I'll be featuring photographs this week that I took in 1968 during the Poor People's Campaign.

May 27, 2006

LATEST CONFRONTATION BETWEEN US EMPIRE AND EVO MORALES AND HUGO CHAVEZ
by Stephen Lendman

I've said before it's easy to know what the empire is thinking (especially its powerful movers and shakers sitting in corporate boardrooms) by reading the Wall Street Journal daily as I do. Despite its heavy pro-empire bias, readers can also get some real news and information - something nearly impossible elsewhere in the corporate media especially from the venerable New York Times I've before labeled the closest thing we have in the US to an official ministry of information and propaganda.

I'll return to that subject another time, but for now I want to highlight the May 25 front page feature article in the Journal titled "New President Has Bolivia Marching to Chavez's Beat." The sub-title is even worse - "Venezuelan Populist Pushes Anti-US Latin Alliance; Has He Gone Too Far?" And below that and still headlined - "Cuban Doctors in the House."

I hope readers understand from that language what's quite clear to me: a virtual call to arms against Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, two leaders who likely more than any others believe that since their people elected them, they have an obligation to serve them and not the interests of a belligerent and dominant Northern neighbor. more...

May 26, 2006

One of my students, Kathy Busby, sent me this URL. Neat mosaic. I don't know how long you can keep clicking.

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"Victory"? Forget it
Bush is trying to keep Americans from abandoning his disastrous war by claiming victory is at hand. But even his own generals know that's a lie.  
By Sidney Blumenthal

When new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Kamel al-Maliki unveiled his government last week, five months after his country's elections, and was unable to appoint ministers of defense and interior, President Bush hailed it as a "turning point." And that was just one month after Maliki's mentor, former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari, to whom he had been loyal deputy, installed in the position through the support of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, was forced to relinquish his office through U.S. pressure.

Bush has been proclaiming Iraq at a turning point for years. "Turning point" is a frequent and recurring talking point, often taken up by the full chorus of the president ("We've reached another great turning point," Nov. 6, 2003; "A turning point will come in less than two weeks," June 18, 2004), vice president ("I think about when we look back and get some historical perspective on this period, I'll believe that the period we were in through 2005 was, in fact, a turning point," Feb. 7, 2006), secretary of state and secretary of defense, and ringing down the echo chamber.

This latest "turning point" reveals an Iraqi state without a social contract, a government without a center, a prime minister without power and an American president without a strategy. Each sectarian group maintains its own militia. Each leader's influence rests on these armed bands, separate armies of tens of thousands of men. The militias have infiltrated and taken over key units of the Iraqi army and local police, using them as death squads, protection rackets and deterrent forces against enemies. Reliable statistics are impossible, but knowledgeable reporters estimate there are about 40 assassinations a day in Iraq. Ethnic cleansing is sweeping the country. From Kirkuk in the north to Baghdad in the middle to Basra in the south, Kurds are driving out Turkmen and Arabs, Shiites are killing Sunnis, and the insurgency enjoys near unanimous support among Sunnis. Contrary to Bush's blanket rhetoric about "terrorists" and constant reference to the insurgency as "the enemy," "foreign fighters are a small component of the insurgency," according to Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. more...

May 25, 2006

Climate Change is the Major Problem Facing the World
by David Attenborough  

I was sceptical about climate change. I was cautious about crying wolf. I am always cautious about crying wolf. I think conservationists have to be careful in saying things are catastrophic when, in fact, they are less than catastrophic.

I have seen my job at the BBC as a presenter to produce programmes about natural history, just as the Natural History Museum would be interested in showing a range of birds of paradise - that's the sort of thing I've been doing. And in almost every big series I've made, the most recent one being Planet Earth, I've ended up by talking about the future, and possible dangers. But, with climate change, I was sceptical. That is true.

Also, I'm not a chemist or a climatologist or a meteorologist; it isn't for me to suddenly stand up and say I have decided the climate is changing. That's not my expertise. The television gives you an unfair and unjustified prominence but just because your face is on the telly doesn't mean you're an expert on meteorology.

But I'm no longer sceptical. Now I do not have any doubt at all. I think climate change is the major challenge facing the world. I have waited until the proof was conclusive that it was humanity changing the climate. The thing that really convinced me was the graphs connecting the increase of carbon dioxide in the environment and the rise in temperature, with the growth of human population and industrialisation. The coincidence of the curves made it perfectly clear we have left the period of natural climatic oscillation behind and have begun on a steep curve, in terms of temperature rise, beyond anything in terms of increases that we have seen over many thousands of years. more...

May 24, 2006

My wife, Barbara, called me at school yesterday to tell me that the electrical wires in front of our house had melted and were laying at her feet. There was a power surge that had melted the insulation from the high power lines that run past our house. It was eerie as I approached our street, to see the streamers hanging from the wires up and down the block. There was an associated power outage that fortunately ended much sooner than I would have expected, based on the visual evidence.

.wires

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 Eavesdropping, Gagging, and the Constitution
    By Ray McGovern   

    Is the National Security Agency being "turned against the people," as the Congressional committee led by Sen. Frank Church warned might happen? We the people cannot know; it's classified.

    Thursday's slick but evasive testimony by Gen. Mike Hayden, the president's nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, put the spotlight on Hayden's personal role in an aggressive NSA program that skirts strict 30-year-old legal restrictions on eavesdropping on American citizens. As NSA director from 1999 to 2005, Hayden did the White House's bidding in devising and implementing that program without adequately informing Congress - as required by law. When an unauthorized disclosure revealed the program to the press, Hayden agreed to play point-man with smoke and mirrors. Small wonder that the White House considers him the perfect man for the CIA job.  more...

May 23, 2006

Pass the Bread
by Bill Moyers
Text of Baccalaureate Address
Hamilton College, Clinton, NY
May 20, 2006
 

...I have been thinking seriously about what I might say to you in this Baccalaureate service. Frankly, I'm not sure anyone from my generation should be saying anything to your generation except, "We're sorry. We're really sorry for the mess you're inheriting. We are sorry for the war in Iraq. For the huge debts you will have to pay for without getting a new social infrastructure in return. We're sorry for the polarized country. The corporate scandals. The corrupt politics. Our imperiled democracy. We're sorry for the sprawl and our addiction to oil and for all those toxins in the environment. Sorry about all this, class of 2006. Good luck cleaning it up." more...

May 22, 2006

Don't Give Up: Keep the Movement Moving
by John Dear  

One of the casualties of this culture of violence, injustice and war is the loss of our imagination. People across the country can not even imagine a world without war, poverty or nuclear weapons. But that is our job. We are like our ancestors, the Abolitionists, who came along and announced an astonishing, breathtaking new vision, a world without slavery, the equality of everyone on earth. We are their heirs, New Abolitionists, announcing a new world without war, poverty or nuclear weapons, a new world of nonviolence.

You may have heard the true story of some church activists who met in a church basement in East Berlin in the dismal days of the early 1980s around the ridiculous topic, "What Will It Be Like 1000 Years From Now When the Berlin Wall Finally Comes Down--And--What Do We Have To Do Now To Help That Great Day Happen?" They were dismissed as idealistic fools. But their meeting was exciting and energized them, so they decided to meet again, and more people showed up, and they kept meeting, and soon, people were meeting in church basements across East Germany, and within a few years, in November 1989, we watched in astonishment on TV as hundreds of thousands of people marched every day throughout East Germany and the unthinkable happened, the newly imaginable happened, the Berlin Wall came down peacefully.

Everyone thought it was a miracle, but the miracle was the grassroots movement that had been built and grew over time. My take on all this is that we have to do our thing down here, organizing and building a national, global, grassroots movement around such an impossible dream, envisioning the previously unimaginable and daring to announce it boldly, even give our lives for it. Meanwhile, God is doing Her thing up there, working to bring about some big changes that we can't quite imagine, such as, in this case, the emergence of Gorbachev and Perestroika. Gorbachev and Perestroika--and the God of peace--need us to be doing our thing down here, building that grassroots movement of nonviolence so that when that new sign of hope breaks through, there is a movement that moves to make the peaceful transformation a reality.

Recently, I attended a small luncheon in Santa Fe in honor of my friend historian Howard Zinn, and he said that every major movement for social change in the United States felt hopeless. I found this very consoling! He said, from the beginning, through the middle, and right up to the very end, they were all hopeless, hopeless, hopeless, and then, all of a sudden, there was an astonishing breakthrough. The key to making it all happen, he said, was that people kept their vision alive. Ordinary people continued to do small acts for peace and justice every day, and over time, those little things added up into something big. They never gave up. He said that historically, the one thing those in power fear the most is a movement that won't go away. So our job is not to give up, not to go away. We have to keep on pursuing that vision of a new world of peace, justice and nonviolence, to be hopeful in our hopelessness and trust that the God of peace is doing her thing while we do ours. more...

May 21, 2006

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Poor People's Campaign

"Resurrection City"

In November 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. and the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) met to discuss the direction of the movement following the passage of civil rights legislation, the emergence of Black Power, and the urban riots of the previous summer. SCLC decided to launch the Poor People's Campaign, a movement to broadly address economic inequalities with nonviolent direct action. The campaign was not launched until after King's 1968 assassination, however, and the absence of King's leadership was believed to have compromised the campaign's effectiveness. The Poor People's Campaign ended in June 1968 without making a significant impact on the nation's economic policies.

The idea for the Poor People's Campaign grew out of what King termed the "second phase" of the civil rights struggle. After the "first phase" had exposed the problems of segregation through nonviolence, King hoped to address what he called the "limitations to our achievements" with a second phase. In its ideology and style, the Poor People's Campaign demonstrated a merging of the first-phase tactics into second-phase goals. Through nonviolent direct action, King and SCLC hoped to focus the nation on economic inequality and poverty. The campaign also differed from previous SCLC campaigns in that it aimed to address the struggles of a cross-section of minority groups. "It must not be just black people," argued King, "it must be all poor people. We must include American Indians, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and even poor whites."

SCLC planned the Poor People's Campaign to be the most massive, widespread campaign of civil disobedience yet undertaken by a movement. They aimed to bring 1,500 protesters to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress and other governmental agencies for an "economic bill of rights." Specifically, the campaign requested a $30 billion anti-poverty package that would include a commitment to full employment, a guaranteed annual income measure, and increased construction of low-income housing. Protest activities in Washington were to be supported by simultaneous demonstrations throughout the country. Despite division within SCLC over the campaign's feasibility, King embraced the campaign and traveled across the country speaking on poverty and conducted "people-to-people tours" to recruit participants.

After King‚s assassination on 4 April 1968, the King family and SCLC leadership decided to go on with the campaign to honor King. On 12 May 1968 the first wave of demonstrators arrived in Washington, D.C. One week later, Resurrection City was built on the Washington Mall, a settlement of tents and shacks to house the protesters. Demonstrators were sent out to various federal agencies to protest and spread the message of the campaign. Although Ralph Abernathy had taken over as SCLC president fol lowing King's death, the campaign's leadership lacked the momentum that King might have provided. The combined setbacks of bad press, Robert Kennedy's assassination, and an overwhelming number of protesters (7,000 at its peak) further limited the campaign's effectiveness. Failing to force a response from legislators, the Poor People's Campaign closed camp on 19 June 1968.
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(Click on icons to see larger images.)

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May 27, 2006


resurrection city icon
May 26, 2006


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May 25, 2006


demonstrators icon
May 24, 2006


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May 23, 2006


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May 22, 2006


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May 21, 2006


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No War in Iraq march.

San Francisco, Ca., January 18, 2003
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