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Entrevista: 'Dois terços dos povos isolados morrem após contato', diz indigenista que trabalhou com Bruno Pereira

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/07/2022 - 4:00pm in

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Lucas Albertoni, médico especialista em saúde indígena, sabe bem como era o indigenista Bruno Pereira no trabalho: um líder nato e companheiro ideal em missões complexas. Juntos, eles estiveram em expedições de contato em 2015 e em 2019 com os povos Korubo, na Terra Indígena do Vale do Javari. A morte de Bruno, assassinado com o jornalista Dom Phillips por criminosos ligados a atividades ilegais da região, representa para Albertoni a perda de um amigo com quem sempre discutiu política indigenista. Para os indígenas isolados, significa um aliado a menos. “Ele só falava de trabalho e sempre estava disponível para defender a causa indígena. Por isso, era visto por esses povos como um parceiro”, me disse Albertoni.

Em entrevista, o médico indigenista, que também participou com Bruno da construção do Observatório dos Direitos Humanos dos Povos Indígenas Isolados e de Recente Contato, o OPI, e hoje é assessor de saúde da entidade, falou sobre a importância de respeitar a soberania dos povos isolados. Segundo a Fundação Nacional do Índio, a Funai, acredita-se que existam pelo menos 100 grupos de indígenas isolados na parte brasileira da floresta amazônica, mas a sobrevivência deles é cada vez mais difícil devido à invasão dos seus territórios por garimpeiros, madeireiros e outros criminosos.

Embora a política do não-contato esteja prevista em lei e seja a única forma de evitar o extermínio dos povos isolados, principalmente por doenças respiratórias transmitidas por não-indígenas, vários grupos sofrem com a ameaça iminente de genocídio – e não apenas no Vale do Javari. “Não vai existir segurança para esses povos enquanto o território não estiver protegido. Enquanto houver invasão, eles vão estar em risco de extermínio. Esse, sim, é um crime de genocídio contra comunidades remanescentes que têm sua própria cultura, língua e hábitos”.

Albertoni fala ainda sobre o governo anti-indígena de Bolsonaro e a defesa que o presidente faz dos criminosos que invadem terras protegidas, incluindo missionários evangélicos que planejam fazer contato forçado para converter os povos isolados.

Confira a entrevista:

Intercept – Qual era sua relação com o indigenista Bruno Pereira e o que você poderia falar sobre ele?

Lucas Albertoni – Nós estivemos juntos na formação e na construção do Observatório dos Direitos Humanos dos Povos Indígenas Isolados e de Recente Contato e trabalhamos em missões complexas, como a expedição de contato com os Korubo em 2015 e em 2019. Ele estava como coordenador das equipes de campo. Era muito tranquilo trabalhar com Bruno, porque ele era um líder nato. Tinha a logística de tudo na cabeça, sempre bem programado. O Bruno só falava de trabalho.

As imagens dele com os indígenas e o empenho da Univajanas buscas, poucas horas após o desaparecimento de Bruno e Dom, mostram que havia uma relação de muita confiança com o indigenista. Como isso foi construído?

Respeito é a palavra certa. Bruno tinha muito respeito pela cultura e pelo modo de viver dos indígenas, e isso trazia confiança. Em todos os momentos de conflito no Vale do Javari, e mesmo em outros lugares, ele sempre estava disponível para defender a causa indígena. Por isso, eles o viam como um parceiro. Nem todos os funcionários que trabalham para o governo estão nisso pela causa. Têm pessoas que estão pelo emprego, o que pode ou não afetar o trabalho delas. Mas o Bruno era diferente, ele fazia isso por amor. Era a luta dele e o emprego era o de menos. Claro que os indígenas sabiam, eles sentiam isso.

No artigo “Antes sós do que mal acompanhados”, você e outros pesquisadores tratam da alta mortalidade de alguns povos indígenas em isolamento voluntário, logo após contato com não-indígenas. Qual o exemplo mais grave que você tem dessa situação?

É a história do nosso país. As estimativas são de que existiam 8 milhões de indígenas vivendo aqui antes da colonização. Em 1950, a gente tem 350 mil, segundo um censo da época. No Vale do Javari, em 1975, quando houve contato com os Matis, 70% da população adoeceu e morreu. Isso acontece com todos os povos – dois terços deles acabam morrendo ao longo dos processos de contato. A entrada desses indígenas no ciclo de contágio [das doenças] dos não-indígenas leva a uma mortalidade no primeiro momento, mas também ao longo do tempo. Há contágio geral de todos os indígenas em qualquer contato com não-indígenas. Problemas respiratórios simples, resfriados comuns para nós, se tornam muito graves para eles, provocando sepse.

A entrada, principalmente das doenças respiratórias, também vai minando vagarosamente a população, impedindo de manter sua capacidade produtiva por causa da morte de adultos jovens. Por exemplo, há menos gente para trabalhar na roça e menos casamentos possíveis. Tudo isso vai mudando a estrutura social, podendo gerar conflitos internos, dispersão dos grupos e conflitos com outros povos.

Qual a forma mais responsável de fazer contato com os povos isolados?

A política é do não-contato. Essa é a legislação no Brasil e a política que a gente segue. Os contatos que aconteceram em 2014, 2015 e 2019 tiveram motivações diferentes. Em 2014 e 2015, pelo que a gente acredita, foi por causa de uma sequência de contágios por malária e por doenças respiratórias. Isso foi desestruturando o grupo, até que ele procurou outros indígenas que estavam passando na beira do rio e o contato foi estabelecido. Então, nós entramos com uma equipe da Funai, das frentes de proteção e da Sesai [Secretaria Especial de Saúde Indígena] para tentar mitigar os efeitos negativos desse contágio. Já em 2019, o contato foi realizado com planejamento, com os remanescentes do grupo que fez contato em 2015. Os Korubo queriam reencontrar seus parentes que ainda estavam em isolamento, e a gente acompanhou eles.

Quais são os cuidados seguidos por vocês para não transmitirem doenças nessas expedições?

Há uma série de protocolos, principalmente uma quarentena bem rígida que fazemos. Tudo isso que vimos ser feito na pandemia, nós já fazíamos nos contatos com os indígenas. São os mesmos protocolos: lavagem de mão, de utensílios, uso de máscara e de equipamentos de proteção individual. A imunização [dos indígenas que as equipes fazem contato] também é muito importante, porque precisamos proteger esses povos dos vírus e bactérias que estão no entorno do território que eles habitam. Essas medidas fazem com que, durante e após o contato conosco, não tenha caso de doença respiratória ou qualquer outro tipo de doença.

Em um texto publicado no site do Observatório dos Povos Isolados, a autora Carolina Ribeiro Santana menciona que você teve contato com indígenas isolados que estavam fortes e saudáveis. Isso indica que não é necessário contato com esses povos para garantir-lhes saúde?

Isso foi em 2019, exclusivamente porque aquele grupo específico dos Korubo não teve contato prévio com doenças. Diferente dos outros dois casos [refere-se aos grupos que fizeram contato em 2014 e em 2015], que já tinham uma relação intermitente de contágio, principalmente por malária. Em 2014, por exemplo, os indígenas falaram que muitos tinham morrido de ienë, que significa frio. A gente acredita que seja febre causada por sepse ou a febre da malária. Eles tinham contato intermitente há quase sete anos com os Kanamari, que habitam o entorno do mesmo rio, o Itacoaí. No verão, os Korubo geralmente iam à beira buscar ovo de tracajá e outros alimentos. Eles sabiam que ali, naquela canoa [dos Kanamari], tinha o facão e o machado, que fazem uma diferença muito grande na produção de roça. O contato feito na beira do rio era amistoso, de troca, de conversa, mas sempre à distância. A primeira vez que os Korubo entraram na canoa dos Kanamari foi em 2014 e, aí sim, se estabeleceu o contato mais próximo.

A gente não pode ter essa ideia romântica de que os povos isolados não sabem ou não imaginam o que há em volta. Eles entendem muito bem essas relações, são grupos remanescentes de contatos com as frentes de expansão que já estavam por ali antes, desde os anos 1970. Eles sabem muito bem quem é o branco e como ele se comporta. Por isso, se isolaram nas cabeceiras dos rios, para não manter contato.

Que tipos de erros ou ameaças à soberania foram cometidos com os povos isolados, a pretexto de salvá-los ou protegê-los?

Esse é um assunto super complexo. Até 1988, não existia essa política de não-contato. Existia a intenção do governo de integrar os indígenas à sociedade nacional. Nesse sentido, era importante que se “pacificasse” – assim que era dito – os grupos que ainda estavam em isolamento. O próprio Rondon, que é o ícone do indigenismo no Brasil, tinha esse pensamento, que vem da filosofia positivista. Tem um livro do Rubens Valente – Os fuzis e as flechas – que conta bem esse período.

‘A Funai parou de trabalhar. Não existe estudo, expedição ou sobrevoo – eles não fazem nada’.

O contato nem sempre era feito com o intuito de matar os indígenas, mas essas expedições de pacificação não tinham cuidado com as questões epidemiológicas, embora houvesse boas intenções. Sabemos que poderia ser muito pior se outras pessoas estivessem à frente desses contatos de pacificação. Os bandeirantes, por exemplo, que são idolatrados pela nossa cultura branca, eram caçadores de índios. Existia toda uma ideologia na sociedade brasileira de que os índios que não estavam “mansos”, que não tinham sido pacificados, deviam ser caçados como bichos na floresta. Foi assim até 1975.

Quem primeiro fica sabendo quando um povo isolado precisa de ajuda? Quem eles buscam?

Teoricamente, o primeiro órgão que deveria saber e agir é a Coordenação Geral de Indígenas Isolados e de Recente Contato, por meio das suas frentes de proteção etnoambiental. O papel delas é monitorar a integridade do território e do modo de vida desses povos, por meio de expedições ao redor do território, ou com sobrevoo, mas sem fazer contato, ou sem que haja qualquer interferência. Normalmente, esses povos buscam o contato em situação de extrema emergência. Eles realmente se decidiram pelo isolamento e, se eles saem, é porque alguma coisa muito grave aconteceu.

Nesse governo, se os indígenas buscam um órgão da Funai em situação de emergência, é praticamente procurar o inimigo.

Eles simplesmente pararam de trabalhar. Não existe estudo, não existe expedição ou sobrevoo – eles não fazem nada. A gente tem situações no Vale do Javari, antes e durante a pandemia, de vestígios de contato, de avistamento de povos isolados, e praticamente nenhuma medida foi tomada. O que fizeram foi criminalizar a Univaja, que tentou tomar uma atitude. As coisas estão muito invertidas.

A gente tem que entender que não vai existir proteção desses povos, não vai existir segurança para eles, enquanto o território não estiver protegido. Enquanto houver invasão, esses povos vão estar em risco de extermínio. Esse, sim, é um crime de genocídio contra comunidades remanescentes que têm sua própria cultura, língua e hábitos.

Quais povos isolados estão em risco de extermínio?

Vários povos estão em risco iminente. Os Moxihatëtëma thëpë, que estão no território Yanomami, ficam a poucos quilômetros do garimpo. Inclusive, teve um evento relatado pelos Yanomami de assassinato de dois desses isolados pelos garimpeiros. Tem a situação da região Mamorea. Há uma tentativa de conseguir restrição de uso para essa área, porque tem a prova irrefutável da presença de indígenas lá, mas o governo nega. Em Ituna-itatá, que é uma região do Pará com presença de povos isolados confirmada, tem altíssimo nível de desmatamento. O próprio Vale do Javari está sempre em risco, porque tem a maior concentração de isolados do mundo. Os Kawahiva, no Mato Grosso, estão acossados pelo desmatamento no entorno. Então, a maior parte desses povos está, sim, em risco de genocídio.

Como deve ser feita a assistência à saúde dos povos isolados no caso de uma pandemia? 

Quando a gente pensa em saúde de povos isolados, estamos pensando em prevenção e em proteção. Não estamos falando em tratamento, em fazer contato por motivo da pandemia. A política é a proteção do entorno. É preciso saber onde está o povo isolado, por onde ele anda, quais são as relações que estabelece e se mantêm algum tipo de contato. Essas populações que estão no entorno, então, devem ser usadas comunitariamente para criar um cordão sanitário em volta dos povos isolados, erradicando a doença do território. Isso vale para covid-19, malária, gripe e todas as doenças infecciosas, e se faz com alta cobertura vacinal, vigilância epidemiológica, testagem e tratamento – mas sempre no entorno.

Nunca se deve manter contato com o povo isolado, a não ser que ele esteja em risco de extermínio. É preciso controlar a saúde no entorno e proteger o território contra a invasão de vetores de transmissão de doenças infecciosas, como são os invasores que estão fazendo garimpo ou retirada de madeira.

Em 2020, uma lei que trata de medidas de proteção social nos territórios indígenas, no contexto da pandemia, autorizou a permanência de “missões de cunho religioso” no território dos povos isolados. Dois anos depois, isso teve alguma consequência? 

Não teve, porque o movimento político conseguiu barrar. Foi aberta uma Ação Direta de Inconstitucionalidade no Supremo Tribunal Federal só contra esse artigoe ele foi suspenso. Mas já existia toda uma logística pronta, principalmente do Missões Novas Tribos do Brasil, que tinha um investimento gigantesco, com helicóptero comprado e tudo. O pior é que, nessa época, Ricardo Lopes era coordenador da Coordenação Geral de Índios Isolados e Recém Contatados e era missionário do Novas Tribos. A gente conhece a história deles, com a tentativa de contatos forçados tanto no Vale do Javari, quanto na região do Acre, no Juruá, com alta incidência de povos isolados.

O que há em comum entre a forma como o governo e a polícia trataram os assassinatos de Bruno e Dom e a forma como tratam outros crimes no Vale do Javari?

A política do governo é anti-indígena desde o primeiro dia. Essa foi uma das poucas coisas que Bolsonaro falou na campanha e que está mantendo. Eles mentem, sem nenhum pudor, e tentam empurrar a sujeira para debaixo do tapete. O governo mente que não há desmatamento, invasão e garimpo ilegal. Tem 50 mil garimpeiros dentro do território Munduruku e dizem que isso é mentira. Passam pano para invasores, agressores e assassinos.

The post Entrevista: ‘Dois terços dos povos isolados morrem após contato’, diz indigenista que trabalhou com Bruno Pereira appeared first on The Intercept.

If He Did It

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/07/2022 - 10:00am in

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It doesn’t matter if you think breaking the law is the right thing to do

In fact, the whole concept of civil disobedience is that if you willingly break a law you think is unjust or will give attention to a higher cause, you know you will suffer the consequences of breaking that law. People go to jail to make such points. But that’s not what Trump did after the 2020 election. He broke the law and expects to get away with it because he insists he was in the right. That’s not how any of this works.

Here are George Conway and Randal Eliason in the Washington Post with an excellent illustration of the point:

The evidence of Trump’s corrupt intent was already pretty strong. The Jan. 6 committee earlier presented extensive evidence of his pressure on state officials to alter election results, his scheme to corrupt the Justice Department and enlist it in his efforts, and his relentless pushing of the “big lie” despite repeatedly being told — by his own people — that there was no election fraud.

But Hutchinson’s testimony might well have put the case over the top. She tied Trump directly to the assault on the Capitol itself — the violent culmination of weeks of acts aimed at obstructing the peaceful transition of power. Now, he can no longer plausibly claim — if he ever could — that this was just a peaceful protest gone bad.

Some argue that prosecutors could face difficulty proving criminal intent if it appears that Trump sincerely believed he had won the election. But that argument is misguided. Even if Trump believed, however implausibly, that there really had been massive voter fraud, that would establish only his motive for acting, not his intent. But a righteous motive is not a defense. Put simply, criminal acts motivated by an honest belief in the justness of one’s cause are still criminal acts.

Consider the case against O.J. Simpson — not the murder case but the one that ultimately put him in jail: for armed robbery in a Las Vegas hotel room. Simpson believed a memorabilia dealer had stolen personal items from him. So he and his co-conspirators took the items back at gunpoint.

But Simpson’s motive — his belief that the items were rightfully his — didn’t help him, and he ended up serving nine years in prison. What mattered was that he intended to, and physically did, take the items back by force, using a deadly weapon.

By the same token, even if Trump truly believed there had been election fraud — indeed, even if there had been election fraud that affected the outcome — he wasn’t entitled to unleash a mob on the Capitol, or to intimidate his vice president or Congress into violating their legal duties, or to have phony electoral certificates sent to Washington. His irrational belief that the election outcome was wrong would not negate his criminal intent.

As with Simpson’s claimed righteous state of mind, Trump’s alleged belief that “frankly, we did win this election” won’t help him, either. If Trump is shown beyond a reasonable doubt to have intended to overturn the election by illegal means — by fraud or corruption or force — he has a guilty state of mind. If Hutchinson’s testimony stands up — and it’s entirely consistent with many things we already know — any claim that Trump lacked criminal intent would be laughed out of court.

Just because he’s unfit, you shouldn’t acquit.

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Collateral Damage

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/07/2022 - 8:30am in

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They say the carnage on American streets is the price we must pay for freedom

The 308th mass shooting took place today in Highland Park Illinois at a 4th of July parade. Six dead, dozens wounded and the gunman, described as a white male 18-20 years old is still at large as I write this. He used what they describe as a “high powered rifle” From the sound of the shots, it’s clear that it was a semi-automatic. Surprise.

Why are we living with this?

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A Better Mask for Health Care Workers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/07/2022 - 7:00am in

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Why are we just now hearing about this?

I’m stunned. It turns out that health care workers should have been given a different, low cost, durable mask instead of the N-95s but it just never happened:

In the early 1990s, long before P.P.E., N95 and asymptomatic transmission became household terms, federal health officials issued guidelines for how medical workers should protect themselves from tuberculosis during a resurgence of the highly infectious respiratory disease.

Their recommendation, elastomeric respirators, an industrial-grade face mask familiar to car painters and construction workers, would in the decades that followed become the gold standard for infection-control specialists focused on the dangers of airborne pathogens.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promoted them during the SARS outbreak of 2003 and the swine flu pandemic of 2009. A few studies since then have suggested that reusable elastomeric respirators should be essential gear for frontline medical workers during a respiratory pandemic, which experts predicted would quickly deplete supplies of N95s, the disposable filtration masks largely made in China.

But when the coronavirus swept the globe and China cut off exports of N95s, elastomeric respirators were nowhere to be found in a vast majority of hospitals and health clinics in the United States. Although impossible to know for sure, some experts believe the dire mask shortage early on contributed to the wave of infections that killed more than 3,600 health workers.

The pandemic has generated a bevy of painful lessons about the importance of preparing for public health emergencies. From the Trump administration’s tepid early response to the C.D.C.’s bungled coronavirus testing rollout and its mixed messaging on masking, quarantining and the reopening of schools, the federal government has been roundly criticized for mishandling a health crisis that has left one million Americans dead and dented public faith in a once-hallowed institution.

Three years into the pandemic, elastomeric respirators remain a rarity at American health care facilities. The C.D.C. has done little to promote the masks, and all but a handful of the dozen or so domestic companies that rushed to manufacture them over the past two years have stopped making the masks or have folded because demand never took off.

Most cost between $15 and $40 each, and the filters, which should be replaced at least once a year, run about $5 each. Made of soft silicone, the masks are comfortable to wear, according to health care worker surveys, and they have a shelf life of a decade or more.

“It’s frustrating and frightening because a mask like this can make the difference between life and death, but no one knows about them,” said Claudio Dente, whose company, Dentec Safety, recently stopped making elastomeric respirators that were specifically redesigned at the request of federal regulators for health care workers.

I don’t know what to say. Suppose the government had invoked the Defense Protection Act right away to manufacture more of these right at the beginning? Then Health Care workers would have had the better masks (they filter out 99% of all particles) and the N95s could have been given to the public. (Obviously, the public isn’t going to use these.) Lives would have been saved.

I feel as if there’s something we don’t know about all this. But as the article shows, they used to recommend these masks but for some reason they didn’t do that with COVID. And why aren’t they being used and stockpiled in health care systems today?

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real-world economics review issue no. 100

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/07/2022 - 5:56am in

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real-world economics review issue no. 100 download whole issue Introduction to RWER issue 100          3 Real Science Is Pluralist           issue no. 5 – 2001 Edward Fullbrook         5 Is There Anything Worth Keeping in Standard Microeconomics?          issue no. 12 – 2002 Bernard […]

Execution Assembly Line

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/07/2022 - 5:30am in

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Oklahoma Death Factory

One execution per month until 2025:

Oklahoma plans to execute 25 prisoners in the next 29 months after ending a moratorium spurred by botched lethal injections and legal battles over how it kills death row inmates.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday set the execution dates for six prisoners in response to a request by Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor (R) in mid-June. The court later added dates for an additional 19 prisoners for a total representing more than half of the state’s 44-person death row population.

After a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled in early June that the state’s three-drug lethal-injection protocol was constitutional, O’Connor made his request, saying in filings that the prisoners had exhausted their criminal appeals. O’Connor argued for imminent execution dates as a matter of justice for the family members of those who were killed. In a statement, O’Connor noted that the earliest kill by a prisoner on Oklahoma’s death row was committed in 1993.

The first execution is scheduled for Aug. 25, with subsequent executions scheduled for about once every four weeks through 2024. In Oklahoma, prisoners are automatically granted a clemency hearing within 21 days of their scheduled execution, at which point the state’s pardon and parole board can recommend the governor grant a prisoner a reprieve from death row.

The scheduled flurry of executions is expected to draw Oklahoma back into familiar territory: the center of the nation’s death penalty debate.

The first drug Oklahoma administers in its lethal-injection protocol, the sedative midazolam, has prompted legal challenges by prisoners arguing that it fails to reliably render them unconscious, raising the likelihood of an execution that would be considered “cruel and unusual” under the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The state suspended executions in 2015 after the botched lethal injections of Charles Warner and Clayton Lockett in which a still-conscious Warner cried out, “my body is on fire.” Lockett writhed for 43 minutes before dying of a heart attack.

Several of the Oklahoma prisoners scheduled for execution have strong innocence claims, histories of intellectual disability that should disqualify them for the death penalty or whose cases have claims of racial bias, their lawyers say.

This is not a civilized country, Part Infinity

Among them is Richard Glossip, whose 2015 case against the state’s lethal injection protocol went before the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in the state’s favor. His assertion of innocence has not only made him one of the more high-profile death row cases in the United States but has also won him support from Republican lawmakers in the state who object to his execution, scheduled for September.

Glossip’s attorney on Friday filed a motion for post-conviction relief, a type of appeal that cites new evidence that was not available during his original 1998 trial. Last month, the law firm Reed Smith released an independent investigation on Glossip’s case commissioned by a committee of lawmakers led by Texas House Rep. Kevin McDugle (R). Itfound “grave” concerns with Glossip’s conviction, including allegations that Oklahoma City police, at the direction of prosecutors, intentionally destroyed evidence favorable to Glossip.

“The facts and evidence that we now know in this case prove Richard Glossip is an innocent man,” Glossip’s attorney Don Knight said in a statement Friday. “We urge the State of Oklahoma to grant this request for post-conviction relief based on the abundance of new evidence that has never before been evaluated by a judge or jury.”

Glossip was sentenced to death in 1998 after being convicted of a murder-for-hire scheme against Barry Van Treese, a motel owner who was Glossip’s boss.

Glossip, who has received several last-minute reprieves, including a near-botched execution in 2016, prompted the state to shutter its death chamber for five years. A grand jury investigation that year found “inexcusable failures” in the state’s death-penalty protocol.

My God.

This man got the death penalty based upon testimony by the man who actually pulled the trigger and who got life in exchange for it. How does that make any sense at all?

Moreover, it appears Glossip is innocent. Of course, that’s not considered a good reason to grant clemency in this barbaric country.

But good news. They’ve done some training so now they can kill more efficiently:

In a 2020 court hearing, lawyers for the state said the Oklahoma Department of Corrections had addressed lapses with training for executions “to ensure what happened in the past won’t happen again.”

The following year, the state carried out its first execution since 2015. According to witnesses, the prisoner, John Marion Grant, went into full-body convulsions and vomited before dying.

They’re still learning …

This is just another data point proving that we are a sick, sick culture.

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A little bit of good news

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/07/2022 - 4:00am in

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Is inflation relief on the way?

A slide in all manner of raw-materials prices—corn, wheat, copper and more—is stirring hopes that a significant source of inflationary pressure might be starting to ease.

Natural-gas prices shot up more than 60% before falling back to close the quarter 3.9% lower. U.S. crude slipped from highs above $120 a barrel to end around $106. Wheat, corn and soybeans all wound up cheaper than they were at the end of March. Cotton unraveled, losing more than a third of its price since early May. Benchmark prices for building materials copper and lumber dropped 22% and 31%, respectively, while a basket of industrial metals that trade in London had its worst quarter since the 2008 financial crisis.

Many raw materials remain historically high-price, to be sure. And there are matters of supply and demand behind the declines, from a fire at a Texas gas-export terminal to better crop-growing weather. Yet some investors are starting to view the reversals as a sign that the Federal Reserve’s efforts to slow the economy are reducing demand.

“Moderating commodity prices are clear evidence that inflation is cooling,” said Louis Navellier, chief investment officer at Reno, Nev., money manager Navellier & Associates.  

Traders and analysts say that some of the decline in commodity prices can be traced to the retreat of investors who piled into markets for fuel, metals and crops to hedge against inflation. JPMorgan Chase & Co. commodity strategist Tracey Allen said about $15 billion moved out of commodity futures markets during the week ended June 24. It was the fourth straight week of outflows and brought to about $125 billion the total that has been pulled from commodities this year, a seasonal record that tops even the exodus in 2020 as economies closed. 

“I don’t know if the policies of the Fed have slowed the economy, but that’s what money managers are betting on,” said Craig Turner, commodities broker at StoneX Group Inc. 

Much of the climb in prices was due to supply constraints following pandemic lockdowns, weather events last year that reduced harvests and sapped fuel reserves, and war in Europe. Those pressures have eased, though supply shocks are still jolting prices.

Unfortunately, I doubt this will have much effect on the election in the fall. It takes months for people to recognize positive economic changes. But it’s good news in any case. The consequences of shutting down the whole world in 2020 will be felt for some time to come but they won’t last forever.

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What Is the 4th of July?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/07/2022 - 3:00am in

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“What to the Slave is the Fourth July?” by Frederick Douglass is not only a brilliant work of oratory. It speaks to our every frustration spurred by the gap between the ideals of the United States and the reality we witness every day; between the Bill of Rights and our decaying civil liberties; between the USA’s international declarations of human rights and the ordered drone attacks backed by presidential “kill lists”; between the words “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and a nation that leads the world in jailing its own citizens; between our highest ideals and our darkest realities. Here’s hoping people take the time to read the entirety of Douglass’s brilliant speech; even though his were words that spoke directly to his moment in history, they still ring with an unsettling power. As Douglass says: “Had I the ability, and could I reach the nation’s ear, I would today pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.”   —Dave Zirin

If you haven’t read the speech recently, this is a good day to do it. It’ has never been more relevant, particularly the indictment of the American Christian church which I have not included in this excerpt. He had it so right then —- and now:

Fellow-citizens; above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!” To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is AMERICAN SLAVERY. I shall see, this day, and its popular characteristics, from the slave’s point of view. Standing, there, identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible, which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery — the great sin and shame of America! “I will not equivocate; I will not excuse;” I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.

But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, it is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, and denounce less, would you persuade more, and rebuke less, your cause would be much more likely to succeed. But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia, which, if committed by a black man, (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will subject a white man to the like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgement that the slave is a moral, intellectual and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or to write. When you can point to any such laws, in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a man!

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are ploughing, planting and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and cyphering, acting as clerks, merchants and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hill-side, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian’s God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for Republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be understood? How should I look to-day, in the presence of Americans, dividing, and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom? speaking of it relatively, and positively, negatively, and affirmatively. To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. — There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven, that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employments for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is passed.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

Take the American slave-trade, which, we are told by the papers, is especially prosperous just now. Ex-Senator Benton tells us that the price of men was never higher than now. He mentions the fact to show that slavery is in no danger. This trade is one of the peculiarities of American institutions. It is carried on in all the large towns and cities in one-half of this confederacy; and millions are pocketed every year, by dealers in this horrid traffic. In several states, this trade is a chief source of wealth. It is called (in contradistinction to the foreign slave-trade) “the internal slave trade.” It is, probably, called so, too, in order to divert from it the horror with which the foreign slave-trade is contemplated. That trade has long since been denounced by this government, as piracy. It has been denounced with burning words, from the high places of the nation, as an execrable traffic. To arrest it, to put an end to it, this nation keeps a squadron, at immense cost, on the coast of Africa. Everywhere, in this country, it is safe to speak of this foreign slave-trade, as a most inhuman traffic, opposed alike to the laws of God and of man. The duty to extirpate and destroy it, is admitted even by our DOCTORS OF DIVINITY. In order to put an end to it, some of these last have consented that their colored brethren (nominally free) should leave this country, and establish themselves on the western coast of Africa! It is, however, a notable fact that, while so much execration is poured out by Americans upon those engaged in the foreign slave-trade, the men engaged in the slave-trade between the states pass without condemnation, and their business is deemed honorable.

Behold the practical operation of this internal slave-trade, the American slave-trade, sustained by American politics and America religion. Here you will see men and women reared like swine for the market. You know what is a swine-drover? I will show you a man-drover. They inhabit all our Southern States. They perambulate the country, and crowd the highways of the nation, with droves of human stock. You will see one of these human flesh-jobbers, armed with pistol, whip and bowie-knife, driving a company of a hundred men, women, and children, from the Potomac to the slave market at New Orleans. These wretched people are to be sold singly, or in lots, to suit purchasers. They are food for the cotton-field, and the deadly sugar-mill. Mark the sad procession, as it moves wearily along, and the inhuman wretch who drives them. Hear his savage yells and his blood-chilling oaths, as he hurries on his affrighted captives! There, see the old man, with locks thinned and gray. Cast one glance, if you please, upon that young mother, whose shoulders are bare to the scorching sun, her briny tears falling on the brow of the babe in her arms. See, too, that girl of thirteen, weeping, yes! weeping, as she thinks of the mother from whom she has been torn! The drove moves tardily. Heat and sorrow have nearly consumed their strength; suddenly you hear a quick snap, like the discharge of a rifle; the fetters clank, and the chain rattles simultaneously; your ears are saluted with a scream, that seems to have torn its way to the center of your soul! The crack you heard, was the sound of the slave-whip; the scream you heard, was from the woman you saw with the babe. Her speed had faltered under the weight of her child and her chains! that gash on her shoulder tells her to move on. Follow the drove to New Orleans. Attend the auction; see men examined like horses; see the forms of women rudely and brutally exposed to the shocking gaze of American slave-buyers. See this drove sold and separated forever; and never forget the deep, sad sobs that arose from that scattered multitude. Tell me citizens, WHERE, under the sun, you can witness a spectacle more fiendish and shocking. Yet this is but a glance at the American slave-trade, as it exists, at this moment, in the ruling part of the United States.

I was born amid such sights and scenes. To me the American slave-trade is a terrible reality. When a child, my soul was often pierced with a sense of its horrors. I lived on Philpot Street, Fell’s Point, Baltimore, and have watched from the wharves, the slave ships in the Basin, anchored from the shore, with their cargoes of human flesh, waiting for favorable winds to waft them down the Chesapeake. There was, at that time, a grand slave mart kept at the head of Pratt Street, by Austin Woldfolk. His agents were sent into every town and county in Maryland, announcing their arrival, through the papers, and on flaming “hand-bills,” headed CASH FOR NEGROES. These men were generally well dressed men, and very captivating in their manners. Ever ready to drink, to treat, and to gamble. The fate of many a slave has depended upon the turn of a single card; and many a child has been snatched from the arms of its mother by bargains arranged in a state of brutal drunkenness.

The flesh-mongers gather up their victims by dozens, and drive them, chained, to the general depot at Baltimore. When a sufficient number have been collected here, a ship is chartered, for the purpose of conveying the forlorn crew to Mobile, or to New Orleans. From the slave prison to the ship, they are usually driven in the darkness of night; for since the antislavery agitation, a certain caution is observed.

In the deep still darkness of midnight, I have been often aroused by the dead heavy footsteps, and the piteous cries of the chained gangs that passed our door. The anguish of my boyish heart was intense; and I was often consoled, when speaking to my mistress in the morning, to hear her say that the custom was very wicked; that she hated to hear the rattle of the chains, and the heart-rending cries. I was glad to find one who sympathized with me in my horror.

Fellow-citizens, this murderous traffic is, to-day, in active operation in this boasted republic. In the solitude of my spirit, I see clouds of dust raised on the highways of the South; I see the bleeding footsteps; I hear the doleful wail of fettered humanity, on the way to the slave-markets, where the victims are to be sold like horsessheep, and swine, knocked off to the highest bidder. There I see the tenderest ties ruthlessly broken, to gratify the lust, caprice and rapacity of the buyers and sellers of men. My soul sickens at the sight.

Is this the land your Fathers loved,
The freedom which they toiled to win?
Is this the earth whereon they moved?
Are these the graves they slumber in?

But a still more inhuman, disgraceful, and scandalous state of things remains to be presented. By an act of the American Congress, not yet two years old, slavery has been nationalized in its most horrible and revolting form. By that act, Mason and Dixon’s line has been obliterated; New York has become as Virginia; and the power to hold, hunt, and sell men, women, and children as slaves remains no longer a mere state institution, but is now an institution of the whole United States. The power is co-extensive with the Star-Spangled Banner and American Christianity. Where these go, may also go the merciless slave-hunter. Where these are, man is not sacred. He is a bird for the sportsman’s gun. By that most foul and fiendish of all human decrees, the liberty and person of every man are put in peril. Your broad republican domain is hunting ground for men. Not for thieves and robbers, enemies of society, merely, but for men guilty of no crime. Your lawmakers have commanded all good citizens to engage in this hellish sport. Your President, your Secretary of State, our lordsnobles, and ecclesiastics, enforce, as a duty you owe to your free and glorious country, and to your God, that you do this accursed thing. Not fewer than forty Americans have, within the past two years, been hunted down and, without a moment’s warning, hurried away in chains, and consigned to slavery and excruciating torture. Some of these have had wives and children, dependent on them for bread; but of this, no account was made. The right of the hunter to his prey stands superior to the right of marriage, and to all rights in this republic, the rights of God included! For black men there are neither law, justice, humanity, nor religion. The Fugitive Slave Law makes mercy to them a crime; and bribes the judge who tries them. An American judge gets ten dollars for every victim he consigns to slavery, and five, when he fails to do so. The oath of any two villains is sufficient, under this hell-black enactment, to send the most pious and exemplary black man into the remorseless jaws of slavery! His own testimony is nothing. He can bring no witnesses for himself. The minister of American justice is bound by the law to hear but one side; and that side, is the side of the oppressor. Let this damning fact be perpetually told. Let it be thundered around the world, that, in tyrant-killing, king-hating, people-loving, democratic, Christian America, the seats of justice are filled with judges, who hold their offices under an open and palpable bribe, and are bound, in deciding in the case of a man’s liberty, to hear only his accusers!

In glaring violation of justice, in shameless disregard of the forms of administering law, in cunning arrangement to entrap the defenseless, and in diabolical intent, this Fugitive Slave Law stands alone in the annals of tyrannical legislation. I doubt if there be another nation on the globe, having the brass and the baseness to put such a law on the statute-book. If any man in this assembly thinks differently from me in this matter, and feels able to disprove my statements, I will gladly confront him at any suitable time and place he may select.

I take this law to be one of the grossest infringements of Christian Liberty, and, if the churches and ministers of our country were not stupidly blind, or most wickedly indifferent, they, too, would so regard it.

[…]

Fellow-citizens! I will not enlarge further on your national inconsistencies. The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretence, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad; it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing, and a bye-word to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. It fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement, the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds insolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet, you cling to it, as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes. Oh! be warned! be warned! a horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation’s bosom; the venomous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away, and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destroy it forever!

But it is answered in reply to all this, that precisely what I have now denounced is, in fact, guaranteed and sanctioned by the Constitution of the United States; that the right to hold and to hunt slaves is a part of that Constitution framed by the illustrious Fathers of this Republic.

Then, I dare to affirm, notwithstanding all I have said before, your fathers stooped, basely stooped

To palter with us in a double sense:
And keep the word of promise to the ear,
But break it to the heart.

And instead of being the honest men I have before declared them to be, they were the veriest imposters that ever practiced on mankind. This is the inevitable conclusion, and from it there is no escape. But I differ from those who charge this baseness on the framers of the Constitution of the United States. It is a slander upon their memory, at least, so I believe. There is not time now to argue the constitutional question at length — nor have I the ability to discuss it as it ought to be discussed. The subject has been handled with masterly power by Lysander Spooner, Esq., by William Goodell, by Samuel E. Sewall, Esq., and last, though not least, by Gerritt Smith, Esq. These gentlemen have, as I think, fully and clearly vindicated the Constitution from any design to support slavery for an hour.

Fellow-citizens! there is no matter in respect to which, the people of the North have allowed themselves to be so ruinously imposed upon, as that of the pro-slavery character of the Constitution. In that instrument I hold there is neither warrant, license, nor sanction of the hateful thing; but, interpreted as it ought to be interpreted, the Constitution is a GLORIOUS LIBERTY DOCUMENT. Read its preamble, consider its purposes. Is slavery among them? Is it at the gateway? or is it in the temple? It is neither. While I do not intend to argue this question on the present occasion, let me ask, if it be not somewhat singular that, if the Constitution were intended to be, by its framers and adopters, a slave-holding instrument, why neither slavery, slaveholding, nor slave can anywhere be found in it. What would be thought of an instrument, drawn up, legally drawn up, for the purpose of entitling the city of Rochester to a track of land, in which no mention of land was made? Now, there are certain rules of interpretation, for the proper understanding of all legal instruments. These rules are well established. They are plain, common-sense rules, such as you and I, and all of us, can understand and apply, without having passed years in the study of law. I scout the idea that the question of the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of slavery is not a question for the people. I hold that every American citizen has a right to form an opinion of the constitution, and to propagate that opinion, and to use all honorable means to make his opinion the prevailing one. Without this right, the liberty of an American citizen would be as insecure as that of a Frenchman. Ex-Vice-President Dallas tells us that the Constitution is an object to which no American mind can be too attentive, and no American heart too devoted. He further says, the Constitution, in its words, is plain and intelligible, and is meant for the home-bred, unsophisticated understandings of our fellow-citizens. Senator Berrien tells us that the Constitution is the fundamental law, that which controls all others. The charter of our liberties, which every citizen has a personal interest in understanding thoroughly. The testimony of Senator Breese, Lewis Cass, and many others that might be named, who are everywhere esteemed as sound lawyers, so regard the constitution. I take it, therefore, that it is not presumption in a private citizen to form an opinion of that instrument.

Now, take the Constitution according to its plain reading, and I defy the presentation of a single pro-slavery clause in it. On the other hand it will be found to contain principles and purposes, entirely hostile to the existence of slavery.

I have detained my audience entirely too long already. At some future period I will gladly avail myself of an opportunity to give this subject a full and fair discussion.

Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation, which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery. “The arm of the Lord is not shortened,” and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from the Declaration of Independence, the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world, and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind, steam, and lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated. Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic, are distinctly heard on the other. The far off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. The fiat of the Almighty, “Let there be Light,” has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China must be seen, in contrast with nature. Africa must rise and put on her yet unwoven garment. “Ethiopia shall stretch out her hand unto God.” In the fervent aspirations of William Lloyd Garrison, I say, and let every heart join in saying it:

God speed the year of jubilee
The wide world o’er
When from their galling chains set free,
Th’ oppress’d shall vilely bend the knee,

And wear the yoke of tyranny
Like brutes no more.
That year will come, and freedom’s reign,
To man his plundered rights again
Restore.

God speed the day when human blood
Shall cease to flow!
In every clime be understood,
The claims of human brotherhood,
And each return for evil, good,
Not blow for blow;
That day will come all feuds to end.
And change into a faithful friend
Each foe.

God speed the hour, the glorious hour,
When none on earth
Shall exercise a lordly power,
Nor in a tyrant’s presence cower;
But all to manhood’s stature tower,
By equal birth!
That hour will come, to each, to all,
And from his prison-house, the thrall
Go forth.

Until that year, day, hour, arrive,
With head, and heart, and hand I’ll strive,
To break the rod, and rend the gyve,
The spoiler of his prey deprive —
So witness Heaven!
And never from my chosen post,
Whate’er the peril or the cost,
Be driven.

Source: Oration, Delivered in Corinthian Hall, Rochester by Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852 

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Barbarous ancestors

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 04/07/2022 - 11:00pm in

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More old-time Constitution

Southeast Portico inscription, Jefferson Memorial.

Even the usually upbeat E.J. Dionne is unsettled this July Fourth. The United States built itself on ideals of self-governance in its founding documents, not on ethnicity, race, blood or soil, he writes:

Yet thanks especially to this term’s Supreme Court rulings on abortionguns and the climate, this July Fourth finds us riven about how to read our own founding and the documents the Founders bequeathed us. We are torn about what we love most about our country.

It is a national habit to insist that whatever we happen to be asserting about politics is consistent with what the Founders envisioned. Just listen to how often members of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and Donald Trump’s lawbreaking have spoken of the Constitution and its obligations.

Even now, when we are increasingly aware of how racism and sexism afflicted the founding generation, most Americans still prefer to be on the side of Jefferson and Madison, Adams and Hamilton. Not for nothing is “Hamilton” a smash hit.

Until recently, postwar generations (not postbellum, mind you) saw progress as inevitable as the next annoying software update.

Slowly, however, the kind of conservative reaction to progress that postbellum America saw after the Civil War has emerged since the latter 20th century. Fueled once again by racial animus and status anxiety, backlash against social and demographic change, exacerbated by globalization and economic uncertainty, has cast underlying historic tensions in the country into sharp, sometimes violent relief.

Dionne writes that in the progressive view, “the Constitution is not a straitjacket designed to keep the country where it was in 1789 or 1868 or whatever other date a nostalgic conservatism might point to.” The conservative majority on the Supreme Court, however, has fallen into constitutional doctrinal error, originalism, “an effort to invoke the Constitution to tether the country to the past.”

Uneasy with cultural change? Give us that old-time Constitution, conservative justices sing, making up lyrics as they go. Lower courts packed with ideological jurists harmonize from the wings. They insist their regressive reading of American scripture is historical, traditional. “The majority’s gun ruling used the words ‘historical tradition’ a dozen times,” Dionne reminds.

This is what “originalism” as a doctrine really comes down to. If the progressive view of the American experience focuses on the changes needed to live up to our aspirations, the conservative imperative is to preserve — and in many cases move back to — what made the country, well, “great” at some earlier juncture.

“Historical tradition” being in the selective eye of interpreters who, like biblical literalists, claim not to interpret at all.

If Jefferson, Madison, Adams and Hamilton are the Four Evangelists of the republic, perhaps a few words of wisdom about the heresy of originalism are approporiate this morning.

For his part, Jefferson believed the new republic must change, evolve, and progress:

“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as a civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”
-Excerpted from a letter to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816.

Some human minds do not wish to progress. The conservative court majority, would jam the land of the free into the coat of the slave.

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Request a copy of For The Win, 4th Edition, my free, countywide get-out-the-vote planning guide for county committees at ForTheWin.us.

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Starmer is right – for now at least

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 04/07/2022 - 10:23pm in

The link to the FT article was tweeted by Starmer himself so I imagine he approves of the FT’s account of his ‘living with Brexit’ speech that he is giving today: He will claim that Labour can “make Brexit work”… [That it has] created a hulking fatberg of red tape… Good association there – because... Read more

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