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Blue_Tires's Journal
Blue_Tires's Journal
May 29, 2014

Did I miss anything interesting on NBC tonight?

Was there real, honest-to-god journalism on display? Or was it another cookie-cutter hagiography from Williams, like this notable example from two years ago: http://www.salon.com/2012/05/03/nbc_news_top_hagiographer/

Please tell me that Greenwald did the honorable thing by stopping Williams mid-question to harshly rebuke his subservient, obsequious softballs and telling Williams what a disgrace he's been to the once-proud journalistic legacy of one of our nation's oldest networks...Please tell me that Greenwald hijacked the remainder of the interview so he could use the rest of the airtime lecturing everyone about the plagues of cowardly boilerplate PR journalism, selling out for access, shameless biases, paycheck copy, hypocrisy, revenge journalism, outright fabrication, etc., and the negative roles they play in shaping public opinion in our national psyche...And finally please tell me Greenwald topped off this rant by detailing with chapter and verse how *EVERY* mainstream journalist except him (especially those operating in that infamous, influence-thirsty D.C. Beltway -- New York corridor) has forever betrayed the very essence of the lofty ideals which gave birth to Amendment I of the Constitution for the United States of America...

Anything less than this; well, I'm glad I missed it...

May 28, 2014

Bashar al-Assad posts a letter of support from a Virginia state senator

A letter from Virginia state Sen. Richard Black praising Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was posted to the Syrian president's Facebook page Sunday. Black (R-Loudoun County) confirmed sending the letter in a phone call with The Post's Laura Vozzella.

"I write to thank the Syrian Arab Army for its heroic rescue of Christians in the Qalamoun Mountain Range," the letter begins. Black praises the Syrian army's efforts against the forces that have been challenging Assad's power for several years, which the letter claims are "dominated by our arch-enemy Al Qaeda." By protecting Christians in the country, Assad has "followed the practice of [his] father by treating with respect all Christians and the small community of Jews in Damascus." Black provided The Post with a copy of the letter he sent.

"If we were to topple President Assad, then Syria would be taken over by al-Qaeda’s allies," Black said. "I don't need to debate anyone over whether he's a great man or not, but to me, the decision is a very clear decision between al-Qaeda and President Assad. Now President Assad and his father before him have maintained peace with Israel for 40 years and they have protected the 15 percent Christian minority in Syria during that time."

"Whatever a person's view is of President Assad, he certainly has never exhibited the savagery of these jihadist groups fighting against him."


Holy damn...If a Dem penned this letter the national media would have had a field day...

May 22, 2014

Harlem mourns death of Elombe Brath, lifelong warrior in battle for pan-African empowerment

Harlem is bidding farewell to an indefatigable freedom fighter and pan-African activist who waged a decades-long battle for black empowerment at home and around the world.

Elombe Brath died Monday night at Amsterdam Nursing Home in Harlem. He was 77.

Brath, the Brooklyn-born pioneer who grew up in Harlem and Hunts Point, founded the Patrice Lumumba Coalition in 1975.

The Harlem-based group spread word of the ongoing struggle against oppression in Africa and mobilized local support in the fight against apartheid.

In 1977, the group organized a much-publicized boycott of “Ipi Tombi,” a South African musical that was being produced on Broadway, for allegedly exploiting African artists and culture and presenting a false portrayal of life under apartheid.


May 21, 2014

The errors of Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald

Edward Snowden is a child of the internet and at the same time an old American type—the solitary individual whose religion is conscience, and who follows his own regardless of where it takes him. The type goes back to the English Protestant dissenters who settled the New World in the 17th century. Its most eloquent exemplar was Henry David Thoreau, who wrote in “Civil Disobedience” (1849): “It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.” Thoreau withdrew to a cabin on Walden Pond, and he refused to pay taxes in protest against the Mexican War and slavery. Snowden lives in the hyperconnected isolation of the internet, and in June 2013 he committed what might have been the largest breach of state secrecy in American history, exposing the extent of internet and phone surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA).

In the famous hotel-room interview in Hong Kong that revealed his identity on video, Snowden said: “If living unfreely but comfortably is something you’re willing to accept—and I think many of us are, it’s the human nature—you can get up every day, you can go to work, you can collect your large pay cheque for relatively little work, against the public interest, and go to sleep at night after watching your shows.” It sounds like the quiet desperation Thoreau attributed to most of his fellow men. But if, like Snowden, you can’t rest until you’ve tested the courage of your conviction by taking radical action, then “you realise that you might be willing to accept any risk and it doesn’t matter what the outcome is.” As things turned out this proved not to be quite true—instead of returning to the US to face trial and the possibility of a long jail term, Snowden fled to Russia and sought asylum. But what matters more is that this is the kind of person he wanted and imagined himself to be.

Not caring about the outcome is what Max Weber, in “Politics as a Vocation,” called “the ethic of ultimate ends,” in contrast with “the ethic of responsibility.” There are many reasons to criticise this ethic and the uncompromising Thoreauvians who wear it as a badge of honour, but one has to admit that the issue of mass surveillance in America would not have come to public attention without a type like Snowden. A troubled but basically loyal official who passed his concerns along internal channels would have been turned aside, as others before Snowden were. The dire consequences for disclosing top secrets would have deterred anyone who hadn’t arrived at the Manichean either/or that drove Snowden to plan his massive document leak methodically over many months. The scale of it—nearly two million documents, by some accounts—is a measure of the purity of his conviction. No particle of nuance could be allowed to adulterate it. He has been accused of grandiosity, but nothing short of that would have done the job.

Politically, Snowden’s views fall into a related American tradition, going back to Thomas Jefferson and the even more radical founders, though in a distinctly contemporary form. Snowden is a libertarian whose distrust of institutions and hostility to any intrusion on personal autonomy place him beyond the sphere in American politics where left and right are relevant categories. A temperament as much as a philosophy, libertarianism is often on the verge of rejecting politics itself, with its dissatisfying but necessary trade-offs; it tends toward absolutist positions, which grow best in the mental equivalent of a hermetic laboratory environment. Libertarianism has become practically the default position of young people who work in technology, especially the most precocious among them. It also reflects, though not completely, the political outlook of Glenn Greenwald, the former Guardian columnist whom Snowden chose to receive the files, and who has just published his account of the story, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the US Surveillance State.


A nuanced, even and very well thought-out critique of the whole sideshow...

EDIT: Mona Holland is of course the first commenter...Does she even have a job? Or is she paid to attack any critique of Greenwald (even balanced, light critiques) no matter how random or obscure the source?

May 21, 2014

Meet the Black Officer Who Went Undercover as a KKK Member

Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.

Retired police Sgt. Ron Stallworth's story—about how he, a black undercover Colorado cop, infiltrated one of the nation's most notorious hate groups in 1978—is one such truth. Stallworth, 61, recently released the book Black Klansman, detailing his amazing story during his early years of service.

"I was sitting in my office reading the newspaper," Stallworth, who now lives in Utah, told The Root. "I was going through the classified section, and on this particular day there was an ad that said 'Ku Klux Klan.' "

It listed a post office box to send inquiries, and so he wrote a letter, identifying himself as a white man and peppering the note with racial slurs. The undercover officer, who was still in his 20s at the time, did make one crucial mistake, however: He signed the letter with his real name. He wasn't too worried, though, since he figured the whole setup was probably a joke.

It wasn't until he got a phone call a week later from the local KKK organizer about starting a Colorado Springs chapter that he realized how serious the ad was.

Stallworth told the man that his sister was dating a "n--ger," and how mad it made him. The organizer liked his story and figured that Stallworth was exactly what the new chapter needed. He asked to meet—which was obviously a problem. But the quick-thinking officer gave a description of one of his close friends, who worked in the narcotics division, and organized a meeting for the following week.

Stallworth's friend Chuck would play "the white Ron Stallworth."

"The funny thing is that Chuck's voice [was] totally distinctive [from] mine," Stallworth said. He was only questioned about the different voices once—and he successfully blamed the flub on a sinus infection.

There was only one other time when Stallworth's cover was almost blown: after his supervisor assigned him to be then-Grand Wizard David Duke's bodyguard.

"[Duke] was planning a publicity blitz in Colorado Springs. He was coming into town to do interviews and try to drum up interest," Stallworth said. "I got assigned to be his bodyguard because there were death threats against him."

At the time, Stallworth was having fairly regular phone conversations with at least three Klansmen, including David Duke. "I was apprehensive that they would recognize my voice," the retired officer said.

Stallworth remembered how seemingly amiable Duke was. He was likable enough and intelligent, a great orator, and never used slurs about black people or wore his robe. The Grand Wizard even shook Stallworth's hand and thanked him.


May 21, 2014

Danville native Wendell Scott to become first African-American in NASCAR's Hall of Fame

Danville native Wendell Scott will become the first African-American inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

NASCAR announced its inductees for the Class of 2015 on Wednesday. The Class of 2015 also includes Bill Elliott, Joe Weatherly, Rex White, and Fred Lorenzen. Scott was the first African-American to win a NASCAR premiere series race.

Elliott received 87 percent of the vote, and was followed by Scott at 58 percent.

Also, Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles is one of five recipients of NASCAR's inaugural Landmark Award.

Here is the news release from NASCAR:

NASCAR announced today the inductees who will comprise the 2015 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The five-person group – the sixth in NASCAR Hall of Fame history – consists of Bill Elliott, Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly and Rex White. In addition, NASCAR announced that Anne B. France won the inaugural Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Next year’s Induction Day is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 30, 2015, broadcast on NBC Sports Network from Charlotte, N.C.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel met today in a closed session in Charlotte to vote on both the induction class of 2015 and the Landmark Award. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France made the announcements this afternoon in the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s “Great Hall.”

Next year’s class was determined by votes cast by the Voting Panel, which for the first time included the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion – in this case, Jimmie Johnson. The panel also included representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from major facilities and historic short tracks, media members, manufacturer representatives, retired competitors (drivers, owners, crew chiefs), recognized industry leaders and a nationwide fan vote conducted through NASCAR.com – which counted for the 54th and final vote. In all, 54 votes were cast, with two additional Voting Panel members recused from voting as potential nominees for induction (Jerry Cook and Robert Yates). The accounting firm of Ernst & Young presided over the tabulation of the votes.

Voting for next year’s class was as follows: Bill Elliott (87%), Wendell Scott (58%), Joe Weatherly (53%), Rex White (43%) and Fred Lorenzen (30%).

The next top vote-getters were Jerry Cook, Robert Yates and Benny Parsons.
Results for the NASCAR.com Fan Vote, in order of votes received, were Wendell Scott, Bill Elliott, Benny Parsons, Rex White and Terry Labonte.

The five inductees came from a group of 20 nominees that included, in addition to the five inductees chosen:Buddy Baker, Red Byron, Richard Childress, Jerry Cook, Ray Fox, Rick Hendrick, Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte, Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, Larry Phillips, O. Bruton Smith, Mike Stefanik, Curtis Turner and Robert Yates.

As was announced last December during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week, potential Landmark Award recipients could include competitors or those working in the sport as a member of a racing organization, track facility, race team, sponsor, media partner or being a general ambassador for the sport through a professional or non-professional role.

The five nominees for the inaugural Landmark Award were France, H. Clay Earles, Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Ken Squier.


May 21, 2014

Malcolm X Always Spoke Truth to Power, No Matter the Cost

The anniversary this week of Malcolm X’s 89th birthday offers us the context to reflect on the life of the man whose activism continues to reverberate around the world.

After a youth scarred by trauma, the man born Malcolm Little turned his seven years in prison into a world-class political and religious education. In the Charlestown, Norfolk and Concord penitentiaries of Massachusetts, he joined the Nation of Islam and became a follower of its leader, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad—who personally corresponded with Malcolm—and came out of prison on Aug. 7, 1952, a new man.

Malcolm abandoned his “slave” name in favor of “X” and began a bruising political and spiritual quest that would make him the most authentic working-class leader that black America has ever produced.

Between 1952 and 1965, he organized Muslim mosques and secular political groups in the United States and around the world. He emulated the street speakers he encountered as a young man in Harlem, and his trademark speeches distilled the black-liberation movement to its essence.

As a young activist in the 1950s, Malcolm helped transform the NOI, turning a small religious sect into one of the most important black organizations of the 20th century. Outside Baptist churches and Harlem storefronts and speaking atop stepladders, Malcolm went “fishing” for new recruits. He told working-class blacks that they were a proud people whose history had been distorted and defamed by white supremacy. Malcolm chided black folks for sleepwalking through one of history’s most important epochs: the global revolution being waged by indigenous groups in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

As black America’s unofficial prime minister, Malcolm grew in notoriety as a speaker, political leader and radical activist. Mainstream journalists depicted him as Martin Luther King Jr.’s sinister counterpart, but this portrait ignored the fact that both men were black revolutionaries.

Malcolm criticized the Southern civil rights movement’s strategy of nonviolence as ineffective—even foolish—buoying his standing with militant students. When Fidel Castro came to the United States in 1960, it was Malcolm, not King, with whom the Cuban revolutionary conferred. By the next year, Malcolm’s revolutionary status had been solidified as he delivered jaw-dropping speeches around the country, debated civil rights activist Bayard Rustin at Howard University and offered emotional support for activists protesting the murder of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.


May 21, 2014

African beats are back, under new management

A new sound is bringing sunny positivity to the charts thanks to the input of African and African-heritage artists. Pop-dance hits with links to Nigeria and Ghana have been enjoying both high placings and longevity – a sign that something significant is taking place.

This phenomenon has acquired a name – Afrobeats – to differentiate the fusion of polished house/R&B production, Jamaican dancehall and African rhythms from the classic big-band Afrobeat purveyed by the likes of Fela Kuti. It is a multifarious scene that encompasses both first-generation British talents and African producers with their increasing ambitions to reach into global markets.

It has been bubbling up for a couple of years, though this month sees releases from two key players – Nigerian star D’Banj’s “Bother You”, the follow-up to his breakthrough UK hit “Oliver Twist”, while “Dangerous Love” features reggae star Sean Paul, though fans will be excited that it is the latest single from a Londoner of Ghanaian descent, Richard Abiona, aka Fuse ODG.

Abiona’s three releases to date have all been sizeable hits – his party-starting debut “Azonto” spread the eponymous Ghanaian dance worldwide via word of mouth and a viral video, then came Top 10 entry “Antenna”, aided by a remix cameo from Wyclef Jean. Finally, “Million Pound Girl (Badder Than Bad)” peaked at No 5 in January of this year, so there are high expectations surrounding his propulsive follow-up. The ease with which a former Fugees star and now Paul have collaborated with Abiona suggest parallels with western sounds, though you do pick up recognisable Afrobeat rhythms.

Much of this is down to Abiona’s varied upbringing. Born in the UK, he went to primary school in Ghana when his parents returned there, but came back aged 11. During this period, he struggled at first to fit in, imbibing high-life groups from his mum and dad’s heritage at home, while hearing So Solid Crew on the radio and getting into US hip-hop. “[I was] constantly hearing [African music] being played in the house by my parents,” he explains. “I grew up on hip-hop so that’s had a huge impact on me and still does today. But also just being in the UK and listening to the radio and music here like garage, grime and synth-driven dance music.”


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