May 172019
 


Caravaggio The seven works of mercy (Sette opere di Misericordia) 1607

 

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop… And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”

– Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, one day before he was murdered

 

What Martin Luther King King won through many hard-fought battles, and in the end through sacrificing his own life, has to be won all over again: freedom, truth, justice. And this time it’s Julian Assange who stands in the frontline. With Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden by his side. But I know you’re not very likely to agree with that assessment.

For one thing, I picked the kind of headline that will probably make many people not read an essay. But I’m not kidding, and I’m not saying this for effect. Julian Assange is like Martin Luther King in many ways, and he deserves for people to recognize that.

Assange and Dr. King were born in different times, the former 3 years after the latter was murdered. But when anyone wants to talk King’s legacy, then Assange very much IS that legacy. It would be nice if people like Dr. King’s youngest daughter Bernice, who is very vocal on her father’s legacy, would acknowledge this. Her father certainly would have.

What Julian Assange and Martin Luther King have in common is a superior intelligence, combined with unwavering courage and an unrelenting drive for justice and truth. Both men were born so brave they realized that they might have to give their lives for their causes. And then brought that realization into practice. Both in their own way gave their lives for our sins.

Shared intelligence and courage, justice and truth. Unfortunately, another thing the two share is gross and vile sex smears. Which hurt both men much more than anything else thrown at them. Not a coincidence. Sex smears invariably and for good reason work strongest in women. And in Reverend King’s case, his religious following, who were 99% black people. Lose the women and you lose half of your potential support.

In Assange’s case, the smears, which have even been upgraded to ‘rape’, keeps people from standing up for him. Once you have that word attached to you, you will never fully get rid of it no matter what happens. J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI knew this in the 1960’s, and Robert Mueller and James Comey’s FBI certainly never forgot it half a century later.

 

And of course there are many many people saying that Assange is no Martin Luther King, that Dr. King was a much better man than Assange could ever be. I would urge them to study how Dr. King was perceived in the last 10 years of his life. The nation didn’t exactly revere him, far from it. Most didn’t like him at all, he was seen as a troublemaker, including by many black people, who thought he would make their lives even harder. And then there were Hoover’s sex smears.

After his murder, it took just a few years for the first campaign to establish a public holiday in his name to start. 15 years after the murder, in 1983, President Reagan signed it into law. Even if and when such a petition were started in the case of Assange’s death, which we should all hope will be many years away, the odds of it getting anywhere are slim. But the same would have been true in 1965. So there is hope.

Those willing to give their own lives in order to make other people’s lives better, richer, more just, are special people. Not flawless, for that would make them not people, but special. Yes, Jesus is an obvious example. And so is Mahatma Gandhi. And sure, I hear you say Assange is no Jesus and no Gandhi, but the pattern of peaceful resistance cannot be denied.

There are obviously plenty people who fight for what’s right. What makes Assange, Dr. King, Gandhi, Jesus stand out is that they are examples of people standing up to entire empires. They guy standing in front of the tanks in Tienanmen square in 1989 was another one. Dr. King, Gandhi, Jesus were murdered for what they did. The Chinese guy in all probability also was. That leaves us with Assange.

Does he need to die first before we can appreciate and recognize what he has achieved in our names, that he changed the world we live in for good, as in literally for good? Does it really have to end the same way? Julian Assange hasn’t even received his Nobel Peace Prize yet.

 

 

Here’s an article by Roy Peter Clark for the Poynter, November 25, 2014, about the FBI and sex smears.

How the Southern press foiled FBI’s attempt to smear MLK

Is it possible that we have to thank the white Southern press of the 1960s – even the segregationist press – for its restraint in resisting FBI attempts to smear the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., with sexual scandal? That question is raised, but not sufficiently developed, in a Nov. 11 New York Times piece written by Yale historian Beverly Gage. She discovered in the files of FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover an uncensored draft of what has been called the “suicide letter.” The letter was part of an elaborate effort to discredit King, who was about to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.


Based on wire taps and audio tapes, the one-page letter, supposedly sent by an outraged black citizen, described in the vivid language of the day examples of King’s marital infidelities and sexual adventures. The writer, actually an FBI agent, threatened to go public in 34 days with details of King’s affairs. “There is only one thing left for you to do,” it read near the end. “You know what it is.”

From the article, a conversation between Gene Patterson, editor of the Atlanta Constitution from 1960-1968, later editor of the St. Petersburg Times, and Howell Raines, political editor of the St. Petersburg Times, who in 1977 published an oral history of the civil rights movement entitled My Soul Is Rested. In that book Patterson describes to Raines how he was approached by the FBI to smear Dr. King:

“An FBI agent was sent to see me with the bugging information that Dr. King had been engaged in extramarital sexual affairs. The FBI agent, obviously under orders of the director, Hoover, because nobody acted without his direction, urged me – he said, ‘Gene,…here you on this paper have raised Dr. King up to be some kind of model American, some kind of saint, some kind of moralist.’ He said, ‘Now, here’s the information, and why don’t you print it?’ The FBI, the secret police of this country!


And I had to explain to him, ‘Look, we’re not a peephole journal. We don’t print this kind of stuff on any man. And we’re not going to do it on Dr. King.’ And I said, ‘Furthermore, I’m shocked that you would be spying on an American citizen, whether it’s Dr. King or some other person because if it can happen to him, it can happen to all of us.’ And I asked him if he thought this wasn’t a misuse of the FBI. But he was highly offended at me, seeing us as an immoral newspaper for not printing back-alley gossip that the secret police of the United States were trying to ruin this man with.”

Patterson told Raines that one of the editors contacted by the FBI was Lou Harris of the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle, a paper that supported segregation on its editorial pages. Patterson recalls:


“So I had a phone call from Lou Harris one day, and he said, ‘Gene, I had a call from an FBI agent over here, and you’d be amazed at what he told me about Dr. King.’ And I said, ‘Lou, you mean sex exploits.’ …He said, ‘Have you heard about this?’ I said, ‘Yeah, the FBI has been to see me, too.’ And I said, ‘What are you gonna do with it?’ he said, ‘Hell, I wouldn’t print that stuff. That’s beyond the pale.’ And this was a segregationist editor talking to me. And I said, ‘Lou, I’m proud of you. I’m not gonna mess with it either.’”

And then perhaps the most revealing bit.

One night, Patterson found himself on a plane to Atlanta with John Doar, one of Bobby Kennedy’s top aides in the Justice Department. Hoover was a powerful man, but supposedly subject to the direction of the Attorney General. “I want you to tell the attorney general about this,” said Patterson. “He should know what the FBI is up to.”


“Because the more I thought about it,” Patterson said, “the more worried I’d become about the misuse of secret police powers.” Patterson remembered that throughout his narrative, Doar never looked at him, staring straight ahead in stony silence. “And all of a sudden,” said Patterson, “it hit me like a thunderclap that Bobby Kennedy knew about it. I had made Doar very uncomfortable by relating it to him. Not one expression crossed that deadpan face of his. He just did not respond. It was like talking to a dead man.”

A half century after these incidents, the American intelligence and security apparatus have snooping powers well beyond anything that could be imagined by Dr. King, Patterson, and their contemporaries. Imagine the corruption of a J. Edgar Hoover armed with the weapons of the digital age. His original bugging of King, whom he hated and criticized publicly, was not in search of sexual indiscretions. Hoover’s goals were measured by the paranoid politics of his time: that King had consorted with Communists.

 

 

No matter where it leads, no matter what abuses it will bring, I’m going to tell the truth

-Dr. King

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oct 082014
 
 October 8, 2014  Posted by at 9:44 pm Finance Tagged with: , , ,  


DPC Launch of the Western Star, Wyandotte, Michigan Oct 3 1903

Would you like to know how bankrupt our societies are? Financially AND morally? Before you say yes, please do acknowledge that you too ar eparty to the bankruptcy. Even if you have means, or you have no debt, or you’re under 25, you’re still letting it happen. And you may have tons of reasons or excuses for that, but you’re still letting it happen.

Our financial and moral bankruptcy shows – arguably – nowhere better than in the way we treat our children. A favorite theme of mine is that any parent you ask will swear to God and cross and hope to die that they love their kids to death, but the facts say otherwise. We only love them as far as the tips of our noses, or as far as the curb. That means you too.

While we swear on our mother’s graves that we love them so much, we leave them with a world that lost half of its wildlife species in 40 years, that can expect to make coastal areas around the globe uninhabitable during their lifetimes, and a world that is so mired in debt just so we can hang on to our dreams of oversized homes and cars and gadgets that all there will be left for them are nightmares.

But I always wanted what was best for them! Yeah, well, you always chose to not pay too much attention, too, and instead elected to work that job you hate and keep up with the Joneses and tell yourself there was nothing you could do about it anyway other than a yearly donation to some socially accepted charity in bed with corporations (you didn’t know? well, did you try to find out?)

You elected leaders that promised to let you keep what you had, and provide more of the same on top. You voted for the people who promised you growth, but you never questioned that promise. You never wondered, sitting in your home, the size of which would only 100 years ago have put aristocracy to shame, what would be the price to pay for your riches.

And you certainly never asked yourself if perhaps it would be your own children who were going to pay that price. Well, ‘Ich hab es nicht gewüsst’ has not been a valid defense since the Nuremberg trials, in case you were going for that.

The fact of the matter is, we can continue our lifestyles, best as we can, because we are able to make our children pay for it. We allow ourselves to continue to kill more species, at home but mostly abroad, because we never get in touch with any of those species anyway. Other than mosquitoes, which we swat. We can drive our 3 cars per family because we only see the ice melt in the Arctic on TV.

And we allow ourselves, and our governments, to get deeper into debt everyday, because we’ve been told that without – ever – more debt we would all die, that debt is the lifeblood of our very existence. We don’t understand what it means that our governments increase their debt levels by trillions every year, and we choose not to find out.

That’s a matter for the next generation; we’re good with our oversized flatscreens and coal powered central heating and all of that stuff. We are better off than the generation of our parents, and isn’t life always supposed to be like that?

Which brings us back to your kids. Because no, life is not supposed to be like that. Not every generation can be better off than the one before. In fact, you are the last one for whom that is true. It’s been a short blip in human history, let alone in the earth’s history, and now it’s over. And you must figure out what you’re going to do, knowing that not doing anything will make your sons and daughters futures even bleaker than they already are.

Europe Sacrifices a Generation With 17-Year Unemployment Impasse

Seventeen years after their first jobs summit European Union leaders are divided on how to create employment and a fifth of young people are still out of work. At a meeting in Milan today Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi plans to tout the new labor laws he’s pushing through. French President Francois Hollande will argue for more spending, a proposal German Chancellor Angela Merkel intends to reject. Britain’s prime minister David Cameron isn’t coming.

Their lack of progress may increase the frustration of ECB President Mario Draghi’s calling on the politicians to do their bit now and loosen the continent’s rigid labor markets even if that means facing the ire of protected workers. “An entire generation is being sacrificed in countries such as Spain,” economist Ludovic Subran said. “That has a real impact on productivity in the long run.”

How someone can talk about “a real impact on productivity” in the face of millions of lost and broken lives is completely beyond me. You have to be really dense to do that. And they pay people like that actual salaries.

When EU leaders met in Luxembourg in November 1997, the soon-to-be-born euro zone’s unemployment rate was about 11%. Jean-Claude Juncker, then prime minister of the host country, now president designate of the European Commission, promised a mix of free-market solutions and government plans would mean a “new start” for young people. Today the jobless rate is 11.5%. The Milan summit will focus on youth unemployment, which afflicts 21.6% of people under 25 across Europe, according to Eurostat. Even this number is almost identical to 1997, when it stood at 21.7%.

Average European youth unemployment numbers may not have changed much since 1997, which is bad enough, but plenty numbers did change. The young people of Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal were not nearly as poorly off 17 years ago as they are today. That’s what the eurozone project has accomplished.

The leaders “need to discuss meaningful job creation,” Subran said. “It’s about avoiding the neither-nor situation of people being out of both work and school. This means providing jobs in the short term and training to improve skills and employability in the long term.” In February 2013, the EU allotted €6 billion ($7.6 billion) for youth-employment initiatives between 2014 and 2020, with the bulk of the spending in the first two years.

The centerpiece of the initiative is a “Youth Guarantee” that anyone under 25 should have either a job, apprenticeship, or training program within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. The initiative focuses on regions with over 25% youth unemployment, which is the whole of Spain, Greece, and Portugal, all but the north-east of Italy, about half of France, and a few regions of eastern Germany.

Lofty words. But nothing has come of them in many years, and nothing will. Politicians vie for the votes and campaign donations of the parents, not the children. Until the children are the majority block, but by then present day leaders will be gone.

Germany is opposed to discussing new spending until already allotted sums have been spent. Instead, Merkel’s government has stressed liberalization of labor markets as the best path to create jobs. France and Italy argue they are already taking steps to loosen their labor markets and those efforts won’t work without a background of growth.

Italy’s proposed rules, opposed by some lawmakers from Renzi’s Democratic Party, aim at making firing easier while providing a new system of income support for those who lose their job. European employment did improve after 1997, with the unemployment rate bottoming between 2007 and 2008 at 7%, and 15.7% for young people, as a credit bubble boosted growth in Spain and Greece.

It ballooned during the subsequent financial crisis. “I’m worried how the euro zone has detached itself from the rest of the world economy,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told business leaders in London Oct. 6. “If there is no strategy to support growth at the eurozone, we will be in even greater trouble.”

The only solutions in the minds of the leadership are reforms (make it easier to get rid of the older people and let the young do their jobs at half the price) and growth. Both of which have failed for all those years, but that’s all folks so they press for more of the same. Who cares about the young until they can unseat you?

The present leadership selects for a future in which they – and theirs – will still be the leadership. It’s only natural. Any victims made along the way there are seen as necessary collateral damage. Reforms and growth. Reforms being break down what generations of workers have built up in rights. Fighting squalid working conditions and miserable low pay. Think about that what you like.

But growth? What if there is no growth? Hey, even the IMF just said growth won’t return to levels of old. And then called for more reforms. But what lives will your children have if growth is gone, and what are you prepared to for them is it is? How are you going to soften the blow for them? How much are you willing to sacrifice for your children lest they be sacrificed by society?

One last thing: it seems obvious that we teach our kids the wrong skills. Or there wouldn’t be so many unemployed or in low-paying jobs. So if we want our kids to get a job, what should change in our education systems? Now, I must be honest with you, I’ve found our education so bad ever since I was even younger than I am now that I up and left.

I simply noticed that it was meant for people happy to be pawns in someone else’s game, and I knew that wasn’t me. Colleges and universities mold people into usable – not even useful – ‘things’, provided there is no independent thinking going on. Because that kills the entire set-up. It’s all been an utter disgrace for decades.

But this is not about me. The question is, what are we going to teach our kids? Well, with our present power structure, it will be a mere extension of what there is today. The overriding idea is that tomorrow will be like today, just with more of the same. That’s all we know, and all we have. And that’s what keeps our leaders happy too: a world in which they feel they can be safely settled into their comfy seats. Progress while sitting still. Don’t think I’m right? THink about it.

So would do you think the consensus would be when it comes to education? I think it would be having our kids be managers, lawyers, programmers, the same things that are ‘in’ today. More of the same, just more. But is that so wise if even the IMF says growth will never be the same it once was? What if things get really bad? What skills will they have that can help them through times like that?

Shouldn’t we perhaps teach our kids basic skills first, just in case? So they can grow and preserve food, build a home, repair machinery, that kind of thing? And only after that deal with the fancier stuff?

We have become utterly dependent on the ‘system’. Is it a good idea for our kids to be too? We lost our basic skills – or at least our parents did – at the exact same time that ‘growth’ became the magic word du jour. The idea was that we didn’t need them anymore, that other people would grow our food and take care of all the other basic necessities for us.

But what if that was just a temporary bubble, and it’s gone now? The data sure point to it. In that case, should we rush to move back our sons and daughters to the skillset our grandparents had?

And just in case you think this is all and only about Europe, this is a great portrait of America: