Archive for December 2014

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“Baby Doc” is Dead, But Duvalierism Lives On in Haiti Regime

prn_montage_20141015.jpgHaiti’s elite flocked to the funeral of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier who, along with father “Papa Doc” killed probably 20,000 people, terrorized the entire population and stole half a billion dollars over a period of two generations. Duvalier died of a heart attack at age 63, “but there are many others who were involved in the actual torture and arrests and stealing who supported that brutal system,” said Brian Concannon, executive director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. “The Duvalierist system has in many ways comes back” with the current government of Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly, who was closing associated with “Baby Doc’s” terror network.

BBC Film Implicates Rwanda’s Kagame in Assassination of Two Presidents

A recently release BBC documentary shows that Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame’s rebel forces shot down the airplane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, in 1994, setting the stage for mass killings. “Kagame’s complicity has been known for many years by the U.S. and the UN,” said Peter Erlinder, an international lawyer who has defended Kagame’s opponents and was himself jailed by the regime for questioning the prevailing narrative, that Kagame halted the Rwandan genocide. Once in power, Kagame’s forces invaded neighboring Congo, igniting yet another genocide that has killed six million people.

Mumia Addresses Goddard College Grads

In 1996, while still on Pennsylvania’s death row, Mumia Abu Jamal earned his bachelor’s degree from Vermont’s Goddard College. “Goddard allowed me to really study what interested and moved me: revolutionary movements,” the nation’s best known political prisoner told the college’s graduating class. Police organizations across the country fought furiously to prevent Abu Jamal from making the commencement speech, in which he advised students to “take what you know and apply it in the real world. Help be the change you’re seeking to make.”

New Film on 1898 Wilmington Massacre

The last vestiges of post-Civil War Reconstruction died in the flames and carnage of Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898, when white supremacists mounted a military assault on the city’s alliance of Black Republicans and white Populists. Hundreds of Blacks may have died, half the Black population left the city, and the last Black Reconstruction congressman fled the state. Christopher Everett hopes to complete Wilmington on Fire, his new film on these historical events, by December. He said racist Democrats carried out the massacre “to put out a signal to the rest of North Carolina that, if they can take over Wilmington, the whole state will follow.”

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Sharpton Rally Rejects Young and Rebellious

prn_montage_20141217.jpgAside from relatives of police murder victims, the speakers list at Saturday’s “Justice for All” event in Washington, DC, was dominated by conservative, Black establishment figures. “We came with the genuine intention to see whose voices they would elevate,” said Erika Totten, part of a youthful contingent of Ferguson activists that briefly took to the stage. “We kept being dismissed, so I said, ‘Stand behind me and follow me. We’re gonna shut it down, like we always do.’” Totten was interview by The Real News Network.

Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, the noted whistleblower and activist with Hands Up Coalition DC, said the Sharpton rally was an attempt to co-opt the growing movement. “The Obama administration has used a surrogate, Rev. Al Sharpton, to help corral that kind of energy and those kinds of issues back into the political system where those kinds of passions can die an unnatural death.”

Obama Scrapes Bottom of Barrel to Choose Task Force Leader

“It would have been hard for President Obama to find a more inappropriate choice” for co-chair of the new White House task force on police militarization than former DC police chief Charles Ramsey, said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. The Fund won $20 million in damages for police abuse of demonstrators during Ramsey’s tenure as chief, during which he committed massive violations of civil rights and instituted a military style of policing. “Social change never comes in the United State because Congress or the White House suddenly, benevolently decided to do the right thing,” said Verheyden-Hilliard. “It comes because there’s a people’s struggle in the streets and in the courts.”

Nothing New in CIA Torture Report Except “Rectal Feeding”

Most of the information in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s highly redacted report on CIA Torture was “already part of the public record,” with the exception of revelations on forced “rectal feeding” of detainees, said Dr. Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois, at Champaign. “It’s really rape – rape-torture,” said Dr. Boyle. “The significance of this report is that we now have a branch of the United States government making official findings of fact,” which, in legal terms, amounts to “an admission against interest.” Boyle is preparing to demand an immediate investigation into CIA torture by the International Criminal Court.

Mumia: CIA = Crime All the Time

“The CIA, the executive hand of the president, has been involved deeply in every crime known to man,” said America’s best known political prisoner, Mumia Abu Jamal, in a report for Prison Radio. The agency commits thousands of crimes every day, but is immune from prosecution under the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2001. “That’s American law: the law of the outlaw,” said Abu Jamal.

Psychologists Earn $80 Million Torturing Detainees

A company owned by two psychologists was paid $80 million to design and oversee the CIA’s detainee torture program. Moreover, “there’s evidence that the American Psychological Association colluded with the CIA, the Department of Defense and the White House to adjust its ethics policy so that psychologists could consult and participate in interrogations and detention operations,” said Dr. Roy Eidelson, a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility. Both the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association refused to allow their members to participate in the CIA’s torture programs.

Obama Grants Bush Iraq War Immunity

The Obama administration filed papers granting officials of the Bush administration immunity from prosecution for waging war against Iraq. Inder Comar, a California lawyer, argues that George Bush, Dick Cheney and their crew began a conspiracy to wage an illegal war years before Bush won the presidency. However, the Obama administration claims its predecessors were acting “within the legitimate scope of their employment” when they attacked Iraq, in 2003. In the end, said Comar, “this case is going to hinge on District of Columbia employment law.”

America Was “Torture Empire of the World”

Those who say torture is “contrary to U.S. values really don’t know beans about U.S. history, because this used to be the torture empire of the world,” said Dr. Gerald Horne, the prolific professor of history and African American Studies at the University of Houston. Speaking on Eutrice Leid’s show on the Progressive Radio Network, Dr. Horne pointed out that “the slave owner in the United States honed methods of torture against enslaved Africans to increase productivity and profit.” Dr. Horne’s latest book is titled Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow.

Black Caucus and “Civil Rights” Groups in Pockets of Telecoms

President Obama’s recent statement in favor of Internet neutrality went “even further than I expected,” said Kevin Zeese, a leader of net neutrality activists who set up camp outside the offices of the Federal Communications Commission. Zeese hopes to convince the FCC’s chairman to treat the Internet like a public utility. However, the Congressional Black Caucus and traditional civil rights organizations remain wedded to telecom corporations. “They are so deep in the pockets of AT&T and other telecoms, they have always done their bidding,” said Zeese. “Whether it’s mergers or neutrality, they take the wrong position” every time.

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CIA and Police Impunity are Linked

prn_montage_20141210.jpgThe long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture practices “could be the most important document, with respect to reviewing the crimes of U.S. intelligence agencies, since the Pentagon Papers,” said Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. “This is the cover-up underlying human rights abuses that no one has ever been held accountable for.” Yet, unarmed Black men fin the U.S. face extrajudicial assassination by police. “There is clearly no equal justice in this country,” said Buttar, “and no two things make it more clear than torture with impunity juxtaposed with mass incarceration.”

Remove the “Instruments of Death” from Our Communities

The new mass movement is wrestling with fundamental questions of Black life in America. “One demand is that you may not kill our children,” said Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, the noted whistleblower and activist with the Hands Up Coalition - DC, which last week presented a list of demands to the U.S. Justice Department. “It’s important that we get these instruments of death out of our communities,” said Coleman-Adebayo, who is also an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report.

Black People’s Humanity is not Negotiable

The Obama administration points to the numerous consent decrees it has arrived at with police departments around the country as evidence that it is serious about combating abuses in the criminal justice system. However, Carl Dix, of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, is unimpressed. “These federal consent decrees do not get to the heart of the problem, which is that this system has criminalized and demonized Black people,” said Dix – just as Ferguson cop Darren Wilson described Michael Brown as a “demon.” “We have to say No, Black life matters, and we will not allow you to erase our humanity.”

What’s Trust Got to Do With It?

The “impotent” Black political class mimics white politicians when they call for “restoration of trust” between Blacks and police. “When was there ever trust in the first place?” asks Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner, in a report to Prison Radio. “The cruel, painful history of relations between police and the people is one of predation, not trust.” The police “are there to control Black mobility and to discipline Blacks for fear they’ll pose a threat to white wealth, life or property,” said Abu Jamal, at Frackville State Prison, in Pennsylvania.

Fast Food Strikers Spearhead Low Wage Workers Movement

Employees went on strike at fast food outlets in 190 cities, last week, demanding $15 an hour and union representation. The action, which also engaged airport, convenience store and other low wage workers, climaxed two years of organizing that began with a walkout at a single restaurant in New York City, said Kendall Sells, organizing director of Fast Food Forward. “Over the next six to twelve months,” said Sells, “I think people are going to see a complete explosion of low wage workers taking to the streets. That’s how we’re going to get these workers out of poverty.”

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Ferguson Creates Crisis for U.S. Rulers

prn_montage_20141203.jpg“This government is on edge,” said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. “This government has an incredible quandary in dealing with the re-emergence of Black people in this ‘post-racial’ situation that’s supposed to be defined by the presidency of Barack Obama.” White people are on edge, too. “There’s no editorials being written about the fact that white people are arming themselves to the teeth in the whole Missouri area,” said Yeshitela. “It’s a crisis of great magnitude and they have no idea how to deal with it.”

Black America Must Appeal to International Allies

“At the end of the day, if this epidemic of police killings is” to be halted, “we are going to have to appeal to the international community,” as did Blacks of past generations, said Dr. Gerald Horne, historian and professor of African American Studies at the University of Houston. “It’s no accident that RT in Moscow, CCTV in China, Telesur in Venezuela, Prensa Latina of Cuba, and Press TV of Iran have been much more incisive” on Ferguson “than many of our local and domestic outlets.” Horne was interviewed on the Real News Network, as was Kevin Alexander Gray, the Columbia, South Carolina activist and author. “What needs to change is the ability of police on the street to invoke the death penalty without due process,” said Gray. Ferguson cop Darren Wilson “got a lot of due process; Michael Brown got none. What’s gonna happen is, people are going to have to rethink what self-defense means in this country, in light of giving the police such unfettered power.”

Mumia: Ferguson Enters Pantheon of Black Pain

“The name Ferguson joins an ancient line of place names of pain, loss and Black death – places like Birmingham, Philadelphia and, now, Ferguson,” said Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner. In a report for Prison Radio, Abu Jamal said that some Blacks will seal away the memory of Ferguson, while “others will grow in radicalism, convinced that this case is the very epitome of racist injustice.”

Rev. Pinkney Promises “Breaking News” Before His Sentencing

Facing 25 years in prison following his conviction on charges of tampering with an election recall petition, Rev. Edward Pinkney “promises” to have “breaking news” before he is sentenced on December 15. The Benton Harbor, Michigan, community leader said he was “shocked” that he could be found guilty by an all-white jury “with absolutely no witnesses.” Police officer Darren Wilson, in Ferguson, Missouri, “murdered a boy with witnesses. Here, they’re about to send me to jail for the rest of my life with no witnesses, with no evidence at all,” said Pinkney, age 65. He promised revelations that will blow the case out of the water.

Obama’s Secret Afghan War Extension

Weeks before the November elections, President Obama secretly extended the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan through the end of 2015. The president’s conduct holds no surprises for author and anti-war activist David Swanson, publisher of the influential web site WarIsACrime.Org. “Obama has been given credit for six years for ending a war that he tripled in size,” said Swanson. “This is his war, far more than George W. Bush’s, in terms of death, destruction, injuries, refugees, money spent, time spent – and he’s gonna keep it going.”

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