80 YEARS AFTER THE NAZIS INVADED POLAND

SEPTEMBER 1, 2019 — Eighty years ago today the Nazis invaded Poland. As pretext, they rounded up concentration camp victims from Dachau, drugged them, and stuffed them into Polish army uniforms. Nazi officers also dressed in Polish army uniforms and shot them dead as “casualties” in an invented simulated attack on a German radio station. The “Polish attack” at Gleywitz was used by Hitler as justification for the Nazi invasion of Poland.

A week earlier, the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with Germany, and two weeks later the USSR’s army swept into Poland as well. Under the terms of the “Hitler-Stalin pact” the USSR ordered all Communist Parties around the world to desist from actions directed against the Nazis, and portrayed the Pact to the Communist parties as “defense of the Soviet Union.”

The New York Times propagandized the Gleywitz incident as Polish aggression (when there were no Polish soldiers involved at all — it was a false flag operation from the start), marking the official beginning of World War 2.

Sound familiar?

Virtually every “intervention” by U.S. forces involve similar deceptions (from the “Boston Tea Party” on down the line), aimed primarily at confusing and demobilizing the U.S. public. Dan Kovalik points out many such deceptions in his book, The Plot to Overthrow Venezuela: How the U.S. Is orchestrating a Coup for Oil (SkyHorse 2019). White House officials claimed that Venezuela President] Maduro’s security forces “set fire to humanitarian aid at the Venezuela-Colombian border on Feb. 23. … [These] proved later to be false.” In actuality, the aid trucks were lit ablaze by pro-Guaido forces (funded by John Bolton, the U.S. State Department, and the CIA) and not by those loyal to Maduro.

Glenn Greenwald writes: “Every major US war of the last several decades has begun the same way: The U.S. government fabricates an inflammatory, emotionally provocative lie, which large U.S. media outlets uncritically treat as truth …. thus enflaming primal anger at the country the U.S. wants to attack. That’s how we got the Vietnam war (North Vietnam attacks U.S. ships in Gulf of Tonkin); the Gulf war (Saddam ripped babies from incubators); and of course the war in Iraq (Saddam had WMDs and formed an alliance with Al-Queda).”

From the Nazis to the U.S. over the last 80 years, only the insignias on the uniforms have changed.

 

HOW THE DEMOCRATS PROMOTED THE LIES THAT ENABLED GEORGE H.W. BUSH TO BOMB THE HELL OUT OF IRAQ

“The U.S. has a new credibility. What we say goes.”

President George H.W. Bush, NBC Nightly News, Feb. 2, 1991

In October, 1990, a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, identified only as Nayirah, appeared in Washington before the House of Representatives’ Human Rights Caucus. She testified that Iraqi soldiers who had invaded Kuwait on August 2nd tore hundreds of babies from hospital incubators and killed them.

Television flashed her testimony around the world. It electrified opposition to Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, who was now portrayed by U.S. president George H.W. Bush not only as “the Butcher of Baghdad” but — so much for old friends — “a tyrant worse than Hitler.”

Bush quoted Nayirah at every opportunity. Six times in one month he referred to “312 premature babies at Kuwait City’s maternity hospital who died after Iraqi soldiers stole their incubators and left the infants on the floor,”(1) and of “babies pulled from incubators and scattered like firewood across the floor.” Bush used Nayirah’s testimony to lambaste Senate Democrats still supporting “only” sanctions against Iraq — the blockade of trade which alone would cause hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to die of hunger and disease — but who waffled on endorsing the policy Bush wanted to implement: outright bombardment. Republicans and pro-war Democrats used Nayirah’s tale to hammer their fellow politicians into line behind Bush’s war in the Persian Gulf.(2)

Nayirah, though, was no impartial eyewitness, a fact carefully concealed by her handlers. She was the daughter of one Saud Nasir Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s ambassador to the United States. A few key Congressional leaders and reporters knew who Nayirah was, but none of them thought of sharing that minor detail with Congress, let alone the American people.

Everything Nayirah said, as it turned out, was a lie. There were, in actuality, only a handful of incubators in all of Kuwait, certainly not the “hundreds” she claimed. According to Dr. Mohammed Matar, director of Kuwait’s primary care system, and his wife, Dr. Fayeza Youssef, who ran the obstetrics unit at the maternity hospital, there were few if any babies in the incubators at the time of the Iraqi invasion. Nayirah’s charges, they said, were totally false. “I think it was just something for propaganda,” Dr. Matar said. In an ABC-TV News account after the war, John Martin reported that although “patients, including premature babies, did die,” this occurred “when many of Kuwait’s nurses and doctors stopped working or fled the country” — a far cry from Bush’s original assertion that hundreds of babies were murdered by Iraqi troops.(3) Subsequent investigations, including one by Amnesty International, found no evidence for the incubator claims.

It is likely that Nayirah was not even in Kuwait, let alone at the hospital, at that time; the Kuwaiti aristocracy and their families had fled the country weeks before the anticipated invasion. Some defended their country at the gaming tables in Monte Carlo, where at least one member of the ruling family was reported to have gambled away more than $10 million as his fellow rulers called for economic and military assistance from abroad.

As invasions go, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was relatively — I stress the word “relatively” — bloodless. Despite the heart-rending testimonies TV viewers in the U.S. were subjected to night after night, fewer than 200 Kuwaitis were killed. Compare that to such “peaceful” ventures as the U.S. invasion of Panama the year before, which killed an estimated 7,500 Panamanians; or, a year after the Gulf war, the 10,000 Somalis killed by [U.S./U.N] troops in what was portrayed as a “peace mission” to bring food aid to the allegedly starving region.(4)

How did Nayirah first come to the attention of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, which put her before the world’s cameras? It was arranged by Hill & Knowlton, a public relations firm hired to rally the U.S. populace behind Bush’s policy of going to war. And it worked!

Hill & Knowlton’s yellow ribbon campaign to whip up support for “our” troops, which followed their orchestration of Nayirah’s phony “incubator” testimony, was a public relations masterpiece. The claim that satellite photos revealed that Iraq had troops poised to strike Saudi Arabia was also fabricated by the PR firm. Hill & Knowlton was paid between $12 million (as reported two years later on “60 Minutes”) and $20 million (as reported on “20/20”) for “services rendered.” The group fronting the money? Citizens for a Free Kuwait, a phony “human rights agency” set up and funded entirely by Kuwait’s emirocracy to promote its interests in the U.S.

“When Hill & Knowlton masterminded the Kuwaiti campaign to sell the Gulf War to the American public, the owners of this highly effective propaganda machine were residing in another country” — the United Kingdom — writes Sharon Beder and Richard Gosden in PR Watch. “Should this give pause for thought? Does it demonstrate a certain potential for the future exercise of global political power — the power to manipulate democratic political processes through managing public opinion,” which Hill and Knowlton demonstrated 10 years ago?(5)

All of this is concealed in a new HBO “behind-the-scenes true story” of the Gulf War, which is being released at this crucial political moment. As Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting writes, “HBO’s version of history never makes clear that the incubator story was fraudulent, and in fact had been managed by an American PR firm, not Iraq. Curiously, however, the truth seems to have been clear to Robert Wiener, the former CNN producer who co-wrote ‘Live from Baghdad.’As he explained to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer (11/21/02), ‘that story turned out to be false because those accusations were made by the daughter of the Kuwaiti minister of information and were never proven.’ Unfortunately, HBO viewers won’t know that when they see the film.”(6)

In 1998, Hill and Knowlton found a new client — President Clinton — who hired them to advise him and to polish his image. The last time they were involved, by the time their lies were exposed TV newscasters were waxing ecstatic over the rockets’ red glare, computerized “smart-bombs” bursting in air, and 250,000 people were dead.

NOTES

1. Doug Ireland, Village Voice, March 26, 1991.

2. The use of the Big Lie to manipulate public opinion and neutralize opposition to a particular war was not invented by Bush. See, for instance, James Laxer, “Iraq: US has match, seeks kindle: American leaders have often falsified reasons to attack other countries,” (ActionGreens, Mar. 31, 2001). Laxer is a Political Science Professor at York University, Toronto.

3. ABC World News Tonight, 3/15/91.

4. In actuality, people in only certain areas of Somalia were starving — those that had been subjected to IMF structural adjustment programs. See, MITCHEL COHEN, “Somalia & the Cynical Manipulation of Hunger,” Red Balloon Collective, 1994.

5. Sharon Beder and Richard Gosden, “PR Watch,” Volume 8, No. 2, 2nd Quarter 2001. The PR firm has since been working at the behest of the pharmaceutical industry to ban over-the-counter vitamin and nutritional supplement sales in Europe.

6. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, “HBO Recycling Gulf War Hoax?” December 4, 2002.

 

“NEVER AGAIN” IS NOW

The Great Bernardo Palombo translated Woody Guthrie’s “Deportees” into Spanish for the first time, and performed it at a November 2014 fundraiser, Stand With Ferguson, at Middle Collegiate Church on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, and Joan Baez, performed as well to raise funds following the killing of Michael Brown and the emergence of what soon would become the Black Lives Matter movement. (Timothy Lynch in Berkeley writes that before Bernardo, Nanci Griffith released the song with Spanish verses back in 1998 and Tish Hinajosa released a Spanish version of the song on her 2013 release “After The Fair.”)

 

VENEZUELA

REPORT-BACK FROM FACT-FINDING TRIP

Mitchel Cohen interviews Dr. Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese upon their return from a fact-finding trip to Venezuela, for WBAI/Pacifica radio. Flowers & Zeese report that almost everything that the U.S. government says about what’s going on in Venezuela is a lie, and give multiple examples of the truth, based on their own first-hand investigations there.

Click HERE for the interview.
28 minutes & 03 seconds

Kevin Zeese is an attorney and Dr. Margaret Flowers is a pediatrician, who have now become full-time activist-journalists. They edit the daily internet magazine Popular Resistance and produce a well-known podcast show, Clearing the Fog, via the PopularResistance.org website.

VENEZUELA DEMO WASHINGTON D.C. 03-16-2019 photo by Mitchel Cohen

 

THE PATH TO CLIMATE JUSTICE PASSES THROUGH CARACAS

It is critical to understand how blocking the regime change agenda with respect to Venezuela is integrally connected to confronting the challenge of climate change.

Fighting the Media War

Today we are all witness to the subversion and slander of one of our best hopes. Venezuelans call it “the media war.” Karl Marx called it “the war of calumny undertaken by the lying power of the civilised world,” and went on to describe how “all the sluices of slander at the disposal of the venal respectable press were opened at once to set free a deluge of infamy in which to drown the execrated foe. This war of calumny finds no parallel in history for the truly international area over which it has spread, and for the complete accord in which it has been carried on by all shades of ruling class opinion.”

These words of Marx describe an older media war –  a war against the International Workingmen’s Association, which later became known as The First International. Today they could be applied seamlessly to the media war against the democratically elected government of Venezuela and the revolutionary process it represents. And the comparison is historically and politically sound, because Venezuela was host to the founding in 2017 of the First Ecosocialist International– a piece of world news which has been all but completely drowned out in the furor to topple the only government in the world which has laid out a comprehensive plan for an ecosocialist mode of production “to preserve peace in the planet and save the human species.”

Continue reading »

A TALE OF TWO CITATIONS: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Michael Harrington’s The Other America – Contrasting lessons for activists

MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY has passed since Rachel Carson meticulously exposed government and corporate poisoning of the planet with synthetic pesticides. Serialized in The New Yorker in weekly install­ments, Carson’s Silent Spring was officially published as a hard-cover book in September 1962 by Houghton Mifflin Co. for the price of $5. The book, with its wonderful drawings, excoriated the government and corporations for covering the planet with cancer-causing pesticides like DDT, a product of the newly powerful agribusiness and pharmaceutical infrastructure. Many of the pesticides were originally designed as nerve gasses and weapons of war.(1)

“Since the earliest origins of modern industrial agriculture, agribusiness has been at war against all life on earth, including ourselves,”(2) writes Brian Tokar, author of Earth for Sale and Monsanto: Origins of an Agribusiness Behemoth. From its origins, “chemical agriculture has been a form of warfare—it is a war against the soil, against our reserves of fresh water, and against all the microbes and insects that are necessary for the growing of healthy food.”(3) But in an expansive America following World War II, few were concerned about the mass application of pesticides, which was promoted as part of the promise for securing “the good life” for all. (To actually achieve that, though—if it were possible to be achieved at all—would require powerful social justice movements to overturn the country’s legacy of white supremacy and Jim Crow laws. Millions of people were excluded from partaking in what was portrayed as the American dream, and which remained, for many, the American Nightmare.)

Carson’s mind-blowing exposé not only revealed the prevalence of chemical pesticides but—and we’ve forgotten this today—also the “secret” that radio­active Strontium 90, a byproduct of above-ground nuclear bomb tests, had tainted the nation’s milk supply. This was shocking information. “No one had ever thought humans could create something that could create harm all over the globe and come back and get in our bodies,” oceanographer Carl Safina told Eliza Griswold, whose story about Rachel Carson appeared in 2012 in The New York Times Sunday Magazine.(4) The uproar that followed inspired an army of parents anguishing over the threats of pesticides and radioactive Strontium 90 to the health of their children. Many were women who had worked for the first time in jobs previously “set aside” for men, in support of the anti-Nazi effort during World War II, only to be replaced by male workers reclaiming “their” jobs upon returning from the war. They brought those experiences into organizing a new mass “environmental” movement in the context of the Cold War, and as their children were drilled to “duck and cover” under their desks in case Russia was to order a nuclear bomb attack—more an ideological device than offering practical protection.(5) Continue reading »

NEW BOOK: THE FIGHT AGAINST MONSANTO’S ROUNDUP: THE POLITICS OF PESTICIDES, by Mitchel Cohen, forward by Vandana Shiva

The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup
The Politics of Pesticides
Written and edited by Mitchel Cohen
Foreword by Vandana Shiva
A Comprehensive Look at the Worldwide Battle to Defend Ourselves and Our Environment Against the Peddlers of Chemical Poisons
This may be one of the most important books you read this year. We are being poisoned and this book is sounding a well-informed alarm.”

– Eve Ensler, New York Times Bestselling Author

Order your copy HERE

Featuring contributions by

  • Mitchel Cohen
  • Jonathan Latham
  • Sheldon Krimsky
  • Martha Herbert
  • Jay Feldman
  • John Jonik
  • Cathryn Swan
  • Stacy Malkan
  • Robin Falk Esser
  • Brian Tokar
  • Patricia Wood
  • Carolina Cositore
  • Stephanie Seneff
  • Steve Tvedten
  • Beth Youhn, and
  • art by Haideen Anderson.

*********************************************************************************
To request a review copy or to arrange an interview with the author, please contact:
Hector Carosso / (212) 643-6816 x 277 / hcarosso@skyhorsepublishing.com

*********************************************************************************

Description:

Chemical poisons have infiltrated all facets of our lives — housing, agriculture, work places, sidewalks, subways, schools, parks, even the air we breathe. More than half a century since Rachel Carson issued Silent Spring — her call-to-arms against the poisoning of our drinking water, food, animals, air, and the natural environment — The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides takes a fresh look at
the politics underlying the mass use of pesticides and the challenges people around the world are making against Monsanto’s most dangerous creation, glyphosate.

The scientists and activists contributing to The Politics of Pesticides, edited by long-time Green activist Mitchel Cohen, explore not only the dangers of glyphosate — better known as “Roundup” — but the campaign which ended with glyphosate declared as a cancer-causing agent. In an age where banned pesticides are simply replaced with newer and more deadly ones, and where corporations such as Monsanto, Bayer, Dow and DuPont scuttle attempts to regulate the products they manufacture, what is the effective, practical, and philosophical framework for banning glyphosate and other pesticides?

The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides explores the best strategies for winning the struggle for healthy foods and a clean environment. It takes lessons from activists who have come before, and offers a new, holistic and radical approach that is essential for defending life on this planet and creating for our kids, and for ourselves, a future worth living in.

Order your copy here.
Bulk discounts for anti-pesticides and anti-GMO organizations are available. Write to mitchelcohen@mindspring.com to make arrangements.

Mitchel Cohen coordinates the No Spray Coalition in New York City, which successfully sued the City government over its indiscriminate spraying of toxic pesticides. In 1997, he organized the campaign to rid NYC public schools of milk from cows injected with genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone, and in 2001, he ran for Mayor of NYC as one of five Green Party candidates. He was editor of the national newspaper Green Politix, and of the NY State Green Party newspaper. Mitchel edited Red Balloon, the journal of the Red Balloon Collective that he cofounded at SUNY Stony Brook, and chaired WBAI radio’s Local Board. His writings include: The Social Construction of Neurosis, and numerous other pamphlets; What is Direct Action?, a book that draws on personal experiences as well as lessons from Occupy Wall Street; An American in Revolutionary Nicaragua; and two books of poetry, One-Eyed Cat Takes Flight and The Permanent Carnival.

“This may be one of the most important books you read this year. We are being poisoned, and this book is sounding a well-informed alarm. Read it. Get educated and then join the thousands rising up against those who care more for profit than the health of our bodies and our earth.”

– Eve Ensler New York Times best-selling author of I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life Of Girls Around The World, The Vagina Monologues, and In the Body of the World

“Activism and science need one another to stay grounded in reality. Few environmental activists have done more than the poet and science writer Mitchel Cohen to connect with scholars across a multitude of disciplines in his tireless campaign to keep the natural world from turning into a toxic hell. This book, with its remarkably varied group of expert contributors, is both a monument to Cohen’s ongoing efforts and a resource for those who will be inspired by it to join forces with him.”

– Stuart Newman, Ph.D., Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy, New York Medical College

“This book delivers the goods. Mitchel Cohen and his coauthors have thoroughly and effectively indicted Monsanto, Syngenta, and other Big Food corporations for poisoning our soil, our water, and our genomes.”

Clifford D. Conner, author of A People’s History of Science, and the forthcoming Tragedy of American Science: From Truman to Trump

“The Global Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup is an absolutely vital book for so many who have been diagnosed with diseases their doctors say were caused by vague “environmental factors. ” Mitchel Cohen explains precisely what are these “environmental factors.” Read it as if your life depended on it, because it does.”

– George Caffentzis, author of No Blood for Oil: Essays on Energy, Class Struggle and War 1998-2016

“Few battles are as important today across the planet as that to free the earth, the seas, and woods from the poisons that companies like Monsanto are pouring in them. The Fight Against Monsanto’s Round up: The Politics of Pesticides is a great resource in that struggle. Read it and give it to all your friends and comrades.”

Silvia Federici, author of Caliban and the Witch

 

The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides
Written and edited by Mitchel Cohen
Foreword by Vandana Shiva
Skyhorse hardcover, also available as an ebook
On Sale: January 9, 2019 / $24.99
ISBN: 9781510735132

 

Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10018
(212) 643-6816
www.skyhorsepublishing.com

SEASONS GREETINGS FROM FRANCE’S YELLOW VESTS: “WE ARE NOT TIRED”

By Richard Greeman

Montpellier, France, Dec. 29, 2018

“Inform yourselves by Internet. 98% media owned by billionaires.”

Is the Yellow Vest rebellion, now in its seventh week, “petering out?” Such was the near-unanimous pronouncement of the mainstream media, when I returned home to Montpellier, France, eager to participate and to observe first-hand this popular insurrection which I had been afraid of missing.

I needn’t have worried. By nine o’clock last Saturday morning (Dec. 22), hundreds of Yellow Vest demonstrators were gathering for a peaceful march to the Préfecture (local seat of government) chanting “We’re not tired” and carrying placards reading “We are not casseurs (vandals) or pyromaniacs. Peaceful.” The mood was bon enfant (“jolly”) with demonstrators en famille including the children and old folks in wheelchairs. Marching ten abreast, they filled the rue de la Loge, but when they arrived at the Préfecture, the police, apparently taunted by some radicals in the crowd, let loose with teargas, injuring children. Then all hell broke loose and continued all day, with marches, countermarches and gas in the air.

Continue reading »

MICHAEL MOORE’S FILM “FAHRENHEIT 11/9”

Michael Moore’s latest film, Fahrenheit 11/9, is about Trump — but not only! It includes footage I hadn’t seen before shaming Obama, Bill Clinton, and the Democrats as well as the odious fascists (are there any other kinds, or is “odious” unnecessary as a modifyer of “fascist”?) now running the U.S. executive branch.

I’ve read a number of posts that imply the film is somewhat confused, lacks structural integrity, and is really 3 separate films in one.

So I just wanted to say, this film is incredible, GO TO SEE IT! It is insightful, inciteful, and incendiary. It’s just simply great, moving, and you’ll learn new stuff from it (or at least re-remember the stuff you once knew and forgot).

My only problem with it is the same as other socialist commentators pointed out — it looks to the new wave of candidates in the Democratic party as hope for the future. Michael doesn’t (thankfully) portray them as the only hope, but still … He does spend time on the teachers’ strike and other working class movements, they get important coverage here. But the new wave of candidates are already making politically expedient (opportunist) decisions. But that’s a small criticism of where Michael Moore is somewhat naively putting his hopes … (we’re all grasping for any straw we can get, though, these days!).

The film also leaves out lots of issues that could have used some truthtelling, really important ones (global climate change, Haiti, lots of others), but then the film is more about the political process in this country rather than examining individual issues, save for a few. And those scenes of a truly wretched Obama — whom Michael supported, while ridiculing the Green Party and other third party candidates — are surprising and revelatory; you’ll probably say, “Wow, I didn’t know about that, why did he do that?!” Those images will stay with you a long long long time.

So will the statistics from various polls about what the American people actually believe. More than 2/3rds support progressive and even socialist proposals on any number of issues — wow!

It’s just a great film. The images from the Democratic convention, where votes went to Hillary Clinton even though those states voted for Bernie Sanders are also powerful, maddening, and ultimately very sad. Michael Moore sees the Democratic Party betrayals as having paved the way for Trump, which is very true.

Bring your kids, and your neighbor’s kids, to see this film — watch it together! A real neighborhood anti-fascist moment! Organize!

WHY I HATE THANKSGIVING

I posted this a year ago — and what an eventful year it was, both politically as well as personally. I’m reposting this even though the heroic occupation at Standing Rock has come to an end. This Thanksgiving, a number of Occupyers are facing absurd prison sentences, and the pipeline people were protesting is already leaking as feared. – Mitchel, November 18, 2017

PREFACE TO the 2016 EDITION of ‘WHY I HATE THANKSGIVING”

STANDING WITH STANDING ROCK WATER PROTECTORS

Thanksgiving 2016 – The long genocide of descendants of the original inhabitants of the corner of the planet we today call the United States of America proceeds unabated. And so, therefore, continues the resistance.

At Standing Rock in spirit. Yoko Ono and John Lennon join Native people at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, 1973.

At Standing Rock in spirit. Yoko Ono and John Lennon join Native people at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, 1973.


The fight to preserve the earth’s water and allow it to run naturally through the veins of the planet is an extension of the resistance of the colonial period of U.S. history. The earth-destroyers today use pipelines, hydro-fracking and genetic engineering (and now apparently water cannons and experimental sonic weapons) where they once used the Gatling gun. In some places (like Israel’s control of Palestinian’s water supply) they use both.

Continue reading »

AN AMERICAN IN REVOLUTIONARY NICARAGUA – A new book by Mitchel Cohen

NICARAGUA

AN AMERICAN IN REVOLUTIONARY NICARAGUA, A NEW BOOK  BY MITCHEL COHEN (Click HERE to order)

Black & White photos, $11
Full Color photos, $65

From the Introduction by David L. Wilson

Mitchel Cohen’s memoir gets across the feel of those hopeful days of the Nicaraguan revolution in the 1980s – as well as the sights, sounds, and smells. He captures the combination of excitement and trepidation U.S. leftists felt as they prepared to leave, along with the roadblocks: from relatives who thought Nicaragua was inhabited by cannibals to the DC-based left bureaucrats who apparently didn’t consider Mitchel respectable enough to join their brigades. Mitchel notes the inventiveness of “ordinary” Nicaraguans as they improvised solutions to everyday problems amid war and poverty – in the mental health clinic he visited, for example. And he highlights one of the most important benefits of the trip: the way experiences there challenged the assumptions that North Americans had brought with them. For a few years it was possible to get on a plane and see what happens when a country’s people take control of their own lives – and to imagine what it would be like if we did the same here. – David L. Wilson

DICK GREGORY, RIP

FILE – In this July 21, 2012 file photo, comedian and activist Dick Gregory poses for a portrait during the PBS TCA Press Tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. Gregory, the comedian and activist and who broke racial barriers in the 1960s and used his humor to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health, has died. He was 84. Gregory died late Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Washington, D.C. after being hospitalized for about a week, his son Christian Gregory told The Associated Press. He had suffered a severe bacterial infection. (Photo by Matt Sayles – Invision)

Dick Gregory spoke at SUNY Stony Brook in early 1966 — and inspired a gymnasium full of radicals. He riffed on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, firing salvo after salvo into the void, challenging the thousands of students there to put our bodies on the line for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam, all done with scathing (for us) humor. He hated Lyndon Johnson: “Too bad Lyndon Johnson isn’t the pope,” he exclaimed in a zinger that has always stayed with me, “that way we’d only have to kiss his ring.” At the time I, just turned 17, couldn’t believe anyone could actually oppose the war so forcefully and publicly.

He also quoted by heart from the Declaration of Independence:

… when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

I used that quote when I was resisting the draft, as did thousands of others — we certainly would never have read it in the same way as it rolled off of Dick’s tongue, stopping and stressing the word “duty” over and over again.

Another old Stony Brook friend, Bob Marcus, recalls that Dick Gregory told us, “If we all give up cigarettes until the war is over, the tobacco industry will end the war, really fast.” He understood.

Dick Gregory was incredible, always something to say about our situations, our lives, and always with such sharp slashing sarcasm. Our paths crossed many times. In Chicago ’68, when Mayor Daley‘s police banned the antiwar march on the amphitheater where the soon-to-become-infamous Democratic Party convention was taking place, Dick Gregory invited the 4,000 of us to his house, which was on the other side of the police barricades en route to the convention hall, “for bar-b-q.” And Dick led the march. My dad Abe Cohen, an ex-Marine in World War II who drove us to Chicago carrying with him his medal for heroism awarded by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt — and who, in an anti-war tirade told his sons, “You’ll go into the military over my dead body” — said “Let’s join Dick Gregory for dinner!” The cops tear-gassed and beat the shit out of us.

A few years later, Dick, along with the brilliant Mark Lane (who died last year) continued to challenge the official story of the Kennedy Assassination. Dick released photos that the corporate media was sitting on, of the so-called “bums” in Dallas on that fateful day in 1963 — among them, E. Howard Hunt, CIA agent, and two others (Sturgis, aka Fiorini, and one other who would later become involved in Watergate — the CIA hit squad). Red Balloon and a few other underground papers published them on our front page, breaking the media white-out of the CIA’s role in the assassination. Both Mark Lane and Dick Gregory came to speak at Stony Brook again, and again made a huge and radicalizing impact on our lives.

Many memories of Dick Gregory, who challenged way ahead of time the way officialdom framed every single issue … including that of nutrition, health, and diet. In 1992, it was Dick Gregory who pointed out that — “What a coincidence!” — the path of the burning down of buildings in the Los Angeles rebellion “just happened” to follow the route of the planned subway system, which needed to acquire those properties. Go figure!

Years later, yes it’s true, Dick was involved with Pacifica Radio as well, and served on one of the national boards.

So very sorry, of course, to learn of Dick Gregory’s passing, so grateful that our paths crossed when they did. I do have a few of his early records — probably unnecessary now in the YouTube era but still, I’ll be dusting them off and getting the needle into the right groove, there’s something special and fitting about hearing Dick, again, at 33-1/3rd rpm with all the scratches and bumps instead of on YouTube, what it meant at the time to play his records in the mid-1960s, where only one person on the campus would have it, and crowds would gather to listen to the one phonograph in G-dorm lobby (just as we did with Tom Lehrer‘s albums), and find ourselves charged up and laughing down to the cafeteria.

Here’s to Dick Gregory. I drink a green juice to you, Dick, and a great big and bigger thank you for helping us find the revolutionary meaning in our lives and for being so damn funny about it, amidst all the pain, killing, and brutality ….

Also, give a listen to this where Dick Gregory in 2008 apologizes to Bill Clinton, “our first Black president”.

Mitchel Cohen

ANTI-COMMUNIST WITCH HUNT BY NYC BOARD OF EDUCATION AT PARK SLOPE (BROOKLYN) HIGH SCHOOL

In a throwback to the height of the red-scare witchhunts of the 1950s, the NYC Board of Education has dusted off Sen. Joe McCarthy’s anti-Communist playbook and is charging the principal, assistant principal, several teachers, and a teaching assistant at the Park Slope Collegiate public high school in Brooklyn, with “communist organizing”.

Click HERE to hear Mitchel Cohen’s  report.

High School principal Jill Bloomberg, interviewed by Mitchel Cohen for WBAI / Pacifica radio

High School principal Jill Bloomberg, interviewed by Mitchel Cohen for WBAI / Pacifica radio. 
                                                                                              Photo by Cathryn Swan.

On Tuesday June 27, 2017, a large group of parents, students, professionals and community supporters rallied in support of their principal, Jill Bloomberg, and the others who are being interrogated by Mayor de Blasio‘s Board of Education, in front of what used to be called John Jay High School, a beautiful WPA-era building facing Park Slope’s 7th Avenue, which now is home to four high schools in the same building.

WBAI radio’s Mitchel Cohen interviewed those under the new inquisition at the picket line in front of the Park Slope high school and filed this report, which aired on WBAI’s Morning Show a week later (thanks to the knowledgeable work of Michael G. Haskins and Pam Brown).

PROFILES OF PROTEST – AUDIO SEGMENTS HIGHLIGHT OPPOSITION TO U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICIES

Audio reports “from the field” by Mitchel Cohen

Mitchel Cohen at Immigrant Rights Rally, Washington Square Park, NYC. January 26, 2017. Cohen is pictured in the middle left with beard. Photo by Stan Costanza, NY Daily News.

From newly launched audio series “Profiles of Protest and Resistance by writer and reporter Mitchel Cohen.

PROFILES OF PROTEST #8 (Click HERE)

Mitchel Cohen interviews former U.S. Army medic in Somalia Sarah Mess, about her current peace activism and the effects of anti-Malaria drug Lariam on her and many other veterans.

President George H.W. Bush deployed U.S. military troops to Somalia in 1992. President Bill Clinton maintained their presence, and even used the offices of an oil corporation in Mogudishu to headquarter U.S. troops in Africa.

One of those solidiers was Sarah Mess.

Here, Sarah describes the effects of being forced to take an anti-malaria pill, Lariam. A number of male soldiers returning from U.S. wars in Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan ended up murdering their wives. Many others suffer from the harrowing psychological effects of the drug.

Listen to hear Sarah tell her riveting story, in her own words.

PROFILES OF PROTEST #7 (Click Here)

Rally at Brooklyn Boro Hall culminating general strike of Yemeni bodega owners, which shut down many small stores in the Atlantic Avenue area of Brooklyn on February 2, 2017.

PROFILES OF PROTEST #6 (Click Here)

14 minutes. Mitchel Cohen reports from a protest of more than 1,000 people who marched on Senator Charles Schumer’s apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn, Tuesday night, condemning Schumer’s votes in favor of 3 of Trump’s cabinet appointments, and demanding that Sen. Schumer and other Democrats “join the resistance” and stop placating the Trump administration and Wall Street.

PROFILES OF PROTEST #5 (Click Here)

12 minutes – Participants in the “No Hate, No Fear, Refugees are Welcome Here!” rally and march of 18,000 people in New York City Sunday, January 29, 2017, beginning in Battery Park.

PROFILES OF PROTEST #4 (Click Here)

Part 4 captures unique highlights and interviews from the spirited immigrant rally at Washington Square Park (January 25th), attended by over 3,000 people, including singer-songwriter Stephan Said. If you weren’t there, you will feel like you were; if you were, hear from others in the crowd!

 

PROFILES OF PROTEST #1 (Click Here)

3:24 minutes  A wonderful 3 minute piece interviewing a couple of 90-year-olds at the women’s march in NYC.

PROFILES OF PROTEST #2 (Click Here)

This one sketches 3 women at the gigantic Women’s march on January 21, 2017. Just 1:24 minutes ….

PROFILES OF PROTEST #3 (Click Here)

From the streets of NYC’s inauguration night protest, as thousands marched from Foley Square down to Trump’s building on Wall Street.

PRE ELECTION ANTI-WAR RALLY

PRE ELECTION ANTI-WAR RALLY

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5th 1 PM

BROOKLYN BORO HALL STEPS

209 Joralemon St., Bklyn Heights

March to Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Headquarters

Endorsers (still forming): Brooklyn Greens/Green Party Veterans for Peace-NYC, Chapter 34

World Can’t Wait Popular Resistance U.S. Peace Council Friends of Brad Will

Center for Global Justice World Beyond War The Nuclear Resister

Syphilis vs. Gonorrhea

Clinton vs. Trump: Syphilis vs. Gonorrhea.

Donald Trump belches a line that emboldens a racist movement. But his policies — to the extent he has any — in reality would be less destructive than Hillary Clinton‘s, especially when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.

As one writer — Ralph Lopez — commented,

“Trump is like having the boorish, racist uncle at the family reunion but Hillary is like having a convicted mass murderer in the room.”

Clinton HAS TO turn Trump into the AntiChrist to terrify voters sufficiently so that they throw aside their good sense and their revulsion at HER history, in order to get them to vote for her.

Trump and Clinton deserve each other. We the people deserve something better.

And now, we see that instead of dealing with the substance of the emails released — and these are just the tip of the iceberg, with a lot more to come — the Clinton kleptocracy is trying divert the issue into “blaming” it all on Russia’s supposed stealing of the DNC’s emails.

Ummm, question: Wasn’t this exactly what the Repubs were attacking Clinton for doing, for using her personal email accounts to address national business under the supposition that doing so made it easier for a foreign power to hack?

So how come the DNC is now accusing Russia — falsely, at that — with hacking their insecure, revolting emails against Bernie Sanders? Did Russia write those emails? Is the DNC admitting to using unsecured servers, too?

Remember Watergate? It started with President Richard Nixon‘s henchmen trying to break into the Democratic Party headquarters to steal back the bugs they planted in trying to obtain the Dems’ playbook (i.e., today’s emails!). It was the coverup that propelled Watergate into the national spotlight and not the break-in itself, as stupid as that was. Will the similar framework play out here, but on a much larger scale? Will Hillary go to war with Russia, as she seems intent on doing (as opposed to Trump) in order to cover-up the phony charges she and the other Dem honchos are leveling at Russia?

As much as I hated Nixon, the movement forced him to do all sorts of progressive things against his instincts: The creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, supporter of Guaranteed Minimum Income payments, recognition of China ….. even as he bombed the hell out of Vietnam and Cambodia. He was every bit as despicable, racist and anti-Semitic as Trump in his statements — maybe more so. But in terms of economic and environmental policy he was forced to be the most liberal president of the last 50 years, and the ruling class had to get rid of Nixon; they latched onto Watergate in order to do it.

In ’68 and ’72 we faced a very similar framing of the choices before us as we’re faced with today. The “Clean for Gene” McCarthy movement in ’68 paralleled today’s Bernie Sanders campaign. With more and more people refusing to vote for the evil of two lessers, and with fear being the driving force the Democrats are using to propel folks to vote for Clinton (who is this generation’s Hubert Humphrey, a disgusting political insider, but Clinton is much worse), I’ll be voting for Jill Stein and the Greens. Jill most likely won’t win, and even if she did it would require a mass revolutionary movement to empower the Green Party to make the changes we need. But Jill’s campaign is an expression of the social and ecological movements she — and we — come out of and continue to be involved in. Can you say the same for Clinton or Trump?

Don’t vote for “Clump”. Time to exit the Dems — DemExit — for those still hoping against hope to reform either of the twin corporate parties. They are both poison (with Hillary being a proponent not only of fracking and war with Russia, but also of Monsanto and the genetic engineering of agriculture).

The real debate is the capitalist system vs. the immune system. Let’s stand together with Jill Stein and the Greens on the side of the immune system.

THE SELLING OF NYC’S PUBLIC LIBRARIES

It started under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who put so much of New York City’s public space up for sale …. er, “development”.

Whether it was community gardens, the City’s water supply under Rudy Giuliani, public hospitals, parks, housing, public radio, prisons, or public libraries, NYC’s 3-term billionaire Mayor prettified the theft of public resources by calling it “public-private partnerships”. The Manhattan Institute — a reactionary “think tank” shaping public policy — presented “partnerships” as its preferred model, enabling the privatization of all sorts of publicly owned projects under the guise of “improving” them.

And so went the Donnell Library, the 2nd biggest library in the NY Public Library system with — prior to 2008, when it was shut down and slated for demolition — 300,000 books and heavy-duty research facilities. As the Committee to Save the NY Public Library wrote in 2012:

The Donnell Library appears to be a model for how the NYPL plans to “transform” libraries (including the Mid-Manhattan), selling off the real-estate and shrinking them into much smaller spaces designed for socializing rather than learning.

The much-loved Donnell was an oasis of light and air, and featured an exceptional children’s library along with outstanding foreign language and audio-visual collections.  It was sold to developers for a pittance and demolished in 2009.  As [NY Times architectural critic Michael] Kimmelman writes,

Across West 53rd Street from MoMA, the Donnell Library Center, a long-shuttered branch of the New York Public Library, is scheduled to reopen late next year at the same spot but in the bowels of a new luxury hotel, at a third of its former size, with wide bleacher seating and steps as the main feature.

“More like a cultural space, which is about gathering people, giving people the opportunity to encounter each other,” is how the library’s architect, Enrique Norten, describes the plan.

It’s all the same flimflam: flexible spaces to accommodate to-be-named programming, the logic of real estate developers hiding behind the magical thinking of those who claim cultural foresight. It almost never works.

When the old Donnell — now renamed the 53rd St. Library — re-opened last week down the block from the new Museum of Modern Art, it was a shell of its former shelf, to coin a phrase. The library was now in the two basement floors of a giant luxury tower. As Citizens Defending Libraries puts it:

•     The former Donnell held at least 300,000 books when the NYPL closed it (that’s by the NYPL’s own admission, we think it once held many more). The “replacement” has 20,000 books.

•    The former Donnell was 97,000 square feet. The “replacement,” just over one-quarter that, 28,000 square feet.

•    The former Donnell was five stories above ground, much of it newly renovated, like the new teen center and state of the art media center. It also had a marvelous new below ground auditorium. The “replacement,” is largely underground and largely book-less. The “replacement” has no media center, no teen center, no equivalent auditorium.

•    The children’s room is in the basement of the “replacement,” not so the old Donnell.

The City is reported to have been paid either $59 million (the original figure) or $67 million (a new figure, reflecting some fancy footwork and bookkeeping) for the rights to knock down the old library and build their luxury condo. The penthouse is now on the market for $54+ million alone, and apartments on the upper floors are going for $23 million, each.

I looked around the new library and was struck by the relative absence of books, lack of “stacks”, and the sterility of the children’s reading room.

Here’s a report I filed on the re-opening after 8 years of the Donnell Library, and the protest outside of it.

 

And, as I said, this “public-private partnership” has now become the model for all library improvements throughout the City. A big fight is underway in Brooklyn Heights, where Bloomberg’s scheme is now being driven by Mayor Bill deBlasio. Brooklyn’s second most popular library (containing a major business library and other research facilities) has been stripped of all its books and only a fierce movement among library defenders stands between the historic structure and the wrecking ball, with the Sunset Park library and others to follow suit.

Here is the seventh in an ongoing series of reports in which I trace the sale of the Brooklyn Heights library and the burgeoning scandal. In this segment I interview Marilyn Berkon of Citizens Defending Libraries. The group has requested that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara investigate Hudson Inc. and its CEO, David Kramer’s, “pay to play” donations to Mayor deBlasio’s slush fund in exchange for winning the bid on the Brooklyn Heights public library property. The report aired June 28, 2016 on WBAI radio‘s Morning Show co-hosted by Michael G. Haskins and Pam Brown.

 

• Report #1: City Council Subcommittee hearing, by Mitchel Cohen, November 18, 2015.

Report #2: Interview with City Council member Steve Levin About Selling off the Libraries, by Mitchel Cohen, November 30, 2015. This includes Steve Levin’s denial that a compromise deal was in the offing. It also include the story (activism and Domino project related) he met his wife.

Report #3: Gathering Outside Councilman Steve Levin’s Office evening BEFORE the City Council vote, by Mitchel Cohen, December 9, 2015. This includes a street performance of Judy Gorman’s Library Song.

Report #4: on Citizens Defending Libraries Gathering AFTER the City Council vote, by Mitchel Cohen, December 10, 2015. This includes Councilman Mark Treyger explaining councilmen votes, Norman Savitt’s testimony before the City Council, and discussion of Stephen Levin sellout of community.

Report #5: WBAI News: In the news tonight the New York City Council agrees to sell of the Brooklyn Heights Library, Linda Perry anchor, Mitchel Cohen reporting, December 16, 2015 (Library story starts at: 3:24) This segment includes Councilman Steve Levin being confronted in the City Hall rotunda over his betrayal of the community and the lack of transparency he promoted.

Report #6: Press conference at Brooklyn Boro Hall, Mitchel Cohen, March 1, 2016.

Report #7: interview with Marilyn Berkon of Citizens Defending Libraries. The group has requested that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara investigate Hudson Inc.’s “pay to play” Brooklyn Heights public library sale. The report aired June 28, 2016 on WBAI radio‘s Morning Show co-hosted by Michael G. Haskins and Pam Brown.

Report #8: Report from the re-opening of the 53rd St. Library (formerly the Donnell library), and the protest outside of it, including Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer; vice-chair of the Committee to Save the NY Public Library Theodor Gruenwald; economist Keat Foong, of Citizens Defending Libraries; and Marty Rajendron, of the Raging Grannies.

Report #9: Interview with economist Lynne Ellsworth, award-winning preservationist who calls it “hogwash” that the City says it has nowhere else to turn for needed funds except to real estate developers. In conversation with Mitchel Cohen, June 11th, 2016.

WBAI “The Morning Show”:  Michael G. Haskins Interviews Citizens Defending Libraries Co-Founders Michael D. D. White and Carolyn E. McIntyre, January 7, 2016 (interview, the last 1/2 hour about 3/4ths through the two hour show was broadcast at 7:30 AM). Jillian Jonas helped in arranging this interview.

WBAI “The Morning Show”:  Michael G. Haskins Interviews Citizens Defending Libraries Co-Founders Michael D. D. White and Carolyn E. McIntyre, June 17, 2016 (interview, the last 1/2 hour about 3/4ths through the two hour show was broadcast at 7:30 AM).  (Link to downloadable file.) Hear about the latest NYPL for sale, the so-called Donnell “replacement,” litigation, the federal criminal investigation, how NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman should be taking action to save the public from the loss of the Brooklyn Heights and other libraries. Jillian Jonas helped in arranging this interview.

• WBAI “Behind The News with Nellie Bailey”:  Selling NYC Libraries With Michael D. D. White of Citizens Defending Libraries and Laurie Frey of Love Brooklyn Libraries!, Wednesday, March 9, 2016 5:00 pm.  (This is a full one-hour interview after the vote of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and the Brooklyn Borough Board.)

Nellie Hester Bailey on right, Laurie Frey of Love Brooklyn Libraries! on left