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

REMEMBERING DENNIS BRUTUS, AS WELL AS NELSON MANDELA

Nelson Mandela is now widely seen as a hero, exemplifying what is best in the human spirit. But some of those same folks today extolling Mandela’s virtues are also the ones who locked him in South Africa’s dungeons and condemned him for taking up arms against the vicious Apartheid regime.

One of Mandela’s equally heroic comrades was Dennis Brutus, the great poet, thinker and revolutionary. CLICK HERE to hear Mitchel Cohen’s interview with Dennis Brutus, who died four years ago.

Right near the beginning, Dennis reflects on the time that Nelson Mandela while underground came to his apartment to hide out from the apartheid death squads funded by the United States government and multinational corporations.

Below is a photo of Dennis Brutus with our hearty band of n’er-do-wells at dinner in Park Slope, Brooklyn, following the radio interview in July 2008. Dennis died on December 26, 2009 at 85 years of age.

Dinner in Brooklyn (July, 2008) with Dennis Brutus. From Left (clockwise): Robert Gold, Dennis Brutus, Shaune Velasquez, Murray Gordon, Alison Cichowski, Cathryn Swan, Frank LeFever, Mitchel Cohen

November, 1963

On November 22, 1963, the CIA had U.S. President John F. Kennedy assassinated. JFK was clearly no leftist, but he was moving rapidly in that direction when he commented that he wanted to entirely dismantle the CIA and that he planned to pull all U.S. forces out of Vietnam. Several newer books on the subject are well worth reading in re-assessing JFK and what his assassination meant to everything that followed: David Talbot’s The Devils Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government and Peter Janney”s Mary’s Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and their Vision for World Peace.

In the last year we lost two of the key people in exposing the JFK and other assassinations — Dick Gregory, and Mark Lane. These books are worthy additions to their enormous contributions to understanding the kind of country we live  in.

Below, is a wonderful photoshopped satire of the iconic photograph from November 24, 1963, when gangster Jack Ruby murdered JFK assassination patsy Lee Harvey Oswald, in the basement of the Dallas police station, despite Oswald being surrounded by police and FBI.

The Oswald Band’s last live performance, November 24, 1963.

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 »

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

defend-immigrant-rights-washington-square-park-rally-cohen-daily-news

Photo by Stan Costanza, NY Daily News, January 26, 2017 (Cohen is pictured in the middle left with beard.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PROFILES OF PROTEST #3

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

 

LEFT FORUM 2016

CLICK HERE TO HEAR THE PANEL MITCHEL ORGANIZED AT THE 2016 LEFT FORUM IN NYC, with panelists: Margaret Stevens, Ann Snitow, Irene Javors, Jack Shalom (dialectical magic – video!), Mitchel Cohen, and Debbie Despina Sophia Stamos. Also invited, Sister Dragonfly, was unable to attend.

A TALK IN HAVANA

Mural - cover to pamphlet

Giant mural at University of Havana in support of Occupy Wall Street. Details list hundreds of corporations and their profits for the year.

A talk by Mitchel Cohen at the “Seminar on Socialist Renewal and the Capitalist Crisis – A Cuban-North American Exchange”, Havana, Cuba: June 16-30, 2013

in association with the Center for Global Justice, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and the Radical Philosophy Association

Mitchel Cohen’s poem about Cuba, “The Unrepentant Bather (90 Miles Out)”, opened the talk and was brilliantly translated into Spanish by Karell Acosta, University of Havana

This talk is dedicated to our comrade and teacher

TITO GERASSI, from Cuba Pamphlet

John “Tito” Gerassi

July 12, 1931 – July 26, 2012
always a true friend of the Cuban revolution

You can hear Mitchel’s radio interview with Tito Gerassi HERE:

 

THE UNREPENTANT BATHER (90 MILES OUT)

My love swims alone
in an ocean of sharks
circling to starboard
circling to bow
waiting their moment
off guard, stroke falters
gnashing their teeth
flexing their jaws
wearing the defenses down

Swim for your life, sweetheart,
Swim for your life!
Don’t give up an inch,
Don’t fall for the trap!
The sharks are all circling
’Round History’s bones
You swim there alone
Under attack

My love swims alone
paradoxically dreams
of lush old-growth forests
& crystalline streams
but industry dangles
“development’s” lures
gnashing their teeth
flexing their jaws
baiting the bloodlash
of “Progress”

Swim for your life, Cuba
Swim for your life!
Don’t give up an inch,
Don’t fall for the trap!
The sharks are all circling
’Round History’s bones
You swim there alone
Under attack
Swim faster
Keep swimming
Keep swimming

–––––––––––––

SOUTH AFRICAN FREEDOM FIGHTER STEVE BIKO observed: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” Nowhere do those sentiments apply more than they do to Cuba during the special period of the 1990s and 2000s -– a time that was extremely harrowing for all Cubans. But the people of Cuba refused to consider themselves victims. They responded creatively. They formed new and ecologically innovative projects that might otherwise have never gotten the chance, for unless it is disrupted, the hegemony of the capitalist industrial model of dev­elopment plagues even countries aspiring to socialism.

Who would have thought 40 years ago that Fidel Castro, in his old-age, would become a stirring spokesperson for the global environmental movement, of all things? Yet, here’s Fidel:

“Should we expect that densely populated countries such as China, India, Indonesia, will have as many automobiles in proportion to their population as North Am­erica and Western Europe?”

He answers his own question:

“Well, it’s necessary: The expansion of capital requires it. It’s also impossible; the earth cannot sustain it.”

Here’s Fidel again, this time in 1990 evaluating the effects in Cuba of the imported Eastern European machinery:

“Let’s speak clearly once and for all … We Cubans don’t export garbage. But often what we get back in trade is junk! No one else in the world buys Bulgarian forklifts. They are such garbage, only we bought them. How many hundreds, thousands of them stand idle in our warehouses? The Hungarian buses … pollute the city with fumes and poison everyone around. Who knows how many people have died from the fumes of those buses just because they put in a defective fuel pump? On top of it all, those buses have a two-speed Czech transmission that alone wastes 30 percent of the fuel! Oh, how happy I am to speak with such openness! [Fidel said.] It’s been difficult to talk about these things in the past, but thanks to these new circumstances we have been relieved of our previous compromises.”

Much of that honest evaluation and many of the ecological advances emerging from it entailed what at first were experienced as enormous sacrifices by the Cuban people. Over time, however, they became NOT sacrifices but a badge of national pride, a striving by an entire people for something greater, and a rejecting of the notion that the “good life” must be based on the mass production and accumulation of commodities and the consequent massive consumption of Nature.

This was an ideological advance. It was no small feat achieved by the Cuban revolution, even if in the beginning of the Special Period it was the result of making a virtue of necessity. Cuba’s example provided, and continues to provide, a revolutionary eco-socialist impulse inspiring many throughout the world to think about what we’d like to see in a new and humane society, how we should treat each other, animals and Nature. How can we or­gan­ize our lives so that we deepen our consciousness and com­mitment to each other and take action for social justice and for saving this god-forsaken planet?

Let me state my conclusions here, just so these points don’t get lost.

  1. We, friends of the Cuban Revolution, need to oppose gen­etic engineering of agriculture, which is fundamentally a mechanism of colonization of the living cell. Through gen­etic engineering capitalist relations re-emerge, even in an aspiring socialist country like Cuba.
  2. We need to refuse to accept, and to reframe, what is promulgated as “The Good Life.”
  3. We need to train ourselves in how to think and plan holistically.
  4. We need to stop fetishizing science and technology. They are not neutral. They do not stand apart from the class struggle. They are not our saviors. They are dripping with the ideology of the dominant capitalist framework of the societies in which they develop. To say that they are “ideology free” is itself part of that dominant ideology!
  5. We need to reframe THE WAY we raise and fight for is­sues, so that we can create institutions that begin to im­ple­ment solutions through our own direct action, even as we make appeals to the system to do “this or that” for us. We then fight to defend those liberated zones, and we strive to expand them until they become the new society in embryo.
  6. To do all that, we need to practice how to bring out the ecological dimension that is buried in every issue. We may need to actively search for it, but it is there. Make it visible. Take action.

  *   *   *

A SPECTER IS HAUNTING THIS PLANET – the specter of biological devastation and ecological catastrophe. It is ravaging all the ecosystems sustaining life. Butterflies, frogs, bees, redwood forests – whole familiar and essential species are in sudden danger of being wiped out by pesticides and chemical agriculture, pollution, petrochemical emissions, wastes and radiation from nuclear power plants – all fueling global climate change – and genetically engineered crops. Mechanisms for propagation – even seeds! – are coming under the private own­ership of a tiny number of very large agro-chemical corporations bent on extending their control over land – and water – and monopolizing the world’s food supply by altering the repro­duc­tive capacities of entire species.

In the U.S., this colonization is legitimized by new Enclosure Acts similar to those of centuries ago, a legal fiction codifying the shameless orgy of capitalist profit and conquest. Here’s Fidel, once again, sharply criticizing the use of the world’s available land for monocropping plants for biofuels and the resulting elimination of the world’s forests, which Fidel termed “The inter­nationalization of genocide.”

Indeed! In the last 50 years, fully 80 percent of the world’s forests have been chopped down. One Cuban scientist told me that “trees are nice to have, but they are a secondary concern when we are talking about the needs of people, which come first” – a surprisingly un-dialectical view. Forests prevent floods; they maintain healthy soil; they defuse hurricanes and detoxify drinking water. They oxygenate the air; they serve as habitats for thousands of species. In the U.S., less than 5 percent of the old-growth forests remain. In Argentina and Brazil, huge swaths of primeval rainforest are being cut down and the land mono­cropped with genetically engineered soy for animal feed and biofuels exported to the United States, Japan, China and Europe. In Indonesia, millions of acres of forest have been burned for palm oil production, mining and cattle grazing. In Mexico the Lacan­dona forest – the home of the ancient Mayan people and the Zapatista rebellion – is under siege by international paper com­panies as much as by federal troops. Under Clinton and Gore more trees were clearcut in the U.S. than by any of their predecessors in recent history – COMBINED!

The destruction of forests is one of the most notorious contributors to global climate change and the pending ecocide of this planet. The NY Times cuts down 60,000 trees per week to publish its Sunday paper. Don’t expect the Times to stray too far from its mantra of corporate “rights”.

Remember, por favor, there is no ‘Planet B’! No more the once magnificent old growth forests; no more the pristine drinking water, healthy soils, non-mutated frogs, pollinating bees, seas teeming with fish – the entire North Atlantic has been “fished out,” if you can even call what industrial trawlers do these days “fishing,” scraping miles of giant steel mesh weighing 15 tons each through the most ancient and protected parts of the world’s oceans, sweeping up everything in their path. And, as we know, the polar ice caps are melting, which is already causing the oceans to rise by many meters, and threatening to wipe out not only Greenland, but New York City and Havana within the next two decades!

One hundred and sixty years ago, the 24-year-old editor of Cologne’s Reinische Zeitung wrote forceful editorials in defense of the forest against privatization, and in favor of the rights of peasants to collect dead wood from the forest floor – lands that had been unrestricted by law and used in common for millennia. The editor – Karl Marx – railed against the state’s jack-booted storm­troopers’ expropriation of the Commons. Marx named that ex­pro­priation “primitive accumulation.” He exposed the system’s legal­ization of such plunder as part and parcel of the emerging cap­i­tal­ist class’ attempts to increase its control of the State. He pointed out that by 1842, 85 percent of all prosecutions in the Rhineland dealt with a new crime: the “theft” of dead wood lying on the ground, which the State applied only to peasants while allowing wealthy businessmen and corporations to strip whole forests with impunity. It was Marx, especially, who explained how such “en­closures” came to receive acceptance socially and sanction in law.

KARL MARX IN HIS STUDY - for pamphlet

30-year-old Karl Marx in the offices of The Neue Rheinische Zeitung: Organ der Demokratie (“New Rhenish Newspaper: Organ of Democracy”), a German daily newspaper he published between June 1, 1848 and May 19 1849.

How did it happen that people allowed public lands and early machinery to be privatized and re-shaped to serve the needs of capital? Why didn’t people revolt? (Well they did, according to Silvia Federici, in her great book Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation.) We can ask the same questions today: How did our once-public universities, hospitals, beaches, libraries, drinking water, parks and even prisons in the United States suddenly become privatized? Private mercenary armies now make up a large percentage of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan; the water tables are so polluted that drinking water is now sold in plastic bottles, their sources owned by the world’s largest corporations, and the plastic wastes have accumulated in the Pacific Ocean forming a floating plastic island five times the size of Cuba!

It is worth remembering that Marx’s critique of capitalism started with his denunciation of the cutting down of forests for private profit, the enclosure of lands used in common, and the State’s criminalization of peasants taking dead wood for heating and cooking. Ecological justice was central to Marx’s outlook from his earliest writings. Today, Marx would be railing against indus­tri­al agriculture and especially the use of genetically engineered crops.

But since his death in 1883 and until very recently, Marx’s followers for the most part have ignored his writings on the environment and ecological justice, which were based on his for­mulation of the twin sources of value – the exploitation of Labor and the expropriation of Nature. The Communist parties have, contra Marx, repeatedly called for developing the instruments of production at any cost, rarely analyzing the vastly destructive role played by the expropriation of Nature (a primitive accumulation which is ongoing, at all times) in the production of wealth and in the reproduction of the capitalist system, which was central to Marx’s analysis of capitalist accumulation, as most tersely pre­sen­ted in The Critique of the Gotha Programme. In omitting or min­i­mi­z­ing the expropriation of nature, Marxists have allowed cap­i­tal­ism’s – and “actually existing Socialism’s” – ravaging of the envi­ronment through its industrial form of production to go unchallenged.

Along with the industrial form of production comes the following: the drudgery of the assembly line and office; the inferno of rotten relationships and rancid dreams; the privatization of ev­erything and twisting of everybody into things to be bought and sold; the reproduction and consolidation of patriarchy, hierarchy, domination and exploitation; the subjugation of Nature (and of the Nature within – our very chromosomes and cells!) to the exi­gen­cies of production and the market; the exploitation of natural and human resources; the irreversible destruction of the environment and the planet – all are embedded in industrial technology as such. Industrial technology reproduces the social conditions and ideol­o­gy of the capitalist system even under Socialism. And we, who are raised in those same conditions have become dependent on them; we can barely conceive of how to reorganize society to satisfy hu­man needs in any other way. Steeped as we are in cap­i­talist and patriarchal ideology, industrial production seems to us most “nat­ural”. Our longing for what constitutes “Pro­gress” and “the good life” is shackled to industrial production, its products, and its cap­italist integuments. Those who try to uproot those as­sumptions are smeared as quaint “throwbacks” to an earlier time or, should their challenges take root, as “Luddites” and then dismissed.

Contrary to the popular misconception, the Luddites of 1811 did NOT oppose the use of tools or machinery. They organized across England hammers in hand to dismember that new form of technology that broke up and colonized their communities – the centralized giant looms owned by a few wealthy owners. In France, they threw “sabots” (wooden shoes) into the gears (and hence the term “sabotage”). The Grow or Die system physically crushed the Luddites and other mass movements, and then obliterated memory of their heroic example from the history texts. The new technologies and the commodities produced through their use embody an ensemble of social relations that do not stand outside of the history of exploitation, organization of production, class relations, hierarchies of domination and control, the desecration of the natural environment, and destruction of the Commons. Industrial production based on the assembly line and now the genetic engineering of agriculture are technologies of colonization of both Labor and Nature, no matter the kind of system utilizing them.

We Leftists must reject the “factory form” of production altogether. The Cuban revolution had begun to envision new ways for producing the things humans need and desire, but that could only be made possible when we stop measuring “progress” through a striving for “efficiency” – at least an “efficiency” as measured through capitalist criteria. Where, for example, are all of those supposedly “inefficient” bicycles that had daily flooded the streets of Havana in the ’90s, streets that are choking, once again, on the exhaust of GM and Ford dinosaurs of the 1950s? The charms of the old cars fade quickly when we consider that they exacerbate asthma, cause lung cancer, and increase infant mortality and health costs to society as a whole – costs that the capitalist model excludes from its measure of “efficiency”. Regardless of which class owns and controls the means of production, capitalism’s shaping of “progress” and “the good life” will inevitably end up undermining the forces of socialism and ravaging the planet.

So now, let’s get back to that “bloodlash of ‘Progress’ ” and alternatives to it.

Cuba could become the world leader in global ecology, organic agriculture, and alternative and sustainable solar energy. Even in the far more impoverished and chaotic Haitian country­side Solar Energy powers whole communities. Why not in Cuba? With planning, Cuba could become the exemplar of what socialist revolution could mean in practice. It could present not only “health care for all” but, in addition, an expansive view of comple­mentary or holistic medicine freed from the biases of Western technological and pharmaceutical models. Imagine thousands of visitors flocking to Cuba to learn ecologically sound planning, farming, diet and health!

But for that to happen, the Revolution must reach deeply into that well of its most precious waters – the creativity, high political consciousness and humor of its people – that is, its Socialism! Cubans would take pride in being the first western country to reject the industrial model of science & ecology, and in leading the charge to saving the planet. That is what socialism must become. Socialists must reject that bloodlash of ‘progress’ that whips all who stray back into the neoliberal model, with its technological quick-fix “solutions” like the so-called “Green Revolution” and Genetic Engineering. We must create a new Internationale of those who exert their self-determination as a people, as anti-imperialists, and as Eco-Warriors in defense of this planet. More than ever, the choice comes down to this: The Capitalist System vs. the Immune System – for the entire planet!

Cuba has begun experimenting with the genetic engineering of agriculture. We’ve heard mixed reports about how far along that is and what the process will be in determining Cuba’s future in that regard. Socialists should not have to ask – but I guess we still need to do so – whether manufacturing living plants to withstand huge amounts of pesticides and herbicides, or turning every cell in a stalk of corn into a mini-pesticide factory that sterilizes the soil of nutrients and life and that won’t wash off, is something that socialists should applaud, regardless of whether it would increase yield – and it doesn’t even do that when all factors are considered. Please remember, we are no longer talking about the customary technologies that at least in theory could be re-called, like a car, if a flaw is discovered. Once a genetically modified organism is re­leased into the wild it cannot be taken back. It’s too late. It’s out there reproducing on its own. And, through drift, it pollutes the land and colonizes the local plants and natural environment.

Agro-Ecologists Fernando Funes Aguilar, Miguel Altieri, and Fernando R. Funes-Monzote convincingly show that newly avail­able financial and material resources … “are for the most part be­ing used to implement specialized conventional, large-scale monoculture” in Cuba. They write that “such industrial agricul­ture for export is dependent on genetically engineered corn and soy, heavy use of pesticides and herbicides, and centralized mono­cropping requiring the use of large machinery, non-organic fertilizer, and heavy use of water.”

In fact, in 2011 the pesticide manufacturer “Juan Rodriguez Gomez” IN HAVANA, produced around 100,000 liters of the herbicide Glyphosate, according to Funes. Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp, a toxic herbicide suspected by Greenpeace of causing cancer and nerve disorders, and is especially dangerous for children.

Will the drive for much-needed investments let the devil out of Pandora’s box and overrun the socialist potential in Cuba’s eco­nomic and ecologically sound policies? We need to follow Fidel’s lead here and think more carefully about our acceptance of such capitalist technologies as genetic engineering and nuclear power.

I invite our comrades in the Cuban government and the Cuban people to put an end to this deadly experiment with genetic engin­eering and a return to chemical agriculture before it goes any fur­ther, and before it becomes too late to reverse course, and to pub­li­cize that position at the U.N. and throughout Latin America. Im­ag­ine the powerful shot-in-the-arm to the global movement against GMOs, should Cuba join it and provide it with socialist leadership!

Cuba, POR FAVOR, stop the experimentation with genetically engineered crops and seeds now!

I close with two excerpts from poems, the first by the great Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal:

“Nothing ever comes to the sleeper but a dream.”

And the second by Percy Bysshe Shelley:

“Rise like lions after slumber
In Unvanquishable number
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in Sleep have fallen on you
Ye are many, they are few.”

* * *

Following the talk, Mitchel circulated the following Open Letter, and asked for signatures:

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CUBAN PEOPLE AGAINST GENETIC ENGINEERING OF AGRICULTURE

We, the undersigned friends of the Cuban revolution visiting Havana and participating in the Encuentro of “Socialist Reno­va­tion and Capitalist Crisis,” are deeply concerned with the pro­posed introduction of genetically modified agriculture to Cuba.

We recognize that unlike other technologies, once a genetically engineered organism is released into the wild, it will be difficult to recall. The engineered genes will drift, invade other plants and reproduce on their own, transforming indigenous plants in ways that are not known, unplanned, and potentially dangerous to human health and to Cuba’s sensitive ecological balance.

We oppose the genetic engineering of agriculture in our own countries and we urge a full and public discussion of this issue in Cuba, hopefully leading to Cuba’s complete rejection of gen­et­ic­al­ly engineered agricultural technology.

Mitchel Cohen
Green Party, and WBAI Radio
Brooklyn, New York

Nancy Cain
Sierra Club
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Beth Youhn
BACLT
Oakland, California

Larry Udell
West Chester University
Poenixville, Pennsylvania

Eduardo Mendieta
Stony Brook University
E. Setauket, New York

MarxLenin P. Valdes
Universidad de la Habana
La Habana, Cuba

David Schweikert
Loyola University
Chicago, Illinois

Gene Vanderport
Socialist Forum
Urbana, Illinois

Peter Ranis
City College of NY Graduate Center
New York City, New York

Frank Marshalek
Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana

Vicki Legion
American Federation of Teachers
San Francisco, California

Yodenis Guirola
University of Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain/Sta Clara, Cuba

Chris Kinder
Labor Action to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
Oakland, California

Zoila Fajardo
Universidad de la Habana
Habana, Cuba

William Crossman
Cuban 5 Committee
Oakland, California

Rita L. Moneia Fernandez
Medico Master C.P.
Universidad de la Habana
Habana, Cuba

Orlando Cruz Capote
Institute Filosofia
Universidad de la Habana
Habana, Cuba

* Names of organizations are for identification purposes only. The indivi­d­ual signing the open letter is self-iden­ti­fying as a member of that organization, but that should not be taken to imply that the organization itself has neces­sarily taken a position on this issue.

REMEMBERING DAN BERRIGAN

“Dan Berrigan was a moral giant and the closest thing we have in our society to a prophet.”  – Jeremy Scahill

Mitchel Cohen writes: I was standing in the back of the jam-packed, magnificent Church of St. Francis Xavier on W. 16th St. in Manhattan Friday for the funeral and “sending off” of liberation theology Catholic priest, poet and anti-war hero Dan Berrigan, when the entire church — following the choir’s lead — broke into Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s 9th. Spine-chilling and beautiful. As Dan Berrigan’s casket was carried slowly through the church and out into the waiting hearse,  people broke the protocol and cheered and roared appreciation of a wonderful and meaningful life. Ohhhhh …….

  • AUDIO from last few minutes of Dan Berrigan’s funeral by Mitchel Cohen. Click HERE.
  • Jeremy Scahill — author of Blackwater and Dirty Wars — remembers his times and inspirations with Dan Berrigan and the love of ice cream. From great coverage by Democracy Now! Click HERE.
  • Amy Goodman, Frida Berrigan, Bill Quigley, “Dan Berrigan: A Moral Giant” on Democracy Now! Click HERE.

From Jeremy Scahill’s interview on Democracy Now!

In 1981, on CNN, Chris Wallace says to Dan Berrigan, basically, “Well, you used to be famous, but nobody really pays much attention to what you do these days.” Meanwhile, a year earlier, Dan and his colleagues had gone into this nuclear plant at the General Electric factory in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and hammered on Mark 12A warheads, starting the Plowshares Movement, which became global. But Dan’s response to Chris Wallace was just classic Dan Berrigan and also just sort of stunning in its simple brilliance. He said, “Well, you know, we don’t view our conscience as being tethered to the other end of a television cord.”

ENDORSING BERNIE SANDERS IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY

OUTRAGED NYC VOTERS AT THE BOARD OF ELECTIONS

Please Listen to this report:

 

I am not a Democrat, I’m an enrolled Green, and I hope Bernie Sanders accepts Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s offer to run an independent campaign with her on the Green Party line. Jill Stein has even offered to run as Vice-Presidential candidate and Bernie could run for President as a Green.

In New York, Greens and other independents were not permitted to vote in the Democratic Party primary. Which is, in my view, as it should be, despite others’ calls for “Open Primaries.” We wouldn’t want hordes of corporate Democrats or Republicans swarming into the Green Party primary and taking over the Greens, right?

Still, as a Green, I made an exception and helped campaign for Bernie Sanders. It’s not often that I’d done that — in fact, I have never before campaigned for a Democrat for president. Well, at least not since Eugene McCarthy in 1968. But this campaign is so critical in raising …. not just socialism (democratic, of course), or peace, or justice, or environmental issues, but just plain old human decency in the face of lunatics and fascists (and I include Hillary Clinton in that camp. I believe she is even more dangerous than Donald Trump who is awful but not as awful as Cruz).

Below are some audio clips of interviews I’ve done for WBAI covering various election events.

Clip #1: April 14, 2016 I inadvertently stumbled into a bar in Brooklyn, corner of Cortelyou Rd. and Coney Island Avenue. Sign in the window said “Watch the debate here”. Inside the small bar, over 70 people — mostly young — screamed at the TV, interjected comments continuously, and if there was a Hillary Clinton supporter in there at the start there weren’t any by the end.


 

Clip #2: April 13, 2016Walking at talking with Marxist economist Rick Wolff following the giant Sanders rally in Washington Square Park, April 13th 2016.


 

Clip #3: April 13, 2016 — Bernie Sanders’ speech to 50,000 people in and around Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, NYC.


 

Clip #4: April 10, 2016. On the blustery boardwalk at Coney Island, waiting for the Sanders rally. I met a man — an immigrant from Russia — who is an enrolled Republican with a very interesting story and an open mind.


 

Clip #5: April 7, 2016 — Haitian activists waiting in line to hear Bernie Sanders speak at his old homestead in Flatbush, near Kings Highway. They have quite a lot to say about Hillary Clinton and her despicable role in Haiti.


 

Clip #6: April 7, 2016 — Rev. Paul Patrick, on line to hear Bernie Sanders in Flatbush. This was broadcast on the WBAI Evening News.

 
Clip #7: April 7, 2016 — Jewish 11 & 12-year-olds in Flatbush supporting Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

 
Clip #8: April 7, 2016 — Former Brooklyn College professor Nancy Romer talks about building a movement, at the Sanders speech in Flatbush.

 
Clip #9: April 7, 2016 — French journalist at Sanders rally in Flatbush puts in a plug for WBAI radio.

STEALING THE NY PRIMARY FOR HILLARY – BERNIE, WATCH OUT!

BY MITCHEL COHEN

“No one knows who Bernie Sanders is”, said U.S. Congressional representative Charles Rangel just 3 months ago, as Rangel once again endorsed Hillary Clinton. “I never consider Senator Bernie Sanders to be in the same professional standard for the president as I do Hillary Clinton, not by a long shot.”

– U.S. Congressional Representative Charles Rangel

Americans are notorious for having very short memories. So with Charlie Rangel on the stump again for Hillary Clinton, let’s go back 8 years to 2008 when Clinton was running in the Democratic Primary for President of the United States against Barack Obama.

At polling places in Charlie Rangel’s Harlem congressional district, EDs were reporting votes of 300 to ZERO, 240 to ZERO, for Clinton over Obama — IN HARLEM.

In Brooklyn, dozens of Election District’s — some in predominantly Black neighborhoods — reported zero votes for Obama and 93 votes for Clinton. (See the Brooklyn Paper story, below.)

Continue reading »

THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF BERTA CÁCERES

“We know with complete certainty that the motivation for her vile assassination was her struggle against the exploitation of nature’s common wealth and the defense of the Lenca people. Her murder is an attempt to put an end to the struggle of the Lenca people against all forms of exploitation and expulsion. It is an attempt to halt the construction of a new world. Berta’s struggle was not only for the environment, it was for system change, in opposition to capitalism, racism and patriarchy.”

– Berta’s Mother and children

REPORT BY LINDA PERRY & MITCHEL COHEN FOR WBAI RADIO’S EVENING NEWS, MARCH 21, 2016

 

REPORT BY AMY GOODMAN FOR DEMOCRACY NOW! BEFORE HER ASSASSINATION, BERTA CACERES SINGLED OUT HILLARY CLINTON FOR BACKING HONDURAN COUP
CLICK HERE

⇒See April 2 UPDATE below …..

Gustavo Castro Witnessed the Murder of Berta Cáceres. That Means His Life Is in Danger.

by Beverly Bell

In the face of silence from Washington, the Clinton-backed coup government in Honduras is mopping up activists for democracy and indigenous rights.

The sole eyewitness to Honduran social movement leader Berta Cáceres’ assassination on March 3, 2016 has gone from being wounded victim to, effectively, political prisoner.

Now Gustavo Castro Soto may also be framed as the murderer of his long-time friend.

Mexico’s ambassador to Honduras, Dolores Jiménez, and Castro himself are worried that the Mexican national will be charged by the government for the killing, they told the National Commission of Human Rights of Honduras on March 16.

“No matter where one is or with whom one works, activists are not safe in Honduras.”

Continue reading »

WHAT DO TERRORISTS EAT?

The following letter by Mitchel Cohen was published in the Linewaiters’ Gazette, the newspaper of the Park Slope Food Coop.

Let me ask a question: What do terrorists eat?

Halal? Kosher? Organic? Vegetarian?

Do they shop at the Park Slope Food Coop? A government-designated “terrorist” might be working right next to you!

One Coop member (Daniel McGowan) spent 7 years in jail for so-called “eco-terrorist” acts — attempting to save the planet. A former member of the Coop (Paul Bermanzohn) was shot by the Klan — who were assisted by the FBI — 40 years ago and was seriously wounded, for demonstrating with people maligned as “terrorists”. Five were killed. Currently, people who visit Planned Parenthood — many Coop members do! — are more and more portrayed as frequenting a “terrorist” organization, and of being complicit in that organization’s “crimes”.

The word “terrorist” — like the phrase “hate speech” used to designate the words of those opposing the state of Israel’s policies — is so imprecise as to be undefinable. Who is a terrorist? Says who? What actually is “hate speech”?

Ronald Reagan once praised the terrorist death squads in Nicaragua known as “contras”, calling them “the moral equivalent of our founding fathers.” Say what? Oliver North secretly sold TOW missiles to Iran, he testified, and channelled that cash to fund the contras.

Reagan’s equation is instructive. Most of the founding fathers were indeed terrorists. Just ask the American Indians. Or the slaves the founding fathers owned.

More and more events are portrayed as “terrorist attacks”. The last two years have recorded 350 “mass killings” in the U.S. Officially, mass killings are incidents in which 4 or more people are murdered. 300 of the perpetrators were Christian. Two were committed by people who said they were Moslems. Guess how many of the 350 mass killings are considered to be “terrorist-related”. (If you need a hint, you really should ratchet-up your critical thinking. Red Alert!)

“Terrorist” has become a word devoid of historical consistency. Why is Saddam Hussein but not Hillary Clinton seen as a terrorist, despite Clinton’s authorizing the bombing of Libya? Why isn’t Barack Obama’s targeting-by-drone considered “terrorism”, blowing up hospitals, schools, wedding parties?

The labeling of someone as “terrorist” or of being connected to a “terrorist” group is an opportunistic political ploy. Coop members who oppose Israel’s policies towards Palestinians are labeled “hate speakers” by Israel’s defenders in the Gazette; they risk being marginalized, losing their jobs and becoming targets of violent attack, so many stay quiet here.

Those maligning others as “using hate speech” are following the criminal Sheldon Adelson’s pro-Zionist playbook. Some are funded by front groups he’s set up for the purpose of casting aspersions on those (like me) who demand justice for Palestine, and for all people everywhere.

I hate the term “hate speech”. Like “terrorism”, it means whatever abusers of the language want it to mean. I like to think of Coop members as thwarters of mindless acquiescence to received doctrine. We are proud “Terra-ists”, part of the “Terra-ist International” out to save this planet. Look around the Coop. This is what terra-ists eat.

Mitchel Cohen