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Interview with Uruguay’s Carlos Alejandro: Uruguay Elections

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teleSUR | November 28, 2014

UPDATE: Vazquez wins Uruguayan presidential election

teleSUR talks to the Broad Front’s Carlos Alejandro, to understand in more depth the elections and their consequences.

teleSur: Carlos, what have been the standout points of the Broad Front’s campaign?

Carlos Alejandro: There is no political debate in the second round of elections. Really, the right wing has been knocked back, they experienced a serious setback in the first round. They really thought that polls would be right, and that the Broad Front wouldn’t get more than 45 percent of the votes.

The main point of this campaign is to uphold the Broad Front government’s achievements in all areas, especially those related to freedom and equality.

Over the past 10 years, we’ve approved a series of laws, like establishing the 7-hour work day for rural workers; a domestic worker law limiting the number hours they are allowed to work.; the same sex marriage act, a sexual and reproductive health law, which includes legislation on abortion. We want to clarify that it is not an abortion law, because that is one of the themes being debated.

Also being debated is the widening of political engagement among the population; a freedom of information law; the barriers to education; the role of women in politics; all of these are central to the election debate, coming above even economic matters. It’s a rare thing when the economy gets overshadowed in an election … it’s the only political debate they are having in Brazil.

Here in Uruguay what we’re debating is how to better ourselves, how to create better conditions, which is a debate we don’t want to have with the right wing, because they’ve shown us for the past 150 years that they cannot take care of those problems, problems we are resolving, and laying the ground work to have that debate with the people who will truly benefit from these policies.

TS: You have said that if Vazquez is re-elected, he would carry on with the Broad Front’s policies. However, there are many controversial policies that Jose Mujica implemented, like abortion, and the marijuana law, which Vazquez is known to oppose. What will happen if he is elected with regard to these topics?

CA: Tabare was against these projects. He didn’t support them, and furthermore, during his last administration, he vetoed the same law that was later approved under Mujica. But as they are both from the Broad Front, which passed the law, it’s not up for discussion. Nothing will change from the way it was approved during Mujica’s government. There is no political sign that suggests that Tabare will erase what Mujica did.

Regarding the marijuana law in particular, it is very clear within the party, that it is a law still being studied and analyzed, that can and will be corrected if necessary; it is new not only for Uruguay, but in the whole world; we know there are other places who have had similar experiences, like in some of the states in the U.S., but in our case, we want to resolve the drug problem, take the market for marijuana away from organized crime, and create conditions to rehabilitate not only marijuana users, but hard drugs too.

In this sense, our aim is to deepen the changes we have already made, improve what has been done, and improve what has been done badly.

TS: How is Vazquez viewed in Uruguay?

CA: Tabare is a man of the people, what we call “de a pie,” down to earth. He comes from a similar humble background as many other Uruguayans.. The Right cannot forgive him for paving the way —via his education and intellect— for the Left to get into power.

Tabare is a man of the Left, even though the political pragmatism he uses makes him seem more centrist, and not as left-wing as many would like; but he has a great feel for politics, and what both he and Mujica can do effectively is scope out what the people want, but in different ways.

Tabare ended his term with approximately 68 percent of approval, which shows that, beyond the problems that existed during that administration, Tabare ultimately received approval for what he did during his term. And I believe that the result of the October 26 elections shows that the Uruguayan people support his candidacy again.

TS: And how is right wing perceived the Uruguayan people?

CA: I think that the clearest example is that the Right didn’t have a clue how to face the second round of the elections. I’ll reiterate what I said before, they relied too heavily on the polls; they thought they were doing well, so did not work to create the conditions in case the scenario changed.

TS: Do you think that the Brazilian election result might influence the results in Uruguay?

CA: Not for this runoff, but yes, I do believe that the political change in the last days in the Brazil elections, with Marina Silva leading in the polls for so many months, and the possibility that the PT could lose the elections, caused some to be nervous, and a little bit worried. Not only us left-wing activists, but among people who would not necessarily identify themselves as left-wing.

TS: What challenges would a new Broad Front government face?

CA: I have said for many years that the most important thing is to not let down the electorate which voted for us and gave us the opportunity to govern. We have developed all of our policies that aim to improve the quality of people’s lives based on this basis; where we can keep generating societal change and evolution, and most importantly, within a region which is our neighborhood. Latin America is our neighborhood from which we relate to the rest of the world. In this sense, our internal policies have an external objective; to project the country within the region, prioritizing regional integration.

TS: So a Tabare Vazquez government would strengthen regional integration?

CA: Yes, definitely. We’re trying to create the conditions to solidify existing regional integration effortslike MERCOSUR, UNASUR, CELAC, ALBA … those projects are here to stay, and we want to make them robust.

We have shown we are a serious political party, dealing with, for example, the case of the Syrian refugees, and the problem of the Guantanamo prisoners. Doing so doesn’t mean we’re trying to cover-up for, or save Obama’s administration, but instead we are trying to resolve the situation for the prisoners, and help Guantanamo to go back to being part of Cuba.

TS: The case of the Syrian refugees is very interesting…

CA: Let me tell you an anecdote. The union for bank workers has a place for the children of its members to live in Montevideo if they go there to study. When President Mujica announced that Syrian families — who were refugees in Lebanese camps — would come to Uruguay, the young people living in the union’s accommodation talked to the leadership, and offered to share their bedrooms with the Lebanese translators who are there to help the Syrians with their Spanish, and adapting to life in Uruguay. For us, that gesture is not only seen as a humanitarian act, but it means that our youth is getting involved in a political issue that does not directly affect them, far away from our borders. That is very important to us, that they get involved, and understand what is it about.

This also shows the possibility and the capability that we have to resolve these issues. To welcome these Syrian families in Uruguay, so they can work here, have a life here. And it is the same with Guantanamo, a topic that Pepe [Mujica] said was not suspended, but on hold until November 30; and that after the elections, regardless who is the new president, he would continue to advocate for, and engage in, negotiations, so those six prisoners without a sentence can come to Uruguay and be free here. This is a very important political gesture by the Broad Front that needs to be highlighted, and it will reverberate with future governments.

Carlos Alejandro is the Broad Front’s director of international relations, as well as member of the Broad Front Commitment group. A member of the Broad Front since 1983, he has a background of union activism.

November 30, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Darren Wilson Investigation Swayed by Favoritism from Start

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By William N. Grigg | PINAC | November 25, 2014

“Any time I’m involved in an officer-involved shooting, be it a fatal one or non-fatal, it is always during my initial investigation listed as an assault on law enforcement,” explained the St. Louis County Police Detective who inaugurated the investigation of the Michael Brown shooting. “Officer Wilson … was the victim of the assault we were investigating.”

Once it had been established that the living, armed individual was the “victim” and the dead, bullet-ridden body had belonged to the “assailant,” continued the detective in his September 3 grand jury testimony, “One of the sergeants with Ferguson [gave] me a brief walk-through to start my investigation so I [could] have a logical starting point from where I would start my video, photographs, and looking for evidence.”

That unnamed sergeant, most likely, was the supervisor who had told Darren Wilson to leave the scene after the shooter told him that Brown had tried to take his gun.

From its inception, the shooting of Michael Brown was not investigated as a potential criminal homicide, and the inquiry was an exercise in validating the killer’s story, rather than testing it against the available evidence. The assumption was that killing was part of his job description – or, as Wilson has subsequently told George Stephanopoulos, “I did what I was paid to do.”

If Wilson had been a member of the productive class, rather than a state employee licensed to dispense aggressive violence, he would have been presumed legally innocent, but required to justify his actions. Because of his occupation, however, Wilson was considered both legally innocent and presumptively correct, and the investigation became an exercise in justifying the shooter’s actions, rather than an inquiry into their propriety.

If Officer Wilson had been “merely” Darren Wilson, the deceased Michael Brown would have been identified as the presumptive “victim.” The shooter would not have been allowed to leave the scene without making a statement to the police, and his associates would not have been allowed to frame the crime scene for the benefit of the investigating detective.

Most importantly, if Wilson had been treated as a homicide suspect, rather than the “victim” of an “assault on law enforcement,” he would not have had the luxury of composing his story at leisure, in consultation with his attorney, to fit the facts as they emerged from the investigation.

“When you got back to the police department, after you washed off and everything, did you ever think at what time that I needed to write a report while it is fresh in my mind?” asked assistant St. Louis County prosecutor Kathi Alizadeh.

“No,” Wilson replied. “The protocol is whenever you are involved in a significant use of force, that you contact your FOP [Fraternal Order of Police] representative and then he will advise you of what to do step by step because they are the clear head in that situation. They have not been through a traumatic experience.” (See the transcript of Darren Wilson’s grand jury testimony, pages 77-78.)

When the shooter is a Mundane – that is, a common citizen, rather than a police officer – he may be similarly traumatized, but he can’t count on the “step-by-step” guidance of clear-headed police officers who have identified him as the victim. One of the first priorities for investigators in non-“officer involved” shootings is to get the original story from the shooter, and compare it against the evidence. As a police officer, however, Wilson wasn’t required to make an initial statement of any kind – either in an incident report, or to any of the investigating officers.

Asked by Alizadeh if he had committed his recollections to paper in a diary or journal, Wilson replied: “My statement has been written for my attorney.”

“And that’s between you and your attorney, then?” asked the unusually helpful prosecutor, who received an affirmative reply.

“So no one has asked you to write out a statement?” the assistant DA persisted.

“No, they haven’t,” Wilson acknowledged. He made one brief reference to speaking with a detective while in the hospital, but that communication was protected by Wilson’s “Garrity” privileges, which means that it could be used only for the purposes of an internal investigation, not in a criminal or civil proceeding.

In his November 24 press conference, St. Louis County DA Robert McCulloch made conspicuous mention of the fact that some witnesses had changed their testimony once their original story was found to be in conflict with subsequently discovered evidence. This is something that happens frequently to homicide suspects, as well. Wilson was never in danger of being caught in that contradiction because he was not treated as a suspect, nor was he required to make a statement to criminal investigators.

During Wilson’s examination before the grand jury, McCulloch’s deputy prosecutors were gentle and deferential, rather than being adversarial. This is to be expected, given that this was a conversation among colleagues.

At several points in his testimony, Wilson made statements that a motivated prosecutor would have aggressively pursued. For example: Wilson – who at 6’4” and roughly 225 pounds is no small man – said that when he grappled with Brown, he felt like a “five-year-old” who was trying to restrain “Hulk Hogan.” He likewise claimed that he had been struck twice by Brown with such force that he was concerned a third blow would be “fatal” – yet the medical examination displayed no evidence of corresponding trauma to his face.

Wilson didn’t explain how the right-handed Michael Brown could have punched the right side of his face while the officer was sitting in the driver’s side of his vehicle. Although Wilson claimed that the initial blows were inflicted while Brown was holding stolen cigarillos in his right hand, no broken cigars were ever recovered, either in the SUV or the surrounding area. The stolen cigars were not found by the medical examiner who arrived on the scene after the shooting. (Interestingly, that examiner never took photos of the deceased, because “My battery in my camera died,” nor did he take any measurements at the crime scene.)

A well-known and highly respected forensic analyst and expert witness on biomechanics and accident reconstruction takes note of several points the prosecution either ignored or minimized to the point of invisibility.

“The big issue as I see it, is how do the cops justify provoking a lethal confrontation with a kid over some damned cigarillos?” the analyst pointed out in an email to me. “Why not wait for ample backup and use non-lethal methods to subdue and arrest for shoplifting? This of course assumes grounds for an arrest. Why were the alleged cigarillos not found? And what did the DA mean when he stated on TV that Brown’s body was on the road 150 feet from the police car? How does an unarmed kid that far away with no weapons constitute an immediate threat to life?”

He also underscores the fact that the unarmed pedestrian Brown, rather than Wilson, may have had the stronger case for self-defense:

“As for what supposedly went on in the passenger compartment with the alleged grabbing of the cop’s arm – this is “consistent with” a kid whose life was threatened by an overly aggressive cop with a gun aimed at him and where the kid was so terrified of an immediate shooting that he felt compelled to take preemptive action to protect himself by disarming the cop.”

If Darren Wilson had been part of the wealth-producing class, as opposed to an armed emissary of the tax-consuming elite, those questions most likely would have been examined in a criminal trial. But, once again, owing to his occupation, this was never going to happen.

Robert McCulloch has a well-earned reputation for deference to the police, and a well-established habit of justifying every use of lethal force, no matter how questionable. Rather than simply seeking an indictment, McCulloch presented the case for the “defense” as well – a characterization that is an odd fit here, given that Wilson – it bears repeating – had been treated as the “victim” in this incident from the beginning.

“Had the prosecution desired an indictment against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, the presentment would have taken an hour, maybe two, and there would have been a true bill by close of business the next day, well before Michael Brown had been laid to rest,” points outattorney and civil rights advocate Scott Greenfield. “The grand jury isn’t the venue to present `all the evidence.’ That’s what trials are for. The grand jury serves a very limited function, to determine whether sufficient evidence exists so that there is probable cause to proceed to trial.”

A great deal of the media coverage has referred to the Grand Jury’s decision as a “verdict,” which is both technically incorrect and substantively true: Rather than seeking probable cause to indict Wilson, McCulloch and St. Louis County law enforcement built a case to convict Michael Brown of “an assault on law enforcement.”

Given the ambiguity of the evidence, Darren Wilson as a private citizen likely would not have been convicted of murder if the case had gone to trial, but a conviction on a lesser count would be a possibility. Under Missouri’s constitutionally perverse statute dealing with police homicide – which has been criticized by former federal judge Paul Cassell, who is broadly indulgent of killer cops – Officer Wilson was never in danger of being convicted of a crime.

It is not necessary to believe that Michael Brown was the embodiment of winsome innocence (it’s pretty clear that he was not) to take issue with the architecture of official privilege that protects Darren Wilson – and the other armed representatives of the political class – from accountability. The problem, in a single phrase, isn’t “white privilege,” but rather “blue privilege.”

Edmund Burke could have had this case in mind when he wrote these lines from his neglected essay “A Vindication of Natural Society”:  “In a State of Nature, it is true, that a Man of superior Force may beat or rob me; but then it is true, that I am at full Liberty to defend myself, or make Reprisal by Surprise or by Cunning, or by any other way in which I may be superior to him. But in Political Society … if I attempt to avenge myself, the whole Force of that Society is ready to complete my Ruin.”

November 30, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Egypt mass trial tomorrow could see death sentences for 500, including Irish teen

Reprieve | November 30, 2014

A mass trial for almost 500 people will resume tomorrow in Egypt, and could see death sentences handed down to the defendants – including an Irish teenager arrested last year while on holiday.

Ibrahim Halawa, from Dublin, was 17 at the time of his arrest during a military crackdown on protests in the city last August. He is one of 494 defendants who could face a death sentence in a makeshift courtroom expected to convene in the Tora prison complex in Cairo. It’s emerged that several other minors are also among the hundreds due in court.

Tomorrow’s hearing follows a mass trial several days ago at which authorities handed down sentences totalling 340 years to 78 children. At that hearing, lawyers were reportedly barred from entering the court.

At the last hearing for Mr Halawa’s mass trial in August this year, a three-judge panel resigned from the case mid-hearing, citing ‘unease’ with the proceedings amid protests from lawyers and defendants alike.

Egypt’s mass trials have been condemned by the UN as illegal and “rife with procedural irregularities”, and by Egyptian rights groups as “a grave violation of… the right to a fair trial”. A report published days ago from the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, meanwhile, criticised the UK Government for failing to list Egypt as a ‘country of concern’ in light of the mass trials and the handing down of death sentences.

Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at legal charity Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Halawa, said: “It is extremely worrying that the mass trial appears to be going ahead as planned. This is a clear violation of internationally-accepted fair trial standards, and the international community must do all it can to halt them and prevent hundreds of people from potentially being sentenced to death.”

November 30, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Letter from scientists prompts Suez Canal conspiracy theories

Mada Masr | October 8, 2014

A letter published in an international scientific journal about the ecological risks of expanding the Suez Canal has raised cries of conspiracy theories in local media.

The letter to the editor was signed by 18 scientists from around the world, including lead author Bella Galil of Israel’s National Institute of Oceanography. It was published in Biological Invasions, a peer-reviewed scientific journal which is ranked among the top 25 percent of scholarly publications in the fields of plant and animal sciences.

In keeping with the theme of the journal, the letter raises concerns that Egypt’s plans to widen the Suez Canal will speed the invasion of non-native species into the Mediterranean Sea.

It points out that half of the 700 multicellular non-native species found in the Mediterranean Sea were introduced via the Suez Canal, which it describes as “one of the most potent mechanisms and corridors for invasions by marine species known in the world.” Thus, the authors say, plans to expand the canal come as “ominous news.”

The migration of non-native sea creatures, many of whom have few natural predators in the Mediterranean, has led to “profound environmental, economic and human-health issues,” the authors say.

Among the examples cited are the annual swarms of jellyfish that harm tourism, fisheries and coastal installations such as desalination and power plants, the spread of poisonous pufferfish throughout the Levant and to Italy and Tunisia, and the invasion of several species of fish and prawns and oysters that have displaced local species that have traditionally been harvested by local fisherman.

The letter concludes with a reminder about international conventions that require signatories, including Egypt, to “prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate those alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species,” and a call for a regionally-supervised environmental impact assessment to mitigate a new wave of invasive species that could migrate through a wider and deeper canal.

Ordinarily, a fairly technical letter-to-the-editor of a scientific journal would draw little notice outside of academia. In this case, however, it hit headlines because the lead signatory is a scientist from Israel’s National Institute of Oceanography, and because it involves the Suez Canal expansion, which is widely regarded as a patriotic national project that will underpin Egypt’s future economic success.

The story was picked up by Haaretz newspaper on October 6, and in turn by Egyptian publications. Although the letter was published September 28 in a journal based in the Netherlands, privately owned Youm7 ran a story on it under the headline: “A Zionist attempt to divert attention from October 6 commemoration. Israel starts war of rumors on new Suez Canal project. Tel Aviv publishes fabricated research claiming that widening the canal will pose environmental threat.”

November 30, 2014 Posted by | Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | 2 Comments

Demonizing Russia as US goes to war

By Finian Cunningham | Press TV | November 30, 2014

Every Russian maneuver is now being recklessly construed as a sinister war threat by the Western media – no matter that the Russian maneuvers are entirely in keeping with international law and are a normal part of any nation’s right to movement of its military forces.

The latest “incident” was reported by Britain’s Daily Mail in which a squadron of Russian warships was “escorted” by the British Royal Navy as it sailed through the English Channel.

The Daily Mail headline was spiced with sinister innuendo of Russia doing something untoward, illegal and threatening. ‘Royal Navy catches up with Russian warships to ‘keep an eye’ on Putin’s fleet sailing along the Channel.’

Note the sly demonization of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, by attributing the Russian leader as the personal owner of the warships – as if he were some kind of arch-villain in a cheesy James Bond movie.

The report informs readers: “The Royal Navy has escorted [sic] a squadron of Russian warships sailing through the English Channel [sic]. Four ships passed through the through the Strait of Dover after carrying out military exercises [sic] in the North Sea. HMS Tyne, a Type 45 Destroyer and one of the Royal Navy’s most technically advanced warships, was able to pinpoint and monitor [sic] the movement of the group led by Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov as it approached [sic] the UK.”

The words and tone used by Daily Mail are loaded with malign implication suggesting that the Russian vessels were performing a secretive mission that transgressed international law. The facts are that the Russian ships were at all times in internationally navigable waters, had complied with maritime reporting regulations, and were conducting legitimate military training maneuvers, which is the prerogative of all countries’ navies and is a routine occurrence.

Even a British Ministry of Defense spokesman quoted by the newspaper acknowledged that the Russian warships were not doing anything illegal.

“We are aware that four Russian naval ships have passed through the Dover Strait from the North Sea into the English Channel, which all ships have the right to do under international law,” said the British MoD spokesman.

A British navy source is quoted as saying: “It’s not provocative but we are keeping an eye on them.”

So, the Russian “provocation” is not supported by any facts; it is merely being contrived by the Western media, who are evidently following a political line.

Ever since Washington and its European allies backed the illegal coup in Kiev last February by helping to overthrow the elected government and installing a hostile anti-Russian neo-Nazi regime, the Western powers have been accusing Russia of subversion, annexation and aggression. Thus, Western governments and the Western media have completely turned reality on its head.

The media spin of Russian forces conducting stealthy maneuvers and posing an international threat is part of this Western anti-Russian narrative aimed at distracting from the real cause of insecurity and conflict in Europe.

Earlier this week, General Philip Breedlove, the American commander of the NATO military alliance, was in Kiev reiterating claims that Russia is escalating tensions by acting aggressively, not just in Ukraine, but in the Baltic region and Black Sea. Breedlove went as far as claiming that Russia was militarizing the Crimea with nuclear weapons.

Russia has had a naval base and military forces in Crimea for decades under an internationally recognized agreement with Ukrainian governments – before the West helped overthrow President Yanukovych.

The people of Crimea invoked the Western-backed secession by Kosovo from Serbia in 2008, by voting in March to secede from the Kiev regime and join the Russian Federation.

Russia is therefore not doing anything illegal in Crimea or in international airspace and seas in the Baltic region, the Black Sea, or anywhere else, including that narrow strait between the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean that Britain presumptuously calls the “English Channel.”

NATO commander Breedlove has had ample Western media coverage for his assertion that US-supplied fighter jets “have been scrambled” threefold times more this year compared with last year in order “to intercept” Russian military aircraft across Europe.

But, quietly between the lines, NATO spokesmen acknowledge that Russian aircraft have not actually breached any national airspace in all this time. Again, as with the “incident” of the Russian naval vessels passing through waters off Britain, there is no factual basis for the alarmist response. The alarmist response is simply being manufactured in order to give credence to the hoary narrative of “Russian threat.”

The absurd and pernicious logic of this narrative is that any Russian vessel or aircraft, whether civilian or military, anywhere in the world is being tagged as a potential threat. This is the corollary of Western sanctions and NATO military encirclement of Russia.

Russia is little by little being turned into a pariah by Western governments and their media to the extent that Russia is being excluded from its legitimate and normal access to international territorial space.

It is the Western powers that are acting illegally in pursuing this unlawful interdiction of Russia.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the US and its allies continue to build up aggressive military forces around Russia. NATO warplanes have increased their number in the Baltic region by 400 per cent compared with last year. That is a fact, according to NATO’s own information.

The US-led military alliance has spent at least $200 million over the past year in upgrading air bases in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, according to a report last month in the Financial Times.

And the US navy has deployed an increasing number of Aegis missile-capable warships in the Black Sea. All these US and NATO maneuvers on Russia’s doorstep are in contravention of binding agreements – the Founding Act of 1997 and the Montreux Convention, respectively.

Ironically, as NATO’s General Breedlove was being hosted by the neo-Nazi regime in Kiev this week, there were low-key US media reports noting that American troops from Fort Carson in Colorado “will deploy for supporting Ukraine.”

The Colorado-based Gazette reports: “US European Command said that a 100-soldier team from the 16,000-soldier division will head to Europe in early 2015 to lead ground forces in ‘Operation Atlantic Resolve.’”

The report added: “Leaders from the division will run a series of training exercises to ensure American forces are ready to fight alongside partners.”

Two significant things about Fort Carson are that it is a base not only for infantry but also for Special Forces trained in unconventional warfare. Its troops are dedicated to European Command of the US army.

European Command is headed up by none other than General Philip Breedlove who wears a second military hat in addition to his NATO one.

It is significant that Breedlove, as NATO leader, is touring Europe rallying a “response” to alleged Russian aggression; then, in the very same week that he is in the anti-Russian regime capital of Kiev, the Pentagon announces that US troops under Breedlove’s European Command are now being dispatched to “support Ukraine.”

Washington is playing European governments like a fiddle. But shamefully while the US is mobilizing war efforts in Europe, Western media are chasing after Russian phantoms in the air and at sea.

November 30, 2014 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , | 3 Comments

Postcards from Pripyat, Chernobyl

Postcards from Pripyat, Chernobyl from Danny Cooke on Vimeo.

November 30, 2014 Posted by | Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

The Mubarak trial verdict – What just happened?

By Hossam Bahgat | Mada Masr | November 29, 2014

There appears to be the usual share of confusion about what the Mubarak trial judge just said and did. As seen on television, the judge promised his “sons in the media” flash drives containing talking points (in the neighborhood of 200 pages) to help them, he said, with their news coverage until they have had a chance to read the entire ruling. Until that summary is available, I will address here a couple of the most persistent questions so far, pending further updates.

Q: Does Mubarak walk out now?

A: Yes. He is free to go for the time being. There have been some conflicting statements in the media on this point by named and unnamed legal sources after the verdict was announced. The confusion stems from the fact that Mubarak was sentenced last May to three years in prison on corruption charges related to embezzling millions of Egyptian pounds from state funds to spend on mansions owned privately by himself and his family.

Because Mubarak was convicted in the “mansions” case in May 2014, many have made the logical assumption that he would serve that sentence until 2017, notwithstanding today’s combination of acquittals and non-convictions of other charges of killing protesters and corruption, which isn’t the case. I have spoken to two senior criminal defense and human rights lawyers, who have independently confirmed that Mubarak’s three-year sentence in the mansions case does not start at the date of his conviction in May 2014, but rather at the date of his arrest and pre-trial detention in May 2011. With today’s acquittal, there is no legal basis for keeping him in prison.

Both sources have directed me to Article 483 of the Code of Criminal Procedures. This is my informal, non-lawyerly English translation:

“If a defendant is found not guilty of a crime for which he was held in pretrial detention then the period of pretrial detention shall be deducted from the period [of imprisonment] to which the defendant is sentenced for any [other] crime he might have committed or for which he has been investigated while in pretrial detention.”

The above is legalese for saying that a defendant’s prison term starts not at the time of sentencing but at the time of detention, even if that detention was for another charge. So even though Mubarak was held between May 2011 and May 2014 for the protester-killing charge, that period will count as time served for the mansions case.

The three-year sentence Mubarak was handed in May 2014 ended, therefore, in May 2014. A coincidence, of course – To suggest otherwise would be ground for prosecution for “insulting the judiciary.”

Q: Was Mubarak acquitted of the charge of killing protesters?

A: No, he wasn’t. He was not convicted either. The judge threw out the entire charge on procedural grounds.

First, the necessary background: Following Mubarak’s abdication of power in February 2011, Public Prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud decided to investigate the killing of protesters during the 18 days of revolt that ended Mubarak’s tenure. On March 23, 2011, Mahmoud, who had served under Mubarak and remained in office until late 2012, indicted Mubarak’s Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and his senior assistants, but not Mubarak himself, for having ordered or otherwise abetted the killing of protesters throughout the country. Two months later, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, which had succeeded Mubarak in power, faced pressure from street demonstrations demanding accountability for Mubarak too. On May 24, 2011, the public prosecutor added Mubarak as a co-defendant in the case.

The fact that Mubarak was only added as a defendant two months after the case had been referred to trial is the technicality the judge used today to dismiss the charge against him. By not indicting Mubarak from the beginning, the judge reasoned, the prosecution had made “an implied decision that there were no grounds for criminal proceedings” against him. This “no-grounds” decision can be formally reversed by the public prosecutor within a window of three months. Mubarak’s defense lawyers argued, and today the court agreed, that the prosecution reversed the implied no-grounds designation of Mubarak without following proper procedures. For that technical error, the judge ruled the charge against Mubarak for the killing of protesters as inadmissible and dismissed that charge without considering it or ruling on its merits.

Mubarak’s lawyers had raised that same defense in the first trial (Mubarak was sentenced to life in 2012, before the Court of Cassation threw out that sentence and ordered the retrial that ended today). The first trial court had dismissed that defense, according to Hoda Nasralla, a criminal justice lawyer with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, who observed and wrote a detailed report on the first trial. Nasralla told me she had argued against that same defense in the first trial, where she represented some of the victims’ families as civil claimants in the case. Here is the gist of her argument:

  • There was never a preliminary decision by the prosecution that there were no grounds to try Mubarak, explicit or implicit. It is inconceivable to argue that the March 2011 indictment (in which Mubarak was not named) is a declaration that there was no evidence against Mubarak, because until then Mubarak had never been questioned or even declared a suspect in the trial. A no-grounds designation could not be this subtle.
  • Assuming that the decision to not name Mubarak as a defendant in March could be considered an “implied declaration” that there were no grounds to prosecute, then why can’t the decision to add Mubarak as a co-defendant in May be considered an implied reversal of the implied declaration?
  • Assuming there was even an explicit no-grounds declaration, Article 213 of the Code of Criminal Procedures allows prosecutors to reopen investigations against any suspect or defendant if new evidence is identified or presented.

Nasralla, like many other observers, is convinced that this procedural argument was bought by today’s court not necessarily for its strength on merits, but because it was an attractive way for the court to dismiss the charge without a not-guilty finding.

Q: Is this the end?

A: Of course not. Egyptian court sagas of this size and nature don’t usually end. But the next stage could be filled with even more drama. The public prosecutor can, and most likely will, appeal today’s verdict before the Court of Cassation (Egypt’s highest court on criminal matters).

This court is not a substantive appeals court – it merely reviews whether or not the lower court decision complied with laws and procedure without reexamining the evidence. The Court of Cassation could simply ratify today’s verdict and that would be the end of it. But if the court decides to overturn and throw away the conviction for the second time, then it doesn’t get to send the case back to a lower criminal court for retrial. The law establishing the court stipulates that a third and final retrial of this nature will be conducted by the justices of the Court of Cassation themselves, who then act as a normal criminal court with full investigative powers.

Cassation justices are considered the nation’s most senior and best qualified bench. And because they’re elected by their peers, they are by far the country’s most independent court. Not that anyone is doubting the independence of other parts of the judiciary, of course.

November 30, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | | 1 Comment

Here are 10 things about 9/11 that deserve more attention – and 5 that deserve less

People need to know just how absurd the official story of the Shanksville "crash" is.

People need to know just how absurd the official story of the Shanksville “crash” is
By Craig McKee | Truth and Shadows | October 2, 2014

Let’s face it: the 9/11 Truth Movement is all over the place. But that’s not surprising – nor necessarily bad.

When you have an official story that is so clearly false in so many ways, there are going to be a multitude of valid angles from which to examine and expose the deception. There are also going to be many directions the movement can take to advance the cause and to awaken the uninitiated.

But all these ways are not created equal. When you have many thoughtful and intelligent truthers, some not-so-intelligent and not-so-thoughtful truthers, and an undetermined number of outright disinformation agents, you’re bound to get a “diversity of opinion” that would make Cass Sunstein very happy indeed.

So how do we decide what is important and was is not? How do we know where our efforts are best directed? It’s clear that we must keep our focus on things that will advance the cause, which is to expose the lies of 9/11 and other false flag operations. To this end, there are clearly some areas of 9/11 research that deserve all the attention they get and more. Meanwhile, there are areas that are getting attention to the detriment of the cause. Below, I list the areas I feel deserve more attention and those that deserve less, or none, especially when it comes to awakening newcomers. I know that readers will have their own items that they feel should be included. Some will also want to contest the items on my two lists.

We need to be fighting this battle on a multitude of fronts because the movement as a whole has to expose all elements of the 9/11 lie. When you look at the entirety of the bogus official story, the case for inside job becomes overwhelming. For the movement as a whole, picking just one area to concentrate on is not the best approach. What convinced me was an accumulation of all the evidence. The twin towers, Building 7, the Pentagon, Shanksville, the military stand down, the absence of proof that any alleged hijackers boarded any planes, the bogus Bin Laden “confession” video. And so much more.

Of course, individuals and organizations can be extremely effective by specializing – Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth continues to be very valuable by focusing on the controlled demolition of the twin towers and Building 7. It is also doing a great job reaching out to the public and the media with the Rethink 9/11 campaign and other efforts in an effort to advance the cause.

And, no, it’s not as simple as saying let’s avoid obvious disinformation. Yes, overcoming disinformation is one of the greatest challenges we face, but sometimes the cure is worse than the disease – or perceived disease. We’ll never be able to eradicate all the ideas we don’t like, especially if those ideas are being promulgated by fake truthers, because they’ll never get tired and go away. If we turn our attention away from our best evidence and instead spend all our time trying to crush bad ideas and attack those who may or may not sincerely believe them, we risk bringing more attention to those ideas than they really deserve. And the idea that if we don’t obliterate everything we think is disinfo then “we’ll look stupid to the world” is overstated, in my opinion.

We can’t destroy disinformation completely but we can expose the mechanisms that make it function and in doing so, marginalize it. And we can stay on message with the strongest and most undeniable evidence.

And there’s so much to choose from.

MORE ATTENTION SHOULD GO TO…

1. Shanksville and the self-burying plane: Without a doubt, the single major area of 9/11 study that has received the least attention is the impossible tale of Flight 93, which is supposed to have crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The plane, so the absurd story goes, is supposed to have crashed into the field and buried itself in the “soft” soil with the hole covering itself in. That’s right, the government claims (without a shred of proof offered to the world) that the plane ended up completely underground. They had to dig the whole thing up (except for the drivers license of one of the alleged hijackers, which was suitably singed and found above ground). It’s really more accurate to say that most people – at least 99 out of 100 – have no idea that this is what the official story says. How many have a clue, for example, that the scar in the field that was supposedly made by the wings penetrating the ground could be seen in aerial photographs taken by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1994? The only thing added on 9/11 was the nice round crater in the middle that represented the supposed impact of the hollow, aluminum fuselage. And people actually believe this…

2. Evidence that a 757 did not hit the Pentagon: The claim that annoys me more than any other is that we should ignore the Pentagon evidence because it is “too controversial” and “too divisive.” This is nonsense and plays right into the hands of the perpetrators. The only reason it appears controversial is because some misguided members of the Truth Movement, along with some real live disinfo agents, are trying to convince us that the part of the official story that says a plane crashed into the Pentagon – and plowed through three of its five rings – is actually true.

I get why disinfo agents would want us to ignore the overwhelming evidence that a plane crash was faked there, because a faked crash would positively implicate the Pentagon itself, but I have never understood why any sincere truther would do so. The justification given – that if it proves untrue later it will embarrass the movement – is paper thin. Some even use the demonstrably faked video images as proof that a real plane zipped along the lawn, parallel to the ground. They point to pictures of scraps of metal as proof of the crash (Look! There’s a piece painted with American Airlines colors!). They’ll even resort to claiming that the DNA evidence proved that a real plane crashed.

When did these people forget that this was an event designed to look like one thing (terrorist hijackings and crashing of commercial planes into specific targets) when it was actually another? The World Trade Center “attack” was supposed to create the impression that plane impacts caused so much damage that the buildings collapsed. But we know that the buildings were destroyed by explosives, not jet fuel and not plane impacts.

So why do we want to toss out the overwhelming evidence that the Pentagon event was not what it appeared to be? When you combine: the wreckage (or lack of it), the damage to the building (or lack of it), the absence of trenches dug in the lawn and building foundation by the engines; the two video views that are incompatible with each other; the withheld video from 85 other Pentagon cameras, the aviation evidence, the highly credible witnesses interviewed by CIT, the Flight Data Recorder (which, whether the data is fake or not still discounts the official story), and quite a lot more, you get a very clear picture that no airliner crashed into the Pentagon.

3. The absence of evidence that any “hijackers” ever boarded any planes: This is a hugely important area that needs a great deal more attention (It will be the subject of a future post). The fact is that there is not a shred of hard, verifiable evidence that any one of the 19 alleged hijackers ever boarded any of the four alleged 9/11 flights. Not one.

There is no video footage that proves any of them boarded. All we have is video showing Mohamed Atta and Abdul al-Omari in the Portland airport earlier that morning, and we have the five alleged hijackers of Flight 77 in Washington’s Dulles International Airport (with no time stamp or camera identification number that would authenticate the footage).

There are no witnesses that can positively place any of them on any of the planes. There are no authenticated flight manifests that place any of them on any planes. Nor are there any authenticated boarding passes. We can add to that the fact that several alleged hijackers turned up alive after 9/11 and that the 19 alleged hijackers’ identities have changed numerous times without an explanation being given for how the replacement names were arrived at.

4. Positive initiatives to advance the cause: it’s easy to dismiss some of the public awareness and legal efforts to punch holes in the official 9/11 lie, but I think we do so to our own detriment. Yes, we might think that one initiative or another may not succeed, but I believe we need to continue to hack away at the official story until we find a vulnerable point that will begin unravelling the public’s trust in that story. Certainly the worst thing we can do is nothing. To be sure, we have all been frustrated by the court failures of Ellen Mariani, April Gallop, and others. But there have also been hopeful signs, including video of the destruction of Building 7 is showing on a huge digital screen in New York City’s Times Square as we speak. We also have the rest of the Rethink 9/11 campaign; the High-Rise Safety Initiative; the recent documentaries September 11: The New Pearl Harbor by Massimo Mazzucco and The Anatomy of a Great Deception by David Hooper; Richard Gage’s appearance on C-Span and on Jesse Ventura’s Off the Grid, the opportunity afforded by the 9/11 Memorial and Museum to focus opposition and reach the public, and many other developments. In fact, we should be thinking of new and creative ways every day to shine a light on 9/11.

The 9/11 Truth Movement appears to be revitalized and making progress. We even saw a mainstream newspaper, the Fresno Bee, publish an opinion piece calling for a new investigation into 9/11. We could be discouraged by the fact that 13 years have passed, but I think people are starting to notice that we’re still here and we’re not going anywhere.

5. The workings of disinformation: There is no question that the 9/11 Truth Movement has been under assault from agents, infiltrators, and shills since very early in its existence. It is also clear that this assault has had a damaging effect on the movement. As a result, it has become essential that we discuss and come to understand how disinformation works, how it is being used against us, and how best to react to it (and when not to react at all).

Disinformation, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is:

“The dissemination of deliberately false information, esp. when supplied by a government or its agent to a foreign power or to the media, with the intention of influencing the policies or opinions of those who receive it; false information so supplied.”

DELIBERATELY false information.

So when someone who purports to be a 9/11 truther shares information that he or she knows to be false, this is disinformation. This does NOT mean that all incorrect information and poorly supported arguments are disinformation.

6. The connection between the Anthrax attacks and 9/11: This one is excellent timing considering the recent publication of Graeme MacQueen’s new book The 2001 Anthrax Deception: The Case for a Domestic Conspiracy. MacQueen shows how the original official story of the anthrax attacks – that it was the same Muslim extremists who supposedly perpetrated 9/11 – had to be tossed when it became clear that al-Qaeda did not have the means to produce or acquire highly sophisticated and weaponized anthrax. MacQueen shows us the role the media played in raising the fear level of a biological attack (and specifically an anthrax attack) even before the first case was reported. He also explains how the targeting of Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy helped facilitate passage of the Patriot Act. MacQueen has done his part to reveal the depth of this deception, now it’s up to the rest of us to make sure everybody hears about it and understands its implications.

7. The links between 9/11 and the advancing police state: The intelligence apparatus of the United States (and those of other Western countries, including my native Canada), has grown massively since 9/11, and this is no accident. The Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act and many other legal (and illegal) initiatives are steadily hacking away at the U.S. Constitution. And it’s all done under the guise of protecting the population against terrorists. The problem is that most of these supposed terrorists and their groups end up having ties to Western intelligence (and this was going on before 9/11: Try Googling operations Gladio and Northwoods). The war on terror is a deception that is designed to scare us into surrendering our freedom, our privacy, our safety, and our right to determine our own future.

We’ve seen recently how local police forces have been equipped with military equipment that they could not – under any reasonable conditions – ever need. But they are using it against the population. People are no longer to be served and protected, they are the enemy to be controlled.

It seems very clear that the infrastructure is being put in place for complete martial law. This includes FEMA camps and Fusion Centers and immigration checkpoints and Constitution free zones. Add to that, the erosion of the sovereignty of nations being orchestrated by a global elite through the Bilderberg Group, Council on Foreign Relations, and other organizations, and you have a very disturbing picture of where our future is headed.

8. The links between 9/11 and past deceptions and false flags: 9/11 is not unique, except maybe in its scope and its audacity. Operations like the Kennedy and King assassinations, the London 7/7 bombings, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, Operation Northwoods, Operation Gladio, MK-Ultra, Pearl Harbor, and a host of other events and programs fit into a historical context that includes 9/11 and recent events like the Boston Marathon bombing (which was a dress rehearsal for martial law). The more we educate the public about the history of false flag operations and other deceptions that trick us into supporting things we otherwise would not, the better chance we have of waking some people up and reaching a critical mass.

And a major part of this, of course, is looking at who was and is responsible for all of these events. Who benefited? Who had foreknowledge? Who picked the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 to be out of their office because his wife made an appointment for him with his dermatologist?

9. Why the “let it happen on purpose” position is untenable: Some people cling to the notion that incompetence was the reason for the “success” of the 9/11 operation. This is the position that the U.S. government itself would like us to take. But it holds no water at all.

Others are willing to believe that the government found out about a coming terrorist attack and decided to allow it to happen. This is known as the “let it happen on purpose” or LIHOP position. But the position that the evidence points to is that 9/11 was an inside job involving the U.S. government (and likely other governments). This is known as the “made it happen on purpose” or MIHOP position.

On a moral level, LIHOP and MIHOP amount to the same thing: mass murder for political gain. But the critical difference – and the reason we must expose the full spectrum of the lie – is that the LIHOP position allows the myth of the Muslim terrorist threat to stand. It accepts that real terrorists wanted to attack the United States (presumably for its “freedoms”) and that they remain a real threat. The truth, of course, is that the terrorist threat is manufactured and groups like al-Qaeda are really instruments of Western intelligence.

10. Eliminating language that supports the official story: We must carefully consider the words we use to describe what happened on 9/11 so that we don’t inadvertently reinforce the official story. This means we should never refer to “what hit the Pentagon” or “the terrorist attacks of 9/11” or “the plane that crashed in Shanksville” or “the 9/11 hijackers.” I know it means using “allegedly” and “supposedly” a lot, but it has to be done. As Barrie Zwicker says, each of these phrases carries the DNA of the 9/11official story.

AND LESS ATTENTION SHOULD GO TO…

1. Judy Wood and Directed Energy Weapons: I just don’t get it. With so much strong evidence available to the Truth Movement, I see no value in arguing about Judy Woods and her non-theory about directed energy weapons and dustified steel. Yes, she has raised some questions. And yes, she authored the glossiest textbook that has been produced about 9/11, but fighting about her won’t bring new and constructive attention to the movement or the effort to tell people that this event was an inside job. To Woods’ opponents, stop obsessing about her.

2. Nukes at the World Trade Center: Even mentioning this (or no planes) is going to get me into trouble with somebody. The nuclear position has been getting a lot of attention lately with the efforts of Jim Fetzer, Don Fox, Gordon Duff, and others to raise the profile of the issue and to take on established figures in the movement like Richard Gage of AE911Truth, Steven Jones, and Niels Harrit over their position that thermite (or nano-thermite) played an important, although not exclusive, role in destroying the three WTC towers. (It is important to note that AE does not claim that thermite destroyed the towers on its own; their position is that it was combined with explosives of some kind.) The proponents of the nuke position say they have already proven their case. Their opponents say there’s no evidence at all to support their claim.

I can’t see how this fight at this time can help us to advance our cause, particularly since AE911Truth has been making some real progress with its public outreach initiatives. Why would we want to work against those efforts when they seem to be bearing some fruit? There is just so much evidence that these buildings were blown up that I think our focus should be on bringing this truth the widest audience possible.

3. Excessive preoccupation with disinformation: This case has been made in the article already. And I mean “excessive” preoccupation. I’m not saying we ignore all disinformation, but I am saying that we have to try and reduce its power to dominate the agenda.

4. Excessive cynicism about the future of 9/11 Truth: it’s an uphill battle and it won’t be won in a year or two. And yes, the deck is stacked against us. But we have to see the positives in small victories and keep pushing forward. Telling each other that it’s hopeless and that we’re tired of making this argument or that argument is not going to help us achieve our goals. If you’re tired and fed up with fighting, take a break. Recharge the batteries. Don’t discourage others from the efforts they are making.

5. The incompetence defense: We have seen a lot of supposed 9/11 truthers like Abby Martin of Russia Today talk about the Aug. 6 memo “warning” the Bush administration about Bin Laden’s intention to attack the U.S. and all the other supposed warnings that an attack was coming. But all of this supports the lie that 9/11 was a real terrorist event that could have been prevented by a stronger and more alert defense. The incompetence theory is the worst thing that anyone who calls themself a truther should ever push. It reinforces the terrorist threat and justifies the continued war on terror.

November 29, 2014 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , | 6 Comments

New Black Panther Party Members Framed In Alleged Plot To Bomb St. Louis Arch, Kill Police

As a figure of speech, it’s really unbelievable – racist white America is pulling out all the stops and all its old tricks to demonize dissent and the black community standing up for itself.

If only it truly was unbelievable that the collusion between government, the “just-us system” and the media is attempting to tip public opinion in its favor in the wake of its own corruption by villainizing the very people and community it wronged in the first place. If only. . .

Two members of the St. Louis chapter of the New Black Panther Party are being accused of plotting to blow up the Gateway Arch, kill prosecutor Robert McCulloch and Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, as well as vaguely stated, “harm police officers,” but I call bullsh*t.

And who alleges all these charges? “Sources.”

Chief Jackson said he “was warned about a plot,” but things were left very vague. He was “not given a lot of detail.”

Yep, that’s it. That’s all you get, folks. “Sources” say these two men were involved in a plot that will help the crooked police, the “just-us system” and the complicit media obliquely suggest that the black community is made up of nothing but “thuggish” violent brutes, so the murder of Michael Brown, the media blackouts when things get heavy, the lack of an indictment on Darren Wilson, the National Guard and police firing on protestors (and even their partners in crime, the media) – all of it is just and necessary. Right?

Brandon Baldwin and Olajuwon Davis were arrested Nov. 20 and have been indicted (unlike someone else we all know) on these trumped up charges after an alleged investigation tailing them “for months,” yet all the public is told in their quest to blow up the Gateway Arch and kill, kill, kill, is that they bought a couple guns allegedly with false information at a Cabela’s in Hazelwood, Missouri, and that they’d allegedly been “aggressively pursuing explosives.”

No mention of what the explosives allegedly were is provided by a majority of media covering the story, and when they are mentioned at all, it’s left vague, though one outlet did state the explosives were allegedly in the nature of pipe bombs. The charges attempt to sound legitimate through the repetition of them in the media, as well as the repetition of the explosives allegations being stated in “court documents,” but anyone who’s ever been through the court system knows that anything can be alleged by anyone and wind up in court documents; that hardly makes them fact by any stretch of the imagination. They are still, even there, merely allegations by “sources.”

And who are these likely sources? They are the very same police and system under the microscope for racism and corruption, under enormous public pressure by international protests in response to the murder of Michael Brown in broad daylight

Does it seem like a convenient conflict of interest?

“Sources” say Baldwin and Davis had explosives and plans, but all that’s been proven they really had were a couple small handguns, and considering the violence out there, who could blame them for wanting to secure a pistol for self-defense should it come down to it? Have we already forgotten that guns have been flying off the shelves in Ferguson and the greater St. Louis area in anticipation of the verdict?

Have we forgotten, already, the white woman who shot and killed herself by accident in her own car, yelling out, “We’re ready for Ferguson!”

Have we forgotten the threats made by the f*cking Klu Klux Klan that no law enforcement or government official has urged to stay home in order to de-escalate the situation, or at the very least, provide them one of those lovely “free speech zones” several miles away from the heart of the action, as the government is so prone to do for dissenters?

Buying a couple guns is nothing to paint such enormous charges against these two men for by any means.

Hmmm… why would local law enforcement paint such a smear campaign? Any guesses?

“Sources” also say these men were committing a straw purchase and allegedly buying the guns for someone else. So far, nothing has been shown to the public to corroborate that story – just more vague references to “court documents” — but let’s say for the sake of argument that’s true. There are numerous reasons why that might occur. It’s also something that is quite common. And, it’s a hell of a long shot from the bigger charges of intent to murder and blow up the Gateway Arch. Do you really think some pipe bombs could take down the Arch? How many people in the area have likely said out of anger and frustration, too, that they’d like to kill those two *ssholes? Venting is hardly equated to actual intent to murder.

Now let’s reflect for a moment, here, on the image versus the true history of the Black Panther Party.

The Panthers were formed out of necessity for self-defense and community insecurity

The organization was inspired by Robert F. Williams’ actions in North Carolina back in the late ‘50s, who formed the Black Armed Guard for the same reason: self-defense.

And just to state the obvious here, self-defense is not offensive violence that goes out and seeks confrontation, vengeance, retribution, etc. No, it minds its own business, but is simply prepared to protect itself when trouble and harm comes its way. Self-defense is preparation for self-preservation. That is all. It is actually peaceful in nature, as was Robert Williams and the Black Panther Party. It just assumes a posture of not hesitating to defend one’s self by any means necessary should one need to do so. You can watch a fabulous documentary on Robert Williams called “Negroes With Guns” below:

The Black Panthers did the same, in the spirit of the Black Armed Guard, and contrary to the public image of them fostered by white media as gun-toting killers with nary an emotion, the Panthers were actually peaceful; they just didn’t take any sh*t, and good for them.

The Panthers actually started several community service programs that were vital to the success and betterment of their community, such as free breakfasts for the community. That is what they really did. The guns were only there to protect themselves should they need it, because, just like today, young black men were continually being harassed and killed, especially by law enforcement.

While the media painted them as cold-blooded killers, the reality is that law enforcement and the government waged war on the Panthers and killed numerous members in cold blood, like Fred Hampton in Chicago – shot dead over and again as he lay asleep in his bed. Time has proven Hampton was murdered while he slept, by police, though at the time authorities tried to claim Hampton had shot first.

That is the true history of the Panthers, peaceful self-defense and community programs for the betterment of all while under the murderous sights of the police, constantly. Time has shown that it is the government and law enforcement that lies and kills, over and over again

Learn your history and you’d know all this; then maybe today’s current events would be clearer to you. People only sensationalized the Panthers as killers because they saw black people with guns and their white fear ran wild, but that would have never been white folks’ response had white culture not oppressed people of color for the last millennia. Karma comes around, baby. What was that old line about chickens Malcolm used to say?

And it is under that same peaceful moral code the New Black Panther Party formed. Think of where we’ve seen them recently. The only thing that likely comes to mind is their standing guard outside polling stations to ensure black folks feel secure enough to vote in this new age of Jim Crow voting laws and gerrymandering. Who can blame them? But even in those instances they have been painted as a violent menace attempting to intimidate white voters. America, you are too confused and full of sh*t for words, really.

It is reported that the New Black Panthers have responded with a statement on their Facebook page, but visiting their page, no such statement can be found. Nonetheless, the media reports their response as the following:

The allegations that the two men were in, ‘preparations to destroy the arch by blowing it up as a sign of white racial oppression as well as killing as many cops as they could during the impending unrest in Ferguson after the grand jury decision is announced’ we believe is TOTALLY UNFOUNDED, and is against the rules and regulations of the New Black Panther Party.

Just as the original Panthers believed, the New Black Panther Party does not endorse acts of violence, only self-defense.

Just take a moment to think critically about the media coverage and you can tell this is bullsh*t to muddy the waters and public mind. It’s an attempt to legitimize the heinous actions of authorities in Ferguson and defame Michael Brown and the black community

It’s the same old song and Yankee-Doodle dance, folks.

Media repeats over and again the charges against Baldwin and Davis, leaving those precious little nuggets of misinformation in your head to sway you against the New Black Panther Party and the black community, all while presenting literally no evidence despite authorities “trailing them for months.” Not one piece of evidence could be given to media to substantiate these charges? Really? That’s red flag number one.

Red flag number two is the discrepancy in the reporting that states Baldwin and Davis had been “vigorously seeking” explosive devices while other sources say they “had” explosive devices. Which is it? These claims of “explosive devices” are yet again the same old hat; fallback charges that are used against dissenters all the time. They try to paint this scene like the Weather Underground is coming back to blow us all to smithereens. They did this multiple times during the Occupy movement, and they did it in 2012 during the NATO protests. It’s hogwash to instill fear in the public and sway public opinion toward the side of authority. Wake up, folks! Such charges have been used against dissenters for simply being home-brewers of amateur beer.

Red flag number three is the exoticizing of Baldwin and Davis by the media in telling the public that Brandon Baldwin is also known as Brandon Muhammed, and Olajuwon Davis is also known as Olajuwon Ali, a.k.a., brothers Muhammed and Ali. This is an attempt to stir echoes of terrorism by making these two men sound like Muslim extremists. But again, it is the white American system that acts as extremists more so than the people trying to defend themselves against extremism. Demonizing the dissenter is an old tactic by the government, and well-documented if you know your history.

You should also be suspicious of the media’s coddling of the black folks they interview. They trot out a few black folks and call a little girl “darling” to endear themselves as if to suggest earnestness because they know they can’t show a bunch of white folks on camera saying they’re afraid of black folks. Racism has to be more subtle these days, after all.

Can you see how these things are orchestrated?

But let’s just say for a moment that these two fellas are just as guilty as they are being charged. That still does not mean that two defective members cannot be a part of any organization. Even if these guys are guilty of these bullsh*t charges (and I highly doubt they are), that is no reflection on the New Black Panther Party whatsoever. You cannot change history.

The Black Panthers, and the New Black Panthers, are peaceful organizations intent on helping their brothers and sisters of color through social programs and self-defense, should such an unfortunate situation arise that self-defense through physical action becomes necessary.

All of this is yet one more example of the government and authorities as a whole in this country attempting to stifle dissent against their own crooked, oppressive natures. Just watch the progression of news coverage shown in the links above through to the video below to see the picture clearly. It is one more reason why citizens of this country need to educate themselves enough to see all this clearly, and get angry enough to organize against it.

Baldwin and Davis are due in court for the charges Dec. 17.

November 29, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

The Fight for $15 Shakes Awake the U.S. Labor Movement

By Shamus Cooke | CounterPunch | November 28, 2014

Something big is happening. The union-led victories for a $15 minimum wage in Seattle and San Francisco have reverberated throughout the labor movement, spawning copycat campaigns across the country. Most notably the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is nationally demanding $15 for its home care workers and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) is demanding $15 for Walmart workers as a strategy to finally unionize the mega-corporation. Other unions with low wage members are demanding and winning $15 at the bargaining table.

Only a year ago a $15 minimum wage was denounced as “crazy.” But Seattle and San Francisco proved it was possible, and now $15 has seized the imagination of people across the country, pushing them into action.

By fighting for and winning a $15 minimum wage across the country, labor unions can win better contracts for low-wage workers, organize new members, raise the status of unions and defend against anti-union attacks such as the Harris vs. Quinn Supreme Court decision. After winning $15, unions will be empowered enough to put forth new demands that can bring even more people into the labor movement.

In San Francisco it was SEIU Local 1021 that led the victorious campaign for a $15 minimum wage, building a comprehensive community and labor coalition within the San Francisco labor movement. The Vice President of politics for SEIU 1021, Alysabeth Alexander, recently spoke at a public event in Portland, Oregon.

According to Alexander, there are several key lessons to take from their fight for $15 in San Francisco.

1) Build Strong Coalitions.

Unions and workers’ organizations are powerful when they act collectively, and forming an unbreakable union coalition was the backbone of the $15 campaign in San Francisco. Once united, the labor movement found its voice and realized its power.

In response to an off-the-cuff statement by SF Mayor Ed Lee that a $15 hour minimum wage was worth “considering,” SEIU 1021 went into action. When Mayor Lee was having a meeting with business leaders to discuss the city’s growing wealth disparities, SEIU 1021 staged a protest outside for a $15 minimum wage.

Just days later progressive unions and community labor organizations came together to discuss the real possibilities of passing such a wage increase. In order to create leverage and make the minimum wage fight real, SEIU 1021 filed for a ballot measure for a straight $15 minimum wage and the coalition began to collect signatures. While gathering signatures, the coalition was faced with real decisions of how to balance the demand for $15 with the possibility that the Mayor could put a lower minimum wage measure on the ballot with the support of the business community and city-funded non-profits, thereby creating the potential of all-out war.

According to Alysabeth Alexander:

“There were a lot of balls in the air — the same coalition that was pushing the minimum wage increase was also fighting to close loopholes to our health care ordinance, and pass a ‘retail workers bill of rights’ and ‘fair scheduling’ law. Overall, we created leverage through having an aggressive pro-worker agenda, focusing on positive media and in-depth features of low-wage workers, and by having full discussions within the coalition. We didn’t agree every step of the way, but we kept talking and listening to each other. This made us a strong coalition and built an incredible amount of trust between all the groups involved.”

The Mayor tried several tactics to pressure the unions to drop their $15 demand, going so far as putting forward a “last and final offer,” to which the unions responded “that’s a non-starter.” The balance of power had tipped towards the coalition, which felt empowered to act boldly.

2) Control the process.

According to Alysabeth Alexander, the politicians and business interests in San Francisco were eager to get involved to “work together” with the unions to draft minimum wage legislation, with the likely intention of injecting dozens of loopholes, and extending the phase-in time for implementation.

This is the key reason why the $15 legislation in San Francisco is superior to Seattle’s victory: in Seattle the politicians maneuvered to get a seat at the table in drafting the legislation, while in San Francisco the coalition wrote a strong ballot initiative where they were willing to make only a few concessions. San Francisco’s union-led coalition bargained from a position of strength, essentially imposing their will on politicians.

This example can be copied in cities and states that have a ballot initiative process, where unions can immediately bring a $15 minimum wage to the voters.

3) Control the narrative.

Too often labor and community groups fall victim to the business-friendly media or corporate-friendly politicians, whose communications skills and talking points prioritize the needs of corporations while putting unions on the media defensive.

SEIU 1021 changed this dynamic by taking the initiative, grounding all of their talking points on the premise of “no one deserves poverty wages.” They used this point as a foundation and added workers’ stories about trying to live on minimum wage. They took complete control of the conversation, and politicians were never able to recapture it, since “no one deserves poverty wages” is irrefutable.

Conclusions:

By building a strong coalition of labor and community groups and boldly putting forth a demand for a $15 minimum wage, the unions in San Francisco and Oakland lifted up tens of thousands of workers, and consequently uplifted the status and power of unions in the Bay Area.

Once the coalition acted as a united, independent force, the Mayor and other politicians saw the writing on the wall; it would have been political suicide to publicly oppose the extremely popular $15 ballot initiative, which a stunning 77 percent of San Franciscans voted in favor of.

The $15 minimum wage is a demand that has been gift-wrapped to the national labor movement. Fighting for and winning $15 strengthens the status of unions in the community and consequently helps shield against anti-union attacks. The demand is $15 and unions and community groups needn’t settle for anything less.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com 

 

November 29, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

UN panel slams US for police brutality, torture, botched executions

RT | November 29, 2014

A UN report has condemned the United States for violating the terms of an international anti-torture treaty. The panel took Washington to task for police brutality, military interrogations, and capital punishment protocols.

“The Committee is concerned about numerous reports of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials,” the paper released by the UN Committee Against Torture says, adding that in particular this brutality is seen against persons belonging “to certain racial and ethnic groups, immigrants and LGBTI individuals.”

The document was released on Friday, just days after the contentious decision of a Missouri grand jury not to indict a white officer accused of shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen. The decision triggered a wave of protests nationwide.

Although the report didn’t specifically mention the events in Ferguson, Mike Brown’s parents met with the committee to discuss their son’s case in Geneva earlier this month.

The UN watchdog expressed “deep concern at the frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals.”

The 10-person panel, which periodically reviews the records of the 156 countries which ratified the Convention Against Torture – a non-binding international human rights treaty – cited mounting concerns over “racial profiling by police and immigration offices, and growing militarization of policing activities.”

The committee called on US authorities to “prosecute persons suspected of torture or ill-treatment and, if found guilty, ensure that they are punished in accordance with the gravity of their acts.”

“We recommend that all instances of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers are investigated promptly, effectively and impartially by an independent mechanism,” said panel member, Alessio Bruni, at a news conference in Geneva.

Urging for tougher laws to define and ban torture, the committee called on Washington to reevaluate the treatment of detainees at the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention facility, which currently houses 148 prisoners.

“The Committee is particularly disturbed at reports describing a draconian system of secrecy surrounding high-value detainees that keeps their torture claims out of the public domain.”

In addition, the committee criticized the recent spate of botched executions, especially in Arizona, Oklahoma, and Ohio, citing reported cases “of excruciating pain and prolonged suffering that procedural irregularities have caused to condemned prisoners in the course of their execution.”

The UN body further highlighted “continued delays in recourse procedures which keep prisoners sentenced to death in a situation of anguish and incertitude for many years.”

“The Committee notes that in certain cases such a situation amounts to torture in so far as it corresponds to one of the forms of torture (i.e. the threat of imminent death) contained in the interpretative understanding made by the State party at the time of ratification of the Convention.”

The report urges US authorities to establish “a moratorium on executions with a view to abolish the death penalty” and “to commute the sentences of individuals currently on death row.”

US activists welcomed the findings as a call to action for the federal government.

“This report – along with the voices of Americans protesting around the country this week – is a wake-up call for police who think they can act with impunity,” said Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as quoted by Reuters.

READ MORE: ‘We crossed the line’: US mea culpa at UN panel on use of torture

November 29, 2014 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

UN General Assembly: Israel’s actions in Jerusalem are null and void

MEMO | November 27, 2014

The United Nations General Assembly adopted six resolutions regarding Israeli occupied territories through a recorded vote last night, addressing the areas of Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan.

In terms of Jerusalem, the Assembly voted on a resolution confirming that all legislative and administrative measures taken by Israel to change the legal status of the Holy City of Jerusalem are null and void.

The decision was supported by a recorded vote of 144 countries in favour, six countries opposed, namely Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and United States, while ten countries abstained from the vote (Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Madagascar, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Togo and Tonga and Vanuatu).

The Assembly also adopted a resolution that stressed the need for Israel, the occupying power, to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories, and demanded the complete cessation of all Israeli settlement activity and Israel’s compliance with its obligations under international law.

The Assembly’s decision also outlined the need for delivering humanitarian and medical aid to the Palestinians.

Another decision was implemented regarding the Syrian Golan Heights as a result of the Assembly’s concern for Israel’s lack of compliance with Resolution 497 (issued in 1981) calling on Israel to withdraw its forces from the Golan Heights which have been illegally occupied since 1967. The decision was supported by 99 countries, rejected by six, while 57 (mostly European) countries abstained from the vote.

November 28, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 2 Comments