Michael Brown killed, racism and anti-racism in Saint Louis, USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

Michael Brown’s Funeral Buried in Media Circus

26 August 2014

TRNN’s Megan Sherman reports on Mike Brown’s funeral and ensuing media frenzy.

By Nicholas James in the USA, published in daily The Morning Star in Britain:

After Brown’s death racism is out in the open in St. Louis

Thursday 28th August 2014

Nicholas James joined a protest in the city where the police shooting has brought bigotry onto the streets

REBECCA comes into my office and sternly says: “There is a pro-Darren Wilson rally on Chippewa and Hampton.” The look on her face says “There is no way that is happening in our neighbourhood and going unpunished.” I stop what I am writing and we bolt for the car.

The rally turned out to be a fundraising benefit for Darren Wilson, the Ferguson policeman responsible for the death of Mike Brown. The location is a police hangout called Barney’s Pub, situated in the Lindenwood Park area of Saint Louis. Lindenwood Park is a working-class area, with a population that is 91.2 per cent white.

When we arrived, there was an inebriated crowd of about 40-50 in matching blue shirts showing support for Wilson, and about four of them were holding signs for traffic to see. The pro-Wilson rally attendees are 100 per cent white in ethnicity. There is a counter-protest across the street of only about eight protesters, yet the tiny crowd is ethnically diverse.

When Rebecca and I arrived, one of the Wilson supporters was on “our” side of the street and trying to debate with the protesters. I asked him to leave. He replied, “I can stand where I want.” I agreed, but explained to him that he was obviously trying to create a hostile situation. He threatened, “Maybe I should show you what an asshole you are being.” Again, I asked him to leave and he complied. However, his overt hostility was representative of the crowd across the street.

The vitriol was surprising. These are police officers screaming “Go back to Ferguson, you faggots” at us and tugging at their genitals in a sexual manner.

Our crowd was growing thanks to social media. Supporters of the counter-protest were regularly swinging by to drop off water, snacks and ice-cream pops. While diverse, the majority was African American.

The drivers honking for the pro-Wilson crowd (and making lewd gestures at us) were 100 percent white. Most were in their late 30s or older and almost all were driving luxury cars, SUVs, and a noticeable concentration of heavy-duty trucks.

I am of European ancestry. Both sides of my family came from Ireland. The reality of my skin tone was sinking in, and I will be honest — I was embarrassed. I am sure that the make-up of our diverse (and sober) counter-protest has had more direct action training than the pro-Wilson folks.

However, I would imagine that police officers would have been trained not to scream racist, homophobic and classist comments at 50 people holding rolling cameras.

As the protesters chanted “I am Mike Brown,” the police party screamed: “Then you are dead.”

As the protesters chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot,” the police party smiled broadly and chanted “hands up, shoot.”

Racism is a reality that is often denied. Fact: a white male without a college degree has an easier time finding a middle-class job than a black male with a degree. Fact: the average woman worker in the US earns 23 per cent less than her male counterpart with comparable training and experience.

Fact: the average Hispanic woman working in the US makes 55 cents for every $1 earned by a white male in a comparable job classification.

These statistics cut like a knife when I watch white males across the street point to the Target store and shout to African American protesters to “go fill out an application and get off welfare.”

The pro-Wilson folks continue screaming with unintelligible rage-soaked insults, and the protesters stoically chant in unison. Eventually, the drunken police began breaking their folding tables and chairs down and move inside.

We have won the street.

What have we won? Fifty young African Americans have been reinforced in the knowledge that working together creates power.

Fifty white cops and families learned that holding positions of authority, at a cop bar, in a predominantly white neighborhood, and shouting vitriol is still not a safe enough place for unchecked power.

As the defeated drunks are folding up their outdoor furniture, a solo cop crosses the street and asks to address the congregation.

He says he is a Saint Louis County cop, and he sincerely apologises for the “racist, ignorant, and offensive” actions made by the attendees of the pro-Wilson rally. Tensions are calmed and it is time for the victors to go to dinner.

Critics claim the murder of Mike Brown was not racially motivated. Those critics are ignorant of Saint Louis politics.

When you witness a white cop tugging at his genitals and screaming “faggot” or “monkey” at complete strangers with a darker skin tone, you realise that specific criticism holds no water in my town.

CNN published an audio recording Monday indicating that police officer Darren Wilson paused in between barrages of gunfire as he killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9: here.

Cop who threatened to ‘f*cking kill’ reporter during Ferguson protests officially resigns: here.

ISIS, and other violent crime

This video from the USA is called CIA: Al-Qaeda Rebels Taking Over Syria.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

A US-made barbarism

Friday 22nd August 2014

Anybody with an ounce of humanity would be revolted by the apparently cold-blooded murder in Syria of US photojournalist James Foley. No cause can justify such barbaric inhumanity and, indeed, is besmirched by it.

His death at the hands of a deranged psychopath should remind us of the courageous efforts of Mr Foley and other journalists who seek to inform us of what they witness on the front line of conflicts around the world.

As the National Union of Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists and Unesco point out, this can be a very dangerous profession. Almost 70 journalists have been killed so far this year from Colombia to Yemen and Gaza.

The NUJ is right to demand that governments there and everywhere else investigate all such killings, recognising the importance of free press and broadcasting media to any society which claims to be civilised.

The Morning Star holds no brief for Isis and other Islamic fundamentalist groups.

We know that they are opposed to even the most basic democratic rights for women, workers and people in general. Their first victims are often communists and socialists which is why, in the past, they have received support and even sponsorship from Western governments.

Last year, the British government wanted us to intervene militarily in Syria to topple President Bashar al-Assad’s secular regime, although even the dogs in the Damascus street understood that the most likely beneficiaries would be Islamic jihadists rather than some Western-backed “moderate” sock puppet.

But this is not the only reason why British, US and other condemnations of Isis barbarism will cut no ice in Iraq, Syria or in extreme Islamist circles in Britain.

Nobody will be dissuaded by Prime Minister David Cameron, President Barack Obama or the likes of Tony Blair from signing up for “holy war” against secularism and the West.

It is the sheer hypocrisy and double standards of Western imperialism which render their condemnations utterly ineffective.

After all, Israeli killers have just murdered more than 2,000 defenceless Palestinian civilians in Gaza with no condemnation worth the name from the British or US governments.

True, Israeli soldiers didn’t individually cut the throats of all these women, children and men, but is it fundamentally less barbaric to blast people to pieces in their own homes by fighter plane rocket or artillery shell?

Moreover, it is almost grotesquely comic to see the countries which plunged Afghanistan and Iraq into bloody chaos, slaughtering hundreds of thousands of their citizens in the process, now wringing their hands over a single death — however vile and tragic — in Syria.

In Iraq and Yugoslavia, US and British forces attacked television stations and killed journalists and other media personnel.

In truth, it must fall to ordinary decent people around the world to uphold civilised and democratic values.

We must continue to demand that our governments stop trying to shape the world in their own image by military force. …

And we must not allow hand-wringing hypocrites to erode our civil and democratic liberties at home in the name of the “war on terror” which they wage against super-exploited peoples and non-compliant governments around the world.

Bahrain absolute monarchy keeps violating human rights

This video is called ‘People were tortured in front of my eyes': Bahrain top human rights activist Nabeel Rajab released.

By Human Rights Watch:

Citizenship Rights Stripped Away

Authorities Take New Powers to Arbitrarily Revoke Nationality

(Beirut, August 21, 2014) – Ten people whose Bahraini citizenship was withdrawn without due process are facing deportation or jail, Human Rights Watch said today. They are among 31 people declared stateless in November 2012, allegedly for damaging state security. The others have left the country.

July 2014 amendments to Bahrain’s citizenship laws will grant the Interior Ministry additional authority to revoke citizenship of people who fail in their “duty of loyalty” to the state, a vaguely worded provision that could be used against government critics, Human Rights Watch said. Recent amendments to Bahrain’s counterterrorism law, in tandem with the recent failure of Bahrain’s criminal justice system to provide fair trials and deliver impartial verdicts, provide a further legal pretext for the arbitrary stripping of citizenship, in clear violation of international law.

“The Bahraini authorities’ latest repressive tactic is to invest themselves with further powers to arbitrarily strip critics of their citizenship,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Bahrainis who dare speak out for change now risk not only arbitrary detention and torture but statelessness and deportation to an uncertain future.”

Bahrain should repeal laws that will allow authorities to strip Bahrainis of their nationality on grounds so vague as to be arbitrary, Human Rights Watch said. Bahrain should immediately restore the citizenship rights of the 10 people who face deportation and of the 21 others whose citizenship rights were removed without due process.

Bahraini authorities have either obstructed the right of appeal or refused to justify the decision to revoke the citizenship of the nine men and one woman who remain in the country. They have no residence permits and face charges of violating asylum and immigration law.

Twelve news and information providers are currently detained in Bahrain. Many of them are photographers or cameramen, who have been repeatedly targeted by the authorities since the start of the unrest in Bahrain in 2011 because their visual coverage of the protests and the government’s crackdown threaten the kingdom’s image: here.

Ferguson, Missouri fight for justice continues

This video from the USA says about itself:

Anger mounts in Ferguson, Missouri: “We have the right to protest!”

19 August 2014

The National Guard expanded its presence in Ferguson, Missouri Wednesday, as police killed a 23-year old man in St. Louis only a few miles away. In this video, Ferguson and St. Louis residents voice their anger at police violence and repression.

By Wolfgang Weber:

German journalists arrested in Ferguson

20 August 2014

On Monday, two German journalists were arrested in Ferguson, Missouri, by the police and taken to prison while trying to research and report for their newspapers on the shooting of Michael Brown and the sustained anti-police protests which have followed.

Ansgar Graw, who worked for years as the US correspondent for the major daily Die Welt, and Frank Hermann, who has also reported for many years for newspapers like the Stuttgarter Zeitung in Germany and Der Standard in Austria, were held in a prison cell for three hours without justification and subsequently released without comment.

A few hours later on Monday night, 26-year-old Bild reporter Lukas Hermsmeier was arrested as he sought to report on a demonstration in Ferguson. According to his newspaper’s editors, he was only released on Tuesday.

A photographer for Getty Images was also taken away in handcuffs during a demonstration on Monday, and last week, two reporters from the Washington Post and Huffington Post were arrested and held for several hours.

De facto martial law in Ferguson, Missouri: here.

The Pentagon defended the program that has armed police departments across the country with military gear. [HuffPost]

For Many Politicians, Ferguson Isn’t Happening: here.

“Tear gas has not been used this wantonly in an American city in modern times”: here.

Iraq, from 2003 war to 2014 ISIS

This video from the USA says about itself:

Journalists: U.S. Failures in Iraq Helped Fuel Current Sectarian Crisis

12 June 2014

http://www.democracynow.org -Iraq is on the brink of disintegration as Sunni militants seize more towns and now set their sights on the capital Baghdad. In the past few days Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have seized control of Mosul, Iraq‘s second largest city, as well as Tikrit and Dhuluiya. Meanwhile Iraqi Kurds have seized control of the northern oil city of Kirkuk. The Sunni militants now control a territory that stretches from the eastern edge of Aleppo, Syria, to Falluja in western Iraq and now the northern city of Mosul. Their advance has caused a humanitarian catastrophe, displacing some 500,000 people in Mosul alone. Mosul fell in part because U.S.-trained Iraqi forces abandoned their posts. …

We are joined by two guests: Ned Parker, Reuters Bureau Chief in Baghdad; and Mohammed al Dulaimy, an Iraqi journalist with McClatchy Newspapers who reported from Iraq for years and is now seeking U.S. asylum out of fear for his safety if he returns. This is Dulaimy’s first TV interview after years of maintaining a low-profile to protect his safety.

By Ian Sinclair in Britain:

The Iraq crisis: The lies of the media and political elite

Wednesday 20th August 2014

The Establishment is resolutely in denial about the truth over the rise of Isis, says IAN SINCLAIR

By authorising airstrikes against the Islamic State (Isis) President Barack Obama became the fourth US commander-in-chief since Ronald Reagan to initiate a bombing campaign on Iraq.

As always, the BBC quickly fell in line. Reporting on the announcement for the Today Programme, the BBC’s Tom Esslemont stated: “Doing nothing here was not an option.”

Like much BBC output it was unclear whether Esslemont was telling us the US government’s view or his own.

There was no confusion about his concluding remark.

“To critics it is too limited an operation that will do little to diminish the power of the Islamic State jihadists.”

BBC diplomatic editor Mark Urban was also far from objective and neutral when he tweeted: “France is considering joining humanitarian intervention in northern Iraq. (US Secretary of State John) Kerry is talking ab[ou]t ‘genocide.’ Time for Downing St to rethink?”

In addition, the Guardian has come out in support of the air strikes — “The Americans have a special responsibility here” — as has the Labour Party.

Often missing from the depressingly narrow debate in the media and political mainstream is expert opinion.

Noting that the rise of the Islamic State is a symptom of the failure of the Iraqi and Western political elites, Jane Kinninmont, deputy head of Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa Programme, argues: “The air strikes could propagate rather than solve the problem.”

Institute for Policy Studies fellow Phyllis Bennis says: “It should be eminently clear that we cannot bomb Islamist extremists into submission or disappearance. Every bomb recruits more supporters.”

Robert Pape, professor of political science at the University of Chicago and director of the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, agrees.

Writing in June, he argued: “Far from hurting the terrorists, re-engaging Iraq (and/or engaging Syria) would put us back on the path of a rising terrorist threat that has taken us over a decade to escape,” before concluding: “US military involvement can only hurt, not help.”

Even former Obama administration insiders have been critical of the bombing.

Writing for Foreign Affairs magazine, Steven Simon, who served as senior director for Middle Eastern and north African affairs at the White House from 2011-12, argues that US air strikes “will almost certainly unite Sunnis against other sects and boost support for Isis while fuelling disdain for the United States.”

So if US military attacks are not the solution, what is?

With the Islamic State feeding off the support given to it by significant sections of the Sunni community in Iraq, there is a broad consensus among Middle East observers that the answer lies in Baghdad.

In short, the threat from the Islamic State will only be solved when there is a broad-based, non-sectarian Iraqi government that Sunnis feel they have a stake in.

Nouri al-Maliki’s decision to step down as Iraq’s prime minister is therefore an important step towards this goal, although questions remain over whether his replacement, Haidar al-Abadi — from the same political party as Maliki — will make the changes that are necessary for national reconciliation.

Second, pressure needs to be applied to those, mainly in the Gulf, who support the Islamic State.

The recently announced United Nations resolution threatening sanctions against those who finance, recruit or supply weapons to the jihadist group is therefore welcome.

More broadly, rather than external states arming one side or another, all arms deliveries to the region need to be stopped.

It is common knowledge the Islamic State has captured large amounts of the US-supplied Iraqi army’s armoury.

Less well known is the fact the Islamic State has been seen using Croatian-made weapons — which the CIA helped to send in to Syria, according to the New York Times.

These are medium and long-term solutions. However, contrary to the media’s framing of the crisis, the US is not the only global actor who is able to respond quickly to an immediate crisis.

As Diane Abbott MP noted on BBC Newsnight, if there is to be external intervention in Iraq, it should be conducted by the United Nations — exactly what it was set up to do.

“We’ve forgotten the role of international institutions,” she noted.

Media commentators unable to comprehend anyone but the US acting should take note.

They would do well to also take note of the recent New York Times report about the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: “At every turn, Mr Baghdadi’s rise has been shaped by the United States’s involvement in Iraq.”

Quoting the research of Iraqi scholar Hisham al-Hashimi, the article noted that Baghdadi had spent five years in a US prison “where, like many Isis fighters now on the battlefield, he became more radicalised.”

As Abbott sardonically noted on Newsnight about the West’s violent relationship with Iraq, the definition of madness is to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.

Ian Sinclair is the author of The March that Shook Blair: An Oral History of 15 February 2003, published by Peace News Press.

BOOTS ON THE GROUND IN IRAQ? “American fighter jets and drones continued to pound Islamic State militants in Iraq Wednesday, and military planners weighed the possibility of sending a small number of additional U.S. troops to Baghdad, U.S. officials said, even as the insurgents threatened to kill a second American captive in retribution for any continued attacks.” [AP]

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are: here.

The barbaric murder of American journalist James Foley, who was abducted in Syria nearly two years ago, is being seized upon by Washington as a means of justifying its deepening military intervention in Iraq and its pursuit of the predatory interests of US imperialism throughout the region. … Foley, 40, had worked as a freelance journalist covering the wars in both Libya and Syria for news outlets such as the web site GlobalPost and the AFP news agency. In remarks delivered to journalism students in Chicago in 2011, weeks after he had been held captive for 44 days in Libya, he described himself as “basically a war protester” who at age 35 decided to become a journalist to tell the stories of people affected by war.: here.

British journalism and conspiracy theories

This Bob Dylan music video from the USA is called John Birch Paranoid Blues {Live at Town Hall 1963} – Elston Gunn. The lyrics of the song are here.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Chapman Pincher: was he the Sixth Man?

Tuesday 19th August 2014

PETER FROST has a chuckle as he remembers a Grub Street journalist who thought just about everybody was a Soviet spy

IT WAS in the pages of the Daily Express in the late 1950s that I first came across Chapman Pincher.

The Express bylined Pincher as the world’s greatest reporter — and he certainly agreed.

He wasn’t, of course. But he did seem to have some interesting stories and he seemed immune to some of the D-notices and other techniques that the Establishment used in those days to keep so many scandals out of the papers.

Reaching my teenage years in the 1950s and early ’60s I got my ideas about the world and politics and what would be my lifelong love affair with print journalism from all kinds of newspapers.

At home we had the News Chronicle until it stopped publication in 1960, and the left-wing Daily Herald until 1964 when it tragically transmogrified into the Sun.

In 1961 I discovered a scrappy little magazine called Private Eye and also developed a soft spot for the Daily Mirror and its Labour politics.

I would buy an occasional copy of the Daily Worker. It changed its name to the Morning Star in 1966 and by then I was reading it regularly.

But alas I must admit most of the news and analysis in my youth came from some good right-wing Fleet Street Tory rags.

I loved the pre-Murdoch News of the World — then the biggest circulation newspaper in the whole globe.

Salacious stories of defrocked vicars, poltergeists, gangsters and dodgy spiritualists and their ectoplasm. What more could a young teenage boy want?

However, Pincher, in the Express, always seemed to get some of the best, most interesting stories.

Scoops they used to call them, and in Pincher’s scoops there was usually someone, often rich, posh or powerful, accused of being a Soviet spy.

Some were amazing speculations. He believed half the Labour Party and all of the trade union movement were in the pay of the Kremlin. No-one escaped his accusations, including prime minister Harold Wilson.

Most of his stories took him into the murky world of spies and double agents — almost always the world of communism and the Soviet Union, although it is true he wrote about the US atomic bomb before any US newspaper.

I read with amused fascination and a little chuckle when Pincher published stories about the Cambridge Four — or was it Five? — Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt, all undercover communists who had infiltrated and embarrassed post-war British intelligence so comprehensively.

Then came speculation into the so-called “Fifth Man.” Was it John Cairncross, James Klugman, Victor Rothschild, Guy Liddell or some other suspect?

Pincher came down heavy on former MI5 director general Roger Hollis and seemed to make this search and speculation a full-time occupation. It sometimes seemed to me Pincher was obviously the Sixth Man.

He did some good. As early as 1967, he revealed that British intelligence was reading the cables and telegrams of private citizens. That story is, of course, still unfolding today.

As well as newspaper articles he wrote more than 30 books. Best known is Their Trade is Treachery in 1981.

His sources for this book were the criminal Tory minister Jonathan Aitkin (Eton, Oxford, prison) and Spycatcher author Peter Wright, who himself betrayed and so upset his British intelligence masters.

In his book, Pincher argued that Hollis was a Soviet spy. It was typical Pincher stuff and not unexpectedly several investigations, even one by prime minister Margaret Thatcher, never actually proved Hollis guilty.

What isn’t well known is that Pincher started his own career as a spy. He worked on secret rocket weapons while serving in the British army.

He sold some of this top secret information to an old mate on the Daily Express defence desk. In return the Express offered him a job.

His politics were obviously Establishment and Tory and anti-Labour but that didn’t stop Tory prime minister Harold Macmillan writing in 1959: “Can nothing be done to suppress or get rid of Pincher?”

A more balanced view on Pincher came from ex-communist and famed historian EP Thompson, who in the New Statesman in 1978 described Pincher as “a kind of official urinal where high officials of MI5 and MI6 stand side by side patiently leaking their secrets.”

Pincher loved this judgement from someone he considered a wily old enemy. He said it was his greatest professional compliment.

Pincher, when he died aged 100 earlier this month, turned his own death into a newspaper story.

Announcing his death, his son Michael passed on a last and typical quote from his father — “Tell them no more scoops.”

I guess we should all be grateful for that.

Peter Frost blogs at frostysramblings.wordpress.com.