You probably heard the great news – after two years of progressive activism, FOX finally cancelled Glenn Beck’s show–but the Boycott Must Go On!!


Dear Kevin,
You probably heard the great news – after two years of progressive activism, FOX finally cancelled Glenn Beck’s show.
Beck was targeted after he slandered President Obama by saying, “This president has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture, I don’t know what it is… This guy, I believe, is a racist.”
Activists at ColorOfChange, Media Matters, StopBeck, FoxNewsBoycott, and of course Democrats.com responded with a boycott of advertisers on Glenn Beck’s show. Ultimately over 300 advertisers pulled their ads from Beck, costing FOX over $40 million.
Advertiser boycotts work! And it’s time to boycott all FOX News advertisers:

http://www.democrats.com/boycott-proactiv

We’re starting our boycott of all FOX News with Proactiv, which sells acne medicine to teenagers and young adults. Why?
First, there are lots of other acne treatments. Second, young adults above all are hurt by FOX News, which promotes right-wing policies on race, education, healthcare, the environment, and war. Let’s get our future leaders to lead the fight against FOX News!
Sign the petition to Proactiv and enter the email address of every young adult over 18 you know:

http://www.democrats.com/boycott-proactiv

Beyond President Obama, FOX regularly slanders nearly everyone: Democrats, unionized workers, the unemployed (including veterans and 99ers), environmentalists, feminists, blacks, Hiics, Jews, Muslims, progressives, scientists, and any other group it disagrees with.
FOX News broadcasts rightwing extremist slander, incitement to violence, political propaganda, and outright lies to promote its rightwing political agenda. This is not “news,” but rather a never-ending “war on news” – and it’s all documented in our petition.
Why would any decent company want to fund it? Tell Proactiv to stop advertising on FOX News:

http://www.democrats.com/boycott-proactiv

Thanks for all you do!
Bob Fertik

GLEN BECK ADMITTED in 2007, “I Am RACIST and Barack Obama is very White” THIS MAKES Boycotting FOX NEWS needed NOW

By Kevin Stoda

Dear, American supporters of the Fascist Oddball Xenophobic (FOX) news networks.

AMERICANS are getting less tolerant of your racism and stronghold on our major media.

For example, we have noted that in his 2007 TV program from FOX (See on You-Tube), Glen Beck admitted he himself was racist. Further, Beck then, in contrast to 2009, called Barrack Obama much more white than black. (Apparently, Beck now he has other nonsense to mush men’s minds.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0tgvWxC_6A

Using a major news platform to promote racism and to tell people to disrespect a whole presidential administration through mixed truths, outright lies, and xenophobia, is not to be tolerated any more.

On Democracy Now today, Amy Goodman asked Benjamin Jealous of the NAACP what he thought of Wal-Mart’s pull-out from advertising on the Glen Beck program on FOX.

NOTE: Goodman had simply asked , “The whole attack by Glenn Beck that drove this (resignation)? In your response from the NAACP to Van Jones, it says, ´The only thing more outrageous than Mr. Beck’s attack on Van Jones is the fact that there are sponsors that continue to pay him to provide this type of offensive commentary.` Do you support the continued boycott of companies like Wal-Mart of Beck’s show on Fox?”

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/8/white_house_environmental_adviser_van_jones

This is a particularly important point because Glen Beck´s HATE CAMPAIGN ON THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION led recently to a great American policy maker, Van Jones, quitting the government this week.

http://thinkprogress.org/2009/09/06/van-jones-resigns/

Mr. Jealous said, “We certainly support them (Walmart) choosing with their dollars who they’re going to support. I mean, it’s—Glenn Beck is somebody who’s told a seven-year-old girl, a seven-year-old black girl, that he would buy her a ticket back to Africa, that she needed to go back to Africa. And then he comes out, and he says that healthcare is the beginning of reparations. I mean, this guy plays the race card on a weekly basis. He does it very aggressive—you know, in a very hateful way.”

Recall, first, that Van Jones is one of the most important and thoughtful men in America—however, the FOX (Fascist Oddball Xenophobic) news network chose to support a man, like Glen Beck, rather than seeing that tens of millions of Americans need to get health care from promoters like Jones and that our America economy needs to move starting today to the kind of economy that its competitors worldwide are already doing.

http://www.alternet.org/environment/95963/what_will_the_green_economy_look_like/

Let’s quote the wisdom and influential words of Van Jones on the absolute necessity to green the American economy NOW!
“I think it’s really important to point out that we’re sort of at the end of an era of American capitalism, where we thought we could run the economy based on consumption rather than production, credit rather than creativity, borrowing rather than building, and also, most importantly, environmental destruction rather than environmental restoration.”
Jones continued, “We’re trying to make the case in this book that that era is over. We now have to move in a very different direction. And key to that will be basing the US economy not on credit cards, but based on clean energy and the clean energy revolution that would put literally millions of people to work, putting up solar panels all across the United States, weatherizing buildings so they don’t leak so much energy and put up so much carbon, building wind farms and wave farms, manufacturing wind turbines. We argue you could put Detroit back to work not making SUVs to destroy the world, but making wind turbines, 8,000 finely machine parts in each one, twenty tons of steel in each wind tower, making wind turbines to help save the world.”
Finally, Van Jones wisely noted, “So we think that you can fight pollution and poverty at the same time. We think that you can actually power our way through this recession by putting people to work, but we’re going to have to start building things here and re-powering, retrofitting, retooling America, and that that’s the way forward both for the economy, for the earth and for everyday people.”
Note: These statements came from a program on DN from October of last year:

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/10/28/van_jones_on_the_green_collar

Van Beck has written a book of the same title, The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems.

http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780061650758/The_Green_Collar_Economy/index.aspx

America needs such voices as Van Jones in government leadership in America—not Fascist Oddball Xenophobic (FOX) types.

Clean up the American airwaves of all its fascism and racism, today.

http://www.pittsburghurbanmedia.com/a-petition-against-fox-conservative-host-glenn-beck.aspx

NOTE: One way to change the noise of Fascist Oddball Xenophobic (FOX) media moguls is to support alternative media organizations

http://aan.org/alternative/Aan/index

and alternative monitoring websites.

http://americas.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/64380

Another way, is to demand that local radio and TV channels put better programming on, such as Democracy Now or news sources promoted by serious progressive journalists:

http://www.tacomapjh.org/progressive_news.htm

Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments

HOAX U.S. ANNOUNCES ‘NO VISA’ POLICY FOR FILIPINOS


U.S. ANNOUNCES 'NO VISA' POLICY FOR FILIPINOS.

THIS IS A HOAX: SEE HERE http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/357975/pinoyabroad/news/us-visa-free-policy-for-pinoys-a-hoax-phl-embassy-in-washington-says

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Fierce Green Fire” Documentary


LOIS GIBBS: When Love Canal came, it was a new segment of the movement. It wasn’t that we don’t care about the forest. It was the people focus that set us aside from the other elements that had come before us, and really the focus on if the fish are dying and if the birds are dying, then we’re going to die.
ASHLEY JUDD: Buried beneath the neighborhood were 20,000 tons of poisonous chemicals dumped in an old canal by Hooker Chemical Corporation.

LOIS GIBBS: We truly believed, if we can prove that there was an increase in disease, they, meaning the government, will do the right thing. And we found that 56 percent of the children in our community were born with birth defects. Fifty-six percent of our children had three ears, double rows of teeth, extra fingers, extra toes or were mentally retarded. During that study time, there were 22 women who were pregnant, and of those 22 pregnancies, only four normal babies were born. And the Health Department literally threw the health study on the floor—I mean, literally, took it and just threw it on the floor and said, “It’s useless housewife data collected by people who have a vested interest in the outcome.”

Earth Day Special: “Fierce Green Fire” Documentary Explores Environmental Movement’s Global Rise

GUESTS

Mark Kitchell, director of A Fierce Green Fire. His previous film, Berkeley in the Sixties, was nominated for an Academy Award.

In an Earth Day special, we look at the history of the global environmental movement as told in the sweeping new documentary, “A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet.” We air extended highlights from the film — from New York housewives who take on a major chemical company that polluted their community of Love Canal to Greenpeace’s campaigns to save whales, to the fight by Chico Mendes and Brazilian rubber tappers to save the Amazon rainforest. We also speak to the film’s Oscar-nominated director, Mark Kitchell. “We were really looking to tell stories of the movement. We thought it would be a more engaging and impassioned approach to what are very difficult subjects. Usually environmental films, no matter how good they are, are an eco-bummer,” Kitchell says. “These people succeed against enormous odds. And that should give us some kind of hope.” “A Fierce Green Fire” airs tonight on PBS American Masters.

 

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Today is Earth Day. It began in 1970 as a “National Teach-In on the Crisis of the Environment” and has grown to become a worldwide day of action. Forty years ago, one in 10 Americans participated in Earth Day. This year an estimated one billion people will join in around the world.

This year’s Earth Day comes as new research published in PLOSONE highlights the connection between pollution and racial injustice. Nationwide, people of color on average are exposed to 38 percent higher levels of outdoor nitrogen dioxide pollution than whites, a difference that amounts to an estimated 7,000 deaths per year from heart disease. Another study shows the number of major wildfires in the western United States has dramatically increased due to drought and rising temperatures from climate change. The findings published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters show the number of large wildfires rose from 1984 to 2011 at a rate of seven fires per year. Earlier this month, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned the world has just 15 years to stave off the most devastating impacts of climate change.

Well, today, we spend the hour looking at the history of the environmental movement. It’s told in the new film A Fierce Green Fire.

ELIZABETH RETTON: I carried a child for nine months. Our little Julie was stillborn. The loss of our child may be a direct result to the chemicals. Please don’t allow this to happen to anyone else before you get them out.

JOHN ADAMS: Raw sewage was going right down the Hudson River. Air pollution was growing just as fast as new automobiles were coming out.

DOUG SCOTT: The dams in the Grand Canyon, that was going to be a fight to the death.

MARTIN LITTON: They were going to take the water out of the river. All of it.

RACHEL CARSON: To these people, apparently, the balance of nature was something that was repealed as soon as man came on the scene.

JAMES FARMER: If we do not save the environment, then whatever we do in civil right will be of no meaning, because then we will have the equality of extinction.

JOHN ADAMS: All of a sudden, people said, “Wait a second. This is not how we have to live.”

LOIS GIBBS: If I was to let the two EPA representatives come out this door, does anybody know what would happen to them?

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There is environmental extremism. I don’t think they’ll be happy until the White House looks like a bird’s nest.

REPORTER: The protesters were told not to block the trucks. They are now lying in the streets now blocking one truck.

REX WEYLER: It wasn’t just a matter of holding up signs saying “stop killing the whales.” No, Greenpeace wanted to get out there in front of the whaling boats and stop them.

STEWART BRAND: They were reinventing civilization and did not know how. And I didn’t either, but I figured we might find out.

VIJAYA NAGARAJAN: How do you hold forests in common, when every other force around you is trying to get you to privatize?

WANGARI MAATHAI: We are going to shed blood because of our land. We will. Our forefathers shed blood for our land.

BILL McKIBBEN: Americans understood what was going on and what the danger was, but still nothing happening in Washington. Not a damn thing.

SENJAMES INHOFE: Global warming is the greatest single hoax ever perpetrated.

STEPHEN SCHNEIDER: I don’t know. Do we have to have a hurricane take out Miami and Shanghai to have everybody wake up? If it happened next year, it might be possible to still do that. What a hell of a way to run a planet.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s the trailer for A Fierce Green Fire. Yes, today is Earth Day, and we’re looking at the history of the environmental movement as told in this sweeping documentary that airs tonight on PBS American Masters. Today we’re featuring extended excerpts from the film, including a look at one of the first battles over a toxic waste dump. It may surprise you to know that it was led by housewives, led by Lois Gibbs. We’ll also look at Greenpeace’s campaigns to save whales and baby harp seals, and later, a fight by Chico Mendes and the Brazilian rubber tappers to save the Amazon rainforest. But in San Francisco, we’re joined by the director of A Fierce Green Fire, Mark Kitchell.

Mark, welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about the scope of this film and why you decided to make A Fierce Green Fire.

MARK KITCHELL: Well, we saw that nobody had made a sort of big picture overview, a history, an exploration of the environmental movement. And that was the basic impulse. We figured, 50 years into this movement, it was time to look at the broader and deeper meanings of environmentalism and where it’s going. And, you know, I do history. And it was a great pleasure and honor and challenge taking on this history. It’s sort of the largest movement the world’s ever witnessed, but so atomized and episodic that you don’t really—it doesn’t really have a sense of, you know, its larger meaning and place and what it’s about. And that was the idea, was to take on the meaning of the movement.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to share some of the stories of these movements. We’re going to go in A Fierce Green Fire first to that battle that was led by Lois Gibbs, who would become famous for leading housewives against some 20,000 tons of toxic waste dumped by Hooker Chemical in their community of Love Canal, a neighborhood in Niagara Falls, New York. They first learned the chemicals were seeping into their homes and water, making their children sick—they learned this in 1976. This part of the film is narrated by the actress Ashley Judd. It starts, though, with Lois Gibbs herself.

LOIS GIBBS: You are murderers! Each and every one of you in this room are murderers!

PROTESTERS: We want out! We want out! We want out! We want out!

LOIS GIBBS: When Love Canal came, it was a new segment of the movement. It wasn’t that we don’t care about the forest. It was the people focus that set us aside from the other elements that had come before us, and really the focus on if the fish are dying and if the birds are dying, then we’re going to die.

ASHLEY JUDD: Buried beneath the neighborhood were 20,000 tons of poisonous chemicals dumped in an old canal by Hooker Chemical Corporation. Reports of trouble began in 1976, but Love Canal did not explode until Michael Brown, a journalist at theNiagara Gazette, wrote articles exposing the problem. They caught the eye of Lois Gibbs.

LOIS GIBBS: I read a newspaper article, and Love Canal had 20,000 tons of chemicals buried in it, and that it was leaking into the neighborhood. And so I read this newspaper, and I said, “Oh, those poor people.” The next day, there was another article, and in that one it talked about the 99th Street Elementary School, and I was like, “Oh, my goodness. That’s where Michael’s going to kindergarten. That’s why Michael’s so sick.”

ASHLEY JUDD: Lois tried to get her son transferred to another school, but the superintendent refused.

LOIS GIBBS: When I met with Dr. Long, he said, “I am not about to move 407 children because of one irate, hysterical housewife with a sickly kid.”

ASHLEY JUDD: Instead, Lois began to circulate a petition to close the school. She went door to door, discovering the extent of the damage.

LOIS GIBBS: I was shocked. I was absolutely shocked. I thought I was the only one with a sickly child. I thought I was the only family that was affected by these leaking chemicals from Love Canal. In their basement, you could see where the chemical residue just comes up through the basement floor and just pools there. And it smells. It smells like a chemical factory. It’s nasty.

This hole just popped up, and this is what we feel is causing a lot of the birth defects and the miscarriages and health problems in the area.

MARGE BATES: In ’76—it was before Love Canal broke—I got pregnant. I carried the child for nine months. The baby weighed three pounds, and it was a stillborn birth.

LOVE CANAL RESIDENT: I’ve had two miscarriages. I had a miscarriage living in this house, and I had a miscarriage when I worked for Hooker Chemical. My god, and I almost panicked. I couldn’t believe it. Both my children were born premature.

ASHLEY JUDD: When Lois took her case to the state, officials surprised her with an emergency declaration to evacuate the nearest homes. However, the outer ring of homes surrounding Love Canal—800 families—were given nothing.

LOVE CANAL RESIDENT: Would you please tell me: Do I let my three-year-old stay? She has a birth defect now.

LOVE CANAL RESIDENT: What are you going to do for my kid? What are you going to do? Nothing. Think the damage is done, man. The damage is done.

ASHLEY JUDD: The state bought the inner ring of houses. Then they put up a fence and began to excavate. Love Canal residents outside the fence felt trapped.

INTERVIEWER: When did the state tell you to stop growing your vegetable garden?

GRACE McGOULF: In August of ’78.

INTERVIEWER: So they weren’t willing to move you out, but they were willing to tell you to stop growing vegetables?

GRACE McGOULF: Yeah, willing to tell us not to have the kids go barefooted, not to have them go in the basement, don’t plant a garden, but enjoy your house. Live there with your family, while we continue doing our tests and use you as guinea pigs.

ASHLEY JUDD: The Love Canal residents decided to do their own health study and found an alarming increase in disease and birth defects.

LOIS GIBBS: We truly believed, if we can prove that there was an increase in disease, they, meaning the government, will do the right thing. And we found that 56 percent of the children in our community were born with birth defects. Fifty-six percent of our children had three ears, double rows of teeth, extra fingers, extra toes or were mentally retarded. During that study time, there were 22 women who were pregnant, and of those 22 pregnancies, only four normal babies were born. And the Health Department literally threw the health study on the floor—I mean, literally, took it and just threw it on the floor and said, “It’s useless housewife data collected by people who have a vested interest in the outcome.”

ASHLEY JUDD: The New York State Health Department was prodded into doing its own health study and presented their findings to a packed meeting in Love Canal.

LOIS GIBBS: The health commissioner took the stage and said, “We found that 56 percent of the children in Love Canal were born with birth defects.” And we’re secretly, as sick as it sounds, saying, “Yes, yes! And now you’re going to evacuate us, right?” I mean, that’s what we’re hoping for. And then he says, “But we don’t believe those birth defects are related to Love Canal.” And it’s—just the whole audience, you could hear was: “Huh?” I mean, it was just like—and it’s like, “We believe that those birth defects are related to a random clustering of genetically defected people.”

ASHLEY JUDD: For the residents, Love Canal became a two-year struggle to get relocated. Lois Gibbs pushed relentlessly and finally forced the state to bring in the federal government. The Environment Protection Agency launched a pilot study of chromosome damage. The results of the tests were explosive.

LOIS GIBBS: Chromosome damage means my two children may be genetically damaged as a result of Love Canal. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

EPA REPRESENTATIVE: We’ll then decide whether this evidence, added to the cumulative knowledge that we already have from other health and environment studies at Love Canal, justifies a recommendation for relocation of the residents or other appropriate actions to assist those in the area.

LOVE CANAL RESIDENT: It seems to me that the federal government has finally, after two years, come up to the high-level thinking of housewives that they have constantly put down. We know what’s going on. We did research, too. And we want out of there. We want our kids out. Not on Wednesday. Today.

ASHLEY JUDD: The EPA recommended relocation, but the White House blocked the emergency declaration. The residents of Love Canal demanded an explanation. WhenEPA officials arrived, they decided to take them hostage.

LOIS GIBBS: Just pass the word around. Nobody—we’re not going to do anything violent. We’re just going to keep them in the house. Nothing more than that, body-barricade the doors. OK?

PROTESTER: OK.

LOIS GIBBS: Pass the word. And don’t let them out.

PROTESTER: No one’s coming out.

PROTESTER: Come on, guys! Sit.

LOIS GIBBS: If I was to let the two EPA representatives come out this door, does anybody know what would happen to them?

PROTESTER: We’d tear them apart!

FRANK NEPAL: I guess I’m here for the duration.

REPORTER: Meaning what, the duration?

FRANK NEPAL: Well, I guess until the White House gives the homeowners some sort of answer.

LOIS GIBBS: Well, I call up the White House. The lady started giving me this lecture about how Love Canal residents have blown it out of proportion and lots of people die of cancer, and we should just—I’m like, “You know, lady, if I was a crazy, I’d kill these hostages.” And I hung up the phone. I’m thinking, like, I am crazy.

REPORTER: Homeowners association president Lois Gibbs spoke with Congressman John LaFalce in Washington to try to get some answers. LaFalce is set to meet with President Carter at this hour at a dinner meeting at the White House. We should have more information…

LOIS GIBBS: I went out on the front porch and said, “OK, guys, the president hears us. He’s going to hear from our congressman. I think we should let them go, and I think we should let them go with a very strong warning.”

I have told the White House—and this is upon your approval—that we will allow the twoEPA representatives to leave, but if we do not have a disaster declaration Wednesday by noon, then what they have seen here today is just a Sesame Street picnic in comparison.

ASHLEY JUDD: Two days later, Lois called the White House. Amazingly enough, her ultimatum worked.

LOIS GIBBS: An emergency to permit the federal government and the state of New York to undertake…

And then, all of a sudden, she said, “And we will grant temporary relocation.” I’m like, “And we will grant temporary relocation”—all of a sudden it was just like even the birds, I swear, weren’t singing—”until we can get permanent relocation money allocated, but permanent relocation is the goal.”

DEBBIE CERILLO: Here’s to the homeowners and all their hard work, huh?

ASHLEY JUDD: At last, President Carter came to Love Canal to sign the agreement buying out the homeowners.

PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: The whole question of a disposal of hazardous waste, especially toxic chemicals, is going to be one of the great environmental challenges of the 1980s. There must never be in our country another Love Canal. Thank you very much.

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, that was President Jimmy Carter and, throughout the excerpt, Lois Gibbs and others who led the struggle to take on Hooker Chemical in Love Canal, a community in Niagara Falls, New York. The story is told in A Fierce Green Fire, a film that tells the history of the environmental movement through these different struggles. In this Earth Day special, when we come back, we’ll look at Greenpeace and its battle to save the whales, as well as Chico Mendes and the rubber tappers of Brazil fighting to save the Amazon. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Yes, today is Earth Day, and we’re looking at key moments in the history of the environmental movement as told in the new film A Fierce Green Fire, directed by Mark Kitchell. It’s airing tonight on PBS American Masters. As we turn now to another extended excerpt about a ragtag group of ecologists who helped launch the group Greenpeace—their first campaign, a fight to save the whales. In this excerpt, we bring you Greenpeace co-founders Rex Weyler, Paul Watson and Bob Hunter. It’s narrated by Van Jones, President Obama’s former green jobs czar.

VAN JONES: In 1975, Greenpeace set off to hunt the whalers. After two months at sea, they came upon the Russian whaling fleet.

REX WEYLER: There’s five over there. There’s on by the Vostok, and there’s three over here. There’s nine chasers altogether.

We’re coming upon a floating slaughterhouse. There’s blood in the water. There’s huge slabs of blubber being hauled up on these big factory ships. Blood is just pouring out of this pipe. And the stench alone made us all want to throw up.

PAUL WATSON: Suddenly, Bob and I were in a small boat in front of a Soviet harpoon vessel that was bearing down on us. In front of us is eight magnificent sperm whales that were fleeing for their life. And every time the harpooner tried to get a shot, I was at the helm so I would maneuver the boat to try and block the harpoon.

REX WEYLER: Here’s the whales. Here’s us in our Zodiacs. And here’s the Russian ship. We are right between the Soviet ship and the whales. And the harpooner’s not shooting, but eventually somebody from the bridge walks down the catwalk and talks to the harpooner, and the harpooner nods, and the guy goes back. And Bob looks in his eyes, and he knows: This guy’s going to shoot this harpoon.

PAUL WATSON: The he looked at us and smiled and brought his finger across his neck. And that’s when I realized Gandhi wasn’t going to pull through for us that day.

REX WEYLER: And at that very moment, they fire the harpoon.

PAUL WATSON: This harpoon flew over our head and slammed into the backside of one of the whales. And she screamed. It was a very human-like screen, like a woman. And it took us completely off guard.

REX WEYLER: The whalers purposefully shoot at the female first, because they know that the bull whales will attack them. And then, when the bull whales come to attack them, which is exactly what happened…

PAUL WATSON: He was waiting for them and very nonchalantly pulled the trigger and sent a second harpoon into the head of the whale. And he screamed and fell back. And now the water’s full of blood everywhere from the two dying whales. And as this whale lay and, you know, rolled in agony on the surface of the ocean, I caught his eye, and he looked straight at me.

REX WEYLER: And we’re looking into the eye of this huge sperm whale. And I have to tell you, it—it’s sort of beyond emotional. You know, when you—there are certain moments that are so emotional, you’re just in brand new territory.

PAUL WATSON: Why were the Russians killing these whales? You know, they didn’t eat sperm whale meat, but they did use the spermaceti oil to make high-heat-resistant lubricating oil for machinery. And one of the pieces of machinery that they used it in is the manufacture of intercontinental ballistic missiles. And I said, “Here we are destroying this incredibly beautiful, intelligent, socially complex creature for the purpose of making a weapon meant for the mass destruction of humanity.” And that’s when I—it came to me with a—you know, like a flash, that we’re insane. We’re just totally insane. And from that moment on, I decided that I work for whales, I work for seals, I work for sea turtles and fish and seabirds. I don’t work for people.

REX WEYLER: The story just exploded. And I think it was because people were seen, for the first time, not just standing up for the dispossessed humans, standing up for the dispossessed everything else in the world, every other species in the world that has been dispossessed by the industrial civilization of humankind.

VAN JONES: Greenpeace’s new style of media-oriented activism launched them into the wildest ride of any environmental group.

REX WEYLER: We were out there trying to make the whales famous, but in the process we made ourselves famous. We were now able to talk about ecology, and we were able to raise money. Now we were able to do a seal campaign and a toxic dumping campaign. Offices were springing up all over the world calling themselves Greenpeace.

VAN JONES: Their critics claimed that they were better at dramatizing issues than effecting change. But Greenpeace saw the media as the best means of changing consciousness. They called it dropping mind bombs.

BOB HUNTER: My idea was that if you took an image and you passed it through the media into the mass mind, you could essentially blow the mass mind with new images that would create whole new ways of looking at the world. And the image of small whales up against giant whaling machines was a mind bomb.

VAN JONES: In 1976, Greenpeace dreamed up their next campaign: to save baby harp seals in Newfoundland.

REX WEYLER: We used the same tactics that we used with the whaling campaigns: We actually got out on the ice, blockaded the sealing ships.

BOB HUNTER: We’re blocking the boat.

PAUL WATSON: He’s backed out three times and came forward already, trying to bluff us off.

BOB HUNTER: No, he might just be lining up for a big one soon.

VAN JONES: The first year, they ran into furious opposition, especially over Paul’s plan to spray dye on the seal pups, rendering the pelts worthless.

PAUL WATSON: That’s, I think, where I had a first falling out with Bob, really, because they compromised with the Newfoundlanders, you know, and said, “Well, we’re not going to dye the seals if you don’t do this.” And I got real—you know, they didn’t consult with me on it, so I was quite angry on it. I don’t believe in compromising.

VAN JONES: Paul was bitter. He came back the next year determined to stop the slaughter.

PAUL WATSON: On the second seal campaign in ’77, you know, I pulled a sealing club out of a sealer’s hand, threw it in the water. I handcuffed myself to the pile of pelts to try and shut down their operations. They pulled the pelts into the water and pulled me through the water and up the side of the boat and dangled me from the air, and then they dropped me back in the water. And then they brought me up on the deck, and then they pulled me along the deck as these sealers were spitting and kicking and punching. Captain came in and started screaming at me about how, you know, it was people like me that ended whaling and, you know, “Now you’re trying to take sealing away from us.”

VAN JONES: Soon after the second seal campaign, Paul Watson was thrown out of Greenpeace for breaching their ethic of nonviolence. He had gone too far. Paul vowed to pursue the whalers without compromise. He set up his own group, the Sea Shepherd Society, and got himself a ship. The first thing he did was hunt down the Sierra, an illegal pirate whaler. Off the coast of Portugal, he found her.

PAUL WATSON: I hit the Sierra at the bow to get its attention and to destroy the harpoon, then did a 360-degree turn around its stern and slammed into its side at 15 knots and split it open to the water line. That ship had killed 25,000 whales. What we are able to do in one year was to shut down every single pirate whaling vessel in the Atlantic. At the end of that one-year period, three of them were on the bottom, two of them were going to be sunk by the South African navy, and one of them had been sold.

VAN JONES: Then Sea Shepherd went after whaling nations, scuttling Spanish, Norwegian and Icelandic whalers.

PAUL WATSON: In 1986, when we sank half of Iceland’s whaling fleet, John Frizell from Greenpeace came up to me. He said, “Just want to let you know that what you did in Iceland was despicable, reprehensible, criminal and unforgivable.” And I said, “So?” And he said, “Well, you should know what people in this movement think about you.” I says, “I don’t give a damn, John. I didn’t sink those whaling vessels for you or anybody in the movement. We sank those whaling vessels for the whales. Find me one whale that disagreed with what we did, and we’ll reconsider. But until then, I couldn’t give a damn what you people think.”

VAN JONES: It took everyone working together to ban whaling. For 10 years, radicals and mainstream, governments and NGOs campaigned to turn the International Whaling Commission from hunting to saving whales.

BOY: Why should we kill them if they’re just—it’s just like killing us?

GIRL: But they’re just nice creatures. They’re nice. They wouldn’t harm anyone, really.

INTERNATIONAL WHALING COMMISSION DELEGATE: What we are proposing is a moratorium.

VAN JONES: A moratorium finally passed in 1982. And in time, it became a permanent ban on whaling, one of environmentalism’s biggest successes.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Van Jones narrating an excerpt of the film A Fierce Green Fire, which tells the history of the environmental movement for more than the past half-century and airs tonight on PBS American Masters. We’re joined by its director, Mark Kitchell. Mark, that story, the Greenpeace chapter, if you will, is one of five in this film, which you call A Fierce Green Fire. Why?

MARK KITCHELL: Oh, there’s a famous story. It happened about a century ago in—a young ranger named Aldo Leopold, whose job was to kill predators, he shot a wolf. And he went down the hill to see a fierce green fire in her eyes as she was dying. And that was his awakening. And he wrote a famous essay about it called “Thinking Like a Mountain.” But for us, we think of a fierce green fire as the movement, the environmental movement, and that’s the way we use it in the film. And that’s what we were really trying to do in this film that makes it different from other environmental films that are more issue-driven. We were really looking to tell stories of the movement, and we thought it would be a more engaging and impassioned approach to what are very difficult subjects. You know, usually, environmental films, no matter how good they are, are an eco-bummer. It’s always about a problem and a crisis, and ends with a plea for help. In this, we thought people could really identify with people like Lois Gibbs and Paul Watson and really get the passion. And these people succeeded against enormous odds, and that should give us some kind of hope that we can deal with such overwhelming problems like climate change and the sixth great extinction and trying to create a sustainable revolution to save human society.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to another of the chapters of this film about the remarkable rubber tapper Chico Mendes and his fight in the Brazilian rainforest to save the Amazon. Mark Kitchell is the director of A Fierce Green Fire. We’ll be back in a moment.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, today is Earth Day, and we’re looking at the history of the environmental movement as told in a new film by Mark Kitchell that airs tonight across the country on PBS. It’s calledA Fierce Green Fire. This final extended excerpt looks at a turning point in the fight to save the Amazon rainforest. It is a campaign led by Chico Mendes and the rubber tappers who are fighting to save their rubber trees from loggers. Chico Mendes wins, but is assassinated. The clip is narrated by the Chilean novelist Isabel Allende. It includes comments from Barbara Bramble of the National Wildlife Federation; José Lutzenberger, a Brazilian environmentalist; and Senator Robert Kasten. But first, Chico Mendes himself.

ADRIAN COWELL: [translated] Have you always been a seringueiro?

CHICO MENDES: [translated] Always. My father was a seringueiro. I started at nine years old, and for 20 years I was a full-time seringueiro. It was only in 1975, when the ranchers arrived, that I joined the union and cut less rubber.

ISABEL ALLENDE: The rubber tappers, known as seringueiros, squatted off the old seringals, or plantations, produced rubber and subsisted off the land. They were protected by being in the remote western Amazon, where roads had not penetrated. But as ranchers arrived and began clearing the land to claim it for tax breaks, Chico Mendes organized the rubber tappers to defend their territory.

CHICO MENDES: [translated] The ranchers’ aim was to take all this land. But we won’t let them have it. We’ll fight to the end. We won’t allow our forests to be destroyed.

ISABEL ALLENDE: The rubber tappers organized empates, or standoffs, nonviolent protests in the tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, where they surrounded the trees and tried to explain what a disaster cutting down the forest was for everyone.

RAIMUNDO DE BARROS: [translated] Comrade, come here. Don’t be nervous.

CREW CHIEF: [translated] I’m not frightened.

RAIMUNDO DE BARROS: [translated] Of course not. You’re a worker like us. The ranchers’ aim is to get everything. Once they destroy this natural wealth, which belongs to seringueiros, as well as you and all workers, it’s wonderful for them, because everywhere will be fenced and full of cattle. Then how will we live?

CHICO MENDES: [translated] You’re not ranch gunmen, but workers earning money.

BARBARA BRAMBLE: They actually were able to stop the forest cutting by standing in front of the trees. It’s a real heroic story. And it happened often enough that it actually impeded an entire cattle-ranching operation so much that they gave up.

CHICO MENDES: [translated] There are other landowners. But for the first time, we’ve won a victory against the Bordon group, the most powerful of the region. We’ve succeeded in defending most of a seringueiro’s territory.

ISABEL ALLENDE: American environmentalists helped bring Chico Mendes to the United States to campaign against the World Bank, whose loans led to destructive development.

JOSÉ LUTZENBERGER: The World Bank wants us to believe that they are helping the people in those areas. Now, this is a big lie and an infamous lie. The opposite is true: The people living in the forests, they have an interest in their preservation.

PROTESTERS: Save the rainforest! Save the rainforest! Save the rainforest! Save the rainforest!

CHICO MENDES: [translated] I hope that the governments which give money to theIDB, the people of the U.S., England, Japan, Europe, who contribute their taxes to finance the IDB, will listen to the seringueiros’ complaints.

SENROBERT KASTEN: Our subcommittee is going to continue to put pressure on theIDB to withhold funds, to cut off all funds, possibly, if they are not more cooperative.

ELECTIONEERING CAR IN RIO BRANCO: [translated] Chico Mendes, in defense of the Amazon forest, against the devastation of the jungle and expulsion of its people, for the creation of extractive reserves.

ISABEL ALLENDE: Chico was coming to understand that saving their way of life meant saving the Amazon. He began to build alliances with other rubber tappers and indigenous groups.

BARBARA BRAMBLE: Several leaders and Chico decided to hold a meeting to try to form a national council of rubber tappers. What they all came to the conclusion of was that they needed to have rights to use the land, that one of the things that was keeping them from being able to effectively defend the forest against the chainsaw loggers and the cattle ranchers was not having an actual right to this land. They were seen as squatters.

ADRIAN COWELL: The idea was raised that there should be rubber tapper reserves, like Indian reserves. The people wouldn’t own the land, but it would be theirs for as long as they wanted to work it. It was an idea of the people who actually lived in the forest. That was a huge breakthrough in concept. This is a great movement within Amazonia, and that’s what Chico started.

ISABEL ALLENDE: The rubber tappers decided to establish the first reserve at Cachoeira, the old rubber plantation where Chico was born and lived with family and friends. However, the land had been bought by a rancher named Darli Alves, so the seringueros went to court to claim their squatter rights. It turned into a showdown.

DARLI ALVES: [translated] Xapuri ranchers have always had trouble with seringueiros blocking their deforestation. Every time the ranchers tried to deforest, they were blocked. In Xapuri, it’s stalemate.

CHICO MENDES: [translated] We are in immediate danger. We’re seeing people killed. And there could be many more. The Parana ranch is terrorizing the whole population of Xapuri to strike at me, at Comercindo, at Haymundabajos, and the whole directorate of our workers’ movement.

Even though we want this to be peaceful, it may come to the point where the peaceful side won’t work, and we can’t be demoralized. We will go to the confrontation knowing someone may lose his life. Will you be with me?

ISABEL ALLENDE: The rubber tappers won. Cachoeira was declared the first extractive reserve in the world. It was an important victory to the whole of the Amazon. But the rancher Darli Alves had vowed to kill Chico Mendes.

FRIAR LUIS CIPPI: [translated] This has not been a bloodless journey. Some have already fallen defending extractive reserves. No one likes to die. But if it has to happen, then it should be to create more life. Christ was crucified. He gave his last drop of blood. But since that day, millions of communities have been born that believe and fight for brotherhood.

RUBBER TAPPERS: [translated] I promise, before the blood of our companion Chico Mendes, to continue his work, to show our enemies that they will never succeed in silencing the voice of the seringueiros. Chico Mendes, wherever you are, don’t grieve that they have silenced your voice. Your ideas exist among us.

BARBARA BRAMBLE: There were things that came together after his death that probably couldn’t have come together if he was still alive, because they’d still be fighting over whether the extractive reserves should be established or not. After he was killed, there was no question. So now it’s quite clear that who saves forests are the people in the forest.

PROTESTERS: Lula president! Chico Mendes is with us! Lula president! Chico Mendes is with us!

ISABEL ALLENDE: Chico Mendes’ work proved to be the turning point in the battle to save the Amazon. The Brazilian government recognized the rights of the forest peoples and established an array of parks and protected areas. Fifty-eight million acres were set aside in extractive reserves. Forty percent of the Brazilian Amazon was formally protected. However, the fate of the forest is still in doubt. Now it is not just cattle ranchers, but soy farming on an industrial scale and illegal logging. Due to the partial deforestation and the climate changes it has brought, the Amazon is drying out.

AMY GOODMAN: That excerpt narrated by the Chilean novelist Isabel Allende. It is from A Fierce Green Fire, a film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and will air tonight on PBS. Yes, today is Earth Day. The film looks at the environmental movement over more than the last half-century, and it’s directed by Mark Kitchell, who we end with today. Mark, talk about your choices. These chapters in the film—on Greenpeace, on the rubber tappers and Chico Mendes, on Love Canal—talk about the final chapter and then how you chose these as emblematic of the environmental movement.

MARK KITCHELL: Well, the final act is climate change, the mother of all environmental issues, so big that it overwhelms everything else. And we tell that 25-year struggle to deal with it, the largest problem that the world’s ever faced. It’s largely a tale of frustration. Bill McKibben talks about the inability of the movement to deal with the issue for most of the ’90s. We go on from Copenhagen and sort of explore bottom-up movements versus top-down political failure, and really try and make the point that we need the bottom-up, the grassroots, pressure to force change from the top.

And Paul Hawken, with his brilliant ideas from Blessed Unrest, talks about how there’s probably two million groups worldwide working on these issues of environmental justice and the environment and indigenous rights and how they’re all connected. And he uses a metaphor of the movement being humanity’s immune response system. And I just think that’s a brilliant way to characterize a movement. It’s sort of a movement like we’ve never seen before in this world.

And it’s headed for bigger things. And, you know, we wanted to do an act six. We wanted to take on the future, and we tried various endings, and we could never fit it in. We had to get the film over. And so we just decided that we’ve got to do A Fierce Green Future, another film, and really take on that sustainable revolution, if you will.

I think ultimately this is about civilizational transformation. It’s going to be as big a change as the Industrial Revolution. And the task before us is to create a society that’s sort of moving from our industrial basis to a world in which we’re in sustainable balance with the natural world. I think that’s the only way we can survive. And I think this is just the first 50 years of it.

AMY GOODMAN: Mark Kitchell, I want to thank you for being with us, director of A Fierce Green Fire, which airs on PBS American Masters tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, tonight, on this day, Earth Day. You can visit our website for a link to local listings. Today is Earth Day. And you can tell us how you’re involved, if you are, with the environmental movement, who inspires you. Go to our Facebook page, and on Twitter, you can use the hashtag #discussDN.

from: http://www.democracynow.org/2014/4/22/earth_day_special_fierce_green_fire

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COURT ORDERS RELEASE OF MEMO JUSTIFYING TARGETED Drone KILLINGS


Court Orders Release of Memo Justifying Targeted Killings

Toll from U.S. Drone Strikes in Yemen Tops 55

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: “Again, without speaking about specific operations, I can tell you that in May 2013 President Obama spoke at length about the policy and legal rationale for how the United States takes direct action against al-Qaeda and its associated — associated forces outside of areas of active hostilities, including with drone strikes. And as the president made clear, we take extraordinary care to make sure that our counterterrorism actions are in accordance with all applicable domestic and international laws and that they are consistent with U.S. values and policy.”

Yemeni forces also reportedly took part in the operation with ground raids. The drone strikes appear to be the largest carried out in Yemen this year.

from: http://www.democracynow.org/2014/4/22/headlines#4223

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Finally, some good news: OBAMA ADMIN TO WIDEN CLEMENCY ELIGIBILITY FOR DRUG OFFENDERS


The Obama administration is expanding the criteria to decide which prisoners jailed for drug crimes can obtain clemency. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 reduced sentencing disparities between users of crack cocaine and powdered cocaine to address a racial imbalance in prison terms. But the law did not apply retroactively. On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder said the administration will announce new guidelines to help close the gap.

Attorney General Eric Holder: “There are still too many people in federal prison who were sentenced under the old regime and who, as a result, will have to spend far more time in prison than they would if sentenced today for exactly the same crime. This is simply not right. The White House has indicated it wants to consider additional clemency applications to restore a degree of justice, fairness and proportionality for deserving individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety. The Justice Department is committed to recommending as many qualified applicants as possible for reduced sentences.”

The new criteria could mean early parole for thousands of prisoners. Details of the new policy are expected on Thursday.

from: http://www.democracynow.org/2014/4/22/headlines#4221

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The Obstacles We Face Are Not Just External & Other Reports/Articles


Featured…

Naomi Klein: The Change Within: The Obstacles We Face Are Not Just External
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/22-3

Headlines…

Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Affirmative Action
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/04/22-0

Does Climate Apathy Hinge on ‘Pervasive’ American Stupidity?
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/04/22-1

Clapper’s Intel ‘Gag Order’ an Assault on Press Freedoms: Critics
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/04/22

Protesters Slam TPP, US Military Domination of Asia-Pacific as ‘One-Two Punch’
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/04/22-3

US ‘Silently’ Stripping Open Net Protections
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/04/22-4

and more…

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Video…

Not Born Rich? Out of Luck
http://www.commondreams.org/video/2014/04/22

‘Fierce Green Fire’ Documentary Explores Environmental Movement’s Global Rise
http://www.commondreams.org/video/2014/04/22-0

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Views…

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship: Government = Protection Racket for the 1 Percent
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/22

Helena Norberg-Hodge: On Earth Day, an Economics for People and Planet
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/22-1

Noa Yachot: Don’t Let the Torturer Play Censor
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/22-6

Wen Stephenson: Let This Earth Day Be The Last
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/22-4

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Elizabeth Warren’s Needed Call for Student Loan Reform
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/22-5

Todd Miller: They Are Watching You: The National Security State and the U.S.-Mexican Border
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/22-7

Winona LaDuke: Solar Warriors vs. the Black Snake of Tar Sands
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/22-0

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Newswire…

Institute for Public Accuracy: 28 Years After Chernobyl: ‘Ecological Collapse’?
http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2014/04/22-6

Demos: New Demos Study Reveals Fast-food Industry with Greatest CEO-to-Worker Pay Disparity in Economy
http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2014/04/22-5

Senator Bernie Sanders Statement on Earth Day
http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2014/04/22-4

and more…

 

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“Immortal” Jellyfish


I was watching Octonauts with my daughter and heard about the Immortal Jellyfish, so I looked up a few articles.–kas

“Immortal” Jellyfish Swarm World’s Oceans

A potentially “immortal” jellyfish species that can age backward—theBenjamin Button of the deep—is silently invading the world’s oceans, swarm by swarm, a recent study says.

Like the Brad Pitt movie character, the immortal jellyfish transforms from an adult back into a baby, but with an added bonus: Unlike Benjamin Button, the jellyfish can do it over and over again—though apparently only as an emergency measure.

About as wide as a human pinky nail when fully grown, the immortal jellyfish (scientific name: Turritopsis dohrnii) was discovered in the Mediterranean Sea in 1883. But its unique ability was not discovered until the 1990s.

How the Jellyfish Becomes “Immortal”

Turritopsis typically reproduces the old-fashioned way, by the meeting of free-floating sperm and eggs. And most of the time they die the old-fashioned way too.

But when starvation, physical damage, or other crises arise, “instead of sure death,[Turritopsis] transforms all of its existing cells into a younger state,” said study author Maria Pia Miglietta, a researcher at Pennsylvania State University.

The jellyfish turns itself into a bloblike cyst, which then develops into a polyp colony, essentially the first stage in jellyfish life.

The jellyfish’s cells are often completely transformed in the process. Muscle cells can become nerve cells or even sperm or eggs.

Through asexual reproduction, the resulting polyp colony can spawn hundreds of genetically identical jellyfish—near perfect copies of the original adult.

This unique approach to hardship may be helping Turritopsis swarms spread throughout the world’s oceans, she added.

 

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Eco company is using a false eco-label meant to mislead consumers.


Faux Earth-Friendly Products Use False Eco-Labels

By William McMullin

An eco company is using a false eco-label meant to mislead consumers.

::::::::from: http://www.opednews.com/articles/Faux-Earth-Friendly-Produc-by-William-McMullin-Activism-Environmental_Consumer-Affairs_Forests-140421-112.html

Almost half of all commercial logging of forests is to satisfy American’s appetite for paper products.  A fake industry-certification program called Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) cons consumers into thinking the paper products they buy are harvested sustainably.  In reality, SFI allows clear-cutting of old-growth, endangered forests and does not even have tree-replant requirements.  For instance, some of SFI certified products are linked to the destruction of Canada’s boreal forests which are home to endangered species such as caribou.  SFI is like putting the fox in charge of the hen-house. 

I am puzzled why Earth Friendly Products, a sustainable cleaning-product company that sells laundry and dishwashing detergent, is using SFI-sourced cardboard for shipping online orders.  Earth Friendly Products is a great company with high-quality products.  It is just a little concerning Earth Friendly is promoting a false eco-label meant to confuse consumers.





Submitters Bio:

William holds a BBA from Western Michigan University and a Master of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School.

 

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Behind the Egyptian Junta’s Iron Curtain


 

Behind the Egyptian Junta’s Iron Curtain

By Medea Benjamin

After a recent CODEPINK delegation to Egypt ended up in deportations and assault , we have become acutely aware of some of the horrors Egyptians are facing in the aftermath of the July 3 coup that toppled Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi.

::::::::from: http://www.opednews.com/articles/Behind-the-Egyptian-Junta-by-Medea-Benjamin-Arab-Spring_CODEPINK_Egyptian-Revolution-140421-444.html

by Medea Benjamin and Kate Chandley

After a recent CODEPINK delegation to Egypt ended up in deportations and assault , we have become acutely aware of some of the horrors Egyptians are facing in the aftermath of the July 3 coup that toppled Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi. Over 2,500 civilians have been killed in protests and clashes. Over 16,000 are in prison for their political beliefs and allegations of torture are widespread. Millions of people who voted for Morsi in elections that foreign monitors declared free and fair are now living in terror, as are secular opponents of the military regime, and the level of violence is unprecedented in Egypt’s modern history. With former Defense Minister Abdel Fatah al-Sisi set to become the next president in sham elections scheduled for May 26-27 , the Egyptian military is trampling on the last vestiges of the grassroots uprising that won the hearts of the world community during the Arab Spring.

The most publicized case is the trial of the three Al Jazeera journalists and their co-defendants, charged with falsifying news and working with the Muslim Brotherhood. On April 10, there was a ludicrous update in the trial, when the prosecution came to court presenting a video that was supposed to be the basis of their case but consisted of family photos, trotting horses, and Somali refugees in Kenya. The judge dismissed the “evidence” but not the charges.

The high-profile case is just a taste of wide-ranging assault on free expression. The government has closed down numerous TV and print media affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist currents. The Committee to Protect Journalists named Egypt the third deadliest countries for journalists in 2013, just behind Syria and Iraq.

An incident that shows how the judicial branch is now working hand-in-glove with the military is the horrific March 24 sentencing of 529 Morsi supporters to death in one mass trial . The entire group was charged with killing one police officer. The trial consisted of two sessions, each one lasting less than one hour . Secretary of State Kerry said that the sentence ” defies logic ” and Amnesty International called the ruling ” grotesque .”

And if you think that a US passport entitles a prisoner to due process, look at the tragic case of 26-year-old Ohio State University graduateMohamed Soltan . Soltan served as a citizen journalist, assisting English-speaking media in their coverage of the anti-coup sit-in  at Rabaa Square that was violently raided by police and resulted in the death of over 1,000 people. In jail for over 7 months, Soltan has been on a hunger strike since January 26 and is now so weak he can’t walk. His situation in prison has been horrifying. When he was arrested, he had a wound from being shot that had not yet healed. Prison officials refused to treat him, so a fellow prisoner who was a doctor performed surgery with pliers on a dirty prison floor , with no anesthesia. His trial has been postponed several times, and there is no update on when it might actually take place. (Activists in the US are mobilizing on his behalf .)

Female activists also face dehumanizing experiences. In February, four women who were arrested for taking part in anti-military protests say they were subjected to virginity tests while in custody–a practice that coup leader Abdel al-Sisi has supported . In addition to the horror of virginity tests, Amnesty International has also reported that women in prison in Egypt face harsh conditions , including being forced to sleep on the floor and not being allowed to use the bathroom for 10 hours from 10pm to 8am every day. Egyptian Women Against the Coup and the Arab Organisation for Human Rights has reported beatings and sexual harassment of female prisoners.

The internal crackdown may be getting worse, not better. New counter-terrorism legislation set to be approved by Egypt’s president would give the government increased powers to muzzle freedom of expression and imprison opponents. Two new draft laws violate the right to free expression, including penalties of up to three years’ imprisonment for verbally insulting a public employee or member of the security forces. They broaden the existing definition of terrorism to include actions aimed at damaging national unity, natural resources, monuments, communication systems, the national economy, or hindering the work of judicial bodies and diplomatic missions in Egypt. “The problem with these vaguely worded ‘terrorist offenses’ is that they potentially allow the authorities to bring a terrorism case against virtually any peaceful activist ,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui of Amnesty International.

The draft legislation also widens the scope for use of the death penalty to include “managing or administering a terrorist group.” The Muslim Brotherhood was labelled a terrorist group by the Egyptian authorities in December (though no factual evidence was provided that it is engaged in terrorist attacks).

The US government refuses to call Morsi’s overthrow a coup , and has continued to give Egypt $250 million in economic support, as well as funds for narcotics controls, law enforcement and military training. But the bulk of the foreign military funding of $1.3 billion has been suspended.

On March 12 , Secretary of State Kerry indicated that he wanted to resume the aid and would decide “in the days ahead.” Egypt has long been one of the top recipients of US aid because of its peace treaty with Israel, its control over the Suez Canal and the close ties between the US and Egyptian militaries. To renew the funding, Kerry must certify that Egypt is meeting its commitment to a democratic transition and taking steps to govern democratically. The constitutional referendum was held January 14-15 , but opponents were arrested for campaigningfor a “no” vote. The May presidential election, taking place under such repressive conditions with t he main opposition group banned , will certainly not be free and fair. The same can be said for the parliamentary elections that are expected to occur before the end of July.  

“The question is no longer whether Egypt is on the road to democratic transition, but how much of its brute repression the US will paper over,” said Human Rights Watch Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson . “An accurate appraisal of Egypt’s record since the military-backed overthrow of President Morsi would conclude that, far from developing basic freedoms, the Egyptian authorities are doing the opposite.”

The Obama Administration should insist that political dissidents be released, laws restricting public assembly be lifted, the Muslim Brotherhood be declassified as a terrorist organization and allowed to participate in all aspects of public life, and criminal investigations be launched into the unlawful use of lethal force and abuse of detainees by security officials. Only when the Egyptian junta lifts its iron curtain should the US consider resuming military aid.  

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of www.codepink.org and www.globalexchange.org , and author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control .

Kate Chandley is an International Affairs and Political Science student at Northeastern University and intern at www.codepink.org . 

Submitters Bio:

Ms. Benjamin is a member of Codepink.

 

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The ferry disaster mirrors the family disaster caused by its “captain’s” three tragic mistakes.


The ferry disaster mirrors the family disaster caused by its “captain’s” three tragic mistakes.
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc.
Ferry Disaster: 3 Ways Any Captain Can Sink His Ship Like Ferry Disaster: 3 Ways Any Captain Can Sink His Ship on Facebook share on Twitter Forward
It was awful. That Korean ferry rolling into the sea. Then disappearing beneath the waves. Filled with trapped passengers – many of them teenagers.
It’s heartbreaking to see all those loved ones on the dock, grieving inconsolably. Over their children who will never come home again.
And it’s outrageous that the captain was one of the first to abandon ship. He’s being charged with “negligence of duty” and “abandoning people in need.”
Sadly, there are a lot of captains that could be charged with those crimes.
As the captain of their family.
The ship starts to drift…the crew gets confused…the vessel is in danger of a fatal turn. When Dad keeps “abandoning ship.”
When the cruise ship Costa Concordia shipwrecked off the coast of Italy, again it was the captain who was charged. A maritime lawyer said: “The captain is the master of the vessel. Every crew member looks to the captain for guidance and leadership. It’s the captain’s responsibility to know the waters and avoid coming close to any shoals and reefs.”
Sad to say, I’ve sometimes gotten too busy to know the waters our family ship was navigating. When this captain was “below decks” at a critical point.
We know there’s a devastating epidemic of fatherlessness in the family these days. But it isn’t just dads who are physically absent. You can be emotionally absent – and that may be even more damaging. Around your family but not with your family. There, but not really there.
“Abandoning people in need.”
A daughter, missing her father’s love, looking for that love in all the wrong places. A son who can’t get his father’s approval or attention – growing more angry by the day. A wife left to run things alone.
In many ways, the ferry disaster mirrors the family disaster caused by its “captain’s” three tragic mistakes.
1. Leaving the wheel
At this point, it appears that the ferry captain left the ship in the hands of a third mate at a decisive turning point. How many of us husbands have forfeited leadership when the going got rough? When finances were turbulent. When discipline was needed. When hard choices had to be made.
Criminal negligence.
2. Looking out for me
Apparently, the ferry captain was so concerned about himself that he left his passengers to fend for themselves. “Me first” while those he was responsible for were going down.
That hits a little too close to home for some of us. Consumed with personal pursuits – work, recreation, sports, hobby, toys. Effectively oblivious to the leadership we’ve abandoned.
3. Providing no guidance
There are dangerous passages. Rocks to avoid. Crises requiring direction. And a husband, a father cannot be AWOL when a steady hand at the wheel is needed. Along with a wise, reassuring guide when the water is rising.
Join the ConversationI’m sobered by the Bible’s solemn warning to all of us who are – or are supposed to be – at the helm of our ship.
“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks (or your family); give careful attention to your herds. For riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations” (Proverbs 27:23-24).
Translation: take care of it or risk losing it all.

 

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Cuban trafficking grows into MLB’s ugly secret


10 Degrees: Cuban trafficking grows into MLB’s ugly secret

Jeff Passan 
 
 

Baseball’s ugliest secret is now out in the open, and it is even worse than imagined. Not only does the sport find itself in the middle of a human-trafficking scheme in which men and women have allegedly been kidnapped, held hostage, forced to sign binding documents at gun- and knifepoint, threatened with mutilation and terrorized by those from some of the world’s most murderous gangs, top officials from Major League Baseball and the players’ union have shown little inclination to remedy even the smallest of problems in the web of chaos involving Cuban defectors.

More than two decades of misguided policy have left the league in an untenable situation, surrounded by sociopolitical mines. While the past is irreversible, MLB and the union’s present misplacement of priorities – of not spending time, energy and resources to better understand what it can do to untie the knot it cinched – is egregious and must soon be remedied. Just because no clear solutions exist does not excuse the sport from shoving the Cuban paradox under the carpet as it has for years, particularly considering the latest news that a gang might want to kill one of its biggest stars.

Los Angeles Magazine and ESPN this past week recounted the story of Yasiel Puig‘s tortuous path to the United States, which included the bullet-riddled corpse of a smuggler, the involvement of the dangerous Mexican crime syndicate Los Zetas and a knock on Puig’s door at Dodgers spring training from a heavy who wanted money – or else. Take that threat, and the alleged kidnapping of Rangers center fielder Leonys Martinand his family, and smugglers warning they would break Yuniesky Betancourt‘s legs in 2005 when he defected, and story after story of out-and-out mistreatment of Cuban players trying to leave their country and play baseball, and the silence from the league and the union, the two parties charged with protecting the sport’s sanctity and the players’ health, is deafening.

Baseball’s version of human trafficking doesn’t resemble the typical atrocities across the world, in which people, particularly women, are sold and traded, often into sexual slavery. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans have left the country to escape Fidel Castro’s regime, traversing perilous waters in search of freedom. The price for a typical escape today: $10,000 per person. Baseball players are different, prized by smugglers as diamonds to be sold on the secondary market. Simply because the sport’s victims often leave of their own volition and ultimately come into millions of dollars does not lessen the crimes committed by those looking to leverage themselves into a cut of the riches.

The problem is very real and very difficult, and the United States’ embargo on Cuba only complicates the situation. Still, in no way does it justify baseball spending man-hours fining players for wearing untucked jerseys or the union launching an investigation into which executives might have talked publicly about Kendrys Morales’ and Stephen Drew’s depressed free-agent values when a system the league endorses invites criminals to play middleman.

 

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Yasiel Puig spent time in Mexico before coming to the United States. (Getty Images)

In vowing to clean up youth baseball and the pervasive corruption in the Dominican Republic, baseball took a moral stance on a broken system. Whether it was simply lip service or actually helps undo decades of enabling leeches to take advantage of impoverished teenagers, at least MLB acknowledged to the public that, yes, this is something worth trying to remedy.

 

Neither the sport nor the union has done so regarding Cuba. Nor did either side, when contacted by Yahoo Sports, offer assurances that change was in the offing, even though both surely understand the stakes. During the last collective bargaining talks in 2012, sources said, they discussed the Cuba problem only to table the issue. Late last summer, as the extent of Puig’s issues started to leak thanks to a lawsuit against him in Florida, potential discussions ended before they began.

Baseball, then, is left staring at a system it created within the confines of the embargo rules. The evolution of the Cuban smuggling market from what seem like the halcyon days of agents helping players escape from international tournaments to criminal collectives shoehorning themselves into the process – and, often under duress, goading players into signing documents that shave 30 percent off the top of the contracts worth tens of millions of dollars they sign once in the U.S. – didn’t happen overnight. Years of inaction from baseball and the union fostered the current system, and the festering wound grows worse by the case.

Part of the current problem involves baseball’s policy with Cuban players, whose value skyrocketed when the league capped spending on the draft and international amateurs. Cubans age 23 and older are the last true free agents, encumbered only by the country from which they must escape. And escaping now, with the dollars so mighty, draws even more nefarious characters vying for the lucrative business than in the past.

MLB’s rules offer a twist: Cubans who defect straight to the United States are thrown into the June draft, whereas those who instead establish residency in another country – Mexico, like Puig and Martin, or anywhere else – are exempt and can sign with no limits. For potential frontline players, the likes of whom have been guaranteed $289.9 million over the last 4½ years, according to Y! Sports research, the incentive to involve a third country is enormous. The highest-paid player in the 2013 draft was Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant at $6.7 million. Less than four months later, the White Sox gave Cuban first baseman Jose Abreua six-year, $68 million contract.

Never mind that Abreu was represented by Bart Hernandez, the same agent who, according to Martin’s lawsuit, worked with the smugglers – the sort of alleged behavior that warrants an investigation far more than some executives spitballing free-agent value.

The teams are plenty culpable, too, engaging in baseball’s version of the don’t-ask, don’t-tell policy. When Puig defected, Dodgers scout Paul Fryer told the Los Angeles Times, the team “had to find the real decision-maker” because Puig and his agent apparently weren’t choosing where he would play. It takes no logician to surmise Puig’s smugglers steered him toward the biggest payday, and when a $2 billion corporation like theLos Angeles Dodgers opens itself up to the possibility of doing business with a homicidal cartel, and it’s sloughed off with a wink, it speaks to passive acceptance of something nobody in the sport should tolerate.

MLB and the union must get together immediately and hatch a plan that at the very least does better than their present-day do-si-do. That, after all, was the idea seven years ago when former MLB executive Lou Melendez told the L.A. Times the pervasive smuggling could “require us to take a good look, hard look at the policy.”

Each concern, unfortunately, comes with its own set of similarly tricky – or at least unpalatable to one side – repercussions. One MLB official raised the possibility of eliminating the foreign-residency rule, which theoretically would eradicate organizations such as the Zetas from involving themselves with ballplayer smuggling. That, of course, presumes the U.S.-based criminals who partake of the human trafficking will be any less dangerous or harmful than those from other countries, a flimsy-at-best premise. Moreover, one source familiar with the Cuban-smuggling trade said getting into Mexico or Haiti is far easier than evading the U.S. Coast Guard, and that the risk of getting caught by authorities might keep the third countries as preferred destinations.

Another solution works in theory: If baseball were to lessen the money offered to Cuban players, it could likewise disincentivize the larger-scale criminal enterprises, which seek higher-margin business, from continued involvement in ballplayer smuggling. Already some players question why those in their prime years are granted free agency simply because they were born in Cuba. The union, on principle alone, would object to this idea – not just to tightening any free market but opening the Pandora’s Box to an international draft – and the recompense it would demand in loosening the market elsewhere would make it either a non-starter or an exceedingly difficult compromise to strike.

Baseball can sit around hoping the problem works itself out through attrition – that the great talent drain to the U.S. over the past five years robbed Cuba of top-flight talent. It’s true; many of the best Cuban players are in the big leagues today. And yet for every Puig and Abreu and Martin, there are just as many lower-level talents who leave Cuba in the hands of smugglers hoping to reap millions and end up stranded, victims of their captors’ greed and ignorance toward how baseball truly values defectors.

 

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Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin was held hostage in Mexico, according to a lawsuit. (Getty Images)

Value comes from talent, and the influx of talent has been great for baseball. Aroldis Chapman throws harder than anyone. Puig inspires more chatter and debate. Yoenis Cespedes won last year’s Home Run Derby. Abreu someday may win a home run title. Martin throwing out baserunners from center field is a thing of beauty. Cuban ballplayers enrich baseball. The wake their defections leave behind, however, turns great stories into sordid ones and commingles the game with characters in any other situation it would outright reject.

 

The Catch 22 comes in taking a stand, and it’s why MLB and the union must get together and hammer out the best tack, the right solution for something that will take years to fix. Too much, too soon will not work; it has the potential to endanger the players, the last thing anyone wants. Remember: When Puig’s ransom allegedly wasn’t paid, smugglers suggested he might get a machete whack to show their seriousness.

This starts with targeting agents who pay smugglers. MLB and the union have nothing to lose by cleaning up that area. Dry up the market for smugglers to make massive profit off ballplayers, and the behavior could evolve as well. If it encouraged the defection of players on trips with the Cuban national team – the far safer route taken by past players – all the better.

Baseball and the union can affect change. It’s time. Stop playing uniform police. Cut the nonsense about some loose-lipped executives. Don’t waste everyone’s time with fake problems when a real one exists and could lead to people losing their lives. It’s a situation with which …

1. Yasiel Puig must live every day, an unfathomable and unfortunate truth with a dark background. Again and again Puig tried to escape, one of his failures documented by Yahoo Sports in the first story that detailed his efforts to leave Cuba. He got caught time after time, too, and ended up on the wrong side of the Cuban baseball apparatus.

What helped him get in their good graces, according to a Florida lawsuit, was turning state’s evidence. The suit accuses Puig of ratting on a Cuban citizen who he said wanted to help him defect. The man, sentenced to seven years in Cuban jail thanks to Puig’s testimony, denies the accusation and is suing Puig for $12 million under the Torture Victims Protection Act. It’s the same law by which …

2. Aroldis Chapman is being sued in Florida. U.S. resident Danilo Curbelo Garcia, a Cuban citizen, sits in a Cuban jail today serving a 10-year sentence after testimony from Chapman and his father suggested he hatched a plan to smuggle Chapman to the U.S. In his complaint, Curbelo Garcia admits only to telling Chapman that worse players than him were making millions of dollars in the major leagues.

Like Puig, Chapman tried multiple times to escape Cuba before defecting at an international tournament in Andorra. Before that, according to court documents, some suspected Chapman served as a government informant to stay in the good graces of Cuban baseball authorities.

Though the likelihood of the lawsuits succeeding is unclear, they establish a pattern among Cuban players who escape: Almost always is there some entanglement with the law, whether it’s about one person allegedly helping jail another to foment his own freedom or, in the case of …

 

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A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes ended up in the Dominican Republic on his journey to the U.S. (USA Today)

3. Yoenis Cespedes fighting over money owed. The 30 percent figure mentioned above is not far-fetched. Cespedes ended up in the Dominican Republic under the stewardship of Edgar Mercedes, the gambling-hall owner turned teenage-prospect “trainer,” and agreed to give him a 17 percent cut of his first contract, plus a 5 percent agent’s fee.

 

A month after he sued Cespedes for nonpayment, Mercedes was arrested in the D.R. on suspicion of human smuggling. Charges were not filed, and the suit continued for nearly a year until a judge ruled Cespedes owed nearly $8 million of the $36 million deal he signed with Oakland. Cespedes contended he owed less because of taxes, union dues and other payments.

His case resembles others only in the litigiousness. When in the D.R., Cespedes attended barbecues in which whole hogs roasted on spits and seemingly avoided enduring the dread …

4. Leonys Martin lived during his voyage from Cuba to the U.S. He was held hostage in Mexico and his family in Florida, according to the lawsuit he filed against his alleged smugglers as well as Hernandez, his agent, and the agency that employs him, Praver-Shapiro Sports Management. And even after he escaped their clutches, reunited with his family and started playing for the Rangers, Martin has been the subject of suits seeking payment on the contract he signed when held by armed men.

The fear hasn’t abated, even though two of the alleged smugglers sit in jail today. Martin said in his suit he believes they have sent threats from jail. His case might be the worst made public, though the alleged warnings to Puig by Zeta-affiliated men compare quite unfavorably.

It shows the incredible desire to leave behind Cuba for the riches of MLB, and the lengths to which players will go to succeed. Martin, 26, is beginning to resemble the player Texas hoped he would, adding a .322/.385/.441 slash line to his center field defense and ensuring the $15.5 million Texas guaranteed him doesn’t turn into a …

5. Noel Arguelles-type situation. Since Jose Iglesias started the recent wave of defections in 2009, 13 players have signed major league contracts. Arguelles might be the biggest bust of all. He signed for the second-lowest amount – $6.9 million for a five-year deal with Kansas City, higher only than his best competition for most disappointing, Chicago Cubs pitcher Gerardo Concepcion – and following a strong first season in 2011 has walked more hitters than he has struck out.

This season has been particularly ugly. In each of his six outings at Double-A, Arguelles has allowed at least one run. Over 7 2/3 innings, he has allowed 13 hits, walked 13, allowed 12 earned runs and struck out eight. Opponents are hitting nearly .400 off him. At 24, Arguelles is a non-prospect, his near $7 million cost sunk.

And he is proof that just because a player is Cuban doesn’t make him good, despite all the success stories in the game. Considering …

6. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez still has not thrown a pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies, they may be the latest to call their import a lemon. Gonzalez’s original deal, a six-year, $48 million blockbuster, fell apart when Philadelphia discovered problems with Gonzalez’s arm. The term was halved and the dollars quartered, and even still, after a spring training in which Gonzalez’s velocity dipped and his command was nonexistent, three years and $12 million may end up spiraling clockwise into the Philadelphia sewer system.

The latest reports are that Gonzalez is “feeling good” and “close to getting on the mound,” and perhaps once he does, he’ll prove the negativity much ado about nothing. Still, the presence of arm troubles before Gonzalez has thrown a single major league pitch does not portend good things, and anything the Phillies get out of him at this point will be a bonus. The organization tamping down expectations publicly says as much.

Gonzalez is just 27, so there is time for him to improve. At 27 …

7. Alexei Ramirez was in his second season since defecting and signing with the Chicago White Sox, the landing spot for so many Cubans. And his ascent toward his spot as one of the better, and most underappreciated, shortstops in baseball was beginning.

 

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White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez leads the AL with a .360 batting average. (AP)

Ramirez certainly doesn’t look the part. Now 32, he is still skinny bordering on emaciated. His power defies physics, though seeing as he’s approaching 100 career home runs, it’s very real. And while his incredible start this season is likely more anomaly than emergence of a great hitter – his .360 batting average leads the American League and his four homers and 14 RBIs are near the top – it speaks to Ramirez’s staying power.

 

Barring injury, he’ll cross the 4,000-plate appearance mark this season and jump past Yuniesky Betancourt to move into the top 15 of Cuban-born players. Carving out a career that long – and well productive – is the sort of thing …

8. Jose Abreu need not worry about at this juncture. He’s in that adjustment stage every Cuban goes through, when life in the U.S. is so overwhelming, such a bounty of wonders, that excitement and temptations run the risk of bubbling over. Some players have trouble with those vices. Puig and Chapman, the two enfant terrible among recent defectors, love racing their cars fast. Abreu, 27, could well be past the youthful indiscretions.

His biggest change now is at the plate, where he fell into his first slump before a monster opposite-field home run highlighted a 3-for-6 day. It was the sort of home run only Abreu and a handful of other hitters can muster, a cannon shot propelled by the power purer than Ivory soap.

Abreu’s arrival in the major leagues is what makes the human-trafficking implications so bittersweet. The embargo forces players of Abreu’s talent to take shady routes, and even if he said his defection went smoothly, such instances are rarities. Those who go risk everything, and those who stay, out of loyalty or fear, end up like …

9. Alfredo Despaigne, playing in a lower-level league instead of the big leagues, where he belongs. Despaigne, a power-hitting outfielder, may return to the Mexican League, considered Triple-A. Frederich Cepeda, another longtime Cuban star, just signed with the Yomiuri Giants. They’re two of the 10 or so players whose talents would assure them major league spots were they to defect.

Second baseman Jose Fernandez may be the best pro prospect left in Cuba, alongside infielder Yulieski Gourriel and young outfielder Yasmany Tomas. Pitchers Vladimir Garcia, in his early 30s, and Norge Ruiz, not even 20, would draw significant interest as well.

Plenty remain in the U.S., awaiting their certain arrival in the big leagues. The Dodgers’ $53 million middle-infield combination of Alex Guerrero and Erisbel Arruebarrena bide their time at Triple-A and Double-A, respectively. Aledmys Diaz is with the Cardinals’ Double-A team, and perhaps the best of the bunch, outfielder Jorge Soler, could join the wave of great Cubs prospects that will hit Chicago within the next two seasons.

Soon enough, an outfielder named Rusney Castillo could join them. Castillo, 26, reportedly defected in January. Since February, mentions of him publicly have disappeared. Part of that could be due to standard paperwork delays. Silence also could mean something else. When a player disappears, whether it was Leonys Martin or, for a shorter period of time …

10. Yasiel Puig it tends to bring out the worst thoughts. Because we now understand what it means for a Cuban baseball player to get here. There were always rumors, always stories, always the frightening idea that they might be half-true, because half of it – of death, kidnapping, threats – would be bad enough.

Now, from Puig’s story, we know it’s all true, and worse than imaginable. And considering it’s far from unique, it is the latest clarion call for baseball. Seven years ago, the sport saw an agent, Gus Dominguez, convicted for smuggling ballplayers into the United States. No longer is he a certified agent. A conviction, it seems, is the threshold for revocation, which is an awfully low standard.

The league and union can change that. They don’t have the solution, not yet, maybe never as long as the U.S. embargo exists and the Castro regime does not let its citizens leave, forcing them to seek alternate options. Baseball can go public with a statement it should’ve long ago: supporting a system that puts players in danger is not an acceptable standard, and they will do everything they can to ensure their ugly secret gets no worse.

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