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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 65,575

Journal Archives

Guardian UK: Dear Chelsea Manning: birthday messages from Edward Snowden, Terry Gilliam and more

On Wednesday, Chelsea Manning – heroine, whistleblower and inmate – turns 27. She has been behind bars for four years and eight months, ever since her arrest for leaking ­classified US documents. There isn’t much prospect that she will be released any time soon. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence, with the earliest possibility of parole being in 2021. She has appealed to Barack Obama for a pardon. It seems unlikely he will grant it.

It is against this gloomy and unpropitious backdrop that leading writers, artists and public figures from around the world are today sending Chelsea birthday greetings. Their contributions include letters, poems, drawings and original paintings. Some are philosophical – yes, that’s you, Slavoj Žižek – others brief messages of goodwill. A few are ­movingly confessional.

All send a powerful reminder: that for millions in the US and beyond, Chelsea Manning is an inspiring moral figure who deserves our continued support. Her leaks, published in 2010, at a time when Manning was unhappily stationed with the US military in Baghdad, revealed the true nature of America’s twin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also ­illuminated the gulf between Washington’s private thinking and its public diplomacy.

Edward Snowden sums up the mood of collective ­gratitude: “I thank you now and forever for your extraordinary act of service and I am sorry that it has come with such an unbelievable personal cost. As a result of your courageous act, the American people are more informed about the ­workings of our government as it positions itself for endless war ... For this we all thank you. Happy birthday, Chelsea.” ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/dec/16/-sp-dear-chelsea-manning-birthday-messages-from-edward-snowden-terry-gilliam-and-more

And we can't even pin this one exclusively on the Fascist Five......... (sigh)

(In These Times) Stories of the horrid conditions for workers in Amazon warehouses have been trickling out for years: The temperatures at the warehouses vary wildly, with some workers having to work in sub-zero conditions, others passing out from days where the temperature soared above 100 degrees, workers crying from not being able to keep up the brutal pace demanded, and then being threatened with termination for crying. And we can now add another indignity to the list, coming yesterday at the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in a 9-0 decision that it is legal for Amazon warehouse workers not to be paid for a portion of their workday.

At the end of long, taxing shifts at warehouses, Amazon requires workers to go through security screenings to ensure that no one has stolen anything from the warehouse. Because Amazon does not hire enough security guards or stagger the quitting times of the workers, these screenings add an additional 25 minutes to each employee’s shift. These workers sued, arguing that under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the staffing company that hired them to work in Amazon warehouses was required to pay them for the time spent in these security checks.

Writing for a unanimous court in Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, Justice Clarence Thomas disagreed. (Though the workers work at an Amazon warehouse, they are hired through the intermediary staffing company, Integrity Staffing Solutions.)

At issue was a provision that Congress placed in the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947, which amended the FLSA by excluding “activities which are preliminary to or postliminary to said principal activity or activities.” The courts have included in the definition of “principal activities” anything that is “integral and indispensable” to the principal activities. In other words, as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (which found in favor of the workers) stated, the test is whether the activity is necessary for the work being performed and done for the benefit of the employer. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/17435/supreme_court_amazon

From Occupy to Ferguson: The two movements are more connected than you think

from In These Times:

From Occupy to Ferguson
The two movements are more connected than you think.


The shooting and death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager from Ferguson, Missouri, ignited protests, rallies and vigils from Washington D.C. (left) to New York City. The movement served as a platform to get justice for Brown, as well as to expose issues of police brutality and racism. (Ep_Jhu / Flickr)

Early in the Occupy movement, Frances Fox Piven predicted, “We may be on the cusp, at the beginning of another period of social protest.” Months later, in September 2012, long after the last tent had folded, Piven questioned the “ready conclusion that the protests have fizzled.” As she and Richard Cloward noted 35 years earlier in their pivotal study, Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s and the labor movement of the 1920s and 1930s took years to win substantial victories.

As the nation erupts in protests, her words ring prophetic. The killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, has put a match to years of simmering fury over police brutality. Ferguson may seem a far cry from Occupy. These protests aren’t about inequality; they’re about policing. Yet many of the 1960s civil rights riots were set off by police brutality. For people in poor communities, overpolicing is the most palpable manifestation of economic and political oppression.

Piven is heartened by the Ferguson protests. “Occupy was brilliant in getting a message across, but these protests are disruptive. They (are) specifically, deliberately, planfully setting out to disrupt the functioning of the city until attention is paid to the grievance they have,” she tells In These Times. “Protesters have to bring things to a halt in order to have an impact.”

Those in power seem nervous. In a speech following a grand jury’s decision not to indict Wilson, Barack Obama sounded less like the man who, after the Trayvon Martin verdict, spoke candidly and movingly of his personal experiences of racial profiling by police, and more like the lord of the manor with the mob at the door. “First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law,” he stressed. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/17421/from_occupy_to_ferguson

Professor Richard Wolff: The Political Economy of Austerity Now

The Political Economy of Austerity Now
by Richard D. Wolff

Government austerity for the masses (raising taxes and cutting public services) is becoming the issue shaping politics in western Europe, north America, and Japan. In the US, austerity turned millions away from the polls where before they supported an Obama who promised changes from such policies. So Republicans will control Congress and conflicts over austerity will accelerate. In Europe, from Ireland's Sinn Fein to Spain's Podemos to Greece's Syriza, we see challenges to a shaken, wounded political status quo (endless oscillations between center-left and center-right regimes imposing austerity). Those challenges build impressive strength on anti-austerity themes above all else. In Japan, Prime Minister Abe resorts to ever more desperate political maneuvers to maintain austerity there.

In responding to austerity, ever more people find their way to a critical understanding of capitalism. Beyond blaming individuals or groups, such people condemn the system, capitalism, whose structure of incentives (rewards and punishments) drives their behaviors. That system brought the 2007/2008 crisis. It then delivered trillions in government bailouts to fund its survival. And now austerity serves to shift the costs of crisis and bailouts onto the general public. Austerity is today's hot issue not only because it affects practically everyone, but also because it touches the foundations of economy and society.

The austerity policies imposed on western Europe, north America, and Japan are consequences of capitalism's massive relocation underway since the 1970s. Where modern capitalism began (western Europe, then north America and Japan), its production and distribution facilities grew and concentrated mostly in certain industrialized towns and cities from the 1770s to the 1970s. Those regions' rural and agricultural areas became capitalism's "hinterlands" providing industry with food, raw materials, workers, and markets for capitalists' outputs. When local hinterlands proved insufficient, colonialism turned the rest of the world into such hinterlands. Along the way, increasingly well-organized working classes in western Europe, north America, and Japan won rising wages in tough struggles with capitalists there. In contrast, incomes of most people in the colonized hinterlands shrank.

By the 1970s, the wage gap between the capitalist centers and their hinterlands had become immense. That gap, together with the inventions of jet engine air travel and modern telecommunications, created an historic opportunity for capitalists. They could dramatically increase profits by relocating production. Jets and global telecommunications enabled western European, north American, and Japanese capitalists to monitor and control the production and distribution they relocated to new low-wage centers (in China, India, Brazil, and so on). Only the top direction, financing, and diplomatic/military control centers remained in the old capitalist centers.


Capitalism blocks and negates that economic democracy. It privileges capitalists' freedom to invest over the majority's freedom to participate democratically in determining their jobs, job conditions, and what is done with the profits their labor helps to produce. Today, workers' struggles against austerity are educating them to grasp and confront basic capitalist privileges and their incompatibility with democracy or the economic needs of the people. That is why today's governments are so determined to maintain austerity and so fearful if austerity fails and falls even in one small country like Greece. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2014/wolff151214.html

We Thought We Were Free

We Thought We Were Free

Tuesday, 16 December 2014 15:37
By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed

Are we really the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On Thanksgiving Day, 26-year-old law student Cesar Baldelomar was pulled over by a police officer in northwest Miami.

So what was the reason for his stop?

He was playing the song "F**K Tha Police" by N.W.A on his radio.

According to the Miami New Times, police officer Harold Garzon confronted Baldelomar at a stop light, and reportedly said to him, "You're really playing that song? Pull over." ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/28051-are-we-really-the-land-of-the-free-and-the-home-of-the-brave

Torture Impunity and Police Shootings

from Consortium News:

Torture Impunity and Police Shootings
December 16, 2014

A danger from the “war on terror” was always that it would encourage the spread of an authoritarian U.S. state, ignoring international law abroad and constitutional rights at home, a process that is now growing more apparent with impunity for both torturers and police who kill minorities, writes Nat Parry.

By Nat Parry

The international fallout from last week’s long-delayed release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 500-page executive summary of its still-classified 6,000 report on CIA torture could hardly be more intense, with calls coming from the United Nations, foreign governments and the human rights community for prosecutions of those who carried out or authorized the torture techniques described in the report, including senior officials from the Bush administration.

But judging from the self-assured comments of CIA and former administration officials, there is no real concern over the possibility of any criminal liability, a lack of accountability which has led to a palpable arrogance among those who would be behind bars if laws were actually enforced on an equal basis in the United States.

The above-the-law sense of entitlement was perhaps most clearly on display in former Vice President Dick Cheney’s appearance this Sunday on “Meet the Press,” stating that when it comes to using torture, “I’d do it again in a minute.”

When presented with gruesome details from the Senate report on torture – for example the newly revealed “enhanced interrogation technique” of “rectal feeding,” i.e., anal rape – and asked for his definition of what might constitute “torture” in a legal sense, Cheney retorted that torture is “an American citizen on his cellphone making a last call to his four young daughters shortly before he burns to death in the upper levels of the Trade Center in New York on 9/11.”


Police Shootings

The same arrogance that Cheney is so casually displaying can also be seen in the closely paralleled story of the recent spate of police shootings and killings of innocent or unarmed African-Americans, and the remarkable wave of demonstrations that has taken hold across the United States in response. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: https://consortiumnews.com/2014/12/16/torture-impunity-and-police-shootings/

Policing is a Dirty Job, But Nobody's Gotta Do It: 6 Ideas for a Cop-Free World

from Rolling Stone:

By José Martín | December 16, 2014

After months of escalating protests and grassroots organizing in response to the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, police reformers have issued many demands. The moderates in this debate typically qualify their rhetoric with "We all know we need police, but..." It's a familiar refrain to those of us who've spent years in the streets and the barrios organizing around police violence, only to be confronted by officers who snarl, "But who'll help you if you get robbed?" We can put a man on the moon, but we're still lacking creativity down here on Earth.

But police are not a permanent fixture in society. While law enforcers have existed in one form or another for centuries, the modern police have their roots in the relatively recent rise of modern property relations 200 years ago, and the "disorderly conduct" of the urban poor. Like every structure we've known all our lives, it seems that the policing paradigm is inescapable and everlasting, and the only thing keeping us from the precipice of a dystopic Wild West scenario. It's not. Rather than be scared of our impending Road Warrior future, check out just a few of the practicable, real-world alternatives to the modern system known as policing:

Unarmed mediation and intervention teams

Unarmed but trained people, often formerly violent offenders themselves, patrolling their neighborhoods to curb violence right where it starts. This is real and it exists in cities from Detroit to Los Angeles. Stop believing that police are heroes because they are the only ones willing to get in the way of knives or guns – so are the members of groups like Cure Violence, who were the subject of the 2012 documentary The Interrupters. There are also feminist models that specifically organize patrols of local women, who reduce everything from cat-calling and partner violence to gang murders in places like Brooklyn. While police forces have benefited from military-grade weapons and equipment, some of the most violent neighborhoods have found success through peace rather than war.

The decriminalization of almost every crime

What is considered criminal is something too often debated only in critical criminology seminars, and too rarely in the mainstream. Violent offenses count for a fraction of the 11 to 14 million arrests every year, and yet there is no real conversation about what constitutes a crime and what permits society to put a person in chains and a cage. Decriminalization doesn't work on its own: The cannabis trade that used to employ poor Blacks, Latinos, indigenous and poor whites in its distribution is now starting to be monopolized by already-rich landowners. That means that wide-scale decriminalization will need to come with economic programs and community projects. To quote investigative journalist Christian Parenti's remarks on criminal justice reform in his book Lockdown America, what we really need most of all is "less."

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/policing-is-a-dirty-job-but-nobodys-gotta-do-it-6-ideas-for-a-cop-free-world-20141216#ixzz3M7DFfSGZ

Keiser Report: Oil can combust & blow it all

Published on Dec 16, 2014

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the blood-bathing in the oil related markets - from the Dubai stock exchange to the West Australian fracking company gone bust to some of the highest paid jobs in America being laid off.

Keiser Report: Debt Meteor Approaching Earth

Published on Dec 13, 2014

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert believe that ‘something’s gotta give’ as the real world continues to tumble while equity markets continue rising - and not everyone is 'lovin' it.' They also compare the debt curse to the oil curse.

Quelle surprise! .... Faux uses Sydney incident to try to justify torture .......


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