (D-WI)
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
John Conyers Jr. (D-MI)
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
Andre Carson (D-IN)
Luis Guiterrez (D-IL)
Danny Davis (D-IL)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)
Ro Khanna (D-CA)
Promila Jayapal (D-WA)
James McGovern (D-MA)
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Keith Ellison (D-MI)
Jackie Speier (D-CA)
Anna Eshoo (D-CA)
Bobby Rush (D-IL)
Donald Beyer (D-VA)
Henry Johnson Jr. (D-GA)
Peter Welch (D-VT)
Richard (D-MN)
Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-CA)
Dwight Evans (D-PA)
Seth Moulton (D-MA)
Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH)
Michael Doyle (D-PA)
Katherine Clark (D-MA)
Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ)

What were the rest of the members of Congress thinking? That waving a U.S. flag and demonizing Arabs, Muslims and other non-white people is more important than protecting children? Is that what it takes to pacify “conservative” U.S. voters and stay in office? Are we that despicable in this country? More than 400 members of the United States House of Representatives, including EVERY republican, DID NOT support the civil rights of children. If this pattern of hateful behavior among our elected officials continues, we’ve lost. And the terrorists – wherever they reside – have won.

We need to encourage our elected officials to pass House Resolution 2407, the “Promoting Human Rights For Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act” as soon as possible. And we also need to encourage senators with a conscience to sponsor similar legislation in the Senate.

Link to H.R.4391: https://uscpr.org/campaign/government-affairs/resources/support-promoting-human-rights-ending-israeli-military-detention-palestinian-children-act/

Link to H.R.2407: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/2407

9 Comments

Corporate Big Brother Isn’t So Brotherly

The day after posting an article that gave the point of view of Nicholas Maduro on the attempted coup designed by U.S. corporations to take control of the largest oil supply in the world, using our corrupt government as a tool to disingenuously provide infotainment to the ignorant masses, I was prevented from using my WordPress account. At first I thought it was just a problem with my iPad, but over the course of three and a half months I was kept out of my blog on several devices. I’ve used several library computers as well as personal devices during that time and never got into the account. Interesting…

Here’s a link to the post that is apparently so inappropriate:

https://ashiftinconsciousness.wordpress.com/2019/02/11/word-an-open-letter-to-the-american-people-from-president-nicolas-maduro/

I wondered if it wasn’t a coincidence that on so many devices I was unable to access my account. I certainly haven’t used my site to post pornography or rants of hate – although the second of those is definitely allowed online. I see it every day, including in the corporate media that I grew up believing to be responsible and respectable. (Some of it is so hateful and disgusting it might be logical to consider it pornography of the mind).

My iPad is old and, due to planned obsolescence (a commandment of Capitalism), is incredibly slow. For example when I would go to the official site of the National Basketball Association to check on the N.Y. Knicks, by the time I found out the score the game was usually over. When I occasionally go to the major league baseball website to find out how the New York Yankees are doing (hey, no hating!) I get access to stories glorifying the players who hit the most home runs but no Yankee score. But I get something.

I wondered if WordPress could be so amenable to the sadistic corporate agenda that even a tiny site with less than 400 followers going against the opinion of, apparently, about 90% of the country could pose enough of a threat to be shut down temporarily. Nah. It can’t be that. That’s ridiculous.

But why wouldn’t I be able to access my site on public computers? Hmmm. That’s a tough one to figure out. Let us not forget the USA Patriot Act signed by George W. Bush in October 2001. That anti-democratic invasion of privacy allows spy agencies to keep track of what we take out of libraries to read and watch.

I have learned over the past few years which subjects are taboo in the United States: the belief system of Capitalism and the war crimes of Israel. Venezuela’s current system does not obey the demands of the current global rulers so they are punished. Incessantly, through manipulation of information as well as the usual tools of coercion: economic blockades and other weapons of financial war. As far as the censorship, there are many facets, I’ve noticed a few.

I’m going to shift gears here for a moment.

I have a Youtube account. I opened it in 2009 and enjoyed making short videos about various subjects, the most controversial being a few local protests I’d attended, but it was mostly to post recordings of my music. Nothing actually controversial. I often listened to music and occasionally commented on videos.

Then I joined the Occupy Wall Street movement.

In October of 2011, I started posting videos from Zuccotti Park in Downtown Manhattan and once they started to get a bit more popular than my previous videos, a few months into the “occupation”, I was banned from uploading anything. Anything. Soon after, I was prevented from commenting on videos, whether political or just music. More than seven years later I’m still unable to comment on the site.

I used to have a Twitter account. I was creative in my use of hash tags and had tweets retweeted every day, but I noticed something strange – and disturbing. My “clever” tweets got me hundreds of followers fairly quickly, but every time I posted poignant questions about the state religion of the U.S. or why we allow our government to support a violent military regime in the Middle East that possesses nuclear weapons and regularly kills unarmed people, the number of “followers” who stopped following my account was larger than the number of new “followers.” The pattern persisted for quite a while.

These “followers” were apparently people who supported regulation of the financial industry, protection of endangered animals and habitats, a single payer health care system, funding of school lunches for children in poverty, increased funding of the EPA, regular testing of our drinking water, tighter health regulations of our food industry, investigating the fast tracking of dangerous synthetic chemical compounds allowed in our food and medications, elections instead of selections every November, a crackdown on government corruption, the raising of capital gains tax and federal income tax on wealthy individuals…

… but not the questioning of the economic system that is the engine powering the continuance of all of these problems that need immediate attention or asking ourselves if we should support one religion over others, thousands of miles away – despite the fact that the United States was created to escape religious fanaticism and intolerance.

I’ve learned that there are very few free thinkers in the world today. Very few. Many people still have a grasp on basic civil rights and haven’t been swept up in this disgusting movement in recent years which attempts to validate white privilege, unbridled greed, religious intolerance, the spreading of fear and hate labeled as free speech, extreme emotionally-charged reactions as a valid way of formulating ideas as opposed to acting from a place of compassion and acceptance and well, general dysfunction. Collectively, we seem to have lost our respect for individual freedoms and privacy. We think nothing of exposing our innermost thoughts to strangers, ranting publicly about personal peeves and allowing quasi-governmental control agencies to examine everything we do in life and organize us into a huge filing system. All for convenience and a sterile, homogenized existence that continues to look more like the simple survival of the herded cattle we imprison, poison and eat for pleasure every day.

Since I just gained access to my WordPress account and don’t feel confidant that I’ll have that access tomorrow. I’ve rushed this piece, letting the words flow without hesitation. I just wanted to get these thoughts out while able. I read many posts by my favorite bloggers these past months, but was unable to hit the like button or comment. I intend to “like” and comment on some of them, it depends on my access.

I appreciate anyone who has taken the time to read this “rant” – especially those who stop and let these facts sink in. Something is going on…

5 Comments

Word. An Open Letter to the American People from President Nicolás Maduro

Mindless obedience and determined ignorance are killing people and causing an incredible amount of suffering. Wake up, people…

Tony Seed's Weblog

2019.02.maduro-letter Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro

If I know anything, it is about peoples, such as you. I am a man of the people. I was born and raised in a poor neighborhood of Caracas. I forged myself in the heat of popular and union struggles in a Venezuela submerged in exclusion and inequality. I am not a tycoon, I am a worker of reason and heart. Today I have the great privilege of presiding over the new Venezuela, rooted in a model of inclusive development and social equality, which was forged by Commander Hugo Chávez since 1998 inspired by the Bolivarian legacy.

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Yale RebLaw Conference Rescinds Keynote Offer To Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krasner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 1, 2019

UNDER PRESSURE, YALE REBLAW CONFERENCE RESCINDS KEYNOTE OFFER TO PHILLY D.A. LARRY KRASNNER

Instead Invites Political Prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal

In their letter to RebLaw, they said, “The so-called progressive Larry Krasner is hell-bent on keeping [Mumia’s case] out of the appellate process. Larry Krasner was voted into office by the Black, working-class people of Philadelphia, but in the hour of truth, he has upheld the rulings of racist judges [in this case] and is doing the bidding of one of the country’s most corrupt and homicidal police forces.”

The signers added: “Prosecutors, those managers of the oppressive state, regardless of the rhetoric they may espouse during a campaign, should not be invited to speak at a conference for Rebellious Lawyering.”

Signator attorney Anneke Dunbar-Gronke noted, “Krasner will go down in history as the well-meaning, “progressive” DA who opposed justice in the case of the Nelson Mandela of our time.”

Harvard Law Student Felipe Hernández concluded, “The lesson here is that in the mind of a progressive DA, justice is doled out selectively and only when there is no real political risk involved. Thankfully the conference participants will hear from Mumia, an actual jailhouse lawyer—and pinnacle of rebellious lawyering.”

Feb. 1, 2019

Dear RebLaw attendees and comrades,

REBLAW 25 centers on a question: how can rebellious lawyers engage with our existing institutions and government? In other words, are there just and effective ways that grassroots movements can wield power through electoral politics?

In this spirit, we invited Larry Krasner, the District Attorney for Philadelphia, to serve as one of our keynote speakers. We invited a prosecutor to a Rebellious Lawyering conference hoping to foster a critical conversation about what place, if any, prosecutors should have in rebellious lawyering. Larry Krasner has spent the majority of his career as a defense attorney and civil rights lawyer, building solidarity with communities he has served. He has consistently challenged the power and credibility of law enforcement. Inevitably, prosecutors are implicated in the deep injustices of the system they serve. But as a DA, Larry Krasner has largely shown an admirable, if imperfect, new approach by using his office to challenge the morality and logic of incarceration and to divert police resources away from the project of controlling communities of color.

Given this record, we were disturbed to hear that DA Krasner will challenge the court decision giving Mumia Abu-Jamal the right to re-appeal his conviction of the 1981 death of a white Philadelphia police officer. Mumia, a longtime political activist and writer who has always maintained his innocence, spent decades on death row and is now serving a life sentence without parole. Mumia’s case is marred by injustices, including clear evidence of systematic racial bias, political targeting, conflicts of interest and police corruption. In short, Mumia’s case illustrates many of the pervasive injustices that Krasner campaigned against.

Like many of you, we were immediately troubled by DA Krasner’s decision when it was announced. Because this issue is so important—and because as RebLaw directors we strive to make decisions together, incorporating the voices of our communities—we waited to release this letter until we had a chance to reflect, discuss and determine how to best advance the goals and values that RebLaw embodies.

We cannot understand how DA Krasner’s decision in this case serves justice or the transformative vision that he ran on. We also hear and deeply appreciate the voices of the law students and activists calling on us to take action in response.

We have rescinded Larry Krasner’s invitation to serve as a keynote speaker at RebLaw, and we strongly urged him to drop his appeal. We asked the DA, instead, to join activists in a conversation about the promise and perils of “progressive prosecution,” including directly discussing his decision to appeal Mumia’s court decision. The DA declined to take part in such a conversation.

It was communities of color who lifted up Larry Krasner to a position of power. He is obligated to respond to those same movements as he wields the power the community has vested in him. We are working with activists to craft programming that examines both Mumia’s case and the successes and limitations of DA Krasner’s regime.

We look forward to coming together with all of you at REBLAW.

In solidarity,

REBLAW 25 Directors

Posted by: info@freemumia.com

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, NYC
P.O. Box 16, College Station, NY, NY 10030
212-330-8029, http://www.FreeMumia.com, info@FreeMumia.com

4 Comments

Latest News On The Case Of Mumia Abu-Jamal

 

http://www.philly.com/news/philadelphia-da-office-appeal-mumia-abu-jamal-judge-leon-tucker-20190125.html

Philly DA’s Office appeals judge’s ruling on Mumia Abu-Jamal

by Chris Palmer, Updated: January 25, 2019

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office on Friday appealed a judge’s ruling that convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal should be allowed to reargue his appeal before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The decision is the latest development in the long-running post-conviction saga of Abu-Jamal, 64, a former Black Panther and sometime radio reporter serving a life sentence for the Dec. 9, 1981, shooting death of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, 25, at 13th and Locust Streets.

The District Attorney’s Office did not comment beyond filing its notice of appeal.

Judith Ritter, an attorney for Abu-Jamal, said in an email that she was “very disappointed” by District Attorney Larry Krasner’s decision.

“Krasner’s appeal only risks delaying our opportunity to make our case to an appellate court untainted by bias,” Ritter said.

Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker ruled last month that Abu-Jamal could reargue his appeal before the high court because former Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille — who previously served as Philadelphia’s district attorney — did not recuse himself when Abu-Jamal’s case came before the court.

Tucker denied for lack of evidence an argument by Abu-Jamal that Castille had “personal involvement” in the prosecution.

Abu-Jamal’s case has moved slowly through the appeals process, which has frustrated Faulkner’s widow.

John McNesby, president of the Philadelphia police officers’ union and a frequent Krasner critic, said Friday that the district attorney’s decision to appeal was “the right thing to do.”

“Good,” he said when told of the decision. “I applaud them for doing that.”

 

January 28, 2019

We respect the trial Court and its independence as a distinct branch of government. The Philadelphia DAO’s notice of appeal reflects its agreement with some and disagreement with other aspects of the Court’s opinion. That opinion has sweeping and, in our view, problematic implications for a large volume of cases, in addition to its effect on the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Our positions will be explained in full in our legal brief.

Meanwhile, our recent discovery of additional boxes relating to the Mumia Abu-Jamal matter that were either lost or concealed by prior administrations has been disclosed. It is disturbing that these boxes were marked with the name of a supervisor from a prior administration and are numbered in a fashion that is inconsistent with information about the case entered in the DAO’s file database by a prior administration.

Since that discovery, access to those boxes has been offered to the Court and defense counsel as our constitutional obligations and transparency require.

Also, in light of the recent discovery of boxes, an exhaustive search is underway for more boxes that may be mis-marked or housed in obscure locations. Additional discoveries, if any, will be disclosed with constitutionally required transparency.”

 

From attorney Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center, Pittsburgh

They are playing both sides. First, they claim the dispute with Judge Tucker’s ruling is not specific to Mumia but about its implications in general. This is different from past DA’s that have all repeatedly asserted Mumia’s guilt. This DA has yet to do that. Second, it shows a pivot to focus on misconduct of the past administrations for misrepresenting and concealing the records in this case. This latter point suggests a potential to push the DA to take a different position if further evidence of prosecutorial misconduct emerges. The statement is bullshit, and equivocation, but it shows that the office does not want to be seen in the same light as past administrations and could be susceptible to pressure down the line, it shows Krasner is vulnerable to being perceived as having been bullied by the FOP. The statement does not change his position, but it shows that the political calculus of the office has shifted and can be pushed in the future.