SELF-PORTRAITS OF THE EARTH AS ME

  I want to live inside a camera.

 

I want to migrate back and forth across the sky

inside a flock of wild geese.

I am their camera and their eye.

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I Chose Sides/Claire O'Brien 2001

I Chose Sides/Claire O’Brien 2001

 

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anti-columbus day tour american museum of natural history | indigenous peoples day

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY

N I G H T M O T E L

 

  N I G H T  M O T E L                                                           Claire O’Brien 

 

Untitled /. Claire O’Brien

 

Follow the Green Line / Claire O’Brien

 

Taxi Service /. Claire O’Brien

 

The King of Baltimore ./ Claire O’Brien

When I saw my teacher

Eléctrica in the Desert

Aviary Photo_130661279648187097 Kindness Blog photo 18 Jan 2014 /Graphic additions, Claire O’Brien

PLEASE  TEACH ME WHAT YOU KNOW:

NOTES FROM RICHARD, LONG AGO

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I saw you right away,  standing alone while a clickety-clack crowd walked right through you.

Nobody saw you. It was such a thin October day.

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There are people stuck forever on the edges of the town:

No one ever told them that the railroad tracks are gone.

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For all I knew, the sun might have set off-schedule and then splintered into neon rings, now circling above San Antonio. In those days, people refused to believe in things like their shoes and the weather.  The rain was as unpersuasive as a stranger bumming rides to a parade.

“When no one can see you, how do you stop from becoming invisible?” I asked you. I really had to know.

 Deceit’s standard bearers have long military careers but short lives.  For…

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A HOME IN THAT ROCK: THE WAR ON BLACK BOYS

Eléctrica in the Desert

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                            IT WILL LIVE INSIDE ME FOREVER
Sometimes, in the middle of the night, halfway between sleep and consciousness, I go to the place where that bewildered boy of long ago still dwells in me, and my eyes fill with tears. I tell him that he is safe now, and that I will protect him. But the scars on his soul ache, and although he wishes me well in his little, manly way, he is able to draw little solace from my presence.
When I stand in front of my students, my mind often wanders back to those years. Almost as if it were yesterday, I vividly recall watching my father being beaten by the police. I have never felt more impotent and powerless than I did in those days.
They will live inside of me forever.

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HEY, IS THIS ART?

Eléctrica in the Desert

Is this art? Or is it a drawer?
That bumpy yellow wall – what for?
I guess I was expecting more…
Look! The gum I lost awaits, resplendent:
Now that is what I call transcendent!

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A Tale of two 9/11s


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The Lesson America Chooses Never to Learn

Jon Jeter / Mint Press News

On September 11,1973, General Augusto Pinochet’s troops stormed Chile’s presidential palace. Organized by Henry Kissinger and the CIA, the coup targeted Chile’s popular socialist President Salvador Allende, who the Nixon administration feared was another Fidel Castro in-the-making. As the attack unfolded, workers in the basement of a Santiago publishing house shop were hard at work printing what was to be the military junta’s 500-page economic plan.

Villa Grimaldi: Chiles memorial to victims of torture

CHILE’S FACES OF TORTURE: Over 30,000 people were tortured by the CIA- sponsored Pinochet regime. (Villa Grimaldi Memorial)

 

Believing himself to be a messianic figure, Pinochet put his faith in a coterie of young Chilean advisers who had trained under Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago’s School of Economics, the academic vanguard of neo-classical economics. With his bloody crackdown on dissidents, artists, college students and union leaders, Pinochet’s repressive regime censored the press, banned labor unions and political opposition parties, murdered an estimated 5,000 leftists, tortured another 30,000 and handed the “Chicago Boys” – as they came to be known – a blank check to remake Allende’s nationalized economy, and return the country at South America’s southwestern edge into the Empire’s orbit.

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Nearly 15 years before economists coined the phrase “Washington consensus,” and a decade before Reagan’s trickle-down policies began dismantling the New Deal in the U.S., Chile was the guinea pig for anti-Keynesian macroeconomic policies designed to fatten corporations’ share of global wealth. Pinochet slashed duties on imports, from an average tariff rate of 94 percent in 1973 to 10 percent by 1979. He privatized all but two dozen of Chile’s 300 state-owned banks, as well as utilities and entitlements such as social security. By 1979, he had cut public spending almost in half and public investment by nearly 14 percent. He lowered taxes, restricted union activities and returned more than a third of the land seized under Allende’s land-reform program.

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Pinochet’s reforms worked like a fast-acting virus. A recession in 1975 caused Chile’s economy to shrink by 13 percent, its greatest decline since the Great Depression. The recovery that followed was fueled largely by foreign cash, which poured into the country as investors gobbled up utilities and stashed money in Chile’s currency markets. The prices of imports fell sharply; between 1975 and 1982 the number of foreign cars sold in Chile tripled. Domestic manufacturing shriveled by 30 percent. Domestic savings plummeted. Wages fell, and the income gap between rich and poor widened by a factor of 50.Monetary policy was liberalized on two important fronts. First, Pinochet allowed “hot money” — speculation on the currency market — to flow in and out of the country without obstacle. And in 1979 he fixed the exchange rate for Chile’s peso, requiring the central bank to keep $1 in reserve for every 39 pesos printed. This kept the bank from merely printing money to pay bills and curbed an inflation rate that had soared to nearly 400 percent annually under Allende.

By 1982, Chile had accumulated $16 billion in foreign debt — nearly $42 billion in today’s dollars — and foreign investment represented a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product. The money flowing into the country flowed out just as easily, to pay debts and bills for imported goods and through capital flight as investors soured on Chile’s currency market. The economy had overheated and was now in a meltdown.

With a third of the workforce unemployed and unrest growing, by 1984 Pinochet began to “reform the reforms,” the Chilean economist Ricardo Ffrench-Davis said in a 2003 interview.

Pinochet allowed the peso to float and reinstated restrictions on the movement of capital in and out of the country. He introduced banking legislation, and ratcheted up spending on research and development efforts through quasi-governmental institutions and other collaborations between the public and private sectors — creating, as one example, the billion-dollar salmon farming industry out of whole cloth.

 

 Penitenceria prison in Santiago

 

Still, Chile’s economic woes persisted. By 1989, real wages had declined by 40 percent from 1973, and the percentage of the population living in poverty had doubled to 40 percent. The number of Chileans without adequate housing had also climbed to 40 percent, up 13 percentage points from Allende’s final year in office. The country’s poor consumed 1,629 calories per-day-on average, compared to 2,019 in 1973.

Ill-fed, and ill-housed, Chileans began to refer to the cadre of advisers not as the Chicago Boys but as Si, Cago; Voy — which translates to “Yes, I shit; I go.”

FILE- A man lights a candle at the National Stadium, that served as a detention center in the early years of the military dictatorship, during a vigil marking the 42nd anniversary of the military coup that ousted the late President Salvador Allende, in Santiago, Chile.
 A man lights a candle at the National Stadium, that served as a detention center in the early years of the military dictatorship, during a vigil marking the 42nd anniversary of the military coupA plebiscite in 1989 ended Pinochet’s rule and Chileans gradually began to reorganize their economy. Since 1990, it has consistently been Latin America’s strongest performer. But in its violent, fascist crackdown on the left and its fealty to Wall Street bankers, Chile under Pinochet presaged the entirety of the United States’ global class war against workers — in Argentina and Zambia; Flint and Venezuela; Philadelphia to Greece; Haiti, Iraq, Ukraine, Honduras; Russia in its post-Cold war transitional period, and South Africa after the collapse of apartheid.

POLITICS Pinochet protest /Lords Stock Photo

The two 9/11s twenty-eight years apart bracket the United States’ descent into madness. Much like the vintner’s abolition of the dop, the downing of the Twin Towers should’ve triggered some soul-searching in the United States, and an examination of our accumulation of stuff through the dispossession of other human beings. As we mourn the losses on that Indian-summer day in 2001, what we need to contemplate is redemption, not revenge — and how we might begin to rejoin a human community that we’ve wronged, again and again and again.

Image result for Pinochet regime prisonsFamilies and supporters of victims of the Pinochet regime demonstrate in Santiago in remembrance

God Bless America. . and everyone else too.

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NOTE: The introductory paragraphs of this article by Mint Press News writer Jon Jeter were omitted for length, and all photos/caps were added. I wrote the text below. However, ninety-five percent of this post is a simple reblog, reproducing exactly the original text. To see the original post, as well as links to Jon Jeter’s impressive body of work, click on his name at the top of the screen.

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VIENTOS DE PUEBLO (WINDS OF THE PEOPLE)  Victor Jara

Once more, they want to stain my country with workers’ blood.

I want to live now with my child and my friend, to go together toward the springtime we’re building each day.

You masters of misery can’t scare me with your threats;

The star of hope continues to be ours!

Winds of the people bear me, carry me, blow through

my throat so that I can go on singing even when death takes me,

down the roads of the people.

EXCERPT 

 

Driving the Narcos out

 MINT PRESS NEWS

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CHERAN, MEXICO (Report) — On the road leading into this hardscrabble town in Mexico’s southwest corner, there stands a checkpoint staffed by heavily-armed guards, clad ominously in balaclavas, or ski masks. This scene is not particularly unusual for this violence-plagued country, but Cheran is no ordinary place: seven years ago this month, the mostly indigenous townspeople here grew tired of watching the loggers illegally cut down their trees, and frustrated with the extortion rackets run by the organized-crime cartels, and angry at the politicians who did nothing to protect them or the forest that is central to the local timber economy.

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And so the denizens of this community tucked away in the state of Michoacán evicted the bootleg loggers and the mobsters who hired them; they kicked out the police department and the mayor and the city council and the prosecutors and the judges and they decided to do it all themselves.

The gendarmes patrolling the city’s borders are, in fact, civilians.

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Cheran is no utopia, but virtually everyone here says they feel happier and safer with the new autonomous arrangement that is reminiscent of the Paris Commune, the radical workers’ movement that governed the City of Lights for two months in the spring of 1871 before authorities and industrialists managed to regain control.

“Little by little, people have realized that this new system is the most suitable for us … now we take care of each other,” David Ramos Guerrero, a local resident, told MintPress News.

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Easy pickings for the cartels, until . . 

Surrounded by lush forests, Cheran is about 200 miles west of Mexico City. Its population of roughly 16,000 is predominantly from the indigenous Purepecha community, who squeeze out a meager living from agriculture — corn, oats, beans, wheat, potatoes, apples, apricots, pears and plums — and timber. The Mexican cartels typically associated with the illicit drug trade want a cut of any lucrative commercial enterprise, and for years the talamontes, or illegal loggers working on behalf of the ruthless La Familia mob, had toppled the trees — by one estimate, they had destroyed half of the 59,000 acres of forest — surrounding the community, hauling them off with impunity, and ultimately jeopardizing Cheran’s water supply.

 

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The townspeople’s complaints to their representatives at City Hall repeatedly fell on deaf ears until finally, the women hatched a plan. On the morning of April 15, 2011, dozens of women gathered at the Roman Catholic Chapel of the Calvary at the town’s edge and waited. As the trucks passed hauling their illegal bounty, the signal was given, and the women, armed only with fireworks and rocks and white-hot indignation, attacked, driving out the loggers armed with AK-47s.

 

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On Sunday, April 15, thousands turned out for a ceremony to celebrate the insurrection set in motion on that day in 2011. “That was the moment that the community, tired of the pilfering of our forest, tired of being manipulated by organized crime and the government, decided to rise up in struggle,” David Ramos Guerrero told MintPress News.

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The Hidden History of the Women Who Rose Up

THE WORLD IMPERIALISM MADE: 1) FROM ENGLAND’S POOREST TO AUSTRALIA’S MIDDLE CLASS  /   PHOTO BY mollybob

Like all colonial societies, Australia has secrets. The way we treat Indigenous people is still mostly a secret. For a long time, the fact that many Australians came from what was called “bad stock” was a secret.

“Bad stock” meant convict forebears: those like my great-great grandmother, Mary Palmer, who was incarcerated here, at the Female Factory in Parramatta in 1823.

According to nonsense spun by numerous aunts – who had irresistible bourgeois ambitions — Mary Palmer and the man she married, Francis McCarthy, were a lady and a gentleman of Victorian property and propriety.

In fact, Mary was the youngest member of a gang of wild young women, mostly Irish, who operated in the East End of London.  Known as “The Ruffians”, they kept poverty at bay with the proceeds of prostitution and petty theft.

The Ruffians were eventually arrested and tried, and hanged — except Mary, who was spared because she was pregnant.

She was just 16 years old when she was manacled in the hold of a ship under sail, the Lord Sidmouth, bound for New South Wales “for the term of her natural life”, said the judge.

The voyage took five months, a purgatory of sickness and despair. I know what she looked like because, some years ago, I discovered an extraordinary ritual in St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney.

Every Thursday, in a vestry, a nun would turn the pages of a register of Irish Catholic convicts — and there was Mary, described as “not more than 4ft in height, emaciated and pitted with the ravages of small pox”.

When Mary’s ship docked at Sydney Cove, no one claimed her as a servant or a skivvy. She was a “third class” convict and one of “the inflammable matter of Ireland”. Did her newly born survive the voyage? I don’t know.

They sent her up the Parramatta River to the Female Factory, which had distinguished itself as one of the places where Victorian penal experts were testing their exciting new theories. The treadwheel was introduced in the year Mary arrived, 1823. It was an implement of punishment and torture.

 

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PRISON PROPAGANDA: IDEALIZED PORTRAYALS OF THE FEMALE FACTORY. NO, IT DIDN’T LOOK LIKE THIS.

 

The Cumberland  Pilgrim described the Female Factory as “appallingly hideous … the recreation ground reminds one of the Valley of the Shadow of Death”.

Arriving at night, Mary had nothing to sleep on, only boards and stone and straw, and filthy wool full of ticks and spiders. All the women underwent solitary confinement. Their heads were shaved and they were locked in total darkness with the whine of mosquitoes.

There was no division by age or crime. Mary and the other women were called “the intractables”.  With a mixture of horror and admiration, the Attorney General at the time, Roger Terry, described how the women had “driven back with a volley of stones and staves” soldiers sent to put down their rebellion. More than once, they breached the sandstone walls and stormed the community of Parramatta.  .

Missionaries sent from England to repair the souls of the women were given similar short shrift.

I am so proud of her.

 

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Then there was “courting day”. Once a week, “bereft gentlemen” (whomever they might be) were given first pick, followed by soldiers, then male convicts.

Some of the women found “finery” and primped urgently, as if an inspecting male might provide a way out of their predicament. Others turned their backs should an aspiring mate be an “old stringybark fella” down from the bush.

During all this, the matron would shout out what she called “the good points” of each woman, which was a revelation to all.

In this way, my great-great grandparents met each other. I believe they were well matched.

Francis McCarthy had been transported from Ireland for the crime of “uttering unlawful oaths” against his English landlord. That was the charge leveled at the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

I am so proud of him.

Mary and Francis were married at St Mary’s Church, later St Mary’s Cathedral, on November 9th, 1823, with four other convict couples.  Eight years later, they were granted their “ticket of leave” and Mary her “conditional pardon” by one Colonel Snodgrass, the Captain General of New South Wales — the condition being she could never leave the colony.

Mary bore 10 children and they lived out hard lives, loved and respected by all accounts, to their ninetieth year.

 

Victorian women criminals' records show harsh justice of 19th century

Elizabeth Murphy (left) was sentenced to 5 years hard labour for stealing an umbrella and Mary Richards was jailed for 5 years for stealing 130 oysters  Photo: PA

 

My mother knew the secret about Mary and Francis. On her wedding day in 1922, and in defiance of her own family, she and my father came to these walls to pay tribute to Mary and the intractables. She was proud of her “bad stock”.

I sometimes wonder: where is this spirit today? Where is the spirit of the intractables among those who claim to represent us and those of us who accept, in supine silence, the corporate conformity that is characteristic of much of the modern era in so-called developed countries?

Where are those of us prepared to “utter unlawful oaths” and stand up to the authoritarians and charlatans in government, who glorify war and invent foreign enemies and criminalise dissent and who abuse and mistreat vulnerable refugees to these shores and disgracefully call them “illegals”.

Mary Palmer was “illegal”. Francis McCarthy was “illegal”. All the women who survived the Female Factory and fought off authority, were “illegal”.

The memory of their courage and resilience and resistance should be honoured, not traduced, in the way we are today. For only when we recognise the uniqueness of our past — our Indigenous past and our proud convict past — will this nation achieve true independence.

John Pilger gave this address on the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Parramatta Female Factory, Sydney.

He can be reached through his website: www.johnpilger.com

When America had reporters

Eléctrica in the Desert

How Nellie Bly changed journalism forever

Nelly Bly

More than a half-century before “gonzo journalism” was a figment in Hunter S. Thompson’s imagination, newspaper writer Nellie Bly was living it. Today is Nellie Bly’s 151st birthday, so it’s a fittingly unique day to celebrate her. She reformed an insane asylum by getting committed for 10 days, she described the world on a whirlwind trip, and she reported alongside chorus girls and factory girls with equal vigor.

Bly was a Victorian superstar who created media sensations week after week. She was groundbreaking, too — she traveled the world alone 31 years before women were allowed to vote. But more than just making hits, she usually had a purpose: her work advanced the cause of people few others were willing to defend.

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 A woman from coal country becomes a star New York City columnist

Nellie Bly in 1890.  …

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