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“Truckers” & the Counter-Culture…

Today, Sunday, January 25th, a reunion is being hosted in Detroit (Farmington Hills) marking some 47+yrs of the Truckers. This is the name that has evolved from a large group of counter-culturalists who at one time or another came together as Boone’s Farm, the Keep on Truckin’ Coop (KOTC) and Big Rapids Distribution Company (BRDC).  (HA! I just learned the Reunion was yesterday, the 24th!!)

While many experiences since 1968 have involved such associations, the format of this article cannot represent more than a brief overview. Nevertheless, I thought I’d post a few personal thoughts and remembrances on my blog site for those who may be interested…

Only a few truckers here '74, but the same vibe (click on image...)

Only a few truckers here ’74, but the same vibe (click on image…)

There’s always been a counter-culture in human society. America’s no exception. In fact, it’s axiomatic that those who opposed the mainstream during our colonial period led to the American Revolution.
One-third opposed as conservatives loyal to the British Crown and its licensed profiteers, and the remaining third did their best to stand on the sidelines. Of course, after the Revolution practically everyone was a Patriot all along.

It’s no accident of history that cultural revolutionists also opposed those crimes against humanity that drove colonialism: Indentured servitude, the theft of a “new” land, the genocide of the Native populations and African slavery.
Their opposition also led to the Civil War in order to complete the promise of the Revolution, freedom for all. But the Confederacy retained political power and has today spread their Jim Crow racist perfidy and predatory conservative rule from 11 to 33 states. Clearly, the Revolution is far from finished…

Examples of other Euro-American counter-cultures include Romanticism (1790–1840), Bohemianism (1850–1910), and the Beat Generation (1944–1964).

A few more, 1978.

A few more, 1978.

Even the earlier Salem Witch Trials (1692) can be perceived as a counter-revolt by Christian-male rule against counter-cultural women who were seeking equal status in society as business owners and operators, mid-wives, medical herbalists, and those who refused to “stay in their place.”

The propertied elite and financial manipulators assumed the helm of the Revolution and today continue their goals for total political and social power. At this moment, a mere 85 individuals on the planet own as much wealth as 3.5 billion others–half the planet. Some think that’s progress…
Rather ironic, since the Earth freely provides all natural resources and working class labor is what converts it into wealth. My opinion is much the same as many of the “Founding Fathers”: Who needs the (then-aristocratic) socio-political rule of worthless parasites? Does not the creative genius of producing humankind possess the attributes to rule itself?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARaised in Rhode Island, NYC and Long Island, at 17 I joined the Army (1959) and served stateside in the 101st Airborne Division. Married to a Nashville girl, I worked and was active in the Civil Rights Movement throughout the Old South. After a year on a chain-gang (and my wife having moved on), I moved North to Detroit in 1965.
I became a Quality Control specialist in the aerospace industry (Detroit’s UAW Local 212). That’s where my political education became refined by 1940’s union and military veteran activists.
I joined the YSA/SWP, was elected to the chairmanship of the DCEWV and co-founder of the Veterans Against the War. After 1967, when masses of vets started returning from the war in Vietnam, we helped in the creation of the VVAW.
In 1968 I was accepted to Wayne State University, which I attended on the GI Bill. (Over many years and other universities, I’ve completed a BS, a Masters and a Doctorate, all in Psychology [PsyD].  I had the potential opportunity to complete an internship thru WSU and the Detroit VA, but at my age and not seeking a clinical practice, I didn’t take it.)

David DennisSalineTo my knowledge, the beginning of the Truckers was in 1968/’69 when an ad was put in WSU’s student daily, the South End, calling for anyone interested in starting a Boone’s Farm Commune. This First Family moved into a house just east of the campus and later to the near west side.
In addition to an initial communal lifestyle and progressive political activism, it also evolved into a business distributing alternative comics, magazines and newspapers of the “underground press” and more. Buildings and trucks were eventually acquired and the business grew.
One of the central figures from the beginning in the ongoing developments of the Truckers was James Rowland Kennedy. Jim was always my main contact w/the Truckers.
Mass demonstrations in Detroit and across the nation brought together disparate elements and issues under the umbrella we all came together on: opposition to the war in Vietnam. This inter-association further radicalized our essential unity of purpose.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn addition to attending WSU, 1968 was also the year that I left the YSA/SWP and focused my politics with John Watson, Editor-in-Chief of the South End  and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. This was a period of great activity on a number of fronts, including the SDS and the formation of the Weathermen.

As Managing Editor of the South End, my January ’69 front-page editorial for secular democracy in Israel-Palestine, created a firestorm of political reaction by both the right and even many liberals. (Israel remains virtually sanctified by the historical usurpation of Judaism by political Zionism.)

That led to my traveling to the Middle East as a guest of the Jewish Agency in Israel and the Palestinian Liberation org, Al Fatah, in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. I also returned in 1970 and ’71 as a free-lance journalist for a variety of newspapers, including the Fifth Estate and the Detroit and London (Ontario) Free Press.

By then, the Truckers had a commune over on Avery and I lived around the corner on Commonwealth, a few blocks west of Wayne campus.
In May of 1970, after the murders of four students at Kent State during a protest of the US invasion of Cambodia, universities across the nation exploded, including WSU.

My sister Jennifer 16 + Les Camionneurs '84

My sister Jennifer 16 + Les Camionneurs ’84

A small group of us (students and faculty) called for a rally on Wayne campus and some 5,000 students and faculty responded. During the protest, an ultra-left group trashed the Engineering bldg and even stoned several classrooms at State Hall.
We called for a strike of the university and after a meet w/President Keast and campus security (and the very real potential for more violent reactions), we were given a free hand and organized our own security force, successfully keeping the provocation of campus and Detroit police off campus.
All of the local radicals, including Kennedy and the Truckers were active during those 10-days of protest. The campus, instead of being closed on strike, was open for classes (adding Viet Nam to their discussions) as the Indochina Institute. We had a democratic assembly, which met daily in DeRoy Auditorium. We fed some 5,000 activists daily on campus during those 10-days, and helped rally information and support at all of the local factories and high schools.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother commune around the corner from the Truckers, Open City, got the franchise to provide food and health services for the Goose Lake International Music Festival held August 7–9, 1970 in Leoni Township, MI. An estimated 200,000 attended. I worked w/Open City during that event.

In late 1970, after returning from a Middle East trip, I moved into the KOTC commune over on Avery. The only room available was a second-floor closet big enough to fit a single mattress, but it was cozy.

After some months I moved to an apartment over Yono’s Market at 3rd and Hancock on Wayne’s Campus. I was active in co-directing the League’s film division, Black Star Productions, w/my then partner, Linda Novenski, as well as securing, editing and distributing a number of Palestinian films we had secured from Italy and the Middle East.

We also worked w/the NY Newsreel crew that came into town to shoot the League’s “Finally Got the News” documentary. The NY Newsreel crew formed another commune on the campus’s near west side for a couple of years during that period.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor a period in the 1971-73 time-frame, I was also active in the development of the campus drug scene. From at least 1966 on, when I experienced reefer thru my contacts at work, the use of reefer, coke, LSD, etc., became part of the campus cultural scene.
Its distribution progressed from several pooling their money in order for one to purchase a lid from a contact, to whomever had the best contacts finding a lucrative enterprise in the business. By ’72 I was handling a hundred pounds or more at a time.
As w/a number of other “underground” enterprises, such fund-raising became a significant aspect of the campus, commune, political scene, but almost always handled discreetly by certain members of the groups. Since drugs were an endemic part of the campus political scene, it made perfect sense to keep the profits w/in that community.
Given the counter-culture/political nature of the groups, as we came into contact w/others from across the country (and internationally, for that matter), such operations were directed to those persons who enjoyed a certain “security” acumen.

This universality of illicit drugs and the resulting profits included right-wingers and gov’t security/intel ops in their own endeavors. Later, during the early ‘80s and Reagan’s Contra-War against Nicaragua, Congressional Iran-Contra Hearings and certain media exposed the CIA’s dealings w/illicit weapons and crack cocaine in order to fund the war that Congress had refused to finance.

CIA contractors imported cocaine into a number of urban black communities, which was then converted to crack for smoking and an instant high. Given this marketing ploy, coke became available to these poor communities as $5, $10 and $20 rocks.Crack was far more devastating to poor communities. Those of us on the left were politically required to cease that business after 1983.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn 1973, I was busy w/a number of political activities. Coleman Young was elected to political power in Detroit. I worked as a campaign coordinator for Attorney Sheldon Halpern’s run for a judgeship and thereafter worked for him as an investigator for much of the next 17-yrs.

My partner in the drug trade, Paul Gribling and I traveled to East Africa, Colombia and other locales. One of the NY Newsreel guys was busted in Canada for importing hashish from Afghanistan (of which my responsibility was getting it into Detroit), and we had to effect an op to rescue that comrade. (Abbie Hoffman was a help in that one.)

In that period, the KOTC had moved their commune to Big Rapids, MI, and became the BRDC. I never visited there myself. I was also somewhat active w/Jack Forrest and the White Panthers across the Lodge Freeway from my Hancock apt.

For a period in 1977-78 I worked as a Trucker out of the BRDC warehouse on the SW side and the riverfront in Detroit after they moved back to Detroit. By then, the core Trucker membership had evolved from a commune into a coop with each family having their own residence.
In ’77, after flying three of the Truckers to Chicago for meets w/the Levy alternative distribution group there, Kennedy introduced me to a friend of his who was active in the coke trade. He needed a pilot to make discreet runs to the Florida Keys and back. After a few of those runs, Bobby A. was attracted to the ease of flying, became a pilot himself and purchased a Piper Aztec.

I later dabbled again in the coke trade, but by ’83 with the CIA/DEA competition and the devastating impart on the Black and poor communities, I quit the drug trade altogether.

(Kind of ironic, given that by ’85 I was fully back into criminal defense investigation work, the feds indicted me for cocaine conspiracy in ’89 and I was given the choice of “cooperation” or trial. They wanted the names and history of my former activities. I chose the latter and got 25-yrs in prison.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile the relative short format of this blog leaves out far more than I’ve put in, I hope the links provide anyone interested w/more info.  I currently live some 4-hrs north of Detroit in Grayling, MI, the Heart of the North Country.
Given this all-too-brief and tangential taste of Trucker lore, perhaps someone w/time, energy and real knowledge  (Michael? Lee Ann?) would like to pursue a far more complete history of the subject?

I would only add that any Truckers who wish to make corrections and/or additions to this article, by all means feel free to do so by contacting me. Updates are quite simple.

So, all-in-all, my time and association with and as a Trucker was quite an adventure.

Dr. Publico (Nick Medvecky, PsyD), January 2015…

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THE BURGLARY…

The discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI by Betty Medsger (2014, Alfred A. Knoph). The following is a guest-review by Raff Ellis:

Journalist/Author Betty Medsger

Journalist/Author Betty Medsger

On March 8, 1971, a small group of amateur burglars broke into the Media, PA, FBI office and emptied their file cabinets. The story of the perpetrators behind the burglary had remained hidden from public view for nearly 40 years.

Quite unexpectedly, two of the participants blurted out their involvement to author Betty Medsger during a routine social encounter. The couple who confessed to the crime hadn’t intended to make this admission for it was a secret they and their six cohorts had vowed to take to their graves. Medsger was shocked, and the revelation sent her on a mission to interview others who were involved, convince them to go public, and to tell their story in an engrossing book she titled, The Burglary.

Author Medsger uses the burglary as a springboard to discuss not only the excesses of the FBI, but also the CIA and NSA. Along the way she examines the lack of intelligence agency oversight by fawning presidents and a permissive Congress.

FBIburglary-001Her conclusion is that the Media heist became the sine qua non for all the ensuing investigations of the FBI—an unbridled, de facto “secret police” force.

The later demythologizing of Hoover and his gang has left a lingering aroma of suspicion surrounding any governmental sanctioned spying on its citizenry.

Although this concern waxes and wanes with a largely apathetic public, it was given a significant boost in attention by the recent Snowden disclosures.
The strength of the book lies in its compilation of a series of historical events in one volume so readers can see the linkages between them and how a complete lack of control left an unscrupulous J. Edgar Hoover free to become the unchallenged dictator of American law enforcement.

Hoover is shown not only to be a racist and a devious lawbreaking rationalizer, but also one dedicated to self-indulgent prejudices. His personal views mandated who would be investigated, continually spied upon, and/or have their homes broken into and personal possessions seized.

His predilection for seeing Communist inspiration in every protest movement–be it anti-war, civil rights, or freedom of speech–guided his activities long after such a “menace” had disappeared. At the end there were more FBI agents and informers posing as Commies than there were actual members of the party.
FBIemperor-002To most Americans the revelation of illegal secret activities would seem incredulous given the public’s innate trust of the government and its vaunted FBI. Faith in that institution had been cultivated and taken for granted for many years, aided and abetted by Hoover’s masterful PR campaign.

Surely the FBI, the premier arm of the American justice system, wouldn’t disregard or break the law, would they? Surely Hoover, the director of this feared and revered agency, wouldn’t disregard orders and twist interpretations of laws to allow him to continue illegal activities, would he?

Once the Media files began leaking to the public, first by the Washington Post—where author Medsger was then employed, Hoover went into full court press mode. He tried to intimidate newspaper publishers to not reveal any of the purloined FBI files by implying they would be violating the law and would therefore be prosecuted. He also employed his secret army of spies, many of whom actually worked at newspapers, to help plug the leaks.

The panicked director even went so far as suggesting to Congressional friends that a law be passed that would make it illegal to possess or make public these stolen documents. Washington Post Publisher, Katherine Graham, made the heroic decision to break the story despite the rest of the Fourth Estate’s initial timidity about taking on the FBI.

Prior to the break-in, whenever questions arose about his agency’s activities, Hoover would slyly let his superiors—and anyone else who had notions about investigating him or his fiefdom—know that other damning information in his possession would also have to be revealed. Hoover’s death a year after the Media break-in rendered this ploy ineffective. It is assumed that his blackmail files were destroyed by his secretary to protect her revered boss’ reputation.

But the real story is about the group of amateur burglars themselves who, regardless of the specter of serious prison time, chose to go ahead with their audacious mission in the hope they could prove that the FBI was illegally spying on their anti-war activities. Not only were they genuinely surprised at the contents of the burgled treasure trove but also in retrospect that the mighty FBI was never able to find out who they were.

Hoover with life-partner, Clyde Tolson.

Hoover with life-partner, Clyde Tolson.

For all its flaunted “always get their man” mantra, the agency was revealed most often to be an inefficient, bungling group of Inspector Clouseaus. Despite Hoover regularly dedicating 40% of his budget to domestic spying, the Bureau never was credited with uncovering any terrorism plots.

The most disheartening conclusions that one draws from this book is how, even after all the revelations, the FBI remains imbued with a culture that resists oversight and obfuscates investigations into their activities. Their actions seem aimed at not only protecting the legacy of its long-deceased director, but also to preserve its freedom to restrict the freedom of others.

The book also points out how the Obama administration has not only refused to dismantle or repeal any of the post 9-11 directives that permit First and Fourth Amendment violations of its citizenry, it has sought to increase them.

In fact the government has outright lied about the nature and depth of domestic spying and stepped up the prosecution of whistleblowers. It is doubly discouraging when one considers that Obama is the first president with a Constitutional Law background.

Criticisms of this book pertain to the organization and amount of repetition that one has to endure. The author seems to believe that if something is worth saying once, it is worth saying two or three times. Nonetheless, the material contained in this work is well worth the time needed to consume the nearly 600 pages it occupies.

Excerpts should definitely be used in civics classes at all levels of our educational system. It is sobering, and well worth remembering, that the revelations made two generations ago required a criminal act to bring a secretive, law-violating judicial arm of the government to heel.

Raff Ellis & Antar...

Raff Ellis & Antar…

It is important to continually reaffirm that unconstitutional governmental excesses and lawlessness remain a threat to our guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom from illegal search and seizure. These principles are more at risk in the current atmosphere of fear, which is accepted by much of the passive or frightened public.

The clear message of this book is, “Please wake up and don’t let this happen again.

The reviewer, Raff Ellis, can be found at www.raffellis.com. Raff is an acquaintance of several years and is himself the author of Kisses from a Distance (2007), Dam Foolishness (2011) and The Bishop’s Curse (2014).  He’s a former computer industry business executive and lives w/his family in Orlando, FL.

Dr. Publico (Nick Medvecky, PsyD) January 2015…

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Prison Cellmates & Jobs…

If and when I write a formal memoir—an autobiography—it would have to include the third of my life that I’ve spent in jails and prisons … some 25-yrs.  A significant aspect of those experiences would be cellmates and jobs… (But I’m kinda like Meyer Lansky; a full memoir? Not likely.)

Co-defendant Larry Genoa & Author, FCI McKean, PA, 1995

Co-defendant Larry Genoa & Author, FCI McKean, PA, 1995

Within a certain context, there is a freedom in prison of association. The First Law is that wardens, counselors, case managers and corrections officers—all being part of an institutional bureaucracy—spend most of their time making things easy for themselves. This includes writing and interpreting the rules to best suit their own situation.
The Second Law is that prisoners themselves are relatively free to associate (live, work, etc.) … within the context of the First Law, of course.

(The American Gulag is essentially a vast system of over 2.3 million prisoners housed in over 4,575 prisons; second-place Russia has 1,029.)

The only other preamble I would draw here is that there are a variety of  trial, sentence, age, security level, ethnic group and politics, in addition to crime factors, that enter into how prisoners associate w/each other.

(The American prison system tends to treat all prisoners the same w/out special privileges, dressing them in nondescript uniforms even as they proclaim that they seek to rehabilitate them for the “free world.” One might wonder how they really view that “free world.” A mass blend of twilight bland ruled by an elite few? They decry “communism,” yet create an institution that projects their pathological image of it.)

Wayne County Jail, Detroit, 1989

Wayne County Jail, Detroit, 1989

Prisoner association of generally equal group and “rank” is common. Either we’re assigned that way, or we seek each other out and are so assigned.

After 9-months in Detroit’s Wayne County Jail, my first prison cellmate at FCI Milan, MI, 1990, was a Colombian engineer who had worked for the US gov’t. He lived in Washington, DC, and had a wife and two young girls. He had an American “friend” who pestered him for a coke contact. (He either knew none or didn’t want to be involved.)
One afternoon while he was at work, this “friend” dropped off a package at his house, giving it to his wife. She left it on the dining room table for her husband. After he arrived home, the feds hit the house and busted them both (it was a kilo of sugar w/a smattering of coke. Under US law, that counts the full weight as coke).
Long story short: Unwilling or unable to produce a source for coke, the prosecutor offered him a plea-deal to 14-yrs or they would prosecute his wife. He took it. After his conviction they also pressed his Colombian wife for coke contacts. Not “cooperating,” they prosecuted her for the possession of a kilo of cocaine. She got 10-yrs. They had their two little girls sent to Spain to live w/relatives.

FCI Ray Brook, NY

FCI Ray Brook, NY

In 1991, I was transferred to FCI Ray Brook, Lake Placid, NY. It was originally the Athlete’s Village for the 1980 Winter Olympics. My first cellmate was a general contractor from Virginia. He scammed the banks out of several $million and got 10-yrs.
One day he showed me a state indictment from VA for scamming the sub-contractors as well and asked for my advice. I advised him to file for a speedy trial assuming there was a good chance that VA wouldn’t comply w/in the required time limit (70-days), and would otherwise tend to accept a plea for a consecutive sentence while serving his federal time. (He could always cop a plea down the line…)
He rebuked me as he had come to “accept Jesus as his savior” and would plead guilty and throw himself on the mercy of the court. I gave him Jesus’s advice: “Render onto Caesar…  To the Criminal Justice System, you’re just a coonskin on the wall.” When I saw him next, he had an additional 14-yrs to serve in Virginia after he completed his federal sentence.

Other cellmates at Ray Brook included a Lufthansa airline pilot w/a kilo of heroin under his flight seat; a Vietnamese ship’s captain, caught w/a load of Thai-stick off the coast of Hawaii; and a Cuban Brigade 2506 commander from the Bay of Pigs invasion, who was a chiropractor who defrauded Medicare.
My work assignment at Ray Brook was as an Account’s Payable clerk disbursing about a $250,000/month to vendor’s of the prison facility and UNICOR (Federal Prison Industries. Inc.). I determined the payments according to Treasury Dept guidelines, processed the computer billing, and passed it on to my supervisor. When I disqualified a $300,000 payment to local contractors for prison work, the fit hit the shan. (Of their $900,000 billing, I only approved $600,000).

(All UNICOR moneys, to and fro, are disbursed thru accounts w/the US Treasury Dept. I was merely following their own guidelines [granted, as a former criminal investigator, I could smell the contractor rip a mile away, but I didn’t take into account the “cozy” deal between certain prison personnel and the locals]. Taken from my cell early one morning soon thereafter, I was given a round of “diesel therapy” to another prison.)

Seamus Moley & Author, FCI Schuylkill, PA, 1993

Seamus Moley & Author, FCI Schuylkill, PA, 1993

FCI Schuylkill, PA, was new in 1992 and w/out a seasoned comptroller or experienced business staff, UNICOR hired me as Payroll Clerk. Among several cellmates over the next 3-yrs, my most memorable was Seamus Moley (shamus mooley), an IRA officer from Northern Ireland who had been busted for buying a Stinger Missile.

(We hit it off right away when he found out that my mother’s side was all-Irish, and that I could describe precisely the training camp he had attended in Syria … where I had been a journalist attached to the same PFLP-GC commandos.)

It was an entrapment scheme so blatant that the Miami federal court judge dismissed most of the indictments and only sentenced Seamus to 5-yrs for the one guilty verdict.
Unfortunately, the gov’t, being pissed off at the Miami judge, waited ‘til Seamus almost completed his sentence, then re-indicted him in another jurisdiction on the dismissed charges, which that judge allowed and gave him an additional 10-yrs.

Other cellmates at Schuylkill included a young dead-head (follower of the Grateful Dead) who was sentenced to 40-yrs for a 3rd-strike felony (#1 a lid of reefer; #2 a lid of reefer; #3 a sheet of LSD thru the mail); a smuggler pilot who’s airfield and aircraft were confiscated by the feds, which has since become Air America for the DEA/CIA; and a Replug PA state legislator busted for taking a 10-yr-old boy across the state line for a little diddly-time.

In 1994, w/the help of Congressman Sander Levin’s office, I was transferred to FCI McKean, PA (a lot closer to Detroit and family visits).  Well-known to federal prisoners as “Dream McKean.”

Peter MacDonald

Peter MacDonald

My most significant cellmate at FCI McKean was Peter MacDonald, former Chief of the Navajo Nation for 5-terms (20-yrs). Pete was given 14-yrs for “conspiring to overthrow the gov’t…” There was an election dispute on the res, it got violent, two Sheriff’s officers were “kidnapped” and two of Pete’s supporters were killed. Pete wasn’t even there at the time.

I learned a lot about Native American history from Pete. From the age of 7, he was raised in a gov’t-Christian missionary school (as was law for all Native Americans), forbidden to speak his language, wear Native garb or hair, and forbidden to practice their religion.
At 15 he joined the Marines (1944) and became a Navajo Code-Talker serving in the Pacific and China. After the war he got an electrical engineering degree from Oklahoma State on the GI Bill, and joined Hughes Aircraft as a Project Manager for the Polaris Submarine Missile Program. When he retired back to the res, he was elected to the Chairmanship (Chief).

(On Clinton’s last act as President, he commuted Pete’s sentence, after he had already served almost 10-yrs.)

While not a cellmate, I spent some time w/Gene Gotti (John’s brother) out on the track. I knew a number of the Detroit Family (working as an investigator to both criminal and civil plaintiff attorneys) and we spent time swapping stories.
At one point, Gene suggested that I distance myself from Novi Tocco, nephew to the Detroit Don (whom I knew from Detroit and often visited my cell). That was just before Novi went back to Detroit to strike a deal w/the feds in return for testifying against his own family (father and uncle). What a slimeball.

In 2001, I was transferred to FCI Jesup, GA. Around 11am on September 11th, I was unceremoniously thrown into the hole (Segregated Housing Unit) incommunicado. I learned the story of 9/11 over 50 days later when I was released and sent back to work and my housing unit. Just a little reminder of the essential political character of my conviction.

Scott Robin Roston

Scott Robin Roston

After that period they put me in a cell w/one of the weirdest characters I’ve ever met. Pretty much a doppelgänger for Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) or vice versa.  Scott Robin Roston is a stone OCD psychopath. Nine days into his honeymoon back in ’88 aboard a cruise ship he beat his bride unconscious and threw her off the ship to her death.

Witnesses said they argued at dinner over her eating sweets and using the wrong fork for her salad. Several days into my celling w/this freak I awoke in the night to his standing in front of the commode, whipping his willie w/one hand while he held his thumb up his ass w/the other.

I went ballistic. He apologized saying he didn’t think I’d mind, and it took me several months to get the f*ck outta there. My Case Manager said they’d move me asap “but it’s difficult to find any inmates who will bunk w/him.” They had to wait ’til some newbies were transferred in.  No shit!?! (P.S.: This sex predator is scheduled to get out July 8th, 2017. Be aware.)

In 2006, after one of one of my 6-month Program Review interviews, the Unit Manager took me aside and asked me if I knew that my file contained a Secret Service, FOIA-Exempt security section.
I told her that I did know (I already knew what was in it because an SIS lieutenant had privately allowed me to read it). She asked me that since I had at least 6-yrs remaining on my sentence (of 25-yrs, minus 15% Good Time), would I prefer to be in a prison camp (no fence, community privileges)? Yes, of course.
She advised me that she would get notice to the Secret Service that the BOP was misusing their information to bar me from a proper lower security status. (I knew that the file included a notice by the Secret Service to the BOP that I had been cleared of all threat allegations.)

Author w/Kaley at Auburn University Vet School Show, 2006

Author w/Kaley at Auburn University Vet School Show, 2006

She notified me a couple of months later that my status was changed and I would be sent to the first available camp. (My non-snitch and political quasi-status, often earned me the respect of both inmates and staff. Part of the prisoner hierarchy.)

I was soon sent to the camp at Maxwell Air Force Base, AL, and was assigned as a dog-handler w/the freedom of the base and downtown Montgomery (in order to socialize the dog to the public for later advanced training). Quite a change after 16-yrs behind the walls, eh?

Before I got my dog Kaley (who lived w/me and went everywhere I did), one of my cellmates at Maxwell AFB was former Congressman Ed Mezvinski (D-IA). Before he was a Congressman, he was an investigator during the Watergate Hearings, of which we had many interesting discussions.

Marc Mezvinsky & Chelsea Clinton.

Marc Mezvinsky & Chelsea Clinton.

He was convicted of fraud and got 5-yrs. The camp PA-system confused our names all the time … we had to both respond to their calls. His son, Marc, married Chelsea Clinton. Small world, eh?

Two years later, I was transferred to the camp at the Pensacola Naval Air Station where I was sent to a Navy school for training as a haz-mat officer. When I completed training, I was assigned a 4-man crew, three haz-mat vehicles, and the security codes of all areas of the base (including the Blue Angels’ compound). What more could a federal prisoner ask for?

(What I found especially ironic was that two of my assigned crew were former pilots at Pensacola. One a Navy F-16 Falcon chief instructor, and the other an F-4 Phantom Marine fighter pilot w/73 combat missions over Viet Nam. They were convicted of tax evasion…)

Former Congressman, Ed Mezvinski (D-IA).

Former Congressman, Ed Mezvinski (D-IA).

After two more years, for a total of 20, I was selected for a 2-yr early out (to home arrest in Detroit). It was a Congressional Program for Elderly Offenders. Although clearly qualified, many were routinely refused (the BOP doesn’t like being told what to do). I was fortunate to have Congressman Charlie Rangel as a sponsor.

Over the years, my cellmates also included an Air Force general, police officers, CEOs, Mafia figures, Israelis, Palestinians, rock musicians and numerous pilots (being one myself) who flew choppers in ‘Nam, CIA-Contra traffickers, 3-different Colombian drug cartel pilots and more. Never a dull moment.

I had the opportunity to complete a 2-yr psych internship thru WSU and the VA (I have a fully accredited PsyD), but I figured going into clinical practice at the age of 70 would be a bit much.

My current (and last?) roommate up here in the Heart of the North Country (Grayling, MI) is Boo. Best pussy I’ve ever had. I got him at the shelter and he pretty much totally ignores me… Just the way I like it.

Dr. Publico (Nick Medvecky, PsyD), January 2015…

 

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A Few Thoughts for the New Year…

In 1963 I turned 21. I was living in Nashville and active in civil rights. Occasionally it was quite brutal, but never w/out a sense of our righteousness and eventual victory. I’m not sure I have that same sense today…

TrickleDown-001 (2)The average yearly income was $5,700. (That’s $44,000 in today’s money.) You could buy a new car for $3,000, and a new home for an average of $12,500. You could gas your car for $5 (27¢/gallon), and $20 would buy a family a week’s groceries.
The minimum wage was $1.25 ($9.65 today), and first-class postage or a Hershey bar for a nickel. One need not strain to see that when you factor the wage, price and inflationary elements, we have quite literally gone backwards in real wages and buying power.
The equity between the relative wealth of the ruling class and the rest of us was far more equal then than it is today. Whatever has been “lost” by the working class has been more than accumulated by the wealthy 1% … quite literally. And this is no accident of history.

The average ratio of income of CEO vs. worker in 1963 was about 20-to-1. Today it’s 354-to-1. In other words, CEO’s literally earn more today while standing at the urinal than workers make in a year. And they believe that’s still not enough…

Born in the summer of ’42, I grew up in the post-World War-II era. Millions returned home after the war to an economy converted to consumerism.
While the war years were a period of great sacrifice, the GI Bill and a variety of liberal (FDR/LBJ; Social Security, the War on Poverty, Medicare…) legislation aimed at a bottom-up approach helped guarantee jobs and significant assistance in a college education and the purchase of homes (including myself, after my military service). Today, that’s all being dismantled.

UnionMem...-001Union membership back in ‘63 was about 30% of the workforce, today it’s 11%. Scholars correctly assert that the rising income equality in the US is significantly attributable to the decline of the labor movement and union membership.

After the War and coming out of the Great Depression, a Jim Crow South (and North, for that matter), and a period of record growth for unionism, voter enfranchisement, more equality for women and greater equity between the classes, the nation entered the ‘60s w/the promise of a cultural and social revolution on the agenda.

But that’s the funny thing about democracy. The masses are free to organize themselves as they see fit and elect people they believe will represent them.
But the corporate and wealthy profiteers are free to buy those reps, have legislation enacted that serves precisely their interests, and abolish and deregulate controls, which are in direct contradiction to the interests of the masses.
Further, they are free to buy the media—today of which over 90% is owned and operated by six corporations.

DixieJusticeIf you’re a racist, a nativist, seeking the faux-lotto day-dream of ultra-wealth classism, a misogynist, an NRA militia type, a fundo-Christian, and/or a basic conservative bigot, you are probably a Republican … or worse.

While the majority of the masses are Democratic, the leadership of that Party is pro-capital; there is no major progressive alternative in America.

Since the post-Civil War period, the wealthy corporatist elite made a concerted drive to own and operate the Republican Party in toto. After Roosevelt (Teddy), they succeeded.
Even so, their numbers are not enough to win elections for them. But their political powers assert a vast variety of inter-connecting acts and controls that limit universal voter freedom, abetted by the sad fact that a significant number of the “masses” utterly fail to participate in their own electoral freedoms.

Many people have the peculiar belief that once they vote or enact a favorable piece of legislation, their role is accomplished. The parasitic predators know better, they never give up.
Since the early 1960s, conservative cadre have been extremely active. While many in the public pay attention to their top-end politics, these cadre have perfected a sleight-of-hand, bottom-up strategy to capture political power in America. Neo-liberal “opposition” is merely a weak-sister quasi-collaborator.
They now effectively control the governorships and/or legislatures of 33 states, the entire US Congress, and most judiciaries, including the US Supreme Court. In other words, factoring their “Southern Strategy” from the post LBJ period when the number of Confederate states was 11, today it’s a super-majority.

The military is a volunteer, proto-mercenary force primarily staffed by a low-wage, surplus-worker population w/corporatist contractors free to profiteer at will. The nation’s police have effectively been para-militarized and turned loose upon any and all resisting populations.
Those surplus workers who fail to survive tracking into a felony record reside in the largest prison gulag in the history of the planet … and are otherwise under the supervision of the criminal justice system. Those who do survive that process are welcome to advance into the police-state apparatus.

After the American “Reichstag Fire” opportunity (9/11) allowed/abetted by the Bush-Cheney Administration, the Patriot Act was enacted to secure a lawful apparatus to begin the process of creating a full-blown security-state.
Bush-Cheney created Homeland Security in order to establish centralized power over 187 federal agencies, both existing and new.

NoConst.-001The TSA was created to control public travel in the US w/a force of more than 47,000 agents. ICE was created for internal border controls w/15,000 agents, and the Border Patrol itself has since been beefed up to 21,000 agents.This includes a virtual Constitution-free zone around all US borders, which includes all of Michigan and 2/3rds of the US population.

One can witness today a carte blanche free-fire, kill-zone effectively created in the US. Those lumpen workers who are otherwise conservative (not yet liberalized by social maturity), of psycho-sociopathic low intelligence (high-intelligence testers are not welcome), and being felony-free, are encouraged to apply for these positions.
But all is not lost (to the ruling interests) even if one does have a felony record. There are a growing variety of “SA/Brown-Shirt” opportunities in the corp/NRA-sponsored Tea Party, KKK, Replug thuggery and militias ready to perform the front-line, dirty work of stand-by auxiliary terrorists.

(Their “anti-gov’t” naiveté will be forgiven when they’ve completed their national Kristallnacht expectations and they’ll eventually be folded into the state security apparatus … or executed if they fail to comply.)

If you think this is all a bit extreme in commentary–that America is essentially a democracy and will prevail thru these fascist-corporatist nightmares—well, it’s all been done before.

I recall when I was the Managing Editor of the South End newspaper at WSU, Detroit (1968-69), and we published the authority/obedience experiments by Stanley Milgram, a Yale psychologist.
He was initially studying why subject populations, such as the Germans, would accept the rule of fascism. He found that the American population was even more susceptible to such controls. And here we are…

My own researches as a forensic psych doctoral student (PsyD) into socio-moral development, led me to conclude that a central ideological feature of the national American culture is individualism. This is an advantage in terms of seeking personal goals and wealth, but a disadvantage in developing social consciousness and responsibility. Good for the 1%, growing impoverishment for the rest of us.
More and more we are seeing the gross pathology of this national-cultural trait. While the idea of total individual freedom is quite intoxicating, beyond a certain point it’s also quite idiopathic (existing w/out redeeming social connection).
A brief read into the Piaget-Kohlberg theorem/analyses of socio-moral maturation, will demonstrate how people normally progress thru life from infantilism, focused on individual needs, wants and desires, into progressively more mature phases … or not.
Some, because of early gross authority, trauma and other causes, become arrested in their development and cease to progress into higher levels of socio-moral maturity.

TSA 20% Scan...

TSA 20% Scan…

Conservatives (by definition, those on the low-end scale of undevelopment) naturally seek “positive” answers for their condition. Ayn Rand’s “rational selfishness” is one such rationale. It gives these individuals the faux-belief in an Übermensch ideology; that they are, in fact, at the highest state, not the lowest, that one can achieve.

Those of us of a certain age who have experienced an America, a world, that all too briefly lived somewhat more than just the illusion of Camelot, look upon the world today as a very dangerous place.
If somehow masses of people don’t come to actively participate in constitutional democracy and successful resistance to corporate power, things are going to get a lot more brutal and savage.

In 1865, the Union defeated the armies of the slavers. The South was occupied and the Freedman’s Bureau guaranteed equal rights. Then, carpetbaggers moved in and plundered what survived the war. Within a dozen years, by 1877, the Republican Party sold it all out and the South won the political war. The Black Codes and Jim Crow descended to bring about a condition Worse Than Slavery; a condition we still fight today.

In the 1940s the Allies prevented fascist rule of the planet. The planet has now entered a stage where there are no “Allied Powers” to come to the rescue of a world gone mad. It’s literally up to We, the People

Dr. Publico (Nick Medvecky, PsyD), January 2015…

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RELIGION: The Second Oldest Scam…

Maybe I’m wrong and 84% of the world that identifies as religious is correct… ¿Quien sabe?  It seems to me that the more advanced (or at least older) that the world gets, the crazier are its religions.  One would think that things would get more rational…

Religions-001Take the current World Axis of Evil for instance, the Judeo-Christian-Islamic mega-cult: If we believe their own writings, the originator some 4000-yrs-ago was Abram, the son of an Oracle Priest (or an idol-peddler) named Terah from the City of Ur in the ancient Sumerian Empire.
Terah, Abram, his half-sister/wife Sarai, and the rest of the extended family relocated to the Land of the Canaanites, Phoenicians and others. They changed their names to Abraham and Sarah, elected one of the Sumerian pantheon—the mountain storm god—as their personal tribal god, and made claim to all the lands of Canaan. Still do, in fact.
Lest anyone try to impose another god, Abraham claimed his god as the one and only supreme god of the entire universe. Further, he took the core of the ancient Sumerian Epics as his own story of Genesis after editing them considerably.

(After all, w/the rapid decline of Sumer who would ever know? Never realizing that some 3800-yrs later, the ancient sands would offer up cuneiform tablets from the Sumer archives.)

Abraham claimed that his god offered him and his chosen progeny exclusive rights to the land he intended to usurp.  “A land w/out a people, a people w/out a land,” indeed.
In furtherance of his own call and claims, he fathered a son by his Egyptian servant-girl, Hagar. But following the pharaonic practice of sister-love, he also had a son with his half-sister, Sarah, and his god then rejected the first kid, commanding the young man and his mother to wander the desert for eternity.

In his dotage, Abraham decided to slit the throat of his sister’s kid, Isaac, but got lucid at the last moment (Isaac later claimed all inheritance to himself) and that was the auspicious beginnings of Judaism. Oh yeah, after Sarah died, Abraham had six more sons with another women, Keturah, probably one of his concubines. He shipped all them off as well.

SumerCrescent-001Two millenia later, the self-messianic step-son of a $millionaire contractor, Yeshua (Jesus), took on the Romans and the Jewish establishment.

(His 12-yr-old mother, a Temple Virgin auctioned off to the contractor-widower, had got preggers when her betrothed was off w/his sons on a Roman job in Lebanon; all of them, that is, except the youngest, James, 17.)

Failing to establish a revolutionary vanguard cadre and winning over the masses, he was betrayed, arrested, convicted, tortured and executed.
However, there already actually existed a “Christian”/cross-based insurrectionist slave movement throughout Rome and the colonies; they simply lacked an appropriate figure-head martyr. Saul (Paul), a Jewish-Roman leader, failed to be accepted by the original cadre, so he extending his executed “messiah” (along w/a revolutionary-resurrection story) to the Gentiles and ran w/it. Modern Christianity was thus born.

Another 600-yrs-later, an Arabist leader, Mohammad, a merchantman, got the same idea, chose one of the jinni as his one and only true god—modeled after the Judaic-Christian one—and Islam was born. Lord, I can’t wait for the next one…

(Personally, as a secular humanist and a Forensic Psychologist (PsyD), I’m convinced that in terms of the actual behavior and actions of these individuals and groups, religion per se is merely a convenient excuse and faux-rationale for their inclination to do what they otherwise intend in any event.)

Various religious phases have apparently prevailed on Earth in regards to our relatively short tenure as a species (200,000±yrs) … much less our far shorter “civilized” development.

EarthMotherThe first one I deduce is the phase of female-inspiration fixed to fertility and animist spirituality—later vilified as paganism—eventually creating the general ancestral concept of a Mother Goddess and the planet as a living organism, Gaia (circa 30,000±yrs ago).
This occurred along w/the male hunter/free range ancestral concept of sky-based, daddy-gods ruling all below.
The most recent phenom—as I opened with above, circa 4,000-yrs-ago–was the creation of a monotheistic god creating and ruling the entire cosmos, but who curiously (?) retains its family/tribal preference of a “chosen” few (namely, those who invented it).
This conceptual god, as are all others, is clearly a direct reflection of its creators: Extremely jealous, vengeful, punitive, retributional, misogynistic and infantile.

(All in all, in fact, an accurate representation of the lack of socio-moral development as are 3-yr-olds and those older w/arrested developmental issues, in other words, conservatives.)

I start w/the first “religion” on Earth as the original spirituality expressed by female heads of families. Archaeo-anthropological sites have established rather definitively that females essentially ruled the home, hearth and family units.
This has been established by the stones and bones of ancient sites confirming the abiding presence of women, children and old and infirm males. One could presume that healthy males gathered outside of the home for the hunt, circle-jerks and ritualistic behaviors (not to mention getting out of mundane but critical family work).

Inanna, Sumerian Goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, ca. 4,000 BCE.

Inanna, Sumerian Goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, ca. 4,000 BCE.

Females may well have created more than their share of the arts as well. In addition to making home utensils, clothes, providing some 90+% of the diet of herbs and small snared and netted animals, they also largely created cave-art ascertained by the fact that most of the hand-flutings are apparently female. Also, the oldest family/tribal totems are universally female fertility objects.

I can imagine that males out on the range under the stars (females more generally focused on the Earth and what it can provide), telling each other tall tales and ancestral stories, thus creating a more detached embodiment of a supreme deity much along the lines of their fathers and their fathers ad infinitum.

At that earlier period, there would hardly be any cause for resentment or competition between these gender-based beliefs as they existed in quite disparate worlds.

However, there was apparently a second major development … a transition phase at some point from this free-range lifestyle and developing realities imposed by greater populations, lesser large game available nearby (always comprising a very small percentage of the home-family diet in any event) and a gathering of far larger, extended tribal groupings.

These conditions led to greater monogamous family relations (male ruled, the only way they know), albeit still communal in assemblage, and the development of socio-economic relations, specialization in production and the division of labor. Leaders of these relational developments further led to trade specialties and to those assuming leadership (and a cut) as their role in infrastructure management.
Along this latter track to “civilization,” the relative power between males and females came to the fore and remains so to this day. Religion is merely a reflection of that relationship, much the same as religion is a partner-reflection of all socio-political-economic relations in society.

PreyVultures-001Thru humanity’s brief and bloody social history—at least the past 10,000±yrs—we’ve witnessed a succession of brutalities that continue to this day. Religion shares the lead in that competition.

It’s always amused me—in an ironic sort of way—that religion can both serve and suppress. Both the slaver and the enslaved can find scripture to suit their situation. He who wishes to punish and oppress can find support in its writings, as well as those seeking salvation from the imbedded alternative belief-systems.

One of the default arguments I often run into is when the believer asks, “Where do you think all this came from?” (As if anyone could answer that.) His own answer of course is that it was all created by a God.

When I ask, Where did your god come from? The answer is invariably, “He always existed.”

Fine, I reply, there’s your answer: The universe itself always existed…by your own logic! Why keep inventing more turtles?

Oh yeah … the world’s Oldest Scam? The male-based “ideology” of predatory “economics.” Been runnin’ now for .. how long? Some 10,000±yrs?

Quant à moi? Je suis Charlie…

Dr. Publico (nick Medvecky, PsyD), January 2015…

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Afghanistan — 101…

As America’s longest war drags on in Afghanistan, we would do well to take a look at that nation’s history and our involvement. None of this occurred in a vacuum. But before the War for Fun & Profit crowd got deep into their parasitic personal quest for total wealth looting the resources of other peoples, the world used to be a lot more open and friendly place…

HippieTrail-001The first time I traveled to Istanbul, I discovered the great Beatnik-Hippie Trail. As a working journalist from 1969-thru-’73, I ran into literally thousands of youth traveling on the cheap everywhere I went.
Cultural icons of the day inspired a generation to hit the road on a journey of self-discovery. Jack Kerouac published “On the Road” in ’57; beat poet Allen Ginsberg moved to Varanasi, India, in ’62; the Beatles went to India w/the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; and Cat Stevens — who would become Yusuf Islam — went to Kathmandu.

Unlike the usual American middle-class tourists and embassy, business and military personnel, these young people went everywhere and had far greater interaction with the locals. They were free-spirited and many smoked reefer and hashish. All along the Trail, inexpensive hostels and cafés catered to their free spirit and pocketbooks.
They backpacked, hitchhiked, took bikes, VWs and Datsuns…often hand-crafted into personal traveling homes. Special cheap transport, buses, trains and airways also catered to this trade. Icelandic Air was a usual source of affordable travel from the US to Europe. At one time, a train ticket from London to Delhi could be as inexpensive as $45.

Coca Museo, La Paz, Bolivia

Coca Museo, La Paz, Bolivia

Everywhere I traveled throughout my political and combat reportage in Europe; Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan in the Middle East; and Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa, these spirits were there. (Included were travels throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America.)

Stopping at any of their campsites for the night (light and clear roads not usually being parts of the infrastructure) was always an instant festival of sorts w/music, dancing and info-sharing around communal campfires w/hippies from America, Ireland, Britain, Germany, Japan—you name it. Most important was the info-sharing…areas to visit or problematic ones to avoid.
You want to know where a safe and welcome nude beach was? Welcoming natives? Best hash deals? What to avoid? Great markets? Places to stay? Not-to-miss events and sites? Stop at these nightly encampments all along the Hippie Trail

I recall later listening to how the CIA* complained after 9/11 that they did not have info/agents in radical orgs throughout these regions. Small wonder: They were forbidden to dress the fashions or act the culture… They never trusted anyone but themselves. Agents in the FBI, CIA, etc., could literally be fired–or shipped out to the boonies–for violations of the dress code or “proper” haircuts. At best, they were a joke, at worst, pure evil…

(*Joe Weisberg, former CIA op, and author of the current faux-Fox TV show, “The Americans” states: “It was all kind of BS. The intelligence they were providing wasn’t worth anything to the U.S. government. But what one did to collect that intelligence was ask people to really risk their lives — for a lot of nothing.”)

Going native...

Going native…

In fact, that’s what contributed to 9/11… When they came to power in January 2001, Bush & Cheney didn’t want to hear about “Clinton’s” network of Al Qaeda terrorists, etc., it wasn’t on their “political agenda.” (Besides, Bush Sr’s CIA recruited bin Laden in Saudi Arabia for their anti-Soviet Afghan war and the Saudi Binladen Group [SBG] are co-contractors with both the Bush’s oil interests and Cheney’s Halliburton.)
All of the intel from the field regarding pending terrorist ops (and there was plenty it turned out) remained ignored to the upper echelons as career-breaking to report. Small wonder that torture later became so popular among these types; it gave themselves the illusion of actually doing something; a career-comforting “we’re in it together” conspiratorial scenario.

Afghanistan is a land the size of Texas and sits on the crossroads between the former Soviet Union, Pakistan and Iran. It has a population of 31 million. The major ethnic group is Pashtun.
Habitation in the land goes back some 50,000-yrs. DNA and other methods trace the population as being mainly derived from the Caucasus in the north. Many early Aryans that didn’t migrate west into Europe, traveled south into the land of Ariana (the oldest civilization on Earth), which has since become Afghanistan, Iran (Persia), Pakistan and India.

Urban populations evolved around 3,000 BCE. Afghans became the victims of successive waves of invasions from Genghis Khan, Darius I, Alexander the Great and others. The process continued thru the Common Era with the Persians, Islamic empires and the Sikhs.

Afghan southern border (the Durand Line) thru the ctr of Pashtun territory...

Afghan southern border (the Durand Line) thru the ctr of Pashtun territory…

The first Anglo-Afghan War (Auckland’s Folly) was a British invasion in an effort to expand their colonial empire in 1839. It led to the massacre of 4,500 British and Indian soldiers, plus 12,000 of their camp followers by Afghan tribal fighters.

(The Khyber Pass between Afghanistan and Pakistan achieved further fame during this period. It was also known as an integral part of the Silk Road and from the late 1950s into the ‘70s as part of the Hippie Trail.)

The Brits returned in the 1870s and installed a satrap giving them significant power and influence. In 1893, per common colonial strategy, they imposed the Durand Line on the territory, thus creating a national division (the entire southern border) dividing the main Pashtun tribal territory in half between Afghanistan and India (later Pakistan). The population of Afghanistan is 42% Pashtun; in Pakistan, it’s 15%.

The northern border of Afghanistan was the Soviet Union. Socialist forces evolved in Afghanistan and the People’s Democratic Party won control in 1978. They instituted major reforms, including outlawing usury (excessive interest on loans) and gave women equal social and political freedom.
The ultra-religious Mujaheddin fought these “infidel” reforms. The gov’t sought and got aid from the Soviet Union (weapons and advisers), while the mujaheddin were supplied w/cash, weapons and cross-border support by Pakistan and the Saudis. The conflict soon became a proxy-war between the Soviet Union and the US.

(While the USSR followed much the same logistical path as had the US in Vietnam, one central difference is that the Soviet Union bordered Afghanistan. The US is 8,500 miles from Vietnam and over 7,400 miles from Afghanistan.)

As the West escalated its influence, the Soviet Union began to provide regular forces to the Afghan gov’t in 1979 at their request. The US increased its own participation by channeling $billions to the Mujaheddin thru Pakistan and the Saudis, as well as considerable modern weapons, including 2,000 FIM-92 Stinger missiles with a flight/altitude capacity of 14,000 feet.
The Soviet Union withdrew in 1989, and the Afghan gov’t was defeated in 1992. By 1996, a series of internal wars left the Taliban in complete control and they created the Islamic State of Afghanistan.

Enjoying a beer near the snowline on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania...

Enjoying a beer near the snowline on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania…

The Taliban were primarily emergent due to the fact that they were by far the largest Mujaheddin force (being the ultra-religious military org of the Pashtun tribe). They were supported by more than 28,000 Pakistani military, received the vast majority of cash and weapons thru the Saudis, and the CIA had specifically recruited, trained and armed thousands of bin Laden Saudis as an auxiliary military force (calling themselves Al Qaeda, “The Base”).

When the Taliban assumed power, they set about a brutal campaign to destroy their enemies and to re-enslave the women (the entire population of women were ordered under home arrest upon penalty of death). Mass public executions were held in stadiums for all sorts of reasons. The Taliban massacred an estimated 400,000 Afghans and displaced millions more by destroying “heretical” homes and villages.

After 9/11 and bin Laden’s Al Qaeda forces were blamed, the US invaded Afghanistan in October of 2001 when the Taliban gov’t continued to give sanctuary to Al Qaeda. It’s no irony that bin Laden was found 10-yrs later living in Pakistan. Both Pakistan and the Saudis have been supporters and allies of Salafist Islam from the beginning.

Meanwhile, the war we created rolls on…and so do we…  For all the rest, just turn on the news…

Dr. Publico (Nick Medvecky, PsyD), January 2015…

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CUBA – 101…

After maintaining a virtual war-time blockade of Cuba for 54-yrs, President Obama agreed to begin the normalization of relations w/that independent-socialist island nation on the 17th of December 2014. The Cuban Revolution and the Castros have thus outlasted 11 US presidents.
CubaRevo

The island of Cuba is the largest land mass in the Caribbean w/a length of 777 miles and just 93 miles south of the US. Superimposed, Cuba would stretch from Chicago past NYC. It has a population of 11.3 million.

The island is believed to have been settled about 6,000-yrs-ago. The Tainos and other Mesoamerican natives called it Cuba, possibly meaning “central or great place.”

When Christopher Columbus (Cristoforo Colombo, originally from the city-state of Genoa) first started to colonize the Western Hemisphere in 1492, there were an estimated 90,000 natives living in relative peace and prosperity on Cuba.
Columbus believed that the island was actually a peninsula of southern China and that he had discovered a clear western route to Japan and the Indies.

Columbus described Cuba as a lush land of colorful vegetation, exotic fruits and singing birds. The weather was so ideal that the natives were mostly naked w/the women of fair skin and as voluptuous as those of Spain.
CubaPlus-001He further described the natives as perfectly friendly w/out any sense of private property and they had no religion other than female totems and odd masks. He wrote that a very small military force could rule the entire lot.

(Within the next century, an estimated 90% of the Western Hemisphere’s est’d population of 100 million would be slaughtered or die from Euro-diseases.)

Columbus claimed all the “new” lands for the Kingdom of Spain, his sponsor, and over the course of four trips set about a draconian rule for profit in partnership under the crown and the Church.

He created a policy of “encomenderos” (econmienda) where the natives were enslaved for their labor in order to turn natural resources into profit and wealth for their new masters. A native family was routinely issued to each of the Spanish privateers for their use and the remainder enslaved and suffered a brutal regimen of torture, limb-cutting and death for any who resisted or failed to produce.
But in the Spanish crown’s insatiable quest for greater wealth, even that was not enough. In a profit dispute, Columbus was arrested and taken back to Spain in 1500 in chains. He negotiated a plea w/the crown and was allowed to return to the West on a fourth and final trip.

Among the many particularly egregious acts in the record perpetrated upon the natives, included inviting resisting leaders and their extended families to a “feast,” locking them in a building for the occasion and burning them alive. The Spanish privateers claimed sanction for this practice because the natives were not “Christians.”

In one practice where the Church did step in was the Spaniards dashing the heads of unwanted babies against rocks. The Church required only that the babies first be baptized. One might surmise there was a shortage of Cherubim in their Heaven.

This pattern of lawless privateering (they mostly make their own laws) gradually replaced the aristocratic parasite class and evolved into private corporatist (capitalist) exploitation, which largely remains the sociopolitical ideology in rule today throughout the world.

Entering Havana, January 1959...

Entering Havana, January 1959…

Over the course of the next several hundred years, along w/the enslavement and elimination of most of the native population by labor conditions, execution and disease, the island was ruled between successive waves of Spanish, French and English, and back to the Spanish.
By the 1750s the main export crop was sugar cane. Many thousands of West Africans were kidnapped, transported and enslaved for Cuban labor in that period.

A series of slave rebellions and revolts later took place under the Spanish in the early 1800s against the Atlantic Slave Trade leading to the abolition of slavery in Cuba.

America’s belated foray into neo-colonialism resulted in the Spanish-American War of 1898. Spain and the United States signed the Treaty of Paris by which Spain ceded Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam to the US for the sum of $20 million.

Cuba gained nominal independence from the US in 1902. Under the imposed Constitution the US retained the right to intervene in Cuban affairs and to supervise its finances and foreign relations. This included Cuba being forced to lease Guantanamo Bay to the US military in perpetuity.
In 1924, Gerardo Machado was elected president, tourism increased, and American-owned hotels and restaurants were built to accommodate the influx. The tourist boom was fueled by increases in gambling and prostitution.

The Wall Street Crash of ’29 led to drops in the price of sugar (already only giving the peasants 4-months minimal-wage employment per yr), political unrest, and repression. Uprisings among students, sugar workers, and an army revolt forced Machado into exile in August of ‘33. Army sergeant Fulgencio Batista took effective power in September and dominated Cuban politics for the next 25 years … at first through a series of puppet-presidents.

Batista with Nixon 1954...

Batista with Nixon 1954…

In 1940, Batista was directly elected president, holding the post until 1944. In 1952 Batista staged a coup backed by the US corporate elite. Unemployment had grown significantly and much of the peasantry was impoverished. All this combined w/increasing political persecution.

As resistance grew, Batista’s army and secret police became a major terror network on the island. Batista stayed in power until he was forced into exile in December 1958.

In 1956, Fidel Castro and about 80 other rebels launched a rebellion against the government. By late 1958, the rebels w/massive popular support broke out of the Sierra Maestra mountains and launched a general insurrection.

Aided by the US, Batista fled from Havana on 1 January 1959 to exile in Portugal. As he fled he took the entire Cuban treasury of god, silver, gems and art w/him on four B-26 aircraft. Castro’s forces entered the capital on 8 January 1959. When they entered the treasury they reported a single, solitary dime sitting on a lone table.

US corporations and the mafia tried to coopt Castro and his new gov’t into maintaining the status quo, but Castro chose to honor the Revolution’s call for land, bread and freedom. The new gov’t seized those lands that the corps were not using under “eminent domain” for distribution to the peasants. Eventual payment was promised (based upon the worth cited by the corporations on their US tax returns), but they chose to oppose the Revolution and scheme to roll back the reforms.

Given the US gov’t/corp squeeze, in February 1960 Castro signed a commercial agreement with the Soviet Union, which was open to economic relations w/Cuba. It was also that month that I earned my wings in the 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, KY.  My division commander was Gen. William C. Westmoreland.

The next month, President Eisenhower gave his approval to a CIA plan to arm and train counter-revolutionary Cubans to overthrow the Castro regime. For the next 54-yrs, the US gov’t, a number of corporations, the Mafia and gusanos galore (counter-revolutionary Cuban “worms”) conspired to blockade and terrorize the Cuban people to reject independence and socialism.

Raul Castro, Juan Almeida and Fidel...

Raul Castro, Juan Almeida and Fidel…

When JFK took office in January of ’61, he inherited this mad scheme. He had ordered the CIA off of US soil in their gusano training schemes. While he nominally approved the plan already in operation, he minimized all US involvement.

The Bay of Pigs, appropriately named, occurred 3-months later in April from attacks out of Guatemala and Nicaragua. Fortunately for Cuba (and me), Jack Kennedy refused to employ US forces. The 101st Airborne was then the first STRAC unit of the military at the time; we were lock ‘n load on the airfield ready to jump into Havana. I was 18.

Everyone should know the rest of the story…the past 54-yrs, in fact. An independent socialist Cuba has survived thru a persistent blockade and incessant acts of terror both promoted and carried out by the US.

Dr. Publico (Nick Medvecky, PsyD), December 2014…

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Criminal Investigations…

For 17-yrs, from 1973-thru-’89, I worked as a criminal/civil investigator for Detroit area law firms. I’ve had occasion to work all sides…a couple of times even undercover for the federal courts against the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office. Not terribly smart…

Debby Brentz -- One that got away (mea culpa)...

Debby Brentz — One that got away (mea culpa)…

Investigation work is not something that I consciously set out to do. I had served in the 101st Airborne, been active in Southern civil rights, and served a year on a rock-quarry, chain-gang, one of the most brutal in the Old South (1964-65). But, what doesn’t kill you makes you

(Disclosure: I also served 20-yrs in the federal prison system, 1990-2010+. But that’s another story…)

Moving to Detroit, I was active in the antiwar and veterans movements, started Wayne State University in ’68, and worked as a journalist (notably out of Beirut) into 1973. I was 31-yrs-old. That was the first third of my life.
In ’73, Detroit transitioned from white-power rule to a majoritarian, neo-liberal democracy. During that political transition I became the campaign coordinator in a judgeship primary. After the campaign (close, but no cigar), I accepted a position as an investigator to Attorney Shedon Halpern’s law firm.
Given my military, political, journalistic, criminal justice experience, and Shel’s tutelage along w/my lack of any preconceived professional prejudices, I quickly excelled.

(Wealthy clients in Detroit, at least in the area of criminal justice, are relatively rare. Most of my casework involved indigent clients to which I was appointed by the courts. My fees usually had a $600 cap @ $20/hr. The buying power of $20 in ’73 is $110 today; albeit over time, the masses have not been given commensurate raises.)

Starting w/discovery, the prosecutor is required by law to give to the defense prior to trial all police and evidentiary reports. That gave me a solid starting point in my investigations. I also had the defendants, if I could convince them to tell me the unvarnished truth; lying to me is a waste of valuable time and resources (I’m covered by atty-client confidentiality).

I soon learned that the police and prosecutor, given their caseloads and temperament, usually go only so far with their own investigations and trial preparations. Once they have a suspect and some evidence and/or testimony, they more or less end their investigations. That’s where I begin…

Co-investigators knocking back a few...

Co-investigators knocking back a few…

Over 17-yrs of investigative experience, primarily in homicides, rapes and drug cases, the vast majority of my cases either resulted in mitigated charges and sentencing, or outright acquittals. Actually, not really all that remarkable an achievement given the state of police/prosecutorial work.

The sad fact is that the American Criminal Justice system is basically founded on plea bargains and snitches. Detective work, per se, might account for 10%, but I doubt that it’s even that much. Of course, watching cop dramas on TV gives one the opposite impression…

(When I was in prison, some 97% of my fellow prisoners had copped  a plea … only 3% had actually gone to trial. And of course, having the temerity to do so–as did I–results in the full weight of retribution and draconian punishment.There is no greater sin than one’s failure to pay noblesse oblige before the Altar of Justice.

(One corrections wag once told me, “What difference does it make? Y’all are guilty of something!” I laughed and told him, “Then who’s gonna guard us? You just condemned 99% of the Earth’s population!”)

An example of one case in which I was appointed by the court, was in a robbery-homicide that started in a near east-side bar and ended in the victim’s apartment some distance away. My client was a 35-yr-old, mentally retarded black defendant, about 6’2”, 250 lbs.
The police investigation had dragged on for over 2-yrs and pretty much reached a dead-end until the prosecutor’s office offered immunity to the bartender and the girlfriend/prostitute of the victim. It was not a pretty case. The defendant was found trussed and drowned in his bathtub some 2-wks after the crime.

I had the full cooperation of the defendant (being certified retarded) and was thus able to quickly piece together the crime. The motive was robbery … several thousand dollars.
The barkeep and girl, after they retired to the victim’s apartment, convinced my client to help them contain the victim, tie him up and put him in the bathtub. He was given a couple of hundred dollars and left. How the drowning occurred was unknown to him.

Their sworn statement said that my client and the victim had left the bar together the night of the mid-winter murder (precise date established by several factors) and he had later bragged to them of robbing the guy.
The girl further claimed that she had not left the bar until after 2:30am closing and walked the few blocks to her own apartment. She said that she and the victim had “broken up” earlier and she had no subsequent contact w/him. By minimal investigation, I established that she had the victim’s car after the homicide and later sold it on the black market.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy a stroke of professional serendipity, being a pilot I stopped in at the National Weather Service office at Metro Airport and purchased an official copy of the weather report for that date (10¢).

It turned out that one of the largest snowfalls of many a year had fallen in the hours between 11pm and 4am on that night … some 19 inches of snow.

Attorney Halpern thus had an easy time in front of the jury in establishing the lies of the witnesses. She said on the stand, “Yes, it was a cold night but clear. I needed to clear my head so I walked.”

“Your Honor, I’d like to introduce Defense Exhibit number…”

After the jury came back Not Guilty, I was able to speak later to several of them. They explained that the evidence made clear to them that the witnesses were lying about simple things. That the prosecutor’s strategy was to put it all on the retarded guy. They were so incensed, they explained, that there was no way they were going to convict him alone.

Sometimes a dime can go a long way

Dr. Publico (Nick Medvecky, PsyD), December 2014…

Category: Crime  One Comment
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Dick Lee—RIP…

I woke up early this morning to the news that Richard Lee died yesterday, December 4th, 2014.  Dick was born March 8th, 1940, he was 74.  Still … too soon.  The message I rec’d was like a ghost on his own e-link:

Richard Lee '87 Belle Isle.

Richard Lee ’87 Belle Isle.

Richard Lee, AKA Richard LeClair, AKA “Dick Mother Fucker,” died today in Boca Raton, Florida. He broke out of the VA Hospice in Detroit on Nov.29th, made a run for the sun and had at least one day of sunny skies and 80° weather.
He was in one of his favorite hotels and eating food from one of his favorite delis. He began having chest pains and was taken to the local hospital where … he slipped away suddenly.
After he declined treatment for his cancer a little over a year ago he took, “a victory lap,” across the south, west, northwest and northern United States, putting over 15,000 miles on his car. Over the summer he went east, back to his birthplace in Maine, ate lobster and visited with “my people.”
He mastered the art of being free. He did not let possessions own him. He belonged everywhere and was anchored to nowhere. He was a loyal and generous friend, a great story teller, grounded in humor, but was nobody’s fool.
He was a traveler, an adventurer and a seeker of pleasure. His life was tempered by his grasp of history, his sense of justice and his refusal to conform. He wanted to let his friends know he had gone.

Dick found his own path and he journeyed it to the end… I met Dick sometime around ’69. He was a friend of Pete Kwant (and became a close confidant to Suzie and Tessa). Back in ’67, I co-founded the Veterans Against the War (VAW) in Detroit. Pete was an antiwar Army vet and Dick had been in the Navy. Dick and I go back to some mutual military time.

Dick Lee, circa 1970.

Dick Lee, circa 1970.

I was in the 101st Airborne, US Army at Ft. Campbell, KY, during the Administration of Ike and JFK. Dick was in the Navy for 8-yrs during Ike, JFK and LBJ. We both went thru the period of the Cuban Revolution of 1959 and subsequent US/corporate reactions (lasting now for more than 50-yrs).
While I worked at journalism, criminal investigations and an assortment of political activism w/a large dollop of “underground fund-raising,” Dick quietly moved thru the national cultural scene touching base here, there and everywhere.

(In other words, I have no freakin’ idea what he was up to. As exampled in the comments below: “Fast Eddie” Silver apparently had further adventures w/Dick, “From the Ozark Mountains to Bangkok, Angkor Wat, Laos, the beaches of Cambodia, Myanmar, and small islands of the Mu Ko Chang Archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand….” I never had a clue.)

Clearly, Richard Lee–AKA ad infinitum–was the common elastic that seemed to connect everyone as they drifted hither and yon. At some point I also woke up to the fact that we were both in the same business … sort of.

One of the common threads throughout the cultural and political revolution of the ’60s was the fact that every group that I was aware of had at least one op who handled security and … other matters. One of the features of the cultural side of the movement was marijuana.
Students, vets and others soon gravitated to handling such business themselves…either that or resorting to an uncontrolled, criminal culture. In my own case, as a pilot and a vet organizer, it logically progressed for some of us to deal in cocaine, another product at the time of the cultural scene (and it put a few of us to quite interesting work).

When I was in the trade in the Carib and Colombia in ’73+, kilos of coke were going for under $5,000. In Detroit, a 2.2 lb. brick of coke flipped for $50,000 ($275,000 in today’s money). More than a few pilots, ship, sub officers and SEALs were in and out of the trade….

(My own coke involvement ended in ‘83 when the DEA/CIA became heavily involved in creating the crack market in the US in order to support the Reagan/CIA Contra War in Central America. That changed the entire socio-political picture for the culture.)

Dick stuck to the reefer trade. But in addition to business, he became a connoisseur of the different types of cannabis sativa and indica. Where Jack Herer became the world authority on the history of hemp/marijuana (see: The Emperor Wears No Clothes, both the book and the video), Dick Lee became an authority on the indoor cultivation of marijuana.

At Dick's Fort St bldg upon my prison release.

At Dick’s Fort St bldg upon my prison release.

By 1989, Dick was well into grow-ops and I was mainly back working in criminal defense investigations. However, somewhere along the line, the US Attorney’s office and SEMCO (drug task-force) picked up on my former craft and were apparently not satisfied w/my having walked away from the biz some 6-yrs earlier.
As this is the subject of other American Tribune blog articles I’ll just make that link here. Meanwhile, the gov’t gave me an offer they figured I couldn’t refuse. They probably figured that everyone would sell their mother to beat a rap. (Only 3% of those in prison have gone to trial.)

Suffice to mention that I refused to “cooperate” or accept a cop to a plea. I went to trial and got 25-yrs. No shortage of folks who will “cooperate,” facts not necessary. In one of my final free days I paid a call on Dick over on the Westside of Detroit and he gave me a tour of his latest grow-op. The basements of two houses were joined together and he had this amazing scientific, elaborate grow lab.
He even had a cloning propagation lab-room w/exotic seed samples from around the world. Cloning? WTF? I used to grow reefer in milk-cartons w/fluorescent lights on chains in my spare room over on Commonwealth. This totally blew me away.

Anyways, I went off to do my time…long story short. Some hung in there, some didn’t. Dick did. He eventually purchased a motor yacht and out the Lakes, Erie Canal and St. Lawrence Seaway. Traveling down the Inland Waterway he entered the Carib and alternated his yrs of adventure w/jumps back home to set-up new grow-ops and replenish the filthy-lucre we all gotta pay obeisance to in this existence.

(Back in ’76 I wrote an historical paper for Detroit’s CBDA [Central Business District Assoc.] on the 275th Anniversary of Antoine Cadillac’s “founding” of the City. Dick’s journeys in the Carib kind of brought that to mind. Not generally propagated is the fact that Louie Laumet [Cadillac’s original name] was a deserter from the French marine, a privateer in the Carib [married the young niece, Marie Thérèse, of New France’s chief privateer, Denis Guyon], and a bon vivant of the free life. Control of the beaver-trade in the NorthWest [Ville d’Troit] was an after-thought.)

Dick traveled thru Cuba, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela and elsewhere. He’d drop me lines and postcards wherever he went. Girls would hitch rides from one point to another and I could live w/him vicariously thru my lucid dreams.

I was able to finish my education in prison largely thru Dick’s generous donations. I finished my BS in Psych/Biology thru Wayne State, Detroit, and was even able to get a fully-accredited masters and a doctorate thru Cal Southern U in Forensic Psychology (PsyD). Took me 16-yrs, but then I had plenty of time, eh? (Had I chosen, I could have done a clinical internship at WSU and the VA when I got out. I figured at almost 70, I done my time at the controls…)

Dick was also quite involved in journalism. Using the name of Marion Delgado he wrote articles on the political realities of Central and South America for The Rag Blog. (I also know he was of some quiet but critical help to other political prisoners in various situations.)

Shack and Dick...

Shack and Dick…

One of his adventures (I have a pretty thick file) included purchasing a hotel/bar in San Cristobal de Las Cruces in southern Mexico. He wrote me that he’d hired a band and fiesta spread for a New Year’s Eve party to augur in ’94.
Sometime before midnight a young Zapatista guerilla walked in and read her manifesto. She looked maybe 17, packed an AK and two body-guards, and soon left. Turned out it was the beginning of the Zapatista Revolution against the Mexican Army, police and corporate incursions of their southern lands. The town was soon awash w/revolutionists and Dick went on w/his party…what else?

After a couple of weeks, the Mexican military was putting a lot of pressure on the surrounding area w/road-blocks, arresting and disappearing activists and “foreign hippies.” Dick decided to make a discreet run for the southern border.
No sooner had he got across into Guatemala than there was a coup there. He decided to keep rolling. He went down to Peru and caught a coca-paste boat from Leticia to Manaus on the Amazon River. I joined him on that trip, too… Well, dream-wise…

After I served 19½-yrs in a dozen different prisons and camps, Congress came up w/a program to allow non-violent, first-offenders over 65 already having served at least 75% of their time to get a 2-yr early-out (under home arrest; I should’a told them to go f… But it did bring me back to Detroit). I was fortunate, I had Charlie Rangel and Dick Lee. Charlie sponsored me, so the BOP let me out. Dick offered me his former grow-op out on Fort Street, Detroit, as a secure site.

I was surprised when I first met Dick again. His heavy smoker-rasp and nico-habit belied his longevity. In about a year, I found out that Dick had blood in his urine. I urged him to go to the VA, which is where I got all my own meds. He did, but he didn’t follow thru and let the matter fester for another yr. “I’m fine… I’ve never needed a doctor in my life! Besides, what the fuck do they know?

When Bruce and Suzie and I got him to go back to the VA–we had to bird-dog the process every step of the way–he finally agreed to an operation on his bladder; he had a tumor the size of a softball. The problem by then was that cancer had metastasized beyond his bladder and he had an inoperable (w/out certain health preconditions) aortic aneurism, which may well have finally done him in.
He refused further procedures. He walked. He decided to live what quality life he had left on his own terms. I wish I had real words of closure (is there such a thing?)… I can only repeat those of the message above:

He mastered the art of being free. He did not let possessions own him. He belonged everywhere and was anchored to nowhere. He was a loyal and generous friend, a great story teller, grounded in humor, but was nobody’s fool.

Dr. Publico (Nick Medvecky, PsyD), December 2014…

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SUMER: Cradle of Western Civilization?

While I’m a skeptic of all things that go bump in the night (theist or otherwise), I do run into the occasional surprise that taxes my analyses

RiverValleys-001

Click on image to enlarge…

Among the subjects that hold my interest are anthropology, archaeology and ancient history. An intriguing area of study was the ancient civilization of Sumer. That Empire developed from a series of city-states in the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley.

The Earth is 4½ billion-yrs-old; humanity only some 200,000-yrs; and its male-dominated class system, some 10,000-yrs.
As our species spread out from Africa some 70,000+yrs ago (the most likely scenario), population groups clustered around fertile river valleys.
It’s a safe bet that humanity has a distance yet to go to achieve any significant measure of common social maturity and responsibility … assuming of course that we last long enough. I’m not taking any bets…

MesopSumerPractically all that we’ve learned about ancient Sumer we’ve learned since the 19th century discovery of vast cities and libraries of cuneiform clay tablets buried in the sands of Mesopotamia.
Over a million such tablets have been excavated and most reside in museums around the world. Less than 5% have ever been deciphered and fewer still published. There are only a few hundred qualified cuneiformists in the world.

Emerging populations became more complex to manage, giving an increasing need for rulers to keep records in order to assess taxes to maintain their privileges and power, thus writing was invented.

Cuneiform Script...

Cuneiform Script…

At first, it was in the form of pictographs, which became more simplified into representational symbols for items, rulers and gods. It eventually developed into logophonetic, consonantal alphabetic and syllabic signs.
Cuneiform writing was gradually replaced by the Phoenician alphabet. By the 2nd century CE, cuneiform script had become extinct, and all knowledge of how to read it was lost until it was rediscovered and began to be deciphered in the 19th century.

One of the reasons that Sumer is traced by the West as The Cradle of Western Civilization is because Abraham, credited w/being the Founding Father of the Judaic-Christian-Islamic peoples, is from the Sumerian city of UR.
He traveled w/his extended clan circa 2,000 BCE to the already well-populated Land of Canaan (Phoenicians and others), claimed it for the tribal god he worshiped and carried over much of the Sumerian Epics.

Ancient Lagash in Sumer...

Ancient Lagash in Sumer…

The composite assemblage of Genesis is mostly a parsed-down version of the Epic Sumerian Creation Myths of Adam & Eve, the Garden of Eden, the Flood, etc.

Without the recent discovery of the Sumerian versions thousands of years older than Abraham, that source may have remained unknown. (Albeit, the Sumerians themselves cite the original source of their Epics as even more ancient and largely unknown.)
For those interested in the stories, they can get more details by reading the Sumer Epics. Personally, I found that what was left out by Abe is far more interesting…

In addition to scientific studies, I also acquired the works of Zecharia Sitchin. Born in the USSR in 1920 to Jewish parents, Sitchin was raised in Mandate Palestine and moved to New York in 1952.
While his books have sold millions in 25-different languages, they’ve been generally rejected by scientists and academics as pseudoscience.

Sun & Planets in relative size and position?

Sun & Planets in relative size and position?

I find his works to be quite entertaining. But more importantly, I think that the world is generally well-served by his conjectures and provoke deeper consideration of ancient Sumerian history.
Since there are more than enough links here, I won’t bore the reader w/a rendition of what all I find of immense interest. The 6-part BBC video-series will give the reader plenty to consider.

I will speak to two facets of Sumerian history that most pique my curiosity. The first is the general cosmology of their “religious” belief system, and the second concerns certain clay tablets.

The cosmology that I find quite compelling, is that aside from the usual heroic episodes of probably-historical figures (e.g., Gilgamesh), the foundation of the Sumer religion is not based on “gods,” but a description of quite extraordinary, possibly even alien, mortal beings.

Representation of...?

Representation of…?

The early Asian “religions” followed this practice, as exampled by Confucius, Lao Tzu, Gautama-Buddha, etc. Except for some of their followers deifying them, none of these figures claimed god-hood.
Ironically, many people believe that the further we go back in time, the more superstitious are the beliefs, when actually, the exact opposite is true! Just turn on the news…

In addition to the Solar depiction (?) shown here, my final item is an extremely old and rare circular clay tablet.
When I first opened to that page (274) in Sitchin’s The 12th Planet (1978), I was rather startled to see what appears to be the plate of an IFR back-course, or a missed-approach plate. Any IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) pilot would be familiar with it if they found it in their flight bag. Except, of course, looking somewhat strange and written in an unknown language.
This tablet was found in the ruins of the Royal Library at Nineveh in the mid-1800s and is apparently a copy of an even far older version.

(The ancient site of Nineveh is across the river from Mosul in northern Iraq; today it’s occupied by the latest superstitious cult of terror, ISIL, which is apparently destroying the site as we speak.)

Mystery from the Royal Library of Nineveh...

Mystery from the Royal Library of Nineveh…

Sitchin admits that numerous scholars over the years have attempted to decipher it, but the best they’ve come up with is that it’s probably a quite early astronomical calendar of some sort, but unlike any previously or since known. It may have been originally on a semi-spherical object depicting a 360° view of the sky, or timeline.
Back in 1880, two scholars of Assyrian language and artifacts referred to it as a planisphere; the reproduction of a spherical surface as a flat map. The names of some stars and planets have been translated, but the 45° segmentation w/other symbols remain a mystery.
I would expect that if an ancient non-technical witness viewed such a device or depiction (map/photo) and attempted to make a copy, this is pretty much what we’d expect.
The segmentation? Well, it would be what I’d expect if one were landing from any variety of directions with reverse missed-approaches also shown. If we had the missing parts we might be able to pinpoint the center in ancient Babylonia. That would be interesting … what might we find?
A number of translations also appear to depict directions, point-set turns and repeated repetitions of certain words, including sky, hills, tops, city, press, sight, path, mountain, return, and others … in addition to a third of the plate that was copied being missing.
Had there been ancient alien visitors, I would expect them to certainly dazzle the locals, but not leave any specific artifacts, other than descriptions and attributions of which we’re still trying to make sense.

Dr. Publico (Nick Medvecky, PsyD) December 2014…