Category Archives: Law

Students nationwide stage walkouts for stricter gun laws after last month’s deadly school shooting in Florida

Students across the country — from middle school to college — began planned walkouts Wednesday, calling on state and federal legislators to enact stricter gun laws one month after the mass shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Seventeen students and staff members were killed at the school in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14. On Wednesday, 3,000 schools across the nation planned to leave class at 10 a.m. local time for 17 minutes — one minute for each victim.

At Marjory Stoneman Douglas, two walkouts took place. Citing safety concerns, student government officials and administrators urged students not to leave campus, but to walk to the football field with teachers. Some students balked at the idea of a chaperoned walkout, saying they wanted to get off campus and spread their message to the broader public.

As students made their way to the football field, past a sculpture of the school Eagle mascot, they walked hand in hand or with their arms around each other. Only a few carried placards. There were no chants. Helicopters buzzed overhead.

David Hogg, 17, one of several students at the school who’ve gained national prominence for advocating gun control, live streamed the walkout on his YouTube channel.

“We have to stand up now and take action,” Hogg said. He interviewed several of his classmates.

“This is about the need for change,” another student told Hogg.

Organized by the youth branch of the Women’s March, called Empower, the National School Walkout is urging Congress to take meaningful action on gun violence and pass federal legislation that would ban assault weapons and require universal background checks for gun sales.

In Massachusetts and Ohio, students said they would head to the statehouse to lobby for new gun regulations. In Washington, D.C., hundreds of students gathered outside the White House, holding signs and marching quietly.

In Maryland, students at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute poured out the back doors of the school and onto the football field. Many of them laid down on the football field. Hundreds of Baltimore students left school to march to City Hall, calling for an end to gun violence in schools and on the city’s streets.

In Illinois, high school students from Barrington to Plainfield to Naperville to Chicago have worked with peers and school administrators and prepared signs and speeches as part of the national movement designed to prevent mass shootings and gun violence that have devastated their schools and communities for decades.

With nearly 3,000 walkouts planned across the country — at elementary schools, high schools and universities — organizers published a “tool kit” online that offered students tips on how to organize, get support from parents and guardians and share information on social media.

Earlier this week, Robert W. Runcie, superintendent of Broward County schools in Florida, notified parents he had instructed staff not to interfere with peaceful student-led protests.

“Such occasions are teachable moments, during which students can demonstrate their 1st Amendment right to be heard,” Runcie wrote in a letter to parents. “In the event students walk out or gather, school principals and assigned staff will remain with students in a designated walkout area, so that supervision is in place.”

Over the last month, students across Florida and the nation have staged spontaneous walkouts, with some leading to disciplinary action. Two weeks after the Parkland shooting, dozens of students at Ingleside Middle School in the Phoenix area were given one-day suspensions after they walked off campus.

In Needville, Texas, 20 miles southwest of Houston, Superintendent Curtis Rhodes warned students that anyone who left class would be suspended for three days, even if they had permission from their parents.

“Life is all about choices and every choice has a consequence whether it be positive or negative,” Rhodes wrote in a letter to parents posted on social media. “We will discipline no matter if it is one, fifty, or five hundred students involved.”

On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union issued advice for students who walk out, saying schools can’t legally punish them more harshly because of the political nature of their message. In Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Texas, some lawyers said they will provide free legal help to students who are punished.

In Parkland, school officials urged students not to leave campus.

“We’re just trying to protect the students,” said Jaclyn Corin, 17, the high school’s junior class president. “We’re telling everyone not to leave campus, but we can’t stop them.”

Hogg said he worried students would be “a group of soft targets” if they left campus.

Yet some students balked at the idea of a chaperoned walkout, saying they wanted to get off campus and spread their message to the broader public.

When the first bell rang Wednesday at the high school, Susana Matta Valdivieso was not sitting in Spanish class. Instead, the 17-year-old junior was hauling a stack of handwritten placards across a community park in the hope that her classmates would eventually come outside and join her.

“I’m nervous and excited because I’ve never spoken in front of a crowd of people before,” Valdivieso said with laughter as she leafed through the speech she had typed up the night before.

While student government leaders and administrators were urging Parkland students to remain on campus and walk with teachers to the school football field, Valdivieso was hoping to coax students off school grounds to take part in a public rally at the nearby North Community Park.

“This is a student-led movement,” Valdivieso said after dispatching two close friends into the school with a plan to lead their classmates outside. “We want to communicate our message to the press and the public.”

In Florida, the Parkland students’ protests in recent weeks have seen some results.

Last week, Gov. Rick Scott, in a rebuke of the National Rifle Assn., signed into law a measure that, among other things, raises the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 and bans the sale or possession of “bump stocks,” which allow semiautomatic rifles to mimic machine guns.

The walkouts on Wednesday are among several protests planned for coming weeks. The March for Our Lives rally for school safety is expected to draw hundreds of thousands to the nation’s capital on March 24, its organizers said. And another round of school walkouts is planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado.

By Jenny Jarvie and Kurtis Lee/LaTimes


posted by The NON-Conformist


The NRA, Gun Control and Black People: A Complicated History

The latest school mass shooting in Florida, and the unfolding debate over gun control and gun violence is a reminder of the complicated, contradictory history of the NRA and gun control as they relate to Black people. Black people own guns and are the victims of gun and white vigilante violence, and while they have used guns for self-defense, neither the laws nor the NRA have had Black people, their rights and their lives in mind.

“America’s gun policies do not make sense until you consider race,” Ajenai Clemmons, a research associate at the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University, told Atlanta Black Star. “America’s conflicted self-identity as a democracy that promotes life, liberty, and the right to bear arms mirrors the contradictions in a self-identified democracy based on colonization and slavery.”

Looking at the history of guns and Black people in America, the founding of the nation was based on violence against people of African descent. American gun culture is rooted in settler colonialism, the taking of Native American land and the enslavement of African people as memorialized in the Second Amendment, according to author Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s account in “Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment.” The militias institutionalized the violence against Black and indigenous peoples. As professor Carl T. Bogus of the Roger Williams University School of Law argues, the slave patrols — the plantation police force in which most Southern white men were obligated to serve — protected white society against Black insurrection. This, in a region where Blacks outnumbered whites and servile insurrections, were a reality. The Second Amendment assured the slaveholding states that Congress would not disarm their slave patrols, thereby protecting the slavery police state.

“When the 2nd Amendment was written, it was done so specifically for a militia that functions both as a Confederate defense and a Slave-owner’s offense. Despite current rhetoric, the right to bear arms was not given to everyone everywhere at all times for all purposes. It was granted to white citizens of a certain age that were subject to strict regulations and oversight,” Dr. GS Potter, founder of the Strategic Institute of Intersectional Policy — which designs and implements strategies to counter the political obstacles faced by the most brutally targeted communities in the United States — told Atlanta Black Star. She said the Second Amendment served to consolidate white power and arm white men to protect them from the federal government and Black people. Dr. Potter added that Black men were specifically barred from gun ownership, with additional restrictions through the Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws, which allowed the former slave patrols to disarm Black Civil War veterans.

During the civil rights movement, armed Black folks sprang up in places to protect nonviolent protesters and Freedom Riders from Ku Klux Klan violence and domestic terrorism. Groups such as the Deacons for Defense and Justice and the Black Armed Guard — which received a charter from the NRA in the 1950s — are the unsung heroes of the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s. The Black Panther Party for Self Defense, the pioneers of the modern-day gun rights movement and the original proponents of open carry, faced opposition from the NRA. When the Black nationalist group, which formed to protect their community from police violence, invaded the California capitol building in Sacramento in 1967, then-Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Mulford Act in response, prohibiting open carry of guns in public places. The following year, President Johnson signed the Gun Control Act of 1968, which prohibited “Saturday night specials” and was designed to target handguns and crime in communities of color.

According to Dr. Potter, the NRA has a long history of supporting gun control laws, advocating for a deterioration of gun rights for nonwhite people and an expansion of gun rights for law enforcement — as a leading proponent of the 1938 Gun Control Act, and gun control measures amid the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King in the 1960s. “What speaks volumes here is that in response to the murder of MLK, the NRA chose to advocate for gun control. They did not choose to highlight the fact that MLK had attempted to become an owner of firearms after his home was bombed in 1956 — but he was denied,” she said. “After being denied a firearm for self-defense in his own home, community members began an armed watch outside of his residence. This set the stage for the modern battle between white rights and black rights under the Second Amendment.”

The NRA of today is quite a different animal from what it once was. The organization began to change in 1975, according to Dr. Potter, when it established its Institute for Legislative Action and placed Harlon Carter under its leadership. Carter, the man responsible for the modern-day NRA, shot a Latino teen to death before becoming a border agent and the first head of the U.S. Border Patrol. Under his leadership, the NRA shifted from hunting and sportsmanship to vigilantism, self-protection and opposition to gun control — including a revisionist perspective on unregulated gun ownership, and a focus on lobbying for gun manufacturers, and donating to congressional campaigns.

“Far from its original form, the NRA now serves as a hard-lined lobbying firm that functions to block gun control and advance the manufacture and distribution of weapons designed for hunting, self-defense and military operations,” Potter said. “The radicalization of the NRA can be seen in the same light as the radicalization of today’s Republican Party,” she added, noting that under Carter’s leadership, the NRA “politically weaponized itself” and the Second Amendment to fight liberalism and people of color, and “weaponized hypocrisy” by coining the phrase, “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” The NRA made its first political endorsement in 1980 when it supported Ronald Reagan for president

Gun ownership in America has become a political identity, and the NRA has emerged as a part of the Republican Party coalition. This political identity is intertwined with race and the criminalization of Black people, creating a disaster for the African-American community. One of the noteworthy policies the NRA has promoted are “stand your ground” laws, which allows armed people to use deadly force when they believe someone poses an imminent threat. White men have invoked the laws of self-defense to justify the killing of unarmed Black people.

Clemmons said, “Historically, laws have deputized White citizens relative to Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and African Americans.The state has been an extension of the general White population, and the general White population has been an extension of the state. Stand Your Ground Laws continue that tradition. Statistically, Black folks who use these laws when they feel threatened are not afforded the same protections and liberties as their White counterparts. They go to prison at a far higher rate. So, when you see how the law is enforced, implicitly you know who the law is meant for and whom the law protects.”

A victim of America’s gun culture and vigilante violence, Jordan Davis, was killed in 2012 by Michael Dunn, a white man, at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida. Dunn fired ten shots into the car in which Jordan and his three friends were seated. His mother, Lucy McBath, has since become active in the movement against gun violence, as faith outreach leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and now a candidate for the Georgia House of Representatives. “As a Black woman, I understood we were disproportionately affected by gun violence … and we have been dealing with this silently, and I wanted to challenge the system where guns were used against young Black men,” McBath told Atlanta Black Star. “How are the laws that let this happen again and again, and why were representatives not representing our interests? Why weren’t clergy speaking out?” she added.

“I know a lot of people didn’t hear about stand your ground until Trayvon [Martin] was killed, and then Jordan. I decided we have to talk about the NRA — profit over safety — and I wanted to show that [not] only poor Black people die, but, no, all demographics are suffering from this extremist culture,” McBath said, pointing to the prevalence of gun violence in suicides among white men, the killing of women by intimate partners, and the fact that Black people are not committing the school mass shootings.

McBath said the deaths of her own son and Trayvon Martin were the catalysts that made her decide to run for office. Following the 2016 election, she asked God for direction to expand the movement. Trump was making his presence felt in Georgia among pro-NRA lawmakers, and even progressives were voting for dangerous gun legislation, she noted. “I was angry. Who was going to stand up to the legislators that are being pandered to by the NRA?” she asked.

McBath believes the Parkland shooting has become the catalyst for change against an extremist gun culture and the NRA, because of those who are demanding change — young people. “I absolutely do, because of the demographic under assault who are children and millennials, and they are demanding to the White House that they protect them,” she said. “In the civil rights movement, who were on the front lines? The college students and the high school students. It is no different today. This is the whole demographic we needed to stand up, because their bodies had been missing. They have to be engaged they have to be on the front lines.

“Our gun culture is immoral and unethical. We are no longer trusting in God. People are placing far more trust in their gun. We are already self-destructing,” McBath added.

It is because of the racism in the NRA that groups such as the National African Americans Gun Association (NAAGA) have emerged as an alternative, to take a holistic approach to gun rights in the African-American community. “In every way, the NRA should be considered a terrorist organization and the military arm of the far-right. They are organized. They are armed. They are legally and politically protected,” Dr. Potter said. An NRA ad featuring spokeswoman Dana Loesch captures Potter’s sentiment:

Meanwhile, the police continue to murder Black people, and, as Dr. Potter argues, the courts continue to support deadly force against them, reinforcing the notion that there are laws protecting white gun ownership and preventing Black ownership.

“These laws are pushed and supported by the National Fraternal Order of Police and the Republican Party — especially the most conservative gun-toting factions. These standards, though, not only allow for, but direct the use of force against citizens not only for exercising their Second Amendment rights — but for giving the perception that they are exercising their Second Amendment rights,” she said. “In this way, Tamir Rice could be legally gunned down for playing with a toy. In this way a caregiver for an autistic man playing with a toy truck could be shot for posing a ‘reasonable’ threat even though no gun was present. And in the most blatant acts of murder driven hypocrisy, Philando Castile — a teacher legally armed with a weapon — could be shot dead on camera in front of his fiancée and her small child without fear of any legal consequence whatsoever.” Potter believes that if individual gun ownership was a nonpartisan, race-neutral proposition, the NRA would have defended Castile.

Valerie Castile, Philando Castile’s mother, called out NRA head Wayne LaPierre for not standing up for her son, a so-called “good guy with a gun” the group always touts. “If he really cared about the good guys out here, he would have stood up for my son. It’s about money,” Valerie Castile said of LaPierre. “He didn’t say anything because my son was Black,” Valerie Castile argued. “My son went through the same programs as every gun owner. But they started nitpicking, ‘He should have done this, he should have done that.’ The bottom line is that he told the officer he had a weapon, and the officer became a selfish man, only thinking about his own life and family. He chose to shoot my son several times. One of the bullets was 16 inches from that baby in the backseat.”

Gun control, the NRA and Black people make for a complicated history, in a nation where issues of race, guns, violence, money and power are thrown in the mix.

By David Love/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Supreme Court’s Silence Clouds Gun Control Debate The justices have passed up one opportunity after another to clarify the boundaries of the constitutional right to arms.

This month’s mass shooting at a high school in Florida has predictably provoked demands for new restrictions on guns, most of which are dubious on practical grounds, constitutional grounds, or both. But while logic and experience can help us figure out which measures are likely to be effective, the debate about which ones are consistent with the Second Amendment occurs in a shadowland only partly illuminated by the Supreme Court.

In the decade since the Court officially recognized the individual right to armed self-defense, it has passed up one opportunity after another to clarify the boundaries of that right. “The right to keep and bear arms is apparently this Court’s constitutional orphan,” Justice Clarence Thomas observed last week as the Court declined to hear yet another Second Amendment case.

That case involved California’s 10-day waiting period for buying firearms, which applies even when state and federal background checks take less time and even when the buyer has previously been cleared and already owns a gun. In 2014 a federal judge ruled that the waiting period violates the Second Amendment rights of people who are buying additional firearms or who hold concealed-carry licenses.

When the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit overturned that decision in 2016, Thomas noted, “it did so without requiring California to submit relevant evidence, without addressing petitioners’ arguments to the contrary, and without ac­knowledging the District Court’s factual findings.” That highly deferential approach, he said, was clearly inappropriate for an enumerated constitutional right and inconsistent with the Court’s Second Amendment precedents.

Thomas suggested that his colleagues would have been keen to correct such a blatant error if the case had implicated a different amendment. “Our continued refusal to hear Second Amendment cases only enables this kind of defiance,” he wrote.

It was not the first time Thomas had complained about the Court’s neglect of the Second Amendment. Last year he and Justice Neil Gorsuch strenuously objected when the Court declined to review a 9th Circuit decision upholding California’s requirement that concealed-carry licenses be issued only for “good cause,” which gives local officials broad discretion to reject applicants.

Thomas called the 9th Circuit’s focus on concealed guns, as opposed to the more general right to armed self-defense outside the home, “untenable” and “indefensible.” He noted that the Second Amendment protects the right to “bear” as well as “keep” weapons, adding, “I find it extremely improbable that the Framers understood the Second Amendment to protect little more than carrying a gun from the bedroom to the kitchen.”

In 2015 Thomas was similarly skeptical of the idea that guns arbitrarily identified as “assault weapons” are beyond the scope of the Second Amendment. He wrote that the Court should have reviewed a decision in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit upheld an “assault weapon” ban imposed by the city of Highland Park, Illinois, which covered “many of the most commonly owned semiautomatic firearms.”

The Supreme Court’s 2008 decision overturning the District of Columbia’s handgun ban made it clear, Thomas said, that the Second Amendment encompasses “firearms that millions of Americans commonly own for lawful purposes.” Yet the 7th Circuit upheld Highland Park’s ban based on little more than “speculation about the law’s potential policy benefits,” including the possibility that it “may increase the public’s sense of safety.”

The illusion of safety is the main thing such laws have to offer, since they target features that make guns look scarier without making them more lethal. “If a broad ban on firearms can be upheld based on conjecture that the public might feel safer (while being no safer at all),” Thomas observed, “then the Second Amendment guar­antees nothing.”

Given the recent agitation for a new federal ban on so-called assault weapons, Thomas’s warning is as relevant as ever. But the courts will not be compelled to act on it until his colleagues stop treating the right to arms as a constitutional orphan.

By Jacob Sullum/reason

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The Real Goal of “Russiagate” is to Prepare for Endless Austerity and War

The Real Goal of “Russiagate” is to Prepare for Endless Austerity and War

“The ruling circles of the imperial superpower set out to destabilize and call into disrepute the government of the home country.”

Robert Mueller, the former head of the national political police (FBI), has indicted 13 Russian nationals for the crime of sowing “discord in the U.S. political system” and encouraging “U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate.” The defendants’ nationality makes their acts of political speech a crime, in Mueller’s legal view, but “at least 20 Americans” are embedded in the document as unindicted co-conspirators “ because they interacted in various ways with the Russian team’s activities during the 2016 presidential campaign.

These U.S. citizens “were just engaging in politics,” said independent journalist Marcy Wheeler, on Democracy Now! “They were putting together campaign events. They were engaging in online speech. That’s like, you know, the most sacred part of being an American citizen. And yet, they were unknowingly interacting with Russians….”

The Russians will never face trial in the U.S., and it is highly unlikely that the unindicted Americans will be criminally charged — but that is not the purpose of Mueller’s indictment. The political crime has been defined, for the broad purpose of repressing dissent in the United States. The witch hunt has found a legalistic vocabulary.

The New York Times’ in-house witch-hunting Negro, Charles Blow , has worked his mojo to the bone, fulminating against the dark forces that refused to support Hillary Clinton’ return to the White House. Mueller’s indictment is the charm Blow has been seeking to remove the hex of resistance to the established duopoly. Blow quotes Mueller’s document: “On or about October 16, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used the Instagram account ‘Woke Blacks’ to post the following message: ‘Particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off without voting AT ALL.’”

“The political crime has been defined, for the broad purpose of repressing dissent in the United States.”

These are the Russians’ words, but the sentiment is not at all alien to the contemporary and historical Black political conversation. Yet, for Blow, it is heresy and devilment to urge Black people to vote for third parties, or to refrain from voting. There ought’a be a law against it! — or some string of words that can be made to sound like a law. “What happened in this election wasn’t just a political crime, it was specifically a racialized crime, and the black vote was a central target,” wrote Blow.

Blacks that refuse to forgive the Clintons for mass incarcerating and dehumanizing our people are guilty of Black voter suppression and deemed dupes of both Trump and the Kremlin. To prove that anti-Clinton Blacks are in league with foreign and domestic devils, Blow quotes a Trump operative who bragged that the Republican campaign reminded Black voters about Hillary Clinton’s “suggestion that some African-American males are ‘super predators,’” in order to discourage them from voting. Mueller’s legal framework requires that we forgive such trivial history as mass Black incarceration.

Black Bernie Sanders activists are co-conspirators, in Blow’s view: “Even after Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination, rapper Killer Mike, a prominent Bernie Sanders supporter and surrogate, was still promoting the position that ‘If you’re voting for Trump or Hillary Clinton, you’re voting for the same thing.’”

Which is true, in that both are corporate capitalist politicians and warmongering racists that don’t deserve the vote of any decent person. But, saying so can now be construed as giving “aid and comfort” to a foreign “enemy” – either directly to Putin or to his “surrogate,” Trump. It must be a crime, because “the Russians” were indicted for it, right? Mueller’s “law” spells it out: “In or around the latter half of 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through their personas, began to encourage U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate.”

“Blacks that refuse to forgive the Clintons for mass incarcerating and dehumanizing our people are guilty of Black voter suppression and deemed dupes of both Trump and the Kremlin.”

Funny thing, though: the Democrats refused to cite the Republicans’ systematic, mass suppression of Black voters through the Cross Check scheme which, as Margaret Kimberley points out in this week’s Freedom Rider, caused 400,000 heavily Black votes to disappear in Michigan. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein called for a recount in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and found that Black voter suppression was a major factor, particularly in Detroit. “We are seeing again this evidence in Michigan that communities of color are systematically disenfranchised through the machinery that constitutes really another form of electoral Jim Crow,” Stein told The Guardian . “It’s pretty staggering. Eighty-seven optical scanners [in Detroit] broke on election day.”

The Democratic Party reluctantly added its name to the recount petition, while at the same time claiming it had seen no “actionable evidence ” of grounds for challenging Trump’s victory. But that’s par for the course. The Democrats have never confronted the GOP’s blatant theft of elections through massive suppression of Black votes. They are bound, apparently, by a gentleman’s agreement among the two parties. John Lewis, the Black congressman from Atlanta who wears his voting rights credentials like a robe of glory, abides by that agreement. The first thing out of Lewis’ mouth after Trump was declared the winner, in November, was a denunciation of “the Russians” – but not Black voter suppression by Republicans.

“The Democrats have never confronted the GOP’s blatant theft of elections through massive suppression of Black votes.”

Roughly one year later, Jill Stein — who fought Black voter suppression harder than the Democrats — was targeted for investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee as a possible collaborator with the Russians .

The suppression of the franchise of their Black base is not considered “treason” or any kind of “high crime” by the Democratic Party, but the siphoning of Black votes away from the corporate duopoly, through voluntary non-voting or support of third parties, is cause to bring out the pitchforks.

Under the Mueller legal formula, there are many more potential co-conspirators. The highest political crimes are “sowing discord” and “spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general” – for which one can theoretically go to prison, if you are a foreigner (Russian, not Israeli), or become an unindicted party to the charge, if American.

The Republicans, of course, have been sowing racial discord as a matter of policy ever since they adopted their “Southern Strategy” in 1968, and it’s been key to their success ever since. The United States is the nation that invented apartheid, and has served as a model for racists around the world. Racial discord is part of its DNA, and is the principal reason for the historical lack of a social contract and the weakness of the Left in this country. Corporate political hegemony would not exist in the U.S., were it not for the endemic nature of white supremacy in this society. The Russians have nothing to do with it — especially the Russian amateurs from St. Petersburg.

The suppression of the franchise of their Black base is not considered ‘treason’ or any kind of ‘high crime’ by the Democratic Party.”

The cabal has flipped the factual script. It was the Democrats and their allies in corporate media and the national security state that devised a calculated campaign to sow “discord” and “distrust towards the political system in general,” such as not seen in living memory. The initial goal was to depose or discipline the unpredictable, racist billionaire who in 2016 crushed the establishment leaders of the Republican Party — potentially destabilizing the duopoly system of corporate governance — rhetorically rejected the dogma of “free trade,” and spoke as if he would not maintain the momentum of his predecessor’s global military offensive. With the “intelligence community” on point, the political offensive could not help but take on the characteristics of a profoundly destabilizing regime change and psychological operations mission.

In other words, the ruling circles of the imperial superpower set out to destabilize and call into disrepute the sitting government of the home country. They have inflicted great trauma and anxiety among the public in the process, but thanks to the corporate media component of the cabal, most of the blame has accrued to the targets of the campaign: Trump, “the Russians” and those defamed as “dupes” and “co-conspirators” with the fictitious Putin-Trump axis.

It is quite evident that this campaign of self-inflicted chaos is a project of the global corporate class, manifesting elsewhere in the “West” in remarkably similar fashion, but with local characteristics. Russia is, thus, charged with attempting to subvert governments around the world through minions like the St. Petersburg outfit. Through their servants in the Democratic Party, the corporate media, and the intelligence agencies, multinational capital has used Trump’s election to inflict a kind of shock treatment on their domestic polities — a very dangerous gambit, especially in the United States, with its weak social contract and immense capacity for civil violence.

“With the ‘intelligence community’ on point, the political offensive could not help but take on the characteristics of a profoundly destabilizing regime change and psychological operations campaign.”

More dangerous, is the whipping up of war fever based on Russia’s non-existent aggressions (Ukraine, Syria) and fabricated ambitions (the demise of the “West”).

We can be confident in blaming this politically engineered horror on the dominate elements of the U.S. capitalist ruling class, since they could surely call the project to a halt if it were merely a “rogue” enterprise mounted by a small section of their class-mates. Capital is using Russiagate to inflict extreme shocks to the very political system they claim to be defending. The trauma is necessary, they believe, because capital has nothing to offer to the masses of people, and must therefore dramatically weaken or destroy the political mechanisms through which the people make demands on the rulers. They are preparing the landscape for a regime of permanent austerity and war, and plan to suppress all opposition on the Left. That’s why Black Agenda Report and a dozen other Left web sites were named and defamed as Russian fellow travelers and purveyors of “fake news” by the Washington Post, the plaything of the CIA-partnered oligarch, Jeff Bezos.

A lot has happened in the space of a little over a year. Based on Russiagate-era interpretations of “law” and civil propriety, free speech is in the political eye of the corporate owners of media. The shrinking of the digital world that is accessible to the Left is well underway, with no workable alternatives in sight.

The Russiagate express keeps on rolling, despite the fact there is still no evidence for the original contention, that “the Russians” and Vladimir Putin conspired to steal and reveal the emails of the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton and John Podesta. Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, emphasized that there is no evidence that any actual votes were altered or tampered with in the 2016 presidential election. No matter. The Democrats keep imagining other “Pearl Harbors” worthy of going to war over, because their project is to harden the political system for endless war and austerity.

By Glen Ford/BAR

Posted by The NON-ConformistR

U.S. Court to Hear Reparations Lawsuit Against German Government Over Colonial-Era Genocide In Present-Day Namibia

A federal court in New York is the venue in which a colonial-era genocide of over a century ago is being adjudicated. Germany is being made to answer for its legacy of atrocities in the former colony of German South West Africa, now known as Namibia. Indigenous people in Namibia, descendants of the victims of genocide, filed a suit against Germany in federal court in New York, demanding reparations for the mass murder of more than 100,000 people, in what amounted to the beginning of the bureaucratized killing of the 20th century, and a precursor to European genocide of the Second World War.

The complaint (pdf) in the class action suit was filed in January 2017 on behalf of the Ovaherero and Nama peoples of Namibia “for damages resulting from the horrific genocide and unlawful taking of property in violation of international law by the German colonial authorities during the 1885 to 1909 period,” in what was then South West Africa. The complaint also reads that the purpose of the complaint is to “enjoin and restrain the Federal Republic of Germany from continuing to exclude plaintiffs and other lawful representatives of the Ovaherero and Nama people from participation in discussions and negotiations regarding the subject matter of this Complaint, in violation of plaintiffs’ rights under international law, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People to self-determination for all indigenous peoples and their right to participate and speak for themselves regarding all matters relating to the losses that they have suffered.” The Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007 with a majority of 144 states favoring the treaty, and four countries — Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States — opposing it.

As the plaintiffs make the case in their complaint, their communities suffered when more than a quarter of their land — 50,000 square miles — and the cattle that formed the basis of their survival were seized without compensation by the German colonists. Colonial authorities looked the other way during the “widespread and systematic rape” of Ovaherero and Nama women and girls, and the use of forced free labor.

After learning they would be sent to concentration camps and the rest of their land confiscated, the Ovaherero rose up in 1904, followed by the Nama the following year. “The uprising was crushed by German Imperial troops under the command of General Lothar von Trotha, who announced that his goal was to annihilate the Ovaherero people. His orders were effectively carried out, resulting in the deaths of over 100,000 Ovaherero and Nama, with the remainder thrown into concentration camps under atrocious and sub-human conditions, where there was an extraordinarily high death toll, and the survivors who were well enough to stand were forced to work as forced/slave laborer. The surviving women were subjected to systematic rape and other abuses,” read the complaint.

The victims say that Germany entered into negotiations with the Republic of Namibia after decades of denying the German imperial authorities had committed genocide and refusing to consider reparations and compensation. Then Germany excluded representatives from the Ovaherero and Nama peoples, those who were the victims of the atrocities, and refused to admit that its actions constituted genocide, even after condemning Turkey for its genocide by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians in World War I. This suit, which seeks unspecified damages, was filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act, a 1789 law often used in human rights cases which grants jurisdiction to U.S. federal courts over “any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” Last month, Germany — which has paid over $70 billion in reparations to the Jewish victims and survivors of the Holocaust by the Nazis — sought dismissal of the case by the Namibian victims of genocide. This, after ignoring the lawsuit, attempting to send back the court papers and claiming a violation of its sovereign immunity. Germany has acknowledged it committed the atrocities, but the nation has refused to pay reparations for the genocide, arguing instead that it has given millions of euros in development aid “for the benefit of all Namibians” since that country’s 1990 independence from South Africa.

Bill Fletcher, Jr., the former president of TransAfrica Forum, thinks the class action suit is very important. “What a lot of people don’t recognize is that the German genocide against native peoples in what is now known as Namibia is something historians have pointed to as a prototype for the Holocaust against the Jews,” Fletcher told Atlanta Black Star. Fletcher noted three things that are noteworthy here, the first being that any genocide must be publicized lest it can be justified and repeated. The second point is that the Namibian genocide paved the way for the Nazi German Holocaust. The third is that genocide is an international phenomenon, including in the Western Hemisphere, where 80 percent of the indigenous population was eliminated through diseases, wars and other causes, and in the Congo, where Leopold II of Belgium murdered 10 million people over a 10-year period. An important context, Fletcher says, is there is a genocidal gene in capitalism. “That genocidal gene can make its appearance in the most unusual of circumstances. It happens largely in the racialization of populations and them being rendered irrelevant,” he said.
Although the litigation has not reached a final dispensation, what is clear is that the United States is a little-known venue for cases involving international human rights violations, including those who seek reparations for genocide. What is also certain is Germany can no longer ignore and turn a blind eye to its legacy of genocide against the people of Namibia.

By David Love/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The NRA Can Only Be Stopped at the Ballot Box

Have the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School changed the game? In the wake of the Parkland massacre that killed 17 children and educators, there’s no question the students have changed the national conversation. Survivors of this mass shooting have called “B.S.” on empty Republican pieties – rejecting “thoughts and prayers” and demanding that lawmakers take action to protect children’s lives from guns, instead of protecting their political futures from the wrath of the National Rifle Association.


But Republican lawmakers have so far acted as if nothing has changed. As Parkland survivors looked on in tears, the Florida House this week voted against even debating legislation to curb assault rifles – and then had the audacity to vote to declare porn a threat to public health. President Trump, meanwhile, has decided to champion NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre’s reckless proposal to arm teachers at school.

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Rubio Defends NRA Ties, Says ‘Genie’s Out Of The Bottle’ On AR-15s

During a tense interview aired Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) again rejected many Floridians’ criticism that certain gun control laws would have prevented Wednesday’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

He also defended his ties to the National Rifle Association, and blamed congressional inaction regarding such mass shootings on “people just mov[ing] on.”

Rubio hasn’t personally attempted to address mass shootings through legislation, he said, because “we don’t fully understand everything that could’ve been done to prevent this.”

Much of the mourning following the shooting at Stoneman Douglas, which left 17 dead and more injured, transformed with surprising speed into passionate political advocacy. And, perhaps aside from President Donald Trump, more of that passion has been directed at Rubio, a large beneficiary of the gun lobby’s support, than anyone else.

“I see this reported, it’s unfair, I’ve never said we can’t do anything,” Rubio said, repeating a point he made on the Senate floor Thursday. He added: “What I have said is that the proposals out there would not have prevented it, and that’s a fact.”

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