From the Committee to Protect Journalists

Killers of Journalists get away with murder

No one has been held to account in 81% of journalist murders during the last 10 years, CPJ’s 2021 Global Impunity Index has found.

By Jennifer Dunham/CPJ Deputy Editorial Director

October 28, 2021, Somalia remains the world’s worst country for unsolved killings of journalists, according to CPJ’s annual Global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where members of the press are singled out for murder and the perpetrators go free.

The index showed little change from a year earlier, with Syria, Iraq, and South Sudan, in that order, again coming in behind Somalia to occupy the worst four spots on the list, as conflict, political instability, and weak judicial mechanisms perpetuate a cycle of violence against journalists.

Click here to read the complete report by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The Facade of Freedom of Speech: The Rise of Government Censorship in Hollywood

January 7, 2020 Posted by Alex Arabian Film News, Professional Publications No Comments

[Published at Living Life Fearless] Government censorship in film is inherently a bipartisan issue. The antiquated “both sides” argument does not apply to this alarming issue. It is nonsensical; it would be an exhaustive, self-confuting thesis to attempt to argue that censorship is the fault of certain corrupt, partisan leaders or administrations throughout U.S. history. Government censorship and involvement in film to sway public opinion has been happening under every administration, left or right leaning, for over a century. Both Democrats and Republicans have censored films to protect the government and its institutions due to long-established, deep-rooted traditions, always with the same goal of molding a specific geopolitical worldview of the U.S., regardless of party affiliation.

This series of three articles will cover censorship under liberal and conservative administrations fighting to preserve the diminishing, collective public perception of supposed “universal truths” in the postmodern world. The vast majority of censorship happens when films tell stories that depict government institutions, especially the military, C.I.A., FBI, and Homeland Security, whose images – which are representative of the U.S. as a whole (regardless of who occupies the oval office) – they have an obligation to protect. This perception that the government so desperately wants the public to hold onto is the idea that the U.S. is an entirely selfless, philanthropic, and magnanimous country.

Click here to read the complete article

Some History on Child Labor

These are all breaker-boys. (See photos taken at Ewen Breaker, later.) They were very suspicious of my motives. Sam Bellom (boy on left end of photo), 58 Pine Street. Been working in breaker #9 for two years, he says. He says, also, that he is 14 years old, but does not appear to be? Sam Topent (next to Bellom), 52 Pine Street. Been working at Ewen Breaker two years. Said, "I'm fourteen years, an' if you don' believe me, I kin show you de proofs." (They were all suspicious.) This boy had told the School Principal the other day that he was 13 years old, which may be too high. James Ritz (in middle), 28 Pine Street. Been working one year at Ewen Breaker. Said, "14 years old," but this is unbelievable. Mikey Captan (small boy on James' left) 45 Pine St. Been working one year at Ewen Breaker, said he was 12 years old, but doesn't appear to be that. Tony Captan (right end of photo), 45 Pine St. Been working in Ewen Breaker one year. I found these boys and many others, working at Ewen Breaker, and photographed them (see photos). Location: Pittston, Pennsylvania. January

July 24, 1903 New York - Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island (Restored with added sound)

Once a "Safe" Haven. Now What?

by Craig Rock

My grandparents fled Russia as World War I began. Two of their children (an uncle and an aunt) shipped over with them. Another aunt was born on the ship coming over. Forty million people would die during that war, at least 10 million civilians. Between 1900 and 1920, 14.5 million people would come to the United States fleeing wars or seeking better economic conditions. Communities like my birthplace, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, or farming communities in Kansas, Nebraska, and elsewhere welcomed these refugees, and with these additional human resources, America grew as an empire. Unfortunately, empires, like power, corrupt, and empires with absolute leaders corrupt absolutely. And here we are today.

We still have many challenges ahead. We as a country progressed somewhat in certain areas, like eliminating child labor, although there are still kids working the fields in certain parts of the U.S. What we did in our early years to American Indians would put our leaders in prison if it happened today. What we did to refugees seeking safety in World War II is a mixed bag of something to be proud of and something we downplayed in history books. And today, the challenges for people fleeing crime and seeking decent housing, healthcare, and education in our poor communities seem insurmountable.

And we now turn a blind eye to our neighbors in Mexico, Central and South America despite how, since 1950s, we interfered in their politics and everyday lives by promoting dictators, drug cartels, and multi-national corporations. And we wonder why refugees knock on our doors pleading for help.

The progressive community quietly debates issues such as white supremacy and abolishing ICE. Some congregations are more open than others in discussing controversial issues. For example, one long-time UU member from another congregation misses the open discussions on divisive issues that she once experienced in UU communities. She opposes abolishing ICE and writes, "My feeling is that much of the chaos may not be due to intentional cruelty, but complete incompetence by U.S. Departments of Health and Services, Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This is due to a government led by political appointees who lack appropriate credentials and experience. That was certainly my experience (while volunteering as a medical professional) in Puerto Rico last September. I think that focusing on waste of taxpayer money and administrative incompetence might actually be a powerful strategy. The problem with focusing solely on the human rights violations is that similar bad things took place during the Obama administration and the Right just throws that right back in the face of the Left. Likewise, I don't support abolishing ICE--first, it's not a policy, it's not a plan, and second, ICE actually has some functions like tracking terrorists and drug traffickers that most Americans would certainly support. I think we need immigration laws and policies--they just need to be clear and administered and carried out competently and efficiently--that would take care of a lot of the problems right there."

Let us hope that, while we debate, we also remember next November, and two Novembers from then. Let there be civil discussion and general acknowledgment about the importance of victory in the fight for the inherent dignity of all peoples, of all colors, and all genders. And we need leaders and followers from all these groups working together, discussing strategy and taking action with their cohorts to form a "more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." (Check out the article at the bottom of this page from a local organizer who supports shutting down ICE.)

September 2018

Pablo Neruda, A Hero of the Americas

book review by Craig Rock

(In many ways, Pablo Neruda represents the "New West" of the Americas. Some think the political and social movements in South America are models for the future in the United States as well. I wrote a book review of his "Memoirs" in 1977 for the Daily Californian in Berkeley. Above image created by Victoria Morgan.)

Pablo Neruda's Memoirs combines the life, poetry, and politics of a man who became poet of the Chilean people. Neruda's life is an adventure story, the story of a man who successfully used his words and wit to answer his critics and escape his enemies -- the repressive elements of Latin American society.

The book reads well for both the romantic and social idealist, who will be attracted to Neruda's philosophy and his approach to poetry. "In my poems I could not shut the door to the street (the poverty of the Chilean people) just as I could not shut the door to love, life, or sadness...." But the book offers much more than this. The reader will momentarily escape from the pessimism so ingrained in Western perspectives of the world and allow Neruda's message through.

"In my poems I could not shut the door to the street (the poverty of the Chilean people) just as I could not shut the door to love, life, or sadness...."

Neruda does an excellent job recording the identity of his people. Immigrants from around the world gathered on a narrow stretch of weather-beaten land. They developed from an economically dependent people to a politically conscious "popular unity" ready to develop the natural and human resources of Chile for the Chilean people. This unity would later express itself as the first socialist elected government of the continent.

The major influences on Neruda's life during the 1920s were his romantic poetry and the Chilean foreign service in which he served. After receiving a literary prize and some popularity from his first books, Neruda was appointed to a consulate position in Burma. He was later transferred to Ceylon where official duties occupied little of his time. He mainly wrote poetry while sharing the solitude with a dog, pet mongoose, and houseboy.

Neruda loved the outdoors probably as much as he loved women. He grew up in southern Chile, "under the volcanoes, beside the snow-capped mountains, among the huge lakes, the fragrant, the silent, the tangled Chilean forest."

"under the volcanoes, beside the snow-capped mountains, among the huge lakes, the fragrant, the silent, the tangled Chilean forest."

Hardly the makings for the communist he would later become. But amidst this natural beauty, Neruda remained conscious of the impoverished people in the region of the country. His father drove a ballast train that would replace gravel after heavy Chilean rains made the railroad tracks unusable. Other families around him --- the Irish, Poles and Spanish --- subsisted on the low wages paid by German industrialists who ran the nitrate and copper mines. U.S. industry would later replace the Germans.

"The young writer," he later wrote, "cannot write without the shudder of loneliness, even when it is only imaginary, any more than the mature writer will be able to produce anything without a flavor of human companionship, of society."

Neruda was then stationed in Singapore and later Buenos Aires. It was there that his friendship began with the legendary Spanish poet, Frederico Garcia Lorca. Up to this time (1933), Neruda's life was annotated with the crazy, surreal life of his madcap poets and friends, like Rojas Gimenez and Omar Vignole. Gimenez, a well-known poet, was approached one day by an admirer who requested the privilege of honoring him by jumping over his grave at his burial. Sure enough, several years later in the midst of funeral services for Gimenez, a man entered the funeral home, jumped over his coffin and left just as mysteriously.

Vignole, an Argentine poet, led his pet cow everywhere he went. The poet, who is known for such works as "What My Cow Thinks" and "My Cow and I," once was the subject of a police stake-out that tried to keep him from taking his cow to a writers' conference in Buenos Aires. Vignole smuggled the cow in through police lines in a van.

From this carefree existence, Neruda moved to Spain where the civil war and Lorca's assassination changes his way of life. In the face of one million dead and another million exiled, Neruda's commitment against fascism became entrenched, as did his poetry, which was carried in the pockets of Republican soldiers. At the same time, Neruda decided that he must change the "brooding tone" of his poetry and strive to write to "serve our fellow man... a place in man's struggles...on the road to humanism."

he must change the "brooding tone" of his poetry and strive to write to "serve our fellow man... a place in man's struggles...on the road to humanism."

It was in Spain, with the communists organizing as the most effective force against Franco's fascism, that Neruda became a communist. He was forced out of his consulate position because of his open support for the then-falling republic. However, with the fall, he was recommissioned to France to prepare the way for Spanish refugees immigrating to Chile.

After brief service in Mexico, Neruda resigned from the diplomatic corps and returned to Chile. In 1945, he was elected to the Chilean Senate. His constituency: the copper and nitrate miners of Chile. Neruda was continually forced into a position of defending himself as a communist. He notes one Italian interviewer's remarks, "I am not a communist, but if I were a Chilean poet, I would be one, like Pablo Neruda. You have to take sides here, with the Cadillacs or with the people who have no schooling or shoes."

The new Chilean government did not see it this way. Neruda's arrest was ordered but he managed with the help of friends to cross the Andean mountains by horseback into the temporary safety of Argentina. With Argentine police alerted, he borrowed a Guatemalan friend's passport and flew to Paris via Uruguay. Once there, the surrealist movement came to his aid. Picasso, Louis Aragon and Paul Eluard used their influence with French authorities to arrange for his safety.

Neruda was deeply impressed with the course of the Russian revolution after visiting Moscow in 1949. Only later, after the purge of Stalin, did Neruda become disenchanted with what he described as personality-cult communism. At the request of the Lenin Peace Prize committee, Neruda delivered their award in 1951 to Sun Yatsen's widow in China. However, after his second visit there he wrote critically of "one man's (Mao"s) grip on the creation of a world that must belong to all. I could not swallow that bitter pill a second time."

Neruda spent some time writing and traveling before being appointed as ambassador to France by Salvador Allende (1970). A year later, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.

Neruda's "Memoirs" go far beyond his interesting biographical material. His work is a fascinating self-analysis of the humanitarian communist. The reading should be that much more interesting in the United States, a country whose rigid definition of communism has always retained a good portion of McCarthy-era taint.

"the main thrust of North American poets

is to look at themselves as small gods..."

Neruda also includes his interpretations of capitalist society and its literature. He said that the middle classes here demand a poetry that is isolated from reality. Consequently, the main thrust of North American poets is to look at themselves as small gods. This kind of poet, he adds,"basks in his own divining isolation from reality, and there is no need," for the ruling classes, "to bribe or crush him. He has bribed himself by condemning himself to his heaven. Meanwhile, the earth trembles in his path, in his dazzling light."

Neruda believes the poet has an obligation to "take his place in the street and in the fight. Poetry is rebellion...Life transcends all structures, and there are new rules of conduct for the soul."

Neruda published his last work in 1973. It was an appeal to the intellectuals of Latin America and Europe to help prevent civil war in Chile. But others, behind the doors of ITT, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Chilean military had different plans. Those plans began several years earlier with the economic blockade of Chile and they ended in September, 1973, when President Allende and his supporters were killed or imprisoned.

Twelve days after the death of one of the few democratically elected governments in the Americas, Pablo Neruda, age 69, died.

Guerrillero Heroico - Che Guevara at the funeral for the victims of the La Coubre explosion.

Alberto Diaz Gutierrez (Alberto Korda)

Public domain

Some Ways on How to Help Detained

Children Seeking Asylum

- From Slate Magazine,

Click here to read the complete article

B o r d e r l a n d s D i g e s t

Reading and Writing about Social Justice

Craig Rock, editor, duniterock@gmail. com