Forty-Six Years Ago Today I Was at a Huge Anti-War Demonstration That Started at the Lincoln Memorial and Then Moved to the Pentagon

I had left home a few days prior.

It was cold and snowing on the last day I ever saw my parents and brother. I didn’t really plan on never seeing them again but the chasm which had grown between us by that point was broader than the Grand Canyon.

Each time I had gone to NY City and spent time in Greenwich Village had made my living in a small town in the Adirondacks less and less possible.

So I got a back pack and filled it with a few clothes, a notebook of my writings, a couple of song books, took my guitar and the money I had saved for my escape and headed west.

I stopped at Cortland State to see a few of the people I knew from SDS and decided to go with them to the big anti-war demonstration in Washington DC.

It wasn’t going to be a simple mass gathering to listen to speeches like the demonstrations in the past.

Those hadn’t worked.  The ante was being upped.  Already some of us were sporting pro National Liberation Front/pro Vietcong buttons.

During the week prior to the Pentagon Demonstration the anti-war movement in Berkeley had shut down the Oakland Induction Center, engaging in hit and run tactics around the Center that led to the Oakland PD and Alameda County Sheriff’s shutting down traffic to the Center.

The Pentagon marked a shift from passive protests that made our displeasure known regarding the war to actively resisting the war.

That Saturday morning we stood near the reflecting pool  in front of the Lincoln memorial as we listened to the passionate speeches that seemed so empty we gathered with other SDS contingents from across the country.

We were of one mind and were going to cross the bridge and march on the Pentagon. While there were an estimated half million people at the rally only a minority of us were committed to occupying the Pentagon and engaging in active but non-violent confrontation with those guarding the Pentagon and its grounds.

We were frightened, word was they had recruited police from the South who loved beating protesters, especially dirtycommiehippieJew protesters from New York City and elsewhere almost as much as they liked beating black civil rights protesters.

When we reached the Pentagon we found a fence.  Those at the front of the march were pressed against the chain link fence as more and more people came forward and pushed against the fence.

Suddenly it collapsed and we rushed forward over the flattened fence running now we reached the steps of the Pentagon, only to be forced back by troop carrying M1 Garands/M14s with sheathed bayonets.

We sat down. It was at this point when some of the Flower Power contingent started placing flowers in the barrels of the troop’s rifles.  This was when the famous picture of a hippie man later known as Hibiscus was taken.

While the day had been warm and sunny as soon as evening came the temperature dropped considerably.

For a while it seemed as though the authorities would try to wait us out hoping the cold would cause us to leave. But fires were built, sandwiches, wine and weed were shared.

Through out the night the formal dance of non-violent civil disobedience continue. We sang “We Shall Overcome” and “We Shall Not Be Moved” as those closet to the line of troops were arrested for sitting there. As they went limp and were carried away a fresh group would take their places.

My turn came in the pre-dawn hours, around 4:30. My teeth were chattering from the cold. The cops asked me if I would move rather than be arrested.

I said, “Hell no. I’ve been waiting all night for my turn to be arrested.

They grabbed my arms twisting them backwards, cuffed me and lifted me to my feet.  When they got me out of sight of the rest of the people waiting one cop jabbed me in the gut with his night stick, saying, “That’s for making us drag you.”

I was loaded on a bus with others and taken to a huge building at Occaquan, which was a military base in those days. We were processed through in groups, given a small fine and a sentence supended on the condition of our not being arrested at a protest in Washington DC for the next six months.

A few days later, after returning to Cortland with my friends I headed west to California and my future.

“Smog emergency” shuts down an entire city

From Salon:

The Chinese city of Harbin cancelled school due to hazardously high levels of air pollution

Monday, Oct 21, 2013

Daily exposure to air pollution — a newly recognized carcinogen — shouldn’t exceed 20 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5, per the World Health Organization’s recommendation. Acute exposure to anything higher than 300 is considered hazardous. So when levels in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin measured as high as 1,000 Monday morning, it counted as an emergency.

Daily life has ground to a stop in the city, population 11 million, where officials suspended classes and closed the airport, according to Reuters. The smog, which has reduced visibility to 10 meters, is believed to have been prompted by the first day of heating being turned on. Ominously, the whole thing is being called only the first major air pollution crisis of the winter:

Air quality in Chinese cities is of increasing concern to China’s stability-obsessed leadership because it plays into popular resentment over political privilege and rising inequality in the world’s second-largest economy.

Domestic media have run stories describing the expensive air purifiers government officials enjoy in their homes and offices, alongside reports of special organic farms so cadres need not risk suffering from recurring food safety scandals.

The government has announced plans over the years to tackle the pollution problem but has made little apparent progress.

In Harbin, the smog is expected to continue for 24 hours.

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Australian Wildfires: Authorities Fear Worsening Fires

From Huffington Post:


SYDNEY — SYDNEY (AP) — Firefighters battling some of the most destructive wildfires to ever strike Australia’s most populous state were bracing Saturday for worsening conditions, with higher temperatures and winds expected to intensify the danger in the coming days.

In the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, one of the worst-hit regions in fire-ravaged New South Wales state, 193 homes have been destroyed and another 109 damaged by the fire storm that peaked Thursday, the Rural Fire Service said.

The damage toll announced Saturday was more than double the count from the previous day and was expected to continue to rise as assessment teams and police move deeper into the destruction zone in search of survivors and victims. Homes have been reported destroyed in other regions, but numbers were not yet available.

With 68 fires still burning — 22 of them out of control — and dangerous weather conditions forecast through Thursday, authorities were expecting the worst.

“We could see some very, very dire conditions ranging right across the Blue Mountains,” Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told Nine Network television.

“The reason we are particularly concerned is that we went into last Thursday with not too much fire. We’re going into some bad weather now with lots of fire and literally 500 kilometers (310 miles) of fire edge that needs to be dealt with, and that will present serious issues should we see that hot, dry, windy weather which is likely toward the middle of the week,” he said.

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