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Carl Bloice – Good bye to a friend

April 13, 2014
Carl Bloice in Moscow - July 1988

Carl Bloice in Moscow – July 1988

(Note: Carl Bloice was not a showy guy. In a world of opportunists and self-seekers – many of them, anyhow – Carl stood out for his modesty, his dignity.”It” wasn’t about him, it was about the bigger picture, challenging the system, coming up with something better. On the bigger picture, his was always, always, among the keenest eyes. The man had depth of character, of analysis and general decency that few possess. In the past 25 years, I’ve seen him once, about five years ago in SF with Jean Damu, like Carl, he too  recently stricken down with cancer and Ringo Hallinan.

We talked about evolving U.S. policy in Africa which I was interested in beginning to write about. But we were in touch by email fairly frequently. For all that, Carl Bloice influenced me politically, personally as much as anyone that has crossed my path. And in a good way. To the degree that I can write politically [goal - make a point, have an analysis, avoid rhetoric], it is from having worked with him. He also taught me – for better or worse – a good deal about how to work as a Marxist in these United States. And I know that I am not alone, that there are many of us whose lives he touched in the labor, peace, civil rights and environmental movements with a little bit of Carl mixed into our very beings. What follows are several tributes to Carl which give details to some part of his life journey. To my knowledge, Carl never put together a collection of his writings in book form. I am hoping that such a project will be undertaken and accomplished. What follows are several tributes to Carl)


Obit for Carl Bloice

Dispatches From The Edge

Conn Hallinan

April 20, 2014

“One is responsible to life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return. One must negotiate this passage as nobly as possible, for the sake of those who are coming after us.”

James Baldwin

“The Fire Next Time”

Carl Bloice, Foreign Policy In Focus columnist and blogger, and long-time African-American journalist, negotiated that journey with power and grace. Right up to the moment when he lost his long battle with cancer, he was contributing to the website Portside and struggling to complete a column on the Middle East. He died in San Francisco April 12 at age 75.

He was a journalist his whole life, although he began his love of words as a poet. Born Jan. 28, 1939 in Riverside, Ca., he grew up in South Central Los Angeles at a time when racism and discrimination were as ubiquitous there as palm trees and beaches. He was one of those people who could not bear the humiliation of silence in the face of injustice and that simple—if occasionally difficult—philosophy was at the center of who he was. Civil rights, free speech, the war in Southeast Asia (and later Central America, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq), women’s rights, homophobia, and the environmental crisis: wherever the dispossessed were voiceless, Carl Bloice spoke for them.

He was also my friend, for 44 years my colleague and co-conspirator, and the person who taught me how to write and think.  I say this because this is less an obituary about an accomplished African-American journalist than a friend’s funerary oration, something we Irish think is important.

Carl sold me on James Baldwin—and many other essayists, thinkers, novelists and poets—by convincing me that words mattered. He was utterly certain that a well-written piece of prose could tumble a government, shame the mighty, or shelter the powerless.

He was a member of the Communist Party much of his life, finally leaving over that organization’s resistance to internal democracy and it’s reluctance to embrace women’s and gay rights, and the defense of the environment.

In 1962 Carl was one of the first northern journalists to cover the southern civil rights movement, and he was staying at the A.G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham, Al. when the Ku Klux Klan tried to murder Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with a bomb. It blew Carl out of his bed.

He recognized Watergate for what it was months before the mainstream press caught on to the profound corruption at the heart of the scandal and covered it for two years. He reported from Moscow, Central Asia, North Korea, Mongolia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. He was on the editorial board of the Black Commentator and wrote columns for FPIF on Israel, Libya, Argentina, Afghanistan, Cuba, and the growing and disturbing U.S. military presence in Africa.

He was also a very funny man who loved to eat, drink and gossip. Indeed, the two of us decided that we had stumbled into a profession that gave us the perfect cover to engage in our favorite past time. Yes, yes, we talked politics—mainly foreign policy—but if the antics of the Kardashian clan slipped into the conversation, well, that was okay.

We dearly enjoyed spotting linguistic slights of hand. In the April 19 edition of the New York Times a reporter was going on about German-Russian tensions over Ukraine, and how Berlin is more comfortable with diplomacy—specifically the upcoming Ukraine-Russia-U.S.-European Union talks in Geneva—as opposed to some of the Cold War-type rhetoric that has been flying around:

She wrote, “…diplomacy at last had a chance. Germany was back on familiar terrain—represented in Geneva, notably not by its own diplomat but by Catherine Ashton, the foreign policy chief of the 28-nation European Union, a partnership often gently mocked in Washington, but hallowed in Berlin as the real, if cumbersome, governing body of Europe.”

I love those words “gently mocked.”

They made me recall a conversation this past February between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, and the American Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. The two were plotting how to overthrow the elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych and install their handpicked guy in Kiev, and Nuland said, “Fuck the EU.”

Who knew the Times considered “fuck” gentle mocking?

Two weeks ago I would have phoned Carl and we’d have had a good laugh, but today there is no one to pick up the phone. The hardest thing about death is the silence it brings into our lives.

Carl believed that words could empower the majority of humanity to reclaim their world from the 1 percent. In this he was much like his fellow poet, Percy Shelley, who penned these words of outrage in the aftermath of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre when cavalry charged into a Manchester crowd that was demanding democracy, killing 15 and wounding hundreds:

“Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number—

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you—

Ye are many—they are few”

Good night sweet poet. This harp shall ever praise thee.

—Conn Hallinan


Carl Bloice Remembered: 1939 – 1975. (reprinted from Portside)

Carl Bloice, a brilliant journalist, political theorist, and teacher who inspired and mentored generations of activists in the U.S. and around the world for more than five decades, died in San Francisco April 12 after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.

From a courageous stint as what is believed to be the first Northern reporter to cover the 1960s Civil Rights movement in the South to editing the West Coast People’s World newspaper to his years as the People’s Daily World Moscow correspondent during the turbulent final five years of the Soviet Union to stinging commentary as a prominent blogger for left and African American publications, Bloice paved one groundbreaking path after another.

“Carl taught me to be a journalist, that journalism mattered, and that it was the thing that saved us from the humiliation of silence in the face of injustice. His absence creates a vacuum in our world–and my world– that simply cannot be filled,” said longtime University of California Santa Cruz journalism professor Conn Hallinan, who was with Bloice first in the San Francisco civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam war movement at the University of California, Berkeley, and later at the People’s World.

“Brother Carl was a fighter for working people and his writing could be described as advocacy journalism with barbs,” said Peter Gamble, publisher of on whose editorial board Bloice served.  “He was a loyal friend to those who had the fortune to know him. We will miss Carl very much, but his soul will live on in our hearts and provide some of the energy needed to continue the struggle.”

Longtime San Francisco peace, labor and community activist Giuliana Milanese, one of Bloice’s oldest and closest friends, recalled him as “a reflective comrade, unfailing in his commitment to justice, and his steadfast vision, not based on leaders who come and go but on ideas that create change. Carl never gave up the fight for a better world.”

Bloice was born January 28, 1939 in Riverside, Ca. As a teenager, living in South Central Los Angeles, he began his own political activism early in civil rights activities as a member of the Liberal Religious Youth, the Unitarian Universalists’ youth organization, in Los Angeles.

For a time, Bloice planned a life in the ministry of the Unitarian Church. But his activism and work with others in the burgeoning civil rights movement led him in another direction.

By the age of 20, Bloice had joined the U.S. Communist Party. This was a time, noted the late Franklin Alexander, one of Bloice’s early friends, and fellow young African-American CP recruit, that it was hard to get in the door with many leaving in the wake of the Red Scare, anti-Communist repression in the U.S., and the post-Stalin revelations in the Soviet Union.

By the early 1960s, Bloice, then a poet and prose writer, moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. There he joined the staff of thePeople’s World, beginning a three-decade association that would establish him firmly as a rare journalist who influenced readers and activists around the world.

“I remember going to meetings in L.A. where there was a FBI car parked outside, and agents taking down the license number of every car in the block,” Bloice would later tell the San Francisco Chronicle. “Members were kept under surveillance, and people victimized just because they bought this newspaper.”

Though affiliated with the CP, the People’s World had achieved a broad renown as a voice of the progressive and working class left from its early days as the Western Worker, when it was a leading chronicler of the 1934 San Francisco General Strike, the struggles of West Coast longshore workers and other unions, and the infamous Zoot Suit attacks on Latino youth by off-duty while sailors and Marines in Los Angeles in 1943.

Under Bloice, first as a staff writer, then editorial board member, then editor, that tradition continued. By the 1980s, Bloice would happily display a plaque, the Toronto Globe and Mail would note, from the City of Berkeley in his then Berkeley office at the old Finn Hall recognizing his achievements in “profoundly partisan journalism.”

In 1962, Bloice with others founded the first chapter of the W.E.B. Du Bois Clubs, a multi-racial, national youth organization, named for the legendary NAACP co-founder, journalist, author and educator. In San Francisco, the DuBois Clubs gained quick notice for leading desegregation fights targeting drive-in restaurant chains, the San Francisco hotel industry and automobile sales rooms that systematically discriminated against African-Americans in hiring. Bloice was also the group’s publications editor.

During that time, the Los Angeles Times cited Bloice as a leader of the University of California Berkeley’s Free Student Union and Vietnam Day Committee, successors to the UC Berkeley Free Speech Movement, along with other prominent free speech and anti-Vietnam war activists, including later Yippee prankster Jerry Rubin, Conn Hallinan, Robert Scheer, who went on to become a well-known journalist, and many others.

In the early 1960s, Bloice was also on the ground in the South reporting the upheaval of the Civil Rights freedom movement. On the night of May 11, 1963, he was in the A.G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham, Al. when it was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan in an attempt to murder Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other Civil Rights leaders.

In 1966, Carl was the campaign manager for Robert Scheer when he challenged a liberal democrat, who supported the war in Vietnam, in the Democratic primary. Scheer received 45% of the vote and the campaign laid a foundation for the later anti-war campaigns for Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy.

In 1972, while editor of the People’s World, Bloice testified in defense of Angela Davis, the internationally famed African-American leader and educator. Davis had been falsely charged in the fatal shooting of a Marin County judge. She was acquitted in a high-profile trial.

Jonathan Jackson, younger brother of George Jackson, one of the Soledad Brothers prison rights activists, was killed in a shoot-out at the courthouse. Bloice testified that Davis was with him in thePeople’s World offices working on a series of articles about the Soledad Brothers at the time she was accused of assisting Jonathan Jackson.

In 1972, Bloice also began a two-year special assignment for thePeople’s World and the New York-based Daily World in Washington, DC, to report on the Watergate scandal, covering not only the break-in, but the full panoply of Nixon administration spying, FBI spying on anti-war protesters and African-American activists, and other illegal actions that ultimately led to the impeachment proceedings and resignation of President Nixon.

After returning to the Bay Area, Bloice played a leading role in the Chicago founding of both the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR), an organization created to defend first Angela Davis and then other political prisoners and activists, and the National Anti-Imperialist Movement in Solidarity with African Liberation (NAIMSAL).

During these years, Bloice served on the Central Committee of the CPUSA and its parallel board for California, often serving as a representative to international solidarity meetings. In 1986, he participated in the merger of the People’s World with the Daily World, creating the new People’s Weekly World.

Bloice had a special assignment, serving as the paper’s correspondent in Moscow for the next five years, a first-hand witness and chronicler of changes unleashed by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika and glasnost policies.  Bloice reported not just from Moscow, but also from Central Asian and Trans-Caucus Soviet republics, North Korea, Mongolia, and Eastern Europe.

The 1991 collapse of the USSR coincided with upheaval in the CPUSA that had been bubbling up for several years. Bloice was one of more than 1,200 signers of an “Initiative to Unite and Renew the Party” which called for more internal democracy, greater solidarity with women’s, gay rights, environmental, and other progressive movements, as well as more support for national liberation struggles.

At a fractious 1991 CPUSA convention in Cleveland, old line CP leaders, led by Party chairman Gus Hall, refused to seat many initiative signers and removed Bloice, Angela Davis, historian Herbert Aptheker, and many others from all leadership positions. Bloice and other editorial staff of the paper were fired.

Bloice and the others started a new national organization, the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, which united former members of the CP with activists from a number of other left and progressive groups. Bloice remained one of three co-chairs of the organization until the time of his death.

After several years in New York, including work in a city hospital and for a local union, Bloice returned to San Francisco where he worked for a decade for the California Nurses Association in the Communications Department and edited its magazine until his retirement in 2005.

Upon his retirement, CNA Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro noted that Bloice was widely “respected as a working class intellectual, a sophisticated thinker adept at translating complex, often obtuse concepts into plain language. And he was much appreciated for his crusading spirit, his enduring zeal for establishing a more humane, just health care system and his humor.” This week DeMoro recalled that Bloice “was a lovable man who loomed very large in the lives of those whom he touched, which were many. Profound grace, Carl Bloice.”

Retirement did not mean inactivity for Bloice. He continued his work as a prolific writer on national and international politics, culture, African American and retirement security issues, and sports.

He helped launch a progressive internet news service, calledPortside, which today, in its 14th year, has thousands of daily readers and subscribers. Bloice served as one of the Portsidemoderators, continuing to post the weekly REWIND feature and other items through the week of his death.

Bloice served on the editorial board of The Black Commentator and was a regular columnist for Foreign Policy in Focus. Writings by Bloice also appeared in Common Dreams, Truthout, LA Progressive, ZNet, and Dollars and Sense. He had a regular blog titled “Left Margin.”

A frequent target of his pointed commentary was repeated threats to cut Social Security and Medicare. One 2012 column, titled “And Now the Catfood Party,” speared the Washington proponents of the Simpson-Bowles budget cutting commission, labeled by critics as the “Catfood Commission,” as Bloice noted “an allusion to the really existing seniors who have resorted to eating pet food when their meager incomes have run out.”

“Some on the Left,” Bloice wrote, “have taken to saying the U.S. has become a `Third World’ country. Sounds catchy, but it’s way off the mark. If the country were really impoverished, there would be some legitimacy to the idea that we really couldn’t afford to properly meet the needs the elderly, people with disabilities and the poor. Yet, ours remains the richest, most powerful nation on the planet, one that spends trillions of dollars on foreign wars and maintains an upper crust that consumes variously and ostentatiously. It’s all a matter of equities and priorities.”

Bloice’s work did not stop at the keyboard.  He was a regular participant in the annual Center for Global Justice conference, held in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. At home, he was an active member of the Senior Action Network, a progressive San Francisco-based senior organization, taught classes on political economy, foreign and domestic politics, and mentored a new generation of activists.

Carl Bloice was married to fellow activist Karen Werner, a San Francisco union and political activist who died in 1985. He left behind thousands of friends and admirers around the world.

A compendium of some of his recent writings can be found at

Posted by Portside on April 17, 2014


Read more…

Bring Them Home – Immigration Rights Monthly Protest At the Aurora Processing Center, Colorado

April 7, 2014

Such a strange title for what amounts to a high security prison for undocumented immigrants being “processed” …ie kicked out of the country,”the Aurora Processing Center.” Just looking at it, the whole structure  wreaks of oppression. Do all the security guards there have beer bellies – good corn-fed  farm boys – like the three or four I saw from a distance, their stomachs hanging out over their belts?


Supporters of Coloradans For Immigration Rights

It is a fortress with high walls, barbed wire, an enormous facility a medieval dungeon in the 21st Century. But I have passed it many times driving down Peoria Street in Aurora and not even noticed it as the facility sits a block off of a main thoroughfare. If you didn’t know what was going on there, it would not be illogical to think it a meat processing center. After all what is a “processing center?” But this processing center processes people and kicks them out of the country. It breaks up families and crushes souls.Colorado “processing center” in Aurora has one of the oppressive records in the country and this country’s president has expelled more immigrants from these United States than anyone in his position in the past. A sorry record indeed and one that continues full steam.

There were about fifty of us out there protesting the treatment of undocumented residents of the United States in an event sponsored by AFSC and Coloradans for Immigrant Rights. A Jewish social justice group (finally!) in Denver, Bend The Arc, is also involved. Many present at the picket – themselves or family members – had been arrested by immigration and are facing deportation. One who had spent eight months inside the Aurora Processing Center was a woman named Kelly. She had been stopped for driving without a license and, her papers not in order, sent to the processing center for deportation. That she was able to get out of the center and remain in the country she credits to the immigration rights movement in Denver that helped her. But it would not have happened unless, as Kelly put it, she “came out of the shadows and into the light, to leave behind the fear”…go public and fight openly for her rights.

Molly, one of our daughters, had gone to these demonstrations several times before and it was about time that I joined in too. Immigration is a personal issue several generations removed. It is both a part of both the heritage of this country and of my own family. Along with many of their relatives, all of my grandparents immigrated to this country from what is today Lithuania, Poland and Belarus in the early years of the 20th century. My maternal grandmother, Sarah Magaziner (name changed to Magazine in the 1930s) was denied entry on her first try as a result of a minor eye infection. For that, – a woman who spoke seven languages fluently (Polish, Russian, Lithuanian, German, Yiddish, Swedish and Hebrew) – eight if English is thrown in – and who had the voice of an opera singer, the daughter of a long line of rabbis and fisherman on the Niemen River – was deemed “eugenically unfit” and sent back to Europe from Ellis Island in New York Harbor. Read more…

Before “Prince”, “Prensky” – “Pren” – the Jewish Name for Prienai, Lithuania -2

April 7, 2014
Abraham Prensky and Molly Jackson marriage certificate of March 15, 1911

Abraham Prensky and Molly Jackson marriage certificate of March 15, 1911

Doing Genealogical history. Some Notes

(Note – I would imagine that for other than people in my family line – and perhaps even they, what follows would be extremely boring (other than the first paragraphs). And while I am garnering personal details, actually I am as interested, in probing the social history of the families as finding out detailed facts about the family past. What was the world they left? I know that – it was pretty rough? What was it like for them living in the USA in the first half of the 20th Century?, etc). Anyhow I will continue to write about it.

1. Why do it?

First – what this is not about – I am not trying in any way to find some kind of “pedigree”, pure family line. I consider that racist bullshit and have no interest in it whatsoever. And I might add – as among us Jews one often hears something along the lines “Oh we’re all so smart – it must be genetic”…(not said so often but usually implied – occasionally said by more Orthodox types) …that too is nonsense. Racism has always cut two ways. On the one hand it stigmatizes some as being “inferior”, “lesser”, and as such opens the doors to what amounts to as exploitation up to and including crimes against humanity and genocide.

On the other hand, there is the “flip side”: those who really believe that they are “God’s gift to the world, “chosen people” (one of the more dangerous ideas floating around) – that they are smarter, better mentally or physically or both, have a genetic talent to be rich (that is what Carnegie and Rockefeller – two late 19th century Social Darwinist Robber Barons thought of themselves). Also a bunch of crap – a way to hide a life time of exploiting other human beings under the veil of genetics. So let’s forget that, cross it out, throw it in the garbage can, whatever. I am quite proud of my mongrel roots…broader gene pools = greater genetic diversity = what geneticists used to call “hybrid vigor” – fuck purity – another word for incest and the inheritance of all kinds of mental and physical diseases. Besides somewhere along the way we’re all mongrels. Read more…

Dutch Hegemony Time line (1)

April 6, 2014
William of Orange - great Dutch radical and patriot. Fought for the freedom of religion against the Spanish Inquisition

William of Orange – great Dutch radical and patriot. Fought for the freedom of religion against the Spanish Inquisition. A master political tactician and profound democrat

Dutch Hegemony Time line

785 A.D. – Charlemagne conquers the lowlands and adds them to his European Empire

800-1200 A.D. – Charlemagne’s empire collapsed – as series of small kingdoms – dukedoms take form – some with German other with French nobles in charge

1000 A.D. – major work begins on building dykes – land reclamation

1100 A.D. – work begins in the region around Amsterdam.

1217 – Middelburg Charter – due process for all. local charters establish the limits to which a noble can bring charges against, arrest citizens of towns. An attempt to limit arbitrary violence against townspeople from the crown. Includes the following:
- sets up a series of laws for fighting, disputes,
- insists that everyone from nobility to homeless must go before the law (courts called “schepens”)
- people accused of crimes will be tried in the town where they are accused”

1275 – trade between England and Holland, which had proceeded for centuries was interrupted by a ten-year trade war in which both sides engaged in piracy against the merchant ships of the other. Trade with the Mediterranean organized largely through the city of Bruges.

1275 – formal date for founding of Amsterdam

1386-1389 – The Lowland cities “thus advancing, in wealth and importance were no longer satisfied with being governed according to the law, and began to participate, not only in their own but in the general government.” – Assemblies of provincial estates are formed made up of both nobility and merchant classes. Went on for the following century with the six chief cities of Holland (Amsterdam, Gouda, Leyden, Dort, Haarlem, Delft) having the right to send representatives to regional assembly. Same was true of Flanders – ie …beginning of a strong regional democracy…with elected representatives.

1400s-1500s – Until the 16th century, the Low Countries–roughly now corresponding to Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg–consisted of a number of duchies, counties and bishoprics, almost all of which were under the supremacy of the Holy Roman Empire, with the exception of the county of Flanders which was under the of the Kingdom of France.

1500 – Michael Angelo was beginning his David and Copernicus was getting serious about astronomy; Amsterdam was both a lively shipping center and one of the most intensely Catholic cities in Europe

1517 – Martin Luther pins his 95 Theses on the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Thus begins the Protestant Reformation. In 1521 Luther is excommunicated.

1533William of Orange born

1534 – “The Naked Truth” march through Amsterdam by Anabaptists…soon thereafter tortured and burnt at the stake by the Inquisition; Similar event happened the next year, 1535.

1549 – In 1549 Holy Roman Emperor Charles V issued the Pragmatic Sanction, which further unified the Seventeen Provinces under his rule. It centralized the Dutch provinces and towns and took away their hereditary rights.

1555 – Abdication of Charles V; Philip II comes to power.

1559 - Philip II signs truce with France, the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis, the secret clauses of which seal a French-Spanish united policy against Protestantism. It will lead directly to the Spanish Inquisition in the Netherlands and St. Bartholomew Massacre in France. Then he announces he is leaving the Low Countries: Beginning of an intensified Spanish Inquisition in the Low Countries.

1564 – Cardinal Granville – executor of the Spanish Inquisition in the Netherlands is relieved of his post. A temporary victory for the Dutch.

1566 – The “Compromise” Document put together by the lower nobles and some bourgeois elements – some 2000 signed it – all agree to oppose the Inquisition in the Low Countries. By then, according to Motley by then some 50,000 people in the region had been burnt to death since 1559.

The "Iconic Fury"...Dutch grassroots response to the Spanish Inquistion - mass destruction of Catholic Churches...

The “Iconoclastic Fury”…Dutch grassroots response to the Spanish Inquisition – mass destruction of Catholic Churches…

1566 – April 9 – Beggars’ Dinner, mass Protestant outside rallies; Outbreak of the “Iconoclastic Fury”, known in Dutch as “the Beeldenstorm” – the mass desecration of Catholic Churches in response to the excesses of the Inquisition.

1566-7 – Two waves of mass repression against the Protestants. Hundreds of thousands tortured and executed

1567 – In August, 1567 the Duke of Alba, with a highly trained army of 12,000 sets up a military occupation of the Low Lands. Establishment of the “Council of Troubles” – or “Blood Council” as it came to be known.

1568 – The execution of Counts Egmond and Horn. On June 5 of that year, they are executed in a plan conceived by Philip II, executed by the Duke of Alva.

1572 – On April 1, “Sea Beggars” under the leadership of Dutch pirate de la Marck seize the Dutch port town of Brill. It marked a turn in the Dutch war against Spanish control

1572St. Bartholomew Day Massacre. Between August 23-24 of that year somewhere between 25,000 and 100,000 French Protestants were slaughtered by Charles IX egged on by his mama, Catherine de Medici. This was a blow to the Dutch Protestant cause…as France had offered much material support which evaporated over night.

1572 – Haarlem holds out against Alva for six months before it falls; Naaden, Zütphen fall the same year to Alva; the entire populations of all towns are massacred.

1572 – 1579A Spanish Fury was a vindictive or rampant bloody pillage of cities in the Low Countries by Spanish regular or mutinous troops that occurred in the years 1572–1579 during the Dutch Revolt. The most famous ‘Spanish Fury’ was the sack of Antwerp in 1576. Sometimes this singular expression refers to the entire mutinous campaign of 1576, to the city punishments of 1572.

1573 – December 18 – The Duke of Alva leaves the Netherlands, never to return. Number of casualties of his six-year rule will never be known – probably in the hundreds of thousands

1576The Sacking of Antwerp – On 4 November 1576, mutinying Spanish tercios began the sack of Antwerp, leading to three days of horror among the population of the city, which was the cultural, economic and financial center of the Netherlands. The savagery of the sack led the provinces of the Low Countries to unite against the Spanish crown. The devastation also caused Antwerp’s decline as the leading city in the region and paved the way for Amsterdam’s rise.

1579 – In 1579 a number of the northern provinces of the Low Countries signed the Union of Utrecht, in which they promised to support each other in their defense against the Spanish army.

VOC-Trade Network1580 – Dutch denied access to the Lisbon spice market which was under Spanish control after the union of the Iberian crowns.

1581 – This was followed in 1581 by the Act of Abjuration, the declaration of independence of the provinces from Philip II

1584 – William of Orange assassinated in Delft by Balthazar Gérard, a Frenchman sympathetic to Philip II. Gérard was caught before he could flee Delft, and imprisoned. He was tortured before his trial on 13 July, where he was sentenced to be brutally – even by the standards of that time – killed. The magistrates decreed that the right hand of Gérard should be burned off with a red-hot iron, that his flesh should be torn from his bones with pincers in six different places, that he should be quartered and disemboweled alive, that his heart should be torn from his bosom and flung in his face, and that, finally, his head should be cut off

1585 – The Scheldt River trade closes down, eliminating Antwerp as the main maritime port in N. Europe.

1585 – Dutch put an embargo and general prohibition on trade with Antwerp to weaken the Spanish ability to launch military offenses against their positions. There is a formal Dutch and English prohibition on trade with Antwerp but it resulted in opening of a vibrant black market trade which could not be stopped.

1586 - On January 1 Robert Dudley – First Earl of Leicester offered William of Orange’s position as governor-general of the United Provinces. It was a Dutch effort to place the Dutch states under the direct authority of Queen Elizabeth but it did not work because Elizabeth had no wish of antagonizing Philip II of Spain, the Dutch arch-enemy. His effort to dominate Dutch politics and assume dictatorial powers fails as he is successfully opposed by the political acumen of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt

1587 Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, is executed on February 8. In revenge, Philip II prepares for a major invasion of England to overthrow Elizabeth I and Protestantism there.

1587 - Leicester leaves the Netherlands, tail between his legs. The sovereignty of the Dutch states is declared in “The Short Presentation” (in Dutch, Corte Verthoning). Along with the Treaty of Utrecht it became the Magna Carta of the Dutch mercantile republic. It establishes the primacy and sovereignty of Holland among the Dutch states

1594Compagnie Van Verre is formed (The Company of Trade With Distant Lands)

1595 – Compagnie Van Verre organizes a four ship fleet for the Orient. It arrives near Jakarta on July 22, 1596.

1598 – Compagnie Van Verre dissolved; new companies formed. 22 ships leave for the Orient of which eight returned loaded with spices to turn a profit of 400%

1600 – Amsterdam has a population of 50,000

1601 – Now 65 ships left…of those 11 were completely lost with a great number of crew perishing. Portuguese competition essentially crushed.

1601 – The English established their own East Indies Company, a chartered company

1602 – on March 20, 1602 to be exact, after months of wrangling, the Estates General, governing body of the United Provinces, passed legislation with the strong support of different investors- merging the efforts of the different Dutch merchants trading in the East Indies into one company, a chartered company, a company that was named the Vereenigde Oost Indische Compagnie  (V.O.C.) or as it is more commonly known in English: The Dutch East Indies Company. (DEIC)

1610 – the V.O.C. gained a foothold in Batavia (Indonesia / Dutch East Indies)

1615 - - V.O.C. has 50 ships plying the Holland – Dutch East Indies Route. the number of ships returning each decade from Asia to their home ports rose steadily from 50 in the second decade of the century to 103 by the sixth and 156 by the last

1618 – Johan van Oldenbarnevelt placed on trail for treason in Amsterdam

1620 – Amsterdam has a population of 100,000

1640 – Most of the island of Ceylon (today Sri Lanka) in Dutch control

1650 – Amsterdam has a population of 200,000

1661- 2 – The Dutch loss of the Formosa outpost to Koxinga (Chinese military leader and Ming Dynasty supporter) brought an end to the profitable silk trade for the V.O.C. Profitable silk trade with China ends in 1666.

1665 -  V.O.C. has 103 ships plying the Holland – Dutch East Indies Route. the number of ships returning each decade from Asia to their home ports 

1670 – The highly profitable trade with Japan started to decline. The cause of this are rather complex…and is associated with role of precious metals (gold and silver). Most of Europe’s trade with Asia – it is Europeans buying Asian products and paying for them in gold.
- result: gold flows moved heavily from Europe to Asia…and trade was dependent upon the ability of the Europeans to extract New World gold and silver in order to pay for Asian goods (spices, silk, Indian textiles, Chinese porcelain, etc).
- as the flow of New World gold diminished, the Dutch established a relationship with the Japanese that in exchange for Indian textiles and Indonesian textiles – whose markets the Dutch came to control, that the Japanese would pay the Dutch in gold, with which the latter could then make more purchases..
- but Japan cut off these relations in 1670 cut off selling gold to the Dutch somewhat disrupting the trade.

1672-3 – Third Anglo-Dutch War – British navy joins France in its attack on the United Provinces.
- this war temporarily interrupted the flow of pepper to NW Europe as a result of the naval battles. As a result of a reduction of supply the price of pepper spiked, which in turn induced the English East Indies Company to enter the market for pepper after 1672, cutting into the Dutch monopoly on the product.
- a price war over pepper followed between the V.O.C. and the English, but because the V.O.C. had far greater resources it was able to out-last the British.
- still soon, after the war ended, other European countries enter into the competition for pepper – including the French East Indies Company, the Danes, breaking the Dutch monopoly.
- as went pepper so went other spices in time. The Dutch tried to suppress the French-English entry into the pepper trade; they were temporarily successful but not for long.

1674Treaty of Westminster is signed ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War.  Signed by the Netherlands and England, it provided for the return of the colony of New Netherland to England and renewed the Treaty of Breda of 1667. It also provided for a mixed commission for the regulation of commerce, particularly in the East Indies.

1690  -  V.O.C. has 156 ships plying the Holland – Dutch East Indies Route. the number of ships returning each decade from Asia to their home ports





Waterboarding – The U.S. Military in the Philippines – 1902

April 5, 2014 American as apple pie?

Waterboarding…as American as apple pie? (source – “Executed Today”)

Waterboarding. Turns out it is nothing new, not “invented” by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the lot of neo-conservatives who pushed the United States into an unending war against the Third World – from Afghanistan to Iraq and would like to see wars extended to Iran, Syria…and of late, Russia.

It was standard fare for the U.S. military in a Third World Country even 115 years ago: the torture of rebels, in this case waterboarding in the Philippines, 1902. The image on the left is a “Life” Magazine cover from May 22, 1902, on the website “Executed Today” in history, (today being April 5th). The website, which I discovered about a week ago, includes fascinating information concerning human inhumanity to its fellow beings through history.

Some entries are of a personal nature – so and so murdered so and so, etc, but many are distinctly political which interest me more admittedly. It’s not that I ignore such things – it has long given me the chills how people mistreat one another on an individual level. It’s just when states get involved – state sanctioned torture, murder – otherwise known as war – that things get even uglier.

There were two othe entries on the website though – besides the killing of Filipinos by torture – that especially caught my attention this April 5 – the guillotining of French revolutionary leader Georges Danton in 1794 and the execution of two Arab nationalists opposed to Ottoman rule in 1916, one in Beirut, the other in Damascus.

Concerning the U.S. invasion of the Philippines…If the occupation of Hawaii is discounted (the Hawaii-ans don’t discount it), or the many invasions of Mexico in the 19th Century (the Mexicans don’t discount them) the U.S. military invasion and occupation of the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Cuba as a result of the Spanish American War is considered the first foreign military intervention of the 20th century (even though they started in 1898). In the end a secret deal was cut between the Spanish and United States governments that rather than abandon these former colonies to their own people – punish the very thought of it!) that there would be a change of colonial rulers from Spain to the United States.

All three military occupations were messy, bloody affairs, but the one in the Philippines went on the longest and was probably the bloodiest. Some 200,000 Filipinos died opposing the U.S. military intervention. The intervention itself was overseen by U.S. General Arthur MacArthur, father of General Douglas MacArthur of World War II fame (and Korean War infamy – he was itching to using nuclear weapons against the Chinese and was removed from command by President Truman). Having honed his skills killing Indians on the Great Plains for decades, Arthur MacArthur went on to outdo himself in the Philippines where virtually everything that moved became target practice for the U.S. army.

According to one explanation for why the United States would invade the Philippines (that I recall reading a long, long time ago), then President McKinley – soon to be assassinated) explained that he made the decision to invade the Philippines  at “God’s direction.” McKinley claimed to be undecided and was walking the White House floors agonizing over what to do when he heard a voice and the voice was God. Not having at the time the convenience of using t weapons of mass destruction nor military intervention for humanitarian reasons as pretexts, McKinley needed another line of reasoning to plunder a far away, Asian country. It was also a problem that there were not communist countries at the time that McKinley could argue were a threat to world peace intent on taking over the world.

A genuine dilemma!

But when all else fails, American presidents – from McKinley to George W. Bush can always take the Crusader logic of old, dust it off a bit, and go for it. McKinley would tell the American public, of all things, that God told him to invade the Philippines, and being a good Christian, how could he do otherwise? It is possible that besides consulting God, McKinley also conferred with some of the country’s main financial and corporate leaders of the day anxious to increase U.S. commercial ties with Asia, China especially, for which the Philippines would provide an excellent springboard. It was/is also a place extraordinarily rich in natural resources, a potential market in and of itself for the burgeoning U.S. manufacturing sector.

God told Arthur MacArthur to use waterboarding on Filipinos as he (it is a “he” usually, isn’t it?) instructed George W. Bush to do likewise on Iraqis, Afghans and who knows how many other Third World rebels. Blaming God for U.S. military intervention didn’t work so well for McKinley and the Philippine intervention also triggered one of the country’s great pacifist and anti-war movements. Calling a spade a spade, this peace movement called itself “The Anti-Imperialist League”  whose prominent members included mega-capitalist Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, Jane Addams, John Dewey, William Jennings Bryan, William Dean Howells, William Graham Sumner, David Starr Jordan and former U.S. President Grover Cleveland. Unlike McKinley, apparently God had not spoken directly to these late 19th century American luminaries, either that or God was speaking in more than one voice – one to McKinley, a very different voice to Mark Twain and company.

The Ludlow Series – 1 KGNU-Boulder, Colorado “It’s The Economy” Interview with Bob Butero – United Mine Workers of America Representative and Jonathan Rees, Author of “The Rockefeller Plan At Colorado Fuel and Iron Company: 1914-1942

March 31, 2014
1976 - 02 - Pueblo Steel Mill

CF&I Steel Mill – February 1976

Link to the Interview

On March 27, 2014 – the weekly program “It’s The Economy” on KGNU-Boulder interviews Bob Butero, United Mine Workers of America representative – and a former coal miner – along with Colorado State University prof and author Jonathan Rees, author of The Rockefeller Plan at the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company: 1914-1942. The interview runs about an hour.

In a few weeks, the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre will be marked by events all over the Front Range of Colorado. Most of them will take place south of Denver – in the Pueblo-Walsenburg-Trinidad region. Like the Triangle Fire Tragedy in New York City (March 25, 1911), the Ludlow Massacre of miners’ families working for the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I) to provide coal and iron for the Pueblo, Colorado steel mill was a “watershed event” in the history of both the state and the nation. I will be posting a series of articles and writing up commentaries to commemorate this event and go into its implications over the course of the next few months.

The CF&I Steel Mill still exists. For a time it was the largest producer of steel between St. Louis and California. It has changed hands many, many times. The photo on the left is of the mill in the mid 1970s when it still employed – if I remember correctly – more than 6000 workers, then as in 1914 when the Ludlow Massacre took place, these workers coming from all over the world, with diverse backgrounds.

Syria – Critique of Military Intervention for Humanitarian Reasons – by Tom Mayer and Rob Prince on KGNU Hemispheres – March 25, 2014

March 26, 2014

ME - Core CountriesSyria – Critique of Military Intervention for Humanitarian Reasons –  by Tom Mayer and Rob Prince on KGNU Hemispheres – March 25, 2014 – Ibrahim Kazerooni Hosting.


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