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Monday, September 5, 2011

From Kathleen Harris - One of God's Holy Warriors

Wishing You...Peace, Love and Joy . . . Always and Forever August 30, 2011
As has probably been mentioned by someone or other, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (aka PTSD) can be a bit like unknowingly entering and blithely traversing a psychic mine field.

Let's see if I can make that a bit more vivid.

It may have to do with the time space continuum in a way. If I come off sounding like I am trying to describe a Magritte surrealist painting to a person who is only familiar with Andy Warhol's creations, I apologize. If that is necessary. To me, a PTSD-affected spiritual landscape is one that has become fraught with subterranean camouflaged pot holes, automobile-swallowing ditches and incendiary devices. And perhaps there are also some pathways that seem like they should be familiar or that used to have clear sign posts now seem to lead to unsuspected destinations and undesirable locations.


Uh-oh. Have I already lost you?

Or maybe you would rather not continue on the journey with me. If so, I understand.

No harm, no foul.

But these images have been lurking in my consciousness lately, and just tonight I realized why.

The pot holes, mine fields, and deceptive pathways minus familiar sign posts are triggered by the anniversaries of traumatic events or time periods. Even if I go out of my way not to be in touch with the fact that the anniversaries are coming up or upon me, my psyche never forgets. So it's just that the end of August and the beginning of September are times when a lot of exciting and/or traumatic things happened to me.

The even stranger thing is that there are not necessarily uniform ways of experiencing whatever comes up from the underground or appears along a pathway. And the image of mine fields may give you the impression that there is a stark flat plain stretching in all directions when actually there also might be dark forests, or even jungles . . . and/or the mysteries of a deep and wide open ocean.

Often the PTSD episode triggers become evident when I find myself awake all night for one or more nights in a row or several over a short period of time. At first I may tell myself that there is no reason not to be able to sleep, but I am always trying to fool myself when I say that. It is more likely that sleep is elusive because there is no desire to enter into the level of consciousness that leaves me open to the dream state.

Or maybe something from the nocturnal musings of the days leading up to the sleepless nights has already broadcast warnings about the approach to the mine field. Be that as it may, once I really do get back connected with the date, I am forced to confront the reality. Addressing that reality head on does not necessarily help much, however.

That reminds me of the old Air Force saying that begins a lot of war stories. The stories start with: "There I was . . . flying along fat dumb and happy. . . " The story continues with whatever was horrendous, terrifying, difficult and/or shocking, but somehow the storyteller survives.

I guess one of the reasons that things are traumatic is that they come out of nowhere and are so shocking and disturbing that you really can't get your mind around them.


I agree with the sentiment expressed by Robin Williams when he said:

"Reality . . . what a concept!"

Even though it may be that some sort of past reality intrudes on contemporary life, the PTSD episode always seems to be more powerful than whatever is going on in the present. Or maybe it's just that whatever the present reality is cannot quite compete with the past "reality." And the traumatic memories can be so vivid that they can tend to make the present reality seem to fade away into the background.

Or even to disappear.

And even more than that sometimes the imagination interjects itself into the memories and the present reality so that there are stacked levels of elements surrounding and enhancing memories, musings, illusions and allegories.

Probably not much of that is really making any of this any clearer, is it?

When I am able to talk to friends who were involved in the trauma I find it helpful, but I also realize then that none of us experienced what happened in the same way. What happened affected and continues to affect (or doesn't continue to affect) each one of us in various ways.

Of course.

How could it be otherwise? Each of us is a distinct individual with a variety of distinct personalities and experiences.

Our lives intersected with one another for that particular time or times and we came to those points from different places and went our separate ways to reconnect with one another again possibly one on one . . . or with several of us or with some of us. Or never again with most or even all of us. At least not yet. or maybe not ever on this terrestrial plane.

As a case in point, not long ago I saw some Armed Forces Television Network dramatizations concerning two soldiers who were wounded in the recent past. They both suffered from PTSD. One was given a chance to talk about the trauma with professional counselors from the earliest time of his physical recovery. The other soldier did not have a chance to communicate with anyone about what had happened to him until a long while after he was released back into civilian life. Each was able to get help, but the latter suffered more and for a longer length of time. Go figure!

Seeing the segments aimed at encouraging military members who have been affected by PTSD to seek help as soon as possible was encouraging since so many veterans are being added to the roles.

And I recently saw the movie "Random Harvest" again, too. (Have you ever watched it? Greer Garson and Ronald Coleman are marvelous in the story about the effects of battle fatigue on a British soldier in WW I.) So even though the term PTSD had not been coined back in the early 20th century, I was reminded that people have been suffering with the condition from way back. (No doubt as long as man's inhumanity to men has been extant.)

There are ways to put the memories to rest and to keep the ghosts at bay.

But actually sometimes I look forward to being with my dearly departed once more. They are all loving and kindly spirits even if they are just as I have imagined them. Or remembered them.

There are times that seem overloaded with intertwining layers of memories because there were different traumatic experiences that happened at the same time of the year -- or even on certain particular dates of multiple years, so that somehow the PTSD trash compactor has smooshed them all together and it's difficult to discern which presenting traumatic memories come from where. Or when.

There also might be organic or atmospheric or astronomical (or other) factors involved in the fertilizing compost heaped up in my psyche. And too much digging around into all that would not be really helpful anyway, no doubt.

But the traumas are not necessarily all negative. Sometimes great joys can trigger recurring disturbances, too. Both positive and negative emotions can be draining, energizing or enervating. Not sure I can always choose which one of those at any particular time.

Because certainly to begin with . . . in my earliest memories the joys of getting to go back to school every Tuesday after Labor Day were fraught with excitement. And tension. And anticipation. So onto those layers of emotional memories were added the adult traumatic adventures that happened to have occurred around the same time.

For instance last year when over 200 of the members of our high school class got together for the first time in ten, twenty, thirty or forty years (or all of the above, or even more or less often), there was a special kind of traumatic experience.

In a good way.

But it reminded me of the other groups of friends I had gone through stuff with when I was on active duty in the Air Force. And when I was at Seminary. And when I was serving churches.

Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera. (As the King of Siam was quoted as saying in "The King and I.")

Know what I mean?

Well, even if you don't, by writing this I seem to have diffused the most powerful psychic mines in my way tonight, and I seem to have recovered the sign posts on some of the obscured pathways.

So thanks for hanging in there with me as I wandered around trying to explain it all to you.

That was a big help!

And God bless us, every one.

As ever -- Kathy

Be Blessed

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."

Matthew 5:3-9

Friday, June 24, 2011

Currency Tsunami By Wilson Riles Guest Commentator

Brothers and sisters let us stop trying to integrate into a “burning house” in any way! This is a realization that Dr. King came to before he was assassinated. Those elements of US foreign and domestic policy and values that were and are the source of our enslavement are still entwined deeply in the heart of US institutions. These aspects are still poisonous and oppressive despite the darkening of the faces of the institutional agents that ‘front’ the action. As King and others attempted, these moral cancers must be ‘stained’ into visibility and ‘cauterized’ to move this nation – that we are inextricably a part of – toward inclusive natural health. In his speech, Beyond Vietnam – Time to Break Silence, King named these evil aspects that must be conquered “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism.” As a feminist I must add misogyny.

A dissection of US history will reveal the truth of the intertwining and the truth of the pandemic. It will also reveal that the principle carrier of this disease is the US and global currency system. Thomas Jefferson lost the argument with Alexander Hamilton about the creation of a centralized monetary system controlled by and for the benefit of the elite rather than for the benefit of what Jefferson called the local “yeoman.” Centralized banking allowed the government to borrow to sustain ‘standing armies’ to prosecute the genocide and the theft of land from indigenous Americans. Even former slaves were seduced into this Native American genocide as Buffalo Soldiers. Centralized banking accommodated the development of Southern militias intended principally for slave-catching. It promoted the growth of national corporations ‘feeding’ the intertwined snake. Again and again in US history, the critics of Hamilton’s monetary system were overcome and the system gained more power, more scope, and facilitated the growth of the military-industrial-complex.

In 1944, as the Second World War in Europe came to an end, the Bretton Woods Agreement cemented the US’ global economic domination as all competitors were laid waste by the war. US corporations moved into Europe to absorb the resources spent by the Marshall Plan. By 1946, the system was in full operation through the newly established International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, the World Bank) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Neocolonialism was in full swing.

Margaret Thatcher is famous for saying there is no alternative (TINA) to the current world economic system and global trade system. TATA – “there are thousands of alternatives” is a saying that has arisen from the World Social Forum as well as the phrase “another world is possible.” Those of us involved in the World Social Forum movement are not alone in finding and seeking alternatives to the current insanity. ‘Forced’ to adopt World Bank ‘structural adjustments’ that limited and oppressed the poor, countries throughout the world know what harm results from being integrated into the ‘burning house’ of global economic liberalism. This integration is no longer acceptable.

During meetings in 2009, 2010, and 2011 the countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) have taken the first formal steps to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. They are calling for systemic reform. The US was denied admission to the meetings. If these world leaders succeed, the dollar will dramatically plummet in value; the cost of imports, including oil, will skyrocket; and interest rates will climb. Foreigners see the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) as Washington surrogates in a financial system backed by US military bases and aircraft carriers encircling the globe. But this military domination is a vestige of an American empire no longer able to rule by economic strength. US military power is muscle-bound, based more on the threat of atomic weaponry and long-distance air strikes than on ground operations, which have become resistible and too politically unpopular to mount on any large scale.

As US residents and citizens we need not fear these coming changes. We need not stand with our enslavers and oppressors - as the Buffalo Solders did - joining in the oppression of others. There are many viable alternatives available. A movement for sustainable economic localization is growing rapidly throughout the country and around the world. Throughout the history of the US and the world during times of economic crises, communities have found creative and practical ways to shun the institutions infected with racism, extreme materialism, and militarism. At one time or another more than 60 US communities have formed local currencies not dependent on the elites’ centralized banking systems. Modern examples are built on the lessons learned from earlier systems. These systems have saved communities and lives all over the world. They have promoted an ecological use and preference for local resources. They have inculcated the indigenous values of harmony with all beings and the earth. These systems have promoted peace rather than imperialism.

Time is short, brothers and sisters! Take up Dr. King’s banner for economic justice to put out the fire in th
is “burning house.” We can learn from the past and avoid the trap of Buffalo Soldier-ism.

Geronimo Pratt, Only in America Point Blank By Chris Stevenson Columnist

Imagine being spied on one day by your own government while in Oakland CA, while 340 miles south a married couple is being attacked, and one of them murdered on a Santa Monica tennis court. Four years later you are found guilty of the murder. Only in America!

Twenty seven years later you are finally set free, twenty seven years after conviction, twenty years after the man that falsely accused you of brutally killing Caroline Olsen was outed as a paid informer, but the State of California still denies you a retrial.

Twenty seven years, and eight of them in solitary confinement. Twenty seven years that began a few years after two tours of Vietnam and a stint as Minister of Defense in the local chapter of the Black Panther Party. I don't have to convince you it was the BPP membership that left such a bad taste with law enforcement and judicial authorities top to bottom heavy with white males.

"He was driven to stand up on behalf of the oppressed, while living in a nation that had trained it's young to be so evil, that they learned to hate an entire group of people without even knowing them," said Dr. Boyce Watkins of Syracuse University in reference to Elmer Ji Jaga "Geronimo" Pratt. Quiet as it's kept Pratt was trained to do the same. Does White America ever stop to consider that the same attributes that drives some black men to serve in his US military, can be closely related to the same qualities that motivate him to be a Black Panther.

This was very true in Pratt's case where he was a natural-born leader and soldier; returning from the war with 2 Purple Hearts, and 2 Bronze Stars and a Silver Star. Pratt joined the Panthers after being recruited while a Political Science student at UCLA. It turned out to be wartime for them also, a sad and sorry time for the Panthers as they were being torn from within by outside forces.

Pratt's pregnant wife was a casualty of that schism. In spite of this, Pratt was not the type of leader to fly off the handle, and certainly not one for petty crimes like robberies. So badly did the country that he served want him, that they contemplated tying him to the Charles Manson and Patty Hearst episodes of the time.

Eventually the government got the break they felt they needed in the form of a fellow Panther controlled by simple jealousy and the FBI's divisive Counterintelligence Program, who gave false testimony about Pratt being the shooter. Jurors were not aware this man's informant history. Typically Julius Butler became Chairman of a black LA Church's Board of Trustees. You think the fix was in regarding Pratt? Retired FBI agent Wesley Swearingen himself admitted the Bureau knew Pratt was in the Bay area, because they were the ones spying on him and other Panthers. Other than being incarcerated on a date in question, what better alibi than to be under a Federal watch, while in a completely separate town?

In spite of the blatant truth hovering over them, Pratt was found guilty of Murder in 1970. A young Johnnie Cochran joined Pratt's legal team in '71, he admitted that back then even he didn't believe the US Government was setting Pratt up. What was going on was the prosecution refused to share information with Pratt's team, therefore knowledge of the surveillance was never made known.

This cover-up lasted all the way up to the Gil Garcetti era. Best known as the DA during OJ's "Trial of the Century," Garcetti would eventually display truth and evidence tampering that would put LAPD hooliganism to shame, even police have to call it a day at a judges order. Garcetti-oddly enough a Democrat-openly refused to "reverse and remand" Pratt's conviction by order of a known conservative Judge in '97. He was said to have "dithered for months before deciding to not pursue the case further."

To those who knew and followed Garcetti this was not unusual behavior by him. Evidently incarcerating innocent black men was a thrill to him, and the weaker the evidence became, the harder he worked and filibustered. Time and delay was his chief tools of sabotage, even becoming so ridiculous as openly refusing to rescind judgments against men who later proved through DNA evidence that they were not the fathers, in paternity cases.

This incensed even people who worked in his office, one of his deputy DAs quit because she was told to do unethical things. One could only imagine his sentiments towards Pratt. Even more revealing is the story of the feminist who basically coined the phrase "Deadbeat Dad" was outraged over his tactics.

Geronimo's conviction was vacated 6/10/97 on the grounds that the prosecution hid evidence. This turned out to be a 27-year-old understatement, it takes work to convict a man of murder when he was over 300 miles away, and keep him locked up in spite of mounting evidence. Like many corrupt white officials Garcetti was ousted from his position and appointed to head a department he has no business being remotely near; the LA City Ethics Commission. These types of political practical jokes against the taxpayers is more akin to a trucking company promoting an alcoholic, accident-prone driver to head it's safety division, because he's white.

Pratt departed us 6 days (6/2) after singer/songwriter Gil Scott Heron (5/27). Heron's years were marked with government interference that began shortly after the release of his signature tune "The Revolution Will Not be Televised," and climaxed with HIV and an addiction to illegal narcotics. "We were under surveillance for quiet a while, and I think everybody knew it. We were being watched to see what we would do. And we were uncomfortable at the time because we had (Black Panther) Bilal Sunni Ali and other people in the band who had been politically active in different directions, and we felt as though we had a right to be that way," said Heron of being spied on by the then-Nixon Administration in an interview.

Pratt died a human rights activist in Arusha Tanzania on the continent of Africa, where he been living pretty much since his civil judgment. Before Johnnie Cochran's death he was quoted as saying that Pratt's case was the most important he ever had. Both he and Pratt leave blacks with more ruthless DAs and less Defense Attorneys hungry to defend blacks in trials.

The Spirit of Patrice Lumumba Lives On Worrill’s World By Dr. Conrad W. Worrill, PhD Columnist

We should remember to lift the spirit of some of our great ancestors who made significant contributions to the African Liberation Movement. July 2nd is the 86th birthday of one of these great heroes, Patrice Lumumba.

The meaning of the life and work of our beloved brother, Patrice Lumumba was rooted in his determination to fight against the forces of the European world in the most turbulent period of the history of the Congo. We should commemorate the birthday of this late, great African leader, who stood against all the forces in the European world and the African world who were steadfast in their efforts to stop the real Independence Movement of the people of the Congo. It is important for us to understand, today, that those who stand and fight against the evil of the European world take on a serious task and challenge. Herein lies the legacy of Patrice Lumumba.

Patrice Lumumba was born July 2, 1925 in Katako Kombe, a small village in a remote area of the African continent, then referred to as the Congo. Born to a family of five and educated by missionaries, he was able to caste off the domination of European influences on his life and relate to the interests of the masses of Congolese people. At an early age, he recognized the need to develop the kind of skills necessary to become an active participant in the African Liberation struggle. In his efforts to develop his skills, Patrice had a variety of work experiences that included his being employed in a hospital and a post office, which gave him greater insights into the overall oppression of the Congolese people. The more contact Patrice had with the European world, the more he developed the kind of political consciousness that made him one of the most important leaders in the African Independence Movement.

As a result of his participation as the secretary in the Liberal Party of the Congo and his efforts to talk with the Belgian officials, Lumumba was able to see that independence and freedom for his people would not come through the efforts of the Liberal Party or negotiations with the Europeans. His outspokenness and determination to find a vehicle to free the Congolese people led to his being sentenced to two years in prison. Although his prison sentence was cut short, upon his release, the Belgian colonialists, along with their African servants, attempted to isolate Patrice from the growing independence movement of the masses of the people.

In October 1958, Patrice helped form the National Congolese Movement, which was to become the forerunner in the liberation struggle. In December of 1958, Patrice was invited to a conference of African nations hosted by Kwame Nkrumah in Accra, Ghana. It was through this conference that Patrice began to establish contact with the leaders of the Liberation Movements in other African countries. From this point forward, the Liberation Movement in the Congo escalated to the point that the Belgian government decided to grant the Congolese people their so-called freedom on June 30, 1960.

At the Independence Day Ceremony on June 30th, while his African movement friends were thanking the Belgians for granting them their independence, it is said that Lumumba became enraged. He grabbed the microphone and told his people that the colonization of the Congo was nothing other than the domination of the European world over the African world. He went on to point out that the humiliating system of slavery, which was imposed upon the African people of the Congo by European forces was done because they were African. This statement by Patrice Lumumba caused the white world and their African servants to conspire in the next year to find a way to get rid of this most courageous spokesman for the interest of the Congolese people.

Patrice Lumumba was assassinated on January 17, 1961 at the hands of African mercenaries, working in the interests of the Europeans through the United States and the CIA. This fact was recently revealed in Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney’s International Relations Hearings. Before his death, Lumumba wrote a letter to his wife that signified the essence of his involvement in the struggle to free his people. Patrice wrote, in part:

“I want my children, who I leave behind and perhaps will never see again, to be told that the future of the Congo is beautiful and that their country expects them, as it expects every Congolese, to fulfill the sacred task of rebuilding on our independence, our sovereignty, for without justice there is no dignity and without independence there are no free men…Do not weep for me, my companion, I know that my country, now suffering so much, will be able to defend its independence and freedom.”
In conclusion, we can say that the external enemies, (or the enemies from without), and internal enemies (or the enemies from within), led to the demise and death of Patrice Lumumba. But, fortunately, his legacy lives on.

Not Unbelievable The Other Side of the Tracks By Perry Redd Columnist

My country is corrupt. I posit that it is complicit in the murder and annihilation of my race of people. I believe they have been inventing ingenious, covert ways to undermine population growth of people of color who may pose a threat to the traditional power structure. Why are you surprised? I find it hard to believe that anyone is. Federal agent, John Dodson, says what he was asked to do was beyond belief. When asked was he intentionally letting guns go to Mexico? Dodson told CBS News, "Yes ma'am…the agency was." This not unbelievable…

An Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms senior agent assigned to the Phoenix office in 2010, Dodson's job was to stop gun trafficking across the border. Instead, he says he was ordered to sit by and watch it happen. Investigators call the tactic letting guns "walk." In this case, walking into the hands of criminals who would use them in Mexico and the United States, namely in urban, Black-populated centers.

ATF named the case "Fast and Furious." Real Hollywood of them, except this isn’t fiction. Real lives are at stake. Real people are dying…and the United States government is in on it. Mexico, a major drug producing and transit country, is the main foreign supplier of cannabis and a major supplier of methamphetamine to the United States. Although Mexico accounts for only a small share of worldwide heroin production, it supplies a large share of the heroin distributed in the United States. Drug cartels in Mexico control approximately 70% of the foreign narcotics that flow into the United States. Guess where that ends up?

The US State Department estimates that 90% of cocaine entering the United States transits through Mexico, with Colombia being the main cocaine producer, followed by Bolivia and Peru. That’s why this Mexico connection is so very important!

Surveillance video shows suspected drug cartel suppliers carrying boxes of weapons to their cars at a Phoenix gun shop. The long boxes shown in the video being loaded in were AK-47-type assault rifles. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said a million times: “who needs an assault weapon?” Only a person ready to commit an assault does.

So it turns out ATF not only allowed it - they videotaped it. Instead of arresting people, the ATF let them go across the border. Documents show the inevitable result: The guns that ATF let go began showing up at crime scenes in Mexico. And as ATF stood by watching thousands of weapons hit the streets, the Fast and Furious group supervisor noted the escalating Mexican violence.

One e-mail noted, "958 killed in March 2010 ... most violent month since 2005." The same e-mail notes: "Our subjects purchased 359 firearms during March alone," including "numerous Barrett .50 caliber rifles." I emphatically say, our government is and always will be aware and apprised of the harm it is doing to people - especially people of color. That’s why it is allowed to continue. If these people (Mexicans crossing the border) cause NRA supporters and Tea Party activists discomfort, then they’ll “give them tools to kill themselves”…in this case, guns. Just recall the days of J. Edgar Hoover who allowed drugs into Black ghettos from the 1930’s on. This tactic fuels work for law enforcement, supplies subjects for prisons and keeps races of people separate…the perfect demonic tool.

Dodson feels that ATF was partly to blame for the escalating violence in Mexico and on the border. I categorically say that Dodson is right.

But you ask, where’s the connection to American urban centers? Though difficult to negotiate, it is feasible. Once guns are trafficked into Mexico, those ATF-blessed guns are used to protect shipments of cocaine and marijuana into the U.S. Just like the drugs bought and consumed here, the guns stay here also. The only thing that leaves the U.S. is the money exchanged.

It’s a crime, and someone should be in jail. Instead of allowing Kenneth Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to resign under pressure, he should be in jail. He should be prosecuted and convicted for conspiracy to traffic arms to known criminals and to supply criminal enterprises. This, my friend, is a crime at the highest levels of government. What are we going to do? What are we going to demand? I know that a Tunisian court sentenced ousted President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and his wife to 35 years in prison in absentia on Monday after a one-day trial on corruption charges. Now, that’s swift justice! So what’s wrong with us?

This country is quick to arrest the low-level street dealer; or the addict in possession of a minute amount of drugs, but is quick to holler from the mountaintops that they want the drug problem stopped. These same Americans won’t holler from those same mountaintops to stop the problem at its source: government leaders. How utterly cowardly.

We complain of inequality in the dispensation of justice, but lay dormant when it’s time to call for accountability - through indictment and prosecution. Someone is liable…and it’s us. This is not unbelievable.

There’s Only One Solution to the Court Decision Against Walmart Women: Unionize! Solidarity America By John Funiciello Columnist

When, on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the right of more than one million of its women workers to sue Walmart for bias and discrimination in pay and promotions, Corporate America rose to its feet and sang a song of victory.

The lawsuit had been years in the making against the world’s largest retail chain and the largest private employer, but the court decided that the women did not have enough in common to be considered a class for the purposes of a lawsuit.

The court did not make a decision on the merits of the class action suit, but they clearly decided that the members of the class, working in 3,400 retail stores in every state and in various positions, management and line worker, did not have enough in common to satisfy the legal definition of a class under federal law.

Some of the women can, and some said they would, continue to try to prove that Walmart discriminated against them. The giant firm maintained that it gave much of its authority for pay and promotion to the supervisors and managers in each of its thousands of stores, and therefore, there could not have been a blanket policy of discrimination. Justice Antonin Scalia decreed it to be so and the other eight justices agreed.

Although the ruling was unanimous in that aspect, at least one justice said she would have allowed the class to pursue their case under another section of the federal rules governing class action lawsuits. But, said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court ruled that out by tossing the class action on the basis of failure to prove that all of the women had issues in common. The overall (unanimous) ruling precluded the women from continuing their lawsuit. Some of them indicated that they would pursue similar or ongoing cases on the store level or regional level, which will be much harder to sustain because of the high cost of litigation and the geographical breadth of the company’s properties.

Walmart knows that, as does the U.S. Supreme Court and the rest of Corporate America. Many large companies celebrated the victory over the women, especially since the decision is very likely to have the effect of discouraging future similar lawsuits and protect them from the bother of their workers seeking justice in the workplace. No one knows how long it will take before another lawsuit of this magnitude will be put together and eventually reach the high court.

One thing this decision shows is that Corporate America is inexorably tightening its control on the economy of the U.S. Its decades-long attack on unions has been an attack on the rights of American workers to even form unions. They hate unions because they tend to counterbalance the power of the combination of big business and the various legislatures, starting with the U.S. Congress. We have witnessed the recent coordinated attacks by Republican governors against their own workers, but those attacks also have a highly detrimental effect on all workers, whether in the public or private sector.

Most of Walmart’s workers reportedly are women and a sizable percentage of those women are black or other minority workers and the policies of the company, regardless of the source of the animus toward women, have harmed their ability to provide for their families. That is true whether they are line workers, supervisors, or managers. Now, for most of them, it’s back to the beginning.

Throughout America’s labor history, the militant unions continually reminded workers not to depend too much on presidents, senators, representatives, or their state or local governments to provide a measure of equity and equality in the workplace. They declared that the only way to achieve justice is to demand it. That same history is filled with examples of the struggles of workers, who were mistreated, exploited, underpaid, and made to die while working in unsafe and unhealthy conditions. When they joined the union, however, they found that they had the ability to somewhat equalize the balance of power.

Pay scales were standardized. Seniority replaced the favoritism and nepotism that are rampant in a non-union environment. For a time, workplaces became safer and healthier for all workers. It was unions that pushed passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), after all. Healthier workplaces also improved the quality of the environment outside the plant, as well.

Just last week (as if in anticipation of this week’s Walmart decision), about one hundred Walmart workers from across the country, representing the company’s workers from around the U.S., visited company headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. They are organized in a group called Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart). They went there with one request: that the company respect them (keep in mind that the company calls its workers “associates,” denoting something more than “employee”).

When OUR Walmart representatives went to Bentonville last week, they went with a message to company officials, contained in the new group’s “Declaration of Respect,” which is literally a list of grievances that the “associates” have with Walmart managers across the country. Basically, they said in their declaration: “The fundamental desire to be shown respect is what led us to join together as OUR Walmart, an organization of Walmart Associates, by Walmart Associates, for Walmart Associates. We are one Organization United for Respect at Walmart.”

They want the company to live up to the principles they say were established by Sam Walton, the late founder of the company, including free speech, the “open door” policy of management, freedom from bias and discrimination, and Sam Walton’s purported attitude of “respect for the individual.” When the group’s representatives stood in front of corporate headquarters in Bentonville, eventually a company spokeswoman came out to talk with them. They thought this was progress, but the company apparently made no promises on any of the issues, and then they went home.

Every one of the issues they cited in their Declaration of Respect and the problems that were addressed in the class action lawsuit (or would have been addressed, if the case had actually been heard by the Supreme Court) would be negotiated at the bargaining table, if the Walmart workers organized a union. It’s what unions do and the best of it is that the workers, including the “associates” who went to Bentonville, would be the leaders of their own union. They already have shown leadership by organizing and speaking out.

Be sure, however, that respect would come automatically if 1.5 million workers were organized into a union to talk to the bosses. The workers would not have to go to Arkansas to ask if the company would please show workers some respect. As a united front at the bargaining table or in the grievance procedure, they would face the company on equal footing and respect would come from that. No pleading. Just respect.

Surely, it will be a long process to form a Walmart union, but that’s what trumps all of the politicking, lobbying, and pleading: a union contract, as described in the laws of the land.

Whether the U.S. Supreme Court or Walmart bosses or Corporate America want to admit it or not, OUR Walmart said it all in describing the formation of their group and their visit to headquarters last week: “For many of us, this was the first time we had met other Associates who experienced similar problems from stores in other states. But when we spoke with each other for the first time, it became clear that we shared common concerns.”

Without knowing the result of the class action suit, the “associates” found that conditions were pretty much the same from store to store, all 3,400 of them. And that gave the lie to the court’s assertion that the workers were too disparate to have the wherewithal to bring a class action suit, never mind the merits.

Now, the only real advice to Walmart workers, past and present is that of the great trade unionist, organizer, and songwriter, Joe Hill, to his union brothers and sisters before he was executed by the state of Utah for a crime he didn’t commit: “Don’t waste any time in mourning… Organize!”

Reflections from Behind the Wall Anatomy of a Frame Up - Chapter 1 A Lifetime of Service A Luta Continua By Chuck Turner Editorial Board

Note: Editorial Board member Chuck Turner is writing this column from the U.S. Federal Prison in Hazelton, West Virginia where he is serving a three year term for a bribery conviction.

This is the first of eight chapters in which I discuss my two and a half year experience with the Justice Department that has led to my being a convicted felon at the work camp at USP Hazelton, Bruceton Mills, West Virginia.

My first reaction was that I was dreaming; no, I was having a nightmare but I couldn't wake up. After a lifetime of fighting for justice, I was in handcuffs being led out of City Hall. I didn't even know what I was being accused of. Later, it became all too clear, not only from the prosecutor describing me as a corrupt politician but also from the newspaper headlines the next morning screaming that I had been indicted for conspiracy to extort money from a local community business man and lying about it to the FBI.

How could this happen? I knew I hadn't done what they said but there were the camera trucks in front of our house. Reporters knocking at the door, urging me to talk to them as if it was my responsibility to answer their questions. Sure, they were just doing their job but they were part of an establishment that I had been fighting for decades. Yet, here they were ridiculing me, mocking me, gloating over my alleged hypocrisy. I felt like Alice in Wonderful and I had no idea how to get out of the rabbit hole.

The situation was totally absurd. Just eighteen months earlier I had declared my intention to launch a Peace and Prosperity Campaign. I had said to my constituents that after eight years in office, I was convinced that we needed to revise our strategy. It was not enough to organize and fight against the external forces of oppression, those who believed they had the right to abuse us. It was not enough to use the City Council process to establish new laws and regulations. We had to recognize that we had to do for self. We had to be the source of our strength and development.

We had to recognize, I said, that through our own individual and collective actions we had to create the foundation for the future that we needed and desired not only for ourselves but also for our children and their children's children. I argued that we needed to recognize that the prosperity that we hungered for as a community and individually could only be realized by establishing peace in our community and dedicating ourselves to using our talents and resources to regenerate ourselves. I said we needed a Campaign for Peace and Prosperity. We needed to put into action a pledge to constantly work to develop ourselves and our community. There was even a motto, "Do No Harm".

I wondered what would be the questions in the minds of people who had heard and remembered my call. What would be the thoughts of those who had slowly begun to get involved in the strategy I was urging? While I was trusted in the community that I had lived and worked in for over forty years, how would they withstand the media bombardment. How would they resist the accusations that their Councilor was an extortionist, conspiring with our first female black state senator to extort money from a local businessman, attempting to get a liquor license for a club that he planned to open in the community's new and first hotel.

What could I say to my constituents that could allay their fears and doubts? How could I convince them that I was not a hypocrite? I knew I was innocent but I also knew that the constant barrage of convicting information would make even those close to me wonder what had happened. At least, I knew that eventually the truth would come out and I would be able to laugh at what a horrible mistake had been made. I hadn't done what they said so how could I be convicted. Even the FBI's affidavit was full of holes that would allow my lawyer to quickly end the nightmare.

Yet, today 31 months after my arrest, I am an inmate at the Hazelton Federal Prison work camp in the mountains of West Virginia. I am ending the third month of my 36 month sentence. Despite my optimism that the truth would come out; despite the fact that the U.S. Attorney's Cooperating Witness said in the Boston Globe 6 months after my arrest that as far as he was concerned I was innocent, naive but innocent; despite the constant display of support from friends, constituents and allies before, during, and after the trial; and despite over 700 letters to the judge saying that I should be put on probation, here I sit a convicted felon.

However, I have learned during my 71 years that the art of living is not demonstrated by how you celebrate your victories but by your ability to turn seeming defeats into victories. Yes, I feel battered but certainly not broken. The struggle for justice is a continuing one and my commitment to devote my life as a warrior to that struggle still burns bright. The question as always is what to do and as usual the answer is clear. Even before I entered USP Hazelton, I knew I needed a plan to guide my actions. My plan would have to focus on preparing myself to reenter the struggle stronger on every level than when I left. It would have to enable me to continue to share my thinking with my community, and finally it would need to enable me to fulfill a commitment made to my community at a rally in front of my community office six days after my arrest on the day before Thanksgiving, 2008.

At the rally, energized by having survived a plot initiated by the City Council President (and others I assume) to drive me from office on the day after my arrest, I decided to focus on the opportunities that the situation presented us. I urged my supporters to build a communications network among friends, coworkers, and colleagues. I talked about talking points that they should raise to counter the media's incessant attacks on my character. It was an opportunity, I declared, to stimulate critical thinking and increase our community's capacity to see through the smoke screens put out by the establishment's mouthpieces.

I emphasized that while I was fighting for my survival, the struggle is more important than anyone one individual. I stressed that those of us who commit ourselves to struggle for justice have to be prepared to use the attacks to strengthen our community despite the casualties that will inevitably take place. From that perspective, I knew that regardless of what happened to me, i had a responsibility to turn this attack into a learning experience through which we all could learn and grow.

Since it was obvious that US Attorney Sullivan and his police force, the FBI, were conspiring to frame me for a crime that I didn't commit, I pointed out the golden opportunity we were presented to examine up close and personal how they operate. They continuously study us to assess our strengths and weaknesses. We should do no less if we are serious in our pursuit of justice. Through such a rigorous analysis and examination of their tactics, we could help our brothers and sisters in the struggle become wiser in evading the "criminal justice system's" continuous attempts to thwart justice and use prison to turn us into a permanent underclass and thus re enslave us.

With this focus on education, I will share with you each week over the next seven weeks an installment exploring the twists and turns of the Frame Up that led to my incarceration. As with all initial attempts to deepen the understanding of our experiences, I know that there will be gaps and issues that others will see the need to explore. The objective of this exercise is to stimulate our thinking and sharpen our ability to critically analyze the stratagems that are used against us. It is clear to me that if we are to be successful in ending the use of the "criminal justice system" to perpetuate injustice, we have to sharpen our thinking so that we can act more effectively.

In 1975, there were 500,000 people of all races in jail in this country. Today, there are 2.3 million and the numbers are growing. Over a million are of African-American descent. The correction officers union, I've been told, is the fastest growing union in this country. It is clear that if we are to lay the foundation for justice for future generations we have to stop the prosecutorial terrorism that is plaguing us all. In that spirit, please view this as an initial attempt to use my personal experience to broaden the needed national dialogue on how to end this terrorism.

In the remainder of this installment, I am going to share my background and the life of activism and service that it inspired. I have always believed that a fundamental principle of organizing is that the organizer should not be the focus. Campaigns are successful when the focus is on the goals to be achieved, the plan to achieve them, and the process of analyzing successes and failures. Too much attention on the organizer is distracting and dims the organization's focus. However, since one of the objectives of former US Attorney Sullivan's plot was to create the image that I was a fraud, hypocrite, and fundamentally corrupt, I think it is important that I begin by helping people better understand who I am.

I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1940. I was blessed to have been born into a family that had two predominant passions - a thirst for knowledge and a desire to serve. Education was the "family business" on both my mother's and my father's side of the family. My mother's mother was a teacher who became an elementary school principal. My mother was a school teacher and my brother became a college professor and dean. My father's father was a high school biology teacher by day and a scientist by night having earned a PHD in Zoology from the University of Chicago in 1907. Upon his death in 1923, he was honored by the St. Louis Science Society for his work on animal behavioral psychology. Later the City of St. Louis named a school after him.

While education was viewed as a service, other members of the family found other ways to serve. My mother's sister was a social worker, focusing her work on children. Her brother, my uncle, was a landscaper. My father was a pharmacist and owned with his brother, my uncle, a drug store that had the unique feature of having a pharmacy on one side managed by my father and a bar on the other, managed by his brother. Other members of the family sorted themselves out along the same lines of education and business with service to our people as the link. One of my grandmother's brother was at Niagara Falls in 1909 as a participant in the founding of the NAACP.

My father and mother divorced when I was young and I grew up in Cincinnati with my mother and her family while my father lived in Chicago where he operated his business. Given Cincinnati's location on the Ohio River, I remember as a child hearing stories of my grandmother going with friends and her children down to the landing where the river boats would bring new arrivals from the South. My grandmother's purpose was to welcome the new families into Cincinnati and help them establish a new life as part of the community. I remember going with my family to Ms. Stewart's Home for Young Women which was a boarding house for young "colored" women coming to Cincinnati. Outings to Ms. Stewart's where we would have dinner with the young women were a delight not only because of the food but also because of the beautiful young women and delightful conversations.

While I grew up with a sense of community, sharing, and service, there also was the other side of life for the African-American community. The time was the 40s, so segregation was the way of life once you crossed the river and it had a strong influence on life in Cincinnati despite the strong and wealthy Jewish community that flourished in the city. The local amusement park was not integrated until I was 10 years old and I grew up hearing stories of the times when you couldn't try on clothes in a store or had to sit upstairs in the movie theatre. Black children living in a public housing development in a white neighborhood were bussed to a black school miles away.

By the time I was a teenager, overt discrimination was not legal in the city; yet that didn't prevent the manager of a coffee shop in downtown Cincinnati refusing me service when I was 13 and looking for a job in the market area. When she asked me to leave because they didn't "serve Negroes", I said that the law said I didn't have to leave so she called the police. Upon arriving, the policeman apologized to her that there was nothing he could do. She then closed the coffee shop. By that time, I was enjoying the game and waited until she opened and again entered. At this point, she decided I think that business was more important than showing me who was in control and served me.

So I grew up in two worlds: one warm, supportive, and nurturing; the other cold and hostile. That is not to say that there were no shades of gray. I went to an integrated high school where I had friends of all races. I participated in organizations designed to bring people of all races together to understand our differences and to work collectively on the problems confronting us. Yet, the sense of living in two worlds was always there. Even more disturbing was the fact that there were constant reminders that as African-Americans, we had to understand that we were inferior. It was even said that the Bible documented the sin that had led to our eternal inferiority. Yet, my mother was the youngest graduate of the University of Cincinnati, graduating at 18 in 1928 until my brother graduated from U.C. in 1947 at 16. It all seemed like a bad dream - a nightmare in fact.

With an ingrained two world perspective, I headed off to Harvard at 18 with a full scholarship in my pocket. My years there resulted in a Harvard BA in government and a thorough exposure to the glories of the Anglo-Saxon culture and its contributions to the world. In addition, it further ingrained the fact that I lived in two worlds that did not mesh. Probably, the most frustrating part was that with a Harvard degree, I was viewed as having a excellent education. However, given the constant emphasis on the inferiority of my people, I gained no knowledge that helped me understand why this Christian nation behaved in such a devilish way. I was looking for answers to the questions: Where do we come from; why are we here; and where do we go after our spirits leave our bodies. They were questions that I thought were reasonable for an educated man but Harvard had no answers.

So off into the world I went. Harvard degree at the bottom of a box of books. My family's warning imprinted on my mind. Despite the impressive individual accomplishments that family members had achieved, there was a constant reminder that what we had accomplished had only been possible because of the sacrifices and struggles of countless unknown others who had laid a foundation upon which we could build. In other words, no matter how much individual success and how many accomplishments I might achieve, they would have no meaning if the accomplishments didn't create a base that future generations could use in the continuous struggle for justice. "To whom much is given, much is expected."

I didn't know what I was to do but at least I had a standard to measure my success. Having majored in government and thinking that law might provide the framework for the service I was seeking, I headed to D.C., ironically arriving on August 23, 1963. Thus, I had the opportunity to stand with hundreds of thousands and hear Dr. King and others give the call to action. A few days later, I was able to get a job as a reporter on the Washington Afro-American newspaper that granted me access to downtown and uptown life.

It was a fascinating opportunity to be in what seemed to be the hub of the universe, chronicling the change happening around us. However, I soon bored of writing about what others were doing. As if life felt my need, in November I ran into a college classmate and Alpha brother, Bill Strickland, at a SNCC convention I was covering who asked if i was interested in joining him in New York as editor of the newsletter of the organization he was heading, the Northern Student Movement (NSM). NSM had begun as a northern group of students providing support for the movement in the South. However, Bill and others had changed the focus to organizing in black communities of New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and Hartford, Conn.

Again, while editing was interesting, when the opportunity to join a rent strike organizing project in Harlem came, I went. I joined with a group of young organizers who were apprenticing with Jesse Gray who had been using the rent strike tactic to challenge landlords for decades. In 1964, the courts had declared the strategy legal as long as certain guidelines were followed. So into the streets of Harlem we went ready to organize all those who previously had been afraid but needed change.

After a few weeks, the romance wore off. Despite deplorable conditions and the new law, we encountered people's internal resistance to change. Hearing our frustrations, Jesse would patiently say to us, "People know when they are ready. You don't. Your job is to test their readiness. If they aren't ready, move on". As my experience grew over the years, I began to understand how that philosophy had enabled Jesse and others to maintain their energy and optimism despite the frustrations and slowness of the process.

From Harlem, I went to Hartford to replace the director at the NSM project in Connecticut's capital city. The challenge of building and maintaining a multifaceted organization was fascinating and frustrating. We organized around a variety of issues from slum landlords to job discrimination, raising money to pay ourselves when national funds ran scarce. Challenging people to stand up was exciting as well as grueling work. However, it came to a screeching halt when a demonstration we organized to confront police brutality led to confrontations between the police and community, resulting in my arrest and the arrest of others in the organization and community.

We were charged with sedition and a variety of other charges that hadn't been used since the Sacco and Venzentti days. In view of the media focus around outside organizers, the national organization suggested that those of us who were not from Hartford should leave until the trial to allow for the situation to cool down. Given that there was an NSM project in Boston's black community I went there. By the time the cases were heard and I received probation, I had obtained a job as an organizer with a local poverty program and was ready to plant my roots in Roxbury, the heart of Boston's black community.

During the three years between my leaving Cambridge in 1963 and returning to Boston in 1966, I gave up the idea of becoming a lawyer. While organizing was tough, demanding work, I was convinced that organizing people always needed to be at the core of my work. I had come to realize that through organizing I would be able to meet my family commitment to have my life's work have benefit and meaning for the African-American struggle for justice. It was also beginning to become clear that organizing could be a means to bring together the two worlds that I lived in. Perhaps, most important, it satisfied my growing appreciation for our human ability to create new realities as we come together to focus our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy on a common purpose.

During the last forty five years, I have been driven by a desire to both fight back against oppression and to demonstrate the power of organized action to bring justice. My motto could have been, "Have a need, let's organize". Organizing the burning of trash as a community worker in Lower Roxbury in the late 60s led to an agreement with my boss to leave the organization but pushed the City to clean an area, ignored for years.

The need for unity in the late sixties in the Black and Latino community led to the formation of the Boston Black United Front which became the voice of the progressive community of color in Boston. A highway threatening our community spurred the development of Operation Stop, the joining of a regional transportation alliance against the highway, and the formation of the Southwest Corridor Land Development Coalition which produced a plan that guided the development of the land once the Governor rerouted the highway around Boston.

The need for a greater share of the construction jobs in Roxbury stimulated the development of a state wide black, Latino, and Asian alliance, The Third World Jobs Clearing House with offices in Boston, Cambridge, Worcester, and Springfield that operated for five years until the Reagan administration eliminated the funding base.

At the same time the need for a multiracial political alliance in Boston to protect affirmative action in the construction industry led to the formation of the Boston Jobs Coalition, an alliance of black, white, Latino, and Asian community groups, that led the fight for a local jobs policy, guaranteeing a share of all City financed and aided projects to Boston workers of all races, people of color, and women. This policy, linking affirmative action to residency, became a national model that is used today in cities across the country under the name, the First Source Program.

My need to see workers develop economic power by pooling their talents led to my becoming education director of the Industrial Cooperative Association, a nonprofit consulting firm, focused on aiding workers in the formation of businesses that they could own cooperatively. I then spent the next five years helping workers throughout the country develop the capacity to be owners as well as workers.

Organizing around the need for a community voice in the land use decisions in Roxbury led in 1983 to Mayor Flynn granting the Roxbury Neighborhood Council a guaranteed role in all land use decisions and granting five other communities the right to establish such Councils with similar powers.

The need to assure that community workers would get jobs as part of the Boston Jobs Policy led to the formation of the Greater Roxbury Workers' Association which became a major force in securing construction jobs for community workers for the next fifteen years.

Frustration with the level of violence in the community and the need to develop strategies to change the thinking of the perpetrators led me to take a job as a counselor and eventually a manager at Emerge, the nation's first organization to provide counseling services to men, convicted of domestic violence. My objective was to develop an understanding of the psychological dynamics that lead to violence in order to develop behavior modification strategies.

The need to educate the community on the devastating effects and extent of domestic violence in the community, led to the development of the Community Task Force on Domestic Violence, as a vehicle through which education and organizing could be initiated.

After 35 years of fighting against injustice from outside of government, a need to strengthen organizing in the community led me to attempt to use elective office as an organizing tool. In 1999, I ran for and won a Boston City Council seat representing the community in which I had lived and worked for decades.

Once in office, the need for a vehicle through which to link my political representation to community organizing led to the development of the District 7 Roundtable, a monthly forum bringing residents and activists together to discuss issues, exchange ideas, and develop policy initiatives that could lead to political organizing and legislative action.

The 2000 Census showing that people of color were now the majority population in the City put a spotlight on the need for more political operational unity. To strengthen the unity between groups and people of color, the institutes at U Mass Boston focused on the black, Latino, and Asian communities sponsored a conference which led to organization of the New Majority Coalition.

The need to end the discrimination against those with criminal records led to the formation of the Boston Workers' Alliance (BWA) which played a leadership role in the development and passage of a state law combating such discrimination as well as removing the question of criminal conviction from the state job application.

Knowing that political victories alone are not enough, the BWA in its six year history has also established a worker staffing agency to provide income to the organization and jobs for its members. In addition it has helped its members establish businesses based on the philosophy that a job is not enough.

The recognition of an opportunity for additional community resources in an era of shrinking dollars led to my advocacy for the City to lease rather than sell City owned land in Roxbury designated for economic development. Eventually the City agreed to the policy on the city owned parcels in the Dudley Square area and to share the lease fees with the community. Negotiations are now taking place regarding the size of the community's share and the vehicle for the determination of use and distribution of the funds.

Obviously, those of us who seek to institutionalize the practice of justice in this country are far from our goal. Therefore, the struggle for justice and a civilized society must continue through the development of new forms of organization and strategies. As Maulana Ron Karenga said in the January 11, 2011 issue of the Final Call, " be organized is to be in ongoing structures that harness our energies and house and advance our interests and aspirations and unite us into an aware and active social force for African and human good in the world". Former Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan has temporarily succeeded in removing me from the front lines of the Boston struggle for justice. However, while I rest and prepare myself my return to the battle, others are continuing relentlessly to struggle to make Boston and this country a beacon for the practice of justice throughout the world.

As I look back over my 48 years of activism and service, I realize that I have been walking in the footsteps of my grandfather, Charles Henry Turner*, for whom I was named. His passion focused on studying the behavior of mice, roaches, insects of all kinds, and particularly bees and ants with their highly organized group behavior. He focused his life on understanding the behavior of life forms that many consider as "pests", unwanted intrusions into their space rather than seeing them as my grandfather saw them, as an essential aspect of God's creation.

My passion has been and continues to be the study of the innate ability of human beings to create new realities through organized action. Because of my African-American ancestry, I have focused on the demonstration of those capabilities by those human beings considered by many in this country as inferior life forms, an unwanted intrusion into their space. Hopefully, we will soon learn to recognize all human beings as beings created "in the image of God", each possessing a divine creative spirit.

A Luta Continua--The Struggle Continues,


* The following books have more information on my grandfather's scientific work:

1) Bug Watching With Charles Henry Turner (Naturalist's Apprentice Biographies), Michael Elsohn Ross, 1997 (A children's book)

2) Selected Papers and Biography of Charles Henry Turner 1867-1923: Pioneer of Comparative Animal Behavior Studies (Black Studies), Professor Charles Abramson, The Edward Mellon Press, 2003 (An academic study of his life and work including a history of the Troy-Knight-Turner Family that I wrote at the author's request)

Next Week: Chapter Two: The Keystone Cops Strike Again

Click here to read any part in this BC series.

Monsanto’s Narrative of Warfare in a Kill Culture Represent Our Resistance By Dr. Lenore J. Daniels, PhD Editorial Board

With heart and soul they went about their business, and the name of it was power, domination over spirit and flesh, orgy of unchecked self-expression.
-Jean Amery, At the Mind's Limits
Our survival demands that we make a transition from vicious cycles of violence to virtuous cycles of nonviolence; from negative economies of death and destruction to living economies that sustain life on earth and our lives; from negative politics of corruption and fascism to living democracies which include concern for and participation of all life; and from negative cultures that are leading to mutual annihilation to positive and living cultures based on caring, compassion, and conservation.
-Vandana Shiva, Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace
It the same story: “occupiers” hallucinate and see intruders everywhere. Intruders are a threat to the existence of the occupiers; intruders must be killed. The narrative legitimizing this practice has proven to be lucrative. Killing is big business. A kill culture makes for a profitable enterprise.

Kill, kill, kill…for the good of the invaded species. Kill!

While the U.S. government spends trillions to kill humans and other species in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Libya, it also funnels billions to Monsanto, a police-like force that, in turn, hires troops of scientists and workers to deploy its chemical weaponry, glyphosate and imazapyr (weed killers) around the world.

Monsanto’s “aggressive marketing” and sometimes-illegal maneuvering (Haiti Grassroots Watch, May 2011) includes “creating a potential worldwide monopoly by buying up all competitors, bribes, infiltration of farmers' associations through the use of mercenaries and ‘ruthless legal battles’ including lawsuits against farmers.”

But did I mention how profitable it is to kill in a kill culture? What do peasant farmers, activists, lawyers, and even independent scientists know? Monsanto, says Monsanto, is a successful business. As the world’s largest seed company and one of the largest pesticide companies, Monsanto, “dominates [the world’s] proprietary seed market, a market worth almost $32 billion in 2010, up 10 percent from the previous year” (Haiti Grassroots Watch).

Monsanto is a god-sent! Who eradicates species that invade other species better than Monsanto? Its weed killer targets terrorizing species, violent species, invaders - in the same way the president of the U.S. can order a hit on any citizen or “terrorist” anywhere around the world.

Monsanto is powerful!

It is Homeland Security for it SAVES and PROTECTS occupiers from intruders. This is the narrative it offered the residents of Willapa Bay, Washington, who, whether or not they knew it or not, were being invaded by a terrorizing species! This dangerous, life-threatening, anti-Earth - breed of grass - caught the attention of the U.S. government. Spartina or alterniflora, grass - must be killed! Go for it, Monsanto! And yes, according to Truthout Fellow, Mike Ludwig, the weed killing corporation sent boats and helicopters to spray “thousands of gallons of herbicides into the bay’s shallow waters” to kill - that is, to save Willapa Bay (“Special Investigation: The Pesticide and Politics of America’s Eco-War,” Truthout, June 9, 2011).

It is the American Way! (Ain’t no new thing, as poet Gil Scott-Heron would say).

(Willapa Bay is polluted now….shhh…). The U.S. government’s effort to save and protect communities around the world from invading species is known as “species eradication” (“Special Investigation”). (Ain’t no new thing - species eradication!). Only in the margins of the world is there talk of another more life-threatening danger: Monsanto’s chemical weaponry is not only toxic to oysters while polluting the bay, it is also harmful to humans as well. Independent scientists, Ludwig writes, “have discovered potential links among the widespread use of glyphosate-based herbicides and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, birth defects and even attention deficit disorder.”

Collateral damage! The incidental death of neighboring species, including humans from cancer or other illnesses can’t be avoided!

“Research also shows that additives like surfactants in glyphosate in herbicides like Roundup are more toxic than glyphosate itself and can increase the toxicity of glyphosate.”

“Every time you hear the term 'invasive species,' think Monsanto,” biologist David Theodoropoulos said at an environmentalist conference in Oregon (“Special Investigation”). Ludwig summarizes Theodoropoulos’ position: “the idea that a wild plant or animal can be invasive is a myth. Species have moved, adapted and changed in different ecosystems for millions of years. ‘Change and movement are natural.’”

But Monsanto cannot become part of the military-industrial-complex by arguing that “change and movement are natural.” Ludwig’s report continues:

The war on invasive species is a war on a fact of life. Humans have caused or exacerbated these species ‘invasions’ by changing habitats and introducing species to new areas, and now we are trying to turn back the clock in an attempt to prevent nature from taking its new course. As long as people attempt to dominate the land, extract its resources and shape it to their liking, there will be money to be made and dramatic consequences for other livings things.
But Monsanto wants the world to ignore this non-knowledge and to remember that it is a giver of gifts to living things!

Monsanto sent the Earthquake ravished nation a “gift” of “hybrid maize and vegetable seeds,” some “505 tons of seed” (Haiti Grassroots Watch) to help in the reconstruction of that country. But how will Monsanto’s genetically modified weeds reconstruct Haiti’s food economy? Who really benefits from converting “peasant agriculture to corporate agriculture,” to use environmental activists Vandana Shiva’s words (Earth Democracy), with these hybrid seeds - the Haitians or the giant corporation, Monsanto?

(Hush, dissent is not welcomed!).

Monsanto democratizes poverty! Our weed killer or modified seeds will make you rich! Peasant farmers left with high levels of debt, writes Vandana Shiva, find themselves “deeper in poverty” (Earth Democracy). “Poverty is revealing itself in farmer suicides and the emergence of hunger for the first time in independent India.”

But the killing and suffering is all legal because “there will be money, and since there will be money, scientific data, Shiva writes, is given to scientists by Monsanto “and they publish it.” Monsanto does not lie - the caring corporation simply tinkers with the statistics - a little, because “informed citizens make free choices” and making free choices - well - that is too much like that other version of democracy.

That is not the American Way!

Monsanto’s story (operating as it does on the bodies of the poor, displaced, and dead) is that its uncompromising stance ensures “better things for better living.” It can and it will continue its good deeds because it is closely aligned with that privileged narrative - the one that promotes killing.

Monsanto’s narrative is a narrative of violence, a narrative, of warfare!

When you are a kill culture, warfare is big business!

NATO: What is it good for? Left Margin By Carl Bloice Editorial Board

When General George Joulwan appeared on BBC America the other day, he danced around the question of the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But the former NATO supreme allied commander in Europe did have a couple of interesting things to say about the war in Libya.

It is true, Joulwan said, that the allied forces fighting there to overthrow the regime of Col. Muammar Gaddafi are running out of weapons and ammunition; in fact, they are short of the kinds of precision weaponry that limits collateral damage to civilian non-combatants. They just might end up having to “buy them from the United States,” said Joulwan, a director at General Dynamics. (The company makes fighter-bombers and radar disablers) When asked directly about NATO’s future he cautioned, “it’s not Club Med” and said the problem the alliance has is an absence of U.S. leadership and lack of “mission clarity.” But he evaded the question of why NATO continues to exist at all.

These days, politicians and establishment pundits alike are widely commenting on the question: NATO, what is it good for?

If you accept the notion that in the years following World War II, Western Europe faced a threat of a Soviet invasion, then the military alliance had a raison d’ĂȘtre. Actually, that idea was as a problematic as the “dominos” that were supposedly going to fall in Asia. The concern about a Soviet invasion was widely accepted and the division on the continent between the “East” and the “West” was real. With the fall of Soviet communism and the end of the Cold War, political support for NATO began to decline - as naturally it would.

The alliance did get involved in a European military conflict, a messy one that resulted in the dismemberment of the Republic of Yugoslavia and leading to various simmering ethnic conflicts that have yet to be resolved. When the U.S. decided to invade Iraq it proved impossible to bring NATO along and the U.S. was forced to rely on a “coalition of the willing.” Following 911, the Western Europeans did commit forces to Afghanistan but the NATO involvement was not whole-hearted, and is now on the wane.

Back in December 2009, when President Obama announced that he was sending 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and that the U.S. would begin winding down its military operation there sometime this year, General Joulwan said he expected other countries to respond to an appeal from Washington. "I truly believe, if approached right, you're going to see several NATO nations, more than just Great Britain, join us. What has been missing here is a decision. There is now a decision. And once the president makes a decision, in my experience, the military turns to. They will generate this force and get it there as quickly as they can to meet the mission on the ground and I hope our NATO allies act with equal decisiveness to get there because it's extremely important, because this cannot drag on forever."

Now, 18 months later, the NATO member governments involved are, one after the other, pulling their countries out of combat roles in Afghanistan, and the U.S. finds itself in the position of pleading with them not use the anticipated drawn down of some U.S. forces as an excuse speed up their own withdrawals. Meanwhile, here at home, military chiefs are speaking out on Afghan policy with a candor that probably would have earned them censure or dismissal in the time of President Harry Truman, arguing against any substantial withdrawal this summer as promised.

“With the Cold War and the Soviet threat a distant memory, there is little political willingness, on a country-by-country basis, to provide adequate public funds to the military. (Britain and France, which each spend more than 2 percent of their gross domestic products on defense, are two of the exceptions here.),” Richard N. Haass president of the Council on Foreign Relations wrote in the Washington Post June 17. “Even where a willingness to intervene with military force exists, such as in Afghanistan, where upward of 35,000 European troops are deployed, there are severe constraints. Some governments, such as Germany, have historically limited their participation in combat operations, while the cultural acceptance of casualties is fading in many European nations.”

Haass wrote that “it would be wrong, not to mention fruitless, to blame the Europeans and their choices alone. There are larger historical forces contributing to the continent’s increasing irrelevance to world affairs.”

Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates used his recent final policy speech to blast NATO and the Europeans for not adequately sharing responsibility for policing the world. He warned of “the real possibility for a dim if not dismal future for the transatlantic alliance.” Haass commented that Gates “may not have been pessimistic enough.”

“The U.S.-European partnership that proved so central to managing and winning the Cold War will inevitably play a far diminished role in the years to come,” wrote Haass. “To some extent, we’re already there: If NATO didn’t exist today, would anyone feel compelled to create it? The honest, if awkward, answer is no.”

Haass’ commentary was titled, “Why Europe no longer matters.” However, Europe does matter – a great deal. It’s just that in the absence of a perceived common threat and with the rapidly changing pattern of global economic and political power, the glue that held the individual nations together in military alliance no longer holds.

“Last month, this column noted that NATO was created in 1949 to protect Western Europe from the Soviet army; it could long ago have unfurled the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner; it has now become an instrument of mischief, and when the Libyan misadventure is finished, America should debate whether NATO also should be finished,” wrote conservative columnist George Will in the Post June 17. He went on to speak of NATO as “a Potemkin alliance whose primary use these days is perverse: It provides a patina of multilateralism to U.S. military interventions on which Europe is essentially a free rider.”

Will’s comment points to the crux of the matter. While Washington now views the alliance as an instrument for action in parts of the world away from the European continent, the Europeans are reluctant to go along with that mission statement. A good example is the r efusal of Germany’s conservative government to join in the attack on Libya. Reflected here is the question of Europe’s place in the world.

Geographically, NATO has been defined as Western Europe, plus the UK’s two former English-speaking colonies in North America, and with the U.S. as the linchpin. Today, it is an alliance of 28 nations made up primarily of white people who are being drawn into conflicts within countries of the “third world,” primarily in Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. However, in the wake of the end of the Cold war and the rise of China, India and the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, tectonic shifts are underway in international relations. Axiomatically, the movement flows from changes in economic relations. Germany, for instance, is expanding its relations with Russia, and China is Germany's second largest trading partner outside of the European Union, after the United States.

With regard to the conflict in Libya, mention is frequently made of the Europeans’ “special interest” in what happens in that country, interests that the U.S. does not share. (You thought the war is being fought to protect Libyans from attack by the undemocratic and brutal Gaddafi regime?) Actually, in this case, it is the special interest of the UK and France. They have “special interests” in what happens in their former colonies, dependencies and with their client governments in North Africa. And they are hardly humanitarian.

The Fourth International Libyan Oil and Gas exhibition was scheduled for Tripoli this October. In announcing the event, the organizers reported, “Libya has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa with 42 billion barrels of oil and over 1.3 trillion cubic metres of gas. With only 25 percent of Libya’s surface territory explored to date there is every chance that actual reserves could see this figure dwarfed in coming years.”

“As Europe’s single largest oil supplier, the second largest oil producer in Africa and the continent’s fourth largest gas supplier, Libya dominates the petroleum sector in the Southern Mediterranean area and has ambitious plans for the future.”

London and Paris initiated the Libyan war and lured Washington into the conflict with appeals to NATO “solidarity.” The Obama Administration took the bait and when it sought to transfer responsibility for the war onto the Europeans, it found that in addition to the European public’s aversion to such missions, the European governments interested in the fighting lacked the wherewithal for a sustain engagement. Thus, Gates’ lament about the Europeans not doing their part.

Actually, the only surprising aspect of this situation is that all involved so badly miscalculated the cost of the aggression. Europe is in crisis. With Greece nearing an economic meltdown and Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Italy waiting in the wings, the governments on the continent are in no position to bear any significant additional military expenditures and it’s unlikely the European public would put up with it.

Likewise, in the U.S., public opinion is increasingly opposed to such foreign military campaigns, especially in a place like Libya where there is no Al-Qaida and where we are told the U.S. has “no national interest.”

The White House cannot argue that we are in Libya to meet any international treaty obligations. This most likely explains President Obama’s bonehead decision to ignore the U.S, Constitution and argue that the Administration doesn’t need Congressional approval for engaging in war in Libya. The U.S. is currently involved in military conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and now regularly launches drone attacks on areas of Yemen from a base in Djibouti. The latter “secret” operation is also being conducted without authorization from Congress, and will no doubt be defended on the ridiculous grounds that no ground troops are involved.

Once again last week, General Joulwan complained about the supposed absence of “mission clarity,” this time around Libya. He made it clear he believes that if it becomes clear that the aim of the war is to bring about regime change and the Obama Administration just says so, the rest of NATO will turn to. He’s whistling in the dark. An alliance that has lost its relevancy and faces economic calamities on both sides of the Atlantic can’t, and won’t, turn things around. What we should hope for is that White House leadership will be employed to unite the governments involved in giving full support to the efforts of the African Union to find a negotiated path out of the deepening and costly quagmire.

Will Americans Ever Become Sane? Keeping it Real By Larry Pinkney Editorial Board

"Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories ...Our experience has shown us that in the general framework of daily struggle, this battle against ourselves, this struggle against our own the most difficult of all."

- Amilcar Cabral

"Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity."

- Frantz Fanon

Will 'Americans' collectively ever become sane? In a word, no - not as long as the corporate-stream media, 'educational' institutions, and corporate-government of this nation are allowed to succeed in indoctrinating and controlling the past and present narrative [i.e. stories] of everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people.

This control comes in the form of mythology, distortions, omissions, and outright lies; versus recognizing the utter insanity of supporting prevaricating systemic politicians, perpetual war, and political, economic, and social hypocrisy & injustices at home and abroad.

The American Heritage College Dictionary defines the word sane as being 1) "Of sound mind; mentally healthy." and 2) "Having or showing sound judgment; reasonable." On the other hand, the word pathology is defined, in relevant part, as the "anatomic or functioning manifestations of a disease." Unfortunately, it is the latter definition that demonstratively applies to the body politic, including institutions, of the United States of America. Until this is recognized and changed, this nation will not be collectively sane.

The following words of Frederick Douglass address the ongoing pathological [i.e. sick or diseased] and hypocritical reality which afflicts this nation, when he said, "The American people have this to learn: that where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither person nor property is safe." This nation's systemic misleaders of all colors [from both major political parties] are a manifestation of pathology.

In this year of 2011, in the 21st century, there is no sane rationale for spending trillions of dollars on corporate give-aways and waging wars abroad, while simultaneously having joblessness, homelessness, home foreclosures, no single-payer (universal health care), and the largest prison incarceration rate in the world. There is no sane rationale for the endless exploitation by the few of the many. There is no sane rationale for government secrecy, corporate hegemony, and the devastation of this planet--Mother Earth. There is however, the ever-present sickness of greed, which is constantly reinforced by a distorted and disfigured narrative of the everyday people's past and present history and reality-- propagated by this nation's pathological systemic institutions and corporate-stream media.

The United States, led by its misleaders (instead of by its everyday people) is now, more than ever, steeped in a pathology of mythology and madness which, if not recognized, corrected and reversed; threatens to further environmentally denigrate this planet and ultimately destroy humanity. The time is here for the everyday people to collectively and uncompromisingly say, NO MORE! Not only for our sanity, but also for the sake of our very existence!

For a certainty, this predator drone missile U.S. president, Barack Obama (who is currently the black face of U.S. corporate/military hegemony abroad; and secrecy, subterfuge, and de facto political repression at home) will no doubt have made some bogus rhetorical, double-speak media statement pertaining to some kind of withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan (which will of course essentially entail his renaming them and their "mission"), which will be meant to once again bamboozle everyday people - just as he did in the case of the ongoing U.S. occupation of, and fighting in, Iraq. Moreover, just as with the NATO [i.e. U.S.] led war of aggression has devastated the ordinary people of the oil rich African nation of Libya, so it is, that to a lesser but no less obscene degree, the economic life-lines and infrastructure for just plain ordinary, everyday people right here in this nation are being steadily emaciated. To allow this to continue at home and abroad would be pathological and the height of insanity.

There comes a time when the everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people of this nation must collectively prescribe a cure for ourselves and break free from this pathology; and that time is NOW. In order to do this, we need encouragement, strength, and determination gleaned from one another collectively. There is no time better than the present, and frankly we do not have much time left if we are to reverse being made extinct by the corporate-induced nuclear, military, and environmental nightmare that surely awaits not only this nation but the entire planet.

These are challenging and perilous times. Time for systemic change! Will we "fulfill our [collective] mission" as human beings, or will we "betray it?" Betrayal is unthinkable.

Onward then my sisters and brothers! Onward!

What Will It Take to Bring Obama Home? Consider the Power Of Write-In Voting For 2012 Moving Left – Part 13 By Suzanne Brooks Columnist

Note: This commentary is in place of Ms. Brooks “Women of Color” column.

Having worked in support Barack Obama’s election to the presidency, I have, since his election, followed his written commitments to implement several constructive programs, services and actions to leverage the efforts of women of color. I’ve looked for constructive programs, services and actions to leverage the efforts of women of color to rise from the bottom of US society, where we have been in every year of this country’s existence, but found women of color again thrown under the proverbial bus. Therefore, I have been searching for new strategies which can be implemented, concurrently, to give the maximum voice and power to the grassroots and working class, along with those now in our ranks (or homeless, jobless and hopeless) who used to be the middle class.

As the primary and general elections of 2012 draw closer, the Democrats and Obama administration have resumed the age-old strategy of sort of associating themselves, with smiles on their faces and pats on our heads, with the millions of poor, foreclosed, language and religious minorities, LGBT communities, unemployed and underemployed, uneducated and undereducated, and all the others who are outside the 13,000 richest families and their corporate agents. The wealthy continue to amass unprecedented power and wealth, while millions will receive death sentences by degree with the coming cuts in food, shelter, healthcare (Medicare and Medicaid), medicine, jobs, unemployment compensation, education (pre-school to doctoral levels), libraries, arts of all kinds, childcare, senior care, and all the other needs we have to survive physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.

It is time we faced the truth once and for all. The savagely greedy who are now living carnivorously off the majority of the people of the country, who have more houses than they can live in, more cars than they can drive and more money than they can spend in a lifetime, do not view the majority of us as worthy of anything - including life. So they can live in luxury, spending more than a million dollars on a meal to entertain visiting “heads of state”. In the streets outside the banquet hall, people are foraging in garbage cans and sleeping in the streets, all the while in fear, as much from those who are supposed to be “representing” us and/or “protecting” us, as from any so-called criminals.

Those who steal food to live are jailed as criminals. Those who steal homes from millions are, for the most part, allowed to continue their activities with ever-increasing monetary rewards. What is the definition of the word criminal today?

With these thoughts in mind, the changing US demographics are increasing in importance. By 2013, whites/European Americans will no longer be a national majority, but they may retain the majority of the country’s wealth and political power unless something stops the momentum.

To those who are not in denial, patterns employed to institute apartheid in South Africa after the so-called World War II can be seen underway in the US. Large numbers of schools serving people of color, the poor, grassroots and working class are being closed. The remaining public schools are being turned over to white corporate control. An overseer class of people of color is being established. These “privileged” children will attend “private” schools where they will be indoctrinated to believe they are better than the majority of people of color whom they will help to oppress.

The turning over of public housing to white corporate control will be implemented soon. Food, education, housing, jobs and prisons will become systems of social management. This will enable a small white power elite and their overseers to control the unarmed, uneducated, unhealthy grassroots, working class groups and eliminate a real middle class by subjecting them to extreme social pressures that demean and debilitate them to preclude any thoughts of rebellion by keeping them in a constant basic survival mode from day to day.

In this way, as was the case in South Africa, in a short time, a small white minority can be empowered to control the people of color of the country who will make up the majority of the population. If the people allow this to happen, there will be a very long period of suffering and dying. As can be seen in South Africa today, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to overcome the consequences of such experiences. So what are we to do?

Surely, it will not be enough to have another rousing Sunday sermon nor another march, be it on Washington or any other place in this country. While those actions had impacts in the past, they were not lasting impacts or we would not be faced with unprecedented powerlessness, real or believed, based on current propaganda.

Increasingly, the news as it was once reported has been replaced by endless stories of local and regional weather, lots of sports, stories of outlandish celebrity behavior and occasional tales of gross immorality by politicians who, for the most part, do little more than apologize.

The important news, current or historical, goes largely unreported. There is no mention of truth. Instead, news is reported as always having 2 sides, even if one side is a fabrication. This is an age-old strategy. In the days of legal chattel slavery, slave owners mutually agreed not to publicize slave escapes so those still in captivity would not learn that many were escaping. Many did, but it was kept quiet. So too, the historical intervention of 5 million US citizens who sent telegrams to Washington, DC when President Nixon fired Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox, in a massive, collective, impromptu order that the Watergate investigation continue, forced Nixon to appoint Leon Jaworski to the post from which he had fired Cox. Ultimately, it was in large measure these 5 million voices that made it clear nothing else would be accepted. The ultimate outcome was Nixon’s resignation. One lesson in this is that the masses of people have the power, if they act - whether organized or as individuals, in planned or spontaneous acts to take control.

There is a second lesson, however. It is that one spontaneous action is not enough but must be followed by planned actions and organization. We are seeing this today in Egypt where the young people succeeded in ousting President Mubarak but lack needed, long term, organizational experience to keep control. These are the lessons before our eyes right now.

What does this have to do with the upcoming primary and general elections? Several issues are already clear. If all that is done is a repetition of actions and strategies in 2008 that made it possible for Barack Obama to become president, then the masses will get the usual hugs and meaningless promises from the primary to general election season and be forgotten after the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

President Obama was elected in November 2008. Two and a half years later, he met with the Congressional Black Caucus for the first time. After neglecting Puerto Ricans and Puerto Rico for the same period, his recent visit there flopped. He is attempting to cull the favor of Africans by sending his wife and children there, without him. During his administration, massive numbers of Mexicans and other Latinos have been deported, though it has been kept out of “mainstream” news.

The Obama administration, in clear support of past kidnappings of President Aristide of Haiti, tried to prevent Aristide from returning to Haiti before the most recent Haitian elections. Similarly, he maintains hostility to Venezuelan President Chavez and is not supporting Bolivia’s President, the only indigenous person ever to achieve a presidency in the Americas. The rest of the Americas are working toward international cooperation as the European Union members once did.

Just as the Romans could not see the impending fall of their empire, neither can the power elite of the US. The world has changed. Rather than holding on to the English-only-US-in-control-of-the-world mentality, the US would do better to lead in promoting justice, multiculturalism, multilingualism, and other diversity related concepts, but to do this would require ending racism and racism plus sexism for women of color inside this country. Nothing can be reformed here without these changes occurring. This cannot be left to the whims of those in power, prepared to self-destruct before embracing equity and justice.

It is up to the rest of us who intend to survive and to be a part of a new world order that includes us all. This means getting involved in many ways. We need not conform to a single course of action but can embark on many which can work collaboratively and concurrently.

This essay advocates the study of the process of write-in voting as a mechanism to draft candidates, rather than through a party process. The suggestion here is to draft Barbara Lee, Member of Congress from Oakland, California for President and Dennis Kucinich, Member of Congress from Ohio, for Vice President in the 2012 Democratic primaries.

In some states, if 100 to 200 people write-in the same candidate in the primary, then that person’s name will be printed on the ballot of the general election. It is critically important that everyone who will cast a write-in ballot contact the local, state and federal offices governing their write-in ballots in any way to insure that their ballot is counted and not thrown out in the precincts or during the vote counting. This cannot be left to others to insure. Thereafter, the Obama administration and the Democratic Party should be notified of the intention of writing in votes during the primary, with the additional information that unless promises made by Obama, his team, and the Democratic Party are kept and made irreversible in laws before the General Election, that Lee and Kucinich will also receive the same write-in votes at the General Election.

No doubt, Obama will win nomination again by the Democratic Party Primary, but if a significant number of grassroots, working class, disabled, religious minorities, people of color, poor, homeless, LGBT and others write in Lee and Kucinich, shock waves will be sent through the Democratic Party. If, as happened less than a month ago, Obama can announce giving billions of dollars to the Egyptian people to forgive debts and to provide social services and help for small businesses there, then people in this country, whose tax dollars are being given by Obama to the Egyptians, should also be entitled to the same helping, caring treatment.

When are the millions of homeless people going to be taken care of? When are those who lost their homes to foreclosures going to be helped into other homes? When are the death sentences on those who have no medical care or inadequate medical care going to be lifted? When are the insurance companies, which are making millions, going to be ended and a national health plan, which is the same for all, installed? When are racism and sexism and other forms of discrimination going to be treated as the crimes they are? When are the corporations and the wealthy going to pay really fair tax shares? Almost half the corporations pay nothing. We do not need to allow any more time for these promises to be kept.

There is money available for all the wars, secret and public, and for handouts to other rich people around the world. We know that sending money to Egypt, like the money promised to Haiti, or New Orleans, it will never reach the masses there. How long will we go along to get along because we are afraid to take a stand? Our people are already dying and more will die unless we insist that promises made to get our votes must be kept this time and every time. It will not matter what party is in office if people continue to close their eyes to the enslavement already in progress in the “privatized” prisons, which include youth facilities, continues uninterrupted.

To those who think the write-in voting process cannot succeed, look to the past. Do your own homework. The information below is to get this process started. There will still be the need to think of other strategies that can complement or supplement the suggestions here. Serious, innovative, old strategies used in new ways and completely new ideas are all needed. We can all do something.

The information below is from Wikipedia {with bracketed comments from this article’s author} because it is written in a manner understandable by people at many reading levels. Only information about presidential primaries is included. Every voter needs to check their own location and not depend on others to do the work for them. Really free people act in their own interests. Those who are curious should research information on write-in campaigns for other political offices.

Wikipedia: A write-in candidate is a candidate in an election whose name does not appear on the ballot, but for whom voters may vote nonetheless by writing in the person's name. Some states and local jurisdictions allow a voter to affix a sticker with a write-in candidate's name on it to the ballot in lieu of actually writing in the candidate's name. Write-in candidacies are sometimes a result of a candidate being legally or procedurally ineligible to run under his or her own name or party. In some cases, write-in campaigns have been organized to support a candidate who is not personally involved in running; this may be a form of draft campaign.

Write-in candidates rarely win, and votes are often cast for ineligible people or fictional characters. {Note: This does not mean they can never win.} Some jurisdictions require write-in candidates be registered as official candidates before the election.F This is standard in elections with a large pool of potential candidates, as there may be multiple candidates with the same name that could be written in.

Many states and municipalities allow for write-in votes in a partisan primary where no candidate is listed on the ballot to have the same functional effect as nominating petitions: for example, if there are no Reform Party members on the ballot for state general assembly and a candidate receives more than 200 write-in votes when the primary election is held (or the other number of signatures that were required for ballot access), the candidate will be placed on the ballot on that ballot line for the general election. In most places, this provision is in place for non-partisan elections as well.

In the United States, write-in candidates have a very small chance of winning, but there have been some notable write-in candidates in the past.

Presidential primaries

In 1928, Herbert Hoover won the Republican Massachusetts presidential primary on write-ins, polling 100,279.

In 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt won the Democratic New Jersey presidential primary with 34,278 write-ins.

In 1944, Thomas Dewey won the Republican Pennsylvania presidential primary with 146,706 write-ins. He also won the Oregon Republican presidential primary with 50,001 write-ins.

In 1948, Harold Stassen won the Republican Pennsylvania presidential primary with 81,242 write-ins.

In 1952, Robert Taft won the Republican Nebraska presidential primary with 79,357 write-ins.

Also in 1952, Estes Kefauver won the Democratic Pennsylvania presidential primary with 93,160 write-ins.

Also in 1952, Dwight Eisenhower won the Republican Massachusetts presidential primary with 254,898 write-ins.

In 1956, Dwight Eisenhower won the Republican Massachusetts presidential primary with 51,951 write-ins.

In 1960, Richard Nixon won the Republican Massachusetts presidential primary with 53,164 write-ins.

Also in 1960, John F. Kennedy won the Democratic Pennsylvania presidential primary with 183,073 write-ins, and he won the Democratic Massachusetts presidential primary with 91,607 write-ins.

In 1964, a write-in campaign organized by supporters of former U.S. Senator and vice presidential nominee Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. won Republican primaries for President in New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, defeating declared candidates Barry Goldwater, Nelson Rockefeller, and Margaret Chase Smith.

In 1968 in the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire, incumbent President Lyndon Johnson did not file, but received write-ins totaling 50% of all Democratic votes cast. Senator Eugene McCarthy, who campaigned actively against Johnson’s Vietnam war policies, was on the ballot. He received an impressive 41% of the vote and gained more delegates than the President. Johnson was so stunned that he did not run for reelection.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader ran a write-in campaign in 1992 during the New Hampshire primary for the presidential nomination of both the Democratic and Republican parties. Declaring himself the "none of the above candidate" and using the Concord Principles as his platform, Nader received 3,054 votes from Democrats and 3,258 votes from Republicans.