Archive for the 'Free Speech' Category

TRUMP, HITLER, AND IMMIGRANTS

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Below is part of a chilling article by Heather Digby Parton which appeared today on Alternet (www.alterner.org).

In response to talk in the Trump regime about immigrants, especially Muslim and Latino ones, the author wrote:

“But the drawing up of lists of criminals of a certain ethnicity to publish for public consumption brings to mind the most famous scapegoating of a population in history. That would of course be the systematic persecution of the Jewish population of Europe during the Nazi era.

“From the early 1930s onward, the pro-Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer published lists of crimes allegedly committed by Jews. When Adolf Hitler came to power the government took over the job in order to further stoke anti-Semitism. The point of Trump’s order is to stoke anti-immigrant paranoia, almost entirely directed at Latinos and Muslims. The parallel is ugly but it’s accurate.

“Trump may not stop there. During the presidential campaign he was caught on tape saying that he thought Muslims should have to register on a national database, which also brought up a nasty echo of the Nazi era. The idea wasn’t discussed much again until after the election when it was reintroduced by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a key Trump adviser on immigration. The president said, “You’ve known my plans all along.”

“The administration hasn’t officially proposed a Muslim database yet. But the sinister implications of the VOICE program should make clear that no matter how much he modulates his tone and how many times he fakes a “pivot,” Trump is prepared to go in the most sinister direction.”

CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS?

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.   Emphasis mine

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Noche Diaz

This past week Edward “Noche” Diaz, about whom you have read on this blog here, here, and here, appeared in court.  He had literally been plucked out of the peaceful march protesting the police killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson in August of last year.  He faces up to a year in the prison on Rikers Island for exercising his Constitutionally guaranteed right to speak freely, to assemble peaceably, and to seek redress of grievances from the government.

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Ray McGovern

Ray McGovern, former employee of the CIA, now an antiwar and anti-torture activist whom you can read about here, here, and here, holding a $50.00 ticket to a speech by retired Gen. David Petraeus to be given at the 92nd Street YMCA, was not only not allowed to enter (presumably because he might ask undesirable questions during that part of the event), but was arrested and put in jail.  He will have a court appearance on Wednesday, 4 February.

If we in the US think that we can exercise the rights that the Constitution puts forth, we are deceived.  If and when the “authorities” choose to, they now refuse to allow us these rights and even put us in jail for trying to exercise them.

What does this mean to us?  How many of us think it could never happen to us?  How many of us never try to exercise our right to speak our minds or assemble with others who hold similar views to begin with?  Do we think we would be able to if ever we chose?

The 27th of January was the seventieth anniversary of the closing of the Auschwitz Death Camp where the Nazis executed some 1.1 million people  as well as torturing those who were not actually executed.    Some people at the time did not think it could happen to them, but learned that it could.

The Nazi state, under Adolf Hitler, held all power.  Any opposition to it was violently and ruthlessly suppressed.  Members of opposition parties and “undesirables” were killed, imprisoned,  sometimes tortured or exiled.

This state of affairs did not happen overnight.  The Nazis came to power during the Great Depression and by using government as well as private measures that they encouraged were able to end mass unemployment.  But not all human beings were allowed to share in these good developments.  Only the right ones were.  Many Germans were not concerned by this, but many of them learned that when some people can be deprived of their rights and dignities as human beings, anyone might be.  It is only when there is rule of fair and just law for all people that anyone is truly free.

In the United States right now, some people, Noche Diaz and Ray McGovern being examples, are excepted from the laws, such as the First Amendment quoted at the beginning of this post, that should protect all of us.  Not only were Noche and Ray not engaged in any criminal activity, they were engaged in constitutionally protected activity.

As long as anyone can have his or her rights to free speech and assembly or of any of the other Amendments set aside, no one can be assured of having these rights.

The Germans, as the people in the US are doing right now, saw their country invade other countries.  They saw rights of certain citizens abrogated.  Ultimately, they saw the concentration camps built and saw their neighbors disappear.  But, they did not rise up and stop such things at any stage along the way.   Other countries did rise up to stop them.  Are US atrocities going to have to be stopped by other countries or are we going to rise up ourselves and demand an end to US wars and torture abroad and to the abrogation of rights here?

US TORTURE SEEN BY OTHERS

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

Below is the complete text, which I translated from the French original that you can see here, of an interview with a French philosopher about the implications of the recently released portions of the US Senate report on US torture.  Notice in the last paragraph of the interview, the remark about US citizens.

Since 2001, we have been seeing a total withdrawal from the law in the United States

Laureance DERRANOUX   11 December 2014 at 1:32 pm

INTERVIEW

The philosopher Michel Terestchenko, author of “Le Bon Usage de la torture ou comment les démocraties justifient l’injustifiable”, [The Right Use of Torture or How Democracies Justify the Un-Justifiable], reacts to the publication of the US Senate report on the use of torture by the CIA on suspects following the attacks of September 11, 2001, in secret prisons in foreign countries.

Professor Michel Terestchenko

What is your first reaction to reading this report, published on Tuesday?

It is a terrifying indictment against the CIA, likely to feed all the conspiracy theories and conspirators.  From the moment when President Bush signed the National Security Strategy of the United States on September 17, 2001, less than a week after the attack on the World Trade Center, which authorized the director of the CIA to undertake all operations necessary to capture and place in detention all persons who represent a threat of continuing and serious violence and who plan terrorist acts, the CIA has acted with complete impunity, with unprecedented powers, without referring to the executive branch nor to the President.  Either because the agency had been tacitly authorized to, or because it deliberately tricked the Bush administration until 2003 and the president until 2006.

It was known that the US had practiced torture since Vietnam.  And more recently, since the revelation in 2004 of the atrocities committed by the army in the prison of Abu Graib, in Irak.  What is troubling in this report, in addition to the horrific catalog of torture practices used, is that the CIA did not stop transmitting false information to the White House, to various officials, and to the press.  It lied about the conditions of detention of the prisoners, about the interrogation techniques used, about the physical effects of these methods, and about their effectiveness …

The effectiveness of torture is however the argument used to defend its use…

George W. Bush publicly recognized in 2006  the use of “alternative procedures”, justifing them a posteriori on the pretext that they would permit “obtaining significant information” and “saving lives”.  However, no valuable or useful information permitting the disclosure of an attack resulted from it.  What is astonishing, is that the intelligence agencies know that torture is not useful, that information is obtained by face to face questioning and analysis. And what’s more, it is evident that the CIA used inexperienced agents in these interrogation centers.

Is it really possible to think that the highest level of the US government was not informed about this?

Despite what the rapport affirms, it seems very unlikely that president George W. Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, could have been kept in total ignorance of the activities that they had furthermore explicitly put in place and supported at Guantanamo, in Afghanistan, or in Irak during this period.  On February 7, 2002, the president had furthermore signed a directive restating that the Taliban and prisoners of Al-Qaeda were not protected by the Geneva convention on prisoners of war.  Despite the amount of remarkable information collected, there are still unknown areas.  Only 525 pages have been declassified of the 6000 in the full report, and a note specifies that the White House refused to give the commission access to 9400 documents that it kept due to “executive privilege”, even after repeated requests including in 2013- under the Obama regime.

What is the conclusion that you draw from this first reading?

This is proof of the dysfunction of the entire chain of command and of the total withdrawal from the rule of law following the attacks of September 11.  We have been watching for thirteen years the disappearance of all positive forms of supervision of democratic institutions, the total passivity of citizens.  In the same way, the impunity, the secrecy, the distrust of international law, and the ineffectiveness that characterize the policy being used by the CIA to eliminate jihadists with targeted strikes that are in fact assassinations.  The US Senate commission concludes that the results of this inquiry are “a warning for the future” that “the intelligence community’s actions must always reflect who we are as a nation ”  And that in a situation of crisis it is necessary, more than ever, to adhere to the laws and standards of a democracy.

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I was struck by the professor’s remark in the last paragraph about the passivity of US citizens, but I have often wondered in my experiences on the street protesting US wars and torture what would have been the difference if  instead of a handful of us there had been a hundred thousand or a million of us.

Protesting US wars in front of a recruiting center in lower Manhattan.  Two other people are to the right of this image, out of the view of the photograph.  Six people protesting US wars and exploitation of young people who cannot find jobs in this economy and sign up in order to escape from economic deprivation.

And here are a handful of us the day after Obama was elected. We protested in front  at Federal Plaza on Broadway and then marched to City Hall, crying “No more torture, no more war, no matter who you voted for.” Click here to read about that.

Only during the OWS days did it seem to me that significant numbers of people were active.  I note that the vicious and brutal suppression of OWS followed, but that may just mean that people are going to have to be even more determined if US wars and torture are to stop.

That brings me to the issue of US wars and torture again.  We deceive ourselves if we think that US torture has stopped.  Torture goes on in US prisons, which house the largest population in the world by magnitudes, as well as in Guantanamo and other sites around the world. And the war goes on as well; US military personnel are posted all over the planet and are in combat in Afghanistan that we know of and perhaps elsewhere.

Professor Terestchenko points out to us one thing that people in the US can change–their engagement in ending US crimes against humanity and torture.

I STAND WITH SHAKER AAMER

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

As you who read this blog will know, Shaker Aamer, from the UK, has been imprisoned in the Guantanamo torture camp for 13 years, though he is innocent of any aggression against anyone.  You can read more about him here and here. Shaker has been cleared for release under both the Bush and Obama regimes, but is the last person from the UK still in the torture camp.

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Andy Worthington, whose extensive research and reporting about the Guantanamo prisoners has given us much of the information we have about them, is encouraging people to Stand With Shaker Aamer in an organized effort online and in the streets of London.  There is a website, facebook page, and more for those of us who cannot be there in person.  Andy asks that we send photographs of ourselves showing that we stand with Shaker.

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A sign such as this was suggested, but those who want to help in this effort can create a visual with a more personal message, if they care to.  The photographs with a message can be emailed to:

standwithshaker@gmail.com.

Will you join us?  Enough of US torture and indefinite imprisonment without charge.  Enough. I STAND WITH SHAKER AAMER and with all of the remaining prisoners at the Guantanamo torture camp.

Shaker Aamer with his children before his capture and imprisonment without charge by the US over a decade ago

Below is a link to the video advocating the release from Guantanamo of Shaker Aamer, cleared under both Bush and Obama regimes and still confined at the torture camp.  He is the last Briton there.

We Stand With Shaker

IS THERE ANYTHING TO MEMORIALIZE ABOUT THE UNITED STATES?

Monday, May 26th, 2014

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                             WAR IS HIDEOUS

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DESTRUCTION

Cooper Union Event June 19

Friday, June 14th, 2013

World Can’t Wait is collaborating with the Continuing Education Department at The Cooper Union for a very urgent event:

An Evening of Conscience: The Great Hall at Cooper Union 7:00 pm, Wednesday, June 19.

We Will not be Complicit…We DO NOT Consent!

No Government Spying on Whole Populations.
Hands Off Snowden & Manning.
Close Guantanamo NOW.

See more on the World Can’t Wait website.

 

More On Bradley Manning

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Marjorie Cohn, law professor and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, has this to say about Bradley Manning’s actions:

“Manning is charged with crimes for sending hundreds of thousands of classified files, documents and videos, including the ‘Collateral Murder’ video, the ‘Iraq War Logs,’ the ‘Afghan War Logs’ and State Department cables to Wikileaks. Many of the things he transmitted contain evidence of war crimes.

“The ‘Collateral Murder’ video depicts a US Apache attack helicopter killing 12 civilians and wounding two children on the ground in Baghdad in 2007. The helicopter then fired on and killed the people trying to rescue the wounded. Finally, a US tank drove over one of the bodies, cutting the man in half. These acts constitute three separate war crimes.

“Manning fulfilled his legal duty to report war crimes. He complied with his legal duty to obey lawful orders but also his legal duty to disobey unlawful orders.

“Section 499 of the Army Field Manual states, ‘Every violation of the law of war is a war crime.’ The law of war is contained in the Geneva Conventions.

“Article 85 of the First Protocol to the Geneva Conventions describes making the civilian population or individual civilians the object of attack as a grave breach. The firing on and killing of civilians shown in the ‘Collateral Murder'” video violated this provision of Geneva.

Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions requires that the wounded be collected and cared for. Article 17 of the First Protocol states that the civilian population ‘shall be permitted, even on their own initiative, to collect and care for the wounded.’ That article also says, ‘No one shall be harmed . . . for such humanitarian acts.’ The firing on rescuers portrayed in the ‘Collateral Murder’ video violates these provisions of Geneva.

“Finally, Section 27-10 of the Army Field Manual states that ‘maltreatment of dead bodies’ is a war crime. When the Army jeep drove over the dead body, it violated this provision.

“Enshrined in the US Army Subject Schedule No. 27-1 is ‘the obligation to report all violations of the law of war.’ At his guilty plea hearing, Manning explained that he had gone to his chain of command and asked them to investigate the ‘Collateral Murder’ video and other ‘war porn,’ but his superiors refused. ‘I was disturbed by the response to injured children,’ Manning stated. He was also bothered by the soldiers depicted in the video who ‘seemed to not value human life by referring to [their targets] as “dead bastards.”‘

“The Uniform Code of Military Justice sets forth the duty of a service member to obey lawful orders. But that duty includes the concomitant duty to disobey unlawful orders. An order not to reveal classified information that contains evidence of war crimes would be an unlawful order. Manning had a legal duty to reveal the commission of war crimes.”

The full text of the article can be found here.

Photo Essay from Lucille at Protest for Bradley Manning

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

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Lucille Standing Up for Bradley and for All of Us

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The Iraq Veterans Against the War Were Well Represented

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Viet Nam Veterans Were Also Out in Force

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Veterans For Peace Know Why We Need to Stop Wars

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This Veteran Has A Great Idea

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I am very encouraged by the Younger Generations Standing Up for Bradley and for Peace and Justice

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Code Pink Can Always be Counted On

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This Woman Has Another Good Idea

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Those from the Occupy Movement Still Working for Us All

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Ssomeone From Mexico Supporting Bradley

Did you see this on the major corporate news media?  Thank you, Lucille, for sharing these photographs of this important action.

Torture in US Domestic Prisons

Monday, May 6th, 2013

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Engines of torture when the tubes are forced down a person’s throat who is conscious and refuses them.

The perception by many people in the US, even the relatively small number who are aware of the torture at Guantanamo, is that torture of all kinds by the US has been an aberration since the wars of aggression in this century.

The truth is that torture is practiced in US domestic prisons and was just exported to prisoners taken in US wars.  Only lately, and due to media coverage of the current, but not the only, hunger strike by many of the prisoners at Guantanamo, is there much attention on torture in domestic prisons.

Here is an excerpt from an article by Ann Neumann published on 4 May 2013 in Waging Nonviolence:

“The prisoner has lost half his body weight and four teeth to malnutrition. He and his lawyer have gone to court to stop the force-feedings, but a judge ruled against him in March. If I asked you to guess where Coleman is being held, you’d likely say Guantánamo — ‘America’s offshore war-on-terror camp’ — where a mass hunger strike of 100 prisoners has brought the ethics of force-feeding to American newspapers, if not American consciences. Twenty-five of those prisoners are now being manually fed with tubes.

“But William Coleman is not at Guantánamo. He’s in Connecticut. The prison medical staff force-feeding him are on contract from the University of Connecticut, not the U.S. Navy. Guantánamo is not an anomaly. Prisoners — who are on U.S. soil and not an inaccessible island military base — are routinely and systematically force-fed every day.”

You can read the entire article here.

Neumann reiterates the facts about force feeding being torture.  The US is in contravention of international law and of American Medical Association standards.

What can we do to stop barbaric practices of the US government at home and abroad.  What are you doing to stop them?

Do We Do Everything the Police Say?

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Police can and do make errors and give orders that are not legal, sometimes accidentally like every other human being and sometimes on purpose. It is chilling that a judge, who is supposed to be impartial and not a tool of the police, would tell someone that he has to do what the police tell him.  The moment that we citizens allow the police to think for us, we live in a police state; and when judges back that up, we are in real trouble.

It appears from the following incident in the Bronx court today that we are in real trouble. Below is a report from that court room today:

“Josh [Norkin, attorney for Noche Diaz, activist against the Stop and Frisk police, see more here and here] went in front of the judge, who immediately started lecturing Noche that when a cop tells him something, he has to do it.  She went on at length speculating that, whatever Noche had done, he didn’t want to obey the cop, or tell the court what he was doing.  Josh took her on in a loud clear voice.  ‘We know exactly what was going on. The police were beating a man terribly in the street, and a crowd gathered.  Noche was in the crowd, observing.’ The judge said Noche had to follow the police order to move.  Josh said no, he didn’t.  ‘It wasn’t a lawful order.’

Noche Diaz, Stop and Frisk activist

“The judge didn’t like this at all.  ‘I suppose he wants to stand on his constitutional rights, but he doesn’t have them here.’  She asked the DA if they would offer an ACD (adjournment in contemplation of dismissal).  They did offer it.  Josh told the court, “‘We will refuse an ACD’

“Hell, yeah.  The whole point of defending ourselves against these unjust arrests is to establish that people have the right to observe and document police abuse.  Just because the NYPD arrests you while doing it, doesn’t mean they’re right.  It’s great to have attorneys on our side who see this, and who are just as outraged as we are.”  See the rest of Debra Sweet’s report here.

Are you outraged at the way the NYPD treat people of color in this city?  Are you outraged that the judge lectured Noche and wonder if she would lecture a Wall St criminal?

If you are, what are you doing about this?  Go to the Stop Mass Incareration website, learn more and sign the resoultion.  Go to the fundraiser on Thursday for legal expenses for these defendants who are standing up to police abuse in this city and to a policy that targets black and brown persons.  If you can’t make the party, you can still contribute online.  Link that site to your facebook page and other social media.  Go to a hearing yourself if you are in NYC.

Stop Stop and Frisk protesters are making an impact.  Though the corporate media don’t give this very much attention, alternative media in this city do.  Maybe most importantly,  the people in the courtrooms where these hearings are held, many of them from the populations being targeted, are getting to see resistance for a change.  They may be gaining some hope for a better world.

WE WON’T STOP TILL WE STOP STOP AND FRISK