Monday, November 28, 2016

Remembering Fidel Castro

Today is a day of reflection. Fidel Castro (who influenced the history of Latin America greatly) has died today at the age of 90. He was a complex man who done many great things for humanity and he made mistakes. The mainstream media neglects to mention that Batista was a brutal dictator that oppressed people during the 1950’s. They also ignore how the U.S. Military occupied Cuba during the early 20th century and enforced Jim Crow policies in Cuba too. First, I will show what he did what was right. He was right to oppose the dictatorship of Batista and successfully made the Cuban Revolution a reality. Batista (who was a cruel dictator with a secret police torturing and oppressing human beings) worked with many corporate elites and even with the Mafia (Batista allied with American mobsters Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano) to make economic profit at the expense of the people of Cuba. Later, Batista was gone by heroic people in January 1, 1959 who wanted to end dictatorship. At first, the American government was willing to recognize Castro's new government. Later, things changed. Fidel Castro explicitly condemned racial segregation (which existed under Batista) and executed policies to fight against racism in Cuba. Castro nationalized all U.S. properties in Cuba in August of 1960. This caused the USA to want to invade Cuba among other reasons. After the nationalization, the American Eisenhower administration froze all Cuban assets on American soil, severed diplomatic ties and tightened its embargo of Cuba. The CIA failed to kill him via the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and other assassination attempts. He lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 where JFK and the Soviets negotiated a deal to get rid of Russian missiles from Cuba while the US would get rid of some of their missiles from Turkey. Castro survived hundreds of CIA attempts to assassinate him. Castro was right to protect Sister Assata Shakur, to stand up against U.S. imperialism, and to oppose apartheid. He was an ally of Nelson Mandela. Castro did what was right in improving health care, literacy, and many other services in Cuba. Fidel Castro was right to support the independence movement in Angola. He met Malcolm X too when he came into New York City. Fidel Castro sent doctors all around the world to help Africans for real. Therefore, his righteous deeds should be noted. Fidel Castro resigned as leader of Cuba in 2008. His brother Raul is the leader of Cuba currently. The U.S. and Cuba started to normalize relations with each other historically in July of 2015. Many reactionaries have double standards. Many of them condemn Fidel Castro for his embrace of communist, but they trade with Communist nations like China. Many folks lecture Castro on human rights, but support the war crimes done by Western imperialists (like the bombing of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima & Nagasaki, Operation Phoenix, Operation Ajax, and other crimes in various wars). A real revolutionary always criticizes the current capitalist system. Fidel Castro wasn't perfect and many of his policies on civil liberties or on human rights are policies that I disagree with. Yet, Castro wasn't a Hitler and he wasn't a person who committed mass genocide against millions of people. Castro didn't cause the Iraq War and he didn't invent Guantanamo Bay. He was a person who was part of the history of the 20th and 21st centuries. The Cuban embargo should end. We all want Cuba to improve and we want Cuba to be independent forever. I send prayers and condolences to his friends and family. We are in solidarity with the black Afro-Cuban people in Cuba too. Ultimately, Fidel Castro's legacy with be a mixed legacy filled with good actions and mistakes. We don't want Cuba to be a pro-Western capitalist puppet state. We want Cuba to be an independent, progressive society.

One of the most cowardly actions of the Birmingham police back in 1963 was when they used fire hoses and police dogs on innocent men, women and children. Connor found out that the Birmingham jail was full. ON May 3, he changed police tactics. That was done in order for the police to keep the protesters out of the downtown business area. Another thousand students gathered at the church and left to walk across Kelly Ingram Park while chanting, "We're going to walk, walk, walk. Freedom ... freedom ... freedom." As the demonstrators left the church, the police told them to stop and turn back, “or you’ll get wet.” When they continued, Connor ordered the city’s fire hoses. They set them at a level that would peel bark off a tree or separate bricks from mortar to be turned on the children. Boys’ shirts were ripped off. Young women were pushed over the tops of cars by the force of the water. When the students crouched or fell, the blasts of water rolled them down the asphalt streets and concrete sidewalks.  Connor allowed white spectators to push forward, shouting, "Let those people come forward, sergeant. I want 'em to see the dogs work." During this time, A.G. Gaston was on the phone with the white attorney David Yvann. He disagreed and was appalled at the use of children in the protest. He tried to negotiate a resolution to the crisis.  When Gaston looked out the window and saw the children being hit with high-pressure water, he said, "Lawyer Vann, I can't talk to you now or ever. My people are out there fighting for their lives and my freedom. I have to go help them", and hung up the phone.  Black parents and adults who were observing cheered the marching students, but when the hoses were turned on, bystanders began to throw rocks and bottles at the police. To disperse them, Connor ordered police to use German shepherd dogs to keep them in line. James Bevel wove in and out of the crowds warning them, "If any cops get hurt, we're going to lose this fight." To the contrary, crooked police officers assaulting innocent black people are evil. Black people have every human right to use self-defense against terrorist cops assaulting innocent black men, women, and children. At 3 p.m., the protest was over. During a kind of truce, protesters went home. Police removed the barricades and re-opened the streets to traffic.  That evening King told worried parents in a crowd of a thousand, "Don't worry about your children who are in jail. The eyes of the world are on Birmingham. We're going on in spite of dogs and fire hoses. We've gone too far to turn back." A battle hardened Huntley-Brinkley reporter later said that no military action he had witnessed had ever frightened or disturbed him as much as what he saw in Birmingham. 2 out of town photographers in Birmingham during that day were Charles Moore (he previously worked with the Montgomery Advertiser and was working for Life magazine) and Bill Hudson (with the Associated Press). Moore was a Marine combat photographer who was "jarred" and "sickened" by the use of children and what the Birmingham police and fire departments did to them. Moore was hit in the ankle by a brick meant for the police. He took several photos that were printed in Life. The first photo Moore shot that day showed three teenagers being hit by a water jet from a high-pressure firehose. It was titled "They Fight a Fire That Won't Go Out". A shorter version of the caption was later used as the title for Fred Shuttlesworth's biography. The Life photo became an "era-defining picture" and was compared to the photo of Marines raising the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima. Moore suspected that the film he shot "was likely to obliterate in the national psyche any notion of a 'good southerner'. Hudson remarked later that his only priorities that day were "making pictures and staying alive" and "not getting bit by a dog." Right in front of Hudson was Parker High School senior Walter Gadsden. The police officer grabbed Gadsden’s sweater and a police dog charged him. Gadsden had been attending the demonstration as an observer. He was related to the editor of Birmingham's black newspaper, The Birmingham World, who strongly disapproved of King's leadership in the campaign. Gadsden was arrested for "parading without a permit", and after witnessing his arrest, Commissioner Connor remarked to the officer, "Why didn't you bring a meaner dog; this one is not the vicious one." Hudson's photo of Gadsden and the dog ran across three columns in the prominent position above the fold on the front page of The New York Times on May 4, 1963. Television cameras broadcasted to the nation images and scenes of fire hoses knocking down schoolchildren and police dogs attacking innocent unprotected demonstrators. This coverage and photos shifted international support in favor of the protestors. Bull Connor was a villain. President Kennedy told a group of people at the White House that The New York Times photo made him "sick.” Kennedy called the scenes "shameful" and said that they were "so much more eloquently reported by the news camera than by any number of explanatory words." The images caused a great effect in Birmingham. The black community had differences, yet black people solidified in support behind Dr. King. Horrified at what the Birmingham police were doing to protect segregation, New York Senator Jacob K. Javits declared, "the country won't tolerate it", and pressed Congress to pass a civil rights bill. Similar reactions were reported by Kentucky Senator Sherman Cooper, and Oregon Senator Wayne Morse, who compared Birmingham to South Africa under apartheid. A New York Times editorial called the behavior of the Birmingham police "a national disgrace." The Washington Post editorialized, "The spectacle in Birmingham ... must excite the sympathy of the rest of the country for the decent, just, and reasonable citizens of the community, who have so recently demonstrated at the polls their lack of support for the very policies that have produced the Birmingham riots. The authorities who tried, by these brutal means, to stop the freedom marchers do not speak or act in the name of the enlightened people of the city." President Kennedy sent Assistant Attorney General Burke Marshall to Birmingham to help negotiate a truce. Marshall faced a stalemate when merchants and protest organizers refused to budge.

The Czar dissolved the Duma and World War I soon started. Nicholas II in 1914 made the decision to bring Russia into World War I. Russia had unprepared military and economic problems. Its generals struggle to create a plan for military action. That is why the German military executed many victories against the Russian armies during WWI. German machine guns mowed down Russian troops in the thousands. Soon, more than 4 million Russian human beings were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. The czarist movement was not strong and the military leadership experienced struggles all over the war. In 1915, Nicholas moved his headquarters to the war front. In that location, he hoped to rally his troops to victory. His wife or Czarina Alexandra ran the government when he was away. She ignored the czar’s chief advisors. She followed the advice of the mysterious Rasputin. Rasputin called himself “a holy man.” He claimed to have magical healing powers. Nicholas and Alexandra’s son was Alexis. He was suffering from hemophilia (or a life threatening disease). Rasputin seems to lower the child’s symptoms. Alexandra rewarded Rasputin by making him to have power to make key political decisions. Rasputin didn’t want reform. IN 1916, a group of nobles killed him since they didn’t like his role in the Russian government. Meanwhile in World War I, Russian troops mutinied, deserted, or ignored orders. Food and fuel supplies were declining because of the war. Prices were hugely inflated. People from many classes were clamoring for change and an end to the war. Nicholas and Alexandra faced a serious crisis in Russia.  The March Revolution started first in March of 1917. It happened when women textile workers in Petrograd led a city wide strike. In the next five days, rebellions existed over shortages of bread and fuel. Almost 200,000 workers came into the streets shouting, “Down with the autocracy!” and “down with the war!” At first, the soldiers obeyed orders to shoot the rioters. Yet, they sided with them. Local protests expanded into a huge uprising. The March Revolution caused Czar Nicholas II to abdicate or leave the throne. The year later, Nicholas and his family would be executed by his opponents. The March Revolution caused a provisional government to exist. A provisional government is a temporary government. Alexander Kerensky headed it.  A leader of the moderate-socialist Trudoviks faction of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, Kerensky was a well-known person in Russia. He continued fighting in WWI. He lost support among soldiers and civilians because of that action. Russia suffered more because of the war. Angry peasants wanted land. Workers in the city became more radical and socialist revolutionaries formed soviets. Soviets were local council made up of workers, peasants, and soldiers. In many cities, the soviets had more influences than the provisional government. The Germans allowed Lenin on a train to return to Russia or in Petrograd in April of 1917. The Germans believed that Lenin could go into Russia, cause more unrest, so the Russians would end their attack on Germany during the war. The November Revolution of 1917 changed the world forever.

For long centuries, the Native Americans have fought against oppression. Today, the heroic indigenous people and their allies are protesting and fighting back against the corporate interests who want to build the Dakota Access Pipeline on sovereign land. This pipeline has no environmentally sound benefit and it is against the people’s wishes in the territory. On April 2016, tribal members stated to protest the 1,172 Dakota Access Pipeline construction. They set up camps along the banks of Lake Oahe in North Dakota. By August, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed suit in federal district court in Washington D.C. They are filing suit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is the primary federal agency that granted permits used for the construction of the pipeline. Also, the NoDAPL movement grows and many people among many walks of life have expressed support and solidarity with the Native American human beings who desire that pipeline to not be constructed. In August 22, protests help to block the construction sites at Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The protests are led by the Standing Rock Sioux who said that their drinking water was threatened by the pipeline. The small Sacred Stone Camp grows by the thousands. They people there make up over 200 tribes in September of 2016.  In an act of disrespect, Dakota Access bulldozers on September 3, 2016 plow a 2 mile long, 150 ft. wide path through the sacred tribal burial ground. The Sioux contest the permits for that land in its lawsuit. Protests continue on the anniversary of the Whitestone massacre, a day in 1863 when the US Army killed more than 300 members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Video surfaces in September of private security attacking Native protesters with dogs and mace. At least 30 people were pepper-sprayed and six people, including a child, were bitten by dogs, according to tribe spokesman Bear. In September 6th, the U.S.  District Judge James Boasberg agrees to temporarily halt construction on a portion of the pipeline—too late to save the Standing Rock Sioux burial ground, but enough to stop the bulldozers ahead of a more final ruling, expected September 9, as to whether construction will be allowed to continue. This movement is one of the largest Native American protests in American history. The authorities in North Dakota used tactics of intimidation, threats of arrest, and arrests to harm the protest movement. Yet, they only motivate protesters even more to fight for justice. Water protesters are arrested and jailed without bond after locking themselves to construction machinery.  Morton County Sheriff pursues felony charges on those arrested. 23 people and their charges are named. As of 9/14 a total of 69 individuals have been arrested for protesting actions. The Judge  drops injunction against tribal leaders allowing them to protest lawfully. In later October 2016, the police again used brutality against water protesters in Standing Rock. Protesters were maced and beaten at the hands of the police. 141 people were arrested. Many buffalo came around the hill and the protesters watched them in awe. It symbolized how the buffalo was slaughtered by the U.S. government over 100 years ago and now the Native Americans are being violated of their rights in our generation. As the police closed in on the water protectors, they drew inspiration from the Black Lives Matter movement chanting, "Hands up, don't shoot." Black Lives Matter activists have expressed their support for the Standing Rock protesters--sending a delegation to Standing Rock over the summer and, this week, calling for renewed solidarity in the wake of the most recent repression. Palestinian rights supporters, labor unions, and other progressive human beings have expressed solidarity with Standing Rock activists as well. What we see is that the state allowing human rights abuses via an occupying army against the original inhabitants of the American soil. The Standing Rock human beings are defending the environment and promoting tribal sovereignty. America was founded on the genocide of the Native Americans and the enslavement of African people. We reject oppression. In the wake of the decision (on September 9, 2016), the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army, and the Department of the Interior issue a joint statement, acknowledging the district court's opinion but refusing to authorize construction in the Lake Oahe area, near the protests. The departments ask Energy Transfer Partners to voluntarily cease all construction within 20 miles of the region until it can be determined whether the construction is in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. In November 20, 2016, the police utilized some of the vicious acts of violence against the protesters in North Dakota. The event happened at a bridge near the main Oceti Sakowin resistance camp by the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Later, authorities expressed a brutal assault on water protectors. The attack started after a group from the camp tried to clear the nearby public bridge. The authorities blocked the area with military equipment chained to concrete barriers. Police moved in. The footage records the police attacking unarmed protesters with rubber bullets and concussion grenades. They fired flares and grassfires developed. They attacked the protestors with high pressure streams of water form water cannons and fire hoses. More than 100 activists were injured. Many people lost consciousness and one person went into cardiac arrest, but revived by medics. The most seriously injured appears to be 21-year-old Sophia Wilansky from the Bronx, who was struck by a concussion grenade as she tried to bring water to protesters under assault. She may lose her arm as a result. Sophia's father Wayne Wilansky sobbed as he told reporters about his daughter's condition. "In America, she's hit with a grenade," he said. "She's not in Iraq or Afghanistan...And they're trying to kill her." We will never forget what these crooked cops have done. Therefore, we will continue to stand up for the people of Standing Rock 100%.

By Timothy

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