Racist Cops: Only a Symptom (video)

Cuba and the U.S.: Some Historical Context

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“I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one.” (Teddy Roosevelt, 1897)

February 15, 1898 was a muggy Tuesday night in Havana Harbor. Some 350 crew and officers settled in on board the USS Maine.

“At 9:40 p.m., the ship’s forward end abruptly lifted itself from the water,” writes author Tom Miller. “Along the pier, passersby could hear a rumbling explosion. Within seconds, another eruption—this one deafening and massive—splintered the bow, sending anything that wasn’t battened down, and most that was, flying more than 200 feet into the air.”

By the time the sleeping giant was jarred into alertness by the Maine explosion, Cuban and Filipino rebels were already fighting Spain for independence in their respective lands. The Maine was in Havana Harbor in 1898 on a purportedly friendly mission. “Yet,” writes Miller, “the visit was neither spontaneous nor altruistic; the United States had been eyeing Cuba for almost a century.”

handpointRTig Click here to read my full article

(Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism can be ordered here.)

U.S. Torture: Old Wine, New Bottles

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“The object of terrorism is terrorism. The object of oppression is oppression. The object of torture is torture. The object of murder is murder. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?” (Orwell)

I very recently wrote about U.S. hypocrisy, vis-a-vis torture, and I’ve written about it as far back as 2002, but suddenly…it’s back in the news.

As if it’s news.

As if it’s surprising.

As if it’s an anomaly.

So let’s re-start this mini-history lesson by once again harking back to the Nicaraguan contras of the 1980s…

handpointRTig Click here to read my full article

(Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism can be ordered here.)

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The Red Party

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Mickey Z. on climate change

Mickey Z. (in English) at 3:59 and 5:18

(Yes, I spoke at length about animal agriculture…but they opted not to use it)

“Anarchists try to identify power structures”

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Like so many words and concepts, “anarchism” seems to mean something different to everyone who spouts it. As my vegan/anarchist/yogi friend Jessica once said: “Sometimes people think that yoga and anarchism is about ‘doing whatever you feel.’ but actually, it’s about taking great care of others, which takes a tremendous amount of discipline and courage.”

To which I add: Anarchism is not synonymous with violence. Capitalism is.

Capitalism (and most of its rivals) is a system based on the relentless exploitation of finite resources. Anarchism? Well, here’s how Noam Chomsky puts it: “Anarchists try to identify power structures. They urge those exercising power to justify themselves. This justification does not succeed most of the time.”

While the mainstream, the liberals, and the squeamish all take turns spouting uninformed slander about anarchists (and the now-mythical Black Bloc), the truth remains: It requires an incredible amount of optimism to be an anarchist.

Anarchists are the only ones with enough faith in humanity to believe we can co-exist with all species peacefully—without coercive institutions and hierarchies. How much more fuckin’ optimistic can you be? It never ceases to amaze me when I’m labeled “negative” for documenting reality, when the path I’m suggesting couldn’t be more positive.

This positivity, though, is based on action—both individual and collective—and perhaps therein lies the rub. Until the pervasive presence/threat of cultural violence is diminished and ultimately eradicated, we must never stop exposing it, factoring it into our words and actions, and finding ways to sabotage it.

This December 24: Merry I.F. Stone Day

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“Every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed.” (I.F. Stone)

December 24 is I.F. Stone‘s birthday (he would have been 107).  His journalistic example, I’d say, is about as merry a reason as any to celebrate.

Born Isador Feinstein, the incomparable I.F. “Izzy” Stone served as an editor at The Nation and worked for several other papers before founding his own journal in 1953—with $3,000 borrowed from a friend and a 5,300-name subscription list inherited from a handful of defunct lefty publications. 

I.F. Stone’s Weekly reached a circulation of 70,000 by the 1960s and Stone was widely praised—even by his enemies—for his investigative skills and his ability to see through the hype.

Victor Navasky of The Nation wrote that Izzy was “right about McCarthyism, right about the war in Vietnam (he was one of the first to raise questions about the authenticity of the Gulf of Tonkin incident), right about the Democrats’ repeated failure to live up to their own principles, right about what he called, long before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the ‘Pax Americana.'”

“I. F. Stone was the modern Tom Paine—as independent and incorruptible as they come,” wrote Ralph Nader. “Notwithstanding poor eyesight and bad ears, he managed to see more and hear more than other journalists because he was curious and fresh with the capacity for both discovery and outrage every new day.”

Without high-placed sources or invitations to the big press conferences, Stone scooped the big name reporters time and time again.  He scoured public documents, studied the transcripts of Congressional committee hearings, and searched the large newspapers for inspiration.  

According to Navasky, Stone “once told David Halberstam that the Washington Post was an exciting paper to read ‘because you never know on what page you would find a page-one story’.”

“What Stone never talked about was the effect he had on many reporters who, often without attribution, ‘lunched off’ his scoops,” said Nader.  “He taught them courage and insistence without ever meeting them . . . while others in his profession cowered, he stood tall to challenge the abusers of power no matter where they came from—right, middle or left.”

Reminder: The pervasive and willful distribution of misinformation is typical of life within a society dominated by a corporate-run press.

Whether you label them liberal or conservative, most major media outlets are large corporations owned by or aligned with even larger corporations, and they share a common strategy: selling a product (an affluent audience) to a given market (advertisers).

Therefore, we shouldn’t find it too shocking that the image of the world being presented by a corporate-own press very much reflects the biased interests of the elite players involved in this sordid little love triangle.

That’s why every major daily newspaper has a business section, but not a labor section. Why at least once a week, those same newspapers run an automobile section, but no bicycle section.

This is why when the Dow Jones Industrial Average drops, it makes headlines. But if the global extinction rate rises, it’s questionable if it’ll even make the papers (and if it does, as Stone hinted at, it’ll be buried in a small item on page 23).

If you created a blueprint for an apparatus that utterly erased critical thought, you could make none more efficient than the American corporate media—and please don’t fall into the trap of only demonizing Fox News.

A major component of the free press illusion is the notion that some media outlets are more liberal while others are more right wing. Widespread belief in this myth further limits the already limited parameters of accepted debate.

Reality: The media are as liberal or conservative as the corporations that own them.

In an attempt to explain why he risked his career and ventured out on his own to create the Weekly, I.F. Stone explained:

“To give a little comfort to the oppressed, to write the truth exactly as I saw it, to make no compromises other than those of quality imposed by own inadequacies, to be free to follow no master other than my own compulsions, to live up to my idealized image of what a true newspaperman should be, and still be able to make a living for my family. What more could a man ask?”

The Moral of This Story: Be. Your. Own. Media.

(Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism can be ordered here.)