North Korea says talks with Pompeo were ‘regrettable’

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PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — High-level talks between the United States and North Korea appeared to hit a snag on Saturday as Pyongyang said a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been “regrettable” and accused Washington of making “gangster-like” demands to pressure the country into abandoning its nuclear weapons.

The statement from the North came just hours after Pompeo wrapped up two days of talks with senior North Korean officials without meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but with commitments for new discussions on denuclearization and the repatriation of the remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean War.

While Pompeo offered a relatively positive assessment of his meetings, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the U.S. betrayed the spirit of last month’s summit between President Donald Trump and Kim by making “unilateral and gangster-like” demands on “CVID,” or the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea.

It said the outcome of the follow-up talks was “very concerning” because it has led to a “dangerous phase that might rattle our willingness for denuclearization that had been firm.”

“We had expected that the U.S. side would offer constructive measures that would help build trust based on the spirit of the leaders’ summit … we were also thinking about providing reciprocal measures,” said the statement, released by an unnamed spokesman and carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

“However, the attitude and stance the United States showed in the first high-level meeting (between the countries) was no doubt regrettable,” the spokesman said. “Our expectations and hopes were so naive it could be called foolish.”

According to the spokesman, during the talks with Pompeo the North raised the issue of a possible declaration to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, which concluded with an armistice and not a peace treaty. It also offered to discuss the closure of a missile engine test site that would “physically affirm” a move to halt the production of intercontinental range ballistic missiles and setting up working-level discussions for the return of U.S. war remains.

However, the spokesman said the United States came up with a variety of “conditions and excuses” to delay a declaration on ending the war. The spokesman also downplayed the significance of the United States suspending its military exercises with South Korea, saying the North made a larger concession by blowing up the tunnels at its nuclear test site.

In criticizing the talks with Pompeo, however, the North carefully avoided attacking Trump, saying “we wholly maintain our trust toward President Trump,” but also that Washington must not allow “headwinds” against the “wills of the leaders.”

In comments to reporters before leaving Pyongyang, Pompeo said his conversations with senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol had been “productive,” conducted “in good faith” and that “a great deal of progress” had been made in some areas. He stressed that “there’s still more work to be done” in other areas, much of which would be done by working groups that the two sides have set up to deal with specific issues.

Pompeo said a Pentagon team would be meeting with North Korean officials on or about July 12 at the border between North and South Korea to discuss the repatriation of remains and that working level talks would be held soon on the destruction of North Korea’s missile engine testing facility.

In the days following his historic June 12 summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, Trump had announced that the return of the remains and the destruction of the missile facility had been completed or were in progress.

Pompeo, however, said that more talks were needed on both.

“We now have a meeting set up for July 12 — it could move by one day or two — where there will be discussions between the folks responsible for the repatriation of remains. (It) will take place at the border and that process will begin to develop over the days that follow,” he said as he boarded his plane for Tokyo.

On the destruction of the missile engine plant, Pompeo said, “We talked about what the modalities would look like for the destruction of that facility as well, and some progress there as well, and then we have laid out a path for further negotiation at the working level so the two teams can get together and continue these discussions.”

Earlier, Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol both said they needed clarity on the parameters of an agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula that Trump and Kim Jong Un agreed to in Singapore. The trip was Pompeo’s third to Pyongyang since April and his first since the summit.

Unlike his previous visits, which have been one-day affairs during which he has met with Kim Jong Un, Pompeo spent the night at a government guesthouse in Pyongyang and did not see the North Korean leader, although U.S. officials had suggested such a meeting was expected. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said no meeting had been planned.

As they began their talks on Saturday, Kim Yong Chol alluded to the fact that Pompeo and his delegation had stayed overnight in Pyongyang.

“We did have very serious discussions on very important matters yesterday,” Kim said. “So, thinking about those discussions you might have not slept well last night.”

Pompeo, who spoke with Trump, national security adviser John Bolton and White House chief of staff John Kelly by secure phone before starting Saturday’s session, replied that he “slept just fine.” He added that the Trump administration was committed to reaching a deal under which North Korea would denuclearize and realize economic benefits in return.

Kim later said that “there are things that I have to clarify” to which Pompeo responded that “there are things that I have to clarify as well.”

There was no immediate explanation of what needed to be clarified, but the two sides have been struggling to specify what exactly “denuclearization” would entail and how it could be verified to the satisfaction of the United States.

Pompeo and Kim met for nearly three hours Friday and then had dinner amid growing skepticism over how serious Kim Jong Un is about giving up his nuclear arsenal and translating the upbeat rhetoric following his summit with Trump into concrete action.

___

Lee reported from Tokyo. Kim Tong-Hyung in Seoul, South Korea, contributed.

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Dems Are Once Again Poised to Fumble Away a Must Win Election

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Jeff Merkley

IMAGE: Whowhatwhy.org

 

If the Democrats want to win control of the House in the fall, they need to have a plan, a positive vision, and a focus on issues that directly affect Americans. Not surprisingly, they are failing on all fronts.

I cover US politics for a living and, with less than five months to go before the crucial midterm election that will determine whether American voters will impose some checks on President Donald Trump, I couldn’t tell you what the Democrats’ platform is… or their plan for winning this November.

Instead of coming up with policies that will change the lives of Americans in a meaningful way — as well as a strategy of telling voters about them — they keep getting sucked into the Trump trap.

The president will do or say something that is so ridiculous or reprehensible that Democrats are sure that, this time, the public will surely realize that he is a know-nothing liar and demagogue who is destroying the US from within.

More from Klaus Marre and Donkeyhotey @ Whowhatwhy.org

 

Posted by Libergirl

“Counter-Revolution of 1776”: Was U.S. Independence War a Conservative Revolt in Favor of Slavery?

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As the United States prepares to celebrate Independence Day, we look at why July 4 is not a cause for celebration for all. For Native Americans, it may be a bitter reminder of colonialism, which brought fatal diseases, cultural hegemony and genocide. Neither did the new republic’s promise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” extend to African Americans. The colonists who declared their freedom from England did not share their newly founded liberation with the millions of Africans they had captured and forced into slavery. We speak with historian Gerald Horne, who argues the so-called Revolutionary War was actually a conservative effort by American colonists to protect their system of slavery. He is the author of two new books: “The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America” and “Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow.” Horne is professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman in Chicago with our next guest. Juan González is in New York.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, next weekend, the United States celebrates the Fourth of July, the day the American colonies declared their independence from England in 1776. While many Americans will hang flags, participate in parades and watch fireworks, Independence Day is not a cause for celebration for all. For Native Americans, it is yet another bitter reminder of colonialism, which brought fatal diseases, cultural hegemony and full-out genocide. Neither did the new republic’s promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness extend to African Americans. As our next guest notes, the white colonists who declared their freedom from the crown did not share their newly founded liberation with the millions of Africans they had captured and forced into slavery.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Gerald Horne argues that the so-called Revolutionary War was actually a counterrevolution, in part, not a progressive step forward for humanity, but a conservative effort by American colonialists to protect their system of slavery.

For more, Professor Horne joins us here in our Chicago studio. He’s the author of two new books: The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America and another new book, just out, Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow. Professor Horne teaches history and African American studies at the University of Houston.

Welcome to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us. So, as we move into this Independence Day week, what should we understand about the founding of the United States?

GERALD HORNE: We should understand that July 4th, 1776, in many ways, represents a counterrevolution. That is to say that what helped to prompt July 4th, 1776, was the perception amongst European settlers on the North American mainland that London was moving rapidly towards abolition. This perception was prompted by Somerset’s case, a case decided in London in June 1772 which seemed to suggest that abolition, which not only was going to be ratified in London itself, was going to cross the Atlantic and basically sweep through the mainland, thereby jeopardizing numerous fortunes, not only based upon slavery, but the slave trade. That’s the short answer.

The longer answer would involve going back to another revolution—that is to say, the so-called Glorious Revolution in England in 1688, which, among other things, involved a step back from the monarch—for the monarch, the king, and a step forward for the rising merchant class. This led to a deregulation of the African slave trade. That is to say, the Royal African Company theretofore had been in control of the slave trade, but with the rising power of the merchant class, this slave trade was deregulated, leading to what I call free trade in Africans. That is to say, merchants then descended upon the African continent manacling and handcuffing every African in sight, with the energy of demented and crazed bees, dragging them across the Atlantic, particularly to the Caribbean and to the North American mainland. This was prompted by the fact that the profits for the slave trade were tremendous, sometimes up to 1,600 or 1,700 percent. And as you know, there are those even today who will sell their firstborn for such a profit. This, on the one hand, helped to boost the productive forces both in the Caribbean and on the mainland, but it led to numerous slave revolts, not least in the Caribbean, but also on the mainland, which helped to give the mainlanders second thoughts about London’s tentative steps towards abolition.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Gerald Horne, one of the things that struck me in your book is not only your main thesis, that this was in large part a counterrevolution, our—the United States’ war of independence, but you also link very closely the—what was going on in the Caribbean colonies of England, as well as in the United States, not only in terms of among the slaves in both areas, but also among the white population. And, in fact, you indicate that quite a few of those who ended up here in the United States fostering the American Revolution had actually been refugees from the battles between whites and slaves in the Caribbean. Could you expound on that?

GERALD HORNE: It’s well known that up until the middle part of the 18th century, London felt that the Caribbean colonies—Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua, in particular—were in some ways more valuable than the mainland colonies. The problem was that in the Caribbean colonies the Africans outnumbered the European settlers, sometimes at a rate of 20 to one, which facilitated slave revolts. There were major slave revolts in Antigua, for example, in 1709 and 1736. The Maroons—that is to say, the Africans who had escaped London’s jurisdiction in Jamaica—had challenged the crown quite sternly. This led, as your question suggests, to many European settlers in the Caribbean making the great trek to the mainland, being chased out of the Caribbean by enraged Africans. For example, I did research for this book in Newport, Rhode Island, and the main library there, to this very day, is named after Abraham Redwood, who fled Antigua after the 1736 slave revolt because many of his, quote, “Africans,” unquote, were involved in the slave revolt. And he fled in fear and established the main library in Newport, to this very day, and helped to basically establish that city on the Atlantic coast. So, there is a close connection between what was transpiring in the Caribbean and what was taking place on the mainland. And historians need to recognize that even though these colonies were not necessarily a unitary project, there were close and intimate connections between and amongst them.

AMY GOODMAN: So, why this great disparity between how people in the United States talk about the creation myth of the United States, if you will—I’m not talking about indigenous people, Native American people—and this story that you have researched?

GERALD HORNE: Well, it is fair to say that the United States did provide a sanctuary for Europeans. Indeed, I think part of the, quote, “genius,” unquote, of the U.S. project, if there was such a genius, was the fact that the founders in the United States basically called a formal truce, a formal ceasefire, with regard to the religious warfare that had been bedeviling Europe for many decades and centuries—that is to say, Protestant London, so-called, versus Catholic Madrid and Catholic France. What the settlers on the North American mainland did was call a formal truce with regard to religious conflict, but then they opened a new front with regard to race—that is to say, Europeans versus non-Europeans.

This, at once, broadened the base for the settler project. That is to say, they could draw upon those defined as white who had roots from the Atlantic to the Ural Mountains, and indeed even to the Arab world, if you look at people like Ralph Nader and Marlo Thomas, for example, whose roots are in Lebanon but are considered to be, quote, “white,” unquote. This obviously expanded the population base for the settler project. And because many rights were then accorded to these newly minted whites, it obviously helped to ensure that many of them would be beholden to the country that then emerged, the United States of America, whereas those of us who were not defined as white got the short end of the stick, if you like.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Gerald Horne, as a result of that, during the American Revolution, what was the perception or the attitude of the African slaves in the U.S. to that conflict? You also—you talk about, during the colonial times, many slaves preferred to flee to the Spanish colonies or the French colonies, rather than to stay in the American colonies of England.

GERALD HORNE: You are correct. The fact of the matter is, is that Spain had been arming Africans since the 1500s. And indeed, because Spain was arming Africans and then unleashing them on mainland colonies, particularly South Carolina, this put competitive pressure on London to act in a similar fashion. The problem there was, is that the mainland settlers had embarked on a project and a model of development that was inconsistent with arming Africans. Indeed, their project was involved in enslaving and manacling every African in sight. This deepens the schism between the colonies and the metropolis—that is to say, London—thereby helping to foment a revolt against British rule in 1776.

It’s well known that more Africans fought alongside of the Redcoats—fought alongside the Redcoats than fought with the settlers. And this is understandable, because if you think about it for more than a nanosecond, it makes little sense for slaves to fight alongside slave masters so that slave masters could then deepen the persecution of the enslaved and, indeed, as happened after 1776, bring more Africans to the mainland, bring more Africans to Cuba, bring more Africans to Brazil, for their profit.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to historian Gerald Horne. He’s author of two new books. We’re talking about The Counter-Revolution of 1776. The subtitle of that book is Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America. And his latest book, just out, is called Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow. He’s professor of history and African American studies at University of Houston. When we come back, we’ll talk about that second book about Cuba. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: “Slavery Days” by Burning Spear, here on Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman in Chicago. Juan González is in New York. Before we talk about the book on slavery, I want to turn to President Obama’s remarks at the White House’s Fourth of July celebration last year. This is how President Obama described what happened in 1776.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: On July 4th, 1776, a small band of patriots declared that we were a people created equal, free to think and worship and live as we please, that our destiny would not be determined for us, it would be determined by us. And it was bold, and it was brave. And it was unprecedented. It was unthinkable. At that time in human history, it was kings and princes and emperors who made decisions. But those patriots knew there was a better way of doing things, that freedom was possible, and that to achieve their freedom, they’d be willing to lay down their lives, their fortune and their honor. And so they fought a revolution. And few would have bet on their side. But for the first time of many times to come, America proved the doubters wrong. And now, 237 years later, this improbable experiment in democracy, the United States of America, stands as the greatest nation on Earth.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was President Obama talking about the meaning of July 4th. Gerald Horne, your book, The Counter-Revolution of 1776, is a direct rebuttal of this, as you call, creation myth. Could you talk about that?

GERALD HORNE: Well, with all due respect to President Obama, I think that he represents, in those remarks you just cited, the consensus view. That is to say that, on the one hand, there is little doubt that 1776 represented a step forward with regard to the triumph over monarchy. The problem with 1776 was that it went on to establish what I refer to as the first apartheid state. That is to say, the rights that Mr. Obama refers to were accorded to only those who were defined as white. To that degree, I argue in the book that 1776, in many ways, was analogous to Unilateral Declaration of Independence in the country then known as Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, in November 1965. UDI, Unilateral Declaration of Independence, was in many ways an attempt to forestall decolonization. 1776, in many ways, was an attempt to forestall the abolition of slavery. That attempt succeeded until the experiment crashed and burned in 1861 with the U.S. Civil War, the bloodiest conflict, to this point, the United States has ever been involved in.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Gerald Horne, how does this story, this, what you call, counterrevolution, fit in with your latest book, Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow?

GERALD HORNE: Well, there’s a certain consistency between the two books. Keep in mind that in 1762 Britain temporarily seized Cuba from Spain. And one of the regulations that Britain imposed outraged the settlers, as I argue in both books. What happened was that Britain sought to regulate the slave trade, and the settlers on the North American mainland wanted deregulation of the slave trade, thereby bringing in more Africans. What happens is that that was one of the points of contention that lead to a detonation and a revolt against British rule in 1776.

I go on in the Cuba book to talk about how one of the many reasons why you have so many black people in Cuba was because of the manic energy of U.S. slave traders and slave dealers, particularly going into the Congo River Basin and dragging Africans across the Atlantic. Likewise, I had argued in a previous book on the African slave trade to Brazil that one of the many reasons why you have so many black people in Brazil, more than any place outside of Nigeria, is, once again, because of the manic energy of U.S. slave traders and slave dealers, who go into Angola, in particular, and drag Africans across the Atlantic to Brazil.

It seems to me that it’s very difficult to reconcile the creation myth of this great leap forward for humanity when, after 1776 and the foundation of the United States of America, the United States ousts Britain from control of the African slave trade. Britain then becomes the cop on the beat trying to detain and deter U.S. slave traders and slave dealers. It seems to me that if this was a step forward for humanity, it was certainly not a step forward for Africans, who, the last time I looked, comprise a significant percentage of humanity.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Gerald Horne, so, in other words, as you’re explaining the involvement of American companies in the slave trade in Brazil and Cuba, this—that book and also your The Counter-Revolution of 1776 makes the same point that slavery was not just an issue of interest in the South to the Southern plantation owners, but that in the North, banking, insurance, merchants, shipping were all involved in the slave trade, as well.

GERALD HORNE: Well, Juan, as you well know, New York City was a citadel of the African slave trade, even after the formal abolition of the U.S. role in the African slave trade in 1808. Rhode Island was also a center for the African slave trade. Ditto for Massachusetts. Part of the unity between North and South was that it was in the North that the financing for the African slave trade took place, and it was in the South where you had the Africans deposited. That helps to undermine, to a degree, the very easy notion that the North was abolitionist and the South was pro-slavery.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Gerald Horne, what most surprised you in your research around Cuba, U.S. slavery and Jim Crow?

GERALD HORNE: Well, what most surprised me with regard to both of these projects was the restiveness, the rebelliousness of the Africans involved. It’s well known that the Africans in the Caribbean were very much involved in various extermination plots, liquidation plots, seeking to abolish, through force of arms and violence, the institution of slavery. Unfortunately, I think that historians on the North American mainland have tended to downplay the restiveness of Africans, and I think it’s done a disservice to the descendants of the population of mainland enslaved Africans. That is to say that because the restiveness of Africans in the United States has been downplayed, it leads many African Americans today to either, A, think that their ancestors were chumps—that is to say, that they fought alongside slave owners to bring more freedom to slave owners and more persecution to themselves—or, B, that they were ciphers—that is to say, they stood on the sidelines as their fate was being determined. I think that both of these books seek to disprove those very unfortunate notions.

AMY GOODMAN: So, as we move into the Independence Day weekend next weekend, what do you say to people in the United States?

GERALD HORNE: What I say to the people in the United States is that you have proved that you can be very critical of what you deem to be revolutionary processes. You have a number of scholars and intellectuals who make a good living by critiquing the Cuban Revolution of 1959, by critiquing the Russian Revolution of 1917, by critiquing the French Revolution of the 18th century, but yet we get the impression that what happened in 1776 was all upside, which is rather far-fetched, given what I’ve just laid out before you in terms of how the enslaved African population had their plight worsened by 1776, not to mention the subsequent liquidation of independent Native American polities as a result of 1776. I think that we need a more balanced presentation of the foundation of the United States of America, and I think that there’s no sooner place to begin than next week with July 4th, 2014.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Gerald Horne, I want to thank you very much for being with us. Historian Gerald Horne is author of two new books: The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America as well as Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow. He’s a professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston.

From Democracy Now

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Is This the Summer of Snitches? Meet Burrito Bob, Permit Patty, and other vigilante informants

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A man wearing a Hawaiian shirt on San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) went viral earlier this month after calling the cops on a man eating his lunch. A video posted to Reddit shows an angered passenger, who is now referred to as Burrito Bob, confronting another passenger on a BART train for snacking while traveling on the Dublin/Pleasanton line, close to the famed Fruitvale Station. BART currently has rules against eating and drinking; violations carry a fine of $250.

“You can’t wait? A sign says no eating and drinking. You don’t get it? You don’t get it. You must be stupid. I’ve seen people like you on TV,” he tells the passenger.

Bystanders look on and laugh when the man announces that he’s going to contact authorities. Burrito Bob proceeds to use the train’s emergency contact system to ask for an officer, saying: “Please, can you get a policeman on board? We’ve got somebody dining on the first car.” While Burrito Bob waits, surrounding passengers encourage the man to “eat your burrito, bro,” including one drinking from a nearly empty Starbucks cup. Burrito Bob continues to defend his position, saying that the passenger should wait to nourish himself in the appropriate venue.

Burrito Bob now joins a growing list of alliterative offenders who have attempted to use authorities to enforce petty regulations this summer.

BBQ Becky: In late April, a woman called police on black barbecuers at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California, after claiming that they were not allowed to operate a charcoal grill in the area. When police did not take the call as seriously as she’d hoped, she broke down into tears. Oaklanders threw a cookout called “BBQing While Black” in response.

Permit Patty: In June, a woman called police on a young black girl selling water without a permit. The woman later argued that she did so because the girl’s mother was “screaming for hours.” Some noted the hypocrisy of the call after it was revealed that she was the CEO of a “kind of like ‘don’t ask, don’t tell'” pet weed business.

Pool Patrol Paula: Also in June, a woman threatened to call police after telling a black teen that his friends were “punks” who “didn’t belong” at a community pool in Summerville, South Carolina. In a video, she’s visible striking in the general direction of the teen at least twice. When investigators in the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office attempted to serve her a warrant for third-degree assault, she picked up some additional charges after fighting back.

Honorable mentions go to a Philadelphia Starbucks employee who in April called police on two black men while they were waiting in the coffee shop for a meeting and Ohio neighbors who called police in June after a 12-year-old cut the grass on their property by mistake—the young man’s business ended up growing as a result.

Even CountryTime lemonade has gotten involved, promising to pay the fines of children who have the police called on them for running unlicensed lemonade stands.

These stories are a part of a phenomenon that Reason‘s Mike Riggs has dubbed the “Nation of Narcs.” Riggs offers a number of solutions to scale back the problem, one of which is reducing the scope of government:

The second project is a political program: to drastically scale back the police powers of every arm of the state. Not just the police police, but the health police and the tax police and the zoning police. All those agencies work in concert. The person who refuses to pare back her garden gets a fine. If she doesn’t pay the fine, she loses her driver’s license. If she drives regardless, because her job or family needs her to, she gets arrested. The police state is a hydra, so let’s treat it like one.

By Zuri Davis/Reason

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Trump Refuses Call to Lower Flags in Honor of Victims of the Mass Shooting in Maryland Newsroom: Report The White House has previously lowered flags in response to other mass shootings.

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President Donald Trump refused to order flags to be lowered in honor of the victims of the mass shooting that killed five people at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, last week, despite an official request from Mayor Gavin Buckley, the paper reported Monday.

As the paper noted, Trump has ordered the American flag to fly at half-mast in response to other mass shootings. After 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida, he issued the following statement:

As a mark of solemn respect for the victims of the terrible act of violence perpetrated on February 14, 2018, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, February 19, 2018.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed, you know? … Is there a cutoff for tragedy?” the Annapolis mayor told the Gazette of the White House’s refusal. “This was an attack on the press. It was an attack on freedom of speech. It’s just as important as any other tragedy.”

Gov. Larry Hogan ordered the state flags lowered in response to the killings.

Trump has already faced criticism for his tepid response to the attacks. Many observers noted that the president himself frequently stokes anger at the media, diminishing his ability to offer a full-throated defense of the free press.

And indeed, when he finally made remarks concerning the attack, he made no mention of the important place an unrestrained media plays in furthering democratic values.

By Cody Fenwick / AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Racial and Ethnic Roundups are Legal, As Long As “Race” Is Not the Only Reason

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Racial and Ethnic Roundups are Legal, As Long As “Race” Is Not the Only Reason

“When the feds invoke ‘national security’ all bets are off on how far they will go in suppressing the ‘threat,’ including mass roundups.”

Chief Justice John Roberts, speaking for the U.S. Supreme Court’s far-right majority, this week repudiated a previous high court decision upholding President Roosevelt’s mass detention of ethnic Japanese residents and U.S. citizens during World War Two. Roberts said the 1942 Korematsu ruling “was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and — to be clear — has no place in law under the Constitution.'” Korematsu was near-universally condemned over the decades, yet remained legally intact for 76 years because no case involving related legal issues had come before the high court. Chief Justice Roberts seemed to use Korematsu as a prop to justify his court’s decision to uphold President Trump’s ban on travel  into the United States by citizens of several predominantly Muslim countries. Korematsu does not pass Constitutional muster because it detained 120,000 people “solely and explicitly on the basis of race,” while the Trump ban is “facially neutral ,” in Roberts’ view, since it “says nothing about religion,” but is instead based on “the Government’s claim of a legitimate national security interest.”

The Trump ban is ‘facially neutral,’ in Roberts’ view, since it ‘says nothing about religion.’”

In a dissent  to the majority opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor argued that Trump’s ban is, indeed, ethnically based, although thinly cloaked by “an ill-defined national security threat to justify an exclusionary policy of sweeping proportion.” Trump had repeatedly called for a blanket exclusion of Muslims from the country, and during his presidential campaign cited Roosevelt’s internment of Japanese. “Take a look at what F.D.R. did many years ago,” said Trump . “He did the same thing.”

“National security” is the magic term that legally sanctions concentration camps — as long as the authorities are careful not to spell out the race or religion of the intended inmates.

Such camps already exist in the U.S. — and always have. American chattel slavery and its attendant legal structures treated all African descended people as inmates or probationers. For the slave, the whole nation was a prison and every white person a guard who was obligated to enforce the terms of confinement. Such is the logic of the Fugitive Slave laws and Chief Justice Taney’s Dred Scott decision  that Blacks “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

For the slave, the whole nation was a prison and every white person a guard who was obligated to enforce the terms of confinement.”

The Jim Crow regime that followed the Civil War was replaced by a Mass Black Incarceration State almost immediately upon the enactment of national anti-Jim Crow legislation, in the 1960s. The U.S. constructed a vast prison gulag that confines a quarter of the world’s prisoners — 2.3 million people , two-fifths of them Black and 60 percent non-white, with nearly five million more on probation or parole. The “white man’s country” that the Founders created — as Judge Taney affirmed and the evolving criminal justice system enforced — remains in effect. The GOP, the White Man’s Party, garners white majorities in every national election. There was nothing essentially different about 2016 except that Donald Trump’s appeals were more overtly racial than some of his predecessors, but the white response was essentially the same: they affirmed that the United States should continue to be a white man’s country.

As a matter of “national security,” such a country requires racially restrictive and repressive immigration and travel policies, a massive internal gulag, and a pervasive police and intelligence presence in non-white — especially Black — communities.

Such countries must also be prepared to respond to civil disturbances among non-white populations (and their perceived allies) with mass detention centers to accommodate ethnic-based roundups — as a matter of national security.

“The ‘white man’s country’ that the Founders created — as Judge Taney affirmed and the evolving criminal justice system enforced — remains in effect.”

U.S. governments have routinely invoked “national security” to justify racially repressive policies that would otherwise be deemed unconstitutional. “National security” justified the FBI’s COINTEL program’s lethal assault on Black militants and other activists in the late Sixties and early Seventies. COINTELPRO never ended; the “national security” rationale is a permanent counter to Black militancy.

Nearly five decades after declaring the Black Panther Party the “greatest threat to U.S. national security,” the FBI in 2017 “assessed” that a rejuvenated Black grassroots movement constitutes a threat to U.S. law enforcement. “Black Identity Extremists” were deemed responsible for an increase in “ideologically motivated” attacks on police. According to a declassified FBI Intelligence Assessment :

“The FBI assesses it is very likely this increase began following the August 9 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent Grand Jury November 2014 declination to indict the police officers involved. The FBI assesses it is very likely incidents of alleged police abuse against African Americans since then have continued to feed the resurgence in ideologically motivated, violent criminal activity within the BIE movement. The FBI assesses it is very likely some BIEs are influenced by a mix of anti-authoritarian, Moorish sovereign citizen ideology, and BIE ideology. The FBI has high confidence in these assessments, based on a history of violent incidents attributed to individuals who acted on behalf of their ideological beliefs, documented in FBI investigations and other law enforcement and open sources reporting. The FBI makes this judgment with the key assumption the recent incidents are ideologically motivated.”

“The FBI assesses it is very likely some BIEs are influence by a mix of anti-authoritarian, Moorish sovereign citizen ideology, and BIE ideology.”

The Brennan Center for Justice, in testimony before the Congressional Black Caucus, noted that “Department of Justice Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Regarding Their Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation, or Gender Identity states that the Constitution only requires that these characteristics cannot be the sole basis for a law enforcement action (BAR italics).”

As long as the feds cite “criminal activity” and hostile “ideologies” among the targeted groups, they are empowered to carry out what are, in reality, race- and religion-based counter-measures. Should these alleged activities become sufficiently threatening, the next step is to invoke “national security” — and then all bets are off on how far they will go in suppressing the “threat,” including mass roundups.

This year, Freedom of Information requests revealed that a “Race Paper ” is circulating within the giant Homeland Security apparatus. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Media Justice and 40 other organizations are seeking a non-redacted version of the document. Homeland Security includes ICE, the TSA, the Secret Service and FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and operates under a national security mandate. It’s where the Mass Black Incarceration State and the National Security State will combine, should the U.S. government embark on a mass roundup and internment of Blacks — the group that is a permanent threat to the White Man’s Country.

The U.S. Supreme Court will not interfere, as long as race is not the only rationale invoked.

By Glen Ford/BAR

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Tennessee County Accused of Voter Suppression by Limiting Black Voters’ Access to Polling Locations

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Democrats in Tennessee’s largest county are accusing election officials of trying to suppress black votes in early voting preceding the August elections.

Shelby County Democratic Party Chairman Corey Strong on Wednesday criticized the decision by the county Election Commission to make Agricenter International the only open polling location on the first five days of the early voting process, which starts July 13.

Strong said the location in suburban east Memphis is too far away for people who live in urban black neighborhoods who rely on public transportation to get to voting locations. He argued the location, plus three new suburban sites being opened later as early voting spots, will make it easier for Republicans to vote compared with Democrats.

The majority party of the five-member election commission is determined by the majority party of the Tennessee General Assembly, according to the commission’s website. Republicans currently comprise the majority of the General Assembly.

The city of Memphis is majority black, but the Shelby County early voting locations questioned by Democrats are predominantly white, census data shows. Whites outnumber blacks by more than 20-to-1 in the Agricenter’s zip code, according to data from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey.

“This is a clear attempt at voter suppression,” Strong said, adding that the selection of the Agricenter “in no way represents an equitable place.”

A fifth new location opening during early voting is found in a heavily African-American zip code, census data shows.

Strong said he wants election officials to issue an apology and prepare to offer an “equitable” solution to the County Commission. The election commission will revisit the issue in a meeting on Friday, spokeswoman Suzanne Thompson said.

In the first few days of early voting in past elections, voters went to a county office building downtown, but it was changed because some candidates work in the building. Elections Administrator Linda Phillips said the Agricenter has shown balanced turnout in past elections.

Data shows that early voting is “very slow” early on during primary elections and opening the new polling places decried by the Democrats would help ease congestion at other voting locations, Phillips said.

“My thought was, ‘Well, let’s improve the voter experience,’” Phillips said. “Voters are going to wait until the last week to vote, let’s get some more sites so that we can spread them out a little bit so they don’t have to wait as long.”

People can vote anywhere in the county during early voting, so “the political leaning of the location doesn’t mean anything about the people that vote there,” Phillips said.

Early voting runs from July 13 through July 28. The Aug. 2 election includes primaries for Congress and General Assembly. It also includes general elections for several key local positions, including county mayor, County Commission and school board

By Associated Press

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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