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Homage to Hugo March 6, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in About Hugo Chávez, Latin America, Venezuela.
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Roger Hollander, March 6, 2013

images   A supporter of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez holds up a portrait of him while attending a rally in Caracas 000_mvd6447587_1349221653

I have lived for short periods of time amongst Cubans, for many years in Latin America, and most of my life in the United States and Canada.  I have lived as one of and in the middle classes, with very occasional personal contacts with social and economic elites, and with a lifetime of close association and solidarity with the various classes of dispossessed.  I think I understand the difference between capital and labor, between rich and poor, between oppressors and oppressed, between truth and lies.  And I think that I can understand both the trite and misinformed responses coming out of the North American corporate media as well as the overwhelming reaction of sadness and loss that the great majority of ordinary Latin Americans are experiencing over the death of Hugo Chávez.

Perhaps it is instructive to compare the two rivals: Chávez and Obama.  Whereas one loses count of the number of sides of the mouth out of which Obama speaks, and marvels at the capacity to lie with a straight face; Chávez was transparency and forthrightness incarnate, what you saw was what you got.  While the North American corporate media and political punditry demonized Chávez as dictatorial and rabidly anti-American (the man who gave free heating oil to poor New Englanders), apart from the Fox news and hypocritically tea partied and toxically neo-Fascist led religious right, Obama gets pretty much a free pass.

Consider that Hugo Chávez never killed hundreds of innocent civilians with drone missiles, never violated the very essence of international law by committing and enabling torture, never violated the most fundamental legal right of habeas corpus, never spied on his countrymen in direct violation of law, never drew and implemented up a list of targets for presidential assassination, never joined with the financial and corporate elites to privatize education, protect Wall Street white collar criminals and banksters, and give in entirely to the corrupt and blood-thirsty private health insurance and pharmaceutical industries in setting back a public universal health care plan for years if not decades.

But this is not about what Hugo Chávez didn’t do (or to vent my disgust with Obama), it is about what he did do and what that means to the oppressed of Latin America.  Although it is what most North Americans hear and think about him, his standing up to and developing independence from the political and economic hegemony of the United States may not be his most important achievement.  What he did that was most needed to be done was to stand up to the poisonous and inhuman rule of capital.  That he did this more rhetorically than in actual practice to me is not that important.  It is a rhetoric that strikes a chord with the vast majority of Latinos who suffer from poverty, hunger, lack of fresh water, health care, decent housing, and quality education.  In practice, as in Ecuador and Bolivia, he lead a government that for the first time in recent history was not in the back pocket of the moneyed elites, a government that took serious investment in health, education, infrastructure, housing and other social programs.   That the financing of social programs depended to a large degree on revenue from petroleum is a factor that does not negate the successes achieved in these areas.

What North Americans are not for the most part going to hear or understand are the emotional reactions that I am witnessing here in Ecuador.  When you are poor and struggling to survive on a day to day basis, when you are aware to some degree or another the injustices that are responsible for your daily suffering; then when there arises a person of influence and power and charisma and fluency who shines light and gives credibility to your deepest concerns, you are given the precious gift of hope, dignity and pride.

Hugo Chávez delivered such to not only the people of Venezuela, but to all of Latin America and throughout the world who suffer from the heartless hand of either national or international capital and the imperial governments who back them up with overwhelming economic and military power.

Hugo Chávez was not in my mind a genuine Marxist revolutionary.  I don’t think it is possible to be both genuinely revolutionary and at the same time administer a government in a world where the rule of capital is universal.  But to denigrate his achievements on that basis would be a case of unfairly splitting hairs.  Like Chile’s Allende his government was as revolutionary as could be expected, and like Allende he engendered the hatred of the owning classes and the cowardly and sycophantic media and political classes that serve them.

In death Hugo Chávez will become bigger even than he was in life; and that is both just and understandable.  For his greatest contribution, beyond the social achievements of his government and his courage in standing up to the Goliath Uncle Sam, is the honesty, humility and transparency he radiated as a human being and the hope and inspiration that his words and actions have given and will continue to give to those around the globe who struggle for justice, equality and dignity.

As millions of Latin Americans are saying today: “RIP, Comandante!”

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City October 5, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Democracy, Economic Crisis, Environment, Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Poverty, War.
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www.nationofchange.org

What follows is the first official, collective
statement of the protesters in Zuccotti Park:

As we gather together in solidarity to express a
feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together.
We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the
world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality:
that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that
our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up
to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors;
that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but
corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the
Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined
by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place
profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality,
run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let
these facts be known.

 

  • They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite
    not having the original mortgage.
  • They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give
    Executives exorbitant bonuses.
  • They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based
    on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the
    farming system through monopolization.
  • They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of
    countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
  • They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate
    for better pay and safer working conditions.
  • They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on
    education, which is itself a human right.
  • They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as
    leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
  • They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with
    none of the culpability or responsibility.
  • They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get
    them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
  • They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
  • They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the
    press.
  • They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives
    in pursuit of profit.
  • They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their
    policies have produced and continue to produce.
  • They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible
    for regulating them.
  • They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on
    oil.
  • They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s
    lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned
    a substantial profit.
  • They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping,
    and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
  • They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control
    of the media.
  • They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented
    with serious doubts about their guilt.
  • They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
  • They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians
    overseas.
  • They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive
    government ontracts.*

 

To the people of the world, We, the New York City
General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert
your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy
public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate
solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form
groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and
all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

NationofChange has been an unfiltered media
resource for the Occupy Wall Street movement even while the mainstream media has
ignored, censored, and undermined the progress of the people.

Over Two Thousand Six Hundred Activists Arrested in US Protests May 24, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Democracy, Nuclear weapons/power, Torture, War.
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Roger’s note: Just prior to posting the article below about those arrested for protesting various areas of injustice, I had posted an article entitled “Too Big to Jail,” an article decrying the fact that no one has been arrested or jailed for the economic crimes committed by various sectors of the banking and finance community, which lead to thousands of Americans losing their homes.  This juxtaposition (justaposition?) was not planned, it just happened.

Published on Tuesday, May 24, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

  by  Bill Quigley

Since President Obama was inaugurated, there have been over two thousand six hundred arrests of activists protesting in the US.   Research shows over 670 people have been arrested in protests inside the US already in 2011, over 1290 were arrested in 2010, and 665 arrested in 2009.   These figures are certainly underestimate the number actually arrested as arrests in US protests are rarely covered by the mainstream media outlets which focus so intently on arrests of protestors in other countries.

Daniel Ellsberg flashes a pair of peace signs as he’s led away by capitol police on December 16, 2010.

One hundred thirty one protestors, including numerous veterans, gathered in the snow outside the White House challenging the war in Afghanistan. (CommonDreams)

Arrests at protest have been increasing each year since 2009.  Those arrested include people protesting US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Guantanamo, strip mining, home foreclosures, nuclear weapons, immigration policies, police brutality, mistreatment of hotel workers, budget cutbacks, Blackwater, the mistreatment of Bradley Manning, and right wing efforts to cut back collective bargaining.

These arrests illustrate that resistance to the injustices in and committed by the US is alive and well.  Certainly there could and should be more, but it is important to recognize that people are fighting back against injustice.

Information on these arrests has been taken primarily from the newsletter The Nuclear Resister, which has been publishing reports of anti-nuclear resistance arrests since 1980, and anti-war actions since 1990.

Jack Cohen-Joppa, who with his partner Felice, edits The Nuclear Resister, told me “Over the last three decades, in the course of chronicling more than 100,000 arrests for nonviolent protest and resistance to nuclear power, nuclear weapons, torture, and war, we’ve noted a quadrennial decline as support for protest and resistance gets swallowed up by Presidential politicking. It has taken a couple of years, but the Hopeium addicts of 2008 are finally getting into recovery. We’re again reporting a steady if slow rise in the numbers willing to risk arrest and imprisonment for acts of civil resistance. Today, for instance, there are more Americans serving time in prison for nuclear weapons protest than at any time in more than a decade.”

In the list below I give the date of the protest arrest and a brief summary of the reason for the protest.   After each date I have included the name of the organization which sponsored the protest. Check them out.  Remember, they can jail the resisters but they cannot jail the resistance!

2011

January 1, 2011.  Nine women, ages 40 to 91, who brought solar panels to the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor were arrested for blocking the driveway at Entergy Corporation.  Shut It Down.

January 5, 2011 and February 2, 2011.  Five arrests were made of peace activists protesting at Vandenberg Air Force base, including a veteran of WWII.  Vandenberg Witness.

January 11, 2011.  Ten people protesting against the continued human rights violation of Guantanamo prison trying to deliver a letter to a federal judge were arrested at the federal building in Chicago, Illinois.

January 11, 2011.  A sixty one year old grandmother protesting against excessive radiation was arrested for blocking the path of a utility truck in Sonoma County, California.

January 15, 2011.  Twelve people protesting against Trident nuclear weapons at the Kitsap-Bangor naval base outside of Seattle, Washington were arrested – six on state charges of blocking the highway and six others on federal charges of trespass for crossing onto the base.  Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.

January 17, 2011.  Marking the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, people protested outside the Lockheed Martin Valley Forge Pennsylvania office where eight people were arrested.  Brandywine Peace Community.

January 17, 2011.  Three people protesting the US use of armed drones and depleted uranium were arrested at the Davis-Monthan air force base near Tucson Arizona.

January 29, 2011.  Eight peace activists marking the 60th anniversary of the testing of the atom bomb were arrested at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site.   Nevada Desert Experience.

February 10, 2011.  Twenty three hotel workers were arrested after protesting management abuses at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco.  UNITE Here Local 2.

February 15, 2011.  A former CIA agent turned whistleblower was arrested and battered by police for standing silently and turning his back during a speech on the need for human rights in Egypt delivered by the US Secretary of State.   Veterans for Peace.

February 17, 2011.  Nine people protesting against the attack on collective bargaining in Wisconsin were arrested at the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison.

February 25, 2011.  Eleven people protesting federal budget cuts against the poor, including one person in a wheelchair were arrested charged with blocking traffic in Chicago.

March 4, 2011.  Three people were arrested in Seattle after a protest against police abuse.

March 4, 2011.  Sixteen people were arrested at a protest against tuition increases at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

March 10, 2011.  Fifty people protesting the removal of collective bargaining rights were arrested after being carried out of the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison.

March 16, 2011.  Seven union supporters protesting proposals to strip collective bargaining from teachers were arrested in Nashville Tennessee.

March 19, 2011.  One hundred thirteen people protesting the eighth anniversary of the war in Iraq, lead by Veterans for Peace, were arrested at White House. Veterans for Peace.

March 19, 2011.  Eleven military family members and veterans were arrested in Hollywood California after staging a sit protesting the 8th anniversary of the war in Iraq.  Veterans for Peace.

March 20, 2011.  Thirty five people were arrested protesting outside the Quantico brig where Bradley Manning was being held.  Bradley Manning Support Network.

March 28, 2011. Seven people defending a family against eviction and protesting home foreclosures were arrested in Rochester, NY, including a 70 year old neighbor in her pajamas.  Take Back the Land.

April 4, 2011.  Seven people protesting against unjust immigration legislation barring undocumented immigrants from Georgia colleges were arrested for blocking traffic in Atlanta Georgia.

April 7, 2011. Seventeen people were arrested protesting budget cuts in assistance for the poor and elderly and calling for an end to corporate tax exemptions in Olympia Washington.

April 10, 2011.  Twenty seven people calling attention to the thousands of murders of people in Latin America by graduates of the US Army School of the Americas/WHINSEC were arrested outside the White House. School of Americas Watch.

April 11, 2011.  Forty one people, including the Mayor and many of the members of the District of Columbia city council, protesting Congressional action limiting how the District of Columbia could spend its own money were arrested in Washington DC.

April 15, 2011.  Eight teenage girl students, some as young as fourteen, were arrested after they refused to leave their public school Catherine Ferguson Academy, which is specially designated for pregnant and mothering teens in Detroit.  Also with the young women were children and teachers.  The school is targeted for closure due to budget cutbacks.

April 22, 2011.  Thirty seven people were arrested protesting the use of drones outside the Hancock Air Force base near Syracuse New York.  Syracuse Peace Council.  Ithaca Catholic Worker.

April 22, 2011.  Eleven women chained and locked the gate at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon Vermont before being arrested.

April 22, 2011.  Thirty three people protesting at the Livermore Lab which designs nuclear weapons at an interfaith peace service were arrested for trespassing in California.

April 22, 2011.  Four people were arrested at the Pentagon after they held up a banner and read from a leaflet outside of the designated protest zone.  Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.

April 24, 2011.  Sixteen protestors against nuclear weapons at the Nevada National Security Site were arrested after a sixty mile sacred walk from Las Vegas.  Nevada Desert Experience.  Pace e Bene.

May 2, 2011.  Fifty two protestors against a nuclear weapons plant in Kansas City Missouri were arrested after blocking a gate to the construction site.  Holy Family Catholic Worker.

May 9, 2011.  Five people protesting against draconian immigration laws were arrested in the governor’s office in Indianapolis, Indiana.

May 7, 2011.  Seven people celebrating Mothers Day and protesting nuclear weapons were arrested outside the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor twenty miles from Seattle.  Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.

May 9, 2011.  Sixty five people protesting cutbacks in education funding were arrested in Sacramento California.

2010

January 6, 2010.  Over one hundred people protesting for union recognition of hotel workers at Hyatt San Francisco were arrested.  UNITE Here Local 2.

January 15, 2010.  A man who served nearly six months in jail and who was still on probation for hammering windows at a military recruiting center in Lancaster Pennsylvania was arrested at the recruiting center after insisting that recruiters and recruits to leave the army.

January 18, 2010.  Seven people commemorating Martin Luther King’s birthday wore sandwich board messages saying “Make War No More,” “It’s about Justice,”  and “its About Peace,” outside of Lockheed Martin’s main entrance in Merion Pennsylvania until they were arrested.  Brandywine Peace Community.

January 21, 2010.  Forty-two people protesting the ongoing human rights violations of Guantanamo prison were arrested at the US Capitol building.  Twenty-eight were arrested on the steps of the Capitol and fourteen inside the rotunda.  Witness Against Torture.

January 26, 2010.  Thirteen people from Minnesota lobbying to stop funding for war were arrested after holding a die-in on the sidewalk in front of the White House.  Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

January 31, 2010.  Eight people were arrested trying to protest at Vandenberg Air Force base in California, one of those arrested, an octogenarian, was brought to the hospital for injuries suffered in the arrest.  A few days later, seven protestors were arrested at the same spot.   A month later, four more protestors were arrested.  Vandenberg Witness.

February 22, 2010.  Five people protesting against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were arrested inside US Senators’ offices in the Des Moines Iowa federal building.  Voices for Creative Nonviolence.  Des Moines Catholic Worker.

March 4, 2010.  Four students protesting against rape were arrested after they refused to leave the administration building at Michigan State University in East Lansing Michigan.

March 20, 2010.  Nine peace activists were arrested in Washington DC for lying down beside mock coffins outside the White House.

March 21, 2010.  Two people protesting at the Aerospace and Arizona Days air show at Monthan Air Force base held a banner declaring “War is not a Show” in front of a Predator Unmanned Air Vehicle (drone) were arrested.

March 30, 2010.  Eight protestors were arrested during a march against police brutality in Portland Oregon.

April 2, 2010.  Eleven people on a Good Friday walk for peace and justice were arrested outside the USS Intrepid in New York city after they began reading the names of 250 Iraqi, American and Afghan war dead.  Pax Christi New York.

April 2, 2010. Nine people carrying a banner “Lockheed Martin Weapons + War = The Crucifixion Today” in the 34th annual Good Friday protest at Lockheed Martin were arrested in Valley Forge Pennsylvania.  Brandywine Peace Community.

April 4, 2010. Twenty two people protesting against nuclear weapons after the Sacred Walk from Las Vegas to the Nevada Nuclear Test Site were arrested after the Western Shoshone sunrise ceremony and Easter Mass.  Nevada Desert Experience.

April 7, 2010.  Three people, including a 12 year old girl, were arrested inside a US Senators office in Des Moines, Iowa with a banner “No More $$$ For War.”  The mother of the 12 year old girl was called into the police station and issued a citation the next day for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  Voices for Creative Nonviolence and Des Moines Catholic Worker.

April 15, 2010.  A man protesting nuclear weapons was arrested inside the security fence of a nuclear missile silo near Parshall, North Dakota.

April 16, 2010.  Twelve people protesting against Sodexho mistreatment of workers were arrested in Montgomery County Maryland.  Service Employees International Union.

April 20, 2010.  A woman was arrested for standing in the path of a bulldozer to try to prevent mining in Marquette County, Michigan.

April 26, 2010.  Seventeen people protesting war and poverty inside and outside the federal building in Chicago were arrested.  Midwest Catholic Worker.

April 26, 2010.  Boulder Colorado police arrested five people protesting at Valmont coal power plant.

May 3, 2010.  Three people protesting nuclear weapons were arrested at Bangor Naval Base outside of Seattle Washington.  Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.

May 3, 2010.  Twenty two people protesting nuclear weapons were arrested at Grand Central Station in New York city after unfurling banners saying “Nuclear Weapons = Terrorism,” and “Talk Less, Disarm More.” War Resisters League.

May 9, 2010.  Seven people trying to stop a foreclosure-driven eviction were arrested in Toledo Ohio.  Take Back the Land.

May 15, 2010.  Thirty four people protesting against Arizona’s draconian immigration laws were arrested outside the White House.

May 17, 2010.  Sixteen people were arrested in NYC protesting against unjust immigration policies.

May 20, 2010.  A woman US Army specialist who served as a Military Police applied for conscientious objector status while serving in Iraq and who later left her unit was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

May 24, 2010.  Thirty seven people protesting against unjust immigration policies were arrests in New York City.

June 1, 2010.  Fifty six people protesting against unjust immigration policies were arrested in NYC.

June 8, 2010.  Six peace advocates were arraigned in federal court in Des Moines, Iowa for numerous actions protesting in US Senators offices for the previous several months.  One activist, a grandmother and hog farmer, held weekly die-ins in Senators’  offices and was arrested frequently.  Once, when police asked her to leave, she replied that she was dead and couldn’t leave.  Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

June 15, 2010.  Several people protesting against evictions caused by bank foreclosure were arrested in Miami Florida.  Take Back the Land.

June 23, 2010.  Twenty two people protesting in favor of immigration reform singing “America the Beautiful” and “This Land is Your Land,” were arrested and charged with blocking traffic in Seattle.

July 5, 2010.  Thirty six people protesting for a nuclear free future were arrested at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee – thirteen of federal trespass charges and twenty-three on state charges for blocking a highway.  Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance.

July 6, 2010.  Seventy eight people protesting against police brutality in Oakland California and the trial involving a shooting by a BART police office.

July 23, 2010.  One hundred fifty two hotel workers protesting against management at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco were arrested.  UNITE Here Local 2.

July 29, 2010.  Thirteen people were arrested in Tucson Arizona protesting against the state’s illegal immigration laws.

August 9, 2010.  On Nagasaki day, three people protesting against the US commitment to nuclear weapons were arrested outside the US Strategic Air Command in Omaha Nebraska.  Omaha Catholic Worker.

August 15, 2010.   A twenty two year old female student at Michigan State University who pitched an apple pie at a US Senator during an anti-war protest was arrested and charged with federal felony charges of forcible assault on a federal officer.  Another anti-war activist was also arrested and charged with the same crime.

September 9, 2010.  Twelve people protesting for equality for gay people in the workplace were arrested in San Francisco.

September 27, 2010.  One hundred fourteen people protesting mountaintop removal coal mining were arrested at the White House after a conference of people from West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.  Prior to this protest, forty-nine activists in the Climate Ground Zero Campaign have served jail time for taking action against strip-mining in Appalachia.  Climate Ground Zero.

November 5, 2010.  One hundred fifty two people protesting police killings were arrested in Oakland, California.

November 8, 2010.  Five people protesting wind turbines in Lincoln, Maine were arrested including an 82 year old native of Maine.

November 21, 2010.  Three people were arrested on federal charges and twenty-four more on state charges at the School of Americas/WHINSEC protest in Columbus Georgia outside the gates of Fort Benning. Six others were arrested at a protest against a private prison housing immigrants in rural Georgia. School of Americas Watch. ACLU Immigrant Rights Project.

December 1, 2010.  Three people protesting against unjust immigration policies were arrested at the office of a Congress rep in Racine Wisconsin.  Voces de la Frontera.

December 16, 2010.  One hundred thirty one protestors, including numerous veterans, gathered in the snow outside the White House challenging the war in Afghanistan, the cover-up of war crimes and the prosecution of Bradley Manning and Wikileaks were arrested for failing to clear the sidewalk.  In a parallel New York City protest, several others were also arrested.  Veterans for Peace.

December 17, 2010.  Twenty two people protesting against unfair home foreclosures were arrested when they blocked an entrance to a Chase bank branch in Los Angeles.   Alliance Californians for Community Empowerment.

December 20, 2010.  Six people were arrested after protesting at Bank of America against the foreclosure of an elderly couple in South Saint Louis.  Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment.

December 28, 2010.  Three parents asking for the abolition of all nuclear weapons were arrested for leafleting at the Pentagon.  Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.

2009

January 2009, seventeen people, clad in black mourning clothes and white masks, were arrested in the US Senate Building for reading the names of the dead in ongoing US wars and unfurling banners stating “The Audacity of War Crimes,”  “Iraq,” “Afghanistan,” “Palestine,” and “We Will Not Be Silent.”

January 26, 2009, six human rights advocates were sentenced to two to six months of federal prison or home arrest in federal court in Columbus Georgia for challenging training of Latin American human rights abusers at the US Army School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC) by walking onto Fort Benning. School of Americas Watch.

January 2009, a former Army specialist who refused to graduate with his Airborne Division because he realized he could not kill anybody was arrested and jailed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  The former soldier had been ordered home in May 2002 to await discharge papers.  Courage to Resist.

February 2009.  There were fifteen arrests of activists protesting mountain top removal by Massey in West Virginia.  Climate Ground Zero.

February 2009, five peace activists in Salem Oregon fasting on the steps of the state capitol building so that National Guard soldiers would not be sent to Iraq and Afghanistan were cited for trespass by state police.

March 1, 2009, six anti-nuclear activists protesting the 55th anniversary of the US nuclear  bomb detonation at Bikini Atoll were arrested at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Kitsap, Washington after they knelt in the roadway.  Ground Zero Community and Pacific Life Community.

March 4, 2009, nine people seeking to present a letter to CEO of Alliant Technologies outlining how weapons manufacturers were prosecuted as war criminals at the end of WWII were arrested in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.  Alliant Action.

March 12, 2009, four people who were arrested during a protest at Vandenberg Air Force base were fined between $500 and $2500 by federal authorities.  California Peace Action.

March 17, 2009, seven people seeking a meeting with US Defense Secretary to challenge the legality of the war in Iraq were arrested at the Pentagon.  National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance.

March 18, 2009, seven women, ranging in ages from 65 to 89, some in wheelchairs and walkers, were arrested protesting the war in Iraq after wrapping yellow crime scene tape around a military recruiting center and blocking the entrance for an hour in New York City.  Grannie Peace Brigade.

March 19, 2009, three people protesting the war in Iraq were arrested in Washington DC.  In one instance a US Army veteran scaled the front of the Veterans Administration building and unfurled a banner saying “Veterans Say NO to War and Occupation.”  Protests against the war in Iraq in Chicago resulted in an arrest there after banner drop.

March 19-21, 2009, protests against the war in Iraq in San Francisco resulted in twenty-two arrests at a die-in in the financial district, eleven more for blocking a street outside the Civic Center, and ten more at the Saturday march when Palestinian marchers were confronted by pro-Israel counter protestors resulting in police using batons and tear gas.

March 31, 2009, four people were arrested in Brattleboro, Vermont, for standing in silent opposition to the Vermont Yankee nuclear power reactor.

March 31, 2009, an anti-nuclear protestor was convicted of trespassing at the Los Alamos nuclear weapons facility and sentenced to two days in jail, community service and probation.  Trinity House Catholic Worker.

April 3, 2009, four people protesting injustices on Wall Street and in Afghanistan and Iraq were arrested in New York, NY, for marching down the center of the street.  Bail Out the People Movement.

April 9, 2009, fourteen people were arrested at Creech Air Force outside Las Vegas Nevada base protesting against the US use of drones in lethal attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.  Nevada Desert Experience.

April 10, 2009, eight people were arrested while kneeling and praying for peace at the Pentagon.  Another, clad in an orange jumpsuit and black hood, was arrested at the White House where he was chained to the fence protesting the human rights abuses of Guantanamo.   Jonah House.

April 10, 2009, sixteen people were arrested while protesting the war profiteer Lockheed Martin in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.  Brandywine Peace Community.

April 12, 2009, twenty one people were arrested while protesting the use of nuclear weapons at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site on Western Shoshone tribal lands.  Nevada Desert Experience.

April 17, 2009.  A man protesting US polices of violence, racism and poverty-production was sentenced to six months in prison for hammering out some windows in the US Military Recruiting Center in Lancaster Pennsylvania.

April 23, 2009, four people protesting lies by military recruiters were arrested after locking themselves to the door at the military recruiting center in Minnesota.  Three others were arrested at the Knollwood Plaza  after disrupting the recruitment center so much it had to be closed.  Another woman was arrested near a recruiting center after placing a “Don’t Enlist”  sticker on a police car.  Antiwar committee.

April 24, 2009, a woman calling for the return of the National Guard from Iraq was arrested in the US House Appropriations during testimony by US Generals in Washington DC. Code Pink.

April 28, 2009, a US Army veteran who refused to fight in Iraq was court-martialed in Fort Stewart, Georgia and sentenced to one year in prison.  Courage to Resist.

April 29, 2009, twenty-two people were arrested after trying to serve a Notice of Foreclosure for Moral Bankruptcy on Blackwater/Xe, the mercenary company responsible for so many deaths in Iraq, at its compound in Mount Carmel, Illinois.  Des Moines Catholic Worker Community.

April 30, 2009, sixty three people were arrested at the White House protesting against illegal detention and torture at Guantanamo prison.   Witness Against Torture.

May 20, 2009.  Twenty one people protesting against the war in Iraq were arrested outside a military recruiting center in Milwaukee Wisconsin.

July 22, 2009, four people protesting against Boeing’s role in the production of drones, which have killed more than 700 people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, were arrested inside the Boeing lobby in Chicago, Illinois.  Christian Peacemaker Teams.

August 4, 2009, four shareholders who sought to speak at the shareholders meeting of depleted uranium munitions producer Alliant Techsystems were arrested when they approached the microphone in Eden Prairie Minnesota.  Alliant Action.

August 5, 2009, a US Army specialist who refused to deploy to Afghanistan was sentenced to 30 days in jail and given a less than honorable discharge in Killeen Texas.  Courage to Resist.

August 6, 2009, a 75 year old priest, protesting the 64th anniversary of the US dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima, was arrested outside of Greeley Colorado where he cut the fence around a nuclear missile silo, hung peace banners, prayed and tried to break open the hatch on the silo.

August 6, 2009, nine antiwar activists were arrested at Fort McCoy Wisconsin after a three day peace walk protesting against US nuclear weapons and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Nuke Watch.

August 6, 2009, two people were arrested at the Pentagon entrance on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing carrying a banner stating “Remember the Pain, Remember the Sin, Reclaim the Future.” Jonah House.

August 6, 2009, twenty two people protesting the horror of Hiroshima were arrested in Livermore California when they blocked the entrance to the Lawrence Livermore weapons lab. Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment.

August 6, 2009, nine people at a vigil for peace and nonviolence were arrested for walking onto Lockheed Martin property at Valley Forge Pennsylvania and spreading sunflower seeds, an international symbol for the abolition of nuclear weapons.  Brandywine Peace Community.

August 6, 2009, two people were arrested when they refused to stop praying at the gates of the Davis-Monthan Air Force base in Tucson Arizona.  Rose of the Desert Catholic Worker.

August 10, 2009, nine persons calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons were arrested at Bangor Naval base, home to the Trident submarine, twenty miles from Seattle Washington.  Ground Zero Community.

August 14, 2009, a US Army Sergeant who refused to go to Afghanistan and who asked for conscientious objector status was found guilty of disobeying lawful orders and going AWOL at a trial in Fort Hood.  He was sentenced to one year in prison and given a bad conduct discharge.

August 17, 2009.  Four people were arrested outside the Boalt Hall classroom where they were protesting John Yoo, who coauthored the memos authorizing torture on people in Guantanamo during the Bush administration.

August 22, 2009, two people protesting against nuclear missile testing were arrested at Vandenberg Air Force base and cited for trespass.

September 9, 2009.  Four people protesting against Massey Energy mountain top removal were arrested in Madison West Virginia.  Climate Ground Zero.

September 12, 2009, seven people who were protesting against the use of the high-tech bloodless arcade Army Experience Center in Philadelphia were arrested.  Seven other protestors were arrested there earlier in the year.  Shut Down the AEC.

September 24, 2009, ninety two people protesting management disregard for union rights of hotel workers were arrested at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Francisco.  UNITE Here Local 2.

September 27, 2009, twenty one people protesting against the Nevada Test Site were arrested at the Mercury gate.  At an action to “Ground the Drones”  protesting the increasing use of lethal drones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, another eleven people were arrested.  Code Pink.  Pace e Bene.  Nevada Desert Experience.

September 28, 2009, four women, ages 66 to 90, walked past security guards at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant protesting inadequate safety at the plant.  Carrying signs saying “Yom Kippur, September 28, Time to Atone, Shut Down Vermont Yankee,” this was the seventh set of arrests at the nuclear plant or its corporate headquarters since 2005.

September, 2009, the US Army accepted the resignation of Lieutenant, who refused to fight in Iraq because he believed the war violates international law, and gave him a discharge under other than honorable conditions.   Courage to Resist.

October 1, 2009.  A well known mixed martial arts fighter was sentenced to 90 days of work release and a fine of $28,000 for spraying symbols on an Army recruiting center and the Washington State Capitol building to help raise consciousness about the illegal war in Iraq.

October 2, 2009.  Four people trying to deliver a document titled “Employee Liabilities of Weapons Manufacturers under International Law” to the weapons manufacturer Alliant Technologies were arrested in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.  Alliant Action.

October 5, 2009, a couple, who married the day before and who were carrying a banner saying “Just Married; Love Disarms,” were arrested during a peace protest at Lockheed-Martin in Sunnyvale California.  A priest was also arrested as the three gave out leaflets to workers entering the war contractor work site.  Albuquerque New Mexico Catholic Worker.

October 5, 2009, sixty one people were arrested while protesting the ninth year of the US war in Afghanistan in front of the White House.  Some of the arrested were in orange jumpsuits and chained to the fence.  Secret Service officers assaulted other protestors, pushing and pulling them away from the protest site, bruising some.  No Good War and Jonah House.

October 7, 2009, twelve protestors against the war in Afghanistan were arrested in Rochester, NY.  Some of the arrested were treated at the hospital after being struck by police.  Rochester Students for a Democratic Society.

October 7, 2009.  Two people were arrested in Grand Central Station after unfurling banners which said “Afghanistan Enough!”  War Resisters League.

October 11, 2009.  Two women who held up banners when Tiger Woods was ready to putt, saying “President Obama – End Bush’s War,” and “End the Afghan Quagmire,” were handcuffed and escorted away from the President’s Cup golf tournament in San Francisco.

November 2, 2009.  Five people calling for nuclear disarmament cut through the fence around the Naval Base Kitsap which houses the Trident nuclear submarines and nuclear warheads outside of Seattle Washington.  The five walked through the base until they found the storage area for nuclear weapons and cut two more fences to get inside where they put up banners and spread sunflower seeds until they were arrested.  Disarm Now Plowshares.

November 4, 2009.  Two people were arrested while protesting outside Vandenberg Air Force base in California.  Vandenberg Witness.

November 4, 2009.  Eight protestors, including one who was 91 years old, were arrested at the Strategic Space Symposium in Omaha Nebraska while holding a “Space Weapons=Death” banner.  Des Moines and Omaha Catholic Worker.

November 15, 2009.  Five people protesting against US torture practices at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where military interrogators are trained were arrested.  Torture on Trial.

November 22, 2009.  Four people protesting the training of human rights abusers by the US Army at their School of Americas/WHINSEC were arrested in Columbus, Georgia.  School of Americas Watch.

November 23, 2009.  A longtime war tax resister pled guilty to avoiding paying taxes for war at court in Bangor Maine.  National War Tax Resistance Coordination Committee.

December 1, 2009.  Protestors at 100 cities across the country challenged President Obama’s talk at West Point to escalate the war in Afghanistan.  Six were arrested at West Point, eleven in Minneapolis, and three in Madison Wisconsin.

December 9, 2009.  Six people protesting that President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize were arrested outside the federal building in Los Angeles.  Los Angeles Catholic Worker.

December 10, 2009.  Six people protesting the use of lethal drones were forcibly escorted out of the 11th Annual Unmanned Aerial Systems Conference outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Trinity Nuclear Abolition and Code Pink.

More information about many of these arrests can be found at www.nukeresister.org.

Bill Quigley

Bill Quigley is Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.  He is a Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for years with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Contact Bill at quigley77@gmail.com

STATEMENT OF PROFESSOR DANIEL C. MAGUIRE AT THE MEMORIAL FOR DR. GEORGE TILLER, MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN, JUNE 7, 2009 June 14, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Human Rights, Religion, Women.
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george tiller

 

 I had the privilege of knowing George Tiller.  It was a pleasure at the time, but it gives me pain now to remember the evening and dinner my wife Edie McFadden and I spent with George and his wife Jeanne in New York two years ago.

 

I would use these words to describe George: gentle, soft-spoken, courageous, committed.  He also had a quiet anger at American terrorists and outlaws who would not leave him in peace to practice medicine according to American law.

 

Thomas Aquinas spoke of “the virtue of anger.”  He saw the prophets of Israel and saw that they were bursting with anger.  He saw Jesus angrily attacking the temple of injustice, overturning tables and Thomas concluded that if these moral heroes were angry, then there is a virtue of anger.  It is a virtue, I would say, that most of us lack.  Thomas cited this quote from St. John Chrysostom: “Whoever is not angry when there is cause for anger, sins.”  Remember that quote.  It should be in every church and court house. 

 

Good anger is a virtue, said Thomas, because good anger respicit bonum justitiae, it looks to the good of justice, and those who are not angry in the face of injustice love justice too little.

 

The history of abortion rights in America is cause for anger.  In 1973, in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court  gave women the legal and constitutional right to abortion in problem pregnancies.

 

Such a legal and constitutionally grounded right, is like the right to vote the right to go to church or synagogue the right to go to school.  And to do all of that without being harassed, threatened, or murdered.  That’s what rights are.

 

Starting in 1976, some—-not all—-anti-choice activists became outlaws.  Since they could not change the law non-violently, they turned to violence and began a campaign of terror, egged on by right wing talk show hosts. They began by the  bombing of clinics, arson, anthrax threats, and hostile violent picketing and physical and verbal assaults at clinics. 

 

When this was not enough, starting in the 1990’s, they turned to murder and assassination.

 

The results so far in this domestic war of terror: seven doctors and clinic workers murdered………..one doctor murdered in his church, another in his kitchen.  The suspect Scott Roeder said from jail that more such events are planned.

 

Sad to tell, this domestic war of terror has had an evil success.  In 85% of the counties of this nation, there is no abortion provider.  And we have let it happen.

 

This evening, as we gather in memorial, a single man, Scott Roeder, is held in prison in Kansas for this murder. The guilt, however, extends far beyond him.

 

The guilt extends to all of us here tonight who have not been angry enough to practice effective non-violent resistance to this very successful and malicious war of terror.  In the memory of George Tiller I issue to all of us tonight a fervent Call to Effective Political and Non-violent Action.

 

Let me list those who, with us, share in the guilt of this murder:

 

First, I cite the police and FBI nationwide who have been lax.  Reports went to the police and FBI during the week and the day before the killing about Roeder breaking the law and violating clinics.  Absolutely nothing was done.  In my opinion this screams out sexism.  Abortion related violence is a WOMAN THING and it simply is not taken as seriously as if it were a MAN THING.  In my view, if men got pregnant, clinics would be protected like an army fortress and police would make sure that no one would threaten or harass men as they went there to exercise their legal rights as citizens.  There would be none of the current nonchalance.

 

On an almost daily basis, pickets outside Planned Parenthood offices and abortion clinics cross the line between protected free speech and violence. Violence is defined as harm done or threatened.  Pickets here in Milwaukee practice violence by threat, shouting at clinic workers: “We know where you live!” or, with the same effect: “We know you Mary,” a tactic used by organized crime to intimidate. They scream insults at patients entering the clinic—in most clinics most clients are not there for abortions but to get the health care that Planned Parenthood provides for the poor—-and the pickets rejoice when they see these women reduced to tears.  What they are doing is shouting “Fire! in a crowded theater,” to use Justice Holmes famous analogy. That is violence. Where are the police?

 

Conclusion: Every day that pickets gather outside these offices a police person should be there to arrest anyone who turns free speech into violent and assaultive threats.  We must insist on this.

 

Secondly on the guilt list is the medical profession: The AMA and the Medical Society of Wisconsin and other state medical societies have sinned by their lack of outrage and effective leadership as their fellow professionals were murdered, tortured and harassed.  Let them also hear this call to action.

 

Also guilty are the religious leaders.  All the world religions, including Roman Catholicism, have a strong pro choice position existing alongside the no choice position.  Both positions have the weight of religious authority and Roe v Wade respects that religious freedom of choice.  It recognizes that the right to abortion is a religiously grounded civil and human right.  Yet religious leaders, almost all men, fan the lethal fury of fanatical terrorists. Their pious hands are not clean when these people act out violently.  Most of these religious leaders do not even know the openness to abortion choices in their religious traditions, and should be sent back to school.  At the least they should say a prayer to St. Antoninus, canonized a saint in 1523, who supported abortion when a woman’s health was endangered, a common condition in his day. He was thus approving of a great number of abortions.

 

 President Obama at Notre Dame called for “common ground” with anti-choice people.  He was wrong.  There is already common ground.  It is called Roe v. Wade.  That is the common ground for the law of this land and the anti-choice people are using pressure, threats and violence to prevent women citizens from acting within that law.

 

This is what angered George Tiller.  This is what killed George Tiller.

 

This gathering this evening does Dr. Tiller no honor if we only shed tears and issue lamentations, but do not adopt the spirit of the African American civil rights movement.  Let their cry be ours.  “We’re all fed up.  Aint going to take it no more……no more……no more!!!”

U.S. Democracy a Sham? May 1, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in About Democracy, Democracy.
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mayday

 

Roger Hollander, www.rogerhollander.com, May Day, 2009.

 

When Gandhi was asked by a journalist what he thought of Western Civilization, he replied famously that he thought it would be a good idea.  He could have said the same for American democracy.

 

Now that there is a Democrat in the White House and a Democratic majority in the Senate, there is much discussion about the necessity to obtain a “filibuster-proof” majority of 60 seats.  Somehow the Republicans when in power got their program through with a simple majority.  Both these data tell us more about the Democrats than the Republicans.  Google the word “Republicrat” and see how many entries you get.

 

In an essay I wrote some time ago and posted on this Blog last August, (http://rogerhollander.wordpress.com/category/rogers-archived-writing/political-essays-roger/the-constitution-is-unconstitutional/) I analyzed the various injustices inherent in the original United States Constitution, some of which have been amended out of existence (slavery, women’s non-sufferance, etc.), and focused on what I characterize as one of the most undemocratic institutions in existence, the United States Senate.  I showed how both in theory and in practice, representatives of much less than a majority of Americans control what does and does not get legislated in that astute body.

 

Since Obama does not yet have his 60 – only the goddess knows when Coleman will give up, and you can never count on sleazebag Lieberman – let’s take a look at the present contingent of Republican Senators, who have in effect a veto over the legislative process. Let’s see what percentage of the American population these 40 Republican Senators actually represent.

 

(I have taken the population data from the U. S. Census Bureau estimates for July 1, 2008 [http://www.census.gov/popest/states/NST-ann-est.html; “Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008 (NST-EST2008-01”].  At that the estimate for the entire country was 304,060,000 [all estimates are rounded off to the nearest thousand]).

 

In the following states both senate seats are held by Republicans:

 

State                    Population

 

Alabama              4,662,000          

Arizona               6,500,000

Georgia               9,686,000

Idaho                    1,524,000

Kansas                 2,802,000

Kentucky            4,269,000

Maine                    1,316,000

Mississippi           2,939,000

Oklahoma             3,642,000

South Carolina     4,480,000

Tennessee               6,215,000

Texas                        24,327,000

Utah                          2,736,000

Wyoming                   533,000

 

Total                           75,631,000

 

The following states are represented by one Republican Senator:

 

Arkansas             2,855,000  

Florida               18,328,000

Indiana                6,377,000

Iowa                    3,003,000

Louisiana            4,411,000

Missouri              5,912,000

Nebraska             1,783,000

Nevada                2,600,000

New Hampshire  1,316,000

North Carolina   9,222,000

Ohio                      11,486,000

South Dakota        804,000

 

Total                             68,097,000

 

Let’s do the math.  By adding the total population for the states in which both Senators are Republican (75,631,000) to half of the population of the states in which there is one Republican Senator (68,097,000/2 = 34,049,000) we get a sum total of 109,680,000. 

 

This figure represents 36% of the overall American population.  The representatives of those 36% in the United States Senate essentially hold the country hostage with respect to legislation (this is based upon the assumption is that all Senators will vote according to the dictates of the party leadership; although this is not always the case, it is not unreasonable to assume that those who cross over from each party cancel each other out).

 

36%.  U.S. democracy in action.

 

In my original essay (“The Constitution is Unconstitutional”) I compared California with Wyoming with respect to democratic representation in the Senate.  Using the updated 2008 population data, let’s take a new look.  We have California with a population of 36,757,000 and Wyoming with a whopping 533,000.  Yet each state has exactly two representatives in the Senate.  One Senator for every 267,000 Wyomingites; one Senator for each 18,379,000 Californians.  If you live in Wyoming you have 69 times more senatorial political power than someone living in California.

 

69 to one.  U.S democracy in action.

 

So big deal, you say, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.  Instead of whining about it, why don’t you suggest what can be done.  In my original essay I argued that the Constitution seemed to establish the Senate in a way that it could never be amended.  I am quite possibly wrong about that; perhaps a Constitutional Amendment could democratize the Senate or abolish it.  But can you imagine that happening in a dozen lifetimes?  No way, Ho Zay. 

 

So what then?  In my article I argued for revolution.  If you’re interested, read the article.  Here again is the link: http://rogerhollander.wordpress.com/category/rogers-archived-writing/political-essays-roger/the-constitution-is-unconstitutional/

Obstruction of Justice March 30, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Racism.
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by Chris Hedges

U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema is scheduled to issue a ruling in the Eastern District of Virginia at the end of April in a case that will send a signal to the Muslim world and beyond whether the American judicial system has regained its independence after eight years of flagrant manipulation and intimidation by the Bush administration. Brinkema will decide whether the Palestinian activist Dr. Sami Amin Al-Arian, held for over six years in prison and under house arrest in Virginia since Sept 2, is guilty or innocent of two counts of criminal contempt.

Brinkema’s ruling will have ramifications that will extend far beyond Virginia and the United States. The trial of Al-Arian is a cause célèbre in the Muslim world. A documentary film was made about the case in Europe. He has become the poster child for judicial abuse and persecution of Muslims in the United States by the Bush administration. The facts surrounding the trial and imprisonment of the former university professor have severely tarnished the integrity of the American judicial system and made the government’s vaunted campaign against terrorism look capricious, inept and overtly racist.

Government lawyers made wild assertions that showed a profound ignorance of the Middle East and exposed a gross stereotyping of the Muslim world. It called on the FBI case agent, for example, who testified as an expert witness that Islamic terrorists were routinely smuggled over the border from Iran into Syria, apparently unaware that Syria is separated from Iran by a large land mass called Iraq. The transcripts of the case against Al-Arian-which read like a bad Gilbert and Sullivan opera-are stupefying in their idiocy. The government wiretaps picked up nothing of substance; taxpayer dollars were used to record and transcribe 21,000 hours of banal chatter, including members of the Al-Arian household ordering pizza delivery. During the trial the government called 80 witnesses and subjected the jury to inane phone transcriptions and recordings, made over a 10-year period, which the jury curtly dismissed as “gossip.” It would be comical if the consequences were not so dire for the defendant. 

A jury, on Dec. 6, 2005, acquitted Dr. Al-Arian on eight of the counts in the superseding indictment after a six-month trial in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. On the 94 charges made against the four defendants, there were no convictions. Of the 17 charges against Al-Arian-including “conspiracy to murder and maim persons abroad”-the jury acquitted him of eight and was hung on the rest. The jurors, who voted 10 to 2 to acquit on the remaining charges, could not reach a unanimous decision calling for his full acquittal. Two others in the case, Ghassan Ballut and Sameeh Hammoudeh, were acquitted of all charges.

The trial result was a public relations disaster for the Bush White House and especially then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, who had personally announced the indictment and reportedly spent more than $50 million on the case. The government prosecutors threatened to retry Al-Arian. The Palestinian professor accepted a plea bargain that would spare him a second trial, agreeing that he had helped people associated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad with immigration matters. It was a very minor charge given the high profile of the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and the counterterrorism section of the Justice Department agreed to recommend to the judge the minimum sentence of 46 months. But U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr., who made a series of comments during the trial that seemed to condemn all Muslims, sentenced Al-Arian to the maximum 57 months. In referring to Al-Arian’s contention, for example, that he had only raised money for Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s charity for widows and orphans, the judge told the professor that “your only connection to orphans and widows is that you create them.”

I spent an afternoon with Dr. Al-Arian in his small apartment in Arlington, Va., on Friday. His lawyers have asked that he make no public statements about his case. But we talked widely about the Middle East, the new Israeli government, the siege of Gaza, our families and the changes he hopes will come with an Obama administration. He sat on a couch wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet on his ankle, thankful to be with his wife and children after being shuttled between jails across the South and kept for 45 months in solitary confinement during his five-and-a-half-year ordeal. But he remains perplexed, as are many, by the gross miscarriage of justice and the ferocity of the government’s campaign to smear him with terrorism charges.

The government originally sought a standard cooperation provision as part of the final plea agreement. Al-Arian objected. He refused to plead guilty if he had to cooperate with the Justice Department. The Justice Department-including lawyers from the counterterrorism section of Main Justice-then negotiated to take out the cooperation provision in return for a longer sentence on the one count. That was the deal. He was to have been held in jail until April 2007 and then deported. But that never happened.

Right-wing ideologues, led by Assistant United States Attorney Gordon Kromberg, had no intention of letting him leave the country. Kromberg, a staunch supporter of Israel, arranged to keep Dr. Al-Arian behind bars even after he had finished serving his sentence. He blocked the deportation and subpoenaed Al-Arian to appear in Virginia to testify in an unrelated investigation of a Muslim think tank. This subpoena was a clear violation of the original plea bargain, and Al-Arian, heeding the advice of his lawyers, refused to give in to Kromberg’s demands. This led Kromberg to set in motion the newest charges of criminal contempt. Criminal contempt, bolstered by something called terrorism enhancement under Patriot Act II, is the only charge in U.S. statutes that does not carry a maximum penalty. The enhanced criminal contempt charge increases Al-Arian’s sentence from the usual 14 to 21 months for criminal contempt to a staggering 17 to 24 years for obstructing a state terrorism investigation. A handful of members of the House, including Jim Moran and Dennis Kucinich, have denounced Kromberg’s newest attempt to orchestrate a judicial lynching.

Kromberg, like many involved in the case, has also repeatedly made derogatory and insulting comments about Muslims. When Al-Arian’s lawyers asked Kromberg to delay the transfer of the professor to Virginia, for example, because of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, they were told “if they can kill each other during Ramadan they can appear before the grand jury.” Kromberg, according to an affidavit signed by Al-Arian’s attorney, Jack Fernandez, also said: “I am not going to put off Dr. Al-Arian’s grand jury appearance just to assist in what is becoming the Islamization of America.”

Judge Brinkema, in one of the rare examples of judicial courage during this saga, defied the government to allow Al-Arian out on bail. 

The case against Al-Arian, in the eyes of the grand inquisitors like Kromberg, is a battle against a culture and a religion that they openly denigrate and despise. This racism, the driving engine behind the campaign against Al-Arian, mocks the integrity of the American judicial system. Let us hope that in a few weeks we will witness a new era. Justice delayed is better than justice denied. We owe Dr. Al-Arian, and ourselves, a return to the rule of law.

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.

Michael Moore Needs Your Help to Expose Wall Street Swindle February 13, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Economic Crisis.
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Posted by ZP Heller, Brave New Films on February 13, 2009 at 7:00 AM.

www.alternet.org

 

Michael Moore is about to uncover “the biggest swindle in American history,” and he needs your help.  In an e-mail yesterday, Moore asked for anyone connected to Wall Street or the financial industry to contact him at bailout@michaelmoore.com with information about the economic meltdown.  All correspondence with him will be kept confidential.

The activist filmmaker’s previous documentaries like SiCKO, Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, Roger & Me, and last year’s free release of Slacker Uprising revealed, ripped, and ridiculed gross injustices in the health-care industry, gun violence, the 9/11 attacks and aftermath, General Motors, and youth voter turnout, respectively.  You can only imagine what he’ll do to the bailed out bank CEOs whose excessive greed and impropriety resulted in millions of Americans facing foreclosure, soaring unemployment, and $1.1 trillion in economic loss.

As Howard Rubenstein, president of a New York-based public-relations firms that advises hedge funds, private-equity firms and banks, told Bloomberg, “Moore’s reputation is locked in. Whatever he touches gets gored.”  But this time around, Moore needs your help to tell “the greatest crime story ever told.”

 

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