Thursday, July 24, 2014



It looks like I will be returning to the UDC television studio in late November or early December. Upgrades and renovations are taking place at the station. This will give me additional time to do research and prepare for my guests.

JULY 24, 2014 
John Feffer

The immigration debate has exploded again in the United States, this time around the tens of thousands of minors detained at the U.S.-Mexico border. 
More than half of these children are fleeing violence and threats at home in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. As FPIF columnist Laura Carlsen explains in Blowback on the Border, many families have concluded that the children are safer making the journey to the United States than staying at home.
And, as Nathalie Baptiste points out, the United States is partly responsible for the conditions of poverty and violence that serve as the push factors for the migration.
The refugee crisis in Syria is reaching cataclysmic proportions. Farrah Hassan, who visited refugee camps in Syria back in 2003, notes that over the last five years, the country has gone from the second largest host of refugees to the second largest producer of them.
Meanwhile, Hillary Margolis provides snapshots of five courageous women activists from Syria, several of whom have already been forced to leave the country.
Also this week at FPIF, Didier Jacobs urges a reset of relations with Iran, Phyllis Bennis provides an update from Gaza, and Ved Singh reviews a book on the challenges of exiting from state-building operations. 
Finally, in this week's World Beat column, I look at the crossfire of accusations and counter-accusations surrounding the downing of Malaysian jet liner MH17 in Ukraine and compare the situation to the war that nearly took place in 1983 between the United States and Soviet Union. In our Focal Points blog, Latifah Azlan looks at how the Malaysian government is respondingand Russ Wellen asks questions about Ukraine's fateful decision not to close off its airspace.
John Feffer
Director, Foreign Policy In Focus

World Beat


MH17: Cold War Replay?

John Feffer
Unless a plane completely disappears—a truly unlikely scenario until it happened to another Malaysian airliner back in March—it’s usually possible to get to the bottom of air disasters with the help of black box recordings, satellite data, and the scraps of wreckage. But it takes time to sift through the evidence. And during that time, all manner of wild speculation can take place.
Sometimes that speculation is idle and produces only flame wars on the Internet. But sometimes it can lead to a very dangerous escalation in tensions between armed combatants.

FPIF Features

Syria RefugeeRefugee Crisis: The Stunning Collapse of Syria’s Safe Spaces
Farrah Hassen
In just five years, Syria has gone from being the world’s second-largest host of refugees to the second-largest producer of them.
Syrian WomanWomen and the War In Syria
Hillary Margolis
Meet five women who are bearing the burden of conflict in Syria and persevering in spite of it.
Iranian menReset Relations with Iran
Didier Jacobs
If President Obama wants his legacy to be as a peacemaker, Iran must be the place to start.
Central American child migrantChild Migrants Are Refugees the U.S. Helped Create
Nathalie Baptiste
Central American children fleeing poverty and gang violence are refugees—often from situations U.S. policies have helped to create—and they should be treated as such.
U.S. border patrolBlowback on the Border: America’s Child Refugee Crisis
Laura Carlsen
Decades of short-sighted, inhumane U.S. policies have brought a child refugee crisis to America's door.
Ayman MohyeldinNBC Pulls Its Best Journalist from Gaza Just as Israel Invades
Phyllis Bennis
With Israeli tanks rolling into Gaza, NBC has pulled the reporter who has done more than any other to show the human costs of the conflict there.
U.S. paratroopersWhen and How to End a Foreign Intervention
Ved Singh
Oxford professor Richard Caplan examines the challenges of exiting from state-building operations.
U.S. customs and border patrol helicopterAmerica’s Border Fascism
Todd Miller
Border Patrol practices have created extensive "constitution-free zones" where civil liberties are routinely infringed.

Focal Points Blog

Malaysia Regains Its Footing Amid Intensifying Hostilities in Ukraine
Latifah AzlanAfter learning airline crisis management the hard way, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has quickly taken control of the investigation of MH17.
Israel’s Operation in Gaza: Terrorism by Any Other Name
Adil E. ShamooIsrael is obviously determined to subjugate Gazans by instilling fear.
Scotland Deserves to Be Independent
Sufyan bin UzayrScotland has a chance to obtain what’s been denied its people: sustainable economic growth, social justice, and, most of all, a Scotland-first approach.
Red Carpet Into Harm’s Way Rolled Out for Flight MH17
Russ Wellen
Between Ukraine airline officials keeping planes flying too low and the pilot diverting his plane into the vicinity of the military transport, MH17’s fate was sealed.
Suddenly Putin Blaming Ukraine for Flight 17 Makes a Shred of Sense
Russ Wellen
The Russian prime minister may still bear some of the blame, though.
Hungary’s U-Turn
John FefferHungary, once a liberal democracy, regressed to a semi-autocratic regime.
The Most Obvious Way for Iraq to Fend Off ISIS
Russ WellenIraq President Nouri al-Maliki’s attention remains divided.

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This morning you wake to bombs
as if your nightmares were not enough.
Sleep knows what it means to be a refugee.

In the next room your children play 
like Innocence walking along the beach
discovering broken seashells.

  - E. Ethelbert Miller

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


What do the living do?  Many times I've found myself outside conflicts and war zones. What I have found is that we view things as if they were baseball or football games. We can't and shouldn't reduce things down to winners and losers. The problem with this Middle East World Cup is that we've suddenly have two nations playing like Brazil. It's so disappointing looking at Hamas and Israel throwing rockets and bombs back and forth. One could see this coming after the first Palestinian threw a stone. Now everyday is a sad day and one fears the world is now filled with tunnels and darkness ready to emerge everywhere. What will happen if Israel loses it's soul? I fear a world in which Jews are attacked for simply being Jews. I fear a world in which every Palestinian is born invisible.  Oh, this terribleness descends and there is no where to flee. Run Love run.


DICEE - An organization before its time?

This week I pulled some files that took me back to 1991.  I found the Articles of Incorporation for The District of Columbia Interracial Coalition For Environmental Equity (DICEE). This organization was an outgrowth of my work with Neil Seldman and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Other people involved were Damu Smith, Lisa Moscynski, Charles Tate, Charles Wilburn and Norris McDonald..

The purpose of DICEE was to work on environmental problems facing the District. Raise the consciousness of District residents. Take environmental issues which are adversely affecting the minority community in D.C. and do something about it. DICEE was created to put pressure on the Mayor's office and District Council to implement environmentally sound legislation.

We wanted to provide an interracial forum on environmental  issues.


I attended a special screening of Get on Up  at the Newseum last night. The funk is back. This is an excellent movie about James Brown. The reason is mainly the acting of Chadwick Boseman. This picture has to bring him an Oscar nomination. Nuff said. Don't miss it.


Diane Rehm to Receive National Humanities Medal from President Obama

Washington—Diane Rehm, host of WAMU 88.5’s and NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show, has been named a recipient of the 2013 National Humanities Medal, to be presented by President Barack Obama at the White House on July 28, 2014.

The National Humanities Medal honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened our citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to important resources in the humanities. Recipients are selected by the President of the United States in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“It is a great privilege to be among those selected to receive the National Humanities Medal. To receive this award from President Obama and the National Endowment for the Humanities—and to be in the company of recipients who have inspired us through work that captures the human spirit—is an incredible honor,” Rehm said.

“For nearly 35 years, Diane Rehm has brought thoughtful conversations to millions of public radio listeners worldwide, and her careful and curious exploration of literature, the arts and the broader humanities has long been one of her distinguishing qualities,” said WAMU 88.5 Programming Director Mark McDonald. “We congratulate Diane on this esteemed and richly deserved recognition conferred upon her by President Obama and the National Endowment for the Humanities.”

Diane Rehm is a native Washingtonian who began her radio career in 1973 as a volunteer for WAMU 88.5. In 1979, she was selected to host WAMU 88.5’s local morning talk show,Kaleidoscope, which was renamed The Diane Rehm Show in 1984. The program has grown from a local morning talk show to a public broadcasting powerhouse, and is distributed by NPR, NPR Worldwide and SIRIUS XM to nearly 2.6 million listeners weekly. In 2010, Rehm was awarded a Personal Peabody Award for nearly in public broadcasting.

WAMU 88.5 is licensed to American University and began broadcasting in 1961. It is the leading public radio station for NPR news and information in the greater Washington, D.C., area, providing programming to a total audience of more than 838,000 listeners on air and online. In addition to its flagship frequency, WAMU 88.5 operates WAMU’s Bluegrass Country, Intersection, 88.3 Ocean City, and the digital platform


Tuesday, July 22, 2014



Breaking from
Obama Opens Eastern Seaboard to Oil Exploration
The Obama administration is reopening the Eastern Seaboard to offshore oil and gas exploration, approving seismic surveys using sonic cannons that can pinpoint energy deposits deep beneath the ocean floor.
The move, which stands to create thousands of jobs to support a new energy infrastructure, dismayed environmentalists and people who owe their livelihoods to fisheries and tourism.
Read More Here

Whether this earth comes to an end or not, we'll slog over this endless road.

   - Mahmoud Darwish
Excerpt from a letter to a friend in Israel:

This is also a clash of historical victims fighting historical martyrs. It's a cultural prison. The past is the big bomb that keeps exploding. We have leaders who have decided to embrace chaos before peace

  - E. Ethelbert Miller

Monday, July 21, 2014


Below is an article I found interesting. However I read the print version that was in the express. That one mentions how these shipping containers could be used to house Georgetown's homeless. This needs to be monitored. It might be a clever way to move the poor and homeless off DC land and place them in "containers." So Sci-Fi it makes you believe in UFOs. The reality is that DC residents could disappear or simply become invisible. I could see Ralph Ellison beginning his novel by describing how a person is living in a container; this time without the 1,369 lights.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The war is going on between Hamas and Israel. My friend Joanna (in Israel) and I spend the morning on Skype discussing  the essays in Jane Hirshfield's Nine Gates. What else but poetry can comfort us? This is what the living must do. I am trying to see the world from two sides. My friends are Palestinians and Jews. We all reside in the World House. But who keeps knocking on the door?  Is it Mr. Hate or Mr. Death?

At the center of trying to understand blackness there is nothing but a void. How do you explain why a person might not want to sit next to you on a bus?  The small things that during a lifetime can cause you to mumble (to yourself) in public. Mental illness can be an outgrowth of history or simply every decision you make.

Anthony Papa
July 18, 2014
Huffington Post
On July 18, the U.S. Sentencing Commission unanimously approved an amendment that retroactively applies reduced sentencing guidelines to people who are currently serving time for select nonviolent drug offenses. The sentencing reduction was first approved by the Commission in April 2014, but did not include retroactivity. The Commission estimates that approximately 46,000 prisoners could be eligible for a retroactive sentence reduction.


U.S Attorney General Eric Holder, US Embassy,
 Today the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to retroactively apply an amendment approved earlier this year by the U.S. Sentencing Commission that lowers federal guidelines for sentencing persons convicted of drug trafficking offenses. The vote could shorten sentences for tens of thousands of people who are already incarcerated and serving sentences for drug offenses by granting eligible individuals a hearing before a federal judge to evaluate whether their sentence can be reduced to match the reduced guidelines.

The underlying drug guidelines amendment was approved by the U.S. Sentencing Commission and submitted to Congress for review in April. Provided Congress takes no action to disapprove of the drug guidelines amendment before November 1, 2014, it will take effect on that date and courts may then begin considering petitions from incarcerated individuals for sentence reductions. Today's vote allows the drug guidelines amendment to apply retroactively. The U.S. Sentencing Commission ruled that no one who benefits from this reform may be released from prison before November 1, 2015.

Today's decision reflects efforts underway in Congress and by the Obama administration to reform federal drug sentencing laws, as well as a broader effort to adapt federal policy to overwhelming public support for reforming drug laws, ending marijuana prohibition, and reducing collateral consequences of a drug conviction. In 2010 Congress unanimously passed legislation reducing the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity. Bipartisan legislation reforming mandatory minimum sentencing, the Smarter Sentencing Act, has already passed out of committee this year and is awaiting a floor vote in the Senate. Attorney General Eric Holder has made numerous changes this year, including directing U.S. Attorneys to charge certain drug offenders in a way that ensures they won't be subject to punitive mandatory minimum sentencing.

In just the past two months, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to block the Drug Enforcement Administration from spending federal funds to undermine state medical marijuana laws and state hemp cultivation laws, and voted on Wednesday to allow banking institutions to accept deposits from marijuana stores and dispensaries in states that regulate marijuana. On Monday, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy that expressed strong opposition to a House Republican amendment by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) directed at blocking implementation of a recent law the District of Columbia passed replacing jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use with a small fine. The statement calls marijuana reform a "states' rights" issue, a groundbreaking policy position for the White House to take.

"It makes little sense, of course, to reform harsh sentencing laws proactively but not retroactively," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "But that's what politicians do when they're scared of allowing people out of prison early. The Sentencing Commission really had no choice but to rectify the moral absurdity of keeping people locked up based on sentences that are no longer the law. What they did today was right and just."

According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission and a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, mandatory minimums have significantly contributed to overcrowding and racial disparities in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The BOP operates at nearly 140 percent capacity -- and is on track to use one-third of the Justice Department's budget. More than half of the prisoners in the BOP are serving time for a drug law violation. Even though African-Americans are no more likely than Whites to use or sell drugs, evidence shows they are far more likely to be prosecuted for drug law offenses and far more likely to receive longer sentences than Whites. With less than 5 percent of the world's population -- but nearly 25 percent of the world's prison population -- the U.S. leads the world in the incarceration of its own citizens.

As someone who has felt the sting of harsh sentencing laws after serving 12 years of a 15 to life sentence, I think the retro-application of the guidelines would balance the scales of justice, in reforming bad laws that dished out unfair sentences to individuals and allow them to be reunited with their families.

[Anthony Papa is the Manager, Media Relations, Drug Policy Alliance. Follow Anthony Papa on]


Saturday, July 19, 2014


Photo of Potter's House by Ethelbert

Karlisima-Rodas photo by Ethelbert

For immediate Release
Contact: Karlisima Rodas-Israel
Cell Phone: 703-819-8069
The Potter’s House Mural:
Public Art at Risk of being destroyed!
By KarlĂ­sima Rodas-Israel and Marcela Guio-Camargo
Washington D.C., July 19, 2014.

The Potter's House, 1658 Columbia Road NW, in the heart of Adams Morgan, believed to be the first coffee house in Washington, D.C., has been a landmark for over 5 decades.  The mission of the Potter’s House is to be the church in the market place. It is not only a coffee house or a bookstore. To understand The Potter’s House, you have to know that it is first and foremost a church and a spiritual gathering place where people of all races and social backgrounds find refuge, comfort and hope.

In 2009 The Potter’s House Mural entitled “The Light of the World” was painted by local artist Karla-“Karlisima” Rodas-Israel.  She is an award-winning Salvadorian-born artist who has lived and worked in the Adams Morgan community for more than 22 years.  She was featured in an article by the Washington Times “Driven By Work” as one of the most outstanding and talented local muralists.  In addition, her drive and perseverance, has brought her international recognition with art exhibitions in London and Berlin in 2005 and 2006.  In 2008 she painted the “Mama Ayesha’s Presidential Mural” with 11 USA Presidents including President Obama.  This mural has been featured in Wikipedia, Fox News, CNN and PBS-WETA, MTV, and in US History texbooks in Norway.

“The Light of the World” was funded by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. It is painted outdoors right above the entrance of the Potter’s House at the second level, and it depicts a purple candle with colorful and bright rays of light.  Meetings were held with community members to approve the mural’s image and design, which were approved not only by the community, but also by the Adams Morgan ANC and the Board of Directors of the Potter’s House.  

To get the design approved and to paint the mural took about nine months to complete.   She had to hire five assistants to achieve the task. Now everybody takes pictures of the mural and she gets compliments. People from the community told Karlisima that the mural is cheerful and that it brightens up the street with its attractive colors.

The Potter’s House has recently changed ownership, and it is going through major renovations. It now belongs to the Eighth Day Community Church. They chose a Project Team to make decisions about the future of the Potter’s House, and they decided that they will not keep the mural when they do the renovations. Their intention is to paint over it to give the New Potter’s House a more conservative “corporate, clean look.”

The community really loves the mural and feels that it is already a “landmark” in our Adams Morgan multicultural neighborhood.    This mural does not conflict with the overall structural design of the New Potter’s House. They should not paint over this beautiful mural, which is a piece of art. You don’t paint over a piece of art!  …especially since it gives enjoyment to the people.

The mural has been paid with community tax payers’ dollars, and, therefore, it belongs to the community.  The people have already expressed their opinion, which is that they do not want to see the mural get destroyed.  “The Light of the World,” is a mural that has indeed become a beacon of Hope and Light to the people of our community. 

Word for the Day

Constructive ambiguity
# 100

I take out the trash
as if my life was this bundle.

Tied tight at the top -

a knot preventing my head from falling

So sad the smell of sadness
and the sweet waste of love.

 - E. Ethelbert Miller

Friday, July 18, 2014

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      (for Hind)

We live in a world where
children die before they grow old.
A place where limbs disappear as
if by magic.There are places where
the sky falls and we cut our hands
picking up the pieces. So many
hearts live in dark basements
scratching love poems on the walls.
They have been prisoners inside
of angry men and women. Tell me
the story of the heart and I will
restore light to this earth. 
Make me a believer in the goodness
of human life (again). Bring me dreams so
I might touch tomorrow's brightness.
Oh, Hind compose the fragrance
for our flowers. Now is the time 
for things to bloom and petals of peace.
to descend from your lips.

  - E. Ethelbert Miller