back to ratville times | rat haus | Index | Search | tree

2001 Front Page edition of

THE Trial of the Century:
The Martin Luther King Conspiracy
Exposed in Memphis

by Jim Douglass

According to a Memphis jury's verdict on December 8,1999, in the wrongful death lawsuit of the King family versus Loyd Jowers "and other unknown co-conspirators," Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by a conspiracy that included agencies of his own government. Almost 32 years after King's murder at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, a court extended the circle of responsibility for the assassination beyond the late scapegoat James Earl Ray to the United States government.
    I can hardly believe the fact that, apart from the courtroom participants, only Memphis TV reporter Wendell Stacy and I attended from beginning to end this historic three-and-one-half week trial. Because of journalistic neglect scarcely anyone else in this land of ours even knows what went on in it. After critical testimony was given in the trial's second week before an almost empty gallery, Barbara Reis, U.S. correspondent for the Lisbon daily Publico who was there several days, turned to me and said, "Everything in the U.S. is the trial of the century. O.J. Simpson's trial was the trial of the century. Clinton's trial was the trial of the century. But this is the trial of the century, and who's here?"
    What I experienced in that courtroom ranged from inspiration at the courage of the Kings, their lawyer-investigator William F. Pepper, and the witnesses, to amazement at the government's carefully interwoven plot to kill Dr. King. The seriousness with which U.S. intelligence agencies planned the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. speaks eloquently of the threat Kingian nonviolence represented to the powers that be in the spring of 1968....

    Hatred and fear of King deepened, Lawson said, in response to his plan to hold the Poor People's Campaign in Washington, D.C. King wanted to shut down the nation's capital in the spring of 1968 through massive civil disobedience until the government agreed to abolish poverty. King saw the Memphis sanitation workers' strike as the beginning of a nonviolent revolution that would redistribute income. "I have no doubt," Lawson said, "that the government viewed all this seriously enough to plan his assassination."...
    Perhaps the lesson of the King assassination is that our government understands the power of nonviolence better than we do, or better than we want to. In the spring of 1968, when Martin King was marching (and Robert Kennedy was campaigning), King was determined that massive, nonviolent civil disobedience would end the domination of democracy by corporate and military power. The powers that be took Martin Luther King seriously. They dealt with him in Memphis.
    Thirty-two years after Memphis, we know that the government that now honors Dr. King with a national holiday also killed him. As will once again become evident when the Justice Department releases the findings of its "limited re-investigation" into King's death, the government (as a footsoldier of corporate power) is continuing its cover-up -- just as it continues to do in the closely related murders of John and Robert Kennedy and Malcolm X. . . . FULL STORY

Living Systems and Holarchy
All Levels Expressing Their Needs
Living Systems, the Internet and the Human Future
by Elisabet Sahtouris

The problem I encounter most in trying to talk about living systems to people is our society's failure to understand living systems. Why is it that our culture, which is made up of people who are alive (so presumably we are a living system), knows so little about living systems? The answer has to do with the coincidence of the rise of science and the rise of the Industrial Revolution, such that our scientific models were all taken from the heady new mechanics....
    It's true that we evolve our technology as we understand more, but our understanding of life has been limited by the pretense that nature is complex machinery. We have failed to investigate living systems in their own right, without the assumption that they are mechanical, until very recently....
    The self-interest of ordinary people, of local economies and of nations that aren't represented in the WTO is coming out more strongly all the time. It's a process of glocalization! That's exactly how living systems work, with all levels expressing their needs. It's not about making a choice between having either healthy local economies or having a healthy world economy.[3] That's not possible. That would be like your body trying to run itself at the expense of its organs! . . . FULL TEXT

Hibakusha Wins in Nagasaki A-Bomb Matsuya Lawsuit
Claims of Thousands of Nuclear
Victims of the World Justified

On July 18, 2000, the Supreme Court of Japan dismissed the final appeal of the defendant, the Minister of Health and Welfare, on the Nagasaki A-bomb Matsuya Lawsuit. The court reconfirmed the Nagasaki District Court and the Fukuoka High Court rulings that Hideko Matsuya's disability was caused by radiation from the atomic bomb and ordered the Ministry to withdraw its rejection of Matsuya's application for official recognition of her disabilities as A-bomb induced. Matsuya's victory was made possible by the nationwide support she has received.
    As the first ruling of the Supreme Court, this judgment holds great international significance. It gives strong impact supporting the claims of not only A-bomb victims, but also nuclear victims all over the world on their deaths and suffering caused by nuclear tests, weapons development/production and accidents at nuclear-related facilities. With this decision addressing properly the reality of long-distance A-bomb victims and pointing out the unreasonableness of the process by which official recognition was granted, the very ground for governments' denial to providing compensation to these nuclear victims has now been lost. . . . FULL STORY

Abolition 2000 Report Card
Annual Progress toward a Nuclear-Free World

For the last four years, we have issued an Abolition 2000 report card assessing progress toward a nuclear weapons free world. Five years after the Abolition Statement was released at the UN, we take stock of the state of the Nuclear World, and of efforts to abolish nuclear weapons. . . . FULL STORY

Japan maps out path to nuclear-free world

Japan has proposed a road map for eliminating the world's nuclear arsenal in a draft resolution submitted to the disarmament committee of the UN Millennium General Assembly. The Japanese government worked on the draft resolution -- titled "A path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons" -- following a commitment the world's nuclear-armed nations made at the U.N. nuclear nonproliferation conference last May to eliminate their nuclear arsenals as an "unequivocal undertaking." . . . FULL STORY

Shell to face US lawsuit
for Saro-Wiwa execution

Anglo-Dutch oil company fails to have a multi-million pound civil claim by Nigerian emigres thrown out by N.Y. appeal court

Allegations that the oil multinational Shell aided and abetted the torture and murder of Nigerian activists including the executed writer Ken Saro-Wiwa will be tested by a full jury trial in New York, after the oil company's attempts to have the case thrown out were rejected.
    Shell will also stand accused of orchestrating a series of raids by the Nigerian military on villages in the Ogoni region that left more than 1,000 people dead and 20,000 homeless.
    Saro-Wiwa and eight others were arrested in 1994 after a fatal attack on former leaders of their Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (Mosop). In a case that shocked the world, and was widely reported to be a legal farce, they were found guilty of the murders by military tribunal and executed in November 1995.
    Now the case of the "Ogoni Nine", as they became known, has come back to haunt the Dutch and British owners of Shell Nigeria. The lawsuit was lodged by the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York on behalf of three Nigerian emigrs to the US, including Saro-Wiwa's brother Dr Owens Wiwa, and a woman identified as "Jane Doe" to protect her safety.
    Their claims could run to tens of millions of pounds in damages against the oil company. "We believe Shell facilitated Saro-Wiwa's execution," said Jenny Green, of the Center for Constitutional Rights, after the judgment. "We believe there is a basis in US law to hold Shell accountable." . . . FULL STORY

No Longer Afraid
For Nigerian activist Sowore Omoyele, democracy is worth the risk

As a 10-year-old boy, Sowore watched as a battalion of 300 military police attacked and ransacked his village. During the raid the soldiers arrested his half-brothers and their mother, and raped his 17-year-old cousin.
    "I was in front of her and they did this. I saw it happen," he recalls. "That night I silently promised myself that when I grew up I was going to fight back." Nigeria's ruling clique had gained a resourceful and stubborn young foe.
    "Well, if stubbornness means standing against the authorities that occupy the political space illegally, I think I can describe myself as a stubborn person," Sowore acknowledges with a smile. "It is just a matter of not allowing the threats, the intimidation, the attempt on my life to stop me from carrying on with what I think is desirable for the good of my people. I am no longer afraid."...
    "Quite honestly, I think the situation in Africa is grossly underreported in the U.S.A. But I think all of us who believe in pulling Africa out of the woods have a duty to enlighten people in this part of the world. There are well-intentioned people in the United States who, if they have adequate information, can put pressure on policymakers to encourage democracy in Nigeria."...
    "Torture is the most potent force in the hands of those who wish to maintain power," he offers. "It allows them to silence dissent. I think I owe the public a duty to talk about my experience because the more we expose them, the weaker they become." . . . FULL TEXT

Please Support
Amnesty International's
Campaign to Stop Torture:

Fast Action Stops Torture AND
Int'l Campaign Against Torture

Community Currencies
at a Crossroads -
New Ways Forward

by Tim Cohen-Mitchell

From time immemorial to the Middle Ages, from the Great Depression to the inflation-riddled 1970's, communities across the globe have put their ingenuity to work in designing their own monetary systems when existing ones falter or no longer serve their needs or values.
    Today, community currencies are again on the move. With the marked shift toward economic globalization and the decline in community cohesion has come a new generation of monetary systems created not by central bankers but by communities. . . . FULL STORY

Saying No To Power
by William Mandel

This post is on how the American people, in all its segments individually and jointly, young and old, female and male, home-owners and renters, those who work for wages and salaries and those who are or think of themselves as do the self-employed; well or poorly educated; white, Black, Latino, Asian-American, Native American, the "normal" and the disabled, have learned to defend their own interests in the past century and to gain improvements in their status. That includes staying out and getting out of wars, and attaining necessary objectives outside our country by peaceful means and even when military means are unavoidable. . . . TEXT

Echoes of Vietnam

by Rachel Massey

Proponents of the "war on drugs" would like us to believe that the more acres of South American countryside we spray with herbicides, the fewer North American children will fall prey to drug pushers. But studies show that herbicide spray campaigns are ineffective at stemming the flow of drugs. So long as there is a demand for drugs, someone somewhere will supply them. Therefore crop eradication programs simply waste tax dollars. Furthermore, a 1999 report by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), a federal agency, concluded that crop eradication efforts to date have failed. According to the GAO, the U.S. State Department escalated its support for aerial spray campaigns in 1996, and during the 1997-98 period, over 100,000 hectares (254,000 acres) of the Colombian countryside were sprayed. But during this same period, net coca cultivation in Colombia increased 50 percent. . . . FULL STORY

Outsourcing War:
Columbia Military Aid
From The Private Sector

[T]he Clinton administration quietly has hired [MPRI,] a high-level group of former U.S. military personnel whose job far exceeds the narrow focus of the drug war....
    Although the hiring of MPRI was approved by Congress, it raises serious questions about the propriety of U.S. intervention in the affairs of a sovereign state, of American civilians participating in a foreign war, and whether the United States can guarantee the Colombian military will not misuse the assistance it receives from MPRI....
    MPRI and the Pentagon both denied requests by the Times to review the MPRI contract, which is renewable each year. MPRI spokesman Ed Soyster, a retired Army lieutenant general and former director of the Defense Department's Defense Intelligence Agency, compared the need for secrecy in Colombia with the need for secrecy in Vietnam. I was in Vietnam, I wouldn't want to tell you about my operation," he said. "If the enemy knows about it, he can counter it." . . . FULL STORY

Medical Irradiation and Human Health
A Series from The X-rays and Health Project
Featuring the new book, Radiation from Medical Procedures
in the Pathogenesis of Cancer and Ischemic Heart Disease
8 Key Points: Your Stake
in the Patients'
Right-to-Know about X-Rays

Radiation from Medical Procedures (699 pages) provides the first powerful evidence that the U.S. population's accumulated exposure to medical x-rays is a necessary co-actor in causing over half the deaths from cancer, and over half the deaths also from ischemic (coronary) heartdisease. Since the study's publication in November 1999, no one has shown that it overestimates the impact of x-rays in causing cancer and coronary heart disease. Some people say "it must be an overestimate," but they have never shown how. Some of the critics have never even looked at the study....
    The right time to start action on the "Doses Down Now" policy is today, because achievements in your locality can benefit your family and your community within 18-24 months, without waiting for statewide or nationwide success. Any locality can get its x-ray doses down, regardless of how slowly other regions might make progress. The "Doses Down Now" policy is a proven way to prevent some of the cancer problem, not a "maybe." . . . FULL STORY

Fear and Patients' Right-
to-Know: Influential
Radiologist's Viewpoint
Deserving Public Response

The goal of the X-Rays and Health Project (XaHP) is to reduce the x-ray dose per x-ray procedure, to the minimum level consistent with obtaining the medical and dental benefits. The reason for dose-reduction is that x-rays increase the risk of consequential mutations, even when each x-ray exposure occurs at low doses....
    In our opinion, a medical degree confers an especially strong duty to examine evidence bearing on life and death very carefully, before urging anyone to ignore it.
    Imagine that persons with such a degree hear about a new study whose conclusion is that millions of future cases of cancer and coronary heart disease could be prevented by reducing x-ray dosage per x-ray procedure. Such a benefit would hardly be trivial! Without examining and refuting the new evidence, can physicians ethically urge anyone to ignore it? What about the very great harm that such advice may cause? . . . FULL STORY

Consider supporting
The Patients' Right-to-Know Policy Statement

Taking Control of Our Lives
Freedom and Sovereignty

These issues go back centuries, back to the earliest modern democratic revolutions in 17th century England and in the North American colonies a century later. In both cases, the Democrats were defeated -- not completely and certainly not permanently by any means.
    In 17th century England, much of the population did not want to be ruled by either king or parliament.... As their pamphlets put it, they wanted to be governed "by countrymen like ourselves that know our wants," not by "knights and gentlemen [that] make us laws, that are chosen for fear and do but oppress us, and do not know the people's sores."
    These same ideas animated the rebellious farmers of the colonies a century later. But the constitutional system was designed quite differently. It was designed to block that heresy. The goal was, "to protect the minority of the opulent from the majority" and to

ensure that "the country is governed by those who own it." Those are the words of the leading framer, James Madison, and the president of the Continental Congress and first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Jay. Their conception prevailed but the conflicts continued. They continually take new forms. They are alive right now. However, elite doctrine remains essentially unchanged.
    Fast forwarding to the 20th century -- I'll keep here to the sort of liberal progressive side of the spectrum; it's harsher on the other side. The population are regarded as "ignorant and meddlesome outsiders" whose role is to be "spectators," not "participants," apart from periodic opportunities to choose among the representatives of private power. These are what are called elections. In elections, public opinion is considered essentially irrelevant if it conflicts with the demands of the minority of the opulent who own the country. We're seeing that right now in fact. . . . . FULL TEXT

Global Media
and Democracy

by Robert McChesney

It's very important to understand that the rise of a global commercial media system, dominated by a handful of corporations, is a mandatory and necessary part of the global neo-liberal economic project. It's not just a coincidence that they happen at the same time. It is not a fluke. It's a mandatory part for several reasons.
    First, you need to have a global commercial media market to establish global markets for consumer goods. That means advertising over television. That's a relatively recent phenomenon. That's the hallmark, in fact, of this emerging global media system that I'm going to be talking about.
    Secondly, global commercial media is ideal at spreading a certain type of consumer ideology that is highly conducive to the type of world that is being built in the name of neo-liberalism and globalization. This ideology is one that is fundamentally depoliticizing and demoralizing and anti-democratic in any fundamental respect...
    Part of the neo-liberal project is a deregulation of ownership restrictions and requirements and public service requirements on media across the world in various nations. This deregulation has opened up the possibility for capitalists to move in and get larger and larger and larger in ways that were simply illegal ten or twenty years ago in the United States as well as most nations in the world....
    The struggle to democratize our media, to reclaim our culture, has to be a mandatory part of our broader struggle to democratize our societies. It is simply inescapable. That's why in our organizing activities we have got to organize around issues of opening up our media by breaking up these big companies, preserving non-profit and non-commercial spaces, and making them healthy, viable and dominant in our society. . . . FULL TEXT

Public Relations:
Corporate Propaganda
Perverting Democracy

Australian academic Alex Carey once wrote that "the twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy."
    In societies like ours, corporate propaganda is delivered through advertising and public relations. Most people recognize that advertising is propaganda. We understand that whoever paid for and designed an ad wants us to think or feel a certain way, vote for a certain candidate, or purchase a certain product. Public relations, on the other hand, is much more insidious. Because it's disguised as information, we often don't realize we are being influenced by public relations....
    Mainstream, corporate news media are dependent on public relations. Half of everything in the news actually originates from a PR firm. If you're a lazy journalist, editor, or news director, it's easy to simply regurgitate the dozens of press releases and stories that come in every day for free from PR firms....
    Public relations is now inseparable from the business of lobbying, creating public policy, and getting candidates elected to public office. The PR industry just might be the single most powerful political institution in the world. It expropriates and exploits the democratic rights of millions on behalf of big business by fooling the public about the issues....
    The propaganda-for-hire industry perverts democracy. We try to help citizens and journalists learn about how they're being lied to, manipulated, and too often defeated by sophisticated PR campaigns. The public-relations industry is a little like the invisible man in that old Claude Rains movie: crimes are committed, but no one can see the perpetrator. At PR Watch, we try to paint the invisible manipulators with bright orange paint. Citizens in a democracy need to know who and what interests are manipulating public opinion and policy, and how. Democracies work best without invisible men. . . . FULL TEXT

The Mythology of
Commercial Broadcasting
and Contemporary Crisis
of Public Broadcasting

Unfortunately, one central and arguably fatal core problem exists for public broadcasting: how to coexist with a capitalist political economy. To some extent this problem is similar to the tension between participatory democracy and capitalism. Democracy works best with minimal social inequality and when people regard the common good as important to their own well being. But these are two traits the market strongly discourages. As a rule of thumb, the more egalitarian a capitalist society, the more responsive and viable its public broadcasting system....
    What stimulates much of the creation of a global media market is the growth of commercial advertising worldwide, especially by transnational firms. Advertising tends to be conducted by large firms operating in oligopolistic markets. With the increasing globalization of the world economy, advertising has come to play a crucial role for the few hundred firms that dominate it....
    The corporate media, with their great wealth and control of access to the mass of people, are notorious for the leverage they wield over politicians. It was no surprise, then, in September, 1997, when the Wall Street Journal declared that the U.S. commercial broadcasting industry could "claim the crown" as "the most powerful lobby in Washington.". . . A key part of this political strength is reflected in the broadcasters' expert use of public relations. Indeed, the U.S. broadcast and advertising industries were arguably the two industries that first developed the art of "spin" in its modern form during the 1930s, as a way of smashing their opponents and gaining favorable legislation and regulation....
    When the US Supreme Court considered in 1942 whether advertising should be protected by the First Amendment from government regulation, the Court voted 9-0 against the proposition. But in the past 30 years, that has begun to change--to no small extent because of the sheer commercialization of culture, as the market began its spread into every nook and cranny of social life. When commercialism penetrates everything, and when noncommercial public life diminishes or merges with commercialism, the capacity to distinguish between the two is compromised...
    In our time, the emergence of this gigantic, domineering corporate media system augurs a moment of truth for the First Amendment and its protection of a free press. Are corporations the same as people? Do shareholders and executives at corporations--clearly driven by law to maximize profit regardless of the social implications--possess the unconditional right to censor media content? Should investors be granted the First Amendment right to select and censor journalists when they have no more concern for the press per se than they have for any other potentially profitable investment? Is it right that this capacity to censor be restricted to the very wealthiest Americans, or their hired hands? How does one distinguish what speech is necessary for politics--and thereby absolutely protected by the First Amendment--when it seems that all speech is increasingly concerned only with commercial gain, and political democracy is not even a prerequisite for its existence? And if the First Amendment does in fact absolutely protect the corporate media, by what logic should it not also protect corporate advertisers, or food manufacturers, or commerce in general?...
    What is necessary, now more than ever, is to organize on media issues among the broader population with the aim of expanding the range of what is possible in Washington and everywhere else. The key strategic move is to locate those segments of the citizenry -- preferably the ones already organized, at least for starters -- that would benefit by a healthy public broadcasting system and a more democratic media setup. In the United States, that includes civil rights groups, education and library groups, children's advocates, journalists, progressive religious organizations, and organized labor -- especially organized labor. The participation of labor, due to its size, its influence, and its historic activism, is absolutely critical if media reform is to ever become a viable prospect anywhere in the world. . . . FULL TEXT

Trashing of the Arctic:
Toxins Destroying Inuits'
Lands, Health and Lives

As we put our babies to our breasts we are feeding them a noxious, toxic cocktail," said Sheila Watt-Cloutier, a 47-year-old grandmother who is president of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference. "When women have to thinktwice about breast-feeding their babies, surely that must be a wake-up call to the world."...
    According to the Quebec Health Center, a concentration of 1,052 parts per billion of PCBs has been found in Arctic women's milk fat. This compares to a reading of 7,002 in polar bear fat, 1,002 ppb in whale blubber, 527 ppb in seal blubber, and 152 ppb in fish. The United States Environmental Protection Agencysafety standard for edible poultry, by contrast, is 3 ppb, and in fish, 2 ppb. At 50 ppb, soil is often considered to be hazardous waste. . . . FULL STORY

The New Terminators:
A Guide to the
Anti-Sovereignty Movement

by Bruce Johansen

Anti-sovereignty efforts are not new. They are as old as the colonization of Turtle Island itself. When John Fleming, Skagit Valley Republican, persuaded Washington State Republicans to adopt a resolution advocating the dissolution of reservation governments in their election-year platform late last spring, the action evoked memories of Andrew Jackson, the Trail of Tears, and 1950s-era termination efforts. . . . Fleming is a prototype of the newest wave of termination advocates -- reservation landowners who complain that they are being treated as an oppressed minority. Members of these groups reject the notion of semi-sovereign Native nations, as they reject nearly two centuries of legal precedent in the United States which began with the landmark Supreme Court rulings of Chief Justice John Marshall in the Cherokee cases of the 1830s. . . . FULL STORY

back to ratville times | rat haus | Index | Search | tree