Archive for September, 2012

Protesters Out In Full At U.N. General Assembly

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Protesters Out In Full At U.N. General Assembly (on NPR September 25, 2012):

The annual United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City is also an annual meeting for protestors. The “protest pens” were full on Tuesday, and the protestors brought a long list of grievances…

ALCORN: These two anti-Chinese government protests have the largest presence here, something in the low hundreds, but there are others. A coalition of anti-war groups have brought a replica of a drone, complete with hellfire missiles the size of baseball bats. It’s on a stand about 50 feet behind Deborah Sweet, by order of the police.

DEBORAH SWEET: This president has the kill list and sends drones to kill actual people, but we can’t bring a paper and fiberglass replica across from the U.N. to protest the use of drones.

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Blowing the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk Campaign Launches

We are BLOWING the WHISTLE on STOP-and-FRISK. No more STOPS and ILLEGAL SEARCHES in SILENCE. Join in!

Most of the action Thursday September 13, in the new campaign to Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk was in the areas most heavily targeted by NYPD.  Organizers were in The Bronx, Brooklyn, Harlem, Jamaica Queens, and Staten Island.  By the end of the day, 20,000 whistles had been distributed.

People wanted a place to gather and blow the whistle downtown, so we obliged.  First, at 1 Police Plaza, NYPD headquarters, where the decision was made to begin the policy of stop-and-frisk, and from where it’s constantly defended.  A few of us showed up with whistles, buttons, and signs saying “We are BLOWING the WHISTLE on STOP-and-FRISK.  No more STOPS and ILLEGAL SEARCHES in SILENCE.  Join us.  Stopmassincarceration.org”

There is a permanent “pen” of metal barricades in front of 1 Police Plaza.  After we told police we weren’t going into the pen, and we weren’t even having a protest there, they brought out more officers and extended the pen.  But our focus wasn’t on them.  We were intent on getting whistles to people who responded to the call to “blow the whistle on stop-and-frisk.”

We did not know that many civilian employees of the NYPD would agree with us that stop-and-frisk should be ended.  One of them signed up with us; others said they would lose their job if they spoke out.  Journalists from Mexico and China interviewed us.  We got so into getting whistles out to people walking by — including lots of mothers who wanted them for their kids who are targeted by NYPD — that we were almost late to Union Square, where people were waiting for us.

About 75 people gathered up to participate in a mic check to blow the whistle.  I was glad to see supporters of World Can’t Wait answer the call to come out.  Reginald, one of the organizers, told the crowd that he’s 60 years old, has masters’ degrees and has traveled the world.  He got stopped in Brooklyn near his home.  The cops said, “let us see your drugs.  You take drugs, don’t you?”  Reginald told them that he takes the drugs his doctor prescribes.  They let him go, but he doesn’t want to see others have to go through that.  Several Wall Street Occupiers talked about their experiences, and the role of the police across the city, including the murders of Ramarley Graham and Reynaldo Cuevas by NYPD.

We blew the whistle a lot! Especially at 6:00 pm, you could hear the whistles as you came up the subway steps. People came to check out the scene, and some of us did a group photo.

The deal with “blow the whistle”  is to make some noise, wherever you are, when you see someone being stopped and frisked or rights being abused by the NYPD.  We are out to change the situation where people are stopped and feel alone or humiliated by the police.  When you see something, blow your whistle.  Others will hear you.  Ask them to get out their phones or cameras.

Remember, you have the right to observe and document police conduct.  They don’t have the right to abuse anyone, and you don’t have to quiet when you see them doing so.  More information at stopmassincarceration.org.

(Photo credit: Reginald T. Brown)

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Dropping Torture Investigations, Obama Prosecutes Only Critics of Torture

The platform of the Republican Party, and Romney in his speeches, promotes reviving the “global war on terror” as a concept, and criticizes the Obama administration for changing its name to the “overseas contingency operation.” I will grant you, there is a difference in approach between the two parties.

But does emphasizing that distinction miss the essential spread and development of the US “war on terror” which the Obama administration has relentlessly pursued?  Beyond the matter of not closing Guantanamo, Obama’s lawyers argue against habeas corpus rights for 6,000 prisoners in Bagram; against even the right of people tortured in Guantanamo and U.S. secret rendition programs to sue for damages; against the release of photos of torture at Abu Ghraib so that people would have seen more of what the Bush regime was responsible for.

An announcement right before the Democrats convened in Charlotte to re-nominate Obama that his Justice Department is dropping any plans to investigate, much less prosecute cases of homicide by the CIA on detained prisoners might have shocked people, had they not already been rocked back by the reactionary rot spewing from the Republicans in Tampa.  Don’t think the announcement was not very carefully timed to blindside the millions of people who say, “It’s true Obama hasn’t done ___, but at least he’s going to do better than Bush on torture.”

In fact, the CIA now has formal immunity in two instances of killings, which means they will do whatever they can to get away with more, no matter who is president.  As reported by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker, Gul Rahman, who was beaten, shackled, and froze to death in the CIA prison knows as The Salt Pit,” in 2002, and Manadel al-Jamadi who died in CIA custody of a beating at Abu Ghraib in 2003.

No president can deliberately fail to dismantle the torture network assembled by the Bush regime, deciding not to prosecute anyone, not even to investigate most charges, except whistle-blowers like John Kiriakou who mildly criticized the CIA for carrying out torture.  Glenn Greenwald called it an “aggressive, full-scale whitewashing of the “war on terror” crimes committed by Bush officials,” in Whitewashing Torture:

Obama has shielded Bush torture crimes not only from criminal prosecution, but any and all forms of accountability. Obama himself vigorously opposed and succeeded in killing even a congressional investigation into the torture regime at a time when his party controlled both houses of Congress.

Chris Floyd echoes a point made in the 12 Step Program to Overcome Addiction to Voting for the “Lesser” of Two Evils in Obama and Holder: Sanctioning State Murder that all the terrible things Republicans do are not canceled out by supporting Democrats.

The faction of the Imperial Bloc that just nominated Mitt Romney is a pack of militarist nutballs and enemies of the truth. But so is the other faction, which protects torturers, murderers people whose names they don’t even know based on arbitrarily chosen “life-pattern” details gleaned by robots in the sky, launches secret wars, foments coups, runs “black ops” in dozens of countries all over the world, killing hundreds of innocent people each year, plunging whole countries into chaos and ruin with its ‘terror war’ and ‘drug war’ and ‘economic war’ agendas — and ferociously prosecutes anyone who tries to smuggle out a few crumbs of truth about the abominable atrocities and self-destructive follies being carried out daily by a berserk militarist system which has no goal other than its own self-perpetuation and the forced domination of others.

Don’t you find it outrageous that the current president is prosecuting more whistle-blowers at one time than have ever been prosecuted?  Whistle-blowing means criticizing wrong-doing by your superiors in government. Adam Serwer in Mother Jones, writes about what Obama & Holder are doing to add insult to injury;

[N]ot everyone connected to Bush-era torture has escaped accountability. John Kiriakou, the former CIA official who went public about interrogation techniques like waterboarding, is being prosecuted for disclosing classified information for allegedly assisting defense attorneys who were seeking to identify interrogators who may have tortured their clients.  You can torture a detainee in your custody to death and get away with it. You just can’t talk about it. [emphasis mine].

If you don’t care about these issues — and the Obama presidency has surely reduced the outrage among Democrats over them — then be at peace with four more years of what most civilized peoples consider to be war crimes.

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