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marmar's Journal
marmar's Journal
May 7, 2015

A quiet leader in Detroit's food renaissance, Goodwells Market provides a model for success

A quiet leader in Detroit's food renaissance, Goodwells Market provides a model for success

[font size="4"]As more chain stores make their way to rebounding Detroit, smaller businesses may feel the pinch. Even more pressing is how black-owned businesses in Detroit, such as Goodwells, will fare as the city moves forward.[/font]

With nine years in the game, Goodwells Natural Food Market is a relative veteran in Midtown -- or Cass Corridor. Whatever name you fancy for the area, the market's existence straddles the birth of one neighborhood and the rebranding of another.

Eating naturally was not new to Detroit, but Goodwells did precede the organic, farm-to-table boom now standard in comeback stories of Detroit and other cities. Locally, one needs to look no further than Whole Foods, which opened in 2013 and marked a turning point in food retailing in Detroit.

For a brief time, Whole Foods spelled trouble for Goodwells, co-owner James Wood admits. "For the first six months, there was no real effect," he says. "But after that, they pretty much wiped out our grocery business at first. We're starting to rebound now."

Wood is a busy man and a challenge to pin down. In the mornings before Goodwells opens, Wood is stocking shelves with fresh produce and other groceries. Things pick up around lunchtime as customers pack the shop, waiting in line for Goodwells' famous pocket sandwiches and homemade vegan soups. And Wood spends the hours after closing straightening up the place. ..........................(more)


May 7, 2015

The Long Shadow of Neoconservatism

from Dissent magazine:

The Long Shadow of Neoconservatism
James B. Rule ▪ May 6, 2015

[font size="1"]A U.S. officer leaves a recently bombed Baghdad police station, May 2007[/font]

The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War
by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad
Edinburgh University Press, 2014, 256 pp.

Overreach: Delusions of Regime Change in Iraq
by Michael MacDonald
Harvard University Press, 2014, 336 pp.

[font size="4"]The great majority of the American political class were complicit in the deceptions that led to the Iraq war—and are desperate for the rest of the country to forget it.[/font]

Thirteen years ago—in the spring of 2002—this country was just beginning the run-up to its invasion of Iraq. For me, memories of this period have a dreamlike quality. Early that year, I heard from a well-connected Washington insider that U.S. foreign-policy strategists had decided to “do” Iraq, as he put it—that is, to invade—though the details had not yet been worked out. To an ordinary citizen and sometime policy wonk, the report seemed incredible, except for its authoritative source. Was it really possible for a decision of this magnitude to be taken behind the closed doors of the executive branch in Washington, before the idea had been announced to the rest of the country—let alone publicly debated? Yet little more than a year later, this country was at war. Congress, the courts, and much of America’s intellectual punditry had all played their appointed roles, and right on cue.

The dreamlike quality of my memories of this period results, I believe, from the total discontinuity between what every reasonable person seemed to know about Iraq at the time, and the lessons taught by the execution of the war. American public life has still afforded no comprehensive accounting of this massive disconnect. The reason for this is that the great majority within this country’s political class are complicit in the deceptions and negligence involved in making the war happen, or in acquiescing to its premises. Even for the minority who did not support, say, the congressional vote to authorize the invasion, it remains dangerous to call the cynicism and institutional opportunism involved by their exact names. Like some grotesque skeleton in a family closet, the orchestration of the Iraq war involved too many personalities still holding center stage to permit frank acknowledgement. If you crave an example of whistling past the graveyard, consider the circumlocutions we’re hearing from those now seeking the presidential nomination in 2016. “Mistakes were made,” Jeb Bush has averred, attributing those “mistakes” to “faulty intelligence.” Not exactly a lie, perhaps, but about as truthful as a claim that Saddam Hussein died of a stiff neck.

Two excellent new books—The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad and Overreach: Delusions of Regime Change in Iraq by Michael MacDonald—target exactly the questions that mainstream political discourse wants so desperately to forget: why did the tiny elite who took the decision to send the country to war ignore so many red flags, so many advance indications of the disaster that was to ensue? Why did traditional conservatives, for example, abandon classic “realism” in geopolitical calculation? Why did liberals ignore a humanitarian catastrophe in the making? Why was so much expert advice ignored concerning such crucial matters as the role of Iraq’s sectarian divisions in any possible outcome of the war? What was going on in the minds of elite figures outside the core of “deciders” who took the initiative for war, as one by one they suppressed their objections? In short, how did an idea so obviously flawed ever gain steam?


Once the key administration positions had been captured for the neoconservative program, the rest of the country fell in line with chilling complaisance. Democratic foreign-policy heavyweights—including Madeleine Albright, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Richard Holbrooke, Sandy Berger, and Richard Gephardt—lined up obligingly to support George W. Bush’s war powers vote. In all these matters, elite status (or aspirations to it) seems to have conduced to backing for the invasion. In voting for the Iraq War Resolution in October 2002, virtually all Republicans in both houses of congress joined in support. In the Senate, twenty-nine senators supported the resolution, against twenty-one opposed; in the House of Representatives, by contrast, the majority of Democrats voted nay—one hundred twenty-six, against 82 yeas. “Interestingly,” MacDonald writes,

. . . the stronger the particular Democrat’s national ambitions , the more likely he or she was to favor the war. . . . Perhaps because no Democrat who had opposed Gulf War I had been placed on the national ticket in the three intervening elections, every Democrat who voted on the question in the House or Senate and who would go on to run for the presidential nomination in 2004 or 2008—Christopher Dodd, Biden, Clinton, Kerry, Edwards, Gephardt, and Lieberman—voted in favor of authorization in October 2002.



May 7, 2015

Marjorie Cohn: The Chickens Come Home to Roost in Baltimore

The Chickens Come Home to Roost in Baltimore

Wednesday, 06 May 2015 00:00
By Marjorie Cohn, Marjorie Cohn's Blog | News Analysis

Once again, the nation watches as prosecutors deal with the killing of an unarmed black man.

&quot The officers) failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray's arrest as no crime had been committed by Mr. Gray ... Accordingly, (he was) illegally arrested," Baltimore state's attorney Marilyn Mosby declared, as she announced the filing of criminal charges against the six officers implicated in Freddie Gray's death.

Gray made "eye contact" with Officer Brian Rice. Gray then ran from Rice, and Rice began chasing Gray. It was after Gray surrendered to Officers Garrett Miller and Edward Nero that Gray was taken on his fatal "rough ride."

A "rough ride" is an unsanctioned technique that some officers use to injure arrestees without physically touching them with their hands or weapons. The driver typically takes intentionally rough or rapid turnsß around corners or makes sudden stops. Since the suspect is handcuffed, he is unable to brace himself so he falls forward, often bashing his head against the inside of the van.

Like so many African American men before him in this country, Gray was guilty of nothing other than "walking while black." In his case, Baltimore's sordid history of racial and class oppression, combined with the war on drugs, made for a deadly combination. ......................(more)


May 7, 2015

Amy Goodman: The American Dream: Living to 18

from truthdig:

by Amy Goodman

“What do you hope to accomplish with this protest,” I asked a 13-year-old girl marching in Staten Island, N.Y., last August, protesting the police killing of Eric Garner.

“To live until I’m 18,” the young teen, named Aniya, replied. Could that possibly be the American dream today?

Aniya went on: “You want to get older. You want to experience life. You don’t want to die in a matter of seconds because of cops.” It’s that sentiment that has fueled the Black Lives Matter movement across the country.

Most recently, a week of protest in Baltimore was largely quelled when a remarkable prosecutor announced that six police officers would be charged in the death of Freddie Gray. Marilyn Mosby, the 35-year-old state’s attorney for the city of Baltimore, is the youngest lead prosecutor in any major U.S. city. Just 100 days into office, she made national headlines on Friday, May 1, with the stunning announcement that the officers would face various charges, from assault to second-degree murder.

According to police reports, Baltimore Police Lt. Brian Rice was on bicycle patrol on the morning of April 12 when he made eye contact with Freddie Gray, who then ran. Rice pursued Gray, joined by officers Garrett Miller and Edward Nero. A bystander videotaped Gray screaming in pain as he was dragged into a patrol wagon. Though he asked for medical help repeatedly, none was given. He soon became unresponsive. Other police involved in his arrest and transport did nothing either. His family reported that his spinal cord was 80 percent severed, and his voice box crushed. After a week in a coma, he died. .................(more)


May 6, 2015

Drought kills 12 million trees in California's national forests

LA Times:

Rangers in the San Bernardino National Forest call them “red trees.”

Instead of the typical deep green color, large swaths of pine trees now don hues of death, their dehydrated needles turning brown and burnt-red because of the state’s worsening drought.

“Unlike back East, where you have fall colors, here it’s because the trees are dying,” said John Miller, a spokesman for the San Bernardino National Forest.

Years of extremely dry conditions are taking a heavy toll on forest lands across California and heightening the fire risk as summer approaches.

“The situation is incendiary,” William Patzert, a climatologist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told The Times recently. “The national forest is stressed out.” ...................(more)


May 6, 2015

Bernanke Inc.: Lucrative Life of a Former Fed Chairman

(Bloomberg) Between Boyz II Men at The Mirage and Celine Dion at Caesars Palace, a hot new act is playing Vegas: Ben Bernanke.

One day only, live from Sin City -- the economist formerly known as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Fifteen months after leaving the Fed and its trappings of mystery and power, Bernanke, 61, is settling into the peripatetic and highly lucrative life of a Washington former.

Beyond the dancing fountains of the Bellagio, in the gilded splendor of the Grand Ballroom, Bernanke will play to a full house at the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference on Wednesday: 1,800 hedge fund types who used to hang on his every word. Bernanke is, in a sense, one of them now -- a well-paid investment consultant who can fete clients, open doors and add a gloss of Fed luster to conferences and meetings. ............(more)


May 6, 2015

The Wars Come Home: Five-Step Guide to the Police Repression of Protest from Ferguson to Baltimore..

from TomDispatch:

The Wars Come Home
A Five-Step Guide to the Police Repression of Protest from Ferguson to Baltimore and Beyond

By Michael Gould-Wartofsky

Last week, as Baltimore braced for renewed protests over the death of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) prepared for battle. With state-of-the-art surveillance of local teenagers’ Twitter feeds, law enforcement had learned that a group of high school students was planning to march on the Mondawmin Mall. In response, the BPD did what any self-respecting police department in post-9/11 America would do: it declared war on the protesters.

Over the course of 24 hours, which would see economically devastated parts of Baltimore erupt in open rebellion, city and state police would deploy everything from a drone and a “military counter attack vehicle” known as a Bearcat to SWAT teams armed with assault rifles, shotguns loaded with lead pellets, barricade projectiles filled with tear gas, and military-style smoke grenades. The BPD also came equipped with “Hailstorm” or “Stingray” technology, developed in America’s distant war zones to conduct wireless surveillance of enemy communications. This would allow officers to force cell phones to connect to it, to collect mobile data, and to jam cell signals within a one-mile radius.

“Up and down the East Coast since 9/11, our region has armed itself for that type of emergency,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. She was defending her police department’s acquisition of this type of military technology under the Department of Defense’s now infamous 1033 Program. It sends used weaponry and other equipment from the battlefields of the country’s global war on terror directly to local police departments across the country. “But it’s very unusual,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake added, “that it would be used against your own citizens.”

It is, in fact, no longer unusual but predictable for peacefully protesting citizens to face military-grade weaponry and paramilitary-style tactics, as the counterinsurgency school of protest policing has become the new normal in our homeland security state. Its techniques and technologies have come a long way in the years since Occupy Wall Street (and even in the months since the first protests kicked off in response to the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri). Here, then, is a step-by-step guide, based on the latest developments in the security sector, on how to police a protest movement in the new age of domestic counterinsurgency.

1. Equate Dissidents With Domestic Terrorists.

Since 2012, law enforcement and intelligence agencies have repeatedly sought to link street activism with domestic terrorism and radical activists to “violent extremists.” For instance, one memo from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis attempted to tie events in Ferguson last year to recruitment efforts by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS): “Although at this time, violence in Ferguson has largely subsided... radical Islamists [have] used social media to urge others... to conduct Jihad.” A separate arm of DHS, the Threat Management Division, issued an ominous warning around the same time: ................(more)


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