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Category Archives: Sociology and Archeology

Terraforming and large permanent settlements on unearthly celestial bodies are not cost/labor/survival efficient/profitable to humans. We did not evolve to live on places other than Earth. Short of radical/fundamental genetic/DNA manipulation, to survive in space, we need to bring our home environment (gravity, atmospheric composition and pressure) with us. This means we must construct mobile counter rotating Stanford Tori/O’Neill Cylinders which would comfortably support human life and whatever else humans would need to survive long term in space. Exploration of celestial bodies is still possible and acclimation to lesser gravities prior to planetfall can be executed via residence closer to the axis of the space station. Short term Antarctic type settlements could be viable as long as there is minimal long term risk to humans.

Creating “artificial gravity” on a celestial body is possible via centrifugal force, however the cost of its creation will be compounded due to its construction within a gravity well and, if present, atmospheric pressure and weather. Alternatively, gravitational acceleration will not be perpendicular to the axis of rotation, which presents an additional unique engineering problems for differing gravity wells.

Can we create structures for providing artificial gravity on Mars?

king nixon

I came across a site that stated, “In 1999, Dr. Martin Luther King’s family won a civil lawsuit proving the U.S. government was responsible for his assassination. It wasn’t reported by the mainstream media.”

This totally blew my mind because I had not heard of such a thing. So I began to search. The following is from the New York Times Archives entitled, “Memphis Jury Sees Conspiracy in Martin Luther King’s Killing” by By Emily Yellin (love the name :P), published on 9 December 1999:

A jury in a civil suit brought by the family of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. decided today that a retired Memphis cafe owner was part of a conspiracy in the 1968 killing of Dr. King.

The jury’s decision means it did not believe that James Earl Ray, who was convicted of the crime, fired the shot that killed Dr. King.

After four weeks of testimony and one hour of deliberation, the jury in the wrongful-death case found that Loyd Jowers as well as “others, including governmental agencies” had been part of a conspiracy. The jury awarded the King family the damages they had sought: $100, which the family says it will donate to charity.

The family has long questioned Mr. Ray’s conviction and hoped the suit would change the legal and historical record of the assassination.
“This is a vindication for us,” said Dexter King, the youngest son of Dr. King.

He said he hoped history books would be rewritten to reflect this version of the assassination.

Mr. Jowers, 73 and in failing health, owned Jim’s Grill in 1968, a restaurant opposite the motel where Dr. King was shot and just below the second-floor rooming house from which, according to James Earl Ray’s confession in 1969, Mr. Ray fired the single shot that killed Dr. King. Mr. Ray, who recanted his confession, hinted at a conspiracy. He died in prison last year while serving a 99-year sentence.

Mr. Jowers, in a 1993 television interview, said that he had hired a Memphis police officer to kill Dr. King from the bushes behind his restaurant. Mr. Jowers said he had been paid to do so by a Memphis grocery store owner with Mafia connections.

In an unlikely alliance, the King family was represented in the case by William Pepper, who had been Mr. Ray’s lawyer. The King family maintains that Mr. Pepper’s version of the assassination is the one that gets at the real truth behind Dr. King’s death, not the official version with Mr. Ray as the gunman.

Mr. Pepper said federal, state and Memphis governmental agencies, as well as the news media conspired in the assassination.

Mr. Jowers’s lawyer, Lewis Garrison, had said since the trial began that he agreed with 80 percent of Mr. Pepper’s conspiracy theories and disagreed only on the extent of his client’s involvement. In his closing argument today, Mr. Garrison repeated what he had said through the trial that his client participated in the conspiracy but did not know that it was a plot to kill Dr. King.

One juror, David Morphy, said after the trial, “We all thought it was a cut and dried case with the evidence that Mr. Pepper brought to us, that there were a lot of people involved, everyone from the C.I.A., military involvement, and Jowers was involved.”

John Campbell, an assistant district attorney in Memphis, who was not part of the civil proceedings but was part of the criminal case against Mr. Ray, said, “I’m not surprised by the verdict. This case overlooked so much contradictory evidence that never was presented, what other option did the jury have but to accept Mr. Pepper’s version?”

And Gerald Posner, whose recent book, “Killing the Dream” made the case that Mr. Ray was the killer, said, “It distresses me greatly that the legal system was used in such a callous and farcical manner in Memphis. If the King family wanted a rubber stamp of their own view of the facts, they got it.”


The following is from the United States Department of Justice website:


A. The King v. Jowers Trial

In November 1999, trial commenced in King v. Jowers, a wrongful death civil action filed by Dr. Pepper on behalf of Dr. King’s wife and children. Jowers was the only defendant and thus the only other party to the lawsuit. At the conclusion of the nearly four week trial, the jury adopted a verdict offered by the parties finding that Jowers and “others, including government agencies” participated in a conspiracy to assassinate Dr. King.

We reviewed the trial’s evidence in connection with our ongoing investigation of the Jowers and Wilson allegations. We also conducted additional witness interviews and searched for and reviewed records as warranted by the evidence.

In Sections IV and VI of this report, we discussed the evidence presented in King v. Jowers related to the Jowers allegation, as well as the relevant, additional investigation we initiated. Much of the information we considered in those sections was not presented to the jury. For instance, the parties did not introduce Jowers’ many inconsistent claims, the inconsistent statements of several critical witnesses, or information that contradicted and undermined the trial evidence. As to the Wilson allegations, no evidence, other than newspaper articles recounting Wilson’s claims, was offered. Accordingly, after considering the trial evidence in light of all available, relevant information, we still conclude that the Jowers and Wilson allegations are not credible and that there is no Raoul. See Sections IV, V, and VI above.

We also considered evidence from King v. Jowers suggesting the existence of various conspiracies broader than the one claimed by Jowers. These conspiracies purportedly included government agents and two African American ministers who were associates of Dr. King. The evidence never linked Jowers or his alleged co-conspirators to any federal agency or the United States military, even though the plaintiffs maintained that Dr. King’s assassination was the result of a government-directed conspiracy and Jowers was the only party sued.

Nonetheless, we examined the trial evidence relating to these far-ranging conspiracy claims. We found that it was both contradictory and based on uncorroborated secondhand and thirdhand hearsay accounts. Nor did we find any credible, concrete facts to substantiate any of the conspiracy allegations. Because there was no reliable evidence presented at trial relating to a conspiracy to assassinate Dr. King involving either Jowers, the government, African American ministers, or anyone else, and because we know of no information to support such allegations, we find no justification for further investigation.

To explain our conclusion, we have summarized the trial evidence relating the purported conspiracies and analyzed that evidence in view of the results of our investigation and other relevant information that was not presented in King v. Jowers.

B. Evidence Alleging The Involvement Of The Federal Government

1. Hearsay Evidence

Most of the witnesses and writings offered to support the various government-directed conspiracy claims relied exclusively on secondhand and thirdhand hearsay and speculation. Additionally, none of these allegations were ever linked together. Rather, the hearsay evidence alleged that various government agencies participated in assorted assassination plots that are actually contradictory.

One allegation came from an acquaintance of Jowers who testified regarding a double hearsay account of an alleged conversation in a barbershop in which a supposed FBI agent remarked that the CIA was responsible for the assassination. Unrelated to this allegation, other hearsay evidence presented a different conspiracy, one to silence Ray after he pled guilty. One of Ray’s former attorneys related a double hearsay account from two deceased inmates suggesting that, ten years after the assassination, Ray was the target of a government-directed murder contract. A former government official further testified that he heard an unconfirmed rumor that FBI snipers were dispatched when Ray escaped from prison.

The deposition of a person identified only as “John Doe” related yet another conspiracy claim. The unknown deponent recounted his alleged participation in a Mafia-assisted plot initiated by the President and Vice President of the United States. Finally, several authors, a newspaper article, and notes of alleged witness interviews offered various hearsay allegations that the United States military was somehow involved in the assassination. These allegations included a claim by an unidentified source that, while conducting military surveillance of Dr. King, his military team witnessed the assassination and even photographed a man with a rifle leaving the scene.

2. Eyewitness Testimony

In contrast to the several, disparate hearsay accounts presented at trial, only three witnesses provided firsthand information relating to any of the conspiracy allegations. Significantly, these witnesses did not directly support any of the hearsay claims that the government participated in the assassination, but merely recounted their observations of conduct suggesting that Dr. King may have been under government surveillance.

James Smith, formerly a Memphis police officer, testified that he understood that Dr. King was under government surveillance during the sanitation workers’ strike in Memphis in March 1968, two weeks before the assassination. Smith reported that he observed a van filled with radio equipment outside the Rivermont Hotel where Dr. King was staying. Smith said that he heard from unidentified sources that the occupants of the van were federal agents conducting electronic surveillance.

Eli Arkin, a former Memphis police intelligence officer, answered questions about the presence of military personnel in Memphis. Arkin testified, consistent with what he previously related to us, that in March or April 1968, Army intelligence agents worked in his office while he was gathering information about the sanitation strike. According to Arkin, the agents never explained what they were doing and merely observed and took notes.

Finally, Carthel Weeden, then the captain of Fire Station No. 2 across from the Lorraine, testified that on the morning of the assassination, two men who identified themselves as Army personnel said they wanted to conduct photographic surveillance. He reported that he showed them to the fire station’s roof. When we spoke to him after the trial, Weeden advised that, while he was sure he took military personnel to the roof, it was possible that he did so on a day before — not on the day of — the assassination. He also told us that he did not know how long the men remained on the roof.

3. Analysis of the Evidence Alleging the Involvement of the Federal Government

When critically analyzed and considered in light of other relevant information, the trial evidence does not establish that federal agents were involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Dr. King. Rather, it consists of speculation or secondhand and thirdhand hearsay accounts that remain totally unsubstantiated or contradicted. After considering all available information, including numerous facts not presented to the King v. Jowers jury, we have concluded that none of the assorted conspiracy allegations warrant any further investigation.

a. Allegations of CIA and FBI involvement in a conspiracy

William Hamblin, a former cab driver who knew both Jowers and his friend James McCraw, testified regarding a double hearsay account that the CIA was responsible for the assassination. Hamblin reported that while he was a barber in Memphis in 1968, his boss, Vernon Jones, now deceased, told him about a comment made by a long-standing customer, referred to only as “Mr. Purdy.” Hamblin testified that Jones said that in response to Jones’ question — “who do you think did it?” — Mr. Purdy answered — “the CIA.” Hamblin also maintained, without explaining the basis for his knowledge, that Mr. Purdy was an FBI agent. See Section IV.F.2. above for other allegations made by Hamblin.

Hamblin did not claim to have heard the alleged conversation between Jones and Purdy. There was no evidence presented that the conversation actually occurred or that Hamblin’s unexplained belief that Mr. Purdy was an FBI agent was correct. Nor was any evidence offered to show that Mr. Purdy’s alleged opinion was based upon fact rather than conjecture. Accordingly, Hamblin’s testimony is nothing more than an unconfirmed report of idle barbershop speculation.

A limited amount of other trial evidence was offered in an attempt to suggest that the FBI and the CIA were involved in the assassination. Several witnesses made vague accusations that the FBI failed to investigate thoroughly or suppressed evidence related to the murder and that its leadership wanted Dr. King killed. No specific trial evidence, however, supported these accusations and we found nothing to confirm the speculation.

As to the CIA, a witness testified that an undercover officer, who at the time of the assassination worked for the Memphis Police Department, was hired by that federal agency several years later. See Section IV.D.2.b.(2) above. Thus, it was implied that the CIA may have been involved in a conspiracy. Additionally, an unidentified source, who was not credited by the newspaper reporter who heard his story, alleged that his National Guard reconnaissance team was met in Memphis on the day of the murder by someone who “smelled like” a CIA agent. See Section VII.B.3.d. below. After reviewing the historical record, including CIA records, some of which were classified, we found nothing to substantiate the speculative claims that the CIA was involved in a conspiracy.

b. Allegations of a government conspiracy to silence Ray

Reverend Walter Fauntroy, former delegate to the United States House of Representatives, testified regarding a rumor. Fauntroy, who headed the HSCA probe of the King assassination, stated that at the time of Ray’s escape from prison in 1977, he “heard” that FBI snipers had been sent to Tennessee. Fauntroy emphasized, “I don’t know that. I have no evidence, but that’s what we heard and that alarmed us.”

Attorney April Ferguson, who assisted Mark Lane in representing Ray during the HSCA hearings, testified about a related, double hearsay account from two inmates regarding an alleged contract to kill Ray. According to Ferguson, in January 1979, she met a now deceased, incarcerated extortionist, William Kirk, who told her that another now deceased inmate, Arthur Baldwin, advised him of a supposed $5000 contract to murder Ray. Ferguson added that Kirk told her, without providing any specifics or sources for his information, that he “got the impression that * * * Baldwin was working as an agent or informer for the federal government.”

We did not find anything to confirm either hearsay allegation about the plots to kill Ray. Reverend Fauntroy correctly cautioned in his testimony that he knew of no evidence to support the rumor he had heard. In fact, Ray was in the custody of the government for over 30 years and died of liver disease in 1998.

We did determine that Baldwin assisted the government in federal investigations that were unrelated to the assassination in return for a reduced sentence for his own criminal activity. We are aware, however, of no information to substantiate the inference that Baldwin was thus involved in a government-directed plot to kill Ray. The former United States Attorney, who used Baldwin as an informant, advised that, because of Baldwin’s poor credibility, he relied on Baldwin’s information only when it could be independently corroborated.

We found nothing to corroborate the hearsay account of Kirk’s allegation of Baldwin’s claim. Moreover, it is not uncommon for inmates to make false accusations with some hope of personal gain.

c. Allegation of a conspiracy involving the President and Vice President

During the trial, Garrison, on behalf of Jowers, presented a “John Doe” deposition outlining a conspiracy involving the Mafia and implicating both the President and Vice President of the United States. The unidentified deponent, whose name was withheld for unexplained “security reasons,” claimed to have worked for the Houston Post in 1968. His deposition provides that he was contacted by a former treasurer of the United Auto Workers at the request of a bookmaker acquaintance and offered $400,000, allegedly to be supplied by the union, “to satisfy Mr. [Hubert] Humphrey and Mr. [Lyndon] Johnson by making Martin Luther King * * * ‘shut up’ about the Vietnam War * * * by just taking him out.” According to the deposition, the deponent accepted the offer, and along with the assistance of several others, including Raoul and Mafia figure, Carlos Marcello, assassinated Dr. King.

The deposition provides details as to how the murder was allegedly accomplished. It states that on April 4, 1968, the deponent and others flew to Memphis from a secret airstrip owned by Marcello. Upon arrival, a woman from Belize, South America, now deceased, drove them to downtown Memphis and dropped off Raoul near Mulberry Street. Raoul then went into a building and left a bag outside. Afterwards, Raoul drove to New Orleans, picked up Ray in Atlanta, and flew with him to Canada. The deposition also alleges that after “the actual shooting of King took place [from] behind * * * a brushy little wall,” the woman from Belize “c[a]me around and pick[ed] up the shooter” in a Chevrolet Corvair. The shooter, along with the deponent, flew back to the Mafia airstrip and, while passing over the Mississippi River, threw the rifle into the river.

While the “John Doe” deposition presented the most detailed evidence alleging a government-directed conspiracy, no live witness testimony or documentary or physical evidence corroborated any part of its allegations. Conveniently, Doe remained unidentified for “security reasons” and virtually all of his alleged co-conspirators are supposedly dead. Moreover, many of Doe’s claims are contradicted by otherwise established facts. For example, none of the many witnesses at the Lorraine, nor the police who immediately responded, saw a woman drive by and pick up the shooter, and Ray never claimed that he flew to Canada with Raoul. Thus, this far-fetched, anonymous story has no indicia of reliability and is not credible.

d. Allegations of military involvement in a conspiracy

The King v. Jowers trial included evidence relating allegations of United States military involvement in the assassination. Although no evidence specifically alleged that military personnel killed Dr. King, hearsay accounts and speculation suggested that military personnel were somehow connected to the assassination and actually witnessed it.

Dr. Pepper introduced redacted copies of notes purporting to document interviews with unidentified military sources who claimed to have observed the assassination.(78) One set of notes records allegations by an unidentified source, claiming that he was one of two soldiers with the 902d Military Intelligence Group who was on the rooftop of Fire Station No. 2 conducting surveillance of Dr. King at the time of the assassination. This source reported that he observed and his partner photographed the assassination and “a white man with a rifle” on the ground leaving the scene. According to the notes, the source offered to approach his partner to attempt to obtain the alleged photographs for $2,000.

Another set of notes purported to document the allegations of a different unnamed source that he was one of two guardsmen with an Alabama National Guard unit, the 20th Special Forces Group (SFG), who was watching Dr. King and Ambassador Young from another rooftop near the Lorraine and observed the assassination. That source also claimed that his team coordinated with the Memphis police and someone he assumed to be with the CIA.

In a 1993 newspaper article from the Memphis Commercial Appeal, which was also introduced, reporter Stephen Tompkins asserts, without citing sources for the specific claims, that in the late 1960s, the 20th SFG conducted military intelligence surveillance of Dr. King and others from the civil rights movement. The article further provides that, on the day before the assassination, the 111th Military Intelligence Group (MIG) “shadowed [Dr. King’s] movements and monitored radio traffic from a sedan crammed with electronic equipment” and that “[e]ight Green Berets from an ‘Operation Detachment Alpha 184 Team’ were also in Memphis carrying out an unknown mission.”

Douglas Valentine, who authored a book about CIA intelligence operations during the Vietnam war, presented hearsay testimony from another unidentified source. He related that while writing his book, he learned that a single unnamed source allegedly involved in the military’s anti-war surveillance “heard a rumor” that the 111th MIG was conducting surveillance of Dr. King in Memphis on April 4, 1968, and took photographs of the assassination. Valentine advised us after the trial that he could not recall the identity of the person who told him the rumor but thought it was a former military enlisted man.

Another writer, Jack Terrell, who claimed to have worked with a CIA-directed group supplying arms and military software to the Contra rebels in Honduras in the 1980s, offered a hearsay opinion of a deceased source. Terrell testified that in the 1970s, as a private businessman, one of his employees, J.D. Hill, now deceased, claimed to have been with the 20th SFG in the 1960s. According to Terrell, Hill, who was a “strange person” with a drinking problem, expressed the “view” that in 1968 he had been trained specifically to participate in a military sniper mission to assassinate Dr. King that was canceled without explanation.

(1) Allegations regarding the military that are relevant to Jowers’ claim

Although none of the King v. Jowers conspiracy allegations were directly linked to Jowers’ allegations, some of the evidence relating to claims of military involvement suggests the existence of witnesses and/or physical evidence that could support Jowers’ contention that the assassin fired from behind Jim’s Grill. As a result, we searched for witnesses from the military and physical evidence that might confirm Jowers’ allegation.

We found no evidence — no witness, document or photograph — to confirm the hearsay allegations that military personnel witnessed or photographed the assassination. Rather, we found evidence to establish that those allegations are not credible.

Initially, we obtained an un-redacted copy of the interview notes that were introduced at trial. It named the man who claimed that he and another soldier witnessed and photographed the assassination. We also learned that former Memphis Commercial Appeal reporter Stephen Tompkins, who did not testify in King v. Jowers, authored the interview notes. Accordingly, we interviewed Tompkins.

Tompkins confirmed that he prepared the notes based on his interview of a source whose identity he was unable to substantiate. He emphasized that he did not believe the account related by the source and that, had he been called as a witness at the trial, he would have stated his belief to the jury.(79)

Tompkins explained that he was unable to corroborate any information provided by the source, who identified himself as Jacob Brenner, including whether that was the man’s real name. In addition, Tompkins said he found no evidence to substantiate that the 902d Military Intelligence Group (Brenner’s alleged unit) ever conducted surveillance of Dr. King or was in Memphis. Rather, he determined that the 902d MIG’s mission did not include domestic intelligence work. Tompkins also advised that he never interviewed Brenner’s alleged partner, who purportedly photographed both the assassination and the man with a rifle, because Brenner never named him. Nor did he ever speak to Colonel John Downie, the commander of the 902d MIG to whom Brenner claimed the photographs were given, because Downie was no longer alive.

Tompkins said that he was skeptical about Brenner’s story based upon more than his inability to corroborate it. Brenner asked for increasing amounts of money for the photographs that he claimed would substantiate his story. According to Tompkins, when initially meeting Brenner in Chicago, he wanted $2,000 for the photographs; later in Miami, he escalated the demand to at least $10,000. Concluding Brenner did not have any photographs, Tompkins said he advised Dr. Pepper not to pay. In the end, Tompkins described Brenner as a “slimeball” whose story was no different than numerous false stories he had heard from conspiracy buffs asking for money.

Notwithstanding Tompkins’ assessment of Brenner’s credibility and story, we investigated whether military personnel from the 902d MIG or from some other unit were on the roof of Fire Station No. 2, observed the assassination, or photographed a man with a rifle after the shooting.

Official records reflect that the 111th MIG and the Tennessee National Guard were the only military units which had personnel in Memphis on the day of the assassination. We found no record to indicate that any other military unit, including the 902d MIG, had personnel in Memphis on April 4, 1968. The Department of Defense also confirmed Tompkins’ understanding that the 902d MIG did not conduct domestic intelligence work. Finally, we found no written record of any surveillance of Dr. King at the Lorraine Motel by military personnel from any unit.(80)

In addition to reviewing records, we located and interviewed five surviving members of the 111th MIG who were in Memphis on April 4, 1968. They all claimed they were not aware that military personnel from any other unit, including the 902d MIG, were in Memphis around the time of the assassination. Jimmie Locke, then a Major and the 111th MIG’s ranking officer in Memphis at the time of the assassination, advised that under the military’s standing operating procedures he would have been advised if personnel from another unit were in his area. He specifically stated that, even if the other unit’s operation was covert, he would have been advised of the personnel’s presence, if not their mission.

Additionally, no one from the 111th MIG had firsthand knowledge that any military personnel were in the vicinity of the Lorraine on the day of the assassination or that military personnel ever conducted surveillance of Dr. King. Steve McCall, then a Sergeant and investigator with the 111th MIG, did remember, however, somehow hearing that agents from his unit were being dispatched to the Lorraine on the day of the assassination to watch Dr. King and his party. McCall could not recall the source for this information or any other details, including whether anyone actually went to the Lorraine and, if they did, who they were, when they went, or what they did.

Significantly, one witness from the 111th MIG also told us that he was on the roof of Fire Station No. 2 before — but not on the day of — the assassination. James Green, then a Sergeant and investigator, recalled going to the fire station on the day that Dr. King’s advance party arrived in Memphis, perhaps March 31st . He claims he went with another agent from his unit, whom he could not now recall, to scout for locations to take photographs of persons visiting the King party at the Lorraine Motel at a later time, if necessary. According to Green, someone from the station may have shown them to the roof, where he and the other agent remained for 30 to 45 minutes before determining it was too exposed a location from which to take photographs.(81) Green stated he never returned to the roof or the vicinity of the Lorraine and never conducted surveillance of or photographed Dr. King. He also advised that he never heard that any other military personnel were in the area of the Lorraine on the day of the assassination or conducted surveillance of Dr. King.

We also interviewed all surviving firemen who worked at Fire Station No. 2 at the time of the assassination. No fireman, other than Weeden, had any knowledge about the presence of military personnel at the fire station.

While we found no reason to disbelieve Captain Weeden’s recollection that he led two Army agents to the station’s roof or Green’s account to support it, we found nothing to confirm that military personnel were in fact at that location on the day of the assassination. Further, when we interviewed Weeden after the trial, he acknowledged that his memory of an event 30 years ago might be inexact, and, thus, it was possible that he took the military personnel to the roof sometime before — not the day of — the assassination. He added that he had never spoken with anyone about his recollection until Dr. Pepper interviewed him “before [Pepper] wrote his book” in 1995. Accordingly, Green’s recollection that military personnel went to the roof on a different day than the assassination appears accurate.

We likewise found physical evidence to contradict Jacob Brenner’s story that he or anyone else was on the fire station’s roof at the time of the assassination. Attachments 4a and 4b, photographs taken by television producer Joseph Louw of the police responding to the shooting, clearly depict the fire station’s roof most probably within a minute of the shooting. The photographs were taken through the window of Louw’s balcony room, which was two doors from where Dr. King lay mortally wounded. Had Brenner or someone else been on the roof photographing the assassination when Louw was taking his photographs, they would necessarily appear in them. Louw’s photographs, however, show no one on the roof.

After examining all relevant information, we have concluded that the King v. Jowers hearsay evidence that military personnel witnessed and photographed both the assassination and a man with a rifle as he left the scene is not credible. We found no evidence to support the allegation. Rather, we discovered information to contradict it, including Louw’s photographs and the assessment of the only person who heard the story, Tompkins, that it is not worthy of belief.

(2) Other allegations regarding the military

We have also concluded that allegations in a second set of interview notes relating to military personnel also authored by Tompkins and introduced at trial are not credible. Those notes reflect the claims of two men, who alleged that they were sent to Memphis with the 20th Special Forces Group of the Alabama National Guard, met a Memphis police officer and someone appearing to be a CIA agent, and witnessed the assassination. Although Tompkins declined to provide the names of the guardsmen, asserting that they are news sources whose identities he is obliged to protect, he nonetheless advised that he was unable to corroborate their story and doubted their credibility.(82)

Tompkins recounted that, during his investigation for the Memphis Commercial Appeal in the early 1990s, he received information that the 20th SFG had been in Memphis at the time of the assassination.(83) His inquiry led to a man then living in Mexico, who claimed to have been a guardsman with that unit and on the roof of a building (not the fire station) watching Dr. King at the time of the assassination. Tompkins said that the guardsman introduced him to another man in Mexico who allegedly was the team’s observer. Tompkins emphasized that the guardsman claimed that he was only conducting “reconnaissance” and not deployed as a sniper to shoot Dr. King. (84)

Tompkins told us that he never found anything to corroborate the allegations of the guardsman and his observer and no longer believes them.(85) He stated that the guardsman, like Brenner, wanted money in exchange for documents that he claimed would substantiate his story. Because Tompkins and his newspaper did not credit the story, they did not attempt to purchase the alleged documents or publish the account. Later, according to Tompkins, he gave money from Dr. Pepper to the guardsman for the documents (he did not recall the amount), but the guardsman never provided them. Tompkins explained that he did not think the guardsman was “on the level” and that what he related may have been “just bullshit” and ” made up.” Tompkins summed up his evaluation of the guardsman by saying that he “would not testify under oath that [the guardsman] was truthful,” and, in his view, it would “be a waste of taxpayers’ dollars” to travel to Mexico to speak with him.

We found no evidence to corroborate the allegations of the guardsman or his purported observer. We could find no record or witness to confirm that the 20th SFG or any other military unit besides the 111th MIG and the Tennessee National Guard was in Memphis at the time of the assassination or anything else alleged. Moreover, according to the National Guard Bureau of the Department of Defense, the 20th SFG was never authorized to engage in surveillance or any other activities against civil rights leaders.

Additionally, one critical fact mentioned by the guardsman that was subject to verification proved to be false. According to Tompkins, the guardsman said his team leader, an officer whom he named, accompanied the team to Memphis. Tompkins’ interview notes also make several references to the team leader’s activities in Memphis on the day of the assassination. In 1997, the team leader, who was supposedly dead, came forward to contest the accusations. He denied both being in Memphis on April 4, 1968, and knowing that other personnel from the 20th SFG were there, and provided an account of his whereabouts on the day of the assassination. We are aware of nothing to contradict the team leader’s denial.(86)

We also considered both Tompkins’ claim in his 1993 article that the 111th MIG monitored Dr. King in Memphis on the day before the assassination with “a sedan crammed with electronic equipment” and police officer James Smith’s alleged March 1968 observations of a van, which he heard was involved in surveillance. Tompkins advised that, while witnesses told him they had heard electronic surveillance occurred, no one claimed to have actually observed it. Nor did we find any record or witness to support the allegation that the 111th MIG even had such electronic surveillance equipment. Additionally, 111th MIG Sergeant James Green, who admitted being on the fire station’s roof, acknowledged that approximately two weeks after the assassination he was operating a sedan in Memphis crammed with communication, not surveillance, equipment. According to Green, local law enforcement officers were aware of his presence and the radio equipment.

Finally, we assessed the testimony of both author Douglas Valentine that an unidentified source heard a rumor that the 111th MIG photographed the assassination and writer Jack Terrell that his now deceased employee talked about a canceled 20th SFG mission to kill Dr. King. We found neither witnesses’ testimony significant in view of its hearsay nature and in light of the information discussed above. According to Valentine, an unidentified source conveyed a rumor and, according to Terrell, another source, who was unreliable and is now deceased, expressed an unsubstantiated opinion. As with many hearsay accounts, after critical examination of the relevant facts, these secondhand accounts proved inaccurate.

In conclusion, we found no evidence that military personnel saw, photographed, or were even present at the time of the assassination. Neither the guardsmen’s allegation nor Jacob Brenner’s story is credible. At the same time, we were unable to determine definitively whether the military conducted surveillance of Dr. King on the day of the assassination. We found no conclusive evidence that they did. Other information, however, establishes that the military did carry out surveillance of Dr. King and many other civilians participating in civil disobedience in the 1960s. (87) Because such surveillance, which Congress later condemned, was so pervasive, the mere possibility that the military may have spied on Dr. King on the day of the assassination does not suggest its complicity in the murder. In fact, we found nothing to indicate that surveillance at any time had any connection with the assassination.

C. Evidence Alleging The Involvement Of Dr. King’s Associates

Dr. Pepper also introduced evidence during the trial to suggest that two African American ministers, who were associates of Dr. King, conspired to kill him. Testimony was presented to imply that Dr. King’s associates facilitated the assassination by luring Dr. King to the Lorraine Motel where he had never stayed, changing his room assignment from an interior to an exposed balcony room, dismissing a portion of his security, leading him to the balcony at exactly 6:00 p.m., and leaving him alone and exposed to allow the assassin an unobstructed shot.(88)

We reviewed the trial testimony relating to these claims. Based on an analysis of all relevant information, including numerous facts not presented to the jury, we have concluded that the allegation that two of Dr. King’s associates conspired to kill him is not credible and does not warrant further investigation.

1. Dr. King and the Lorraine Motel

During the trial, evidence suggested that Dr. King’s stay at the Lorraine was out of the ordinary and intentionally directed by insiders to assist the assassination. For example, Jerry Williams, a former Memphis police officer, one of the African American officers who provided security for Dr. King’s previous visits to Memphis, testified that Dr. King had never stayed overnight at the Lorraine because of security concerns. Reverend James Lawson, an associate of Dr. King’s, also testified that Dr. King “mostly stayed” at “white” motels, rather than the motels patronized by African Americans, like the Lorraine.

Supporting the theory that one of Dr. King’s associates deliberately moved him to a balcony room to facilitate the assassination, Leon Cohen testified that on the day after the assassination he heard that Dr. King’s room assignment at the Lorraine had been changed by someone within his own organization. Cohen, who claimed to be a friend of the Lorraine’s owner, Walter Bailey, testified that Bailey told him that a male member of Dr. King’s group called from Atlanta the day prior to Dr. King’s arrival to change his interior courtyard room to an exposed, balcony room. According to Cohen’s hearsay account, Bailey was adamantly against the move because of his concerns for Dr. King’s security.

The historical record contradicts the trial testimony that Dr. King’s final stay at the Lorraine was unusual. The motel owner, Walter Bailey, now deceased, told investigators on several occasions that Dr. King was a frequent overnight guest at the Lorraine. For example, on the day of the assassination, Bailey told the FBI that Dr. King had stayed at his motel on approximately 12 occasions since 1958. In 1969, Bailey similarly told investigators for James Earl Ray that Dr. King had stayed at the Lorraine on and off for the past 15 years.

Others corroborate Bailey’s official statements about Dr. King’s frequent patronage of the Lorraine. Bailey’s daughter Caroline Champion, who worked at the motel, advised our investigators that Dr. King stayed there “many times.” Dr. King’s close friend and colleague, Reverend Ralph Abernathy, told the HSCA under oath that he and Dr. King stayed in room 306 at the Lorraine so often that it was referred to as the “King-Abernathy suite.” Memphis police officer Edward Redditt, who also provided security for Dr. King during an earlier visit, corroborated the recollections of Bailey, Champion, and Abernathy that Dr. King had previously stayed at the Lorraine. Accordingly, contrary to the trial testimony, other information from several reliable sources demonstrates that Dr. King was a frequent overnight guest at the Lorraine. Thus, there is nothing suspicious about his being at the Lorraine on April 4, 1968.

The suggestion that one of Dr. King’s associates moved him to Room 306 on the balcony level to make him a target for the assassin is also contradicted by well-documented accounts. When interviewed by the FBI the day of the assassination, Bailey said that he had no knowledge that anyone had acted in a suspicious manner and absolutely no information or thoughts on the assassination. He likewise expressed no concern about Dr. King’s room assignment in statements to Ray’s investigators and specifically told them that there was no advance registration for Dr. King, who was not registered until Reverend Lawson’s arrival on April 3, 1968. Had Bailey actually received instructions, with which he disagreed, to change Dr. King’s room, it is inconceivable that he would have related that fact only to Cohen and not to any of the several investigators, including those representing Ray, who interviewed him.

Moreover, Reverend Abernathy’s testimony to the HSCA about the “King-Abernathy suite” (balcony Room 306) completely contradicts Cohen’s testimony. Reverend Abernathy further testified that during the April 3-4, 1968 visit, he and Dr. King were moved to Room 306 at their own request as soon as it was vacated by another guest. Accordingly, we found nothing to support a conclusion that some unidentified associate of Dr. King deliberately moved him to a balcony room to facilitate his assassination.

2. Dr. King’s Security

Evidence was also presented to suggest a plot to facilitate the removal of Dr. King’s security. We discussed most of this trial evidence, along with other related information not presented in the trial, when we considered general accusations that security was removed in Section IV.D.2.b.(1) above. However, two additional pieces of evidence were presented in King v. Jowers in an effort to suggest that Dr. King’s associates assisted the alleged plot to remove his security.

Philip Mellanson, a professor and author, testified that Memphis Police Inspector Sam Evans, now deceased, told him that he ordered tactical units away from the Lorraine at the request of a specific “Memphis Minister” associated with Dr. King, whom he named.(89) In addition, other witnesses testified about their belief that the eviction of the Invaders, a group of young Memphis, African American activists, from their room at the Lorraine minutes before the shooting facilitated the assassination. One former Invader, Charles Cabbage, testified that he was told that another minister, the “SCLC Minister,” a ranking member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, ordered that his group be immediately ejected.

We found nothing to support Mellanson’s hearsay account that the “Memphis Minister” was the specific source of the request to remove tactical units. When we interviewed the “Memphis Minister,” he denied ever making such a request. Moreover, the fact that TACT Unit 10 remained in the vicinity across the street at the fire station undermines the inference that the “Memphis Minister” conspired with law enforcement. See Section IV.D.2.b.(1)(a) above.

Likewise, nothing supports a conclusion that the eviction of the Invaders from the Lorraine, allegedly at the direction of the “SCLC Minister,” is related to the assassination. We found no evidence that the Invaders had anything to do with Dr. King’s security. Rather, according to associates of Dr. King and former Memphis police officers, the Invaders were young, African American activists who were attempting to associate with Dr. King. Accordingly, even if the Invaders were evicted from the Lorraine by the “SCLC Minister” or some other SCLC staff person, such action would not have diminished Dr. King’s security.

Moreover, Charles Cabbage’s recent trial testimony is inconsistent with his testimony to the HSCA. Twenty years ago, Cabbage testified that did not recollect the specific sequence of events leading to the Invaders’ departure from the Lorraine but that they decided to leave on their own because the SCLC would not pay their room bill. Cabbage told the HSCA that “one of the [SCLC] staffers,” whose name he did not provide, somehow advised him that “they [the SCLC] were no longer going to pay for the room, and we [the Invaders] were already overdue and that left no alternative but for us to check out.”

Cabbage’s recent testimony is also uncorroborated and contrary to the recollections of others. Significantly, in Cabbage’s recent testimony in King v. Jowers, he claimed that it was Reverend James Orange who evicted the Invaders, telling him that the “SCLC Minister” wanted them to leave immediately. When we spoke with Orange after the trial, he told us he did not recall receiving that instruction from the “SCLC Minister” or anyone else. Also, when we interviewed the “SCLC Minister,” a friend and associate of Dr. King’s, who has led a life of public service, he denied the accusation and claimed that he did not recall that the Invaders were even staying at the Lorraine. We are aware of nothing to contradict his denial. Accordingly, the record does not support the inference presented at trial that African American ministers associated with Dr. King facilitated the assassination by removing his security.

3. Dr. King’s Presence on the Balcony

During the trial, the “Memphis Minister” was also called as a witness and questioned so as to create the impression that he had deliberately lured Dr. King to the balcony of the Lorraine at precisely 6:00 p.m. and left him exposed and alone so that he could be shot. This claim is consistent with the view expressed to us by Dr. Pepper and Dexter King prior to trial. To support this contention, the plaintiffs’ attorney questioned the “Memphis Minister” regarding his conduct before the shooting and confronted him with words from his speech at ceremonies commemorating an anniversary of the assassination. In the speech, as he described the events of the assassination, the “Memphis Minister” recounted that just before the shot he “moved away [from Dr. King] so he [the assassin] could have a clear shot.”

According to a number of witnesses interviewed by our investigation and previous investigations, Dr. King walked out of Room 306 onto the balcony of the Lorraine just before 6:00 p.m. in the company of the “Memphis Minister.” Dr. King conversed with several of his other associates, who were assembled in the parking lot below as they all were preparing to go to dinner. When the “Memphis Minister” walked a few steps away from Dr. King, the assassin fired. As discussed in Section IV.D.1.a.(1) above, we determined that Dr. King’s appearance on the balcony at 6:00 p.m. for a 5:00 p.m. dinner engagement could not have been anticipated with enough certainty to plan the time of the assassination.

The notion that the “Memphis Minister” was involved in the assassination and inadvertently revealed his participation during a public speech is far-fetched. The minister’s comment, “I moved away so he could have a clear shot,” considered in the context of his speech, appears nothing more than an inartful attempt to explain the sequence of events and the fact that Dr. King was shot when he moved away from the speaker’s side. It hardly amounts to an inadvertent confession.

In any event, we are aware of no information to support the accusation that the “Memphis Minister” led Dr. King to the balcony and moved away to allow the assassin to shoot. We confronted the “Memphis Minister” with the accusation and he denied it. We are also aware of nothing that would have motivated him to assist a conspiracy to murder a friend and associate, while his public life demonstrates his integrity and dedication to non-violence.

D. Conclusions Regarding The King v. Jowers Conspiracy Claims

The evidence introduced in King v. Jowers to support various conspiracy allegations consisted of either inaccurate and incomplete information or unsubstantiated conjecture, supplied most often by sources, many unnamed, who did not testify. Important information from the historical record and our investigation contradicts and undermines it. When considered in light of all other available relevant facts, the trial’s evidence fails to establish the existence of any conspiracy to kill Dr. King. The verdict presented by the parties and adopted by the jury is incompatible with the weight of all relevant information, much of which the jury never heard. Accordingly, the conspiracy allegations presented at the trial warrant no further investigation.


After reviewing all available materials from prior official investigations and other sources, including the evidence from King v. Jowers, and after conducting a year and a half of original investigation, we have concluded that the allegations originating with Loyd Jowers and Donald Wilson are not credible.

We found no reliable evidence to support Jowers’ allegations that he conspired with others to shoot Dr. King from behind Jim’s Grill. In fact, credible evidence contradicting his allegations, as well as material inconsistencies among his accounts and his own repudiations of them, demonstrate that Jowers has not been truthful. Rather, it appears that Jowers contrived and promoted a sensational story of a plot to kill Dr. King. See Sections IV.F. and G. above.

Likewise, we do not credit Donald Wilson’s claim that he took papers from Ray’s abandoned car. Wilson has made significant contradictory statements and otherwise behaved in a duplicitous manner, inconsistent with his professed interest in seeking the truth. Important evidence contradicting Wilson’s claims, including the failure of James Earl Ray to support Wilson’s revelation, further undermines his account. Although we were unable to determine the true origin of the Wilson documents, his inconsistent statements, his conduct, and substantial evidence refuting his claims all demonstrate that his implausible account is not worthy of belief. Accordingly, we have concluded that the documents do not constitute evidence relevant to the King assassination. See Section V.K. above.

The weight of the evidence available to our investigation also establishes that Raoul is merely the creation of James Earl Ray. We found no evidence to support the claims that a Raoul participated in the assassination. Rather, a review of 30 years of speculation about his identity presents a convincing case that no Raoul was involved in a conspiracy to kill Dr. King. See Section VI.G. above.

In accordance with our mandate, we confined our investigation to the Jowers and the Wilson allegations and logical investigative leads suggested by them, including those concerning Raoul, who is central to both allegations. We however considered other allegations, including the unsubstantiated claims made during the trial of King v. Jowers that government agencies and African American ministers associated with Dr. King conspired to kill him. Where warranted, we conducted limited additional investigation. Thus, we evaluated all additional allegations brought to our attention to determine whether any reliable substantiation exists to credit them or warrant further inquiry. We found none. See Section VII above.

Similarly, we considered the suggestion of the House Select Committee on Assassinations and the Shelby County District Attorney General to investigate whether James Earl Ray’s surviving brothers may have been his co-conspirators. We found insufficient evidentiary leads remaining after 30 years to justify further investigation. Finally, while we conducted no original investigation specifically directed at determining whether James Earl Ray killed Dr. King, we found no credible evidence to disturb past judicial determinations that he did.

Questions and speculation may always surround the assassination of Dr. King and other national tragedies. Our investigation of these most recent allegations, as well as several exhaustive previous official investigations, found no reliable evidence that Dr. King was killed by conspirators who framed James Earl Ray. Nor have any of the conspiracy theories advanced in the last 30 years, including the Jowers and the Wilson allegations, survived critical examination.

We recommend no further federal investigation of the Jowers allegations, the Wilson allegations, or any other allegations related to the assassination unless and until reliable substantiating facts are presented. At this time, we are aware of no information to warrant any further investigation of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


This makes one wonder about other conspiracy theories. Who really killed Kennedy (and Lincoln, for that matter)? If these conspiracy theories are true, then what is area 51?

At first it was anti-Israel. Now it’s anti-Jews. It is no longer safe for South African Jews in South Africa. The next mark of the radical parties will be all non-Muslim whites, then all whites, then all black elites, then the remaining residents will war amongst themselves when their leaders will no longer have any scapegoats to redirect the populace’s attention from the real problems. Anyone remember Rwanda? Will there still be a South Africa in two decades time or will the state burst asunder into tribes fighting over false ideals and remaining resources?

South Africa has the ability to provide a decent standard of living and a good level of education to all its citizens. It breaks the heart that the elite care not for their most precious resource, their citizens.

The Germans have a word – ‘Schadenfreude’ – which, loosely translated, means to take satisfaction in the discomfort of another. This is exactly what many South African Jews are feeling as we witness Nathan Geffen, Doron Isaacs, Stephen Friedman et al., try to scramble and disassociate themselves from the anti-Semitic utterances of their bedfellow Muhammed Desai, who recently led crowds in a rendition of the chilling mantra, “Shoot the Jew.”

Anyone sufficiently naïve to think that this noble call to action died with the defeat of the Nazis has received a clear signal that it continues to exist, even amongst those who are openly supported by members of our very own community.

Not that this comes as any surprise to those of us who can tell the difference between fact and fiction. The depth of the hatred directed at Jews both in South Africa and abroad, if not clearly evident, lies just beneath the surface, waiting to pop out at the slightest provocation.

Before I’m accused of oversensitivity as the target of a supposedly innocuous chant calling for my death, allow me to remind Desai that the equally harmless call to “Kill the Boer” contributed to a fair number of murders of white farmers over the past two decades.

There is little more unpredictable than the actions of an uncontrolled mob.

Until now, Jewish supporters of the BDS campaign have ducked and dived behind the claim that the focus of their organization is primarily directed at Israel’s supposed ill-treatment of the Palestinians, and ending the occupation of the West Bank. The villain was always Zionism, never Jews as such.

Happy to work for a good, recognizable cause, many intrepid Jewish do-gooders climbed on board. Nothing makes one feel better than to have a banner to wave and an underdog to support, particularly when you’re doing it from the safety of an armchair thousands of kilometers away from the site of the action.

Despite the clear warning bells, which included some hostile, anti-Jewish comments from Zwelithini Vavi, Bongani Masuku, and that doyen of the ANC, Ahmed Kathrada, our brave, committed activists, chose to plow ahead. These threats were not directed at them; they were not a component of the target. After all, were they not the ‘good Jews’ with the good cause and the right friends?

Of course, the analogy is clear;: Germany 1933-45. There were no ‘good Jews,’ only good dead ones.

What a shock to suddenly find yourself on the outside looking in. What a strange sensation to have to face the cold reality of a leading light within the BDS movement, Muhammed Desai, defending the call to shoot Jews because, according to him, “the word ‘Jews’ was not meant in a literal fashion.”

In fact, Desai claimed that the call to kill Jews was “just like you would say kill the Boer at [a] funeral during the eighties [and] it wasn’t about killing white people, it was used as a way of identifying with the apartheid regime.”

Perhaps Desai can explain that to Amy Biehl, Dr. Melville Edelstein, and the 3,000 white farmers murdered in an orgy of killing following the acquisition of new-found freedom.

Desai should also explain how the word “Jews” can be used in any sense other than the “literal.”  It is certainly no verb, adverb, nor adjective.

One can only imagine the outcry and retribution that would follow were Jews to sing, “Kill the Muslim.”

What doesn’t appear to penetrate Desai’s limited intellect is that when a mob with a cause (however misguided) is presented with an appealing and emotive slogan, the line separating rhetoric from violence is thin indeed. Ask the millions of Jews who died in the pogroms of Eastern Europe.

In their scramble to either justify or condemn this embarrassing outrage, some strange things have been said which do no more than raise further questions. For example, Professor Farid Esack, writing on behalf of the board of BDS South Africa, expressed his opposition to “any and all incitement to violence and racism – including anti-Semitism and Zionism- even if it were to come from within our ranks.”

In the context of his statement, Esack is saying that “Zionism” should not be subject to racism. This is an open admission by Esak that Zionism is not the monster that it is portrayed as being, but is in fact the respectable movement that it is.

Thank you Dr. Esack! Your supporters will be delighted with your acknowledgment of Israel’s respectability.

However, ‘the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh.’ And close behind this admission, Esack ensures that we clearly understand that it is “unfortunate but not unexpected that supporters of Israel will focus on the singing of this song. …  [as the] purpose and context [of the protest] … were and remain the larger struggle against Israeli apartheid, Israel’s illegal Occupation and its violation of Palestinian rights.”

The fact that Israel’s occupation is, according to International Law, not illegal; that Israel does not practice apartheid by any stretch of the imagination; and that Palestinian rights may be being violated, but are violated more severely by the Palestinian Authority, is obviously not understood by Esack.

Esack’s claim that it is unfortunate that supporters of Israel will focus on the singing of the song prompts the question: “Unfortunate for who?”

Unfortunate for the veracity of the BDS movement, which sails on the so-called victories of ‘persuading’ visiting performers to cancel their tours of Israel through threats and coercion, or the visit by Professor Steven Hawkins, who has yet to explain how he can hypocritically allow himself to use an Israeli designed microchip that enables him to speak?

The victories of BDS are small and hollow, and, other than an inconvenience, do little to nothing in advancing the cause they claim to pursue. Their actions, as we have now seen, are grounded in bigotry, hatred, and intolerance. In calling for the killing of Jews, they have revealed the evil within their ranks and the corruption of their aims.

Another Jewish advocate of BDS, political analyst Professor Steven Friedman, has rushed to say, “A series of organizations that support the boycotts have made it clear they don’t think it’s a remotely acceptable slogan. … It is very important that those of us who support the boycott make it clear it’s about the denial of rights and the denial of self-expression and self-government for the Palestinian people. It’s not targeted at a particular ethnic group.”

But that’s not true, Professor, otherwise what was sung would not have been sung. What do you not understand about “Shoot the Jew?” All the spin in the world cannot change what has been said and against whom. Even as an avowed opponent of Israel, you, as a fellow Jew, must feel a little niggle of discomfort at the thought that such bigotry can surface so easily from the mouth of one of the leaders of an organization that you openly support.

Finally, prominent anti-Israel activists, Nathan Geffen and Doron Isaacs lamely bleat that, “Anti-Semitism, besides being personally insulting to us, scores an own-goal. It undermines the struggle for Palestinian freedom.”How touching. Perhaps you need to reassess who your real friends might be.

My closing question to those Jews who swell the ranks of BDS is simple:  With the identification of the undeniable true feelings of your fellow travelers, where is your self respect?



Nobel Peace Prize nominee Malala Yousafzai discusses the importance of education in diffusing terrorism and empowering women.


Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani school pupil and education activist from the town of Mingora in the Swat District of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. She is known for her activism for rights to education and for women, especially in the Swat Valley, where the Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. In early 2009, at the age of 11–12, Yousafzai wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC detailing her life under Taliban rule, their attempts to take control of the valley, and her views on promoting education for girls. The following summer, a New York Times documentary was filmed about her life as the Pakistani military intervened in the region, culminating in the Second Battle of Swat. Yousafzai rose in prominence, giving interviews in print and on television, and she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by South African activist Desmond Tutu.

On 9 October 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen while returning home on a school bus. In the days immediately following the attack, she remained unconscious and in critical condition, but later her condition improved enough for her to be sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in BirminghamEngland for intensive rehabilitation. On 12 October, a group of 50 Islamic clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwā against those who tried to kill her, but the Taliban reiterated its intent to kill Yousafzai and her father.

The assassination attempt sparked a national and international outpouring of support for Yousafzai. Deutsche Welle wrote in January 2013 that Malala may have become “the most famous teenager in the world.” United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown launched a UN petition in Yousafzai’s name, using the slogan “I am Malala” and demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015 – a petition which helped lead to the ratification of Pakistan’s first Right to Education Bill. In the 29 April 2013 issue of Timemagazine, Yousafzai was featured on the magazine’s front cover and as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World“. She was the winner of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and was nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. On 12 July 2013, Yousafzai spoke at the UN to call for worldwide access to education, and in September 2013 she officially opened the Library of Birmingham. Yousafzai is the recipient of the Sakharov Prize for 2013.


snide morons and the space pen


Thanks Jeannine Sioco for getting me to this post.

I received the link to the following article featuring, what in my opinion is, the most powerful anti-smoking advertising campaign ever. This should be a model for a world-wide end to smoking endeavor.

Thailand’s Anti-Smoking Ad Is Most Effective Anti-Smoking Ad Ever


It’s powerful stuff: Children walk up to smoking adults and ask them for a light. The adults, cigarettes in hand, start explaining why smoking is bad. It’s poignant and heartbreaking and touching and sentimental and emotionally triggering and everything an anti-smoking PSA should be.

At the same time, if the point is that smokers know all these health facts already, it’s not like a reminder — even delivered by someone representing your innocent, pre-smoker self — is going to convince anyone to throw away the pack. But for nonsmokers or new smokers or on-the-cusp addicts, it’s a nice reminder why you choose to save $10 a day and keep your lungs clean


Fri, May 04, 2012 Iyyar 12, 5772

An Israeli and a Palestinian scathed by South Africa apartheid rhetoric

Despite their limited knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, South Africans have many prejudices that are being fueled by anti-Israel groups

By Benjamin Pogrund and Bassem Eid

The two of us, an Israeli and a Palestinian, went to South Africa recently to speak about the Middle East. For understandable reasons, South Africa is a major source for the “Israel is apartheid” accusation; it stems from the fact that many South Africans, especially blacks, relate Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to their own history of racial discrimination.

And indeed, in the several dozen meetings we addressed, we repeatedly heard the apartheid accusation. No, we replied: Apartheid does not exist inside Israel; there’s discrimination against Arabs but it’s not South African apartheid. On the West Bank, there is military occupation and repression, but it is not apartheid. The apartheid comparison is false and confuses the real problems.

As we traveled around the country, it became clear to us that South Africans generally have limited knowledge about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But they hold many prejudices and these are fed and manipulated by organizations that are vehemently anti-Israel – to the extent of calling for destruction of the Jewish state, as the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, the Muslim Judicial Council and the Russell Tribunal have done. Black trade unions join in the attacks and so do some people of Jewish origin.

Our host was the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. During 10 days we spoke on five university campuses, at several public meetings and to journalists, and were on radio programs, including one aired by a Muslim station.

We were shown an e-mail calling for protests against our visit: It seemed that the anti-Israel hard-liners were upset by an Israeli and a Palestinian speaking on the same platform and promoting peace. But there were no protests: The worst we experienced was a knot of about six people standing quietly outside one meeting. We were also warned to expect “tough questions,” but we didn’t hear any. Instead, the large audiences – people of all colors, and mainly non-Jews – were attentive and wanted information about the current state of play in the conflict.

There were some hostile comments such as the silly sneer that Israel is “terrified of a few suicide bombers” and that it is “hogwash” to call Hamas a terrorist organization. In a more serious vein were repeated references to the Palestinian “right of return.” It cannot be said whether those who spoke were genuinely responding to the plight of the refugees, or were cynically using it as a reasonable-sounding slogan although it in effect calls for elimination of the Jewish state.

Nelson Mandela’s words in support of Palestinian freedom were flung at us (and also appear in propaganda leaflets issued by Palestinian-supporting organizations ). He was quoted as saying: “But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” Mandela did indeed say that, on December 9, 1997, on the occasion of Palestinian Solidarity Day, and it still resonates strongly among South Africans. But it’s actually half of what he said in the context of a call for freedom for all people. He also explained the greater context and the dishonesty of the propagandists in singling out Israel: “… without the resolution of conflicts in East Timor, the Sudan and other parts of the world.”

Other falsities we heard were that only Jews are allowed to own or rent 93 percent of the land in Israel, and that Israel’s restrictions on marriage (which in actuality derive from Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious authorities ) are the same as apartheid South Africa’s prohibition of marriage – or sex – across color lines.

There was also an earlier statement by the South African Council of Churches in support of Israel Apartheid Week in which it claimed that “Israel remained the single supporter of apartheid when the rest of the world implemented economic sanctions, boycotts and divestment to force change in South Africa.” That, of course, is nonsense: Israel did trade with apartheid South Africa – but so did the entire world, starting with oil sales by Arab states, and including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Soviet Union and many in Africa.

BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, is noisily vocal and gets publicity in South African media. While we were there it ran Israel Apartheid Week programs on several university campuses. But the movement did not garner wide support; some scheduled speakers did not even turn up. Its boast that more than 100 universities worldwide took part in the week doesn’t amount to much: Apartheid weeks have been going on for eight years and out of the 100 this year, 60 were held on American campuses (out of 4,000 universities and colleges in that country ). Not much progress there.

We did not pre-plan what we were going to say. But a consensus emerged: First, we both spoke in bleak terms about peace prospects in the near future; second, we each castigated our own leaderships for double-talk and pretense, and for their lack of boldness and vision, and we pointed to the growth of Jewish settlements on the West Bank as undermining the chances for an agreement.

We stressed that we welcomed interest in our part of the world – but warned that some members of Palestinian solidarity movements have never visited the occupied territories, and they damage the Palestinian cause abroad because they act out of ignorance, and foster division and hatred between Arabs and Jews. They do not help to bring peace.

Our strangest meeting was with scores of Congolese who asked us to explain why their conflict – ongoing since 1960 with a toll of perhaps more than 7 million people dead – receives less attention in South African and other media than does the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. It was painful listening to their recital of mass rapes and murders. But it was difficult to empathize with them when one speaker blamed the Jews, whom he said controlled the world and the media, and when a former army officer asked us for money to go and fight the Congolese government.

Bassem Eid is director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group and a former researcher for B’Tselem. Benjamin Pogrund, South African-born, was founder of Yakar’s Center for Social Concern in Jerusalem.

  • Published 10:55 04.05.12
  • Latest update 10:55 04.05.12


April 13, 2012, 10:22 AM

Why French Parents Are Superior (in One Way)


Consider this: Our children are three times more likely to be overweight than French children. In fact, we lead the world in producing overweight children, but the French have one of the lowest rates of overweight children in the developed world.

The causes of obesity are complex (lifestyle, physical activity, poverty, food insecurity, genetics and obesogenic chemicals all play a role). But what we eat is undoubtedly a factor. Because of poor eating habits, the current generation of American children will suffer far more health problems — and perhaps have a shorter life expectancy — than their parents. We may be teaching our kids to eat themselves into an early grave.

The reason lies in how we teach our kids to eat. I say this from personal experience: together with our two daughters we’ve divided our time between France and North America for the better part of two decades. Our daughters been in school and daycare — and I’ve taught in universities — in both places. So I’ve seen French children in action from cradle to college.

Now, despite this, I don’t parent like the French. In fact, I think they could learn from us about creativity, empathy and individual initiative — traits that are not fostered by traditional French parenting (or schooling). I think North American parenting at its best is, largely, better for kids. But there is one exception: food.

French parents teach their children to eat like we teach our kids to read: with love, patience and firm persistence they expose their children to a wide variety of tastes, flavors and textures that are the building blocks of a varied, healthy diet. Pediatrician-recommended first foods for French babies are leek soup, endive, spinach and beets. (Not bland rice cereal — have you ever tasted that stuff?) They teach their children that “good for you foods” taste good (broccoli – yum!), whereas we often do the opposite.

The result is a nation of healthy eaters: 6 million French children sit down every day to school lunches featuring dishes like cauliflower casserole, baked endive, beet salad and broccoli. Vending machines and fast food are banned, and flavored milk is not an option. To introduce kids to a wide variety of foods, no dish can be repeated more than once per month. Food for thought.

French children are also trained to think about how to eat. The French won’t ask a child, for example, “Are you full,” but rather “Are you still hungry” — a very different feeling. This is one example of French Food Rules (as I call them): codified common sense based in a rich food culture, backed up by a century of science.

Another example: French kids snack only once a day. France’s official food guide emphatically recommends no snacking, and TV snack food ads carry a banner (much like cigarettes) warning that snacking between meals is bad for your health. Snacking, the French feel, creates unregulated eating habits that are difficult to change later in life. Given that our increased calorie consumption over the past 20 years has come largely from snacking, they may have a point.

Just in case you were wondering, diets for French children are relatively rare; few of them need it. Nor are they deprived of treats: “food is fun” is the Golden Rule of French eating. 
Moderation, not deprivation — along with viewing food as a source of pleasure, a fun family adventure — is the core of French food culture. The French worry less about nutrients and calories, and instead concentrate on teaching their children to love food; c’est normal!, given that food is one of life’s great shared pleasures.

We saw the results in our own family during the year we lived in France. Our children went from being absurdly picky eaters (we counted goldfish crackers as a separate food group) to loving many vegetables, from beets and broccoli to creamed spinach. They, in turn, inspired me to change the way I ate. When we’re not living in France, we continue (and adapt) the French approach to eating. This doesn’t mean we need to eat French food; why would we, when we have so many diverse, wonderful cuisines (and even terroirs) here at home? Rather, we’ve learned some useful life lessons about how and why to eat.

So we don’t need to parent like the French. But we should be asking ourselves what we could learn from them about children and food. It’s a conversation worth having, because a lot is at stake.

Karen Le Billon is the author of “French Children Eat Everything.”


I always wondered why so many seemingly moral people pirate things off the web. I came across this article and cartoon. What do you think?

In my last ThinkerNet post, Are ‘Name Your Own Price’ Music Downloads Working?, I discussed how the Internet might alter the business models for selling recorded music. The readers’ comments brought up several interesting ideas. But in these comments I detected a point of view that appears to be very common — that it is OK to download copyrighted music files without paying anything for them. There are lots of reasons why people believe it’s acceptable to download copyrighted music for free. It is possible, for example, to believe that private property is abhorrent and that stealing is perfectly justifiable behavior. Of course, rifling through your friend’s wallet, taking money from the collection plate, or putting steaks under your sweatshirt can lead to a punch in the mouth or some other form of punishment. Downloading music on the Internet is a much less risky form of theft for those too spineless to act on their anti-property beliefs in the offline world. But I do not believe that most non-paying downloaders are responding to deeply held philosophical beliefs about property. In fact, I am quite sure that if you were to steal the typical pirate’s iPod you would likely hear howls of anger. The best rationale? I think everyone knows that downloading a copyrighted sound recording, in lieu of a purchase, has the same impact on the owner of the song as theft. So why do so many people believe it’sOK to download music without paying for it? The answer is: They have come up with ways to rationalize their actions and to mollify their consciences. There are many forms of such rationalization. One is to suggest that piracy benefits record sales. There is a recent (and poorly done) “Canadian Government Study of File-sharing,” which comes to that conclusion. Another study, the “Oberholzer-Gee/Strumpf paper,” finds downloading is having no negative impact on record sales, but most economic studies have concluded that file-sharing strongly diminishes the revenues of the recording industry — as evidenced by the steep drop in record sales since file-sharing began. This leads to another, surprisingly common rationalization, which is the claim that artists get virtually no money from the record companies. This paints the record companies as evil ogres, so stealing from them is treated as a benign deed. Since musical acts are typically held in high regard by their fans, the pirates want to believe they are not harming the musicians. Check out the comments on my original post for examples of this belief. Common sense should tell you that artists must receive substantial royalties from record sales. Why else would they care so much about their recording contracts? Why else would it matter whether they stay with the same company or sign recording contracts with a new company? What about the mega-deals — for artists such as REM or Janet Jackson — that received so much publicity in the mid 1990s? To be fair, there is an otherwise solid paper, “Rockonomics: The Economics of Popular Music,” which tangentially seems to support the claim that sound recording royalties are not very important to artists. To check this claim, I decided to work out the details of the relative size of payments artists receive from concerts and payments coming from record sales. Record royalties — from both mechanical rights and sound recording sales to customers — appear to be slightly larger than the concert revenues going to artists. Although the specific calculations are somewhat imprecise, the conclusion is quite clear: Record royalties are substantial, and probably make up the majority of artist revenues. So piracy, self-justified as an act harming only the record companies, also harms artists. Although the music pirates glommed onto the claim that record companies really don’t pay anything to artists, that is almost certainly just a rationalization that will merely be replaced by some other rationalization when shown to be false. The real reason for piracy Music thieves seem unwilling to admit that their real reason is just old-fashioned selfishness — to have more money in their pockets. No different than any other form of theft. I don’t expect everyone to act honestly all the time. If you find $100 on the ground, I don’t expect you to turn it in to the police. I do expect people to at least agree on what is the honest thing to do, however, even if they do not do it. So let’s not kid ourselves. If you detest the record companies so much, boycott their products — don’t steal them. But don’t pretend that you are not hurting the artists you profess to admire. — Stan Liebowitz, Ashbel Smith Professor of Economics, University of Texas at Dallas



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