Friday, August 31, 2012

Banana Republic USA

From TheB
 
"From the time they have their first lesson is civics, U.S. citizens have been taught they live in a democracy, whereby anyone can become president of the country,. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that the office of the presidency is reserved for property owning European protestant males who can trace either their lineage or their wife's lineage to one or more European monarchies. In order to document and bring to light these relationships, three genealogical sources will be used as references. The three are Burke's Peerage and Gentry, Ancestors of American Presidents by Gary Boyd Roberts and a Website Genealogy of the Presidents of the USA by Hans A.M. Weeber."  From Motive Means and Opportunity Probable Cause for Indicting George W. Bush, His Sponsors and Aides for the Attack of September 11, 2001 by Mamadou Chinyelu Mustard Seed Press 2004 page 253-54
 
            As we move full swing into the 2012 political conventions and presidential campaign, it is imperative we wake up and realize the USA is a vile, corrupt and dying banana republic. We have been brainwashed to think only tropical "third world countries" are openly debased and run by a sham political system whereby corporate and financial elites own and control the government, the secret police and Kangaroo Courts and they rule by intimidation, fear and coercion. But if you look at the following definition of banana republic, you will see the United States of America fits that description to a tee. "In practice, a banana republic is a country operated as a commercial enterprise for private profit, effected by the collusion between the State and favored monopolies, whereby the profits derived from private exploitation of public lands is private property, and the debts incurred are public responsibility. Such an imbalanced economy reduces the national currency to devalued paper-money, hence, the country is ineligible for international development-credit, and remains limited by the uneven economic development of town and country.[5] Kleptocracy, government by thieves, features influential government employees exploiting their posts for personal gain (embezzlement, fraud, bribery, etc.), with the resultant government budget deficit repaid by the native working people who earn money, rather than make money. Because of foreign (corporate) manipulation, the kleptocratic government is unaccountable to its nation, the country's private sector–public sector corruption operates the banana republic, thus, the national legislature usually are for sale, and function mostly as ceremonial government"  .wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_republic.
In the US, corporatism is the order of the day, not democracy or human rights. While this may come as a shock to many of you the fact of the matter is, this is not a recent development. It's not as if the Bu$h family turned the US into a banana republic overnight, this country has always been a plutocratic Kleptocracy where a small band of rich white dudes ripped off the people and controlled the government for their own benefit and aggrandizement. The founding fathers were wealthy white men, many actually owned slaves but all of them benefitted either directly or indirectly from slavery because slavery was the foundation and bedrock of the US economy. A faction of them fought hard against the influence of foreign monopoly trading companies, bankers and corporations, not because it was the patriotic thing to do but because they perceived these entities `as a direct threat to their own wealth and power! Most of us don't know this and so we easily fall victim to the sham/scam that is the US political process.
"Amongst the U.S. citizenry, there have always been two separate and unequal understandings of what the country stands for. For the founding fathers, many who were members of secret societies such as the Freemasons, the government and its constitution were established to protect their property rights and their social standing. To achieve this they had to maintain absolute control over the nation-states' political and economic apparatus. It is on these principles that the patriotism of the ruling class is based. All of this of course was and is, to this very day a secret not to be revealed to the multitude. On the other hand, the patriotism of the multitude, who are not permitted to participate in the ruling of the country, is based upon their belief that one day they will be able to possess the various carrots dangled before them on sticks of various lengths."  From Motive Means and Opportunity Probable Cause for Indicting George W. Bush, His Sponsors and Aides for the Attack of September 11, 2001 by Mamadou Chinyelu Mustard Seed Press 2004 page 256
From time to time when pressed by social agitation the ruling elites have made minimal concessions in response to: abolitionists, white women's suffrage, Afro-Americans, organized labor and the homosexual community for example. But the essential nature of this system which is a closed oligarchy has remained the same although the major players have changed with the inclusion of incoming European ethnic groups such as the Irish, Italians and Ashkenazim Jews.
Make no mistake, the US remains at heart a racist country. For the most part Native Americans, Blacks and people of color in general remain marginalized and out of the power sharing policy making loop. Just because we can now vote and elect local state and federal office holders the real power dynamics have not changed. The Kleptocrats learned their lesson during the so called Reconstruction period when Blacks actually made public policy in the South. Not only did the ousted whites move aggressively to overturn that situation and get back into power with the help of the Northern politicians, they said in effect, never again! And for the most part they have succeeded.
 Has having Black council members, commissioners, mayors and judges drastically altered the living conditions of most blacks? If you are honest you have to say no. Has Barack Obama's election changed the system in any fundamental way? Of course not, in fact most will have to honestly admit the Kleptocrats are getting away with more crimes under Obama than they did under Bu$h (think Jon Corzine) which is a scathing indictment against "the system". At this point, Obama couldn't do anything about it even if he wanted to.
What the Occupy Movement attempted to do was raise awareness that the US is a banana republic, that the wealth gap and power dynamic between the have's and the have not's, a socio-economic/political apartheid, is widening. This is a fact so glaring the sham, veneer and myths about this country being the land of opportunity are crumbling before our eyes, in real time as we speak. This is why the elites are creating an even more invasive police/security/surveillance state and getting it up and running to protect themselves against ordinary citizens as we speak.
 "In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one's home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%."  Power In America Wealth, Income and Power G. William Domhoff  http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html.
Don't pin your hopes on either candidate/party in the coming election the Kleptocrats and New World Order fascists intend to tighten the screws no matter who wins. What we are seeing in Europe is coming here in the not to distant future, banana republic USA.
 
                                 by Junious Ricardo Stanton-

Thursday, August 23, 2012

MELES ZENAWI: IS IT WISE FOR AFRICAN PRESIDENTS TO GO ABROAD TO DIE?


Meles Zenawi: Is It Wise for African Presidents to Go Abroad to Die?

August 22, 2012 By conyeani Leave a Comment
News erupted this morning on the death of Ethiopian leader and Prime Minister, Mr. Meles Zenawi. Initially, there was no news about where he died or his illness, but later it was revealed that he died in an hospital in Brussels, Belgium. He was aged 57 years. According to the Information Minister of Ethiopia, ""The prime minister had been sick for quite a while. And he was attending medical support in, somewhere in, ah, abroad. And he had some chance in recuperating. But ultimately some infection happened to him and doctors couldn't control that infection."
This is not the first time that Africans have woken up to learn that their presidents have died in a foreign hospital. On January 9 this year, it was announced that President Malam had died in a hospital in Paris, France. He had been flown to France, after being taken ill in November of 2011. According to a statement from the presidential office, "with pain and sadness that he died at the Val-de-Grace military hospital in Paris where he had been receiving treatment." It was speculated that he died of diabetes.(READ MORE)

Chika A. Onyeani
Publisher/Editor-in-Chief
African Sun Times: http://www.africansuntimes.com/
Host: All Africa Radio: http://www.allafricaradio.com/
Tel.: 973-675-9919
Fax: 973-675-5704
Cell: 917-279-4038

"It is not what you call me, but what I answer to, that matters most" - Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success, Onyeani's internationally acclaimed No. 1 bestselling book.


Have you bought Onyeani's new blockbuster novel, The Broederbond Conspiracy, http://www.thebroederbondconspiracy.com/? or http://www.theblackjamesbond.com/, adapted by the San Francisco State University "to teach students how to write a spy novel."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Colombian Unionists Targeted: Can Three Assassins Get a Government to do Their Dirty Deeds?

By FRED HIRSCH 
(fredhirsch@cruzio.com) ~

The Colombian government is preparing to throw two union leaders to the mercy of paramilitary terrorists on the testimony of three murderers.

William Mendoza is President of the Food and Beverage Workers Union (Sinaltrainal) in Barrancabermeja, Santander in north central Colombia.  Juan Carlos Galvis is on the union's National Executive Board and President of the Santander branch of the CUT, the nation's' main labor federation.  I met them both when I was sent to Colombia by my local Union, Plumbers and Fitters Union, Local 393, on a labor delegation inquiring into the violence against trade unionists in 2002. 

Colombia is internationally recognized as the most lethal nation in the world for trade unionists. More unionists are killed there than anywhere else in the world. William and Juan Carlos both live and work in Barrancabermeja, the location of the largest oil refinery in Colombia, on the shore of the Magdalena River.  Barranca, as the city is  commonly called, is visibly under the authority of the Army, Navy and local police.  The locals, however recognize that the paramiltary death squads have firm political control.  Juan Carlos has stated, "The Paras do whatever they want here in Barranca...They have the political power. They have the economic power."  It is essentially, he says, "a totalitarian agenda."  William defines the totalitarian agenda as "A regime in which the common denominator will be terror, hunger and misery for the people so that the rich can become even richer."

Both Juan Carlos and William represent the workers in Barranca's Coca Cola plant.  They have been targeted with death threats since 2001.  They, and others like them are labeled "subversives" by the paramilitaries, linked falsely to the guerilla movement, and are labeled  "military targets."  William told me that the violence against Sinaltrainal is based in Coke's determination to force the union out of its bottling plants:  "They want to impose casual labor, part-time labor, and drive down our wages and working conditions."

During the last 30 years the union and its activist members have lived in a pervading climate of terror.  Paramilitary terrorism seems to peak at contract time. Three Sinaltrainal leaders have been assassinated in Colombia precisely when contracts have come up for negotiations.  Over time, 25 Sinaltrainal leaders have been killed, 2 have been "disappeared," 14 imprisoned, and 6 forced to leave the country. Many others and their family members have been attacked and threatened with death. The perpetrators have had total impunity from the law even though some have even confessed to their crimes. Thanks to political pressure brought by the labor movement and human rights organizations in Colombia and abroad, following a government study, Juan Carlos and William are now accompanied 24 hours a day by government supplied  bodyguards. For more reliable security, they keep in constant contact with the Union and the local human rights organizations with both a walkie talkies and  cell phones.

Sinaltrainal leaders and activists are not the only victims in Barranca.  The Oil Workers  Union (USO), various human rights groups and the militant women's organization (OFP) suffer the same intimidation.  According to William, this violence is done "by paramilitary forces that accuse us of being an obstacle to investment and development."  It is no secret that the paramilitaries are supported through the drug trade, by large landowners, and by the official military, which has received billions in U.S. aid.  A U.S. Embassy spokesman gave our visiting delegation that same description when we had an audience with them in Bogota in 2002.  Proving the paramilitary connection with a multinational corporation in a U.S. Court is more difficult.

The United Steelworkers of America (USW) brought suit against Coca Cola in Florida on behalf of Sinaltrainal and its victimized members in Colombian bottling plants. The USW charged that Coke bottlers "contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that utilize extreme violence and murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained or otherwise silenced trade union leaders," They presented substantial and credible evidence, but the decision failed to nail the company on the technicality of a claimed separation between the Atlanta based Coca Cola Company and Panamco, its subsidiary in Colombia.

Juan Carlos was party to the law suit. He said, "If we lose this fight against Coke, first we will lose our union, next we will lose our jobs, and then we will all lose our lives!"

For Juan Carlos, who survived an assassination attempt, the worst and most dangerous outrage was last November when two "paras" broke into his home. One pointed a gun at his daughter and said they'd kill the girl if his wife screamed.  They demanded information about him from his wife, Jackeline, then bound and gagged her and sprayed her face, hair and clothing with red paint. The intruders wrote threats on the walls, and made off with two computers and memory drives.

William's young daughter has received phone threats against her father from men who watch the house and track her going and coming to and from school.  Some years ago his four year old daughter was snatched by two men in broad daylight in a public park in Barranca. His wife ran after them, drew attention with a great commotion, and was able to take hold of the little girl and thwart the attempted kidnapping. Later that day William received a phone call from a paramilitary leader who said they did not intend to keep the little girl, but to return her "in a plastic bag."

Today William and Juan Carlos are alleged to have taken part in placing a bomb in a Coca Cola plant in 1998. The charge was leveled in 2008 and is only now being activated.  Up until this spring the Colombian government, anxious to complete the U.S./Colombia Free trade Agreement, was eager to play down violence against the labor movement.  William says "Now that they've finalized the Free Trade Agreement they want to finish off Sinaltrainal."

Their accusers are three paramilitary leaders whose death squads were supposedly demobilized in 2006 in return for telling their story in "free testimony" for which they received varying degrees of amnesty under the 2005 "Justice and Peace" Law 975.

The three accusers are: Rodrigo Perez Alzate, Wilfred Martinez Giraldo, and Saul Rincon.  Perez Alzate, alias "Julian Bolivar," has confessed to 45 murders.  He led the paramilitary "Central Bolivar Bloc" of the Magdalena Medio area, which is accountable for 20,868 victims. Martinez Giraldo, alias "Gavilan," under Perez Alzate's command, was in charge of the paramilitaries in Barranca. The third accuser. Saul Rincon, alias "Coca Cola," reported to Gavilan.

Rincon worked as a guard in the Barranca Coke bottling plant . He was active in Sinaltrainal until 1995 when, contrary to union policy, he accepted Coke's "voluntary retirement" plan, a company scheme to buy out union employees and replace them with non-union contract workers.  Rincon quit all contact with the union and later joined the paramilitaries.  He is now in prison for the assassination of Rafael Jaimes Torra, Treasurer of the Oil Workers Union.

Over a year ago Saul Rincon called the union from prison demanding a visit from a member of the Executive Board.  He threatened that if he didn't get the visit, William Mendoza and Juan Carlos Galvis would be denounced by former guerillas.  It seemed then that a frame up was in the making.

William told me that, "The government now wants to use the judicial process against Juan Carlos and me. They want to send us to prison where we will be assassinated, and in that way, they would strike a blow against Sinaltrainal....The charges are obviously false. They couldn't kill us so they are trying to frame us...We can't expect anything good to come of Colombia's so called justice.  We have eight witnesses who know the situation. We hope their testimony will clear up the matter, but nothing is easy here. There is no justice.

"Juan Carlos and I live in Barrancabermeja with our families.  We have had health problems due to the stress of this situation. We are suffering severe fatigue and the doctor tells us that continuing with these levels of stress will give us heart attacks."

"It is tough," says Juan Carlos, "We are on the brink of death, but we keep surviving. We bring in new members to the union, but the company fires them. If it weren't for international solidarity, we would have been eliminated long ago. That is the truth."

William says, "The judicial system in Colombia is now making its decisions based on politics, not the law." In a recent letter, he writes, "We need you to send letters from members of Congress and from North American organizations protesting this prosecution against Juan Carlos Galvis and me."  They need us, in William's words, "to continue the political pressure on the Colombian government. That is the deciding factor..."

William Mendoza and Juan Carlos Galvis are working to save their own lives, but the fight to save their union and affirm the right of  workers to organize is the passion that has driven them to this point. They clearly understand their contradictory predicament: that the harder they fight for workers' rights, the more they endanger their very lives - yet they fight.

In fighting for their own lives they fight for, as William put it, "to ensure that the collective bargaining agreements that are signed, particularly with multinational corporations, give a bit more of a share to the working people of Colombia."  Is that asking too much?  Coca Cola and the paramilitaries who, according to the USW lawsuit, "contracted with or otherwise direct" do think it's too much - way too much.  They make it worth the life of these two fine union brothers in Barrancabermeja, Colombia.

I was with William the day that he spoke the above words to a Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) convention in San Francisco.  The slogan of the ILWU is "An injury to one is an injury to all!" The delegates gave William a standing ovation and made  an Honorary Member after he spoke that day.  ILWU members understand that to fight for the rights of workers in Colombia is to fight for the rights of all workers. For Juan Carlos and William the stakes are high, their lives. That's what its all about. Without our help these men are likely to be placed behind prison walls where they will be killed. These men are our brothers. They shall not die!

Please send your own message asking that the government of Colombia stop this blatantly political trial that will take the lives of William Mendoza and Juan Carlos Galvis. Bring the issue to your organization to send a message.  Contact your member of Congress and ask them to do the same.  Emails may not work.  Postage for a regular letter to Colombia is only 98 cents.  Faxes are very reliable.  Please do it.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Faxes and letters In English or Spanish should be sent specifically to:

Unidad Nacional de Fiscalía Contra el Terrorismo, Despacho 28, Estructura de Apoyo-Parapolítica  A la Diagonal 22 B No. 52-01,  Edificio F, Piso 2 Bogotá, D.C., Colombia          
FAX:  001 57 1 383 1410 
PHONE:  001 57 091 570 2000

If at all possible, Faxes, Letters or Emails should also be sent to the following:  

(NOTE-For those sending emails, you can copy and paste in the following emails as a group) 

fsantos@presidencia.gov.co, contactovicepresidencia@presidencia.gov.co, contacto@fiscalia.gov.co, denuncie@fiscalia.gov.co, ministro@minjusticia.gov.co, reclamos@mij.gov.co, quejas@procuraduria.gov.co, webmaster@procuraduria.gov.co,  secretaria_privada@hotmail.com, agenda@agenda.gov.co, oacnudh@hchr.org.co, james@afgj.org

And send an email of your letter to WILLIAM MENDOZA
<williammendozamx@yahoo.com.mx>

JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERÓN
 Presidente de la República de Colombia
 Carrera 8 No. 7 -26 Palacio de Nariño Bogotá
 Fax: (+57 1) 566.20.71
 E-mail: fsantos@presidencia.gov.co

ANGELINO GARZÓN
 Vicepresidente de la República de Colombia
 Carrera 8 No.7-57 Bogotá D.C.
 Teléfonos (57 1) 444 2120 - 444 2122
 Fax: (57 1) 596 0651
 E-mail: contactovicepresidencia@presidencia.gov.co
 Twitter: @angelino_garzon

Fiscalía General de la Nación
 Diagonal 22B No. 52-01 - Bogotá, D.C.
 Teléfonos: 570 20 00 - 414 90 00
 contacto@fiscalia.gov.co, denuncie@fiscalia.gov.co

RUTH CORREA

Ministra de Justicia y del Derecho de Colombia
 Carrera 9a. No. 14-10 - Bogotá, D.C.
 e-mail: ministro@minjusticia.gov.co, reclamos@mij.gov.co>
 PBX (+57) 444 31 00 Ext. 1820
 ALEJANDRO ORDOÑEZ MALDONADO
 Procurador General de la Nación
 Fax: (+571) 3429723 - 2847949 Fax: (+571) 3429723
 Carrera 5 #. 15-80 - Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
 E-mail: cap@procuraduria.gov.co, quejas@procuraduria.gov.co;
webmaster@procuraduria.gov.co

 WOLMAR ANTONIO PÉREZ ORTIZ
 Defensor Nacional del Pueblo
 Fax: (+571) 640.04.91
 Calle 55 # 10-32, Bogotá.
 E-mail: secretaria_privada@hotmail.com;
agenda@agenda.gov.co

OFICINA EN COLOMBIA DEL ALTO COMISIONADO DE
 NACIONES UNIDAS PARA LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS
 Calle 114 No. 9-45 Torre B Oficina 1101
 Edificio Teleport Bussines Park - Bogotá, Colombia
 Teléfono PBX (57-1) 629 3636 (57-1) 629 3636 Fax (57-1) 629 3637
 E-mail: oacnudh@hchr.org.co

Ambassador P. Michael Mckinley
The United States Embassy Bogota Calle 24 Bis No. 48-50 Bogotá, D.C. Colombia. Mailing address: Carrera 45 No. 24B-27 Bogotá, D.C.

"I AM NOT A RELIGIOUS BIGOT", CONSUL-GENERAL OF NIGERIA: "I'M A MUSLIM, I CAN NEVER ENTER A CHURCH"


Consul-General of Nigeria: "I'm a Muslim, I Can Never Enter a Church"


August 13, 2012 By conyeani Leave a Comment

"I'm a Muslim, I can never enter a Church," so said the Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, Mr. Habib Abba Habu, responding to complaints from Nigerians that the Consulate never responded to the deaths of five Nigerians in a tragic and ghastly accident on the 21st of July, 2012.  The accident had rocked the consciousness of Americans throughout the country by its sheer ghastliness and tragedy that claimed the lives of three women and two children in New York.

When we started getting complaints that the Nigerian Consulate-General in New York did not once react to this tragedy, did not visit the surviving accident victims at the hospital, never replied to a letter from the President of the Arondizuogu Patriotic Union National Congress of North America (An Umbrella union of all Arondizuogu people  – an Igbo ethnic group) resident in the North America, nor did they send anybody to the wake-keeping on Friday, July 10, in the Bronx, New York, I decided to get the Nigerian Consul-General, Mr. Habib Abba Habu, to respond to the allegations. (Read more)
"Religious Bigot, I Am Not!", Nigeria's Consul-General, NY
August 14, 2012 By conyeani Leave a Comment
RELIGIOUS BIGOT, I AM NOT!
BY
HABIB BABA HABU,
CONSUL GENERAL OF NIGERIA, NEW YORK
My attention was drawn to an article written by Mr. Chika Onyeani in his weekly online newspaper "The African Sun Time" of August 14, 2012, on the unfortunate accident of 21st July, 2012, which claimed the lives of five Nigerians and left some wounded.  My prayers go to the families of those who lost their loved ones.  May the Almighty accept them unto His keeping and grant their families fortitude to bear this irreparable sad loss.  May God also quicken the recovery of the wounded ones and provide their families succor. (Read More)


Nigerian Embassy Responds to the Tragic Loss of Nigerians in New York
August 15, 2012 By conyeani Leave a Comment
I was pleasantly surprised yesterday while in Manhattan with my six year-old granddaughter when my cell phone rang as we were getting to the Penn Station to take a train back to New Jersey as we had come into New York so that she could have the experience of riding the subway as well as in a New York taxi.  The number from a 202 area code, and it wasn't identifiable.  I answered it and it was a senior official from the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, DC, informing me that the Head of Mission Ambassador Maurice E. Archibong had authorized him to call me.

Rev. Kayode, who ran for office for City councilman, has been rendering this kind of service to Nigerians in the New York area without thought of ethnicity, and in actuality, Rev. David Kayode is Yoruba and the individuals who died are members of the Igbo ethnic group.  At the wake-keeping he was the individual that seated the VIPs.  "I had seats for the Police Department, the Mayor's office, the Borough President's office, politicians, as well as a place for the Consulate-General, but it was empty throughout the service. I would have known had they sent somebody," said Rev. Kayode.  He said that he could hardly contain his anger for what he termed as "irresponsible behavior" on the part of the Consul-General, Mr. Habib Abba Habu.
The Nigerian community not in New York, but all over, owe Rev. Kayode a deep expression of appreciation for his selfless service.(Read more)



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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Say No to the TPP -- Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement



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The joint statement below by the AFL-CIO, CLC (Canada) and UNT (Mexico) calls for including pro-worker and pro-environment provisions in the new Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement, so that the TPP "does not become another NAFTA." But the TPP, by its very nature, is an agreement aimed at lowering labor costs, promoting privatization and deregulation -- and as such it is all about destroying jobs, collective-bargaining agreements and labor standards, as well as environmental protections. It is an agreement aimed at eliminating any and all "obstacles" to "free trade."

In 1992-93, the AFL-CIO leadership urged the Congress to include pro-worker and pro-environment provisions in NAFTA. This was done in the form of labor and environmental side agreements. But these agreements were not worth the paper they were printed on; they were simply the sweetener to get the labor movement to swallow the bitter pill of NAFTA's destructive onslaught. The inclusion of these agreements put a halt to the growing movement within the unions that was demanding a "NO!" vote on NAFTA.

Today the AFL-CIO leadership appears to be repeating the same ole' tune that ultimately ended up legitimizing NAFTA -- but with a twist. The AFL-CIO leadership is now calling for "enforceable improvements" agreements within the body of this new "free trade" accord ... given that the NAFTA side agreements were "not enforceable."

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) issued a similar call a while back for the inclusion of an "enforceable" Social Charter within the body of the European Union and its various "free trade" agreements: Maastricht Treaty, Brussels Treaty, Amsterdam Treaty, Bologna Treaty (education), etc. Their call was heeded by the EU authorities. But this EC Charter on Fundamental Social Rights has proven as worthless as the NAFTA side agreements. Millions upon millions of workers and youth have taken to the streets from Spain to Greece in massive general strikes and mobilizations to protest the European Union directives and "free trade" policies -- none of which were modified one iota by the inclusion of the EU Social Charter.

More and more European union federations, unions and labor activists have come to understand that the call for "Social Charters" or "enforceable improvements" in "free trade" agreements simply plays into the hands of the transnational corporations' efforts to co-opt the trade union movement and derail any genuine fightback in defense of independent unions and workers' rights.

No! These "free trade" agreements are not amendable. They must be scrapped. And those that have been voted and implemented must be repealed -- for the sake of working people the world over. More and more unionists across the United States have taken this stance. Their voices must be heard.

Say No to the TPP!

Alan Benjamin
Editor,
The Organizer

Co-Convener,
US Organizing Committee,
Open World Conference in Defense of Independent Unions
and Trade Union Rights (OWC)

* * * * * * * * * *


Joint Statement by AFL-CIO, CLC and UNT on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement

July 11, 2012

The AFL-CIO, the CLC, and the UNT, the national labor organizations of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, join in urging caution regarding the announcement that Mexico and Canada have been invited to join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement (TPP).

Although we would welcome a TPP that creates good jobs, strengthens protection for fundamental labor rights-such as freedom of association and authentic collective bargaining-protects the environment, and boosts global economic growth and development for all, American, Canadian, and Mexican workers cannot afford another corporate-directed trade agreement.  Good jobs, secure labor rights, and rising standards of living for all workers must guide the TPP negotiations.

To have a positive impact on working families in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, the TPP must break from NAFTA, which imposed a destructive economic model that expands the rights and privileges of multinational corporations at the expense of working families, communities, and the environment.  The model of globalization enshrined in NAFTA promotes a race to the bottom in terms of wages, labor rights, environmental protection, and public interest regulation.  By suppressing demand, this model became a leading cause of the current global recession.

To exit the global recession, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico must abandon the low-road growth model of NAFTA, and instead pursue a trade model that includes the promotion of fundamental labor rights included in the ILO core conventions; the creation of high wage, high benefit jobs; and the preservation of domestic policy space so that nations can conserve their natural resources, stabilize their financial markets, ensure food and product safety, and otherwise promote the public interest without fear of investor-state lawsuits.

Moreover, the negotiations must make clear that any improved provisions for workers in the TPP will override any corresponding harmful provisions in NAFTA-otherwise, working families will have gained little.  As important, any stronger provisions in NAFTA must remain in force or be reincorporated into the TPP.  In particular, the NAFTA labor side agreement (the NAALC) includes protections for migrant workers-a protection largely absent in subsequent U.S. FTAs. The AFL-CIO, CLC, and UNT strongly believe that the TPP should ensure that migrant workers are able to enjoy the same rights and protections as a country's domestic workforce.  In addition, migrant workers must be protected from fraudulent or abusive recruitment schemes.

The ultimate impact of the TPP on working families in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico is by no means certain.  It will depend will depend entirely upon its rules.  Therefore, it will be impossible to celebrate the inclusion of Mexico and Canada until the specifics of the agreement are known.  To the extent that key TPP provisions represent enforceable improvements over NAFTA rules, Canada's and Mexico's accession has the potential to benefit working families in all three countries.  If instead, the TPP follows the neoliberal model and substitutes corporate interests for national interests, workers in all three countries will continue to pay a high price in the form of suppressed wages, a more difficult organizing environment, and general regulatory erosion, even as large corporations will continue to benefit.

We call on our governments to work with us to include in the TPP provisions to ensure strong worker protections, a healthy environment, safe food and products, and the ability to regulate financial and other markets to avoid future global economic crises.

Contact: Josh Goldstein (202) 637-5018

Monday, August 13, 2012

Solitary Confinement: Torture Chambers for Black Revolutionaries

Russell Shoatz III wrote: My favorite international news service Aljazera published this article on my fathers (Russell Maroon Shoatz) over 20 yrs of torture & solitary confinement. Plz help by forwarding to your family & friends http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/08/20128694647587767.html

Solitary confinement: Torture chambers for black revolutionaries
An estimated 80,000 men, women and even children are being held in solitary confinement on any given day in US prisons.

"The torture technicians who developed the paradigm used in (prisons') 'control units' realised that they not only had to separate those with leadership qualities, but also break those individuals' minds and bodies and keep them separated until they are dead."  - Russell "Maroon" Shoats
Russell "Maroon" Shoats has been kept in solitary confinement in the state of Pennsylvania for 30 years after being elected president of the prison-approved Lifers' Association. He was initially convicted for his alleged role in an attack authorities claim was carried out by militant black activists on the Fairmont Park Police Station in Philadelphia that left a park sergeant dead.
Despite not having violated prison rules in more than two decades, state prison officials refuse to release him into the general prison population. 
Russell's family and supporters claim that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) has unlawfully altered the consequences of his criminal conviction, sentencing him to die in solitary confinement - a death imposed by decades of no-touch torture. 
The severity of the conditions he is subjected to and the extraordinary length of time they have been imposed for has sparked an international campaign to release him from solitary confinement - a campaign that has quickly attracted the support of leading human rights legal organisations, such as the Centre for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild. 
Less than two months after the campaign was formally launched with events in New York City and London, Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, agreed to make an official inquiry into Shoats' 21 years of solitary confinement, sending a communication to the US State Department representative in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Please read the rest of this great article at http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/08/20128694647587767.html


Kanya D'Almeida
Kanya D'Almeida is an editor for the Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency, currently based in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Bret Grote
Bret Grote is an investigator with the Human Rights Coalition, a Pennsylvania-based prison abolitionist and prisoner rights organisation.


According to a report by Juan Mendez, prisoners should not be held in isolation for more than 15 days at a stretch [EPA]

"The torture technicians who developed the paradigm used in (prisons') 'control units' realised that they not only had to separate those with leadership qualities, but also break those individuals' minds and bodies and keep them separated until they are dead."  - 
Russell "Maroon" Shoats
Russell "Maroon" Shoats has been kept in solitary confinement in the state of Pennsylvania for 30 years after being elected president of the prison-approved Lifers' Association. He was initially convicted for his alleged role in an attack authorities claim was carried out by militant black activists on the Fairmont Park Police Station in Philadelphia that left a park sergeant dead.
Despite not having violated prison rules in more than two decades, state prison officials refuse to release him into the general prison population. 
Russell's family and supporters claim that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) has unlawfully altered the consequences of his criminal conviction, sentencing him to die in solitary confinement - a death imposed by decades of no-touch torture. 
The severity of the conditions he is subjected to and the extraordinary length of time they have been imposed for has sparked an international campaign to release him from solitary confinement - a campaign that has quickly attracted the support of leading human rights legal organisations, such as the Centre for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild. 
Less than two months after the campaign was formally launched with events in New York City and London, Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, agreed to make an official inquiry into Shoats' 21 years of solitary confinement, sending a communication to the US State Department representative in Geneva, Switzerland. 
 Whistleblower 'isolated' in US jail
What the liberals won't tell you 
While the state of Pennsylvania has remained unmoved in this matter so far, some in the US government are finally catching on. Decades after rights activists first began to refer to the practice of solitary confinement as "torture", the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the constitution, civil rights and human rights held a hearing on June 19 to "reassess" the fiscal, security and human costs of locking prisoners into tiny, windowless cells for 23 hours a day. 
Needless to say, the hearing echoed in a whisper what human rights defenders have been shouting for nearly an entire generation: that sensory deprivation, lack of social contact, a near total absence of zeitgebers and restricted access to all intellectual and emotional stimuli are an evil and unproductive combination.  
The hearing opened a spate of debate: with newspapers in Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Ohio and elsewhere seizing the occasion to denounce the practice as "torture" and call for a reversal of a 30-year trend that has shattered - at a minimum - tens of thousands of people's lives inside the vast US prison archipelago. 
But as happens with virtually all prison-related stories in the US mainstream media, the two most important words were left unprinted, unuttered: race and revolution. 
Any discussion on solitary confinement begins and ends with a number: a prisoner is kept in his or her cell 23 or 24 hours per day, allowed three showers every week and served three meals a day. According to a report by UN torture rapporteur Mendez, prisoners should not be held in isolation for more than 15 days at a stretch. But in the US, it is typical for hundreds of thousands of prisoners to pass in and out of solitary confinement for 30 or 60 days at a time each year. 
Human Rights Watch estimated that there were approximately 20,000 prisoners being held in Supermax prisons, which are entire facilities dedicated to solitary confinement or near-solitary. It is estimated that at least 80,000 men, women and even children are being held in solitary confinement on any given day in US jails and prisons. 
Unknown thousands have spent years and, in some cases, decades in such isolation, including more than 500 prisoners held in California's Pelican Bay state prison for ten years or more. 
Perhaps the most notorious case of all is that of the Angola 3, three Black Panthers who have been held in solitary confinement in Louisiana for more than 100 years between the three of them. While Robert King was released after 29 years in solitary, his comrades - Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace - recently began their 40th years in solitary confinement, despite an ongoing lawsuit challenging their isolation and a growing international movement for their freedom that has been supported by Amnesty International. 
But all these numbers fail to mention what Robert Saleem Holbrook, who was sentenced to life without parole as a 16-year-old juvenile and has now spent the majority of his life behind bars, pointed out: "Given the control units' track record in driving men crazy, it is not surprising that the majority of prisoners sent into it are either politically conscious prisoners, prison lawyers, or rebellious young prisoners. It is this class of prisoners that occupies the control units in prison systems across the United States." 
Holbrook's observation is anything but surprising to those familiar with the routine violations of prisoners' human rights within US jails and prisons. The prison discipline study, a mass national survey assessing formal and informal punitive practices in US prisons conducted in 1989, concluded that "solitary confinement, loss of privileges, physical beatings" and other forms of deprivation and harassment were "common disciplinary practices" that were "rendered routinely, capriciously and brutally" in maximum-security US prisons. 
The study also noted receiving "hundreds of comments from prisoners" explaining that jailhouse lawyers who file grievances and lawsuits about abuse and poor conditions were the most frequently targeted. Black prisoners and the mentally ill were also targeted for especially harsh treatment. This "pattern of guard brutality" was "consistent with the vast and varied body of post-war literature, demonstrating that guard use of physical coercion is highly structured and deeply entrenched in the guard subculture". 
 Inside Story Americas:
Why are so many Americans
in prison? 
Race and revolution 
But while broad patterns can be discerned, these are the numbers that are missing: how many of those in solitary confinement are black? How many are self-taught lawyers, educators or political activists? How many initiated hunger strikes, which have long been anathema to the prison administration? How many were caught up in the FBI-organised dragnet that hauled thousands of community leaders, activists and thinkers into the maws of the US "justice" system during the Black liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s? 
Former Warden of United States Penitentiary Marion, the prototype of modern supermax-style solitary confinement, Ralph Arons, has stated: "The purpose of the Marion Control Unit is to control revolutionary attitudes in the prison system and in the society at large."  
One of these revolutionaries is Russell "Maroon" Shoats, the founder of the Black Unity Council, which later merged with the Philadelphia chapter of the Black Panther Party. He was first jailed in early 1970.

Hailing from the gang-war-torn streets of West Philadelphia, Shoats escaped twice from prison system, first from Huntingdon state prison in September 1977 and then again in March 1980.
Shoats' escapes - the first of which lasted a full 27 days, despite a massive national search complete with helicopters, dogs and vigilante groups from predominantly white communities surrounding the prison - earned him the nickname "Maroon", in honour of slaves who broke away from plantations in Surinam, Guyana and later Jamaica, Brazil and other colonies and established sovereign communities on the outskirts of the white settler zones. 
Still, it was not until Shoats was elected president of the prison-approved Lifers' Organisation in 1982 - the closest thing to a union for inmates, through which they demanded basic rights such as proper visiting hours, access to legal documents and healthier food - that the prison system decided he was a "threat" to administrative stability and placed him in solitary confinement.
For the past 30 years, Maroon has been transferred from one "torture chamber" to another, where his best efforts to interact with his fellow prisoners or resurrect his old study sessions for the younger generation are thwarted at every turn. 
In 2006, the US had an incarceration rate for black males that was more than five-and-a-half times greater than that of South Africa at the end of the apartheid era in 1993. 
Yet most mainstream authorities on the prison system in the US - such as the eminent scholar Michelle Alexander, whose book The New Jim Crow suggests that the prison system is racially "biased" - do not come close to touching on the phenomenon of political prisoners, let alone on the inmates who take up the cudgels on behalf of their fellow detainees and attempt to carve out niches of justice in a massive chamber of terror. 
The discussion of solitary confinement as a violation of a basic human right comes five decades after Malcolm X first began to preach that black people in America should take their grievances not to the US Supreme Court, but to the United Nations, to appeal not for civil rights, as white bourgeois parlance would have it, but for basic human rights, as a colonised people. 
He argued not for "integration" into a system that had brutalised and enslaved "Africans in America" for years, but for an overhaul of that system and a transfer of power away from those who created and maintained it. Not master walking hand-in-hand with slave, but an end to mastery and slavery altogether. 
As a black revolutionary, Malcolm X's words were largely painted over by mainstream historians. But if the struggle to end inhumane treatment inside prisoners is to become anything more than a largely apolitical movement for so-called "civil rights", it must put two long-ignored points back on the agenda: race and revolution. 
Kanya D'Almeida is an editor for the Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency, currently based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. 
Bret Grote is an investigator with the Human Rights Coalition, a Pennsylvania-based prison abolitionist and prisoner rights organisation. 

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.



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