Category Archives: guns

One Year Later: Memorial Service Scheduled To Honor San Bernardino Shooting Massacre Victims

Image: CBS Los Angeles
Friday marked the one-year anniversary of a terrorist attack that claimed the lives of 14 people and wounded nearly two dozen others at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.

Shortly before 11 a.m., survivors, loved ones and colleagues gathered in front of Building 3, the site of the attack, for a moment of healing and reflection.

“One year after the devastating and tragic terrorist attack in San Bernardino, we remember those who lost their lives and the loved ones they left behind,” Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said in a written statement. “We extend our support to those who were wounded and are working every day to rebuild their lives.”

More from CBS Los Angeles

Posted by Libergirl

Colin Kaepernick Is Righter Than You Know: The National Anthem Is a Celebration of Slavery

BEFORE A PRESEASON GAME on Friday, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” When he explained why, he only spoke about the present: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. … There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Twitter then went predictably nuts, with at least one 49ers fan burning Kaepernick’s jersey.

Almost no one seems to be aware that even if the U.S. were a perfect country today, it would be bizarre to expect African-American players to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Why? Because it literally celebrates the murder of African-Americans.

Few people know this because we only ever sing the first verse. But read the end of the third verse and you’ll see why “The Star-Spangled Banner” is not just a musical atrocity, it’s an intellectual and moral one, too:

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

“The Star-Spangled Banner,” Americans hazily remember, was written by Francis Scott Key about the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812. But we don’t ever talk about how the War of 1812 was a war of aggression that began with an attempt by the U.S. to grab Canada from the British Empire.

However, we’d wildly overestimated the strength of the U.S. military. By the time of the Battle of Fort McHenry in 1814, the British had counterattacked and overrun Washington, D.C., setting fire to the White House.

And one of the key tactics behind the British military’s success was its active recruitment of American slaves. As a detailed 2014 article in Harper’s explains, the orders given to the Royal Navy’s Admiral Sir George Cockburn read:

Let the landings you make be more for the protection of the desertion of the Black Population than with a view to any other advantage. … The great point to be attained is the cordial Support of the Black population. With them properly armed & backed with 20,000 British Troops, Mr. Madison will be hurled from his throne.

Whole families found their way to the ships of the British, who accepted everyone and pledged no one would be given back to their “owners.” Adult men were trained to create a regiment called the Colonial Marines, who participated in many of the most important battles, including the August 1814 raid on Washington.

Then on the night of September 13, 1814, the British bombarded Fort McHenry. Key, seeing the fort’s flag the next morning, was inspired to write the lyrics for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

So when Key penned “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,” he was taking great satisfaction in the death of slaves who’d freed themselves. His perspective may have been affected by the fact he owned several slaves himself.

With that in mind, think again about the next two lines: “And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave / O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

The reality is that there were human beings fighting for freedom with incredible bravery during the War of 1812. However, “The Star-Spangled Banner” glorifies America’s “triumph” over them — and then turns that reality completely upside down, transforming their killers into the courageous freedom fighters.

After the U.S. and the British signed a peace treaty at the end of 1814, the U.S. government demanded the return of American “property,” which by that point numbered about 6,000 people. The British refused. Most of the 6,000 eventually settled in Canada, with some going to Trinidad, where their descendants are still known as “Merikins.”

Furthermore, if those leading the backlash against Kaepernick need more inspiration, they can get it from Francis Scott Key’s later life.

By 1833, Key was a district attorney for Washington, D.C. As described in a book called Snowstorm in August by former Washington Post reporter Jefferson Morley, the police were notorious thieves, frequently stealing free blacks’ possessions with impunity. One night, one of the constables tried to attack a woman who escaped and ran away — until she fell off a bridge across the Potomac and drowned.

“There is neither mercy nor justice for colored people in this district,” an abolitionist paper wrote. “No fuss or stir was made about it. She was got out of the river, and was buried, and there the matter ended.”

Key was furious and indicted the newspaper for intending “to injure, oppress, aggrieve & vilify the good name, fame, credit & reputation of the Magistrates & constables of Washington County.”

You can decide for yourself whether there’s some connection between what happened 200 years ago and what Colin Kaepernick is angry about today. Maybe it’s all ancient, meaningless history. Or maybe it’s not, and Kaepernick is right, and we really need a new national anthem.

By Jon Schwarz

Posted by The NON-Conformist

‘US ongoing problem – it can’t control its weapons in Mideast’

US weapons ending up in the hands of terrorists and current happenings in Washington DC and the Middle East are reminiscent of the Afghan Mujahideen, said international lawyer and former CIA officer Jack Rice.
American and Jordanian officials testified to the New York Times and Al Jazeera that weapons sent to Jordan by the CIA and Saudi Arabia for Syrian rebels have been repeatedly stolen and sold on the black market. According to the recent report, the CIA-Saudi shipment, under the “arm and train program”, included Kalashnikov rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades (RPG).

RT: There have been plenty of previous reports of US weapons ending up in the hands of terrorists. How serious is this latest claim?

Jack Rice: It doesn’t shock me at all. I can go back decades now, when I think about operations and frankly… what this is reminiscent of – is the Mujahideen. You can take a look at exactly what was going on with the CIA, and the Middle East, and specifically with Afghanistan and the inability to control the weapons once you hand them over to somebody else – this has always been a problem for the US. They continue to do it. And despite knowing that they can’t control them, they seem to do it anyway.

RT: Is it surprising the US is still arming rebel groups, despite the huge risks?

JR: It doesn’t really shock me though. What I’ve found over and over again – is there is a desire in the US that somebody fights ISIS; that somebody fights the Damascus regime, but it shouldn’t be Americans. So the best ways to do that is to hand weapons over to somebody else and say: “It’s your problem. It is your fight. You take care of it, or we’ll drop bombs from the sky, but we don’t want boots on the ground; we would rather drop AK-47s, mortars, and RPGs.” That is a much easier thing to deal with. And if some of them end somewhere else: “Oh well…”

RT: What do you make of the State Department’s refusal to comment on these recent allegations?

JR: That doesn’t shock me either again. It doesn’t shock me the CIA wasn’t responding obviously, because these are covert operations. But the thing is – it assumes the State Department is actually going to tell you honestly what it is actually going on is a foreign policy approach.

I think we have to contemplate exactly what is going on in Washington DC right now. There is something going on fist in glove with the Agency, the Department and the Pentagon – all three of which are working very closely on these operations. So this doesn’t surprise me at all that nobody is willing to talk about it, especially when things go bad. When things go south who do you think is going to stand up and say: “Yeah, it was me, I am the one who screwed up!” No, nobody is going to say anything.

RT: What are the security implications for Jordan? The country was recently hit by a terrorist attack near the Syrian border, in which seven Jordanian soldiers died.

JR: That is a great point. And that is one of the real problems here: there are security implications – again thinking back to Afghanistan – it is the very same problem. Any time you start providing arms to somebody who is your friend – and that is a very clear and, I should say, not clear definition… The problem is it’s very difficult to determine who your friends are and who your enemies are. And sometimes it’s both.

Those things can end up in all sorts of places for the Jordanians right now. Not they could potentially see a whole series of AKs, mortars, and RPGs that were just rolled through Jordan – that is going to come back at the Jordanians themselves. That is a concern. Remember: these were supposed to go into Syria and into Northern Iraq. That doesn’t mean that is where they end up. They can end up in Western Europe; they can end up in Eastern Europe; they can end up in the southern republics; they can end up in Moscow. We really can’t tell, because once you let go of the weapon, it can end up just about anywhere.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The NRA has blocked gun violence research for 20 years. Let’s end its stranglehold on science

orlando
Image: LA Times

The Orlando massacre reminds us that there’s an enormous amount we don’t know about gun violence — what causes it, what its consequences are for surviving families, how to stop it. You can blame our ignorance on the National Rifle Assn. – and on the federal officials the NRA has intimidated away from this crucial field of public health for 20 years.

It’s widely supposed that Congress enacted a “ban” on federal funding for gun violence research in 1996. That isn’t quite true, says Mark Rosenberg, a gun violence expert who was head of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the time. But the truth is even more demoralizing.

Infuriated by CDC-funded research suggesting that having firearms in the home sharply increased the risks of homicide, the NRA goaded Congress in 1996 into stripping the injury center’s funding for gun violence research – $2.6 million. Congress then passed a measure drafted by then-Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ga.) forbidding the CDC to spend funds “to advocate or promote gun control.” (The NRA initially hoped to eradicate the injury center entirely.)

More from the LA Times

Posted by Libergirl

1 year after church shooting, much is the same in Charleston

Image: AP

The names of Confederate generals still adorn street signs in Charleston’s public housing projects, and a heroic waterfront statue dedicated to the Confederate Defenders of Charleston still faces Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

Just down from the Emanuel AME church — where nine black parishioners studying their Bibles were gunned down one year ago — a statue of Vice President John C. Calhoun, a staunch defender of slavery, towers above a park.

After the June 17, 2015, massacre, South Carolina lawmakers did what many people thought was impossible to achieve and removed the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds in Columbia. Across the country, as far away as Alaska, officials moved to strip streets, college dormitories and even lakes of the names of Confederates, secessionists and public figures who championed segregation.

More from WRAL.com

Posted by Libergirl

 

http://www.wral.com/1-year-after-church-shooting-much-is-the-same-in-charleston/15785765/#L13MHGJ6uZ1tJBsI.99

Wasted: America and the ‘War on Drugs’

The 45-year “War on Drugs” has drastically increased the US prison population, swallowed up trillions of dollars and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives across Central and South America, while coming no closer to stamping out dangerous narcotics.
President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs in 1971, calling drug abuse “America’s public enemy number one” and citing addiction rates of US troops returning from the Vietnam War. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was created in 1973. Since then, the drug war has seen covert and overt US interventions in places ranging from Mexico to Colombia, including the 1989 invasion of Panama.

In the US, the drug war translated into skyrocketing incarceration rates. South of the border, however, it has been a real war, leaving a trail of devastation, corruption, impunity and death. For example, Mexico’s own drug war, launched in 2006 with US backing, resulted in at least 120,000 deaths by 2013.

The enemy is us
“Our government is more addicted to drug money than they are to drugs now,” Celerino Castillo, former DEA agent turned whistleblower, told RT. “If we worked to stop drug trafficking today, our banking system would collapse.”

In just one example, US law enforcement allowed over 2,000 weapons to reach the Mexican drug cartels, in a covert operation – dubbed “Fast and Furious” – intended to catch drug lords. Only a third of the weapons were ever recovered, however.

“When I found out about it, the fact that our country was complicit in sleeping with the enemy, I was in denial,” Castillo said. “At the end of the day, I found out that we were the enemy.”

He accuses Washington of cutting deals with the Colombian cartels – including the kingpin, Pablo Escobar, killed by Colombian authorities in 1993 – that allowed the production and importation of cocaine and enabled the 1980s crack epidemic.

Mexico and its Central American neighbors continue to see record homicide rates and corruption associated with the drug war. While the US government is starting to reform drug sentencing laws and drug policies, the 45-year drug war shows no signs of ending any time soon.

“The drug war itself is just an umbrella for this horrible cocktail of disaster that’s happening in Latin America,” RT correspondent Manuel Rapalo said, citing the experience of Honduras, where drug cartels used the 2009 US-backed coup to capture local governments and other public offices.

“The end result is impunity, corruption, record homicide rates. Honduras and El Salvador have the highest homicide rate outside of a war zone in the entire world. These are all issues directly related to the drug war,” Rapalo said.

The Ayotzinapa 43
In addition to the direct casualties, the policies driving the “War on Drugs” have a more far-reaching effect – one that weakens civil government institutions, leading to systematic human rights abuses.

One of the most notable examples is the case of 43 student protesters from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in Iguala, Mexico, who disappeared on September 26, 2014. According to the Mexican government, the students were killed by the local crime syndicate, “Guerreros Unidos,” and their remains were burned at a local garbage dump.

An independent probe by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, however, pointed to a possible cover-up by the local authorities, and even complicity by the Mexican federal government in the students’ disappearance.

“It’s truly shocking the scale of human rights violations that are going on, but because of the continued impunity and continued reluctance of the international community to take action, this is the state that we are witnessing right now,” human rights attorney Azadeh Shahshahani, told RT.

Many human rights advocates are calling for the end to the US financing of the Merida Initiative, a bilateral agreement between the US and Mexico on drug trafficking, organized crime, and money laundering. Critics say the initiative only serves to codify human rights abuses.

“Just since 2008, the US has provided upwards of 2.5 billion dollars aid to Mexico in military and various other types of aid through the Merida initiative and other programs,” said Shahshahani, legal and advocacy director of Project South. “We believe that the aid needs to be totally suspended, in light of all the various forms of human rights violations against migrants, students, teachers, indigenous communities, activists and dissidents that we have documented, and the evidence and testimony that was presented to us.”

More than a year after the students were reported missing, some of the parents still hope to see them again.

“If my son or any of his classmates sees this message or video, I want to tell you that you’re not alone, that we’re looking for you,” said Antonio Tizapa, father of one of the students. “It’s not only the 43 families, but thousands and thousands of people are looking for you. And we’re demanding from the Mexican government to return you to us.”

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

‘Don’t go there’: Texas teachers told to drop ‘sensitive topics’ for fear of getting shot

The University of Houston is advising staff members to “be careful discussing sensitive topics” and not to “go there” if they sense anger. The guidelines are in response to legislation passed in Texas that will allow individuals to carry concealed guns on campus.

Members of staff were briefed during a slideshow on how to adjust to the new law, which could potentially put them in dangerous situations. Lecturers are being recommended to “drop certain topics from your curriculum” if the topic is controversial, so as to avoid potential flash points.

Image: Brenda Hawkins(Twitter)

Teachers are also being advised not to “go there” if they sense a situation might be getting out of hand and be “careful discussing sensitive topics.”

Staff members are also being instructed to “limit student access off hours” to teaching facilities.

More from Russia Today

Posted by The NON-Conformist