Perhaps it is too difficult for a culture in pursuit of happiness to pause and face this immense loss. Perhaps it is too scary to accept the frailty of human life. Perhaps anger is much easier to access than grief. Anti-apartheid revolutionary and leader Nelson Mandela spent twenty-seven years in prison. It was there that he learned about patience and perseverance, and acquired a deep, complex understanding of freedom for both the oppressed and the oppressors. In his autobiography, A Long Walk to Freedom, he wrote, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” If one’s freedom is stifled by social distancing and face masks, then sadly it was not freedom to begin with.
By Jamelle Bouie for Slate. Officially, the Emancipation Proclamation freed “all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State” where the residents were “in rebellion against the United States.” In practice, it applied only to those slaves who lived near Union lines, where they could make an easy escape or take advantage of the Northern advance. News of emancipation would move slowly, which would be compounded by the mass migration of slave owners, who fled their holdings in Louisiana and Mississippi—slaves in tow—following the Union victories at New Orleans in 1862 and Vicksburg in the spring and summer of 1863. Tens of thousands of slaves arrived in Texas, joining the hundreds of thousands in the interior of the state, where they were isolated from most fighting and any news of the war.
I am overwhelmed that February 6th is the start of my 43rd year in prison. I have had such high hopes over the years that I might be getting out and returning to my family in North Dakota. And yet here I am in 2018 still struggling for my FREEDOM at 73. I don’t want to sound ungrateful to all my supporters who have stood by me through all these years. I dearly love and respect you and thank you for the love & respect you have given me. But the truth is I am tired and often my ailments cause me pain with little relief for days at a time. I just had heart surgery and I have other medical issues that need to be addressed: my aortic aneurysm, that could burst at any time, my prostate and arthritis in my hip and knees. I do not think I have another ten years, and what I do have I would like to spend with my family.
By Scott Gilmore for Mcleans - Francis Scott Key, the man who named the United States “the land of the free and the home of the brave”, owned six slaves. Granted, this was extremely common in the early 1800s. But Key, a public prosecutor, actually worked very hard to maintain slavery in America. When a Quaker wrote in an abolitionist newspaper “There is neither mercy nor justice” for African Americans in Washington, Key indicted him for trying to “vilify the good name” of the ruling class. He argued that even a public discussion of abolishing slavery was “wickedness”. The “land of the free” was a gross exaggeration. Nonetheless the phrase caught on. Throughout the last 200 years, Americans have viewed their homeland as a bastion of personal liberty. The Pilgrims, the Boston Tea Party, the Wild West, Wall Street—every thread in the national story is spun from tales of independence, of individual freedom and opportunity. But, over the years, and quietly, America has fallen behind the rest of the world, and without even noticing, its citizens have become much less free in comparison. The annual “Human Freedom Index”, a joint publication of the Fraser Institute, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and the Cato Institute, considers 79 different indicators of personal and economic freedom.
By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig - The seizure of political and economic power by corporations is unassailable. Who funds and manages our elections? Who writes our legislation and laws? Who determines our defense policies and vast military expenditures? Who is in charge of the Department of the Interior? The Department of Homeland Security? Our intelligence agencies? The Department of Agriculture? The Food and Drug Administration? The Department of Labor?
By Mark Joseph Stern for The Slate - The Supreme Court issued an extraordinarily disappointing 5–3 decision on Monday in Utah v. Strieff, a Fourth Amendment case about police searches. Yet the terrible ruling came with a bright spot: In a powerful and groundbreaking dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor lambasted the majority for its heartless and illogical rejection of Fourth Amendment freedoms, invoking the Justice Department’s Ferguson report, echoing Black Lives Matter, and even citing Ta-Nehisi Coates.
By Staff of The Chicago Reporter - In September 1965 a dozen or so members of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s southern field staff moved into the West Side Christian Parish’s Project House in the heart of Chicago’s Near West Side, joining other volunteers already living there. Black and white, male and female, most of them still in their early twenties, they had already been tested by civil rights struggles in the South. It was just weeks after passage of the Voting Rights Act and six months after Selma—where civil rights demonstrators had overcome brutal beatings to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge and march to Montgomery, Alabama, in the struggle to obtain voting rights in the South.
By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig - The seizure of political and economic power by corporations is unassailable. Who funds and manages our elections? Who writes our legislation and laws? Who determines our defense policies and vast military expenditures? Who is in charge of the Department of the Interior? The Department of Homeland Security? Our intelligence agencies? The Department of Agriculture? The Food and Drug Administration? The Department of Labor? The Federal Reserve? The mass media? Our systems of entertainment? Our prisons and schools? Who determines our trade and environmental policies? Who imposes austerity on the public while enabling the looting of the U.S. Treasury and the tax boycott by Wall Street? Who criminalizes dissent?
By Daniel Jennings in Off The Grid News - It is illegal for Cheryl Smith to live in her own home because it doesn’t have electricity. Officials in Clark’s Harbour, Nova Scotia, are refusing to give Smith a certificate of occupancy to live in her new house because it has no power. She since has stopped working on the home. “Why am I being forced to rely on electricity or fossil fuels or whatever if I don’t want to?” Smith asked CTV. Smith cannot get a certificate of occupancy because national building codes in Canada require new homes to have wiring for smoke detectors and ventilation systems. Smith’s 14-by-20-square-foot dream “tiny home” has been sitting empty with signs that say “Freedom of Rights Denied” and “Work Stopped” tacked to the door for a year.
By Freedom Flotilla Coalition - This year’s mission, organized by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition against the blockade and the siege of Gaza, is about to sail to highlight the violation of the rights of 1.8 million Palestinians living in the world’s largest open-air prison. The Israeli government claims that there are ‘unauthorized boats trying to illegally enter Israeli territorial waters’. There are no ‘unauthorized boats’, only an illegal and inhumane blockade; theUN has recently called to end it and Freedom Flotilla III sails to challenge it, without any need or desire to enter Israeli territorial waters. This fact is highlighted by the practices of Israeli naval forces against previous sea missions, which have intercepted all boats since 2009 in international waters, headed towards Palestinian waters off Gaza, never towards Israel or Israeli waters.
Marianne, a trawler owned by Swedish and Norwegian activists, is the first ship in the newest Freedom Flotilla. Carrying supplies, activists and important international dignitaries, the activists hope to end Israel’s deadly blockade on the Port of Gaza. The blockade of the Port of Gaza, maintained by the Israeli navy with assistance from Egypt, is part of an overall stranglehold that Israel maintains over Palestine which keeps strict, inhumane limits on the flow of food, medical supplies and equipment necessary to repair Gaza’s ruined infrastructure. Journalists and human rights monitors are routinely denied access to the region, as well. Marianne departed Wednesday from Gothenburg, Sweden. The ship stopped in Copenhagen Saturday, whereDutch dignitaries and journalists joined the Swedish team after a celebratory concert.
During a unique conversation hosted by the New School and the New York Times on Thursday, the three people most responsible for bringing the story of mass global surveillance programs orchestrated by the U.S. National Security Agency were brought together for the first time since they first met in a Hong Kong hotel in 2013. Filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald sat with the New York Times media columnist David Carr on stage while the whistleblower himself, Edward Snowden, appeared via videolink from Russia where he remains under asylum protection. "Yes, governments possess extraordinary powers—but at the end of the day there are more of us than there are of them." —Edward Snowden
Before the so-called ‘Velvet Revolution’, people complained about not having access to certain types of information, or certain cultural products, including certain films. They were not allowed to travel abroad, whenever they wanted, etcetera. But they didn’t realize that their dignity of life was much, much better then, than it is nowadays. They didn’t realize that when capitalism enters, they would start to feel anxieties, very deep existential anxieties… They would start being terrified that they would lose jobs. They are now forced to trade their human dignity for keeping their jobs. Now they have to kiss the backsides of their bosses much more than they would have had to, under Communism. It is all very interesting, as people used to have certain advantages, which were of course created, built and established by socialist movements throughout history. And they sort of forgot, having those values and advantages, that…They did take things for granted. They did not even realize that they had some great things, that they had great lives. Suddenly, when they began losing them, they realized that something was going terribly wrong. Some people are now very disappointed. It is very interesting: this shift from a socialist system to a capitalist one. Under socialism, Czechoslovakia produced everything, literally from needles to locomotives. Now everything has changed! All the national industries have gone. Sold or stolen by those…
By now, most of you know that Marissa Alexander's retrial is set to begin this fall, and that the legal costs stemming from her case are astronomical. Marissa, a black woman who fired a warning shot in defense of herself and her children, faces up to 60 years in prison. It is crucial that the racism fueling this prosecution be countered with the love and solidarity of those who believe in justice. On Saturday, September 13th, we will come together to express that love and solidarity by celebrating Marissa's birthday and raising money for her defense. The event begins at 7pm, and will include an art auction, live poetry, music, drinks, and an appearance by the Chicago Light Brigade. Local artist Sarah Adams will also be sketching portraits on request for donations.
The United States of America is an expression that Tom Payne invented and used to apply to what had been 13 colonies in revolt against Great Britain. So we're talking about an era before the U.S. has been formed. We're talking about a period of historical creation. And it's complex. There are several sides to it. One side, it's the struggle of freedom against monarchy, a struggle of the notion of a republic against monarchy. And that is probably the principal theme of the Declaration of Independence. I would suggest, you know, that people reread the Declaration of Independence, because they'll find 28 reasons for declaring independence from Great Britain. And these reasons reflect "a long train of abuses and usurpations" (or takeovers), to use Thomas Jefferson's language in the Declaration of Independence. And I think one of the most important of these grievances was that the King of England had opposed conditions for new appropriation of land. This is the seventh of 28 different reasons for declaring independence. And what that meant was that these settlers from Europe wanted to appropriate lands belonging to the Indians, belonging to different Native American peoples--the Haudenosaunee people, a confederation in New York; the Cherokee people of what's now Tennessee and the Carolinas; the Potawatomi, from my part of the country, in Michigan and Ohio. The settlers wanted these lands.