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  • Fox News asks Rand Paul if Reid is right to "call Americans" "Domestic Terrorists"
    • Actually, there were lots of black cowboys and several who ran large cattle operations. One of the more famous black cattle ranchers was Daniel Webster Wallace; he worked as a cowboy and, in 1885, he purchased 1280 acres in Texas where he later ran his cattle. When he died in 1939, his estate was worth more than 1 million dollars.
      link to

      If you Google “black cowboys”, you’ll see lots of great images from the frontier days!

      As for today…
      Here’s a video of Charles Sampson (1982 World Champion bull rider)
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      And here’s another “Black Cowboys In Texas” featuring rodeo riders.
      link to

      Given that a number of Black Americans (like boxer Muhammad Ali) converted to Islam in the 1950’s and 1960’s, it’s certainly within historical possibility that there could have been a black ranching family who’d run cattle since the late 1800’s and converted to Islam in the 20th century.

  • US Press once again Declines to Call White Terrorism in Kansas, Nevada, White Terrorism
    • Imagine that the Bundy ranching family in Nevada, instead of being white and Mormon, are all black and Muslim. And imagine that they, too, believe not only that the federal government should have no jurisdiction over the public land adjoining their ranch, but also that a second revolutionary war should topple the U.S. government.

      Imagine that, just like Mr. Bundy, they lost two court decisions and are expected to either pay one million in overdue fees or have their cattle seized to pay the debt. Imagine that they send out a call, via Facebook and Twitter, for all like-minded thinkers to take up arms and prepare to fight the agents sent to collect the cattle.

      How would the media describe some 2000 black, Muslim men, armed with automatic rifles and shotguns, who drive from all across the country to show up in Nevada ready to kill government officials?

      How would the media portray those black, Muslim men when they used their guns to shut down I-15, a major interstate freeway, forcing hundreds of travelers to bake in the hot desert sun until the road could be re-opened?

      What would right-wing pundits say about those black, Muslim men who were crouched on overpasses training their sniper sights on the cowboys and drivers hired by the federal government to move the cattle?

      Would they agree with those black, Muslim militants who planned to put their wives and girlfriends on the front lines so there would be news footage of federal agents shooting women?

      Would Nevada politicians, senator Dean Heller and Governor Brian Sandoval, still throw their support behind a Bundy who said, “. . . I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing,” if he were Muslim and black?

      Try as hard as I can, I can’t see people on the right using any word other than "terrorist" to describe homegrown, black, Muslim militants who are willing to use violence to support their belief that the U.S. government is meaningless.

      And that shows us exactly how far Americans have to go before we define each other by character, not race or religion.

    • Ironically, Cliven Bundy has been hoist by his own (the cowmen’s) petard. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 was created in response to the demands of Western ranchers just like Mr. Bundy. The act made it possible for ranchers with money and connections to exclude others from what had been open range.

      Before the BLM-administered act, Mr. Bundy would have competed and possibly feuded with anyone else who wanted to run livestock on the open range next to his 150-acre ranch in Nevada. In the late 1800’s, when folk like the Bundy’s moved to the West, they faced grazing competition from Spanish ranching families who’d been in the area since the 1500’s along with many others (Native Americans and immigrants including the Basque, the Germans, and the Irish) who also wanted to feed their sheep, goats, and/or cattle.

      A grazing allotment is generally good for ten years and buys the purchaser freedom from feuding with neighbors, freedom from land turned to desert by overgrazing, and freedom from doing repairs (water improvements, noxious weed removal, wildfire prevention and recovery, etc.) that are done by the feds.

      If the BLM was not providing the services that Mr. Bundy purchased, then he should have kept records and taken them to court for their delinquency. Suing them for removing the competition makes no sense.

      I’d be willing to bet that if the public lands where Mr. Bundy has his cattle were scorched by a severe, national-disaster level wildfire, he would be more than happy to see federal crews arriving to restore the native flora for his cows.

  • Ban Coal: Coal Industry Chemical Threatens 300,000 in West Virginia
    • On my way to see relatives in Arizona over the holidays, I drove past the recently commissioned Solana solar thermal power plant near Gila Bend, Arizona. It’s an impressive achievement in renewable energy. During testing in October 2013, using molten salt thermal energy storage, the plant provided power for a record six hours without sunlight:

      link to

      With a goal to provide 15% of its power from renewable sources by 2025, Arizona has set its sights low, but technology like Solana’s could easily provide a much higher percentage of energy given Arizona’s sunshine and vast open spaces.

      So what innovative company, you ask, designed and built this marvel of solar collection, perhaps some industrious homegrown Arizona engineering firm? Nope. Abengoa is a company from Spain! link to

      How is it that the United States, a nation that prides itself on being on the cutting edge of technology, is not the birthplace of this innovation?

      If you’re a student and considering careers, please look seriously into becoming an engineer who will shake up this country and get us as excited about sustainability as we once were about exploring outer space.

  • Thank You for Your Support
    • Juan,
      Thanks for your long hours of work. Amidst so much trivial and thoughtless media commentary, your site is an oasis!

  • "Off the Charts": Deadliest Storm in History Kills 1200, Displaces Millions in Philippines
    • The storm surge (at least 15 feet high and as far inland as five miles) has caused horrific devastation across the Philippines.

      Coastal dwellers need to understand that the threat of "wipe-you-off-the-map" surge flooding is likely to destroy cities long before the oceans rise enough to permanently cover coastal land.

      Many of our biggest U.S. urban centers (New York, Boston, Miami, New Orleans, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco) are on or very near the coast.

      Imagine the impact if these cities were washed over by 15 foot high waves that ran five miles inland.

      Imagine if all our military capability could leap into action to provide rescue assistance with the same speed with which it now leaps into war.

      Military cargo planes would already be dropping thousands of buoyant packets of water and food across Haiyan's devastation (just as we scatter PSYOP leaflets) and cargo drones would be going back and forth from offshore naval ships to lower goods into inaccessible areas.

      Imagine that. Drones bringing aid instead of drones bringing death.

  • Alshabab attack on Nairobi a Sign of Political Defeat
    • I’m puzzled by the assessment (from Professor Cole and Joe from Lowell) that the Westgate mall attack is a sign of “weakness” and will have only a negligible effect. Isn’t terrorism a concern precisely because it requires such a minor effort (in terms of money and training) on the part of the terrorist group?

      Kenya relies heavily on its tourism industry. If only ½ of one percent of all tourists who were planning to visit Kenya in the coming year decide to cancel their plans, that is still a significant economic impact. A four-day act of terror arranged for only a few thousand dollars could wipe out a year of million-dollar advertisements for the adventure of a lifetime on safari in Masai Mara.

      Isn’t that one reason why, after 9/11, our country embarked on a war rather than a fugitive hunt? If the members of Al Shabab figure out that their survival depends on learning how to remain fragmented, to become better ghosts, to hit and disappear, hit and disappear, couldn’t they rebound and continue to wreak havoc?

      The video from Channel 4 showed that there was a lot of local support for the Al Shabab fighters. I find that worrisome. Also, the report that a number of Americans may be among the terrorists in the Westgate mall is a big concern. What is happening to make refugees leave our land of opportunity for the wastelands of war? ...

  • How US Grand Strategy in Syria led to the idea of Missile Strikes
    • Why is it that the U.S. is having a strident debate about striking Syria, while Israel simply carries out hit after hit without provoking much international comment? If Al-Assad is already having his capabilities degraded by Israeli missile strikes—and these strikes have not deterred him from continuing to fight—why should U.S. strikes be any different? Furthermore, if Israel is carrying out strikes, why does the U.S. need to get involved? It appears that Israel is capable of targeting sensitive military / research sites and can hit Al-Assad by launching missiles/bombs from its submarines, fighter planes, and air bases. Since Israel has already been hitting Syria (and apparently isn’t hindered either by public approval or by international law), why haven’t they stepped up their attacks in response to the sarin gas? Also, why did the Israeli populace rush to buy gas masks at the thought of U.S. strikes when their nation is already at war with Syria? If Al-Assad doesn’t hit back when Israel bombs, why he is more likely to hit back if the U.S. bombs?

      The following strikes are described in articles at and at as well as other major media.
      Friday, July 26, 2013 – Israel bombed Syrian military base near Quneitra.
      Friday, July 05, 2013 – Israel bombed the Syrian port of Latakia to destroy a suspected shipment of Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles.
      May 05, 2013 – Israeli missile strikes hit the outskirts of Damascus, targeting the bases of the elite Republican Guard and storehouses of long-range missiles, in addition to the Jamraya Center for Scientific Research on Mount Qassioun that American officials have called the country’s main chemical weapons facility. Other targets were a paragliding airport in the al-Dimas area of Damascus and a site in Maysaloun. (Per photos below, they also hit a chicken farm.)
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      May 03, 2013 – Israel bombed advanced, long-range ground-to-ground missiles stored at a warehouse at Damascus International Airport.
      January 29, 2013 Israel bombs may have hit the following targets: a convoy of sophisticated Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles (per Israel) or the Jamraya Center for Scientific Research outside Damascus.
      November 12, 2012 Israel bombed mobile artillery units on the Syrian side of the Syrian/Israel border in the Golan Heights.

      Also, note that in December 2012, Israel asked Jordan for permission to hit some of Al-Assad’s chemical weapons, but Jordan refused to grant permission: link to

      September 06, 2007 Israel bombed a site in Syria alleged to hold an underground nuclear reactor in Al-Kibar. The Syrians insisted that it was not. (Per an article “The Silent Strike” by David Makovsky in The New Yorker, in March 2007, the Mossad stole plans about the facility from the computer of Ibrahim Othman, the head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission, by sneaking into his Vienna home. In September, they inserted commandos to assist with setting the laser guidance for the Israeli missiles and carried out the bombing.)
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  • Kerry signals US Intervention in Syria, but to What End?
    • That the U.S. is ready to go to war without waiting to gather evidence is very suspicious. Doesn't this sound like Iraq Redux? Listen to the news. Note the lack of detail.

      Doctors Without Borders doesn't have staff at the three hospitals in Damascus; the hospitals are ones to whom they send supplies so they know the workers there, but none of their staff have been able to visit and see the patients. So the full extent of evidence is photos and video and the reports of survivors who say that they don't know who fired the missiles.

      We need to get blood samples and autopsy results. The area needs to be combed for debris to see if pieces of the missiles and canisters can be found. It makes no sense to go in hurling bombs when for all we know there are chemical weapons stockpiles hidden in places that we might hit. Anyone with half a brain gathers all relevant data first before embarking on a mission that could make things worse.

      All this reminds me of the 2007 interview from Democracy Now where Amy Goodman interviewed General Wesley Clark and Clark says, "So I came back to see him [another general] a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!”

      With leaders that Machiavellian, it's no wonder Americans distrust their government.

  • Afghanistan: If a White House Report on a Massacre isn't Released, did the Massacre Happen? (Currier)
    • This reminds me of a news article that I read over ten years ago. It was an obituary for a U.S. solider who had returned home from a tour of duty and then committed suicide. A family member (a sister, I think?) said that he had come home changed, suffered terrible nightmares, and had told her that he was haunted by having to bulldoze bodies into mass graves. She then made the curious remark that she didn't believe what he said about mass graves because "we [the U.S.] wouldn't do that." At the time, I remember thinking, poor fellow. His own sister didn't believe him. And I wondered why the sister had such complete faith in the integrity of the U.S. and so little faith in the word of her brother...

  • Obama: "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago"
    • Ah, but the question is why did Trayvon Martin decide to hit George Zimmerman? No one witnessed the start of the confrontation between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. We only have Zimmerman’s side of the story. So we cannot know whether or not Martin was justified in hitting and knocking down Zimmerman. If Zimmerman reached toward his holster or attempted to pull his gun out, then Martin would have every reason to think that he was about to be shot and that he needed to hit Zimmerman to stun him and take away the gun. If Zimmerman was simply standing and asking questions, then Martin did not have a right to step forward and hit him.

      This is the truth: at the most crucial moment, we do not know what happened. We don’t know if Zimmerman blocked Martin’s path. We don’t know if Martin jumped Zimmerman. We don’t know who grabbed first, shoved first or swung a fist first. We don’t know if Martin realized from Zimmerman’s body language that Zimmerman had a weapon.

      Many a policeman has shot someone and claimed self-defense because the person who was killed “made a furtive move like he was pulling out a gun.” Did Zimmerman make a furtive move that Martin interpreted as pulling out a weapon? We don’t know. It’s even possible that Zimmerman doesn’t know either. In the heat of the moment, when each man was anxiously eyeing the other, it’s possible that Zimmerman reached back and felt for his holster without even being aware that he had done so.

      There is a fog of war even in fistfights. I recall a fight that happened in a hallway back in high school. A conversation became a debate became an argument became shoves became fists within the space of a few seconds. Afterwards, each of the two teens claimed that the other one started it. And those of us who were standing right there, within feet of the tussle, were unable to say who was to blame. The whole thing happened too fast with each young man reacting negatively to the other. The principal ended up lecturing both students that they were equally responsible, that each man could have walked away, and that was the end of it.

      In the initial police interview, Detective Chris Serino makes it clear he believes that Zimmerman is exaggerating how hard he was hit and that he was “slammed multiple times” into the pavement. Serino says, “That’s why we’re here today. Once again, these can be interpreted as capillary-type cuts or whatever, lacerations, uh, not really, um, coinciding with being slammed hard into the ground. OK? That’s skull fractures is you happen with that. I’ve seen ‘em all, you know.” link to

      Per the medical report of the Altamonte Family Practice, George Zimmerman suffered two scalp lacerations (one 2 ct. and the other 0.5 ct.) which did not require stitches and mild bruising on the back of his head. The scalp is filled with blood vessels and even a minor cut will bleed profusely. Getting slammed multiple times into solid pavement would have produced far more swelling, deep bruising, and most likely skull fracture. Look at pictures of boxers after fights if you want to see how much the human head will swell and bruise under severe trauma.

      Just because Martin ended up on top of Zimmerman and struck him does NOT prove that Martin was the guilty party. Imagine if you thought a man with a gun was about to shoot you, wouldn’t you fight back? And wouldn’t you keep hitting him, trying to stun him, until you secured his gun?

  • Whites and African-Americans in America by the numbers
    • Back in the mid 1990's, when I (as a young single white woman) was living in Los Angeles, I used to take the city bus to work. One morning, as I stood within a covered bus shelter and watched a stream of cars going past, I was baffled that virtually every driver who glanced toward me and the bus stop, gave a hard stare or even looked downright angry.

      There was a traffic light a few feet past the bus shelter. As vehicles stopped at each red light, and various drivers again looked my way, face after face inexplicably darkened. I heard the "thunk, thunk, thunk" of door locks clicking down as drivers locked their doors. "What is going on?" I wondered. I was used to seeing a variety of gazes as I waited at bus stops, some indifferent, some friendly, some clearly checking me out flirtatiously, but never had I felt such a wave of universal hostility.

      "Has something crazy happened in Los Angeles? Did every Angeleno get up on the wrong side of the bed?" I wondered. It was a very unpleasant feeling. At last, the city bus pulled up. The doors opened and as I stepped out of the shelter, a young black man stepped forward and went up the steps into the bus ahead of me. He had been standing, hidden from my view, on the other side of the bus shelter.

      In a flash, I realized, given the angle, that all those hard glances, all those abruptly darkened gazes, all those hammered down door locks were quite likely directed at him.

      It was the darkest epiphany. He was otherwise absolutely unremarkable. Just a tall young black fellow in jeans and a t-shirt. "My God," I thought. "Is that what he always faces? Looks of suspicion, fear, and outright anger? I'd be depressed if I had to face such universal hostility day after day." It was a true eye opener--the only time I ever felt that I had slipped into another person's skin and known the world as that person did.

      For a few moments, I had intensely felt what had always been a rather abstract realization: that we each experience the world quite differently, according to the first impression reception that we receive from others. I can't begin to fathom how such an ongoing hostile reception might change and shape who I would be. It's no wonder there's such a huge gulf between white and black experience; we walk the same earth, but we live on separate planets.

  • Stateless! The Core of the Palestinian Crisis (Juan Cole Video)
    • A group of prominent indigenous scholars recently wrote a letter of protest to Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly (link to

      Growing up in Northern Arizona, I heard a great deal about the many difficult problems facing the Navajo Nation, but I would guess that most Americans know far more about Palestine and Israel than about the Navajo / Hopi land dispute and native rights issues which impact fellow citizens.

      President Shelly traveled to Israel last December and again in March. As much of the Navajo Nation is arid, he wanted to learn about desert farming techniques used by the Israelis. But his trip offended many natives who identify strongly with the Palestinian plight.

      Since Israeli politicians have since made a reciprocal trip to the Navajo Nation, I wonder if that visit made any of them consider the similarities between the experience of the Palestinians and the Native Americans? Does it make them realize that, at the very least, Palestinians ought to have what the Navajo have?

      The Navajo are U.S. citizens and Navajo tribal citizens; they have a voice as Navajo and as Americans. Their situation is not perfect, but the Navajo are certainly not stateless--and that in itself gives them hope for a better future.

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