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Democracy Now!

The Tropic of Torture, from Guantanamo to Washington

By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan | Democracy Now!

All eyes are on the U.S. Senate this week for the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump, only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history. But another important trial is happening at the same time, far from the eyes of the public, at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Behind the razor-wire fencing of “Camp Justice,” five of the remaining 41 Guantanamo prisoners sit through more pretrial hearings, almost 20 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks they are charged with perpetrating.

One witness this week is Dr. James E. Mitchell, a retired Air Force psychologist who, with his partner, psychologist John “Bruce” Jessen, developed and then implemented the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program. Mitchell and Jessen actively participated in torture sessions at CIA black sites. Both have long maintained that they were only contractors, taking orders from the CIA. Despite having no prior experience with interrogation, they were paid handsomely, receiving at least $81 million in taxpayer dollars from the U.S. government for their work on the torture program. Torture is a war crime, and those who torture should be prosecuted. But Mitchell is not the one on trial this week. Indeed, he defiantly said in court this week, “I’d get up today and do it again.” Mitchell was sitting in the courtroom, not far from his torture victims.

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Democracy Now!

Noam Chomsky: Members of Migrant Caravan Are Fleeing from Misery & Horrors Created by the U.S.

As President Trump escalated his attacks and threats against the Central American migrant caravans making their way to the U.S.-Mexico border, the Trump administration unveiled new sanctions against Venezuela and Cuba on Thursday. National security adviser John Bolton declared Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua to be part of a “troika of tyranny” and a “triangle of terror.” We speak with world-renowned professor, linguist and dissident Noam Chomsky about U.S. foreign policy in Central America. He joins us in Tucson, Arizona, where he now teaches at the University of Arizona. Chomsky is also institute professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught for 50 years.

AMY GOODMAN: As President Trump escalates his attacks and threats against the Central American migrant caravans making their way to the U.S.-Mexico border, the Trump administration unveiled new sanctions against Venezuela and Cuba Thursday. National security adviser John Bolton declared Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua to be part of a “troika of tyranny” and a “triangle of terror.” Bolton was speaking in Miami, Florida.

JOHN BOLTON: We will no longer appease dictators and despots near our shores. We will not reward firing squads, torturers and murderers. We will champion the independence and liberty of our neighbors. And this president and his entire administration will stand with the freedom fighters. The troika of tyranny in this hemisphere—Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua—has finally met its match.

AMY GOODMAN: As John Bolton spoke in Miami on Thursday, Democracy Now!‘s Nermeen Shaikh and I spoke with the world-renowned professor, linguist and dissident Noam Chomsky. He joined us from Tucson, Arizona, where he now teaches at the University of Arizona. Noam Chomsky is also institute professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he’s taught for more than 50 years. His recent books include Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy, Who Rules the World? and Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power.
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Amigxs de Mumia México

(Español) Un diálogo sobre la supremacía blanca en Estados Unidos con Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz

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“El capitán John Smith fue un mercenario,” dice Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz al iniciar su conversación sobre la supremacía blanca con Johanna Fernández en un programa de Inside the Activist Studio el 9 de enero de 2018.

¿En serio? ¿El valiente explorador protegido por Pocahontas y recordado cada año en el Día de Acción de Gracias en Estados Unidos?  ¿El líder, según Walt Disney y otros admiradores suyos,  que buscó amistad entre la tribu algonquina del jefe Powhatan y los sufridos colonos ingleses?

Pues sí, él mismo, pero no fue así, dice la autora de Cargada: Una historia desarmante de la Segunda Enmienda. Smith había peleado contra los musulmanes en Turquía durante varios años en beneficio del imperio británico. Al llegar a lo que sería Jamestown, Virginia, en 1607, ayudó a los colonos a conquistar a los residentes de los bosques, granjas y áreas de pesca. No lograron esclavizarlos, pero  tomaron sus tierras y todo lo que tenían a pesar de su resistencia. La colonización del estado de Virginia siempre se logró con un contingente militar.

Cuando los extraordinariamente ricos hacendados de Barbados llegaron a la parte de Virginia que se convirtió en Carolina del Sur, los blancos eran superados en número por los Africanos esclavizados. La mayoría de los indígenas habían sido sometidos a la limpieza étnica. Los hacendados llevaron con ellos a sus patrullas para controlar y atrapar a esclavos. Estas se aumentaron a finales del siglo XVII con el cultivo de algodón. En otras partes de Virginia, las patrullas eran participantes en las milicias. Dice Dunbar Ortiz que el panfleto de Mumia Abu-Jamal** sobre los orígenes de la policía fue su inspiración para que ella agregara a su libro un capítulo sobre las patrullas.

La historiadora relata que en la colonia de Virginia, fue ilegal que un colono blanco saliera de su casa sin arma, asistiera a una iglesia sin arma, o descuidara de tener su arma engrasada y lista para disparar. Hubo recompensas para atrapar a un esclavo o tomar el cuero cabelludo de uno.

La Segunda Enmienda a la Constitución de Estados Unidos sobre el derecho de poseer y portar armas se basa en el mandato a mantener activas las patrullas y las milicias y la obligación de cada colono blanco de participar en ellas.

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Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano

Trump, Ockham’s Razor, Schrodinger’s Cat, and the Cat-Dog

Trump, Ockham’s Razor, Schrodinger’s Cat, and the Cat-Dog.

Listen here (in Spanish): (Descarga aquí)  

Listen to the English translation: (Descarga aquí)  

December 28, 2017.

Once again good morning, afternoon, evening, middle-of-the-night.

Perhaps some of you [alguna, alguno, algunoa] remember that the late SupMarcos insisted that the capitalist system cannot be understood without the concept of war. Supposing, of course, that it is a concept. He would say that war was the motor that had permitted, first, the expansion of capitalism, and then its consolidation as a world system. Capitalism also turns to war to confront its recurring and profound crises.

Oh, I know, what else could be expected from a solider? But I should note, as a way of making amends, that he didn’t limit “war” to military war. Maybe a rereading of his correspondence with Don Luis Villoro Toranzo in the year 2010, which was made public in early 2011, could help us understand this. In the first of these public missives, they analyze the apparent ineffectiveness of the so-called “War on Drugs,” initiated by the war videogame lover Felipe Calderón Hinojosa. And I say “apparent ineffectiveness” because basically, looking at the results, it was and is ineffective for combatting organized crime, but it was effective at installing soldiers as the de facto government in various regions.

I bring this up because, in contrast to that deceased guy, in my understanding, capitalism could be studied as a crime.

Addressing it as such would require of us scientific knowledge of subjects which might seem distant from what are traditionally known as the “social sciences.”

In short, you can catalog this theoretical detour however you’d like. Perhaps it is the product of an unfinished correspondence course on private detection begun in that faraway time when “mail” didn’t refer to online accounts and screennames, and when an address meant the postal code and not the IP, or internet protocol; a time when one could study, also by correspondence, anything from a course on locksmithing to one on aviation piloting, including, of course, the one on “how to have a body like Charles Atlas[i] without going to the gym and in only a few weeks,” which wasn’t necessary for me to take given my famously beautiful and toned legs (arrrrrroz con leche[ii]).

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El Kilombo

On the Hodor Effect Paralyzing the US

On the Hodor Effect Paralyzing the US

Ana Curcio interviews Alvaro Reyes about Charlottesville, white supremacy, and contemporary challenges for politics in the US


Could you briefly explain the events that took place in Charlottesville and help put them in context?

As some of your readers may know by now, on August 11 and 12, an alliance of some 500 white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, in what they called a “Unite the Right” rally. They gathered to protest the planned removal of a monument of Robert E. Lee, the general that led the slave-holding confederate states’ army during the U.S. civil war. “Unite the Right” organizers have since hailed this rally as the largest gathering of white supremacists in decades.

In response, many hundreds of antifascist counter-protesters also converged on the city to repudiate what they rightly denounced as “racist terror.” On the afternoon of the 12th, James A. Fields, a neo-Nazi associated with the white supremacist group “Vanguard America,” attacked the antifascists by plowing his car into the crowd (a tactic that we now know right-wing organizations had been promoting online for the last few months), injuring 35 people and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Fueled by anger over Heyer’s death, people across the country have since demanded that confederate monuments be removed from their cities. On Monday, August 14, here in Durham, North Carolina, protestors took the streets and pulled a statue of a confederate soldier off its pedestal, bringing it crashing to the ground. The very next day, the Baltimore city council voted unanimously to take down all confederate monuments. The demand for the removal of confederate monuments has spread like wild fire across the country and has grown to target a whole array of monuments dedicated to figures involved in slavery, Native American genocide and the massacre of Mexicans in the United States, and even monuments from the more recent past. A substantial movement for example has emerged demanding the removal of the statue honoring Frank Rizzo, the Police Commissioner and Mayor of Philadelphia from the late 1960s to the early 1980s who was notorious for terrorizing Black and Latino Philadelphia with a ‘shoot first ask questions later’ approach throughout his time in office.

It is important, I think, to note that for both the fascist and antifascist forces, the struggle over these monuments is not just about the way that history gets told; it is about two different visions of what we should do regarding the extraordinary level of racism present in the country today. The fascists point to these monuments as a reminder of the white supremacist foundations upon which the United States was built and argue that these foundations fully justify calls for the incarceration of Blacks, the criminalization and deportation of Latino migrants, and the exclusion of Muslims. Meanwhile, the antifascist forces point to these monuments to argue that unless we deal with the foundational nature of white supremacy in this country – a white supremacy, it must be remembered, that served as a direct if rarely mentioned inspiration for Hitlerian fascism – we cannot adequately explain the contemporary growth of racist extremism. In other words, it is as if it’s only at the moment when the global conditions of possibility for that project called the United States are rapidly disappearing that everyone is forced to see that project for what it was.

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(Español) Batallas de la historia

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Por Mumia Abu-Jamal

Los eventos en torno a Charlottesville, Virginia, tienen una resonancia mucho más allá de los límites de la universidad Old Dominion.

Aunque empezaron como un asunto local, en poco tiempo asumieron un carácter nacional, porque vienen de la historia de la nación, una historia no solo en disputa, sino amargamente no resuelta.

Esa historia, por supuesto, es el veneno tóxico de la supremacía blanca y su detonante: la esclavitud africana. La intencional explotación económica, social, comunal y psíquica de los africanos duró siglos para el beneficio financiero y psicológico de la nación blanca.

Esta toxina ha contaminado el torrente sanguíneo de la nación e infectado a todos los segmentos de la sociedad. Fue una parte integral del desarrollo de la blancura como la identidad fundamental para millones de personas que se llamaban “americanos”.

Mientras observamos las protestas que recorren el país, la primer cosa que debemos reconocer es que estas no se tratan de monumentos. Tampoco se tratan de la Guerra Civil. Se tratan del presente ––de la manera en que el país se define, cómo se ve y cómo entiende su futuro.

La historia, la historia verdadera, tiene más que ver con hoy que con ayer, porque es el camino al mañana y vive o muere en el pensamiento de la juventud que aprende o desaprende cómo este país nació, y con cuál papel jugarán en los días por venir.

El gran luchador por la libertad, Malcolm X, dijo una y otra vez que de todos nuestros estudios, la historia recompensa mejor nuestra investigación. Él sabía esto, no solo porque su maestro, el honorable Elijah Muhammad lo enseñó, sino porque           él lo aprendió en la experiencia de su vida. Cuando era preso del estado de Nueva York, era tan odiado que le dijeron Satán,

El aprender una historia negra más profunda le hizo un hombre nuevo. Le dio confianza y transformó su aversión en amor. Le dio propósito, y lo que es tal vez más importante, perspectiva. Perspectiva. Cómo mirar al mundo, cómo interpretarlo, cómo entender por qué las cosas son como son.

Éste es el verdadero valor de la historia. Nos enseña una perspectiva del ahora, y no del ayer.

La existencia de los monumentos, ahora de color verde por la oxidación y la caca de palomas, parece ser el tema básico de la reciente polémica.

Pero la Presidencia de Trump indicó un gran salto atrás. Es la expresión de un temor profundo al futuro, al cambio, a la transformación.

Entonces, sus seguidores se aferran al ayer, invocando la tradición, como si la tradición central de Estados Unidos no fuera la esclavitud africana, la explotación de los negros, un sistema que convirtió al país en un poder económico internacional.

Por esto, Charlottesville es un momento decisivo, el punto clave sobre el cual la nación puede retroceder o avanzar, así creando una nueva historia. Esto, puede ser determinado y será determinado sólo por las y los estadounidenses.

Desde la nación carcelaria, soy Mumia Abu-Jamal.

–© ‘17maj

18 de agosto de 2017

Audio grabado por Noelle Hanrahan:

Texto circulado por Fatirah

Traducción Amig@s de Mumia, México


The Nation

Trump’s Allies Are Taking Over the Media and Creating Their Own Reality

By Eric Alterman – The Nation

Is anybody paying attention?

On July 17, the Idaho television station KBOI tweeted a story about a would-be robber who allegedly “arrives early at banks to find doors locked.” Even more confusing than the indecipherable English was the photo it ran: that of Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson being arrested at a protest in Baton Rouge (the robbery suspect was not even black). Having had the mistake called to their attention, the station apologized, although another story on KBOI’s website used the same image of Mckesson beneath the headline “Officer wounded in deadly ambush sues Black Lives Matter.”

That KBOI is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Group should surprise no one who has ever paid attention to the company—a category, alas, that includes precious few people. Sinclair is a far-right media operation that until recently has flown under the radar of all but the most studious media critics. It received brief scrutiny in December, when it was revealed that Jared Kushner had struck a deal with the company to give it special access to Donald Trump in exchange for a promise to run Trump interviews across the country without commentary. These were especially important to the campaign in swing states like Ohio, where Sinclair reaches many more viewers than networks like CNN. More recently, the station made news when its vice president and director, Frederick G. Smith, whose family owns the company, made a $1,000 donation to Greg Gianforte’s House campaign the day after he assaulted Ben Jacobs of The Guardian for the crime of asking a question about Trumpcare. Now the company is poised to take over Tribune Media in a $3.9 billion deal. Add Tribune’s 42 stations to the 173 that Sinclair already owns, and you’ve got the single biggest conglomerate of TV stations in America, reaching 70 percent of all households in the nation.

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Prison Radio

Mumia Abu-Jamal: The Fall


Listen here:
(Descarga aquí)  

It has been exceedingly difficult to write about the Trump presidency, seemingly crumbling before our eyes. In part that’s because of the sheer pace of new revelations, scandals superseded by new scandals, the inane utterances – and tweets – of the president, a daily cascade of craziness.

Part of this is the news media, which rushes at us on a 24-hour clock, with no sense of cessation. Part of it is Trump’s sheer obsession with social media and his unique ability to undermine his own spokespersons with a tweet.

We are in the midst of the latest reality show – The Trump Show! – featuring Donald J. Trump, a manic superstar who hasn’t decided whether to host a comedy or a tragedy, but has seemingly settled for farce. One recent New York Times editorial mused about being a nation ruled by a child, a petulant, ill-mannered, tantrum-prone 6-year-old playing emperor of the world.

In the space of a quarter of a year, Trump has led his administration into the morass of the Russia trap.

His country, by the way, suffers from Trump-induced exhaustion. His party (The Trump Party) appears to be a union of maniacs.

Their central program? To defend a president who seems unable or unwilling to defend himself.

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Democracy Now!

Donald Trump’s Ajit (Pai)-prop

By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan

“You’re fired!” When Donald Trump ousted FBI Director James Comey Tuesday night, it was more than just another of Trump’s shocking executive actions. Comparisons to Watergate are chillingly relevant; Comey was investigating potential collusion between the Russian government and Trump’s presidential campaign. Just days earlier, Comey asked the Justice Department, run by Trump crony Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for more resources for the investigation. Trump’s termination of Comey echoed President Richard Nixon’s firing of the special prosecutor investigating Watergate, Archibald Cox, in what was called “The Saturday Night Massacre.”

Amidst the daily deluge of scandal, one detail remains crystal clear: Donald Trump understands the power of the media, and he wields that power relentlessly. From the announcement of his Supreme Court nominee in a suspenseful event that could have been drawn from reality TV, to his incessant and inflammatory tweeting, Trump manipulates the media and, more often than not, controls the news cycle. His unpredictable pronouncements have captured the attention of the corporate media, almost to the point where very little else is covered.

Behind the headline-grabbing chaos, though, decades of progressive policy achievements are being quietly undone by the army of loyalists that Trump is assembling around him. Over at the Federal Communications Commission, for example, newly installed Chairman Ajit Pai is doing everything he can to eliminate rules protecting net neutrality on the internet, while allowing big, pro-Trump broadcasters to further consolidate. This will lead to increasingly restricted democratic dialogue in our society, further strengthening Trump’s grip on power.

Net neutrality is described by the media advocacy organization Free Press as “the First Amendment of the internet.” It describes a fundamental feature of the internet, allowing information to flow freely and equally over the web, regardless of its content. For example, whether you want to view web content from the National Rifle Association or the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the site you are seeking will load equally quickly. The ISPs are not allowed to favor one site over another.

Take another example: Many people watch video on the internet using Netflix. But imagine an ISP with ownership interest in another, competing service deciding to slow down Netflix in order to frustrate those users and drive them to its service. With strictly enforced net neutrality rules, this type of conduct would be illegal. In the internet that Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, is trying to construct, with net neutrality rules scrapped, it would likely become the norm. Extremely well-funded, incumbent sites would dominate, while smaller, startup web ventures would find it impossible to compete. The internet’s dynamism would disappear.

To take the hypotheticals one step further, imagine an activist website dedicated to organizing resistance to President Trump’s immigrant ban. Such a site, now, would be freely accessible. But without the protection of net neutrality, there would be nothing to stop an ISP from slowing down traffic to and from the site, rendering it useless.

Broadcast ownership rules, also under the FCC’s purview, are being targeted for elimination by Pai as well. On April 20, the FCC voted 3-2 along partisan lines to relax broadcast ownership rules, unleashing a wave of TV station ownership consolidation. The Sinclair Broadcast Group is reportedly attempting to purchase Tribune Media for $4 billion, giving it control of more than a third of the country’s local TV stations.

Sinclair is more than just a TV network, though: It has for many years exploited the public airwaves to promote a right-wing political agenda. “They’ve rolled out the red carpet for President Trump,” Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press, said on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. “Right after the election, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser, indicated that he had struck a deal with Sinclair for favorable coverage, where they would air Trump speaking at length without interruption. … They’ve hired multiple Trump spokespeople, mouthpieces from the administration, to come on the air, give the administration’s views.”

Broadcast networks are still the way that most people get their news, especially those who are less internet-connected, like older people and the poor. By supporting candidates like Donald Trump, Sinclair also ensures there will be no drastic changes to campaign finance law. Every election cycle, then, Sinclair and other broadcasters reap huge windfalls from the flood of dark money spent on broadcast airtime to disseminate misleading political ads. This creates a vicious cycle, allowing anti-democratic (small “d” democratic, that is) forces to tighten control of the broadcast networks and, increasingly, the internet.

President Trump knows how to use the mass media, and social media, to manipulate public opinion and sway voters. But Trump, and appointees like Ajit Pai, are learning that there is a force more powerful: organized people, taking to the streets. Trump can fire individuals who threaten his power, like James Comey. But he can’t fire a movement.

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Democracy Now!

Trump’s Making Good on One of His Many Campaign Promises: Promoting Unfettered Police Power


By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan

As the world focuses on state violence from Syria to Iraq to Yemen to North Korea, the groundwork is being laid in the United States for unchecked state violence here at home. Donald Trump is making good on at least one of his many campaign promises: promoting unfettered police power. His point person on these goals, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is leading the Justice Department through a tectonic shift, abandoning Obama-era efforts to protect civil and voting rights, threatening more deportations and resuscitating the decades-old, failed “War on Drugs.”

This week, Sessions told the International Association of Chiefs of Police, “Unfortunately, in recent years … law enforcement as a whole has been unfairly maligned and blamed for the crimes and unacceptable deeds of a few bad actors.” Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said on the “Democracy Now!” news hour, “What we see with Attorney General Jeff Sessions is an effort to basically take us back in time … this is a person who’s stuck in the ‘80s, and in some instances, stuck in the ‘50s.”

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