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Archives for March, 2010


Law and Disorder March 29, 2010


Updates:

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Citizen’s Battle Against Haliburton Gas Drilling Heats Up

Environmental community groups from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania gathered last week in Philadelphia, pulling together strategies to protect the Marcellus Shale watershed from natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing.  The shale is believed to hold some of the world’s largest deposits of natural gas, and those that want to mine this resource say it will reduce dependence on foreign oil and boost the economy. The environmental and public health costs are too high say opponents. They point out that gas drilling causes increased runoff because the water used in drilling won’t be returned to streams.There will be more erosion, water quality will worsen.  The lesson is clear from other locations that had the same drilling. Near the Jonah gas field in Wyoming, there was a drop in wildlife of 50%, an increase in crime, loss of businesses, a drop in property values, accidents like wildfires, more traffic, and a greater need for emergency services are some of the impacts of gas drilling. Damascus Citizens Man lights tap water on fire – video

Late last week, the EPA stated it will investigate how hydraulic fracturing will impact water supplies and water quality in New York State. The Upper Delaware River Watershed Basin is the source of pure water for 20 million people in Philadelphia, New York City and half of New Jersey. 171 products and 245 chemicals are used among millions of gallons of water and sand. Halliburton’s gas well drilling process is now exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act, The Clean Air Act and The Right To Know Act.

Susan Blankensop:

  • I live in New York City and I have a part time residency in Pennsylvania.
  • In January of 2008, some neighbors of mine starting speaking about these land-men who were coming around the neighborhoods speaking to private land owners, and offering them money for their mineral rights under their land.
  • It was all secretive, they said don’t tell your neighbor because I’m offering you a better deal.
  • Then we started hearing about this Marcellus Shale and natural gas deposits, hydro fracturing and horizontal drilling.  They’re offering 3500.00 an acre with 18 percent royalties.
  • Haliburton is the company that developed Hydro-fracturing is where they drill down into these deep shale levels. They go vertically down about a mile then bore horizontally and start setting off mini-explosions. Other companies involved – Chesapeake Energy /Fortuna – Now Talisman Hess
  • Explosions – a high velocity mixture of water, chemicals and sand, creating fissures, then the gas escapes up the well.  Each time they drill a well, they use an estimate of 5 to 9 million gallons of water, just to drill one well. Each time they fracture a well, it’s another 5-9 million gallons of water, and they can fracture a well multiple times.
  • Huge amounts of water, where are they getting the water? Huge amounts of chemicals, 275 different toxic chemicals.  After they drill the well, they end up with millions of gallons of industrial waste, this radioactive water.  40-70 percent of it stays underground.
  • 90 percent of the New York City’s drinking water comes from ground zero of where Haliburton wants to drill into the Marcelle Shale for natural gas.
  • MILLIONS OF ACRES HAVE ALREADY BEEN GIVEN UP FOR DRILLING
  • The land owners stand to gain from this, but everybody is going to be affected by the contamination of the water.  It’s going to turn the countryside into an industrial zone.
  • TIMETABLE: In New York State, they’re (drilling companies) are waiting for the DEC guidelines.
  • However, the EPA, came out with a statement, saying that those guidelines were totally inadequate. (No long term, cumulative effects of contamination)  The hydro-fracturing, has no federal regulating body.
  • Movie Documentary – – Gas Land, Directed by Josh Fox
  • Organizing – at this point – stay as local as you can. Each area is different.
  • Natural gas burns relatively cleaner than oil and coal, but it’s still a hydrocarbon. It’s still polluting, and the extraction process is highly contaminating.
  • NYH2O - Events: Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 7 PM / John Jay College, Gerald W. Lynch Theater /899 10th Avenue @59th Street, NYC
  • Symposium and Public Programs for Natural Gas – April 14-15, Cooper Union

Guest – Susan Blankensop, public speaker and member of Damascus citizens a non-profit advocacy group.

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Left Forum: How to Make a Revolution in the US

We hear from our own co-host Michael Smith and Historian Paul LeBlanc who spoke at the Left Forum panel titled, How to Make a Revolution in the U.S.  Paul teaches history and political science at LaRoche College.

Historian Paul LeBlanc:

  • One percent of the families own 40 percent of the wealth, top 20 percent own 80 percent of the wealth.
  • Economic power translates into political power. This is an international reality, this inequality of wealth and power. A revolution involves flipping this.
  • So that there is an equal share of wealth and power. An economic democracy that is equal in power throughout the world.  The oppressed workers no longer accepting the rulership over them, that’s a revolution and that’s what we need.  We have crisis, and capitalism generates crisis.
  • The movie Children of Men, shows global demonstrations, but they didn’t change the balance of power in society.
  • People who are struggling for social change, can be co-opted by those who have power to repress, make adjustments.  We have to oppose Imperialism, extraction industries, for those who own and control multi-national corporations, which exist not to meet the needs of the people of the Earth but to maximize profits for those who have economic power.
  • They will do WHATEVER is necessary to maintain power and profit. They’re doing it in Iraq and Afghanistan and threatning to do the same in other regions.
  • We have a responsibility to oppose that. Building anti-war movement. I think I’m going to die before we make the revolution.   We need to replace Capitalism.
  • They thought Obama would end the wars. Obama wanted to be president of the United States empire.
  • Anti-war movement weakened. There is a lack of cadre. People who know how make a leaflet, organize a meeting. Who know how to use a series of meetings that will result in a demonstration, and that demonstration will be part of an overarching strategy, that will build an increasing militant and radical majority. We need to develop cadre. A strategic perspective that fights for victories in the here and now.

Speakers – Michael Steven Smith and Historian Paul LeBlanc. Professor LeBlanc graduated from University of Pittsburgh – B.A., M.A., Ph.D. He’s written many books including, “Black Liberation and the American Dream” (2003) /  “U.S. Labor in the Twentieth Century” (edited with John Hinshaw, 2000) / “A Short History of the U.S. Working Class” (1999) and “Rosa Luxemburg: Reflections and Writings” (1999)”

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Law and Disorder March 22, 2010


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Inside the Lawfare Project: Netanyahu’s Attack on Human Rights NGO’s Hits the States

Earlier this month, the Lawfare Project,  a not-for-profit organization described as dedicated to raising awareness about the abuse of the law and legal systems, held an event at the New York Lawyers Association. The project’s goals state:  to facilitate a response to the perversion and misapplication of human rights law, mobilize resources and bring interested parties together in a common forum.

Max Blumenthal, award-winning journalist, was there, and reports back in his recent article,  Inside the Lawfare Project: Netanyahu’s Attack on Human Rights NGO’s Hits the States. Our own Michael Ratner and the Center for Constitutional Rights was also a target. Blumenthal writes, The Center for Constitutional Rights was singled out because its founder, Michael Ratner, went on the recent Gaza Freedom March with Code Pink.  None of the factual documentation these groups released was challenged by the NGO Monitor report or in Herzberg’s presentation. Instead, the groups and their leadership are being targeted with a scattershot of accusations that recall McCarthyism in its crudest form.

Max Blumenthal:

  • This conference was convened at the New York Lawyers Association, with the Dean of the Columbia University Law School presiding over it.
  • Politicians, neo-conservative think tank heads, and Israeli high officials, convening basically to bash the Goldstone Report which they consider to be the zenith of law fare against Israel.
  • To bash the human rights groups that contributed data to the Goldstone Report.
  • Law fare: Using law as a means to conduct foreign policy. Past manifestations of law fare, used by British to legitimatize laws to break up their colonies.
  • Law fare Project, singled out human rights groups such as the Center for Constitutional Rights and Michael Ratner
  • Israel is going further and further outside of the scope of international law.  Instead of Israel having to deny charges of war crimes in a public forum they attack Judge Goldstone.
  • PR firms associated with the Lawfare Project. 5wPR, which used to represent birth right of Israel. The firm is run by Ronn Torossian, who has been involved with settler attacks on Palestinians.
  • They’re being funded by the law firm of Pat Robertson. The American Center for Law and Justice.
  • This is I think really an effort of public diplomacy by the Israeli government funded by right wing Jewish and Christian Zionists interests.
  • The NGO monitor headed by Gerald Steinberg, who is notorious in helping to de-fund, and de-legitimatize all Israel human rights groups. Israel had its first human rights march this year.
  • Human rights group members in Israel, have their homes graffit’d with “price tag”, settler slang for you’ll be assassinated.
  • In addition, you Michael Ratner were singled out as a traitor to the United States of America, openly and you’re in this NGO monitor black list. Put together by NGO monitor legal advisor, Ann Herzberg, you are accused of NGO lawfare. You and Human Rights Watch.
  • We heard David Matas who is a Canadian lawyer, says this is equivalent to anti-Semitic gangs beating up Jews in the street, – – because International law is the legacy of the holocaust, it should always side with Israel.
  • Michael Ratner: Israel wants an exemption. I’ve gone after human rights violaters in nearly every country in the world. We do a little bit of work on human rights violations in Gaza and the West Bank and all of a sudden I’m an enemy of United States, I’m anti-Semitic.
  • They’re seeking emotional and subtle ethnic justification for their defense without debating the Goldstone Report.
  • I think it puts Jews in danger, when they claim the Gaza assault which killed more than 700 civilians is somehow a reflection of the Jewish ethos.
  • The image of it is intended to intimidate those who want to speak out, especially in the Jewish community but haven’t done so yet.  We sound hopeful on this show, but this is a time for deep, deep concern.
  • People are wondering, where’s the Palestinian Ghandi?  My father was a White House advisor, my mother worked in the White House, my father worked in the Washington Press Corp Israel is in the grip of a mass psychosis.
  • In the youth of Israel, we’re seeing a trend in favoring apartheid.

GuestMax Blumenthal,  award-winning journalist and bestselling author whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Huffington Post, Salon.com, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. He is a writing fellow for the Nation Institute. His book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party, is a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller.

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Khalil Gibran International Academy Principal Discriminated Against.

Last week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that the Department of Education discriminated against interim principal Debbie Almontaser in 2007 when they forced her to resign from Khalil Gibran International Academy. The school was envisioned to provide knowledge and understanding of Arab language and culture and controversy arose before its doors opened.  As we covered in November of 2007, Almontaser was forced to resign after she was quoted explaining in the New York Post that the word “intifada” literally means “shaking off” in Arabic. This was in reference to a controversy stirring over a t-shirt that read “Intifada NYC” created and worn by a group called Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media. Almontaser came under criticism by the community for not denouncing it. The EEOC ruling calls on the Department of Education to reach a “just resolution”  as well as meet Almontaser’s demand, of a reinstatement, back pay, damages and legal costs. Communities In Support of KGIA

Alan Levine / Mona Eldahry:

  • DOE had capitulated to mob pressure, to community prejudice, when the firestorm erupted after the New York Post article, August 2007.
  • DOE, instead of quelling the fire, days went by and the fire grew. Debbie Almontaser’s qualifications were questioned, she was told if she didn’t resign the school would be closed.
  • Debbie was out of central casting for the position, she couldn’t have been more perfect for it. The DOE knew about that record, that’s why they selected Debbie as principal for Khalil Gibran International Academy.
  • The EEOC found that because the DOE capitulated, they became the discriminator.
  • Mona : The t-shirts in question, had nothing to do with Debbie, but somehow she was associated with them. The DOE required Debbie to do this interview with the New York Post, not with the Times.
  • The Post misquoted and misrepresented her as the EEOC found.
  • Alan: The DOE had succumbed to the kind of prejudice that the Khalil Gibran International Academy was intended to dispel.
  • The claim is based on that Debbie Almontaser was attacked by a bigoted community based on being an American Muslim and a government agency to its great shame capitulated to that prejudice.
  • Certainly the DOE could have expected a strong reaction from the Arab-American community.
  • Alan: The DOE investigation is accessible to us, what people said in this investigation will be part of the record in this case (federal)  The EEOC is the premier agency in the country for evaluating employment discrimination claims.

Guests, attorney Alan Levine and Mona Eldahry,  co-founder of Arab Women Active In the Arts.

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Law and Disorder March 15, 2010


Updates:

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Rachel Corrie wrongful death  v Israel

This month, the Haifa District Court in Israel will begin hearing eyewitness testimonies in a civil lawsuit filed in 2005 by Rachel Corrie’s family against the State of Israel for her unlawful killing in Rafah, Gaza. On March 16, 2003, Rachel was crushed to death by a Caterpillar D9R bulldozer while trying to protect the home of a Palestinian doctor from demolition. She was run over and killed by an IDF soldier who was operating the bulldozer. Seven years later, Rachel’s parents are still seeking the truth. The trial is expected to show the circumstances of her death and hold the Israeli military reponsible. Four eyewitnesses to Rachel’s killing have been recently granted visas by Israel to testify but Israel is refusing to allow the Palestinian doctor who treated Rachel and confirmed her death into Israel.
Maria LaHood:

  • CCR represented Rachel Corrie in the United States because she was run over by a Caterpillar bulldozer. The same month in 2005, the Corries brought a suit against Israel, in Israel for the killing.
  • This suit was on the advice of the US State Department. You can sue Israel, the country. Israel claims immunity.
  • Israel’s defense that the bulldozer driver couldn’t see Rachel Corrie in the bright orange jacket.
  • Expert witness says Israel’s heavy machinery operator policy says do not use around people.
  • Rachel was defending the home and the bulldozer crushed her.  Rachel was with the International Solidarity Movement. The Corrie family will present their evidence to the Israeli court and then there’s a 30 day break in the trial.  This is not a jury trial, it is before a judge. Corries are asking for information, and accountability.
  • In the attacks of Gaza a year ago, more than 4000 houses were demolished.
  • Someone was filming at the border at the time of Rachel’s death, the actual part of the tape where she was crushed is missing.
  • Mamilla Cemetery Case Update:  We’ve asked the special rapporteurs of the United Nations to intervene.
  • Michael Ratner: It does seem to be intentionally provocative. To be doing this on a cemetery and calling it the “Center for Tolerance” MamillaCampaign website.

Guest – Staff attorney Maria LaHood. Maria specializes in international human rights litigation, seeking to hold government officials and corporations accountable for torture, extrajudicial killings, and war crimes abroad. Her cases include Arar v. Ashcroft, against U.S. officials for sending Canadian citizen Maher Arar to Syria where he was tortured and detained for a year; Matar v. Dichter, against an Israeli official responsible for a “targeted assassination” that killed 15 Palestinians; Belhas v. Ya’alon, against a former Israeli official responsible for the 1996 shelling of a United Nations compound in Qana, Lebanon, that killed over 100 civilians; Corrie v. Caterpillar, on behalf of Palestinians killed and injured in home demolitions, and Rachel Corrie, a U.S. human rights defender who was killed trying to protect a home from being demolished.

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JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters by Jim Douglass

JFK, The Unspeakable, is the first book of 3 on the assassinations of the 1960s. Orbis Books has commissioned author James W. Douglass to write about the murders of JFK, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, and his  the third will be on the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. The heart of JFK the Unthinkable, is not how Kennedy was killed or how Kennedy became a threat to the systemic war machine, but why DID Kennedy die? Author James Douglass says Kennedy knew that he would die and had the guts to stand up to the system and take the hit. This narrative was lost for decades, obscured by disinformation about Kennedy’s character and the conspiracy of his assassination. One review summarizes Douglass’s book in this way : JFK’s belated effort to turn America from an armed culture of victory to a member of an international peaceful world was shot down in Texas for a reason.

Jim Douglass:

  • John F. Kennedy’s experience in WWII:  He was in the South Pacific, he volunteered. He was on that PT boat.
  • What happened on that PT boat, is that it got split into two by a Japanese destroyer. He lost brothers and friends at that time.  An extraordinary experience being adrift on the ocean warning other PT boats. The experience create a distrust in military authority.
  • He said that he wanted to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter to the winds.
  • As Kennedy said to his friends, “they figured me all wrong.”
  • The Unspeakable: the kind of evil and deceit that seems to go beyond the capacity of words to describe. The midst of war and nuclear arms race, the assassinations of Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcom X that the term was used.
  • JFK’s vision is articulated in the address June 10, 1963, arising from the turnaround of the missile crisis and Bay of Pigs.
  • He wanted to move step by step into a disarmed world. Nikita Khrushchev put that speech all over the Soviet Union.  The Cuban Missile Crisis is a deeply misunderstood part of our history, because it’s usually portrayed as Kennedy going to war with Nikita Khrushchev and beating him.
  • The truth was that Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev were in over their heads, the US generals wanted nuclear war, because they had more warheads than the Soviets.
  • Nikita Khrushchev: We now have a common enemy from those pushing us toward war.
  • At that point the Cold War turned upside down because Kennedy and Khruschev became closer to each other than either was toward their own military power system.
  • Vietnam: Kennedy’s military people would not give him an exit policy. He signed the withdrawal order from Vietnam before he was assassinated.
  • His friends said that he had an obsession with death. It was not an obsession but a real assessment that he was going to die. If you try to turn around a national security state that is dominating the world,
  • and you do so as president of the United States, of course you’re going to die. Kennedy knew that.
  • The book is a story on the deliberate destruction of hope, the vision of change, a turning of this country all of which was happening and had to be stopped.  US Agencies killed Dr. Martin Luther King – 1999 Verdict
  • We’re in the same scene right now with Petraeus and McChrystal setting up Obama. They were dictating terms to Obama, unlike Kennedy, he did not face them down.
  • We need to get out ahead of Obama so that he can do something.

Guest -author, James W. Douglass. He’s a longtime peace activist and writer. James and his wife Shelley are co-founders of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, Washington, and Mary’s House, a Catholic Worker house of hospitality in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Law and Disorder March 8, 2010


Updates:

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Mass Demonstration Planned: March Forward

On Saturday March 20, there will be a massive National March and Rally in Washington DC organized against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, while fighting for social and economic justice at home. The demonstrations will pull together veterans, active-duty service members and those have served in the US military. Other mass rallies will be held on the same day in San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The day before on Friday March 19, there will be a day of action and outreach.  Today Michael Prysner joins us to give us more information and details on this mass demonstration. Michael recently delivered a powerful speech as an IVAW member.  From Michael’s speech, ” Our real enemies are not those living in a distant land whose names or policies we don’t understand; The real enemy is a system that wages war when it’s profitable, the CEOs who lay us off our jobs when it’s profitable, the Insurance Companies who deny us Health care when it’s profitable, the Banks who take away our homes when it’s profitable. Our enemies are not several hundred thousands away. They are right here in front of us.”

Mike Prysner:

  • I’m a co-founder of March Forward, it’s also an affiliate with the ANSWER coalition which is Act Now To Stop War End Racism. We know now that there are more people who are becoming tired of the wars and watching 500 million dollars a day squandered on these senseless wars and occupations.
  • On March 20, you’re going to see thousands of people from all over the country. We’re coming off of a year of President Obama being elected. Many people thought that they were voting for an to the war, and change to the colonial policies of the US government.
  • So, change comes not from an election, but through a struggle and mass movement.  We need to be there on the anniversary of the criminal invasion of Iraq.
  • Demands: US out of Iraq and Afghanistan. An immediate end to occupations. Freedom for Palestine, reparations for Haiti, money for jobs, education, housing and health care, not for war.
  • WAR: This is about the United States expanding its reach economically, to seize the local economies and natural resources and the markets of these countries.  These wars are for empire to expand US business interests.
  • I went to Iraq in 2003 during the invasion, and then month after month I thought we were there for a very different purpose. There was a growing frustration within the military, people don’t want to go and kill and be killed.  People join the military because they need access to a job, education, health care.
  • It was the Iraqi children that I saw, that cried and screamed at us, I dragged from their houses during raids. It was innocent Iraqis that were shot. This is what turned me around.
  • Seeing their faces, that made me realize that we were not the liberators that we thought we were going to be.
  • Afghanistan: Soldiers are used as bait. They are put at an outpost and wait to get attacked. They get attacked and call in air strikes.  Soldiers are put in danger, without any real expressed purpose. Now the Generals have warned us that we should be braced for hundreds of casualties every month.
  • We have these 2 things, the horrible deaths and destruction and then no reason why. It’s cloaked in chauvinism and racism, and that’s the only justification.

Guest – Michael Prysner, lead coordinator of March Forward and Iraq Veterans Against the War member.

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John Brown’s Farm Faces Possible Closure – Update

Today we look into the possible closure of the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in North Elba, New York.  State lawmakers have announced that budget cuts could result in the closure of the farm where the famed abolitionist lived with his family and is now buried. There are others buried there, those that perished in Brown’s 1859 raid on a federal arsenal in Harper’s Ferry.  Historic sites and parks are often the first casualties of budget cuts.  In one scenario, the New York legislature would have to approve a proposed transfer of 5 million dollars from the Environmental Protection Fund to shore up the budget cuts that would affect New York parks including John Brown’s farm.  Meanwhile, many New York residents are pulling together to speak out and save this historic area.  John Brown’s Body – song Recent News: John Brown Resolution Introduced by Senator

Louis DeCaro:

  • The land was given to John Brown by Gerrit Smith who gave land grants to many including “free blacks” from New York State.  The area was nicknamed Tim Buk Tu. John Brown lived up there in a rented farm, but later his son in law built the farm house that is there (1854)
  • He was somewhat of a black nationalist as well as being a forerunner in the civil rights movement. He supported black self determination.  Some people had said it was an underground railroad stop and it really wasn’t.
  • For years, African American churches made trips to the farm, John Brown was buried there, of course after being hanged in W. Virginia in 1859.  It’s a spiritual experience, you ascend this road, you get to the top, you see the farm house there. There’s a great boulder where John Brown loved to sit on this boulder and read his Bible.
  • I brought Charles 37X up there as an elderly man in 1999. I’ll never forget the impact this had, the connections he made up there.  It’s marginalized in American memory.
  • I believe as we progress as a society that this will a place that’s more treasured.
  • There’s optimism but still the real possibility (of the farm to be closed)
  • Write to:  Assembly woman Teresa Sayward / 940 Legislative Office Bldg / Albany NY / 12248 / EMAIL: sayward@assembly.state.ny.us
  • State Senator Betty Little / Room 506 / Legislative Office Bldg / Albany NY / 12247/ EMAIL: little@senate.state.ny.us

Guest - Louis A. DeCaro, Jr. Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of History at Alliance Theological Seminary’s New York City campus, and is also the pastor of an urban church. Of course, he often dreams of being a full-time researcher and student of the life and letters of John Brown the abolitionist.  His latest work is entitled, “John Brown: The Man Who Lived” (Lulu, 2009), a collection of essays prepared in honor of the sesquicentennial of the Harper’s Ferry Raid and the hanging of John Brown. Lou’s previous works on the abolitionist are “John Brown–the Cost of Freedom” (International Publishers, 2007)–which features new insights based on cutting edge research and transcriptions of twenty John Brown letters, and ‘Fire from the Midst of You': A Religious Life of John Brown” (New York University Press, 2002). He is also a contributor to “The Afterlife of John Brown,” edited by Eldrid Herrington and Andrew Taylor (2005), and Jean Libby’s monumental “John Brown Photo Chronology” (2009).

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