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A Small Circle Of Friends

A Small Circle Of Friends

m dennis paul

It’s December 21, 2019. Winter’s Solstice. I have, a few minutes ago, ended a phone call I have dreaded for some time. I thought a lifetime of endings might have ended differently.

Deep connections, formed early in youth, grew ever deeper as years moved on from teens to young adults… from young adults to midlife and from this succession to denouement. How we all came to meet is a collection of tales both humourous and sad. I’ve threatened that I would reveal them all with each its own puzzled place in a peculiar world. I’ve sworn to ignore myself and abide by the expressed desires to leave such histories to memory and let them go wherever memories go post usefulness. In all our ways, we found each other and the clarity of purpose that arose from this connection.

Grueling days and nights, and any moments in between, passed by until we had defined the rules that would hopefully keep us together…. safe and productive. To be sure, there would be many others who would meet us in various ways and refuse or accept what we were determined to provide. We had joined together at a time of great need… much like this time.

In the beginning, and to this day, nothing was simple or easy. While some who shared certain ideologies in common would venture into the world to effect change while still living a life of accumulation and personal benefit, we had vowed to shun assimilation… especially with corporations wholly aligned with war and injustice. We’ve spent our lives working nondescript jobs, non-profit jobs, service jobs. We managed our lives in ways that allowed us to maintain certain trappings of comfort and enjoy cultural and educational pursuits as well relationships, children and a healthy dose of fun and pleasure. None of us were monks, by any means. Though at times we might be public, none of us sought fame, notoriety, spotlights. Most of us could easily have taken those paths… or others more ”glamourous”. We did what we had to so we might do what we had chosen.

In the time of teens we were physically close. Like many friends, as we aged our locations changed and soon we were close enough to live distant lives without feeling separation. We started out as 8… each of us wild and frequently crazy. Each with our own pet projects and all with our collective imperative. As we physically grew and changed, so too did our mission. With changing times, variations of tactics needed to be countered, changing life situations, political, local and global situations shifting and shaping, we helped each other through. The lessons learned were invaluable.

Without exception, before our 18th birthdays, we had tasted and felt the fire of teargas, nursed welts and gashes from assaults and saw the insides of many jails. Charges ran from the catch-all ”disorderly” to ”rioting and property destruction” and on up to ”associating with avowed enemies of the United States Government”, ”threatening a president’s life”, ”aiding and abetting AWOL’s and conscientious objectors” and ”destruction of government property”. This is a short list. A bit later, Feds attempted to entrap one of us in a bombing, bank robbery, arson and murder of a state trooper. All of these charges … as funny as some were and as nonexistent as others… were dismissed. They never figured fully what was our collective mission. What they might have figured out, they couldn’t prove.

Into and beyond midlife, the rebel yell turned to mentoring, service projects, coordinating and management. In the past 12 or so years, our numbers dwindled. Just a few years ago, while working on and raising funds for the expansion of a Domestic Violence and Abuse shelter, J-Mac passed away. That left only two of us out of the original eight. The shelter was J-Mac’s project which he, sadly, never saw completed. A few weeks ago, the Domestic Violence org was able to sign a MOU for purchase of the buildings we had rehabbed.

In our last conversation I was chatting with my co-survivor, mostly about the recent surgeries I had, the experimental meds I would soon be taking, and the progression of dystrophy since last we spoke. We also shared our joy over the great turn of events for the shelter and remembered some pretty good J-Mac tales and tales of all the others who were now only memories. I told him about my fear that I would be the last out the door and we talked about how we should close out this chapter. He said it no longer made sense for us to hang onto our go bags and travel pay as we both had nowhere left to go and it made sense for us to donate… and so we did. He said that no matter who exited before the other, the survivor would eventually follow. We marveled some of how far our work had traveled and the peoples it effected. North, South and Central America, Canada, Africa, the Middle East and more… and all without being known, or only marginally so… perhaps more for some but we made it through this life with only minor scratches.

And then the phone call…. Sia has passed away in his sleep. Winter’s Solstice… the darkest day. Just like that all those incredible memories were entrusted to me. No longer a small circle of friends.

In memory of Sia, J-Mac, Jake. Ken, Alan, Anna and Mama Max. It was a life of pain and sadness, joy and laughter, loving and learning from each other and making it happen while raising our middle fingers to the profiteers, politicians, feds and pigs, and all the scum that needlessly make life hard.

Ahed Tamimi… A Child Who Is Not

Ahed Tamimi… A Child Who Is Not

I understand the sense with which people opt to protest the arrest of Ahed Tamimi with claims she is just a child, however, Ahed is a warrior. Her childhood was stolen, along with that of her siblings, by thief in the night Israel. She was raised a warrior. Had to be.. like all the other youth of Palestine. The youth of Palestine are armed with words, marches, banners and flags… and, yes, stones, bottles, slingshots and fire. Fighting against an occupying, colonizing, heavily armed military is the life to which they are born. Living precariously on the soil of generations, not knowing on which day or what moment the soil will be stolen or family will be stolen, homes destroyed, brothers or sisters shot, maimed, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins and friends beaten, arrested, imprisoned… or worse.

Ahed’s cousin, Mo, lies in a coma resulting from a bullet to the head. A signature of the sociopathic troops who terrorize children daily. Sister, Nour and Mother, Nariman are now, also, in jail. Their battered home is surrounded by illegal settlements and military outposts, checkpoints and inbred settlers.

I am hoping Ahed and all the youth of Palestine can be respected as the resistance force they inevitably must be. They know, all too well, the consequences of their actions and the elusive wisp of life that is theirs, if only in the moment. To see them as children is to diminish the role they play in a life of subsistence and survival and is an unwitting suspension of reality which blinds us… separates us from truth while we express acknowledgment of their plight.

Solidarity is essential. Respect is imperative. Ahed and family, friends and fellow warriors alike… To Resist Is To Live And To Die. It Is The Breath In At The Moment Of Birth… And It Is The Exhale At The End. Sadly, the struggle represented in the assaults upon the family, Tamimi, is experienced every moment of every day in Palestine. It must end someday… but that day often seems to run away as swiftly as it approaches.

Our hearts are with the Tamimi’s and all the families of Palestine. Each stone they throw is a strike for freedom… not the expression of lost children disposed to youthful hooliganism. May there forever be stones.

Something for the Homeless (A memory)

When I was a kid, I managed a pizza/sub shop. There was a young boy, 9 yo, who showed up each evening around 8pm to sweep the floors in exchange for a pizza for his family (mom, dad & sis). Dad was disabled and could not work. Mom did laundry by hand, baby sat, sewed and any other “job” she could find.. often working 14-16 hrs a day… to cover rent on a 3 room shed (that my godfather rented to them for $9 p/wk + utilities) and the medications her husband needed.

This boy would not take charity. There were 2-3 other stores on the main street who gave him a dollar each night for sweeping and taking out the trash. He went home with a few dollars in his pocket and “dinner” each evening. At that time, it cost roughly 68 cents to make a cheese pizza that sold for $3.50. He was reluctant to take a dollar along with the pizza. When business was good, I slipped a few extra dollars into the pizza box.

My heart was heavy the day I left that job. New owners refused to continue the “tradition”. I can still see that little boy’s face when I told him there would be no more pizzas or dollars. I gave him an envelope with $100 to take home to his folks. It was sealed so he could not see what was inside. He was instructed to just hand it to his mother. There were two notes inside. One explaining what had happened and the other a letter of introduction that the boy was to take to a small breakfast & lunch shop a few blocks away owned by an old family friend. I had called Jimmy, the owner, in advance and he had promised to give the boy some work.

While I was working at that shop, I also used to make subs from the day old bread and meats/cheeses that had only a day or two before being dated. A few of the homeless who lived in cardboard boxes behind an old train station would wait at the shops delivery door for these subs. One, who I called “Pops” (his choice) used to take that sub to a nearby park and share it with the birds and a scruffy feral cat who lived in a hollow behind a music store abutting that park. I offered to give him an extra sub but he said one was enough. He could not eat very much, being sick. The cat and birds were happy for what he shared and that made him happy.

One horribly cold and blustery winter night, as I shoveled snow from the front of the shop, “Pops” appeared, looking very weak and pale. Though he protested, I stuck $50 into his pocket and prodded him to get a room at a dive hotel just up the street. He started to walk away and got as far as across the street where he fell into the snow bank and died. I’ve never forgotten that night.

The police used to roust the homeless behind the old train station, put all their shelters and belongings into a single dumpster and set them afire. This happened maybe every two months or so as a few of my friends and I would deposit bedding, blankets, boxes and whatever else we could gather behind that station right after the assaults. That station provided them a decent barrier against the weather. Eventually, the cops began to patrol nightly and forced these people to move on and out into the woods.

We weren’t rich, by any means, but we did what we could at the time. We were just kids from abusive homes living on our own. We did something. Never enough… but something.

such power (poem)

Oh to have such power that I might wave an arm and millions of human lives will fall, devalued, as so many grains of sand. In such morality I illusion immortality and rest with dreams.
—M. Dennis Paul

Can A Congress Of Nations Grow A Spine In Time To Save The World

Can A Congress Of Nations Grow A Spine In Time To Save The World

“The US no longer sees the world as a global community, but as a fighting arena where everyone has to seek their own advantage,” Mr Gabriel told the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum, according to German newspaper Deutsche Welle.

Germany can no longer simply react to US policy but must establish its own position… even after Trump leaves the White House, relations with the US will never be the same.”

Ignorance… The State of Ignoring

Prior to 1939, world leaders were witness to a gradual buildup of militarization within a nation previously brought to surrender in a world war prefaced by a gradual buildup also witnessed by world leaders. The outcome of such buildup was, of course, another world war and another surrender. A portrait of history ignored until the last moment… too late to prevent the massive destruction of cities and states and the deaths, dismemberment and deprivation of millions of innocents.

Since that time, a Congress of Nations, attempted following the first world war, was reconfigured into the birth of the United Nations (Oct. 24, 1945). The current Congress of Nations, the UN, allowed to exist with a small cabal of nations holding sway above the vast majority of nations, presents itself as woefully weak, if not more so, than its predecessor, the League of Nations.

Decade after decade, the UN has witnessed successive buildups to lesser wars and “actions” across the globe and, in large part, allowing the small cabal to define the causes, characters and, in final address, the outcomes they expect.

Decade after decade, the UN shied away from telling the world about the cabal’s real place in these buildups, wars and “actions”. The UN, at the direction of the cabal, lead the world to believe in repetitive false narratives while the cabal grabbed up one nation after another as colonies, economic and otherwise, to be used and abused at will. In each instance, it was not the colonizers who suffered; for they had learned how to profit by both “wins” and “losses”. It was, again and again, the innocents who suffered immeasurable losses without any benefit.

Since its inception, the UN has been the empty voice of global pretense toward peace. Leaders gather with each new crisis and point fingers, wag fingers, place fingers in ears and sit on their thumbs. They vote on hundreds of resolutions, more often than not blocked by the cabal. Those that manage to pass are posted, filed and ignored. Unable to productively negotiate untethered by the ever looming denial of the cabal, unable to effectively block actions long deemed illegal by a majority of nations… more often than not, actions of the cabal, whether cloaked in subterfuge or blatant in disregard for human culture, human rights, human dignity and common sense, the UN adjourns each meeting with a hope, a sigh and a whimper.

Ever afraid to open the shades and shed light on the backers, suppliers and cheerleaders of turmoil, the UN presents itself as a moral arbiter from on high while it cowers in the dust and ruin of its charter.

Knowing that the world is guided by economies and saddled with greed and taking by the most powerful, the UN, and the nations who represent themselves in its corridors and chambers pay lip service to justice and the rights of the common… never using the power of the common and the power of nations in unison to support and act in concert with the common to rein in the abuse of power by the self-indulgent global debt producing and gluttonous, thieving members.

It is, and has always been, the common which speaks truth to power. As every despot has arisen on this planet… and there have been too many in its history with man… it has been the innocent who have been the bellwether of suffering to come while the leaders of nations either remand themselves to closets or prance about as sycophants waiting for the crumbs to be tossed. It is the common man who resisted… even to his own peril. Pronouns regretted, it is largely women who toss the first projectile at the front of dissent’s line.

Life Is Just A Game

Risk, a board game, was invented by French film director Albert Lamorisse and originally released in 1957 as La Conquête du Monde (The Conquest of the World) in France. It was later bought by Parker Brothers and released in 1959 with some modifications to the rules as Risk: The Continental Game, then as Risk: The Game of Global Domination. With a suggested age range from 10 years old to adult, and 60 years of popularity, Risk is highly symbolic of reality. It is hard to ignore build ups to war on the game board. Why then is it so hard for real nations to recognize real build ups and act to end them rather than bleat and bray? The eventual domination of the world by one player is modeled by the history of the world.

We may change car styles, dress styles, music and art but we seem wholly incapable of changing the desire and designs for domination.


One of the, if not the premier, deceptions conceived by the gluttons of earth is the division of the common through fear of each other division. Through fear and separating of one mass from another based on religion, ethnicity, race or politic, a false sense of right arises in a single word… patriotism. Patriotism can best be defined as adherence to the words, deeds and goals of the gluttons at the expense of all else.. even self. In our age, there are no greater examples of moronic self sacrifice under the guise of patriotism than in the US and Israel. There are, of course, others but these two epitomize the same allegiance and demand for sacrifice that signaled the buildup for war evident prior to the world wars and ignored by the nations of the world until it was too late.

Despots Succeeded By Despots

Inevitable, the emergence of despots such as the successions of Prime Ministers of Israel and Presidents of the US would lead to the level of gluttony embodied in Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump. Entitlement, unchecked, only expands, like a sponge, as more and more of the perceived wealth of the world is absorbed.

Less Than Friends

For the long term sycophants of the US, bowing and curtseying to its pet boa constrictor, Israel, has been a ritual of evangelical zeal. For the supposed allegiance of Arab nations to assuage their guilt for blind eyes to the oppression of an indigenous Arab peoples by Israel, the closet dwellers make Palestine a pet which they point to, make brief fawning gestures toward… and otherwise ignore.

Media is no different. When the heat is on, they are present to report with confused logic, evangelical bias and a persistent urge to blame the victims for the assaults upon them. When the heat seems to die down, the media moves on. The real conditions once again ignored.

Ignorance Leads To War Leads To Ignorance Leads to…

The long stretch of history since the first world war is a series of mistakes lazily repeated. The world is now at the hardened edge of yet another grave mistake. To a degree different than previous wars, there is no mistaking that both the US and Israel are the hand in hand antagonists threatening a wobbly mass of gelatin formed from the boiled bones of the last great conflagration.

The leading global despot nations have created sufficient chaos, fear and economic instability to embolden cataract affected patriots in search of fire and fury against an enemy… to be determined… or two. The common enemy of the US and Israel are, with no surprise, the nations that geographically stand in the way of the gluttons’ march toward long planned theft of all the sands… and everything beneath them… of the Middle East, Gulf and Africa.

The leading US despot, Donald J Trump, who postures like his hero, Benito Mussolini, with arms crossed, chest puffed and chin prominently pointed upward, believes that by taking more future away from the Palestinians he can further threaten them to accept “peace” based on the Israeli construct of peace by surrender, peace by subjugation, peace by obeisance, peace by servitude and peace within defined reservations… something learned by America’s construct of peace with the Indians. Glutton Netanyahu, who flagrantly chips away at Palestine, believes that any motion not against Israel is a sign by the US & world to chip away even more. Of course, with Gluttonyahu, any motion by anyone against Israel is taken as a sign to chip away faster.

The gluttonous sheiks of Saudi Arabia have joined the cabal and now do the bidding of the US and Israel in building up war chests. The UK is rapidly burying itself in irrelevance but is still in the game.

Under past presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, the world saw, but ignored, the buildup and expansion of war until, under Obama, 7 war fronts were prominent and nearly another dozen were fomenting. In retrospect, while there was some revulsion expressed by entrance to both Afghanistan and Iraq, it was marginal and remains as such. Now, under Donito Trumpolini, more fronts are being added and, in bellicose fashion, he prods his minions in office and global sycophants to accept the total destruction of North Korea (and likely South Korea). Like Mussolini, he alienates traditional allies and marginal supporters without concern. He has the codes to the nuclear football and itchy fingers.

To all of this, the Congress of Nations spouts its too often repeated watered down condemnations, holds its “emergency” chamber pot meetings and returns to thumb-sitting.

Will The Congress Of Nations Grow A Spine?

It must be reiterated that the world has reached the hardened edge. The buildup to global war is functionally complete. The militaria has been set aside and the militaries are in formation. Navies are policing the oceans and the air roars with jets, bombers and drones. The missiles are primed, and the forward troops are deployed and taking casualties, and the Generals are lighting their serious cigars and pipes.

It is time for the Congress of Nations to act… not the bluster they have convinced themselves to be action… not the wagging fingers and empty resolutions. It is time for the UN to take first a symbolic posture of visually turning its back upon the despots and despot nations. It is time to empty the chambers when representatives of Israel and the US raise their voices. Time to refuse acknowledgment of their votes, Time to fully ostracize them for the detriment they have posed to the progress of the world.

The next step is to sanction. Turn the tables and create chaos to their economies. Time to use the power known best by the common… Boycott, Divestment and Sanction. It is time to cease collusion through arms sales and purchases, time to shop elsewhere for ships, commercial jets, engines, etcetera. Concrete actions as opposed to endless hot air. Isolate the cancer to cease its spread. The commons will act in support and there will be nowhere to turn and no one for them to turn.

The Congress of Nations must harness the real power of nations and the power of people. Reliance on empty words and the wind created by wagging fingers insures only that in a year, in a month, in a week or a day… at any moment it will surely be too late.

The reality? Expect war.

Irma by Anthony Tarrant

{Originally published Sept. 21, 2017 in Dissident Voice}


I’m twelve feet away from the northern eyewall of Hurricane Irma.  Seated behind floor to ceiling panes of glass that can’t be thick enough. “Are they thick enough?” I wonder while staring at the murderous velocity of rain and wind that just a few steps away would lift me whole and launch me into the lake, a tree or another house. With death defying, tornadic ferocity the wind drives rain sideways in every direction at once.  I hear tree trunks and limbs snapping like firecrackers off in the distance.

There’s still running water, but the electricity went off hours ago. There’s no internet. Comcast has opened up thousands of free WiFi hotspots for anyone whose service is down.  You can log on for two hours at a time. Two hours at a time in the teeth of an historic maelstrom.  I enter a username and password and hit a fucking pay wall. Comcastic!

The changes in air pressure are making my ears pop as the wind lives up to its cliché;  it really does sound like a freight train.  130, 140 miles per hour but still not the Cat-5 death dealer that scoured 100% of Barbuda’s housing stock down to its concrete foundations.  Not the 185 miles per hour that would take paint off a car, put the car in a hole and blow the hole away.  This isn’t that, but it’s impossible to say exactly how fortunate I am beyond the fact I’m still sitting here watching the world get ripped apart.

I’m glad I boarded up my house and came to my in-law’s ground floor condo 20 minutes northeast.  In a storm 600 miles wide that’s a difference without a distinction but this condo is better built and stronger than my tract home constructed in 1976 by contractors on acid.  I’ve moved to the kitchen, away from the glass, where I’ve paired off a peanut butter and honey sandwich against a muscular Cabernet/Zin/Sarah blend.  I’m out of milk.

Suddenly the wind dies down and the rain stops. We’re in the eye. I step outside.  I’m told there’s blue sky in the center of a hurricane, but not in this one. Irma’s core is deck plate gray and the driveway is a carpet of leaves, branches and uprooted trunks making the way impassable.  What’s the difference?  I’m not going anywhere anyway. The southern half of the eyewall is coming.  I snap some pictures and go back inside.  The wind picks up fast and the rain with it.  My cats have slept through the whole thing.  One in the master bedroom and two others, a mother and her adult spawn spooned into an indistinguishable pile of warm fur on my bed in the guest room.  I wish I could be that cool and follow their lead. The howling begins and once again I hear tree trunks snapping.

If my in-law’s home suffered cosmetic damage, my own home was a different matter.  Driving south along main arteries through intersections of cockeyed traffic lights, blacked out and dangling, I finally made it to the badly flooded stretch of road that is the only way in or out of my neighborhood.  I drove through sheet flow up to my doors and managed to get through to my street and driveway.  The front yard was strewn with pieces of other people’s houses, tree limbs and branches: the back yard the same, only under water.  Mature shade trees split down the middle and a one story aluminum pool cage now a twisted skeleton of support and cross beams, half thrown up on my roof while the rest lies in and around my pool at strange angles as if gravity hadn’t quite finished its conversation.

The wooden front door gave way under protest, swollen as it was against the jam.  I was greeted with the thick, warmishly fetid organic musk of a diaper pail.  Irma had blown water into my house through every conceivable fissure and crevice a house built in 1976 invariably has.  The baseboards and sheet rock had wicked up the puddled sweat like a sponge, expanding and separating from each other. Everything twelve inches off the deck will have to be cut out and replaced; every square inch of tile, every grout line, will have to be painstakingly scrubbed with soap and bleach. Somehow my paperback copy of Antonia Juhasz’ great work, The Tyranny of Oil sits bloated and destroyed on the bedroom floor.  How ironic.

The $120 in cash and credit cards in my pocket are worthless.  There is nowhere to spend money.  No supermarkets selling food, no gas stations selling gas, no hardware stores selling tools or propane. People everywhere are living off stockpiled meat, water, beer and soda stored in ice chests and everyone seems to have their grills fired up. Checking to see how others close by are doing, one kindly offers 5 gallons of gas when I tell him I’m down to a quarter tank.  Another offers a grilled sausage on a hot dog roll.  I’m a vegetarian, but not today.  Yet another provides a half loaf of sliced bread and cold Gator-Aide.  Everyone has been hit hard, so these spontaneous acts of proximal kindness are meaningful, unexpected and palpable.  In the coming days, waiting for power to be restored, much generosity and cooperation was on offer in this working class neighborhood. Far more than any expressed or received from family or friends of long standing with the means to do more, something – or anything.  And I know why this is so.

We live in a realm of hungry ghosts, a trance state mistaken for normative, acceptable – even civil – society.  But it’s not a society, in the strictest sense, as there is so little that is social about it.  It’s an economic construct marked by disregard, disdain, incivility utterly drained of unity, community or any sense of individual obligation to the whole or the other.  No matter how much one has, insatiable hunger for more persists.  A mind where spaciousness is emptiness; an inversion of abundance into a perception of scarcity and lack.  A Dickensian box where those working for scraps live in an ahistorical matrix deprived of the vocabulary to even describe their reality while those that have real wealth live in a richly textured movie starring themselves in a mythological place where they are generous, compassionate, deserving, loving and kind. It is an abattoir.  An extremely violent gun culture of dog loving infantile grandiosity.

The ballet of my neighbor Juan and his two chainsaws makes me sorry I didn’t record it.  He owns a landscaping business, and he and his crews had been working their asses off since dawn clearing downed trees in a gated community near my open neighborhood.  It was getting on sunset when he came over offering to chop up the last eight feet of a fifty foot shade tree blasted from its moorings in my back yard.  It was an unbelievably kind gesture after the kind of day I’m sure he had.  I watched him cut the trunk and lower limbs into a pile of manageable chunks inside of about 20 minutes. It would have taken me at least an hour if I knew how to do it without killing myself.  All he wanted was a cold beer.  The next day I brought him a case.

It made me think about the current administration’s repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the millions of Latinos deported by President Obama.  I grew saddened and furious.  In the wake of Hurricane Irma in SW Florida, the road back from neighborhoods turned medieval under tons of fallen trees is being led by thousands of undocumented Mexicans, Hondurans and Guatemalans with chainsaws.  The next time I hear anyone slandering Latinos in any way, especially with the canard that they’re “taking our jobs”, I will step up to them and publicly shame them.  I will describe them and, if practical, strangle them while I whisper in their fucking ear.

As of this writing I’ve had my power back for 6 days.  Six days of hot showers, fresh laundry and air conditioning.  There are still thousands without power in homes inundated with water that has nowhere to go in the super-saturated soil of SW Florida. Overpriced slumlord shit boxes and the homes of retirees on or near the Imperial River less than a mile from my house now experience tidal flow in their kitchens. I turned back from paying my water bill in person when confronted with a quarter mile sheet flow of indeterminate depth blocking the road between me and their office.  This is a major disaster I’m in the middle of and yet I’m one of the fortunate ones.  Had Irma tracked a bit further west sucking up water and energy instead of making landfall in Collier County when and where it did, this disaster could easily have been a much worse and wider catastrophe.  The 10 to 15 feet of predicted storm surge did not happen in the Gulf Coast city of Naples, although they received more than their fair share of flooding and wind borne destruction.  That city will virtually bounce back. Naples on the Gulf contains more private wealth than Beverly Hills and Jackson Hole combined.  They have little need for government assistance there.  They never did.  For them government is an impediment.

East Naples, where the sprawling 55 years old and up trailer park communities are located, jammed with elderly folk on low fixed income living side by side with undocumented aliens is another story.  The undocumented get to live in what’s left of their condemned trailers with the stench of standing water and sewage in the air – ineligible for federal assistance. Immokalee, FL, still further east where Oaxaca meets Port-au-Prince, covered brilliantly in the tome Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt co-authored by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, is still another poor, traumatized sacrifice zone.  And few are discussing, far less writing, much about Everglades City, an hour’s drive south of Naples where it took FEMA five days to get on the ground there.  Storm surge and wind have wiped that city off the map; its residents wallow in muck and filth with nowhere to live and nowhere to go.

Irma struck Collier and Lee Counties on Sunday, September 10th. According to an article in the Naples Daily News of September 19th about the situation in Everglades City:

The scores of volunteers who have set up in the city handing out food, water and clothes along with Federal, state and local medical providers was a far cry from the almost-deserted scene in the city for the first week following the storm.

Residents had been left mostly on their own, spending hours each day working in the mud and sludge, often barefoot or in flip-flops, trying to salvage what was left of their homes.

In Everglades City and surrounding communities struck with 10 feet of storm surge, a man scraped his leg picking up a piece of aluminum debris on Monday, the day after Irma passed.  His wife put a Band-Aid on it and by Friday a raging bacterial infection had attacked his vital organs, threatening renal failure and the doctors amputated his leg. The mayor’s mother is in the hospital fighting an infection.  Full time medical assistance from the County only began on Sunday, seven full days after Irma.  According to the same article, health officials administered only 80 tetanus shots to residents before running out of supplies.

Having learned nothing from Katrina, the stench of neo-liberalism’s 40 year death march across America and the world has seeped like carbon monoxide into every gear of the machine we live in.  Capital and its wholly-owned subsidiary, government, can no longer respond effectively to crisis.  This is the fossilization and atrophy of end-stage capitalism, a violent socio-economic bifurcation describing a zombie state eating its own with nothing on the horizon to replace it. “American politics”, as Dr. Manuel Garcia, Jr. aptly puts it, “is how money talks to itself”.

The indiscriminate savagery of Irma is about far more than this unemployed writer’s freezer full of rotted food, shredded roof line and collapsed pool cage.  The path of Irma draws upward into bas-relief the majority of American society’s precarious decline into an irreconcilable cultural and economic abysm.  Radical social change is coming, but not until many hundreds of thousands, likely millions, of American lives are lost.  Not on the romantic front lines of populist revolt at the barricades, but as the unheralded, withering, long term consequence of declining standards of living.

Profound social ferment and revolutionary social restructuring is inevitable, but it will not simply emerge as the result of what it must and has always been – an impulse from the street.  It will also be coincident with a top line driven reconfiguration of titanic pools of capital beginning, perhaps, with the structures of power that have more money than anyone outside of international drug cartels, the fossil fuel juggernaut or the military industrial complex – the insurance industry.  Say what you may about them, but insurance is perhaps the greatest civilizing force in mankind’s entire meteoric footnote.  Without insurance to mitigate against risk, your brand new crane manufactured in South Korea designed to lift cargo out of the holds of container ships in the Port of Los Angeles never gets shipped trans-Pacific to the buyer.  A bank holding a mortgage note on a single family home in SW Florida will insist the owner carry Home Owner’s Insurance and Flood Insurance to mitigate the risk of an unlikely, but catastrophic event.  Like, say, a hurricane.

The question is this:  As anthropogenic climate change throws actuarial calculations out the window and the profitable business of hedging anomalous risk becomes an open ended economic implosion of the rare turned commonplace, how many $150 billion dollar hits do you suppose global insurance consortia and their reinsurers remain willing and able to take?  My guess is not many.  Insurance companies have been generating very public warnings of climate change since at least the mid 1990’s.  When elephants do battle, only the grass suffers, but it will be interesting to see how the insurance industry responds to paying the crippling freight for the fossil fuel industry and how that might contribute toward progressive realignments.

As weak carriers fold, risk portfolios redistribute into stronger hands. Policy deductibles rise insurmountably and covered percentages over and above that drop leaving only the rich able to self-insure and the masses of life long premium payers left with payouts insufficient to make them whole.  Does an utterly sclerotic government lost in a miasma of climate change denial step in to assume a role the private sector no longer deems profitable?  That seems unlikely as well.

At the civilizational fork where far too many obscenely stupid, venal and greedy annihilists are in charge, what will it take to rip the zombie’s head off the deep state?  Hurricanes Andrew, Charlie, Wilma, Katrina, Harvey, Irma and perhaps Maria haven’t seemed to do the trick.  Likewise, eight geriatrics warehoused in a for-profit Hollywood, FL nursing home dying of heat exhaustion when the air conditioning went out caused little more than a momentary stir in the media when the hook became the location of the human dumping ground – right across the street from a Level-1 trauma center.

As we all enter the leading edge of a largely irreversible negative feedback loop of a warming planet, the strength and frequency of hurricanes seems likely to increase.  What happens when they’re all Cat-3 or Cat-4 when they make landfall?  How will capital and government respond?

The only dialectic worth exploring is this:  Russia and China are committed to a $20 trillion/20 year plan to build out continental networks of high speed rail to swiftly transport raw materials, finished goods and people as part of the One Belt One Road initiative, together with new, modern port systems to pull up hundreds of millions of people out of penury as part of the next industrial age of man. America spends a trillion dollars a year on bombs, death and dismemberment. One of these plans has a future.  The other does not.

As a low, slow flying entourage of military aircraft containing the Governor of Florida, an exonerated plunderer owing his fortune to an historic Medicare fraud, and the President, who learned his ethics at the knee caps of Roy Cohen, flew by just east of my house, I took cold comfort as I swept dank pools of bacteria rich sludge out of my garage.


Anthony Tarrant no longer toils for healthcare in retail fashion’s corporate mills. He lives and writes in Costa Rica, a poor country filled with incredibly happy people with no standing army since 1948. He can be reached at:

Day 557 NH residents waiting on Matt

Matt DeHart is a hero. Paul & Leann are heroes. Welcome to NH. Forget the “Live Free or Die” motto, though. Long ago proven to be 12 lbs of shit in a 5 lb bag.

Humanity not Commodity

Today is Sunday. Today, Paul and I are
official residents of New Hampshire. Today, we have an address for Matt. Today, we will renew our pledge to keep fighting for one of the sweetest, bravest, and quite humble of guys who also happens to be my son.
Tonight I will sleep on my own bed; a gift from Paul’s longtime friend. I can hear the crickets chirping. The air smells so clean. We have the windows open.
Tomorrow I will start unpacking boxes.
Life is really really hard for many many people, but if you look hard enough you will find some moments that sparkle like diamonds.
To my dear readers and friends, I hope you have moments in your lives that make the noon day sun pale.
Much love..💕

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Attica At 46: A Horror In Upstate New York And Why It Still Matters.

Anthony Tarrant

Chronicling our country’s disintegration in what feels like a futile attempt at waking a comatose lover, my attention turns to this coming Thursday, September 9th, the 46th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising in upstate New York.

The ripples of Attica still resonate today in the most incarcerated country on earth where 2.2 million human beings, disproportionately black and brown, rot encaged in gulags from Rikers to Honolulu.

Attica stands as the monumental, historic flash point in America’s shift from the formalized structures of  private chattel slavery on plantations to the institutionalized repression of peoples of color through the instrument of the carceral state.  White capitalist supremacy simply morphed from private hands to the state sponsored terrorism of the prison industrial complex.  And the slaughter at Attica 46 years ago this Thursday was the catalyst for all that came after.

For those old enough to have forgotten, those that suffer…

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Why the Case Presented by Rowan Clarke Regarding Vaxxed (Pensive Quill Aug 29, 2017) is Highly Misleading

Why the Case Presented by Rowan Clarke Regarding Vaxxed (Pensive Quill Aug 29, 2017) is Highly Misleading

by M. Dennis Paul, PhD

{M. Dennis Paul is a retired Counselor and ADR Specialist with 30 years practice; 12 of which in direct work with Autistic children. He is also a lifelong activist who has worked with the BPP, WU and other groups of the 60’s and 70’s, has composed articles and cartoons for underground papers of that era and more recently for and his own blog, rebel.lio. He also edits articles for, and maintains the excellent blog of, International Human Rights Attorney, Stanley L. Cohen… Caged but Undaunted}

With considerable disapprobation, having read through Rowan Clarke’s severely misinformed editorial regarding the controversial film “VAXXED”, I find myself responding to clear up much of his espoused nonsense.

I reject, based upon his comments, the claim that he viewed this film with an open mind and that he has any genuine knowledge of the issues it presents.

To begin, he states the film is centered around the “anti-vaccination movement” and that it’s writer is the “progenitor of the anti-vaccine phenomenon”. Had he any knowledge of anti-vaccine movements, he would have acknowledged their existence since the time of Jenner (1796). I can assure that Wakefield et al are not that old… though some have retired. This movement began in response to fears and concerns about small-pox vaccination and, as important, compulsory vaccination. VAXXED is hardly “centered” around any movement beyond that which seeks the following (from the Producer’s own statement):

  1. That Congress subpoena Dr. William Thompson and investigate the CDC fraud.
  2. That Congress repeal the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act and hold manufacturers liable for injury caused by their vaccines.
  3. That 3 separate, univalent vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella be made available immediately.
  4. That all vaccines be classified as pharmaceutical drugs and tested accordingly.

Dr. William Thompson is a whistleblower at CDC who disclosed that the CDC both lied about MMR study results and went so far as to destroy documentation. Due to increasing reports of vaccine injury, disability and death, Congress passed an industry protection bill limiting, and ending (in some instances) liability by the manufacturers. The title of the bill is markedly deceptive. Far from being “anti-vaccine”, both Dr’s Wakefield and Thompson fully support vaccination in the prevention of disease. Common sense dictates that there be a rational and reasonable oversight of vaccines and vaccine production. Further, it is essential that new and ongoing research be conducted and protected and that scientific concerns regarding formulae, potential underlying and unobserved concomitant weaknesses in immunity, as well diseases, be more cautiously studied and reported, that timing and scheduling of vaccines be more cautiously regarded and, among numerous other cautions, issues with live component vaccines be more thoroughly studied and reported upon.

I strongly urge parents to study the very real and potentially disastrous direct and side effects of any drug they place inside their, or their children’s, bodies. Many, if not most, reactions to vaccines are inflammatory… effecting major organs… especially the brain. The layman might not associate such reactions as breathing difficulty, shaking, etc. with the brain. They are, however, deeply connected.

It is also exceptionally important to know, as in the case of flu vaccines, how effective any current offering might be. Year after year, the CDC reports the overall ineffectiveness of the previous season’s vaccine which means millions of dollars wasted and millions of people misled into believing they were protected. (There is only one way to accurately test the effectiveness of a vaccine, any vaccine. It is by challenging every individual inoculated with the antigen for which it was designed. This is never done which leaves widely disparate formulae for statistical rendering of effectiveness).

I have been wearing an elephant talisman for 60+ years and have yet to be harmed by an elephant.. Therefore, the elephant talisman affords a consistent 100% protection. Of course, I was only challenged once by the presence of a caged elephant while visiting a zoo as a child. He took a peanut from my hand.

Mr. Rowan goes on to claim that Dr. Wakefield (having earned his degrees, he is fully entitled to be called “Doctor” regardless of any intended slights by Mr. Rowan and others) claimed there was “…a link between the MMR vaccine and Autism”. This is inaccurate and misleading. Dr. Wakefield et al conducted an initial study to see if they could find a link between MMR, bowel disorders and Autism based on observations related to presenting symptoms post inoculation. That is what studies are for. Researchers see a possible link, investigate it through studies and report on their findings… most often with conclusions that offer recommendations for further studies.

None of the authors of the study stated that there was a causal link between the MMR and Autism. It appeared there may well be some connection but all the participants knew the study, as small as it was, would prove inconclusive yet might point them, and others, in directions which might either prove or disprove this hypothesis. I suggest that Mr. Rowan gain some understanding of what “hypothesis” means. What Doctor Wakefield acknowledged on his own, was that he, personally, could not disregard the close relationship between time of inoculation and disease symptoms and, compared to studies of effect from mono-inoculation, could not stand behind the MMR at that time. Far from being “anti-vax”, he was cautiously recommending a return to a known, safer, method.

First, do no harm.

Mr. Rowan continues that Dr. Wakefield was found to have acted unethically with other charges levied against him. Neglecting to relate any of his comments to the co-author (lead) of the study, Dr. John Walker-Smith, who was also wrongly discredited for the same charges and subsequently exonerated is another instance of misleading readers. By association, Dr. Wakefield, the 2nd researcher/author, is technically also exonerated. However, by law, Dr. Wakefield would need to personally challenge his case to receive the same official result. At the time, he could not afford to do so as he was not funded for appeal by his carrier. Dr. Walker-Smith was covered. If one reads the appeal findings, it becomes clear that the authors were singled out by a single journalist who, it becomes apparent, was inaccurate and largely incorrect in his interpretations of medical reports.

The BMJ has stood by this journalist despite his own recession from statements made and continues to ignore that not only this journalist, but BMJ itself, are compromised by association either financially (through advertising and grants) or through administration (Murdoch Publications, whose owner sits on GMC boards as well reliant on Pharmaceutical advertising) with the manufacturers of vaccines.. including MMR. BMJ and this journalist have consistently accused Dr. Wakefield of fraud. He has never been charged with fraud and were he to be charged, Dr. Walker-Smith would also have been so charged. The false allegations have lead to further false allegations and the myths about the study and Dr. Wakefield have been played and replayed throughout the largely Pharma reliant media… and resurface whenever the topic of vaccines and autism arise. Again, I strongly urge all to investigate the effects, direct and indirect, of vaccines and to take a close look at the MMR. At the same time, look at the accepted defining symptoms of autism and other forms of PDD. It is difficult to dismiss the seeming correlations in need of much further investigation. (BMJ often displays seemingly absurd studies such as this.)

Further, the depth of false allegations against Dr. Wakefield extend to blaming him for a decrease in vaccinations in the UK. No such decrease occurred as people initially took Dr. Wakefield’s opinion for a return to mono-vaccines to heart and did so… thus the vaccination rates did not, as claimed, drop precipitously upon the publication of the MMR study. It was, in fact, a later act of the UK which made the mono-vaccines unavailable and that lead to a drop in rates. The linked video also offers Dr. Wakefield’s response to false allegations regarding financial gains resulting from his work on the study.

I suggest that Mr. Rowan also research the history of false claims against doctors and researchers throughout history and the resultant damage to reputations such false claims produced. Beriberi, SMON, scurvy and pellagra immediately come to mind. Were it not for the tenacity of such doctors and researchers, we would still be in the dark ages of these conditions.

It is notable that Mr. Rowan claims debunking and disreputation of facts presented in VAXXED yet apparently had watched something else as he did not realize the film was centered on a CDC whistleblower, apparently did not know that the researchers on the study, the doctor at the center of the film and Dr. Wakefield are not anti-vaxxers. He also made no effort to name any of the professionals whom he follows behind.

As his casket was lowered into the cruel earth, all his wife could recall was the practitioners words as she and her husband left his clinic. “Trust me… I’m a doctor”. Cures are not determined by edict. They are discovered through inquiry.

What many are as yet unaware… and perhaps shall remain so… is that communicable diseases have cycles of growth and recession which are entirely natural… no proven links being providable through belief in vaccines. It has been claimed that polio was eradicated, small-pox, and other diseases, by vaccine. I direct the reader, and Mr. Rowan, to the following from an old friend, Jon Rappoport . Mind Boggling FDA Confession About Small-Pox Vaccine. Variably, vaccines are, by their manufacturers and by researchers, NIH, CDC, WHO, considered viable in 30 to 70% of those inoculated… and the duration of effect varies from person to person. It is therefor impossible to make any claim to 100% eradication of an antigen. Further, it is well known that live vaccines, once injected into a body, can be communicated to surrounding susceptible bodies and that injectees can, and do, come down with symptoms of the disease for which they were inoculated. Things to consider.

Mr. Rowan continues his missive with ramblings about his personal experience with autism and I feel for him. Having 12 years of providing counseling, therapy and care for Autistic children, I do know the ups and downs quite well.

From there, he selects a few supporters of anti-vax groups in Ireland and the UK. I ask if there were more reputable and noteworthy proponents that were purposely not listed. Still, this is not really about anti-vaxxers but about rational vaxxers. Those who believe the “professionals” Mr. Rowan believes vs. those who question the timing, formulation and scheduling of vaccines… such as Dr. Thompson, Dr. Walker-Smith and Dr. Wakefield.

From this point, Mr. Rowan delves into alternative treatment. Many, I will agree, are bollocks. However, Mr. Rowan, had he a background in science or medicine, would be aware that chelation is a widely used and approved therapy for the removal of heavy metals from the human body. It’s most common use is for removing lead in heavily exposed children and adults. It is also used to remove a myriad of heavy metals from machinists who inadvertently consume sizable amounts through handling lubricants used in machining. It involves the injection of a synthetic amino acid into the blood stream. Other uses are controversial only in that there are differing schools of though as to how it acts in the body. Many, many people attest to its efficacy and their well being post treatment. Vaccines have, variably, as components, forms of aluminum and mercury which are questionable with regard to vaccine damage. The concern increases as ever greater clusters of inoculations occur and combination vaccines come into market.

Bleaching is a very bad idea which evolved from a good one. Food grade peroxide has been used with no ill effect for generations Neutrophils in the body produce hydrogen peroxide as a first line of defense against infection and disease. The MMS “bleach” sold by hucksters should be removed from the market place. There are numerous other therapies that have been tried and rejected over the years with regard to autism. It is a strong caveat to do the research before trying anything.

With regard to Mr. Rowan’s fear message about a return of TB, TB vaccines are not required in the US due to overall ineffectiveness in the population. BCG vaccine has a claimed effect against meningitis and disseminated TB in 20% of children. Further, in children who do become infected, it is said to prevent roughly half from developing the disease. It is not proven to prevent primary infection and, more importantly, does not prevent reactivation of latent pulmonary infection, the principal source of bacillary spread in the community. Like most diseases, TB tends to disappear as environments for living improve. Bernard, from whom Pasteur stole most of his work, understood that “it is not the germ but rather the terrain”.

The remainder of Mr. Rowan’s missive I will disregard as it is extraneous babble in my honest opinion. I may be a bit harsh in presenting my rebuttal but it is not my intention to belittle Mr’ Rowan. I do wish him to see that he is vastly unqualified and unknowledgeable in too may areas to go on the attack of someone who rightly questions science and conducts appropriate research to help move the discussions forward. The doctor under attack for purportedly being an anti-vaxxer and a fraud is the exact opposite. It is dishonest and irresponsible to present such claims absent any genuine comprehension of the subject(s) or the nature of science and research. I sincerely hope Mr. Rowan will truly open his mind and understand the errors of his perceptions and claims. Perpetuation of myths and other forms of misinformation, intentional or otherwise, is a disservice to everyone. [2323 wds]

Palestinians have a legal right to armed struggle

**Originally published in Al Jazeera July 20, 2017. The below is the unedited version with original title & links**

For Some, History is a Failed Recollection

Stanley Cohen

Long ago, it was settled that resistance… even armed struggle… against a colonial occupation force is not just recognized under international law but specifically endorsed.

In accordance with international humanitarian law, wars of national liberation have been expressly embraced, through the adoption of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, as a protected and essential right of occupied people everywhere.

Article 1 (4) of Additional Protocol I provides that “international armed conflict” include those in which people are fighting against “colonial domination, alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination.”

Finding evolving vitality in humanitarian law, for decades the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA)… once described as the collective conscience of the world… has noted the right of peoples to “self-determination… independence… and human rights.

Indeed, as early as 1974, resolution 3314 of the UNGA prohibited states from “any military occupation, however temporary” and included bombardments, blockades, or forced annexations of any lands by an occupying state as examples of gross international transgressions.

In relevant part, the resolution not only went on to affirm the right “to self- determination, freedom and independence of peoples forcibly deprived of that right, particularly peoples under colonial and racist regimes or other forms of alien domination” but noted the right of the occupied to “struggle… and to seek and receive support ” in that effort.

The term “armed-struggle” was implied without precise definition in that resolution and many other early ones that upheld the right of indigenous persons to evict an occupier [See, i.e. resolutions 2649 (1970), 2955 (1972), 3070 (1973), 3246 (1974), 3382 (1975), 33/24 (1978), 34/44 (1979), 35/35 (1980) and 36/9 (1981), as well as Security Council resolutions 418 (1977) and 437 (1978)].

This imprecision was to change on December 3, 1982. At that time UNGA resolution 37/43 removed any doubt or debate over the lawful entitlement of occupied people to resist occupying forces by any and all lawful means.

In short, the resolution held: “This House reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle”.

Though Israel has tried, time and time again, to recast the unambiguous intent of this precise resolution… and thus place it’s now half -century occupation in the West Bank and Gaza beyond its application… it is an effort worn thin to the point of palpable illusion by the exacting language of the declaration itself.

Thus, in relevant part, section 21 of the resolution strongly condemned “the expansionist activities of Israel in the Middle East and the continual bombing of Palestinian civilians, which constitute a serious obstacle to the realization of the self-determination and independence of the Palestinian people”.

Never ones to hesitate in rewriting history, long before the establishment of the United Nations, European Zionists deemed themselves to be an occupied people as they immigrated to Palestine… a land to which any historical connection had long since passed through a largely voluntary transit.

Indeed, a full 50 years before the UN spoke of the right of armed struggle as a vehicle of indigenous liberation, European Zionists illegally co-opted the concept as the Irgun,  Lehi and other terrorist groups undertook a decade’s long reign of deadly mayhem. During this time, they slaughtered not only thousands of indigenous Palestinians but targeted British police and military personnel that had long maintained a colonial presence there.

Perhaps, as Israelis sit down to mourn the loss of two of their occupation forces shot dead, this past week, in Jerusalem… in what many consider to be a lawful act of resistance… a visit down memory lane might just place the events in their proper historical context.

Describing the British as an occupation force in “their homeland,” long ago Zionists targeted British police and military units with ruthless abandon throughout Palestine and elsewhere.

Thus, on April 12, 1938, the Irgun murdered 2 British police officers in a train bombing in Haifa. On August 26, 1939 two British officers were killed by an Irgun land mine in Jerusalem. On February 14, 1944 two British constables were shot dead when they attempted to make arrests for pasting up wall posters in Haifa. On September 27, 1944 more than a hundred members of the Irgun attacked 4 British police stations injuring hundreds of officers. Two days later a senior British police officer of the Criminal Intelligence Department was assassinated in Jerusalem. On November 1, 1945 another police officer was killed as 5 trains were bombed. On December 27, 1945 seven British officers lost their lives in a bombing on police headquarters in Jerusalem. On November 9–13, 1946 Jewish underground members launched a series of land mine and suitcase bomb attacks against railroad stations, trains, and streetcars, killing 11 British soldiers and policemen and 8 Arab constables. Four more officers were murdered in another attack on police headquarters on January 12, 1947. Nine months later four British police were murdered in an Irgun bank robbery and, but three days later, on September 26, 1947, another thirteen officers were killed in still yet another terrorist attack on a British police station.

These are but a few of many more attacks directed by Zionist terrorists at British police who were seen, by mostly European Jews, as legitimate targets of a campaign they described as one of liberation against an occupation force.

Throughout this period, Jewish terrorists also murdered hundreds of British military personal as they undertook countless attacks that spared no part of the British and Palestinian infrastructure.

Financing these terrorist attacks through bank robberies, extortion, and some private donations, the “underground” assaulted British military and police installations, government offices, and ships… often with bombs. They also sabotaged railroads, bridges, and oil installations. Dozens of economic targets were attacked… among them, 20 trains, which were damaged or derailed, along with five train stations. Numerous attacks were carried out against the oil industry including one, in March 1947, on a Shell Oil refinery in Haifa which destroyed some 16,000 tons of petroleum.

Zionist terrorists killed British soldiers throughout Palestine, using booby traps, ambushes, snipers, and vehicle blasts. British armored vehicles were bombed by remotely detonated IED’s disguised as milestones which blew apart vehicles and killed or injured their occupants.

One attack, in particular, sums up the terrorism of those who, without any force of international law at the time, saw no limitation to their efforts to “liberate” land to which they had, largely, only recently immigrated.

In 1947, the Irgun kidnapped two British Army Intelligence Corps NCOs threatening to hang them if death sentences, passed on three of their own members, were carried out.

When their own men were executed by hanging, the two sergeants were themselves hung… with their booby-trapped bodies left in a eucalyptus grove.

In announcing their execution, the Irgun stated the two British soldiers were hanged following their conviction for “criminal anti-Hebrew activities” which included: “ illegal entry into the Hebrew homeland; membership in a British criminal terrorist organisation… known as the Army of Occupation… which was responsible for the torture, murder, deportation, and denying the Hebrew people the right to live; illegal possession of arms; anti-Jewish spying in civilian clothes; and premeditated hostile designs against the underground.”

Well beyond the territorial confines of Palestine, in late 1946-1947, a continuing campaign of terrorism was directed at the British. Thus, acts of sabotage were carried out on British military transportation routes in Germany. The Lehi also tried, unsuccessfully, to drop a bomb on the House of Commons from a chartered plane flown from France and, in October 1946, bombed the British Embassy in Rome… injuring three. A number of other explosive devices were detonated in London, including one at the Colonial Club… an establishment catering to soldiers and students from British colonies in Africa and the West Indies. The bombing injured some servicemen. On another occasion, an attempt was made to destroy the Colonial Office in London with a large bomb which malfunctioned after its timer broke. Some 21 letter bombs were addressed. at various times. to senior British political figures, including Prime Minister Clement Attlee and Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin. Many were intercepted, while others reached their targets but were discovered before they could go off. An Irgun explosives factory was also discovered in London.

Self determination is a difficult, costly march for the occupied. In Palestine, no matter what the weapon of choice… whether voice, pen or gun… there is a steep price to be paid for its use.

Today, “speaking truth to power” has become very much a popular mantra of resistance in neo-liberal circles and societies. In Palestine, however, for the occupied and oppressed it is an all but certain path to prison or death. Yet, for generations of Palestinians stripped of the very breathe that resonates with the feel of freedom, history teaches there is simply no other choice.

Silence is surrender. To be silent is to betray all those that have come before and all those yet to follow.

For those who have never felt the constant yoke of oppression, or seen it up close, it is a vision beyond comprehension. Occupation sits heavy on the occupied, ever day in every way, limiting who you are and what you may dare to become.

The constant rub of barricades, guns, orders, prison and death are fellow travelers for the occupied … whether infants, teens in the spring of life, the elderly, or those trapped by the artificial confines of borders over which they have no control.

To the families of the two Israeli Druze policemen who lost their lives while trying to control a place that was not theirs to command, I extend my condolences. These young men were, however, not lost to the ring of resistance… but willingly sacrificed by an evil occupation that bears no legitimacy whatsoever.

Ultimately, if there is grieving to be done, it must be for the eleven million occupied, whether in Palestine or outside, as so much stateless refugees, stripped of a meaningful voice and opportunity, as the world makes excuses built largely of a political and economic gift box that bears the Star of David.

Not a day goes by, now, without the chilling wail of a Nation watching over a Palestinian infant wrapped in a burial shroud… stripped of life because electricity or transit have become a perverse privilege which holds millions hostage to the political whims of the few. Be they Israeli, Egyptian or those who claim to carry the mantle of Palestinian political leadership, the responsibility of infanticide in Gaza is theirs and theirs alone.

The three young men, cousins, who willingly sacrificed their lives in the attack on the two Israeli officers in Jerusalem, did so not as an empty gesture born of desperation, but rather a personal statement that follows a long line of others who well understood the price of freedom can, at times, mean all.

For seventy years, not a day has passed without the loss of other young Palestinian women and men who, tragically, found greater dignity and freedom in martyrdom than they did in obedient, passive living controlled by those who dared to dictate the parameters of their lives.

Millions of us worldwide dream of a better time and place for Palestinians… free to spread their wings, to soar, to discover who they are and what they wish to become. Until then, I mourn not for the loss of those who stop their flight. But applaud I do for those who dare to struggle… dare to win… and by any means necessary.

There is no magic to resistance and struggle. They transcend time and place and derive their very meaning and ardor in the natural inclination, indeed drive, of us all to be free… to be free to determine the roll of our own lives.

In Palestine, no such freedom exists. In Palestine, international law recognizes the fundamental rights to self- determination, freedom and independence for the occupied. In Palestine, that includes the right to armed struggle, if necessary.

Long ago, the famed abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, himself a former slave, wrote of struggle. These words resonate no less so today, in Palestine, than they did some one hundred and fifty years ago in the heart of the Antebellum South in the United States:

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”


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