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This BadAss White Man Hunted Slave Owners, Went To War With The System, & Kick Started The Civil War

22 Oct


John Brown is one of the most controversial figures in North American history. The government labeled him a terrorist, and gave him the death penalty for a string of murders carried out under his command. But for others, such as Fredrick Douglass, he was a hero.

Brown’s commitment to ending slavery was infinitely greater than the likes of Abraham Lincoln, or any other major personality of that time. Yet despite this historical fact, he is relatively unknown in public perception, and so I decided to write this article in honor of his memory.

Image source: Wikipedia

When John Brown was just a boy, aged 12 years old, he drove a heard of cattle by himself from Ohio to Michigan. During this impressive expedition, Brown was forced to lodge in the countryside, and although he was treated well by his host, the owner of the house was actually a slave owner that ended up beating a black boy he “owned” with an iron shovel right before Brown’s eyes. This experience had a profound influence on John for obvious reasons.

As the years went by, John struggled. His wife, along with several of his children, died due to poor health. He fell into debt and had to declare bankruptcy and had a number of different run ins with the government. In short, John struggled to adapt to the system.

That same year, an abolitionist named Elijah Parish Lovejoy was gunned down for his controversial publications in the Alton Observer. Lovejoy was a staunch opponent of slavery, and despite receiving numerous death threats and having his offices attacked prior, he refused to back down and used the supreme power of journalism to challenge the ruling class’s inhumane system of racial exploitation.

This rebellious, but altruistic courage inspired Brown greatly, and a new path in his life began to emerge.


John Brown in 1859/Image source: Wikipedia



After Brown learnt of Lovejoy’s murder, he pledged in church that he would dedicate his life to ending the rapacious business of slavery. But like many other activists, both past and present, his ambitions were put on hold due to financial difficulties and obligations. During this time, he was also arrested for resisting the repossession of his home. In fact, throughout his life, John Brown had numerous troubles with “the law“.

He decided to move to Massachusetts, which was home to a growing population of anti slavery activists, from all walks of life. While he was there, Brown became deeply involved in transforming the city into a central hub for the fight against slavery, and was a key figurein the maintenance of the famous Underground Railroad — which was a secret transportation route to help free slaves.

In response to this subversive action, the government passed The Fugitive Slave Actwhich allowed bounty hunters to hunt down slaves and bring them back into captivity. Consequently, John Brown formed a vigilante group called the League of Gileadites to ensure that escaped slaves would be protected against the establishment authorities. This was the beginning of Brown’s militant approach to the abolishment of slavery.

In 1855, pro-slavery forces invaded Kansas — the home of John Brown’s sons — and began violently taking over the state and imposing on the abolitionist population there. These tensions between the opposing factions came to a head when anti-slavery Senator Charles Sumner was almost beaten to death — For Brown, this was the final straw.

Two days later, Brown and his men brutally murdered 5 pro-slavery forces, but they were far from done.


Image source: Wikipedia


In retaliation to John Brown’s actions, a mini war in Kansas erupted and one of his son’s was killed. This then was met by further retaliation from Brown, who in spite of having a much smaller force of men, managed to kill and injure an undisclosed number of pro-slavery men. Word of this battle spread throughout the United States, and Brown’s legend began to grow.


In 1859, John Brown gathered a force of 22 vigilantes (17 white men:3 of which were his sons, and 5 black men: three free blacks, one freed slave, and a fugitive slave) and attacked Harper’s Ferry, which housed a major armory. Brown’s plan was to get weapons and spread revolution, but this plan ultimately failed when U.S. Marines were sent in and put down the rebellion. Amongst the dead, were 2 of his sons.

Brown, however, refused to surrender and proclaimed that he would prefer to die for his cause than give up. After a close combat encounter though, Brown was beaten unconscious and arrested and jailed. Before he was sentenced to die by hanging for his crimes in court, Brown had this to say;

“…Had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends… it would have been all right; and every man in this court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment.”(Source)



Image source: Wikipedia


“His zeal in the cause of freedom was infinitely superior to mine. Mine was as the taper light, his was as the burning sun. Mine was bounded by time. His stretched away to the silent shores of eternity. I could speak for the slave. John Brown could fight for the slave. I could live for the slave. John Brown could die for the slave.”
— Fredrick Douglass

Former slave and African American leader Fredrick Douglass, once called John Brown one of the greatest heroes known to American fame. He noted that John Brown was more committed to the emancipation of black slaves than anyone else he knew. Some of the most influential personalities of that era have also sung Brown’s praises, including Victor HugoRalph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau, amongst others. Brown is also credited by biographer David S. Reynolds, as being the man that sparked the North American civil war. Yet, in spite of this, Brown’s name is suspiciously absent from modern public perception when compared to other prominent figures of the time, such as Abraham Lincoln, who did not have a fraction of the conviction John Brown had, yet received much more credit for the struggle against slavery.

Although my admiration for Brown should be quite easy to perceive, I do not advocate the use of violence to challenge government corruption. They have a monopoly on war, death, and destruction, and trying to impose on them in this arena today would be counter productive and stupid. John Brown lived in a very different time that we do, when government was not nearly as powerful as it is today. His struggle was largely about creating awareness, which was a radical course of action we fortunately do not have to take today. You see, John Brown did not have access to a powerful tool like the internet, which has threatened the ruling class’s power structure more than anything in known history. Ultimately, change is preceded by public awareness, and there is no tool more effective in promoting awareness about elitist corruption, and human suffering, greater than social media and the world wide web.

It should also be said that this article is not a whitewash. Innocent people were murdered during Brown’s crusade against slavery, albeit unintentionally. But an innocent life is still an innocent life, and no excuse should be made to defend such a crime. I would also like to make it clear that this is not a pro-Christian piece. Moral character precedes religion, just as immorality does too. People ultimately interpret their religion according to their own perceptions and way of thinking; Someone that values peace, will interpret their religion peacefully, and someone who comes from a radical background, will interpret their religion radically. In other words, had Brown been a Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, or anything in between — considering the path of his life — it is almost certain the outcome would remain unchanged. This anthropological factor is something many people fail to comprehend in relation to the religious debate. This though, is a complex topic for another day.

The positive that John Brown does represent, is that there have always been people in history, who are willing to stand up for human rights without any regard for childish notions of tribalism or race. His story serves as a reminder that people were not much different to us back then; in that most of us are scared to challenge the system, including those who are the most exploited and enslaved by it, because of fear of government reprisal and public opinion — which has always been nothing more than a reflection of convoluted establishment propaganda.

John Brown struggled to adapt to the system that we plainly call society. He hated being surrounded by the inhumane institution of slavery, was constantly in debt to the authorities, had run ins with “the law,” and experienced numerous hardships in life. Finally, after decades of trying to fit into this mad society, he realized his true purpose was not to assimilate, but to find a way to change it. And although his course of action was undoubtedly extreme — and not recommended — there is a powerful lesson we can all learn from his chosen path — we are not here to conform to this backwards world, we are here to try and help create a new one; and we are not here to bow before injustice, we are here to confront it and stand against it. 




Written by Gavin Nascimento, Founder Of

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Source: This BadAss White Man Hunted Slave Owners, Went To War With The System, & Kick Started The Civil War


Global pollution kills 9m a year and threatens ‘survival of human societies’ Earth First  Defend the Planet!

22 Oct


Landmark study finds toxic air, water, soils and workplaces kill at least 9m people and cost trillions of dollars every year

Source: Global pollution kills 9m a year and threatens ‘survival of human societies’ | Environment | The Guardian

Pollution kills at least nine million people and costs trillions of dollars every year, according to the most comprehensive global analysis to date, which warns the crisis “threatens the continuing survival of human societies”.

Toxic air, water, soils and workplaces are responsible for the diseases that kill one in every six people around the world, the landmark report found, and the true total could be millions higher because the impact of many pollutants are poorly understood. The deaths attributed to pollution are triple those from Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

The vast majority of the pollution deaths occur in poorer nations and in some, such as India, Chad and Madagascar, pollution causes a quarter of all deaths. The international researchers said this burden is a hugely expensive drag on developing economies.

Deaths from pollution dwarf many other major causes
Global deaths by cause in 2015;
All Pollution
Tobacco smoking
AIDS, malaria and TB
Child and mother malnutrition
Road accidents
War and murder
 Rich nations still have work to do to tackle pollution: the US and Japan are in the top 10 for deaths from “modern” forms of pollution, ie fossil fuel-related air pollution and chemical pollution. But the scientists said that the big improvements that have been made in developed nations in recent decades show that beating pollution is a winnable battle if there is the political will.

“Pollution is one of the great existential challenges of the [human-dominated] Anthropocene era,” concluded the authors of the Commission on Pollution and Health, published in the Lancet on Friday. “Pollution endangers the stability of the Earth’s support systems and threatens the continuing survival of human societies.”

Prof Philip Landrigan, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, US, who co-led the commission, said: “We fear that with nine million deaths a year, we are pushing the envelope on the amount of pollution the Earth can carry.” For example, he said, air pollution deaths in south-east Asia are on track to double by 2050.

Landrigan said the scale of deaths from pollution had surprised the researchers and that two other “real shockers” stood out. First was how quickly modern pollution deaths were rising, while “traditional” pollution deaths – from contaminated water and wood cooking fires – were falling as development work bears fruit.

“Secondly, we hadn’t really got our minds around how much pollution is not counted in the present tally,” he said. “The current figure of nine million is almost certainly an underestimate, probably by several million.”

This is because scientists are still discovering links between pollution and ill health, such as the connection between air pollution and dementia, diabetes and kidney disease. Furthermore, lack of data on many toxic metals and chemicals could not be included in the new analysis.

The researchers estimated the welfare losses from pollution at $4.6tn a year, equivalent to more than 6% of global GDP. “Those costs are so massive they can drag down the economy of countries that are trying to get ahead,” said Landrigan. “We always hear ‘we can’t afford to clean up pollution’ – I say we can’t afford not to clean it up.”



The commission report combined data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and elsewhere and found air pollution was the biggest killer, leading to heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and other illnesses. Outdoor air pollution, largely from vehicles and industry, caused 4.5m deaths a year and indoor air pollution, from wood and dung stoves, caused 2.9m.

The next biggest killer was pollution of water, often with sewage, which is linked to 1.8m deaths as a result of gastrointestinal diseases and parasitic infections. Workplace pollution, including exposure to toxins, carcinogens and secondhand tobacco smoke, resulted in 800,000 deaths from diseases including pneumoconiosis in coal workers and bladder cancer in dye workers. Lead pollution, the one metal for which some data is available, was linked to 500,000 deaths a year. The world’s most toxic town: the terrible legacy of Zambia’s lead mines

Low-income and rapidly industrialising countries are worst affected, suffering 92% of pollution-related deaths, with Somalia suffering the highest rate of pollution deaths. India, where both traditional and modern pollution are severe, has by far the largest number of pollution deaths at 2.5m. China is second with 1.8m and Russia and the US are also in the top 10.

In terms of workplace-pollution related deaths, the UK, Japan and Germany all appear in the top 10. The report was produced by more than 40 researchers from governments and universities across the globe and was funded by the UN, the EU and the US.

“This is an immensely important piece of work highlighting the impact that environmental pollution has on death and disease,” said Dr Maria Neira, the WHO director of public health and the environment. “This is an unacceptable loss of lives and human development potential.”



The editor-in-chief of the Lancet, Dr Richard Horton, and the executive editor, Dr Pamela Das, said: “No country is unaffected by pollution. Human activities, including industrialisation, urbanisation, and globalisation, are all drivers of pollution. We hope the commission findings will persuade leaders at the national, state, provincial and city levels to make pollution a priority. Current and future generations deserve a pollution-free world.”

Richard Fuller at Pure Earth, an international pollution clean-up charity and co-lead of the commission, said: “Pollution can be eliminated and pollution prevention can be highly cost-effective, helping to improve health and extend lifespan, while boosting the economy.” Since the US clean air act was introduced in 1970, levels of the six major pollutants have fallen by 70% while GDP has gone up by 250%, said Landrigan: “That puts the lie to the argument that pollution control kills jobs and stifles the economy.”

Gina McCarthy, former head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, criticised the rollback of pollution controls under the Trump administration: “Now is not the time to go backwards in the US,” she said. “Environmental protection and a strong economy go hand in hand. We also need to help other countries, not only for the benefit it will bring them, but because pollution knows no boundaries.”

Rolling out new regulations, ending subsidies for polluting industries and deploying technology like smokestack filters could tackle pollution, the researchers said. But more research on the impact of pollution is also urgently required, said Fuller: “Available data does not include lead’s impact from toxic sites like Flint, in Michigan, US, or Kabwe, Zambia. Yet these populations experience enormous health impacts.”

Landrigan said his biggest concern was the unknown impact of the hundreds of industrial chemicals and pesticides already widely dispersed around the world: “I worry we have created a situation where people are exposed to chemicals that are eroding intelligence or impairing reproduction or weakening their immune system, but we have not yet been smart enough to make the connection between the exposure and the outcome, because it is subtle.” On Wednesday, a horrific plunge in the abundance of vital insects was reported, with pesticides a possible cause.

“Pollution has not received nearly as much attention as climate change, or Aids or malaria – it is the most underrated health problem in the world,” he said.

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Bernie Sanders Showed How Democrats Can Win with Socialism 

21 Oct

Bernie Sanders was the clear winner of the CNN debate on tax policy. (CNN)

In CNN’s Tax Debate, Bernie Sanders Showed How Democrats Can Win with Socialism

By offering a bold vision of policies to help working families, Sanders voiced a popular alternative to Ted Cruz and the GOP’s barbarism.


Had Wednesday night’s CNN debate on tax reform instead been one for the presidency, the odds for Democrats would look pretty good. Ted Cruz, an unlikable Republican, was pitted against Bernie Sanders, the country’s most popular politician, who articulated a common-sense vision for an America based on equality and a redistribution of wealth from the top to the bottom.

But rather than embracing this bold vision, the Democratic establishment seems to be moving in the opposite direction. Following the debate, news broke that the DNC had pushed out a number of progressives from its leadership positions, including many who had supported Rep. Keith Ellison in his leadership bid against current chair Tom Perez, Obama’s Labor Secretary.

One of the few correct things Ted Cruz said at Wednesday night’s debate was that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren represent “the heart of the Democratic Party.” This recent purge at the DNC raises the question of whether the party is interested in having a heart at all. Or, for that matter, in winning.

To understand why Sanders’ brand of democratic socialism presents a promising way forward for Democrats, it’s important to understand that the GOP’s current agenda is both hollow and incoherent—on economic issues in particular.

Lies vs. honesty

Throughout the debate, Cruz doubled down on Republicans’ talking point that cutting the corporate tax rate would fuel economic growth—the GOP plan would slash the official rate for corporations from 35 to 20, even though today’s effective corporate tax rate sits well below either of those figures. “When you cut [corporate] taxes the result is everyone benefits because you have more opportunity, better jobs and higher wages,” Cruz claimed.

The trouble with that story is that it’s patently false.

“We have run a four-decade-long experiment in reducing effective marginal tax rates on the rich, both in the individual and corporate tax systems, and it has definitely failed to fuel economic growth,” Marshall Steinbaum, a Fellow and Research Director at the Roosevelt Institute, tells In These Times via email. “What it has done is vastly increase pre-tax income and wealth inequality by facilitating the concentration of power between and within corporations—which I would argue was its aim all along.”

On taxes and other issues, the GOP’s economic talking points tend to rest on a dogma about how the economy should work which isn’t actually supported by evidence. Sanders put the debate in starker and more common-sense terms:

“Senator Cruz wants to see legislation pass that would give $1.9 trillion in tax breaks to the top 1 percent, significantly increase the national debt being passes on to our kids and our grandchildren, and in order to pay for these tax breaks for billionaires, he wants to throw 15 million people off of Medicaid, cut Medicare by over $450 billion… I do not believe that America is about giving tax breaks to the very, very wealthy and cutting life and death programs for working families.”

Cruz would likely have had a much easier time debating an establishment Democrat than a socialist. Jabs about billionaires’ campaign funding would strike close to home for DNC insiders, whereas similar attacks seem to wash off Sanders. This partially explains why Cruz decided to go after Obama’s record rather than push back on the merits of Sanders’ argument: That every American deserves healthcare, free education and a host of other benefits that are considered standard in many other industrialized nations.

For more than 50 years in American politics, accusations of being a socialist have struck fear into the hearts of Democrats. Sanders welcomes the term. “I am a democratic socialist and I ran as an Independent,” Sanders responded when prodded by Cruz. “You didn’t run as a right-winger, you ran as a Republican.”




What taxes are for

Republicans have long tried to craft a reputation for themselves as deficit hawks, even though governmental projections of their current tax plan—as Sanders mentioned—estimate that it would add trillions of dollars to the federal deficit.

In that sense, the GOP plan would seem to fail on its own terms. But that would require the party to genuinely care about the deficit in a way that it never has. On its own, the national debt doesn’t make much of a difference in terms of people’s day-to-day lives. What matters is how that money is spent, and Republicans have historically been better at understanding that than Democrats.

“There’s absolutely no economic justification whatsoever for caring about government deficits in the current economic environment.” Steinbaum explains. “In this, the Republicans have outmaneuvered Democrats time and time again. It’s one of the classic and consequential long-term political failures of the center-left over the last 30 years.”

At a time when inflation has been sluggish, expansionary programs make both economic and political sense. Such policies would help jump start the economy while garnering political support in a populist moment. In contrast to what you might expect from most Democrats, Sanders was able to reframe last night’s debate away from Cruz’s fear-mongering about taxes to what services the government should be expected to provide.

In a sly casting move, CNN recruited a Danish citizen and think tank employee to ask Sanders a gotcha question about the notoriously high taxation rates in Scandinavian social democracies. Ultimately, however, the questioner was forced to admit that Cruz’s demonization of European healthcare systems for being expensive and riddled with long waiting lines was “just not true,” and that his home country is in many ways better at meeting basic needs than his adopted one.

You don’t need to be a socialist to agree that the government should be spending more on the programs that make a positive difference in working peoples’ lives. Especially in the United States, the definition of what constitutes a democratic socialist is somewhat fluid, and many have argued that Sanders is closer to a New Deal Democrat than even a European social democrat.

What Sanders and a rising tide of socialist-aligned organizers and elected officials represent, though, is a break from the fiscal conservatism that has defined the last 20 years of Democratic Party politics, and a defense of good, big government. Whether raising the tax rate to 90 percent for the highest income earners counts as socialism is a debate worth having, but the embrace of such a goal by Democrats would represent a radical shift in how the party has related to tax policy: Seeing taxes as not just as a way to pay for vital programs, but as a means of redistributing wealth and power away from the one percent.

Lessons from the UK

Britain’s political landscape might actually offer a more hopeful way forward than Denmark’s. Conservatives are rapidly shedding members and support under disastrous leadership, and lack either youth support or rising stars. Labour, the opposition party, is unified around an uncompromising socialist vision, and may well be poised to take back the government in the next general election.

If Democrats knew what was good for them, the party could start down a similar path: embrace the fact that Sanders and Warren are the heart the party and lean hard into a redistributive agenda, going after Trump while proposing a visionary path forward. There are better conduits of that message than Sanders, but grooming them for office and national leadership would require the party to refashion itself into a welcoming place for left populism and—on a basic infrastructural level—investing in state parties rather than consultants.

The DNC, by contrast, seems content to keep losing.

Kate Aronoff is a writing fellow at In These Times covering the politics of climate change, the White House transition and the resistance to Trump’s agenda. Follow her on Twitter @katearonoff


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Source: In CNN’s Tax Debate, Bernie Sanders Showed How Democrats Can Win with Socialism – In These Times

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