Monday, June 27, 2016

Democracy Now!

"Those who would give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin

I found the Ben Franklin quote in Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now!," which covers a gamut of vital movements over the past quarter-century, from climate justice and the LGBTQ revolution to Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter.  Goodman wrote: "Independent media is the oxygen of a democracy."  Her phrase "Going to where the silence is" emphasizes that the radio program "Democracy Now!" doesn't shy away from issues that the mainstream media ignores, such as punishment of whistleblowers or the lethal use of drone attacks against our enemies.  In a chapter entitled "The Sword and the Shield" Goodman wrote that people all over the world saw Americans in two ways, as a government that provides weapons to reactionary regimes but as one with concerned citizens who at times can be shield against atrocities.  She described a near-death experience covering a 1991 massacre of peaceful demonstrators in East Timor by Indonesian troops wielding US M16s.  She noted that in 1975 President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger approved a decision by Indonesia dictator Suharto to invade East Timor.  That action resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths that went virtually unreported in American newspapers.  Goodman wrote:
    Compare that to Pol Pot's Cambodia, where the genocide from 1975 to 1979 was proportionally similar.  Hundreds of articled exposing Pol Pot's atrocities appeared in the US media. The difference?  Cambodia was an official enemy of the United States; Indonesia was a close ally.
Goodman was on hand in the capital of Dili when in 2002 East Timor became an independent nation as a result of a UN supervised referendum, as was former president Bill Clinton (above, with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, left) .
A most poignant story in "Democracy Now!" was of Troy Davis (above), executed by the state of Georgia in 2011, 22 years after he was arrested and convicted for the murder of a Savannah policeman even though the only evidence against him was the word of witnesses pressured by police, most of whom later recanted their testimony.  Worldwide appeals for clemency to Governor Nathan Deal had no effect, and the final plea for a stay was referred to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who hailed, Goodman wrote, "from Pin Point, Georgia, a community founded by free slaves that is near Savannah, where Davis had lived."  Thomas denied the appeal.  Goodman noted;
    As I stood on the grounds of the prison, just after Troy Davis was executed, the Georgia department of Corrections threatened to pull the plug on our broadcast.  The show was over.
    I was reminded of what Mahatma Gandhi reportedly answered when asked what he thought of Western civilization: "I think it would be a good idea."
Tabby Thiel, Ashley Moreno, Kennedy Laviolette; Post-Trib photo by Jim Karczewski
Massive Gay Pride parades took place in Chicago, New York City, San Fransisco, and Seattle with moments of silence and tributes to the Pulse dance club victims in Orlando.  Like last year local newspapers interviewed participants waiting to catch the South Shore into the city.  Anne Balay (below, left), ensconced in Greencastle on a writers' retreat, posted: "I am writing, writing, writing, and having adventures.  I'm not sure Bub my barber had ever seen a lesbian before."  Cathi White begged to disagree, replying, "Greencastle is full of gays and lesbians, at least at Depauw."
Bill Dolan of NWI Times reported that George Van Til has been moved to a halfway house.  At age 68 the former Lake County surveyor is ailing, but if someone, perhaps if a defense attorney such as Roy Dominguez hired him as a consultant, it might facilitate his ability to be released.  Nobody knows the ins and outs of local government better than my friend.
Gretchen Pierce gave birth to a kid named Heidi who's a dead ringer for papa Jerry, a former member of IUN's History department who is sorely missed and now teaching in the Penn State system.

Over the weekend our condo was a beehive of activity, as Toni, Angie, Beth, and Becca were putting together favors for Alissa's upcoming bridal shower.  Alissa dropped in Sunday afternoon after spending Saturday in Chicago.
Spencer Cortwright spotted a red-wing blackbird nest just a few feet from the edge of IUN's parking lot.  He reported:  "The blackbirds are using a plant called ironweed for their nest, as it is a very sturdy plant and not likely to get blown over in a storm.  It is in no sense of the word a weed, and in fact is one of our most beautiful native wildflowers that blooms in July/August!"

Poet William Buckley wrote, "Dear Jim, Okay!  It's a deal" as you put it.  I'll keep writing, and you will keep publishing.  Thanks for putting my work in Steel Shavings.  I'm honored."   Buckley wrote about Region legend Diana of the Dunes: "Alice M. Gray, a recluse who lived in the Sauk forests of Northwestern Indiana, c.1915-1925."

 Ghost-Chicagoan who moved to her shores - radical
and took up with a man in sand/ Kobe's Woman of the Dunes
at first blush/  but more like the turtle of Sauk/ unhappy Soul
who returned to earth as an Owl - with an odd Aztec
haircut and male face/  you do embody Midwestern
repressions: sex-fenced-but-expressed-with-happy perversions/

our tattered Ameriko-values in the choke weed
and longing for winds off Lake Michigan - freedom-
Oak-Park-Hemingway and Terre Haute-Dreiser wanted in the brashness
of New York  and our American Night/
                                                            If you had gone
to Big Sur you would've written your Confessions/  yet you left
and lived lone/ studied stars a huntress / sold fish to road
workers on Rt.20 and wandered against the industrial ideal/ 
Your mind now in the junk-art and sack races of a Chesterton Festival/

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