Sunday, April 05, 2015

The Evolution of Consortium News


From Editor Robert Parry: Frankly, the evolution of Consortiumnews.com has surprised me. Twenty years ago, the idea was to provide a home for independent investigative journalism that was getting squeezed out of the mainstream U.S. news media. We have done that, but we have done much more.

We are now a home for a diverse group of writers with deep experience on a wide range of topics: people such as retired U.S. diplomat William R. Polk who served as a front-line foreign policy adviser to President John F. Kennedy; retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern who went from briefing senior U.S. officials to battling the war fevers that frequently grip Official Washington; and retired Army JAG Major Todd E. Pierce who served as a defense counsel in the U.S. Military Commissions and explains how the actions of recent U.S. governments have deviated from constitutional principles.

We have other writers, too, with extraordinary specialties: Paul R. Grenier addresses political-philosophical issues; James DiEugenio delves into what some call the American “deep state”; and Daniel Lazare explores the intricacies of Middle East terrorism. And there are many more very talented writers who publish their work at our Web site.

Thus, Consortiumnews.com provides a unique insight into the complex challenges that endanger the future of the American Republic and the world. We do all this on a shoestring budget, with no billionaire sugar daddy who sets the boundaries on what we can write. We rely on the generosity of our readers to protect our independence. And we conduct only a few special fundraisers a year.

We are now in our spring fund drive, trying to raise $35,000. And for those of you who can donate $150 or more we are offering a special thank-you gift: the DVD of the recent movie, “Kill the Messenger,” recalling the mainstream media’s betrayal of the late investigative reporter Gary Webb who was punished for his work exposing the Contra-cocaine scandal – plus a CD of Webb and me discussing the topic before a crowd in Santa Monica, California, in 1996. (If you can’t afford the $150, we’ll send you the CD for whatever you can give.)

To donate to our tax-exempt non-profit, you can use a credit card online (we accept Visa, Mastercard or Discover) or you can mail a check to Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ); 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 102-231; Arlington VA 22201. For readers wanting to use PayPal, you can address contributions to our account, which is named after our e-mail address: “consortnew @ aol.com”. (Since we are a 501-c-3 non-profit, donations by American taxpayers may be tax-deductible.)

If you wish to get one of the thank-you gifts, just follow up your donation with an email to us at consortnew@aol.com with instructions on where to mail it. We’ll pay the shipping charges.

–Another way to help Consortiumnews survive is to buy my three-book trilogy on the Bush dynasty – Secrecy & Privilege, Neck Deep and America’s Stolen Narrative – for the discount price of only $34, less than half the cover price. Just go to Consortiumnews.com’s “Donate” button and make a $34 “donation” using Visa, Mastercard or Discover. We will read a “donation” of that amount as an order for the trilogy. If your mailing address is the same as your credit card billing address, we will ship the books to that address. If your mailing address is different, just send us an e-mail at consortnew@aol.com and we will make the adjustment.

You can also take advantage of this trilogy offer by mailing a check for $34 to The Media Consortium; 2200 Wilson Blvd.; Suite 102-231; Arlington VA 22201. Or you can use our PayPal account, “consortnew @ aol.com.” Just make sure you include your mailing address in the message. (A portion of each sale will go to support our investigative journalism.)

For U.S. orders of the trilogy, we will pay for the shipping. (Regrettably, this three-book offer can only be made for the United States because of increased international postal rates.)

–Another contribution option is to donate stock or other equities, which can offer a tax advantage to you if the stock has appreciated in value. If this stock-donation option appeals to you, I suggest you discuss it with your broker and then contact me at consortnew@aol.com for specific instructions on how to transfer the stock.

Again, thanks for your support and for making our nearly two decades of honest journalism possible.

Robert Parry is a longtime investigative reporter who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for the Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. He founded Consortiumnews.com in 1995 to create an outlet for well-reported journalism that was being squeezed out of an increasingly trivialized U.S. news media.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Dave Lindorff: EXECUTION BY MEDICAL NEGLECT: PA. PRISON TORTURING MUMIA AND FAMILY @ This Can't Be Happening!


Mumia Abu-Jamal, the radical Philadelphia journalist convicted of killing a white Philadelphia police
officer in a trial fraught with prosecutorial misconduct, witness coaching and judicial prejudice back in 1981, spent nearly three decades in solitary confinement in the deliberately designed hell of Pennsylvania’s supermax SCI Green prison before a panel of federal Appeals Court judges eventually ruled that he’d been unconstitutionally sentenced to death.

He of course, received no apology for the state’s making him illegally and improperly spend all those years in solitary waiting to be wrongfully executed. Instead, with that ruling (after a few years of legal stalling by the Philadelphia district attorney’s office), he was simply switched over to a sentence of life without possibility of parole and moved to the SCI-Mahoney prison in central Pennsylvania.

Now, it appears the state, which lost its chance to execute him, may be trying to kill him another way, as word comes that this world-renowned political prisoner had to be rushed to the hospital this week, unconscious from an undiagnosed case of severe diabetes.

Incredibly, despite his having already spent the past two weeks in the prison infirmary, where he was suffering from a severe case of eczema, painful itching all over his body, lethargy, and frequent urination -- all well-known side effects signaling possible diabetes -- he was never tested for sugar in his blood or urine (or if was tested, nothing was done about the results). He was only finally diagnosed with the disease after his blood glucose level had risen to 779 -- a level far above the normal range of 70-120 -- at which point, unconscious, he was rushed to the Schuylkill Health Medical Center’s ICU and put on an insulin drip.

Supporters of Abu-Jamal say that since January he had been ill, complaining of chronic fatigue, painful itching and erupting skin, which only grew worse when the hospital doctors prescribed a topical ointment.

For years, as a prisoner, Abu-Jamal has enraged the state’s police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, and law-and-order politicians of both parties, first by successfully battling his death sentence and his conviction, and second by using his journalistic skills to expose the horrors of the state’s, and the nation’s brutal prison system, which he has properly labeled a “prison-industrial complex.” Now this high-profile prisoner is shining a bright spotlight on another ugly aspect of that network of organized horror houses: the medical neglect of the incarcerated.

Whether there was a deliberate attempt to “execute” Abu-Jamal slowly through neglect of his diabetes -- a disease that can be brought on by poor diet and/or stress, among other things, and that can kill if left untreated -- or whether it was just an example of the standard neglect and incompetence faced by all those locked up by the state, Abu-Jamal’s current crisis, and the way it is being handled by prison authorities, should make any person with a shred of humanity furious.

When Abu-Jamal was put in the infirmary initially, his family and his attorneys were not notified. Nor were they notified when he lost consciousness and was rushed out of the prison to a hospital ICU. According to Abu-Jamal’s family and legal team, they only learned about his situation because fellow inmates, concerned about what was happening to him, alerted them.

Legal team member Johanna Fernandez says she and others were up in the capital of Harrisburg at the time for a court hearing on a legislative bill that was passed specifically to silence Abu-Jamal, but ultimately all state prisoners to prevent them from publicizing what they considered their wrongful imprisonment. That’s where they got the word of his hospitalization.

At that point, she recounts, they had to use “detective work” to figure out where he was, since prison officials of the State Department of Corrections (sic) would not volunteer the information.

After they raced to the hospital, they managed to locate his room in the ICU, identifying it by the two prison guards at the door barring them entry to his room (where there reportedly were two more guards, though he was chained to his bed.

Though Abu-Jamal’s wife Wadiya and his older brother Keith Cook were present a the hospital, they were denied permission to see him. The hospital management, reportedly, said it was deferring to the wishes of the DOC, while prison officials for their part claimed it was the hospital following federal Health Information Privacy rules (though these are normally not applied to immediate relatives -- particularly a spouse).

I called the hospital myself to check on who was limiting access to the patient. A spokesman would not even confirm that Abu-Jamal was in the facility. But then when I asked why his wife and brother were being denied access to him, I was told to contact the DOC. The DOC did the same when called, referring me to the hospital. The bottom line was that for a day and a night, while Abu-Jamal was being treated for a critical condition in the ICU, his wife and brother, just 20 feet away, were denied access to him -- and denied information about his condition. Yesterday, they were finally granted brief access after a global campaign of calls flooded prison authorities. Abu-Jamal’s wife Wadiya was granted 30 minutes with her husband, who was at the time seated chained to a chair. She was able to give him ice cubes for his dry mouth. But a day later, on April 1, his relatives were again reportedly being being denied access, with the prison authorities saying they could only see him one time per week.

This kind of abusive treatment of family members of a seriously ill prisoner is gratuitous cruelty by a prison bureaucracy which thrives on a culture of punishment and oppression. Objectively, it makes no sense to punish the relatives of a convict. The only conceivable purpose of such tactics would be to further punish the inmate by making his loved ones suffer at his expense.

A cover article in the New York Times this past Sunday about the federal supermax prison in Colorado, Florence ADMAX, detailing a regime of inmate isolation and abuse worthy of Saddam Hussein or Joseph Stalin, makes it clear that the purpose of prison in the US is punishment, pure and simple, with inmate torture and abuse -- and inmate family torture and abuse -- the logical outcome.

Abu-Jamal’s current health crisis clearly illustrates this national atrocity, faced at any given time by some 2.2 million men, women and children.

Pennsylvania’s new governor, Tom Wolf, to his credit, has ordered a moratorium on executions in the state, which has one of the largest death row populations in the country. But he needs to go further and look at the broader horror of the state’s massive and sadistic prison complex.

DAVE LINDORFF is a member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent, uncompromised, five-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper. His work, and that of colleagues JOHN GRANT, GARY LINDORFF, ALFREDO LOPEZ, LORI SPENCER, LINN WASHINGTON, JR. and the late CHARLES M. YOUNG, can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net

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Monday, March 23, 2015

George Yancy and Noam Chomsky: ON THE ROOTS OF AMERICAN RACISM @ The Stone, New York Times Ed/Op

[Excerpt]


Photo
Credit Philip Jones Griffiths/Magnum Photos
This is the eighth in a series of interviews with philosophers on race that I am conducting for The Stone. This week’s conversation is with Noam Chomsky, a linguist, political philosopher and one of the world’s most prominent public intellectuals. He is the author of many books, including, most recently, “On Western Terrorism: From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare,” with Andre Vltchek.
– George Yancy 

George Yancy: When I think about the title of your book “On Western Terrorism,” I’m reminded of the fact that many black people in the United States have had a long history of being terrorized by white racism, from random beatings to the lynching of more than 3,000 black people (including women) between 1882 and 1968. This is why in 2003, when I read about the dehumanizing acts committed at Abu Ghraib prison, I wasn’t surprised. I recall that after the photos appeared President George W. Bush said that “This is not the America I know.” But isn’t this the America black people have always known?

Noam Chomsky: The America that “black people have always known” is not an attractive one. The first black slaves were brought to the colonies 400 years ago. We cannot allow ourselves to forget that during this long period there have been only a few decades when African-Americans, apart from a few, had some limited possibilities for entering the mainstream of American society.
We also cannot allow ourselves to forget that the hideous slave labor camps of the new “empire of liberty” were a primary source for the wealth and privilege of American society, as well as England and the continent. The industrial revolution was based on cotton, produced primarily in the slave labor camps of the United States.
Thomas Jefferson feared the liberation of slaves, who had “ten thousand recollections” of the crimes to which they were subjected.
As is now known, they were highly efficient. Productivity increased even faster than in industry, thanks to the technology of the bullwhip and pistol, and the efficient practice of brutal torture, as Edward E. Baptist demonstrates in his recent study, “The Half Has Never Been Told.” The achievement includes not only the great wealth of the planter aristocracy but also American and British manufacturing, commerce and the financial institutions of modern state capitalism.
It is, or should be, well-known that the United States developed by flatly rejecting the principles of “sound economics” preached to it by the leading economists of the day, and familiar in today’s sober instructions to latecomers in development. Instead, the newly liberated colonies followed the model of England with radical state intervention in the economy, including high tariffs to protect infant industry, first textiles, later steel and others.

There was also another “virtual tariff.” In 1807, President Jefferson signed a bill banning the importation of slaves from abroad. His state of Virginia was the richest and most powerful of the states, and had exhausted its need for slaves. Rather, it was beginning to produce this valuable commodity for the expanding slave territories of the South. Banning import of these cotton-picking machines was thus a considerable boost to the Virginia economy. That was understood. Speaking for the slave importers, Charles Pinckney charged that “Virginia will gain by stopping the importations. Her slaves will rise in value, and she has more than she wants.” And Virginia indeed became a major exporter of slaves to the expanding slave society.

Some of the slave-owners, like Jefferson, appreciated the moral turpitude on which the economy relied. But he feared the liberation of slaves, who have “ten thousand recollections” of the crimes to which they were subjected. Fears that the victims might rise up and take revenge are deeply rooted in American culture, with reverberations to the present.

[End of Excerpt]

Read the complete installment of "The Stone" series at the [paywall warning] New York Times.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Kavitha Davidson: KOCH BROTHERS SPREADING THEIR MESSAGE TO SPORTS FANS @ The Cap Times, Madison, WI


[Excerpt] ... "College sports are a great fit for us and we're excited to lend our support to these schools," said Steve Lombardo, chief communications and marketing officer for Koch. "Like student athletes, our 60,000 U.S. employees understand that hard work and team spirit are fundamental to winning and success."

Like student athletes, many of Koch's employees also understand what it's like to work for an organization that is against unions and and the protections they afford. The NCAA has fought efforts by Northwestern football players to unionize, touting the threat to "amateurism" and arguing that a college scholarship is compensation enough for athletes who generate nearly $1 billion in revenue. Meanwhile, political groups funded by David and Charles Koch are largely driving the push to spread union-busting right-to-work legislation, citing what they call "forced" unionization. The privately held company says it generates $115 billion in annual revenue. ... [End of Excerpt]

Read the complete editorial at Cap Times.

"Saturday High Noon" 21 March 2015 Radio Free Kansas

The most dangerous season "when the statehouse is in session" news from, about and for "the sausage factory" in Topeka, Ks. I read from the Kansas Progressive Caucus Facebook group and more.