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Polo Ciudadano, No tengamos una guerra por Ucrania

no war

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November show trial for former presidential chief of staff, 31 others

The banking district office is history, as the Panama Papers notoriety shut down the Mossack Fonseca law firm. The Public Ministry objects to the term “Panama Papers” and insists upon Mossack Fonseca Papers, but that’s a hard sell to a world that has seen  dozens of high-profile cases that have ruined careers of the powerul and embarrassed the rich while Panama was taking no action. Public Ministry archive photo.

After a nearly six-year investigation, Panama Papers
money laundering schemes are set for trial in Panama

by Eric Jackson

The show is set to begin on the morning of November 15 at the Balboa Theater. The balcony may be crowded with reporters from the national and international press. Surely the guards won’t allow spectators to use the balcony to throw peanuts at the defendants, let alone the prosecutors or judges.

In April of 2016 the International Consortium of Journalists made its public debut by revealing and reporting on some 11.5 million documents leaked to it from the files of the Mossack Fonseca law firm. These told tales of politically connected criminals — or should we say criminally involved politicians? — who used the firms services to squirrel away funds and conceal evidence of wrongdoing. Other documents showed apparent tax evasion by the rich and famous.

The first politician to fall because of the scandal was Iceland’s premier, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson — who may not have committed any crime but along with his wife used the firm to conceal their investments. Likewise, British Prime Minister David Cameron ultimately had to step down not because he, but his father Ian, had used the firm’s services. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was forced out over his family’s concealment of an international real estatempire with the firm’s assistance. The king of Saudi Arabia led a star-studded list of at least 105 prominent politrically exposed persons (PEPs in the financial crimes watchdog business) who were Mossack Fonseca clients. The firm’s political clients were from left, right and center. Folks from Vladimir Putin’s inner circle were named but relatively few Americans were. That led to Russian media claims that The Panama Papers was a CIA operation. From subsequent offshore revelations, however, it just seems that the Americans tended to take their offshore asset manipulations to rival law firms in Panama or elsewhere.

The list of Panamanian PEPs associated with the scandal begane with Ramón Fonseca Mora, one of the firm’s principals and at the time of the revelations the chief of staff and minister without portfolio for forme president Juan Carlos Varela. (The two men have since fallen out.) In 2016 the overseas missions of Panama’s Ministry of Foreign Relations were liberally salted with members of the extended Mossack and Fonseca families. Beyond the family and party ties, the Panamanian legal profession rose up nearly in unison to defend the firm and its principals, generally in the name of protecting the principle of attorney-client privilege.

The firm was founded in Panama by German immigrant Jüergen Mossack in the 1970s, while Panama City native Ramón Fonseca Mora joined it in the 1980s. It was not just a Panamanian operation. The law firm or its subsidiaries had offices in the United States, China, several European countries, British jurisdictions, Brazil and several other Latin American countries. By some estimates it formed half of Panama’s offshore corporations held bty foreigners and was the world’s fourth-largest offshore law firm. The two founders have been de facto restricted from travel outside Panama, which does not extradite citizens, since at least October of 2020 when Germany issued an international warrant for their arrests. Even before then the odds were that some jurisdiction or another had issued a sealed accusation that could be made public if and when they were found to be abroad.

The protests, defenses and interposed delays may have worked in Panama, and still might get the 32 defendants off the hook. (Who ARE they? The prosecution isn’t saying but AFP reports that both Ramón Fonseca Mora and Jüergen Mossack are among the accused to go on trial.) What may somewhat work for public consumption in Panama, however, tends to draw only scorn abroad. International pressure against Panama, which includes financial sanctions imposed by various jurisdictions, has only increased since the stories broke.

The case to be tried at the Balboa Theater will be founded upon two general types of allegations. One is about money laundering through real estate transactions, which can take on many different forms. The other is about the creation of shell corporations — not only in Panama — and arranging them in chains with secret bank accounts in order to facilitate bribery and graft.

In her January 25 order Judge Baloisa Marquínez dropped charges against 13 defendants, nine of them based on statutes of limitations, and ordered 32 others to stand trial.



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Editorials: Cleaning Panamanian justice? and Let’s have no US war with Russia

take him away

They let him keep his pants on, but arrested him without the shirt bearing his insignia. A FORMER member of SENAN, the police branch that includes the air patrol and coast guard services, taken away on charges of working for the Clan del Golfo drug cartel, an intruding Colombian force descended from one of Plan Colombia’s right-wing death squads. SENAN photo.

Panamanian justice in turmoil – which may be what’s needed

The Supreme court just declared the jobs of 153 clerks, analysts, mediators and accountants in one of its four benches to be vacant. They work for the court’s “fourth bench,” the chamber that deals with “general business,” often requests for summary constitutional relief – amparos de garantías – or matters that are elevated to hearings and votes by nine-member high court panels. This is also the bench that exercises supervisory control over lower courts.

It’s not that these court employees are immediately out the door, but that they have been given notice that they are on temporary status. They were hired in violation of judicial civil service laws, on the basis of magistrates’ personal preferences or political patronage. Some might retain their jobs or even get better ones through the civil service testing and hiring system but it’s a major shakeup. Especially so, because it follows similar actions against almost all penal court judges and public defenders.

In a separate series of actions, some other folks in the court system ARE immediately out the door, albeit most of them now being inside another door – one with bars on it. In the courts system, a process server who worked in Ancon was shown being arrested and taken away in cuffs in Public Ministry videos. Was her only offense a romantic involvement with someone accused in a drug smuggling investigation? In any case she’s out on bail, unlike most of those public officials taken in that and several other roundups.

When the new high court magistrates took office and the new court leadership was elected the lone remaining Martinelli appointee boycotted the session and a Varela appointee abstained.

Was it just annoyance about a game at which they were once at the controls ending, to be replaced by a PRD administration’s people in charge and a different set of retainers, relatives and mistresses in all the sinecures? That cynical way of looking at it may turn out to be the case, but more likely there are deeper movements of the ground beneath Panamanian justice.

We do know, for example, that the raids against the Clan del Golfo essentially follow upon a US intelligence operation, about which Panamanian authorities were only informed at the last moment to avoid word of the raids leaking out through the cartel’s implants in the courts as well as the executive and legislative branches of this country’s government. We do know that the raids against that cartel’s smuggling operations to European countries were done in collaboration with authorities on that side of the ocean. We do know that the richer countries are increasingly annoyed by Panama’s corruption, especially as it involves this country being a money laundering and tax evasion center for their own scofflaws.

One of those arrested in the Clan del Golfo roundups is the sister of a legislator. When she was detained at Tocumen Airport her cell phone seized. It had a copy of an unserved Panamanian warrant on it.

So will we hear shrill voices in the National Assembly denouncing foreign interference in Panamanian justice? There may be a valid point to that, but any conclusion that the protection of the politically connected must be restored would be bogus. We need to clean up our act before independent Panamanian justice worthy of the name can be a realistic expectation.


Yes, the white supremacists who want a second Civil War in the USA have their Oath Keepers. Then there are neoconservatives who want a Cold War II with Russia. But let’s understand that the impetus for these sorts of madness comes mainly from politicians, not from most veterans or most active duty US military personnel. Wikimedia photo by Ben Schumin.

Let’s not have a US war with Russia

Russian troop move forward and back around a Ukraine that has mobilized its troops. The United States, the United Kingdom and other NATO allies pouring weapons into Ukraine. Voices of alarm from many quarters.

Among the concerns voice by some of those voices of alarm, one comes from “across the aisle” but mostly on the Republican side in Washington, and from certain Ukrainian factions: has Joe Biden made a sinister secret deal with Vladimir Putin?

Let’s hope that a deal HAS been made behind the scenes. Let’s hope that it’s one that keeps Russia from invading Ukraine, and that keeps the United States and its military allies from using Ukraine as a forward military outpost against Russia.

The pretense that the world and its balances of geopolitical power are the same as 60 years ago is a dangerous delusion. The reactionary notion that what would make America great again would be the restoration of those precarious “good old days” is also a threat to peace, both within the USA and around the world.

Statements and silences playing to domestic crowds, and the regrettable practices of secret foreign policies, are parts of the political landscape. But better for everybody if Joe Biden et al understand that going to war with Russia over Ukraine shouldn’t happen and won’t happen.

And then, those armed racists who want to turn the US calendar back not to 1962 but to 1861? Those people belong in jail.


Mon Laferte in 2020. Wikimedia photo by Maritza Ríos, Mexico City Secretariat of Culture.

If any woman in any part of the world, of any age, of any color asks for help because she is attacked with violence, we will answer her call and we will find a way to support, protect and defend her.

Mon Laferte


Bear in mind…


When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign; that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.

Jonathan Swift


You have to leave room in life to dream.

Buffy Sainte-Marie


It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.

James Baldwin



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¿Wappin? If they attacked the US Capitol, expect them to attack voters

The Detroit funeral of civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo, a suburban mother of four who went south to help out with the Selma to Montgomery march and was gunned down in a Ku Klux Klan ambush while driving her car in Alabama on March 25, 1965. Her funeral expenses were covered by sympathetic labor unions. Many civil rights, organized labor and political leaders attended the funeral. Photo from the Bettman Archive.

A new generation of freedom riders will rise to the defense of the right to vote this year

Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions – People Get Ready

Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit

Kafu Banton – Vivo en el Ghetto

Mahalia Jackson – Trouble of the World

Peter Tosh – Equal Rights / Downpressor Man

Chambers Brothers – Time Has Come Today

Nina Simone – I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free

Holly Near & Ronnie Gilbert – Harriet Tubman

War – Deliver The Word

Sweet Honey in the Rock – Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

The Golden Gospel Singers – Oh, Freedom


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To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

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The Panama News blog links, January 21, 2022


The Panama News blog links

a bilingual Panama-centric selection of other people’s work
una selección bilingüe Panamá-céntrica de las obras de otras personas
If you are not bilingual Google Translate usually works
Si no eres bilingüe, el traductor de Google generalmente funciona

Canal, Maritime & Transport / Canal, Marítima & Transporte

Hellenic Shipping News, PanCanal LNG transits fall 30% in December

Ship&Bunker, Off specification fuels at Balboa in Panama

ABC, FAA to change how some planes land in effort to cut emissions

AutoBlog, Tesla makes deal to substitute African for Chinese gaphite

A presentation by the secretary general of the Panama Canal pilots’ union
Una presentación del secretario general del sindicato de prácticos del Canal de Panamá

Economy / Economía

Reuters, First Quantum agrees to higher payments at Panama copper mine

TVN, Aumento de diez dólares a jubilados no satisface sus necesidades

Prensa Latina, Pandemic hardships force many into Panama’s informal sector

AFP, América Latina en el Foro Davos Virtual

Common Dreams, US Senate panel approves antitrust bill to rein in big tech

Reuters, Chinese property developers face big debt maturities in 2022

Protesters don’t like Nito’s deal with the copper mining company.
A los manifestantes no les gusta el trato de Nito con la empresa minera de cobre. 

Science & Technology / Ciencia & Tecnología

Smithsonian, Smart phone attachment reveals how much capsaicin is in a hot pepper

PNAS, Fossil dermal denticles give a baseline of a coral reef shark community

The Economist, The Havana Syndrome mystery

The Guardian, Who’s a clever dog? Scientists study secrets of canine cognition

Suárez Soto, La violencia en la infancia aumenta el riesgo de conducta suicida juvenil

News / Noticias

El Siglo, Alcalde de Las Tablas pide suspender los carnavales

La Estrella, Funcionarios judiciales deben presentar sus declaraciónes de bienes

La Prensa, Juzgado niega recurso a Importadora Ricamar

Telemetro, Contralor inicia revisión de emolumentos

FOCO, Alcalde de Colón dice que gastos de movilización sirven para reelegirse

TVN, Más de 6 mil viajeros extranjeros devueltos en 2021

BBC, Colombia saw 145 activists killed in 2021

The Guardian, Barbados PM who broke with Queen wins a second term

The London Economic, Rupert Murdoch told Boris Johnson to ‘get rid of the BBC’

BuzzFeed, Boebert asked Jewish Capitol visitors if they were doing “reconnaissance”

Alternet, Ginni Thomas: Jan. 6 participants ‘have done nothing wrong’

Opinion / Opiniones

Blades, Preguntas y repuestas

Benjamin, Why do we still have Trump’s foreign policy?

López, ¿Qué está pasando en el país?

WOLA, Biden’s first year policies toward Latin America

Turner, Ingresos exorbitantes de alcaldes y representantes

Allende, There is a real war against women

Vrabel, How Facebook became the opium of the masses

NACLA, EEUU y los medios en América Latina: ¿manufacturación de consenso?


Culture / Cultura

ScreenDaily: Panama’s ‘Plaza Catedral’ is Oscar finalist, gets MGM contract

Radio Temblor, Escuela Itinerante de Ecologismo Popular

El País, A secret Nazi inheritance comes to light

Telemetro, Mentes Brillantes: Patricia Zárate Pérez, saxofonista profesional

La cúrcuma, una de las medicinas que pueden comprar o cultivar los panameños de escasos recursos.
Turmeric, one of the medicines that Panamanians of modest means can buy or grow.

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To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

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Hightower, Endangered cartoonists

da nooz
An invaluable American species is being wiped out as their media habitat is intentionally destroyed.

Save our endangered cartoonists

by Jim Hightower — OtherWords

Right before our eyes, an invaluable American species is fast disappearing from view: Kartoonus Amerikanas.

These are the newspaper cartoonists who’ve long delighted readers and infuriated power elites. And there’s nothing natural about their sudden decline. It’s not the result of a declining talent pool, and certainly not due to a lack of political targets.

What’s happening is that their media habitat is being intentionally destroyed.

Around the start of the 20th century, some 2,000 newspapers featured their own full-time cartoonists. But in just the last decade, those healthy media environments have shriveled. So now, only a couple dozen newspapers have these vibrant artistic journalists on staff.

One major reason is that most US papers have been gobbled up by profiteering hedge funds that have merged, purged, and plundered these essential local sources of news and democratic discourse. The overriding interest of these Wall Street owners is to cash out a paper’s financial assets and haul off the booty to boost their personal wealth — journalism and democracy be damned.

They view cartoonists as a paycheck that can be easily diverted into their corporate pockets, dismissing the fact that enjoying good local cartoonists ranks as one of top reasons people give for buying the paper.

Note that this mass extermination is not old-school media censorship, but slight-of-hand financial censorship by the new monopolistic order of newspapering.

Political cartoonists are still free to express any opinion they want, but the Wall Street system locks them out of their primary marketplace. Censorship is ugly, but eliminating paychecks — well, that’s just business.

The good news is that these freewheeling artistic spirits of the cartooning craft are inventing new ways to connect with America’s strong consumer demand for their fun and important work. To get connected and get active with them, go to EditorialCartoonists.com.



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35 groups: Nito’s deal with the copper mine is a loser for Panama

The golden chair
In his address to the nation President Cortizo claimed that “The contract with Minera Panamá SA guarantees measures for environmental protection, a closure plan, and labor provisions adjusted to current legislation. The country should receive income of over $400 million, considering the current price of a pound of copper.” Photo by the Presidencia.

The new contract with Minera Panama is unconstitutional and betrays Panama’s responsibility for its biodiversity

by the Movimiento Panamá Vale Más Sin Minería (translation by Eric Jackson)

Environmental and scientific organizations, social movements, trade unions, and human rights and community-based groups reject the announcement of a new contract between the national government and Minera Panamá (formerly Minera Petaquilla). With this act, the national government once again avoids holding public contract bidding and betrays its responsibility to Panamanians with respect to our natural wealth.

The executive branch disregards the Supreme Court of Justice rulilng that declared Minera Panama’s previous contract unconstitutional. It demonstrates once again that this industry will always operate outside of our constitution and the laws — and the fundamental rights that these enshrine. By avoiding a public tender and the competition of the bidders, the maximum benefits for the Panamanian state are not guaranteed.

During the irregular negotiation a “high-level” commission that was never legally constituted was put in charge for the government side. It announced tiny advances in environmental and labor issues that, in short, only force the company to comply with previously acquired commitments or current regulations applicable to all actors in this country’s economy.

As announced, the new contract supposes that the Panamanian State should receive 10 times the average annual contributions that we have come in so far. However, the mere collection of the annually evaded income taxes on legal entities, according to the estimates of the General Directorate of Revenue, would give the country more than 100 times what has been received annually by the mining company so far. The new contract continues to completely ignore the immense natural and cultural wealth that continues to be destroyed in a key protected area for the connectivity of biodiversity throughout the region. There, 295 environmental incidents have been recorded in the last three years according to the company’s own reports. The negotiation also disregards the will of the Panamanian people, who reject open pit metal mining and do not wish to pawn our rivers and forests.

In exchange for the increase in royalties, the company has requested the necessary protections to guarantee its operation, in a clear allusion to the unconstitutionality lawsuit filed by the Center for Environmental Advocacy (CIAM) in 2008.

We denounce this request as an attempt to obstruct citizens’ access to justice in search of the protections of the constitution and the laws.

It becomes appropriate to call upon the legislators, to whom the responsibility now falls – as emphasized by the Supreme Court rulingm — to scrutinize the contract to determine whether or not it is “in accordance with the related legal regulations,” and “even more demanding, given the risks involved in mining activity and the rights and interests at stake….”

The continuation of Minera Panama is also a serious precedent and great concern in the face of the threats of several metal mining projects throughout the country. Such is the case of a new concession of 10,000 hectares in the districts of La Pintada, Omar Torrijos Herrera and Donoso about which the complaints from locals about the non-existence of any consultation were flagrantly ignored; and the illegal extension of the concession contracts for the Cerro Quema project in Azuero, without an approved environmental impact study, and whose operations would cause great damage to vulnerable water sources in that area.

This country’s path to economic recovery, one that leads us to the fair and equitable development that we have never had and that generates decent jobs, unavoidably requires the conservation of the environment. It is time for the government to honor its international commitments, including those related to biodiversity and climate action, and to opt for truly sustainable economic projects, such as investment in low-emission public infrastructure, agricultural development for food security and sovereignty, ecological tourism and new renewable energy sources, among others.

Panama is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. This diversity, on a daily and sustainable basis, produces a wide range of environmental services and goods that benefit millions, including the production of water that’s safe to drink and for irrigation and electricity generation, pure air, pollination, firewood production, natural medicines, timber, food and climatic stability. The Movimiento Panamá Vale Más Sin Minería, which has continued to add members from across the country since its formation this past August, is committed to maintaining these goods and services, as well as the quality of life they bring to present and future generations. We invite all social actors to demand the same commitment from the national government, beginning with the approval of the moratorium on metal mining committed to in the Bicentennial Pact. In this way, the constitutional duty of the state and all the inhabitants to promote social and economic development that prevents environmental pollution, maintains the ecological balance and avoids the destruction of ecosystems will finally be fulfilled.

Movimiento Panamá Vale Más Sin Minería
January 19, 2022

1. ADOPTA Bosque
2. Amigos del Parque Nacional Santa Fe (AMIPARQUE)
3. Amigos del Parque Internacional La Amistad (AMIPILA)
4. Asociación de Profesores de la República de Panamá (ASOPROF)
5. Asociación de Educadores Veragüense (AEVE)
6. Sindicato de Educadores Democráticos de Panamá / Poder Ciudadano
7. Centro de Capacitación Social
8. Centro de Incidencia Ambiental (CIAM)
9. Coalición Internacional de Mujeres y Familias (CIMUF)
10. Colectivo Voces Ecológicas (COVEC)
11. Colegio de Biólogos de Panamá (COBIOPA)
12. Colegio de Sociología y Ciencias Sociales de Panamá
13. Consejo Consultivo de la Cuenca / Jóvenes por el Ambiente y la Cuenca del Canal
14. Coordinadora para la Defensa de Tierras y Aguas de Coclé (CODETAC)
15. Coordinadora por la Defensa de los Recursos Naturales y Derechos del Pueblo Ngäbe Buglé y Campesino
16. Cuidemos a Panamá
17. Escuela de Biología, UP CRU Coclé
18. Fundación Cerro Cara Iguana
19. Fundación para el Desarrollo Integral Comunitario y Conservación de los Ecosistemas de Panamá (FUNDICCEP) / Red Nacional en Defensa del Agua
20. Fundación para la Protección del Mar (PROMAR)
21. Fundación Pro-Conservación de los Primates Panameños (FCPP)
22. Fundación San José Verde (FUSAVE)
23. Frente Santeño contra la Minería
24. Guardianes del Río Cobre OBC
25. La Nueve / Red Nacional en Defensa del Agua
26. Masa Crítica – Antónima
27. Movimiento Democrático Popular (MDP)
28. Movimiento MiMar
29. Movimiento Pro Rescate de AECHI
30. Movimiento Victoriano Lorenzo
31. Observatorio Panameño de Ambiente y Sociedad (OBPAS)
32. Poder Ciudadano
33. Red Nacional en Defensa del Agua
34. Sociedad Audubon de Panamá
35. Sociedad Panameña de Salud Pública (SPSP)



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Things you might not know about Julian Assange’s case

Assange by Johnstone
As a US extradition looms over Julian Assange and the Wikileaks founder continues to remain in prison without a UK charge, a list of the most important facets of his case that mainstream media often overlooked. A journalist singled out: graphic by Caitlin Johnstone / Pixabay.

Four things that media don’t tell
you about the Assange case

by Anish RM — The People’s Dispatch

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has spent over 1000 days in prison, much of which was without any standing charges against him. The persecution of Wikileaks and its founder however, has been going on for over a decade. During this time, mainstream media has by and large shied away from covering the issue. When they do pay attention, coverage has mostly revolved around the updates with the trial or continued attempts to vilify Assange and his work, ignoring the serious implications of his case on press freedoms not just in the US or the UK, but around the world.

The crucial developments in the case outside the court room over the past year are important to highlight, as they have exposed the highly political nature of the Assange persecution by the US government, which began in 2010 under the Barack Obama administration, and has continued by the successive administrations of Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

1. The CIA planned to kidnap and assassinate Assange in London

An investigative report released by Yahoo News in 2021 has found that there was a serious debate at the top rungs of the US government to either kidnap or assassinate Assange in 2017. The report – based on interviews with dozens of former US national security officers – showed that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had discussed plans to silence Assange, following the publication of the Vault 7 files.

According to the report, the CIA leadership, under the Trump-appointed director Mike Pompeo, was “embarrassed” about the leak and “wanted vengeance on Assange.” At the time, Assange had already spent over five years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had taken refuge to avoid extradition.

Pompeo and other officials pitched plans to conduct rendition from inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. In the meanwhile, Trump asked for “options” to assassinate Assange. “Sketches” were reportedly prepared to not just assassinate Assange but also other Wikileaks’ journalists in Europe.

Fortunately, these plans never came to fruition because of concerns from White House officials over potential diplomatic tensions between the US and its European allies. Instead, the government went ahead with indicting Assange, which has led to the current grueling extradition process.

While Trump denied the allegations raised in the report, Pompeo in his response did admit that “pieces of it are true.”

2. The US prosecution is based on a fabricated testimony

The current US indictment against Assange under the Espionage Act is primarily based on attempts to portray him and Wikileaks as active participants in leaking data, and not as publishers. In order to prove this, the federal prosecutors in the US are leaning on the testimony from Icelandic hacker Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson obtained under the Obama administration.

In a crucial exposé published by Icelandic magazine Stundin – which seemingly was not on the radar of major news outlets – Thordarson admitted that he fabricated the testimony to secure immunity from prosecution for various crimes. Thordarson falsely portrayed himself as being close to Assange and made claims of hacking for Wikileaks in collaboration with the hacktivist group LulzSec.

In the second expanded indictment of Assange, Thordarson is mentioned as the “Teenager” whom Assange had supposedly encouraged to hack local banks and government officials. It turns out Thordarson was only remotely associated with a fundraiser for Wikileaks between 2010 and 2011, from which he embezzled USD 50,000.

It was to avoid legal repercussions for the embezzlement charge and other crimes he had committed that Thordarson contacted the US embassy and volunteered to be a witness. He was shortly contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and was flown out of Iceland.

Thordarson is currently serving a prison sentence for sexual abuse crimes in Iceland. He is a repeat offender who was described as a “sociopath” by court ordered psychologists during a trial for sexual abuse crimes against nine underaged boys, one of whom committed suicide.

3. The United States made use of DDoS attacks on Iceland to acquire witness against Assange

In 2011, a DDoS (denial-of-service) attack by LulzSec affected several Icelandic government websites. The Stundin exposé on Thordarson also detailed how the US possibly exploited this DDoS attack to fly Thordarson out of Iceland and acquire his testimony.

At the time of the DDoS attack, LulzSec’s Hector Xavier Monsegur or Sabu was in FBI’s custody and recruited as an informant. This indicated that the US possibly had prior knowledge about the attack. According to Iceland’s Minister of the Interior at the time, Ögmundur Jónasson, the incident was exploited by the FBI to secure letters rogatory with Iceland to “spin a web” for Assange.

“They were trying to use things (in Iceland) and use people in our country to spin a web, a cobweb that would catch Julian Assange,” Jónasson told Stundin. According to Jónasson, the FBI was able to not only enter Iceland but hold multiple meetings with Thordarson, and then fly him out of the country as a witness.

The very proactive manner of acquiring witnesses at the time suggests that the Obama administration was also actively pursuing options to prosecute Assange. While the Obama administration eventually decided against a full-fledged indictment, the by-products of the pursuit became the basis of the Trump administration’s legal assault on Assange.

4. The United States spied on Assange while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy

In April 2019 Wikileaks had reported of an extensive surveillance operation on Assange within the Ecuadorian embassy. This was confirmed months later when Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional carried out a secret investigation prompted by a complaint by Assange himself. The investigation was reported by Spanish newspaper El Pais.

The investigation found that Spanish security company Undercover Global SL or UC Global, which worked for the Ecuadorian Embassy at the time, had illegally compiled a plethora of surveillance footage, audio and video recordings, personal information, and even private legal documents pertaining to Assange from the embassy.

UC Global’s director David Morales was arrested in September 2019, and later testified to the Spanish court, that the illegal surveillance of Assange was carried out since at least mid-2017.

Morales and UC Global whistleblowers told the Spanish court that the surveillance data on Assange was collected for the CIA. This was around the time the CIA debated rendition and assassination plans for Assange, as mentioned above.

After blocking requests from the Spanish court for more than a year, the UK eventually allowed Assange to testify in the UC Global case via video conferencing in December 2020. The US continues to block attempts by Spanish investigators to dig further into the US role in the surveillance.



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night oil






Un libro infantil ilustrado en idioma wounaan, español e inglés

Como parte de la historia, los hermanos Chibau y K’õsi observan a las mujeres de su comunidad bailar la danza del buitre y aprenden sobre los orígenes de esta práctica cultural ancestral. Es parte de la publicación de un libro infantil ilustrado en idioma wounaan, español e inglés tiene como objetivo preservar, valorar y respetar las historias y el mundo de la vida del pueblo indígena wounaan de Panamá. Dibujo por Frankie Grin.

Durante su aventura, los niños Wounaan vieron muchas aves

por STRI

Hace unos tres años, el pueblo indígena wounaan invitó a la investigadora asociada de STRI y antropóloga de la Universidad de Georgia, Julia Velásquez Runk, a unirse a una colaboración que resultó en la creación de un libro trilingüe ilustrado para niños que capturó la esencia de las historias y la visión del mundo de sus antepasados. Wounaan chaain döhigaau nemchaain hoo wënʌʌrrajim o “Durante su aventura, los niños wounaan vieron muchas aves” se publicó el pasado mes de noviembre en wounaan meu, inglés y español.

El proyecto, que fue apoyado por el Programa de Pequeñas Donaciones del Fondo para el Medio Ambiente Mundial y el PNUD a la Fundación para el Desarrollo del Pueblo Wounaan en coordinación con el Congreso Nacional del Pueblo Wounaan, se centra en los wounaan -uno de los siete grupos indígenas de Panamá, que también está presente en Colombia- y su relación con las aves.

El hilo de la historia sigue a dos hermanos, Chibau y K’õsi, mientras exploran su comunidad, sus tradiciones y las relaciones entre la gente y el medio ambiente. En el camino, se encuentran con muchas especies de aves, cada una con su propio significado para la cultura wounaan.

El libro fue escrito por primera vez en wounaan meu por el equipo cultural wounaan, que incluía a los miembros de la comunidad wounaan, Chenier Carpio Opua, Doris Cheucarama Membache, Rito Ismare Peña, Dorindo Membora Peña y Chindío Peña Ismare, así como a la antropóloga Julia Velásquez Runk. Frankie Grin, graduado del programa de ilustración científica de la Universidad de Georgia, fue elegido mediante un concurso por las autoridades wounaan para ilustrar el libro. Como parte de su proceso artístico, exploró las formas, formas y movimiento de los wounaan, así como diferentes formatos, desde la acuarela hasta el arte digital, dependiendo de lo que esperaba transmitir, y trabajó en estrecha colaboración con el equipo para revisar y finalizar las ilustraciones.

Un artículo publicado en la revista genealogy en octubre pasado describió el proceso detrás de esta colaboración. Destacó la importancia de las historias para el sentido de identidad de los pueblos indígenas y la preocupación del pueblo wounaan de que las historias de sus antepasados ​​ya no se cuentan con frecuencia.

Así, uno de los objetivos del equipo creativo fue transmitir el mundo de vida wounaan —como el cuidado de las aves y la naturaleza en general— a través de la creación de materiales como este libro en wounaan meu para niños wounaan, y también alcanzar a un público más amplio con la traducción de la historia al inglés y al español.

Como una forma de honrar su vida y esencia, Durante su aventura, los niños wounaan vieron muchas aves abre con una ilustración de Rito Ismare Peña, uno de los ancianos del equipo cultural wounaan, previo cacique nacional y especialista en ceremonias del pueblo wounaan, quien falleció antes de la finalización del proyecto. Él está tocando la flauta, junto a su nieto.

El libro está disponible para la venta en la plataforma StoryJumper, como impresión bajo demanda, y también como libro digital y en formato de audio digital.

“El formato de libro digital está destinado a llegar a muchas más personas”, comentó Chenier Carpio Opua, del equipo cultural wounaan, durante la presentación virtual del libro en noviembre. Mientras tanto, el formato de audio digital está destinado a honrar la importancia de la narración oral en la cultura wounaan y la poética verbal de su idioma.


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Lest we forget: King’s letter from the Birmingham Jail, now banned in Virginia

busted in Montgomery
“The question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be.” King under arrest in Montgomery, five years before his confinement in the Birmingham Jail.

Letter from the Birmingham Jail

by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 16, 1963
a famous letter in response to a group of white reverends

While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against “outsiders coming in.” I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham’s economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants—for example, to remove the stores’ humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained.

As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: “Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?” “Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?” We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.

Then it occurred to us that Birmingham’s mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene “Bull” Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: “Why didn’t you give the new city administration time to act?” The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”—then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I it” relationship for an “I thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.

Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state’s segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.


I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.

I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: “All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of “somebodiness” that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad’s Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro’s frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible “devil.”

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the “do nothingism” of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle.

If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as “rabble rousers” and “outside agitators” those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies—a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: “Get rid of your discontent.” Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist.

But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime—the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some -such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle—have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as “dirty nigger-lovers.” Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful “action” antidotes to combat the disease of segregation.

Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.

But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.

In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.

I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: “Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother.” In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.” And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South’s beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: “What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?”

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful—in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”’ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests.

Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent—and often even vocal—sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.

I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.

Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping “order” and “preventing violence.” I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.

It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather “nonviolently” in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: “The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: “My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest.” They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience’ sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Never before have I written so long a letter. I’m afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,

Martin Luther King, Jr.



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