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Bernie Sanders Visits NYC

Bernie Sanders visited the old neighborhood Monday night, October 30th, to lend a helping hand to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. The free event was held at a music venue in Hell’s Kitchen called Terminal 5. Speakers included a union organizer, two immigrant activists – a young woman from Pakistan and a young man from Peru, an assemblyman, Chirlane McCray and Bill de Blasio, but there was no doubt as to who the star attraction was. Bernie Sanders received long, loud applause every time his named was mentioned by another speaker and throughout his speech. Chants of “Bernie, Bernie” puncuated the speeches by McCray and de Blasio along with an occasional call for “four more years.”

The crowd was an interesting mix of young and old and of all ethnicities. Issues touched on were a tax increase on the wealthy, working toward single payer health care, education for everyone regardless of income, raising the minimum wage, increased benefits for workers such as paid maternity leave and one that received howling applause –  fighting the war on immigrants, people of color, Islam and people living in poverty being waged by conservatives around the country and particularly by the trump administration.

Though de Blasio made a huge mistake in supporting Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign, he is still the only choice a sane, moral person in New York City could make (in my opinion).

His two opponents are both dysfunctional conservatives. One is GOP candidate Nicole Malliotakis, who seems to do nothing but attack de Blasio for cronyism and being soft on crime.

The other is calling himself an independent, but is a regular guest on Fox News and the radio show of blatant racist Don Imus. Bo Dietl is a vulgar ex-cop whose campaign is a “tough guy” stance on fighting crime and who wants to hire more police, continue stop & frisk policies and build more jails. He’s basically an attention whore who craves publicity of any type. He constantly slams de Blasio for “turning his back on dead cops” and attempts to spread fear of a city with uncontrollable crime if de Blasio wins reelection.

Neither spends much time talking about actual issues or shows any concern for homelessness or poverty. They’re both more interested in increasing income for business executives and police officers.

I took a few pictures, but I have to apologize for the low quality as my “camera” is an old, feeble iPad. 😀

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You Get What You Pay For

I spent hours today putting together a collection of photos I took during a recent walk around San Francisco. I added a sentence or two underneath each photo (or pair of photos) and was going to post it as something of a photo journal.

Except, there was a problem.

Some of the photos didn’t appear and some of the text was printed in bold, while some was not.

I decided to try and fix it and hit “edit.” I started by deleting what was printed in the areas where the missing photos were (in the draft), in case I’d made a mistake or some inadvertent technical problem occurred, and put them back in. I did this a few times, but the same photos were missing each time.

Bold text is something I started having problems with a year or two ago, but I learned how to solve it. By looking at a number of old posts which still had bold text, I figured out how to go into the HTML setting in the draft and type something at the beginning and end of each paragraph that would allow the text to be seen in bold lettering. Now, I do this every time I post something. It’s tedious, but worth seeing my posts in bold print. My eyesight isn’t what it used to be so bold type prevents an unnecessary strain on my eyes. I also figured there might be a few people who read my posts that have the same problem.

I carefully checked every paragraph to make sure everything was done properly. There was still text in the post that wasn’t in bold print. I did all of this while checking a “preview”, then thought that perhaps it wasn’t showing up in preview, but would be correct after posting. So I posted it, but it was still incorrect. So, I’m currently unable to post the draft.

About two years ago I started having serious problems writing my essays in WordPress. I struggled with it for a while, then started writing everything in the note section of my iPad. I would then put them into WordPress drafts with copy & paste. I’ve periodically lost a tool in WordPress over the years and know it’s because I don’t pay for the site so I’ve adapted to each change. However, this seems like a bit too much to adapt to. It’s too limiting.

I’m curious to see if this “complaint” will appear online the way it’s put into the draft section.

If it does, the problem might just be in posting assays with photos. Either way I’ll probably stop posting soon on WordPress (I have a few “works in progress”) and look elsewhere for a new blog. They might all be the same, of course, – the “you get what you pay for” syndrome. I’ll see.

I’m curious whether there is anyone who reads my blog that has had the same, or a similar problem, with their blog. I don’t pay for a better quality blog (obviously) and my iPad is old. Both play a part in this, but I’m curious how much is due to the low quality blog and how much is the iPad. I might be able to figure this out if people help by adding comments about similar experiences. I know I don’t have many followers so this might be fruitless, but I’m giving it a try anyway. 😀

Thank you to everyone who reads this and who comments.

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Random Observations and Thoughts

1) I was walking along University Ave. in Berkeley and had my way blocked by a group of people. There was something odd about the scene that took a moment to comprehend. There were eight people standing in a circle, but no one was speaking. They all appeared to be in their twenties and they all had an electronic device in their hands that they were intently staring into. Seriously. I noticed a couple smiles, but was still a little weirded out by it. This habit of being transfixed by an electronic device has become an obsession. It looked like a scene in a comedy skit making fun of modern youth.

2) I was sitting on a concrete wall, engrossed in a book (by Carlos Castaneda) and witnessed a group of about 20 boys led by a few young men walk into a store that sells communication devices and “data plans” according to the huge lettering screaming from the windows. They were all wearing identical purple t-shirts. I assumed the shirts were from a school, sports team or youth organization. A while later they noisily exited the store and a few taunted a dog tethered to a post out front. I was about to intervene when one of the men finally said something. This happened two more times.

One man walked away from the group and held his phone in his hand while another had the boys line up in front of the store. Then the one with the phone prompted a group cheer by yelling “metro!” and snapped a photo as the boys responded with an enthusiastic “pcs!” I was confused until I noticed the name above the store window and on the t-shirts was Metro PCS. Corporate cheerleading is very creepy.

It’s disturbing that these men found it difficult to reprimand abusive behavior, but happily enforced corporate conditioning.

3) I met a weather-beaten homeless man one morning on the Embarcadero in San Francisco who held a sign that read “help out an old goat” on his lap while sitting on a bench. I gave him money and spoke with him for a while. We had a very interesting conversation and I found him to be considerably more balanced than most people I meet – people who have a home, a job, a bed and plenty of food to eat. He didn’t tell me what transpired to land him in the streets, but he did tell me that he sleeps in Golden Gate Park at night and hangs out in tourist areas to collect money and food from generous people. He smiled as we spoke, though I detected a slight feeling of defeat beneath the smile. I wondered if it was because of the fact that people look at him with revulsion despite the fact that he hurts no one, has minimized his “footprint’ on the planet and has accomplished the enviable task of surrendering to life’s circumstances. This particular day was a rough one for cash for him, but good for food. As I was leaving he asked if I was hungry and offered me food. I declined, but thanked him and was impressed by his fortitude to survive the streets as well as his gratitude for what he receives from people.

Is he humble because he lives on the streets or is he living on the streets because he’s humble?

4) I was on a bus in Las Vegas and suddenly five plainclothes cops got on. They told everyone to stay seated and explained they were going to ask the passengers questions. The interrogations were done in English and Spanish. They asked everyone the same questions:

Where did we start our journey?
To where were we heading?
How many pieces of luggage did we have?
Did we have any guns, bombs or drugs on the bus?
Would we allow our luggage to be inspected?

The final question made my skin crawl.

I heard no one object to physical inspection of our belongings and felt extremely uncomfortable about either potential answer.

Do I stand up for my rights or do I cause suspicion to be cast upon me for being the only person to object? Do I demand some semblance of democracy or do I succumb to the threat of a police state?

As it turned out, I was the only passenger who requested an explanation and was given a predictably vague response (and an annoyed look in the eyes of the officer I spoke with – despite the constant smile).

Funny thing. They had a dog sniffing the luggage while they were asking for permission.

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Ordinary People

To paraphrase Henry David Thoreau, the masses of modern society have been leading “lives of quiet desperation” for many years.

This “quiet desperation” is an inevitable result of being locked out of participation in the fake democracy we’ve built in the U.S. as well as the feeling that “things will never change.”

However, the quiet is giving way to loud, manic anger and the desperation, breeding with mounting fear and anxiety, is looking more like deep, intense misery. This deadening of hope has caused a wave of sporadic violence which causes a further distancing between people who desperately need to get together to eliminate the cancer of corporate control destroying life on the planet.

When does “resigning yourself to your fate” become giving up on life? At the very least, it limits your possibilities. At its worst, it can crush hope and defeat you, leaving a shrunken husk of a person. This could be likened to the carcass of a former democracy killed through apathy and complacency that we live in. Obviously, one leads to the other.

Yes, we can blame the ownership class for their relentless class warfare, but we can’t blame them for our giving up and allowing the continuation of this monstrous disaster. Some of us fall for the deep indoctrination the fear slingers weave through virtually every piece of information in corporate media.

If you work hard, don’t make waves, fly a flag to show patriotism and follow the commandments of the state-sponsored religion, you will succeed.

Yes, and an angel will drop from heaven and bless you with super powers.

Why do so many of us obey the rulers’ lap dogs who are just obeying their masters? Why don’t we see this second hand obedience for what it is?

Cowardice.

One of the reasons for the loss of hope these days is the feeling most of us have that we cannot do anything about.

“I’m just one person. What can I do?”

Well, if everyone (or a significant percentage of the population of ordinary people) does what one person can do, things will change. We need to feel inspired by courageous people around us and find our courage. We all have it. With some of us it’s merely a bit deeper under the many invisible layers of obedience that have been plastered onto us since birth.

We need to throw off the shackles of today’s slavery (obedience) and regain our humanity. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things…

Jackie Robinson (as an ex-Army soldier returning from WWII before he became a legendary baseball player)

Rosa Parks

Fred Hampton & Mark Clark

Mumia Abu-Jamal

George L. Jackson

James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner & Andrew Goodman

Rev. George Lee

Lamar Smith

Herbert Lee & Louis Allen

William Lewis Moore

Medgar Evers

Rev. Bruce Klunder

Jimmie Lee Jackson

Viola Gregg Liuzzo

Rev. James Reeb

Wharlet Jackson

Chelsea Manning

Jeremy Hammond

Deric Lostutter

Waleed Abdulkhair

Gao Zhosheng

Colin Kaepernick

Who’s next?

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A Thought About Christopher Columbus

Was Christopher Columbus an explorer or a psychopath? Or was he both?

He was a rapist, murderer and slave trader. We know that from historic documents. He received money from a powerful woman in Spain and traveled the Atlantic Ocean in search of a shorter route to India and a shortcut to wealth. To rape, kill and imprison people in pursuit of this wealth was somehow acceptable to people in certain circles in Europe in those days. Something about “taming the wild” or some such nonsense.

When the Spanish ships commanded by an Italian landed in Hispaniola in 1492, the barbaric Europeans came into contact with the Taino people. They put them to work as slaves under threat of murder to search for gold. After a year or so of searching they decided to instead load slaves onto their ships to bring back to Spain. After four decades of slavery (with the blessing of the Catholic Church) over seven million Taino were murdered. By 1535, the Taino culture was no more.

Today we actually celebrate this genocide that has continued for more than five centuries. Though isn’t taught in our schools that way, that’s basically what has happened.

Manipulative people making fortunes on war, genocide, slavery and other types of oppression have been making the rules in our society for far too long. They control information to keep everyone in formation, but we have access to evidence of what these despicable criminals in the past did (as well as what today’s professional criminals do).

Why do we continue to pretend that they “discovered” people more civilized than they themselves were? The Taino people certainly wouldn’t call what the Europeans did discovery. Why do we still allow the manipulation of facts that serve only to continue a white-washing of history and to embolden continued imperialistic tendencies? A society needs to suppress this type of insidious behavior and admit the truth of its murderous past in order to become civilized.

Some day, if we survive the willful destruction across the planet of life as we know it, we may no longer need to ask such questions. In the meantime, why don’t we change the name of this “holiday” to Indigenous Rights Day or something else more appropriate and conducive to honesty?

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And Justice For All (Who Can Afford It)

Connie Hawkins passed away yesterday. I considered writing a little something about him. I was a big fan of “The Hawk” growing up for two reasons. He was the most spectacular basketball player I’d ever seen up to that point in my young life and word on the street in New York was that he’d been unfairly treated during a basketball point-shaving scandal involving high school players from NYC. He was kicked off his college team and banned from playing in the NBA. I read his autobiography, “Foul”, in high school and enjoyed it. This guy played the game “above the rim” before the legendary “Dr. J” and changed the way professional basketball is played.

However, I saw another story that is significantly more important to talk about.

It’s about John Thompson.

No, not the famous college basketball coach who stalked the sidelines for decades at Georgetown University. This is a much different story…

On January 17, 1985, police kicked in the door of a house in Louisiana and arrested 22 year old John Thompson in front of his girlfriend, two sons and grandmother for car jacking and murder. He had a co-defendant in the murder case, a man named Kevin Freeman.

In a newspaper article, he had this to say about Freeman, who had implicated him in the murder case when questioned by police:

“A few weeks earlier he had sold me a ring and a gun. It turned out that the ring belonged to the (murder) victim and the gun was the murder weapon.”

So not only did this man involve him in the crime, he had dumped evidence in his possession.

“My picture was on the news and a man called in to report that I looked like someone who had recently tried to rob his children. Suddenly, I was accused of that crime, too. I was tried for the robbery first. My lawyers never knew there was blood evidence at the scene and I was convicted based on the victim’s identification.”

“After that, my lawyers thought it was best if I didn’t testify at the murder trial. And now that I officially had a history of violent crime because of the robbery conviction, the prosecutors used it to get the death penalty.”

He was sentenced to 49 years in prison for a car jacking he didn’t commit. Then, he was convicted of a murder he didn’t commit and given the death penalty.

He spent fourteen years in a maximum security prison in Louisiana infamous for housing Black Panther Party members, Albert Woodfox, Herman Wallace and Robert King – the Angola Three. Woodfox spent 43 years in solitary confinement and Wallace 41. Robert King was slightly luckier. He only spent 32 years at Angola, 29 in sollitary confinement. This is not an institution known for justice or compassion. It was named for the African nation from which black men had been abducted by slave traders in order to work on a plantation on the site.

Back to John Thompson…

In 1999, a mere thirty days before he was to be executed, a private investigator hired by Mr. Thompson’s attorneys happened upon an amazing piece of evidence that would change everything. It was microfiche containing a laboratory report on the blood type of the person who had committed the car jacking. It was dated two days before the trial began.

It did not match John Thompson’s blood type.

Then it was discovered that a former assistant prosecutor on the case had admitted in a death bed confession to deliberately hiding this important evidence from the defense attorneys.

Additional tests confirmed that the perpetrator’s blood type did not match Mr. Thompson’s blood type or DNA and the car jacking conviction was overturned.

In 2002, the murder conviction was overturned as well. He was retried a year later and acquitted. It took about a half hour in deliberation for the jury to find him not guilty. He was awarded $14 million in damages by a jury in 2007 which would work out to $1 million for each year on death row. That’s fourteen years inside a barren cell with no privacy, no window, no family, no walk in the woods – nothing but fear, anger and time to thing about his impending execution.

But apparently that was too good for John Thompson.

At least that’s what five U.S. Supreme Court justices believed in 2011 when they ruled he wasn’t entitled to the money that fellow citizens believed he deserved. One of those five justices in Clarence Thomas, the former Monsanto attorney notorious for committing sexual harassment, but who made it to the highest court in the land anyway.

Justice: 1) the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness or moral rightness:
to uphold the justice of a cause.
2) rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason:
to complain with justice.
3) the moral principle determining just conduct.

Five prosecutors were complicit in violating John Thompson’s constitutional rights by withholding evidence that could clear him, but Clarence Thomas and four other conservative justices felt differently. They decided that the defense had failed to show that the prosecutor’s office demonstrated a systematic withholding of exculpatory evidence.

“I don’t care about the money,” he wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed in 2011. “I just want to know why the prosecutors who hid evidence, sent me to prison for something I didn’t do and nearly had me killed are not in jail themselves.

“There were no ethics charges against them, no criminal charges, no one was fired and now, according to the Supreme Court, no one can be sued.”

John Thompson died yesterday at the age of 55.

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Lynne Stewart Birthday Memorial

To all my people in NYC, show support for civil rights hero, Lynne Stewart (and for everyone else, if you don’t know who she was, look it up…)

From the Free Mumia NYC website:

Join us as we celebrate Lynne Stewart’s birthday this coming Friday:

Friday, October 6th
6:30-10:00pm ~ Doors open @ 6:00pm
The Theater @ 80 St. Mark’s Place
80 St. Mark’s Place between 1st & 2nd Avenue, Manhattan.

FILM
Flavia Fontes: Lynne Stewart Documentary

PANELS:
What is a Political Prisoner ?
Anne Lamb New York Jericho, Sekou Odinga North East Political Prisoner Contingent, Mimi Rosenberg Building Bridges: WBAI Radio, Frank Velgara ProLibertad

Getting Our Political Prisoners On the National Agenda
Sara Flounders International Action Center, Bob Lederer queer anti-imperialist, Resistance Bklyn, Daniel McGowan Certain Days Collective, Assemblyman Charles Barron P.O.W.E.R., Ralph Poynter Lynne Stewart Organization

GUEST ARTISTS
Raging Grannies
Raymond Nat Turner ~ Jazz Poet
Janine Otis & Friends
The Poynter/Stewart Grandchildren “A dramatic interpretation”
Adiallo, Professor of Hip Hop
Lanar “Barry White Interpreter”
Serafina Brown
Dale Ortega Duo

Suggested donation at the door $5~$10
(After expenses, all proceeds go to political prisoners)
No one turned away!

Refreshments will be served
Compliments of: Ellen Kirshbaum, Dolores Cox, Abu’s Bakery and Nasser Ahmed

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