Sunday, 30 September 2018

The Deadliest Massacre in Reconstruction-Era Louisiana Happened 150 Years Ago

In September 1868, Southern white Democrats hunted down around 200 African-Americans in an effort to suppress voter turnout

It is the 150th anniversary of the most notorious massacre in Afro-American history. It took place in Opelousas in the St Landry parish of Louisiana. Following the American Civil War (1861-65) there followed the era of Reconstruction when the 11 Confederate States were integrated with the North. It was an era in which the Black slaves were freed and in which the Southern White Supremacists attempted to cling on to their power. As Blacks were being enfranchised the old Southern White establishment reacted. It was an era of the KKK and of many bloody massacres and lynchings.

For those who see the Democrats as the left-wing or more progressive party it should be noted that in the 19th century it was the Republicans who were the integrationists and the Democrats who were the bastion of White supremacy and segregation. As late as the 1968 Presidential election Democratic segregationism was represented in American politics by George Wallace, the 3rd party candidate and former Governor of Alabama who won 13.5% of the vote in the Presidential election and 32 electoral college votes. He bears a number of similarities to Donald Trump.

The article below commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Opelousas massacre. It makes sober reading. Matthew Christensen writes that:

The St. Landry Massacre is representative of the pervasive violence and intimidation in the South during the 1868 presidential canvass and represented the deadliest incident of racial violence during the Reconstruction Era. Southern conservatives used large scale collective violence in 1868 as a method to gain political control and restore the antebellum racial hierarchy. From 1865-1868, these Southerners struggled against the federal government, carpetbaggers, and Southern black populations to gain this control, but had largely failed in their attempts. After the First Reconstruction Act of March, 1867 forced Southern governments to accept universal male suffrage, Southern conservatives utilized violence and intimidation to achieve their goals, which escalated as the 1868 presidential election neared. Violence was nearly omnipresent in Louisiana during the presidential canvass and was the primary reason behind the Democratic victory in the state.

“E.B. Beware! K.K.K.”

So read the note found on the schoolhouse door by its intended recipient: Emerson Bentley, a white school teacher. He found the message in early September 1868, illustrated with a coffin, a skull and bones, and a dagger dripping with blood. The straightforward message represented a menacing threat to Bentley, who was teaching African-American children in Louisiana at the time. Little could the Ohio-born Republican have predicted just how soon that violence would come about. Bentley, an 18-year-old who also worked as one of the editors of the Republican paper The St. Landry Progress, was one of the few white Republicans in the Louisiana parish of St. Landry. He and others came to the region to assist recently emancipated African-Americans find jobs, access education and become politically active. With Louisiana passing a new state constitution in April 1868 that included male enfranchisement and access to state schools regardless of color, Bentley had reason to feel optimistic about the state’s future.

Full article by Lorraine Boissoneault.

H/T Tony Greenstein's blog

Friday, 21 September 2018

Cocteau Twins - Peppermint Pig

Why even ask me: "Why don't dare I?"
There’s nothing to say, I suppose
Why even ask me: "Why don't dare I?"
I'm waiting for the money, I suppose

A fabulous itch pain
Peppermint pig stay!
Burning your treasure
While I’m eating your money

Burning your treasure
While I’m eating your money
Burning your treasure
While I’m eating your money

Why even ask me: "Why don't dare I?"
There’s nothing to say, I suppose
Why even ask me: "Why don't dare I?"
I'm waiting for the money, I suppose

We had watched for the pig, me
We got watched and a sixpence
We had watched for the pig, me
We got watched and a sixpence

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Women victims still can’t get a fair hearing

Jenni Russell @The Times

Eleven months on from Weinstein’s disgrace and the exploitation, brutality and damage to women revealed by #MeToo, this week’s response to the accusations of sexual assault against America’s Supreme Court nominee exposes how little has changed in society’s assumptions about whose voice has credibility when these reports are made.

Believe the men. That’s been the default position, not just for decades, but for millennia. A woman’s standing is instantly undermined by making an allegation. Women are dismissed as hysterical, or fantasists, or crazy for attention; as vengeful careerists or untrustworthy young girls.

There is incredulity that accused men of high reputation could be guilty. Other people, mostly men, flock to testify to their good character and many accomplishments. The accusations are incompatible with the civilised, decent men they know.

That prejudice, that lack of imagination about the range of human behaviour, is what has allowed male abusers to flourish in so many places. The Catholic Church, international aid agencies, British boarding schools, the Boy Scouts of America, CBS, Hollywood, Jimmy Savile, the USA gymnastics coach now in jail after assaulting more than a hundred girls.

Even men without high standing tend to be seen as more credible than the women they attack. That’s why grooming gangs in Rochdale, Rotherham and many other towns could rape girls with impunity over years, as police and social services dismissed it. “Believe the men,” has always been the instinctive, effective, protective response of the male-dominated power structure.

Now it is being deployed against Christine Blasey Ford, the psychology professor who has reluctantly come forward to tell the Senate committee responsible for confirming Brett Kavanaugh for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court that he sexually assaulted her when she was 15.

Dr Ford says she was at a party with the 17-year-old Kavanaugh when he and a friend waylaid her coming out of an upstairs bathroom, pushed her into a bedroom, shut the door, thrust her onto a bed and tried to rape her. The music was too loud for anyone to hear. Kavanaugh, a well-built football player, allegedly lay on top of her, groped her, rubbed himself against her, tried to pull her clothes off and put his hand over her mouth to stifle her screams, so that Dr Ford feared he might accidentally kill her. It was only when his drunken friend jumped on the two of them that Dr Ford escaped. She told no one. Kavanaugh categorically denies that this ever happened.

Dr Ford did not want to go public. She has seen how society treats women who do. But she had been haunted by the attack all her life, told friends about it last year and had been discussing it in therapy since 2012, as her therapist’s notes confirm. She was alarmed that a man with Kavanaugh’s history should be given such power over women’s lives.

In July she sent a confidential letter to a Democratic senator on the committee, describing the assault and asking to talk. That letter leaked. Reporters turned up at Dr Ford’s house. She decided she had to identify herself before others did. She went public, saying she would testify to the Senate committee. The storm broke.

Every traditional tactic used to destroy a woman’s credibility and will has been deployed against Dr Ford. She has been jeered at, dismissed, menaced. Republicans have said this serious-minded professor is about to be exposed as “the loon she is”. A powerful Republican senator says Dr Ford is conducting a “drive-by shooting” on Kavanaugh, and that although he will listen to “this lady”, the confirmation will go ahead.

Dr Ford’s life has been shipwrecked. She has had so many death threats that she has had to go into hiding, take leave of absence from work, send her children away and employ security guards. No such danger has troubled Kavanaugh, who has a security detail provided by the state and whose wife has been giving out cupcakes to the camera crews outside their house.

It is horrifying to watch this unchanging pattern play out. Kavanaugh denies the attack but the Republican defence of him goes much wider. They dismiss such behaviour as “loutish” or “horseplay” or teenage high jinks. They simultaneously condemn a woman for making such a damaging accusation while asserting that such an event could not be damaging at all.

It seems incredible that so many men still don’t understand how common sexual assault is and why it hurts. Since #MeToo I have found almost every woman I know has been assaulted, and two raped. Most men don’t do it, so they have no idea of what women deal with and the fear and vigilance it instils.

When a man that you know and trust, socially or professionally, turns into a determined, brutal attacker, indifferent to every emotion you have, or to your screams, all your fragile pride and sense of self is shattered. Minutes before, you might have thought they admired you for your wit or character or mind. Then they turn you into a thing, or a nothing, and the agony is that you discover you were never a person to them, only prey.

The vast majority of women never report any of this. We know about the scorn, the lack of proof, how we’ll be dehumanised and attacked all over again. We know how men with sterling reputations can behave. Which is why when a woman with so much to lose is brave enough to speak, we want her to have a fair hearing. Justice is being betrayed by society’s bias towards believing men.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

79 Percent of Right-wingers Believe Jews Are the Chosen People

[...] there were also other opinion polls of Jews that the Jewish Chronicle preferred to ignore. Last week the Haaretz-Dialog poll found that a majority of Israeli Jews, some 56%, also believed that they are the chosen people. It would seem to me that in a situation where the Palestinians live under occupation, the fact that over half Israeli Jews believe in Palestinian racial inferiority, should serve as a reminder as to who it is who is really oppressed and it’s not British Jews. ‘79 Percent of Right-wingers Believe Jews Are the Chosen People. Are You for Real?’

Tony Greenstein.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

A US Senate bill to stop foreign election interference?


A Republican-led, Democrat-supported bill to safeguard US elections from foreign interference is stuck in the bowels of Congress. Here’s a possible explanation: The White House doesn’t want it to pass.
The Secure Elections Act, which Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) introduced, would have made significant changes to the way states protect their voting systems in three significant ways.

No doubt US lawmakers will also draw up a bill to stop the US from meddling in foreign countries' elections?*

*Naahh, just kidding: that won't happen!

A list of United States involvement in regime change, historically.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Economic Warfare: GE (US), the DoJ v. Alstom (Fr)

“Throughout most of American history, commercial interests have played a central role in foreign policy, and vice versa. During the next few decades the interaction between them will become more intense, more important, more difficult to manage … The second Clinton administration should lay out a framework for this interaction to provide the necessary guide for setting priorities …

— Jeffrey Garten, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade 1993-95, ‘Business and Foreign Policy’, Foreign Affairs, May/June 1997

In late 2015, General Electric swallowed the energy division of the French multinational Alstom. The issue was highlighted mid-battle by Tom Gill on Counterpunch in May 2014.

Alstom had two prongs – energy (power and grid) and transport, with the former constituting over 70% of its business. The GE pr machine described it as ‘GE’s largest industrial deal ever’.

This is not your average takeover. Alstom’s trajectory incorporates larger dimensions.

It is a case study in the character of the peculiarities and vulnerability of the electric power and heavy engineering sectors – large-scale and extraordinarily complex output, irregular demand, and an inevitable close involvement with states as dominant purchasers.

It is a case study in the significant diminution of France’s industrial sector and of the deteriorating capacity of the French state.

It is a case study, by contrast, in the capacity of the US state and its strategic support of US corporate commercial interests.

It is a case study in the structural inhibition of the European Union’s institutions to ensuring European industrial vitality.

Chronology of the takeover (@Counterpunch).

As a result of this dubious, hostile take over and French lawmakers' naivite, France lost control over:

  • It's gas/steam famous 'Arabelle' turbines
  • A turbocharger for its aircraft carriers
  • Take-off and landing catapult technology for its aircraft carriers

  • Trailer - Ghost war (RT): the sale of Alstom to General Electric:

    Thursday, 13 September 2018

    Bully boys threaten ICC

    THE UNITED STATES has never been a friend of the International Criminal Court. While relations between the U.S. and the ICC have fluctuated over the course of different administrations, the American government has steadfastly refused to take the step that 124 other states have of ratifying the Rome Statute and thus becoming a member of the international legal body. The ICC’s mandate to investigate war crimes has thus been hampered by the unwillingness of the world’s sole superpower to commit to the organization.

    Recent statements from the Trump administration suggest that the United States is now preparing to go to war against the ICC itself, motivated largely by an effort to silence investigations into alleged American war crimes committed in Afghanistan, as well as alleged crimes committed by Israel during the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip. In a speech at a D.C. event held by the Federalist Society on Monday, Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton denounced the ICC as “illegitimate” and expressed his intentions toward the institution in no uncertain terms. “We will not cooperate with the ICC,” Bolton said. “We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”

    In addition to this death wish against the court, Bolton said that the United States would retaliate against any ICC investigations into U.S. activities by sanctioning the travel and finances of ICC officials, even threatening to prosecute them in American courts.

    @ TI.

    Wednesday, 12 September 2018

    Champion Meddler pledges $1 Bn to el-Sisi, gets middle finger for thanks

    DESPITE APPEALS FOR his release from the Trump administration, an Egyptian criminal court sentenced U.S. citizen Moustafa Kassem to 15 years in prison on September 8. The sentencing, which human rights advocates said is part of a crackdown on political dissent, crushed his family’s hopes to see their ailing relative freed, and disappointed advocates who hoped the White House could sway the government of Egyptian strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

    Kassem, who suffers from diabetes, has already served five years in pretrial detention and is now set to spend another 10 years in an Egyptian jail cell, barring a presidential pardon, early release, or deportation to the United States.

    “We were so saddened to hear this news. We did not expect it,” Eman Kassem, Moustafa Kassem’s sister, told The Intercept. “He did nothing to deserve that verdict.”

    Egyptian prosecutors alleged Moustafa Kassem, an Egyptian-American tried alongside over 700 people, joined the summer 2013 protests at Cairo’s Rabaa Square. The protests came shortly after a military coup that deposed Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi and installed el-Sisi in power.

    Prosecutors presented no specific evidence that the 53-year-old Moustafa Kassem was at the square that day.

    Source: @TI.

    Tuesday, 11 September 2018

    Nine copycat websites set up to look like U.S. military recruitment pages seized

    Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced it seized nine copycat websites set up to look like U.S. military recruitment pages. The websites, including and, encouraged potential recruits to hand over their personal contact information. But that data was then sold to for-profit schools for their own recruitment.

    The FTC filed a complaint in federal court today charging that two Alabama-based companies, Sun Key Publishing and, made roughly $11 million selling data to private schools. The companies would contact the potential recruits and encourage them to enroll at specific for-profit schools under the false impression that the U.S. military endorsed the organizations. If the mark sounded interested, Sun Key would sell that recruit’s information for anywhere between $15 and $40. Tens of thousands of people visited the websites every month.

    The defendants were charged with violating the FTC Act as well as the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule and reached a settlement with the government. But they won’t have to give back that $11 million because of their “inability to pay.”

    Full story @ Gizmodo.

    H/T Watching the Hawks @RT.

    Thursday, 6 September 2018

    Did IDF admit giving weapons to Islamists in Syria?

    The IDF has confirmed that it provided weapons to Islamist rebels in Syria’s Golan Heights, the Jerusalem Post reported. However, the article was removed without explanation hours after being published. The report, ‘IDF confirms: Israel provided light-weapons to Syrian rebels,’ claimed that the Israeli military acknowledged for the first time that it had provided money, weapons and ammunition to militants operating near the border with Israel.

    The article was removed shortly after being published, but a version of the article can still be read using Google cache. The IDF told RT that it would not comment on the story, and the Jerusalem Post has not responded to an inquiry asking why the article was pulled.

    The lethal aid was apparently part of Operation Good Neighbor which, until now, was billed as a humanitarian aid program. Launched in 2016 by the Israeli military, the operation purportedly provided large quantities of food, clothing, fuel and medical supplies to those living in the Syrian Golan. The operation was shuttered in July, after the Syrian Army retook the area.

    However, it has long been suspected that Israel was also furnishing weapons to Islamist groups operating in the contested border region, in the hope of creating a “buffer zone” against Hezbollah and Iranian forces operating in southern Syria. Damascus has previously claimed that weapons captured from Islamist groups in the Golan had Hebrew inscriptions.

    The Wall Street Journal reported last year that Israel was “regularly supplying” Syrian rebels with cash to “help pay salaries and buy ammunition and weapons.” The Israeli military declined to confirm the report’s claims, noting only that Israel was committed to “providing humanitarian aid to the Syrians living in the area.”

    Read more @ RT.