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Tidbits - December 11, 2014

Reader Comments - CIA Lied About Torture; A New Civil Rights Movement?; Grand Jury Injustice - Justice Demanded; Members of Congress (and staffers) join protest; Illegal Cop Murders; Police Reform? - Bolder Steps Needed; Low Wage Workers: 'We Can't Breathe'; Slavery, Founding Fathers and Torture; Congress Plots against Pensions; Pardon Snowden, Manning and Leonard Peltier; Israel Lobby and Ukraine; War on Terror; Israel, U.S. and space weapons; New Republic; Correction

idbits, Reader Comments, and Shorts - December 11, 2014,Portside

Re: Senate Report on CIA Torture Claims Spy Agency Lied About 'Ineffective' Program

Do not misunderstand. The purpose of torture is not to extract information, though the threat of torture will sometimes cause people to talk. The purpose of torture is to terrorize, not the people being tortured primarily, but their allies and supporters who have not yet been caught. Torture can indeed produce information, but it is not always particularly reliable, as people will agree to anything and make up stuff just to get it to stop. And torturing people who have been picked up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or at random? You can't get information out of someone who does not have information, though you can hurt them severely.

Oh yeah, one other purpose of torture? Some of the guards, cops, soldiers and spooks get off on it.

Jack Radey
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: The Civil Rights Movement Came Out of a Moment Like This One

at my age- a "baby boomer" it is truly devastating to witness just how far back we have fallen. on so many fronts...i lay some of the blame on us, we took our eyes off the ball after Nixon was kicked out and the american war in Vietnam ended. NEVER TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE BALL! keep at it kids, the powers truly have the upper hand. peace.

Bonnie J. Caracciolo
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


The impressive, tested leadership of this growing movement will hopefully inspire more of us to not only hit-the-streets in support of ACTION, but to also follow this leadership in multi-strategy and tactical campaigns to win well-analyzed political power.  Onward!

Leanna Noble


Still, as we observe a seemingly similar moment, we are looking at it from a different height. Many things HAVE changed. Now we have to keep on promoting Human Rights!!... While many of us took our eyes off the ball, many organizations continued their struggle to educate, reach out and empower. It is nice to see today, that many of those efforts paid off and one can find many African American professionals and participating in the civil service system. We see quite a few migrant workers who managed to settle down, educate themselves and find ordinary office jobs. No, it is not all rosy, but we have come a very long way and we are not back where we were in the 1950s and 60s. Nothing changes without sustained effort and we can build on the successes of the past. We have become very militarized and we have to continue to resist against the military industrial complex.

Maria Lydia Spinelli
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


100 dias despues de la muerte de Emmet, arrestaron a Rosa Parks.

Alexandra Sin Apellido
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


It is important to know that behind the scenes of the mid-twentieth century civil rights activist movement, there was a movement of civil rights lawyers working starting in the 1930's to build the infrastructure for legal rights. That story is told in depth in the book SIMPLE JUSTICE: THE HISTORY OF BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION and Black America's Struggle for Equality by Richard Kluger. To know where we are going, we need to review where we have come from in the parallel streams of civil rights work in the law and on the streets.

Carolyn Toll Oppenheim
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


The roots were deep, including Black workers, WW2 vets, fighting racists in Monroe, NC and Birmingham bus boycotts in 1955, student sit-ins and deep organizing in the South for years. The March on Washington did not start it.

Earl Silbar
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Global Outrage Over Eric Garner and Michael Brown Decisions

Kerry Flynn
December 11, 2014
Huffington Post

The proof is an animated map released by Twitter last week that shows the prevalence of tweets around the world using the hashtags #ICantBreathe, #BlackLivesMatter and #HandsUpDontShoot -- three prominent rallying cries of a growing movement to hold police accountable for violence against black Americans. Twitter limited the time period of the map below from Nov. 24 (the day of the Michael Brown decision) to Dec. 4 (the day after the Eric Garner decision). And as you can see, the tweets light up much of the globe.

Re: The Disruption This Time

Mike Glick Also the diversity and different ages of the protestors.

Mike Glick
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Demand Justice - Federal Action Needed in Grand Jury's Failure to Hold Police Officer Accountable for Death of Eric Garner

The larger reasons behind Eric Garner's execution seems to be missed by most commentators. The issue is not simply police misconduct, or racist acts of police brutality, however deadly, but the growing use of systemic terror of the sort we associate with Arendt's notion of totalitarianism that needs to be explored. When fear and terror become the organizing principles of a society in which the tyranny of the state has been replaced by the tyranny of an unaccountable market, violence becomes the only valid form of control. The system has not failed. It is doing exactly what it is supposed to do, which is to repress those it considers dangerous or disposable. When ethics and any vestige of social responsibility and the public good are trampled beneath the hooves of the finance state, there is no space for democratic values or justice.

We live in an age of disposability--a monstrous historical period ruled by financial monsters who offer no political concessions and are driven by a death-drive. Hence, the rise of the punishing state as a way to govern all of social life. In this context, life becomes disposable for most, but especially for poor minorities of class and color. I think Bell Hooks is right when she states that "the point of lynching historically was not to kill individuals but to let everybody know: 'This could happen to you.'"

This is how a terrorist state controls people. It individualizes fear and insecurity and undercuts the formation of collective struggle. Fear of punishment, of being killed, tortured, or reduced to the mere level of survival has become the government's weapon of choice. As the endless killings by the police make clear we now live in a state of absolute lawlessness, one that both fills the Hollywood screens with prurient entertainment and a culture of cruelty and, unfortunately, provides testimony to the ravaging violence that marks everyday life as well. Let's hope the killing of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner provides the beginning of a political and social movement to fight what has become a dark and gruesome political state of governance in the U.S.

Henry Giroux
(response posted on Occupy Santa Fe Facebook page)


Just remind Mr. President & Mr Holder, that we have precedent with the Baez choke hold case from the 1990s, out of that great borough, the Bronx!!

Jose A. Muniz
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


The grand jury system does not work, Bob. That cop committed murder, no matter the race. Justice systems have failed far too often. That man was not a felon

Victoria Moss
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Grand juries only see what the prosecutor wants them to, & when the DA office is in bed with the cops u'll never see them convict one of their own

Joe Hilner
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Prosecutor Manipulates Grand Jury Process to Shield Officer

Why aren't charges brought against the DA for prosecutorial misconduct?

Max Shaw
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson blasts "cowardly Congress" over racial justice

December 5, 2014
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In his speech, which you can watch here, he calls out a "cowardly Congress" for failing to take action to rein in police use of force. Johnson is a sponsor of legislation that would restrict the ability of police departments to acquire military-grade equipment amid questions about racial justice and police use of force.

Here's the text of the speech:

    "I can't breathe. Impunity for the killers - no justice, no peace. I can't breathe.

    Militarized police met peaceful protesters on their knees. I can't breathe.

    Weapons of war - a show of force on our streets. I can't breathe.

    Disenfranchised youth driven to violence as speech. I can't breathe.

    Cynical media think this makes great TV. I can't breathe.

    This cowardly Congress afraid of losing our seats. I can't breathe.

    Half-hearted reform when there's more that we need. I can't breathe.

    Just thinking about the despair that this breeds. I can't breathe.

    Black lives matter. Hear my pleas."

See also : "I Can't Breathe"


Congressional Staffers Walk Out from Jobs

Congressional staffers walked out today in protest of the recent grand jury decisions that failed to indict officers in the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

(Thanks to the NAACP for posting this. Read more here.

New Age of Slavery

New Age of Slavery
by Patrick Campbell

Re: Another Shocker: Grand Jury Decides No Indictment of NYPD Officer in Chokehold Death of Eric Garner

Portside neglects to mention that the partial data reported most recently to the FBI reveals that black males 15-19 are 21 times more likely to. be killed by police than their white peers. also it is misleading to describe as a shocker the failure of any grand jury to indict police for murdering a black person, given that such indictments almost never occur. the real shocker would be to have a grand jury indict a cop for murdering a black person.

Henry Lesnick
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Illegal Cop Murders -- and More to Come!

Thanks to new policies of Mayor Jean Quan, City Administrator Henry Gardner, and recent Police Chief Sean Whent, incidents of police shootings and excessive force have dropped drastically in Oakland over the past year.  It is hoped the new paradigm is permanent.
Unfortunately, as observed by a recent UN Report condemning U.S.police violence and torture, there seems no letup in violence, killings, and injustice by police in the greater U.S.  For the remainder of the country, recent police killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Rumain Brisbon, Andy Lopez, Jack Keewatinawin, Osman Hernandez, Alex Nieto - being children of color, or Black, Brown, or Native American men - are but a few of the names that attest to the continuing slaughter with impunity of non-White people by police.
Something's got to change ..and Quick!  Random killings of children and unarmed Black and Brown men by rogue cops are out of control. The Grand Jury system is a joke. What District Attorney, already tied at the hip to, and needing cops for evidence, disclosure, investigations, arrests, is about to put their meal ticket on trial regardless the heinous crime committed.
Whatever the offense, the magic phrase for any cop: "I feared for my life," is automatically rewarded with a "Get out of Dodge" fully paid vacation, benefits, and promotions. This murderous Scam must be brought to an immediate Halt! If this country is to make any claim to so-called government-of-the-people-democracy, from now forward ANYTIME ANY YOUTH OR ANY UNARMED BLACK-BROWN-RED MAN IS MANHANDLED, SHOT, OR KILLED BY COPS -- SKIP THE#%$*&/% GRAND JURY -- A FULL EVIDENTIARY JURY TRIAL IS MANDATORY.
Murderous cops must prove their innocence that under the circumstances no other less-than-lethal alternative was possible.  Enough of this crap. Let the word spread among cops far and wide: BE INNOCENT, or GO TO JAIL !
James E Vann
Longtime Housing, Political, & Community Activist
Oakland, California

Re: Obama's New Policing Task Force: Bolder Steps Are Needed

When is someone going to write about the fact that someone is to be presumed innocent before presumed guilty, and since when is selling a few cigarettes worthy of an arrest?  Why can't the person be given a ticket and a court date?  Why the arrest?  And if someone is suspected of shoplifting, why would that elicit a fatal shot?  If someone is running away, why would that be a threat to a policeman which would lead to his using his gun?

When is someone going to make sure that policemen are evaluated psychologically before becoming policemen, and evaluated for bias and racism, and thus not accepted, and evaluated for PTSD while on the job so as to determine if they are trigger happy because of trauma and fear?

When are the police tactics going to be reformed?  Why this "showing someone's face the pavement" okay?

Clare Rosenfield, LCSW


Community policing, as anyone in the field professionally will probably acknowledge, is the domestic application of "PsyOps" -- psychological operations -- in the military. In fact the psyops unit of the Army Reserve some years ago was composed almost entirely of cops and may still be. Advocates of community policing in trade journals for cops and chiefs describe it so, as an effort to "control the thinking of the population or the enemy." Hearts and minds, as in Vietnam. It is not the antidote to militarized police, it is part and parcel of militarized policing and its counter-insurgency mission in dealing with an increasing restive population as exploitation is intensified and oppression and repression deepen.

Michael Novick

Re: Low Wage Workers: 'We Can't Breathe'

How come you don't see these things on the national news much ????   Keep them divided and uninformed ! Don't want others to join the ranks , they see this they get encouraged .

Steve Harding
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


The people united will never be defeated! A real movement is developing, like it did in the 60s. People are rebelling and organizing and demanding a new world! This time, we gonna get it! And we don't have to wait for a Martin Luther King, Fidel Castro, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, or Angela Davis. We can all play a role. And this time, capitalism is in crisis- and WE THE PEOPLE ARE STRONG!

Kimberly King
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


This will need to be different than the 60s. We should start from what was won in the 60s not from what we've lost or failed to do since. capitalism will not be altered until we choose to accept depravity in the name of our children's children's children. But we will simultaneously build a system where much less is required. Glad to see people making connections...the earth can't breathe.

Lamp Fall
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Why the Founding Fathers Thought Banning Torture Foundational to the US Constitution

The Founding Fathers may have been against torture for "white" people, but they apparently had not objections to torturing Black slaves. Torture of slaves -- whipping, mutilation, and worse -- was common then, and for 75 years thereafter, and to my knowledge, no one said a word about it.

Donald Pelles


Concerning Juan Cole's article on the Founding Fathers and the Constitution. First, I am black. They were NOT my founding fathers. At least half of these persons were slaveholders, so that whatever uneasy feelings were assumed by them concerning torture......probably did not extend to those of us held in bondage, Indians. Patrick Henry of Virginia, not to be outdone at being a slaveholder, had his mentally-ill wife locked in an attic........Those of us who would put an end to torture can do better than tail after personalities and sacred documents that were not intended to include us.....and to the extent that they do, despite intentions, such amendments have been paid for with much sweat, tears, and blood.

Gary Hicks
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Really??  Is the author  not aware of recent research that shows that the slaveholding class--which decidedly included the fabled 'Founding Fathers' he so generously cites--honed methods of torture against enslaved Africans to heighten productivity and increase profit?   "Imaginary history" indeed!

Gerald C. Horne

Re: The Lame-Duck Congress Plots to Undermine Retiree Pensions

Ever heard of "pension easing" ? It was proposed way of solving the manufactured national highway and infrastructure funding. The plan was to reduce corporate pension funding requirements. The reduction then would show as an increase corporate revenues and this would supposedly increase corporate taxable income -and thus taxes. The supposed increases in taxes them would be used for the temporary funding of highway and infrastructure. It is pretty clear that this was designed to further erode pension funding and retirement stability. Then this could be used to slash pensions. I do not know what became of this proposal. I heard about it on NPR and then it disappeared. The tentacles or greed are ever searching for treasure, an in cloak of darkness they steal as much as possible, and enough is never enough

David Van Deusen
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


How can we allow them to rob us so?

Lucila Conde
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


doing their best to make more and more enemies in the electorate

Leslie Radwan
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Pay attention, this is not the only issue the GOP want's to slide in before that two week recess!!! They thrive on cuts to all services & tax cuts for the rich !!!!! This two weeks will be felt for years to come by all GOV. & Social services !!!

Johnny Nelson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I have never felt such contempt for a congress ever!

Natalie Turner
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I read an interesting piece in the Guardian weekly recently. It argued that the prosperous period and the social welfare system we had in North America and Europe after the war could have continued. But the large companies got tired of paying decent wages and paying taxes, and with the help of Thatcher and Reagan and the onset of neoliberalism the race to the bottom began and has continued. Then there was the serious recession in 2008 and the superrich did fine, bolstered by governments, but the rest of us are getting poorer. This pattern of governments rushing to destroy benefits, decrease wages, and now cut pensions is a disaster. No matter how rich the 1% become they cannot spend enough to maintain the global economy. If the rest of us become impoverished we will not spend and it will collapse.

Despite the wonders of technology, it may be that the 21st century is the start of a new dark age, where most people are back in a feudal system. Because besides not wanting to give any support to society, these large companies and superrich people are also throwing off democracy. They feel all powerful which is why they persist in their actions. We also have the new issue of climate change. The superrich mistakenly think that they will be immune, and many of them are climate deniers. They are used to being in control, but of course this is foolhardy because nature is not controllable. So in addition to our stupid social and political policies, and growing social inequality, we have the unprecedented issue of climate change that rich countries are ignoring and foisting on the poor to deal with. All of this points to a general deep decline in our civilizations. In Europe the deep recession and lack of work has thrown up new parties on the left and right. In North America, that has not happened but it should. The pension issue might be a place to start.

Laurel MacDowell

Re: President Obama: Harding "Pardoned" Debs So Why Not Pardon Snowden and Manning, Too?

Why does no one mention the long-suffering Leonard Peltier, who was defending Wounded Knee ( part of the Lakota Nation).

Aaron Libson


Forgiveness and second chances for Manning and Snowden would give Obama a civil liberties legacy!

Marc Batko
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

Jim Brough
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Agreed but very precarious

Paul Norton
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


The Government says, "if you see something, say something". Snowden saw something and said something. He sounds like the right kind of American to me. Pardon this man and allow him to return home. He's a whistleblower and we need more of them. A few in local police departments would be helpful to cut through the blue wall of silence.

Michael V. Texeira
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


How could you leave out Leonard Peltier. ..he's first

Randy Credico
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


There are many people I wish Obama would pardon: My list starts with Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier. It would be prudent of him to pardon those two men for starters, and Snowden as well.

Phyllis Mandel
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: "Truth Needs Witnesses": The Murder of Saïd Mekbel

It is not only a sad day for journalists -
it is a sad day for all of us.

Gloria Messer

Re: How the Israel Lobby Protected Ukrainian Neo-Nazis

Congressman John Conyers in May introduced an amendment to the Rules Committee of the House of Representatives that would bar US funding to neoNazi groups in Ukraine (see attached language). Currently the amendment is buried and no action has been taken. Few are paying attention to this explosive issue.

Such a ban would certainly apply to the Azov Battalion, who openly wear nazi symbols and glorify WWII Ukrainian nazis that committed mass murder. Further, they were deeply involved in the shooting and burning alive over 100 people in Odessa last May, which has been very downplayed in US media.

The Kiev regime is expanding this group and supplying heavy weapons to them. On October 9, the Ministry of Internal Affairs held a ceremony for this purpose at their Kiev headquarters. What was notable was that the ministry has its name on the building in Ukrainian and in English, so that CIA advisors know which building to habitate.

The head of this thug operation won an election to parliament and his deputy was put over all Kiev police (see attachment) Note that the Kiev regime plans to put this neonazi organization into the National Guard, a long-discussed plan that would apply to several dozen other paramilitary formations. So US funding to the Kiev military would easily benefit Azov nazis and would be hard to trace.

With the failure of the Kiev regular army to retake control of eastern Ukraine, Kiev is now discussing applying for membership in NATO, so that NATO troops can intervene in this civil war. In September NATO conducted a training exercise on Ukrainian soil, with over 100 US soldiers involved. The US has done multiple naval exercises on Russia's doorstep in the Black Sea.

This aggressive military encirclement of Russia is in violation of US agreements decades ago to not expand NATO and its weapons systems to Russia's borders, a clear military threat. Consider how the US reacted with the prospect of missiles being placed in Cuba in 1962 - The US government was ready to go to war over it, even though it had placed Jupiter missiles on Russia's borders. In 1983 the US invaded Grenada over allegations that the government there was building airstrips that could accommodate Russian bombers, even though no such basing existed.

US basing in the much larger Ukraine, added to other encirclement operations that have been proceeding over the last decade, plus plans for the US to spend a trillion dollars to rebuilt its nuclear weapons stockpiles, weapons that could only be considered against Russia or China, are credible threats to Russia. Russia has hinted that such encirclement is a provocation to war. Certain US policy types have suggested that if Moscow did not let the US take Ukraine, it could be a cause for war.

Europe has a history of irrationally spiraling into world wars, with senseless actions that no one would walk back from. For centuries Europe has invaded Russia, whether Germanic tribes (drang nach osten), Napoleonic French, British or Americans (twice in 1919), Kaiser Wilhelm or Adoph Hitler's Germany. Russia has not ever invaded those countries. But the drumbeat of the war party is on a steady, historically repetitive path.

Russ Bellant

Re: The Staggering Price of the 13-Year War on Terror

The Bush wars were all about the oil! The Bush family has been bed with the Saudis since the first Bush Pres. Greed, pure greed!

Susan Gilliam Alexander
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Imagine what we COULD have done w/that $!

Monroe Mishawaka
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Should have listened to Eisenhower's warning.

Glenn Kellis
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


How effective has the war on terror been? Depends on how you measure it. If you measure it in profits for the peddlers of death it has been quite rewarding.

Scott Houldieson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: The poor used to have the most opportunity in America. Now the rich do.

Gijs Dubbeld This is not only true for America.

Gijs Dubbeld
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: An Open Letter to Malala in Oslo: Forward Together Against Fundamentalism

A remarkable person whose story needs to be heard by all , especially young girls so they know the potential they have within. A modern day hero. Get her book!

Paul Anderson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Only U.S. and Israel Oppose UN Ban on Weapons in Outer Space

Not only does Israel stand alone (with Canada and Micronesia) opposing this Ban on Arms Race in Outer Space! but it is likewise true that Israel's nuclear arsenal program remains a top secret and totally without any independent or international supervision, inspection or regulations of safety and security. While demanding that all kinds of regulation, inspection and supervision be demanded of Iranian nuclear power programs.What is wrong with this picture?

Larry Aaronson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I am opposed to AIPAC which always calls for saber rattling on Israel's behalf.  Israel and the U.S. are the two most violent nations on earth.

Mark Bailey


Israel should stop telling the US what to do.

David A Reynaga
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Obama asked for half a trillion taxpayer dollars in the new budget. This is to pursue the endless manufactured wars that his neocon psychotics have planned for a long time. The perpetual wars, torture, and chaos GWB and Obama have unleashed on the world are unprecedented. Wake up, people.

Dolores Bardoneschi
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Mamdani's "Holistic Challenge": Anti-Zionists Must Persuade Jews They Can Only be Safe by Dismantling the Jewish State

The experience of extreme persecution of Copts, Yazdis, Jews, Armenian Christians, Iraqi Christians and other minorities in Middle Eastern Muslim countries over the past century hardly supports Mamdani's thesis and any attempt to convince Israelis that they would be safe as a minority in that region without a state is bound to fail on factual grounds.  That's not a defense of Israeli policies, but anyone who seeks an end to violence and oppression in the region has to take a more realistic view of the situation if they hope to be taken seriously.

Stan Nadel


& they've made us Jews, outside of Israel, less safe than we would otherwise be.

Artie Alfreds
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


This is worth considering and working toward. It would require a larger minority of Jews to subscribe to the idea that safety is an integral part of dismantling a Jews-Only state. Israel would become a state for all of its people. Not very threatening at all...

Doris Bittar
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: The New Republic's Ugly Reality

I stopped reading The New Republic in the 40's when they wrote that Joe Hill really did rob and kill the shop keeper.

Pammela Wright

CORRECTION: Feminism Can Handle the Truth - Dispatches from the Culture Wars - Rolling Stone Rashomon edition

The URL for the link to the piece by Judith Levine in this post was inadvertently truncated.

The correct link is:

Apologies to both the author, Judith Levine, and to our readers.


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