Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What Manuel Zelaya's return means for Honduras, Barcelona Eyewitness - The "#Spanishrevolution"



What Manuel Zelaya's return means for Honduras

The former president's return is welcome, but human rights remain at risk in Honduras after the coup that deposed him

Mark Weisbot

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 28 May 2011


Former Honduran President Zelaya's return home Saturday has important implications for the western hemisphere that, we can predict, will be widely overlooked. Zelaya was ousted from the presidency when he was kidnapped at gunpoint by the military on 28 June 2009. Although no hard evidence has yet emerged that the US government was directly involved in his overthrow, the Obama administration did everything it could to help the coup government to survive and then legitimate itself through elections that most of the rest of the hemisphere, and the world, rejected as neither free nor fair.

Zelaya's return represents a partial reversal of that coup d'etat and Washington's efforts to consolidate it, just as President Aristide's return to Haiti after seven years in exile, on 18 March – despite furious efforts by the Obama administration, and even President Obama himself, to prevent it – is a partial reversal of the 2004 US-organised coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Haiti. And it is another demonstration of how the western hemisphere has changed: the agreement for Zelaya's return was mediated through the governments of Venezuela and Colombia, with no US involvement or even lip-service support until it was over.

Instead, the mediation process had the unanimous support of Latin America and the Caribbean, which endorsed it through their new organisation, Celac (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States). Celac contains all the countries of the Organisation of American States (OAS) except the US and Canada. It was formed in February 2010, partly as a response to Washington's manipulation of the OAS in the aftermath of the Honduran coup.

The Obama administration lost a lot of trust throughout the hemisphere as a result of its support for the Honduran coup government, and so it was not surprising that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was smart enough to endorse the Cartagena agreement (for Zelaya's return) after it was signed. She had been lobbying, without success for the past year and a half, to get Honduras admitted back into the Organisation of American States, from which it was kicked out after the coup. It is assumed that this new accord will pave the way for Honduras' readmission, so she can spin it as a victory for Washington. But it clearly is not.

The agreement met some of the demands of President Zelaya and his allies, but not others. It allows for the participation of the National Front for Popular Resistance, which struggled against the coup and subsequent repression, as a legal political party. It also states that people can organise plebiscites of the kind that Zelaya was overthrown for organising. And it has guarantees for the safety and security not only of Zelaya, but also of others who fled after the coup and remain in exile; it also contains certain non-enforceable human rights guarantees.

And that is the big problem: human rights. Less than a year ago, Human Rights Watch noted that "Honduras has made little progress toward addressing the serious human rights abuses since the 2009 coup." It cited the cases of eight journalists and ten members of the National Front for Popular Resistance who had been murdered since President Porfirio Lobo took office, as well as the impunity for human rights abuses committed by the coup government. If anything, the repression has become worse since then.

Three Honduran journalists have been shot since 11 May; two of them, TV station owner Luis Mendoza and television reporter Francisco Medina, were killed. Paramilitary groups have killed over 40 campesinos since Lobo has been in office. Trade unionists have also been killed, including Ilse Ivania Velásquez Rodríguez, a striking teacher whom Honduran police shot in the face, at close range, with a tear gas canister in March.

The OAS will likely vote on Wednesday to readmit Honduras, but there will be a struggle inside the organisation to attach some conditions. It goes without saying that Washington will push for unconditional readmission. President Correa of Ecuador, himself the victim of a coup attempt in September, has publicly stated his opposition to the readmission of Honduras altogether, partly on the grounds of the impunity granted the people who carried out the coup and post coup repression. Dozens of Honduras' human rights organisations and social movements have similar views.

But it is better to have Zelaya back in the country than outside of it. He will have a voice that can possibly break through the rightwing media monopoly, and if he uses that to oppose the repression there, it can have a positive impact. As elsewhere in the hemisphere, the media – controlled largely by wealthy elites – are a major obstacle to progress. In Honduras, most media organisations supported the coup and promoted the falsehood that Zelaya and his supporters were foreign agents (much like the propaganda of the Arab dictators facing demands for democracy in the Middle East). These themes spilled over to the international media, where they remain visible to this day.

On the positive side, it is good to see Latin American countries taking control of the mediation, with Washington relegated to the sidelines. The biggest mistake they made after the coup was to allow Hillary Clinton, along with Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, to hijack the mediation process. Clinton's goal was the exact opposite of restoring democracy in Honduras, and she succeeded. There will be many struggles ahead for the Honduran pro-democracy movement, and they will need a great deal of solidarity and help from outside, especially in opposing the repression. But this accord is, at least, a step in the right direction.

* * *

From: Portside: moderator@portside.org





Barcelona eyewitness: The Indignant beat back authorities

Sunday, May 29, 2011

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

The central plazas of dozens of cities and towns across Spain bear an uncanny resemblance to Tahrir Square in Cairo. They have been taken over by thousands of demonstrators demanding a "new system". As of May 29, dozens of other central plazas in Spanish cities and towns look the same — taken over by thousands of ordinary people demanding “a new system”.

The movement, known as "#Spanishrevolution" after the Twitter hashtag used to spread news, pictures and footage of the revolt, began with an internet call for a May 15 protest to demand “Real Democracy Now!”.

Across Spain, more than 100,000 people turned out. In Madrid, protesters decided to establish a permanent camp in the central plaza, the Puerta del Sol.

The protesters — dubbed indignados (the indignant) — were violently attacked, but tens of thousands of people retook the plaza. The plaza occupations spread across Spain, despite the fact that no major unions or political parties have taken part.

The movement is driven by anger at the savage austerity imposed by the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero from the center-left Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE). Having spent billions of Euros bailing out the big banks after the 2008 financial crisis, the government is making ordinary people pay the cost.

Suffering is widespread among Spanish people. The official youth unemployment rate is more than 40%.

This led to the rout of the PSOE in local and regional elections on May 22.

The occupations were originally planned to last until the May 22 poll. But the assembly at Puerta del Sol voted to continue the encampment for at least another week — and to use the plaza as a base to spread the protest movement to neighborhoods throughout the city.






Krugman: Against Learned Helplessness

Hi.  Over the weekend Amy Goodman flew with President Zelaya on his historic return to Honduras.  Her interview with him, and others, provide an extraordinary broadcast on today’s “Democracy Now”.  9 AM, or at http://www.democracynow.org/  -Ed





Against Learned Helplessness

Paul Krugman

NY Times Op-Ed: May 30, 2011


Unemployment is a terrible scourge across much of the Western world. Almost 14 million Americans are jobless, and millions more are stuck with part-time work or jobs that fail to use their skills. Some European countries have it even worse: 21 percent of Spanish workers are unemployed.

Nor is the situation showing rapid improvement. This is a continuing tragedy, and in a rational world bringing an end to this tragedy would be our top economic priority.

Yet a strange thing has happened to policy discussion: on both sides of the Atlantic, a consensus has emerged among movers and shakers that nothing can or should be done about jobs. Instead of a determination to do something about the ongoing suffering and economic waste, one sees a proliferation of excuses for inaction, garbed in the language of wisdom and responsibility.

So someone needs to say the obvious: inventing reasons not to put the unemployed back to work is neither wise nor responsible. It is, instead, a grotesque abdication of responsibility.

What kinds of excuses am I talking about? Well, consider last week’s release of the latest report on the economic outlook by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or O.E.C.D. The O.E.C.D. is basically an intergovernmental think tank; while it has no direct ability to set policy, what it says reflects the conventional wisdom of Europe’s policy elite.

So what did the O.E.C.D. have to say about high unemployment in its member countries? “The room for macroeconomic policies to address these complex challenges is largely exhausted,” declared the organization’s secretary general, who called on countries instead to “go structural” — that is, to focus on long-run reforms that would have little impact on the current employment situation.

And how do we know that there’s no room for policies to put the unemployed back to work? The secretary general didn’t say — and the report itself never even suggests possible solutions to the employment crisis. All it does is highlight the risks, as it sees them, of any departure from orthodox policy.

But then, who is talking seriously about job creation these days? Not the Republican Party, unless you count its ritual calls for tax cuts and deregulation. Not the Obama administration, which more or less dropped the subject a year and a half ago.

The fact that nobody in power is talking about jobs does not mean, however, that nothing could be done.

Bear in mind that the unemployed aren’t jobless because they don’t want to work, or because they lack the necessary skills. There’s nothing wrong with our workers — remember, just four years ago the unemployment rate was below 5 percent.

The core of our economic problem is, instead, the debt — mainly mortgage debt — that households ran up during the bubble years of the last decade. Now that the bubble has burst, that debt is acting as a persistent drag on the economy, preventing any real recovery in employment. And once you realize that the overhang of private debt is the problem, you realize that there are a number of things that could be done about it.

For example, we could have W.P.A.-type programs putting the unemployed to work doing useful things like repairing roads — which would also, by raising incomes, make it easier for households to pay down debt. We could have a serious program of mortgage modification, reducing the debts of troubled homeowners. We could try to get inflation back up to the 4 percent rate that prevailed during Ronald Reagan’s second term, which would help to reduce the real burden of debt.

So there are policies we could be pursuing to bring unemployment down. These policies would be unorthodox — but so are the economic problems we face. And those who warn about the risks of action must explain why these risks should worry us more than the certainty of continued mass suffering if we do nothing.

In pointing out that we could be doing much more about unemployment, I recognize, of course, the political obstacles to actually pursuing any of the policies that might work. In the United States, in particular, any effort to tackle unemployment will run into a stone wall of Republican opposition. Yet that’s not a reason to stop talking about the issue. In fact, looking back at my own writings over the past year or so, it’s clear that I too have sinned: political realism is all very well, but I have said far too little about what we really should be doing to deal with our most important problem.

As I see it, policy makers are sinking into a condition of learned helplessness on the jobs issue: the more they fail to do anything about the problem, the more they convince themselves that there’s nothing they could do. And those of us who know better should be doing all we can to break that vicious circle.





Monday, May 30, 2011

Ash Grove Summer Series Opens on Juneteenth - Sunday, June 19th.



The Ash Grove

Summer Series
(full schedule coming soon)

Opens with a Celebration of


Freedom songs, gospel, blues and the word,
all coming together on
Sunday afternoon,
June 19th,

Powerful Alabama singer
Bettie Mae Fikes
a leading voice among the
Freedom Singers of the Civil Rights Movement

She’ll be joined by master blues man
Bernie Pearl

S. Pearl Sharp,

and those teenage wizards of poetry,

the Get Lit Players. 

June 19th, 2:00 p.m.,  

at the

Tropico de Nopal Gallery, in Los Angeles,
1665 Beverly Boulevard, East of Alvarado.

General admission $15

Seniors and students $10

Tickets and information available at
call 310-391-5794 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              310-391-5794      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Tickets will be available online Tuesday!

Ash Grove Summer Concert Series

The Ash Grove Summer Concert Series begins with a celebration of Juneteenth on Sunday, June 19th, the date when slaves in Texas learned of their freedom, years after the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted and months after surrender of the Confederate States. The date and name have become the symbol of Black Liberation, throughout the U.S.

The event features the powerful Alabama singer Bettie Mae Fikes, the youngest of the great Freedom Singers, now living in LA, when not performing blues, gospel and freedom songs throughout the world.  She’ll be accompanied by bluesman Bernie Pearl, who has toured with Betty, including last Fall’s historic homage honoring the 50th anniversary of the anthem, We Shall Overcome. Bernie will also perform his own usually brilliant solo set, accompanied by his formidable bassist, Mike Barry. The show continues after intermission with poet S. Pearl Sharp, and those teenage wizards of poetry, the Get Lit Players. The Players have just returned from performing at the White House, organized by first Lady, Michelle Obama.  The afternoon will conclude with the entire cast, and audience participation in the songs of liberation.  Food, Drink, CD’s, et al, available throughout the day. 

For more on S. Pearl Sharp, click on http://www.spearlsharp.com/, The Get Lit Players are at http://www.getlit.org/,

Bettie Mae Fikes is at http://www.earthen.com/bettiemaefikes.html, Juneteenth, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juneteenth

and Bernie is attached.  Nuff said.  -Ed

Freedom songs, gospel, blues and the word, all coming together on Sunday afternoon, June 19th, 2:30 p.m., on the beautiful back patio of the Tropico de Nopal Gallery, 1665 Beverly Blvd.,Boulevard, in Los Angeles.  The series will continue on the 3rd Sunday of each month, through October..

July 17th will showcase The Swing Riots, a Los Angeles based acoustic quirktette performing an irreverent gumbo of Gypsy & Creole Jazz, Klezmer & Romanian Horas, Parisian Musette & the occasional wild card thrown in for good measure.  The Swing Riots are comprised of 6 core members who have played for decades in everything from Balkan dance bands to traditional Swing groups.  For this appearance, they will be joined by vocal duet Jess Basta & Christine Tavares, formerly of VOCO 

The SWING RIOTS Quirktette specialize in that crossroads where early, string based jazz and traditional folk music intersect.  It is not widely known that seminal jazz guitarist, Django Reinhardt played eastern European folk melodies on banjo in the streets of northern Europe as a child or that Django and fellow Romany (Gypsy) jazz guitarists were fixtures, not just of early jazz clubs, but also playing traditional eastern European music in the Cabaret Russe nightclubs that sprang up in Paris and elsewhere after the Bolshevik revolution. 

The SWING RIOTs play many of the well known Gypsy Jazz standards recorded by the great Romany guitar and violin players of the 1920s & 30s but dig deeper, performing traditional eastern European folk melodies in a swing setting.  As such, you will hear traditional Romany, Russian, Yiddish Klezmer and Romanian Horas along with some of the earliest American jazz standards, many of which were derived from Creole and African-American folk songs in their original forms, not often heard today.

Tickets and information available at Ashgrovemusic.com, or call 310-391-5794.



Sunday, May 29, 2011

An Early Memorial Day: Gil Scott-Heron Has Passed At The Age Of 62

From: Portside Moderator [moderator@PORTSIDE.ORG]
Sent: Saturday, May 28, 2011 9:37 AM
Subject: Gil Scott-Heron Speaks

Gil Scott-Heron Dies Aged 62

Poet and songwriter was hailed as 'Godfather of
Rap' after penning The Revolution Will Not Be

By David Sharrock
Guardian (UK)
May 28, 2011


Exclusive video: Gil Scott-Heron talks about
his life and work, interspersed with intimate
performances of his music

Gil Scott-Heron video:

The musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron - best known for his pioneering rap The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
- has died at the age of 62, having fallen ill after a European trip.

Jamie Byng, his UK publisher, announced the news via
Twitter: "Just heard the very sad news that my dear friend and one of the most inspiring people I've ever met, the great Gil Scott-Heron, died today."

Scott-Heron's spoken word recordings helped shape the emerging hip-hop culture. Generations of rappers cite his work as an influence.

He was known as the Godfather of Rap but disapproved of the title, preferring to describe what he did as "bluesology" - a fusion of poetry, soul, blues and jazz, all shot through with a piercing social conscience and strong political messages, tackling issues such as apartheid and nuclear arms.

"If there was any individual initiative that I was responsible for it might have been that there was music in certain poems of mine, with complete progression and repeating 'hooks', which made them more like songs than just recitations with percussion," Scott-Heron wrote in the introduction to his 1990 Now and Then collection of poems.

He was best known for The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, the critically acclaimed recording from his first album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, and for his collaborations with jazz/funk pianist and flautist Brian Jackson.

In The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, first recorded in 1970, he issued a fierce critique of the role of race in the mass media and advertising age. "The revolution will not be right back after a message about a white tornado, white lightning or white people," he sang.

He performed at the No Nukes concerts, held in 1979 at Madison Square Garden. The concerts were organised by a group called Musicians United for Safe Energy and protested against the use of nuclear energy following the meltdown at Three Mile Island. The group included singer-songwriters such as Jackson Browne, Graham Nash and Bonnie Raitt.

Scott-Heron's song We Almost Lost Detroit, written about a previous accident at a nuclear power plant, is sampled on rapper Kanye West's single The People.
Scott-Heron's 2010 album, I'm New Here, was his first new studio release in 16 years and was hailed by critics. The album's first song, On Coming From a Broken Home, is an ode to his maternal grandmother, Lillie, who raised him in Jackson, Tennessee, until her death when he was 13. He moved to New York after that.

Scott-Heron was HIV positive and battled drug addiction through most of his career. He spent a year and a half in prison for possession. In a 2009 interview he said that his jail term had forced him to confront the reality of his situation.

"When you wake up every day and you're in the joint, not only do you have a problem but you have a problem with admitting you have a problem." Yet in spite of some "unhappy moments" in the past few years he still felt the need to challenge rights abuses and "the things that you pay for with your taxes".

"If the right of free speech is truly what it's supposed to be, then anything you say is all right."

Scott-Heron's friend Doris Nolan said the musician had died at St Luke's hospital on Friday afternoon. "We're all sort of shattered," she told the Associated Press.

Jamie Byng, publisher of Canongate Books, was a friend of Gil Scott-Heron for more than 20 years. During 2010 they recorded this interview in London where the rapper-poet talked about his life and work, interspersed with intimate performances of his music. A fuller version of the film is to be released later in


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Hi.  I'd planned sending my memorial-day message tomorrow, but Friday's

death of Gil Scott-Heron, and his incredibly beautiful memorial composition,

just below, prompted a switch. Below that, my letter to Mitchel Cohen, WBAI

station board president who sent notice of Gil's death and suggested Pacfica

programming honoring him.  Then, some history and statistics on Memorial Day.

(Just saw a fine obit in today’s LA Times –A43, but the attached is different.)


(Tomorrow, a different and more joyous commemoration.)


Please watch and listen to this amazing and heartfelt video. 10'.  


A tribute: "Better Work For Peace, By Gil Scott-Heron.



* * *


Amen.  I met Gil around 1975 or 6, when I was producing benefit concerts for the new Peoples College of Law, organized to teach legal skills to poorer people for free, primarily from communities of color.  Previous artists included Holly Near, Mimi Fariña (Joan Baez’ sister,

Phil Ochs – almost Gil’s double, in many ways. I called Gil out of the blue. He knew about the Ash Grove and the artists, took my word for the event, and came out, basically, for expenses.  (LA Mayor Antonio Villa-Raigosa was a student and worked as a volunteer on the concert.


We had a wonderful show, leading to other such and became friends, mostly long distance. I met his wife and child, along the way, and she told me about his drug problem.  He was an amazing creator and musical genius.  I had the pleasure of introducing him to his own heroes, the Watts Prophets, who began the spoken word and music phenomenon that Gil then carried with a giant step towards today’s rap phenomenon. I didn’t know he'd died, sad to say.  Thank you for this.  I’m passing it on to KPFK’s program director, so you can include him in further developments of your most worthy proposal.




* * *


Immemorial Day - No Peace for Militarized U.S.


By Bill Quigley


May 26, 2008 (!!) by CommonDreams.org




War Memorial Day is not actually a day to pray for U.S. troops who died in action but rather a day set aside by Congress to pray for peace. The 1950 Joint Resolution of Congress which created Memorial Day says: 'Requesting the President to issue a proclamation designating May 30, Memorial Day, as a day for a Nation-wide prayer for peace.' (64 Stat.158).


Peace today is a nearly impossible challenge for the United States. The U.S. is far and away the most militarized country in the world and the most aggressive. Unless the U.S. dramatically reduces its emphasis on global military action, there will be many, many more families grieving on future Memorial days.


The U.S. spends over $600 billion annually on our military, more than the rest of the world combined. China, our nearest competitor, spends about one-tenth of what we spend. The U.S. also sells more weapons to other countries than any other nation in the world.


The U.S. has about 700 military bases in 130 countries world-wide and another 6000 bases in the US and our territories, according to Chalmers Johnson in his excellent book NEMESIS: THE LAST DAYS OF THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC (2007).


The Department of Defense (DOD) reports nearly 1.4 million active duty military personnel today. Over a quarter of a million are in other countries from Iraq and Afghanistan to Europe, North Africa, South Asia and the rest of the Western Hemisphere. The DOD also employs more than 700,000 civilian employees.


The US has used its armed forces abroad over 230 times according to researchers at the Department of the Navy Historical Center. Their publications list over 60 military efforts outside the U.S. since World War II.


While the focus of most of the Memorial Day activities will be on U.S. military dead, no effort is made to try to identify or remember the military or civilians of other countries who have died in the same actions. For example, the U.S. government reports 432 U.S. military dead in Afghanistan and surrounding areas, but has refused to disclose civilian casualties. 'We don't do body counts,' General Tommy Franks said.


Most people know of the deaths in World War I - 116,000 U.S. soldiers killed. But how many in the U.S. know that over 8 million soldiers from other countries and perhaps another 8 million civilians also died during World War I?


By World War II, about 408,000 U.S. soldiers were killed. World-wide, at least another 20 million soldiers and civilians died.


The U.S. is not only the largest and most expensive military on the planet but it is also the most active. Since World War II, the U.S. has used U.S. military force in the following countries:


1947-1949 Greece. Over 500 U.S. armed forces military advisers were sent into Greece to administer hundreds of millions of dollars in their civil war.


1947-1949 Turkey. Over 400 U.S. armed forces military advisers sent into Turkey,


1950-1953 Korea. In the Korean War and other global conflicts 54,246 U.S. service members died.


1957-1975 Vietnam. Over 58,219 U.S. killed.


1958-1984 Lebanon. Sixth Fleet amphibious Marines and U.S. Army troops landed in Beirut during their civil war. Over 3000 U.S. military participated. 268 U.S. military killed in bombing.


1959 Haiti. U.S. troops, Marines and Navy, land in Haiti and joined in support of military dictator Francois 'Papa Doc' Duvalier against rebels.


1962 Cuba. Naval and Marine forces blockade island.  


1964 Panama. U.S. troops stationed there since 1903. U.S. troops used gunfire and tear gas to clear US Canal Zone.


1965-1966 Dominican Republic. U.S. troops land in Dominican Republic during their civil war - eventually 23,000 were stationed in their country.


1969-1975 Cambodia. U.S. and South Vietnam jets dropped more than 539,000 tons of bombs on Cambodia - three times the number dropped on Japan during WWII.


1964-1973 Laos. U.S. flew 580,000 bombing runs over country - more than 2 million tons of bombs dropped - double the amount dropped on Nazi Germany. US dropped more than 80 million cluster bombs on Laos - 10 to 30% did not explode leaving 8 to 24 million scattered across the country. Since the war stopped, two or three Laotians are killed every month by leftover bombs - over 5700 killed since bombing stopped.


1980 Iran. Operation Desert One, 8 U.S. troops die in rescue effort.


1981 Libya. U.S. planes aboard the Nimitz shot down 2 Libyan jets over Gulf of Sidra.


1983 Grenada. U.S. Army and Marines invade, 19 U.S. killed.


1983 Lebanon. Over 1200 Marines deployed into country during their civil war. 241 U.S. service members killed in bombing.


1983-1991 El Salvador. Over 150 US soldiers participate in their civil war as military advisers.


1983 Honduras. Over 1000 troops and National Guard members deployed into Honduras to help the contra fight against Nicaragua.


1986 Libya. U.S. Naval air strikes hit hundreds of targets - airfields, barracks, and defense networks.


1986 Bolivia. U.S. Army troops assist in anti-drug raids on cocaine growers.


1987 Iran. Operation Nimble Archer. U.S. warships shelled two Iranian oil platforms during Iran-Iraq war.


1988 Iran. US naval warship Vincennes in Persian Gulf shoots down Iranian passenger airliner, Airbus A300, killing all 290 people on board. US said it thought it was Iranian military jet.


1989 Libya. U.S. Naval jets shoot down 2 Libyan jets over Mediterranean


1989-1990 Panama. U.S. Army, Air Force, and Navy forces invade Panama to arrest President Manuel Noriega on drug charges. U.N. puts civilian death toll at 500.


1989 Philippines. U.S. jets provide air cover to Philippine troops during their civil war.


1991 Gulf War. Over 500,000 U.S. military involved. 700 plus U.S. died.


1992-93 Somalia. Operation Provide Relief, Operation Restore Hope, and Operation Continue Hope. Over 1300 U.S. Marines and Army Special Forces landed in 1992. A force of over 10,000 US was ultimately involved. Over 40 U.S. soldiers killed.


1992-96 Yugoslavia. U.S. Navy joins in naval blockade of Yugoslavia in Adriatic waters.


1993 Bosnia. Operation Deny Flight. U.S. jets patrol no-fly zone, naval ships launch cruise missiles, attack Bosnian Serbs.


1994 Haiti. Operation Uphold Democracy. U.S. led force of 20,000 troops invade to restore president.


1995 Saudi Arabia. U.S. soldier killed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia outside US training facility.


1996 Saudi Arabia. Nineteen U.S. service personnel die in blast at Saudi Air Base.


1998 Sudan. Operation Infinite Reach. U.S. cruise missiles fired at pharmaceutical plant thought to be terrorist center.


1998 Afghanistan. Operation Infinite Reach. U.S. fires 75  cruise missiles on four training camps.


1998 Iraq. Operation Desert Fox. U.S. Naval bombing Iraq from striker jets and cruise missiles after weapons inspectors report Iraqi obstructions.


1999 Yugoslavia. U.S. participates in months of air bombing and cruise missile strikes in Kosovo war.


2000 Yemen. 17 U.S. sailors killed aboard US Navy guided missile destroyer USS Cole docked in Aden, Yemen.


2001 Macedonia. U.S. military lands troops during their civil war.


2001 to present Afghanistan. Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) includes Pakistan and Uzbekistan with Afghanistan. 432 U.S. killed in those countries. Another 64 killed in other locations of OEF - Guantanamo Bay, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Yemen. US military does not count deaths of non- US civilians, but estimates of over 8000 Afghan troops killed, over 3500 Afghan civilians killed.


2002 Yemen. U.S. predator drone missile attack on Al Qaeda.


2002 Philippines. U.S. sends over 1800 troops and Special Forces in mission with local military.


2003-2004 Colombia. U.S. sends in 800 military to back up Columbian military troops in their civil war.


2003 to present Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom. 4082 U.S. military killed. British medical journal Lancet estimates over 90,000 civilian deaths. Iraq Body Count estimates over

84,000 civilians killed.


2005 Haiti. U.S. troops land in Haiti after elected president forced to leave.


2005 Pakistan. U.S. air strikes inside Pakistan against suspected Al Qaeda, killing mostly civilians.


2007 Somalia. U.S. Air Force gunship attacked suspected Al Qaeda members, U.S. Navy joins in blockade against Islamic rebels.


The U.S. has the most powerful and expensive military force in the world. The U.S. is the biggest arms merchant. And the U.S. has been the most aggressive in world-wide

interventions. If Memorial Day in the U.S. is supposed to be about praying for peace, the U.S. has a lot of praying (and changing) to do.


[Bill is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola

University New Orleans. His email is quigley77@gmail.com]







Saturday, May 28, 2011

My Sex Life, California's 'Cruel and Unusual' Prisons, Save Southwest Museum



My Sex Life With the TSA

By Naomi Wolf,

Reader Supported News: 27 May  

o this blog post is titled: "My Sex Life With the TSA." Because I am getting a LOT of action from them.

I went through JFK this past week. As usual, I request not to go through the backscatter machines. And as usual, they tell me that SINCE I mentioned it at all, they have to give me a "pat-down."

Well, without flowers or candlelight or even a nice dinner, I am led into a highly visible corner, after quite a wait for a "female officer". They did ask if I wanted to go somewhere private but I would have felt even MORE uncomfortable NOT in a public setting.

A very attractive African-American woman in her mid-twenties was tasked with searching me. So of course, a skanky male traveler - white, mid-forties, affluent - decides to stand around and watch.

As this nice young woman goes through the whole procedure, I asked her - as I always ask TSA officials - if their training had explained to them WHY this process was necessary or what purpose it served. She said, "No," and her female colleague standing nearby also said "No."

Interestingly, the procedure is quite highly eroticized. She kept saying "Now I am going to touch your sensitive area." Which made me think that at least a generation of young women are going to learn where their clitorises are through our US tax dollar, which certainly has a social benefit.

But as she was engaged in quite thoroughly going through this process, the skanky white affluent male traveler, who was now done with his own security process, was HANGING OVER THE EDGE of the low barrier, perfectly relaxed, enjoying the scenario! And commenting: "Hey, can I have you pat me down?" "Hey, its always big hairy men with hair on their knuckles patting me down ... I want you to pat me down ... can I participate? I'll sign a waiver!" Swear to God.

So this poor woman - shades of the DSK cleaner, but harassed this time by the State - is being sexually degraded by the process she has to go through; sexually degraded by a passenger; and I feel rather sexually degraded too, by the process put in place by the State.

Finally I say sharply to him, "That's enough!" and the two women look at me in surprise.

"We thought he was with you!" they say.

"Never seen him before," I comment. And we all have a moment of bonding, being women in a state of complete skanked-at-ness.

Brought to you by the United States Government.

Naomi Wolf, Bestselling Author - The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot

* * *




Michelle Alexander on California's 'Cruel and Unusual' Prisons

Liliana Segura

The Nation: May 26, 2011


On May 23, the US Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 decision ordering California to release tens of thousands of inmates from its overcrowded prisons on the grounds that their living conditions-including lethally inadequate healthcare-were so intolerable as to be "cruel and unusual punishment." For years, California has stored its prisoners like so many cans of soup; stacked in cells or bunk beds in squalid conditions that breed violence and disease. A 2008 NPR report on massive overcrowding at San Quentin State Prison found 360 men caged in what was once a gymnasium: "Most of these men spend twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week in the gym," NPR reported, describing it as "a giant game of survivor." The day before the Supreme Court ruling, four prisoners were seriously injured at San Quentin when a riot broke out in a dining hall.


Prison numbers have dipped in recent years, but with nearly 2.4 million Americans behind bars, mass incarceration remains a national crisis. In California, home of a notorious "three strikes" law, parole violations represent more than half of all new prison admissions, and three of four prisoners are non-white.

It's an extreme example of what has happened across the country.


Michelle Alexander, a former ACLU lawyer in the Bay Area and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, has pointed out that the rush to incarcerate has gotten so out of control that "if our nation were to return to the rates of incarceration we had in the 1970s, we would have to release four out of five people behind bars." Arriving in California for a series of events just after the decision came down, Alexander spoke to me over the phone about the ruling and what it means.


Liliana Segura: What has the response been in California to this ruling?


Michelle Alexander: I have seen in the media here a fair amount of fear-mongering. At least one law enforcement official [Mark Pazin, the Merced County sheriff and chairman of the state's sheriffs' association] was saying that he was worried that there would be a "tsunami" of crime that would wash over communities in California. "We're bracing for the worst and hoping for the best," he says, projecting to the public that they ought to be very worried that all of these criminals busting loose from prison may well wreak havoc on their communities.


What is most disturbing to me about this rhetoric is that it fails to acknowledge that all of these people were coming home anyway. It creates the impression that people who are returning home to these communities wouldn't have been but for the Supreme Court ruling. And if there's any reason to be concerned about potential crime when they return, it's largely due to the legal barriers that exist to effective reentry into communities. People return home from prison and face legal discrimination in virtually all areas of social and economic and political life. They are legally discriminated against employment, barred from public housing and denied other public benefits.


Liliana Segura: Governor Jerry Brown has planned to address California's budget issues by transferring a bunch of state prisoners to county jails, and the head of the California corrections system says that "our goal is not to release inmates at all." Part of what is interesting about this decision is that Justice Anthony Kennedy mentioned the "lack of political will in favor of reform." Is it always going to be politics that stalls even incremental changes?


Michelle Alexander: I think this opinion illustrates how broken our politics have become. Here we are in California, a state that has been careening toward bankruptcy, and yet there is enormous resistance to releasing nonviolent, relatively minor offenders, people who, I think it's important to emphasize, might not have been doing time at all if they had been arrested thirty years ago. We now sentence people to prison for years for types of offenses that once received just probation or days in jail. So these people who we're so afraid of returning to our communities, they might well not have been serving time at all had they been arrested a few decades ago, before the War on Drugs and Get Tough movement really kicked off.


Liliana Segura: Activists often say that real change is not going to come from the courts. On the other hand, some have described this decision as quite momentous.

Jonathan Simon, a law professor at Berkeley, wrote, "This is the first decision to move beyond evaluating prison conditions to place mass incarceration itself on trial." How significant is this decision and what are the implications beyond California?


Michelle Alexander: I think it is a very significant decision, although, as a number of commentators have observed, there's not likely to be a lot of copycat legislation because the conditions in California were so extreme. You had documented cases of people dying on a weekly or monthly basis simply because of inadequate access to healthcare. But that isn't to minimize the significance of the decision. It does signal that mass incarceration has become unmanageable for states that are facing severe economic crises.


I think it's important to note, though, that Justice Kennedy said, Look, if California just built more prisons, then the Eighth Amendment would not be violated here. But because it can't afford to do so, it must begin releasing some people. But once states can afford again to lock people up en masse, there's nothing in this decision that precludes mass incarceration. What it precludes is such severe overcrowding that it literally threatens the lives of the inmates that are housed there. And the amount of reduction that is called for in the opinion isn't that dramatic. Which is why some officials are arguing, Oh, well, maybe we can absorb those who are ordered released from prison in other ways. If they find a way to do that, then the practical impact of the decision will be minimal.


The Supreme Court has stood quietly by in the era of mass incarceration. And in fact, to the extent that they've raised their voices at all, it has only been to facilitate the War on Drugs. The US Supreme Court has eviscerated Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, giving the police license to sweep communities, to conduct "stop and frisk" operations. The Supreme Court has made it nearly impossible to prove race discrimination in the criminal justice system. Only now that states are faced with such severe economic crises that they are unable to build enough prisons to house inmates without risking their lives does the Supreme Court step in and say, Well, if you can't afford to build more prisons, then you're going have to start releasing some people.


I think what's clear here is that it's going to take a grassroots movement to force politicians to respond rationally to problems related to crime and mass incarceration. This economic crisis does create an important window for advocacy-and advocates should seize this moment of opportunity-but they must do so in a way that builds a grassroots movement for the end of a system as a whole.


Liliana Segura: The thought of creating that movement becomes very daunting when you to consider the average American's perception of prisoners. How do we convince people that prisoners deserve basic rights and that this should be an issue we should organize around?


Michelle Alexander: I think one of the biggest barriers to movement building today is that there's so much myth about crime and the reasons for the explosion of our prison population. There must be major education to dispel the myths that sustain the system; the myth that explosion has been driven by crime rates. It's not true.

The myth that the War on Drugs has been aimed at rooting out violent offenders and drug kingpins. Not true. The myth that poor folks of color are more likely to use and sell illegal drugs than white folks. Not true. There really has to be an effort in schools and churches and mosques and community centers to engage in the kind of consciousness-raising that will open up a political space in which movement-building work can be possible.


The other front of the work that has to be developed is how to move beyond this piecemeal policy reform work that has been done over the last thirty years to work that is more transformative, so that we're not just tinkering with the system but instead are galvanizing a grassroots movement, one that is contagious and can be replicated in cities and communities nationwide. I believe it's possible. The same way that many people said, Oh Jim Crow is never going to die, it's too deeply entrenched. I believe it is possible to bring an end to mass incarceration and birth a new moral consensus about how we ought to be responding to poor folks of color and a consensus in support of basic human rights for all.

But it is going to take some work.





About the Author

Liliana Segura is Associate Editor of The Nation. She also writes about prisons and harsh sentencing.


* * *


From: Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition [mailto:Friends_of_the_Southwest_Museum_@mail.vresp.com]
Sent: Friday, May 27, 2011 8:45 PM
To: epearlag@earthlink.net
Subject: Tuesday @ City Council. Need Your Help. Save Southwest Museum


Friends,Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.
SWMuseum wlogo sm

Today, Councilmember Jose Huizar heard your voices and introduced a motion, seconded by Councilmember Ed Reyes, to be considered at City Council next TUESDAY.  This is very good news.  But it is just the beginning..  This motion requires 2/3's vote to pass – that's 10 councilmembers.  If the motion does not pass, all this advocacy will be for nothing. 
Support and action is needed in whatever way(s) you can, starting this weekend:

  1.  Plan to attend Council – Tuesday 5/31 starting at 10 a.m.
  2. Leave messages or emails for all City Councilmembers BEFORE Tuesday's meeting (message just below; email addresses at bottom)
  3. Thank Councilmembers Huizar and Reyes, in person Tuesday or with another email/call – tell them you appreciate their working together to save the Southwest Museum and Casa de Adobe.
  4. Help us get people to City hall by spreading this email and requesting action and help

On Tuesday the motion must pass, so our focused message must be:
Please pass this Motion (11-0884) to assert jurisdiction over this matter so the public can have a fair hearing, with proper time for consideration, and with a transparent public process.
MOTION (HUIZAR - REYES) relative to asserting jurisdiction over the Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners action on May 20, 2011.  Read the motion:  http://www.friendsofthesouthwestmuseum.com/motion.html
Once the motion is passed and jurisdiction has been asserted, the substantive matter will be sent to Council Committee.  That is when we can argue the issues relating to the decision Recreation and Parks Commission made and the value of the Southwest and Casa de Adobe museums.   Here's the actual R&P Commission Board Report that approved Autry's "new" project with no transparent public process and lack of any environmental review:
This weekend, in the spirit of honoring and defending democracy, please send your voice of support for this motion and encourage their "YES" vote to each City Councilmember, particularly Herb Wesson.
Herb Wesson: (213) 473-7010 Fax (213) 485-9829 councilmember.wesson@lacity.org
Paul Krekorian:  (213) 473-7002  councilmember.krekorian@lacity..org
Dennis Zine: (213) 473-7003  councilmember.zine@lacity.org
Tom LaBonge: (213) 473-7004 councilmember.labonge@lacity.org
Paul Koretz:  (213) 473-7005 councilmember.koretz@lacity.org
Tony Cardenas:  (213) 473-7006 councilmember.cardenas@lacity.org
Richard Alarcon: (213) 473-7007 councilmember.alarcon@lacity.org
Bernard Parks: (213) 473-7008 councilmember.parks@lacity.org
Jan Perry: (213) 473-7009 councilmember.perry@lacity.org
Bill Rosendahl: (213) 473-7011  councilmember.rosendahl@lacity.org
Greig Smith: (213) 473-7012  councilmember.smith@lacity.org
Eric Garcetti: (213) 473-7013 councilmember.garcetti@lacity.org
Janice Hahn: (213) 473-7015 councilmember.hahn@lacity.org
Jose Huizar: (213) 473-7014 councilmember.huizar@lacity.org; paul.habib@lacity.org
Ed Reyes: (213) 473-7001 councilmember.reyes@lacity.org; Sonia.g.jimenez@lacity.org
Getting to City Hall can be difficult because parking is expensive. Sometimes a call to the Council office will put you on a list for parking, but most people take the Gold Line to Chinatown, and then the DASH bus to City Hall or Little Tokyo station and have a pleasant walk. See you there! 

If you are a Friend who is not near enough to get to LA City Hall, please help... you can make a few phone calls, send emails this weekend or even Tuesday morning, tell your friends in greater LA about this and spread the word!  THANKS.