Saturday, February 6, 2016

Convicted of Murder - Including 5 on Death Row - Were Exonerated Last Year


Floyd Bledsoe, left, was exonerated last year after spending more than 15 years in prison on a murder charge. (photo: Chris Neal/Topeka Capital-Journal/AP)
Floyd Bledsoe, left, was exonerated last year after spending more than 15 years in prison on a murder charge. (photo: Chris Neal/Topeka Capital-Journal/AP)

Convicted of Murder - Including 5 on Death Row - Were Exonerated Last Year

By Mark Berman, The Washington Post
03 February 16

    There were 149 people exonerated in the United States last year after being wrongly convicted of crimes, a tally that included dozens convicted of murder and an uptick in people who had pleaded guilty or falsely confessed, according to a new report.

   More than a third of the people exonerated were convicted of murder, says a report released Wednesday by the National Registry of Exonerations, a project of the University of Michigan Law School and the Northwestern University School of Law. A copy of this report was reviewed by The Post before publication.

    All of the people exonerated last year were exonerated in more than half of the states in the country and, before being cleared, had served an average of more than 14 years in prison. Five of the people who were exonerated had been sentenced to death.

  The number of people exonerated in 2015 broke a record the organization announced earlier, when it reported that 125 people were exonerated of crimes.

    All told, the National Registry says it has logged 1,733 exonerations in the country since 1989. While exonerations involving DNA may grab more attention, they accounted for a little less than a fifth of last year’s exonerations and about a quarter of all the exonerations the registry has logged.

    The growing frequency with which people have been exonerated of crimes comes amid a push to reform the country’s criminal justice system, an effort that spans political parties and follows years of harsh sentencing and explosive growth in the country’s incarcerated populations. It also means that each exoneration is less of a news event, the authors of the report noted.

    “Not long ago, any exoneration we heard about was major news,” the report stated. “Now it’s a familiar story. We average nearly three exonerations a week, and most get little attention.”

  The report attributes this surge, in part, to more prosecutors working to revisit convictions. (In one noteworthy case from 2014, a Texas man was exonerated through testing he didn’t realize was taking place.) In addition, the report says there are also more exonerations in cases involving false confessions or guilty pleas than there used to be.

  In four of 10 exonerations last year, the people had pleaded guilty, largely in cases involving charges of drug possession. About a third of all exonerations last year involved these drug possession cases.

    A remarkable number of these cases occurred in just one place: Harris County, Tex., home to Houston. More than a quarter of all exonerations last year involved people in Harris County who had pleaded guilty to drug possession, only to be cleared last year.

   The registry’s report described how the Harris County District Attorney’s office had investigated cases after noticing a number of people who pleaded guilty to possessing illegal drugs, only for a crime lab — sometimes months or years later — to reveal that the materials these people had were not drugs after all. Some of the people who wound up pleading guilty likely agreed to plea bargains to avoid long prison terms, the report noted. (Quite a few things can get mistaken for drugs, it turns out.)

   In some cases last year, former inmates who had been exonerated before last year received compensation in 2015. Ricky Jackson, who spent nearly four decades behind bars in Ohio, was awarded more than $1 million by a judge. Two half-brothers in North Carolina had been released in 2014, but they could only be compensated last year after Gov. Pat McCroy (R) completed a lengthy review process and formally pardoned them.

C 2015 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Assange Hails 'Significant Victory' After UN Rules He Has Been Arbitrarily Detained


Friday, February 05, 2016
Assange Hails 'Significant Victory' After UN Rules He Has Been Arbitrarily Detained
WikiLeaks founder has been living under asylum in Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than three years, fearing extradition to U.S.


http://www.commondreams.org/sites/default/files/styles/cd_large/public/headlines/assange.png?itok=jFSp9X9a
Assange appeared at a press conference to respond to the UN's ruling. (Screenshot)

A United Nations working group on Friday declared that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained for more than three years and should be freed and compensated, in a decision the Australian journalist called a "really significant victory."

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued its nonbinding opinion on Friday, a day after reports began circulating that the panel was likely to rule in Assange's favor.

"[T]he Working Group recognized that Mr. Assange is entitled to his freedom of movement and to compensation," the decision reads. It continues:

Having concluded that there was a continuous deprivation of liberty, the Working Group also found that the detention was arbitrary because he was held in isolation during the first stage of detention and because of the lack of diligence by the Swedish Prosecutor in its investigations, which resulted in the lengthy detention of Mr. Assange.

     Assange, who has been living under asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, where he sought refuge after publishing thousands of classified U.S. military and State Department documents, urged authorities to abide by the decision and lift warrants calling for his arrest. He is wanted in Sweden on sexual assault allegations, but has said he fears being extradited to the U.S., where he may face charges over the leaked documents.

  "I miss my family," Assange told reporters on Friday. "We have today a really significant victory that has brought a smile to my face."

   "It’s now the task of Sweden and Britain to implement the verdict," he said.

   But as of Friday, that seemed unlikely. The Swedish Foreign Ministry disagreed with the verdict, saying Assange was "free to leave the embassy at any point. Thus, he is not being deprived of his liberty there due to any decision or action taken by the Swedish authorities."

   The UK Foreign Office made similar comments. "This changes nothing. We completely reject any claim that Julian Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention," the department said, adding that it would "formally contest" the working group's opinion.

   On Twitter, whistleblower Edward Snowden warned that this kind of response "writes a pass for every dictatorship to reject UN rulings. Dangerous precedent for UK/Sweden to set."

   Melinda Taylor, who brought Assange's case to the UN, called the decision "a damning indictment of the manner in which this case has been handled [and] affirms that Mr. Assange is a victim of a significant miscarriage of justice."

She added, "Now finally with today's decision, there's light at the end of the tunnel."

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert February 6 – 8, 2016


"I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours.
The initiative to stop it must be ours." -Martin Luther King Jr.

Friends, this list and other email documents which I send out are done under the auspices of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center.  Go to www.baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com.  If you appreciate this information and would like to make a donation, send contributions to BNC, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218.  Max Obuszewski can be reached at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski [at] verizon.net.

1] Books, buttons and stickers
2] Web site for info on federal legislation
3] Join Nonviolent Resistance lists  
4] Buy coffee through HoCoFoLa
5] Two friends are looking to buy a house in Baltimore
6] West Chester peace vigil – Feb. 6
7] Take a D.C. Art Walk – Feb. 6
8] State of the Union – Feb. 6
9] Public housing – Feb. 6
10] Racism thrives – Feb. 6
11] "I Shall Not Hate" – Feb. 6
12] Film HANDS UP – Feb. 6
13] Mother Earth Poetry Vibe – Feb. 6
14] ‘Chili Bowl Sunday’ – Feb. 7
15] Equal Justice? – Feb. 7
16] A playdate – Feb. 7
17] Judaism and Human Rights – Feb. 7
18] Biography of Lola Ridge – Feb. 7
19] Pentagon Vigil – Feb. 8
20] Marc Steiner on WEAA – Feb. 8 – Feb. 12
21] Citizen activists appear in court in D.C. – Feb. 8
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1] – Buttons, bumperstickers and books are available.  “God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions” stickers are in stock. Call Max at 410-323-1607.

2] – To obtain information how your federal legislators voted on particular bills, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/.  Congressional toll-free numbers are 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073. The White House Comment Email is accessible at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/.

3] – THE ORGANIZING LIST will be the primary decision-making mechanism of the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR].  It will be augmented by conference calls and possibly in-person meetings as needed.  It will consist of 1 or 2 representatives from each local, regional, or national organization (not coalitions) that wishes to actively work to carry out the NCNR campaign of facilitating and organizing nonviolent resistance to the war in Iraq.

To join the ORGANIZING List, please send your name, group affiliation, city and email address to mobuszewski at Verizon.net.  Different local chapters of a national organization are encouraged to subscribe.  

THE NOTICES LIST will include only notices of NCNR actions and related information and is open to any interested person to subscribe.  It will be moderated to maintain focus & will include periodic notices about getting involved in NCNR national organizing.  To join the NOTICES List, send an email message to ncnrnotices-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. You will get a confirmation message once subscribed.  If you have problems, please write to the list manager at ncnrnotices-admin@lists.riseup.net.

4] – You can help safeguard human rights and fragile ecosystems through your purchase of HOCOFOLA Café Quetzal. Bags of ground coffee or whole beans can be ordered by mailing in an order form. Also note organic cocoa and sugar are for sale.  For more details and to download the order form, go to http://friendsoflatinamerica.typepad.com/hocofola/2010/02/hocofola-cafe-quetzal-order-form-2010.html. The coffee comes in one-pound bags.

Fill out the form and mail it with a check made out to HOCOFOLA on or before the second week of the month.  Be sure you indicate ground or beans for each type of coffee ordered.  Send it to Francine Sheppard at 5639B, Harpers Farm Rd., Columbia 21044. The coffee will arrive some time the following week and you will be notified where to pick it up. Contact Francine at 410-992-7679 or FrancineMSW@aol.com.

5] – Janice and Max are looking to buy a house in Baltimore.  Let Max know if you have any leads—410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at Verizon dot net.

6] – Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to www.ccpeace.org. Email ccpeacemovement@aol.com

7] – Come to the Hirschhorn Museum Sculpture Garden (SE corner), 700 Independence Ave. SW, WDC, on Sat., Feb. 6 from 1 to 2:30 PM for an exhibit curated and coordinated by Carissa Carman, Natalie Campbell and Mat Rappaport.  Media Lounge Saturday Programming extends beyond the conference walls and invites participants to work and walk, learn and feel. These collaborative explorations prompt new relations, open the door for kinship and expand professional camaraderie. DC Live is the first in a planned series of artist walks at CAA conference cities. This year, walks engage with the complex context of Washington, DC as a site for interacting with political history and policy.

   Walk and learn from voices engaged in the struggle for statehood about an issue significant for anyone interested in the project of democracy. Whose experience of an issue is most authentic, holds authority? Who is outside and who is in – who speaks for whom?  Walk guides representing national, civic, and local perspectives on the struggle for DC statehood will explore this issue in a 3-part walk. Project partners leading the walk include DC Shadow Senator Michael D. Brown and Anise Jenkins, Executive Director, Stand Up! for Democracy in DC (Free DC). Starting at Yoko Ono’s participatory work Wish Tree for Washington DC at the Hirschhorn Museum, strike out across the National Mall, in view of the U.S. Capitol, site of power exercised over DC’s governance for 2+ centuries. Hearing from voices engaged with DC statehood for and against, our walk will include spots on what would be the federal District boundary should New Columbia become a state; the John A. Wilson Building, locus of the DC municipal struggle for autonomy; and Freedom Plaza, where DC citizenry has gathered many times in resistance and protest for causes of justice.

8] – Enjoy a discussion on “The State of the Union” following a performance of “Sweat” at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW, WDC, on Sat., Feb. 6 at 2 PM.  AFL-CIO Deputy Chief of Staff Thea Lee and Washington Teachers Union Local 6 president Elizabeth Davis will lead a conversation about the current issues facing America’s unions. The discussion – which starts at 4:30 PM -- is free and open to the public; union members can save 20% on tickets to "Sweat" by calling Carmen Samuel at 202-488-4380. Visit http://tickets.arenastage.org/single/PSDetail.aspx?psn=20668.

9] – Go the Ambassador Baptist Church, 1412 Minnesota Ave. SE, WDC, on Sat., Feb. 6 from 2 to 4 PM and join Empower DC for an update on the growing movement to save DC public housing. The meeting will be focusing on how to win money for repairing public housing in the DC budget for 2017, as well as sharing updates on Barry Farm. This is a great follow up to the Annual Meeting and a chance for people to plug into the work ahead.  RSVP to Parisa at parisa@empowerdc.org.

10] – Racism thrives on silence. How can we have productive, honest conversations with our children and students about race so that the next generation is prepared to recognize and challenge racism? Join Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Northern Virginia for a panel discussion on how to talk to children about race at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax, 2709 Hunter Mill Rd., Oakton, VA on Sat., Feb. 6 from 3:30 to 5:30 PM. Parents, teachers, and anyone else who wants to be able to engage kids in these conversations is welcome to attend.  Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/talking-to-kids-about-race-tickets-20437065814.

11] – "I Shall Not Hate" Benefit and Panel Discussion for New Story Leadership is happening at the Atlas Theater,1333 H St. NE, WDC on Sat., Feb. 6 from 6:45 to 10:15 PM.  The Benefit Performance includes a reception before the performance where you will have the chance to meet the NSL community and special guests. Following the performance will be a special panel discussion featuring the creative minds behind the performance, New Story Leadership alumni, and members of the Mosaic Theatre! Go to https://newstoryleadership.givezooks.com/events/i-shall-not-hate.  Email Info@NewStoryLeadership.org.

12] –   Come to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring, 10309 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring on Sat., Feb. 6 from 7 to 9 PM as the UUCSS Racial Justice Task Force is excited to present the original documentary “Hands Up” which captures the spirit of the #BlackLivesMatter movement as it transcends state boundaries and touches the hearts of millions of Americans.  The film documents the stories of clergy and activists who are igniting a passion for justice and peace. Local filmmaker Zinhle Essamuah will participate in a discussion of the film afterwards.  Go to https://uucss.givezooks.com/events/hands-up-documentary-screening.

13] –   On Sat., Feb. 6 at 7:30 PM come to Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21201, for the Mother Earth Poetry Vibe.  A convergence of factors, ranging from the observance of Black History Month to the challenging history being made all around us—and that we are a part of—call us once again to poetry/spoken word!  Come together in an open mic of justice, conscious thought, spirituality, real life—whatever advances the village!  In the tradition of Emma Goldman’s Mother Earth magazine, come drop some progressive “fiyah” or contribute just with your presence and energy!  By the way: it’s a non-erotic poetry, non-“love jones” type of venue.  Leave the misogyny, homophobia and other unnecessary ish outside!) Go to www.facebook.com/analysisthepoet. Call 443-602-7585.  Go to http://www.redemmas.org.

14] – Gather at the corner of East Centre St. and Fallsway, Baltimore on Sun., Feb. 7 from 10 AM to 1 PM for Muslimat Al-Nisaa’s annual ‘Chili Bowl Sunday’ to serve hot bowls of chili to those homeless on the streets and also pass out cold weather clothing and toiletries to those in need. Being mindful THAT OUR HOMELESS HAVE NO SPECIFIC ADDRESS, we meet at a site easily accessible to those whom are homeless near the Fallsway Ave. bridge underpass. Sign up to bring a pot of chili or to volunteer to serve.  Contact Ammar Hanif, Associate Director of Community Outreach, at (443) 612-5224. Go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/chili-bowl-sunday-a-day-to-feed-clothe-our-homeless-neighbors-tickets-21067112300?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&utm-source=cp&utm-term=listing.

15] – Usually, the Baltimore Ethical Society, 306 W. Franklin St., Suite 102, Baltimore 21201-4661, meets on Sundays, and generally there is a speaker and discussion from 10:30 AM to noon. On Feb. 7, the topic is “Equal Justice Discussion: Fixing a Broken System.” Todd Oppenheim, public defender, will lead a discussion on the many problems with the justice system along with possible solutions. He will cover the bail system, rulings on issues of stops and seizures of citizens by the police, and the proliferation of the war on drugs within our courts. The focus of the talk will be on an insider’s perspective of everyday occurrences in the courts that often get lost with general public. 

Todd Oppenheim became a criminal defense attorney in 2013 at the Office of the Public Defender (OPD). Ever since, he has been a diligent, outspoken, and effective advocate for the indigent people of Baltimore. As a public defender, he has fought hard to defend his clients in a system that is stacked against them. Call 410-581-2322 or email ask@bmorethical.org.

16] – Go to the Petworth Library, 4200 Kansas Ave, NW, WDC, on Sun., Feb. 7 from 1:30 to 3:30 PM and join families in the community, MomsRising.org, and Jews United for Justice for a FREE, fun and powerful playdate with arts & crafts, face painting, snacks, games, and a chance to raise voices of all ages for paid family leave in DC! It's heartbreaking and ridiculous: Far too many people who work and live in DC can't earn a single day of paid family or medical leave. This means workers can't take the time to give the care ones loved ones need after the birth, fostering, or adoption of a new baby or child, or when a family member is aging or has a serious illness. And even if your family is just you right now, so many wouldn't be able to recover from serious illnesses without putting your finances in danger. See https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1gkjQ11pHk7x-oMteLaVrE_DcNtwSrxejadB7iMi7piM/viewform?edit_requested=true.

17] – Rabbi Charles M. Feinberg, executive director, Interfaith Action for Human Rights, will address Judaism and Human Rights on Sun., Feb. 7 at 3 PM at the Meeting House, 5885 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia.  Rabbi Feinberg will share a few Jewish texts as a basis for defending the dignity of every human being.  He will speak about Prison Reform Issues, especially the abuse of solitary confinement in Maryland Prisons. He will bring a returning citizen who can give first hand testimony about the deleterious effects of solitary.  Rabbi Feinberg will also share IAHR's work on combating hate directed toward the American Muslim community.  Confirm your attendance with Robin at 410-730-6044 or robin@columbiajewish.org.

18] – On Sun., Feb. 7 at 7:30 PM come to Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21201, as Terese Svoboda presents "Anything That Burns You," the first full-length biography of Lola Ridge, a trailblazer for women, poetry, and human rights far ahead of her time. The author takes the reader on a fascinating journey from Ridge's childhood as an Irish immigrant in the mining towns of New Zealand to her years as a budding poet and artist in Sydney, Australia, and then to San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. By the 1920s, she was at the center of Modernism, and good friends with William Carlos Williams and Marianne Moore, while promoting the careers of Hart Crane and Jean Toomer and editing Others and Broom, in addition to writing brilliant socially incisive poems. Considered one of the most popular poets of her day, Ridge later fell out of critical favor due to her impassioned verse that looked at the major social woes of society, infused with a radical belief in freedom gleaned from her mentors Emma Goldman and Margaret Sanger. Certain to revive the legacy of a singular artistic figure–– as unforgettable as Virginia Woolf or Frida Kahlo–– this lively portrait gives a who's who of all the key players in the arts, literature, and radical politics of the time, in which Lola Ridge stood front and center. Call 443-602-7585.  Go to http://www.redemmas.org.

19] -- There is a weekly Pentagon Peace Vigil from 7 to 8 AM on Mondays, since 1987, outside the Pentagon Metro stop.  The next vigil is Mon., Feb. 8, and it is sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.  Email artlaffin@hotmail.com or call 202-882-9649.  The vigil will be outside the Pentagon's south Metro entrance and in the designated "protest zone" behind bicycle fences across from the entrance to the Metro.  By Metro, take Yellow Line and get out at the "Pentagon" stop. Do not go to the Pentagon City stop! Go up south escalators and turn left and walk across to protest area. By car from D.C. area, take 395 South and get off at Exit 8A-Pentagon South Parking. Take slight right onto S. Rotary Rd. at end of ramp and right on S. Fern St. Then take left onto Army Navy Dr. You can "pay to park" on Army Navy Dr.,  and there is meter parking one block on right on Eads St. Payment for both of these spots begin at 8 AM.  No cameras are allowed on Pentagon grounds. Restrooms are located inside Marriott Residence Inn on corner of S. Fern and Army Navy Dr. 

20] – The Marc Steiner Show airs Monday through Friday fr6m 10 AM to noon on WEAA 88.9 FM, The Voice of the Community, or online at www.weaa.org.   The call-in number is 410-319-8888, and comments can also be sent by email to steinershow@gmail.com. All shows are also available as podcasts at www.steinershow.org.

21] –  On Mon., Feb. 8 at 10 AM in Room 220 of the D.C. Superior Court, 500 Indiana Ave. NW, lawyer Mark Goldstone, and members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance Eve Tetaz, Malachy Kilbride and Max Obuszewski will appear before Judge Wendell Gardner, Jr.  We along with ten others were arrested on January 12 at the U. S. Capitol urging President Obama to give a Real State of the union.  We three and six other defendants are facing two charges – trespass and failure to obey.  The government inexplicably dropped the charges against four of the citizen activists.

This hearing will be held to discuss several legal issues, including the stay-away orders from the Capitol imposed by the arraignment judge.  Presumably a date for a motions hearing will be determined and possibly a trial date.  Most important, however, will be the judge’s decision on how to arraign the other six defendants. Contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski@verizon.net.

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs 


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Baltimore Activist Alert - February 5, 2016

45] Peace vigil at White House – Feb. 5
46] WIB peace vigil – Feb. 5
47] Fire Graziano – Feb. 5
48] Paid family leave -- Feb. 5
49] Black Lives Matter – Feb. 5
50] Film BEYOND HATRED – Feb. 5
51] Film CITIZENFOUR – Feb. 5
52] Film VALENTINO’S GHOST – Feb. 5
53] Benefit for St. Stephen’s – Feb. 5
54] Blacktivism: The New Generation – Feb. 5
55] Ballroom Dancing – Feb. 5
56] Sign up with Washington Peace Center
57] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records
58] Do you need any book shelves?
59] Join the Global Zero campaign
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45] – On Fri., Feb. 5 from noon to 1 PM, join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in a vigil urging the powers that be to abolish war and torture, to disarm all weapons, to end indefinite detention, to close Guantanamo, to establish justice for all and help create the Beloved Community! This vigil will take place at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Contract Art @ artlaffin@hotmail.com or at 202-360-6416. 

46] – On Fri., Feb. 5 from noon to 1 PM, join Women in Black peace vigil. This vigil will take place at the corner of Light and Pratt Sts.  Stay for as long as you can. Wear black. Dress for who knows what kind of weather. Bring your own poster or help with the "NO WAR IN MY NAME" banner.  When there are others to stand with, you don't need to carry the burden alone. Do this to be in solidarity with others....when everything around us says, Be afraid of the stranger.

47] – It is suspected that Baltimore housing commissioner Paul Graziano knew that his employees were forcing women to have sex in exchange for crucial home repairs for years--yet he still has a job. It's shocking that Graziano hasn't been fired yet, but momentum is growing to get him out of office. Last week, over 3,000 UltraViolet members called the mayor's office and billboard trucks highlighting the controversy blanketed Baltimore and garnered headlines. Now, the organization will deliver over 35,000 signatures to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Can you join them? On Fri., Feb.5 from 12:30 to 1 PM, come to City Hall, 100 Holliday St, Baltimore.  Look for the people holding purple signs! RSVP http://act.weareultraviolet.org/survey/baltimore_delivery/?t=1&akid=2701.609822.sXOA2k

48] – Visit The Potter's House, 1658 Columbia Rd. NW, WDC, on Fri., Feb. 5 from 5 to 6 PM and find out more and learn how you can get involved in the PAID FAMILY LEAVE campaign which believes that everyone living and working in the District deserves the financial stability and dignity of paid time off to care for their families and ourselves when life happens. Currently, District residents are forced to make impossible choices between caring for the people we love and earning the money they need when, for example, a new baby arrives or a partner is diagnosed with cancer. You can change this by advocating for a paid family and medical leave insurance program in DC. Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/1717768911775167/.

49] –There is usually a silent peace vigil on Fridays, from 5 to 6 PM, sponsored by Homewood Friends and Stony Run Meetings, outside the Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St.  The next scheduled vigil is on Feb. 5. Black Lives Matter.  Since this is a First Friday, there will be a potluck dinner afterwards, followed by a DVD showing.

50] – The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee, Baltimore Quaker Peace and Justice Committee of Homewood and Stony Run Meetings and Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility are continuing the FILM & SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS DVD SERIES.  The DVDs will be shown at Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21218, usually on the First Friday. At 7:15 PM, from January through June, a DVD will be shown with a discussion to follow.  There is no charge, and refreshments will be available. The series theme is CHANGE IS INEVITABLE.

On Fri., Feb. 5 see BEYOND HATRED [France, 2007]. In September 2002, three skinheads were roaming a park in Rheims, France, looking to "do an Arab," when they settled for a gay man instead. Twenty-nine-year-old François Chenu fought back fiercely, but he was beaten unconscious and thrown into a river, where he drowned. The acclaimed French vérité documentary is the story of the crime's aftermath; above all, of the Chenu family's brave and heartrending struggle to seek justice while trying to make sense of such pointless violence and unbearable loss. With remarkable dignity, they fight to transcend hatred and the inevitable desire for revenge. Call 410-323-1607 or email mobuszewski [at] verizon.net.

51] –  Go to the Peace Center of Delaware County, 1001 Old Sproul Road, Springfield, PA 19064 for the First-Friday Free Large Screen Film Series on Fri., Feb. 5 at 7 PM to see  CITIZENFOUR. Doors open at 6:30 PM for light refreshments.  Call (610) 544-1818 or visit www.delcopeacecenter.org.  The screening is co-sponsored by the Brandywine Peace Community.

Have your heard?  Oliver Stone's next film, due out in May, is a dramatization of the Edward Snowden story. Get the story by seeing CITIZENFOUR [a 2014 documentary by Laura Poitras at 1 hr., 54 min.]. ‘My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.’ —Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower.

The film is last year's Oscar winner for “Best Documentary” about National Security Agency whistleblower and exile (code-name: "citizenfour"), the global reach and extent of U.S. government spying, and the cost of revealing it. The documentary is the gripping and first-hand account of the meaning and price of the biggest national security intelligence coup of our time. Go to https://ad.atdmt.com/c/go;p=11042209007763;a=11042209015489;ev.a=1;idfa=;idfa_lat=;aaid=;aaid_lat=;cache=.

52] –    On Fri., Feb. 5 from 6:45 to 7:45 PM, join the Palestine Center at the Jerusalem Fund Jerusalem Fund, 2425 Virginia Ave. NW, WDC 20037,  for VALENTINO’S GHOST [2012], narrated by Mike Farrell.  The film exposes the way the US foreign policy agenda in the Middle East influences Hollywood and mainstream media portrayals of Arabs and Muslims. It tracks the transition from the Arab as "Romantic Hero" to the Arab today as the embodiment of evil. It highlights the question of why do supremely talented artists and intellectuals in the United States consider it perfectly "realistic" to depict Arabs and Muslims in a fashion that would be described as bigoted, if applied to blacks, Jews, gays, Native Americans, et al.? 

This 95-minute film features fresh, riveting and often stunning perspectives from the legendary late American writer Gore Vidal; John Mearsheimer, author of The Israel Lobby; celebrated British war correspondent Robert Fisk; Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Anthony Shadid; Harvard and Oxford historian Niall Ferguson; historian Melani McAlister; TV star Tony Shalhoub; media expert Jack Shaheen; and Hollywood writer Alan Sharp. 

The 2015 re-release of VALENTINO’S GHOSTt condenses the film's earlier version by 15 minutes and adds 20 minutes of new material, including segments regarding the Israeli bombing of Gaza, the Charlie Hebdo murders, the Hollywood film AMERICAN SNIPER, the San Bernardino mass shooting, and Donald Trump's anti-Muslim crusade, while redirecting the 2012 version's attention to the Arab Uprisings, toward the current phenomenon of ISIS. Go to http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/d/RegisterForEvent/i/57155.

53] – There is a Positive Force DC Benefit Concert for St. Stephen's, 1525 Newton St. NW, WDC, on Fri., Feb. 5 from 7 to 11 PM.  This is part of a new monthly benefit concert series hoping to curate a space to highlight new and upcoming artists while supporting causes you care about!  RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/events/229305210734109/.

54] – On Fri., Feb. 5 from 7 to 9 PM at 805 21st St. NW, GWU School of Media & Public Affairs, 2nd Floor Reception Area, WDC, come and enjoy an art & multimedia exhibit about the experiences of black lives, shown through the mediums of photography, painting, sculpting, written pieces and a musical performance by the One Common Unity Performance Troupe! Blacktivism: The New Generation will capture and visualize their progression. The photos will represent freedom and hope. Each photo will have a quote by it from someone in the new generation of black leaders, who ties in with what the photo represents.  See https://www.eventbrite.com/e/blacktivism-the-new-generation-w-one-common-unity-tickets-20980386902.

55] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at  8 PM.  Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St.  Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be Feb. 5. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.

56] -- The Washington Peace Center has a progressive calendar & activist alert! Consider signing up to receive its weekly email: info@washingtonpeacecenter.org.

57] -- If you would like to get rid of books, videos, DVDs or records, contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at verizon.net.

58] -- Can you use any book shelves? Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at verizon.net.

59] -- Join an extraordinary global campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons: http://www.globalzero.org/sign-declaration. A growing group of leaders around the world is calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and a majority of the global public agrees.  This is an historic window of opportunity.  With momentum already building in favor of Zero, a major show of support from people around the world could tip the balance. When it comes to nuclear weapons, one is one too many.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.

“One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better" - Daniel Berrigan


The militarization of Hopkins

The militarization of Hopkins
By The News-Letter on December 3, 20151 Comment
BY MATTHEW PETTI
VICE Magazine recently conducted an investigation on campus militarization, publishing the results in an article called “There Are the 100 Most Militarized Universities in America.” The Johns Hopkins University ranked number seven. The authors claimed to use a variety of variables to determine “the closest relationships with the national security state, and profit the most from American war-waging.” Whether you agree with the authors’ methodology or not, this description of the University’s role in contemporary American society would definitely disappoint its founder, Johns Hopkins, who grew up in a Quaker home and was raised with pacifist beliefs. In addition, the closed nature of military research performed on campus hurts the University’s mission “to foster independent and original research, and to bring the benefits of discovery to the world.”
We’ve probably all heard at some point that Hopkins is “America’s first research university.” However, we’re rarely taught about the University’s namesake, other than the fact that he had an extra “S.” Johns Hopkins, born in 1795, was raised a Quaker and continued to adhere to Quaker philosophy throughout his life. Much of his famous philanthropy was due to the ideology of the Society of Friends. For those of you who don’t know much about Quakers (or “the Society of Friends,” as they call themselves), they’re not manufacturers of oatmeal. Quakerism is a religious movement that emphasizes a personal religious experience and equality between people. As a result, Quakers have been famous for their refusal to participate in war and slavery — which makes it all the more perverse that a university named for a Quaker is now an integral part of the machinery of warfare.
A casual observer may not guess that Johns Hopkins of all places ranks alongside such schools as American Military University in terms of “militarization.” After all, we’re a school known more for twitchy-eyed pre-meds. However, our institutional and informal connections with the military are very strong. The University receives more than half a billion dollars — $649,571,000 to be exact — from the Department of Defense to conduct military research. Most of this money goes to the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). While APL conducts some outer space research, its main purpose is “defense” research, which really means developing weapons, from nuclear submarines to NSA data collection algorithms.
Beyond APL, the Johns Hopkins undergraduate and graduate programs funnel a lot of talent into the military-industrial complex. It’s not just ROTC, which isn’t out of the ordinary for a large university or particularly large for an ROTC program; Hopkins ranked as ninth in the country for “national security employment,” which is determined by the number of graduates who end up in a job that requires a Top Secret clearance or higher. Johns Hopkins University is a leader in recruiting young minds and bodies for the military and intelligence apparatus — which is not a title it should be proud of, especially when there is much more pressing and socially useful work for young engineers, doctors and statesmen. As anti-war activists often say, “You can’t eat a bomb.”
It could be argued that Mr. Hopkins would not be opposed to all involvement in the military on principle since he gave material support to the Union during the Civil War. But Hopkins’s support for the Union Army bears little relevance to any debate over the state of his namesake today.
The Civil War was both an existential threat to America, and more importantly, an opportunity to do away with slavery in North America once and for all; As Mike Field wrote for The Gazette in May 1995, Hopkins was raised an “abolitionist before the word was even invented.” The interventions of the modern U.S. military are nothing like the war Hopkins supported.
The present dangers faced by the American people are not of the kind that APL’s research can fix. Nor is there the kind of moral urgency that justified Hopkins’ assistance during the Civil War; The U.S. government often finds itself fighting for a faction one day and fighting against it the next. Niall Ferguson wrote for Foreign Affairs in 2005 that America’s wars are “more like the colonial warfare the British waged 100 years ago.” Even if you believe that the American military keeps the world stable, it would be quite a stretch to say that a Quaker abolitionist would be enthusiastic about creating peace by force of arms. As many members of the Society of Friends argue, inequality and racism are much greater threats to peace than terrorism, and the billions of dollars spent on military research are billions of dollars diverted from defending against ignorance and poverty.
And even if it necessary to develop weapons and recruit intelligence agents ­— why is this being done at a civilian research university?
Alan Dershowitz’s speech at the Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium has brought the debate on academic freedom to Hopkins. While much of the “free speech debate” is focused on student activists, the real elephant in the room is the presence of federal government funding. While funding given by an impartial body like the National Institute of Health might not have a major effect on education, something like the Applied Physics Laboratory gives an unelected arm of government massive amounts of influence over the University. Much of the research done at APL is classified, which goes against the University’s mission of the free and open exchange of ideas. In fact, foreigners — including, until recently, our own President Daniels — are not allowed in certain buildings because of the nature of the research performed there. If it’s necessary to restrict access to military research, why is being performed at a private research university where 9.3 percent of the undergraduate body is foreign?
While we don’t have to become an explicitly Quaker institution just because Johns Hopkins originated as one, we should at least seek to improve the world in the ways Johns Hopkins would have envisioned. It might be necessary for someone to train officers and research means of making war, it’s not necessary for us as a university. There are plenty of institutions that already exist for this purpose. Beyond that, we have to decide what kind of values we promote as a university. Do we value regimentation and service for the State, or do we value “independent and original research”? Do we want to sequester “dangerous” information away, or do we want “to bring the benefits of discovery to the world”? If our answer to both is the former, then we might as well do away with the Hopkins name along with the Hopkins values.
If anyone is interested in continuing this discussion or participating in peace activism on campus, please contact me at mpetti2@jhu.edu.
Matthew Petti is an undecided freshman from Englewood Cliffs, N.J.
The militarization of Hopkins added by The News-Letter on December 3, 2015


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


What Can Be Learned from Hillary Clinton's Slurs Against Reconstruction

Published on Portside (https://portside.org)

What Can Be Learned from Hillary Clinton's Slurs Against Reconstruction


Ryan Cooper

Wednesday, January 27, 2016
The Week
https://portside.org/sites/default/files/styles/medium/public/field/image/reconstruction_voting_rights.jpg?itok=0VKZQEu1

On Easter Sunday in 1873, in Colfax, Louisiana, white terrorists murdered about 150 black Americans in cold blood.

The reason: simple political control. Democrats - then the party of white supremacist ex-Confederates - wanted control of the Colfax courthouse, which was the center of government for Grant Parish. Local politics in those days had largely decayed to a running guerrilla war between black Republicans and federal troops on one side, and white supremacist militias backing the Democrats on the other. So white Democrats overpowered the Republican garrison, forced them to surrender, then brutally murdered the black captives.

This was the single most violent episode of Reconstruction, according to historian Eric Foner [1]. Yet when describing why Abraham Lincoln was her favorite president at a candidate forum Monday night, Hillary Clinton butchered Reconstruction's history. It's a good opportunity to correct the record, and glean why Lincoln really was America's greatest president.

Here's Clinton:

[Lincoln] was willing to reconcile and forgive. And I don't know what our country might have been like had he not been murdered, but I bet that it might have been a little less rancorous, a little more forgiving and tolerant, that might possibly have brought people back together more quickly. But instead, you know, we had Reconstruction, we had the re-instigation of segregation and Jim Crow. We had people in the South feeling totally discouraged and defiant. So, I really do believe he could have very well put us on a different path. [CNN]

There are two problems here. Most glaring is the tacit endorsement of the racist Dunning School view of Reconstruction [2] as some bungled and unjustified imposition from the north, when in reality it was a briefly successful attempt [3] to build a true democracy in the South. Clinton implies that it was Southern anger at unjust Reconstruction policy that led them to institute Jim Crow, but in reality the entire point of the terrorist violence that overthrew Reconstruction was to re-institute white supremacy by crushing black political power. Jim Crow was the goal from the very end of the war [3].

The second problem flows from the first. Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson, actually was extremely forgiving and tolerant towards the defeated Confederates [4]. The result was to inflame violence. White Southerners were economically devastated and demoralized by losing the Civil War, and in early 1865 were largely resigned to whatever the North was going to impose. Later Reconstruction would get quite aggressive, but Johnson delayed things for many crucial months by vetoing everything Congress passed and pardoning tens of thousands of ex-Confederates. This gave the forces of white supremacy some crucial time to regroup and reorganize.

In other words, the problem with Reconstruction was not that it was too mean to the defeated slave-owning traitors of the Confederacy. The problem was that it was not mean enough - universal racial democracy should have been immediately and forcibly imposed, complete with a prolonged federal occupation of the South.

All this makes Clinton's explanation for why Lincoln was so great so much sentimental porridge. His entire presidency was consumed by the most violent war in the history of the Western Hemisphere - a war sparked by his election on a platform of halting the expansion of slavery. His true greatness lies in how he grew and changed during that war, deploying his peerless political mastery toward the preservation of the Union and the gradual extension of black rights.

At the beginning of his presidency, he still flirted with deporting black Americans to Africa; by the end he was a fervent defender of the rights of black soldiers. In response to pressure in 1864 to end the war by compromising on slavery, he leaned on the valor of black soldiers, 100,000 of whom were currently fighting in Union armies [5]: "Why should they give their lives for us, with full notice of our purpose to betray them?. I should be damned in time & in eternity for so doing. The world shall know that I will keep my faith to friends & enemies, come what will." It was a speech in favor of voting rights for black veterans that inspired yet another Confederate terrorist [6] to murder him.

In his book The Fiery TrialFoner speculated [7] about how Lincoln might have headed Jim Crow off at the pass. It's easy to imagine him gradually evolving towards where the Radical Republicans ended up by 1867 [8]: in favor of a true multi-racial democracy, imposed by federal troops where necessary. Instead of Johnson's vile racism making the government work at cross-purposes, Lincoln would have shepherded the project with his trademark skill from the start.

At any rate, such is naught but speculation. But what is certain is that Lincoln would have had to use government force to protect black freedmen, and that he was no stranger to such action. The lesson for Clinton, as she and Bernie Sanders compete for the black vote, is that sustained government force - imposed over the howling objections of many white elites - has historically been the only thing that advanced black rights in this country.

Ryan Cooper is a national correspondent at TheWeek.com. His work has appeared in the Washington Monthly, The New Republic, and the Washington Post.


Links:


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs