The Underground Librarian

What cats do before meeting curiosity sellers….

Pa. Journals: Narcan notes

Posted by Tespid on October 21, 2014

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Pa. Journals: Reversing ODs

Posted by Tespid on October 21, 2014

The Pulse

Fifteen seconds. That’s all it took to raze a 16-story public housing high-rise in Philadelphia last weekend. Only an implosion—an uncommon but highly precise form of demolition—could take down a building so fast and provide such a visually stunning demise. But, how does it work? We sent reporter Aaron Moselle to ground zero to find out.

Scientists often toil for years and years under the flourescent lights of their dusty labs without the world ever taking much notice. But for some, one phone call can change all that, dragging them, and their work, into the spotlight. University of Pennsylvania innovation professor Danielle Bassett got that call this week. She has been selected as one of 21 MacArthur fellows—an award referred to as the Genius Grant. Along with being called a “genius” by every media agency in the free world, she also gets $625,000 to pursue her work…no strings attached. We had her in our studios to discuss her work.

Overdoses from opioids and heroin have surged around this region and the country. As a result, first responders and some community members now carry the drug Narcan, which, if given soon enough, can reverse an overdose on the spot. In our regular segment Patient Files, we’re going to hear the story of John Dooling who received this treatment. It both saved and changed his life forever.

Our next story takes us to Pennsylvania’s Susquehenna River watershed, a key location in the state’s $3 billion fishing industry. But for the last 10 years, a mystery has been unfolding here. Young smallmouth bass have been found with open sores and lesions, and many of the male fish that make it to adulthood have female sexual characteristics. With the population of smallmouth bass dropping, we sent reporter Katie Colaneri to find out what’s going on.

Starting this fall, we will all be invited to spit into palm-size clear plastic viles, and then to send our saliva to New York City. No joke. It’s part of a genetic screening project to find what organizers are calling “unexpected heroes”—people whose genes say they should be sick but aren’t. The Resilience Project, as it’s been named, is an attempt to develop new treatments for rare diseases, and, as reporter Carolyn Beeler found out, this massive undertaking is possible now because of advances in genetic sequencing and supercomputing.

There’s been a lot of discussion about how to keep people out of the hospital and curb the use of costly care that may be better delivered elsewhere or avoided altogether. A study out this month took a closer look at returning patients to the emergency room and why they are returning so soon after an initial visit. As Elana Gordon reports, the reasons may not be what you think.

How do you feel about mice? If you’ve had the little rodents wreak havoc in your cupboards and brazenly dash across your kitchen countertops, you might not be a fan. But Dr. Elizabeth Becker’s research into mouse behavior might change your opinion. In our latest installment of “So What Do You Do?” Anthony Stipa talks to Dr. Becker about her research, which offers insights into the nature-nurture debate so often at the forefront of human child-rearing practices.

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Pa. Journals: Salt for the source and New Marijuana Decriminalization Laws

Posted by Tespid on October 21, 2014

Marijuana Decriminalization Takes Effect in Philadelphia
By PhillyNORML
October 20, 2014 4:20 AM

PHILADELPHIA, PA — The City of Philadelphia’s new fine structure for handling marijuana possession charges takes effect today.

This will largely stop the procedure of using custodial arrests — handcuffs and holding cells — for small amounts of cannabis. Philadelphia Police will begin issuing civil citations instead — $25 for possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana and $100 fine for smoking in public.

Legislation to enact the policy shift was sponsored by Councilman James Kenney after he spoke with Chris Goldstein, NA Poe and Anne Gemmell of PhillyNORML.

PhillyNORML has been reporting on the disturbing racial disparity of marijuana arrests since 2008. Using data from the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System we found that more than 80% of those arrested were African American. No other crime in the city, including possession of heroin and cocaine, showed this trend.

The were two committee hearings and a full Council session with testimony from members of the public, community groups and advocacy organizations. The full City Council ultimately passed Bill 140377-A in a 14-2 vote. Mayor Michael Nutter was initially resistant to the change, but then he embraced the new policy.

During the official signing of the bill in September Councilman Kenney said:“ We hope young people will be spared the life-altering consequences of a criminal record, such as limited job prospects, inability to obtain student loans or even join the armed services.”

Mayor Nutter commented that, “the punishment needs to be proportionate to the crime, and these are common sense changes that will have a positive impact on many Philadelphians.”

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has vowed to implement the measure.

PhillyNORML activist and US Marine Corps combat veteran Mike Whiter will receive the first citation on the morning of October 20th.

Whiter negotiated with PPD Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan and Civil Affairs department head Captain Stephen Glenn to engage in the peaceful action. Whiter, an underground medical cannabis patient, wants to demonstrate the proper procedure for both sides during a police encounter.

“I want to symbolically thank Philadelphia now that I can medicate in my city without fear of being thrown in jail and having a criminal record,” said Whiter. “Decriminalization is a huge step, but it is not enough. Pennsylvania desperately needs a medical marijuana program.”

Comedian and activist NA Poe welcomed the change. “The fact that marijuana advocates and the police can work together to find common ground on this issue shows the groundbreaking progress that has been made in our city.”

PhillyNORML co-chair Chris Goldstein said the policy shift is a significant milestone. “We join other cities like Washington DC in dismantling the institutional racism that has been inherent to marijuana prohibition. This is a win-win for cannabis consumers and for the entire city. Few policies can save millions of dollars and serve the cause of social justice. Reducing marijuana penalties does both.”

PhillyNORML is hosting a victory party on Friday October 24, 2014 at The Legendary Dobbs on South Street. Featuring local bands Bong Hits for Jesus, Little War Twins and more along with speeches from activists. The event is a fundraiser for PhillyNORML to work on statewide marijuana decriminalization.

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Pa. Journals – Heroin Task-Force

Posted by Tespid on October 21, 2014

4 Northeast states stand together against heroin


Associated PressOctober 8, 2014
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Heroin Trafficking Alliance

Pennsylvania state attorney general Kathleen Kane, right, speaks about a multi state task force formed to address the Northeast heroin crisis during a news conference accompanied by New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman, left, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in New York. Authorities in four Northeast states have agreed to collaborate in investigations of heroin trafficking that often cross state lines. The coalition so far includes New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts, with other states expected to join. JULIE JACOBSON — AP Photo

Heroin Trafficking Alliance
Heroin Trafficking Alliance
Heroin Trafficking Alliance
Heroin Trafficking Alliance
Heroin Trafficking Alliance
Heroin Trafficking Alliance

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ALBANY, N.Y. — Four Northeastern states have agreed to collaborate in investigations of heroin trafficking that often cross state lines, authorities said Wednesday.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane said their coalition, so far, also includes New Jersey and Massachusetts. Other states in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions are expected to join within the next few weeks.

“The drug dealers don’t stop at the state border, and with this partnership, neither will law enforcement,” Kane said.

Schneiderman said 98 percent of the large-scale heroin trafficking cases prosecuted by his office have involved drugs moving among the four states and traffickers try to “outmaneuver” authorities by crossing jurisdictions.

The New York Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, with offices in Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany and White Plains, has arrested more than 400 people in dozens of trafficking investigations since 2007. Roundups often involved 20 to 40 defendants. While those investigators can reach across state lines to arrest people committing crimes in New York, their reach doesn’t extend to criminals trafficking in other states.

The task force members have agreed to share information, which could include identification of traffickers, stash houses and phone numbers gathered from wiretaps, informants and cooperating witnesses. The task force is intended to create the formal framework for sharing information, which investigators may now do informally.

“We are pooling our resources and setting up formal lines of communication because this is a problem no single state can solve,” Schneiderman said.

According to the attorneys general, skyrocketing demand for heroin and higher profit margins for traffickers are now driving the trade. They noted that the two largest cities on the East Coast with a combined population over 10 million people, New York City and Philadelphia, are the two primary points for heroin trafficking in the Northeast.

Kane said it costs as little as $3 to $10 per one-dose bag, and in some neighborhoods it’s easier for children to get than a pack of cigarettes.

In most cases, investigators say the source of heroin has been Mexican cartels that smuggle the large quantities to New York or Philadelphia for distribution throughout the Northeast.

Steve Salomone, whose 29-year-old son died of a heroin overdose in 2012, spoke Wednesday in support of Schneiderman and Kane’s effort.

“I think we need to think outside the box in combating this problem,” said Salomone, a co-founder of an upstate New York heroin awareness group called Drug Crisis in Our Backyard. He said families need to be diligent and also take responsibility for turning the problem around.

In New Jersey, the number of people seeking treatment for heroin abuse exceeded 25,000 in 2012, the officials said. Massachusetts declared a public health emergency in March from heroin overdoses and opioid addiction.

Also Wednesday, the nation’s drug czar was in Maine to lead a town hall discussion on opioid abuse.

Michael Botticelli, acting director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, was formally announcing in Bangor that 19 Maine communities are getting $7.5 million over the next five years to fight drug abuse.

He said in comments ahead of the event that the nationwide trend toward legalization of marijuana is making it harder for health care and law enforcement officials to fight the rampant abuse of prescription opioids.

“It’s hard to say at one level that we want to think about prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse without looking at how to prevent kids from starting to use other substances from an early age,” he said.

Associated Press writer Tom Hays in New York contributed to this report.

Read more here:

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Screenshot: Southwest U.S.A.

Posted by Tespid on October 21, 2014

Immigrant sanctuary effort may head to Texas

Those leaders are calling on congregations to openly offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who could be deported under current immigration laws.


El PASO — Faith-based leaders in Texas could be asked to open their churches and other places of worship to undocumented immigrants at risk for deportation as part of a growing national movement. And while some leaders say they would consider such a request — as some Texas churches did in a similar movement decades ago — others say they have been providing such shelter for years.

Last week, faith-based and congressional leaders from Arizona, Illinois and Pennsylvania announced a multistate sanctuary movement patterned off a similar effort that took place in the 1980s.

Those leaders are calling on congregations to openly offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who could be deported under current immigration laws. In addition to offering such immigrants protection, the leaders hope to pressure the Obama administration into acting soon on the issue. The White House announced last month that it would delay any action on immigration reform until after the November elections.

Sidney Traynham, a representative of Church World Service, a faith-based humanitarian agency and a member of the Sanctuary 2014 coalition, said that it had reached out to Texas congregations but that none are a part of the movement yet.

In the 1980s, more than 500 congregations, including some in Texas, joined the effort and built an “underground railroad” used by undocumented immigrants to travel to and from safe houses to congregations, according to the Sanctuary 2014 website.

Whether the effort can be duplicated in Texas this time around hinges on various factors, said Michael Seifert, the network director of the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network, a network of community organizations. Among them is the perception of why people are fleeing, he said. In the 1980s, Central Americans were engulfed in civil wars and mayhem that the United States was directly involved in, including the Iran-Contra affair. Today, most of the Central Americans coming into the U.S. say they are fleeing cartel violence and poverty. Though politicians express sympathy for the migrants, some also argue for swift deportation.

“It could be a really different response if we had Marine Corps or mercenaries going down the streets” in Central America, Seifert said. “It’s different in response to drug cartels going nuts.”

A U.S. Border Patrol spokesman did not return a call seeking comment on how the movement could affect the agency’s daily operations.

Seifert added that the conversations on whether congregations in the Rio Grande Valley should take part in the movement, or exactly how they can, are ongoing.

“I’m not sure we’re there yet, but I am also quite aware that the sensibilities of people wanting to take people in are,” he said. But the divisiveness surrounding the immigration debate might also be a reason for congregations to pass on the effort this time, Seifert said.

The surge of Central Americans, specifically the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors who have crossed the Rio Grande recently, has enraged conservatives who blame President Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, for luring the migrants here and causing the influx. Congressional debate on immigration legislation, which had stalled this year, is expected to re-emerge this fall. And following a 2013 Texas legislative session where few immigration-related bills were filed, state lawmakers are expected to be more active on the issue when they return in January.

The Rev. Diane McGehee, the director of the Center for Missional Excellence for the United Methodist Church’s Texas Annual Conference, said the concept of sanctuary comes from a simple belief: All people deserve a place of worship regardless of immigration status or any other factor.

The Texas chapter of the United Methodist Church’s South Central Jurisdiction includes 700 congregations, some which would consider joining the effort, McGehee said.

“There probably would be churches that would be enthusiastic about doing this,” she said. “And you probably have some that would not want to go that route.”

Ruben Garcia, the director of Annunciation House, an El Paso-based immigrant shelter, said he supports the sanctuary efforts across the country.

But Garcia, whose group took in hundreds of undocumented immigrants during last summer’s immigrant surge, adds that churches and other groups have been providing shelter for decades for reasons that are not politically motivated.

“The question isn’t ‘Is there the political will?’ because it’s been done before,” he said. “Right now we have 15 to 20 immigrants at Annunciation House. We don’t go out there and say, ‘We are declaring sanctuary.”

But he doesn’t mind if congregations in Chicago, Philadelphia or elsewhere do it for political reasons because the issue gets raised in environments where people are usually uninformed.

“They’ve got the theories, we’ve got the warm bodies [on the border],” he said.

The Catholic Diocese of El Paso, which provided temporary shelter to more than 3,000 undocumented immigrants last summer, expressed a similar position.

“The way the diocese sees it is that they have always welcomed the undocumented and they are going to continue to do so,” diocese spokeswoman Elizabeth O’Hara said.

Click here to read this story at its original home with our content partners at The Texas Tribune.

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Cold Porridge: Underground Philly Bomber

Posted by Tespid on October 21, 2014

Havertown rower’s route from Boy Scout to bomber to fugitive

Posted: September 22, 2014

First of two parts

(Find the second part here )

Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.

- Jean-Paul Sartre, Leo Burt’s favorite philosopher

During the chaotic late 1960s at the University of Wisconsin, an epicenter of that era’s crumbling conformity, the marijuana haze was sometimes as thick as the tear gas.

But Leo Burt’s drug of choice was discipline.

The serious-minded philosophy major and rower from Havertown had learned it in a strict Catholic household, adhered to it during 12 years at St. Denis Grade School and Monsignor Bonner High, honed it at a Marine Platoon Leaders Class, and perfected it through the rigors and deprivations that rowing demanded.

As an undersized member of the Badgers crew team, Burt welcomed the sport’s challenges. He didn’t drink or smoke, didn’t date, and ran the steep Camp Randall Stadium steps in Madison so relentlessly his thighs grew taut as oars.

It was as if he were steeling himself for his future as one of the most elusive fugitives in American history.

At 3:40 a.m. on Aug. 24, 1970, Burt and three accomplices ignited a massive truck bomb that tore through the university’s Sterling Hall. The antiwar movement’s most powerful and frightening explosion of rage, it killed a 33-year-old physicist named Robert Fassnacht and injured three other people. Three blocks away, residents were knocked from their beds. Thirty miles away, other Wisconsinites heard its rumble.

Eleven days later, shortly after Burt’s smiling, bespectacled, and unthreatening face first appeared on newspaper front pages and post office walls, he slipped out the rear window of a Canadian boardinghouse and vanished.

His three coconspirators – among them a Delaware teenager – were long ago captured, imprisoned, and paroled. So were others from those turbulent times – once-defiant radical underground figures such as Weathermen leaders Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, and Kathy Boudin, the Bryn Mawr graduate involved in a deadly 1981 Brink’s truck robbery.

But for 44 years, Burt has remained at large, the last phantom of the 1960s.

“At this point,” said John Vaudreuil, the U.S. attorney in Madison, “he’s the longest-running FBI fugitive.”

All these years later, Burt’s story is unfinished and largely unremembered. It’s also worth reviewing now when the political and cultural divide he and his crime both embodied and exacerbated seems broader than ever.

A three-month Inquirer reexamination did not uncover Burt, but it did give flesh to a ghost. Revisiting this nearly forgotten fugitive and a crime the FBI then termed “the largest act of domestic terror in U.S. history” helps explain how America ruptured, how a rower became a radical, how someone so thoughtful managed something so unthinkable.

“The Vietnam War made a lot of people crazy,” said one of Burt’s Wisconsin crewmates. “His teammates know that the Leo they used to know was not the Leo who committed this crime. The war changed him tragically.”

An altar boy, Boy Scout, and Marine trainee, Burt was raised on American certainties about patriotism, faith, and duty. Then a polarizing war, an unpopular draft, and a White House bent on deception rearranged that world.

Minds changed. Generations warred. Campuses erupted. And with the discord thick as a fog, one Leo Burt vanished and another emerged.

“It’s as if he was two different people,” said Kevin Cassidy, the Madison-based FBI agent now charged with finding him. “The Boy Scout and the Bomber.”

Numerous sightings

Though dropped from the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List in the mid-1970s, Burt has never left its radar.

Generations of agents have hunted him. The tips have been surprisingly steady and plentiful, particularly after he was featured in a 2010 episode of America’s Most Wanted.

As recently as May, as a reporter spoke with Cassidy for this story, someone phoned a possible Burt sighting into the FBI’s Madison office.

Leads have pointed his pursuers to a boat shop in Hawaii, a resort in Costa Rica, and a homeless shelter in Colorado. Others have placed him in Algeria, Cuba, Canada, California, Ohio, and even Center City Philadelphia.

Joe Muldowney, who rowed with Burt at Penn AC, told the FBI in the mid-1970s that he had seen the fugitive on Chestnut Street.

“I approached him and said, ‘Hey, Leo, how you doing?’ ” Muldowney recalled. “He turned and looked at me with a look of recognition on his face. And, with no words, he just turned and walked away. . . . I’m certain it was Leo.”

For a time, Burt was even suspected as the Unabomber after a police sketch in that case portrayed a curly-haired look-alike in a hoodie and wire-rimmed sunglasses.

The son of one of his Bonner teammates researched the case for a graduate thesis and theorized that Burt is probably in Canada, likely near the rowing hub of St. Catharines on Lake Ontario.

“He’s probably just blended in,” Joe Brennan Jr. said. “Just another white guy in Canada.”

Burt’s FBI file remains active, its records sealed. Whenever prosecutors want to compare the fingerprints taken during Burt’s Marine training with a new suspect’s, they must petition the court.

The long search has yielded a mountain of evidence – a typewriter Burt used, a 1972 Liberation article he is thought to have written, letters to family and friends, and decades’ worth of interviews and reports.

“An agent in the Unabomber case once asked for all the records,” Vaudreuil said. “We said, ‘How many trucks do you have?’ “

All that evidence, all those tips have led investigators to the same place – nowhere.

Burt would be 66 years old now, and a fugitive for two-thirds of his life. According to a computer-aged image the FBI created by photographing his male relatives, he would have silver hair, an angular face, and traces of the acne that tormented him as a teenager.

One thing that wouldn’t have changed, investigators believe, is his self-discipline.

Leo Burt has made no mistakes on the run. He has thoroughly abandoned his past.

A passion for rowing

Leo Frederick Burt was born April 18, 1948, one of 2,500-plus deliveries at Darby’s Fitzgerald Mercy Hospital in that baby-boom year.

Burt, who has two sisters and two brothers, never knew his mother, Mary, who died later in 1948. His father, Howard, remarried and Leo was said to adore his stepmother, May.

The Burts were distinguished Philadelphia Catholics. Leo’s grandfather William was a principal in Reynolds & Co., a brokerage firm Dean Witter would later acquire. Two of William Burt’s sons became Augustinian priests. One, the Rev. Donald Burt, who died in 2013, was an academic dean at Villanova and a noted philosopher, a subject that would fascinate his nephew.

Howard Burt, a mechanical engineer, worked for Continental Can and held a patent on a system for sorting and storing cans. In the early 1950s, he bought a three-bedroom brick bungalow at 2308 St. Denis Lane in Havertown and raised his family there.

“Leo’s father was challenging and distant,” Brennan said. “He never came to one of his rowing meets.”

At St. Denis parish, whose church and school stand at the foot of his boyhood street, Leo was an altar boy and an A student. He played Little League baseball and joined Boy Scout Troop 144.

“He used to give the Pledge [of Allegiance] before our meetings,” said fellow troop member Mike Druding.

In 1962, Burt entered Bonner, the all-boys high school that was a Red Arrow bus ride away in Drexel Hill.

He earned good grades there, joined the physics club, became one of Bonner’s elite student guards, and, most significant, discovered rowing.

The sport quickly became his passion, appealing to both his physical and spiritual sides. For a boy who wanted to be either a Marine or a priest, it was the perfect pastime.

“Rowing,” wrote famed shell designer George Pocock, “is a symphony of motion. . . . And when you reach perfection, you’re touching the divine.”

Burt became a mainstay on Bonner’s varsity eight, whose like-minded and larger crewmates were his best friends.

Mike Lynam, brother of the former 76ers coach Jim Lynam, recalled that in a Bonner class of nearly 700 boys, the shy Burt found his niche on the Schuylkill.

“Bonner was so big that you had to have your own little group,” Lynam said. “Mine was basketball. Leo, as I remember, was always with the rowing guys.”

Mike Cipollone, a coxswain in one of Burt’s boats and a future Bonner crew coach, grew up around the corner.

“Leo was a great athlete, had a great sense of humor,” Cipollone said. “But he was a real student of rowing, very serious about it.”

After school, Burt would hitchhike to Boathouse Row, where the crew team shared Penn AC’s facilities.

“We’d get there at 4 and start rowing, exercising, running, lifting weights,” said teammate Bob Beaty. “I didn’t really do very much weights, but Leo did.”

Beaty and another teammate, Paul Bracken, both from Upper Darby, became his closest friends. In 1968, all three Bonner grads would be in the Penn AC boat that took the junior-eights title at the American Henley.

On weekends, the trio attended dances at Chez Vous and Holy Cross or hung out at Gino’s, the 69th Street hamburger stand where Beaty worked part-time.

Reserved outsiders, they also had deeper interests.

“Leo was somewhat of an erudite guy, well-read, well-spoken,” Beaty said. “We all liked philosophy, especially Sartre.”

That may have resulted from their being taught by Augustinians, the spiritual descendants of the church’s first great thinker. Years later, investigators seeking insights into Burt would pore over St. Augustine’s writings on pacifism and “just war” theory.

Friends mention Burt’s compassion and idealism. Beaty said he developed so strong a social conscience that they jokingly called him “Leo the Commie.”

He sometimes traveled to WPEN-AM’s Center City studio to join the audience for Red Benson’s radio talk show. There he saw folksinger Dave Van Ronk and Black Muslim leader Malcolm X.

On June 14, 1966, during a Convention Hall ceremony, Burt was among Bonner’s 646 graduates. He had scored better than 1200 on his SATs and, by then, had committed to Wisconsin.

His family had pushed him toward Villanova, where his Uncle Donald taught and where a cousin, Joe Burt, was a student activist.

But rowing would be the determinant. He wanted to win a national championship, and Wisconsin, a Big 10 school located between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, had a top program. When, in his senior year at Bonner, the Badgers took the national title at the IRA Regatta, Burt’s mind was made up.

“He had these great ambitions,” Brennan said. “They were probably too high given his ability. He was a tough Philly kid, but he was 5-11, and those 6-6 Wisconsin farm boys were going to beat him out every time.”

Burt held his own that first year at Wisconsin, occupying the crucial No. 8 seat in the freshman boat. He resided in a dormitory and, prior to selecting a major, took a course load that mixed science and the humanities.

Resistance to the Vietnam War was building, particularly in the city that had the nickname “the People’s Republic of Madison.” Beginning in 1966, Wisconsin students conducted a series of protests against Dow Chemical, the manufacturer of napalm. In the fall of 1967, one turned violent.

Burt, according to Beaty, took notice but remained “fairly patriotic.” In his first collegiate summer, he attended the rigorous six-week Marine Platoon Leaders Class at Camp Upshur in Quantico, Va.

As a sophomore, Burt saw his rowing ambitions hit rough water. While others from his freshman eight moved up to varsity, he was mired on the JV boat.

The Badgers got a new head coach his junior year: Randy Jablonic, the former freshman coach. Burt wrote Cipollone that he liked “Jabo” at first since he reminded him of their Penn AC coach, Ted Nash.

But Burt still couldn’t crack the varsity eight and when Jablonic demanded he get a haircut before the team’s annual banquet, he quit.

That painful break, investigators theorize, was Burt’s “Rosebud” moment.

A different Burt

Burt’s obsession shifted, first to writing about rowing for the student newspaper, then to a more socially conscious journalism, something advocated by Jack Scott, a fellow Pennsylvanian whose book The Athletic Revolution influenced him deeply.

As Vietnam continued to alter everyone, few changed as thoroughly as Burt.

By his junior year, he was covering – and openly sympathizing with – the antiwar movement overwhelming the lakeside campus. He found a like-minded staff at the Daily Cardinal, so strikingly militant that in 1969 conservative students founded an alternative daily, the Badger Herald.

“There were a lot of kids at the Cardinal from New York and the East Coast,” said one ex-staffer who asked not to be identified. “They tended to be more outspoken against the war than the Midwesterners. Some people, even some in the administration, resented that.”

During his last summer in Philadelphia, friends noticed a different Burt.

“He was a nice, easygoing kid,” Muldowney said. “Even though I was seven or eight years older, it was easy to get into a conversation with him. We had a Catholic education in common. We were rowers. There was an easy rapport.

“But after he stopped rowing, something happened. I ran into him on the Parkway. I said hello and we started talking. But he was a different kid. He, like, tuned me out. After a few minutes, he said goodbye and walked away.”

Muldowney would not think of Burt again until he saw his face on The CBS Evening News the night of Sept. 2, 1970. Burt’s was one of four photos on the screen. Above them were the unimaginable words:

“Wisconsin Bombing Suspects.”

By 1970, as the title of a Temptations hit that year perceived, the world seemed to be a “Ball of Confusion.” Perhaps nowhere was it wound as tightly as Madison.

Biafra, urban and campus riots, hijackings, and, of course, the war in Vietnam and the My Lai massacre dominated the news and conversation at the University of Wisconsin.

According to the Associated Press, 23,000 young Americans had fled to Canada to avoid the draft. Burt had hinted cryptically to a journalism professor that he too might soon become a political exile.

He was a Daily Cardinal stalwart, his protest beat both frenetic and frightening. At times, Burt wore a gas mask as protection against the ubiquitous tear gas.

“You tell people what it was like here back then and they don’t believe it,” said Grant Johnson, an assistant U.S. attorney who moved to Madison in 1970. “During the day it was pretty quiet. At night, everything would heat up and you’d smell the tear gas.”

That May, while Burt was in New Haven, Conn., covering a Black Panthers protest, the U.S. commenced bombing raids into Cambodia.

That triggered virulent nationwide protests, most famously at Kent State University in Ohio, where National Guardsmen shot and killed four students.

Burt, by all accounts, was outraged. He hustled back in time to cover Wisconsin’s violent reaction. At one demonstration, after flashing his Daily Cardinal credentials, he was beaten by police.

In his story the next day, Burt included this wry description:

“Cardinal reporter Leo Burt was beaten and had his gas mask confiscated by Dane County police who were not deterred by his press card.”

The incident may have been the last act in the old Leo Burt’s existence. A new version, now scarred physically and psychically, had emerged.

A plot takes shape

While completing his final two courses that summer, Burt met Karl Armstrong at the Nitty Gritty, a Frances Street bar favored by hippies and antiwar activists.

Armstrong, 24, a former University of Wisconsin student, bragged to Burt about actions taken by his “New Year’s Gang” – basically Armstrong and his brother Dwight, a 19-year-old high school dropout.

On New Year’s Day 1970, they had stolen a Cessna aircraft and dropped three bottles filled with a mixture of fuel oil and ammonium nitrate onto a munitions plant north of Madison. The incendiary devices failed to ignite. Later they started a fire at a campus ROTC office.

Now Karl Armstrong was stirred by what he had read in the Cardinal. An Army Math Research Center (AMRC), in Sterling Hall, was conducting research the newspaper termed “vital to the American war effort.”

Burt had written pieces attacking its presence on campus, so when Armstrong told him “AMRC is next,” he went all-in.

The plot took shape in early August. Shortly before the assault, Burt recruited David Fine, a bright and fervently left-wing 18-year-old from Wilmington who was a fellow Cardinal staffer.

“Leo Burt approached me at this party and said, ‘Let’s go in the other room, I want to talk to you,’ ” Fine, by then paroled, said in a 1987 deposition. “He said, ‘There is going to be a bombing, Army Math Research Center, and we need somebody else.’ “

On Aug. 16, 1970, Karl Armstrong rented a U-Haul, bought 100 gallons of gasoline, and, using the name George Reed, purchased 1,700 pounds of fertilizer from the Farmers Union Cooperative.

After Burt researched a formula for ANFO (the explosive mix of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil), the gang began testing it north of Madison.

On Aug. 20, they stole a professor’s 1967 Ford Econoline van from campus and hid it along with several barrels of ANFO.

In the early hours of Aug. 24, they were ready. The super-fit Burt lifted the barrels into the van. After the barrels were connected to a fused dynamite charge, he and Karl Armstrong drove toward Sterling Hall.

Dwight Armstrong was in the getaway car, his parents’ Corvair. Fine occupied a nearby phone booth, ready to make a warning call.

The summer session had ended Aug. 15. They had chosen the middle of the night, between a Sunday and Monday, as a time when the targeted building would most likely be empty.

But as they pulled into its south-side loading dock, Burt and Karl Armstrong were surprised to see lights on in the building. A car and bicycles were parked near an entrance.

It was about 3:35 a.m. when an obviously emotional Burt, his anxieties heightened by a fever, turned to Armstrong.

“Do we go ahead?”

“At that point,” Armstrong would tell CBS’s Sunday Morning in 2010, “I thought, ‘Now I know what war is all about.’ And I told him to light it.” @philafitz

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Book Recommendation

Posted by Tespid on October 21, 2014

Breaking 43 Years of Silence, the Last FBI Burglar Tells the Story of Her Years in the Underground

Judi Feingold

A headshot of Judi Feingold taken shortly before the 1971 burglary of the FBI offices in Media, Pennsylvania. All photographs courtesy of Betty Medsger.

The following is excerpted and adapted from the epilogue to the paperback version of Betty Medsger’s The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, out today from Vintage Books.

It was clear to Judi Feingold what she should do after she and seven other people broke into an FBI office near Philadelphia in 1971, removed every file and then anonymously distributed them to two members of Congress and three journalists:

Get out of town.

She took drastic steps. Remaining in Philadelphia seemed dangerous, so she left town and headed west, moved into the underground and lived under an assumed name, moving from place to place west of the Rockies for years, owning only a sleeping bag and what she could carry in her knapsack. As she was about to detach herself from her past geography and her personal connections, she called her parents and told them she had committed a nonviolent direct action “and was possibly being pursued by the federal government. I told them I could not be in touch by phone, and I would do my best to let them know how I was, but not where I was.”

During the forty-three years since the burglary, none of the other burglars knew anything about Feingold’s whereabouts. Efforts to find her in recent years had failed. Some even thought she might have died.

Likewise, Feingold did not know that the other burglars had not left the area and, instead, had lived in the eye of the intensive search the bureau conducted for the people who revealed FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s massive, clandestine political spying and extreme, even violent, dirty tricks operations. Those revelations gave rise to the nation’s first public conversation about the role of intelligence agencies in a democratic society. None of the burglars was found. Only one of them made the list of final suspects. The investigation ended after five years, with the FBI never finding any physical evidence or witness with either direct or indirect knowledge of the burglary.

Immediately after the burglary, Feingold’s Philadelphia neighborhood, Powelton Village, was swarmed by dozens of FBI agents. From many parked cars, agents watched the comings and goings of residents round the clock. Everyone seemed to be regarded as a suspect. The files the burglars removed from the office—the first documentary evidence that under Hoover the FBI had subverted the bureau’s mission—had caused a sensation. For the first time, there were calls in Congress and in newspaper editorials for the bureau and its deeply admired director to be investigated. Hoover, FBI director for half a century by then, was apoplectic, one of his favorite reporters wrote shortly after the burglary. The stolen files emerged, a few at a time, the first ones in a story written by me and published two weeks after the burglary on March 24, 1971, in The Washington Post.

The last time the burglars were together, shortly after the burglary, they had made two promises to each other: that they would take the secret of the burglary to their graves and that they would not associate with each other. They feared that if they continued to associate, the arrest of one might lead to the arrest of others. The seven who continued living as they had before the burglary were silent about what they had done, but they made no attempt to hide or escape.

Throughout the decades since the Media burglary, Feingold kept the pledge the burglars made to each other never to reveal they were the Media burglars. She always assumed no one in the group would break that promise. She never uttered a word about the burglary to anyone.

That’s why she was shocked—angered, even sickened at first—in January when she discovered, by chance, that the other members of the group recently had publicly told the story of how and why they decided in 1971 to risk their freedom for many years to break into an FBI office in search of evidence of whether the FBI was engaged in efforts to suppress dissent.

Until discovering, in news articles about my book, that seven of the eight Media burglars went public, she thought perhaps other Media burglars might also have decided to go underground. Instead, they had lived in plain sight. William Davidon, the physics professor who was the leader of the group and who had thought of the idea of breaking into the office, had continued to teach at Haverford College and continued to be a leader in the antiwar community. John and Bonnie Raines and their three children, all under eight at the time of the burglary, lived for years in the old stone house in the Germantown section of Philadelphia where much of the planning for the burglary had taken place. John Raines is still teaching religion at Temple University. And Bonnie Raines ran a day care center, studied for a graduate degree and eventually became a leading advocate for children’s issues. Keith Forsyth, who trained himself to pick the lock on the FBI office door but in the end had to rely on a crowbar to break in, worked for years as a union reform organizer at the Budd Company, a metal fabricator in Philadelphia, before completing studies to become an electrical engineer. Bob Williamson continued to work for awhile as a social worker for the state of Pennsylvania. Two other members of the group, who have described their roles but have chosen not to be named, also lived as they had lived before.

* * *

During the years I researched and wrote The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, I could not find the woman the other burglars and I often referred to as the eighth burglar. This struck me as strange in the age of the Internet, when it seems as though nearly everyone can be found. The other burglars had told me her name, but despite many attempts by some of the burglars and me to find her, the search for her was futile. Bob Williamson, the member of the group who was closest to her at the time of the break-in, repeatedly tried to find her. Along with Williamson, she was one of the four people who went inside the Media FBI office the night of March 8, 1971, and removed all the files in the dark.

I hoped that soon after The Burglary was published in January she might see a news story about the other burglars becoming public and reach out to them. Without her, the narrative of the Media burglars was not quite complete. But after a month, when many stories had been published and broadcast about the emergence of the Media burglars, I reluctantly concluded that we probably never would hear from her. Perhaps the worst fear of some, that she was not alive, was true.

Then, in late April, as I walked up out of the subway near my New York home and checked email on my phone, I found this message from Williamson:

“I want to give you some very exciting news…. Judi called me yesterday…. She sounded wonderful…. The stories we had heard about her riding the subways of New York at night were completely untrue. She is alive and well, and has had a happy life.”

I practically danced all the way home as I read his words. Judi Feingold, the missing member of the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI—what the burglars called themselves—was alive and well and in touch. Williamson also wrote that “she said she’d be happy to talk with you.”

When I phoned Judi a short time later, she was still somewhat stunned at what she had learned—that the other members of the Citizens Commission had broken their promise to take the secret of the burglary to their graves. By the time we talked in person a few weeks later, her original shock at finding the group’s secret had been exposed had diminished somewhat as a result of being in touch with some of the burglars, people she thought she would never see again.

Like the others, she is now open about that secret that shaped the rest of her life. The forty-three-year journey she reveals is strikingly different from the experiences of the other Media burglars during and since the years when Hoover assigned more than two hundred FBI agents to search for the people who risked decades in prison by breaking into an FBI office and exposing Hoover’s secret files.

Feingold in Yellowstone National Park, in 1989

Her decision to stay underground and live under an assumed name for nearly a decade, until 1980, meant that she spent the first decade of her adult life as a fugitive. Now 63, she was 19 then, the youngest member of the group. Early in her life, she exhibited the qualities that would enable her at nineteen to see participating in the burglary and living underground as actions she should take—despite the fact that they would be radically life-changing and potentially dangerous. As a kid from Inwood, a neighborhood on the far northwestern end of Manhattan, she adopted pacifism and became an activist in the civil rights and anti-nuclear movements by age twelve. She remembers riding the subway alone by then and going to meetings and demonstrations, including an anti-nuclear weapons rally led by Dr. Benjamin Spock. As a teenager, she had big ideas and made big commitments. Like the other burglars, she was confident that activism could lead to positive change. But she recalls being fairly quiet at home about the depth of her opinions, especially ones about the Vietnam War. Her father had made it clear he disagreed with her.

After a year at the University of Denver, she lived for a year in San Francisco. That’s where she first worked for the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization, as an intern. After that she worked as a military counselor at the AFSC headquarters in Philadelphia. For that job, she became thoroughly familiar with the Uniform Code of Military Justice and used it daily to advise people who wanted to get out of the military because they had come to oppose the war; people in the military who faced family hardships and wanted to know how to apply for an honorable or general discharge, and people who didn’t want to enter the military and wanted to know their options. While in this job, she felt sure she was regularly under surveillance near her home. That moved her to agree with William Davidon, the leader of the Media group, when he proposed burglarizing an FBI office in order to search for documentary evidence of whether the FBI was spying on political dissidents. She had met Davidon through Williamson, whom she deeply trusted.

Unlike the other Media burglars, Feingold had never participated in a draft board break-in. Media was her first and only act of resistance. She recalls thinking that the action proposed by Davidon was a powerful idea, one that needed to be executed. She also remembers that although she was only nineteen then her eyes were wide open: She fully realized that participating in the burglary could lead to very harsh consequences.

To avoid harsh consequences from the government, she imposed harsh consequences on herself—going underground, cutting herself off from everyone she knew. Looking back, she says she has no regrets. She sees the burglary as a success that was more than worth the risk, and she sees her life in hiding afterward as involving nothing she did not choose to do. In fact, she regards parts of her post-Media decade in the underground as quite wonderful despite the difficult aspects.

As she watched the FBI presence increase exponentially after the burglary on the streets of Powelton Village, staying there seemed like the worst option. “Everybody in the activist community was talking about Media,” she recalls. Remaining there seemed dangerous. She thought a Media burglar would be much more likely to be arrested if she or he stuck around Philadelphia. Feingold recalls that her decision “came from my gut: Get out of here.”

“Once we saw what the documents revealed at the farm house, we knew it was huge. So I wasn’t sticking around for the aftermath. I was going to do the best I could to live the life I wanted to live, a life without surveillance. I followed my heart…to a nonviolent, peaceful life west of the Rockies.” She got out of Dodge.

With three friends from the women’s collective where she had lived since shortly before the Media break-in, Feingold left Philadelphia and drove to New Mexico. She was charmed by the natural beauty of the area, as Williamson was when he also traveled there, at her urging, a step that also changed the geography of his life forever. She loved Williamson, and they had continued to be close friends after she became part of the women’s collective. But even he was unaware that she had decided to go underground and would do so shortly after he arrived in New Mexico.

Feingold’s first home in the underground was on a goat farm north of Taos. Like several other places she would stay, this farm was owned by a woman and was part of an informal network of rural properties in the West known as “women’s land”—places where lesbians built alternative communities that were intentionally free of patriarchy.

Feingold thought it was the ideal place for her at that time. As she points out, she could have hidden anywhere, but she welcomed the chance to live underground in the country instead of in a city. She loved the outdoors and the physical work required in such places. Growing up in New York City, she had yearned to live in those wide-open spaces she saw as a child on countless television Westerns. Now she had that life. She dug irrigation ditches and learned how to make goat cheese and gather eggs. She remembers living happily in those old cowboy landscapes that recently had been reclaimed by women. Until then, roaming Central Park was as close as Feingold had come to her dream of living in wide-open rural spaces.

When the woman who owned the farm near Taos decided to use it for other purposes, Feingold and others who lived there drove in a caravan of pickup trucks to other women’s land in California. They had heard about the new place at one of the large gatherings of women that took place twice a year in large rural settings in the west, summer and winter solstice celebrations. After a relatively short stay on that California land, she lived for several years on women’s land in Oregon.

She traveled light in those years, carrying only a knapsack and a sleeping bag. “That was all I had,” she remembers. She worked at menial jobs so she could be paid under the table, with no tax records. “I was a dishwasher, I was a dog-trainer…..I worked in plant nurseries…..I just brought in money any way I could.” For medical care, she relied on free clinics. Dental care was sometimes hard to find. She also wrote poetry and kept a journal. One day while browsing in a women’s bookstore in Seattle she leafed through an anthology of lesbian poetry and was delighted to find a poem she had written years earlier and left behind in a house where she had stayed.

The places she called home during those years varied greatly. In addition to long stays on women’s land, for a few months she lived with a young couple and their two children in a garden cottage in Seattle. Once she lived in a beautiful wooden house on a cliff high above the Pacific on the coast of Oregon. She lived awhile in a poor part of Albuquerque and off-season at a ski lodge. At one point she lived in a women’s shelter in Berkeley. There, she said, she learned “immeasurable lessons” about survival from a woman who at age twelve rescued her younger siblings from their abusive parents and raised them on her own in extremely difficult circumstances. Feingold has kept in touch with this woman, who years later became an electrician.

It was a time in the life of the nation, says Feingold, when it was perhaps easier than it ever has been, before or since, to be accepted for who you are, with few questions asked about what you do, where you’ve been. She felt many people had become more accepting, less judgmental. That gestalt was very helpful for a fugitive who needed to live as a person without a past.

Feingold on Lopez Island in Washington State in 2003

A frightening episode took place when she lived with some other women in a house near a hilltop in Oregon, part of a horse farm. The owners and their three children lived in the main house at the foot of the hill. One day one of the children ran up the hill and, with a sense of urgency, told them, “Mom says you have to leave. The FBI is here.” Feingold never knew why the FBI was there. She assumes the reason was unrelated to her, but she took no chances. She and the other women grabbed their few possessions and left immediately, going down the other side of the hill and never returning to that location. Someone who lived nearby gave them a ride to Portland. No one at the farm knew exactly why Feingold was concerned about being caught by the FBI, just that she was. And that was enough to cause them to protect her.

In the underground, Feingold lived what she calls a horizontal life rather than a vertical life. In the latter, a person follows a plan, such as: go to high school, go to college, go to graduate school, enter a profession, marry, buy a home, have children, live for long periods in the same location and develop life-long friends and acquaintances. Her horizontal life, by contrast, had none of those elements. Instead of being a series of expected steps, each leading to the next, her life became a series of experiences, some of which were anticipated or connected, others not.

Feingold found many aspects of her underground life satisfying, especially living on several parts of the women’s land network, but she missed some of the rewards of a vertical life. She learned something valuable from most of her underground stays, but at times she longed for the stability and pleasure that are the rewards of routines, such as being able to return repeatedly to favorite people you’ve known for years for contentment or mutual personal support. She also missed the pleasure of returning often to long-cherished places.

She had always read the New York Times. She kept that habit while in the underground, reading it and other newspapers in local libraries wherever she was. After a long time between libraries, the next time she would go to a library she caught up with the news by reading spooled films of newspaper pages on microfiche machines. It was in quiet corners of small western libraries that she learned that her most important wish was being fulfilled—the Vietnam War was ending. Perhaps no one in those libraries ever noticed the small woman crying some days as she squinted at the microfiche machine screen. That news stimulated both deep sadness and happiness—sadness at how long the war had lasted and how much damage it had caused, happiness that it was, at last, over.

It also was in libraries that she read about the 1976 Church Committee hearings taking place in the U.S. Senate. She read about the testimony of FBI officials who revealed outrageous, even violent, past FBI actions and about the reforms that resulted from the congressional investigations. She realized that this was happening, in large part, as a result of what the band of eight she had been part of in Media, Pennsylvania, had done.

She talked with the women she lived with about some of this exciting news, but she did not mention her connection to the events. That was her sweet secret. Sometimes she found a way to express her happiness and pride. She would read about a major reform that had taken place in Washington after the intelligence hearings and dance alone on a mountainside and yelled a loud and joyful “Yay!” to the empty, beautiful countryside.

“I was really excited and happy,” she recalls. “You do something like this, you were willing to give up your freedom, and then you find out what happened. It was an affirmation that the sacrifice was worth it.”

* * *

In 1980 Feingold decided to leave the underground and take back her identity. She had managed to live on very little, but gradually she wanted to make more than she was making in menial jobs. “I was getting older,” she recalls. “I wanted to make a better living. And I wanted to do it at something I enjoyed…something I’d do outdoors.”

She felt the political climate had changed. She had noticed that some people from the Weather Underground had emerged and were not suffering heavy repercussions. With the end of the war, she felt a shift had taken place, one that meant she might be in less danger of being pursued for the Media burglary. She paid a lawyer $500 to answer this question: What’s the statute of limitations for someone who committed a federal offense and crossed state lines after they committed the offense? He told her that whatever danger originally existed for such a person continued to exist. Even with that answer, she decided to take a chance.

Her immediate goal was to take courses at a school in Washington state that would qualify her to be certified as a forest technician. To enroll, she needed to request transcripts from schools where she had taken courses before the burglary. To do so, of course, she had to use her real name. That was her first step out of the underground. All went well. When she used her name for the first time in nearly a decade, she did not set off an alarm. She took a civil service test and was hired as a park ranger in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee.

It was quite a transition: She had moved from being a federal fugitive in the underground to being a federal employee protecting federal land.

But, “It was not easy for me to be Smokey the Bear,” says Feingold. The job was a good beginning to a new life but not for the long haul. Wearing a government uniform and turning people in for running stills on federal property in Appalachia wasn’t the niche she wanted. She left the National Park Service and moved on to landscaping.

She soon found work she still regards as a perfect fit: horticultural therapy. For many years now, in various places she has lived, she has conducted this therapy with developmentally delayed adults, teaching them to propagate and sell plants and work on grounds crews. She enjoys the outdoor and service aspects of this job. “It’s very gratifying to developmentally challenged people,” she said, “to be able to grow and care for plants and do landscaping. Seeing the pretty results of their work builds confidence.”

Feingold lovingly and painstakingly rebuilt her family ties, which had been completely severed for years. After she took back her name, she found her parents and sister and talked with them by phone, but she realized that far more was needed. In order to try to heal emotional wounds and build a loving relationship with her parents, she moved from Oregon to Florida, where they had moved while she was in the underground. For two years she rented an apartment near their home, worked in the garden department at the local Sears store and had dinner with her parents regularly.

Face-to-face communication among them was awkward at first. It was a matter of starting over and building trust and love where those qualities had been weak even before she went underground. In the early months, they didn’t have much to say to each other at dinner. “I just kept doing it, and eventually we started talking…really talking….like, ‘Remember the time you did this?’ or ‘I can’t believe that.’ I started to have deep connections with my parents, and we grew to enjoy each other’s company…..We got to be a family.”

Many years later, when it became clear that her parents could no longer live on their own, they accepted Feingold’s suggestion that they leave Florida and live near her in Oregon. She took care of both of them until, just seven months apart, they died, first her mother in 2009, then her father in 2010. She looks back on those care-giving years as “a wonderful gift.” Her smile is strong and warm as she says that.

Feingold with her parents, Leon and Mary Ann Feingold, in the Cascade Mountains in Washington state in 2007

Ultimately, both of her parents received hospice treatment, an exposure that led to Feingold’s recent decision at sixty-three to study to be certified as a nurse’s assistant who will provide comfort care to hospice patients. As a volunteer now, she helps care for a ninety-six-year-old woman in hospice care near the small Arizona town where she lives.

* * *

Feingold had not returned to Philadelphia since the day she headed west in 1971. Early in 2014, Judith Bouzoun—her friend in love, the term they use for each other—asked her if she’d like to go with her on a trip to Philadelphia in May. Bouzoun was going to visit her daughter in Princeton and spend a few days in Philadelphia. Even though Feingold no longer feared arrest, the idea of visiting Philadelphia made her a little nervous. When she left in 1971, she intended never to go back. She wanted to think about it.

On January 22—the experience was so traumatic that she remembers the date—she was at her local computer club checking email when she decided to search online for Media, Pennsylvania. She did it out of curiosity prompted by Bouzoun’s invitation. She had done that online search a few times over the years. Each time she got the same two hits related to the burglary. One was about the Brandywine Peace Community’s annual celebration of the burglary, and the other was a story that expressed regret that the significance of the Media burglary had been overlooked.

This time was different.

On this January evening, when she typed “Media, PA” in the search box, as she had before, instead of only those two items, up popped about ten pages with ten or more articles each. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. The first headline she saw was “Burglars Go Public.”

“I was like a deer in the headlights. I mean, I just got sick. I was like, What?!” Because she was in public she could not shout what was roaring through her mind. In an effort to calm herself down, she said to herself “Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay.” She tried to stand up, but her legs were too weak. When she was able to stand, she tried to walk a short distance across the room, but she couldn’t. “The earth shifted. I couldn’t function.”

“They have a printer in the club. So I printed the first six articles. I didn’t read them. I was shaking. As I printed, I was glancing, seeing the headlines. And I was, like, What the hell? And then I took them home, the six articles…and I put them in a drawer. And then I went for a swim. It’s good to think when you’re swimming. So I take a swim and, I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, oh, my God, oh, my God. I can’t believe it.’”

“And I just kept swimming and swimming and swimming. And then I felt better from swimming, and I went home and I took a shower. And I sat down and took the pages out and I started to read. I just couldn’t believe it. I absolutely couldn’t believe it. I was so upset.”

Needing a comforting voice, she called Bouzoun. A year earlier, she had asked Bouzoun if she wanted to know what her 1971 crime was, and Bouzoun, a retired military nurse and now a hospice nurse, said no. It was the first time Feingold had broached the possibility of telling someone the secret. She told herself then that revealing the secret might cross an ethical line with Bouzoun and might even end their relationship. She accepted that possibility and says she did not fear what Bouzoun’s reaction might be. For decades, she said, she had accepted who she was and what she had done and was determined not to be upset by being rejected because of that part of her life.

Now, when Feingold called Bouzoun, she told her she had just learned something very upsetting. She explained that it was about something that “happened long ago and far away. I told her I did an action I was proud of and that I went underground for it and it changed my life.” And now, Feingold told her, the “other people” involved in the action had now gone public, despite a promise everyone in the group had made to take the secret of the action to their graves. “And I can’t believe it,” she told Bouzoun. “And now there’s a book about it and a documentary.” (A documentary film, 1971 by director/producer Johanna Hamilton, also tells the story of the burglary.)

She thinks she talked to Bouzoun for a couple hours, somewhat incoherently. She kept repeating herself. Finally, she said goodbye. She did so without stating what she and the others had done. She did not do so despite the fact that she now knew that anyone in the world could learn the burglars’ secret on the Internet.

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Feingold tried to sleep that night, but she couldn’t. Finally, at 4:30 in the morning she got up and walked around her neighborhood. She walked for three hours. At 7:30 she walked into Bouzoun’s house, just five doors down the street from hers. Feingold again talked continuously about how upset she was that the other members of the group had revealed the secret.

Finally, Bouzoun asked her, “What the hell did you guys do?”

It was still hard for Feingold to state what she had thought would be secret forever, but, confronted now with a direct question, she uttered the words for the first time. She told Bouzoun what she and seven other people did the night of March 8, 1971, in Media, Pennsylvania.

After she got the words out, they were both very quiet. Then Bouzoun said, in a simple, powerful way, “That was a really brave thing you did.” Later, Bouzoun made it clear that she not only admired what Feingold did all those years ago, but she thought Feingold should be willing to publicly claim what she did. Feingold was not ready for that.

But she did think she now had an obligation to reveal her hidden past to people deeply affected by it. After she called her sister, she called five women who had taken Feingold into their homes at various times. “These were people who sheltered me, loved me on and off for years…so I could have a safe harbor.” They had trusted her before without knowing what she had done. Now, her secret past revealed to them, each of the women expressed respect for her long hidden action.

After she reconnected with Bob Williamson and Keith Forsyth, the two members of the Media group she knew best and had missed most over the years, her profound confusion about why the others had gone public was replaced by the deep joy she felt by being reconnected with them. She also came to see positive value in the story being told.

Reflecting on the forty-three years that have passed—nine years spent in the underground, forty-three years totally silent about the burglary—Feingold says, “I chose a path of nonviolent direct action. I committed a federal crime with serious consequences. I knew my life would be fundamentally changed. I had made the right decision for me. My heart was breaking then over the deaths in Southeast Asia.”

Memories sealed away for years now play in Feingold’s mind as a black and white movie. She remembers feeling a sense of contentment as she and Williamson cased the area near the Media FBI office night after night. They had deep conversations and good laughs during the countless hours they watched and waited. Then, inside the office during the burglary, “I felt like I was not breathing. My body was on high alert. I remember thinking, ‘I am functioning, and I am not breathing.’” On the way to the farm house with the files, “I have a strong sense of taking a wrong turn on the road and feeling lost.” When lost on country roads even today, she says, she still flashes to the drive that night from Media to Fellowship Farm, the trunk filled with suitcases full of FBI files, and the fear of being lost, of being followed and, then, pulled over.

Thinking about the days the group spent at the farm reading and sorting the files, Feingold recalls an unsettling reaction that remains vivid. “My memory of the farm that will be with me forever is standing outside, looking over the rolling hills and the road entering the farm, half expecting FBI agents to be driving up that road toward us.”

Several months after Feingold’s discovery that the Media burglars had broken their silence, she was enthusiastic that her old partners in non-violent resistance had emerged and revealed they were part of the group that was responsible for the burglary that shook the foundations of the FBI and led to the first congressional oversight of all intelligence agencies. “Once I recovered,” she said, “I was grateful to be able to reconnect with people once so important to me, who I care for and respect. I am glad to know they are alive and healthy and explaining our purpose. It’s quite something.”

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Screenshots: Across Asia

Posted by Tespid on October 21, 2014

The Guardian

The birth of a new generation under tear gas: the umbrella

International Socialism Journal-Oct 16, 2014
The Umbrella Movement, which involves every walk of life in Hong Kong, … but there are profound social and economical tensions underlying the movement. … He is also widely regarded as an underground member of the …
Universal Suffrage in Hong Kong
Claremont Port Side-Oct 14, 2014

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Porridge: Stirring the Pot

Posted by Tespid on October 21, 2014

Relight the flame of the Irish Rebellion


Sheffield Independent, January 10, 1880 Photo by: Findmypast

Findmypast is working in partnership with IrishCentral to share fascinating insights into your Irish ancestors. Click here to get a one month subscription for the special price of only $1, and discover your Irish roots today!


‘Relight the flame of the Irish rebellion.’ A cry for action – by any means necessary – for the Irish Republican Brotherhood, known commonly as the Fenian Brotherhood. Founded in 1853, this secret society had deep roots in the United States. What began between two Irish men exiled to France became an organization that had the support of thousands of Irish Americans, before, during and after the Civil War.

Their goal, as an organization, was part of the “old American tradition of supporting Irish (Fenian) separatist groups on a freelance, local-fund-raising basis.” (Alan Axelrod, The International Encyclopedia of Secret Societies and Fraternal Orders, page 135. Checkmark Books, New York, New York, 1997.) The general idea was that by having a division in Ireland and one in the United States, they could enlist members, raise funds, and develop their plans as two separate factions; then come together when strength and size mattered most. Their methods included everything from the mundane to the military. Their status as a “secret society” does not, however, limit the possibilities for research as a part of your family story.

An easy route to understanding your ancestor’s role in an organization such as the Fenian Brotherhood can be as simple as searching through historic newspapers on Findmypast. Among the thousands of articles identified, remember to search in the U.S, Irish, and British newspaper collections, as you may find mention of the group’s activities in various parts of the world being reported back. For example, the Sheffield Independent published a mention on January 10, 1880, that delegates from the U.S. were in Manchester seeking out the possibility of holding a “Confederation of the Fenian Brotherhood of the Old and New Worlds.”

The Dublin Evening Mail from September 4, 1866, gives us a transcript of an address issued by General Thomas Sweeney, to the Fenian Brotherhood in America, in which he argues against the media’s attempt to muddy the name of the organization in an upcoming election. A veteran of the Mexican War, where he lost his right arm, and a man who rose to Brigadier General during the Civil War, he was also a prominent leader in the organization.

Many of these articles allow for a great deal of detail to be acquired on your ancestor’s activities. By pulling information from historic newspapers, you can easily create a timeline of events in your area of interest, and then compare that to a timeline of your family.

Newspapers are not the only source, of course, for identifying your ancestor in underground organizations. The collections at Findmypast include criminal and court records, such as the Irish Prison Registers from 1790-1924, which is where we discovered co-founder of the Fenian Brotherhood, and several of his colleagues, being held for high treason. Admitted on November 15, 1865, and held to await trial at the Richmond Prison (Bridewell), he ultimately escaped with the help of a warder who was sworn into the brotherhood (Axelrod, p136).

By piecing together the history of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, you can better understand the political and social movements that your ancestor lived through. Had it not been for the Civil War, which minimized membership numbers and available funding for causes such as this across America, the history books may have been written in a much different way. These organizations were incredibly popular and were quite successful, leading up to the turn of the century. Do not allow the term “secret society” to dissuade you from seeking out the truth in historical resources.

For more stories on tracing your Irish heritage from Findmypast click here.

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Sunday Reader

Posted by Tespid on October 21, 2014

A Hero of Tlatelolco

David Bacon

Every year on October 2 thousands of Mexican students pour into the streets of Mexico City, marching from Tlatelolco (the Plaza of Three Cultures) through the historic city center downtown, to the main plaza, the Zócalo. They’re remembering the hundreds of students who were gunned down by their own government in 1968, an event that shaped the lives of almost every politically aware young person in Mexico during that time.

This year, just days before the march, the municipal police in Iguala, Guerrero, shot students from the local teachers’ training college at Ayotzinapa. More demonstrations and marches are taking place all over Mexico, demanding that the government find 43 students still missing. Many speculate that graves found in Iguala contain their bodies—murdered by the same police, acting as agents of the local drug cartel. Students marching on October 2 were in the streets for them as well, aware that the bloody events of 1968 were not so far away in some distant past.

Raúl Álvarez Garín was one of those whose world changed at Tlatelolco. He was a leader of the national student strike committee, organizing campus walkouts and street mobilizations through the spring of 1968. This rebellious upsurge was simultaneous with student protests in France, the United States and, it seemed then, the whole world. In Mexico it culminated in a huge rally at Three Cultures Plaza.

The Mexican government was preparing for the Mexico City Olympics that year. It had never tolerated political dissent beyond very narrow limits, but then it was even more defensive than usual, fearing any social movement that appeared to challenge its hold on the country’s politics. The authorities decided to bring out the army and shoot the students down.

Somehow Álvarez survived the bullets in the plaza, and was then shut into a cell in the notorious Lecumberri prison for two years and eight months. He died two weeks ago on September 27, having spent a lifetime trying to assign responsibility for the decision to fire on the crowd. There was actually no mystery about it. The orders for the massacre were given by then-Secretary of the Interior (Gobernación) Luis Echevarria. But Echevarria was acting for Mexico’s political establishment, organized in the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Álvarez wanted the crime acknowledged publicly and the guilty punished. By spending the next half-century pursuing that goal, he became not just a hero to the Mexican left, but its conscience.

Álvarez was already a man of the left when he got to Tlatelolco. He’d joined the Young Communists, but then left before 1968. He married María Fernanda Campa, daughter of Valentín Campa, one of Mexico’s most famous radicals who lived underground and went to prison after leading a railroad workers strike in 1958. After his release, Campa became the 1976 presidential candidate of the Mexican Communist Party, before it merged with other parties and eventually disappeared.

Later in life it was hard to imagine Álvarez as he was described by friends in ‘68—a skinny intense youth of 27. When I met him in 1989 he was already a man of substantial girth. We’d go to lunch with his brother, economist Alejandro Álvarez, and spend hours talking politics. Raúl would get animated, talking beneath his huge mustache faster than my broken Spanish could keep up. He’d ask a hundred questions about Mexicans and unions in the U.S., and we’d plan articles for the newspaper he edited, Corre la Voz (Spread the Word).

Álvarez believed that words have power. Long before Corre la Voz, he started another famous Mexican leftwing journal, Punto Crítico, with other 1968 veterans. His goal was to make his politics accessible to ordinary people, not to inspire debate among dogmatists. “He put our debates into context and showed their limits,” remembered Luis Navarro, now an editor at Mexico’s leftwing daily La Jornada. “His language was always understandable.”

Through the years after 1968 he supported every worker’s fight that seemed capable of improving conditions, but that also challenged the political order. As Mexico’s political structure began to change in the 1980s Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas ran for President in 1988, against the PRI his father had founded 40 years earlier. Álvarez and others saw the Cardenas campaign as an opening to wrest power from the PRI, 20 years after Tlatelolco. As the votes for Cárdenas were being counted, and it was clear he was winning, the election computers suddenly went down. When they came back up the next morning the PRI candidate, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, one of the country’s most corrupt politicians, was declared the winner.

During and after that campaign, many currents of the Mexican left came together and organized the Democratic Revolutionary Party. Álvarez was a founder. He began to look for a way to break workers and unions free of the PRI, to give the new party a working-class base. I met him that year after the election, when I came to Mexico with other U.S. trade unionists. The North American Free Trade Agreement was already on the horizon. Raúl and Alejandro Álvarez were some of the first people who saw the advantage of cooperation in trying to fight it on both sides of the border.

I was beginning to work as journalist north of the border. Raúl and Alejandro helped me understand that for all of NAFTA’s disastrous impact on the workers of my country, the trade agreement would have much worse consequences in Mexico. I spent last week as a judge in the Permanent People’s Tribunal investigating the causes of migration from Mexico to the United States and the terrible violations of the rights of migrants in both countries. It’s clear that if anything, they underestimated the damage. And repression in Mexico is not just a thing of the past. As we met as judges in the Permanent People’s Tribunal, just days after Raúl Álvarez died, we heard testimony about yet other mass killings—of 73 migrants killed and buried in the desert in northern Mexico, and the discovery of 193 more in 47 graves less than a year later.

The PRI finally lost the Presidency in 2000, although not to the left but to the rightwing National Action Party. Nevertheless, Álvarez believed it might be possible to get a new government, even a conservative one, to call the murderers of 1968 to account. A new office was created, the Special Prosecutor for Social and Political Movements of the Past. Álvarez, Felix Hernández Gamundi and Jesus Martin del Campo filed a legal case against Echevarria over the Tlatelolco massacre, the killings of other students in a street protest in 1971, and the “dirty war” in which the Mexican government targeted leftists for assassination through the rest of the 1970s.

Formal charges were finally made against Luis Echevarria Alvarez and Luis Gutierrez Oropeza for the Tlatelolco murders, and Mario Moya Palencia and Alfonso Martinez Dominguez, among others, for the 1971 attacks. In the end, however, these former functionaries were able to avoid trial after invoking legal technicalities challenging the ability of prosecutors to indict them. In reality, the political system itself was reluctant to unearth a network of responsibility that would have spread to include many others. Nevertheless, Raúl Álvarez and his two co-complainants felt their work made plain to the Mexican people the terrible acts of repression that had cost many lives, and who had given the orders for them.

Bringing up the rear of the October 2 march were members of the only union visibly present—the Mexican Electrical Workers (SME). Both Álvarez and this union have been anchors of left wing politics in Mexico City. For twenty years the SME campaigned to stop the Mexican government from turning over the nationalized oil and electrical power industries to private corporations. To neutralize its opposition, the SME’s 44,000 members were fired five years ago. The PAN administration of Felipe Calderón ordered the army to occupy the generating stations and declared the union “non-existent.” When the PRI came back into power last July, it pushed through a constitutional amendment permitting the privatization.

Raul would have pointed out that there is really no difference between the pro-corporate policies of PRI and PAN. He fought to keep parts of the PRD from supporting the same privatization reforms. Just days before his death, a delegation of SME leaders went to his home in Mexico City, and gave him a union card, making him member #16,600. He told them he was proud to be a member of this “union in resistance.”

Raul Alvarez’ photograph, taken on another October 2 march a few years earlier, was carried as the banner at the head of the marchers this year. If he’d been alive, he would undoubtedly have been there in front himself.

David Bacon is a photojournalist, and has been a labor and immigrant rights activist for four decades. He’s the author of four books, the latest of which is The Right to Stay Home (Beacon Press, 2013).

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Screenshot Mid-October 2014

Posted by Tespid on October 17, 2014

I have no verification on this from my end, but I have been asked to post.

Hundreds of kids have been showing up in the town from various schools in and around the county.

They have not taken up roost, but have come to out people publlcly as pedophiles.

As far as I have been told it began yesterday. Today, many of those called out have been trying to move out of the area. I have been told that closing up houses and renting U-haul vans and trucks has been difficult. Some of the pedophiles have also been seeking help with leaving the town. I have also been told that some of the protestors have been arrested. They were teens and younger who are known as prostitutes. I can’t help but remember a statistic about sexually abused children; roughly over 70% become prostitutes as they grow older.

Nothing more for now.

W.H.Tespid ERT

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Screenshot: Salted Inflamations

Posted by Tespid on October 14, 2014

Stagnant Wages, Rising Inequality

The Jobs Crisis Goes Global


Three global capitalist research institutes recently released reports documenting a growing ‘global jobs crisis’. The World Bank, the OECD, and the International Labor Organization (ILO) all came to the same conclusion.  The Group of 20 nations’ employment ministers thereafter meeting in Australia issued a joint statement on the three institutes’ conclusion that “the world’s largest economies are failing to create enough jobs and too many of those that are being produced are of a low quality to generate a meaningful boost to global growth” (The Financial Times,  September 10, 2014). As the World Bank’s senior director for jobs put it, “there is little doubt there is a global jobs crisis”.

All three reports identify converging trends across all the advanced economies (AEs) of Europe, North America, and Japan.  Not only is total unemployment rising long term, but the percentage of youth employment and the chronically long term jobless are also growing. So too are part time and temp jobs rising sharply as a percent of the labor force in the AEs.

Dimensions of the Jobs Crisis Today

The percent of long term jobless to total unemployment has risen from around one-fifth before the 2008 crash, to about one third today.  Since the long term jobless tend to be concentrated among those older than 50 years, the AE economies’ job markets therefore appears to be deteriorating at ‘both ends’ of their labor force spectrum, the young and the older. Youth unemployment is rising to record high levels everywhere in the AEs. At the same time, those in the middle, 24 to 55 years old, are finding that jobs that are available are ’low quality’ part time, temporary, and contract ‘contingent’ jobs that provide far less pay, few benefits, broad exclusion from protective labor laws, and little security of continued employment.

In the USA in particular, a still fourth major jobs problem is also taking place, a harbinger perhaps for the other AEs as well: about 8 million Americans have completely ‘dropped out’ of the US labor force since 2007. They aren’t even counted among the unemployed and underemployed in the USA, given the erroneous way the USA defines and calculates employment and unemployment.

Rising youth unemployment, rising long term duration of unemployed, rising proportion of contingent labor for those even able to find employment, and millions altogether giving up on formal work means something is clearly wrong in AE labor markets and economies, is worsening, and increasingly appears structural and chronic—i.e. the ‘new normal’ as they now say, where the ‘new normal’ means, in effect, ‘we (capitalist policy makers) can’t or won’t do anything about it, so just learn to live with it’.

It is important to note that the global jobs crisis now documented by the above three global reports is simultaneously a global wage crisis.

Capitalist 21st Century Wage Strategy

When one looks at today’s deterioration of wages in the AEs from a class perspective, and not just in the limited way governments report wages, the picture is indeed dire.  Millions more jobless today mean zero wages for those millions that should be factored into the total wage decline data but isn’t reflected in government figures. Only wage trends for those still with jobs is reported, and even then only for those with full time jobs. Millions more partly employed, working in part time, temp and contract jobs receive lower pay, which further reduces total wages for the working classes. Millions more dropping out of the formal workforce, with some perhaps working in the ‘shadow economy’ at reduced and occasional pay, means still lower total wages for the class.  Reducing retirement and healthcare benefits, and/or raising the cost for those benefits for those still employed, constitutes yet another form of ‘wage reduction’. Then there’s the growing trend of outright wage theft that is a growing problem, especially in service sector jobs in the USA where employers increasingly just cheat workers out of part of their wages by payroll accounting tricks.  Then there are policies that allow inflation to undermine the purchasing power of minimum wage laws. Minimum wage law adjustments become more infrequent and less generous.  But all that is still not the entire story. Allowing workers’ pension plans to collapse altogether, into which they diverted part of their wages for years as a contribution to their pensions, means all those wage contributions are wiped out. That represents a form of ‘deferred’ wage reduction.   And it doesn’t stop there either. With less wages and income, workers are forced to turn to more credit and debt in order to finance their basic expenses.  That too leads to a wage decline, as rising debt and interest payments lay claim in the present to workers ‘future’ wages not yet paid. Banks and credit card companies thus steal wages that haven’t even been paid yet by overloading workers with debt and credit, for which workers have little alternative given their lack of other forms of wage reduction .

21st century global capital has thus evolved multiple ways to reduce wages today.  But the biggest contribution to wage-earnings reduction for working households, the biggest impact, derives from the chronic rise in the millions of unemployed, the growing percentage of ‘contingent’ (part time, temp, contract) and ‘low quality’ jobs, and the millions forced into the ‘shadow economy’ of intermittent, occasional work, still lower paid, or even worse.

The Terrible Triad: Jobs, Wages & Inequality

The global jobs crisis also leads, according to the three ILO, OECD and World Bank reports, to a corresponding decline in disposable income and consumer spending, which contributes significantly to rising income inequality trends. So the jobs crisis means not only wage reduction but the rise of inter-class income inequality as well.

In the USA alone, median working class family incomes have fallen in real terms (adjusted for inflation) by more than 8%. That includes a 4% drop during the so-called ‘recovery’ since 2009. As corporate profits surged to historic record levels after 2009, and the wealthiest 1% saw their share of total incomes rise to 22%, more than ever before in US history, working class families’ incomes continued to deteriorate in the recovery.  And that deterioration is not limited to the post 2007 recession period. It was going on since 2000, and even before that to the early 1980s.

The triple problems of jobs destruction, wage decline, and income inequality have become so severe in the AEs in general, not just the USA, that the global capitalist press, and capitalists themselves, are showing signs lately of growing concern about the trends and problem. Given that, now that it is ‘safe’ to discuss the triple crisis, mainstream economists have jumped on the ‘income inequality’ bandwagon and have begun writing feverishly about it as well.

But while identifying the data indicating income inequality, economists have little to say so far as to its fundamental causes—and even less to say about the ‘jobs crisis’ as the crux of the problem triad.  They identify the magnitude of the problem, but provide little explanation of the fundamental, originating causes—especially the fundamental ‘class basis’ of the problem in its inability to create enough decent paying jobs. Instead they limit themselves to calls for token tax reform, when the tax system is not the cause but just an enabler of the income transfers from the corporations to their owners, stock & bond holders, and senior managers; or suggest ways to reduce senior corporate executives’ excess compensation; or ways to tweak the minimum wage which, while benefiting the lowest paid a little, still leaves out the jobs and wage decline crisis for hundreds of millions of remaining workers.

It is not surprising that mainstream AE economists of either wing have not been successful at proposing theoretical solutions to the current global economy’s inability to generate a sustained recovery on a general scale. Nor is it surprising that capitalist politicians and policy makers in governments and central banks have been unable to do so in fact. Neither economists nor politicians have addressed, or are about to address, the fundamental problem of the global jobs crisis today raised in the three reports: the crisis of the decline in the quantity and quality of jobs.

Jack Rasmus is the author of ‘Epic Recession: Prelude to Global Depression’ (2010) and ‘Obama’s Economy: Recovery for the Few’(2012), by Pluto Press, London, UK, and the forthcoming ‘Transitions to Global Depression’(2015). He hosts the Alternative Visions radio show on the Progressive Radio Network, and serves as the ‘Shadow’ Federal Reserve Chair, in the Green Shadow Cabinet. His website is He blogs at, and tweets at @drjackrasmus.

Source: teleSUR English

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Screenshot China

Posted by Tespid on October 14, 2014

A general view of the Shanghai’s financial district of Pudong

Forum Post

How can China rebalance its economy?

By Adair Turner

Oct 9 2014

China’s slowdown is the biggest short-term threat to global growth. Industrial value added fell in August, credit growth has slowed dramatically, and housing prices are falling, with sales down 20% year on year. Given stagnation in the Eurozone and Japan’s uncertain prospects, a Chinese hard landing would be a big hit to global demand.

Much attention is focused on likely GDP growth this year relative to the government’s 7.5% target. But the bigger issue is whether China can rebalance its economy over the next 2-3 years without suffering a financial crisis and/or a dramatic economic slowdown. Some factors specific to China make this outcome more likely, but success is by no means certain.

Faced with the 2008 financial crisis, China unleashed a credit boom to maintain output and employment growth. Credit soared from 150% of GDP in 2008 to 250% by mid-2014. Multiple forms of shadow bank credit supplemented rapid growth in bank loans.

The strategy worked, and China continued to create 12-13 million new urban jobs per year. But with investment rising from 40% to 47% of GDP, growth became dangerously unbalanced and heavily dependent on infrastructure construction and real estate development. Narrowly defined, these activities account for 12% of Chinese value added. In fact, recent research shows that 33% of China’s economic activity relies on the real estate sector’s continued health.

China is now struggling with a dilemma common to all advanced credit booms. The longer the boom runs, the greater the danger of wasted investment, huge bad debts and a major financial crisis. But simply constraining new credit supply and allowing bad loans to default can itself provoke crisis and recession.

This year has been one of seesawing policy responses. The discipline of default has been much discussed, but never quite applied. Despite a significant slowdown, the People’s Bank of China has resisted across-the-board cuts in interest rates or reserve requirements. But, in the second quarter of the year, Premier Li Keqiang reiterated the 7.5% growth target, which was then underpinned by several “targeted” stimulus measures – mainly new lending focused on railways, smaller banks, agriculture and small businesses. Constraints on the property market, such as limiting multiple purchases or highly leveraged investments, have been tightened and then relaxed.

At least for now, the arguments for constraint and market discipline appear to have won the debate. That may partly reflect a subtle shift in emphasis about the most crucial objective. Recent speeches by both Li and policy experts have downplayed the importance of a specific growth target, focusing instead on job creation and low unemployment.

Fortunately, demographic changes are about to make it easier to rebalance the economy and boost employment enough to avoid social tension. The Chinese working-age population is now slowly shrinking. More dramatically, the number of 15-30-year-olds will fall 25% from 2015 to 2025. The rural workforce is still above 300 million, implying that large numbers could still migrate to urban areas. But as the rural workforce ages, the pace of migration will slow.

As a result, China’s labour market will tighten more rapidly than many expect. Rising real wages will support the shift to a more consumption-driven economy, and declining worries about unemployment will reduce reliance on credit-fueled construction to soak up labour supply.

But the huge debts created by the credit boom remain a major problem. No other economy has ever experienced such a boom and avoided a financial crisis or major growth setback. Optimists often stress two ways in which “China is different.” First, many debts involve different arms of the Chinese state – owed, say, by state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and local governments to state-owned banks.

Second, China’s central government has low debt – only 22% of GDP at the end of 2013 – and thus significant fiscal firepower. With the financial sector facing a large volume of non-performing loans, the government could repeat what it did in the late 1990s, absorbing bad debt and recapitalizing banks, rather than allowing defaults and bank failures to shock the economy into recession.

But, though China enjoys more room for manoeuvre than other countries facing similar credit booms, the risks remain serious. The bad-loan problem may be most severe among SOEs, but slightly more than half of new business loans since 2010 have been to the private sector, which plays a major role in the troubled property market. And when property booms head south, efforts by companies and households to deleverage can undermine growth – even if banks are not allowed to fail. A balance-sheet recession does not require a financial crisis.

The more China achieves its stated objective of “a decisive role for the market,” the less the “China is different” argument applies. Interest rate liberalization would increase borrowing costs for many over-indebted borrowers. A no-bailout rule for shadow banking entities would produce losses that hit confidence. The more the capital account is opened, the more China’s huge debts will be held by banks and other institutional investors around the world.

In an economy with inherited debts equal to 250% of GDP, simply tightening credit supply and imposing market discipline could be a recipe for disaster. Instead, China should use direct fiscal stimulus to offset the deflationary effect of declining credit growth and deleveraging. And it should clean up its banks’ balance sheets through debt write-downs and recapitalization before undertaking full financial liberalization.

China undoubtedly needs to rebalance its economy and introduce more market discipline in its financial system. Demography will give a helping hand with the former challenge. But without careful policy design and sequencing, there could be major setbacks along the way.

Published in collaboration with Project Syndicate

Author: Adair Turner, former Chairman of the United Kingdom’s Financial Services Authority, is a member of the UK’s Financial Policy Committee and the House of Lords.

Image: A general view of the Shanghai’s financial district of Pudong, with the Shanghai Tower (R), which is undergoing construction and scheduled to finish by the end of 2014, in Shanghai July 31, 2013. REUTERS/ Carlos Barria

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Screenshot: Gleaning for Issues of War

Posted by Tespid on October 14, 2014

World leaders play war games as the next financial crisis looms

Global community can see dark forces gathering but lacks the weapons or the will to tackle them effectively, writes Larry Elliott
Winston Churchill, Field-Marshal Montgomery and Field-Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, 1945
Winston Churchill, Field-Marshal Montgomery and Field-Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, 1945. George Osborne is also going on manoeuvres. Photograph: Fred Ramage/Getty Images

Press the uniform. Check the battle plans. Call up the reservists. Arm the bombers and refuel the tanks. Field Marshal George Osborne is going on manoeuvres.

On Monday in Washington, the chancellor of the exchequer will see if Britain is ready for war. A financial war that is. Along with his allies from the United States, he will play out a war game designed to show whether lessons have been learned from the last show, the slump of 2008.

Like all commanding officers, Osborne thinks he is ready. He will have general Mark Carney at his side. He has studied the terrain. He has a plan that he insists will work.

Let’s hope so. Because the evidence from last week’s meeting of the International Monetary Fund in Washington was that it won’t be long before the real shooting starts. The Fund’s annual meeting was like a gathering of international diplomats at the League of Nations in the 1930s. Those attending were desperate to avoid another war but were unsure how to do so. They can see dark forces gathering but lack the weapons or the will to tackle them effectively. There is an uneasy, brooding peace as the world waits to see whether lessons really have been learnt or whether the central bankers, the finance ministers and the international bureaucrats are fighting the last war.

Here’s the situation. The years leading up to the start of the financial crisis in August 2007 were like the Edwardian summer in advance of the first world war. All seemed serene, but only because of an unsustainable build-up in debt. There was a structural shift in power and income share from labour to capital. Rising asset prices compensated for real income growth.

Then came the crisis, which was long and costly. Once it was over, there was a strong urge to return to the world as it was. Countries wanted to return to balanced budgets and normal levels of interest rates, just as they had once hankered after going back on the Gold Standard.

But that proved impossible. Six years after the global banking system had its near-death experience, interest rates are still at emergency levels. Even attaining the mediocre levels of activity expected by the IMF in the developed countries requires central banks to continue providing large amounts of stimulus. The hope has been that copious amounts of dirt-cheap money will find its way into productive uses, with private investment leading to stronger and better balanced growth.

It hasn’t happened like that. Instead, as the IMF rightly pointed out, the money has not gone into economic risk-taking but into financial risk-taking. Animal spirits of entrepreneurs have remained weak but asset prices have been strong. Tighter controls on banks have been accompanied by the emergence of a powerful and largely unchecked shadow banking system. Investors have been piling into all sorts of dodgy-looking schemes, just as they did pre-2007. Recovery, such as it is, is once again reliant on rising debt levels. Central bankers know this but also know that jacking up interest rates to would push their economies back into recession. They cross their fingers and hope for the best.

Meanwhile, the legacy of the slump has been high levels of unemployment and growing inequality. In those economies where jobs have been created, such as the UK, they have tended to be of the low pay, low skill and low productivity variety. Profits have recovered; real incomes have not.

Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, says inequality must be tackled. The Fund has produced papers showing that a more even distribution of income and wealth would be good for growth. The words “shared prosperity” were on everybody’s lips in Washington last week.

But as some sceptics pointed out, so far the fight against inequality is currently a phoney war. Lagarde talks a good game, but the advice her organisation dispenses to individual countries has not really changed. There were four things that ensured shared prosperity in the 1950s and 1960s: strong trade unions; redistribution through the tax system; higher public spending; and curbs on the financial system. Apart from suggesting that some countries, such as Germany, might care to spend a bit more on infrastructure, the Fund is not really in favour of any of them. The message, therefore, is clear enough. Lagarde et al are worried about inequality. But they are not yet worried enough to do much about it.

This is where the comparison with the 1920s and 1930s gets scary. The problems created by the first world war were never properly dealt with, and it was only after the Great Depression and a second conflict that policies changed and global institutions were made fit for purpose. There is a real danger of history repeating itself.

The Fund, for example, knows that something is going badly wrong in Europe but is powerless to do anything about it. In the rest of the world, IMF policy is normally governed by what the US Treasury wants. In the euro zone, it is governed by what Germany wants. And what Germany wants is to turn the euro into the modern equivalent of the Gold Standard, with every country running balanced budgets. What Germany is getting is a eurozone in semi-permanent recession. There are alternatives to the status quo: full political union; break-up; a German Marshall Plan for Europe; dumps of helicopter money. Eventually one of them will be tried.

Similarly, the IMF is alert to the threat of another financial crisis. It knows that much of the cash created by central banks has found its way, via the shadow banking system, into emerging markets and developing countries. It knows that investors are complacent about the risks. It knows that in a rush for the exit, many of these investors would be badly burned.

There is, though, no mechanism for regulating these financial flows, just as there is no mechanism for dealing with countries when they go bust. The vulture fund case against Argentina should be the trigger for a sovereign debt bankruptcy system. Instead, the global community is sleepwalking its way towards a developing country debt crisis.

But for the time being, it is easier to avoid doing anything. The rich can enjoy their Great Gatsby lifestyles. Multinational corporations can strip poor countries of their commodities and pay their taxes elsewhere, if at all. Living standards can continue to be squeezed. Debt levels can continue to rise.

Only a real scare, as with Ebola, will lead to meaningful action. Until then, though, the Fund can sit behind its Maginot Line and Field Marshal Osborne can play his war games. But be in no doubt: our chancellor is less Monty in the desert than Neville Chamberlain declaring peace in our time.

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Reference: Shadow Economy Jobs

Posted by Tespid on October 14, 2014

Ragnar’s Guide to the Underground Economy – Paladin Press…/ECONOMYPDF-Ragnars-Guide-To-The-Und

Introduction. 1. Chapter 1. Making a Living without Having a Job. 5. Chapter 2. Rules of the Road—How Active Participants in the. Underground Economy Keep …

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