Friday 8 February 2013
Photo, above: Nemo means "no name" in Latin. Hans Weiditz II’s woodcut illustration for the title page of Ulrich von Hutten’s 1518 volume OUTIS NEMO (above), which now resides in the National Gallery of Art’s permanent collection, portrays Nemo as a coastal giant surveying the detritus of what may be a shipwreck. The palpable sense of confusion and disarray conveyed by the image — the perplexed mariner scratches his head at right — is a fitting image given the weather-induced panic currently gripping the Northeast.
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Brian Chen, NYT, in re: cell phone coverage during Sandy, why it was terrible, what's to be done. F.C.C. Seeks Ways to Keep Phones Alive in a Storm Following Hurricane Sandy, the government is trying to figure out how to keep cellphone and Internet services running in the event of another natural disaster.
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 1, Block B: Janet Lorin, Bloomberg, in re: Colleges suing students for Perkins Loans for needy students. Yale Suing Former Students Shows Crisis in Loans to Poor.
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: . Richard Epstein, Hoover, in re: the right to exit a staw with high taxes is the only protection that exists so far. America’s Favorite Golfer Gets Fleeced by Richard A. Epstein Defining Ideas (Hoover Institution)
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 1, Block D: Richard Epstein, Hoover, in re: the right to exit a staw with high taxes is the only protection that exists so far. "It should be evident that the Mickelson episode offers an instructive window into our complex federal system. For Mickelson, the exit right would serve as a check on state power, which it is, but only to a limited degree. In order to craft an efficient system of restrictions on state power, it is necessary to insure that states and their citizens also feel the pain of their efforts to single out the rich for special treatment."
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 2, Block A: . Felix Gilette, Bloomberg Businessweek, in re: Snapchat the app, and the challenge of data that remains forever, especially photographs, how to make data disappear and why? :SNAPCHAT AND THE RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN Snapchat – the photo-sharing app created by two Stanford frat brothers which deletes pictures 10 seconds after being opened -- is the second-most-popular free photo and video app for the iPhone, just behind YouTube and ahead of Instagram. It’s made rivals like Facebook anxious enough to build similar products. It’s not just a better way to flirt; it’s a key to managing your identity on the Web. See below, for "Good Morning, Mr. Phelps..."
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 2, Block B: . Henry Miller, Hoover, in re: is it time to get rid of the EPA Is It Time to Get Rid of the EPA? by Henry I. Miller Daily Caller (DC)
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 2, Block C: . Raymond Stock, author, Middle East Forum, in re: Mohammed Morsi is a predictable radical hate monger. What's to be done? "On Mistaking Mohamed Mursi for his Mask" (Foreign Policy Research Institute, February 2013) focusing on President Obama's role in propelling the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt:
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 2, Block D: Michael Erman, Reuters, in re: Sandridge Energy Corporation and the sweetheart deal for its CEO Tom Ward - just like the Aubrey McClendon deal that got him tossed out by the Chesapeake Energy board.
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 3, Block A: Kori Schake, Hoover, in re: why didn’t Panetta plan ahead for sequestration at the DOD? What's to be done now? Panetta Still Isn't Facing Up to his Pentagon Budget Disaster by Kori Schake Shadow Government.
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 3, Block B: .Lt. Col. Joel Rayburn, National Defense University &New America Foundation; writing in Defining Ideas in re: the Nosrah Front of Eastern Syria, Al Qaeda in 2013. National Defense University & New America Foundation; writing in Defining Ideas in re: the Nasrah Front of Eastern Syria, Al Qaeda in 2013.Today, the Middle East is at a turning point in its history, as political forces unleashed in one region are spreading to others. The revolt that began in Syria in early 2011—itself inspired by events elsewhere in the Arab world—is on the verge of becoming a sectarian war spanning the entirety of Turkish Arabia, from Iraq to Lebanon to Jordon. The most powerful of the Syrian revolutionary forces, the Nusrah Front, has been formed around a core of what we have previously known as Al Qaeda in Iraq. We can envision, then, a sectarian war raging across the whole of the Fertile Crescent. The prospect will be a frightening one for the region’s major powers and for the United States…
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 3, Block C: . Chuck Blahous, Hoover, in re: what's wrong with Social Security and how can it be fixed? Too late? Understanding Social Security Benefit Adequacy: Why Benefit Growth Should Be Slowed by Charles Blahouse21, Economic Policies for the 21st Century
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Adriel Bettelheim, Roll Call, in re: the Democrats turn to SuperPACs, House Majority PAC to raise money for candidates, and use a video appeal with House members, reversing the disdain toward SuperPAC. Rules of the Game: Democrats' Super PAC Promotion Signals Shift Eliza Carney reports: A recent video starring seven House Democrats promoting the super PAC that helped elect them speaks volumes about how few rules constrain such political action committees — and how wholeheartedly Congress has embraced them. The video dismayed watchdog groups and not just because it featured personal testimonials from lawmakers thanking the super PAC, despite laws that theoretically require such unrestricted groups to keep candidates at arm’s length. More disturbing, say advocates of stricter rules, was that it trotted out newly elected freshmen — a group that historically tends to champion campaign finance fixes. “I would have expected them to come to Capitol Hill rallying the cry of campaign finance reform and saying these largely undisclosed or unlimited sources of money have to be reined in,” said Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “Instead, what we got are these same freshman Democrats saying that they want to participate in this unlimited money slush fund system; these super PACs are a good deal. I find that very troubling.” House Majority PAC, which backs Democratic House candidates, released the video last week to demonstrate its success in responding to big-spending conservative super PACs that hammered Democrats in 2010, spokesman Andy Stone said. He said the ad is for “interested parties,” but it clearly targets donors with the message: “With your help, we formed House Majority PAC to fight back.” Freshman Democrats are featured in the video praising House Majority PAC’s ads on specific issues, such as stem cell research and women’s rights. The PAC raised and spent more than $35 million, public records show, and ended 2012 with $155,000 in the bank. It has already targeted 10 Republicans in the runup to 2014
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 4, Block A: The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom by Marcus Rediker; 1 of 4
From The Nation: . . . Rediker hails from this tradition [Steven Spielberg’s Amistad], and it informs his definition of the basic problem with the post-Spielberg understanding of the story: “The drama of the courtroom has eclipsed the original drama that transpired on the deck of the slave schooner,” he writes in The Amistad Rebellion. We’ve been fed a version of events in which “the American legal system has emerged as the story’s hero”—a bitter irony because, at the time of the uprising, “that very system held two and a half million African Americans in bondage.” Rediker’s solution to the problem is startlingly obvious: retell the saga from the perspective of the rebels themselves.
This was, after all, an unusual slave revolt. Insurrections in the Atlantic Hemisphere were rare, and they typically left ambiguous evidence concerning the motivations and even the actions of their protagonists. (In the case of Denmark Vesey’s supposed uprising in Charleston in 1822, historians are still arguing over whether there was a conspiracy in the first place.) The Amistad rebels had two key advantages: first, their original enslavement violated Spanish law and international treaties; second, they were taken into custody in New England, where slavery was waning and a noisy abolitionist movement was finding its voice. Thanks to an extraordinary series of intermediaries and translators, the rebels’ stories—about their African origins, passage into slavery and bold uprising—found their way into print. Mining this material, Rediker argues that the Amistad Africans had accumulated a measure of extraordinary experience even before they drew two American presidents—Martin Van Buren and John Quincy Adams—into their desperate legal struggle before the Supreme Court. For Rediker, this experience was not just a prelude to an American drama, but the heart of the captives’ story. The African values of the Amistad rebels—forged in their towns and villages, and tested on the high seas—were crucial to securing their freedom. After reading the first half of The Amistad Rebellion, even John Grisham junkies may wonder how this tale could have reached the big screen as a courtroom drama. Rediker begins in the Mende country of the Sierra Leone interior, tracing the diverse trajectories that brought the Amistad rebels into captivity. Some were soldiers who’d been captured in the region’s incessant wars; most, including the leader of the Amistad revolt, Cinqué, were kidnapped on the trading routes that linked their towns. The Mende country was fertile, with a well-developed economy of cotton, yams, rice and iron ore, but the politics of the region were contaminated by the influence of slavery. Rediker argues that slavery in the Mende country was typically “paternal and familial”—a world away from the sweeping cruelties of the American plantation system. But traditional patterns of African bondage and warfare were disrupted by the demand for labor across the ocean. New alliances [continued below]
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 4, Block B: The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom by Marcus Rediker; 2 of 4
. . . between local rulers and unscrupulous Europeans encouraged wars for people rather than territory, and African captives were funneled with grim efficiency toward the slave factories of the Gallinas coast. Cinqué, Burna, Grabeau and the other Africans who would eventually board the Amistad were ground between the gears of the African and American slave systems.
As they were paddled through choppy surf and shark-infested waters to the slave ship Teçora, bound for Cuba, these Africans already had the skills and sensibilities that would enable them to engineer their escape from slavery, Rediker argues. Most could speak more than one language; several were warriors, versed in the guerrilla tactics that structured small conflicts in the Mende country. Many were members of the Poro, a secret society that helped to enforce the laws of the region. All were resourceful and could forge lasting bonds beyond their immediate families. These were practiced, skilled and worldly-wise men with a strong inclination toward collective action.
Their captors had their own problems. Since 1807, Britain had been trying to extend its ban on the slave trade to other countries. Spain, in the process of losing much of its Latin American empire, was an obvious target for British pressure. In 1817 and 1835, Spain signed treaties that made the voyage of the Teçora illegal. But the sugar planters of Cuba, who had no say in Madrid’s diplomatic maneuvers, were desperate for slaves. The Haitian Revolution had stripped France of the world’s most valuable sugar colony and virtually stopped all production. The Cubans hoped to corner the sugar market with their own plantation empire, but had to smuggle slaves across the Atlantic past a network of British patrols. By the end of the 1830s, with Spanish and Cuban officials working tirelessly to disguise their activity, slave captains were illegally landing some 10,000 Africans in Cuba every year. The slaves of the Teçora may have sensed this skulduggery when they reached Havana. The British had a man-of-war in the harbor, on the lookout for illicit trading. (To further annoy the Cubans, Britain had crewed the ship with black sailors from its West Indian regiments.) Slave traders were forced to unload their cargo by night, to obtain false papers masking the Africans’ origins, and to solicit customers quietly. Fifty-three of the Teçora’s slaves were bought by Pedro Montes and José Ruiz, who had hired the Amistad to transport their new purchases to sugar fields 300 miles east of the capital. On the night of Friday, June 28, 1839, Cinqué and his colleagues were disguised in sailors’ clothes, led quietly through dark streets, and shepherded past the British warship and onto the Amistad. When the schooner reached open water in the early hours of Saturday, the Cubans must have thought that the dangerous part of their journey lay behind them.
Rediker’s account of the uprising that took place the following night is so gripping that [continued below]
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 4, Block C: The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom by Marcus Rediker; 3 of 4
. . . I’m wary of providing spoilers. What emerges with wonderful clarity, though, is the influence of the captives’ African experiences on what Rediker calls their “direct action.” The flashpoint below decks was the deteriorating relationship between Cinqué and Celestino, Captain Ferrer’s mulatto cook (and slave). The captives responded badly to Celestino’s menacing gestures and cryptic threats of cannibalism: the rules of the Poro society obliged them to punish or kill malevolent sorcerers. In the event, Celestino was the first to die, but not before the Africans had convened a palaver to consider their options. Rediker persuasively argues that, in the hours before they struck, the Africans drew on their traditions of collective decision-making. Although they killed Celestino and Captain Ferrer in the first minutes of their revolt, the Amistad Africans resolved to spare the lives of Antonio—Ferrer’s cabin boy—and both Montes and Ruiz. In the heat of the uprising, the rebels coolly reasoned that all three would be useful in securing their new objective: to sail the Amistad to Sierra Leone.
That objective was brave and desperate in equal measure. The schooner had little fresh water, and its new masters had neither maps nor nautical expertise. Montes was ordered to steer toward the sun, but he rigged the sails loosely; by night, he turned the ship to the west, hoping that a Spanish or even a British ship might rescue him. Over the next seven weeks, the Amistad carved a dramatic course through the Caribbean and the Atlantic. The Africans couldn’t have known that, had they sailed brazenly into any British port, they would certainly have won permanent freedom. Instead, they avoided other ships, sneaked onto islands and cays to replenish their water supply, and fled at the first sight of a white person.
Low on supplies and hope, the Amistad Africans finally made landfall near Montauk in the last week of August 1839. They may have been ready to beach their vessel and form a settlement, along the lines of the maroon communities of runaway slaves in Sierra Leone and the Caribbean. But they encountered a group of local whites on the shore, who had perhaps been drawn by newspaper reports of a mysterious schooner with a cargo of gold. In a lovely twist, the Amistad Africans got the measure of their welcoming committee: they flashed a doubloon at the whites and asked for their help in sailing back to Africa. Quickly sensing what motivated their new friends, the Africans rowed to the Amistad, ransacked the sugar-refining machinery in the hold, and returned to shore with two heavy, locked chests that clanked suggestively. Before a deal could be reached, however, a US Navy vessel came into view. The ship’s commander, Thomas Gedney, had [continued below]
Friday 8 Feb 2013 / Hour 4, Block D: The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom by Marcus Rediker; 4 of 4
. . . motives no higher than those of his onshore compatriots. Accepting the testimony of Montes and Ruiz, he towed the Amistad to Connecticut and made his own claim to salvage rights—on the vessel and its human cargo. The Africans who had dramatically seized their freedom were again behind bars.
After its superb opening chapters, The Amistad Rebellion describes in its second half how the Africans imprisoned in New Haven shaped and experienced the public battle over their future. We see them adapting to their new situation, forging an alliance with local anti-slavery activists and insisting on their African identity. This insistence was integral to their legal strategy: no US court would validate a slave uprising. The rebels’ only hope lay in persuading the judges that they were African (and therefore illegally enslaved) rather than Cuban. The rebels also made it clear that, at the end of their ordeal, they wanted to return to Africa rather than remain in the United States.
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