longtime leader

anonymous asked:

What can you tell us about communists in Palestine?

I guess I could give like a general overview of the history. It’s generally follows the contours of the international movement, so I’ll just outline what’s particular to it. So the socialist movement in Palestine began in 1905 with the founding of HaPoel HaTzair [The Young Worker], which was a non-Marxist socialist-Zionist party into like Tolstoyan romantic agrarianism, and Poalei Tzion [Workers of Zion], which was a Marxist-Zionist party, by Jewish immigrants from Russia. Following the First World War and the Russian Revolution, like in most countries, there was a split between socialists and communists. The right-wing of the Poalei Tzion party merged with unaffiliated agricultural workers’ unions to become Ahdut HaAvodah [Labor Unity], a more moderate party but still more radical than HaPoel HaTzair, and the left-wing of the party formed Mifleget Poalim Sozialistit [Socialist Workers Party], which split again between the Jewish Communist Party and Poalei Tzion Smol [Workers of Zion (Left)] after the Comintern disavowed Zionism in 1921. The Jewish Communist Party became the Palestinishe Komunistishe Partei [Palestine Communist Party, notice it’s in Yiddish rather than Hebrew] in 1923 and finally joined the Comintern in 1924. So now we have our communist movement.

Soon after joining, the Comintern took issue with the fact that it was almost entirely made up of Jewish immigrants [as in, in 1925, there were only 8 Arab members], so it directed the party to “Arabize” itself as soon as possible. The party stepped up its recruiting efforts among the small but growing Arab working class [particularly in “Red” Haifa] and the Arab intelligentsia, who were more inclined towards Pan-Arabism than socialism. Between 1924 and 1930, however, the party managed to radicalize enough Arabs and send them to the Communist University for the Toilers of the East in Moscow to form an Arab communist cadre that was quickly placed into leadership positions. At the 7th Congress in 1930, the CC had an Arab majority for the first time, although the vast majority of the rank-and-file were still Jewish.

Ethnic tensions first began to arise in the party when the Great Arab Revolt began in 1936. Guerrilla bands had control over most of the countryside, and Jews, communist or not, would be killed or robbed if they tried to go there, so a “Jewish section” was formed in the party to focus Jewish party members on work in the Yishuv, the Jewish community. Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Communist Party of Great Britain [the party of the metropole that ruled Palestine], and the PKP declared support for the revolt on anti-imperialist grounds. The PKP hemorrhaged Jewish members, who saw the revolt mostly through the lens of anti-Jewish violence in the countryside, but not enough that they didn’t still vastly outnumbered the Arab members. [A similar thing had happened during the anti-Jewish riots in 1921 and ‘29, which the SWP was partially responsible for starting, but nowhere near as much as during 1936-39.] The tensions came to a head in 1939, when the British issued the White Paper restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine. The Arab communists supported the White Paper, which brought Zionist settlement to a stop, while the Jewish communists saw the White Paper as the closing of the gates of the last refuge of Jews in Nazi Europe. The Arab-dominated CC dissolved the Jewish section in 1939, severely weakening the control of the Jewish rank-and-file, but around the same time, the Comintern adopted the policy of popular frontism, and the party was directed to align itself with the socialist-Zionist movement against fascism, both in Palestine and elsewhere, which alienated the Arab members of the party.

Due to the popularity of the Red Army among Jews in Palestine for their fight against the Nazis, the party had a surge in Jewish membership during 1941-45, replacing and exceeding the losses from 1936-39. Another shift that happened during the war was a shift in the international communist movement’s position on Zionism. The international communist movement came to support the Zionist movement between 1941-45 because of, in my opinion, guilt towards Jews after the Shoah, the idea developed by the CPGB that the Yishuv was an oppressed nation in need of national self-determination, just like Palestinian Arabs, and the idea developed by the CPSU that the socialist-Zionist Yishuv was the revolutionary element in Palestine rather than the Palestinian Arab national movement, associated with its longtime leader, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, and his collaboration with Nazism. Therefore the Soviet Union and the CPs around the world supported partition of Palestine in 1947, with the Soviets funneling Czech rifles to the Israelis, basically the only weapons they had during the War of 1947-49. [The Soviets soon shifted their support to the Arab nations after Israel aligned itself with the capitalist world, although the second largest party in Israel, Mifleget HaPoalim HaMeuhedet (United Workers Party, known by the acronym Mapam) was Marxist-Leninist, and there was a significant struggle between them and the dominant Mapai party to align Israel with the communist world.]

Meanwhile on the ground in Palestine, the PKP split along ethnic lines toward the end of the war. In 1944, the Arab communists formed Usbat al-Taharrur al-Watani [the National Liberation League], a leftist Arab nationalist party, while the Jewish communists remained in the party, renaming it HaMiflega HaKomunistit HaYisraelit [the Israeli Communist Party, known by the acronym Maki] in 1947, right before the outbreak of the War of 1947-49. Following the war, the NLL in Israel merged with Maki, while the NLL in Gaza was crushed by the Egyptians in 1949 and the NLL in the West Bank merged with the Communist Party of Jordan. The once-again Arab-Jewish Maki managed not to split again until the mid-sixties, when it split along ethnic lines, with the Palestinian communists forming the Reshima Komunistit Hadasha [New Communist List, known by the acronym Rakah]. Finally, the two parties merged for the last time in 1977, along with the Israeli Black Panthers [a Mizrahi radical movement with essentially the same politics as the American party it was named after but with Mizrahi Jews rather than Black Americans], to form HaHazit HaDemokratit LeShalom uLeShivion [The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, known by the acronym Hadash], which now holds 5 seats in the Israeli parliament.

This is also leaving out the long, complicated history of post-Nakba communist politics by Palestinians outside of Palestine, with the PLO, PFLP, DFLP, and so on, which I don’t know enough about the internal politics of to break down like this tbh.

Hope that’s what you were looking for!

ROMANIA. Bucharest. 1989. In an example of acute historical irony, this anticommunist civilian uses an AK-47 to hunt down secret police during the overthrow of Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania’s oppressive communist dictator.

The Romanian Revolution was a period of violent civil unrest in December 1989 and part of the Revolutions of 1989 that occurred in several countries. The Romanian Revolution started in the city of Timișoara and soon spread throughout the country, ultimately culminating in the show trial and execution of longtime Communist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu, and the end of 42 years of Communist rule in Romania. It was also the last removal of a Communist regime in a Warsaw Pact country during the events of 1989, and the only one that violently overthrew a country’s government and executed its leader.

Photograph: Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty

arnoldminyard  asked:

Tell me more abt The Librarians

Okay this show is super hard to explain on my own so here’s the official summary

“Cued by TNT’s popular “The Librarian” trilogy, this series introduces new members of an ancient group protecting mystical artifacts. Hidden below the Metropolitan Public Library, the secret society’s longtime leader is Flynn Carsen, whose job has become very complicated. To help, the Library recruits Eve, a counterterrorism agent responsible for organizational security; Jacob, who has encyclopedic knowledge of art, architecture and history; Cassandra, who links auditory/sensory hallucinations to memory; and Ezekiel, a skilled thief and master technician. Overseeing them is Jenkins, the reclusive caretaker of the Library’s sleepy little annex in Oregon. Noah Wyle executive produces and recurs as Flynn, the role he played in the movie series.”

Every season so far is available on Hulu and iTunes. I love this show so much, it’s so diverse, the writing is incredible, and the plot is great. Please I beg of you watch the movies along with the show because then you’ll get the full experience! I hope this helped you!

An inside look at One America News, the insurgent TV network taking ‘pro-Trump’ to new heights
Fox News competitor is gaining viewers and influence in conservative circles.
By http://facebook.com/fisherm

Mark Fisher at WaPo:

One America News is an obscure TV channel struggling to emerge from the cellar of the cable ratings, but it is nonetheless one of President Trump’s favorite media outlets. It’s not hard to see why: On One America newscasts, the Trump administration is a juggernaut of progress, a shining success with a daily drumbeat of achievements.

One America — a tiny father-and-sons operation that often delivers four times as many stories per hour as its competitors — promises “straight news, no opinion,” promoting itself as the antidote to the Big Three cable news networks’ focus on punditry and the one big story of the moment.

But since its inception in 2013, and especially since Trump began his march to the White House, One America’s owner, Robert Herring Sr., a millionaire who made his money printing circuit boards, has directed his channel to push Trump’s candidacy, scuttle stories about police shootings, encourage antiabortion stories, minimize coverage of Russian aggression, and steer away from the new president’s troubles, according to more than a dozen current and former producers, writers and anchors, as well as internal emails from Herring and his top news executives.

OAN, based in San Diego, made its first splash in the opening weeks of the Trump campaign, when the channel became the first to carry Trump’s campaign speeches live and in full — a decision followed quickly by the owner’s directive that other candidates’ rallies not be given the same treatment, according to internal emails.

Since then, OAN has become a reliably sympathetic voice of the administration’s goals and actions. Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, has a deal to appear regularly on the channel. The network’s White House reporter, Trey Yingst, has become an administration favorite who was called on at the daily news briefings 27 times in Trump’s first 100 days in office. On Friday, OAN won a seat in the White House briefing room, albeit in the back row and shared with the BBC.

In a volatile TV news landscape where the longtime ratings leader, Fox News, is suffering through a period of internal turmoil, One America has tried to elbow itself into the big leagues, publicly wooing former Fox star Bill O’Reilly to join OAN. Although O’Reilly didn’t take the bait and the channel is available in only about 30 million homes, a far cry from Fox News’s 90 million, One America is growing — in viewer numbers, in influence in Republican circles, and as a potential alternative for conservatives and libertarians who believe Fox’s commitment to a right-wing perspective is weakening.


OAN’s journalists include conservatives, moderates and liberals, but employees across the political spectrum said they often chafed at the restrictions that came down from “Mr. H,” as they called Robert Herring.

“The owner of the company became the de facto news director,” said a former OAN producer who quit because the coverage of Trump had become “too slanted.” “He has a ton of influence over every aspect of the newscast. He has stories written on his whim.”

“We started out with the premise of news straight down the middle,” said Cassie Leuffen, an anchor at OAN from its birth through the 2016 election. “But the bias does reveal itself in the story selection. The owner really felt this was what was needed. He saw the popularity of Trump before almost anybody, and Trump became our bread and butter.”

Christopher Wood, one of OAN’s first news writers, recalled, “We’d have staff meetings on Wednesdays, and Mr. H. would say he wanted more stories from Breitbart, the Drudge Report and other conservative sites. It was his way or no way.”


In 2013, the family created its second channel, One America News. Robert Herring’s idea was to provide something that had gone missing from the cable news landscape — a basic headline service covering national and international news. Herring, long an active donor to political campaigns, had no journalism experience.

The channel he created is a rapid-fire cavalcade of headlines. Most stories run well under a minute. Almost all of the reports are read by the anchors over video footage provided by the Reuters, Associated Press and Euronews services, as well as by RT, the Kremlin-funded news outlet that a U.S. intelligence report calls “Russia’s state-run propaganda machine.”

OAN has only four correspondents of its own, based mainly in Washington. Earlier this month, in 16 consecutive stories, those reporters interviewed only conservative lawmakers and experts — a sharp contrast from Fox and MSNBC, which, despite their overt political leanings, routinely include the other side in their reports.

OAN breaks its cycle of half-hour newscasts only for two hours of evening opinion shows — The Daily Ledger with Graham Ledger and Tipping Point with Liz Wheeler (replaced On Point With Tomi Lahren) — both of which are guns-blazing nightly tributes to Trump. Ledger is a tough guy who takes no prisoners. Talking about people coming into the country from majority-Muslim countries, he says, “If they won’t take a bite out of a pulled pork sandwich, we probably won’t let them in the country.” Wheeler leans more on clever snark and verbal eyerolls: “How many innocent people have Islamophobes killed this week? Yeah, that’s what I thought.”


Robert Herring often asked job candidates about their political views, according to seven current and former employees. “He’d flat out ask, ‘Who did you vote for? Are you a Bernie supporter? Are you for abortion?’” one anchor said. “It’s not like you wouldn’t get hired if you were liberal. But when it came to decisions about what stories we did, he made it clear he wanted the conservative ones.”

In the channel’s first couple of years, OAN writers, producers and anchors said they were mostly left alone to determine the content of the newscasts. After Trump announced his candidacy, things changed.

“We should ALWAYS take the trump speeches live in their entirety,” executive producer Lindsay Oakley wrote to her staff early in the campaign. “I don’t want producers’ personal feelings getting in the way of the news content we provide. Trump is being treated unfairly by the mainstream media and we need to provide the other side. . . . Not to mention we have loyal viewers that tune in specifically to see the Trump speeches live because no one else carries them. We also see some of our highest ratings during the Trump speeches.”

Oakley did not respond to requests for comment. Her email warned producers that failing to put Trump speeches on the air “will result in a written warning/write-up from here on out.”

OAN employees recounted receiving reprimands signed by Robert Herring or being called into his office to be dressed down for “insubordination” when they ran stories he disapproved of.

“Please please please avoid ferguson stories!!!” Oakley wrote after OAN aired a report on Ferguson, Mo.’s battle with the Justice Department over reforms to the city’s police and court systems following an officer’s shooting of an unarmed black man. A story that aired three times on the channel “made police look bad and Mr. H. has told all of us not to do that. Please just avoid ferguson stories all together.”


Early hire Christopher Wood said he was fired in October 2015 after he decided to lead off a newscast with excerpts from an interview that the family of Michael Brown, the victim in the Ferguson shooting, gave to another network. “That was my downfall,” Wood said. “I got a very, very angry email from Mr. H. saying he wanted the story pulled and we weren’t to run it again.”

OAN staffers complained to Herring when the channel produced and aired a promotional spot that depicted a black police dispatcher refusing to send help to a white caller whose house was under attack. When employees called the spot racially incendiary, Herring agreed to take it off the air, but it remains on OAN’s YouTube channel, where it has attracted more than a million viewings.

Herring pushed stories about Planned Parenthood’s purported promotion of abortion that he’d seen on CNS News, a conservative site. He passed on to OAN producers a report that Hillary Clinton was ending her campaign because of “a brain tumor found during my recent colonoscopy,” but Herring warned producers not to run the story “until you fact check twice.”

Herring often said OAN’s purpose was to give viewers the news they needed to make educated choices. But he increasingly directed the newsroom to cover stories that reflected his personal views, employees said. For example, producers said, Herring ordered that OAN minimize coverage of Pope Francis’s U.S. visit in 2015 because the pope had urged comprehensive action against climate change.

Burkina Faso stunned by another deadly extremist attack

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — The scene was all too familiar: Islamic extremists striking a popular dining spot while dozens of patrons, many of them foreigners, took a break from daily life in Burkina Faso. Victims were gunned down at random. Gunfire rang out for hours as special forces worked to secure the scene.

After Sunday night’s deadly attack on Kwame N'krumah Avenue, some in this West African nation are wondering: How could this happen again only 200 metres (yards) away from the first massacre in January 2016? And why is the capital no safer?

“There are no words to explain our anger and despair,” said Ousseni Tanagda, whose job selling phone credit has suffered since the 2016 attack on a popular cafe. “I was afraid of staying here because the security measures set up earlier were no more strictly respected as they used to be.”

While Burkina Faso shares a border with volatile Mali — long home to such attacks — the 2016 massacre that killed 30 people shocked many in Ouagadougou. The capital is home to many foreigners working with the United Nations and international aid organizations in this desperately poor country on the edge of the Sahara.

After that attack, security measures were strengthened at sensitive places such as banks, hotels and restaurants, with many hiring armed security personnel. As more time passed without another attack, locals say some of those measures eased.

In recent months, however, the United States and France warned their citizens to avoid certain areas of Burkina Faso, mainly the unstable north near Mali and Niger but also the capital.

Already Sunday’s assault on the Aziz Istanbul restaurant that left 18 people dead has had political fallout, with one former minister saying it underscores “the failure of our security system.”

“Two attacks in about 18 months in the same spot with the same mode of operation, it’s not acceptable,” said Ablasse Ouedraogo, who served as foreign affairs minister during the era of longtime leader Blaise Compaore. “It’s as though we have not learned any lessons.”

Compaore was ousted in a popular uprising in late 2014, and some critics say the military has suffered during the years of political upheaval ever since. During the 2016 assault, Burkina Faso’s security forces waited for hours before trying to intervene despite having people at the scene. During Sunday’s attack, gunfire also rang out for nearly seven hours before officials noted there were only two assailants.

Capt. Guy Ye, spokesman for the special forces, said they are better equipped now than in 2016 but he acknowledged they are still learning.

“There were hostages who had to be freed before launching the assault against the terrorists who were hiding in the back of the restaurant,” he said.

Ouedraogo, the former minister, said the army and security sector need an overhaul. Already they’ve received specialized training from both the French and U.S. militaries.

Felix Alexandre Sanfo, a security expert, said Burkinabes are learning they must accept that the threat of terrorism is here to stay, just as it is in many other parts of the world.

“Many think it’s a problem that can be solved definitively,” Sanfo said. “We are not prepared to maintain an elevated level of vigilance on a permanent basis. People have quickly let down their guard because they think the danger is behind us.”

On the contrary, regional security analysts point to a deepening and troubling Islamic extremism movement in northern Burkina Faso, where an Australian doctor who had spent decades treating civilians has been abducted and remains missing.

The region is now the home of a Burkinabe extremist figure, Malam Dicko, who has collaborated with militants across the border in Mali. Among his objectives has been seeking to end the use of French, the former colonizer’s language, in regional schools. Burkinabe forces backed by French military counterparts have tried to take out Dicko but he remains at large.

Burkina Faso is now one of five regional nations putting together a 5,000-strong force to fight the growing threat from extremists in the vast Sahel region. The first units are expected to deploy in October and all battalions should be on the ground by March. The countries have been pressing the international community to help funding; a gap of 305 million euros ($356 million) remains.

Burkina Faso’s government knows it must move quickly to avoid the political instability and human suffering inflicted by extremists to the north in Mali.

“If we do not master intelligence quickly, we will continue to count the dead due to terrorism because the situation is alarming,” said an intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

“We are vulnerable now, and the situation calls for lucid, cool and objective analysis.”


Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

Brahima Ouedraogo, The Associated Press

ROMANIA. Bucharest. 1989. Demonstrators and TAB-71 APCs on the street. Part of the photobook 1989 Libertate Roumanie by Denoel Paris and other photographers.

The Romanian Revolution was a period of violent civil unrest in December 1989 and part of the Revolutions of 1989 that occurred in several countries. The Romanian Revolution started in the city of Timișoara and soon spread throughout the country, ultimately culminating in the show trial and execution of longtime Communist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu, and the end of 42 years of Communist rule in Romania. It was also the last removal of a Communist regime in a Warsaw Pact country during the events of 1989, and the only one that violently overthrew a country’s government and executed its leader.

Photograph: Denoel Paris

Gather ‘round, kids, today we’re going to look at one of my favourite topics in German history: The Stasi, the East German Secret Police. We’re going to learn how they rose from humble beginnings as a little sister of the KGB, to becoming the most sophisticated surveillance organization in the world.

They did this, of course, with dildos.

Under longtime leader Markus Wolf, the Stasi grew in size, complexity, and ferocity. Between 1950 and 1989, over 279,000 individuals were employed by them, working in ten different administrative divisions, including tapping telephones and mail, secret informants around the world, an entire guards regiment, and there was even a division responsible for digging through the damn garbage.

That is where I can be found.

Any and every aspect of East German life could (and often would) be recorded, spied, or somehow otherwise noted. Stasi spies were nurses, trolley conductors, teachers, doctors - there was a designated spy in every apartment complex, and it was not uncommon to have holes drilled into walls or telephone lines monitored.

An estimated 1 out of every 63 East Germans regularly collaborated with the Stasi, or 1 for every 7 citizen including casual informants, making it the most extensive and comprehensive surveillance state in the world at the time, surpassing the Gestapo (1:2,000) and the KGB (1:5,800)

But it wasn’t the fact that they were fucking everywhere, literally, all the time, that gave the Stasi it’s reputation. It was their preferred method of “making themselves known”, called Zersetzung. And it sometimes involved Dildos.

Pictured: Stasi officer at work.

Around 1971, the Stasi realized that the whole, “making people disappear and/or imprisoning them” wasn’t doing a very good job. After all, like, people still thought that East Germany was a shithole! What was up with that?

“Zersetzung” roughly translates to “decomposition”, a term used in biology, which refers to when something rots away. That’s what they wanted their dissidents - to rot away. It was a form of psychological oppression, with the intention being to cripple a person’s self-esteem and self-worth

The idea was simple: If you think you’re shit (instead of THE shit), you’ll be less likely to cause a ruckus. You think Ghengis Khan invaded Mongolia worrying about how many hits his blog was getting every day, or that a new pimple had broken out on his face? Hell no! The Stasi didn’t think so, either.

Next time, just blame the Stasi on your shitty anon hate.

So when someone was trying to shake things up, or leaning a little bit more to the west than they liked, they wanted to drive them insane or paralyze their life. Random phone calls. Staking out their house. Order a pizza? You did now, bitch! Poor work review? But you’ve been working so hard! Too bad, slut, you suck! Taking, and altering compromising photographs. Crippling marriages - they sent dildos to people’s wives to instill a sense of doubt, distrust, and crippling self worth. Why worry about your shitty government when you’re apparently JUST AS SHITTY in bed? And work? And you’re poor, because someone keeps sending you these pizzas to your house, but it isn’t you! But maybe it is you? Maybe you can’t remember? Where’s the phone? Wasn’t it always over there, why isn’t it there now??

They would break into homes and subtly change things, or plant spies into the target’s life to make them believe (or disbelieve) a certain idea. People literally went insane and/or were driven to suicide by the Stasi’s subtle fucking-up of their lives - in which case, they would then monitor the people around the target (or former target) to make sure that nobody figured out that it was their own government.

Pictured: Another Stasi officer, hard at work.

In 1989, during the Peaceful Revolution which led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall, demonstrations outside of the Stasi headquarters in Leipzig (totalling over 300,000 at one point) caused the Stasi to begin to sense what was up and started to destroy documents - over one billion pieces of paper, which totalled only 5% of their total inventory. The Stasi headquarters was stormed in December of 1989, and the organization was dissolved along with the rest of GDR in 1990.

Even if you were only a goddamn zygote in East Germany, the Stasi still probably had a file on you, documenting that time you cursed when you spilled coffee on your hand, or picked your nose when your crush looked away for like, a minute. Fortunately, you can find out for sure, and read all the boring details about your life by sending a request to the Stasi Records Agency in Berlin.

In the photo above, East Germans sort through records in the Stasi headquarters after it has been stormed by civilians on 4 December 1989. Photo: DPA


GWAR - West End Girls (Pet Shop Boys cover)

The mighty scumdogs of GWAR have terrified A.V. Undercover with their presence twice before—first in the tiny round room with the definitive version of Kansas’ “Carry On Wayward Son,” then in our newer space with a sideways glance at Billy Ocean’s “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car.” As everyone who follows evil rock from space knows, there was a great disturbance in the GWAR universe earlier this year: Either longtime leader Oderus Urungus disappeared into space, or his earthly analog, Dave Brockie, died. (Or some combination of the two.) Whatever the case, GWAR has decided to soldier on without him, adding two players to fill the void: New singer Blóthar is a Berserker who has appeared from the distant past (he may also have been a GWAR bassist in the early years), and Vulvatron is a “cybernetic female assassin” from the future.

I really enjoy AV Club’s cover series, with GWAR’s participation being the crowning achievement. Now with their new singer, I’m glad they’re still giving it a go.

Related: Hoarr Before and After a GWAR Concert


In Venezuela, Protest Ranks Grow Broader

By WILLIAM NEUMANFEB. Feb. 24, 2014 (The New York Times)

Photos by Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

SAN CRISTÓBAL, Venezuela — As dawn broke, the residents of a quiet neighborhood here readied for battle. Some piled rocks to be used as projectiles. Others built barricades. A pair of teenagers made firebombs as the adults looked on.

These were not your ordinary urban guerrillas. They included a manicurist, a medical supplies saleswoman, a schoolteacher, a businessman and a hardware store worker.

As the National Guard roared around the corner on motorcycles and in an armored riot vehicle, the people in this tightly knit middle-class neighborhood, who on any other Monday morning would have been heading to work or taking their children to school, rushed into the street, hurling rocks and shouting obscenities. The guardsmen responded with tear gas and shotgun fire, leaving a man bleeding in a doorway.

“We’re normal people, but we’re all affected by what’s happening,” said Carlos Alviarez, 39, who seemed vaguely bewildered to find himself in the middle of the street where the whiff of tear gas lingered. “Look. I’ve got a rock in my hand and I’m the distributor for Adidas eyewear in Venezuela.”

The biggest protests since the death of the longtime leader Hugo Chávez nearly a year ago are sweeping Venezuela, rapidly expanding from the student protests that began this month on a campus in this western city into a much broader array of people across the country. On Monday, residents in Caracas, the capital, and other Venezuelan cities piled furniture, tree limbs, chain-link fence, sewer grates and washing machines to block roads in a coordinated action against the government.

Behind the outpouring is more than the litany of problems that have long bedeviled Venezuela, a country with the world’s largest oil reserves but also one of the highest inflation rates. Adding to the perennial frustrations over violent crime and chronic shortages of basic goods like milk and toilet paper, the outrage is being fueled by President Nicolás Maduro’s aggressive response to public dissent, including deploying hundreds of soldiers here and sending fighter jets to make low, threatening passes over the city.

On Monday, the state governor, who belongs to Mr. Maduro’s party, broke ranks and challenged the president’s tactics, defending the right of students to protest and criticizing the flyovers, a rare dissent from within the government.

Polarization is a touchstone of Venezuelan politics, which was bitterly divided during the 14-year presidency of Mr. Chávez, Mr. Maduro’s mentor. But while Mr. Chávez would excoriate and punish opponents, he had keen political instincts and often seemed to know when to back off just enough to keep things from boiling over.

Now Mr. Maduro, his chosen successor, who is less charismatic and is struggling to contend with a deeply troubled economy, has taken a hard line on expressions of discontent, squeezing the news media, arresting a prominent opposition politician and sending the National Guard into residential areas to quash the protests.

Two people were killed on Monday, including a man here in San Cristóbal who, according to his family, fell from a roof after guardsmen shot tear gas at him. There is disagreement on whether all the deaths nationwide cited by the government are directly associated with the protests, but the death toll is probably at least a dozen.

In the neighborhood of Barrio Sucre, residents said they were outraged last week when a guardsman fired a shotgun at a woman and her adult son, sending both to the hospital with serious wounds. In response, the residents built barricades to keep the guardsmen out. On Monday, after guardsmen made an early sortie into the neighborhood, firing tear gas and buckshot at people’s homes, the inflamed and sometimes terrified residents prepared to drive them back.

Across town, Isbeth Zambrano, 39, a mother of two, still fumed about the time two days earlier when the National Guard drove onto the street, where children were playing, and fired tear gas at residents. Now she sat in front of her apartment building, casually guarding a beer crate full of firebombs.

“We want this government to go away,” she said. “We want freedom, no more crime, we want medicine.” Around her neck, like a scarf, she wore a diaper printed with small teddy bears. It was soaked in vinegar, to ward off the effects of tear gas, in case of another attack.

Unlike the protests in neighboring Brazil last year, when the government tried to defuse anger by promising to fix ailing services and make changes to the political system, Mr. Maduro says the protesters are fascists conducting a coup against his government. He has largely refused to acknowledge their complaints, focusing instead on violence linked to the unrest. Here in Táchira State, he says the protests are infiltrated by right-wing Colombian paramilitary groups, and he has threatened to arrest the mayor of San Cristóbal.

Mr. Maduro’s stance is mirrored by the intensity among the protesters. While he has called for a national conference on Wednesday and some opposition politicians have urged dialogue, a majority of protesters here, most of them longtime government opponents, rejected that option.

“They’ve been mocking us for 15 years, sacking the country,” said Ramón Arellano, 54, a government worker, while a burning refrigerator in the street behind him blotted out the sky with a cone of black smoke. “A dialogue from one side while the other turns a deaf ear, that’s not fair.”

Like most of the protesters here, Mr. Arellano said he wanted a change of government. Protesters say that could be achieved by having Mr. Maduro resign, or be removed through a recall election or changes to the Constitution.

Mr. Maduro says he will not leave office, and he continues to have wide support among those loyal to Mr. Chávez’s legacy.

Táchira State, and especially San Cristóbal, the state capital, are longtime opposition strongholds. The opposition presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles, received 73 percent of the vote in San Cristóbal when he ran against Mr. Maduro last April.

A city of 260,000, San Cristóbal was almost completely shut down on Monday. Residents had set up dozens of barricades all around town. In many areas, residents set out nails or drove pieces of rebar into the pavement, leaving them partly exposed, to puncture tires.

In Barrio Sucre, Escarlet Pedraza, 19, showed two motorcycles that she said had been crushed by National Guard troops, who drove armored vehicles over them. She recorded the event on her cellphone camera.

Later, residents burned tires and threw rocks at guardsmen, who advanced and entered a side street, firing tear gas and shotguns directly at the houses.

The guardsmen broke open a garage door in one house and smashed the windshield of a car inside. The house next door filled with tear gas and the family inside, including two young children, choked in the fumes. “I’m indignant,” said Victoria Pérez, the mother, weeping. “This is getting out of hand. It’s arrogance, it’s a desire for power.”

A student, his face covered with a cloth, kicked angrily at a house where a pro-government family lives, shouting at them to join the protest. Other residents rushed in to stop him.

Nearby, a neighbor, Teresa Contreras, 53, flipped through the channels on her television, showing that there was no coverage of the violence, a sign, she said, of the government control over the news media.

Earlier, Andrea Altuve, 38, a teacher, watched the preparations for the coming battle, with people adding to barricades and children pouring gasoline into beer bottles for makeshift bombs.

“It looks like a civil war,” she said. “They are sending the National Guard into the neighborhoods out of fear.”

A version of this article appears in print on February 25, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: In Venezuela, Protest Ranks Grow Broader.

© 2014 The New York Times Company

See the Massive Statue of Mao Zedong Under Construction in China
The work was photographed in Tongxu County

The statue reportedly measures 120 feet (36.6 meters) in height and is located in Zhushigang village. It commemorates the Chinese Marxist who was the longtime leader of the country’s communist party, serving as chairman both of the People’s Republic of China and the Communist Party of China. Mao, who died in 1976, is already commemorated in thousands of statues around the country.

Fidel Castro, Longtime Cuban Leader, Dead At Age 90
The former revolutionary's death was reported overnight.
By Karla Zabludovsky

Fidel Castro, the harbinger of the 20th century Latin American communist wave and leader of the Cuban revolution, died overnight Friday, the Associated Press reported. He was 90.

Castro, who stepped down from power in 2008 permanently after nearly five decades as prime minister and president of the island, had made few public appearances in recent months.

Castro’s sightings were increasingly bookended by rumors of his death, which often set social media abuzz for hours. One of his last appearances was in April, meeting a group of Venezuelan visitors to Cuba, shortly before his brother, Raul, sat down with US President Obama to discuss the thawing of relations between the two countries, the first meeting of its kind since 1956.


This is a new project I’m involved in that marries my love of graphic novels, pop culture and issues that I am passionate about. Hope you are able to check it out when it gets released early next year:

The 5 Powers, narrated by award-winning actor Orlando Jones, tells the story of three superheroes of peace: Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Master nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967; Sister Chân Không, Vietnamese Zen master and peace activist; and Alfred Hassler, longtime leader of F.O.R., peace activist, and creator of The Montgomery Story comic book that helped turn Dr. King into a superhero.

“The 5 Powers film is a moving fusion of documentary footage, historic montage and vivid animation that sends a powerful message of peace. Using modern technology and dramatic storytelling, the film focuses on three true heroes and their efforts to promote the non-violent resolution of conflict through a mindful, compassionate approach. It’s beautifully crafted and truly inspiring.” - Dave Gibbons (Watchmen, Green Lantern)

More info at - http://www.peaceisthewayfilms.com/mlk-montgomery-story-comic-book-origins/

Bernie Sanders' Campaign Just Got A Big Boost
WASHINGTON -- The longtime leader of one of the country’s most powerful labor unions is joining the Democratic presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and he says presumed frontrun

WASHINGTON – The longtime leader of one of the country’s most powerful labor unions is joining the Democratic presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and he says presumed frontrunner Hillary Clinton made it an easy call.

Larry Cohen, outgoing president of the Communications Workers of America, told The Huffington Post he will serve as an unpaid volunteer stumping for Sanders as the Vermont senator seeks the Democratic nomination. One of the main factors in his decision, Cohen said, was Clinton’s equivocation on granting President Barack Obama so-called fast-track authority on his mammoth trade deal.

“I did everything I knew how to do to get Clinton to speak out on fast track, and she wouldn’t,” said Cohen, whose 10 years leading CWA came to an end in June. “We begged her to speak out.

Isle Royale wolf dies after escaping

One of the few remaining gray wolves of Isle Royale National Park has been found dead after escaping to the mainland across a Lake Superior ice bridge, a scientist who studies the predators said Tuesday.

The 5-year-old female’s body was discovered along the shoreline on the Grand Portage Indian Reservation in northeastern Minnesota, biologist Rolf Peterson of Michigan Technological University told The Associated Press. She apparently hadn’t been shot and the cause of death could not be determined immediately. She had been severely wounded last year by other wolves.

The carcass was found Feb. 8, Isle Royale Superintendent Phyllis Green said, adding that a park service veterinarian and Peterson’s team will perform an autopsy.

The dead wolf had been fitted with a radio collar and its serial numbers confirmed her identity, Peterson said. He and other scientists who follow the island park’s wolves and moose had nicknamed her “Isabelle.”

Her loss was a blow to an already struggling wolf population at Isle Royale, which has fallen sharply in recent years. Only eight remained in 2013, down from 24 just five years earlier. Their numbers last year were the lowest since scientists began observing the island’s wolves in the 1950s.

Three pups are believed to have been born in the past year, boosting the population to 11, although Isabelle’s death and the death of another adult on the island reduced it to nine.

The slump has touched off a debate over whether humans should bring more wolves to the island to replenish the severely inbred population. Peterson and Michigan Tech biologist John Vucetich, longtime leaders of the study, are among scientists favoring the idea. Others oppose it, saying nature should take its course.

The National Park Service is weighing its options. Green said most experts she has consulted believe the wolves will hang on for at least five years.

“So we don’t need to rush to a decision, but we need to proceed,” she said.

The park service hosted several public meetings on the issue last year and has received more than 1,000 comments, illustrating the widespread interest in the wolves’ fate, Green said.

This winter’s prolonged deep freeze has caused most of Lake Superior’s surface to freeze at times. Peterson and Vucetich had hoped that one or more wolves might use the opportunity to migrate from the mainland to the island, about 15 miles away, just as the park’s first wolves are believed to have done in the late 1940s.

None appear to have done so this year, although Green said that wouldn’t be certain until scientists conduct genetic analyses of recently collected feces samples, which would reveal if any newcomers have slipped onto the island undetected.

But the scientists had acknowledged there was also a chance that some of the Isle Royale wolves might head in the opposite direction.

“There’s a tendency for people to think an ice bridge is a one-way street and will solve everything,” Peterson said in a phone call from the island. “We’ve been telling people it’s more likely that wolves will leave Isle Royale rather than come to Isle Royale.”

Wolves are wanderers by nature and can cover many miles in a single day, he said. Despite their low numbers, their density on Isle Royale is actually high for their species.

“On the mainland their density is lower, they have a lot more directions they can disperse to,” Peterson said. “Isle Royale wolves have a lot of reasons to leave … and just one way to go.”

Peterson and Vucetich spend seven weeks at the snowbound wilderness park every winter studying the wolves and the moose on which they feed. It’s one of the world’s longest continuous studies of a predator-prey relationship in a closed ecosystem and has generated numerous discoveries.

During their frequent observational flights in a small plane, they spotted Isabelle wandering shoreline areas late last month. She was last seen Jan. 21, heading toward the pack that had assaulted her last year, Peterson said. She may have veered across the ice that night.

At age 3, she had left the pack into which she was born, which is normal behavior for a wolf, Peterson said.

“They disperse and look for vacant territory and an opportunity to mate,” he said. “But she’s been trapped on Isle Royale. She’d been traveling on her own for two years and never had pups.”

Scientists long believed it was extremely rare for wolves to cross from the mainland to the park, but evidence is mounting that it has happened more than they realized — which would explain how the population has maintained some genetic diversity despite its inbreeding, Vucetich said.

Ice bridges in western Lake Superior were more common in the 1960s and 1970, and it’s likely that wolves made the crossing back then, Peterson said. But they’ve become increasingly scarce as Great Lakes ice cover has shrunk in recent decades, contrary to the widespread cover this winter.

“That just isn’t going to work very well” as a way to build Isle Royale’s wolf numbers, he said. “Ice just is not forming the way it used to.”

Green said it was too early to give up on ice bridges as a pathway, with some scientists predicting climate change will bring more extreme weather swings.

“Nature may yet provide course corrections,” she said.


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With the death of its founder and longtime leader Fred Phelps, the Westboro Baptist Church faces the critical decision of whether to stay the course or turn its national notoriety and love of signage towards some other end. Here are some ways the church could reinvent itself going forward.

Professional Greeters

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Break Into Late-Night

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First Manned Mars Crew

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Medical Assistance

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Yogurt Snobs

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Airport Valets

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Where you at, Greg.