Saturday, March 31, 2012


The Guru Thief,
Dawn McSweeney
While I struggle for my life and for justice, Dawn McSweeney, the thief who robbed me and my family of everything we worked for all our lives and ruined my health and tore apart our lives - writes poetry and teaches yoga.
Thanks to the Montreal Police - 
Dawn McSweeney is still free to enjoy the benefits of everything she stole.
Dawn McSweeney destroyed our family. Her crimes and my long struggle for justice in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, destroyed my health. I am fighting for my life.
Here, I publish an example of Dawn McSweeney's recent work, even though she soils my page. For the sake of truth, I publish this piece unedited.
Phyllis Carter


By on March 14, 2012 – 8:12 am


Those of you following along (and good on ya!) will know that I was recently counting down to Doomtree. The funny thing that I didn't mention, was that I had no idea what to expect. I'd never been to a hip-hop show, let alone an indie rap show, and I was as eager to hear it live as I was looking forward to seeing who else in town shares my tastes (mostly guys in plaid/hoodies, ball caps and sneakers, actually, interspersed with casually chic chickies not in sneakers. It felt like every buddy's basement, which is pretty great, in my books).

When people think of rap artists, I don't think the first things that come to their minds are intelligent, charismatic, smiling, eloquent, and approachable people, and I really wish it was. I fear it says far more about who we as consumers choose to make famous, rather than the available talent. As much as I'm thrilled to bits that I was able to catch Doomtree for 14.50$ in a cozy venue and that I could, and did pat performers on backs, shake hands, and get to look artists in the eye to say, "Hey man, great show", I wish that we'd sold out the Bell Centre for them so they could profit from both the dollars and the notoriety they deserve. These are craftsmen, with honed skills, who've been perfecting their collective magic for ten years, and they totally delivered.

I've been hearing for awhile how our fair city, renowned for music and art, has a glaring lack of a hiphop scene, and for the life of me, I can't understand why. Maybe it's because we think hiphop begins and ends with the likes of Nikki Minaj, and Kanye West. Maybe we've been lulled into low expectations by lyrics that tell us to "drop down on the floor and assume the fucking position / do something strange for a little piece of change" (really, Ludacris?) that we don't realize that Cecil Otter is rapping about how he "didn't come to put your fire out / I don't fear your flames", and Dessa's managing to slip both Path and Poe into one catchy chorus.

Once you know how good it can be, you can't go back.

P.O.S. told the audience to get closer, louder, move more, sweat more, and yes, we need to get more excited if we want to incubate a scene instead of just complaining about it. By the end of the show though, everyone was smiling, buzzing around the group as they stepped boldly off the stage and into a friendly bunch of fans. No hipster head bobs, just genuine appreciation flowing both ways.

I wish I'd picked up every cd they had on offer, and I would have loved to walk out with an armload of t-shirts, but crucial decisions had to be made, and I'm happily rocking my Dessa tee all over town, telling everyone what they've been missing. Because the truth of supply and demand is that if we all start supporting acts like Doomtree, Atmosphere, and Sage Francis instead of, I don't know, that Chris Brown kid, a lot of inspired performers could come out of the wood work and into their deserved spotlights, and we wouldn't roll our eyes every time we scan the radio dials.

Cosmic aptitude tests find Dawn ideally suited to be a gypsy poet, or your imaginary friend. She's developed a few more marketable skills, thanks to Mother Necessity. Her current (unmarketable) obsessions include orchids, lemons, Sharpies, and various shades of green. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

No more $9.99 !
Watch all the prices go up !
The Tories - Canada's Harper Government,
Has decided to kill Canada's one penny coin.
 Now, lock your doors folks,
And hold onto your purses ladies ! 
The Tory Police
Will be coming to every house -
To confiscate your common cents.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Stephen Harper doesn't care about Canada. 
He is all about money and power.
CBC is the only reliable source of
International News, 
And intelligent conversation
In the English language
In Quebec.
Where else can we turn
In the dark of night,
For intelligent programming ?
Harper is playing right into the hands of
The separatists.
But Our Glorious Leader
Doesn't care about the CBC
Or the intelligent people of Canada.
We will remember !
Phyllis Carter
Suck it up, CBC. You should have seen this coming

One thing to keep in mind on this, the day of the slash-and-burn federal budget, is that Our Glorious Leader (OGL) doesn't watch Canadian TV news. He said so in 2009, the very week that CBC jazzed up its news coverage with a new look. OGL could not care less.

See, it doesn't matter if CBC's funding is cut by 5 per cent or 10 per cent today. The CBC must take a hit because CBC represents the Canada that is "a northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term," as OGL famously described Canada in a 1997 speech. Fifteen years later, a reduced CBC will be presented, like a head on a bayonet, another small but viciously achieved victory in the war against all that northern-European-welfare-state stuff. More important, there will be cheering among government supporters, those braying for the crushing of the CBC for years. The braying mob will get what it wants.

But the main thing to keep in mind is that the CBC has been asking for trouble. It has failed to defend itself adequately. It has been naive. For CBC, and all its radio, TV and online platforms, this Prime Minister is an implacable foe, as imperious in his dismissal of Canadian TV news as he is in dismissing anything that smacks of that European welfare state. For the government, the CBC is a symbol that must be diminished and denigrated.

And, here's the crazy thing – the CBC does not merit that stature. In recent years, CBC has failed to transcend mediocrity and forcefully explain what it does. The CBC is mandated to be more than a broadcaster. It is mandated to be a cultural institution, an incubator of artistic talent, employer of talent from many genres and provider of unique programming that other broadcasters fail to deliver. Every dollar spent on the CBC is supposed to be a dollar well spent. Last year, a Deloitte report estimated the CBC adds $3.7-billion to the Canadian economy annually.

Yet CBC has done little to hammer home this last point and, in programming on English radio and TV, has been utterly feckless, constantly diminishing its own standards. It has leaned right and ostentatiously pro-businesslike, a nervous Nelly anticipating criticism before it arrives. It has abandoned excellence in countless areas. On many nights, the main CBC English channel schedule looks like a mishmash of game shows and lightweight news and docs.

The National is sometimes a disgrace, a meandering journey though the mind of a flibbertigibbet who spent the day garnering news bits from a hodgepodge of online sources. Bizarrely, it treats Ottawa politics with grave and tedious seriousness, failing to see the theatre that is obvious to everyone else. Every night on CBC seems to end with George Stroumboulopoulos doing a half-baked late-night talk show that neither he nor the audience cares about. Every week seems to bring some new, desperately conjured tweak of Dragons' Den. The result is that the public broadcaster has been out of sympathy with its traditional supporters and resolutely out of sympathy with this government.

Whatever this budget brings, here's a message to CBC – suck it up, you should have seen this coming; now use the opportunity of retrenchment to redefine your mission and values.

The worst possible result for the CBC is actually the most likely outcome from the reduction to its budget – somewhere between what it is now and the teensy, PBS-style, public-donor-funded public broadcaster that many bray for it to become.

Diminished, it will continue to struggle as neither one thing nor the other. At a time when the Canadian media landscape is dominated by a small handful of companies, Bell, Rogers and Shaw, none of whom is actually a broadcaster, CBC should be a vitally important crucible. As others vie to produce yet another tinpot Canadian knock-off of a U.S. reality show about real housewives or fame-seeking bachelors, CBC has had the opportunity to offer distinction and originality, and trumpet that fact. It failed. It went for the jibber-jabber of chatty news and a ceaseless stream of Dragons' Den knock-offs.

What's needed is a new seriousness. Oh, the ingredients brought to the CBC schedule by Republic of Doyle and Heartland and Arctic Air are fine. But a blinding sheen of lightweight nonsense covers the schedule. Its executives are addicted to ratings bumps for gimmicky TV such as Battle of the Blades. There isn't a single serious-minded cable-quality drama on CBC. There isn't a single searing comedy. There's nothing to compel anyone to note that no other broadcaster would air such a program. The tragedy is that CBC is not what the government sees it as representing. Nor is it what it should be.

The thing to remember is that Our Glorious Leader doesn't watch Canadian TV news and only cared about the CBC as a symbol. The CBC had the chance to make him, and Canada, care more, and failed. So suck it up, and move on. It's a defeat in a war and it's not over. Gird yourself, CBC. Get serious, do better and become worth defending.




Why a North Korean Boy Sent His Own Mother to Her Death

By Blaine Harden
Mar 28 2012

Life inside North Korea's Camp 14 so twisted 13-year-old Shin In Geun that he betrayed his mother and only brother.

bh mar27 p.jpg

A North Korean soldier patrols inside the fence of a prison camp near the Chinese border / AP

Nine years after watching his mother's hanging, Shin In Geun squirmed through the electric fence that surrounds Camp 14 and ran off through the snow into the North Korean wilderness. It was January 2, 2005. Before then, no one born in a North Korean political prison camp had ever escaped. As far as can be determined, Shin is still the only one to do it.

He was 23 years old and knew no one outside the fence.

Within a month, he had walked into China. Within two years, he was living in South Korea. Four years later, he was living in Southern California.

Stunted by malnutrition, he is short and slight -- five feet six inches, about 120 pounds. His arms are bowed from childhood labor. His lower back and buttocks are scarred with burns from the torturer's fire. The skin over his pubis bears a puncture scar from the hook used to hold him in place over the fire. His ankles are scarred by shackles, from which he was hung upside down in solitary confinement. His right middle finger is cut off at the first knuckle, a guard's punishment for dropping a sewing machine in a camp garment factory. His shins, from ankle to knee on both legs, are mutilated and scarred by burns from the electrified barbed-wire fence that failed to keep him inside Camp 14.

"There is nothing in my life to compare with this burden."

Shin is roughly the same age as Kim Jong Un, the chubby third son of Kim Jong Il who took over as leader after his father's death in 2011.

Shin was born a slave and raised behind a high-voltage barbed-wire fence. His mother beat him, and he viewed her as a competitor for food. His father, who was allowed by guards to sleep with his mother just five nights a year, ignored him. His older brother was a stranger. Children in the camp were untrustworthy and abusive. Before he learned anything else, Shin learned to survive by snitching on all of them.

Love and mercy and family were words without meaning.

In Camp 14, Shin did not know literature existed. He saw only one book in the camp, a Korean grammar, in the hands of a teacher who wore a guard's uniform, carried a revolver on his hip, and beat one of his primary school classmates to death with a chalkboard pointer.

Unlike those who have survived a concentration camp, Shin had not been torn away from a civilized existence and forced to descend into hell. He was born and raised there. He accepted its values. He called it home.

When he was too young for school, his mother often left him alone in the morning, and came back from the fields at midday for lunch. Shin was always hungry and he would eat his lunch as soon as his mother left for work in the morning.

He also ate her lunch.

When she came back at midday and found nothing to eat, she would become furious and beat her son with a hoe, a shovel, anything close at hand. Some of the beatings were as violent as those he later received from guards.

Many years later, after she was dead and he was living in the United States, he would tell me that he loved his mother. But that was in retrospect. That was after he learned that a civilized child should love his mother.

She never talked to him about her past, her family, or why she was in the camp, and he never asked. His existence as her son had been arranged by guards. They chose her and the man who became Shin's father as prizes for each other in a "reward" marriage.

The eighth rule of Camp 14, as Shin was required to memorize it, said: "Should sexual physical contact occur without prior approval, the perpetrators will be shot immediately." If unauthorized sex resulted in a pregnancy or a birth, the woman and her baby were usually killed.

Shin's father told Shin that guards gave him Jang as payment for his skill in operating a metal lathe in the camp's machine shop. Their liaison produced two sons. They barely knew each other.

When he was ten, Shin left his house one evening and went looking for his mother. He was hungry and it was time for her to prepare dinner. He walked to a nearby rice field where his mother worked and asked a woman if she had seen her.

"She's cleaning the bowijidowon's room," the woman told him, referring to the office of the guard in charge of the rice farm.

Shin walked to the guard's office and found the front door locked. He peeked through a window on the side of the building. His mother was on her knees cleaning the floor. As Shin watched, the bowijidowon came into view. He approached Shin's mother from behind and began to grope her. She offered no resistance. Both of them removed their clothes. Shin watched them have sex.

He never asked his mother about what he saw, and never mentioned it to his father.

As school wound down on Friday, April 5, 1996, Shin's teacher surprised him. He told Shin that he could go home and eat supper with his mother.

Shin did not particularly want to spend the night at his mother's place. He still didn't trust her to take care of him; she still seemed tense in his presence. The teacher, however, told him to go home. So he went.

There was a bigger surprise when Shin got there. His brother, He Geun, had come home too.

Shin's mother was not delighted when her youngest son showed up unexpectedly for supper. She did not say welcome or that she had missed him.

"Oh, you are home," she said.

Then she cooked, using her daily ration of 700 grams of corn meal to make porridge in the one pot she owned. She and her sons ate on the kitchen floor. After he had eaten, Shin went to sleep in the bedroom.

Voices from the kitchen woke him up. He peeked through the bedroom door, curious about what his mother and brother were up to.

His mother was cooking rice. For Shin, this was a slap in the face. He had been served a watery corn soup, the same tasteless gruel he had eaten every day of his life. Now his brother was getting rice.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of rice in North Korean culture. It signifies wealth, evokes the closeness of family, and sanctifies a proper meal. Labor camp prisoners almost never eat rice and its absence is a daily reminder of the normality they can never have.

In the bedroom, Shin fumed. He also listened.

He Geun had not been given the day off. Without permission, he had walked away from his work post, where he had apparently done something wrong. His mother and brother were discussing what they should do.


Shin was astonished to hear the word. His brother said it. He was planning to run. His mother was helping him. Her precious hoard of rice was food for flight.

Shin did not hear his mother say that she intended to go along. But she was not trying to argue her eldest into staying, even though she knew that if he escaped or died trying she and others in her family would be tortured and probably killed.

Shin's heart pounded. He was angry that she would put his life at risk for the sake of his older brother. He was afraid he would be implicated in the escape -- and shot.

He was also jealous that his brother was getting rice.

As the aggrieved 13-year-old struggled to contain his fear, Shin's camp-bred instincts took over: he had to tell a guard. He got up off the floor, went into the kitchen, and headed out the door.

"Where are you going?" his mother asked.

"To the toilet," he said.

Shin ran back to his school. It was one in the morning. He entered the school dormitory, woke his friend Hong Sung Jo, and found a guard.

Shin said he had something to tell him in exchange for more food and to be made "grade leader" at school. The guard agreed. Shin explained what his brother and mother were planning and where they were. The guard telephoned his superiors. He told Shin and Hong to go back to the dormitory and get some sleep. He would take care of everything.

On the morning after he betrayed his mother and brother, uniformed men came to the schoolyard for Shin.

He was handcuffed, blindfolded, pushed into the backseat of a jeep, and driven away in silence to an underground prison inside the camp.

"Do you know why you are here?"

Shin knew what he had done; he had followed camp rules and stopped an escape.

But the officer did not know -- or did not care -- that Shin had been a dutiful informer.

"At dawn today, your mother and your brother were caught trying to escape. That's why you're here. Understand? Were you aware of this fact or not? How is it possible for you not to know that your mother and brother tried to run away? If you want to live, you should spit out the truth."

"I was more faithful to guards than to my family."

Confused and increasingly frightened, Shin found it difficult to speak. He would eventually figure out that the night guard at the school had claimed all the credit for discovering the escape plan. In reporting to his superiors, he had not mentioned Shin's role.

But on that morning in the underground prison, Shin understood nothing. He was a bewildered 13-year-old. The officer with four stars kept asking him about the whys, whens, and hows of his family's escape plan. Shin was unable to say anything coherent.

Interrogators tortured Shin for several days, grilling him about the attempted escape. What grudges did his mother harbor? What did he discuss with her? What were his brother's intentions? They stripped Shin, tied ropes to his ankles and wrists, and suspended him from a hook in the ceiling. They lowered him over a fire. The sessions ended when Hong, Shin's friend who had helped him inform, confirmed what had happened. The guards carried Shin, too weak to walk, to a cramped cell, his new home.

After several months, the guards took Shin to the same room where, in early April, he had first been interrogated. Now, it was late November. Shin had just turned 14. He had not seen the sun for more than half a year.

What he saw in the room startled him: his father knelt in front of two interrogators who sat at their desks. He seemed much older and more careworn than before. He had been brought into the underground prison at about the same time as Shin.

His father's right leg canted outward unnaturally. He had also been tortured. Below his knee, his leg bones had been broken, and they had knitted back together at an odd angle. The injury would end his relatively comfortable job as a camp mechanic and lathe operator. He would now have to hobble around as an unskilled laborer on a construction crew.

They were handcuffed, blindfolded, and led outside to the elevator. Above ground, they were guided into the backseat of a small car and driven away. When the car stopped after about 30 minutes and his blindfold was removed, he panicked.

A crowd had gathered at the empty wheat field near his mother's house. This was the place where Shin had witnessed two or three executions a year since he was a toddler. A makeshift gallows had been constructed and a wooden pole had been driven into the ground.

Shin was now certain that he and his father were to be executed. He became acutely aware of the air passing into and out of his lungs. He told himself these were the last breaths of his life.

His panic subsided when a guard barked out his father's name.

"Hey, Gyung Sub. Go sit at the very front."

Shin was told to go with his father. A guard removed their handcuffs. They sat down. The officer overseeing the execution began to speak. Shin's mother and brother were dragged out.

Shin had not seen them or heard anything about their fate since he walked out of his mother's house on the night he betrayed them.

"Execute Jang Hye Gyung and Shin He Geun, traitors of the people," the senior officer said.

Shin looked at his father. He was weeping silently.

The shame Shin feels about the executions has been compounded over the years by the lies he began telling in South Korea. For years after his escape from the camp, he said that he learned of the escape attempt only when the guards told him, that he had not informed. He feared how people would treat him if they learned that he had been responsible for their deaths.

"There is nothing in my life to compare with this burden," Shin told me on the day in California when he first explained how and why he had misrepresented his past.

But he was not ashamed on the day of the executions. He was angry. He hated his mother and brother with the savage clarity of a wronged and wounded adolescent.

ESCAPE FROM CAMP 14.jpg As he saw it, he had been tortured and nearly died, and his father had been crippled, because of their foolish, self-centered scheming.

And only minutes before he saw them on the execution grounds, Shin had believed he would be shot because of their recklessness.

When guards dragged her to the gallows, Shin saw that his mother looked bloated. They forced her to stand on a wooden box, gagged her, tied her arms behind her back, and tightened a noose around her neck.

They did not cover her swollen eyes.

She scanned the crowd and found Shin. He refused to hold her gaze.

When guards pulled away the box, she jerked about desperately. As he watched his mother struggle, Shin thought she deserved to die.

Shin's brother looked gaunt and frail as guards tied him to the wooden post. Three guards fired their rifles three times. Bullets snapped the rope that held his forehead to the pole. It was a bloody, brain-splattered mess of a killing, a spectacle that sickened and frightened Shin. But he thought his brother, too, had deserved it.

Shin had invented the lie about his family's escape just before arriving in South Korea.

"There were a lot of things I needed to hide," he said. "I was terrified of a backlash, of people asking me, 'Are you even human?'"

"I was more faithful to guards than to my family. We were each other's spies. I know by telling the truth, people will look down on me."

"Outsiders have a wrong understanding of the camp. It is not just the soldiers who beat us. It is the prisoners themselves who are not kind to each other. There is no sense of community. I am one of those mean prisoners."

Shin said he did not expect forgiveness. He said he had not forgiven himself. He also seemed to be trying to do something more than expiate guilt. He wanted to explain -- in a way that he acknowledged would damage his credibility as a witness -- how the camp had warped his character.

He said that if outsiders could understand what political prison camps have done -- and are doing -- to children born inside the fence, it would redeem his lie and his life.

Excerpted from Blaine Harden's Escape From Camp 14 (Viking Penguin).

Blaine Harden - Blaine Harden is a contributor to The Economist and has formerly served as The Washington Post's bureau chief in East Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa. He is the author of Escape from Camp 14 and other books.


 Are we selling our souls by dealing with China ?
A volunteer feeds one of the dogs rescued from slaughter last December in a stand-off between animal rights activists and dog-meat sellers in central China. Such rescues have been taking place with some regularity in China.
Frank Langfitt/NPR

A volunteer feeds one of the dogs rescued from slaughter last December in a stand-off between animal rights activists and dog-meat sellers in central China. Such rescues have been taking place with some regularity in China.  

To say that people in China eat dogs is something of a stereotype.

Sure, some still do, but these days, more and more Chinese are buying dogs as pets and treating them like beloved family members.

In the last year, that growing affection has taken a radical turn. Activists have begun stopping trucks along the highway carrying dogs to slaughter and then negotiating their release.

A Last-Minute Rescue

A recent case occurred in December in Eastern China's Jiangsu Province. Dai Huajing was driving along a road and saw a truck filled with dogs packed into cages like fur coats. The truck driver was negotiating a price with butchers at a roadside market.

"The dogs' mouths and legs were tightly tied up and the cages were very, very small," Dai recalls. "They couldn't move."

Dai grabbed her cellphone and began calling fellow animal lovers. The news ricocheted around Sina Weibo, China's most popular, Twitter-like microblog.

Animal activists surround a truck taking dogs to slaughter last December in Central China's Jiangsu Province. The activists ultimately paid about $8,000 to rescue the dogs.

Within several hours, about 150 activists had surrounded the flatbed truck, demanding the animals' release. As negotiations dragged into the night, they used baby bottles to feed the dogs water and petted them through the rusting, wire-mesh.

"We're going home, don't be afraid," said Gao Jin as she tried to comfort a sad-looking mutt.

Eventually, the activists pooled nearly $8,000 and bought the dogs' freedom.

Dai said her decision to confront the dog-meat sellers was instinctive.

"I think it was a very natural thing to do," she says. "A truckload of dogs would be sent to be butchered. So, the first thing I had to do was to stop it."

Multiple Rescues In The Past Year

Over the past year, animal lovers have stopped eight other dog-meat sellers along China's roadways and rescued an estimated 2,000 dogs.

We learn from textbooks about the bond between pets and humans. When you are in danger, your pet will come to your rescue. If kids are imbued with this concept, they would know animals are people's friends and we should not eat them.

Dog meat is legal here, but a growing number of Chinese want to ban it.

It's part of a shift in attitudes toward animals in China driven by rising incomes, urbanization and increased pet ownership.

To appreciate the changes, consider the scores of students and volunteers who travel every other week to the shelter where the dogs Dai helped rescue now live.

On a recent Sunday morning, a mostly young crowd piled into a pair of buses for a 90-minute ride from the Chinese city of Nanjing to the shelter in the countryside. Along the way, they crouched on the floor of the bus and pulled apart steamed pork buns to feed the dogs.

Many of the volunteers were students like Sun Chenkai, who studies at Nanjing University of Finance and Economics. Sun says education is changing the way young people here see animals.

"We learn from textbooks about the bond between pets and humans," said Sun, as the bus rocked back and forth down a bumpy, rural road. "When you are in danger, your pet will come to your rescue. If kids are imbued with this concept, they would know animals are people's friends and we should not eat them."

A Heated Debate

Roadside rescues have sparked a heated debate about dog meat. Last summer, Shanghai TV aired a show on the issue in which dog lovers squared off against dog-meat lovers. Some of the participants seemed deliberately provocative.

"I firmly support eating dog meat," said a woman, who grinned and pumped her fist in excitement before a studio audience. "Dog meat is tasty. It's my favorite, my favorite!"

Fan Xiantao runs a famous chain of dog-meat stores and restaurants in China. He went on the TV show and defended his business.

"I've been butchering dogs since I was 8 years old and I still do it now," he said. "Do you know how many dogs I butcher every year? No less than 100,000."

The Pingan Afu animal shelter, in central China's Jiangsu Province, is home to about 1,800 stray and rescued dogs.

Fan lives in Jiangsu Province's Pei County, where dog meat is a major industry. He says at least half a million dogs are slaughtered there annually.

Fan, who was in Shanghai on business recently, insisted his methods are humane.

"The way we butcher dogs is not very cruel," said Fan, between sips of coffee at a Starbucks in the city's financial district. "We have a traditional method that's very effective. Normally, we club them. We hit them in the head and kill them instantly."

What happens when a dog survives the first blow?

Fan says one strike always works.

A Long Tradition

Fan also says Chinese have been eating dogs since ancient times and there's no reason to stop now.

"It is a national delicacy and eating dog meat is a culinary tradition," says Fan, who dismisses the activists who want to outlaw his business.

"They are rather pathetic," he says. "How can they stop dog trucks when they don't have money?"

Fan has a point. Money and sustainability are real issues for dog rescuers.

Gao Jin works part-time at the shelter that cares for dogs that were rescued in December. The shelter, really a sprawling dog farm in the mountains, already has too many animals people don't want.

"The monthly adoption situation is not very good," says Gao, who gives tours of the compound while wearing a headset and a pink plastic speaker strapped to her waist. "Because among the 1,800 plus dogs here, the vast majority are farm dogs. This type of dog isn't particularly liked in China. Many prefer purebreds."

Ha Wenjing, a former publisher, founded this private shelter, called Pingan Afu. She says it costs nearly $16,000 a year just to feed the dogs, and she finances the operation through volunteers, corporate donations and her own cash. Ha acknowledges that stopping trucks to prevent dog slaughter is unsustainable.

"Relying on individual animal welfare organizations, hoping they can save 100 dogs every day, we really don't have that ability," she says.

But that doesn't mean they won't keep trying.

Ha says she and her supporters will keep working to raise money, so when they see another group of dogs headed to slaughter, they'll have the wherewithal to act.



Vatican Bank Faces Fresh Controversy
Thirty years after it was entangled in a scandal involving the mafia, money laundering and the mysterious death of the man nicknamed "God's banker", the Vatican bank faces fresh controversy.
Pope John Paul II performed an exorcism on a
The Vatican Bank has had one of its accounts closed by JP Morgan after stone-walling requests for information. Photo: ALAMY

The bank – formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion or IOR – has suffered the ignominy of having one of its accounts closed by JP Morgan after stone-walling requests for information.

The sanction came less than two weeks after the US State Department listed the Vatican as being potentially vulnerable to money laundering.

A Milan affiliate of JP Morgan said it will shut the account by the end of the month after revealing Vatican bankers had been "unable to respond" to requests for details about payments into the account.

A spokesman for JP Morgan in Milan declined to comment, citing client confidentiality.

The Milan branch had been seeking information since 2010, when the Vatican bank was accused by authorities in Rome of contravening money-laundering regulations.

In an unusual move, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi president of the Vatican bank, was placed under investigation and a judge in Rome ordered a freeze on €23m (£19.5m) held in one of the bank's accounts.

The scandal prompted the Vatican bank to initiate anti-money-laundering legislation, which is currently being debated by the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy.

The Vatican has a chequered history on financial transparency and propriety. Its financial past has included, most notoriously, its involvement in the bankruptcy of Italy's largest private bank, the Banco Ambrosiano, in 1982. Its president, Roberto Calvi, nicknamed "God's Banker", was found hanged beneath London's Blackfriars Bridge, with investigators unable to rule whether he had committed suicide or was murdered.

The Vatican bank was unavailable for comment.

In God's Name
Murder and corruption - New evidence of the Vatican cover-up.

In God's Name has been at the top of the bestseller lists all over the world. It contains some of the most explosive and dramatic revelations ever published about the internal affairs of the Vatican.

During the late evening of September 28th or the early morning of September 29th, 1978, Pope John Paul 1, Albino Luciani, known as the smiling Pope, died only thirty-three days after his election.

David Yallop began his investigations into his death at the request of certain individuals resident in Vatican City who were disturbed by a cover-up of the true circumstances surrounding the discovery of the Pope's body. It is his conviction that murder was the fate of Albino Luciani and he presents this evidence in this enthralling book.

Over three years continual and exhaustive research, David Yallop uncovered a chain of corruption that linked leading figures in financial, political, criminal and clerical circles around the world in a conspiracy of awesome proportions. To this day the central questions raised in In God's Name remain unanswered. A new updated edition containing additional evidence is now available.

First published: 1984 ISBN: 978-1-84529-496-0

Over 6,000,000 copies sold worldwide.

U.K. Publishers Constable & Robinson.
U.S. Publishers Carroll & Graf.


Take off the blinders. Our side are not the cowboys in white hats. There are no good guys in war. Does war turn good men into monsters, or does it give monsters permission to enjoy making others suffer ?
The following is a first hand report of what men are really like in and around the battle, where their mothers cannot see what they are doing. But once they taste the power of killing with impunity: once they are acclaimed, applauded and rewarded for causing pain and death, do not expect them to be nice husbands, sons and fathers when they come home. 


Afghanistan: A Gathering Menace

Traveling with U.S. troops gives insights into the recent massacre

By Neil Shea

The soldiers around me were barely visible, but I could smell them. They had not washed for days, and a sharp musk of sweat and sleeplessness, tobacco and chemically mummified food, wove through the fields and orchards. It was after midnight, moonless, the stars brilliant but unhelpful. The soldiers wore night-vision goggles, but I did not, so I stumbled after their scent along the remote edge of a fading war, envisioning things I could not see.

Up ahead, in the stream of black shapes, were the American soldiers I had come to fear. They were men who enjoyed demolishing Afghan houses, men who shot dogs in the face. The pair who had embraced like lovers, one tenderly drawing the blade of his knife along the pale, smooth skin of his friend's throat. There was a guy who'd let the others tie his legs open and mock-rape him, and there were several men who had boasted of plans to murder their ex-wives and former girlfriends.

We paused in the darkness. A line of Afghan soldiers shuffled past, also nearly blind without night-vision equipment. They moved into position for the coming raid, clumsy as boxcars, trailing their own earthy stink. I thought back to what an American Army sergeant had told me hours earlier.

"This is where I come to do ####-up things."

His face had been clear and smooth, his smile almost shy. It was a statement of happy expectation, as though Afghanistan were a playground. He was the de facto leader of a platoon I will call Destroyer, and although he is a real person, not a composite, I have heard his words in many variations, from many American combat troops. But he and some of his men were the first I had met who seemed very near to committing the dumb and vicious acts that we call war crimes.

We marched on, toward houses the soldiers planned to raid and doors that would soon be blasted open, toward men who would be ripped awake, blindfolded, and hauled away. The sergeant's words rattled in my head. I hoped the men would not do anything terrible.

Since 2006 I have written off and on about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nearly all of my work in those countries has been done embedded with NATO, mostly American military units. Many times I have watched soldiers or Marines, driven by boredom or fear, behave selfishly and meanly, even illegally, in minor ways. In a few searing moments I have wondered what would come next, what the men would do to prisoners or civilians or suspected insurgents. And I have wondered how to describe these moments without reporting melodramatic minutiae or betraying the men who allowed me in.

Most soldierly stupidity does not amount to crime; most soldiers never commit atrocities. U.S. soldiers shooting at goats, for example, or pilots getting drunk on base, or guards threatening the lives of prisoners, all things I have seen, defy military rules and erode efforts to win hearts and minds. But how bad is it, really? Do we care? What is my responsibility when I see it? I have never found good ways to write about the subhuman wash of aggression and the small episodes of violence military men and women cycle through daily, or the choices they make in the midst of this.

We tend to ignore such problems unless they are connected to a crime. An editor at a major magazine once dismissed such unsteady subjects by saying, "Yes, but bad things happen everywhere." Perhaps she was telling me to lighten up. She was also summarizing a national attitude toward the wars. I write about it now because what I witnessed with Destroyer, and other units, routinely and unquietly returns to me.

I joined the platoon last summer at the end of a weeklong mission designed to clear insurgents from a series of towns and valleys in central Afghanistan. In 10 years of war, I was told, NATO troops had never visited the region. Intelligence reports called it a Taliban stronghold, and commanders expected heavy fighting. Going in, many soldiers told me they believed they would die.

Destroyer and several other units had dropped into the valleys by helicopter at night. During the day, they pushed through a sun-killed landscape of rock and withered grasses, where it was Destroyer's job to search for weapons caches and battle insurgents alongside a wobbly unit of Afghan National Army (ANA) troops.

Each night, the men slept in abandoned qalats (fortified residential compounds), or they moved into occupied ones, handed the residents some cash, and kicked them out. I met the soldiers at a qalat they had temporarily confiscated, a large, newly painted house. Tall walls enclosed a courtyard containing a small orchard, a garden, and a well. Several rooms ran along one wall, and the soldiers had moved into them, sleeping head to foot on floors littered with cigarette packs, candy wrappers, and food scraps. The place was heavy with a scent I would later follow through the night.

I first met Staff Sergeant James Givens, as I will call him, outside one of these rooms. I had been asking about a dog that lay on the far side of the courtyard beside a heap of garbage. Like many soldiers, I sought out dogs whenever possible in Afghanistan, hoping to pet them or play with them, searching for a reminder of home. No one was paying this dog any attention. A soldier told me with a laugh that it was sleeping, so I walked over and found the animal leashed and dead, killed by a gunshot.

"What dead dog?" Givens said, grinning. "He's just takin' a nap."

A captain standing nearby asked rhetorically and perhaps for my benefit if it had really been necessary to shoot a pet. Givens laughed.

"Sir, we've left plenty of animals alive in this area."

One of those bits of violence. I shifted gears and began doing my job, hanging out with Givens and his men, hearing their stories while we waited for dark and that night's raid. The dog continued napping for another day until Afghan soldiers, preparing their dinner a few feet away, wearied of the odor and moved the carcass.

The men of Destroyer said that so far the worst-case scenarios had not unfolded. They had searched houses and outbuildings and found little evidence of insurgents. Fighting in the valleys and towns was relatively light; mortars now and then, some rifle fire. Across the entire operation only one soldier, an Afghan, had been killed. The Taliban had not mined the region with IEDs or dug into the hillsides in anticipation of a grand battle. Most Taliban, if ever they had been in the area, slipped away while the Americans and the ANA flooded in.

We sat on the patio in the late, hot afternoon, airing our foul, boot-pruned feet. The soldiers of Destroyer talked about how their house searches had become demolition parties. They shattered windows and china, broke furniture, hurled civilians to the ground. Earlier that day, they had blown up a building. They tornadoed through Afghan houses and left such destruction that their ANA allies at first tried to stop them, then grew angry, sullen.

"They were so pissed they wouldn't hang out with us anymore," Givens remembered. "They kept saying 'No good, mistah. No, mistah.' And I was like, 'Yes, #### good. Plate? Smash. Is this a drum? Smash.' " He laughed. " 'Oh, mistah, no.' "

I imagined the Afghan soldiers standing by, helpless, while Destroyer destroyed. I thought of attacks over the past several years in which Afghan policemen or soldiers had suddenly turned on their NATO allies and opened fire. Such betrayals have been increasing. Sometimes the Taliban claim responsibility for them, but often it seems the assailants have been taking revenge on foreign soldiers for some perceived insult to their honor. It was not hard to envision the seeds of such an attack sown in the ruts of Destroyer's visit.

Slowly, the soldiers began adding more stories, and tales of the past week blended with memories of killing and destruction during other missions and battles, in Afghanistan and Iraq, during many tours of duty. The men's voices fell over each other in a clatter of brutality and homoerotic jokes.

So I grabbed the chain and dragged it out and shot it again with the shotgun and, uhhhh, brains all over me …

Shut up, #####. You never did that …

Man, even if you actually got to see some Afghan chick and she was hot, I still wouldn't #### her cause she'd still be from here, which means she'd still be covered with ####.

My last deployment, my platoon sergeant, he'd say, "Make sure nothing lives. Cows: Taliban food. Sheep: Taliban food. Donkeys: Taliban transportation. Kill everything."

You know what? #### these people.

Spend time around soldiers and you realize a lot of this is part of the game, part of being a young man in war. Still, I sensed more anger and hatred than I had encountered before. Givens spun at its center like a black hole. He was in his mid-20s, charismatic and quick, a combat veteran. He threw down declarations like a hip-hop star—respect yourself and no one else; #### bitches, get money—and the younger infantrymen revered him. Even officers appeared to defer to his humor, efficiency, and rage.

Platoons are often structured like high school cliques, and Givens stood at the apex of his, setting the tone and example. A list of characteristics scrolled through my mind as I listened to the men, traits I probably learned from episodes of Law & Order, or Lord of the Flies. Pop-culture sociopathy. Sexualized aggression. The displays of wolves.

"This is where I come to do #### -up things," Givens said. "So I don't do them at home."

Sometime after midnight, Destroyer and its ANA partners left the qalat to raid houses in another village. They had cleared it earlier in the week but believed some Taliban might have returned. The air was cool and clear, the landscape washed in blue-black silence. The soldiers gathered in a cloud of whispers and scraping boots at the edge of the village, then pushed in.

A loud and bright discord of explosions, shouts as soldiers took a few prisoners. But the raid was otherwise uneventful, almost standard. The battlefield equivalent of a traffic stop. The men treated the prisoners with ordinary roughness, blindfolding, tying their hands with rope. Then we filed back through the darkness to the confiscated qalat. Soon, anyone who could folded into exhausted sleep. It was nearly 4 a.m.

On a concrete patio, I pulled my sleeping bag over my head, leaving my boots on and my legs uncovered, like a drunk. Near me, a soldier and an American civilian began interrogating one of the prisoners. I slid into a weird slumber, the day's events, flashes of heat and light, merging in dreams to the rhythm of interrogation.

What did he do in Iran during those two years?

He's not dead, he's sleepy.

If I knew where the Taliban were I would personally show you.

My ex, that bitch. I got a plan to kill her.

Stop. He's playing this game again. Where the #### was he prior to that time in Iran?

Respect yourself and no one else.

War is small, opaque moments. In spans of wakefulness, I wondered how I could ever write about them, and where my power of perception failed. A cock crowed, the interrogation ended. Soon the desert sun rose above the qalat walls, and my sleeping bag warmed into a putrid cocoon. When I finally emerged, the prisoner lay near me on his back, hands still cuffed, blindfold held in place with a strip of silver duct tape. For a moment I thought he was napping, like the dog beside the trash pile. Then, slowly, he reached up and scratched his nose.

It was the last day of the long mission. After midnight helicopters would retrieve Destroyer and the other units working in the area. The soldiers waited in their rooms, killing time. Some men stripped off their stinking combat shirts and scrubbed each other's backs with baby wipes. Others popped hard-to-reach pimples for their friends. Hygienic intimacy.

"Feels like it's been a month," a soldier said.

"I can't wait to wash my hair," said another, smoothing his dark mop. "Man, we #### up some houses, ####."

Givens laughed and leaned against his gear. He was slim, boyish, unscalded by his own anger. He hated Afghans.

"Yeah, we definitely made some Taliban out here," he said. "It was like a week-long Taliban recruiting drive. And we had fun doing it. I love recruiting for the Taliban. It's called job security."

They passed around packs of Pine cigarettes they had "liberated" during the raid and taunted each other with gay jokes. On the walls the Afghan homeowners had hung posters and odd pictures torn from magazines. An image of a yellow sports car, a photograph of Mecca, an idyllic scene of a cabin in Austria or Germany. Dreams beyond war. Beneath them, the men tipped cigarettes onto the floor and lit detonation cord on the rug, burning black coils into the fabric. A few men retold plans to kill former wives and girlfriends. Givens and one of his close friends talked of blowing up the qalat as they left, a parting thank-you to the residents of the valley.

The mood in the rooms slowly darkened. It reminded me of parties years ago, in high school, after the drinking had gone on a long while. The shift in tone imperceptible at first. A gathering menace. Certain kids felt it, knew they would probably become victims. Some left, others drank more, while around them social rules faded and certain boys began testing their power.

The day dragged on, all of us waiting to leave, obsessed with our filth, thinking of showers, meals. Air Force fighters roared overhead and dropped 500-pound bombs near the qalat, the explosions thudding through our chests. In the courtyard, one of the prisoners sat cross-legged in the shade, his blindfold removed but his hands still cuffed. Someone had placed food and a bottle of water in front of him. Eventually Givens and another soldier sat down on the concrete and glared at him. He glared back.

"I think he remembers we were the ones who #### him up last night," the soldier said to Givens. "I think he's starin' at you."

" #### him," Givens said. "The only reason he's still alive is because the United States of America holds 25 to life over my head."

As I write, furor is waning in the United States over a YouTube video showing four Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I don't consider it too surprising, though some writers suggest it is a war crime. It was probably born in a hot moment, without much reflection. Beginner's foolishness. The men of Destroyer did nothing like that in front of me. They shoved prisoners around, looted cigarettes, wrecked property—things we routinely dismiss in war. But I had seen and sensed enough, and they spoke of past deeds and future desires that leapt beyond the normal bluster of young soldiers.

In speech we give ideas life. I felt I was watching some of the men unravel toward serious crimes, if, in fact, they had not already committed them elsewhere in Afghanistan or Iraq. Evil or atrocity often explodes from a furnace built by the steady accretion of small, unchallenged wrongs. Some men in Destroyer platoon had been drifting that way for a long time.

Of course, we require our fighters to be ready hurricanes, on-call combat machines. We want them held easily in check, and we expect light-switch control over their aggression. Yet the Afghan war no longer relies so much on combat. The mission is nuanced, and future success, even sane withdrawal, demands Afghan cooperation. Soldiers like Givens, so barely restrained, their switches unreliable after years of war, undermine this. But we have no good method for dealing with men who grow too dangerous. We vaguely hope their anger does not spill over, or come home. It is not simple. My own reaction to the men of Destroyer is difficult. I liked them. I still want to believe they were merely full of bravado.

In the qalat courtyard, a young specialist walked along the patio carrying a plastic toy cap gun, something he'd found in one of the rooms. Givens stood and went to him and smacked the gun out of his hand. Without a word he stomped it to pieces on the concrete.

I sat nearby with another sergeant from the platoon. I had noticed this man distance himself from Givens's clique. Givens occasionally tried to drag him into things, but the sergeant steadfastly refused. We listened to the plastic crunch beneath Givens's heel. It was funny, in a way.

"He is a hater," I said to the sergeant, trying to joke. His face tightened.

"He's bad. He's real bad. He sees someone having fun with something, he just wants to kill it. I don't want to have nothing to do with that."

Givens and the specialist stood in silence, looking down at the spray of plastic shards. Then Givens picked up a stick. He stepped down into the garden. The specialist followed. Together they began swatting the heads off flowers.

The sergeant looked away.

"I don't want to get none of that ####  on me," he said.

Neil Shea is a writer based in North Carolina.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Self-immolation and large protest in Indian capital
( I have deleted the photo because it is unbearable to see. )
Jampa Yeshi, a 26-year-old Tibetan, set himself on fire in the Indian capital New Delhi today at a demonstration ahead of a visit by Chinese president Hu Jintao.
His current well-being is unknown with conflicting reports coming out of Delhi as to whether he is alive or not.
He ran for 50m in flames as more than 600 hundred protesters demonstrated outside the Indian parliament against China's rule over Tibet.
Protestors beat out flames
The protester carried out the self-immolation as he ran near the speakers at the rally. Fellow protesters beat out the flames with Tibetan flags they were carrying.
He was taken to a local hospital to be treated for severe burns.
According to a senior police officer, he left Tibet five years ago and had been living in a Tibetan neighbourhood in Delhi
Reflecting Tibet situation
His actions mirror the 29 Tibetans who have set themselves on fire in the last 12 months.
These self-immolations are part of wider protests currently taking place in Tibet which have led to hundreds of Tibetans being detained. In some instances the Chinese authorities have used lethal force against unarmed protesters.
'Tibet is not part of China'
The protesters, carrying banners and posters, marched across New Delhi to a central plaza near the Indian Parliament. Some carried posters saying 'Tibet is burning' and 'Tibet is not part of China'.
One witness, Tenzin Dorjee, said: 'This is what China faces unless they give freedom to Tibet.'
Lobsang Jamyang, a former monk in his early twenties, died in January of 2012.

At the time, he was the 16th Tibetan to self-immolate since March 2011 and his actions led to a brutal crackdown.
Tibet protests

Chinese authorities were quick to remove him from the scene in Ngaba where the act took place.

A crowd of local people subsequently gathered to protest and call for the return of his body. This was responded to with brutal force by the Chinese authorities.

Women shot and beaten

Tear gas was fired at the crowd and at least one woman was shot in the protests.

There are reports that people were beaten with sticks which had nails. We have been told that a girl was blinded in one eye after being beaten by the Chinese forces.

Detention of Tibetans

An eyewitness described the situation as terrifying, that "a strong gas" was used on the crowd and described how "many had fallen to the ground" and people were being beaten. Numerous people were detained.

Tibetans continue to protests and self-immolate in Ngaba Town, despite the continuing harsh crackdown by Chinese forces and restrictions on communication there.
What you can do -
Watch and share our videos calling on Barack Obama and David Cameron to speak up for Tibet.
Contact your nearest Chinese embassy and express your concerns with the situation in Tibet.
Get the latest news and all the background to the protests sweeping across Tibet on our Tibet Rising pages.
Join Free Tibet


Psychologist Says Elephants Suffer Post-Traumatic Stress

African elephant in Masai Mara National Park. Kenya. Africa (Kike Calvo via AP Images)

Since mid-January, poachers have killed as many as 200 of the free-roaming elephants in Bouba Ndjida National Park in northern Cameroon. Although sales are banned in most countries, a growing demand for elephants' ivory tusks is behind the slaughter.

The poachers are believed to be invading from Sudan, and have taken to throwing hand grenades into herds of elephants. On March 1, the Cameroonian government sent over 100 armed soldiers into the park to protect the remaining elephants, but the poaching has continued.

How is this affecting the remaining elephant population?

"Essentially, you're seeing a culture under siege."
–Gay Bradshaw, trans-species psychologist

"Essentially, you're seeing a culture under siege," Gay Bradshaw said to Here & Now's Robin Young. "You have the trauma, the shock, as well as the breakup of the society, which has profound psychological effects."

Bradshaw, a trans-species psychologist who researches the effects of violence on elephants and other animals, says what happens in elephant culture after a genocide is not unlike what happens in human societies.

"A death of an individual has an impact, on the family, within the community," Bradshaw said. "But when that keeps happening over and over and over and over, in increasing numbers, you start to get the entire fabric of the community, of the population, of the net, falling apart. You have a sustained psychological trauma, and then you do not have any of the traditional healing structures of the elephant family and culture."

Bradshaw says elephants are very close-knit, emotional, and have strong family ties. And when elder elephants are killed, the babies don't get the kind of care and mentoring they need and traditionally receive.

She says the fundamental unit within elephant culture is the natal family, which is led by a matriarch — typically the older female. There is a set of mothers and aunts that take care of the young. The females usually stay in the family for their lifetime, whereas the males go off to an all-male group or an all-male area when they are between the ages of 9 and 11. There, the young males enter a second stage of socialization where they get mentored by the older males until their 30s.

"It's a very connected society," she said. "And all of those ties have been broken, with what has been happening over the past centuries and then acutely, over this past decade."

Although Bradshaw recognizes that there are critics who accuse her of anthropomorphism — the ascribing of human characteristics to another species — she says many characteristics are no longer exclusively human.

"When you look at brains, if you want to look at models of science, elephants and humans really share the same components of structures and the processes that govern emotion, cognition, consciousness," she said. "All these attributes that we once used to say are uniquely human are really found in other animals – not just elephants."

Bradshaw believes we can get valuable insight from applying what we know about ourselves to animals.

"Trauma does not just go away," she says. "It passes through the generations. It passes through socially, culturally as well as neurobiologically. So we have lessons, unfortunately, from our own human history, of different genocides and war. And we actually see, very sadly, the scars that violence leaves on the bodies and brains of people, and now we understand with other animals."


Monday, March 26, 2012

Justin Trudeau
They say the fight is for charity,
But I think there is a devious plan:
Justin is too pretty to be Prime Minister;
A broken nose
And a cauliflower ear
Might prove advantageous
In that challenging job.
Prophecy ?
Emperor Justinian I
As a ruler, Justinian showed great energy. He was known as "the Emperor who never sleeps" on account of his work habits. Nevertheless, he seems to have been amenable and easy to approach .... 
He surrounded himself with men and women of extraordinary talent, whom he selected not on the basis of aristocratic origin, but on the basis of merit....
Justinian achieved lasting fame through his judicial reforms, particularly through the complete revision of all Roman law, something that had not previously been attempted.

Justinian's ambition to restore the Roman Empire to its former glory was only partly realised.


Sunday, March 25, 2012


Emmett Till in a photograph taken by his mother on Christmas Day 1954, about eight months before his murder. Scholars state that when the photo ran in the Jackson Daily News Emmett Till and his mother were given "a profound pathos in the flattering photograph" and that the photograph "humanized the Tills".[1]

Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was an African-American boy who was murdered in Mississippi at the age of 14 after reportedly flirting with a white woman. Till was from Chicago, Illinois visiting his relatives in the Mississippi Delta region when he spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the married proprietor of a small grocery store. Several nights later, Bryant's husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam arrived at Till's great-uncle's house where they took Till, transported him to a barn, beat him and gouged out one of his eyes, before shooting him through the head and disposing of his body in the Tallahatchie River, weighting it with a 70-pound (32 kg) cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. His body was discovered and retrieved from the river three days later.

Till was returned to Chicago and his mother, who had raised him mostly by herself, insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket to show the world the brutality of the killing. Tens of thousands attended his funeral or viewed his casket and images of his mutilated body were published in black magazines and newspapers, rallying popular black support and white sympathy across the U.S. Intense scrutiny was brought to bear on the condition of black civil rights in Mississippi, with newspapers around the country critical of the state. Although initially local newspapers and law enforcement officials decried the violence against Till and called for justice, they soon began responding to national criticism by defending Mississippians, which eventually transformed into support for the killers. The trial attracted a vast amount of press attention. Bryant and Milam were acquitted of Till's kidnapping and murder, but months later, protected against double jeopardy, they admitted to killing him in a magazine interview. Till's murder is noted as a pivotal event motivating the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

Problems identifying Till affected the trial, partially leading to Bryant's and Milam's acquittals, and the case was officially reopened by the United States Department of Justice in 2004. As part of the investigation, the body was exhumed and autopsied resulting in a positive identification. He was reburied in a new casket, which is the standard practice in cases of body exhumation. His original casket was donated to the Smithsonian Institution. Events surrounding Emmett Till's life and death, according to historians, continue to resonate with people, and almost every story about Mississippi returns to Till, or the region in which he died, in "some spiritual, homing way".[2]

The Lynching of Emmett Till
By Chris Crowe
"This is not a lynching. It is straight out murder."
   --Hugh White, Governor of Mississippi, 1955

On August 20, 1955, Emmett Till, a 14 year-old, African-American boy from Chicago, left his home to visit relatives in Money, Mississippi, a tiny cotton gin town on the eastern edge of the Mississippi Delta. His mutilated corpse would return to Chicago in a coffin less than two weeks later.

Emmett wasn't a civil rights activist. He wasn't politically active. He didn't go to Mississippi to change the Jim Crow culture. But, the national media attention surrounding his death and the trial and acquittal of his alleged killers had an impact that no one ever could have imagined. The Emmett Till case became one of the key incidents of 1955, the explosive year that launched the modern Civil Rights Movement.

Emmett planned to stay with his great uncle, Mose Wright, in Wright's sharecropper shack a few miles outside Money. With only 55 residents, Money was barely a stopover along Old Money Road heading north from Greenwood. Its center of industry was a cotton gin, but it also had a gas station and three stores, including Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market.

Rural Money had little in common with urban Chicago, and it biggest difference, perhaps, was its racial climate: white people in Tallahatchie County vigorously enforced Jim Crow segregation laws. And, tension in Mississippi ran high in August 1955, because, just a few months earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court had ordered that southern states must integrate black students into white schools "with all deliberate speed." Many white people in the South felt that their way of life was under attack by the Court and by groups like the NAACP. Violence against blacks increased all over Mississippi; in May, Reverend George Lee, an African-American voter registration activist, was murdered in Belzioni, Mississippi. On August 13, Lamar Smith, another African-American activist, was shot to death in Brookhaven, Mississippi. And, just a few weeks before Emmett came to Money, a black girl was beaten for "crowding" a white woman in a local store.

On Wednesday night of August 24th, Emmett, his cousins, and some local kids were hanging out on the front porch of Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market, playing checkers, listening to music, and telling stories. While talking about life up North, Emmett showed off some photographs and joked that a white girl in one picture was his girlfriend. One of the boys in the group laughed and said, "There's a pretty little white woman in there in the store. Since you Chicago cats know so much about white girls, let's see you go in there and get a date with her."

The boy's challenge stunned the southern kids, because they knew the dangers of a black male talking to a white woman. Asking a white woman on a date was unthinkable! But, Emmett had no comprehension of the severe penalties inflicted on blacks who broke Jim Crow laws in the South, and he walked into the store while the kids outside crowded against the windows to see what would happen.

When he left the store a few minutes later, witnesses reported that Emmett turned, said "Bye, baby," and whistled the two-note 'wolf whistle' at the white woman who worked behind the counter.

News of the Chicago boy's crazy stunt zipped through the county like lightning, and, by the time, Roy Bryant, the woman's husband returned from a road trip three days later, everyone--black and white--in Tallahatchie County had heard the story. When Bryant heard it, he decided he and his half-brother, J. W. Milam, had to punish Emmett for being disrespectful to his wife. The two men planned to meet around 2:00 a.m. on Sunday to "teach the boy a lesson."

Mose Wright told reporters what happened next. "Sunday morning about 2:30, someone called at the door. And, I said 'Who is it,' and he said, 'This is Mr. Bryant. I want to talk with you and the boy.' And when I opened the door, there was a man standing with a pistol in one hand and a flashlight in the other hand." Bryant and Milam forced their way into the back bedroom where Emmett was sleeping, and after making sure he was the one "who'd done the talking at Money," they marched him outside to their car.

That was the last time anyone in his family saw Emmett Till alive. To the surprise of many people in the South, less than a day after Emmett's disappearance, authorities from Tallahatchie County and nearby Leflore County arrested Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam and charged them with kidnapping. Both men admitted they had taken the boy from his great-uncle's home but claimed they had turned him loose, unharmed, that same night. Three days later, a fisherman found Emmett Till's naked, battered body in the Tallahatchie River, and law enforcement officials then added murder to the charges against Bryant and Milam.

A week after the two men's arrest, an all-white Sumner County grand jury surprised southerners when it ordered Bryant and Milam to stand trial for the murder of Emmett Till. Since 1880, more than 500 people had been lynched in Mississippi, and only rarely was any legal action taken against whites who committed violence against blacks. Because of this long-standing "white" immunity against prosecution for lynching, many people believed that this was the first time a Mississippi court would hear a case of white men accused of a crime against a black man. It wasn't the first case, but it quickly became the most famous.

The nature of the crime, a black teenage boy murdered for being rude to a white woman, and the gruesome photos of Emmett's corpse that appeared in Jet magazine drew national attention. Thousands of people attended his funeral in Chicago, hundreds of thousands read about his murder, and the trial held in Sumner, the county seat of Tallahatchie County, drew more than 70 newspaper, magazine, radio, and TV reporters from across the United States.

Immediately after the murder, many citizens of Mississippi condemned the killing, but the intense media attention and the harsh criticism from northern states and civil rights groups like the NAACP put Mississippi racists on the defensive. In response to the widespread claims in the northern and African-American press that Emmett Till's murder was a racist-inspired lynching, Mississippi Governor Hugh White denied that race was a factor in the crime. "This is not a lynching," he told reporters. "It is straight out murder."

Mississippi whites soon rallied to the cause. Almost overnight, Bryant and Milam went from criminals to martyrs as local authorities and newspapers reacted against pressure from the North that they feared would change "the southern way of life." They weren't defending two killers; they were defending the South. The trial, held in a segregated courtroom, lasted only one week, and, despite ample evidence and a vigorous effort from state prosecutors, the case was lost before it began. Although it was remarkable that this trial was even being held in the Mississippi Delta in the mid 1950s, the odds were slight that a white man would be convicted by a white jury for killing a black man. In his closing remarks, one defense attorney told the jurors that "every last Anglo-Saxon one of you men in this jury has the courage to set these men free." In the muggy afternoon of September 23, 1955, the all-white jury deliberated barely an hour before declaring Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam innocent.

The tide of outrage at the acquittal swept across America. People realized that race relations had declined to such a low level, that even children were no longer safe from racist violence. For years, the NAACP had hosted training meetings and discussion groups to find ways to overcome Jim Crow laws, challenged segregation in the courts, and campaigned vigorously against lynching; but the murder of Emmett Till and the release of his killers made it clear that something had to happen. Soon.

And it did. On December 1, 1955, just three months after the trial of Bryant and Milam, Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat to a white person on a segregated Montgomery, Alabama, city bus. Her act of civil disobedience led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the emergence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as a powerful leader in the fight for civil rights.

Most historical accounts of the modern Civil Rights Movement point to the 1954 Supreme Court school integration decision and the Montgomery Bus Boycott as two the events that kicked off the first large-scale campaign for equal rights. In reality, the Emmett Till case is equally important. Because of the Supreme Court's integration ruling, Mississippi in 1954 and 1955 was a hostile environment for all Africans Americans, but it was especially dangerous for African Americans from the North. Because of Emmett Till's murder and the sham trial of his killers in August and September 1955, Rosa Parks made a decision that now was the time to put an end to Jim Crow. And, because of Rosa Parks and all who followed, Jim Crow laws eventually became the subject of history instead of the law of the land.