On March 13 a federal magistrate judge in Columbus, Georgia, sentenced Robert Norman "Nashua" Chantal to a six-month prison term for trespassing on the US Army's Fort Benning base during a protest against the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly the US Army School of the Americas (SOA), on Nov. 18. SOA Watch, an organization that has sponsored protests at the base each November since 1990, opposes the US Army's training of Latin American soldiers, charging that SOA graduates have been among the region's most notorious human rights violators.
Jury selection is underway in the terrorism trial of Mohamed Mohamud, a Somali-American accused of attempting to ignite a "weapon of mass destruction" at Portland's 2010 holiday tree-lighting ceremony, The Oregonian reports Jan. 10. But an NPR report states: "There was no bomb—the defendant was the target of an FBI sting operation... His lawyers are expected to argue their client was entrapped... The car bombing plot—the purchasing of the car, the gathering of explosives, the plan itself—was orchestrated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation." True, the guy came to the attention of the FBI when he started posting to online jihadist forums. But he was only 19 years old when he was arrested, and therefore could try "to convince the jury he was manipulated by the FBI." Good to see the media finally raising some skepticism about a specious terrorism case. Additionally, although no media account has mentioned this angle, we strongly object to calling a conventional explosive a "weapon of mass destruction." Much less one that didn't even exist! What's up with that?
This New Year's Day marked the 150th anniversary of the Emanicpation Proclamation, with attendant media idolization of Abraham Lincoln. In the 10th YouTube edition of the Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade, Kevin B. Anderson, author of Marx at the Margins: On Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Non-Western Societies and co-editor of the International Marxist-Humanist, discusses his article "Spielberg's 'Lincoln,' Karl Marx, and the Second American Revolution"—revealing the connection between the First International and Lincoln's radicalization, and tracing the legacy of freedom through the Arab Revolutions and Occupy movement.
Dakota Indians and their supporters commemorated the largest mass execution in US history at a ceremony Dec. 26 in Mankato, Minn. On that day in 1862, a public hanging was held of 38 Dakota men, for crimes allegedly committed in that year's US-Dakota War—the execution order personally signed by President Abraham Lincoln. A new monument was dedicated as part of the ceremony at the town's old hanging ground, now called Reconciliation Park. Participants included a group of some 50 Dakota horseback riders and supporters who left South Dakota three weeks ago for Mankato. One organizer of the ride, Peter Lengkeek, told the crowd: "In 1862, those 38 were hung as criminals. They died because they were protecting the children, the women, our way of life. And for that I am ever thankful."
It never fails. Every time something ghastly happens, from the Wisconsin Sikh temple massacre to the Oslo terror attacks to the Fort Hood Shootings to (d'oh!) 9-11, lugubrious conspiranoids have got to descend like ravenous vultures with bogus theories about how it was a "false flag" job perpetrated by a "Manchurian Candidate." The horrific bloodletting at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn., is, alas, no exception. And in this case, the theory has simply no basis in reality—it isn't even a distortion, contortion, embellishment or obfuscation—it is a simple invention, straight up. Yet animated partisans are plastering posts about it on my Facebook wall right and left—seemingly in all earnestness. Big ups to Talking Points Memo for rising to the tiresome ocassion of shooting down this jive:
The 22nd annual protest against the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly the US Army School of the Americas (SOA), brought several thousand activists to the Army's Fort Benning base in Columbus, Georgia, for a series of events from Nov. 16 to Nov. 18. One demonstrator, Robert Norman Chantal of Americus, Georgia, was arrested when he climbed over the base's fence during the concluding event, a symbolic funeral march, on Nov. 18. He was released later on his own recognizance, according to a Fort Benning representative. Chantal, who faces a possible six-month sentence, will be tried in a US District Court on Jan. 9.
A UC Berkeley research field in the adjoining municipality of Albany that had been planted with winter greens in October by Occupy activists was ploughed under at the order of university authorities Nov. 16. The field, known as the Gill Tract, was occupied on Earth Day, April 22, and dubbed by activists "Occupy the Farm," with a vision of developing it as a community agro-ecology project. Crops planted then were similarly destroyed by UC, and nine arrested in a May 14 raid by UC police. But activists re-took the site in October, holding a punpkin-carving festival and planting the new crops. UC issued a letter upon razing the crops to the Albany city council calling the occupation a "threat to academic freedom." The contrasts a more conciliatory open letter issued in May pledging open "debate and dialogue" about the future of the site. In recent years, the field has largely been off-limits to the public, though local activist groups have repeatedly asked the university to open up the space to community residents. (Berkeley Patch, Nov. 18; Berkeleyside, Nov. 16; UC Berkeley News Center, May 18; Berkeleyside, May 14; IndyBay, April 24)
In a landslide victory, Montana voters approved an initiative on Nov. 7 Election Day stating "that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings." The initiative directly challenges the US Supreme Court's now infamous Citizens United decision, which allows corporations to contribute unlimited amounts of money for campaign groups know as "Super PACs" and "shadow money" organizations. Initiative 166 will likely win by 75% according to a projeciton by the Billings Gazette. The initiative states: