United States NSA spies try to recruit children


This video about the National Security Agency in the USA says about itself:

Hey Kids: NSA releases coloring book to save face

27 April 2015

The NSA is opening up, and trying to win the hearts and minds of the youngest Americans.

After child soldiers, child spies

Cartoonist Garry Trudeau attacked for criticizing Islamophobic cartoons


This video from the USA says about itself:

23 December 2010

It’s been 40 years since Garry Trudeau first drew the popular comic strip “Doonesbury.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist speaks with Jeffrey Brown about a new book chronicling his decades of work

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Doonesbury cartoonist attacked for criticizing Charlie Hebdo

27 April 2015

Garry Trudeau, the creator of the Doonesbury comic strip, has come under attack from right-wing editorialists and media pundits for publicly criticizing anti-Muslim cartoons appearing in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, calling them a form of hate speech.

Trudeau’s brief remarks were delivered at Long Island University April 10, where he received the George Polk Career Award for his more than four decades of work as a cartoonist, in the course of which he has frequently had to battle censorship of his outspoken liberal views. Only three years ago, 50 newspapers refused to carry his strip during a week when he bitingly attacked Republican politicians who oppose abortion rights even in the case of rape or incest.

The central point made by Trudeau is that Charlie Hebdo was engaged, not in satirizing the powerful, but in vilifying the most oppressed section of the French population, Muslim immigrants, who face the highest levels of unemployment, poverty, police harassment and imprisonment.

Trudeau was of course horrified by the bloody massacre in January at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, when an attack by two Islamist gunmen left 12 people dead, include most of the magazine’s senior cartoonists. He contributed to an online tribute to the murdered cartoonists. His refusal to go along with the retrospective glorification of the content of the cartoons, despite the enormous wave of media propaganda that has followed, is an act of intellectual and moral courage.

For that very reason, his statement has been vilified as an attack on the victims of terrorism, in a series of columns by right-wing pundits, including David Frum of The Atlantic, Cathy Young of Reason magazine, and Ross Douthat of the New York Times.

Frum made the most sweeping attack, citing the killings at Charlie Hebdo, the related attack on a kosher bakery in Paris, and a subsequent attack in Copenhagen, Denmark, and declaring, “For this long record of death and destruction—and for many other deaths as well—Garry Trudeau blamed the people who drew and published the offending cartoons.”

The right-wing pundit claims that Trudeau applied “privilege theory” to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, justifying it because the victims were from the white elite, while the gunmen were from the immigrant Muslim underclass. “To fix the blame for the killing on the murdered journalists, rather than the gunmen, Trudeau invoked the underdog status of the latter,” Frum writes.

He goes on to claim that news organizations in the United States that reported on the anti-Islam cartoons in Charlie Hebdo did not reprint them because they were afraid of terrorist attack, drawing the conclusion, “Violence does work.”

Trudeau offered a different explanation for the non-publication of the anti-Muslim cartoons in an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he addressed the right-wing attack on his Long Island University remarks. US editors did not reprint the cartoons because they were demeaning and racist, he maintained. If similar cartoons had targeted African-Americans, they would be universally denounced and repudiated.

Douthat and Young both cite Frum’s column approvingly in their own shorter diatribes, echoing his claim that Trudeau had based his remarks on an extreme version of identity politics. These criticisms are baseless slanders, as can be easily demonstrated by looking at what Trudeau actually said. The cartoonist cited the example of the great satirists of the French Enlightenment.

“Traditionally, satire has comforted the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable. Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful. Great French satirists such as Molière and Daumier always punched up, holding up the self-satisfied and hypocritical to ridicule. Ridiculing the non-privileged is almost never funny—it’s just mean.

“By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech…”

The same issue was raised in a perspective published on the World Socialist Web Site immediately after the attack on Charlie Hebdo. WSWS Chairman David North rejected the claim by British historian Simon Schama that the French magazine was in the tradition of the great satirists of the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, writing:

Schama places Charlie Hebdo in a tradition to which it does not belong. All the great satirists to whom Schama refers were representatives of a democratic Enlightenment who directed their scorn against the powerful and corrupt defenders of aristocratic privilege. In its relentlessly degrading portrayals of Muslims, Charlie Hebdo has mocked the poor and the powerless.

North explained that the orgy of praise for Charlie Hebdo, summed up in the slogan “I am Charlie,” raised at demonstrations in Paris, was an effort to provide an ideological justification for US and French imperialism:

The killing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and editors is being proclaimed an assault on the principles of free speech that are, supposedly, held so dear in Europe and the United States. The attack on Charlie Hebdo is, thus, presented as another outrage by Muslims who cannot tolerate Western “freedoms.” From this the conclusion must be drawn that the “war on terror”—i.e., the imperialist onslaught on the Middle East, Central Asia and North and Central Africa—is an unavoidable necessity.

These efforts are doubly hypocritical, given the onslaught on democratic rights, including freedom of the press, in all the Western countries, especially the United States. The Obama administration has targeted more journalists for surveillance and more whistleblowers for prosecution than any other in US history, singling out those who have played major roles in exposing the crimes of the US government, like Bradley (Chelsea) Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange.

Trudeau is not an avowed opponent of imperialism, but rather a liberal who apparently supports the Obama administration, albeit with some disappointment. That does not detract from the principled character of his public repudiation of the right-wing efforts to whip up anti-Muslim prejudice.

The author also recommends:

“Free speech” hypocrisy in the aftermath of the attack on Charlie Hebdo
[9 January 2015]

Militarism and anti-militarism in Britain


This 2012 video from the USA is called Network XMilitarism in the Schools: Counter-Recruitment Conference. It says about itself:

Network X – 02/03/00 – Guests – Mario Hardy, Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, Asif Ullah, War Resisters League, Michaelle Jacobson, Seattle Teacher and Activist.

By Ian Sinclair in Britain:

Timely antidote to pro-war propaganda

Monday 27th April 2015

Spectacle, Reality, Resistance: Confronting a Culture of Militarism by David Gee (Forces Watch, £7)

ARMED Forces Day. Help for Heroes. The government’s Troops to Teachers programme. The media frenzy around the military funeral repatriations in Wootton Bassett. Girl band The Saturdays opening the Poppy Appeal.

It’s clear that we are in the midst of a resurgence of militarism in Britain.

The government presents these pro-military schemes as an attempt to encourage understanding and appreciation for the armed forces. But, with a 2008 Mori poll finding 81 per cent of the British public already view the military favourably, David Gee, co-founder of the activist organisation Forces Watch, is unconvinced.

Rather, he argues these recent policy initiatives are a direct response to the public’s increasing opposition to an aggressive foreign policy, in particular the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2009 the Chief of Defence Staff Jock Stirrup claimed that the Taliban’s roadside bombs were less of a threat to troops’ morale than the “declining will” among the public to support the war.

Tellingly, Stirrup added: “Support for our service men and women is indivisible from support for this mission.”

Unusually for a peace activist, Gee spends time looking at the role of popular culture, quoting cultural theorists like Guy Debord, Levi-Strauss and Slavoj Zizek.

He has a particular interest in Hollywood and how films with “violent romance quests” at their heart encourage audiences to form a positive view of the military and regenerative violence.

But while he notes that research shows war films as a key influence on British infantry recruits’ decision to enlist, he also explains how films like Avatar and The Hunger Games provide dissenting narratives.

Formed in 2011, Veterans for Peace UK is also working to counter pro-war propaganda, sending former soldiers into schools to teach children about the reality of war. “Simply put, we ought to know what war is, at the very least, before deciding whether or not to lend its support,” argues Gee.

While the parliamentary defeat for the government on their proposed attack on Syria was a huge victory for the anti-war movement, Gee is fully aware of the power disparity between the resistance and the Establishment.

“It might have failed to win our support for its recent wars but the government’s power to elicit public compliance and shape social culture through the education system, the media, and legislation is prodigious,” he notes.

Spectacle, Reality, Resistance is a short book but it’s important in inspiring anyone interested in exploring the increasing militarisation of society and learning about those opposing it.

Nazi violence in British election campaign


This May 2014 video is called UK: Nazi salutes as EDL march through Newcastle.

By Luke James in Britain:

Ukip‘ thugs ambush Labour party activists

Monday 27th April 2015

POLICE were hunting thugs yesterday who allegedly carried Ukip placards as they attacked Labour Party activists in South Thanet, Kent, at the weekend.

Officers are investigating claims that a Labour campaigner had a rosette ripped from his chest during the gang’s violent rampage on Saturday afternoon.

It was one of three alleged attacks carried out by the 10-strong mob linked to the English Defence League (EDL).

They also reportedly targeted Stand Up to Ukip and Tory volunteers campaigning in the constituency, which is being contested by Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

Eye witnesses reported that the men carried Ukip posters and chanted: “Ukip, Ukip” as they ran riot on Broadstairs seafront.

A Ukip spokesman told the Star that they “misappropriated” the party’s campaign material and condemned their “thuggery.”

The men are believed to be part of the white supremacist South East Alliance, which split from the EDL.

They are said to have attacked a dozen Labour activists who had travelled from Hackney to help the campaign of their party’s South Thanet candidate Will Scobie.

The group were canvassing at around 2.30pm in the high street when they were ambushed by men who leapt out of a car, according to a local Labour spokesman.

“The men squared up to our activists, ripped up their campaign literature, tore off their rosettes and then drove off chanting: ‘Ukip’,” he said.

Kent Police confirmed they were investigating the incident. A statement said: “It is alleged that a rosette was torn from the clothes of a 46-year-old man who was canvassing in the area. Enquiries are ongoing to locate the suspect.”

Mr Scobie last night appealed for anyone with information to help the police investigation.

“This was an appalling incident and very frightening for the people involved,” he said.

“The individuals in question were clearly sympathetic to Farage’s party and while we are of course not suggesting this had anything to do with Ukip’s campaign in the seat, it is just the latest example of the negativity Farage has bought to the area.”

Among them was Gary Field, a former EDL organiser with assault convictions who was photographed at the rally by the Mail on Sunday.

A Ukip spokesman told the Star: “This has been happening quite a lot in that people misappropriate our stuff.

“We utterly denounce any thuggery by anybody towards any political party.”

Mr Field was also identified by eyewitnesses as one of the gang who attacked Stand up to Ukip activists.

Norman Thomas, who runs community magazine Thanet Watch, was selling magazines nearby when Mr Field and his followers struck.

He told the Star: “Suddenly from out of nowhere came 10 or so people with St George’s flags and Ukip placards.

“They attacked the Stand Up to Ukip people, ripping up their posters and throwing them all along the sea front.”

The gang screamed: “Commie scum” at the three women and one man as they pursued them into a nearby pub, according to the local resident.

Freddie Gray killed, big protests in Baltimore, USA


Rally in Baltimore against killing of Freddie Gray

By Nick Barrickman in the USA:

27 April 2015

Thirty-four people were arrested and six police officers were injured over the weekend after thousands marched against police brutality through downtown Baltimore, Maryland. The protest on Saturday had been called nearly a week after Freddie Gray, a young African-American man, died from injuries sustained after being beaten by police in West Baltimore.

The protest, which had been called by a coalition of local activist groups and was largely peaceful, was the largest in a series of demonstrations against police violence that have swept the city since Gray succumbed to his injuries last week.

On Sunday, thousands of people attended a wake for Gray, who will be buried today.

A group of protesters broke away from the main march on Saturday and began committing minor acts of vandalism to storefronts and police vehicles. Police responded by sending out helmeted officers to detain protesters and break up the march. Clashes between protesters and police continued throughout the night in parts of West Baltimore, near the area where Gray was beaten and killed.

The number of police flooding the streets over the weekend was comparable to the total number of demonstrators. Baltimore Police Chief Anthony W. Batts mobilized over 1,200 policemen. He made the ludicrous claim that deploying police across the city would safeguard protesters’ right of “peaceful expression.”

On Saturday night, a photographer from the Baltimore City Paper was arrested and beaten by police in front of the Western District Police Station. “They mobilized,” photographer J.M. Giordano reported of the ordeal as he and a bystander were swept up by heavily armed police amid a demonstration. “They just swarmed over me… I got hit. My head hit the ground. They were hitting me, then someone pulled me out,” he said.

Sait Serkan Gurbuz, a photojournalist for Reuters, was arrested by police at the same time.

Freddie Gray was beaten by Baltimore police April 12 after reportedly making eye contact with an officer and then fleeing. Six policemen gave chase and restrained the youth in a position which severely injured his spine. Gray was then tossed into the back of a police van and driven across town unrestrained by safety belts for over a half hour before being given medical help. The city has refused to release the names of the police officers involved, while suspending each with pay, pending an investigation.

At the protest on Saturday, representatives of local activist groups tied to the Democrats took turns making explicit appeals to leading Democratic Party figures. Malik Z. Shabazz, head of one of the event’s organizers, Black Lawyers for Justice, appealed to Barack Obama and US Attorney General Eric Holder, and even demanded that Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for the 2016 presidential elections, come to address her “black Democratic voters” at the march.

Democratic Party officials, however, took the lead in praising the police. “I think they are doing the best they can under the circumstances,” said US Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, referring to the Baltimore police force, adding that the march had been disturbed by a “few people, mainly from out of town.”

The Baltimore Police Department issued a statement declaring, “While the vast majority of arrests reflect local residency, the total number of arrests does not account for every incident of criminal activity,” adding that the department “believes that outside agitators continue to be the instigators behind acts of violence and destruction.”

The claim that so-called disturbances of the peace are the product of “outside agitators” has been used by authorities against protest movements dating back to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. …

The disconnect between the sentiments of the organizers and those protesting police violence was clear in discussions held with those at the march. One resident of the West Baltimore district where Freddie Gray was murdered told the World Socialist Web Site that the police were “a gang in blue” and that any intervention by the federal government into the circumstances of the man’s death would only be a “cover-up.” (See: “Baltimore residents speak out against latest police killing”)

Another Baltimore resident said, “If you are not totally subservient to them [the police], they will escalate the situation… this is a part of the plan to militarize the country and intimidate the population.”

Last Tuesday, the Justice Department said it would open a federal investigation into Gray’s death after an open letter from Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, as well as Cummings and two other congressmen, Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes. The five Democrats suggested that such a move would “restore public confidence in the Baltimore Police Department.”

This follows the trend of other DoJ investigations into police departments in places such as Ferguson, Cleveland, Albuquerque and elsewhere that turn up a record of systemic police corruption and brutality, for which no further action is taken.

In pictures: Baltimore protests echo Ferguson: here.

See also here.

South Carolina cops face prison time for sadistically tasering mentally disabled woman: here.