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Forced Anthem Adherence Antithetical To Justice

Ignorance extolled

This history-making black Major League Baseball player called out race prejudice in all sectors of American society including prejudice practiced by U.S. presidents, lawmakers, law enforcers and others.

This player’s poignant observations about the sinews of the prejudice infecting American society focus antiseptic illumination on toxic stances taken by President Trump on the rights of black pro-football players to protest race-based injustices including police brutality.

Interestingly, this player’s critique of patriotism shares some similarities with a stance taken by U.S. Senator John McCain, a man widely respected for his Vietnam War service -- the service that President Trump has repeatedly disparaged because McCain ended up a POW after his plane was shot down over North Vietnam.

In May 2015 McCain issued a report that slammed the U.S. Department of Defense for funneling millions to pro sports leagues to conduct patriotism inspiring events during games. NFL players standing for the national anthem, now the center of controversy between Trump and some NFL players arose largely from that DoD funding that McCain railed against in the report “Tackling Paid Patriotism.”
 
Moses Fleetwood Walker - First Black MLB Player (19th Century) LBWPhotoMoses Fleetwood Walker - First Black MLB Player (19th Century) LBWPhoto
 

This history-making black Major League Baseball player is not Jackie Robinson, the legendary figure who broke the no-blacks-in-MLB barrier in 1947 with his play for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Two Soviet Spies Who Deserve a Posthumous Nobel Peace Prize

Their action even today saves us all from Trump using nukes

 

It becomes increasingly clear that two Soviet spies, Klaus Fuchs and Theodore Hall, should receive posthumous Nobel Peace Prizes for actions that almost certainly saved millions of innocent lives.

 Two Soviet atomic spies who saved the world from a US nuclear nightmareKlaus Fuchs and Theodore Hall: Two Soviet atomic spies who saved the world from a US nuclear monster
 

Had these two young Communists, both scientists working on the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb during World War II, not provided crucial information about the secret US/British project to develop the atomic bomb, and with key information about the workings of both the atomic bomb, and later, in Fuchs’ case, the hydrogen bomb — information which allowed Soviet physicists and engineers to quickly catch up and develop their own nuclear weapons to match those in the possession of the US military -- all the nations of the world that failed to bow to the wishes of a “lone superpower” United States would have become victims of nuclear blackmail or potential targets for annihilation, like the vaporized cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Even after Russia developed its own atomic bomb, which it demonstrated in 1949, there were powerful forces in the US that were pushing for using the weapon — in Vietnam to rescue the trapped French military at Dien Bien Phu, against North Korean and Chinese forces during the Korean War, against Mao’s China, later again against North Vietnam and on other occasions — perhaps even in Eastern Europe against Russian forces.

Thanks to Fuchs and Hall, and to several lesser figures who acted as messengers for them in their efforts to get plans to the Soviets, the US was held in check and was unable to have free rein to drop nukes in every conflict which it started or in which it found itself.

The mentality of the US, coming out of World War II, was akin to the one we saw on display after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s when we had Neo-Conservatives like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, and presidents like George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, as well as Neo-Liberals like the Clintons, seeking to establish the US as the unchallenged lone global superpower, able to impose its will around the world, and to prevent the rise of any new challenger to that power.

We have seen how this effort has failed in this later period, but imagine how close the US was to succeeding in its plan during the era of the late ‘40s and the 1950s, had it obtained even for a decade or less a monopoly on nuclear weapons.

In the current era, there is serious talk in some government circles and among the Neocon and Neoliberal think-tank and political circles of the US, of launching wars against Iran and/or North Korea, possibly even using small “useable” nuclear weapons, to destroy the infrastructure of nuclear weapons-making in those countries.

Mandalay Bay: Top O' The World, Ma! (PART ONE)

Aging Baby Boomer Runs Amok in Vegas

Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old reclusive multi-millionaire who spent much of his “mysterious” later adult life in one-on-one relationships with casino poker machines, is everywhere labeled an “enigma.” That’s the consensus from every quarter. New York Times reporters put together a sketch of who this guy was.

“Stephen Paddock was a contradiction: a gambler who took no chances. A man with houses everywhere who did not really live in any of them. Someone who liked the high life of casinos but drove a nondescript minivan and dressed casually, even sloppily, in flip-flops and sweatsuits. He did not use Facebook or Twitter, but spent the past 25 years staring at screens of video poker machines.”

Civilian first responders carrying a wounded victim, and the killer, Stephen PaddockCivilian first responders carrying a wounded victim, and the killer, Stephen Paddock

He had a house in Sun City, Mesquite, one of a number of Del Webb gated, “active adult communities,” this one 90-minutes from Las Vegas. Plus, he owned other houses and properties; at one point he owned two airplanes and, to facilitate his lifestyle, bought cheap houses near local airports in Nevada and Texas where he parked his planes. He spent hours and hours as a “high-limit player” working the $100 poker machines in specially designed lounges for such cherished players, distinguishing them from the peasant riff-raff working the dollar machines. He was encouraged to continue gambling with free meals and free hotel rooms. “Gambling made him feel important,” the Times reporters wrote. He counted on the attentions of “high-limit hostesses” to get him food and refreshments and to fluff him up when his spirits lagged. He exhibited impatience if these hostesses were slow in delivering what he wanted. Other services were private matters.

Everything was done to cater to Stephen Paddock’s needs and whims -- just keep him gambling. He became so close to one of the high-limit hostesses -- Marilou Danley -- she left her casino employment to be Paddock’s steady girlfriend, one of the few close human relationships he seems to have had. And it seems to have been a good relationship; he traveled with Danley to her home country in the Philippines for one of his birthdays and met her sisters. His brother Eric has only nice things to say of him; especially, that he was generous. His tenants all told the Times Paddock was fair and responded to all their needs. And, of course, he collected dozens of very expensive, very lethal weapons. In a social sense, he was a misfit and could be curt, but in the very American context of being smart enough to figure out how to exploit the real estate market and to accumulate money and property, he was a winner.

Mandalay Bay: Top O' The World, Ma! (PART TWO)

The Second Amendment Is Not a Suicide Pact

The bulk of coverage of the Las Vegas shooting is about victims, heroes and villains. The really important story that's rarely covered is about how and why guns and violence have become such an absurd part of US culture and why it's so difficult to restrict the easy access to lethal weapons designed for war.

Gun Porn and Male Alienation:

A trip to my local grocery store reveals a magazine rack with dozens of covers showing beautiful models selling a lifestyle that requires what the advertisers manufacture and market. Also on the rack are a half-dozen very slick magazines selling gun culture. There's no other way to describe it; you never see a critical or analytic article. The photography is eye-catching and slick, the models manly and masculine -- except for the hotties holding machine guns, a much loved image. There’s a strong focus on the latest versions of the now classic AR-15. The “look” of these magazines can be described only as gun porn. Instead of luscious, naked women spread across a centerfold, the usual cultural understanding of “pornography,” in these magazines its images of lethal weapons that trigger the erotic charge. (As explained later, maybe a "thanatotic" charge is more accurate.) I recall back in the 1970s the literary critic Leslie Fiedler, author of Love And Death In The American Novel, giving a lecture at Florida State in which he expanded the term pornography to include things beyond intercourse and engorged genitalia. In his mind, American marketing and pop culture was virtually defined by the term pornography. Pornography was material with little purpose or merit other than to seduce. It's the opposite of what E. F. Schumacher envisioned in the subtitle of his famous book, Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered. The gun porn magazine genre makes it very clear there's lots of corporate money at stake stirring up and indulging the market for sexy weapons.

Pages from today's super-slick magazines glorifying the ubiquitous AR15Pages from today's super-slick magazines glorifying the ubiquitous AR15

We’re told gun sales are up and rising. Fear is in the air. I recently visited a gun shop in my area that I’d visited last a couple years ago. The number of guns in the place had more than doubled. I’ve never seen so many hi-tech weapons, a huge proportion of them some version of the ubiquitous AR15, a weapon that began its career as the M16 made famous in Vietnam. As a REMF (rear echelon mother fucker) in 1966, I had an old wood-stocked M14. Infantry soldiers tell us the M16 was notorious for jamming at the worst possible moment. One can imagine the curses in a firefight. Since then, the weapon has been R&Ded to the max and is a favorite of gun lovers everywhere. There’s a huge market for accessories of all sorts to trick out one’s AR15 so it really looks cool and menacing. Things like “bump stocks” are marketed to turn a semi-automatic rifle into a fully automatic weapon of war. One marketed bump stock sells for $99.

Our Culture of Violence is a Result of Americans (So Far) Not Having to Face Reality

Here's something to grouse about

 

On this day much of white America is honoring the genocidal killer Cristobal Colon who, as Ward Churchill has aptly said, “Got lost and was discovered by the native people on a Puerto Rican beach,” I find myself pondering the violent culture that his stumbling into the Americas ultimately led to: the establishment of my country, the world’s most violent nation, the so-called United States of America.

How are we to explain how a flood of immigrants, most fleeing from oppression of one kind or another in Europe and later Asia and South America and some dragged here in chains from Africa, ended up producing a nation so steeped in violence and the implements of destruction needed to produce that violence, that we as a people no longer even recoil at the horrors the US routinely commits, encourages, funds, ignores and covers up? How are we to explain the collective lack of will to put a stop to the domestic gun slaughter, by citizens and by police, that makes Americans 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than in any other country in the world (save for those that are currently at war)?

I was born in 1949, and for my entire life this country I live in has been embroiled in wars, mostly of its own making. It has devoted the bulk of its collective national wealth over those decades to creating — and using — ever more powerful weapons of mass death and destruction and since the end of World War II has, by a conservative estimate, been responsible directly or indirectly for the killing of at least 10 million people, the vast majority of them civilians, and most of the rest fighters from other countries who were simply defending or trying to liberate their own homelands — an action that most Americans would readily defend if the people they were fighting against weren’t wearing US uniforms.

Meanwhile, here at home we have this toxic culture that increasingly celebrates violence and considers owning a gun and being prepared to use it to settle disputes or to “defend” one’s family a national right equal to or perhaps greater than the gradually vanishing right to speak one’s mind and publish one’s thoughts, to freely assemble, and to petition the government about grievances.

(Photo courtesy of the National Parks Service)(Photo courtesy of the National Parks Service)
 

How we got to this sorry state, where there are more guns in America than there are people, and where every day, according to the FBI, there is at least one mass shooting (defined for American purposes as the killing in one gun incident of at least four people), is an interesting subject for discussion, but at this point I’m more interested in how we move beyond discussion to making us a more peaceful people.

I’m convinced that the problem is that we in the US are all so divorced these days from reality — living as we do in a state of increasing social atomization and in a world of illusion produced by films, television programs and digital media that all work to detach us from the real blood and gore and agony that are the consequence of our own collective violence.

When Hollywood shows our vaunted Special Forces “heroes” blowing up and slaughtering a bunch of terrorists and rescuing some hostage, committing war crimes with abandon, we don’t see the agonized death of the “collateral damage” victims of the assault -- the children in an invaded building who are frequently blown away along with the “bad guys,” or the agonized deaths of those “bad guys” themselves. We don’t learn the complex reasons those “bad guys” have put their lives on the line in the first place — many of which if we stopped to listen to them, we might understand and even agree with. We see it all instead in black and white, and don’t have to deal with the consequences of our being wrong. We also watch cop films where the good guys are cops who break the rules in order to wreak their own “justice” on the “bad guys,” in a made-up world where cops are just trying to protect us, and would never make mistakes, at least on purpose.

ThisCantBeHappening! Wins It's Sixth Project Censored Award in It's Six-Year History

This time it's for what Project Censored is calling the "second most important unreported story of the year"

 

ThisCantBeHappening! has just learned that the TCBH! Collective has won its sixth Project Censored Award in as many years since the news site was established in June 2010.

This year's award, for the "second most important unreported news story of the 2016-17 year," is for a piece run on August 17, 2016 authored by Dave Lindorff headlined: Not just $600 toilet lids or unusable F-35s: The Pentagon Money Pit: $6.5 Trillion in Unaccountable Army Spending, and No DOD Audit for the Past Two Decades

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As Project Censored, the organization that issues these awards each year, puts it in describing the story:
 

According to a July 2016 report by the Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General (DoDIG), over the past two decades the US Army has accumulated $6.5 trillion in expenditures that cannot be accounted for, because two government offices—the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army and the DoD’s Defense Finance and Accounting Service—“did not prioritize correcting the system deficiencies that caused errors . . . and did not provide sufficient guidance for supporting system-generated adjustments.” In the bureaucratic language of the report, the expenditures themselves are referred to as “unsupported adjustments” and the lack of complete and accurate records of them are described as “material weakness.” In other words, as Dave Lindorff reported, the DoD “has not been tracking or recording or auditing all of the taxpayer money allocated by Congress—what it was spent on, how well it was spent, or where the money actually ended up.”

In 1996, Congress enacted legislation that required all government agencies—including not only the Department of Defense but also the federal government’s departments of education, veterans affairs, and housing and urban development, for instance—to undergo annual audits. As Thomas Hedges reported for the Guardian in March 2017, “the Pentagon has exempted itself without consequence for 20 years now, telling the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that collecting and organizing the required information for a full audit is too costly and time-consuming.” (For Project Censored’s previous coverage of the Pentagon’s “inauditable” budget, see “Pentagon Awash in Money Despite Serious Audit Problems,” Censored 2015, pp. 59–60.)

As Lindorff wrote, in fiscal year 2015 total federal discretionary spending—which includes everything from education, to housing and community development, to Medicare and other health programs—amounted to just over $1.1 trillion, and the $6.5 trillion in unaccountable Army expenditures represents approximately fifteen years’ worth of military spending.

The DoD Inspector General issued its report at a time when, in Lindorff’s words, “politicians of both major political parties are demanding accountability for every penny spent on welfare,” and they have also been engaged in pervasive efforts “to make teachers accountable for student ‘performance.’” Yet, he observed, “the military doesn’t have to account for any of its trillions of dollars of spending . . . even though Congress fully a generation ago passed a law requiring such accountability.”

Mandy Smithberger, director of the Strauss Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight, told Lindorff, “Accounting at the Department of Defense is a disaster, but nobody is screaming about it because you have a lot of people in Congress who believe in more military spending, so they don’t really challenge military spending.”...
 

Buying Homeland Insecurity

America's $50-plus billion annual boondoggle:

 

Thank god for the US Department of Homeland Security!

Thanks to its $40-billion annual budget, and Homeland Security laws like the PATRIOT Act that Congress passed quickly after the horrific attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we have not had a major terrorist attack in the US in the ensuing 16 years.

Oh, wait a minute. My bad.

We have had some major mass murders over the ensuing years, haven’t we, including some being officially labeled “acts of terrorism.”

There was the sniper shootings of 10 people in suburban Washington, DC back in 2002. There was the execution of 5 Amish schoolchildren in their one-room schoolhouse by a gunman in 2006. There followed the 32 students and faculty killed at the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, the lone gunman who opened fire at an open-air meet-and-greet session hosted by Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords which killed six people and gravely wounded Rep. Giffords in 2011, the 12 killed in the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting in 2012, the Vietnamese immigrant who shot and killed 13 people in Binghamton, NY in 2009, the 20 grade-school kids and a teacher murdered in the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, also in 2012, and the Navy contractor and former sailor who killed 13 in a Washington, DC industrial complex, the murder of 9 people in their church in Charleston, SC in 2015, and now this latest killing of over 58 people in Las Vegas. I’m just naming the big ones here, or particularly outrageous one like those that focused on killing little kids.

Thank god not one of these horrible incidents was considered an act of terrorism!

America's biggest mass killers in the past quarter century, one, a terrorist, killed 49, the other, not a terrorist, killed 59America's biggest mass killers in the past quarter century: one, a terrorist, killed 49; the other, not a terrorist, killed 59. $50 billion a year spent on 'homeland security' didn't stop either one. Both used legally purchased assault rifles
 

Of course there were some at least nominally terrorist mass killings too — the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, which killed three or four depending on whether you count the killing of a police office during the later manhunt part of the deal, the 2014 attack at Fort Hood by a deranged Army psychologist who slayed 13 people, the 2015 San Bernardino rec center attack which killed 14, and the 2016 murder of 49 at a disco in Orlando. But in most of these cases the link to organized terror was tenuous at best, and in the Orlando case in particular, which was touted at the time as the worst mass killing in modern US history (at least until this latest Las Vegas incident), the killer appears to have had no connection to ISIS and was probably just claiming a link in order to ensure that he would be killed by police, and not captured (he succeeded in that plan). We know these were acts of terrorism not just because the government calls them that, but because, well, they were committed by Muslims, which for the US government terrorism "experts" means it must be terrorism.

The few actual or supposed “terrorist’ attacks aside, what all these mass murders in the US not committed by Muslim terrorists have in common, along with many more that I did not list either because the number killed was less than 10, or because the cause was so mundane — worker laid off and went postal, family dispute, road rage or whatever — is that they were the work of lone usually deranged (and usually white) men using guns — and often guns designed for killing people.

Corporations in Puerto Rico are Keeping their Satellite Telecoms to Themselves

While many on the island worry about relatives they cannot reach, corporations hold back the solution

 

The Trump administration is not the only entity that has been missing in inaction in Puerto Rico in the wake of the island-wide destruction caused by back-to-back direct hits from two major hurricanes. The island’s many “corporate citizens” have thus far been looking to their own interests during this crisis.

While communities across the island have rallied, rich and poor alike, to help one another survive, the major companies scattered across the island, aside from donating funds to relief efforts, or having their parent corporations do so, have largely focused on themselves. This includes firms like Medtronic, Univision, Destilería Serrallés (makers of Don Q rum), DowDuPont, AstraZeneca, Merck, Industrias Vassallo, Puerto Rico Iron Works, Walmart, and banking firms like Triple-S Management and First BanCorp. Most if not all of those have disaster plans in place that include generators and satellite communications capability to stay in touch with suppliers, customers and branch locations across the island and headquarters in the mainland U.S. Overwhelmingly, these companies are focusing on getting back into production and locating and helping their own employees.
 

A typical satellite dish mounted on a Puerto Rican business site's roof providing cell phone and internet capability, but not foA typical satellite dish mounted on a Puerto Rican business site's roof provides cell phone and internet capability, but not for desperate locals seeking to contact anxious relatives
 

That is all understandable. What may be less understandable is that these companies, which generally have telecommunications capability and access to the internet at a time when the vast majority of Puerto Ricans do not, are not advertising that fact to local residents of the regions around their facilities.

One of the great torments and preoccupation for Puerto Ricans, both on the island and in the mainland U.S., is the near-total inability to get news from relatives and friends in the blacked-out parts of the island. At this point, that's about 97 percent of Puerto Rico. Those people can't call out to say that they're OK, or that they need help. Furthermore, in most cases they can't reach San Juan or other major towns and cities by road; downed trees and washouts have made most routes impassable on the mountainous 110-mile by 40-mile island....

For the rest of this article, which was written by DAVE LINDORFF for Salon magazine, please go to Salon.com

"Why are we in Vietnam?" (or any damn place for that matter), revisited

 
 
How long should we wash our hands?
And while we're at it,
How many angles in "Heaven"?
Just to keep things moving,
Five.
 
Dear little Ameise,
How tiny you look today.
Why I would even say
You have shrunk
To the size of an ant.
 
What do you call your monkeys?
Those two,
The ones you put diapers on
And turned them loose
In the sunroom.
 
The sun got angry,
After it asked you nicely
To let it play with the monkeys
But you didn't trust it,
And for good reason.
 

Philly Ceremony: Another History Lesson Trump Will Ignore

Ignorant and unashamed

 
The historic ceremony outside City Hall in Philadelphia recently, that unveiled a statue of a significant yet overlooked 19th Century civil rights leader, contained chilling contemporary connections that radiate the adage: the more things change the more they stay the same.

That ceremony honored the works of Octavius V. Catto, an activist, educator and officer in the Union Army during the Civil War. Several hundred attended the ceremony including Philadelphia’s mayor, decedents of Catto, local celebrities and regular citizens from children to senior citizens.

The Catto statue, the centerpiece of a memorial installation for that man located on the south side of City Hall, is the first ever monument for an African-American individual located on city owned property in Philadelphia, a 335-years-old city with 1,200 public statues.

Philadelphia Mayor James Kenny (l) and sculptor Branly Cadet (r) unveil Octavius Catto statue. LBWPhotoPhiladelphia Mayor James Kenny (l) and sculptor Branly Cadet (r) unveil Octavius Catto statue. LBWPhoto
 
A racist murdered Catto on October 10, 1871 during a riot by whites to keep blacks from voting. During that Election Day riot members of Philadelphia’s police department actively aided the rioters – an incident of race-tainted abusive policing. Abusive and too often racist policing persists today.

Catto helped secure Pennsylvania’s ratification of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, an addition implemented nationally in March 1870 intended to ensure voting rights for blacks, ex-slaves and freedmen then excluded from voting.

Today, conservative legislators nationwide are engaged in various efforts to erect barriers to block voting by blacks. Earlier this year, U.S. President Donald Trump created a Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity, which critics proclaim a thinly veiled scheme to suppress voting rights. Catto lost his life battling to break down barriers that blocked blacks from voting.

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Listen as Chuck, John, Dave and Linn Join Prairie Radical Mike Caddell of the Fightin' Cock Flyer on Radio Free Kansas

Here's the link to prairie radio radical Mike Caddell's Radio Free Kansas program, where you can hear the podcast of the whole group interview that was conducted on Saturday, May 8.

Also, listen to Dave Lindorff on Chris Cook's Gorilla Radio on CFEV Radio in Victoria, Canada.

Donate $50 to ThisCantBeHappening.net and get a free signed copy, postage paid, of Dave's classic tome The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin's Press, 2006). Just click on the cover image to go to the Paypal payment page, make your payment, and send a note to Dave calling his attention to the payment, and giving your mail address and the name you want the inscription addressed to.

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