Why God Made Spanish. 

 Spanish Comes Just in Time.


Las Cruces, New Mexico at nightfall. The city is larger than it appears from this distance, with a population of about 125, 000.


Once upon a time, about two and a half months ago, l was stuck in a motel in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where my car had died:  suddenly, without warning, and in the middle of a six lane highway .. wait –

during rush hour. When else?

The cost of the tow truck, a new alternator and the motel bill had left me with exactly $4.26 to my name. Sounds about right. I mean, what’s my point here?

Let’s see..twenty minutes before my car came to a dead stop, I’d been lying in a hospital bed a few blocks away, expecting surgery and rehab for which I’d been waiting three and a half years. I’d prayed only that it wasn’t too late:  that is, I’d certainly been able to walk three and a half years earlier. Had New Mexico’s public health system included actual medical treatment, I’d have been walking long ago.

I shouldn’t have been surprised when I was told there would be another delay, but I was. By now, though, I’ve learned that filing complaints, calling Santa Fe, appealing to state social workers and otherwise pitching a fit are stupid things to do if you are poor in New Mexico. So two nice medics wheeled me out to the hospital parking lot, sort of shoved me into my car, tossed my walker in the back seat and waved as I pulled into rush hour traffic. Hopefully, there’d be someone around to shove me back out of the car when I got home. A few blocks later, my car suddenly slowed down….

And that’s where you came in.


 Five years ago, I stood alone against Vampires Are Us Media Group, aka GateHouse Media and its neoliberal lawyer and/or journalist pals.

At stake was the life of a Mexican-American father who was being framed for murder after he had acted to defend himself from a white supremacist attack .1

During and after the case, I was attacked by a relentless barrage of  lies, threats, retaliation, libel, and textbook defamation. 2

It turns out that the idea of a reporter’s faith in the truth is actually a huge media joke.

Everything that made up my life was smashed and broken in order to destroy my credibility.

After they broke my heart, they broke my back.


No, I didn’t stay in this motel with the cool sign / Google Images

Meanwhile, Business Begins in the Motel Lobby

In spite of the increasingly surreal quality of my world, I nevertheless maintained a dim sense that life went on. For example, I awoke the next day from motel dreams of swerving traffic and began lurching down the hall toward the free breakfast. A sharp flash of pain immediately reminded me that I’d left my walker on the passenger seat of my old Crown Victoria, which had been towed away.  The pain  remarked, in the overly familiar tone of a permanent guest, that the motel hallway had certainly grown longer overnight.  I ignored it hatefully and leaned heavily into the wallpaper, sliding almost horizontally toward the distant lobby.


The breakfast area was a sea of Anglos:  half of them were attending business meetings, and the rest were families on vacation. I looked around for something to help me through the line and as I grabbed a large luggage rack on wheels, I was pierced with longing: a memory of gliding swiftly through  crowds, able to estimate their size,  take photos, grab phone quotes and spot the outside auditors arrive without missing a beat.

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Then I moved my back the wrong way and cried out as a flash of electricity instantly knocked  me over – I mean way, way over. I was bent completely in half and I couldn’t move.  Everyone just sat and pretended they weren’t looking at me. I looked at the floor because it was all I could see.

“I’ll get to her as soon as I can,” a motel employee said impatiently (and to someone else!) from behind me. Instantly I was resolved not to ask for help.



However, I knew that I would soon fall to the floor, so I rapidly ran through my options. I was fairly sure that if I cried in front of this large group of strangers, I would hurl myself in front of the first rapidly approaching cement truck I could find.
I heard what sounded almost  like a sort of scuffle, and twisted my neck as far as I could.  A man rapidly approached, elbowing  people aside so that he could place a chair under me and – very slowly – help me to sit down.  With the authority of a single gesture, he signaled a passing businessman  to assist him in lifting the chair into an adjourning lounge and getting me onto a couch, Once lying on my side,  the pain soon subsided.



Just shoot me! Oh, never mind, I’ll jump in front of this cement truck.


The man’s name was Ruben, and he was evidently pissed off at the entire breakfast crowd.

(Hey, me too hermano! Over here! I am pissed off too – at everyone. !Mira – aqui!)

?”Usted hablan Espanol?” I asked Ruben. English was not working out for us.

“Si, si!”  he replied enthusiastically and I arranged my brain in preparation.  At least ten or twelve minutes later, however I realized that my brain had bypassed the prep zone and gone, unsupervised, straight to Spanish.


This blew my mind. I’d been speaking Spanish freely and effectively without thinking about it!

Let me tell you, it was like a visit from magic! I shall never forget it. My brain had inexplicably changed in significant, even profound ways, and my world had suddenly become much bigger. Infinitely bigger than if I had suddenly been able to get up and run.




Ruben and I didn’t have a complicated conversation, but it was, by every measure the best kind of conversation because it connected us. He was a Mexican national who had recently taken his time exploring North America’s west coast from Vancouver to San Diego. He said he had seen Mexicans everywhere he went. I told Ruben that I have been studying Pancho Villa and E. Zapata. Some of Villa’s generals were actually Americans – these were by far the most moronic scoundrels in the conflict. ( No, I didn’t say “by far the most moronic scoundrels” in Spanish.)

Villa himself, of course, had the heart of a lion.







When I mentioned the EZLN and “Commandante Marcos”, Ruben gave me a huge smile and a small victory sign. I told him that for 15 years my life’s biggest dream has been to join the Zapatista struggle in some way. Ruben said they are a role model for every resistence struggle in the world. He thought the right-wing coup in Brazil should be a global priority right now, because it represents a huge threat to all of Latin America. Looming right behind that is, of course,  the relentless aggression of the United States.


Zapatista Youth and Women in La Realidad


Hugo Chavez


We ended by vowing that Hugo Chavez will live forever and  the Bolivarian Movement will triumph. The very last thing I told Ruben was that although I was born in New York City, Mexico is the country of my heart. Ruben didn’t roll his eyes. (Thank-you, lord ) Instead he called me a sister of Mexico before disappearing around the corner.


Southern New Mexico Desert / CLAIRE O’BRIEN 2014



That afternoon, I drove north through the bright desert. To the west, eight or ten coyote loped  along at easy pace, out well before sunset and close to the flatland farms they know to be dangerous. They were looking for water.

What I knew had been lost to me:  I didn’t believe it anymore. But Spanish had returned it to me that morning  (or at least pointed the way) because Spanish holds memory forever. It infuses the past into the present until collective memory crackles in the air. As itself a living thing, Spanish recognizes you.

You have to know the way / Claire O'Brien 2012

Claire O’Brien 2012


I was more than halfway home. Although the day remained shining yellow and blue, the earliest signs of  evening had  begun to appear in the western sky – so subtle as to be nearly invisible. By now, Ruben was zipping through West Texas,  heading southeast to San Antonio, where he planned to cross the border at Laredo Nuevo

If only one comrade can hear you, all  can hear you.

Some families are lost to their daughters forever, and some are not. Somewhere, the people are waiting intently for snow.

The last and smallest of the yellow flowers are blooming now in the New Mexico desert,

Still, even in loneliness, no heart beats alone.



Sleeping Indian, Caballo Mountains, Sierra County


!JaJaJaJaJa! (Ha, ha, ha!)   That is the sound of my remembered laughter. No matter what anyone says, it is also the sound of Sandinistas laughing from far away.





Was it magic? Well, my Spanish adventure hasn’t happened again – not like that, not that way.  For the most part, except for the common exchanges of daily life, and a political vocabulary known to all, my road to Spanish  remains a careful and deliberate, albeit always generous one.

But hey! Don’t you know that God sends Spanish just in time?





These are meant for readers interested in further clarification, and supplement the numbered statements above.  

111. Media and popular support for my refusal to identify a confidential source evaporated in the face of my conviction for contempt of court. Without my knowledge, First Amendment stars such as Harvey Silverglate and Lucy Dalglish joined corporate media lawyers in a behind-the-scenes effort to force my testimony. This is in and of itself a basis for disbarring all attorney on both sides.

2 Worse, the coverup was itself a series of flagrant federal civil rights law violations that propelled  already alarming evidence of entrenched press/corporate corruption into a much more chilling sphere.  It revealed that non-profit public policy giants such as the ACLU have a real disregard for both the First Amendment and sections of federal civil rights law. It’s a disregard as genuine as that displayed by the most recalcitrant corporate offenders.



If there were comrades: a political critique of the Left



Our political convictions have endured because we have seen the same oppressive dynamics played out over and over and over again. Every gain we have ever made has been based on strategies developed from the  predictability of repression. Defending those gains would be impossible if we were surprised by each new form of the same, historic, relentless attack. We don’t have to figure out and agree on what to do each time. We have learned to anticipate, predict, and sometimes even prevent such attacks.
That is how the true Left tradition developed, and why certain standards prevail.

We do not have to like or even know someone to understand that when he is attacked in specific ways, in  specific political contexts, we must immediately respond as if we are all being attacked – because we are. Any one of us could be next.



If we have privilege, we are obliged to use it to protect those who do not, even if this means we risk, and then lose it – because we know we aren’t supposed to have it in the first place.
The first responsibility we have when such a person is  isolated and attacked as an individual is to reject the focus on her personal flaws as irrelevant and divisive. But when that focus  draws upon the power of a widespread social bias, such as that which so burdens those with race, ethnic, class, gender, and  disability labels, our condemnation of it should be particularly sharp and immediate.
The standard is simple:  if a pattern of treatment deviating from the documented norm is established, then usually discrimination is established. Supporters and their social milieu wind up as enablers and even facilitators of this discrimination if they hold the targeted person to a higher standard of proof,  remain doubtful in the face of evidence that would otherwise persuade them,  hesitate to respond to critical developments and incidents that would otherwise alert them to action,  and reject the person’s  analysis of the case in the face of a proven expertise to which they would otherwise have bowed.
Not taking the targeted person seriously, deciding that the treatment  received must have been warranted by their own behavior, and accepting for them results that “comrades” would not for a moment accept for themselves or for most others – this is the second class citizenship produced by true discrimination. No matter how unjust it would be for people like themselves, it’s to be expected for those whose reach for full human rights exceeds what the world is willing to grant them.
There cannot and will not be any viable resistence to the approaching whirlwind of global aggression if the present version of the western Left does not once and for all commit itself wholeheartedly to rooting out the oppressive dynamics it has appropriated for its own  indefensible gains.
That’s what the elite wants us to do. Keep it up and you, too will learn what it is to be picked off like fish in a proverbial barrel.
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 Good luck with that.

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Both corporate media interests and the ACLU have welcomed this recently released photo of journalist Claire O’Brien at age three, as vindication of their campaign to oust O’Brien from the industry. O’Brien (front row , far L) is pictured with a small cell of communist spies, including her parents, operating out of a rural base in western Massachusetts. (Her father is not shown here)



My siblings and I began belting out our favorite Commie song when we were six  or so. I felt very sophisticated about Harry as I  turned eight, for by then I understood that the song was something of an inside joke – and I was able to sort of  get  the joke on its most elementary level. As well, my brothers and I were  big hams, and the roars of  laughter and applause that greeted our renditions of Harry would have kept us singing all night if we had not  been ordered to bed at what we considered to be an outrageously early hour.


Harry Pollitt was a workman, one of Lenin’s lads

But he was fouly murdered by those counter-revolutionary cads.

So Harry went to heaven, he reached the Gates with ease,

Said, “May I talk with Comrade God?  I’m Harry Pollitt please.”

“Who are you‘?  said Saint Peter, “Are you humble and contrite?”

“I’m a friend of Lady Astors.”   “Well, OK. that’s quite alright. “


and his wife Nadezhda, Kashino, Russia, 14 November 1920. Artist: Anon

Lenin (center), some of his lads, and his wife Nadezhda, Kashino, Russia, 14 November 1920. Artist: Anon


They put Harry in the choir, but the hymns he did not like

So he organized the angels and he led them out on strike

One day when God was walking round heaven to meditate,

Who should he see but Harry chalking slogans on the gate?



May Day, 1922


They brought him up for trial before the Holy Ghost

For spreading disaffection amongst the heavenly host.

The verdict it was guilty, Harry said “Oh, well’

He tucked his nightie round his knees and he drifted down to Hell




Seven long years have passed, Harry’s doing swell:

They just made him First People’s Commissar of Soviet Hell.


Bread and Roses


Well the moral of this story is an easy one to tell:

If you want to be a Bolshevik, you’ll have to go to Hell

You’ll have to go to Hell, you’ll have to go to Hell!

If you want to be a Bolshevik,  you’ll have to go to Hell.


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Woolen Mill, Ware, Massachusetts /Google Images


My father painted the entire chimney of this woolen mill – all by himself



This world that’s owned by parasites is ours and ours  alone

It is ours, not to slave in, but to master and to own.

In our hands we hold a power greater than their  hoarded gold.

We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old.

_From Solidarity Forever_

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The Eric Gill Community

Tracking Truth: a final report to the fan club’s membership from its national president




I was a lot smarter before I was recruited by the American Chapter of Truth’s International Fan Club. Until then, I like to think I did my share of big thinking. Well, not BIG thinking, but certainly nuanced, certainly multi-dimensional, characterized by a superior plasticity capable of applied abstraction,  theoretical awe, and the synthesis of five or six simultaneous subtexts with their oppositional intersections.


Things got more complicated (but not more complex) and more simplistic following my election by acclamation to the club’s presidency two years ago. Now, when it comes to Truth, I spend most of my time on the intellectual equivalent of a middle school playground.   Over and over, I tell the same simple story of an outrageous bluff pulled off by a powerful media elite for the specific purpose of permanently discrediting me. Over and over I point out the swift efficiency with which a handful of people achieved immediate and unquestioned national media compliance. Over and over I explain that this shows an already entrenched and systemic corruption far worse than the  American public imagines.
 I’m neither believed nor told why. The narrative itself bores me to the brink of shutting down my brain, while remaining inexplicably exhausting. At times I can actually feel my brain shrink as I brace myself to repeat a basic point to someone who already understands it perfectly.
Yet I’m back again every time the recess bell rings


Some say that I’ve developed into one of those obsessed fans, the kind whose loyalty and dedication devolves into a variation of obstructive stalking that all celebrities dread.
 Although my time on the playground may have produced a certain degree of myopia in my perception, I don’t see it, myself.


The fact is, I haven’t stalked Truth so much as tried to keep track of it. Frankly, I’d had no idea that it was so absent-minded, nor so anonymous and scruffy: I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Truth wandered off unnoticed someday and forgot to return. I’ll admit that I do tend to hover a bit; however, I strongly deny all rumors of that electronic tracking device trending on Twitter last month.



 My critics, like most people, are completely unaware of the responsibilities of a national fan club president. Lord knows the job is a thankless task: just ask the presidents of the Ayn Rand, Vanilla Ice, and Door to Door Encyclopedia Salesmen fan clubs.

2014 National Convention of the American Chapter of Truth’s International Fan Club

 For example, at our club’s last national convention, I had to break up fist fights over jazz fusion, the gold standard, and the Chicago Cubs, then kick out the usual spies from the ACLU, and ban as frivolous the introduction of a resolution that “Truth is beauty, beauty truth, etc”.
On top of that, I spent half the convention dealing with the Christian delegates alone: first, I barred them as a body until they submitted a group statement admitting Christianity’s historic proximity to, and familiarity with, Islāmic doctrine and culture – dating from the latter’s earliest emergence 600 years after that of Christianity’s.
I also suspended the club’s Protestant fundamentalists until they could describe the Reformation’s role in 19th century American radical abolitionism.

The great abolitionist and international hero John Brown. Now THERE’s a Protestant!

 By this time, all the anarchists, hip-hop artists, Palestinian children, Mississippi River tug boat crews and insane poets had left the building. As I watched them leave from an upper window, my heart filled with love, and then sank. I was left to deal, ungraciously, with a squabble between several prominent physicists and a group of Staten Island ninth graders.
The teenagers’ claim to have located the planet Krypton within a parallel universe met with vehement opposition by the scientists, who insisted that Krypton is actually located in our own galaxy.
I’m just saying.
Anyway, I didn’t want Truth to lose its morale, which is why the paparazzi caught me trying to poke a housewarming gift of homemade brownies through Truth’s living room window recently. I was only trying to cheer it up.
Instead, Truth served me with another restraining order. Just my luck – only two months after the last one expired. I mean, jeesh! Who knew that climbing seven little stories would get people so worked up?

The work of a fan club president never ends.




As I told the nice firemen, I thought all those people were pointing upward because that weapon of mass destruction disguised as a kite was floating by – you know, the one smuggled in by the seven-year-old Guatemalan twins picked up by the Border Patrol recently.

More sensible neighbors climbed out of their windows to join me in a delicious snack of brownies

“Thank God the CIA told the New York Times not to fall for the kids’ ridiculous claim to be “looking for Mommy,” said the fire captain with feeling.”Every time I send my people into a burning building, I remember that a free press is worth defending.”

I saw that he had tears in his eyes and looked around somewhat desperately for Truth. It met my eyes through the thick window glass and shrugged hopelessly.
 Then Truth closed the curtains.
But not before taking a big bite of one of my brownies.

My last glimpse of Truth on the balcony



Ma’at, Egyptian goddess of Truth

You know, frankly, I think Truth tends to over-react. The respective presidents of the Justice, Wisdom, and Beauty fan clubs all say it should appreciate a fan club president like me.
“You won’t catch us baking brownies for the old goats,” they said.
“Are you calling Justice an old goat?” I gasped.
“I am,” replied the Justice Fan Cub president, a nice man named Fred.  “In fact, that was my campaign slogan: ‘Justice is an old goat’ “.


I stared at Fred as he told me that his club had done a lot of housecleaning.
“The first thing we did was kick out all the nonprofits who work for justice. We banned Progressives who couldn’t define that political identity with more precision, the Peace Corps, and any group that published photos of villagers gathered around drinking wells it had funded” he said.”That was a good start. Then we elected a big slate of new officers: fast food workers, Honduran children, prostitutes, Zapatistas,  mental patients, West Virginia coal miners, junkies, teenage gangsters, convicts and welfare mothers. Things have really been looking up for us ever since.”
A new member of the Justice Fan Club’s steering committee, representing Delaware.
 West Virginia’s coal miners survived by laboring to destroy both the mountains they love (see below) and their own bodies. Now used up by the coal companies just like other commodities, they are left to die of Black Lung Disease, with no income and no possibility of employment, surrounded by the corpses of mountains that provided generations with abundant game, fish, medicinal plants, and firewood.
 This is the result of Mountain Top Removal Mining, which literally removes the tops of mountains, gutting the interior and making recovery impossible.
A former coal miner from the town of Appalachia, West Virginia, is the new national treasurer of the Justice Fan Club. He is planning a class action suit against the Empire Coal Company and has organized a fiddle manufacturing collective.
As Fred and I wound up our conversation, I had an idea.
Hmm. Maybe –
Fred read my mind.
“You know, I think you’ve been barking up the wrong tree,” he said kindly, as he handed me a business card.”Why don’t you check these people out? Truth and Justice can kill people like you.”
The card Fred gave me was deep blue with small gold lettering and a graphic depicting the earth revolving around the sun.
“International Fans of Verifiable Facts” I read.”Access to existing legal systems is good enough for us”
Below it, bold italics proclaimed “Personal opinions not sought. Excessive and  redundant proof not provided. Discriminatory screening standards not  accommodated. Agreements re. political support constitute an obligation to honor them.”
I’m going to my first meeting next week.
Fred made me promise not to run for president.
My last official act as president of the American chapter of Truth’s International Fan
Club was to send Truth on vacation to a distant, peaceful beach.
I got an email just yesterday.
“Having a nice time” Truth wrote, “I needed a rest. Sort of miss you.
Almost wish you were here.”
Same here, old pal.

The Tryanny of Silence: Civility as Repression



Censorship isn’t nice.

Silence isn’t silent. It isn’t good manners. It’s a public statement and a cowardly political act.


C H O O S E   N O T  T O  C E N S O R




C  E  N  S  O  R  S  H  I  P     D  E  S  T  R  O Y S


There’s no difference between:

a) Spreading a narrative of lies in the service of  Power, aimed at destroying a voice and a life accountable to to 30,000 poor people


b) Remaining silent in the face of those lies.

There’s no difference.



American Slaughterhouse/Death in Dodge City:

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Angela Grant says:

Claire this is powerful….Time to organize for action???? This is getting ridiculous and no ‘traditional’ news coverage so it did not happen… we live in a sick country controlled by criminals with affluenza.

This country is picking off minorities while everyone is distracted.



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  • Angela, I’ve explained to numerous people for three years what it means to EVERYONE when a reporter is discredited. But as long as this continues to be personalized into my individual problem, the voices I once used to shine a light are as silenced as I am.
    Thanks for writing. 54 people read this – silently



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Q.What makes the ACLU laugh? A. Your rights


The Neoliberal Non-Profit Hymn


We stand strong for human rights

                                          Just look us up online.
                                        Wherever freedom’s trampled

                                          We take freedom’s side.


But we can’t stand for human rights

 in every whacko’s name.

Justice can’t be handed out

to all who make a claim.

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                                  We’re the ones who know what’s best.
                                       we take the longer view:
                                How long would freedom last for us
                                      in the hands of bums like you?
                                         By Claire O’Brien 2014
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“What force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one?”

from  Solidarity Forever






“Let’s see..there’s three gates to the north, three gates to the south….” / Claire O’Brien 2013


 Oh, what a beautiful City! Oh, what a beautiful City!

Oh, what a beautiful City! Twelve gates to the City, Halleluia!


12,000 Hits Later, O’Brien (see above subtle symbolism) Mulls and Plans her Comeback

 I’ve decided to combine my 12,000 Hit Celebration with some cards I’ve shared with only two or three people. I received them four years ago in 2010,  when I was a print reporter for the Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kansas, during a State Supreme Court First Amendment case and murder trial. I’m sharing only those cards that were not confidentially sent – most of the Latino community feared, with good cause, reprisal for supporting me.



From a source


I was defamed by an unholy alliance of corporate media, neoliberal First Amendment groups, most particularly the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press (Director LUCY DAGLISH), and the state. Newer readers who are interested in what happened would honor me by reading Jeff Nyguyen’s post in his impressive blog, Deconstructing Myths.

I’ll also list my own selections from this blog’s archives at the end of this post.


From Dennis and Mary Lou Doris

ΔΦΔ ________ Δ _________ ΔΦΔ

I haven’t shared these cards for a number of reasons. First of all, I have been very publically and shamelessly called a liar by some powerful people. Thus, I have kept these expressions of community support close to my heart: I wasn’t willing to submit them to the disrespectful and ruthless public scrutiny that had destroyed my best professional and personal efforts.

These days, though, I’m thinking that I want to share more than my anger about what it means to be defamed. Defamation is a  word that makes it sound as if mean-spirited gossip has hurt one’s feelings. But that’s not what it is. Real defamation WORKS: it gathers momentum, as it’s intended to, until people believe it. And if they don’t believe it, they believe something is/was unsavory and/or not quite right about you. In the end, to really defame someone, you have to get at the heart of their character in some fundamental way: you can’t portray them as truthful in every other aspect of their life – and yet a huge liar re. one nationally -known, professionally pivotal incident.  Since they are telling the truth, you have to discredit their essential personhood in order to ensure that they will remain permanently discredited.


There’s three gates to the north, three gates to the south,

Three gates to the east, three gates to the west.

In all, there’s twelve gates to the city, halleluia!



Δ ________________ Δ



 ____________________  …

I don’t know if it’s considered unprofessional to publish cards of support. After four years of struggle, I think I’ve worried too much about those kinds of standards – I think they may be a kind of trap. I decided that I should document more than what was done to me, more than my political and professional anger about it. I decided that I could also document what it really feels like to be a truthful reporter who has really been defamed. Maybe people don’t have a clear sense of what that means; if so, that’s something I can contribute.

___<> ___<> __ <> ___







When I get there, I’m gonna sing and shout.

Ain’t nobody gonna put me out.

Oh what a beautiful city!

Oh. what a beautiful city, Halleluia!

Traditional Spiritual


Special note: what I get when I now attempt to reach University of Maryland attorney Laura Anderson, with whom I had been in touch re. my legal complaints about above-named Lucy Dalglish

The following message to <landerso@mail.umd.edu> was undeliverable.
The reason for the problem:
5.3.0 –  Sender denied

I would really appreciate emails sent to this corporate lawyer supporting my right to acknowledgement and redress. Thanks very much.