All posts by Deborah Lagutaris

The Pussy Riot revolution-‘Words Will Break Cement’


———————————————————— The Ash Grove The Pussy Riot revolution-‘Words Will Break Cement’ BOOK REVIEW ** ‘Words Will Break Cement’ documents the Pussy Riot revolution ———————————————————— ** Masha Gessen’s new book about Pussy Riot explores the story behind the Russian guerrilla girls’ protest movement. ————————————————————,0,5868355.story#ixzz2r8ofav5w Pussy Riot rehearsal Members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot during a rehearsal in Moscow, February 2012. (ANNA VOLKOVA / EPA / February 10, 2012) By Sara Marcus LA Times: January 19, 2014 The video went viral in early 2012: a handful of performers in bright dresses and colored balaclavas doing high kicks in a Moscow cathedral, shouting in rhythm, as dark-suited men dragged them away one by one. The feminist art collective the world now knows as Pussy Riot had been mounting guerrilla happenings around Moscow for less than a year, and the performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior was in many ways typical: a surprise takeover in a public place, stage-managed for maximum YouTube mileage, with synchronized dance moves and lyrics that careened between obscenities, feminist battle cries, and calls of support for the anti-Putin protest movement that had finally erupted in December 2011. For years, Russians had seemed complacent about the country’s stratification of wealth, widespread government corruption and Putin’s unending stranglehold on power. But in the wake of the Arab Spring, the country was beginning to wake up, and Pussy Riot was there to incite. “Time to learn to occupy squares / Power to the masses,” went a characteristic couplet; they sang that one from a rooftop next to a jail full of locked-up activists. Within a year, they would themselves become some of the world’s most famous political prisoners. In “Words Will Break Cement,” the first book about Pussy Riot, Russian American journalist Masha Gessen tells the story of this band of young women who pushed an autocratic regime into overplaying its hand and made feminist art into a matter of geopolitical significance. Pussy Riot formed in 2011 out of the ashes of an earlier art collective named Voina (War); a few women from Voina broke off in order to create something explicitly feminist, inspired by the simple provocations of punk rock, the 1990s Riot Grrrl movement, and feminist artists like Karen Finley. The new collective’s performances highlighted sexist and anti-LGBT dimensions of political repression, an approach that now looks prophetic in light of Russia’s recent antigay legislation. Pussy Riot’s cathedral performance was intended to denounce the cozy relationship between the government and the Russian Orthodox Church. In early 2012, the church’s leader — Patriarch Kirill, a rumored KGB agent with a $30,000 wristwatch — praised Putin and told his followers not to attend demonstrations; other priests, too, instructed their congregants to shun marches. Shouting their “Punk Prayer,” Pussy Riot retorted: “Mary, Mother of God, is with us in protest!” The prayer, cut short by security guards, lasted just 40 seconds, but the music reverberated much longer: Three members of Pussy Riot were arrested shortly afterward, convicted of “criminal hooliganism,” and sentenced to two years in prison. The group that had once obsessed over finding the perfect angle for their online videos had now been handed a starker image of Russian repression than they ever could have devised themselves, and news outlets around the world ran courtroom footage of these articulate, attractive young women locked in an airless Plexiglas cage while prosecutors denounced them for blasphemy. The spectacle of Russian authorities shipping artists off to labor camps had a disturbingly familiar ring to it. Instead of silencing criticism of the regime, the prosecution of Pussy Riot turned the group into a global cause célèbre, with figures from Madonna to Obama coming to their defense. Late this past December, Putin granted the imprisoned Pussy Rioters an early release, part of a transparent attempt to rehabilitate Russia’s image before the Winter Olympic Games, but the gesture was too little and too late. Not just a keen observer of these events, Gessen’s also an impassioned partisan. Her damning Putin biography, “The Man Without a Face,” came out in 2012, and she ran a protest clearinghouse in Moscow. “Words Will Break Cement” is written in a dry, raised-eyebrow deadpan, which allows post-Soviet repression to indict itself and adeptly captures the bluster and headiness of activist idealism. Gessen begins with the back stories of the three arrested women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (Nadya), Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich (Kat). Gessen interviewed Nadya and Maria through the mail while they were locked up, and went along on a family visit to Nadya in prison; she had unlimited access only to Kat, a perplexing figure who received a suspended sentence on appeal (her lawyer pointed out that guards had seized her before she could sing a word) and has since kept a low profile. Gessen fills in the blanks with detailed reminiscences from the members’ relatives and friends, and she traces their routes to radicalism — Kat through a passion for photography and an awareness of election fraud, Maria through a pragmatic and deeply felt environmentalism, Nadya through Western critical theory and Russian poetry. Gessen is not just asking how these women came to form Pussy Riot, or how they came to be punished so severely for making protest art. She’s also asking what makes great political art, and proposing that art and truth-telling have the power to defeat oppressive regimes (as the title, a quote from Nadya paraphrasing Solzhenitsyn, suggests). Pussy Riot’s actions often looked and sounded adolescent and slapdash, as most of the best punk rock always has. Gessen implies that these qualities may be particularly well suited to countering entrenched doublespeak. “In really scary societies,” she writes, “all public conversation is an exercise in using words to mean their opposites.” Confronting these lies can be, she suggests, the most effective way to fight back. The book’s account of the Pussy Riot trial reads like absurdist drama. To prove the women’s supposed anti-Orthodox hatred, the prosecution discusses their hem lengths and the speed with which they crossed themselves. A witness, having described their “devilish jerkings,” is asked on cross-examination, “How does the victim know how the devil jerks?” Maria and Nadya are sent to penal colonies, whereupon absurdity yields to plain cruelty: They are fed rotten food, housed in filth, and forced to sew in sweatshops for 12 to 16 hours a day. Maria’s campaigns to defend inmates’ rights in her colony find some success, but Nadya’s efforts only cause her fellow prisoners to ostracize her; one guard hints threateningly that she might get killed. By the end of the book, Nadya has been transferred to a prison hospital in Siberia, gravely ill after weeks on a hunger strike to bring attention to the colony’s inhumane conditions. The statement she smuggled out before being hospitalized is, as Gessen wrote in Slate ( , “probably the most detailed and searing expose of Russian prison conditions since Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s ‘Gulag Archipelago.’” If journalism is the rough draft of history, then books rushed into print to keep up with events — as this one was — constitute an early and provisional edit. Still, “Words Will Break Cement” is the fullest account so far of the Pussy Riot story, richer and more deeply informed than last year’s workmanlike HBO documentary “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer.” Gessen’s extensive knowledge of Russian art, literature and political dissent helps contextualize the group’s work and its persecution in a way that has rarely been seen until now. She ably illustrates the influence of Moscow Conceptualist poetry and contemporary protest movements on Pussy Riot’s combination of aesthetics and politics, and she argues for their case as a troubling return of Soviet-style show trials. How Pussy Riot will affect Russian politics in the future is an open question. But the group has already succeeded in dramatizing the very repression they were seeking to expose. In addition, their time in prison has changed them from brash Internet stars into thoughtful, strategic organizers. Their story is a moving object lesson in the power of art — perhaps especially messy and exuberant art — to rise above repression and have the last, cement-breaking word. Marcus is the author of “Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution.” ———————————————————— Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot Masha Gessen Riverhead: 320 pp., $16 paper ———————————————————— Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times ( ============================================================ Copyright © 2014 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. 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Dr. Martin Lugher King, Jr. 1929-1968

———————————————————— The Ash Grove Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 1929 – 1968 Hi. This morning’s Democracy Now repeats the show that provides the text below. The accompanying graphics are amazing; heart-wrenching, and then exalting. If you lived the era they will move you deeply, as they will inspire younger people. Click on the url just below and watch it on your computer or watch it on tv in today’s several repetitions. Commemorate this, a true holiday. -Ed ( ** Democracy Now ! 18 January 2010 ———————————————————— ** Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929-1968 ———————————————————— “The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality—and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.” “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. ” AMY GOODMAN: Today is a federal holiday that honors Dr. Martin Luther King. He was born January 15th, 1929. He was assassinated April 4th, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was just thirty-nine years old. More than four decades after Dr. King’s death, Barack Obama took his oath of office to become the forty-fourth president of the United States and the first African American president in US history. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man, whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant, can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath. AMY GOODMAN: Obama accepted the Democratic Party nomination on the forty-fifth anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream. AMY GOODMAN: While Dr. King is primarily remembered as a civil rights leader, he also championed the cause of the poor and organized the Poor People’s Campaign to address issues of economic justice. Dr. King was also a fierce critic of US foreign policy and the Vietnam War. In his “Beyond Vietnam” speech, which he delivered at New York’s Riverside Church on April 4th, 1967, a year-to-the-day before he was assassinated, Dr. King called the United States, quote, “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” Time magazine called the speech “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi.” The Washington Post said King, quote, “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.” Today, we’ll let you decide. We play an excerpt of Dr. King’s speech “Beyond Vietnam.” REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: After 1954, they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which could have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again. When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered. Also, it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva Agreement concerning foreign troops. And they remind us that they did not begin to send troops in large numbers and even supplies into the South, until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands. Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the President claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the North. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor, weak nation more than 8,000 miles away from its shores. At this point, I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called “enemy,” I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else, for it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after the short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long, they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor. Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America, who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours. This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote: “Each day the war goes on, the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism,” unquote. We continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war and set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva agreement. Part of our ongoing—part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under the new regime, which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We must provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country, if necessary. Meanwhile, we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task, while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices and our lives if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative method of protest possible. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest. Now, there is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality—and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. So such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God. In 1957, a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years, we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression, which has now has justified the presence of US military “advisers” in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counterrevolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Cambodia and why American napalm and Green Beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago, he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay a hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Martin Luther King, April 4th, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York, explaining why he opposed the war in Vietnam. We’ll come back to this speech and then play another. You can get a copy of our show at Today, Dr. Martin Luther King, in his own words. Back in a minute. [break] AMY GOODMAN: Mahalia Jackson, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” Dr. King’s favorite song. This is Democracy Now!,, the War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we return to Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech “Beyond Vietnam.” It was April 4th, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York. REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.” We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism and militarism. With this powerful commitment, we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain.” A genuine revolution of values means, in the final analysis, that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft-misunderstood, this oft-misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love, I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response, I am not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I’m speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the First Epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says, “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word,” unquote. We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The “tide in the affairs of men” does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam writes, “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on…” We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. Now, let us begin. Now, let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter—but beautiful—struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history. As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated: Once to every man and nation Comes the moment to decide, In the strife of truth and falsehood, For the good or evil side; Some great cause, God’s new Messiah, Off’ring each the bloom or blight, And the choice goes by forever Twixt that darkness and that light. Though the cause of evil prosper, Yet ‘tis truth alone is strong; Though her portion be the scaffold, And upon the throne be wrong: Yet that scaffold sways the future, And behind the dim unknown, Standeth God within the shadow Keeping watch above his own. And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 4th, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York, explaining why he opposed the war in Vietnam, the speech delivered exactly a year-to-the-day before he was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4th, 1968. The night before he died, Dr. King delivered his last major address. He was in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers as he built momentum for a Poor People’s March on Washington. This is some of Dr. King’s last speech, “I Have Been to the Mountain Top.” REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, “Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?” I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God’s children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through—or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there. I would move on by Greece and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon. And I would watch them around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire, and I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and aesthetic life of man. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would even go by the way that the man for whom I am named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church of Wittenberg. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would come on up even to 1863 and watch a vacillating president by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would even come up to the early ’30s and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation and come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. But I wouldn’t stop there. Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty and say, “If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy.” Now that’s a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around. That’s a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding. Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee, the cry is always the same: “We want to be free!” And another reason that I’m happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn’t force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today. And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn’t done, and done in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I’m just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period to see what is unfolding. And I’m happy that He’s allowed me to be in Memphis. I can remember—I can remember when Negroes were just going around, as Ralph has said, so often scratching where they didn’t itch and laughing when they were not tickled. But that day is all over. We mean business now, and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God’s world. And that’s all this whole thing is about. We aren’t engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying—we are saying that we are God’s children. And if we are God’s children, we don’t have to live like we are forced to live. Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we’ve got to stay together. We’ve got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh’s court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that’s the beginning of getting out of slavery. AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Martin Luther King, April 3rd, 1968, the night before he was assassinated. We’ll come back to this speech in Memphis, Tennessee in a minute. [break] AMY GOODMAN: Nina Simone singing “Why? (The King of Love Is Dead)” This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue with Dr. King’s speech the night before he was assassinated, April 3rd, 1968. It was a rainy night in Memphis, Tennessee. REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: We aren’t going to let any mace stop us. We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces; they don’t know what to do. I’ve seen them so often. I remember in Birmingham, Alabama, when we were in that majestic struggle there, we would move out of the 16th Street Baptist Church day after day; by the hundreds we would move out. And Bull Connor would tell them to send the dogs forth, and they did come. But we just went before the dogs singing, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around.” Bull Connor next would say, “Turn the fire hoses on.” And as I said to you the other night, Bull Connor didn’t know history. He knew a kind of physics that somehow didn’t relate to the transphysics that we knew about. And that was the fact that there was a certain kind of fire that no water could put out. And we went before the fire hoses; we had known water. If we were Baptist or some other denominations, we had been immersed. If we were Methodist and some others, we had been sprinkled, but we knew water. That couldn’t stop us. And we just went on before the dogs, and we would look at them; and we’d go on before the water hoses, and we would look at it. And we’d just go on singing, “Over my head I see freedom in the air.” And then we would be thrown in the paddy wagons, and sometimes we were stacked in there like sardines in a can. And they would throw us in, and old Bull would say, “Take ’em off,” and they did. And we would just go on in the paddy wagon singing, “We Shall Overcome.” And every now and then we’d get in jail, and we’d see the jailers looking through the windows being moved by our prayers and being moved by our words and our songs. And there was a power there which Bull Connor couldn’t adjust to, and so we ended up transforming Bull into a steer, and we won our struggle in Birmingham. Now, let me say, as I move to my conclusion, that we’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school, be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together. Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus, and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base. Now, that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air and placed it on the dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn’t stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou” and to be concerned about his brother. Now, you know we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn’t stop. At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn’t be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that “One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony.” And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem—or down to Jericho, rather, to organize a Jericho Road Improvement Association. That’s a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect. But I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1,200 miles—or rather 1,200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about 2,200 feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.” And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking, and he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked, the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” That’s the question before you tonight, not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job?” not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?” The question is not, “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?” The question is, “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?” That’s the question. You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, “Are you Martin Luther King?” And I was looking down writing, and I said, “Yes.” And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it, I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the x-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that’s punctured, your drowned in your own blood; that’s the end of you. It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had merely sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheelchair in the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice President. I’ve forgotten what those telegrams said. I’d received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I’ve forgotten what that letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I’ll never forget it. It said simply, “Dear Dr. King, I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School.” And she said, “While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I’m a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I’m simply writing you to say that I’m so happy that you didn’t sneeze.” And I want to say tonight—I want to say tonight that I too am happy that I didn’t sneeze, because if I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream and taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1961, when we decided to take a ride for freedom and ended segregation in inter-state travel. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent. If I had sneezed—if I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama aroused the conscience of this nation and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been down in Selma, Alabama to see the great movement there. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been in Memphis to see a community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering. I’m so happy that I didn’t sneeze. And they were telling me—now, it doesn’t matter now. It really doesn’t matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us. The pilot said over the public address system, “We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked and to be sure that nothing would be wrong on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully, and we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night.” And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers? Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord! AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Martin Luther King. Within twenty-four hours, he would be dead, assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel April 4th, 1968. Today is the federal holiday that honors him. Related stories * Vietnam Vet, Scholar Andrew Bacevich on Obama War Plan: “The President Has Drawn the Wrong Lessons From His Understanding of the History of War” ( ============================================================ Copyright © 2014 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, CA 94606 USA Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp ** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) ** friend on Facebook (# ) ** forward to a friend ( ** unsubscribe from this list ( ** update subscription preferences (

The Ash Grove: Erin Brockovich: After Chemical Spill, West Virginians Organizing “Stronger Than I’ve Ever Seen”

———————————————————— Daily Digest Erin Brockovich: After Chemical Spill, West Virginians Organizing “Stronger Than I’ve Ever Seen” Erin Brockovich: After Chemical Spill, West Virginians Organizing “Stronger Than I’ve Ever Seen” Democracy Now: January 14, 2014 ** Guest:Erin Brockovich ( , renowned environmentalist, consumer advocate and legal researcher. Today, Brockovich and her team are investigating the major chemical spill in the Elk River, West Virginia ———————————————————— AARON MATÉ: West Virginia has begun partially lifting its ban on tap water five days after a chemical spill in the Elk River. More than 300,000 residents have been unable to use their water for drinking, cooking or bathing since Thursday, when the company Freedom Industries leaked up to 7,500 gallons of MCHM, an agent used in coal extraction. Scores of schools and businesses have been closed, including in the state capital, Charleston. On Monday, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced chemical levels in the water supply are approaching safe levels, but said some residents will be without water for several more days. GOV. EARL RAY TOMBLIN: The numbers we have today look good, and we’re finally at a point where the do-not-use order has been lifted in certain areas. In these specific areas, flushing can begin. We’ve made a lot of progress, but I ask all West Virginians to continue to be patient as we work to safely restore service to the affected areas. AARON MATÉ: The ban has now been lifted in four zones but is still in effect for a vast majority of residents. Dozens of people have been hospitalized since the spill. As of Monday, at least 18 lawsuits have been filed against Freedom Industries and the water treatment company, American Water. AMY GOODMAN: The spill is also having repercussions beyond West Virginia. The Elk River feeds into the Ohio River, prompting areas of Kentucky and Ohio to shut down their water valves to avoid contamination. The Freedom Industries site behind the spill is just a mile upriver from the state’s largest water treatment plant, owned by American Water. But despite the obvious dangers to the source of 16 percent of West Virginia’s water supply, the spill has exposed major holes in how West Virginia regulates the dangerous chemicals used in its leading industry, coal. The chemical, MCHM, does not receive close federal or state oversight. Environmental inspectors have not visited the Freedom Industries facility since 1991. Under West Virginia law, chemicals storage facilities are not even subject to inspections. The plant also had no groundwater protection plan in place. In a minute, we’ll go to Charleston, West Virginia, to speak with Erin Brockovich, the renowned environmentalist, consumer advocate and legal researcher. While a single mother of three working as a legal assistant, she helped win the biggest class action lawsuit in American history. The suit was against a multi-billion-dollar corporation, the California power company Pacific Gas & Electric, for polluting a city’s water supply. Her story was told in the Oscar-winning film starring Julia Roberts in 2000 called, well, Erin Brockovich. Today, Brockovich and her team are investigating the major chemical spill in the Elk River in West Virginia. On Monday evening, she held a town hall meeting in Charleston to discuss the spill with local residents. ERIN BROCKOVICH: We have found out that the last inspection that was done on this company and that tank farm was in 1991. AMY GOODMAN: That was Erin Brockovich speaking to West Virginia residents in a town hall meeting Monday night, joining us now from Charleston, West Virginia. We’re also joined in Washington by Mike Elk, labor reporter for In These Times. He has extensively covered chemical regulation in the United States, including at the West, Texas, fertilizer plant where 15 people died in an explosion last year. We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Let’s start with Erin Brockovich. You held this town hall meeting last night. What did you find? ERIN BROCKOVICH: Hi, good morning. How are you? AMY GOODMAN: It’s great to have you with us. ERIN BROCKOVICH: You know what? We were glad we got the town hall together on extremely short notice, because we weren’t even sure if we’d have a facility here. And for the folks that came out, you know, I actually heard numerous stories that were disturbing at many levels, but they were mostly very calm. They were frustrated. They really felt a sense that they couldn’t get through to anybody to give them further explanations, and they had many, many questions that were excellent, that needed answering. I think a couple of things that really startled me were photos that people had taken as the water had come on, the color. There was great concern from people whose water had already come on, the smell. They said that it was pretty overpowering. Nobody told them about that. They were having to open windows, put up fans, just to get the odor out. There was concerns of people who work with homeless groups that had not been getting bottled water, and they were asking questions about—they had been bathing in it because no one sent them bottled water. They had burns on their face. There were people who were showering at the time that still have like some open sores on their heads, who did drink the water before the shutdown that still have some open wounds in their throat. So I think that, you know, as in every single case I’m involved in, there’s just a great deal of information down on the ground with folks that we really don’t know about, we really don’t talk much about. And after, you know, everything’s said and done and everyone goes home, they’re still left with a whole host of problems that they find it difficult to get help with. AARON MATÉ: Erin, based on your past experience with a major company polluting a city’s water supply, I’m wondering if you had any advice for West Virginia residents? ERIN BROCKOVICH: Well, we talked about that last night, and, yes, I do. You know, I’ve zigzagged across the United States since that film came out 20-some years ago, and we run into situations like this every single day, just not to the magnitude of a municipality being impacted and 300,000 people being rendered with no water. And one thing is organization. I think—I don’t think, I see communities just feel helpless. They don’t know how to get through to their local legislators. If they do, you know, they get passed from one person to another. They can’t get through. When there’s a crisis, we all know it’s very difficult to get through. You can wait and wait and wait. And they just feel like there’s nothing they can do. But we have observed, in this new world of social technology, they’re actually very quite savvy on how they’re going to exchange information, where they’re going to learn information. There was people last night in the group that have already started their own Facebook pages. They’re connecting with other Facebook people now. They’re able to see what’s going on. They can reach out more to their community, even if they’re not in the community right at the moment. And they’re helping themselves, and they’re gathering information from one who did hear or got through to an agency, and this is what they told them, and they post that. So, they’re banding together stronger than I’ve ever seen it before. And I think that’s something that’s very helpful to them to stay informed, because when we have information, that’s empowering to us, because we’re able to better have control over our situation and what happens to us. So that is one thing that I observed again last night that in Hinkley was the same way, but it was a smaller group. You know, it was the 634 staying together that really made a difference. And when you get thousands upon thousands, it’s difficult for them to stay together. But they are doing it through social media. They will text each other. They will read something get on Facebook. And it helps them not to have to go through that frustration of “Why is nobody getting back to me?” AMY GOODMAN: Erin Brockovich, I want to play a clip of the president of Freedom Industries, Gary Southern, being confronted by Kallie Cart, a reporter for local ABC affiliate WCHS. GARY SOUTHERN: Look, guys, it has been an extremely long day. I’m having a hard—trouble talking at the moment. I would appreciate it if we could wrap this thing up. I will— KALLIE CART: Well, we have a lot—we actually have a lot of questions. GARY SOUTHERN: OK. KALLIE CART: And it’s been a long day for a lot of people who don’t have water. So, can you give us an exact timeline as to how this all happened? The DEP was saying earlier today, as early as 8:15 yesterday morning they were getting reports and that you all did not call it in until 12:00 noon. The DEP was already here at 11:15. So what’s the timeline on all this? GARY SOUTHERN: We were aware of the leaking storage tank around 10:30. We load tank trucks of this material on a regular basis, and occasionally we’ve had reports of an odor previously. So, we were first aware of any material being spilled at 10:30 yesterday. KALLIE CART: Could it have been earlier than yesterday? Because we’ve also received reports into our newsroom that it was as early as Wednesday, possibly Tuesday, people were starting to smell this in the area. GARY SOUTHERN: We have no information on that. KALLIE CART: Are there no systems in place to alert you of a leak at your facility other than a smell? GARY SOUTHERN: At this moment in time, I think that’s all we have time for. So, thanks for coming. Thanks for your time. KALLIE CART: We have more questions. Hey, hey, hey! No, we’re not done. GARY SOUTHERN: You’re not done. KALLIE CART: We’re not done, no. Anyone else have any other questions? AMY GOODMAN: That is the president of Freedom Industries, Gary Southern, being confronted by a local reporter in Charleston, West Virginia, as he’s drinking bottled water. It sounds a little reminiscent of the former BP CEO, Tony Hayward, in 2010 after the Gulf oil spill, as he drew attention to his own suffering. TONY HAYWARD: We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused to their lives. And, you know, we’re—there’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do. You know, I’d like my life back. AMY GOODMAN: He wanted his life back. Well, let’s stay in Charleston, West Virginia, with Erin Brockovich. This company—we just heard Mr. Southern, the president of the company. I’m looking at Paul Barrett’s piece ( in Businessweek, “Meet Freedom Industries, the Company Behind the West Virginia Chemical Spill.” “How long has this outfit been around?” he says. “About two weeks, in its current form. Freedom Industries is the product of a merger effective Dec. 31, 2013, that combined Etowah River Terminal, the facility where the leak occurred, Crete Technologies, and Poca Blending, located in nearby Nitro. A predecessor company called Freedom Industries was formed in 1986, according to [our] colleagues at Bloomberg News. How the pieces of the newly formed mini-conglomerate fit together merits urgent inquiry, as does the question of whether there’s any connection between the corporate mash-up and the fateful opening of a one-inch hole that allowed a noxious chemical to escape.” Trying to get behind who is behind Freedom Industries and Gary Southern—does this sound familiar to you, Erin Brockovich? ERIN BROCKOVICH: Well, I mean, oh, my gosh, I wouldn’t know necessarily where to begin. I mean, we deal with so many companies, you know, across the board. Yes. I mean, a lot of things sound familiar. The main one is this laissez-faire attitude that has set in on safety, and across the board. I mean, we could talk about the Tennessee Valley Authority breach we were involved in, the situation with Texas Brine and the sinkhole. You brought up BP. You know, now we have this situation in West Virginia. And these are ones of large magnitude that we really get to take a scope and look at. And sometimes it’s frustrating because I’m not sure we learn anything. And I think we’re at a real critical point where we’re going to have to begin to change how we do business and how we operate these facilities, because they’re everywhere. And so, it is definitely something that we have seen before, their—a great deal of arrogance, not wanting to answer, especially a direct point, that “Were you overseeing? Why is it you didn’t know?” Well, you didn’t know because nobody was tending the farm, if you will. So, there is this almost mentality that we have seen—we’ve seen it with PG&E—that, you know, “I don’t know. We’re untouchable. I’m not going to give you any answers. I really don’t have to.” So, we have seen this type of mentality consistently in most of the work that we’ve done. AMY GOODMAN: We have to break, but we’re going to come back to this discussion with Erin Brockovich, who’s talking to us from West Virginia’s capital. Yes, she is the renowned environmentalist, consumer advocate, well known because of the film by the same name, Erin Brockovich played by Julia Roberts, and for her remarkable work taking on Pacific Electric—Gas & Electric, winning an unprecedented settlement of $333 million for the people of a town that had a similar situation, but talking about contaminated water. And we’ll be joined by Mike Elk of In These Times. Stay with us. Show Full Transcript › ============================================================ Copyright © 2014 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, CA 94606 USA Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp ** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) ** friend on Facebook (# ) ** forward to a friend ( ** unsubscribe from this list ( ** update subscription preferences (

The End of the Open Internet?

———————————————————— The Ash Grove The End of the Open Internet? Dear Richard, Bad news: Three judges in Washington, D.C., just dealt a huge blow to the open Internet. An appeals court struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order because of mistakes the agency made when it adopted its Net Neutrality rules. Translation: This court just killed Net Neutrality. This could be the end of the Internet as we know it. But it doesn’t have to be. This decision means that Internet users can expect companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to block or slow down any website, application or service they like. These companies will rush to change the Web and line their own pockets at our expense — creating new tolls for app makers, expensive price tiers for popular sites, and fast lanes open only to the few content providers that can afford them. Here’s the Thing: The FCC Could Stop All This Right Now ( . Yup, you heard us: The FCC could make all this go away by simply reading the law right and reclaiming the authority it already has to protect Internet users for good. During the tenure of former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the agency made a grave mistake by failing to put its open Internet rules on the most solid legal footing. Internet users will pay the price of that decision unless and until the FCC fixes the problem it created for itself. New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler must correct the agency’s past mistakes and truly protect our nation’s communications infrastructure. The agency must ensure that broadband communications networks are open, accessible, reliable and affordable for everyone. It needs to stop fulfilling the wish lists of the big phone and cable monopolies — and start looking out for Internet users. Let’s Get It Right This Time. Tell Chairman Wheeler to Protect the Open Internet — and All of Its Users — for Real ( . Millions of people have fought for Net Neutrality. Together we can fight back against these greedy Internet service providers. Together we can save the Internet we love. Onward, Josh, Candace and the rest of the Free Press team Free Press ( P.S. This isn’t the end of the open Internet. It’s just the beginning of a long fight to save the Internet we love. We don’t take money from business, government or political parties and rely on the generosity of people like you to fuel our work. Please donate $15 (or more!) today ( . Thank you! Free Press is a nonpartisan organization building a nationwide movement for media that serve the public interest. Learn more at Join us on Facebook ( and follow us on Twitter (!/freepress) . You can unsubscribe from this mailing list at any time. ( ============================================================ Copyright © 2014 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, CA 94606 USA Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp ** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) ** friend on Facebook (# ) ** forward to a friend ( ** unsubscribe from this list ( ** update subscription preferences (

Harry Shearer, Robert Scheer, et al in a Tribute to Paul Conrad & ‘Chain Reaction’

———————————————————— The Ash Grove Harry Shearer, Robert Scheer, et al in a Tribute to Paul Conrad & ‘Chain Reaction’ Tribute to Paul Conrad Reception, Discussion & Benefit Auction Join Harry Shearer, Robert Scheer, Robert Berman and others in saving Conrad’s landmarked anti·war Chain Reaction from being dismantled by the City of Santa Monica in February. “This is a statement of peace. May it never become an epitaph” – Paul Conrad, 1991 Monday, January 13, 2014 6 PM to 9 PM Writers Boot Camp at Bergamot Station Arts Center, Santa Monica Donation: $50-$100 per person (tax-deductible) RSVP to ( or (310] 453-5325 Libations I Sustenance I Entertainment ( ============================================================ Copyright © 2014 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, CA 94606 USA Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp ** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) ** friend on Facebook (# ) ** forward to a friend ( ** unsubscribe from this list ( ** update subscription preferences (

The Ash Grove: Medea Benjamin: 10 Good Things about the Year 2013

———————————————————— The Ash Grove Medea Benjamin: 10 Good Things about the Year 2013 10 Good Things about the Year 2013 Medea Benjamin NationofChange / Published: Sunday 29 December 2013 We begin the new year with renewed awareness of the effectiveness of nonviolent action and nonviolent movements. The possibilities for a more peaceful and just 2014 are boundless. 1. A spontaneous uprising by the American people kept President Obama from invading Syria. This Fall’s “peaceful insurrection” was by far my favorite moment of 2013. It was one of those all-too-rare occasions when folks came together across ideological divisions, flooding their congressional reps with calls. Yes, after 12 years, Americans have become “war-wise,” understanding that US intervention is no solution. So instead, chemical weapons are being destroyed thanks to successful negotiations. But the war in Syria rages on, with casualties mounting daily. Peace talks are scheduled for January 22 in Switzerland, and women’s groups—including CODEPINK—are mobilizing ( to surround the meetings with a desperate plea to all the guys with guns: Ceasefire NOW! 2. Talks with Iran are progressing, despite Israel and AIPAC’s objections. The P5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany has made great headway in finding a solution to diffuse the crisis around Iran’s nuclear program. Negotiators are anxious to take advantage of the opening represented by the election of a moderate Iranian leader, President Hassan Rouhani. Sadly, a group of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, along with the AIPAC lobby, threaten to derail the talks by pushing for greater sanctions against Iran. If we can move ahead with talks, 2014 could be the year we finally ditch the Bush-era “axis of evil” treatment and build friendly relations with Iran. 3. Edward Snowden has rocked the world of NSA spying. When Edward Snowden first blew the whistle on the NSA’s sweeping surveillance, he said his greatest fear was not what the government would do to him, but that nothing would change. A mere six months later, the cascading effects have, according to the Washington Post ( , made themselves felt in Congress, the courts, popular culture, Silicon Valley and world capitals.” There is now a vibrant global dialogue about privacy rights. In December, a federal court judge declared the secret collection of domestic phone records unconstitutional and President Obama’s own review panel called a major overhaul of NSA’s activities. President Obama claims he will consider the review board’s suggestions, indicating that reforms are necessary to restore public confidence. While Snowden is under indictment for criminal acts here in the US, thanks to this whistleblower, the days of the NSA doing whatever it wants—in secret and free from public criticism—are coming to an end. Thanks, Edward, for your service! Article image 4. Killer drones are taking a beating. The international community is finally standing up to the use of killer drones and the proliferation of this technology around the globe. With reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, investigations by the United Nation’s Special Rapporteurs, and two briefings in Congress with testimony by drone strike survivors, the dialogue and the outrage around the drone program has increased. This year saw a ban on drone strikes by both the Pakistani National Assembly and the Yemeni Parliament (if only the US would listen!), more protests inside the US and the creation of a global anti-drones network. 5. Yes, the Pope, who beat Snowden for Time’s Person of the Year, is astonishing. I must admit that even as a secular Jew, this pope fills me with awe. He sneaks out at night to feed the homeless; invites homeless people to celebrate his birthday in the Vatican; washes the feet of young prisoners; says he is not one to judge gay people; calls on the church to get beyond its fixation on reproduction and sexual morality; debunks trickle-down economics and questions the morality of capitalism; lives simply and loves to take public transportation. What a cool guy! Unfortunately he doesn’t support abortion rights or the ordination of women, but he is certainly injecting new spirit into the moribund, scandal-ridden Catholic church. 6. Low-wage workers rise up, saying “Low Pay Is Not OK!” Around the county, fast food and other low-wage workers from McDonalds to Walmart rose up in to demand a living wage. Today, 34 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, as well as dozens of cities, have introduced or passed legislation on minimum wage issues, including increasing the state minimum wage, automatic cost-of-living increases and addressing base wages for tipped employees. (And overseas in Bangladesh, after a huge factory blaze in April left 1,100 people dead, massive strikes led to a 77% pay increase for Bangladeshi garment workers!) Pressure is now on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage, which has remained at a shameful $7.25 per hour for the past three years. 7. Immigrant advocates did spectacular organizing, and are poised to reap the benefits. They held prayer vigils, press conferences, marches. They chained themselves to the White House fence and the gates of detention centers. They encircled ICE facilities to shut down deportations. Hundreds were arrested, including 8 members of Congress, calling for immigration reform. They fasted on the national mall in Washington DC, getting a visit from the President and his wife. This organized, mobilized community with significant voting power stands ready to see major changes in U.S. immigration policy next year. 8. Gay marriage is becoming like apple pie.The Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and Illinois became the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage. This year alone saw not only Illinois, but Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, California, Hawaii and New Mexico added to the list of marriage equality states. This number is certain to keep rising, now that a majority of Americans are supportive. Also, the Senate voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to ban discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill is being blocked in the House but a growing number of Republicans are starting to embrace LGBT rights. Who knows? 2014 might not only see more gay marriages in our nation’s homes, but basic LGBT rights in the workplace as well. 9. The death penalty at home and abroad is dying, slowing but steadily. This year Maryland became the first state south of the Mason-Dixon line to abolish the death penalty and the 18th state to do so. Signing the bill, Maryland’s Governor O’Malley said the death penalty does not deter crime, cannot be administered without racial bias, costs three times as much as life without parole, and a mistake cannot be reversed if an innocent person is put to death. The number of people executed in the US declined to 39—near its lowest level since capital punishment was reinstated in the US in the 1970s. The trend is true abroad. In 1981, when France abolished the death penalty, over 150 countries put their citizens to death. Today, only 21 nations do so. In the past five years, Uzbekistan, Argentina, Burundi, Togo, Gabon and Latvia have all abolished capital punishment. 10. One nation has come to its senses about smoking weed: Uruguay. In 2013, the nation of Uruguay became the first country to fully legalize marijuana. Back home in the US, Washington and Colorado passed full legalization laws (yes, that means recreational use without Big Brother stepping in) and the Federal government has stated it will not mount a challenge. Also this year, Illinois and New Hampshire joined the 18 other states that have legalized medical marijuana use. Even the stuffy Canadian federal government made medical marijuana legal. You’ll soon be able to get a deal on your dope from GroupOn and pay in Bitcoins. The times they are a-changin’. We begin the new year with renewed awareness of the effectiveness of nonviolent action and nonviolent movements. The possibilities for a more peaceful and just 2014 are boundless. ============================================================ Copyright © 2014 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, CA 94606 USA Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp ** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) ** friend on Facebook (# ) ** forward to a friend ( ** unsubscribe from this list ( ** update subscription preferences (

The Ash Grove: David McReynolds: On This Pagan Holiday

———————————————————— The Ash Grove David McReynolds: On This Pagan Holiday David McReynolds: On This Pagan Holiday This was sent to my Middle East list in a discussion about BDS. I thought it might be of interest to others. David On Wed, Dec 25, 2013 at 4:29 AM, David McReynolds wrote: On this pagan holiday (which is what Christmas is – Jews must not let the Christians deprive it of this wonderful pagan greeting of the start of the longer days, of the deepest dark and cold of the Northern winter) some reflections. Relating not directly to BDS but in part. First, I understand why Jews can resent the effort to coerce us all into a religious event such as Christmas – given that, for Jews, the Church has for most of its long history been a force of violent oppression. Yet, if we can forget for a moment that Jesus became the founder of Christianity, and remember he was, first and last, a Jew, and see him as a rabbi who emerged from that tradition, we may understand two things about the man. First, he really did focus on children, defended them, saw in them a pattern for the rest of us. And if anything defines Christmas, it is not the commercial celebration, but the centrality of the child. Second, if we can see in Jesus a Jew who had spent his active, prophetic life preaching for social justice (and I mean social justice as it would be understood within the Jewish tradition – of the collective salvation of a society) and then realize, as I did the other day, the loneliness of his death, which Christians try to avoid by such truly wonderful works as Handel’s Messiah. I had watched Ingmar Bergman’s film “Winter Light” in which one of the characters suggests that the real pain Jesus felt was not carrying the cross up the hill, but the terrible pain of being abandoned by his followers when he was arrested by Roman police, and the utter loneliness when he was dying on the cross, crying out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me”. This was not a religion formed of victory, but of defeat – which we can’t face, so we “translate” that defeat into truly wonderful music as that by Handel. But Jesus was a Jewish rabbi who preached a humane new way of living together – and died for it. And how does this relate to Zionism and Israel? Is BDS the right path? I don’t know. I know that something must be done. Are the Palestinians saints? No, they were not, and are not. To have justice on their side – as they do in this case – does not make them a wonderful people. It only means that it is historically a lie for Zionists to claim that the Jews have a unique claim to Israel, one that triumphs the rights of those who had actually been living there. Does this mean the Zionists are bad people? Good heavens no – there is much about Israel which I admire (including, ironically, the wonderful spirit of Jewish justice which emerges from within the Israeli culture and which affirms the rights of the Palestinians). Do I understand the Holocaust? Yes. I am offended – deeply, profoundly offended – by any effort to make the Holocaust an event which “belongs to the Jews”. (Let alone can be used to justify the creation of Israel). All of us must ask where God was when the millions were murdered. Surely even those of us who are atheists have a right to ask why God was silent when Jews, Communists, Homosexuals, Roma, Slavs, were butchered. It doesn’t really help for us to say pompously “there is no God, why are you asking about his silence?” because that means why were we silent, why did so many of us join in the actions? The dismay that Israel would be targeted by the BDS campaign seems to me to suggest that Jews feel Israel should be exempt from moral and political judgement. Why? Areih and Ralph seemed almost surprised that I really do accept that Israel exists, that it can’t simply go away, and that it is not my wish or hope that it will. One can (and many Jews are in this category) feel that the establishment of Israel was the wrong answer to a real question. But within history – which is what we must accept as the arena of our actions – Israel does exist (in the same way that the United States does exist despite having stolen our land from the Native Americans and using a slave population as an essential part of building our national capital). It is for that reason that I continue to insist that whether Israel develops a one state or a two state solution, must be determined by the Israelis and Palestinians (and it may prove an impossible task). But the last thing the defenders of Israel have a right to do is to be too picky about any of the non-violent means the world might use to help create new “facts on the grounds” which might help the majority of those is Israel to seek new solutions. And finally, and a most sobering thought, it is rare for a state to achieve immortality. The Greeks still exist, but the Greek States which gave us democracy are long gone. When will an Israeli leader take the risks which Sadat took? When will an Israeli political leader take genuine risks for peace, on the grounds that, “win, lose or draw” let the world see that Israelis will take a chance which takes enormous courage. I have not seen this. I have seen an endless line of Israeli leaders complain “we have no partner for peace”. But partners are often created by unilateral action. God help the poor Russians, Gorbachev took the risks that the Soviet Union might not survive – but because of his risks, the Cold War ended and humanity survived. The West has not yet seen a Gorbachev. Peace, David McReynolds ============================================================ Copyright © 2013 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, CA 94606 USA Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp ** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) ** friend on Facebook (# ) ** forward to a friend ( ** unsubscribe from this list ( ** update subscription preferences (

Sen. Bernie Sanders has introduced a bill for-all Americansl, the single-payer system.

———————————————————— The Ash Grove Sen. Bernie Sanders has introduced a bill for-all Americansl, the single-payer system. Tuesday, December 10, 2013 ** Better Health Care for More People at Less Cost ———————————————————— Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday introduced legislation to provide health care for every American through a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system. Rep. Jim McDermott has filed a companion bill in the House. Sanders supported the Affordable Care Act, but in an interview with The Daily Beast he called the health care law passed in 2010 “only a modest step forward toward dealing with the dysfunction of the American health-care system.” Even under the new law, Sanders added, insurance companies, drug companies and medical equipment suppliers will be able to rake off billions of dollars in profits rather than devoting those resources to providing health care. Do you know who doesn’t like American health care? Americans don’t. A recent survey ( for the Commonwealth Fund of people in 11 countries found Americans were the least satisfied with their own health care system. The study looked at costs, wait times, barriers to access, quality of care and other measures. In the survey, 75 percent of Americans said our health care system needs fundamental changes or should be completely rebuilt. Health Care Is a Right “The United States is the only major nation in the industrialized world that does not guarantee health care as a right to its people,” Sanders said. “Meanwhile, we spend about twice as much per capita on health care with worse results than other countries that spend far less. It is time that we bring about a fundamental transformation of the American health care system. It is time for us to end private, for-profit participation in delivering basic coverage. It is time for the United States to provide a Medicare-for-all single-payer health coverage program,” Sanders said. While making the case for a single-payer system nationwide, Sanders applauded his home state of Vermont for its progress toward developing its own single-payer system which could become a model for the nation. Read Sanders’ bill ( ============================================================ Copyright © 2013 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, CA 94606 USA Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp ** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) ** friend on Facebook (# ) ** forward to a friend ( ** unsubscribe from this list ( ** update subscription preferences (

The Ash Grove: Richard Dedeaux, Poet, Watts Prophet: R.I.P.

———————————————————— The Ash Grove Richard Dedeaux, Poet, Watts Prophet: R.I.P. Richard Dedeaux, Poet, Watts Prophet: R.I.P. I’d like to add recollections of Richard Dedeaux to the fine obit, below. Richard performed at the Ash Grove individually at the Ash Grove, as did his friends Amde Hamilton and Otis O’Solomon before and after forming the Watts Prophets. If memory serves, Buddy Collette introduced Richard to the club. They were outstanding, individually, and incredible as a group; adding dynamic movement and ‘street’ acting, confrontational to love, in the performance. And they did, in fact, set the ground for hip-hop. I had the pleasure of producing shows with Gil Scott Heron, starting in the late 1970’s; in a benefit for the People’s College of Law. Gil is given that honor, but driving back from LAX, he asked to be introduced to the Watts Prophets, his idols. We spent an afternoon with them in Leimert Park, and Gil detailed just how much he learned from and loved what they did. And, of course, they were his and my guests at the performance, which they loved. The last time I saw Richard was at the Ash Grove 50^th anniversary, at UCLA, in 2008. He was already living in Washington, but still did the organizing for their appearance. It was great being with them, and their performance and a workshop were incredible. I’m sad, not only for the loss, but that this wonderful recognition didn’t come during the past two decades when these geniuses deserved and needed it. Ed Richard Dedeaux dies at 73; member of Watts Prophets spoken-word group The Watts Prophets formed in L.A. after the 1965 riots. Their improvisational word riffs are considered an early form of hip-hop.,0,3368841.story#ixzz2n3iZkX78 By David Colker December 8, 2013, 7:47 p.m. The Watts Prophets performing group, formed by three young poets in the wake of the 1965 Watts riots, was known for hard-edged commentary. But perhaps the most feisty of the trio was Richard Dedeaux, who once challenged Muhammad Ali ( to a poetry fight. “We were going to a reception after a performance at an event at the L.A. Convention Center, walking behind Muhammad Ali and his entourage,” said another member of the group, Amde Hamilton. Dedeaux ran up to the famed boxer and sometime poet and tapped him on the shoulder. “Richard said, ‘Hey man, you are the greatest fighter in the world, I’ll give you that. But you keep saying you are the greatest poet, and that’s not right. We’re the greatest poets,'” Hamilton said. With a crowd watching in a hotel lobby, they faced off — Ali did a poem, and the Watts Prophets answered with a medley of poems, punctuated by their improvisational word riffs that music historians now consider a forerunner of hip-hop. Ali threw in the towel, admitting that when it came to poetry, he had been defeated. “That was all Richard,” Hamilton said, “creating that little incident.” Dedeaux, 73, died Tuesday at his home in Shelton, Wash., after a 10-year battle with cancer, said his son, Steven. Hamilton said he and the other remaining Watts Prophet, Otis O’Solomon, would probably continue to perform as a duo. “But that third voice is gone,” Hamilton said. “A very powerful voice.” Richard Anthony Dedeaux was born Sept, 24, 1940, in DeLisle, Miss., and grew up in New Orleans. He came to Los Angeles when he was about 12, Hamilton said. After the destructive events in Watts of August 1965, many social, economic and cultural programs were started in the area. A lot of them fizzled, but the Watts Writers Workshop, founded by screenwriter and novelist Budd Schulberg, proved to be one of the more successful. It brought together the three men who began doing poetry performances as the Watts Prophets in the community and eventually across the country. Dedeaux wrote some of the more biting pieces the group did, including “I Remember Watts.” “To light up New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, New York and most major cities of the world,” the spoken poem begins, “it takes trillions, and billions and millions and millions of watts. To light up Los Angeles, it only took one.” The poem, which railed against police brutality, described officers “crackin’ our heads open whenever they choose, threatening us like we were fools. That’s what lit Watts’ fuse.” Although the group’s poems on nonpolitical matters didn’t get as much attention, they performed works on a variety of topics both as a group and individually. Dedeaux recorded several poems, backed by jazz musicians, about love and sex. The group never got a major recording deal. “When we started, we hoped that we could tell the truth and make a living at it,” Hamilton said. The three men took on other work — Dedeaux was an art framer, working out of his home — while performing and conducting workshops on occasion. When Dedeaux became ill, he didn’t tell many people. “He never wanted to be a burden,” Hamilton said. He moved away from Los Angeles to be near family but lived mostly on his own. And he kept writing, still combative. In his poem “Second Chance,” he spoke of his burial. Lock My Coffin but please leave a spare key inside. Because you see If there’s any way To cheat the Grim Reaper. It will surely be done by me! In addition to his son Steven, Dedeaux is survived by sons Jamal, Justin and Jason; daughters Angelique West and Felicia Darensbourg; sister Sheila Dedeaux ,and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His three marriages ended in divorce. ( Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times ( ============================================================ Copyright © 2013 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, CA 94606 USA Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp ** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) ** friend on Facebook (# ) ** forward to a friend ( ** unsubscribe from this list ( ** update subscription preferences (

The New Ash Grove Website and Blog

———————————————————— The Ash Grove Apecial: The New Ash Grove Website and Blog Good Morning: All along, establishing a website with concurrent publication of Daily Digest and Ash Grove articles has been my goal. Primarily, I want to provide a discussion forum for my wise and knowledgeable readers to comment and parse articles of interest to you without additional inbox activity. Therefore, my determined and tenacious webmaster and virtual administrator Deb and I now have posted articles from the recent past and will be posting new articles here at ( . For example: is the link to the Vandana Shiva/Jane Goodall interview by Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman I sent out Sunday morning. For the next few days, we’ll be exploring varied views of Nelson Mandela not often put forth by the mass coverage of the past week, and from unique, informed sources. We welcome your own thoughts. Near the top of the article, see Leave a reply ( . Click on that link in the article to be taken to the Comments section. No need to “sign in” or “join” anything. You MAY connect using one of your social media profiles. This information will not be used or sold by us to others for any reason. ============================================================ Copyright © 2013 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. A new format for The Ash Grove list! Hope you like it. Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, CA 94606 USA Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp ** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) ** friend on Facebook (# ) ** forward to a friend ( ** unsubscribe from this list ( ** update subscription preferences (