Against the Logic of the Guillotine: Why the Paris Commune Burned the Guillotine—and We Should Too

 Against the Logic of the Guillotine: Why the Paris Commune Burned the Guillotine—and We Should Too

(libcom.org)

Crimethinc examine the history behind the guillotine, its current popularity as a left symbol, and try to suggest a vision of liberation not based around revenge fantasies.

148 years ago this week, on April 6, 1871, armed participants in the revolutionary Paris Commune seized the guillotine that was stored near the prison in Paris. They brought it to the foot of the statue of Voltaire, where they smashed it into pieces and burned it in a bonfire, to the applause of an immense crowd.1

This was a popular action arising from the grassroots, not a spectacle coordinated by politicians. At the time, the Commune controlled Paris, which was still inhabited by people of all classes; the French and Prussian armies surrounded the city and were preparing to invade it in order to impose the conservative Republican government of Adolphe Thiers. In these conditions, burning the guillotine was a brave gesture repudiating the Reign of Terror and the idea that positive social change can be achieved by slaughtering people.

What?” you say, in shock, “The Communards burned the guillotine? Why on earth would they do that? I thought the guillotine was a symbol of liberation!”

Why indeed? If the guillotine is not a symbol of liberation, then why has it become such a standard motif for the radical left over the past few years? Why is the internet replete with guillotine memes? Why does The Coup sing “We got the guillotine, you better run”? The most popular socialist periodical is named Jacobin, after the original proponents of the guillotine. Surely this can’t all be just an ironic sendup of lingering right-wing anxieties about the original French Revolution.

(May Day, Portland, 2017)

The guillotine has come to occupy our collective imagination. In a time when the rifts in our society are widening towards civil war, it represents uncompromising bloody revenge.

Those who take their own powerlessness for granted assume that they can promote gruesome revenge fantasies without consequences. But if we are serious about changing the world, we owe it to ourselves to make sure that our proposals are not equally gruesome.

A poster in Seattle, Washington. The quotation is from Karl Marx.

Vengeance

It’s not surprising that people want bloody revenge today. Capitalist profiteering is rapidly rendering the planet uninhabitable. US Border Patrol is kidnapping, drugging, and imprisoning children. Individual acts of racist and misogynist violence occur regularly. For many people, daily life is increasingly humiliating and disempowering.

Those who don’t desire revenge because they are not compassionate enough to be outraged about injustice or because they are simply not paying attention deserve no credit for this. There is less virtue in apathy than in the worst excesses of vengefulness.

Do I want to take revenge on the police officers who murder people with impunity, on the billionaires who cash in on exploitation and gentrification, on the bigots who harass and dox people? Yes, of course I do. They have killed people I knew; they are trying to destroy everything I love. When I think about the harm that they are causing, I feel ready to break their bones, to kill them with my bare hands.

But that desire is distinct from my politics. I can want something without having to reverse-engineer a political justification for it. I can want something and choose not to pursue it, if I want something else even more—in this case, an anarchist revolution that is not based in revenge. I don’t judge other people for wanting revenge, especially if they have been through worse than I have. But I also don’t confuse that desire with a proposal for liberation.

If the sort of bloodlust I describe scares you, or if it simply seems unseemly, then you absolutely have no business joking about other people carrying out industrialized murder on your behalf.

For this is what distinguishes the fantasy of the guillotine: it is all about efficiency and distance. Those who fetishize the guillotine don’t want to kill people with their bare hands; they aren’t prepared to rend anyone’s flesh with their teeth. They want their revenge automated and carried out for them. They are like the consumers who blithely eat Chicken McNuggets but could never personally butcher a cow or cut down a rainforest. They prefer for bloodshed to take place in an orderly manner, with all the paperwork filled out properly, according to the example set by the Jacobins and the Bolsheviks in imitation of the impersonal functioning of the capitalist state.

And one more thing: they don’t want to have to take responsibility for it. They prefer to express their fantasy ironically, retaining plausible deniability. Yet anyone who has ever participated actively in social upheaval knows how narrow the line can be between fantasy and reality. Let’s look at the “revolutionary” role the guillotine has played in the past.

“But revenge is unworthy of an anarchist! The dawn, our dawn, claims no quarrels, no crimes, no lies; it affirms life, love, knowledge; we work to hasten that day.”

– Kurt Gustav Wilckens—anarchist, pacifist, and assassin of Colonel Héctor Varela, the Argentine official who had overseen the slaughter of approximately 1500 striking workers in Patagonia.

A Very Brief History of the Guillotine

The guillotine is associated with radical politics because it was used in the original French Revolution to behead monarch Louis XVI on January 21, 1793, several months after his arrest. But once you open the Pandora’s box of exterminatory force, it’s difficult to close it again.

Having gotten started using the guillotine as an instrument of social change, Maximilien de Robespierre, sometime President of the Jacobin Club, continued employing it to consolidate power for his faction of the Republican government. As is customary for demagogues, Robespierre, Georges Danton, and other radicals availed themselves of the assistance of the sans-culottes, the angry poor, to oust the more moderate faction, the Girondists, in June 1793. (The Girondists, too, were Jacobins; if you love a Jacobin, the best thing you can do for him is to prevent his party from coming to power, since he is certain to be next up against the wall after you.) After guillotining the Girondists en masse, Robespierre set about consolidating power at the expense of Danton, the sans-culottes, and everyone else.

“The revolutionary government has nothing in common with anarchy. On the contrary, its goal is to suppress it in order to ensure and solidify the reign of law.”

-Maximilien Robespierre, distinguishing his autocratic government from the more radical grassroots movements that helped to create the French Revolution.2

By early 1794, Robespierre and his allies had sent a great number of people at least as radical as themselves to the guillotine, including Anaxagoras Chaumette and the so-called Enragés, Jacques Hébert and the so-called Hébertists, proto-feminist and abolitionist Olympe de Gouges, Camille Desmoulins (who had had the gall to suggest to his childhood friend Robespierre that “love is stronger and more lasting than fear”)—and Desmoulins’s wife, for good measure, despite her sister having been Robespierre’s fiancée. They also arranged for the guillotining of Georges Danton and Danton’s supporters, alongside various other former allies. To celebrate all this bloodletting, Robespierre organized the Festival of the Supreme Being, a mandatory public ceremony inaugurating an invented state religion.3

After this, it was only a month and a half before Robespierre himself was guillotined, having exterminated too many of those who might have fought beside him against the counterrevolution. This set the stage for a period of reaction that culminated with Napoleon Bonaparte seizing power and crowning himself Emperor. According to the French Republican Calendar (an innovation that did not catch on, but was briefly reintroduced during the Paris Commune), Robespierre’s execution took place during the month of Thermidor. Consequently, the name Thermidor is forever associated with the onset of the counterrevolution.

“Robespierre killed the Revolution in three blows: the execution of Hébert, the execution of Danton, the Cult of the Supreme Being… The victory of Robespierre, far from saving it, would have meant only a more profound and irreparable fall.”

Louis-Auguste Blanqui, himself hardly an opponent of authoritarian violence.

But it is a mistake to focus on Robespierre. Robespierre himself was not a superhuman tyrant. At best, he was a zealous apparatchik who filled a role that countless revolutionaries were vying for, a role that another person would have played if he had not. The issue was systemic—the competition for centralized dictatorial power—not a matter of individual wrongdoing.

The tragedy of 1793-1795 confirms that whatever tool you use to bring about a revolution will surely be used against you. But the problem is not just the tool, it’s the logic behind it. Rather than demonizing Robespierre—or Lenin, Stalin, or Pol Pot—we have to examine the logic of the guillotine.

To a certain extent, we can understand why Robespierre and his contemporaries ended up relying on mass murder as a political tool. They were threatened by foreign military invasion, internal conspiracies, and counterrevolutionary uprisings; they were making decisions in an extremely high-stress environment. But if it is possible to understand how they came to embrace the guillotine, it is impossible to argue that all the killings were necessary to secure their position. Their own executions refute that argument eloquently enough.

Likewise, it is wrong to imagine that the guillotine was employed chiefly against the ruling class, even at the height of Jacobin rule. Being consummate bureaucrats, the Jacobins kept detailed records. Between June 1793 and the end of July 1794, 16,594 people were officially sentenced to death in France, including 2639 people in Paris. Of the formal death sentences passed under the Terror, only 8 percent were doled out to aristocrats and 6 percent to members of the clergy; the rest were divided between the middle class and the poor, with the vast majority of the victims coming from the lower classes.

The story that played out in the first French revolution was not a fluke. Half a century later, the French Revolution of 1848 followed a similar trajectory. In February, a revolution led by angry poor people gave Republican politicians state power; in June, when life under the new government turned out to be little better than life under the king, the people of Paris revolted once again and the politicians ordered the army to massacre them in the name of the revolution. This set the stage for the nephew of the original Napoleon to win the presidential election of December 1848, promising to “restore order.” Three years later, having exiled all the Republican politicians, Napoleon III abolished the Republic and crowned himself Emperor—prompting Marx’s famous quip that history repeats itself, “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

Likewise, after the French revolution of 1870 put Adolphe Thiers in power, he ruthlessly butchered the Paris Commune, but this only paved the way for even more reactionary politicians to supplant him in 1873. In all three of these cases, we see how revolutionaries who are intent on wielding state power must embrace the logic of the guillotine to acquire it, and then, having brutally crushed other revolutionaries in hopes of consolidating control, are inevitably defeated by more reactionary forces.

In the 20th century, Lenin described Robespierre as a Bolshevik avant la lettre, affirming the Terror as an antecedent of the Bolshevik project. He was not the only person to draw that comparison.

“We’ll be our own Thermidor,” Bolshevik apologist Victor Serge recalls Lenin proclaiming as he prepared to butcher the rebels of Kronstadt. In other words, having crushed the anarchists and everyone else to the left of them, the Bolsheviks would survive the reaction by becoming the counterrevolution themselves. They had already reintroduced fixed hierarchies into the Red Army in order to recruit former Tsarist officers to join it; alongside their victory over the insurgents in Kronstadt, they reintroduced the free market and capitalism, albeit under state control. Eventually Stalin assumed the position once occupied by Napoleon.

So the guillotine is not an instrument of liberation. This was already clear in 1795, well over a century before the Bolsheviks initiated their own Terror, nearly two centuries before the Khmer Rouge exterminated almost a quarter of the population of Cambodia.

Why, then, has the guillotine come back into fashion as a symbol of resistance to tyranny? The answer to this will tell us something the psychology of our time.

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Buy Them Up!: Why We Must Nationalize the Banks

JULY 25, 2021

BY SCOTT REMER (counterpunch.org)

Image by Jack Cohen.

As we struggle to emerge from the COVID pandemic, it’s hard to imagine fending off our economic malaise without addressing the elephant in the room: Wall Street. The 2008 financial crisis destroyed 40% of the world’s wealth in less than a year. Almost no one has gone to prison for the white-collar crime Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs perpetrated. Wall Street apologists have spent thousands of hours on talk shows and millions of dollars in courts downplaying their behavior – but the banks crashed our economy, and they will do so again as long as they remain underregulated. Though it’s been over a decade, American political and economic life won’t be put on a solid footing until we achieve closure by redressing Wall Street’s 2008 offenses. The safest thing for our economic future is nationalizing the banking industry.

Scott Remer has published in venues such as In These Times, Africa Is a Country, Common Dreams, OpenDemocracy, Philosophy Now, Philosophical Salon, and International Affairs.

Replace Fed Chair Powell

JULY 28, 2021
By Robert Kuttner (The American Prospect)
Replace Fed Chair Powell
Jerome Powell has resisted pressures to tighten money, on the correct grounds that the uptick in reported inflation is the transitory result of supply bottlenecks as the economy reopens. Powell has lately given himself a little more wiggle room in the unlikely event that inflation worsens.

The Fed ends a two-day policy meeting today. My sources say that any policy shading will be mainly about starting to pull back on bond purchases, but not on raising rates anytime soon.

As a former Wall Street guy who was appointed Fed chair by Trump, Powell is presumably a liberal Democrat’s dream—a loose-money Republican.

Powell’s term as chair expires in February 2022. He’d like to keep his job, and there is a Reappoint Powell lobby that stretches from Wall Street to some progressives focused on cheap money, like Dean Baker.

As I wrote in a column yesterday, reappointing Powell would be a big mistake. He is great on monetary policy but terrible on everything else the Fed does, namely financial regulation and supervision, weakening Dodd-Frank, economic concentration, and climate issues. The Democratic alternative as chair, Fed governor Lael Brainard, is at least as good as Powell on monetary policy and much better on everything else.

The premise of Democrats for Powell is that he gives Biden’s policy of tax, borrow, and invest “cover” with Republicans. But think harder: Reappointing Powell provides no carryover benefit. (Query: Which Republican will say, “Good old Joe Biden reappointed Powell. I guess I’ll vote for infrastructure after all.”?)

Nor does Biden need any cover on monetary policy. Wall Street and corporate America all want cheap money.

Another premise of the Powell bandwagon is that Powell would be easily confirmed. But so would Lael Brainard, who was a centrist Democrat in the Obama Treasury, and since being named to the Fed in 2014 has evolved (like Biden) into more of a progressive.

One other clincher: If Biden reappoints Powell, a majority of Fed governors will be Wall Street conservatives. But if Powell doesn’t stay chair, he likely quits the Fed. So does Randy Quarles, the truly awful Fed vice chair for supervision. Two other seats are already open or will soon be. By dumping Powell, Biden thus gets four nominees. So the Fed goes from the current 4-to-1 pro-corporate, to 5-2 progressive.

Despite a spate of coordinated leaks that Powell’s reappointment is a done deal, it isn’t.

SF Still Determined to Buy Local PG&E Grid, Demands an Appraisal

27 JULY 2021/SF NEWS/JOE KUKURA (SFist.com)

PG&E rebuffed SF’s $2.5 billion offer for the city’s grid in 2019, but now the city is power-playing for an appraisal and gaming to force the utility to sell.

With the exception of the constant factor that PG&E starts wildfires every summer, plenty has changed since San Francisco tried to buy PG&E’s grid and power lines within city limits back in 2019 for $2.5 billion. Most notably, coronavirus came along. But the anticipated decimation of the city’s budget was neatly avoided thanks to Biden bailout bucks, so San Francisco can once again afford to make sizable investments in clean energy. PG&E, for their part, are no longer in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, so their backs are perhaps less against the wall.

But the city is still determined to buy the grid, and forcing PG&E’s hand at it. The Chronicle reports San Francisco just petitioned the California Public Utilities Commission to appraise what a fair price would be for every pole, wire, line, and other piece of equipment PG&E owns, so the city can promptly buy it and operate it as their own. If $2.5 billion was too low, the city says, let’s have an independent body determine the fair price.

“PG&E’s ongoing problems with providing safe and reliable gas and electric service throughout its service territory are well-known,” says the petition from city attorney and soon-to-be SFPUC manager Dennis Herrera, also signed by the mayor and listing many other city officials as parties. “The Commission has acknowledged that PG&E’s recent history of safety performance ‘has ranged from dismal to abysmal.’ While San Francisco has not experienced the devastation associated with catastrophic wildfires and other disasters caused by PG&E, over the years PG&E’s difficulty in maintaining a safe and reliable system has caused multiple incidents resulting in injuries and property damage within the City.”

The petition is to the CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission), but San Francisco also has an SFPUC (San Francisco Public Utilities Commission) that keeps having to shell out unexpected taxpayer dollars for what they call “mother-may-I” charges from the utility. The SFPUC’s assistant general manager Barbara Hale cited a recent $1 billion charge where “PG&E is making us invest a tremendous amount of money just to continue to have the streetlights connected to their grid.” And you have to take into account that PG&E has historically failed to rein in extravagant executive spending.

Image: SFCityAttorney.org

It’s hard to find a good guy to root for in a fight between PG&E and City Hall, and don’t worry, you don’t need to pick a side anytime soon. As seen above in the timeline petitioner’s request, they will be haggling over this decision for months, and the CPUC is not asked to really provide a definitive dollar valuation for another 480 days. So we’re talking mid-November 2022 here, at which point theoretically another set of negotiations occurs between the city and PG&E.

So if fighting climate change is a goal here, frankly, god knows what condition the planet will be in by the time this gets resolved.

Related: PG&E Finally Has Plans to Put Electrical Lines Underground In Fire-Prone Areas [SFist]

Image: CBRE

Read drone whistleblower Daniel Hale’s riveting letter to judge describing why he ‘came to violate the espionage act’

photo from standwithdanielhale.org

KEVIN GOSZTOLA · JULY 27, 2021 (thegrayzone.com)

“The truest truism that I’ve come to understand about the nature of war is that war is trauma,” Daniel Hale wrote.

This article was originally published at The Dissenter. Subscribe here.


As the President Joe Biden winds down United States military involvement in Afghanistan, a conflict spanning nearly 20 years, the U.S. Justice Department seeks the harshest sentence ever for the unauthorized disclosure of information in a case against an Afghanistan War veteran.

Daniel Hale, who “accepted responsibility” for violating the Espionage Act, responded to the spitefulness of prosecutors by submitting a letter [PDF] to Judge Liam O’Grady, a judge for the district court in the Eastern District of Virginia. It could be construed as a plea for mercy from the court ahead of sentencing, but more than anything, it outlines a defense of his actions that the U.S. government and a U.S. court would never have allowed him to present before a jury.

In the letter filed in court on July 22, Hale addresses his constant struggle with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He recalls U.S. drone strikes from his deployment to Afghanistan. He grapples with his return home from the war in Afghanistan and the decisions he had to make to move on with his life. He needed money for college, and ultimately took a job with a defense contractor, which led him to work for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

“Left to decide whether to act,” Hale declares, “I only could do that which I ought to do before God and my own conscience. The answer came to me, that to stop the cycle of violence, I ought to sacrifice my own life and not that of another person.” So, he contacted a reporter who he had communicated with before.

Hale is due to be sentenced on July 27. He was part of the drone program in the U.S. Air Force and later worked at the NGA. He pled guilty on March 31 to one charge of violating the Espionage Act, when he provided documents to Intercept co-founder Jeremy Scahill and anonymously wrote a chapter in Scahill’s book, The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program

He was taken into custody and sent to the William G. Truesdale Detention Center in Alexandria, Virginia, on April 28. A therapist from pretrial and probation services named Michael violated patient confidentiality and shared details with the court related to his mental health.

The public heard from Hale in Sonia Kennebeck’s National Bird documentary, which was released in 2016. A feature published in New York Magazine by Kerry Howley quoted Hale and told much of his story. Yet this is the first opportunity the press and public has had since he was arrested and jailed to read Hale’s unfiltered views on the choice he made to expose the true nature of drone warfare.

*Below is a transcript that was slightly edited for readability, however, none of the content has been altered in any manner, shape, or form.

First page from Daniel Hale’s letter to the court. Read the full letter here

TRANSCRIPT

Dear Judge O’Grady:

It is not a secret that I struggle to live with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Both stem from my childhood experience growing up in a rural mountain community and were compounded by exposure to combat during military services. Depression is a constant. Though stress, particularly stress caused by war, can manifest itself at different times and in different ways. The tall-tale signs of a person afflicted by PTSD and depression can often be outwardly observed and are practically universally recognizable. Hard lines about the face and jaw. Eyes, once bright and wide, now deepest and fearful. And an inexplicably sudden loss of interest in things that used to spark joy.

These are the noticeable changes in my demeanor marked by those who knew me before and after military service. [That] the period of my life spent serving in the United States Air Force had an impression on me would be an understatement. It is more accurate to say that it irreversibly transformed my identity as an American. Having forever altered the thread of my life’s story, weaved into the fabric of our nation’s history. To better appreciate the significance of how this came to pass, I would like to explain my experience deployed to Afghanistan as it was in 2012 and how it is I came to violate the Espionage Act, as a result.

In my capacity as a signals intelligence analyst stationed at Bagram Airbase, I was made to track down the geographic location of handset cellphone devices believed to be in the possession of so-called enemy combatants. To accomplish this mission required access to a complex chain of globe-spanning satellites capable of maintaining an unbroken connection with remotely piloted aircraft, commonly referred to as drones.

Once a steady connection is made and a targeted cell phone device is acquired, an imagery analyst in the U.S., in coordination with a drone pilot and camera operator, would take over using information I provided to surveil everything that occurred within the drone’s field of vision. This was done most often to document the day-to-day lives of suspected militants. Sometimes, under the right conditions, an attempt at capture would be made. Other times, a decision to strike and kill them where they stood would be weighed.

The first time that I witnessed a drone strike came within days of my arrival to Afghanistan. Early that morning, before dawn, a group of men had gathered together in the mountain ranges of Paktika Province around a campfire carrying weapons and brewing tea. That they carried weapons with them would not have been considered out of the ordinary in the place I grew up, much less within the virtually lawless tribal territories outside the control of the Afghan authorities except that among them was a suspected member of the Taliban, given away by the targeted cell phone device in his pocket. As for the remaining individuals, to be armed, of military age, and sitting in the presence of an alleged enemy combatant was enough evidence to place them under suspicion as well. Despite having peacefully assembled, posing no threat, the fate of the now tea drinking men had all but been fulfilled. I could only look on as I sat by and watched through a computer monitor when a sudden terrifying flurry of Hellfire missiles came crashing down, splattering purple-colored crystal guts on the side of the morning mountain.

Since that time and to this day, I continue to recall several such scenes of graphic violence carried out from the cold comfort of a computer chair. Not a day goes by that I don’t question the justification for my actions. By the rules of engagement, It may have been permissible for me to have helped to kill those men—whose language I did not speak, customs I did not understand, and crimes I could not identify—in the gruesome manner that I did watch them die. But how could it be considered honorable of me to continuously have laid in wait for the next opportunity to kill unsuspecting persons, who more often than not, are posing no danger to me or any other person at the time. Never mind honorable, how could it be that any thinking person continued to believe that it was necessary for the protection of the United States of America to be in Afghanistan and killing people, not one of whom present was responsible for the September 11th attacks on our nation. Notwithstanding, in 2012, a full year after the demise of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, I was a part of killing misguided young men, who were but mere children on the day of 9/11.

Nevertheless, in spite of my better instincts, I continued to follow orders and obey my command for fear of repercussion. Yet, all the while, becoming increasingly aware that the war had very little to do with preventing terror from coming into the United States and a lot more to do with protecting the profits of weapons manufacturers and so-called defense contractors. The evidence of this fact was laid bare all around me. In the longest, most technologically advanced war in American history, contract mercenaries outnumbered uniform wearing soldiers 2-to-1 and earned as much as 10 times their salary. Meanwhile, it did not matter whether it was, as I had seen, an Afghan farmer blown in half, yet miraculously conscious and pointlessly trying to scoop his insides off the ground, or whether it was an American flag-draped coffin lowered into Arlington National Cemetery to the sound of a 21-gun salute. Bang, bang, bang. Both serve to justify the easy flow of capital at the cost of blood—theirs and ours. When I think about this, I am grief-stricken and ashamed of myself of the things that I’ve done to support it.

The most harrowing day of my life came months into my deployment to Afghanistan when a routine surveillance mission turned into disaster. For weeks we had been tracking the movements of a ring of car bomb manufacturers living around Jalalabad. Car bombs directed at U.S. bases had become an increasingly frequent and deadly problem that summer, so much effort was put into stopping them. It was a windy and clouded afternoon when one of the suspects had been discovered headed eastbound, driving at a high rate of speed. This alarmed my superiors who believed he might be attempting to escape across the border into Pakistan.

A drone strike was our only chance and already it began lining up to take the shot. But the less advanced Predator drone found it difficult to see through clouds and compete against strong headwinds. The single payload MQ-1 failed to connect with its target, instead missing by a few meters. The vehicle, damaged but still drivable, continued on ahead after narrowly avoiding destruction. Eventually, once the concern of another incoming missile subsided, the drive stopped, got out of the car, and checked himself as though he could not believe he was still alive. Out of the passenger side came a woman wearing an unmistakeable burka. As astounding as it was to have just learned there had been a woman, possibly his wife, there with the man we intended to kill moments ago, I did not have the chance to see what happened next before the drone diverted its camera when she began frantically to pull out something from the back of the car.

A couple days passed before I finally learned from a briefing by my commanding officer about what took place. There indeed had been the suspect’s wife with him in the car and in the back were their two young daughters, ages 5 and 3 years-old. A cadre of Afghan soldiers were sent to investigate where the car had stopped the following day.

It was there they found them placed in the dumpster nearby. The [older daughter] was found dead due to unspecified wounds caused by shrapnel that pierced her body. Her younger sister was alive but severely dehydrated.

As my commanding officer relayed this information to us, she seemed to express disgust, not for the fact that we had errantly fired on a man and his family, having killed one of his daughters, but for the suspected bomb maker having ordered his wife to dump the bodies of their daughters in the trash so that the two of them could more quickly escape across the border. Now, whenever I encounter an individual who thinks that drone warfare is justified and reliably keeps America safe, I remember that time and ask myself how could I possibly continue to believe that I am a good person, deserving of my life and the right to pursue happiness.

One year later, at a farewell gathering for those of us who would soon be leaving military service, I sat alone, transfixed by the television, while others reminisced together. On television was breaking news of the president [Obama] giving his first public remarks about the policy surrounding the use of drone technology in warfare. His remarks were made to reassure the public of reports scrutinizing the death of civilians in drone strikes and the targeting of American citizens. The president said that a high standard of “near certainty” needed to be met in order to ensure that no civilians were present.

But from what I knew of the instances where civilians plausibly could have been present, those killed were nearly always designated enemies killed in action unless proven otherwise. Nonetheless, I continued to heed his words as the president went on to explain how a drone could be used to eliminate someone who posed an “imminent threat” to the United States.

Using the analogy of taking out a sniper, with his sights set out on an unassuming crowd of people, the president likened the use of drones to prevent a would-be terrorist from carrying out his evil plot. But as I understood it to be, the unassuming crowd had been those who lived in fear and terror of drones in their skies and the sniper in the scenario had been me. I came to believe that the policy of drone assassination was being used to mislead the public that it keep[s] us safe, and when I finally left the military, still processing what I’d been a part of, I began to speak out, believing my participation in the drone program to have been deeply wrong.

I dedicated myself to anti-war activism and was asked to partake in a peace conference in Washington, D.C., late November 2013. People had come together from around the world to share experiences about what it is like living in the age of drones. Faisal bin Ali Jaber had journeyed from Yemen to tell us of what happened to his brother Salim bin Ali Jaber and the their cousin Waleed. Waleed had been a policeman, and Salim was a well-respected firebrand imam, known for giving sermons to young men about the path towards destruction should they choose to take up violent jihad.

One day in August 2012, local members of Al Qaeda traveling through Faisal’s village in a car spotted Salim in the shade, pulled up towards him, and beckoned him to come over and speak to them. Not one to miss an opportunity to evangelize the youth, Salim proceeded cautiously with Waleed by his side. Faisal and other villagers began looking on from afar. Farther still was an ever present Reaper drone looking, too.

As Faisal recounted what happened next, I felt myself transported back in time to where I had been on that day, 2012. Unbeknownst to Faisal and those of his village at the time was that they had not been the only ones watching Salim approach the jihadist in the car. From Afghanistan, I and everyone on duty paused their work to witness the carnage that was about to unfold. At the press of a button from thousands of miles away, two Hellfire missiles screeched out of the sky, followed by two more. Showing no signs of remorse, I and those around me clapped and cheered triumphantly. In the front of a speechless auditorium, Faisal wept.

About a week after the peace conference I received a lucrative job offer if I were to come back to work as a government contractor. I felt uneasy about the idea. Up to that point, my only plan post military separation had been to enroll in college to complete my degree. But the money I could make was by far more than I had ever made before; in fact, it was more than any of my college-educated friends were making. So after giving it careful consideration, I delayed going to school for a semester and took the job.

For a long time, I was uncomfortable with myself over the thought of taking advantage of my military background to land a cushy desk job. During that time, I was still processing what I had been through, and I was starting to wonder if I was contributing again to the problem of money and war by accepting to return as a defense contractor. Worse was my growing apprehension that everyone around me was also taking part in a collective delusion and denial that was used to justify our exorbitant salaries for comparatively easy labor. The thing I feared most at the time was the temptation not to question it.

Then it came to be that one day after work I stuck around to socialize with a pair of co-workers whose talented work I had come to greatly admire. They made me feel welcomed, and I was happy to have earned their approval. But then, to my dismay, our brand new friendship took an unexpectedly dark turn. They elected that we should take a moment and view together some archived footage of past drone strikes. Such bonding ceremonies around a computer to watch so-called “war porn” had not been new to me. I partook in them all the time while deployed to Afghanistan. But on that day, years after the fact, my new friends [gasped] and sneered, just as my old ones had, at the sight of faceless men in the final moments of their lives. I sat by watching too, said nothing, and felt my heart breaking into pieces.

Your Honor, the truest truism that I’ve come to understand about the nature of war is that war is trauma. I believe that any person either called upon or coerced to participate in war against their fellow man is promised to be exposed to some form of trauma. In that way, no soldier blessed to have returned home from war does so uninjured.

The crux of PTSD is that it is a moral conundrum that afflicts invisible wounds on the psyche of a person made to burden the weight of experience after surviving a traumatic event. How PTSD manifests depends on the circumstances of the event. So how is the drone operator to process this? The victorious rifleman, unquestioningly remorseful, at least keeps his honor intact by having faced off against his enemy on the battlefield. The determined fighter pilot has the luxury of not having to witness the gruesome aftermath. But what possibly could I have done to cope with the undeniable cruelties that I perpetuated?

My conscience, once held at bay, came roaring back to life. At first, I tried to ignore it. Wishing instead that someone, better placed than I, should come along to take this cup from me. But this, too, was folly. Left to decide whether to act, I only could do that which I ought to do before God and my own conscience. The answer came to me, that to stop the cycle of violence, I ought to sacrifice my own life and not that of another person.

So I contacted an investigative reporter with whom I had had an established prior relationship and told him that I had something the American people needed to know.

Respectfully,

Daniel Hale

KEVIN GOSZTOLA

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof.com. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, “Unauthorized Disclosure.”

(Contributed by Gwyllm Llwydd)

THOUSANDS JOIN BUDAPEST PRIDE MARCH TO PROTEST ANTI-LGBTQ EDUCATION LAW IN HUNGARY

Issued on: 24/07/2021 – 18:48 (France24.com)

Text by:NEWS WIRES4 min

Thousands of Hungarians joined the annual Budapest Pride march on Saturday to support LGBTQ people and protest against a law that limits teaching about homosexuality and transgender issues in schools.

Hungary‘s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in power since 2010, has introduced social policies that he says aim to safeguard traditional Christian values from Western liberalism, stoking tensions with the European Union.

The European Commission has launched legal action against Orban’s government over the new law, which came into force this month, saying it is discriminatory and contravenes European values of tolerance and individual freedom.

Demonstrators at the march through the streets of central Budapest said the legislation was dividing the former Soviet-bloc nation and now a member of the European Union.

“The law is an outrage. We live in the 21st century, when things like that should not be happening. We are no longer in communist times, this is the EU and everyone should be able to live freely,” Istvan, 27, said at the march with his boyfriend.

Orban‘s Fidesz-Christian Democrat government, which faces a tough election next year, says LGBTQ rights and other such social issues are matters for national governments to decide. It says the law aims to protect children not target homosexuals.

Organisers said in a statement the rally would show opposition to “power-hungry politicians” and reject intimidation of LGBTQ people.

“Instead of protecting minorities, the Fidesz-Christian Democrat government is using laws to make members of the LGBTQ community outcasts in their own country,” they said.

Orban owes some of his electoral success to a tough line on immigration. As that issue has receded from the political agenda, his focus has shifted to gender and sexuality issues.

‘Nothing more than a diversion’

Boglarka Balazs, a 25-year-old economist who joined the rally, said the legislation was a campaign tool. “This is nothing more than a diversion that tries to tear the country apart. It is a provocation because of the elections,” she said.

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A survey last month by the Ipsos polling organisation found that 46% of Hungarians supported same-sex marriage.

More than 40 embassies and foreign cultural institutions in Hungary issued a statement backing  the Budapest Pride Festival.

“We encourage steps in every country to ensure the equality and dignity of all human beings irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” wrote the signatories, including the U.S., British and German embassies.

Balint Berta, 29, who works at a clothing retailer, said the legislation was creating artificial tensions in society. “The more politics incites this, society will turn around and people will turn against one another after a while,” he said.

(REUTERS)

LUCE TRAILER (2019) TRAILER

Movieclips Trailers Check out the official Luce trailer starring Octavia Spencer! Let us know what you think in the comments below. ► Watch Luce Full Movie: https://www.fandangonow.com/details/m… Want to be notified of all the latest movie trailers? Subscribe to the channel and click the bell icon to stay up to date. US Release Date: August 2, 2019 Starring: Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Tim Roth Directed By: Julius Onah Synopsis: A married couple is forced to reckon with their idealized image of their son, adopted from war-torn Eritrea, after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher threatens his status as an all-star student. Watch More Trailers: ► Hot New Trailers: http://bit.ly/2qThrsF ► Comedy Trailers: http://bit.ly/2D35Xsp ► Drama Trailers: http://bit.ly/2ARA8Nk Fuel Your Movie Obsession: ► Subscribe to MOVIECLIPS TRAILERS: http://bit.ly/2CNniBy ► Watch Movieclips ORIGINALS: http://bit.ly/2D3sipV ► Like us on FACEBOOK: http://bit.ly/2DikvkY ► Follow us on TWITTER: http://bit.ly/2mgkaHb ► Follow us on INSTAGRAM: http://bit.ly/2mg0VNU The Fandango MOVIECLIPS TRAILERS channel delivers hot new trailers, teasers, and sneak peeks for all the best upcoming movies. Subscribe to stay up to date on everything coming to theaters and your favorite streaming platform.

BIO: AMELIA BLOOMER

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

AMELIA BLOOMER
BORNAmelia Jenks
May 27, 1818
Homer, New York, United States
DIEDDecember 30, 1894 (aged 76)
Council Bluffs, Iowa, United States
MONUMENTSAmelia Bloomer House
NATIONALITYAmerican
OCCUPATIONWomen’s rights and temperance advocate
KNOWN FORPublicizing the idea of women wearing pants which came to be known as “Bloomers”
NOTABLE WORKowner/editor of The Lily
SPOUSE(S)Dexter Bloomer (m. 1840)

Amelia Jenks Bloomer (May 27, 1818 – December 30, 1894) was an American women’s rights and temperance advocate. Even though she did not create the women’s clothing reform style known as bloomers, her name became associated with it because of her early and strong advocacy. In her work with The Lily, she became the first woman to own, operate and edit a newspaper for women.

Early life

Amelia Jenks was born in 1818 in Homer, New York, to Ananias Jenks and Lucy (Webb) Jenks. She came from a family of modest means and received only a few years of formal education in the local district school.[1]

Career

After a brief time as a school teacher at the age of 17, she decided to relocate, and moved in with her newly married sister Elvira, then living in Waterloo. Within a year she had moved into the home of the Oren Chamberlain family in Seneca Falls to act as the live-in governess for their three youngest children.[2]

On April 15, 1840, when she was 22, she married law student Dexter Bloomer who encouraged her to write for his New York newspaper, the Seneca Falls County Courier. Bloomer supported her activism; he even gave up drinking as part of the Temperance Movement.[1]

She spent her early years in Cortland County, New York. Bloomer and her family moved to Iowa in 1852.[3]

Social activism

In 1848, Bloomer attended the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention, though she did not sign the Declaration of Sentiments and subsequent resolutions, due to her deep connection with the Episcopal Church. This meeting would serve as her inspiration to start her newspaper.

The following year, she began editing the first newspaper by and for women, The Lily. Published biweekly from 1849 until 1853, the newspaper began as a temperance journal, but came to have a broad mix of contents ranging from recipes to moralist tracts, particularly when under the influence of suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Bloomer felt that because women lecturers were considered unseemly, writing was the best way for women to work for reform. Originally, The Lily was to be for “home distribution” among members of the Seneca Falls Ladies Temperance Society, which had formed in 1848, and eventually had a circulation of over 4,000. The paper encountered several obstacles early on, and the Society’s enthusiasm died out. Bloomer felt a commitment to publish and assumed full responsibility for editing and publishing the paper. Originally, the title page had the legend “Published by a committee of ladies.” But after 1850 – only Bloomer’s name appeared on the masthead.[4] This newspaper was a model for later periodicals focused on women’s suffrage.

Bloomer described her experience as the first woman to own, operate and edit a news vehicle for women:

It was a needed instrument to spread abroad the truth of a new gospel to woman, and I could not withhold my hand to stay the work I had begun. I saw not the end from the beginning and dreamed where to my propositions to society would lead me.

Bloomer SuitDepiction of Amelia Bloomer wearing the famous “bloomer” costume which was named after her (a tunic + “pantelettes”).

In her publication, Bloomer promoted a change in dress standards for women that would be less restrictive in regular activities.

The costume of women should be suited to her wants and necessities. It should conduce at once to her health, comfort, and usefulness; and, while it should not fail also to conduce to her personal adornment, it should make that end of secondary importance.

In 1851, New England temperance activist Elizabeth Smith Miller (aka Libby Miller) adopted what she considered a more rational costume: loose trousers gathered at the ankles, like women’s trousers worn in the Middle East and Central Asia, topped by a short dress or skirt and vest.[5] The costume was worn publicly by actress Fanny Kemble.[citation needed] Miller displayed her new clothing to Stanton, her cousin, who found it sensible and becoming, and adopted it immediately. In this garb Stanton visited Bloomer, who began to wear the costume and promote it enthusiastically in her magazine.[citation needed] Articles on the clothing trend were picked up in The New York Tribune. More women wore the fashion which was promptly dubbed The Bloomer Costume or “Bloomers“.[citation needed] However, the Bloomers were subjected to ceaseless ridicule in the press and harassment on the street.[citation needed] Bloomer herself dropped the fashion in 1859, saying that a new invention, the crinoline, was a sufficient reform that she could return to conventional dress.[citation needed]

Also in 1851, Bloomer introduced the suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to each other.[6][7]

In 1854, when Bloomer and her husband decided to move to Council Bluffs, Iowa, Bloomer sold The Lily to Mary Birdsall in Richmond, Indiana. Birdsall and Dr. Mary F. Thomas kept the publication going at least through 1859.[1][8]

Bloomer remained a suffrage pioneer and writer throughout her life, writing for a wide array of periodicals. Although Bloomer was far less famous than some other feminists, she made many significant contributions to the women’s movement — particularly concerning dress reform. Bloomer also led suffrage campaigns in Nebraska and Iowa and served as president of the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association from 1871 until 1873.[4]

Death and burial

She died in 1894, at the age of 76, and is buried in Fairview Cemetery, Council Bluffs, Iowa.[9][10]

Commemorations

Statue, called “When Anthony Met Stanton”, immortalizing the 1851 meeting of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Amelia Bloomer in Seneca Falls, New York.

She is commemorated together with Elizabeth Cady StantonSojourner Truth, and Harriet Ross Tubman in the calendar of saints of the Episcopal Church on July 20. In 1975 she was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame.[11] In 1980 her home at Seneca Falls, New York, known as the Amelia Bloomer House, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[3] In 1995 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.[12][13] In 1999 a sculpture by Ted Aub was unveiled commemorating when on May 12, 1851, Bloomer introduced Susan B. Anthony to Elizabeth Cady Stanton.[14][6] This sculpture, called “When Anthony Met Stanton”, consists of the three women depicted as life-size bronze statues, and is placed overlooking Van Cleef Lake in Seneca Falls, New York, where the introduction occurred.[6][14] From 2002 until 2020, the American Library Association produced an annual Amelia Bloomer List of recently published books with significant feminist content for younger readers. However, in 2020 the list’s name was changed to Rise: A Feminist Book Project for Ages 0–18, explained as such: “The project has been promoting quality feminist literature for young readers since 2002 as a part of the Feminist Task Force and the Social Responsibilities Round Table [both of the American Library Association]. This year,[when?] the committee was made aware that, though Amelia Bloomer had a platform as a publisher, she refused to speak against the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 (Simmons [Referring to “Simmons, L. (2016, September 23). Petition of Amelia Bloomer regarding suffrage in the West. National Archives. Retrieved from [1].]). SRRT and FTF believe librarians and libraries must work to correct social problems and inequities with particular attention to intersectionality, feminism, and deliberate anti-racism. As a result, the committee unanimously voted in favor of a name change. Rise: A Feminist Book Project for Ages 0-18, reflects the diversity and inclusion for which feminism as a whole — and this committee specifically—strives.”[15][16]

More at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Bloomer

Book: “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder”

The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder

The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder

by Vincent Bugliosi 

Famed Charles Manson prosecutor and three time #1 New York Times bestselling author Vincent Bugliosi has written the most powerful, explosive, and thought-provoking book of his storied career.In The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, Bugliosi presents a tight, meticulously researched legal case that puts George W. Bush on trial in an American courtroom for the murder of nearly 4,000 American soldiers fighting the war in Iraq. Bugliosi sets forth the legal architecture and incontrovertible evidence that President Bush took this nation to war in Iraq under false pretenses—a war that has not only caused the deaths of American soldiers but also over 100,000 innocent Iraqi men, women, and children; cost the United States over one trillion dollars thus far with no end in sight; and alienated many American allies in the Western world.

As a prosecutor who is dedicated to seeking justice, Bugliosi, in his inimitable style, delivers a non-partisan argument, free from party lines and instead based upon hard facts and pure objectivity.

A searing indictment of the President and his administration, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder also outlines a legally credible pathway to holding our highest government officials accountable for their actions, thereby creating a framework for future occupants of the oval office.

Vincent Bugliosi calls for the United States of America to return to the great nation it once was and can be again. He believes the first step to achieving this goal is to bring those responsible for the war in Iraq to justice.

(Goodreads.com)