Follow the Soapbox
June 5, 2015 9:22 am·

(ANTIMEDIA) In what could hardly be called a surprise, the UN Human Rights Council chastised the US over its epidemic of police violence, discrimination, needless killings, and general neglect, following through with recommendations made in its first review in 2010.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) takes place every four years to scrutinize the human and civil rights practices of each of the UN’s 193 member nations. Delegates from 117 countries took the opportunity to lambaste the US’ record of civil rights violations exacted by its brutal and racist police forces.

In an attempt to fend off the inevitable, James Cadogan, a senior counselor in the Department of Justice’s Human Rights Division, said the US must “rededicate ourselves to ensuring that our civil rights laws live up to their promise,” listing several “tragic deaths” that sparked numerous demonstrations and wide-scale unrest across the country. However, he seemed to be blind to the fundamental basis for such outrage saying the US wishes to“identify and address potential policing issues before they become systemic problems,”, even asserting a fictitious good record for holding violators accountable. As Mary McLeod, acting legal adviser to the US Dept of State, put it, “We’re proud of the work we’ve done since our last UPR.” Most would disagree.

What the US representatives touted as improvements, actually do more to highlight the systemic issue they claim to be on the lookout for. Cadogan cited 400 instances in the past six years in which charges were brought against law enforcement officials, but this doesn’t figure in the disproportionately light punishment that often results from prosecution of police officers. Even his own preemptive statement, naming Michael Brown and Eric Garner as examples, speaks far more to police impunity than accountability — and is hardly reflective of the totality of incidents. Over 400 people have been killed by police in 2015 alone.

“Chad considers the United States of America to be a country of freedom, but recent events targeting black sectors of society have tarnished its image,” said Awada Angui, the delegate from that country.

The representative from Namibia, Gladice Pickering, echoed the general consensus saying the US needs “to fix the broken justice system that continues to discriminate against [marginalized communities], despite recent waves of protest over racial profiling and police killings of unarmed black men.”

Critics across the board urged improvements in training methods and legislation and included goals to eliminate racism and end excessive force.

“I’m not surprised that the world’s eyes are focused on police issues in the US,” said Alba Morales of Human Rights Watch. “There is an international spotlight that’s been shone [on the issues], in large part due to the events in Ferguson and the disproportionate police response to even peaceful protesters.”

A federal investigation was launched on Friday to determine if police in Baltimore have instituted a pattern of discrimination following reports from residents of brutal abuse before and after Freddie Gray was killed in police custody. Such investigations are often too little, too late for victims and their families, who see them more akin to the cynical joke; “we investigated ourselves and found we did nothing wrong.”

Martinez Sutton, whose 22-year-old sister, Rekia Boyd, was shot by an off-duty Chicago police officer in 2012, observed from the sidelines. He feels that her killer’s acquittal three weeks ago is frustratingly typical: “I do not expect them to do anything because – I mean: Let us be real, it has been going on for years and what has been done?  As I stated before, they say the guilty should be punished.  I want them to show us instead of tell us. My sister was innocent, so why isn’t anybody paying for her death?”

. ? The UN will issue its report on the review along with recommendations on Friday, though its contents probably won’t be of much consequence considering the US “largely failed” to implement any of the 171 changes suggested in  the previous report.

There isn’t much comfort to be found in an atmosphere where calling the cops for assistance could potentially be your own death sentence. But if our own government doesn’t see a problem with its policing policies, at least 117 other countries around the world are starting to ask questions.

(Article by Claire Bernish from our friends at The Anti Media)

Black Agenda Report
by Dianne Feeley


Public policy in Detroit, the nation’s largest majority Black city, seems structured to create blight and force the current population out of their homes. Sixty-two thousand properties are set for foreclosure, this year, more than half of them occupied. “This could result in the displacement of as many as 100,000 Detroiters, or about one seventh of the city’s population.”

“The truth is that mortgage and tax foreclosures have caused most of the city’s blight over the last 15 years.” Detroit – where 85% of the working class once owned homes – has been suffering a waterless hurricane. Predatory mortgage practices that disproportionately targeted African-American homeowners and inflated mortgages resulted in foreclosure on 25% of all residential buildings in the city between 2005 and 2011. Vacancy escalated and blight blossomed.

While Detroit endures the highest poverty rate of any major U.S. city, where schools have been closed and services cut to the bone, developers have been given land and generous tax breaks for their projects. These include turning 8.3 acres of land over to Dan Gilbert, head of Quicken Loans, to develop the Brush Park area just above central downtown. It is also a short walk from where Mike Ilitch, with $485 million in state funds, is constructing a Hockeytown entertainment district.

One might also note that Detroit paid $178 million for lawyers and consultants to take the city through bankruptcy, a price that Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes okayed.

For city residents, on the other hand, a second foreclosure hurricane has been brewing – tax foreclosures. Homeowners are slapped with high property taxes, and 18% interest if they do not pay up. Yet property valuations, mandated by the state to be recalculated yearly, remain grossly over-assessed.

Five years ago the city’s official unemployment rate stood at 25%, and even today many believe unemployment is close to 50%. The reality is that more residents are forced to work in the suburbs, often at malls or fast food restaurants at or just above minimum wage, rather than finding jobs in the city.

Low Income, High Bills

Detroit’s families have a median income of $26,325. Monthly water bills run an average $70 per home, and yearly taxes on a modest home might be pegged at 3-15 times its realistic market value.

The beginning of the financial crisis came earlier to Michigan than other states. As a consequence, between 2002-08 there were 18,855 tax foreclosures.

Wayne County forecloses on properties that are three years in arrears. Then the homes are sold in two rounds of auctions. In the first round, the house is offered for the amount owed; in the second, it is auctioned off with a beginning bid of $500. Yet by 2008 only 5,585 had been sold; the majority of these mostly vacant properties became city owed.

Over the next six years, tax foreclosures rose. Another 92,312 properties went into foreclosure, with fewer than 11,000 sold. The city now owned 53,608 properties. In the intervening years, many were stripped and/or burned.

Last year newly elected mayor Mike Duggan announced that some neighborhoods would receive a 5% reduction on their current property taxes, others 10%. Yet this gesture doesn’t comply with the plain letter of the law, let alone begin to deal with the fundamentals of Detroit’s residential property taxes: years of over-assessment of homes, exorbitant interest rates, and tacked-on alleged unpaid water fees can quickly add thousands of dollars.

In early 2015 the Wayne County Treasurer’s office announced that this year 62,000 Detroit properties will be slated for foreclosure, with probably 38,000 occupied. This could result in the displacement of as many as 100,000 Detroiters, or about one seventh of the city’s population.

 Creating Blight

The treasurer’s office pushed back the February 2015 deadline for paying back taxes or entering into a payment plan and having one’s property removed from foreclosure to May 12. On that date, to avert the emergency facing city residents, community organizations led by the American Civil Liberties Union held a press conference to demand a moratorium on the foreclosure of occupied homes. They reminded the county treasurer that during another emergency -- the 1930s Great Depression — leaders had worked to protect homeowners from foreclosures.

Their letter also outlined how such foreclosure auctions were “counterproductive” -- delinquent taxes are not recovered. In the past three years the county claimed it was owed $691 million in unpaid taxes, penalties and interest but the auctions only raised $107 million. For a 15% recovery rate, the county displaced residents and destabilized neighborhoods.

Yet according to the city assessor’s office, a random sample of residential properties auctioned off in 2012 found that fully 40% exceeded the property’s worth. Loveland Technologies, which has mapped Detroit’s foreclosure property, concluded that there is an 86% overlap between tax evictions and blighted homes. Tax foreclosure, carried out by the city and county, is the greatest source of the city’s blight.

In 2010 Washington provided $498 million to the state of Michigan to help homeowners at high risk of foreclosure. Yet over five years Lansing has only provided $188 million to help homeowners; $26 million was spent on administrative expenses and $23 million allotted for blight removal. Denying 57% of all applicants, sometimes deeming them “too poor” to be eligible, the Step Forward program now plans to divert millions for “blight removal” instead of saving homes and neighborhoods from blight.

Of course there is a tax exemption in place for those who are too poor to pay, but unlike many other Michigan cities and towns, Detroit does not send out information about it or make the application available online. Individuals are required to apply in person, placing a burden on elderly and disabled people. This represents yet another hurdle in a city with an inadequate transit system and where 25-33% do not have access to a car.

“There is an 86% overlap between tax evictions and blighted homes.” Just as with Detroit’s water crisis, no governmental body addresses underlying structural problems that Detroiters — 83% African American and 9% Latino – face. It’s unlike other U.S. cities in that poor people often own homes inherited from their families when Detroit was a thriving industrial city, or purchased before the homeowner became disabled or retired on a fixed income.

It’s also important to remember that the city’s bankruptcy was carried out on the backs of retired city workers. Retirees lost their cost-of-living increases, most of their health care, and took a 4.5% pay cut. (Uniformed retirees, who are ineligible for Social Security, took less of a cut.)

When the Wayne County Treasurer’s office sent residents notices that they could work out a payment plan to take their homes off the foreclosure list, several thousand turned out. Last winter the state legislature passed a series of bills around foreclosure, including a more flexible plan that capped monthly payments at 3% of the back taxes with 10% due up front. Additionally the treasurer had the discretion to lower the 18% interest rate for the current year to 6%.

Raymond Wojtowicz, Wayne county treasurer, announced on May 5 that 9,000 occupied homes have been removed from foreclosure proceedings. But a payment plan doesn’t address the structural problems of over-assessment nor mean that those plans are affordable.

The County Treasurer’s office has since pushed the foreclosure date back to June 8. As of May the revised Loveland Technologies website indicates there are probably 20,900 foreclosures on occupied homes with an additional 18,563 “reversions.” (Reversions are properties that were auctioned during the 2012-14 period but have not paid their taxes and therefore have reverted to the county.)

Deluge of Water Shutoffs

Investigative reporter Curt Guyette examined the plans for the 24,743 households that signed up last year to avoid water shutoffs. The program required paying the current bill of approximately $70 plus 10% of the overdue amount each month.

Guyette termed the program a “massive failure,” with only 300 current with their bills. As water shutoffs restart at the end of May, a Detroit Free Press article reported that 28,000 customers face immediate cutoffs. Add to that the approximately 14,000 households that never had their service restored in last year’s shut offs.

This year the Water Residential Assistance Program will have $4.5 million available for Detroit and the tri-county area. A report from the Detroit City Council’s legislative policy division noted that this is “significantly less” than needed to help Detroiters, where residential customers currently at least 60 days past due owe $47.3 million. An additional complication is the Detroit Water and Sewer Department’s request that City Council approve a huge 12.8% rate hike.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that water rates not exceed 2.5% of a household’s income. For their part, the Detroit People’s Water Board, a coalition of organizations, has called for a water affordability plan instead of “helping” people after they’re already behind on their bills. Several U.S. cities — including Cleveland and Portland -- use such a system, which sets differential rates based on a ratepayer’s disposable income.

Mayor Duggan took charge of the water department last year when the shutoffs created such a scandal that the emergency manager threw up his hands. The mayor outlined a 10-point plan, but resists the concept of affordability, claiming that “free” water is not an option.

In insisting that water is a human right, no one claimed it was possible right now to have a free system. In fact in 2006 the Detroit City Council adopted a water affordability plan that set rates at 2-3% of household income but the city’s law department ruled it illegal and it was never implemented by the water department. Will the water department, now in the process of regionalization, be able to move to such a proposal? Can the county treasurer learn from the failure of both past auctions and the water crisis?

If logic were the basis of Detroit’s planning, this approach to water usage makes sense. And there is also a solution to tax evictions. After June 8 the county formally owns the property that is to be auctioned off in the fall, and could simply arrange to sell the homes back to residents for a small fee, wipe out the back debt and reassess the property. That would stabilize several neighborhoods and there would be a lot less blight to clean up.

If gentrification is the goal, however, the plans in place will continue to displace a Black working class and level neighborhoods. The truth is that mortgage and tax foreclosures have caused most of the city’s blight over the last 15 years -- and given that only 35% of homeowners are current with their property taxes, next year will see another round of city-initiated foreclosures.

Foreclosures have been a major factor in pushing Detroiters beyond the city limits. While the 2000 census counted just under a million city residents, there were only 714,000 a decade later. And the decline continues, although it has slowed with gentrification and is currently the population is estimated at 680,000.

Whose Future City Is This?

Clearly the gentrification process of the downtown area won’t expand to reach most of the city’s 140 square miles. Detroit Future City, a plan developed by various foundations, outlines the fate of neighborhoods. Some will be devoted to water catchments or tree farms, others to industry or strengthen industrial corridor that links the Midwest to Ontario, and some to working-class neighborhoods.

When we label this process racist, officials and developers reply that those of all colors who have the money are welcome, and so they are. They are designing a future Detroit in a place where the affluent will live, work, eat and play. Resistance, hampered by big money and structural barriers, continues, facing powerful forces. So far it seems that we are able to win an individual case or two, but in a world where life for the working class is precarious, barriers are firmly in place.

Dianne Feeley is a retired autoworker active in Detroit Eviction Defense and an editor of Against the Current.    by Max Fisher on May 27, 2015

The United States has a lot to be proud of: it is the most powerful country on Earth and a global leader in culture and innovation as well as international affairs, and has a well-earned reputation for freedom and democracy. But, like any country, it has its flaws, as well. And those flaws are important to remember and examine — even if many Americans would probably rather not think about them.

1. The US was built on the theft of Native Americans' lands
This map begins by showing Native Americans' land in 1794, demarcated by tribe and marked in green. In 1795, the US and Spain signed the Treaty of San Lorenzo, carving up much of the continent between them. What followed was a century of catastrophes for Native Americans as their land was taken piece by piece. By the time the US passed the Dawes Act in 1887, effectively abolishing tribal self-governance and forcing assimilation, there was very little left.

European settlers who arrived in North America found it filled with diverse, long-established societies. They may well have become sovereign nation-states had the settlers, and later the United States, not sought to purge them from their lands, deny them self-rule, and, once they had been reduced to a tiny minority, forcibly assimilate them and their land. These acts are the foundation upon which the United States as we know it today was built.

Image credit: Sam B. Hillard/Sunisup

2. The Trail of Tears, one of the darkest moments in US history — and we rarely talk about it

The largest act of ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the United States government began in 1830, when Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act into law, which gave him the power to negotiate the removal of Native American tribes in the South to land west of the Mississippi. Of course, those negotiations were corrupt and rife with coercion. Take, for example, the removal of the Cherokee, which was conducted via a treaty never approved by leaders of the Cherokee nation and resulted in, according to a missionary doctor who accompanied the Cherokee during removal, about 4,000 deaths, or one-fifth of the Cherokee population. Later scholarship suggested the numbers could be even higher than that.

–Dylan Matthews

Image credit: Nikater

3.  America's indigenous population today is sparse and largely lives in areas we forced them into
This map of indigenous population density today shows the effects of not just the initial disease-driven depopulation of North America in the wake of European settlement in the 15th to 18th centuries, but also the long effort of the US government in the 19th century to remove Native Americans from their homes and place them in reservations of its choosing. The Cherokees of Georgia are gone, having been forced to relocate to eastern Oklahoma. A handful of counties in the upper Plains states, Arizona, and New Mexico have large or majority native populations. Alaska natives are still a majority in a number of counties. But in most of the country — especially in the South, Midwest, and Northeast — Native Americans make up a vanishingly small percentage of the population.

–Dylan Matthews

Image credit: Rural Assistance Center

4. America didn't just tolerate slavery for a century — we expanded it
The fight over slavery in the United States began even before independence, as constitutional framers clashed over whether or how to reconcile the world's most barbaric practice with the idealistic new nation. The abolitionists lost, and while states such as Pennsylvania and New Hampshire ended slavery almost immediately after independence, slaveholders continued expanding the institution of slavery for decades. Slavery developed into a sort of cultural institution upon which Southern whites depended for their economic livelihood and their identity; they fought bitterly to press slavery onto news states. As America expanded westward, both pro- and anti-slavery factions tried to claim the territories as their own. The cultural and political divide deeply polarized the nation, leading inexorably to war.

Image credit: Golbez

5.  This 1939 map of redlining in Chicago is just a hint at the systematic discrimination against African Americans
The New Deal brought with it a number of government institutions meant to expand access to housing, including the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC). This is an HOLC map of Chicago from 1939, with neighborhoods color-coded by stability, as judged by the government.

"On the maps, green areas, rated 'A,' indicated 'in demand' neighborhoods that, as one appraiser put it, lacked 'a single foreigner or Negro,'" Ta-Nehisi Coates explains in the Atlantic. "These neighborhoods were considered excellent prospects for insurance. Neighborhoods where black people lived were rated 'D' and were usually considered ineligible for FHA backing. They were colored in red."

This practice became known as "redlining," and would be the norm in the housing sector as a whole for decades to come, effectively denying black people the ability to own homes.

–Dylan Matthews

Image credit: The Atlantic/Frankie Dintino

6.  School segregation is still a terrible problem
7. Kids born poor have almost no chance at achieving the American dream
For some people, the American dream — the promise that working hard will earn you a better life — is alive and well; immigrants to the US often find their incomes multiplied many times over upon arrival. But for people born in the US, prospects are more dire. This map shows estimates from the Harvard Equality of Opportunity Project, spearheaded by economist Raj Chetty, which sought to estimate economic mobility at the county level. It found that in only a smattering of counties, mostly in the Plains, did children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution have a decent shot of making it into the top 20 percent. In the South and Midwest, the odds are perilously close to zero.

–Dylan Matthews

Image credit: Harvard Equality of Opportunity Project

8. America has the second-highest child poverty rate in the developed world
In a 2013 UNICEF study, the United States ranked 34th out of the developed world's 35 countries by child poverty rates, above only Romania. The poor US showing in this data may reflect growing income inequality. According to one metric of inequality, the US economy is one of the most unequal in the developed world. This would explain why the United States, on child poverty, is ranked between Bulgaria and Romania, though Americans are on average six times richer than Bulgarians and Romanians.

Image credit: Max Fisher

9. The US ranks alongside Nigeria on income inequality
According to a metric called the Palma Ratio, which measures economic inequality, the US ranks 44th out of 86 countries, below virtually the entire developed world and one spot below Nigeria.

Image credit: Max Fisher

10. The US tried to replace Spain as an imperialist power
If there was a single moment when the US became a global power, it was the war with Spain. The Spanish Empire had been crumbling for a century, and there was a ferocious debate within the US over whether America should replace it as a European-style imperial power, or if as a democracy the US should instead liberate peoples from imperialism. The debate centered on Cuba: pro-imperialists wanted to purchase or annex it from Spain (pre-1861, the plan was to turn it into a new slave state); anti-imperialists wanted to support Cuban independence.

In 1898, Cuban activists launched a war of independence from Spain, and the US intervened on their side. When the war ended in Spanish defeat, US anti-imperialists blocked the US from annexing Cuba, but pro-imperialists succeeded in passing the notorious Platt Amendment, which placed Cuba under a quasi-imperialist form of indirect control; the US base at Guantanamo Bay is a relic of this arrangement. The war also ended with the US taking control of three other Spanish possessions: Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, a massive and populous island nation in the Pacific where the US fought a war against independence activists. The US had become a European-style imperial power. While this experiment in colonialism was short-lived and controversial at home, it began America's role as a major global power.

Image credit: Anand Katakam

11. The US outright stole Hawaii as part of its Pacific colonialism
Most Americans assume that Hawaii became a state democratically, like the rest of the US. They are wrong; it was absorbed in an act of overt imperialism and against the will of its native population. In 1893, when Hawaii was a sovereign nation, American businessmen seized power in a coup and asked the US to annex it. President Cleveland refused to conquer another nation, but when William McKinley took office he agreed, absorbing Hawaii. This was the first of several imperial acquisitions the US made in the Pacific. Japan soon entered the race for the Pacific as well, and seized many European-held islands, culminating in this 1939 map, two years before the US joined World War II.

Image credit: Emok

12. The firebombing that devastated Japan — including lots of non-military targets
This map, from a 1945 report by US Air Force General Henry H. Arnold, put the American firebombing campaign against Japan into chilling terms. Next to each city is the percentage of the city's buildings that were burned down, as well as the name of a US city of equivalent size. Here are a few examples:

• Tokyo 39.9% (New York)
• Nagoya 40% (Los Angeles)
• Kobe 55.7% (Baltimore)
• Yokohama 57.6% (Cleveland)

All Americans learn about the two atomic bombs the US dropped on Japan at the end of the war, and we're starting to become more aware of the firebombing campaigns that wiped out much of Germany, including civilians. But we are nowhere near confronting the US firebombing of Japan, which killed several times as many people as the atomic bombs and physically devastated Japan for a generation. By the time the war ended, 30 percent of the residents of Japan's largest 60 cities were homeless.

Image credit: General Henry H. Arnold

13. Agent Orange: the chemical we used to destroy a generation in Vietnam and harm our own troops
During the Vietnam War, the US sprayed millions of gallons of defoliants and herbicides over South Vietnam in a misguided and horrifically callous effort to deny the enemy cover, shelter, and food. (The US also sprayed an unknown amount of these chemicals over Laos and Cambodia.) The most famous was Agent Orange.

Rather than assuring victory, these poisonous chemicals killed many thousands of Vietnamese civilians, spiked rates of cancer and other diseases, caused a generation of Vietnamese babies to be born with alarmingly high rates of birth defects, and devastated the environment and economy of the nation that the US was ostensibly trying to save. The Vietnamese Red Cross estimated in 2002 that up to 1 million civilians still suffer from health problems due to exposure. Many Americans still suffer as well, with thousands of veterans similarly affected by the chemicals.

Image credit: Max Rust and Phil Geib/Chicago Tribune

14. The US backed awful dictators and insurgencies of the Cold War
American and Soviet fears of a global struggle became a self-fulfilling prophecy: both launched coups, supported rebellions, backed dictators, and participated in proxy wars in nearly every corner of the world. This map shows the world as it had been left utterly divided by the conflict, marking the allies and insurgencies back by the US and Soviet as of 1980.

Not every ally was a puppet, of course — many were democracies, and others were dictatorships that had become that way independently of the Cold War or the United States. Still, the US backed or imposed a number of abusive regimes that could only be described as right-wing puppets — for example, Augusto Pinochet in Chile or Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in Iran. It also supported insurgencies in much of the "Third World" — meaning anything outside of the West or the Soviet sphere.

Image credit: Minnesotan Confederacy

15. The thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths in the Iraq War
No one has suffered more from the Iraq War — which in some ways is still ongoing — than Iraqi civilians. The fluctuations in this chart show the first three distinct stages of the war. The first, from 2003 to 2005, was the war between the US-led invasion force and Iraqi forces, including government forces as well as Islamist and nationalist insurgents. Civilians in this period were bystanders. In early 2006, however, Iraq's conflict became what is often described as a civil war, fought among three factions: Sunni insurgents, including Islamist extremists and former Saddam loyalists; Shia militias, some of them rogue members of state security forces; and the US-led occupation force. In this period, which lasted two awful years, civilians were often the target of the violence, with bombings and death squads seeking to ethnically cleanse Baghdad in particular. While conditions improved significantly after 2008, not long after the US forces departed in 2011, the country collapsed again into violence.

Image credit: Joel Wing

16. Syria's refugee crisis; the humanitarian catastrophe we could still help address but won't
In much of 2012 and 2013, the United States had a difficult and painful internal debate — first among policymakers and then after Bashar al-Assad's August 2013 chemical weapons attack — over what to do about the war devastating Syria. Ultimately, the country decided that virtually any action would likely make things worse and bring unacceptable risk for the US.

But, reasoning that surely the world's richest and most powerful country could do something, the White House announced the US would take in some of the millions of refugees — it is the world's worst refugee crisis — who have been displaced by the war into neighboring countries, where they struggle to get by and risk exacerbating instability in those countries as well. But the US has not followed through, admitting only a few hundred refugees out of more than 3 million. Opposition from Republican lawmakers and conservative media, as well as simple bureaucratic disorganization, has slowed the program to a crawl. It is an unsurprising but sad demonstration of the fact that while America might be great at starting or sponsoring catastrophic wars, it is not always so committed when it comes to deploying that mighty wealth and power toward helping people in need.

Image credit: UNHCR

Bill the Butcher

Thank you for purchasing your How To Launch a Colour Revolution guide! Here you will learn how to launch your own Colour Revolution, and push your nation in new and unexpected directions. No right-thinking young person can do without it!

Now, in order to launch a colour revolution, the first thing you will need is a colour. This may seem obvious, even elementary, but you’ll be surprised at how complex the question is. You can’t, after all, choose just any colour. You’ll have to select it according to the criteria we’ll describe here:

First: the colour must not have been used in a revolution already. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, what with the excellent success rate of this business model, which has already changed regimes all across the eastern world. You’ll find that colours like orange, green, pink and so on have all been used already. But don’t despair, there are plenty more yet to go! If you can’t find one of your own, our helpline will be happy to suggest more for you! Phone 1800-REGIMECHANGE now!

Suppose you have found a colour that you’d like. Now, you must understand that the colour is a marketing tool. People will recognise you by the colour. Therefore it must be a memorable colour – one that will stick in peoples’ minds. It must also be a reassuring one – one that people will feel comfortable with. So if you chose, let us say, red or black, you have to think again, or people in the West will associate your revolution with communism or anarchism, and lose all sympathy for it. Choose a nice pastel shade, like lemon or sky blue.

Let us repeat that our helpline is willing to provide all assistance. In fact, we strongly recommend that once you have chosen your colour, you contact us to make sure that the colour is acceptable and you’re approved to use it. If you do not do this, frankly, we shall not be responsible for the consequences.

Let’s assume you’ve chosen your colour, and that it’s passed our inspection. Now, the next step is to make sure the government you wish to overthrow is one that’s approved for overthrowing. In plain terms, we don’t suggest anyone going hog-wild overthrowing good, friendly governments. Unless your government controls resources or pipeline routes which it isn’t sharing with the West world community as any public-spirited nation must do, or unless it’s sited strategically but does not intend to allow NATO access to bases in its territory help protect freedom and democracy, you should not attempt to launch the revolution. To confirm whether you should or should not, please contact our helpline. The list of regimes approved for colour revolution changes frequently, and we will be able to inform you whether it’s the right time to launch your revolution or whether you ought to wait. Sooner or later, your nation will be on the list, so even if it’s not on right now, you needn’t despair.

Suppose you’ve got both a regime approved for revolution and your colour. Now you’ve got to brand yourselves as liberal students and pro-Western democracy-lovers.  Trust us on this; even though you may all be rabid right-wing fact, though you’re almost certainly all rabid right-wing fascists...please do not admit to the world that you are rabid right-wing fascists. Trust us on this. You have to get the Western media on your side, and the Western media has to be able to peddle the story that you are all liberal pro-democracy freedom-loving students. So keep your swastika armbands at home for the time being. You can wear them later, don’t worry. There will be plenty of time for all that after you’ve won.

Now, as you’ll understand, these revolutions don’t come cheap. In fact, you’ll require a huge amount of money, and that money will have to be provided via certain approved organisations. You will readily understand that money doesn’t come without a quid pro quo. They give you quid, and you have a quota to provide for them when the time comes. But don’t worry – though you’ll be selling off your resources and economy to them, there will be plenty of kickbacks to go around!

 So please make sure to contact the approved organisations at the earliest. Your local EU representative or US Embassy will be happy to provide you with a list. Adhere to it strictly. Funds from unapproved sources can cause problems down the line, with rival claims to resources and economic sell-offs. Please do not deal with unapproved agencies if you wish your revolution to succeed. 
Once you start your revolution, now, it must be as eye-catching as possible. In order for it to be eye-catching, it has to be two things. First, it has to be highly visible, so visible that it’s impossible for the world to ignore. Therefore, you have to launch your revolution in the centre of your capital. Does it have a large square of some kind? Then there’s nothing like it. Fill it today with your protestors, Bring them in any way you can. And once you are there, announce to the world that you won’t leave till you win.

Now, it has to be said that just cramming protestors into the square won’t help. You may be awash with money, and have a marketable colour, and the regime might be ripe for removal, but you won’t succeed unless you can incite violence. The problem is that most regimes have a peculiar reluctance to commit violence against peaceful protestors. Therefore, and this is vital, your protest must not remain peaceful. While you will require the common herd of protestors to choke the scene in front of the cameras, shock squads must be prepared to force a showdown with police. To repeat – the police must be attacked until they have no alternative but to react with violence. And then the media must be allowed to see that the violence is all the work of the regime.

Do not worry; freedom-loving forces in the background will be helping you all they can, not just with media coverage and funds, but with more sophisticated backing. For example, secret regime conversations accessed by wiretaps will be selectively leaked to help your cause. If no such secret conversations can be found, they’ll be invented. After all, who will the people in the West believe, the evil oppressive regime – or you?

Once the situation has reached the point where the violence is at a high level, the regime will begin to have second thoughts about its future. At this point it will offer to negotiate. Do not accept this offer. Do not allow any weak-kneed elements among you to accept this offer. The regime’s offer to negotiate merely proves one point – that the regime is weak and tottering. Now is the time for the final push.
Keep your storm troops ready.  At the right time – you will be told when the time comes – storm the parliament building, the presidential palace, and any other government building which the regime controls. Use any amount of violence you want; it can be passed off as an expression of justified anger. Once the regime flees, as it will, its very flight will be proof that it has abrogated its authority and so your revolution was fully justified.

And then you will be in power, and doling out favours in return for kickbacks, and be in clover.
Simple, isn’t it?

There’s just one final point you must remember. When your colour revolution finally collapses, as it will, in total ruin, you must know how to avoid blame. You can depend on us making sure the people believe it.
So repeat after me:

“It’s all Putin’s fault. It’s all Putin’s fault. It’s all Putin’s fault.”

 You'll need the practice.
Zero Hedge
by Tyler Durden

While soaring stock prices do nothing to boost the economy, because as 7 years of hard facts have shown, the only thing "trickle down" QE has done is forced economists to jump the shark and demand not one but two seasonal adjustments to goal seek collapsing economic data, the S&P hitting new all time highs on a daily basis has certainly succeeded in one thing: pushing inequality around the globe, and especially in the US, to new record highs.

And earlier today the latest OECD report confirmed just that, when it reported that gap between the rich and poor in most of the world's advanced economies is at record levels.

In most of the 34 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development the income gap is at its highest level in three decades, with the richest 10 percent of the population earning 9.6 times the income of the poorest 10 percent.

In the 1980s this ratio stood at 7 to 1, the OECD said in a report.

The wealth gap is even larger, with the top 1 percent owning 18 percent and the 40 percent only 3 percent of household wealth in 2012.

Sadly as this point it is far too late for hopes of a change: the wealthy are so engrained in the fabric of official decision-making, that any hope they would willingly cede their wealth, or power, is naive. As a result, the failed policies which have pushed the world to this disastrous condition will continue as can be seen by the recent launch of QE in Europe and the boost of QE in Japan, which will make the rich even richer, and the poor and hungry even madder until one day, the entire world decides it has had it and is covered in a bloody revolution against a broken status quo regime.

The OECD's is a little more politically correct, but it too now gets the message:

"By not addressing inequality, governments are cutting into the social fabric of their countries and hurting their long-term economic growth," said Gurria.

Here is the direct evidence that it is the Fed's policies that are causing the economic slowdown: the study found that the rise in inequality between 1985 and 2005 in 19 OECD countries knocked an estimated 4.7 percentage points off cumulative growth between 1990 and 2010.

One can only imagine what inequality did to GDP after 2005 when it really took off.

Another point Zero Hedge has made since 2010: the reason there is no inequality is the surge in part-time labor and temp jobs, which the idiot economists have consistently spun as bullish for an "any minute now" recovery. As it turns out it was just another byproduct of the Fed's disastrous monetary policies.

According to AFP, "an increase in part-time and temporary work contracts as well as self-employment was seen as an important driver of increased inequality, with half of all jobs created in OECD countries between 1995 and 2013 falling into these categories."

So we guess that wasn't just yet another Zero Hedged "conspiracy theory" after all.

Naively, the OECD believes that wealth redistribution with taxation may fix the problem:

How does all of this class insanity end? Simple: watch the following documentary on the French Revolution which we first posted over the weekend, for the answer.
By Johannes Stern
24 April 2015

Following an official moment of silence “in remembrance of the dead in the Mediterranean,” the leaders of the EU member states reached an agreement on the “ten point plan on migration” that the foreign and interior ministers had prepared on Monday. Its chief aims are to escalate police and military operations against refugees while laying the foundations for a massive military intervention in Africa.

Point one of the plan provides for the reinforcement of “Joint Operations in the Mediterranean, namely Triton and Poseidon, by increasing the financial resources and the number of assets.” At the same time, it will “extend their operational area,” allowing them “to intervene further, within the mandate of Frontex.”

“Triton,” “Poseidon,” and “Frontex” are code words for “Fortress Europe.” “Frontex” is the name of the infamous EU border protection agency, which is responsible for the hermetical sealing of the EU’s external borders (some 12,000 kilometers on land and 45,000 at sea). To meet this objective, Frontex-led operations “Triton” and “Poseidon” are now to be expanded into veritable war operations against refugees and their boats.

The second point of the EU plan formulates “a systematic effort to capture and destroy vessels used by the smugglers. “ It goes on to say, “The positive results obtained with the Atalanta operation should inspire” the EU Commission.

The reference to “Operation Atalanta” underscores the character of the planned measures. “Atalanta” is the name of an EU military action in the Horn of Africa in which battleships of EU member states hunt down pirates off the coast of Somalia, destroying not only boats but alleged pirate camps on land as well.

Fabrice Leggeri, director of Frontex, left no doubt that the EU’s reinforcement of “Triton” was concerned not with “sea rescues,” but with border patrols—i.e., a cracking down on refugees. As Leggeri explained to the Guardian, “Triton cannot be a search-and-rescue operation [for refugees] … This is not in Frontex’s mandate, and this is in my understanding not in the mandate of the European Union.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron emphasized that, even after the most recent disasters, it is not the job of the EU to rescue refugees, but to take more effective action against them. In reference to earlier sea rescue measures related to the discontinued EU operation “Mare Nostrum,” Cameron cynically declared: “It seemed that more lives were being lost because of what the Italian navy was doing. More people were taking to the sea, more people were dying.”

This statement is as criminal as it is false. According to Selmin Çalışkan, General Secretary of Amnesty International in Germany, “Significantly more immigrants and refugees attempted to reach Europe, not fewer” since the end of the operation. While the purpose of “Mare Nostrum” was first and foremost border security, more than 100,000 refugees were also rescued in the Mediterranean during the course of the operation.

The latest report from Amnesty, called “Europe’s Sinking Shame,” documents the fatal consequences of discontinuing even such a limited rescue plan as that last autumn. Amnesty writes, “If figures from the latest incidents are confirmed, as many as 1,700 people will have perished this year, 100 times more than in the same period in 2014.”

The strategy of the EU is murderous in two respects. After the European powers, in league with Washington’s war policy in Africa and the Middle East, destroyed entire societies, they made the conscious decision to let refugees drown to keep them out of Europe.

The war against refugees will now be intensified. The European elite has responded to the chaos in Africa, which they themselves created, and the mass deaths in the Mediterranean exclusively with police and military means. This underscores the reactionary character of the EU and its institutions.

It is significant that the ten point plan only strengthens the defense against refugees and omits even a single “humanitarian” measure. Point five warns member states to “ensure fingerprinting of all migrants. “ Point eight calls for a new “return programme for rapid return of irregular migrants coordinated by Frontex from frontline Member States.”

In addition to this, “initiatives in Niger” and “engagement with countries surrounding Libya” are to be “stepped up” (Point nine). This is nothing but the outsourcing of the fight against refugees to dictatorships like Egypt’s Sisi regime, which brutally oppresses its own population and has sentenced 1,212 people to death in mass trials since the beginning of last year.

The Guardian has reported on a confidential draft from the EU summit. It says that “only 5,000 migrants will be allowed to resettle in Europe with large numbers likely to be repatriated.”

The inhumanity of the EU policy is so shocking that even its own bourgeois media openly remarks on it. “That is not humane, that is not a humanitarian initiative. That contradicts the words of Angela Merkel. Rescue is not the same as deterrence. Refugee deterrence is not refugee rescue,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung commented on the EU’s ten-point program.

In reality, the measures of the ruling elite go far beyond “refugee deterrence.” They are using the catastrophe that they themselves caused for their own imperialist ends and preparing a renewal of military intervention in Africa behind the back of the population.

Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said on broadcaster Sky TG23 TV, “We know where the smugglers have their boats, where they meet.” Plans for a military intervention lay directly ahead, she said, “We are ready to contribute our part.” According to Die Zeit, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said, “A long-term strategy of the EU must include, among other things, sea patrols and refugee camps in African countries such as Niger or Sudan.”

Not only the former colonial powers in Libya, but the entire EU is preparing itself for a new military adventure. According to media reports, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini is being charged with “beginning with preparations for a possible security and defense operation in accordance with international law without delay.” Initial consultations about the draft had demonstrated the political will to give a “strong signal,” according to sources who spoke to the AFP press.

According to media reports, former colonial powers Britain and Belgium are already holding out the prospect of sending ships and weaponry.

Unlike in 2011 in the NATO war against Libya, the German elite is now trying to place itself at the forefront of the new “scramble for Africa.” The Deutsche Presse Agentur claims to have learned from circles in the German armed forces that the government is offering to withdraw the task force supply ship “Berlin” and the frigates “Karlsruhe” and “Hessen” from the Horn of Africa and send them in the direction of Italy.

“More than 600 German marines would then be able to take part in emergency sea rescue operations relatively quickly. The ‘Berlin’ could serve as a floating hospital,” wrote Deutsche Welle.


  • Hillary Clinton stunned a CNN audience on Tuesday by saying that the US should deport thousands of unaccompanied minors who have flooded the American border
  • 'They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are,' she said
  • 'Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn't mean the child gets to stay,' she warned parents south of the border
  • A wave of children, mostly from Central America, has streamed across the US-Mexico border in recent months
  • Border patrol authorities process them and then release them to the Department of Health and Human Services
  • HHS says it reunites 85 per cent of them with family members in the US, but those adults' own immigration status is a question mark
By David Martosko
U.S. Political Editor

17 June 2014

Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that the American government should deport thousands of children who cross the border illegally into the United States.

Pressed by Christiane Amanpour during a televised CNN town hall event, the former secretary of state and possible 2016 presidential candidate bucked her political party by insisting that letting unaccompanied minors remain in the U.S. is the wrong policy to embrace.

'They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are,' Clinton said, 'because – there are concerns about whether all of them can be sent back, but I think all of them that can be should be reunited with their families.'

Moments later, Clinton articulated a bottom-line policy that disagrees sharply with President Obama's observable priorities.

'We have to send a clear message: Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn't mean the child gets to stay,' Clinton said.


So we don't want to send a message that is contrary to our laws, or we'll encourage more children to make that dangerous journey.'

She acknowledged that 'it may be safer' for children for violence-prone nations like El Salvador and Guatemala to remain stateside, 'but that's not the answer.'

Clinton also said that the U.S. should help Mexico secure its own southern border, which abuts Guatemala and Belize, as a way to prevent under-18s from making the trip to America.

But 'first of all,' she cautioned. 'we have to provide the best emergency care we can provide. We have children 5 and 6 years old who have come up from Central America.'

The CNN audience, gathered at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., was hushed as Clinton outlined a policy that she hinted she would implement if she were president.

She tried to dodge the question at first with claims that she had worked as secretary of state 'to deal with the violence in this region, to deal with border security.'

But Amanpour pressed her three times for an answer.

Through its budget for the Department of Health and Human Services, the Obama administration has tacitly acknowledged that the problem is growing quickly.

In 2011 HHS took custody of 6,775 children who entered the country illegally without accompanying parents.

That number was 13,625 in 2012 and 24,668 in 2013. The government's budget for 2014 provided for 60,000 such young border-crossers, but most estimates far exceed that anticipated number.

The federal government will spend more than $1 billion this year feeding, clothing and otherwise babysitting the children until suitable adult guardians can be found.

HHS claims 85 per cent of them are reunited with family members, but those are guardians in the United States, not in their home countries. The agency has not responded to requests for information about how many of them are themselves illegal aliens.

Few of the children are expected to return to face immigration judges, according to the nation's largest border patrolman's union.

In 2012 President Obama announced a policy intended to delay the deportation of illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S> as children before 2007.

But in a transnational game of 'telephone,' that policy has been misinterpreted – in some cases willfully so, by 'coyotes' who make a living secretary transporting immigrants into the U.S. – to suggest that it would apply equally to newly arriving minors.

Black Agenda Report
Submitted by Bruce A. Dixon

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Several years after inmate hunger strikes in multiple Georgia prisons in 2010 and 2012, officials at Georgia's Department of Corrections are still imposing vicious and illegal collective punishments. Both inmates who took part in past actions along with those the state thinks might be future threats are all being subjected to something Georgia calls “Tier Step Down.”

Under Tier Step Down, prisoners are doubled up in single cells designed for one person at half rations. They are unable to flush toilets have no access to medical care, educational programs or materials and other elementary human rights. Prisoners are prevented from bringing their grievances before responsible authorities in any meaningful way, and are frequently assaulted by staff when they try.

Kelvin Stevenson is a Georgia prisoner who was made an example after the 2010 hunger strike by Smith State Prison officials who beat him almost to death with a hammer. Stevenson is now confined at the Special Management Unit of Jackson State Prison, not far from where state officials murdered Troy Davis in 2011. He's one of those upon whom Tier Step Down is being inflicted.

In a series of letters published at Atlanta Indymedia, Mr. Stevenson describes the arbitrary and brutal treatment prisoners are being put through. He calls for intervention on the part of those outside the walls to rein in the savagery of prison authorities, for any combination of citizens, their organizations, their elected and appointed officials to take action compelling the Georgia Department of Corrections to treat prisoners with humanity and decency.

A good start would be calling prison officials and respectfully asking that Georgia prison officials unconditionally end the use of deliberate malnourishment, that they begin to treat prisoners in the Special Management Unit decently, allow them medical care, fair evaluations and access to educational materials, relieve their overcrowding and end the inhumane Tier Step Down Program. Prison officials in Georgia, like those across the rest of the vast US prison state are able to do what they do in part because so many of us turn the other way. It's time for all of us to turn toward the prisoners, our prisoners.

Black Agenda Report is asking that you call

  • Georgia Governor Nathan Deal at 404-656-1776;
  • Georgia Dept of Corrections Commissioner Homer Bryson at 404-656-4661
  • and Rick Jacobs, the GA DOC Director of Facilities at 478-992-5101
During business hours on weekdays Eastern Standard Time. When you do, please leave an appropriately respectful message expressing your concern for the condition of Mr. Stevenson and the other prisoners in the Special Management Unit.  Politely express your revulsion at the notion of deliberately malnourishing and withholding medical care from inmates, and ask for the re-evaluation of the Tier Step Down program.

This is a time when your call and a hundred like it truly DOES make a difference.

Do it now.  Please call the governor, call the head of the Department of Corrections, and call the Facilities Director. The three numbers of the governor, of Commissioner Homer Bryson and Rick Jacobs the Facilities Director are 404-656-1776 for Governor Nathan Deal. That's 404-656-1776.

For Department of Corrections Commissioner Homer Bryson the number is 404-656-4661. That's 404-656-4661.

And for Rick Jacobs, the Facilities Director who oversees the Tier Step Down Program the number is 478-992-5101. That's 478-992-5101.

This is Bruce Dixon at Black Agenda Radio. Find us at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached at


by Dave Zirin
February 11, 2015

The Nation

The fact that United States Little League baseball champs Jackie Robinson West have been stripped of their 2014 title, for using “players who live outside the geographic area that the team represents” is a slap in the face to everyone trying to keep baseball, a sense of community and even public education alive in the cities of the United States. This would read like scabrous satire from the pen of a writer whose DNA was part Runyon and part Baldwin if not for the fact that there are very real children being victimized by this decision in the city of Chicago.

But before we dissect just what exactly is so pugnaciously ignorant about the actions of Little League Inc., a brief request for sportscasters like ESPN’s Karl Ravech to refrain from further comment. This morning, Ravech tweeted, “Beyond unfortunate that few in JRW Little League deemed winning at all costs outweighed fair play. Kids caught in middle of childish adults.”

ESPN both through game broadcasts and breathless SportsCenter coverage of the Little League World Series has made the conscious choice to be a cog in the professionalization of youth sports. They are obviously not alone in this, but anyone who monetizes the amateur experiences of children and then gets moralistic about those breaking the rules needs at bare minimum to choose silence as this story unfolds. These are kids, and the intensity that surrounds this story is partially a function of ESPN’s choice to cover Jackie Robinson West like they were the 1998 Yankees. It would be a better look for Ravech and company to either not comment or own their complicity.

As for the decision itself, ironies abound. Jackie Robinson West was the first entirely black team to represent the United States in the Little League World Series. And yes, waiting until Black History Month to strip JRW of their title is at best tin-eared. But that insult shouldn’t blind us to the greater injury. Recall their damnable offense: Jackie Robinson West didn’t use 16-year-old ringers or cork their bats. They had players suit up who lived “beyond their geographical boundary.” The fact that the adults in charge of JRW felt the need to breach this rule perhaps has something to do with the fact that today’s urban landscape supports baseball about as well as concrete makes proper soil for orchids. A plurality of Major Leaguers is made up of people from either the US suburbs or the baseball factories of the Dominican Republic. Many of the few African-American players on Major League rosters actually come from the suburbs. This is because twenty-first-century neoliberal cities have gentrified urban black baseball to death. Boys and Girls Clubs have become bistros. Baseball fields are condos and in many cities, Little League is non-existent. The public funds for the infrastructure that baseball demands simply do not exist, but the land required for diamonds are the crown jewels of urban real estate. That’s what made JRW such a profound anomaly. In Chicago particularly, which under Mayor Rahm Emanuel has seen school closures and brutal cuts to physical education programs, their success made people believe that—with apologies to Tupac—flowers could in fact grow in concrete.

I reached out to Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey who said to me, “Mayor Rahm closed half a dozen schools in Jackie Robinson West’s part of the city, and tried to close the school, Marcus Garvey, where the founder of JRW—Joe Haley—worked. Then Chicago Public Schools cut funding for high school freshman sports, laid off a thousand teachers. CPS put forty kids in physical education classes and doesn’t even put a librarian in most of the school libraries in [the South Side district of] Auburn Gresham.”

As for the Little League seizing JRW’s championship, Sharkey said he stands with the statement of Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who said, in part:

To strip Jackie Robinson West of its title nearly six months after securing the win tarnishes the efforts of our children who have dodged bullets, school closings and reductions in their school athletic programs in order to compete and win on the playing field…. I remain proud of our students securing their place in history as the first all-African-American Little League team to win the coveted Little League national championship. It is not lost on my community that they are named for a sports and civil rights icon that also had to break down barriers of racial hatred, segregation and the 1 percent’s total disregard for his right to exist as a human being. Jackie Robinson West should retain its title, be issued an apology, and every player should receive full-ride scholarships for college sponsored by the people who have humiliated these boys, their families and their community.

Jackie Robinson himself once commented, “I won’t ‘have it made’ until the most underprivileged Negro in Mississippi can live in equal dignity with anyone else in America.” Little League Inc. is attempting to separate the children in Jackie Robinson West not only from their title but from their dignity. It is beneath contempt. It is also beyond their power. At a press conference held Wednesday, JRW player Brandon Green said, “We weren’t involved in anything that could have caused us to be stripped of our championship, But we do know that we’re champions, our parents know that we’re champions, and the team’s parents know that we’re champions, and Chicago knows we’re champions.” Damn right.

February 11, 2015

Three members of a Muslim family in North Carolina’s university town of Chapel Hill were gunned down in their home. What some are alleging was a hate crime has sparked grief and anger in the US and beyond.

The victims in the triple homicide have been identified as Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.

Police responded to a call about gunshots in the family’s apartment complex at 5:11 pm Tuesday. The discovered the bodies of the victims, all of whom were pronounced dead at the scene.

Several neighbors told The Daily Tar Heel student daily that that had not even been aware of the shooting.

Kristen Boling, a student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who lives in the complex, told the paper she arrived home at 3:45 pm but didn’t hear or see anything until after police arrived.

“It was a regular day when I got off the bus,” she said. “Now it’s chaos and confusion and they’re not telling us what’s going on.”

A 46-year-old man identified by police as Craig Stephen Hicks turned himself in late Tuesday night. He was subsequently arrested on suspicion of three counts of first degree murder.

Police have yet to comment on what might have compelled Hicks to carry out the attack, though there has been some speculation on social media it was a hate crime. Hicks is a self-described atheist who regularly posted content critical of religion on his Facebook account.

According to US media, Hicks allegedly wrote in one post: "When it comes to insults, your religion started this, not me. If your religion kept its big mouth shut, so would I." The quote in question was paraphrased from Pat Condell, an Irish comedian and atheist internet personality.

The shooting has elicited a strong response on social media.

Chris Rock, one of the United States most popular stand-up comics, retweeted a photograph of the victims providing food and dental supplies to the homeless.

Rock, along with other social media users, has accused the mainstream media of ignoring the shooting.
Some have argued that if a Muslim had gunned down three atheists, the headlines would be “screaming TERROR ATTACK.”
Others have focused on the victims themselves, their love of life and dedication to their community.
According to the regional daily The News & Observer, Yusor was scheduled to graduate in December with a degree in biological sciences from NCSU, according to a university statement.

Barakat, a Syrian-American, studied business administration and management at NCSU before enrolling at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2013 to pursue his doctorate in dental surgery. Razan was studying architecture and environmental design at NCSU.
Deah and Yusor were married on December 27, and appeared to be vibrant and active members of their community.

Barakat was planning to travel with 10 other dentists this summer to Reyhanli, Turkey, where they planned to treat Syrian refugee students for urgent dental work and distribute toothbrushes and toothpaste. He had organized a fundraising campaign for the trip, which has so far collected over $25,000 for the cause.