Revolution #305, May 26, 2013 (revcom.us)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/from-florida-to-new-york-to-california-police-murder-mass-incarceration-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

From Florida to New York to California and Everywhere Else
Police Murder... Mass Incarceration... Racists Run Rampant

WE SAY NO MORE!

May 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Florida: Racist Vigilante Murder of Trayvon Martin and the Fight for Justice

Trayvon Martin. Photo courtesy family.

On February 26, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin went out to buy some snacks at the nearby 7-Eleven. George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain in a small gated community in Sanford, Florida, was driving around in his SUV. Zimmerman called 911, saying Martin looked “real suspicious”—i.e., he was a young Black male, walking around in a hoodie.

The 911 dispatcher told Zimmerman not to pursue the youth. But Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin, got out of his car, and confronted him. Zimmerman was carrying a 9 mm handgun. Trayvon Martin was carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. There was yelling, then a gunshot. Trayvon Martin lay face down in the grass with a fatal bullet wound to the chest. Zimmerman was taken into custody, questioned, and released.

The murder of Trayvon Martin struck a deep nerve. There is a long history, and present day reality, of targets on the backs of young Black men. In the case of Trayvon Martin, people across the country said no fucking way. Tens of thousands of people of all different nationalities demonstrated all around the country—took to the street wearing hoodies, Skittles in hand, carrying signs that said, “We are all Trayvon Martin.” The Miami Heat posted a photo of the team wearing hoodies, their heads bowed, their hands stuffed into their pockets, and other NBA players spoke out demanding justice.

It was only after six weeks of mass protest that Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder. His trial is set to start on June 10. It is crucial that people remember how they felt when this went down—and why they stepped out and into the streets—that the powers-that-be cannot get away with giving racist vigilantes a free pass to kill Black and Latino youth. The struggle is at a critical juncture—the system is pulling out all the stops to vilify the victim, Trayvon Martin, and let his killer go free. The outcome is not determined. People need to stay in the streets as George Zimmerman goes to trial, and not stop until there is justice. And we need to put an end to this.

New York City: Outrage! Judge Tosses Indictment Against Cop Who Murdered Ramarley Graham

Ramarley Graham

Ramarley Graham, courtesy his family.

On May 15, a judge in the Bronx, New York, threw out the indictment against Richard Haste, the NYPD Officer who gunned down 18-year-old Ramarley Graham inside his family’s home while Ramarley’s grandmother and 6-year-old brother watched in horror. The judge said he had to toss the indictment because the prosecutor had given faulty instructions to the grand jury that indicted Haste. Surveillance video from the apartment building shows Ramarley walking up to his door. It also shows the cops who came after him trying to break down the door. One of those cops forced his way into the apartment and gunned down Ramarley in cold blood. On top of all that, the cops then took Ramarley’s grandmother into custody and held her for interrogation for hours, at first without a lawyer.

Whatever the legal technicalities, the undeniable fact is that this cop burst into Ramarley's home and killed him in cold blood—and this is totally unjust and illegitimate.

At the indictment, dozens of uniformed pigs showed up to cheer for the murdering cop and insult and intimidate the grieving family of the victim. And inside the courtroom—the same old story: Prosecutors, who are so efficient in pushing inner city youth through the school-to-prison pipeline, forget how to prosecute. Judges who let defendants in the Bronx rot in jail for months and more without trial, suddenly discover defendant’s rights—rights that are only applied when a cop kills someone and that cop is the defendant.

A big part of why Richard Haste even faced charges in the first place for murdering Ramarley was that this police murder was met with mass protests on the streets of the Bronx.

May 18, 2013. Marching in the Bronx, NY, demanding justice for Ramarley Graham.
Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution

On May 18, 150 people defiantly marched from the home where Ramarley Graham lived with his parents, through the Wakefield neighborhood to the 42nd precinct, home of the killer cops. From the beginning of the march to the end at the police station, people spoke with anger and outrage about police brutality and murder. The mother of Kimani Gray, a 16-year-old Black youth killed by the NYPD on March 12, said, “These kids have nothing to do, there are no programs for them, no facilities. And OK, they wear their pants hanging down—look, we don’t tell other people how to dress! How they dress doesn’t make them killers; it doesn’t make them criminals. They are human beings.” The father of Ramarley Graham expressed the sentiments of those at the march when he said, “This case is not gonna get cold, they’re not gonna put it in the refrigerator.” And, at the police station, he said “The only way they’re gonna get me to stop, they’re gonna have to kill me.” (See “Protestors Denounce Dismissal of Indictment in Ramarley Graham Case: Voices of Protest from the Bronx.”)

Bakersfield, California: Sheriffs Murder David Sal Silva

David Sal Silva, with his three daughters. Photo, courtesy his family.

Just before midnight on May 8, neighbors of David Sal Silva heard screams. Kern County Sheriff’s deputies were beating him with clubs and kicking him, according to neighbors who have told their story to the press. One woman videoed the beating on her mobile phone as it continued for eight minutes while Sal Silva cried out for help. His screams stopped, and then witnesses say the police hogtied him, picked him up and dropped him—twice. One deputy nudged the man with his foot. Sal Silva was dead.

David Sal Silva was 33 years old, Latino, and the father of four young children. Neighbors say Silva was crying for help while many as nine officers hit him, kicked him, and pressed their knees into his chest and stomach. “For the first couple minutes he was screaming for help, basically pleading for his life,” said a neighbor. “Then we couldn’t see him anymore. That’s how many cops were on top of him.” Another witness told the Bakersfield Californian, “When I got outside I saw two officers beating a man with batons and they were hitting his head so every time they would swing, I could hear the blows to his head.”

On top of this outrage, police seized all the cell phones they could get their hands on that might have video of their crimes. At 3:00 am, sheriffs stormed the home of a woman who had videoed the murder; they refused to let her or others leave until they turned over their phones. The phones were returned later, but there are reports that the video has been erased from at least one phone, and the status of the videos on the returned phones is unclear at this time. At least one other video of the sheriffs beating Sal Silva to death was delivered by a witness to a local TV station. It shows deputies delivering at least 19 blows to Sal Silva as he is lying on the ground.

On May 16, a protest vigil was held at the Kern County Superior Court building. Protesters included a woman whose son’s father was killed by Kern County sheriffs in 2005—he was struck 33 times with batons and Tasered 20 times. David Sal Silva’s brother, Chris Silva, came to the protest before attending his brother’s funeral later that day. He told the Los Angeles Times, “Since my brother died I’ve been doing my research and this has got to stop.” (Look for continuing coverage at revcom.us.)

* * * * *

All three of these outrages, and the crimes of this system here and all around the world, pose the essential question: HOW MUCH LONGER will people tolerate all this? As part of fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution, the following is from “The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have... A Message, And a Call, From the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA”.

“It is up to us: to wake up...to shake off the ways they put on us, the ways they have us thinking so they can keep us down and trapped in the same old rat-race...to rise up, as conscious Emancipators of Humanity. The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/303/emergency-call-join-us-in-stopping-torture-in-u-s-prisons-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

Emergency Call! Join Us in Stopping Torture in U.S. Prisons!

May 12, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Special to Revolution:
Artworks from Prisoners

Click to view full gallery.

Tens of thousands of people imprisoned in the U.S. are being subjected to torturous, inhumane conditions. Many are:

Many are forced to endure these conditions for months, years and even decades! Mental anguish and trauma often result from being confined under these conditions. Locking people down like this amounts to trying to strip them of their humanity.

These conditions fit the international definition of torture! This is unjust, illegitimate and profoundly immoral. WE MUST JOIN IN AN EFFORT TO STOP IT, NOW!

People imprisoned at Pelican Bay State Prison in California have called for a Nationwide Hunger Strike to begin on July 8, 2013. They have also issued a call for unity among people from different racial groups, inside and outside the prisons. People who are locked down in segregation units of this society's prisons, condemned as the "worst of the worst," are standing up against injustice, asserting their humanity in the process. We must have the humanity to hear their call, and answer it with powerful support!

Letter from a Prisoner:
On the Struggle of the California Prisoners

I just finished reading the statement sent by CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] SHU prisoners ("Peaceful Protest to Resume July 8, 2013, if Demands Are Not Met") and I wanted to express the following. First, I would like to say that I'm glad that SHU prisoners haven't given up on the struggle. For, there are many people, to quote Frederick Douglass, "who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation. They want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning."

Read more

A nationwide and worldwide struggle needs to be launched NOW to bring an end to this widespread torture before those in the prisons are forced to take the desperate step of going on hunger strikes and putting their lives on the line!

To the Government: We Demand an Immediate End to the Torture and Inhumanity of Prison House America—Immediately Disband All Torture Chambers. Meet the demands of those you have locked down in your prisons!

To People in this Country and Around the World: We Cannot Accept, and We Should Not Tolerate This Torture. Join the Struggle to End Torture in Prisons Now!

To Those Standing Up in Resistance Inside the Prisons: WE SUPPORT YOUR CALL FOR UNITY IN THIS FIGHT, AND WE WILL HAVE YOUR BACKS!

June 21, 22 and 23 Will Be Days of Solidarity With the Struggle to End Prison Torture! There will be protests, cultural events, Evenings of Conscience, sermons in religious services, saturation of social media—all aimed at laying bare the ugly reality of wide spread torture in U.S. prisons and challenging everyone to join in fighting to STOP it.


Bah Abdourahmane; Ron Ahnen, California Prison Focus; Gbenga Akinnagbe, actor and director; All Of Us Or None members: Sundiata (Willie) Tate, Manuel La Fontaine, Sheila Blake, Dorsey Nunn, Marilyn Austin-Smith, Elder R. Freeman, Oakland; Rafael Angulo, Clinical Associate Professor, USC School of Social Work; Yejide Ankobia, Red Clay Yoga; Larry Aubry, Advocates for Black Strategic Alternatives; Mike Avila; Nellie Hester Bailey, Occupy Harlem;  Tim Baldauf-Lenschen, student activist, University of Maryland; Mike Baldwin, SF Bay Area activist; Fanya Baruti, Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People's Movement; Elizabeth Bell; Joe Berry, Coalition of Contingent Academia Labor/ New Faculty Majority*; Brooke Bischoff, Prescott College*; Rev. Dr. Dorsey O. Blake, Presiding Minister, The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, S.F. CA; Uncle Bobby, Oscar Grant Foundation/Committee; Brian Bonne; Blase Bonpane, Ph.D., Director OFFICE OF THE AMERICAS;  Kwan Booth, Journalist, Oakland CA; Felice Brown, Glen Burnie MD; Ashley Burks, NYU student; Attorney, John Burris, Oakland CA; Rev. Richard Meri Ka Ra Byrd, KRST Unity Center Of Afrakan Spiritual Science, LA; CAL Football* Players - Alejandro Crosthwaite, Khairi Fort, and Richard Rodgers, Berkeley; Susan Castagnetto, lecturer, Scripps College*, So. Cal; M.J. Christian, Los Angeles; Lauren Clifford, Green Party of California; Marjorie Cohn, Professor, Thomas Jefferson School of Law and editor, "The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse"; Solomon Comissiong, Executive Director, Your World News; Andres Thomas Conteris, Nonviolence International*; Antonio Corona, Brown Beret National Organization; Lloyd Cox, Oakland; Matt Courter; Marion Crawford, advocate against Injustice, Louisville KY: Randy Credico, impressionist and social comedian; Alejandro Crosthwaite, Cal Football* player; Chuck D, Public Enemy*; Petr Dann, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin; Earle Davis, Artist/Musician, Berkeley, California; Colin Dayan, Vanderbilt University*; Stephanie Demos; Noche Diaz, Revolution Club NYC, and Stop Mass Incarceration Network; Melvin Dickson, former Black Panther Party member; Roger Dittmann; Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party; Dianne Durham, Publicist – Out of Bounds*, Oakland; Sand Fessler, RAW {Rochester Against War}, & Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars; Ever Ivan Florez, A Victim of CDC; Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report; Khairi Fort, Cal Football*; Joel "Phresh" Freeman, Graffiti Artist, Oakland; Pamela Fruge; Bob Gorringe, Codepink*; Chris Gwartney, Monterey CA; Margaret Haule, Community Activist; Robyn Hewitt, Las Vegas NV; Nicholas Heyward Sr., father of Nicholas Heyward Jr., who was murdered by the NYPD in 1994;  Hip, UC Berkeley*; Mike Holman, Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund*; Foluke Jose, Cal State University, Northridge*; Steven Joy, UCLA*;  Noel Juan, Music Director, San Francisco; Beth Kasner; Robin D. G. Kelley, Professor of American History, UCLA;  Kevin Keresey, Filmmaker; Gregory Koger, a revolutionary communist who was imprisoned as a youth and spent many years in solitary confinement; Wayne Kramer, Jail Guitar Doors USA; David Kunzle, Distinguished Professor, UCLA Emeritus; James Lafferty, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild / Los Angeles; Jonathan Laks, Santa Monica, CA; Michael Lange, Actor, Oakland;   Verbena Lea, Redwood Curtain CopWatch, Peoples' Action for Rights and Community; Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, San Francisco (organizational endorsement); Clarence Leonard; Stanley Lewis; Katie Lindsey; Angelina Llongueras, member of the San Francisco Revolutionary Poet Brigade; Cadelba Lome Li' Loibl, Registered Nurse; B.M. Marcus, Community Director, Community Advocate and Development Organization, Brooklyn; Martha, Berkeley, California; Dr. Antonio Martinez, Institute for Survivors of Human Rights Abuses* and co-founder of the Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture*; Chris Martinez, Los Angeles; Cynthia McKinney, former Congresswoman & 2008 Presidential Candidate for the Green Party; Erma McKinney; James McKinney, Instructor, City College of San Francisco; Marilyn McMahon, California Prison Focus*; Christa Meyer, Monterey; David Meyerhof; Natasha Mohammed, Travis Morales, Stop Mass Incarceration Network; Samsarah Morgan; Jacob Muehlbauer, Austin, TX; Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture*, and author, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America; Luke Nephew, New York; Efia Nwangaza, Malcolm X Center for Self Determination, Greenville, SC; T.S. O'Sullivan, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Katherine O'Toole, Oakland; Kathleen D. Olsson, KPFA Radio*, Oakland; Oscar Grant Foundation (organizational endorsement); Joseph V.A. "Joe" Partansky, MBA, Former U.S. Army Mental Health Specialist and current advocate for persons with mental disabilities; Aidge Patterson, artist and activist, New York; Brian Pike, Universal Life Church Rabbi; Veronica G. Powers M.D.; Prison Watch Network (organizational endorsement); Mary Prophet, Educator, Oakland; Laura Pulido, Professor, American Studies & Ethnicity, USC*; Belinda Ramos, son serving life in a California State Prison; Mary Ratcliff, SF Bay View;  Larry Redmond, Chicago; Rev. George F. Regas, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP)*; Aleister Ren, revolutionary, poet, and musician; Roman Rimer; Richard Rodgers, Cal Football*; Steven Rood, Attorney, Oakland; Temitope S, So Cal; Karen Saari, Bodega, CA; Elizabeth Sanchez, East Bay Community Law Center*, Berkeley, California; San Francisco Bay View, national Black newspaper (organizational endorsement); Peter Schey, President, Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law*; Roger Scott, Member, AFT Local 2121;  J. Tony Serra, Lawyer, SF; Mansoor Shah; Zadik Shapiro, Attorney; Cindy Sheehan;  Sheila, New York;  Dyne Suh, Los Angeles; Dan Siegel, National Lawyers Guild*; Peter Smith; Social Justice Committee (of the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists*); Tora Spigner, RN, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center*, Planned Parenthood-Shasta/Diablo*, Mother's Love Doula Services*;  Lavelle Spitz, Independent hip hop artist/humanitarian in training; Michael Stocks, Film technician; Dyne Suh, Los Angeles;  Debra Sweet, Director, World Can't Wait; Nick Szuberla, Nation Inside*; Martha Teklu; Temitope S, So. Cal; Prof. Edgar L Torres, Latino Educational Association*, City College of San Francisco*;  Evelin Avila Torres, UCSC*;  John Turok, Occupy Oakland*; Michael Treece, San Francisco; Scott Trent, Guilford County, NC October 22nd Coalition; Troy Troyer; Luis Valdez, Founding Artistic Director, El Teatro Campesino, CA; Jeremy Varon, longtime anti-GTMO activist; Louis Vitale, O.F.M.; Patty Villasenor; Jim Vrettos, Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice*; Will Walke, Oakland;  Arianna Wassmann, Stanford University student; Corey Weinstein, M.D., San Francisco Correctional Medical Consultant; Arinna Weisman, Buddhist Insight Meditation teacher and minister; Liza Wendt, retired teacher; Cornel West, author, educator, voice of conscience; Robin Woerner, New Haven;  Clyde Young, revolutionary communist and former prisoner.

 

*For identifications only

For more information and to join in this struggle contact the Stop Mass Incarceration Network at (347) 979-SMIN (7646) or at stopmassincarceration@gmail.com.

 

Read more about the Hunger Strike at:

Hunger Strike at Pelican Bay Prison:
The Humanity and Courage of the Prisoners...
And the Moral Responsibility to Support Their Demands

(Revolution #240, July 24, 2011)

Prisoners at Pelican Bay End Hunger Strike...
The Struggle Against the Inhumanity of Solitary Confinement Continues
(Revolution #241, July 31, 2011)

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/from-prisoner-on-the-struggle-of-the-california-prisoners-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

From a Prisoner:

On the Struggle of the California Prisoners

May 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Revolutionary Greetings,

I just finished reading the statement sent by CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] SHU prisoners ("Peaceful Protest to Resume July 8, 2013, if Demands Are Not Met") and I wanted to express the following. First, I would like to say that I'm glad that SHU prisoners haven't given up on the struggle. For, there are many people, to quote Frederick Douglass, "who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation. They want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning."

Now, I would like to tell the SHU prisoners that even if the CDCR does grant some of the demands, that they shouldn't be seen as the end to the struggle—they should be seen only as the first positive step towards the long and strenuous struggle that awaits us. For the CDCR, is but a mere institution from the whole repressive apparatus of the capitalist/imperialist system. Our struggle should always be anti-capitalist, and our final goal to overthrow the capitalist/imperialist system, and the dismantling of all their institutions. Or, whatever gains we accomplish will always be temporary and in the end insufficient for true human liberation/freedom. Marx stated in his concluding sentence of Value, Price and Profit, “Instead of the conservative motto: 'A fair day's wages for a fair day's work!' They (the working class) ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword: abolition of the wages system!"

So I say: "instead of saying; 'reform the CDCR into a rehabilitative system,' we should say: abolition of the prison industrial complex! Abolition of the Capitalist/imperialist system!"

In Solidarity,

CA, 5/5/13

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/304/censorship-alert-pelican-bay-prison-CA-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

Censorship Alert! Revolution Withheld from Prisoners in Pelican Bay Prison, CA

May 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Revolution newspaper has just learned that several prisoners from Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (solitary confinement) in California have sent word to the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) that the prison has withheld from them issue #302 (May First 2013) of Revolution newspaper. The documents from the prison officials forwarded by these prisoners to the PRLF cited specifically pages 3, 12, and 13, claiming that issue #302 is "contraband" and alleging that these pages contain "plans to disrupt the order or Breach the security of any facility." While the prison officials were not more specific as to what they were referencing, the following articles were included on those pages: "Celebrate May Day 2013—Humanity Needs Revolution", "Support Prisoners' Struggle Against Torture", "Agreement to End Hostilities", a quote from Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:28, "From Carl Dix: A Proposal for Action to the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and All Others Who Want to Fight the New Jim Crow", and "Defend Noche Diaz, Revolutionary Fighter for the People".

DONATE TO PRLF

Regular (non-tax-deductible) donations can be made online at PRLF.org or by check/money order, payable to PRLF, and mailed to PRLF:

PRLF
1321 N. Milwaukee Ave #407,
Chicago, IL 60622

To volunteer, or to contact PRLF: 773.960.6952, contact@PRLF.org

Censorship of the newspaper that many prisoners call their "lifeline" is outrageous, illegal and immoral and must be fought. As the prisoner subscriber writes below, "... it's not enough we are kept in windowless cells w/ no sunlight, but we are further tortured with holding our mail hostage." The PRLF currently sends revolutionary literature into prisons in 41 states, including subscriptions to Revolution newspaper, books like BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian and other revolutionary and progressive literature and is solely funded by donations from the public.

The three pages cited by the prison authorities on official forms do have in common news coverage of the courageous and inspiring stand prisoners in solitary confinement in California have taken in calling for a hunger strike to begin on July 8 to end the inhumane conditions they face [see: prisoners call for hunger strike, "Peaceful Protest to Resume July 8th 2013, If Demands Are Not Met"]. These pages also called on people throughout society to START NOW to build support for this hunger strike and quoted Carl Dix: "People who have been locked down in the dungeons of this country and have been condemned as the worst of the worst have stood up and said NO MORE!... If at all possible, we must through this protest force the state of California to meet these demands and make it unnecessary for these prisoners to take such a desperate action." The allegations made in official documents issued by prison authorities are clearly as outrageous as they are bogus and are nothing short of an attempt to isolate, demoralize and further torture these prisoners through denying them revolutionary sustenance, including news of growing support beyond the prison walls for their efforts to stop the criminal and unimaginably horrible conditions of long-term solitary confinement to which they have been subjected.

Regular readers of Revolution may remember that in 2010 Pelican Bay authorities banned Revolution newspaper before they were compelled by sharp political and legal struggle to reverse the ban. To learn more about this previous ban and the struggle to overturn it, read "Prison Officials Attempt a Cover-up of the Ban on Revolution Newspaper—Mobilize to Say: NO WAY!" and "We Demand: Overturn the Ban of Revolution Newspaper at Pelican Bay and Chuckawalla Prisons in California and All Prisons". And watch the pages of this paper for more news on this censorship battle and prepare to spread the word, donate to PRLF, and join the fight to put this paper back in the hands of prisoners like one who wrote in 2010, "Once I was challenged to dream of a better world, I can't stop thinking about it." Specific efforts to keep news of growing outside support for the planned hunger strike from reaching the prisoners themselves must be exposed, opposed and turned into further impetus to urgently spread and build a more powerful society-wide determined protest to end this torture.

The PRLF received the following letter from one of the prisoners being held in solitary confinement who was denied access to issue #302 of Revolution:

"...we are kept in windowless cells w/ no sunlight but we are further tortured with holding our mail hostage."

4-30-13

Greetings

Today I received an 1819 Disapproval form ["California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Notification of Disapproval—Mail/Package/Publications," eds.] saying the Revolution issue #302 5-1-13 is being denied, the reason this prison states is..."Title 15 3006.contraband (c)(5) Plans to disrupt the order or Breach the security of any facility, pg. 12". [p. 12 of Revolution Issue #302 is the CDCR's official basis for refusing to give the issue to the prisoners. Other prisoners got notice citing pgs. 3, 12 and 13 as the basis, eds.]

This is the same reason they rubber stamp everything, most information that is denied can be found in USA Today, Time magazine, etc. etc. It's just more harassment and censorship! It's really ridiculous how they deny pubs that they disagree with, it's not enough we are kept in windowless cells w/ no sunlight but we are further tortured with holding our mail hostage.

I am 602ing this [appeal within prison, eds] but I wanted to notify you. I was going to contact the ACLU which got at the prison last time but I was out of postage. So I wanted to let you know.

—Prisoner in Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (SHU)

*****

See article this week by Carl Dix, "Emergency Situation: Act to Stop Mass Incarceration and Racist Murders of Our Youth Now!"

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/304/national-hoodie-day-june-10-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

June 10, 2013 is National Hoodie Day!

May 11, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 


June 10, 2013 is
National Hoodie Day!

Hit the Streets on June 10, 2013

Protest (and walkout) at schools nationwide; rally in communities; wherever you are wear the sticker (download sticker file for printing at stopmassincarceration.org), post the slogan and put up signs declaring:

WE ARE ALL TRAYVON!
THE WHOLE DAMN SYSTEM IS GUILTY!

Spread the We Are All Trayvon Facebook events page (facebook.com/events/353687191420065): Invite all your Facebook friends to the event and encourage them to invite all their friends. Spread it on Twitter; send it out to all your followers and Tweet it to people with large Twitter followings and encourage them to send it out to their followers. On Twitter, use the hash tags #hoodiesup and #justice4trayvon. Join the Twitter storm on Friday, June 7, when we plan to saturate Twitter with tweets about Trayvon, the June 10 Hoodie Day and our hash tags.

Take pictures of yourself and your friends wearing hoodies-share the pictures on Instagram and on Facebook, and share links to the pictures on Twitter. Also send them in to the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (stopmassincarceration@gmail.com) to be posted up on its web site.

Download the flyers from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network web site (www.stopmassincarceration.org) and post them on your Facebook pages, Instagram and Tumblr.

For more information and to join in this struggle contact: Stop Mass Incarceration Network ~
347-979-SMIN (7646), stopmassincarceration@gmail.com,
National Website: www.stopmassincarceration.org, @stopmassincnet

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/304/donate-funds to-send-revolution-reporters-to-cover-the-trial-of-george-immerman-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

Donate Funds to Send Revolution Reporters to Cover the Trial of George Zimmerman

May 19, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Get the REAL story from the trial and hear the voices of the people of Sanford, Florida.

On February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin dead and walked free. But all over the country, tens of thousands took to the streets in protest and then, more than six weeks after the horrible crime, Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder. Now the trial is scheduled to start June 10 and millions of people, all over the country—and the world—will be looking to see what is going to happen... and whether or not there will be justice for Trayvon Martin.

Revolution newspaper needs to be there!—to cut through the lies and cover-ups, to provide stories and analysis that no other reporters will do. We've seen how the mainstream news has covered this story—giving George Zimmerman a constant platform to spin out his lies and deceit. And we've seen the importance and power of the voices of the people in Sanford—their anger, their stories and insights. This is also something reporters from Revolution will be bringing into the coverage as the trial begins, getting out into the community of Sanford, and wherever there are signs of discontent and protest, talking to the people and bringing these interviews to the rest of the world.

But money is needed to make this happen. Everyone who burns with anger at the murder of Trayvon Martin and wants to see JUSTICE... Everyone who recognizes the importance of reporting the TRUTH and giving voice to the voiceless... needs to donate generously to make sure Revolution reporters are in Sanford, Florida on June 10 when millions of eyes are on the trial of George Zimmerman.

 

Send checks or money order to RCP Publications, PO Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654; or donate here—earmarked for “Revolution Reporter Fund."

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/299/avakian-a-fundamental-point-of-orientation-approach-and-objective-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

Coming off the Premieres

A Fundamental Point of Orientation,
Approach and Objective

March 31, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

THIS MOVEMENT FOR REVOLUTION MUST NOW BECOME A REAL FORCE, POWERFULLY IMPACTING AND INFLUENCING ALL OF SOCIETY... bringing forward growing numbers of those this system has cast out and cast down, who must be and can be the driving force of the fight to put an end not only to their own oppression, but all oppression, all over the world... drawing in many others, from all walks of life, who are inspired to join this same cause... preparing minds and organizing forces, Fighting the Power, and Transforming the People, for REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS.

Bob Avakian, Chairman of the
Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/protestors-denounce-dismissal-of-indictment-in-ramarley-graham-case-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

Protestors Denounce Dismissal of Indictment in Ramarley Graham Case

Voices of Protest from the Bronx

May 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Over 150 people rallied and marched on Saturday, May 18, to protest the outrageous decision of a judge to throw out the indictment of Richard Haste, the cop who murdered 18-year-old Ramarley Graham in February 2012.

The rally was called for and led by Ramarley's parents. Speakers and participants included families of victims of police murder, activists, and many people from the Wakefield community in the New York City borough of the Bronx, where Ramarley lived and was murdered. A correspondent for Revolution heard the speeches and interviewed people about why they were there.

A spirit of anger, infused with sorrow and determination, had brought people out. Many were youth, including two who had been with Ramarley only minutes before he was murdered. Many others were women with kids of their own. Over and over again, women spoke about how their hearts went out to the parents, how they couldn't even imagine the pain of burying a child killed coldly at the start of his life. But over and over they also said that what happened to Ramarley happens all the time, spoke of other cases of police murder, of their own sons harassed, beaten, or unjustly jailed, and of their sense that "if this cop walks free, this will happen again, it will happen more and more."

The rally was opened by Ramarley's mother, Constance Malcolm, who welcomed everyone and then played a beautiful song about Ramarley and the fight for justice that had been sent to them from the family's homeland of Jamaica—"Ramarley, you're gone too soon.... The people are crying... Let Justice take its course." Then she took the mic again and talked about the need for people to "pick a side," to stand with the people against police brutality. She made the sharp point that the Central Park Five (five innocent Black and Latino youth convicted in a lynch-mob atmosphere of a brutal crime in the 1980s) spent many years in prison, but that the murdering cop Richard Haste is yet to spend a day in jail.

Many more people spoke, including family members of other victims of police murder—Natasha Duncan, the sister of Shantel Davis, 23 when killed by police in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, and Carol Gray, mother of 17-year-old Kimani Gray, killed in the same neighborhood. Each of these women spoke in grief and anger not only for their own loved one, but also speaking of the other murdered youth as though they were their own family, and calling out what is being done to so many Black and Hispanic youth across the U.S.

Carol Gray spoke about how the police tried to vilify Kimani after they murdered him, calling him a "gang-banger" and a criminal, when he was going to school every day trying to make something of his life. And she added: "They are putting white supremacists on patrol in our neighborhoods. They don't know the value of Black youth. These kids have nothing to do, there are no programs for them, no facilities. And ok, they wear their pants hanging down—look, we don't tell other people how to dress! How they dress doesn't make them killers, it doesn't make them criminals. They are human beings."

More people spoke to the outrages of the police—one woman described calling the police to her house when she was attacked in her home, and then being taken in handcuffs by the police, along with her two sons, while her 7-year-old grandson was left home alone for hours. Others addressed that this has been going on for decades, and the police are almost never punished.

Noche Diaz from the New York City Revolution Club spoke to the fact that there is tremendous anger among the people, and that the only way to get any justice is to tap into that anger of people "living under the boot of this new Jim Crow" and bring people into the streets. And he expressed determination to be in the forefront of that struggle.

Frank Graham, Ramarley's father, spoke to the fact that many people have sought to undercut the struggle against police brutality by denouncing "outsiders" who take part in it—Frank noted that there was a lot of this at the height of the struggle in Brooklyn against the murder of Kimani Gray. He said: "When I hear these people talk about 'outsiders' in the struggle against injustice, I say to them 'Where—Are—You?'"

Then people took to the streets—by voice vote it was decided to march in the street down a major avenue, and the police apparently decided that it would be in the best interests of the system not to try and stop it. Marching slowly, loudly chanting "No Justice, No Peace," with huge banners portraying Ramarley, and with many people holding up Revolution newspaper or posters made from its front page, the march attracted tremendous attention and support. As lines of cars went by in the opposing lane people honked loudly in support and rolled down their windows to get literature.

People in houses along the way came out on their porches and voiced their support. Nearly everyone knew about the case and was angry about the indictment being thrown out and again, many, many people spoke to injustices perpetuated against themselves or their kids. One woman described how her son, 16 at the time, had been locked up for a while on a boat that the New York City detention system uses for "overflow" from their crowded jails. She described visiting him on the boat, how it was crowded and so cold his fingers turned blue, and how he said to her that in these conditions, and listening to the clanking of the ship's engines like rattling chains in the night, "he could only imagine what it was like for the slaves in the pits of the slave ships" in past times.

Finally the march reached the 42nd Precinct, home of the killer cops, where people again spoke bitterness at the criminal behavior of the police.

Along with the profound outrage being expressed by everyone there, different views on why this keeps happening, where all this comes from and what needs to be done were in the mix. There was a recognition that the problem is very widespread and that the system is not working. There were calls to pressure politicians and officials to "do their jobs," or put new, better people in office.

In this context, Jamel from the Revolution Club spoke, calling people to come to the May 20 dialogue between Cornel West and Carl Dix, to act now to take the mass struggle against the system's slow genocide against Black and Latino youth to a whole new level. And he emphasized that it would take revolution, nothing less, to put an end to this.

The rally ended with determination to continue the struggle for Ramarley and the spirit of doing that as part of the larger struggle against the criminalization and murder of our youth.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/urgent-climate-change-wake-up-call-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

An Urgent Climate Change Wake-Up Call

Carbon Dioxide Levels in the Atmosphere Hit 400 Parts per Million

May 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

A large chunk of frozen soil—permafrost—in the Antarctic polar region that melted and detached from the land mass as a result of warming climate.
Photo: Courtesy U.S. Geological Survey

Scientists monitoring carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere announced May 9 that levels of CO2 had reached 400 parts per million (ppm). The measurements were taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. CO2 levels haven't been this high for at least 3 million years.

CO2 is the predominant gas contributing to the "greenhouse effect"—warming the planet and bringing increasingly destructive climate change. It's produced by the burning of fossil fuels (like oil and coal) and by deforestation, which are central to the functioning of the global economy under capitalism-imperialism. In just the past 200+ years of industrialization, the amount CO2 has gone from around 280 ppm to its present level of 400 ppm.

This announcement should serve as a gut punch and a ringing wake-up call about the heightening emergency humanity is facing due to the warming of the planet, climate change, and the overall environmental destruction ravaging Earth. This announcement should shake people to their core. It should make them stand up and shout to others that we must do something—we must come into the streets; we must stop this. Not because the exact number 400 means more in itself than 399 or 401—but because this number, and the rate of increase of CO2, is a very dire indication that the planet's climate is being taken to dangerous places not previously seen in all of human history.

Each year, the world's big carbon polluters and dominant powers gather at international conferences and talk about climate change and its awful dangers. Each year, they agree something must be done, and then continue to do nothing of real substance to stop this. Instead, they race more aggressively to grab up new, more extreme and polluting sources of fossil fuels in their mad dash to outcompete each other for profits and control. And the planet warms—the Arctic ice cap melts, drought and starvation are worsened, and thousands more die in extreme weather events fueled by climate change. And who is the biggest contributor to the historic buildup of greenhouse gasses, and who continues to do the most to sabotage any meaningful changes? The U.S. leads the pack.

That the atmosphere's CO2 is at 400 ppm and rising is a howling outrage. Where are the calls and the actions to stop the drilling, digging, and burning of fossil fuels that are wrecking the environment and the future? Nowhere to be seen from those in power. Instead of seizing on this as an urgent moment to awaken and mobilize humanity, to stop fossil fuel burning, and bring forward safe energy technologies, the 400 ppm announcement is being treated by the powers-that-be and the mainstream media as one more piece of bad news, to be marked and moved on from.

Climate Change and the Environmental Emergency

Carbon Dioxide, the "Keeling Curve," and Climate Change

Every year since 1958—when measurements began at Mauna Loa—CO2 levels have increased. The measurements are displayed in a chart called the "Keeling curve" (see graphic). In 1958, CO2 was at 316 ppm. The increase from then till now looks like the teeth of a saw angled up—each spring the level is highest, it goes down in the summer as plants in the Northern Hemisphere absorb CO2, and next spring it's higher yet. In 2012, CO2 emissions increased by 2.6 percent over 2011—a new record amount of yearly emissions.

For at least the last 800,000 years, CO2 levels were less than 300 ppm. Scientists have learned about the CO2 history of the planet by drilling core samples from ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. From these, they can gather information on air temperature and CO2 levels. There are close connections between the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and the temperature of the earth. When one goes up, the other goes up and when one falls, the other also falls. The British Antarctic survey that studies ice cores says, "temperature and CO2 are intimately linked, and each acts to amplify changes in the other (what we call a positive feedback)."

CO2 is the predominant greenhouse gas building up in the atmosphere and warming the earth. CO2, methane, water vapor, and some other greenhouse gasses occur naturally, and in a basic way they serve to keep the earth warm enough for life to exist—for plants and animals to live. Greenhouse gasses mainly allow visible sunlight to pass through them. When sunlight hits the earth, much of it is absorbed, but some of this energy is converted to heat that gives off longer wavelength infrared radiation that is reflected back into the atmosphere. Some of this heat radiation is partially absorbed by greenhouse gasses, which trap this radiation like a greenhouse, warm it, and send heat radiation back to the earth's surface, further warming the earth.

Since the start of the industrial age, the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere have been building up and causing increased warming. Greenhouse gasses are produced by the burning of coal, oil, and gas, by the cutting down and burning of forests and wood, by large-scale industrial agriculture, and other means.

CO2 levels this high have not been seen in at least 3 million years—since long before modern humans evolved. The earth at this time was a vastly different planet with very different ecosystems (webs of interacting life). Richard Norris, a paleobiologist with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, said the last time CO2 was at 400 ppm, "There were camels and forests in the Arctic, the tropics were locked in a near constant El Niño—the kind that typically floods the western U.S.—and large expanses of the U.S. East Coast, Florida, and the Gulf States were underwater."

Humanity and earth's ecosystems—the webs of interacting life we depend on for our own existence—are facing a multi-dimensional environmental emergency. Forests and natural habitats are being destroyed and degraded; large numbers of species are being driven to extinction or threatened with extinction; water, air, and soils are being polluted and degraded. And because so much carbon has been spewed endlessly into the skies, the oceans' chemistry is being toxically transformed by sucking up that carbon.

Interacting with, and as a leading edge of, this destruction, climate change threatens to become unstoppable and runaway. In the last 12 months, we have seen the unprecedented scope and destruction of super-storm Sandy and many more extreme weather disasters—what used to be called anomalies—that have become the new normal. We've seen the droughts and wildfires of last summer in the U.S. and Russia in 2010, and the massive and unprecedented flooding in Pakistan in 2011. Before our eyes, Arctic ice and glaciers are disappearing. This global melt has immense ramifications for the world climate, for rich ecosystems, and for the water needs of huge segments of humanity.

Scientists say that we must turn away quickly from the massive burning of fossil fuels and transition to sustainable, non-carbon-based energy production if there is to be hope for any chance at stabilizing the climate. Most scientific experts say to avoid even more, and faster, disastrous climate change, world temperatures must be kept to no more than a 2-degree Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) rise over temperatures of pre-industrial times. But even this may be too high, as we are already seeing huge changes with only the 0.8-degree Celsius temperature rise that has already occurred.

It's been estimated that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that would produce a 2-degree Celsius rise is 450 ppm. Ralph Keeling of the Mauna Loa Observatory remarked, "At this pace, we'll hit 450 ppm within a few decades."

Climate change is taking an immense toll on humanity in many ways, but one of the most destructive is the impact on food supplies caused by increasing drought and extreme weather disasters. Recent studies indicate global warming played a part in the 2011 drought in Somalia that resulted in the deaths of 50,000-100,000 people. Food experts are predicting extreme and dire consequences for world food supplies from the heightening effects of climate change. The lives of potentially billions of people hang in the balance in all of this, including the ability to continue to survive in whole regions of Africa, Australia, on island and low-lying nations—like Bangladesh (due to sea-level rise) and other parts of the world. These impacts of climate change are already, and will increasingly be, the most severe for masses of people in the poor countries oppressed by the powerful capitalist-imperialist world.

Extinction of Species and Our Common Future

The cost of climate change to species worldwide is staggering—3,000 species a year are already going extinct because of destruction of habitat and climate change. This number could reach tens of thousands per year. It's been known for years that many endangered species are the most vulnerable. But a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change says that even common species are severely threatened by climate change. According to the Science Daily website, this research "looked at 50,000 globally widespread and common species and found that more than one-half of the plants and one-third of the animals will lose more than half of their climatic range by 2080 if nothing is done to reduce the amount of global warming and slow it down."

This means that geographic ranges of common plants and animals will shrink globally and biodiversity will decline almost everywhere.

Rachel Warren, one of the authors of the study, said, "This broader issue of potential range loss in widespread species is a serious concern as even small declines in these species can significantly disrupt ecosystems."

The pace of the current human-caused warming of the earth—and the climate change occurring because of it—is extremely rapid. Anthony Barnosky, University of California Berkeley professor of biology, says climate change "is racing faster than it ever has during the evolution of living species and ecosystems—many species simply aren't biologically capable of adjusting their geographic range at the speed they would need to in order to survive."

Warren pointed out that the health and survival of "common" species she studied was important to human well-being because these species affect "things like water and air purification, flood control, nutrient cycling and eco-tourism."

Humans exist on the basis of and in interaction with healthy, functioning, and diverse ecosystems. We rely on these ecosystems for air to breathe, water to drink, food, medicine, and natural recreation and appreciation. Without healthy, functioning, and sufficiently diverse ecosystems, humans as a species will not be long for this planet.

As we said in the special issue of Revolution, "State of Emergency," as bad as the destruction of species already occurring is, "this picture doesn't capture the deep threat to earth's biodiversity from many factors, and the degree to which entire ecosystems are being radically altered and in some cases already vanishing from the earth. There is real danger of a cascade of negative effects being set in motion that can affect the global health of the whole planet. ... Add up enough ecosystem collapses in local or regional scales and you can have collapse of the global ecosystem."

"If we don't hurry up and protect and preserve fast-vanishing natural ecosystems around the world, we will very likely witness before too long an unprecedented series of domino effects—a qualitative unraveling and degeneration of the natural world on this planet."

Think about it, modern human beings have been on the planet for roughly 200,000 years. And in all this time, in the short space of 200+ years, the workings of a particular economic system, capitalism, have brought the world to the brink of catastrophe. This world of environmental destruction, impoverishment, and oppression of huge swaths of humanity is, we are told, the "best of all possible worlds."

The reality is that a fundamentally and radically different world is possible.

We confront the need for a completely different way of producing energy, running our economies, and interacting with nature—a way that capitalism has proven repeatedly incapable of doing or even seriously addressing.

Rachel Warren, in commenting on the results of her study, said, "Prompt and stringent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally would reduce these biodiversity losses by 60 percent if global emissions peak in 2016 or by 40 percent if emissions peak in 2030."

This is one indication at least that some of the worst impacts of climate change on causing species extinction may still be possible to prevent, or at least limit. But to do this, we must seize on this news of 400 ppm to wake people, to move humanity to resist all this starting now, and to increasingly connect this with the broader movement for revolution, which also must grow and impact all of society.

The Arctic ice cap in 1980 (above) and last year (below).
Image: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

 

 



 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/summer-2013-taking-ba-everywhere-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

Organizing Conferences First Week of June

Summer 2013: Taking BA Everywhere, Raising Funds and Making a Difference

May 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

To all who are fed up—who just can’t look the other way when thousands who make our clothes are crushed or burned to death in Bangladesh; when U.S. drones incinerate people across the planet; when women are degraded, brutalized and their fundamental right to control their own bodies is taken away; and when millions of Black and Latino youth are locked away for decades and tortured in U.S. prisons ... to all who wish and dream that life and the world could be another way, there is a campaign for you to take up this summer that will make a very big difference. Come to a conference near you on the weekend of June 1 and find out how you can be a part of wrangling to forge exciting plans to raise big funds to spread the work and leadership of Bob Avakian—BA—far and wide this summer, from deep into the hoods and barrios, to music and theater festivals, wealthy vacation areas, and many other places.

Watching BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! on DVD near a community college, New York City.

This is the BA Everywhere Campaign—a campaign to make a big difference in the political landscape by taking out BA and the whole vision and framework he has developed for bringing into being a radically better world through revolution—raising serious funds so that this can really be known throughout society. Be part of reaching out to and involving lots of different kinds of people—giving them an opportunity to contribute to an unprecedented movement. As we do this, “The whole social and political culture will ‘breathe’ more freely, people will wrangle passionately over ‘big questions’ concerning the direction of society (like knowing that much of the future of humanity hangs in the balance) and the times will once again resonate with big dreams for fundamental change and the emancipation of humanity,” as we wrote in the editorial launching BA Everywhere (Revolution #249, November 6, 2011).

This summer launches new efforts that build on the first 18 months of the BA Everywhere Campaign—efforts that need to grow as more and more people, beginning with you, get involved on different levels. A summer of experimenting with creative ways of reaching people, developing new collective forms as we do so—building organization and capacity to have even greater impact as we go forward into the fall and winter.

At the heart of this summer’s BA Everywhere campaign will be the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live. If you haven’t seen this film yet, check out the DVD or go to showings going on in different cities. You’ll see that the power and potential of this film to change people is enormous. People feel the connection with BA. The intolerableness of this system and the hope for really radical change is opened up; their understanding of the world and potential for fundamental change through revolution is deepened. Those who have seen it say: “People really need to see this.” Adding to the personal connection made through BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live, we will be widely promoting BAsics from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, which concentrates the essentials of the work of BA. Together these two works provide a powerful foundation of what people need to understand and change the world—the handbook for revolution of our time, and BA himself, up close, delivering a scientific, substantive summoning to revolution.

This summer the faultlines of the system will be tightly drawn—mass incarceration, the intensified oppression of women, the despoliation of the environment, and continuing U.S. wars in the Middle East—all sharpening and setting the stage for bringing out the vision, work and leadership of BA.

In this context, including for those unfolding struggles to really contribute to a movement for revolution, BA Everywhere is essential. BA has said that the BA Everywhere Campaign “is a key element of influencing millions of people now: getting the concept of this revolution and the scientific grounding underneath it, in a basic sense, out to millions, so millions of people are encountering it, so that people are debating it very broadly in society—so it’s a point of reference.... the new synthesis of communism and what that represents is being engaged and debated broadly in society—some people agree, some people disagree, some people say, I like some of this and some not—but they’re actually engaging what it is, the substance of it, at least in its very basic contours.” (From What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism. An Interview with Bob Avakian by A. Brooks)

All of those who want to see BA and what he represents much more out there in society can be a part of this. Those who already see, or are coming to see, their life mission as making revolution and emancipating all of humanity should be at the core of this, while enabling and bringing forward many more people broadly to participate in a range of ways. This takes place in the context of a whole movement for revolution being much more out in the thick of things, leading increasing numbers of people in fighting the power in different ways. Running through all these efforts will be going out broadly to places and events where many people can be reached, to raise big funds to promote and popularize BA and what he has brought forward.

The BA Everywhere summer mini-conferences on the weekend of June 1 will be a chance to wrestle with how to make a national impact—how to raise the kinds of funds that will make it possible to reach millions. Exciting plans will be announced and dug into. The summer campaign will unfold and go forward in phases, starting with lots of grassroots fundraising work that has already begun and building momentum in the coming months.

The conferences will run for an afternoon and should involve many different people, from youth and others from the neighborhoods, to students, artists and professionals. Organizers should draw on and reach out to all those who have responded to BA Everywhere over the first 18 months: to the celebration of the publication of BAsics on April 11, 2011, including all who contributed to the film of that event which will be coming out in September 2013; to the BAsics Bus Tour; to the premieres of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!—as well as the many people we know and have met through our ongoing work with the Revolution Clubs, the Revolution Books stores and Revolution newspaper. All these people are an initiating foundation to inspire and build on, forging cores from which to reach out and grow.

Stay tuned to revcom.us for more information on BA Everywhere Summer 2013 and check with your local Revolution Books for information on the time and place of for the conference near you.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/a-may-day-poem-revolution-nothing-less-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

A May Day Poem:

Revolution—Nothing Less!

May 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) forwarded this poem from a prisoner, with a note dated May 1, 2013 saying: "Happy May Day to all of you! All of us behind the walls appreciate everything you all do for us. It feels good to be a part of the whole that is struggling for the emancipation of all humanity. Thank you PRLF, volunteers, and donors!"

 

 

Revolution—Nothing Less!

Revolution—nothing less is the only way;
         to usher in a better day!
For the only way to evolve and grow;
         is the obsolete, outmoded, reactionary
         things must go.
I was destined to end up forgotten,
         wasting away in a High Security cell;
until BA challenged me and now I refuse
         to fail!
As I study the BAsics to strengthen my
         mind;
it's enlightenment and empowerment
         for a better world I find.
Who thought someone like me who have
         taken so much could give something
         back;
And, to find one that is willing to sacrifice
         to give humanity what it lacks!
So, I challenge all my brothers and sisters
         in lockdown;
to embrace and engage this knowledge
         I've fortunately found.
Now as we struggle for a better, more
         equal way of life;
As we continue to emotionally and
         intellectually fight.

         Remember revolution—nothing less;
for humanity is truly worthy of our
         very best!

                                         In the Struggle

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/going-out-to-wealthy-neighborhoods-with-ba-everywhere-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

Going Out to Wealthy Neighborhoods With BA Everywhere

May 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In order to really make revolution, BA talks about the importance of this movement for revolution drawing from those who the system has cast out and cast down as the driving force for revolution and at the same time drawing in many others from all walks of life to join in this same cause. A small team formed to go to those from very different walks of life, who could contribute big money as part of contributing to revolution, nothing less...who would engage with the work of Bob Avakian—and particularly the major talk just released on DVD—learn about this movement through the testimony about the film and other articles found at revcom.us—and join with those contributing through BA Everywhere—at a level needed to make BA's voice impact society broadly.

Over a two-week period, we went out to two outlying areas where many wealthy people live who have "alternative sensibilities," including an area that was famous in the '60s as a hippie community.

A resident from one of the towns who came to the premiere of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! invited us to her house to strategize with us about how to best reach people there. She loved the way that BA spoke to the outrages of the system, but had questions coming off of seeing the film about the possibility of anything that called itself communism could succeed in this country, and also was troubled by his views on religion. At the same time she really wanted to know more about how this was being taken out to society broadly and was particularly interested in our going to places where "the very wealthy lived." We talked to her about this in the context of the strategy for revolution—and she said would think about how best to approach her town.

We went first in the morning to the local farmers market. The market was very small and everyone knew each other. There were people from the ridge (the biggest homes) to professionals and young and old hippies. Right off, we met a number of people who said they had heard Bob Avakian on the radio—something this part of the country has the privilege of getting on the Michael Slate show on KPFK. There were a lot of questions—with a small number of people right off the bat interested in this movement for revolution and in BA in particular—and others agreed that there was a need for radical change but were advocates of very individualistic ways of achieving this—changing each individual and largely through spiritualism or other forms of metaphysics. People divided out quickly on the question of communism—and people were challenged that if they did not engage with BA's work, they really did not know what communism is. A screenwriter told us that he was a Vietnam vet and came back to his home town of Chicago after the war and met the Panthers. He recalled painfully the murder of Fred Hampton and was curious about this movement and BA. Two people suggested that we bring this to their groups—one dealing with issues of health and environment and the other who was a member of the local peace group. A young woman realized right off who we were and said, "That's the six-and-a-half-hour film...oh my god...I wanted to go to that after hearing this on the radio" and then she said to the young woman in our two-people team, "You're the woman who was interviewed about the film. I was so inspired by what you said." After a little convincing, she realized she had to have a copy of the film now and also gave us her information. She also was introduced to the Revolution Club on the spot. She thanked us and said she would definitely want to hook up. We told people why we had come to this town—that we felt that there would be people who hated the way the world is, and would want to know about a real way out of this madness—and also could make very big donations as part of taking up this cause. Those who were interested said that they would have to know more first—and either got the newspaper or said they would go online.

After that we spent some time visiting the woman who had been to the premiere and we got into her main question around spiritualism and religion—why it was that BA was fighting so hard for a scientific method and approach. And while we did not come out with anything close to agreement—because the question was placed squarely in the context of really changing the world fundamentally—we came to a certain understanding and she decided that given her means, the most important thing she could do was to get a subscription to the newspaper and also said she would take this out to others. She said that there were many community spots where she could post the materials and we talked about going to the peace group and to a progressive theater in the area and we encouraged her to come to the gatherings in the city whenever she could as well. She directed us to the roads where the very wealthy lived and another road where there were neighborhood gatherings of very progressive people. We encouraged her to go back to the DVD she had purchased and showed her the table of contents and how there were sections that spoke directly to the various questions she was raising. She was happy to see that she could access it in this way.

We then went off to talk about what we had learned so far that day and to prepare to go to the opening night of a local production of Blood Knot, a play by a very radical South African playwright, Athol Fugard, in a neighboring community that was also known for its very wealthy residents. We could only afford one ticket to the play which was $50, so we made the plan that we would both talk to people going in and out and during intermission and that one of us would go inside to see the play and participate in the Q&A with the director after the play.

We had had experience earlier in the week of going to a progressive screening of a film at an art museum where there was also a Q&A with the presenter, a well-known television actor. We went there with the intention of speaking up at the Q&A and then going out with a big box that said "Donate to Revolution Nothing Less" to people in the audience. A revolutionary youth raised a very good question during the Q&A that the actor seriously engaged with...but while there was an important section of young people there—we were not able to connect with the kinds of people we had hoped to reach. They just were not there.

We hoped that since this was billed as the gala opening night of the play, and it was taking place in a wealthy community, we would be able to reach people who we had set out to reach.

The play spoke very powerfully to the oppression of black people in South Africa and the way that the system itself shapes the relationship between two brothers—one dark-skinned and one light-skinned—in painful horrifying ways. The play itself opened people up to wanting to engage larger questions about the kind of society we live in and how any of this could change.

There was a Q&A immediately after the play with its director.

The director talked about his experience in South Africa and how apartheid came down, praising the role of Mandela in that and about how today people of all nationalities and backgrounds can and need to come together to change our relationships with each other. He asked the audience to support his work focused on shaping society through educating the children. There was a lot of emphasis put on promoting love and understanding and enabling people to make better choices.

He called on people in the audience to ask questions. A young revolutionary introduced herself as part of the movement for revolution and she drew from a theme in the play when the characters talked about their childhood and then how things changed not because of their individual choices but because of the larger forces in society—and she quoted from BAsics by Bob Avakian, the leader of the revolution, about how does this happen that "you go from beautiful children to supposedly 'irredeemable monsters' in a few years" and went on to talk about the system, linking this up to the nightmare of South Africa today. And she asked the director to comment on how he saw this theme in the play itself.

The director added Watts and America's inner cities to the list where this nightmare still existed, and then said again that the solution was to be found in people personally breaking down the barriers—that youth from the inner city should be invited to be at a theater in this very wealthy neighborhood and people from this neighborhood should go to the inner city as well.

We immediately went to talk with the audience members who had stayed for the Q&A. Two people wanted to speak to the young woman who had spoken up—saying that what she said was very important and she immediately talked about engaging with BA and contributing to getting this out everywhere.

Four people ended up buying the film and gave us ways to contact them. An older woman said she was a major donor to the theater, said she wanted her son to see the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and had her personal assistant give us a way to reach her. Another woman came up and asked if we wanted her to make a donation and pulled out $20. A man said that he was very troubled by the situation in South Africa today and made an analogy between Mandela and Obama re doing great harm, masking over the reality where things are getting much worse for the people.

So in the course of one day, we sold five copies of the film and a subscription to Revolution—and began to connect with a section of people we had never gone to before in a mass way. We are following up now to set up fundraising meetings with the people that we met.

We learned a lot and wanted to share it with people everywhere—as something people in mass BA Everywhere committees can do.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/selling-revolution-newspaper-on-public-transportation-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

From a Reader:

Selling Revolution Newspaper on Public Transportation

May 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 


I want to share some of my experience taking newspaper out on public transportation by myself. I have been doing it as part of a team at times since the times of the Revolutionary Worker (former name of Revolution), but during the California prison hunger strike, I just felt compelled to get it out to my fellow travelers any chance I have, circumstances allowing (i.e., not too crowded). There were times when I felt more comfortable when the front page was about the issues that hit home with people right away, like calling out police murder and genocidal mass incarceration or reporting on resistance to outrages like murder of Trayvon Martin—the "Fight the Power" element, which is much needed.

But somewhere along the way I started really looking forward to the issues where taking out revolution straight up was front and center, like featuring quotes from BAsics that I could read to the people, from the paper or committed to memory. Like "No more generations of our youth..." or "You cannot break all the chains but one..." or "There is a very advanced theory..." (truncated version of the last one actually became a semi-permanent part of my rap for a period of time). This is largely due to my overall development, but there were also hints from people—in form of feedback when I run too much exposure of the crimes of the system—"I am already aware..." or "I don’t want to hear any more depressing stuff..." Well, here comes the uplifting part—we are building the movement for revolution to turn this whole thing right side up, for which we have leadership, organization, plan and a strategy—and you are invited to throw in. Again, I started noticing that this connected with people more readily in the past year and a half or so—this may be due to my becoming more grounded in what we are about and sounding more convincing because of that, or it may be something is changing in the objective situation, making people more responsive to the message of revolution. (Occupy? Deepening economic crisis? Outrage after outrage?)


I want to share some memorable occurrences, and hopefully some summation along the way. There was an episode, during preparation for the BAsics summer tour, when I was actually not doing work, trying to save strength; but this older Caribbean dude started agitating along the lines: "I support Romney; because Obama supports abortion...”—that in a space full of women of all ages. I had to tell him that Obama does nothing of the sort, actually enabling attacks on abortion by demobilizing people, and why would you want to enslave women into forced motherhood anyway? Then I remembered one of the issues of the paper had "all the chains but one" quote from BA, which I read, eliciting actual OVATION from like half of 20 people present. Five papers got torn out of my hands fast—I had to get off, unfortunately.

Much more recently I encountered a group of bible thumpers of all nationalities, genders and ages and got them to check out a couple of papers, and they got an understanding of women's liberation stance, and possibly atheism, and started agitatedly agitating—exposing themselves in the process quite a bit—like blaming women for being raped. I learned to apply a technique of not speaking directly to solid reactionaries when there is no chance for them; but rather weaving some response in addressing other people: "You see, folks, it may sound just like some pre-medieval nonsense fairy tales, but these ideas are causing real harm in the world." And then I did my best to make the "three questions about god" point from the BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS movie, however ineptly, and that got a lot of attention; some folks were brave to get the paper in the face of somewhat menacing counter-agitation.
 
In general, it is rather difficult to engage people to respond, even when there is interest, or agreement in their eyes. Not for a lack of trying, I tell people to share immediate feedback, criticisms, disagreements, strong agreements, fists in the air (got some of those sometimes)—telling people that is how we will build this movement and how we will run the society if we make revolution—by involving people to contribute and take responsibility, more and more consciously. Frequent form of feedback seems to be passionate reactionary ones (maybe it is just more memorable due to intensity)—"go back to your country," "this is the best possible country," "if Koreans do something, we should bomb the shit out of them again." One Black guy older than me was actually also touting things like—"and yes I was all the way with Malcolm, and I was in prison for five years, and I am an American, and U.S. is number one," blah blah—which gave me an opportunity to speak to what U.S. is number one at, including mass incarceration of genocidal proportions. Since he was somewhat contradictory, I spoke to him directly a bit as well, violating my technique—what would Malcolm say to that "I am proud American" shit? Dude went into: “In Russia they would take your ass out." I said, "They have been doing that in this country as well. Question is, which side will you be on, if they start again?" Much younger dude, all in bling, was checking out the exchange intently. I asked him to read the article on Noche Diaz on page 13 ("Hands Off Noche Diaz! Drop All The Charges Against Him!" April 11, 2013), and he came much later with the dollar for the paper. All the way to another end, when I was already sitting down, a fellow from a museum invited us to come to an exhibit on art and activism in the 1930s, and insisted on interrupting us and stating—it is a very good paper.


Union Square, NYC, May Day 2013

The issue with the conflict in Korea on the front page ("U.S. Threatens North Korea: What's Behind the Conflict?" April 14, 2013) was an exception from the lack of positive engagement and feedback rule, because I applied a very engaging pop quiz technique: "How many nukes does North Korea have? Free paper for the first correct answer!" (Had to actually give away a few.) "What country used them twice?" Got some angry-in-a-good-way "U fucking S" answers, or "How about Iran—they have zero!"—that's a good correct answer, if not to the exact question. One backward answer came from a professor-looking guy—"Yes, but they starve their own people, and minor things like that"—so, the dude actually thinks it is conscious policy of those rulers to starve their people, and it does not have anything to do with imperialist sanctions and blockade. That's why you need to read Revolution, so your mind is not shaped by the imperialist propaganda machine. I did a rap about nature of North Korea, about history of the first war for different reasons, and got a lot of attention.

The issue with gay marriage on the front cover ("Same Sex Marriage: A Basic Right, A Just Demand," April 7, 2013) got a lot of polarization, including breaking up groups of high school students, with one or two going against the backward tide. Even more backward folks got the Loving case analogy (and the judge's Bible reference in ruling), which kind of jolted them, and some actually got the paper.

One memorable scene around the time of the October 22 National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality was that a group of young people opened the page with photos of victims of police murders and started chanting the names angrily, exciting the whole car, and one woman visual artist gave me her card. She actually met with us later—unfortunately, she developed an aversion to our whole program. At other times a group of youth who knew Noche ran out of the car shouting "Free Noche," running all along the platform.

I also try to develop some good relationship with dancers, candy sellers. For the longest time a dude with a piano was trying to make some Calhoon Brown style ironic three-liners about white dudes with paper on the train, and I was trying to actually make him do some accompaniment to my raps. One older candy seller asks me for the paper all the time, proudly put stop stop-and-frisk button on himself, saying "I put it on the left side, where their badge is, I am gonna stop-and-frisk them!” There was a young woman who knew the paper I saw two days in a row, before and on Noche's court day, and I got a chance to report the victory around his case on the next day.

I will try in the future to be timely with these reports.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/301/avakian-a-question-sharply-posed-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

A QUESTION SHARPLY POSED

by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

April 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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NAT TURNER OR THOMAS JEFFERSON?

Slave rebellion or slave master? Do you support the oppressed rising up against the oppressive system and seeking a radically different way, even with certain errors and excesses—or do you support the oppressors, and the leaders and guardians of an outmoded oppressive order, who may talk about "inalienable rights" but bring down wanton brutality and very real terror, on masses of people, to enforce and perpetuate their system of oppression?

This speaks to a basic question of stand and orientation, and represents a fundamental dividing line. And, along with "setting the record straight" on the actual experience and role of communist revolution, and refuting the factual and methodological distortions involved in the attacks on communism, this basic question—as represented by Nat Turner1 or Thomas Jefferson?2—also needs to be sharply posed in relation to the history of communism3 and the present-day struggle for communist revolution, in opposition to the capitalist-imperialist system which still dominates the world, with such terrible consequences for humanity and for the environment. Do you stand with this oppressive system, or with the struggle to overthrow and uproot it, and bring into being a radically different, emancipating system and way of life?

Do we need to learn from not only the overwhelmingly positive experience of the communist movement so far, but also its shortcomings, including sometimes serious errors and even excesses? Yes, this is an important part of the new synthesis of communism, and it is crucial in order to be able to do even better in the new stage of communist revolution. But this can only be done, in the fullest way, by taking up and applying the scientific communist method and approach that leads, first of all, to standing firmly and consistently on the right side of this fundamental dividing line, between oppressors and oppressed—and, beyond that, makes it possible to correctly assess and learn from the rich experience of the struggle against oppression, throughout history and in all parts of the world, including the shortcomings involved in this experience, in order to carry forward the fight to the final goal of communism and the emancipation of the oppressed, and ultimately humanity as a whole, from all forms and relations of oppression and exploitation, domination and degradation, everywhere in the world.

 



Nat Turner led an uprising that deeply shook the slave system, and there was a huge, brutal response from those in power.

1. Nat Turner was the leader of a slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia, one of at least 250 slave revolts that took place in the U.S. before the Civil War. After careful preparation, Turner began the rebellion on August 21, 1831 with a trusted group of six other slaves. They were armed with just a few knives, hatchets, and axes at the start. Their plan was to strike hard and quickly against the slave owners and march toward the county seat, rallying other slaves to their cause along the way. At one point, Turner's forces grew to as many as 80. The uprising deeply shook the slave system, and there was a huge, brutal response from those in power. The rebellion was defeated after 48 hours—Turner himself went into hiding for two months before surrendering. Turner and 55 others were executed by the state. As many as 200 other slaves were killed by the slave owners' militias and vigilantes, and many were tortured. During the rebellion, Turner's forces killed all the slave owners they encountered—not only the adults but also their children. But the Nat Turner Rebellion—and other slave rebellions—must be firmly upheld because, in its principal character and in essence, it was a just struggle of the oppressed rising up against their oppression. [back]


Depiction of plantation life, with overseer beating slaves and taking a child to be sold.

2. Thomas Jefferson is promoted as the man who defined the "fundamental liberties" that are at the heart of U.S. democracy. Along with genocide and theft of the land of Native Americans, one of those "fundamental liberties" was the right to enslave people. Jefferson himself owned more than 600 slaves over his lifetime. He profited greatly from the labor of his slaves, who were whipped when they didn't work hard enough (including children), and hunted down like animals when they escaped. But beyond this, Jefferson actively used his presidency and his influence to fight for the expansion of the slave system. He oversaw the 1803 Louisiana Purchase—the buying from France of a huge territory that now comprises all or parts of 15 states, primarily in the interests of the slave owners and with the aim of spreading the U.S. system of slavery into new areas. As opposed to the uprisings of slaves, like the rebellion led by Nat Turner, the violence Jefferson used, as U.S. President as well as in suppressing his own slaves, was in the service of maintaining, enforcing, and expanding oppression.

For more on Jefferson and his role:


"Big character poster" walls, debating big questions in society, went up all over during China's Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976. Photo: AP

3. People are constantly bombarded with the message that communism has been a "failure" and that socialist societies have been a "nightmare." The Set the Record Straight project aims to bring out the truth about the first attempts in human history to build societies free from all exploitation and oppression—the socialist states in Russia from 1917 until the defeat of that revolution in 1956, and in China from 1949 until its defeat in 1976. "The mission of Set the Record Straight is to factually refute the lies spread in the media, mass-market books, and mainstream scholarship about the Soviet and Chinese revolutions, and to bring to light the overwhelming achievements of these revolutions as well as their real problems and shortcomings. Our mission is to reveal the actual history and experience of these revolutions, to open up a two-sided debate about socialism and communism, and to promote a conversation about why a radically different and liberating world is possible." The Set the Record Straight project can be found online at thisiscommunism.org. It can also be accessed from the "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution" section of revcom.us. [back]

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/challenging-people-with-nat-turner-or-thomas-jefferson-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

From Readers:

Taking Out "A Question Sharply Posed, by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, NAT TURNER OR THOMAS JEFFERSON?"

May 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Challenging People with "Nat Turner or Thomas Jefferson?" at a Large Campus

We went to a campus on what was basically the last day of finals, which means the end of the semester, so the foot traffic was pretty slow. Plus it was drizzling on and off. But despite all that, we did accomplish something on campus. On a fence we hung a three-paneled sign: "Nat Turner or Thomas Jefferson, Slave Rebellion or Slavemaster, Where Do You Stand?" Some people engaged with us. We got out 15 copies of Revolution, and got a $2 donation. And importantly, we felt that we did change the way people look at communism and their relationship to it.

Standing with the slave rebellions against the slave system wasn't all that controversial for most we talked with (some were surprised that Jefferson had so many slaves, but it is not a big secret to many that he was a slave owner). And taking it a step further in pointing out that although those rebellions weren't always "pure" in their targets, they were a just response to the very cruel and oppressive slave system, made people think some. But once people acknowledged this, and sort of took the right side of this divide, posing to them the parallel to the first efforts at communist revolution vs. the criminal capitalist system really made them think.

First off, even understanding (or not forgetting) that those socialist societies were not the result of some vague left-wing "takeovers" in which the masses of people were just pawns, but were brought into being in the first place by, as BA puts it, "the oppressed rising up against the oppressive system and seeking a radically different way" is challenging the "conventional wisdom" about the history of the communist revolution.

But also, there is a compelling logic to what BA is saying: if it is right and moral to support those slave uprisings, "even with certain errors and excesses" against oppressors who "bring down wanton brutality and very real terror, on masses of people, to enforce and perpetuate their system of oppression," then, by the same measure, it is right and moral to support the first efforts at communist revolution, "even with certain errors and excesses," against oppressors who today are carrying out the most despicable crimes against humanity. We found that people from many different points of view, if they were honest, were provoked by this.

And especially at a time when the capitalist system has shown its bloody hand in the horrific garment factory collapse in Bangladesh, the dividing line BA calls on people to stand on the right side of is clearer to see, and more compelling. We struggled with people, on this basis, who claimed to be "neutral" that there is no such thing, and this too made people want to find out about communism. A number of people who bought Revolution were those for whom, before they encountered this, communism and revolution were perhaps "the furthest thing from their mind(s)."

Then there were a smaller number of people who had thought about a communist alternative who were excited to see that there is a real communist movement. One woman recounted her experience at a small Christian college: after encountering anti-communism, she wanted to find out the truth about that history, and wrote a paper on it. For making a caveat in her paper that she found very little that she considered honest and accurate at her school library, she got punished with a C—her only one ever—which only made her want to find out more. She took a small bundle of papers to get out to others and wanted to get involved.

 

Getting BA's "Nat Turner or Thomas Jefferson?" Challenge Out in the Community

Our crew took BA's "Nat Turner or Thomas Jefferson?" challenge out in a largely Black community and to the county jail on Sunday. We did a sound truck in a housing project we have been to a lot. Many people came to their doors to find out what was going on, and we ran into a lot of different responses. As on the campus, people had never looked at the question of revolution from this perspective and it really got people thinking in a different way.

Several people who bought the paper off this said they don't really think about these things much. One youth in a car was really intrigued by the challenge. He knew about Nat Turner, but didn't really have any understanding of the revolutions of the 20th century. The link provoked him to ask his mom for money for the paper. A while later, he ran up to us to get a second copy. As they drove away, they waved at the revolutionaries.

The point about "excesses and errors" made people think about the complexities of struggle, and how it relates to rebellion and revolution. Most knew something about Nat Turner's Rebellion, but were shocked to hear that they had killed the slave masters' children as well as the slave masters. They were also shocked to know that Jefferson, who they were led to believe was a representative of freedom, owned 600 slaves during his lifetime. People didn't know much about the communist revolutions, especially their overwhelmingly positive nature, but raising this question in relation to them provoked people to want to know more.

Several people expressed pessimism about revolution. One woman in her 40's said, "Revolution is dead... it's over!" Another guy said, "You can't win." However, these people were engaging with the revolutionaries on this issue, and it raises the importance of getting "On the Strategy for Revolution" out there in a much bigger way.

We ran into a lot of controversy over religion, and through the course of discussion dividing lines shifted in some cases. A group of guys sitting on a stoop were only mildly interested, and at first did not get the paper. Then, when a controversy erupted over religion across the street, they didn't want to talk. One of them said, "You need to be here when the cops are messing with us," looking at the crew as outsiders. But he wouldn't engage on that. When we ran into a couple of those guys later, we approached them, and told them part of the movement for revolution is about building up the strength of the people in the neighborhoods to deal with that... that we have the basics of what we need to make revolution, but that what is missing is you! We talked about the initiative against mass incarceration and the Blow the Whistle movement that is part of this. This led to some struggle over the strategy for revolution, and they got a paper and a copy of "On the Strategy for Revolution."

Throughout the day, including at a store in the 'hood, and at the jail at night, we ran into people who wanted to hook up, or in one case re-hook up, with the revolutionaries.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/awtwns-why-are-there-more-telephones-than-toilets-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

From A World to Win News Service:

Why are there more telephones than toilets—and how many children does this kill every day?

May 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

To draw attention to a dire situation, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson recently pointed out that of the world's seven billion people, six billion have mobile phones, while only 4.5 billion have access to toilets or latrines.

In a slum of Mumbai, India

One of the most basic human needs is proper sanitation. But out of 7 billion people in the world today, only 4.5 billion have access to toilets or latrines—while 6 billion have cell phones. This has massive, deadly consequences for people in the poorest regions of the world. Diarrhea, which can usually be treated or prevented with basic medical and sanitation measures, kills 1,800 children every day—and this is mainly the result of water and food contaminated by human waste. Taking into account the fact that diarrhea can lead to other diseases and is a big factor in malnutrition, 4,500 children die each day from inadequate sanitation. Under the system in effect today, what people get is determined not by their needs or even the development of technology but by the workings of capital. Setting up a mobile phone network takes capital, but not nearly as much as projects like water and sewage systems, and the profits come much thicker and faster. The world's sanitation situation and its lethal consequences are yet another example of how capitalism is a barrier to the use of the world's wealth, technology and even knowledge to serve the needs of the people, leading to massive horrors around the globe. Above: Chatting on a cell phone in a Mumbai slum.
Photo: AP

While the news has been the occasion for many jokes, it was not meant to be funny. It reveals the grim imbalances that mark today's world, both between the countries whose capital gorges on global exploitation and the countries they dominate, and in terms of the kind of development that takes place in the dominated countries.

Sanitation—the proper treatment and/or disposal of urine and excrement—could be considered "the most important medical milestone" in modern history according to the British Medical Journal. Yet for at least 2.5 billion people, more than a third of the world's people, this most basic human need is unmet.

Most cases of diarrhea are caused by water and food contaminated by feces, and this disease kills 1,800 children every day. "If 90 school buses filled with kindergartners were to crash every day, with no survivors, the world would take notice. But this is precisely what happens every single day because of poor water, sanitation and hygiene," explained Sanjay Wijesekera of UNICEF.

In fact, almost 9.7 million children under five died in 2006, an average of more than 26,000 a day, mostly from preventable causes. (UNICEF "State of the World's Children," 2008) Diarrhea is not the only or even the main killer—malaria is now the most common direct cause of children's deaths. But the percentage of those children killed by lack of proper sanitation is high, not only because of the numbers who die directly from diarrhea, but also because diarrhea leads to other diseases and can be a factor in malnutrition. Taking all this into account, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that 4,500 young children die of inadequate sanitation every day. More people have died of diarrhea than in all the armed conflicts since World War 2, writes Rose George in her book The Big Necessity. Citing UNICEF, she calls diarrhea "the single biggest hurdle a small child in a developing country has to overcome."

The number of deaths of children under five is a key indicator of a population's health situation. It reveals lethal inequalities between countries and within countries that income figures often conceal. Diarrhea due to fecal contamination is even more deeply rooted in economic and social structures than some other diseases that can be reduced or eliminated by vaccination campaigns. There is no vaccination against malaria, but there are new preventive measures and it is the object of an insufficient but real degree of medical research. Preventing fecal contamination does not depend on any medical breakthroughs whatsoever. It can be prevented by nineteenth-century or even ancient technology—sewers.

Cholera, a disease spread by fecal contamination, threatened to make central London unlivable in the mid-nineteenth century. It was forced into retreat in England long before the advent of vaccines and effective medical treatment, or even before the existence of germs was known, simply by upgrading the sewage system. Later the addition of chlorine to drinking water worked even greater wonders.

It's true, as UNICEF points out, that the number of children dying from diarrhea worldwide has come down over the last decade. But the progress in sanitation indicated in the latest report is excruciatingly—and murderously—slow. The UN's Millennium Development Goal in this regard was to half the proportion of people without sanitation in 2015 as compared to 1990. Even that modest target is almost certain to be missed.

Why is mobile phone ownership soaring in comparison with sanitation? Forbes, an even more unabashedly pro-big business media outlet than most, crows that this disjunct demonstrates the "greater efficiency of the private sector." What it really demonstrates is the way capitalism works.

Investors must seek the highest and quickest returns on their investment. Setting up a mobile phone network takes capital, but not nearly as much as heavy infrastructural projects like water and sewage systems or even old-fashioned fixed phone lines, and the profits come much thicker and faster. In countries like China and India, where almost a third of the world's mobiles are to be found, dense population leads to economies of scale and thus both cheap phone calls and high rates of profit. Services such as water and sanitation, in contrast, require enormous amounts of capital that can only be recouped over many years at best. The same factor that makes mobile phone companies so attractive to foreign and domestic investors in many third world countries, the conditions of profitability, also means that water and sanitation attract little or no investment, even though they are sorely needed by the people. (Providing water is cheaper than building and maintaining sewage systems and can even be profitable, which is why sewage is an even bigger problem than clean water in today's world.)

The point is not that people don't need mobile phones; it's that what people get is determined not by their needs or even the development of technology itself but the workings of capital.

The UN argues that since the cost of sanitation-related deaths and illnesses can be calculated in monetary terms (the cost of lost production and increased medical and other expenses), funding for sanitation should be considered an investment that will pay for itself many times over. But in the capitalist world this is irrelevant because these costs are born by individuals and society as a whole and not particular capitalists who are in life-and-death competition with one another.

Universal sewage systems cannot be developed privately. It is governments that brought these services into existence in every country in the world, and everywhere they are subsidized. But government spending is no less bound by the requirements of capitalism than the private sector. While a capitalist state, as the political representative of a country's ruling class as a whole, can take sanitation and other measures for the public good when the political and economic interests of the ruling classes require it, there are obstacles. The limits of government spending (the so-called public sector) are set by the overall process of capital accumulation and the country's place in that global process, both in terms of sources of revenue (ultimately profits) and priorities.

In India today, for instance, when it comes to public works, motorways and transport needed to move materials and goods get priority over storm drainage and water systems and even public electricity. This is part of what it means to be "business-friendly." While the country has one of the world's fastest-growing economies, that growth is concentrated in the production of services and goods linked to the international market. That applies to mobile phones, because of both direct foreign investment and fees paid for the use of technology, imported equipment and so on. Globalization applied to mobile phones means that even small amounts of money earned by the very poor can be quickly and efficiently concentrated to make some people very rich.

Out of India's 1.1 billion population, most people have access to a mobile phone. (There were 929 million subscribers in May 2012, although many people have several phone numbers to take advantage of tariff differences. This fact often exaggerates phone ownership statistics.) But a majority of people (626 million) do not have access to any kind of toilet or latrine. Even many people working in hi-tech and globalized industries have no sewer hook-up and often no electricity in their homes either. The technology is surrounded by darkness and excrement.

This disjunct is also related to pre-capitalist oppressive relations that have been absorbed into globalized capitalism. India's dalits (so-called "untouchables") remain assigned to cleaning up after everyone else, emptying public latrines, removing excrement from private homes, railroad tracks, etc., while higher caste people want nothing to do with anything related to human sewage, even when there is no health danger, because of the reactionary social hierarchy and beliefs.

The oppression of women is also involved, since the shortcomings and burdens of sanitation fall especially hard on them. And while it would be a slight exaggeration to say that you can tell the difference between imperialist and oppressed countries by their sanitation systems, the disparities often reflect the more general gaps in living standards between the imperialist homelands and the countries they dominate.

A 2004 WHO report estimated that providing healthy water and sanitation for the earth's entire population would cost roughly 1.4 trillion dollars. That is less than what the U.S. has already budgeted for its occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Here, too, capital sets the rules. These wars are not a fight for profits, but the U.S. has to try to defend and consolidate global political domination in order to ensure favorable economic conditions for American capital. There is a complex interaction between politics and economics; and politics, whether fighting imperialist wars or building public works projects, cannot be reduced to economics. But in the end a capitalist state has no choice but to adopt policies that suit the existing economic system, with all its exploitation and oppression. That's what ultimately determines its priorities.

The world's sanitation situation and its lethal consequences are yet another example of how capitalism is a barrier to the use of the world's wealth, technology and even knowledge to serve the needs of the people. Horrific numbers of children and other people are dying unnecessarily every day. This is not because humanity lacks the means to save their lives but because the resources created by the labor of billions of people working together in various ways and linked across the globe cannot be deployed except insofar as they increase private wealth.

 

A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/global-days-of-protest-mark-100th-day-of-guantanamo-prisoners-hunger-strike-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

Global Days of Protest Mark 100th Day of Guantánamo Prisoners' Hunger Strike

May 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This report was contributed by a reader:

The vast majority of the 166 men still held prisoner in Guantánamo detention camp remain on hunger strike, many for more than 100 days. (For in-depth analysis, see "Guantánamo: The Hunger Strike and the Hellhole of Made-in-America Torture," May 12, 2013.) Although at least 86 men were cleared for release by the U.S. government several years ago—in other words, they have been determined by their captors to have committed no crime—they remain in indefinite detention. In fact, in the last two years the only ones who left Guantánamo went in a coffin.

The cruelty that is "business as usual" at Guantánamo has only intensified as the men's conditions deteriorate. Jason Leopold, writing from Guantánamo in Truthout, reported on May 15 that a new policy has been implemented. Prisoners must now submit to a "pat down" of their genitals and buttocks in order to see their lawyers, overturning long-standing policies that recognized cultural sensitivities that make this particularly degrading and humiliating.

May 17 was the 100th day of the hunger strike that has finally forced Obama to publicly speak about Guantánamo for the first time in years. The London Campaign to Close Guantánamo called for Global Days of Protest on May 17-19 to mark the occasion, to step up the support for the hunger strikers, and to demand their release. Many actions were held in the U.S. (Chicago, New York, Washington, DC, Boston, Seattle, cities in Ohio and California, Hawai'i, and more) and around the world (Sydney, London, Mexico City, and elsewhere).

The World Can't Wait, Witness Against Torture, and Amnesty International were joined by other groups around the U.S. in organizing actions in this country. In New York, Times Square was the scene of a lively march and the debut of a new "Song for the Guantánamo Hunger Strikers" by the Peace Poets. (Video at http://vimeo.com/66465580)

In London, a "murder scene" was staged in front of the U.S. Embassy on Saturday, May 18, "to highlight the potentially fatal effects of this hunger strike and the culpability of the U.S. administration for the deaths of prisoners who have died there, all of whom faced no charges or trial, and in the case of the last fatality [Adnan Latif] had long been cleared for release," as the London Guantánamo Campaign stated.

In Chicago, a rally was held in Federal Plaza, featuring a defense attorney whose client in Guantánamo is on hunger strike and a victim of earlier made-in-the-USA torture under the Pinochet regime in 1973 in Chile, among others. This was followed by a march up State Street in the middle of rush hour traffic. And in the San Francisco Bay Area, protests were held at the Boalt Hall law school graduation against Guantánamo, John Yoo (author of the infamous "torture memo" under Bush who teaches at Boalt) and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, current attorney general and perpetrator of war crimes who was the commencement speaker this year.

The World Can't Wait has launched a drive to publish a powerful statement to "Close Guantánamo, Stop the Torture" as a full-page ad in the New York Times very soon. As the ad states, "It is up to the people to stand up for principle and morality when their institutions and public officials refuse to do so. The fates of those who are maimed or killed by our government's policies are inextricably intertwined with our own; we must listen and respond to their cry for justice." Nothing like this has been published in the Times in years, challenging Obama's refusal to act to close Guantánamo in the context of "larger, alarming developments" such as targeted killings across borders, persecution of whistle blowers like Bradley Manning, and actions "amounting to war crimes." The statement has been signed by Guantánamo defense lawyers, leading international law experts, journalists like Glenn Greenwald, academics and cultural figures such as John Cusack, Junot Díaz, Dave Eggers, Eve Ensler, Mark Ruffalo, and Alice Walker, and more than 1,100 other supporters from around the country. More than $40,000 of the $52,000 needed for publication has been raised. To read more, sign and contribute, go to www.worldcantwait.net.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/awtwns-guatemala-rios-montt-found-guilty-of-genocide-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

From A World to Win News Service:

Guatemala's Ríos Montt Found Guilty of Genocide

May 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

May 13, 2013. A World to Win News Service. On May 10, U.S.-backed strongman General Efraín Ríos Montt, president of Guatemala for 17 months in 1982-1983, was convicted and sentenced to 80 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in the slaughter of 1,771 Mayan Ixil people. Over several weeks of the trial, 100 survivors bravely gave bone-chilling testimony about the killings. Ríos Montt's short rule was one of the bloodiest chapters in the 36 years of civil war and the various forms of butchery (rape, bullets to the head in front of family members, ripping the hearts out of small children, burning people alive) that killed 200,000 indigenous people.


Ixil indigenous women from the families of the genocide victims packed the courtroom at the trial of former dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala City, April 18, 2013. Photo: AP

The guilty verdict was greeted with applause and overflowing emotion by the people who packed the courtroom. Among them were survivors who fearlessly persisted through decades to bring these crimes to trial and testified to the brutal and inhuman violence inflicted on the local population in the country's northwest Ixil highlands. It is thought that Ríos Montt's victims number in the tens of thousands, but the precision in the number 1,771 victims is because the prosecutors have the names of each of these victims. The bones of most of them have also been unearthed from mass graves.

The case was unique in that it was the first time a former head of state has been tried in the national court in the country where the crimes were committed instead of by an international tribunal.

After the sentencing, an unexpected move occurred when the judge instructed prosecutors to launch an immediate investigation of "all others" connected to the crimes. A former military mechanic testified that ''Major Tito Arias'' ordered soldiers to loot and burn a village. In 2000, Guatemala's current president, Otto Pérez Molina, inadvertently revealed to a Guatemalan newspaper that he was ''Major Tito Arias.'' This admission now places Pérez Molina among the ''all others'' implicated. Despite his temporary legal immunity as president, his victims say they will persist in demanding the opening of a criminal investigation. He may in the future face charges along with other top military officials.

Right after the Ríos Montt trial, a CNN journalist confronted Pérez Molina with his role in the massacres. He initially refused to answer but, in an effort to justify his acts, said the women, children and complete families aided and were the support base for the guerrillas.

The American freelance investigative journalist Alan Nairn conducted a filmed interview with "Major Tito Arias," then a field commander and head of intelligence under the Ríos Montt regime, in September 1982. In the footage the commander explains how the fight against the insurgency depended on military helicopters and machine guns received from the U.S. and mortars and ammunition from Israel.

The following is from Nairn's 1982 film interview with Pérez Molina, alias Major Tito Arias, conducted in the Ixil zone in the area surrounding the town of Nebaj.

Allan Nairn: The United States is considering giving military help here in the form of helicopters. What is the importance of helicopters for all of you?
Pérez Molina: A helicopter is an apparatus that's become of great importance not only here in Guatemala but also in other countries where they've had problems of a counterinsurgency.
AN: Like in Vietnam?
PM: In Vietnam, for example, the helicopter was an apparatus that was used a lot.
AN: Can you also use it in combat?
PM: Yes, of course. The helicopters that are military types, they are equipped to support operations in the field. They have machine guns and rocket launchers.
AN: What type of mortars are you guys using?
PM: There's various types of mortars. We have small mortars and the mortars Tampella.
AN: Tampella.
PM: Yes, it's a mortar that's 60 millimeters.
AN: Is it very powerful? Does it have a lot of force to destroy things?
PM: Yes, it's a weapon that's very effective. It's very useful, and it has a very good result in our operation in defense of the country.
AN: Is it against a person or...?
PM: Yes, it's an anti-personnel weapon.
AN: Do you have one here?
PM: It's light and easy to transport, as well.
AN: So, it's very light, and you can use it with your hand.
PM: Exactly, with the hand.
AN: Where did you get them?
PM: These, we got from Israel.
AN: And where do you get the ammunition?
PM: That's also from Israel.

From the same film, Nairn's interview with a soldier speaking dispassionately:

Allan Nairn: And how many did you kill?
Guatemalan soldier: We killed the majority. There is nothing else to do than kill them.
AN: So you killed them at once?
GS: Yes. If they do not want to do the right things, there is nothing more to do than bomb the houses.
AN: Bomb? With what?
GS: Well, with grenades or collective bombs.
AN: What is a collective bomb?
GS: They are like cannons.
AN: Do you use helicopters?
GS: Yes.
AN: What is the largest amount of people you have killed at once?
GS: Well, really, in Solola, around 500 people.
AN: And how do they react when you arrive?
GS: Who?
AN: The people from the small villages.
GS: When the army arrives, they flee from their houses. And so, as they flee to the mountains, the army is forced to kill them.
AN: And in which small village did the army do that kind of thing?
GS: That happened a lot of times.
AN: Specifically, could you give me some examples where these things happened?
GS: In Salquil, Sumal Chiquito, Sumal Grande, Acul.

Mayan men bury victims of a 1982 massacre in a mass grave in Chel, a remote village  in northern Guatemala on July 4, 1998.
Mayan men bury victims of a 1982 massacre in a mass grave in Chel, a remote village in northern Guatemala on July 4, 1998. Photo: AP

In the film the soldier explained that often they would kill about a third of a town's population. Another third they would capture and forcibly resettle in army camps. And the rest would flee into the mountains where the military would pursue them, dropping U.S. 50-kilogram bombs and firing U.S.-supplied heavy-caliber machine guns from American Huey and Bell helicopters.

Tensions have been very high inside and outside the courtroom. On the streets, spirited demonstrations took place in support of justice for the indigenous Mayans. Demonstrations in support of Ríos Montt have also taken place. In the courtroom, there have been many legal challenges, sharp differences between the different levels of judges, defense lawyers stomping out in protest, all in an effort to keep the trial from taking place. When one judge moved to end the trial the sister of a victim began to scream ''Injustice! Ríos Montt is a murderer!'' When the police came to remove her, her supporters sarcastically called out ''Why don't you shoot her?'' At one point in the trial, one of Ríos Montt's lawyers screamed at Judge Jazmin Barrios, the main judge who has been trying to keep the trial on track, ''I will not rest until you are in prison.''

In two areas of the country there are disputes between the local people and the government concerning international companies. At the Canadian-owned Escobal Mine, 70 kilometers east of the capital, a protest turned violent in early May. One policeman was killed, several police cars burned and several demonstrators were injured by rubber bullets. Having garnered the necessary permits, the mine was about to open. The local Xinca ethnic group argue that the mine operations will irreversibly contaminate their water sources. Pérez Molina says there are "other interests" mixed in with the civilian population, and he called in the army to stop what he called kidnappings and destruction of government property, blaming the Mexican-based Zeta drug cartel.

The Minister of the Interior went further, claiming that the imposed state of siege had nothing to do with the mine and that the government was not criminalizing the protests. In Santa Cruz, 200 residents took control of an army barracks after finding the bullet-riddled body of one of the leaders of the protests against the construction of a hydroelectric plant by a Spanish company. In this case, the president flooded the area with several hundred soldiers and police and claimed that those who participated in the takeover of the barracks could be linked to drug traffickers. Residents say it reminds them of the repression of the 1980s. With Guatemala under the spotlight due to the Ríos Montt trial, the state of siege has been lifted.

In 1954 the CIA toppled the government of Jacobo Arbenz. The United Fruit Company, an American corporation that was one of the biggest landholders in Guatemala at the time, lobbied the CIA to remove Arbenz from power because he was giving fallow land to the peasants. The U.S. claimed he was a threat to the security of the Western hemisphere. Only the year before, the CIA had ousted Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh. Since then Guatemala has been ruled by a long succession of mainly military regimes.

Switching from general to president of Guatemala in 1982, the born-again Christian Ríos Montt had more than one "god" on his side. American president Ronald Reagan praised him as ''a man of great personal integrity and commitment. His country is confronting a brutal challenge from guerrillas armed and supported by others outside Guatemala. I have assured the President that the United States is committed to support his efforts to restore democracy and to address the root causes of this violent insurgency. I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice. My administration will do all it can to support his progressive efforts.''

Reagan's government gave Ríos Montt $10.5 million worth of helicopters, $3.2 million in military trucks and Jeeps, $36 million worth of tanks and $2 million for the covert program ''Operation Ashes,'' a scorched-earth campaign run by G-2, the Intelligence Section of the Guatemalan Army, to annihilate the support base of guerrillas fighting for their land. Taking further Judge Barrios' court instruction to investigate ''all others'' connected, you could say that Ronald Reagan fits in that category. He was an accessory to this genocide. He aided, abetted, covered up and encouraged it before, during and after Ríos Montt was president of Guatemala. Reagan was an even bigger criminal as he committed these same crimes in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras, to mention only some of his crimes in the Americas alone.

Israel Pursues U.S. Interests

Israel has had a warm relationship with Guatemala since its inception. The Guatemalan ambassador to the UN and a member of the UN Special Committee on Palestine, Jorge García Granados, supported the Zionist cause and called on the government to support the creation of the Israeli state in 1948. To the present day, Guatemala votes in favor of Israel on important UN resolutions. Both governments are united in their special interest in counter-insurgency. Israeli military assistance took on increased importance in 1977 when then-U.S. president Jimmy Carter tried to publicly distance the U.S. from Guatemala's open brutality.

While the U.S. does not dictate policies to Israel, Israel often pursues policies that serve American interests and objectives, especially when it is difficult politically for the U.S. to do so. As a former head of the Knesset [the Israeli parliament] foreign relations committee said, when asked about the Israeli-Guatemalan relationship: ''Israel is a pariah state. When people ask us for something, we cannot afford to ask questions about ideology. The only type of regime that Israel would not aid would be one that is anti-American. Also, if we can aid a country that it may be inconvenient for the U.S. to help, we would be cutting off our nose to spite our face not to.'' (See the May-June 1986 issue of Middle East Report, http://www.merip.org/mer/mer140/israel-guatemala, for detailed research on Israel's role in Guatemala.)

A secondary aspect for Israel's interest in Guatemala has been economic—the need for external markets for weapons and foreign weapons production. The export of arms has helped sustain production in Israel at full capacity, facilitating strategic planning and stockpiling, assuring supplies when needed, and permitting scarce resources to be spent on science, technology, research and development to maintain Israel's qualitative edge militarily. Weapons transfers represent a fifth of Israel's industrial exports and one tenth of all exports. By 1983 factories were set up for munitions production in Guatemala. Technical support has also been given to Guatemala. Israel set up a computer center in Guatemala City to register and monitor the country's inhabitants. Some researchers claim the center and its data bank were linked to the U.S. Army's Southern Command then located at Fort Gulick in the Panama Canal Zone.


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It is also said that in the summer of 1981, sophisticated Argentine computer analysis methods (using Israeli hardware) played a crucial role in the detection and raiding of 27 guerrilla safe houses in Guatemala City. Amnesty International says this computer system was an integral part of terrorizing Guatemalans. Israel also exported retired military officers to Guatemala. Many were experts in the "art" of repression and collective punishment. (May-June 1986, merip.org) Israel's influence in Guatemala can even be seen through the proliferation around the country of gas stations and convenience stores with Israel-friendly Hebrew names like "Adonai" and "Shalom."

But U.S. advisers still played a major role in the "pacification" of the Guatemalan countryside. The objective was total control of the civilian population without disrupting the holdings of the large landowners. People were removed to "model" villages where they would eventually be turned into a labor force for industrial production. Villagers were forced to participate in patrols to suppress and inform on others who had revolutionary inclinations.

One can only wonder where this condemning evidence will lead or why these legal proceedings are taking place now when these criminals are already old. Only a few such criminals have actually been sent to prison. Does it only happen after the U.S. decides these mass murders are no longer useful for continued American domination? Several brutal strongmen come to mind, like Chile's Pinochet, the Shah of Iran, and Mubarak in Egypt, to name only a few.

What happened in Guatemala was not that people were caught in a crossfire between two sides. It was not "collateral damage." It was a systematic murder of a people—genocide. The guilty verdict for Ríos Montt is definitely welcome.

 

 

A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/epidemic-of-rape-in-us-military-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

On the Epidemic of Rape in the U.S. Military

May 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The U.S. military and the U.S. government have been rocked by a series of scandals and exposures about rape, a pervasive atmosphere of sexual harassment of women, and covering up or excusing the men who perpetrate these acts. Over the past several months, this cascade of scandals has provided a glimpse into the ugly culture of woman-hating and homophobia that is a key ideological glue cohering the U.S. military.

"Two War Fronts (3)" by Jared Rodriguez.
Image: flickr/Truthout.org

Several journalists have referred to an “epidemic” of rape in the various branches of the military revealed by these exposures. Former Defense Secretary (and current C.I.A. Director) Leon Panetta acknowledged that an average of 365 sexual assaults take place every week in the military. This figure is very likely a gross underestimation: as the organization Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) reported, while all “sexual assaults are under reported, this problem is exacerbated [made worse] in military settings.”

Further, one of the most damning aspects of the incidents coming to light is that several high-ranking officers and others charged with preventing violence against women and in other positions of authority have themselves been accused of assaulting, harassing, and raping women.

Among the incidents in recent months:

The recent testimony of Rebekah Havrilla in a Senate hearing on sexual violence in the military concentrated how a nightmare brew of degradation, harassment, rape, cover-up, Christian fascism, and pornography tormented her while she was in the Army. She described being constantly harassed by her squad leader until she required medication to deal with her stress. Then, “one week before my unit was scheduled to return back to the United States, I was raped by another service member that had worked with our team.

“Initially, I chose not to do a report of any kind because I had no faith in my chain of command, as my first sergeant previously had sexual harassment accusations against him, and the unit climate was extremely sexist and hostile in nature towards women.”

"Two War Fronts (5)" by Jared Rodriguez.
Image: flickr/Truthout.org

Havrilla finally did file a report against her rapist and the squad leader. A year later, she bumped into the rapist. “I was so re-traumatized from the unexpectedness of seeing him that I removed myself from training and immediately sought out assistance from an Army chaplain who told me, among other things, that the rape was God’s will and that God was trying to get my attention so that I would go back to church. Again, I did not file an unrestricted report against my rapist. Six months later, a friend called me and told me they had found pictures of me online that my perpetrator had taken during my rape.”

An Army investigator further humiliated Havrilla by forcing her to provide graphic descriptions of what was happening in each of the photos of her being raped. Several months later she was told that her rapist claimed that the sex was consensual. The Army said the case was closed.

The end of Havrilla’s case is typical. A fact sheet put out by SWAN states that in the military “prosecution rates for sexual predators are astoundingly low—in 2011, less than 8 percent of reported cases went to trial.” Of those that did, an estimated 10 percent of perpetrators resigned from the military, “which effectively means the military allowed rapists to quit their jobs in order to avoid facing charges.”

A Culture of Rape vs. A Culture of Emancipation

Congress recently held hearings on rape and sexual harassment in the military. Various political and military officials proclaimed that they are “shocked” by the situation, and insist on changes in the way crimes of sexual assault are investigated and tried.

But the most vicious forms of hatred, degradation, and violence against women are deeply and ineradicably embedded into the culture and doctrine of the U.S. military. This begins from the very first days of basic training. Marching cadences for new recruits reek of contempt for women: “This is my rifle, this is my gun [pointing to genitals]; one is for killing, one is for fun.” Or this one: “Who can take a chainsaw, Cut the bitch in two, Fuck the bottom half and give the upper half to you...”

A young man who joined the military because he was “looking for a way to support my family” described his Basic Training experience: “In basic, the drill instructors' method was to abuse us, to break us down. They'd ‘shark attack’ us. Shark attacks are when four drill sergeants surround one of us, swearing and yelling and spitting, each with their faces inches away. They'd yell, ‘You're a girl. You're a wimp. You're a pussy.’”

Manila, Philippines, 2009. Protesting the U.S. military presence in the Philippines after the rape of a Filipina woman by a U.S. Marine. The U.S. refused to turn the rapist over to Philippine courts citing the "Visiting Forces Agreement" (VFA) which provides immunity for U.S. military personnel accused of committing crimes in the Philippines, including rape. On the protester's arms and on the ground is written "Jail Smith" (the Marine rapist) and "Junk VFA."
Photo: AP

Sprawling zones of institutionalized prostitution ring U.S. bases around the world. The standard U.S. Army policy toward rape was expressed by George R. Patton—regarded as a “giant” and “great leader” of the American military, when he said “there will unquestionably be some raping by U.S. soldiers.”

Today the composition of the military is in some important ways very different than in Patton’s time—World War 2—or even than it was 30 or so years ago. For one thing, there are more women in the military than at any previous time. In 1973, when the draft of young males ended and the “all volunteer force” was instituted, women made up 1.6 percent of the military; today they are 14.6 percent, and even more in the Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard.

The violent hatred of women and the environment of rape that has always been engrained in the U.S. military now focuses within the military itself, as well as outward towards women in countries occupied by U.S. forces. This has the potential to be a major problem for the rulers of this country, and the oppressive capitalist-imperialist system they lead.

Obama’s Record of Suppressing Exposure of Rape by U.S. Troops

As outrages of rape in the military have come to light, Barack Obama called the situation “shameful and disgraceful.” But how could this situation have been a secret to the commander-in-chief of the U.S. military?

In fact, in 2009 Obama personally made the decision to defy a court order that would have brought hundreds of documented cases of rape and sexual assault by U.S. military personnel against prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The court order was to release thousands of photos that, according to the U.S. General appointed to investigate torture carried out by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, “show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.”

Obama justified his decision by saying “the consequence [of releasing the photos] would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them.”

How could this decision by Obama to cover up and shut down public exposure of “torture, abuse, rape and every indecency” carried out by U.S. troops not have contributed to an atmosphere where male U.S. troops feel they have a free pass to rape and abuse women in and out of the military?

Rape: Deeply Rooted in the Nature of the U.S. Military

Rape is endemic to—deeply rooted in—the very nature of the U.S. military.

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This Constitution (Draft Proposal) is written with the future in mind. It is intended to set forth a basic model, and fundamental principles and guidelines, for the nature and functioning of a vastly different society and government than now exists: the New Socialist Republic in North America, a socialist state which would embody, institutionalize and promote radically different relations and values among people; a socialist state whose final and fundamental aim would be to achieve, together with the revolutionary struggle throughout the world, the emancipation of humanity as a whole and the opening of a whole new epoch in human history–communism–with the final abolition of all exploitative and oppressive relations among human beings and the destructive antagonistic conflicts to which these relations give rise.

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In any army, the culture, the values, the way troops are trained, and the way they conduct themselves and relate to civilians are an expression of, and reveal a lot about the nature of the system that army is fighting for. While the U.S. portrays itself as bringing democracy, enlightenment, and women’s rights to the world, the reality is that it brings capitalist-imperialist exploitation and oppression, and it imposes structures and institutions that facilitate that, and crush any force—rival or rebel—that gets in its way. This is expressed in a culture of depraved torture (as at Abu Ghraib) and mass murder (“kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out”).

In a system where the oppression of women and male supremacy are fundamentally embedded in and are bedrocks of social cohesion, this is expressed in a violently male supremacist military culture, where access to prostitutes and the idea that male troops have the “right” to rape with impunity is engendered spontaneously, and also consciously promoted from the highest levels—as witnessed by Patton’s quote that there will unquestionably be rape by U.S. soldiers. (And while it is beyond the scope of this article, the expression and enforcement of this culture of rape is also manifested in widescale rape of men by men in the military.)

Contrast the culture of armed rape and brutal degradation of women, including those in its own ranks, of the U.S. military, with the emancipatory approach taken in the Revolutionary Communist Party’s Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).

“Abolishing and uprooting all this (the oppression of women) is one of the most important objectives of the New Socialist Republic in North America. This is expressed not only in full legal equality between women and men, but beyond that in the declared orientation and policy of this Republic to overcome all ‘tradition’s chains’ embodied in traditional gender roles and divisions, and all the oppressive relations bound up with this, in every sphere of society, and to enable women, as fully as men, to take part in and contribute to every aspect of the struggle to transform society, and the world, in order to uproot and abolish all relations of oppression and exploitation and emancipate humanity as a whole.”

And the armed force that would make possible, and defend a revolutionary, socialist society would embody an entirely different culture consistent with a society whose mission is to end all oppression, including the oppression of women.

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/304/judge-tosses-indictment-against-cop-who-murdered-ramarley-graham-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

Outrage in the Bronx!

Judge Tosses Indictment Against Cop Who Murdered Ramarley Graham

by Carl Dix | May 16, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Ramarley Graham
Ramarley Graham, gunned down by police inside his family's home on February 2, 2012

On May 15, a judge in the Bronx, New York, threw out the indictment against Richard Haste, the NYPD Officer who gunned down 18-year-old Ramarley Graham inside his family's home while Ramarley's grandmother and 6-year-old brother watched in horror.  The judge said he had to toss the indictment because the prosecutor had given faulty instructions to the grand jury that indicted Haste.

How come judges never throw out indictments on our youth when prosecutors manufacture evidence to railroad them into prison?  Or when cops get up on the witness stand and tell lies on them?  How come the prosecutors are so skillful in sending Black and Latino youth to prison in such horrific numbers that the U.S. has more people in prison than any other country on earth, but they forget how to prosecute when the defendants are cops who brutalize and even murder our youth?

This comes down to another case of the criminal injustice system working to exonerate a cop who murdered a Black youth.  Cops kill people all the damn time.  Most of those they kill are either Black or Latino, are unarmed and doing nothing wrong when they are killed by police who are sworn to protect and serve.  Yet killer cops are seldom if ever put on trial, and they are rarely punished in any way for killing people.

In this case, you can see the whole system working to get this murdering cop off.  News reports on the indictment being tossed out also contained supposedly sealed information from Ramarley Graham's juvenile record that branded him a repeat offender.  And they were full of police lies intended to paint Ramarley as a criminal that the cops were justified in treating him like he was guilty until proven innocent.  Only Ramarley Graham didn't survive his encounter with Richard Haste to even get a chance to try and prove his innocence.

Radio and newspaper reports claim that Ramarley ran from the cops who had to chase him to his home.  But surveillance video from the apartment building shows Ramarley walking up to his door.  It also shows the cops who came after him trying to break down the door.  One of those cops forced his way into the apartment and gunned down Ramarley in cold blood.  On top of all that, the cops then took Ramarley's grandmother into custody and held her for interrogation.  They refused to let family and friends who came down to the police station talk to her for hours.  At first, they wouldn't even let a lawyer in to see her.

A big part of why Richard Haste faced charges for murdering Ramarley was that this police murder was met with mass protests on the streets of the Bronx.  And now there is an urgent need for people to get back out in the streets to make clear that exonerating this murderer will not be tolerated by the people.

We need to live in a world where shit like this doesn't go down all the damned time; a world where those who are responsible for public safety would sooner put their own lives on the line than kill or injure an innocent person.  It'll take Revolution—Nothing Less to bring that kind of world into being.  People going into the street to manifest their rage against this outrage and raising their heads as they fight back, getting a clearer sense of what is the source of this official brutality and murder and what it'll take to get rid of it once and for all is an important part of enabling growing numbers of people to see the need for and possibility of revolution to sweep this and all the other horrors this system enforces on people away once and for all.

 

Justice for Ramarley Graham!
Jail the Killer Cop, Richard Haste!
The System Is the Problem; Revolution—Nothing Less, Is the Solution!

 

 


 

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Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

A Call from StopPatriarchy.org:

Summer 2013: Stand Up for Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!

May 19, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 


DePaul University, Chicago,
Take Back the Night, April 25, 2013

Today abortion is more stigmatized, more difficult to access and more dangerous to provide than at any time since it became legal 40 years ago. 97 percent of rural counties do not have an abortion provider. Several states have only one abortion clinic left, and 80 percent of clinics everywhere in the U.S. have experienced harassment, violence or threats. Having a "pro-choice president" has done nothing to slow these attacks: 2011 and 2012 saw record restrictions on abortion, and 2013 has already seen the most extreme restrictions ever. For example, on August 1 in North Dakota abortion will become illegal at about six weeks (before most women even know they are pregnant!).

Let us be clear: Forcing women to have children against their will is a form of enslavement!

Fetuses are NOT babies. Abortion is NOT murder. Women are NOT incubators.

When it comes to abortion, the only question is:

Will women be forced to bear children against their will, or will women have control over their own lives and destinies?

Stand up this summer to fight for abortion on demand and without apology!


Hunter College, NYC, April 25, 2013

People who care about women must get off the political defensive and stop fighting each new attack one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole thing. It is time to stand up nationwide to STOP these attacks on women's right to abortion and to DEFEAT the war on women.

Join in the National Day of Action for Abortion Rights in July and then travel from North Dakota, where the last abortion clinic in the state is facing extreme new restrictions, down to Mississippi where the last abortion clinic is facing laws that would shut it down. Keep checking StopPatriarchy.org for dates and details to be announced very soon.

Donate and get involved today!
Contact: StopPatriarchy@gmail.com
Visit: StopPatriarchy.org

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/report-from-trip-back-to-hampshire-college-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

Report from Trip Back to Hampshire College

May 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On April 13, organizers from Hampshire College's Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) program used campus police to evict eight members of Stop Patriarchy (StopPatriarchy.org) from their conference on Reproductive Freedom for peacefully advocating against pornography and the sex industry. Revolution published some of the many messages of protest against the outrageous suppression of anti-pornography views which were sent to CLPP and Hampshire College officials. The stakes in this action by Hampshire College have bearing on whether a new generation will not only hear, but be roused into action to oppose, the tremendous harm that comes to women everywhere through porn and the sex industry. Stop Patriarchy is continuing to fight this and calls on people to add their voice to this protest. To submit a letter of protest, go to: StopPatriarchy.org/opposesuppression.html. Revolution received this letter from a reader who is part of StopPatriarchy.org.

 

Dear Revolution:

With high hopes, a couple of us from StopPatriarchy.org took the 3-1/2 hour drive from New York City back up to Hampshire College last weekend and we think your readers will be interested to learn about our experience. We needed to respond to Hampshire College administration's flagrant lies about Stop Patriarchy getting kicked out of the Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) conference in April. (See the StopPatriarchy.org statement here.) These are from notes we sent around to some people in our group.

Though the semester is over, and the campus pretty empty (admin and academic dept. offices closed), we did find some students around, packing up, a few hanging around with friends for last goodbyes for summer, small numbers coming and going into buildings.

We had flyers with our statement on one side and our challenge to debate on the flip side.

We approached just about every student we came across and got an extremely broad variety of responses. Perhaps the best was a young man (majoring in something to do with environmental restoration and insects) who hadn't heard anything about what happened previously. He was outraged, "Makes me ashamed to go to Hampshire," he said. "I'm so glad I ran into you. You've lit a fire in me. There's this campus group, something like 'Men Against Patriarchy,' I was thinking before I should join it and now I'm definitely going to." He's very interested in working to have some kind of debate happen next semester. This idea of a debate and opening up rather than shutting down discussion and debate and opposition to the sex industry (porn, "sex work" i.e. prostitution) is something that got a positive response from many of the students we talked with; 10 students gave contact info to be followed up about this, which was a pretty good percentage.

Some people had heard about the CLPP conference, but mostly vague references to "some kind of drama" and mostly their impressions were along the lines of the "official" story about it. But there was some openness to considering that the administration story wasn't true. Openness, along with some skepticism that what we said was true. CLPP has broad credibility, and some students had gone to perhaps one or two workshops even if not the whole conference. Our flyer is shocking. "LIES." Was it really that simple? It was like, there's got to be more than what Stop Patriarchy is alleging. One snarky young guy—carefully acknowledging his "white male class privilege"—went on and on about how our statement isn't "helpful," "doesn't give me enough information," "it's so categorical and acts like [we] have the facts... All I have is just two different sides' impressions of what happened." (We didn't spend much time with this guy!)

We got a hearing and connection when we made clear that this isn't just about the specific thing done to StopPatriarchy. Calling on campus police to expel and threaten us with arrest was inexcusable. Beyond that, however, is the issue that was suppressed: Are people going to even hear a critique of the sex industry from people fighting for women's liberation, as part of emancipating all humanity? Are you and others going to confront what's at stake and the millions of women and girls' lives ground up in these horrors? It's because CLPP comes out of a different framework and doesn't want to see that upset that drives them to such lengths as suppressing SP to begin with and then flagrantly lying about it. By and large the students we met ranged from casually to very interested in pursuing this. Yes, they would like to see this happen.

One of the things most interesting was to learn that there are students and others who are dissatisfied with the whole climate of relativism and identity politics—while not even necessarily understanding or able to articulate that this is a positive reaction to a whole wrong methodology and epistemology. One student, Alice, nodded in recognition to our description of the charge of "violating safe space" and the pro sex-work people elevating their individual experience over the global social harm of the sex industry. "That's widespread all over Hampshire. So many times I've found that when all people can talk about is their own individual experience... It's like everyone's 'opinion' and 'discomfort' is the end-all be-all, and it gets in the way of having a real dialogue about the issues at hand."

We got our stickers out to a few who loved them. (People walking around in sweats or shorts with no pockets and clearly without money to donate.) One woman recollected reading our Open Letter on "Facebook or a Tumblr somewhere." We handed out the Stop Patriarchy Call to Action to everyone along with the 3 Big Lies flyer, and people appreciated receiving the actual flyer which some found so objectionable. One student said she couldn't see anything in it that should be shut down by CLPP.

The extreme opposite response came from 3 or 4 different women—encountered at different times—who are part of CLPP and organizers at the conference. It felt like they were all programmed to present a united front, i.e., "treat these people like enemies." They were each openly hostile and refused to talk to us. "I don't feel obligated to talk to you," coldly walking off. Another: "I know what you're going to say," threw our flyer in a trash can and explicitly refused to talk to us.

Once we decided there weren't more people or places to get out to on campus, we left Hampshire and drove into the town of Amherst. On the advice of a very interested Hampshire student we met in a gift shop, we took flyers to leave and post at the local library and posted things up on a few bulletin boards in stores. There were more places to have sought people out and posted flyers, but we ended up spending a lot of time talking to one person we met by sheer luck. When we began handing out flyers to customers hanging out at one coffee place, a young Asian woman said, "I was part of this conference!" She was actually part of the "peace team"—people who took shifts during the conference theoretically to "intervene in different conflict situations." She was not there at the time of the "incident" and was actually very pleased to meet us—really wanting to find out what we had to say. She said there had been a lot of discussion and concern. "People are really upset the campus police were called in and have been trying to find out, who called them??"

We went into some depth on what happened. It seemed to us that she took seriously what we said, especially that no one from CLPP tried to find out more, that CLPP director Mia Sullivan in particular refused to talk to us (aside from threatening arrest), that the police were pretty much there on the spot. She thinks SP's larger concerns and positions belonged at the conference. This woman herself feels conflicted about pornography and "sex work"—going back and forth on the questions of the impact of the sex industry on women's lives around the world. "I'm really torn about this...can see both sides..." She tried to explain why she thinks one of the self-described sex workers got so upset. Her impression was that StopPatriarchy.org was only addressing "force" and not "choice." When we explained why "choice" is actually not the central question, she found this revelatory. I pointed out the section of our flyer which said, "What seemed to offend [the pro-sex industry group] was SP's argument that their individual 'positive experience' with porn and 'sex work' should NOT be elevated over the global social harm of the industry on millions and millions of women and girls." Even putting aside the matter about whether "sex work" really is freely chosen by the vast, vast majority of women and girls involved, the central thing to evaluate is what social and sexual relations do pornography and prostitution reflect and reinforce. She nodded her head in agreement.

I also talked to her about the lie being spread about SP "blogging about the abortion speak-out"; the actual chronology of what happened, i.e. since this was after we got kicked out, it obviously wasn't the reason for us getting kicked out. When I mentioned the "Use only I statements" sign, she told us that sign was used throughout the conference! In fact, workshop moderators are supposed to introduce all workshop discussion with such instructions. While not wanting to strongly criticize this "community norm," the "only I statements" policy is unsettling to her.

This led to a discussion about the problem with such a method and the whole framework of identity politics. She explained the "intention" behind this practice where each person brings their own experience into the whole group, no person or group is marginalized or excluded and thus "real community and understanding is strengthened." But in fact what was marginalized and excluded at CLPP was the actual experience of millions of women and girls abused, exploited, degraded, and lost! As opposed to looking at things scientifically, bringing people to look at objective reality, over and above just personal narrative—which can lead people to not only learn about what's actually going on in the world, how and why, but also see that we have a responsibility to fight to change this, towards a society without exploitation or oppression of any kind. Not "my group" or "identity." At one point when I mentioned that one of the SP people kicked out is a Stop "Stop & Frisk" defendant, she said, "I live in Harlem and know all about this. Living in Harlem, I get shit from all sides" including dealing with racist slurs from some Black people. So how is that different from "my group," "my community," the narrow nationalism of looking at other oppressed people as competition for shrinking resources, pitted against each other. Identity politics can't take that on. This woman wants to pursue "getting to the bottom" of what happened at the conference, and is interested in possibility of a debate in the fall.

Certainly it would have been better if we had gone back earlier, but we think the trip proved to be fruitful.

p.s. We really had fun.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/sound-the-alarms-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

From a NYC Teacher:

Sound the Alarms on Mass Incarceration

May 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Sound the alarms. The time to act is now. Carl Dix and Cornel West will be meeting on May 20 for a conversation around the following equation: Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide: Act to STOP It Now. One theme that Carl Dix will be diving into and illustrating throughout the evening will be that under this system, there is no future for our youth. I want to support that idea by contributing some heavy realizations I have made as a community worker in the South Bronx these past few weeks.

I work in a community that has recently dealt with yet another youth who lost his life to gun violence, Alphonza Bryant III. The community is in mourning. This youth was a senior in high school—some people would say he had the whole world in front of him. Some people, like the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. The mayor has used this teen as a poster child for what is now stop, question, and frisk. He has recently been on the news glorifying the practice of stop-and-frisk, defending its racist policies, even making the listener feel as though more stop-and-frisk would have prevented the teen's death.

When the mayor uses the murder of a teen as a reason to ramp up stop-and-frisk, anyone should be alarmed. We don't need more stop-and-frisk. We need much less of that. In fact, we need none of that. Even more, in fact, we need a radically different world. A world in which youth like Alphonza have a future that can be filled with something worthwhile. We need a revolution and we need a leader like Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, to be known amongst all strata of people.

I know there are plenty of you out there when they hear of a young person's death due to gun violence, you think well, where are the parents? Shouldn't they be the ones to get the kids off the streets and in the home around the dinner table? Where are the schools? Shouldn't they be teaching these kids how to read and write so they have other places to turn to besides the streets? Where are the politicians? Shouldn't they be passing laws that get guns off the streets? Where are the people who we can hold personally accountable? Because when things like this happen, it has to be all about personal accountability. Well, I have another way of looking at it. It's not the fault of any one person, or group. It's the whole damn system! The whole system is to blame for the murder of this youth, and millions more around the planet and throughout history for that matter. But I want to keep this lens in focus in light of recent events. It is the system—capitalism. It is because profit comes before people. Have you ever looked at a situation and said: we know how to solve this, why can't they (politicians and leaders) just get it done? It's not able to get done because the solution in most cases that is best for the people isn't best for profit. It's not profitable to get guns off the streets. It's not profitable to pay people higher wages for less time so they can be home with their children and put food on the table. It's not profitable to have all students be strong readers and writers. We have a top, so we must have a bottom. We can never have a more personable capitalism. Those things are in complete contradiction.

Until we have a whole new system, until we can bring a whole new way of living life into being, there will be more youth without a future. More young people being funneled down the prison pipeline. No way out. Looks almost devastating, doesn't it? But the future does not have to go this way. We don't need more police presence on the street. We need more revolutionaries on the street. We need more people who have their hearts and minds set on a whole new way of living. We need to fight the power, and transform the people for revolution.

What does that look like? Fight the power—protest, march, speak up and get out when it matters. Support young revolutionaries like Noche Diaz—an amazing example of what fighting the power and transforming the people for revolution looks like. Go see Carl Dix and Cornel West on May 20. Transform the people for revolution: read Revolution newspaper. Read everything you can get your hands on written by Bob Avakian. Read, learn, wrangle, and then tell everyone you know. Donate all you can so the message can get out everywhere. Wear it on T-shirts, post it on Facebook, put palm cards everywhere you go... Saturate your neighborhoods with the messages of Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party. This is letting other people know there can be a whole new way of living. This is part of transforming the people. If anything above has interested you—get to your local Revolution Books store ASAP and get connected. I will leave you with an important quote from Bob Avakian:

"No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that."—BAsics 1:13

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/full-page-statement-in-the-new-york-times-demands-close-guantanamo-now-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

Full-page Statement in the New York Times Demands: "Close Guantánamo Now!"

May 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The "Close Guantánamo Now!" statement, organized by World Can't Wait, appeared in the front "A" section of the New York Times on Thursday, May 23—the same day that Obama gave a major speech that discussed U.S. drone strikes as well as Guantánamo. The signers of the statement include John Cusack, Wallace Shawn, Junot Diaz, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Eve Ensler, Dave Eggers, Glenn Greenwald, Paul Haggis, Bianca Jagger, Ariel Dorfman, Erica Jong, Michael Moore, Ron Kovic, Moby, Tom Morello, Mark Ruffalo, James Schamus, Carl Dix, Oliver Stone, Cindy Sheehan, and Cornel West, joined by attorneys for the Guantánamo prisoners and hundreds of others.

Click here for a PDF of the full-page ad that appeared in the NY Times. Go online to worldcantwait.net to learn more about the statement, add signatures, and donate so it can be published internationally.

 

The full-page ad that appeared in the May 23 NY Times

 


 

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Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

High Stakes in the Cruel and Unjust Trial of Bradley Manning

May 24, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The trial of Bradley Manning is set to begin on June 3, at Ft. Meade, Maryland. Manning is a U.S. Army private charged with 22 violations of the "Uniform Code of Military Justice."

Manning already has been imprisoned in solitary confinement for over three years, including 11 months in isolation in a hellhole that Juan Méndez, a special United Nations rapporteur who formally investigated Manning's conditions, described as "cruel, inhuman, and degrading." Manning himself said of those 11 months, "I remember thinking, 'I'm going to die. I'm stuck inside this cage. I just thought I was going to die in that cage. And that's how I saw it: an animal cage."

The basis of the charges against Manning is the accusation that he leaked almost 500,000 classified government documents, which were then published by the website WikiLeaks. Many of these documents and files revealed war crimes committed by the U.S. government and its military in Iraq and elsewhere. The documents Manning is charged with leaking include the Collateral Murder video, Afghanistan War Logs, Iraq War Logs, U.S. embassy cables, and Gitmo (Guantánamo) files. All of them contain damning evidence of U.S. atrocities, cover-ups, and deceit.

The most serious of the accusations against Manning is that he "aided the enemy." If he is convicted of this charge, Bradley Manning faces the possibility of a life sentence in prison, without the possibility of parole.

Even if Manning is not convicted on this charge, he faces 20 other charges that could result in over 150 years in prison. He has already pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of "prejudicing the good order and discipline of the military," which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

In February 2013, Manning was taken from his cell to a military courtroom, where he read a lengthy statement that included his reasons for joining the military, how and why he became an intelligence analyst in the military and, most especially, why he sent government files to WikiLeaks. Manning said he released the files to reveal to people "what happens and why it happens" and to "spark a debate about foreign policy."

Despite Manning's guilty plea on certain charges, the government is determined to press ahead with charges that could, if he is convicted, end in a life in prison for him.

War Crimes Exposed


Bradley Manning being brought into a military court at Ft. Meade, Maryland, May 21, 2013
Photo: AP

The Collateral Murder video, from Baghdad 2007, is perhaps the most shocking of the files. It shows American soldiers in an Apache helicopter shooting and killing 11 Iraqi civilians who don't return fire. Two children who were in a van that arrived after the initial round of gunfire were seriously wounded; their father, who stopped to help the people already shot, was killed. The Americans were recorded joking about and exulting in the slaughter they inflicted. "Alright! Ha ha! I hit 'em!... Got a bunch of bodies lying there... Oh yeah! Look at those dead bastards!"

Among the thousands of documents in the Afghanistan War Log were directives that authorized teams of Navy Seals and Delta Forces to decide whether to kill or capture people they decided were their "targets." Other files revealed policies—code named "Frago 242"—by which U.S. and English forces who directed torture of Iraqi captives could avoid taking responsibility for it.

In other words, the person who leaked these videos saw some of the bloody horrors the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have inflicted on millions of people. This person came to an understanding of the lies and deceit these wars were built on, and realized they had a responsibility to act. This person exposed to the world horrible crimes that the U.S. government wanted to keep concealed.

Bradley Manning is accused of being this person, and now the U.S. government is compelled to punish Manning to the utmost, to set an example for others—including those within the military itself—who may also be revolted by the reality of the war crimes their government and its armed forces routinely commit.

Whoever leaked these files is a hero who acted with great courage, and whose example provides a model and inspiration to anyone else who witnesses or participates in such monstrous crimes.

The Real Criminals


Screenshots from the Collateral Murder video, one of the documents Bradley Manning is accused of leaking. The video shows American soldiers in an Apache helicopter in Baghdad, 2007, firing on and killing 11 Iraqi civilians.

Blood spilled by the U.S. has been soaking into the arid ground from Libya to Pakistan for the past dozen years. In particular, over the past 12½ years since George W. Bush and Co. commenced a "global war on terror," countless atrocities—crimes against humanity—have been inflicted on people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and other countries by American military forces and spy agencies.

Well over 100,000 people have been killed outright in this American onslaught; countless more have died of disease and suffering inflicted by the wars. Hundreds of thousands more people have lost limbs or been otherwise maimed, traumatized and sickened; people in all these countries have seen their farms, homes, and ways of making a living destroyed. Millions have been "displaced" by war.

But the perpetrators of these atrocities have not been punished. Even before he was inaugurated, Obama made clear that he was opposed to any investigation of criminality in relation to the torture programs carried out during the Bush years. And since taking office, Obama has kept the book closed on cases of CIA torture, insuring that no one will be punished for the horrendous crimes that were directed from the highest levels of the U.S. government.

Far from being treated as war criminals and facing life in prison, the leading political and military officials who have organized, orchestrated, and justified such monstrous criminal acts remain esteemed and respected guardians of the system of capitalism-imperialism.

Colin Powell stood before the United Nations and lied to the world that Iraq threatened its neighbors with "weapons of mass destruction"—his speech was quickly followed by a massive U.S. invasion and continuing occupation of Iraq. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld launched invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and organized a worldwide network of torture chambers in defiance of international laws and even the U.S.'s own laws.

Now Colin Powell speaks around the country on "leadership," at a fee of $100,000 to $200,000 per talk. George W. Bush just had a library built in his name on the campus of Southern Methodist University—the inauguration of the library this April was attended by Obama as well as former presidents Clinton, Bush I, and Carter.

Barack Obama has not only defended and continued the program of war and torture begun by his predecessors; he has extended U.S. bombing to several other countries, and developed policies of drone bombing and targeted assassinations.

Obama has accompanied the global crimes of the system and military he heads with the ruthless pursuit and punishment of anyone—such as Bradley Manning—who allegedly exposes these atrocities. As journalist/blogger Kevin Gosztola said in an interview with Revolution last year, "The Obama administration has waged an unprecedented war on whistle-blowers or 'leakers.' He's prosecuted more individuals for alleged leaks than all previous U.S. presidents combined. Unlike Bush, the Obama administration does not simply retaliate against people that go to the press to reveal the truth of what the U.S. government is doing. They target them with prosecutions. And, to date, six people have faced prosecutions under the flawed and outdated Espionage Act of 1917.

"This war on whistle-blowing or leaking has created a climate that makes government employees very reluctant to talk to reporters or journalists on the record. It chills free speech and freedom of the press. It makes media organizations more deferent to power. To avoid being targeted by government for engaging in actual muckraking journalism, journalists form cozy relationships hoping to be spoon-fed scoops that can form best-selling books..."

A Political/Legal Battle With High Stakes

Actions in Support of Bradley Manning

A mass rally in support of Bradley Manning is being held Saturday, June 1 at Fort Meade, Maryland. Chartered bus tickets from New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Willimantic CT, and other cities are available.

June 1–8 is an International Week of Action for Bradley Manning, and events are planned in Seoul, Toronto, London, Cardiff, Heidelberg, and several other cities internationally and in the U.S. For more information, go to couragetoresist.org, or worldcantwait.net.

The release of the WikiLeaks files was a major, international shock to this system of global exploitation and oppression backed up by military force. The horrible acts of death and destruction; the relentless waging of war against civilian populations; the gleeful celebration of mass murder by its soldiers; the blackmail, bribery and cover-ups that are routine in the "diplomatic relations" the U.S. maintains even with its allies—all this and more are things the leaders of this system want to talk about among themselves, not to be aired in public.

The stakes of Bradley Manning's upcoming trial are extremely high. This system is out to inflict extreme punishment on Bradley Manning—to jail him for a long time, perhaps life, and to use this cruel punishment of a brave person as an example to anyone else who would dare expose the crimes of empire. The courage and resilience with which Manning has withstood years of solitary confinement and almost a year of torture are a testament to his strength.

In April 2011, Barack Obama was directly questioned about the arrest and imprisonment of Bradley Manning. Even though at that point Manning had yet to be even legally charged with anything, let alone put on trial, Obama responded, "We are a nation of laws. We don't let individuals make decisions about how the law operates. He (Manning) broke the law." First of all, this is monumental deceit and hypocrisy from a man who defies international law and standards to, among other things, imprison and torture Bradley Manning, and who regularly has made decisions based on the supposed legal authority of a "secret memorandum" to send murderous drone strikes against civilians in multiple countries.

But how can Bradley Manning possibly have a "fair trial" when the President, the "Commander-in-Chief" himself, has already declared that he is guilty? What happened to the "presumption of innocence," supposedly a cornerstone of the American system of law?

The continued sadistic persecution of Bradley Manning reveals much about the ways the U.S. coheres its empire, and the fearful, vengeful punishment it seeks to extract when it is exposed. Far from being the worldwide champion of such "democratic values" as freedom of speech and freedom of the press, as the representatives of this system never tire of proclaiming, a look beneath the system's façade reveals a gruesome reality of murderous wars, atrocious war crimes routinely covered up, and harsh persecution of people who expose these crimes.

The government is out to silence and shut down any individual or any media outlet that exposes the truth about crimes committed by the U.S. military. Anyone who wants to see truth revealed, war crimes exposed and stopped, and justice done must demand that the persecution of Bradley Manning be ended, his charges dropped, and that he be freed.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/two-dozen-dead-in-oklahoma-tornado-why-are-there-schools-with-no-shelters-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

Two Dozen Dead in Oklahoma Tornado—Why Are There Schools With No Shelters?

May 25, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Twenty-four people were killed when a ferocious 200 mile-per-hour tornado hit the town of Moore, Oklahoma, on May 20. Nine of them were children, and seven of those children were in school at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore when the tornado destroyed the school.

Plaza Towers Elementary School had no tornado shelter. Administrators, teachers and students had over a half-hour warning that a tornado was approaching, but had nowhere safe to evacuate students. Under the circumstances, there were many acts of heroism—one teacher who is eight weeks pregnant wrapped several of her students in her arms to protect them when walls suddenly caved in. She was found unconscious, buried under piles of rubble. She was lifted out of the rubble, put in the back of a pickup truck and taken to a hospital with a fractured sternum and spine. A piece of rebar speared her left hand. It is unclear whether the students she was trying to save were among the survivors.

Cheers to Rebecca Vitsmun of Moore, Oklahoma

When the enormous tornado ripped through Moore, Oklahoma last week, Rebecca Vitsmun grabbed her 19-month-old son and fled her home moments before it was leveled by the raging storm.

CNN hack Wolf Blitzer interviewed Rebecca in front of the debris that was her home and said to her "'You're blessed. Brian your husband is blessed. Anders (the baby) is blessed. ... We're happy you're here. You guys did a great job. I guess, you got to thank the Lord. Right? Do you thank the Lord, for that split second decision?"

Rebecca smiled as she replied to Blitzer, "I'm actually an atheist."

Barack Obama recently tweeted "Our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma today"; well over 75,000 people including many singers, actors, politicians and religious figures have tweeted with the hashmark "#PrayForOklahoma." People who survive a disaster such as the Oklahoma tornado are trained to say that a non-existent god was "looking out for them" if they survive—which can only mean that this supposed god wanted to see their neighbors dead.

So, props to Rebecca Vitsmun for bringing some reality to this situation, and for standing up for her—thoroughly correct—convictions.

One man who witnessed the destruction of the school said, "All you could hear were screams."

Cities and towns in Oklahoma are periodically hit with fierce tornados. And technology exists to provide effective shelter from these tornados. Northeastern State University campuses in Tahlequah and Broken Arrow have concrete, underground tornado vaults that serve as classrooms, but are used for shelter when tornado warnings are issued. And schools that were rebuilt in Moore after a tornado in 1999 do have storm shelters.

In the wake of the tragic deaths in Moore, there are many calls for building safe shelters in schools. "There should be a place that, if this ever happened again during school, that kids can get to a safe place," said Mikki Dixon Davis, whose 8-year-old son, Kyle, died at Plaza Towers.

The mayor of Moore told CNN that most of the schools in Oklahoma don't have a shelter because of the cost. The cost of a shelter in a school is between $600,000 and a million dollars.

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn is an all-around fascist who made opposition to gay rights and stem-cell research key campaign issues when he ran for Senate. During his 2004 Senate campaign, Coburn stated, "I favor the death penalty for abortionists" and he is on record for opposing abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Coburn opposes practically any governmental expenditure on people's needs, and while he is on the fascist end of the spectrum of mainstream politics, he and people like him are defining the agenda of the whole ruling class, including Obama—whose response to the dark ages morality and fascist rants of such forces is to "reach across the aisle" to accommodate them.

Coburn claimed—without factual evidence—that it was not clear that children at Plaza Towers Elementary would have survived even if they had had access to a shelter. And that "there's only so much we can do."

First of all—every school in a tornado zone needs to have a shelter built now.

And, in response to Senator Coburn—if in a society with as many resources as the United States, exposing school children and their teachers to the mercies of tornados, without building shelters in schools, is as much as you can do—then you and the capitalist ruling class you represent have no right to run, and no business running, society.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/june-2013-ba-everywhere-organizing-conferences-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

June 2013

BA Everywhere—Imagine the Difference It Could Make Organizing Conferences

May 25, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following is information we have received about the upcoming organizing conferences in  different cities for the BA Everywhere campaign. We will update this list as we hear about other conferences. See the article "Organizing Conferences First Week of June. Summer 2013: Taking BA Everywhere, Raising Funds and Making a Difference."

New York City
Sunday, June 2, St. Mary's Church, 521 W. 126th St.
Doors open 1:45 pm; Program starts promptly at 2 pm through 6 pm (Directions: #1 to 125th St., Harlem)
Contact the New York BA Everywhere Committee: BAEverywhereNYC@yahoo.com or 347-835-8656
NYC conference leaflet (English | Spanish)

Los Angeles
Sunday, June 2, 1 to 5 PM
at Revolution Books
5726 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(Just west of Wilton, 3 blocks west of the Hollywood / Western metro redline station)
Contact the BA Everywhere, L.A. coordinator at 213-304-9864
Email: baeverywhere_la1@yahoo.com

Chicago
Saturday, June 1, 1:00 - 5:00 PM
at Revolution Books
1103 N. Ashland Ave
773-489-0930
revbookschi@yahoo.com

Houston
Sunday, June 2, 1-4 pm
Location: ACT House, 2805 Wichita Street, Houston, TX  77004
(a block North of Southmore, between Delano and Ennis; near Texas Southern University, in Third Ward)
For further information, contact RevolutionHtown: 832-865-0408
RevolutionHtown@yahoo.com

Cleveland
June 2, Sunday, 1:00 - 5:00 pm
Revolution Books
2804 Mayfield Rd (at Coventry)
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 932-2543
revbookscle@hotmail.com

SF Bay Area
Sunday, June 2, 2-6 pm
Revolution Books 2425 Channing Way, Berkeley
510-848-1196
revolutionbooks@sbcglobal.net

Hawai'i
Sunday, June 2, beginning at 1 p.m
2626 South King Street
Honolulu
808-944-3106
revolutionbks@yahoo.com

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/los-angeles-area-police-murder and-brutality-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

Los Angeles Area Police Murder and Brutality: The Dogs Are STILL in the Motherfucking Street!

May 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

David Sal Silva, with his three daughters. Photo, courtesy his family.

The recent beating death of David Sal Silva by deputy sheriffs in Bakersfield, California, reminded me of the 1978 murder of José Campos Torres, a 23-year-old Vietnam War vet. Campos Torres was arrested by the Houston police for public drunkenness, then beaten so savagely the jail would not even book him until he was taken for medical treatment. Instead, the cops took him to a local bayou and threw him in the water. His drowned body was found floating the next day.

Poet and musician Gil Scott Heron wrote a moving piece about the murder at the time. He talked in the poem about how he'd said he wasn't going to write any more songs about police brutality and racism, but then ended with the lines:

And the dogs are in the motherfucking street.
I had said I wasn't going to write no more poems like this.
I made a mistake.

I was provoked to do a Google News search under "police shootings Los Angeles." It turned up the following reports just in the last month in the Southern California area. The news stories almost never acknowledged the victims' humanity—how they are the brother, or the child, or the parent of other people, real flesh-and-blood human beings. Most news reports didn't even bother to list the victims' names.

1. April 25, early morning, northwest LA County—An unidentified homeless man was shot and killed by a San Fernando Police Department cop in the northwest corner of Los Angeles County after reports about a dispute between the man and another person at a nearby McDonald's. The officer said he was getting out of his squad car when the homeless man attacked him with a large tree branch. The cop first used a Taser but said it didn't stop the man, then he fired his service pistol. The man was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

2. April 26, before dawn, southeast LA County—An unidentified man was shot and wounded by El Monte Police Department cops while driving a reportedly stolen delivery truck. Police said that when they deployed spike strips, the driver put the truck in reverse and attempted to hit other officers. Police then opened fire—witnesses reported between 16 and 30 shots—and bullet holes could be seen in the windshield and driver-side door.

3. April 26, mid-afternoon, South Central LA—Brice Jefferson was shot and killed by LA County Sheriff's deputies. He reportedly was arguing with a young woman who called the authorities. The sheriffs claim a deputy was injured when struck by Jefferson's car. Deputies then shot him.

4. April 26, evening, 25 miles south of LA in Orange County—An unidentified man was shot and wounded by Garden Grove police. Undercover cops on a stakeout saw him drive into the lot they were watching and radioed for uniformed cops after fear he would blow their cover. He supposedly tried to flee in his car. The cops said they fired multiple shots after he drove toward the undercover cops, striking him at least once.

5. April 28, just after midnight, south of Los Angeles—Long Beach police shot and killed an unidentified man after alleged reports of a man with a gun. He was running away when killed.

6. April 30, before dawn, East LA—An unidentified man was shot and killed by LA Sheriff's deputies. He had allegedly stolen a car, then abandoned it and fled into an empty apartment and barricaded himself. Deputies said there was a "confrontation" and they opened fire.

7. May 1, mid-morning, downtown LA—An unidentified man was shot and killed by LAPD cops after an undercover officer in the area said he saw what "appeared to be a robbery in progress" in the Green Apple Market. The market is across the street from the Los Angeles Mission homeless shelter in skid row. When the man left the market, the undercover opened fire. The man ran from the scene and uniformed officers down the block shot and killed him about 150 feet from the market. A woman said the pigs "shot him like 11 times." An angry crowd from the area gathered, yelling at the officers. Police detained and later released several of them.

8. May 1, dinnertime, 50 miles east of LA in San Bernardino County—San Bernardino police claimed they saw a man commit a traffic violation but he refused to pull over and then crashed after a short pursuit. He allegedly got out of the car and became combative. He was shot and wounded and hospitalized.

9. May 5, early morning, San Fernando Valley, LA—An unidentified man was shot and wounded by LAPD cops who came to an apartment building in response to a woman's 911 call about a possible prowler. She called after someone knocked on her door and she looked out and said she saw a man with a gun. Police said he shot at them after they arrived and they fired back. The man was hospitalized in critical condition.

10. May 9, noon, east of LA—San Bernardino cops saw a car allegedly stolen after a carjacking and murder. The driver crashed and he and a passenger ran, with one allegedly firing at the police. Cops shot and killed one, sent the other to the hospital with gunshot wounds.

11. May 11, late evening, southeast LA County—LA Sheriff's deputies supposedly responded to reports of a fight where a man had a gun in the small city of Cudahy. Rigoberto Arceo, a 34-year-old Latino, was leaving the area in a car driven by his sister, after a family dispute. The pigs said Arceo advanced on a deputy, ignoring commands to stop, and tried to take the deputy's gun. His sister said he had his hands in the air and he was walking up to the squad car when he was shot in the chest and killed. The pigs then detained his sister and justified the killing based on a gun found in the car. She said it was her gun, was unloaded and fully legal, and Rigoberto did not even know it was in the car.

12. May 14, noon, 30 miles south of LA—An unidentified man and woman were seriously wounded after being shot by Santa Ana police while riding in a suspected stolen car. Police said they located the car after a Lo-Jack anti-theft tracking report and chased the car several blocks until it jumped a curb and crashed. Police would not say whether the couple was shot inside the car or as they tried to flee. Both were hospitalized.

13. May 14, just after dark, southeast LA County—LA Sheriff's deputies shot a 35-year-old man during an alleged narcotics arrest in the city of Paramount. Deputies said he tried to grab one of their guns. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

14. May 16, mid-afternoon, northwest LA County—Christian Eaddy, 25 years old, was shot and killed by LAPD cops in the city of Pacoima. Officers went to the scene after reports of an apparently suicidal man with a knife threatening to kill himself. They claimed he threatened them with the knife.

15. May 17, early morning, east of downtown LA—Kahn Tony Nim, a 35-year-old Vietnamese immigrant with a history of mental health issues, was shot and killed in the Alhambra Police Department lobby. Officers said they tried to speak to Nim in several languages but he was unresponsive and incoherent. When he allegedly pulled a large knife from his backpack, three of the five cops opened fire. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

16. May 17, late evening, northwest LA—An unidentified man was shot and wounded by LAPD cops in Lake View Terrace after they allegedly tried to stop him and a second man. Police said they ran and then the victim was shot when he allegedly pulled a handgun and pointed it at the officers.

17. May 18, dinnertime, South Central LA—46-year-old Charles Curl, a Black man, was shot dead by an Inglewood PD officer after Curl allegedly used a machete to smash the windows of eight squad cars outside a police station. Police claim Curl was shot after charging a cop, but cell phone video taken by a passerby broadcast on local TV clearly shows Curl walking toward another squad car when a cop crouched behind the car's open door fires from at least 15 feet away. Curl later died in surgery at the hospital.

18. May 18, mid-evening, South Central LA—50-year-old Terry Laffitte, a Black man, was shot and killed by LA Sheriff's deputies. They claimed he was riding his bicycle drunk while holding a gun, that they followed him into the yard of a home where they were assaulted by several of his relatives, and that they shot him when he allegedly pulled a gun from his waistband during the fight. His sister told the media, "My brother was on the ground. They had his hands behind his back. He didn't have a gun." She also reported that the fight was recorded on a cell phone but that it was confiscated by the sheriff's department. Deputies denied that any cell phones were taken. They later claimed to have found a real gun and replica gun on Lafitte and that several of his family members involved in the fight were "known gang members."

19. May 19, late evening, 50 miles east of LA—Moreno Valley police answered a report of a suicidal man locked in the bathroom with a knife, cutting himself. The cops said he came out, dropped the knife, but then picked it up and made threatening statements to them. He was shot and wounded and admitted to a nearby hospital.

20. May 21, midnight, East LA—An unidentified man was shot and killed by LAPD cops after they said they spotted a known gang member riding a bike who pointed a gun at them. He was pronounced dead at the scene. It is unknown how many shots were fired.

21. May 22, noon, San Fernando Valley—LA Sheriff's deputies on some kind of patrol shot an unidentified man in the city of Van Nuys. No more details were given.

****

Last year on March 24, 2012, a 19-year-old Black youth named Kendrec McDade was shot and killed by Pasadena, California police when they claimed Kendrec ran after he and a friend reportedly stole a laptop computer while carrying a gun. The cop who killed him said he was "clutching something in his waistband." It turned out to be a cell phone. On the anniversary of his death, Pasadena officials cleared the officer who murdered him of any wrongdoing.


Kendrec McDade

Kendrec's parents have been outspoken about his murder and continue to demand justice in the face of official denials and cover-ups. They just filed a federal lawsuit against the Pasadena cops.

Last month Kendrec's father, Kenneth McDade, said eight Pasadena police came to his house looking for his nephew in connection with a felony theft case. Kenneth McDade recognized at least two of them in connection with Kendrec's murder.

One cop told Kenneth, "I'm going to fuck up your weekend." Kenneth was thrown up against a car in his driveway, handcuffed, and his shoulder was sprained. Another cop said, "Do you want me to break your arm off? Do you want this to turn into a murder case?"

****

Two weeks ago, U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess ended the "Consent Decree" that led to more than 10 years of federal oversight of the Los Angeles Police Department. The Consent Decree was imposed in 2001 following the "Rampart Scandal" in which it was revealed that cops in the LAPD's anti-gang CRASH unit had routinely beaten, shot and framed mainly young Latino men, outright murdering some and generally terrorizing the immigrant community of Pico-Union. The Consent Degree was a reflection of some sharp divisions among the authorities about how to best police the city, but also was a concerted effort to clean up the image of the pigs, win sections of the population to support the cops again, and assure everyone that the authorities were "cleaning things up."

After the ruling, current LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the Consent Degree "has made this a department I am proud to hand over to my children." Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the LAPD was now a model agency reflecting the diversity of the city. Police "reform advocate" Connie Rice said the department had come a long way. And progressive lawyers and others who should know better joined in the chorus of congratulations. "Twenty years ago, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, no one could have imagined this police department would have been under control and treat the most vulnerable communities with respect," said Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel for the ACLU of Southern California. "And by and large, it has occurred."

Oh really? The dogs are still in the motherfucking streets!

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/south-central-la-march-against-police-murder-justice-for-terry-laffitte-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

South Central LA March Against Police Murder: "Justice for Terry Laffitte!"

May 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

On Saturday, May 25, a powerful and defiant night-time march took over half of Alameda St. on the east side of South Central LA, demanding justice for Terry Laffitte who was murdered by sheriffs the week before. Dozens of people marched while others followed in cars with passengers hanging out the windows holding signs, and many, many cars passing by on this busy street waved their support or pulled out cell phones to capture the inspiring protest. As the four-and-a-half-mile march entered Watts and got closer to the notorious Lynwood Sheriff's station, sheriff cars started to pull up behind the protest, demanding that cars pull over and then threatening over loudspeakers to arrest everyone refusing to leave the street. Furious family members shouted back, "What are you going to do, kill us?" and "murderers!" while others shouted out "Fuck the police" and "They can't arrest us all," continuing the march all the way to the station and then marching inside, demanding justice and the names of the murderers.


Terry Laffitte

Terry Laffitte, 50 years old and the father of three daughters, was attacked and killed by sheriffs in his own backyard, after they stopped him for riding his bicycle erratically as he pulled into the driveway where he lived. The sheriffs beat Terry, throwing him to the ground. While he lay there, having difficulty breathing, according to what his sister told Channel 9 news, the sheriffs shot him in the back of the head. His relatives witnessing and videoing everything were also brutalized and their cell phones were snatched. The sheriffs then immediately arrested everyone in the house, branding his relatives in the news as "gang members" and claiming Terry Laffitte had a gun. The house had been filled with mainly young women and children. Along with the adults, five children under the age of six were taken by the sheriffs, including a three-week-old baby.

The righteous fury of Terry Laffitte's family poured out into the streets at a time when police in Southern California have shot 21 people in a month. One of his relatives brought a sign that said, "On May 18th 2013, around 9:00 pm Terry Laffitte was murdered by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He was an innocent unarmed man he did not resist arrest. As he laid on the ground defenseless police officers beat him repeatedly. Shortly after, they murdered him... another case of excessive force and police brutality. When will it stop? He was not an animal and did not deserve to be treated and murdered like one. He was a loving father, brother, uncle, son and friend...."

The Revolution Club South Central joined in the march carrying an enlarged poster of the front cover of Revolution newspaper, "WE SAY NO MORE," and talked with people about the answer to "when will it stop?"—the need for revolution and nothing less, and the leadership we have to make that revolution. Near the end of the protest at the Sheriff's station we led the crowd in a "mic check" of quote 1:24 from Bob Avakian in BAsics on the role of the police, a quote appreciated by many there. And throughout the night, many people got the newspaper especially because of the front cover together with the centerfold poster of "NO MORE." There was also deep interest in the national hoodie day for justice for Trayvon Martin on June 10 and the emergency call to stand with the prisoners going on a nationwide hunger strike in July.

Also see the article "Los Angeles Area Police Murder and Brutality: The Dogs Are STILL in the Motherfucking Street!"

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/awtwns-65th-anniversary-of-the-nakba-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

65th anniversary of the Nakba: Ethnic cleansing and the birth of Israel

May 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

May 20, 2013. A World to Win News Service. May 15 is Nakba Day, marking the Zionist expulsion and forced exodus of many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to create a Jewish state in 1948. Every year on this day, Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and the countries where they have been driven into exile hold protests and other activities to express their determination to see their people return to their historic homeland.

This year, according to news reports, about ten thousand people took part in demonstrations in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel itself, often waving keys to what were once their family homes. Israeli police on horseback attacked a gathering in East Jerusalem, and soldiers forcibly dispersed protests in Hebron and several other West Bank towns and villages. One of the fiercest clashes took place in front of Ofer, a military prison for Palestinians near the town of Ramallah, where dozens of people were injured and arrested. This year's Nakba celebrates 65 years of Palestinian resistance in the face of violent repression, wide-scale imprisonment and complex and difficult political conditions.

On this occasion we are reprinting the following article from the 10 December 2007 AWTWNS. Population figures have changed since then; today there are approximately 1.5 million Palestinians in Israel, 3.8 in the West Bank, and 1.7 in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Youth Movement, and millions more in the global Palestinian diaspora. The continuing expansion of Israeli settlements on the West Bank and the "Judaization" of Jerusalem are further expanding the spaces reserved exclusively for Jews and strategically fragmenting the remaining Palestinian areas.

The author of the book discussed in this article, Ilan Pappe, was driven out of Israel in 2008. (For details, see Guardian, January 20, 2009.) The Winter 2013 issue of The Jerusalem Quarterly has a new study of the village files, aerial photos and maps the Zionists made in 1940-48 as they drew up detailed plans for the mass expulsion of the Palestinians.

 

Palestinians call what happened to them beginning in 1947 the Nakba—Arabic for catastrophe. It was perpetrated by Zionist leaders looking to form the state of Israel on Palestinian land without the Palestinians.


Palestinian women hold symbolic keys and chant "the right of return will not die," during a rally to mark the Nakba Day in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Wednesday, May 15, 2013.
Photo: AP

During the Nakba about half the Palestinian population were brutally forced from their land, villages and homes, fleeing with only the possessions they could carry. Many were raped, tortured and killed. [Estimates of the exodus vary; the UN Conciliation Commission Report of 1949 says 726,000 people were driven out.] To ensure that there would be nothing for the Palestinians to return to, their villages and even many olive and orange trees were so well razed that few visible remnants remain. When the Nakba ended, there had been 31 documented massacres and probably others. Some 531 villages and 11 urban neighbourhoods were emptied of their inhabitants.

Former Arabic village and road names were Hebrewized. Ancient mosques and Christian churches were destroyed. Theme parks, pine forests (trees not native to the region), and Israeli settlements sit atop many of the old Palestinian villages. All this was to wipe out any physical evidence that the land belonged to Palestinians and give finality to the Nakba.

How many times have you had a discussion about the plight of the Palestinians with supporters of the existence of the Israeli state and met the argument that the problem arose from Palestinian intolerance of Jewish settlers? How many people know—or admit—that from the beginning Zionism had planned to permanently expel the Palestinian people from their land? In many Western countries, Nakba denial is as obligatory as Holocaust denial is condemned. How did this happen?

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Israeli historian and senior lecturer at Haifa University Ilan Pappe, explores the period of the Nakba (One World Publisher, Oxford, 2006). The premise is that the Nakba was nothing less than an act of ethnic cleansing, normally regarded by international law as a crime against humanity. To support this theory, the author outlines various definitions from different current sources, including "an ethnically mixed area being turned into a pure ethnic space." He shows how the slaughter and/or forced expulsion of the Armenians in Turkey, the Tutsis in Rwanda and the Croatians and Bosnians in former Yugoslavia is akin to what the Zionists did to the Palestinians on a massive scale in 1948 and are still doing today. Pappe also draws a connection between ethnic cleansing and colonialism as it occurred in North and South America as well as Africa and Australia.

His research is based on primary sources: newly released material (1990s) from the Israeli military archives, David Ben-Gurion's diary where summaries of many of his meetings are recorded, the rereading of the older archival material through the prism of the ethnic cleansing paradigm and extensive use of Palestinian oral history archives.

Pappe provides a brief historical background leading up to the Nakba and a few chapters at the end of the book about the situation today for Palestinians. The following is a very sketchy timeline of events leading up to the Nakba.

The first Zionist settlements began in 1878, when Palestine, like much of the Middle East, was a part of the Ottoman Empire. In 1917, with the end of WWI and the defeat of the Ottomans, the British army marched into Palestine and took over. Later that same year, the British Lord Balfour issued the Balfour Declaration, which promised a "national home" for the Jews on Palestinian land even though by most accounts, Jews constituted at most only 8 percent of the population and even less according to some estimates. The League of Nations legalized the British occupation by giving it a mandate to run Palestine. In 1938 major fighting between Jews and Palestinians broke out. The bombs of the Zionist military organization Irgun killed 119 Palestinians; Palestinian bombs killed eight Jews. In 1947 Britain told the newly formed United Nations that it would withdraw from Palestine. In November the UN approved the plan to divide Palestine into two states. By December 1947, the Zionists began mass expulsions of Palestinians. When the British pulled out in May 1948, the Zionists declared independence. The Nakba continued into the early months of 1949.

Pappe's book reveals how meticulously the Zionist movement planned, executed, lied about, and then denied their takeover of Palestinian land and the removal (through force and terror) of its population. He presents Israeli policies against the Palestinian minority inside Israel as well as in the West Bank and Gaza in their proper historical framework, setting the record straight on truths that conceptualize the situation faced by Palestinians today. Pappe only briefly touches on the role of Theodor Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement in the late 1800s, to show how deeply rooted the concept of "transfer" of the indigenous population was, how the "demographic problem" as viewed by most Israelis today is a continuation of the original Zionist exclusionist view. A map from 1919 clearly illustrates Zionist intentions to grab all of Palestine. The Herzl ideologues stated that "strangers" lived in their biblical land and by stranger they meant everyone who was not Jewish, although most of Palestine's Jews had left after the Roman period. And even today, a recent poll indicated that 68 percent of Israeli Jews want Palestinian citizens of Israel to be "transferred."

Much of the book's exposure concerns David Ben-Gurion, one of the masterminds and leading overseers of the Zionist project and the ethnic cleansing that implemented it. From the mid-1920s, Ben-Gurion functioned as the unofficial defense minister (or minister of war) of the not-yet-officially-formed state and later became its founding prime minister. He worked on an international level as well as locally organizing other Zionists around his methods and goals. It was in his home that ethnic cleansing was first discussed with a combination of security figures and "Arab affairs" specialists (Jews who grew up in the region and could speak Arabic) who would advise future governments of Israel (Pappe calls it the Consultancy). His view toward achieving a Zionist state was ambitious and strategic. He thought it could only be won by force, but that the Zionists had to wait for the opportune historical moment to be able to deal "militarily" (as Ben-Gurion put it) with the demographic reality on the ground: the presence of a non-Jewish native majority population.

When in 1937 the British offered the Jewish community a future state (on a much smaller percentage of land than the UN was to give it in 1948), he accepted that as a good beginning in that it formalized the idea. He had far more ambitious plans. In 1942 Ben-Gurion publicly stated the Zionist claim for all of Palestine, but later came to believe that this was not realistic and that 80 percent would be sufficient for a viable Israeli state.

The book talks about one important strategic project guided by Ben-Gurion—the "village project" of mapping all of Palestine. Through the use of aerial photography, details of every Palestinian village were recorded: its access routes, quality of land, water springs, main sources of income, socio-political composition, religious affiliations, names of its mukhtars (traditional village heads), relationship with other villages, the age of individual men and an index of "hostility" toward the Zionist project measured by involvement in the 1938 revolt against the British policy of allowing increased immigration of Jews into Palestine (including those who may have killed Jews).


Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces as they mark Nakba Day in Jerusalem, Wednesday, May 15, 2013.
Photo: AP

Those involved in the village mapping understood that this growing database was not a mere academic geography exercise. One person who went on one of these data collection operations in 1940 recalled many years later: "We had to study the basic structure of the Arab village. This means the structure and how best to attack it... how best to approach the village from above or enter it from below. We had to train our 'Arabists' (the Orientalists who operated a network of collaborators) how best to work with informants."

The book describes another preoccupation of Ben-Gurion and the Consultancy—the "demographic balance" between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. Whenever there was a majority of Palestinians living in an area it was considered a disaster. The public policy that was adopted was to promote widespread Jewish immigration. But the Jews who were moving to Palestine since the 1920s preferred living in the more urban areas which were inhabited by Jews and Palestinians in equal number, whereas the countryside was overwhelmingly inhabited and cultivated by Palestinians. The Zionists understood that immigration would not counterbalance the Palestinian majority and that use of other means would be necessary. Already in 1937 Ben-Gurion told his cabal that the "'reality' of a Palestinian majority would compel the Jewish settlers to use force to bring about the 'dream'—a purely Jewish Palestine." "We have to face this new reality with all its severity and distinctness. Such a demographic balance questions our ability to maintain Jewish sovereignty." "They can either be mass arrested or expelled; it is better to expel them."

When the British decided to leave in 1947 the Palestine question was transferred to the UN, which, like the British, also accepted the Zionist claims on Palestine and that partition of Palestine was the best way to solve the issue. Even if you accepted the Zionist logic, a partition according to relative population would have allowed less than 10 percent of the land for a Jewish state. But after considerable negotiations, UN Partition Resolution 181 of November 1947 allotted the Zionists 56 percent of Palestine. While Jerusalem, because of its religious significance to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, was kept as an international city, much of the most fertile land was included in the Zionist portion.

Although disappointed again, Ben-Gurion appreciated the international recognition of the Jewish state while ignoring the part which stipulated how much and which territory. He declared that Israel's borders "will be determined by force and not by the partition resolution." Ben-Gurion skillfully sidestepped what little there was of the worldwide opposition to their schemes. While the Zionists publicly proclaimed to uphold the Resolution, inside the country they began to implement their own plans. This ignoring of agreements "before the ink is even dry" became characteristic of subsequent negotiations Israel engaged in.

Pappe relates how Arab leaders opposed the partition of Palestine and boycotted these UN negotiations. They refused to participate on the grounds that giving their land to a settler community (by then one-third of the population, who owned only 6 percent of the land and had long proclaimed that they wanted to de-Arabize Palestine) was illegal and unjust. Resolution 181 created tremendous anxiety for the Palestinians. They sensed the impending showdown with the Zionists. The slaughter began in December 1947, even before the British left Palestine.

Pappe details the combination of meticulous planning as well as allowing "unauthorized" initiative to the more terrorist military groups, like the Irgun, Stern gang and Palmach (special commando units that pioneered the building of Jewish settlements). With a group of military and civilian people, including well-known figures like Moshe Dayan (a military leader who was army chief during the 1956 Suez crisis and defense minister during the Six Day War in 1967) and Yitzhak Rabin (a general and two-term prime minister assassinated in 1995), Ben-Gurion established and supervised plans to prepare the military forces of the Jewish community for an offensive against the Palestinians.

Plan C (a revised version of Plans A and B) spelled out the actions that would be taken: killing Palestinian political leadership and those who financially supported them, killing Palestinians who acted against Jews, killing officers and officials, attacking villages that seemed more militant and might resist future attacks by the Israeli army, and damaging Palestinian sources of livelihood.

Then Plan Dalet (or Plan D) was drawn up, the blueprint for the systematic and total expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland. Plan D described operations in the following way: "destroying villages (by setting fire to them, by blowing them up, and by planting mines in their debris) and especially those population centres which are difficult to control in a constant manner; or by mounting combined control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the villages, conducting a search inside them. In case of resistance, the armed forces must be wiped out and the population expelled outside the borders of the state."

In the course of carrying out Plan D the Zionist leaders were not so concerned with resistance on the part of the Palestinians or other Arabs who might come to their defense, as opposition from the Arab states was half-hearted and their soldiers poorly trained and equipped. Publicly the Zionist leaders railed about the possibility of a "second Holocaust," this time at the hands of the Arabs, but privately they were fully aware that the war rhetoric of the Arab states was not matched by serious preparation on the ground. Often irresolute army leaders from the Arab states were ignored by some Arab soldiers who took initiative and fought valiantly to defend the Palestinians. The Zionist leadership's main fear was the British army. But while it was still in Palestine, the British army rarely intervened against the massacres, even when beseeched to do so by the local Arab population.

Expulsions began by December 1947, in villages and larger towns. The following is a condensed description from Pappe's book of what happened in Haifa under British eyes.

The morning after the UN resolution, the Hagana (the main military group that would become the Israeli army) and the Irgun (an early split from the Hagana, led by future prime minister Menachem Begin, which also later became part of the army) unleashed a campaign of terror on the 75,000 Palestinian residents of Haifa. Jewish settlers who had come in the 1920s and lived in the hills around the city took part in these attacks alongside Zionist military units.

Various tactics were used. Frequently artillery shells and sniper's bullets rained down on the Palestinian population. Oil mixed with fuel was poured down the roads and ignited. Barrels full of explosives were rolled down into the Palestinian areas. When panic-stricken Palestinians came out to put out the fires they were sprayed with machine-gun fire. Jews who passed as Palestinians brought cars stuffed with explosives to be repaired at Palestinian garages and the cars were detonated.

In a refinery plant in Haifa, Jews and Arabs worked shoulder to shoulder and had a long history of solidarity in their fight for better labor conditions against their British employers. The Irgun, which specialized in bomb-throwing into Arab crowds, did so at this refinery. Palestinian workers reacted by killing 39 Jewish workers, one of the worst and also one of the last retaliatory skirmishes in that period. Later Hagana units went into one of Haifa's Arab neighborhoods, Wadi Rushmiyya, and expelled people and blew up their houses. The British army looked the other way while these atrocities were being committed. Two weeks later the Palmach went into the Hawassa neighborhood of Haifa, where around 5,000 of the poorest Arabs lived in dismal conditions. Huts and the local school were blown up, causing the people to flee. Pappe regards this as the official beginning of the ethnic cleansing operation in urban Palestine.

By March 1948, Ben-Gurion commented to the Jewish Agency Executive, "I believe the majority of the Palestinian masses accept the partition as a fait accompli and do not believe it is possible to overcome or reject it... The decisive majority of them do not want to fight us."

The armies of the Arab countries were no match for the well-equipped Zionist military clandestine units, which had received weapons from Britain, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. Arab irregulars ambushed Israeli convoys but refrained from attacking the settlements. The Consultancy decided that ruthless retaliation was not sufficient and they needed to change to more drastic actions.

Ben-Gurion used the Arab world's attempts to rescue the Palestinians to whip up a fear factor among the Jewish community that he carefully nourished to the extent that it overcame any opposition these tactics would engender. The "security" of the Jewish state (then as it is still today) became the overriding fear that allowed many Israelis as well as people outside the country to turn a blind eye to what the Zionist leadership was doing, what their plan constituted.

Until March 1948, the Zionist leadership still portrayed their activities as retaliation to hostile Arab actions. Then, two months before the British were to leave, they openly declared that they would take over the land and expel the indigenous population by force. When the British left in May, the Zionists declared their state. They were officially recognized by the U.S. and the USSR. Ruthless expulsion went into high gear and the word retaliation was no longer used to describe what the Israeli military forces were doing. Ben-Gurion said, "Every attack has to end with occupation, destruction and expulsion." There was no longer any need to distinguish between the "innocent" and the "guilty." Pre-emptive strikes and collateral damage became acceptable and necessary.

Deir Yassin

On a hill to the west of Jerusalem lay the town of Deir Yassin. The massacre there is well known throughout the world but bears mentioning here as it reflected the systematic nature of Plan D as applied to hundreds of villages throughout Palestine. Pappe describes how on April 9, 1948, Jewish soldiers burst into the village and sprayed the houses with machine-gun fire, killing many. "The remaining villagers were then gathered in one place and murdered in cold blood, their bodies abused while a number of women were raped and then killed.

"Fahim Zaydan, who was twelve years old at the time, recalled how he saw his family murdered in front of his eyes: 'They took us out one after the other; shot an old man and when one of his daughters cried, she was shot too. Then they called my brother Muhammad, and shot him in front of us, and when my mother yelled, bending over him—carrying my little sister Hudra in her hands, still breastfeeding her—they shot her too.'

"Zaydan himself was shot, too, while standing in a row of children the Jewish soldiers had lined up against a wall, which they had then sprayed with bullets 'just for the fun of it,' before they left. He was lucky to survive his wounds."

When villages were entered, destroyed and the inhabitants rounded up, decisions were made about who would live and who would die. Intelligence officers on the ground aided the military officers in this decision. The intelligence officers with the help of local collaborators (hooded spies) would point out different people to the main intelligence officer.

Israel and the Palestinians today

As a result of the Nakba, there are now almost 4.5 million Palestinians dispersed throughout the world, in addition to the 1.4 million under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and 1.3 million in Gaza, a formerly sparsely populated desert strip now full of crowded refugee camps and towns. About 1.5 million Palestinians continue to live in Israel itself as second-class citizens. The Jewish population of Israel numbers roughly 5.5 million. The Zionist state now comprises about 78 percent of historic Palestine, not counting the still-growing number of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. It has no parallel in the world—a state consciously built, since its inception, for one people, one culture, on religious grounds and with no real permanent borders.

Pappe's argument that the Nakba was an act of ethnic cleansing is convincing. The human and physical geography of Palestine was transformed by the consciously punitive Zionist plan to wipe out Palestine's history and culture and thus deny any future claim Palestinians could make to their land. Through the years since the Nakba, the killing machine that is the Israeli army has continued its dirty work. Pappe lists the following: Kfar Qassim in October 1956, Israeli troops massacred 49 villagers returning from their fields. Qibya in the 1950s, Samoa in the 1960s, the villages of Galilee in 1976, the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982, Kfar Qana in 1999, Wadi Ara in 2000 and the Jenin refugee camp in 2002. There has not been an end to Israel's killing of Palestinians.

Pappe ends his book with the hope that Israelis will wake up from their distorted view of wanting retribution, shed racism and religious fanaticism, and wake up to the truth portrayed in this book. He thinks that not accepting the Palestinian right of return equals the continuing defense of the "white" apartheid-like enclave and upholding Fortress Israel. He says that Palestinians and Jews coexisted peacefully before the Nakba and even now many have strong social ties, which shows that the two peoples can live in harmony. He calls for the transformation of Israel into a secular and democratic state.

Pappe's book does not concern itself with the central role that Israel has come to play as the bastion of American imperial interests in the Middle East. Without the military and political backing of the U.S. government and the unparalleled financial support that is central to Israeli society and its way of life ($3 billion a year in U.S. government aid, along with officially encouraged private funding), Israel would not be what it is today—if it even existed at all. Nonetheless, the book is well worth the read for its historical accuracy and as a vivid reminder of the tragedy that is the Nakba.

 

 

A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/305/obama's-speech-justification-for-assassination-torture-and-unjust-war-en.html

Revolution #305 May 26, 2013

Obama's Speech:

Not a Step in the Right Direction, But Justification for Assassination, Torture, and Unjust War

May 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On May 23, President Barack Obama delivered a major speech on drones, Guantánamo, and the "war on terror." The speech was packaged as a new direction—a real step away from "endless war" and a real step towards the establishment of legal norms and due process in how the U.S. carries out military actions and detentions.  

It was nothing of the kind. Obama covered two main questions—covert drone attacks and the U.S. prison at Guantánamo—and offered no fundamental righting of these unjust and illegal policies that stand as war crimes.

The interests, objectives, and grand designs of the imperialists are not our interests—they are not the interests of the great majority of people in the U.S. nor of the overwhelming majority of people in the world as a whole. And the difficulties the imperialists have gotten themselves into in pursuit of these interests must be seen, and responded to, not from the point of view of the imperialists and their interests, but from the point of view of the great majority of humanity and the basic and urgent need of humanity for a different and better world, for another way.

Bob Avakian
Chairman of the Revolutionary
Communist Party, USA
BAsics 3:8

This speech was wrapped with the rhetoric of "concern" and the "difficult choices" forced on an administration inheriting a "fight against terrorism" that had increasingly lost focus under George W. Bush. But dig beneath the pieties of Obama's speech and what is revealed is a deceitful effort to justify, institutionalize, and continue key and core outrages and war crimes of the U.S.'s "war on terror."

And let's be clear about what has been going on for over 12 years. Beginning with George W. Bush, the rulers of the U.S. have carried out a vicious war for greater empire—for greater domination over the Middle East and Central Asia, over strategic energy resources vital to the global economy, and to put down local and regional forces actively standing in the way of U.S. dominance. This global onslaught has been waged under the banner of a necessary "war on terror." And in his four years in office, Barack Obama has not only continued the program of war and torture begun by Bush; he has also extended U.S. bombing to several other countries, escalated policies of drone attacks and targeted assassination, and refortified Guantánamo. 

This "war on terror" has been carried out in the name of protecting the safety and security of the American people. But it has brought incalculable horror and suffering to vast swaths of humanity—in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and other countries. More than 100,000 people have been killed outright as a result of U.S. military actions; hundreds of thousands more have lost limbs, or been otherwise maimed and sickened; and millions have been displaced from their homes and countries. This is the logic, this is the morality, of empire.

Pakistanis mourn a man killed in a U.S. drone attack along the Afghanistan border, 2010. (Photo: AP)

On May 23, President Barack Obama delivered a major speech on drones, Guantánamo, and the “war on terror.” The speech was packaged as a new direction—a real step away from “endless war,” torture and drones. But beneath all his claims to care about torture, illegal assassination, and rule of law, Obama’s speech was a deceitful effort to justify, institutionalize, and continue key and core outrages and war crimes of the U.S.’s “war on terror.”
Pakistanis mourn a man killed in a U.S. drone attack along the Afghanistan border, 2010. Photo: AP

And with all its carnage and destruction—and with its torture practices, illegal detention policies, and routine violations of international law—this "war on terror" has provoked mass outrage across the planet (and the statement Close Guantánamo Now that appeared in the New York Times as a full-page ad is an expression of that outrage within the U.S.). The ongoing hunger strike by prisoners at Guantánamo has shone a light on the illegal and horrendous conditions of confinement, and has won the sympathy of people over the world.

At the same time, this "war on terror" has caused friction with the U.S.'s allies and with its neocolonial client states.

The U.S. rulers are facing legitimacy problems, affecting their ability to maintain and extend their dominant global position. It is a serious contradiction for them—including at a time when the U.S. imperialists are also moving to adjust their military posture to confront new challenges to America's global supremacy, like the emergence of capitalist China as a potential global rival.

All of this is part of the backdrop for Barack Obama's May 23 speech... part of why he had to give this speech... and part of why it was presented in the way it was.

Barack Obama aggressively articulated and defended policies deemed essential by America's imperial rulers, while trying to reassure those anguishing over the thousands murdered by drones, the unending horror of Guantánamo, and the escalation of domestic spying and repression that all this is legal, carefully considered, extremely restrained, and guided by a deep concern for human life. Importantly, this speech was also directed at an international audience.

Continuing Illegal Assassination by Drone

Repeatedly Obama claimed to be agonizing over moral issues and alluded to crimes committed in the name of the "war on terror" under Bush—although without actually calling them what they are: crimes.

World Can't Wait and others protest Obama's use of drones at his inauguration in Washington, DC, January 21, 2013. (Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution)

Beginning with George W. Bush, the rulers of the U.S. have carried out a vicious war for greater empire—for greater domination over the Middle East and Central Asia, over strategic energy resources vital to the global economy, and to put down local and regional forces actively standing in the way of U.S. dominance. In his four years in office, Barack Obama has not only continued the program of war and torture begun by Bush, he has extended U.S. bombing to several other countries, escalated policies of drone attacks and targeted assassinations, and refortified Guantánamo.
World Can't Wait and others protest Obama's use of drones at his inauguration in Washington, DC, January 21, 2013.
Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution

Then, over and over, he followed up with lies, distortions, and duplicitous declarations that he was respecting basic rights—all while essentially upholding these crimes and justifying their continuation and possible expansion.

Obama acknowledged, for example, that U.S. drone attacks and conventional warfare "resulted in civilian casualties." "For me," he claimed, "and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live."

In fact, the number of deaths from drone strikes since Obama took office is more than four times greater than under Bush, and so-called "high-level targets" have been 2 percent or less of total casualties—in other words, these strikes are hitting a wide range of people. Activist Medea Benjamin, who disrupted Obama's speech, righteously challenged him to end "signature strikes" that target supposedly suspicious gatherings. Such strikes have been responsible for atrocities like the murder-by-U.S.-drone of 69 school children in Pakistan in that category in 2006.

In response to the disruption, Obama claimed that he had addressed this. But even some mainstream news commentators pointed out that Obama's formulations and standards to justify drone strikes could actually lay the basis to expand the scope of who could be targeted.

The Torturer-in-Chief Declares: We Don't Torture

Obama declared that "we compromised our basic values—by using torture to interrogate our enemies, and detaining individuals in a way that ran counter to the rule of law."

Demonstrators dressed like detainees demand that Obama close Guantánamo, Chicago, May 2013. (Photo: FJJ)

The “war on terror” has been carried out in the name of protecting the safety and security of the American people. But it has brought incalculable horror and suffering to vast swaths of humanity—in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and other countries.
Demonstrators dressed like detainees demand that Obama close Guantánamo, Chicago, May 2013.
Photo: FJJ

Obama made no mention at all of the tens of thousands within the U.S. prison system who are held in prolonged solitary confinement and sensory deprivation—conditions which have been condemned as torture by UN officials, human rights groups, and psychologists. Nor has Obama ever, elsewhere, spoken to this outrage. Meanwhile, courageous prisoners in California have waged hunger strikes themselves, and have declared their intention to launch another hunger strike to end this torture.

And as Obama spoke, over 100 detainees at the Guantánamo torture camp were waging a hunger strike to protest their hellish conditions. In response, they are being tortured by force-feeding through a tube that snakes up their nose and down their throat. 

The prisoners at Guantánamo were swept up by U.S. forces from around the world, taken without any due process and held indefinitely—with no specific legal charges and no judicial review. Not a single one of the 166 detainees in Guantánamo—whether the 86 cleared for release or not—is in Guantánamo legally. Guantánamo is an ongoing crime against humanity.

Obama claimed, "I have tried to close GTMO [Guantánamo]." But he set no timetable and proposed no concrete mechanism for doing so. He said he would lift the ban on releasing Yemeni prisoners who make up a large section of those imprisoned. But, again, no timetable, no real mechanism—and an immoral lack of urgency. In 2009, Obama promised to close Guantánamo. 

Obama blamed Congress: "As President, I have tried to close GTMO," he claimed. The truth is that it was Obama, not Congress, who shuttered the State Department office which oversaw the release of prisoners; Obama who imposed the ban on returning any of the 56 Yemeni detainees to Yemen; and Obama who made it more difficult for lawyers to visit their clients at Guantánamo. And as Commander-in-Chief, Obama has the authority to close down Guantánamo with or without Congressional consent. 

Redefining Kill Lists as "Due Process"

Obama said, "I do not believe it would be constitutional for the government to target and kill any U.S. citizen—with a drone, or a shotgun—without due process." And Obama's speech publicly acknowledged for the first time that four American citizens have been killed by drone attacks. Obama said these were constitutional since there was due process.

But the due process that has been in effect is not the due process of law and judicial review. It is process of review and secret decision-making of the executive branch without recourse to open courts and any kind of civil liberties or rights at all for those targeted for assassination. Again, as in the Bush years, it is the "trust us, we know"—in this case, the deliberation of the president and advisors as they draw up and review "kill lists" is called "due process."

Obama raised the possibility of some kind of oversight mechanism—but the goal is simply to provide a legal fig leaf for executive action, for the broad authority to strike terror, instant incineration, outside any battle zone.

And Obama called for creating a new prison facility in the U.S. where trials before 'military commissions' will be held. The legal standards of these military tribunals are of a whole different character than what is promised as constitutional due process. For instance, the accused cannot access all the evidence used against them; and trials can be held in secret.

Adjusting and Selling the "War on Terror"

To those outraged by drone attacks, Obama insisted: "Plots have been disrupted that would have targeted international aviation, U.S. transit systems, European cities and our troops in Afghanistan. Simply put, these strikes have saved lives."

Drone strikes and torture chambers aren't saving lives in Pakistan or Yemen! The underlying, if not overtly stated, premise here is that these things save American lives.

An essential starting point is Bob Avakian's statement: "American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives." (BAsics 5:7)

And saving lives is not what the "war on terror" has ever been about. To the extent that people are taken in by and buy into the logic that torture and extra-legal assassination are justified if they "keep Americans safe"—this is a logic and (im)morality that leads to passive, or even active, complicity with terrible crimes against people around the world.

There are reactionary, Islamic jihadist forces that pose a threat to the interests of imperialism in strategic parts of the world. And these forces do carry out actions that target innocent civilians. But the U.S. rulers are not waging this "war on terror"—however it is branded or rebranded—to "save lives." They are acting to maintain, to extend, and to enforce the global interests of U.S. imperialism: that is, to dominate and exploit, and to control and plunder, the planet.

What about the threat posed to innocent people by the rise of Islamic fundamentalism? First of all, the rise of Islamic jihadist forces is in the main a product of and reaction to the workings of imperialism: to the ways imperialism has uprooted and devastated the lives and livelihoods of millions; to how imperialism has propped up vicious regimes (like Mubarak in Egypt); and to how it has literally sponsored the rise of these jihadist forces when that served the perceived interests of U.S. imperialism (as in Afghanistan, where the U.S. backed and funded Islamic fundamentalists going up against the Soviet Union).

Times Square, NYC, May 2013.

No matter who is selling global massacres and torture, no matter what rhetoric is invoked in service of unjust wars for empire, right is right, and wrong is wrong. The times call for honesty, courage, and determined political protest by everyone who refuses to be silently complicit in these crimes.
Times Square, NYC, May 2013. Photo: World Can't Wait

Further, the crimes of U.S. imperialism—from the death-trap sweatshops of Bangladesh to the environmental emergency, from mass incarceration in the USA to the ongoing genocide against indigenous peoples in Asia, Africa, and Latin America—dwarf even the aspirations of these reactionary Islamic forces.

Finally, to the extent that people do not oppose, but instead fall into active or passive complicity with, either the outmoded U.S. imperialist and other Western imperialist ruling classes, or the outmoded reactionary Islamic fundamentalism/jihadism—this only strengthens both of these outmoded forces. It is the vicious cycle where every drone attack that wipes out a wedding party in Pakistan (with far, far too little protest in the U.S.) serves to recruit more jihadists, and on and on.

A Time to Resist, a Time to Cast Off Illusions—and Self-Delusion

Obama's speech was given in large part because so many around the world are outraged or deeply troubled by these crimes. But on the most basic issues—assassination by drone, and the ongoing maintenance of the U.S. torture chamber at Guantánamo—Obama essentially upheld policies that are crimes against humanity and offered an intellectual-legal brief for their continuation.

No matter who is selling global massacres and torture, no matter what rhetoric is invoked in service of unjust wars for empire, right is right, and wrong is wrong. The times call for honesty, courage, and determined political protest by everyone who refuses to be silently complicit in these crimes.