Saturday, November 19, 2005
From Granma (Cuba)
FIDEL went to the University of Havana yesterday, November 17, to tell the people, and above all the youth, that he is confident of their disposition and ability to strengthen and maintain the invincibility of the Revolution; that neither will it collapse from within nor will it be destroyed by Yankee imperialism.
He also went to talk about the complexities of today’s world and that of the future; about internal errors; the living conditions of our people, which will continue to advance; the need to think about the evils that must be overcome, including crime and particularly, unlawful enrichment.
His words at the Aula Magna confirmed for the audience and the thousands of young people gathered outside the venue who were following his speech via large-screen televisions, that before them was the same rebel who 60 years earlier had enrolled in that place of higher learning, with just one difference: today he has the experience of six decades of struggle and the healthy satisfaction of having been loyal to his homeland at every moment.
The Revolution needs the support of the people to take forward all of the measures underway at this time, not just to eliminate social inequalities, provide better living conditions and save resources like electric energy, but also to unleash a battle against crime and the breeding grounds for an infinite number of violations, Fidel affirmed.
It was at the University of Havana, he noted, that he acquired all of the ideas that made him into a revolutionary, into a socialist, and he affirmed that he felt "10, 20, 100 times more revolutionary" than he did at the time, and a thousand times more willing to commit his life.
"Only consciousness can lead humanity to the greatest acts of heroism, and it does not matter how different we are, because in spite of the differences, we can be one at a given moment; it is ideas that unite us and make us a fighting people, that transform us, no longer just as individuals, but collectively, into revolutionaries; and today those values have multiplied. We are armed with ideas, knowledge and culture," he affirmed.
THERE WILL BE NO RESPITE IN THE BATTLE AGAINST ILLEGALITIES AND CORRUPTION
We are in a battle against generalized vices, the diversion of resources and theft, which increased during the difficult years of the Special Period.
As the Cuban president explained, the 28,000 active social workers are immersed in this combat: their control over the transfer of fuel and its sale at gas stations is already producing results in several provinces; and there will be new tasks for them in confronting corruption, which the people are happy about, as registered opinion demonstrates.
"There will be no respite for anybody," Fidel emphasized. "We will appeal to honor in every sector, because in every human being there is a high dose of shame; that is why criticism and self-criticism must be used more in our work centers, in the Party units, and then the same must be done in the sphere of the municipalities, the provinces and even on a national scale. The Revolution is going to use all of those weapons, without stopping the establishment and reinforcement of administrative controls. We are in shape to take the bull by the horns," he affirmed.
Among mistakes that have been committed in the country, he criticized the erroneous idea of those who thought that somebody already knew about socialism, about how it is built, as if it were an exact science, pushing into the background a fundamental principle: materialist dialectics.
Fidel included among the problems the lack of economic rationality and the bad management of financial resources by enterprises. He also mentioned the need to create economic awareness among the population. Regarding the latter, he noted that many citizens are still not conscious of waste, as is the case with electricity consumption, which has subsidized prices that do not prompt conservation. He reiterated that those who spend more must be charged higher rates.
Currently, he noted, there are people in our country who do not work for a living, but from illegal business with gasoline; with products from the ports, the country’s agriculture, the convertible currency stores and the hotels for international tourism. Those people must be stopped, because it cannot be that their ill-gotten wealth should be 40-50 times higher than those who carry out selfless work, like the internationalist doctors.
I FEEL BETTER THAN EVER
For more than six hours, Fidel conversed with university students and professors from the biggest institutions of higher education in the country, student leaders, the Party, the government, the State and mass organizations. Among other things, it was another opportunity to show the foolishness of the latest lies spread by the CIA about Fidel’s supposed illness; this time, they had claimed the Cuban president is suffering from Parkinson’s disease. "I feel better than ever," Fidel affirmed, "with more determination than ever."
In recent months, he explained, he has been exercising more and taking better care of himself on a daily basis. He is working hard on his rehabilitation after the fall he suffered some months back.
The revolutionary leader recommended to the CIA that it shouldn’t waste its time on supposed research on the state of his health. They should concern themselves – he said – with looking into the "emperor" who is leading the White House, and into how notorious terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles arrived in the United States, given that to date, the U.S. administration has not said a word about the affair, just as Mexico has not either, in spite of repeated requests from Cuba to clarify the issue.
THE INVINCIBLE POWER OF MORAL WEAPONS
The President affirmed that we possess nuclear weapons by virtue of the invincible power that our moral weapons give us; we have never planned to produce nuclear or biological weapons, but nevertheless they have unjustly accused us. We do not need them because we have that power in our ideas and in the magnitude of the justice for which we fight.
He added that today the empire is threatening to attack Iran if it produces nuclear energy, which is not a bomb or a nuclear weapon. They have even gone so far as to say that Cuba is transferring dangerous technology to that country, when in reality we are working on the creation of a center to develop anti-cancer products. "They should go to hell with their lies; they are not going to scare anyone here," he emphasized, confirming that we are striving to develop pharmaceuticals to combat AIDS, cancer, and other diseases. It is a battle against death.
This is the world in which the empire is trying to prevail through force, based on lies and monopolies. But every day the news arrives and a new rotten deed is discovered, he said. We have learned of the use of white phosphorous in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, a weapon that is prohibited by international conventions.
Fidel criticized the posture of the European satellite countries, where secret prisons have been discovered. These are the governments that accuse us of violating human rights and vote against Cuba in Geneva.
He noted that to the honor and glory of this Revolution, nobody here has ever experienced a center of torture. In addition, he specified, our people would not allow it because they have a lofty concept of what is human dignity.
He commented that while he frequently meets with young people, some of who go off to fulfill honorable internationalist missions, it would have been impossible to miss this event organized by the FEU (Federation of University Students) to celebrate the 60th anniversary of his enrollment in the University of Havana. "This is a special time, when the human species finds itself in real danger of extinction," he said.
In response to this reality, he commented that man never had more reason to wonder if our species could emigrate to another solar system where life exists.
Fidel pointed out that in this difficult world of plunder and exploitation, every year a billion dollars is spent on advertising, and every year billions of dollars are extracted from the impoverished masses, while phenomena such as the earthquake in Pakistan occur, in which nearly 100,000 people have died, 25,000 or 30,000 of whom were children. Many of these could have been saved if they had had an adequate amount of money for medicines and food.
He added that we live in a world where the empire claims the right to surprise and preventative attacks, according to its own definition, against more than 60 countries; a world where the empire rules through brutality and force, with hundreds of military bases throughout the planet, including one on our own territory, against the will of the Cuban people.
Fidel explained that it was at the university that he became a revolutionary, a rebel with many causes, and embraced the ideas of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. He also compared the higher education of that time with the achievements that the Revolution is demonstrating the Revolution.
ETERNALLY YOUNG UNIVERSITY STUDENT
There is no greater honor for Cuban university students that to belong to the vanguard troop, affirmed Carlos Lage Codorniú, national president of the FEU, addressing the president, whom he described as an eternally young university student.
He praised the transformations that have taken place in higher education; and he stressed that today the University is reaching the municipalities and sugar mill complex communities. It is in the communities to create more opportunities for access, relinquishing the idea of being exclusive and elite, and acting as a
catalyst for the country’s economic and social development.
He highlighted the participation of university students in various tasks of the Battle of Ideas, with the desire to make our society more socialist.
The top leader of the FEU evoked Fidel’s words there at the Aula Magna ten years earlier, when he asked students to continue to be – and increasingly so – unshakeable bulwarks of the Revolution, invincible bulwarks, bulwarks that would never surrender or abandon their posts.
Lage Codorniú reiterated the university student body’s commitment to continue forward together with the people and with Fidel.
As a special recognition in the name of the FEU, outgoing president Juan Cabo Mijares gave Fidel a plaque with the image of the young law student he once was, and the following inscription: "To our Fidel, for allowing us the privilege of fighting at his side during these six decades."
With his speech finished, and the time being after midnight, Fidel continued chatting with a group of students at the Aula Magna, while a crowd outside similar in size to the one that received him right before 6 p.m. cheered him with revolutionary slogans.
For Immediate Release:19/11/2005
Note: The Democratic Unionist Party is a hardline Unionist party in Northern Ireland led by Ian Paisley. As of 2005 it is the largest unionist party.
Sinn Féin Councillor Monica Digney has given her support to the calls from human rights activists and relief workers for DUP Councillor Maurice Mills to apologise for his outrageous claim that Asia bore brunt of tsunami because it is ‘not a Christian continent’ and Hurricane Katrina was sent to stop a gay pride festival. Councillor Mills said: “Everything he (God) does is perfect, including the tsunami.”
Cllr Digney said:
“Cllr Mills’ comments on the disasters that claimed more than 250,000 lives have caused fury among relief organisations that worked directly with those affected by the devastation of last year’s tsunami, and to suggest that this was an ‘act of God’ is sickening.
“These remarks are, as one commentator put it, ‘depressingly typical of DUP discourse’ and the DUP must take disciplinary measures against Cllr Mills if the party does not agree with these comments.
“In recent months there was a small tornado which caused damage to people’s homes outside Rasharkin. Is Cllr Mills then saying that this is an act of God and that the damage to these people’s homes are somehow justified?!
“At a time when we are struggling to tackle the scourge of racist attacks in Ballymena it doesn’t help when local public representatives are speaking in favour of disasters inflicted on Asia because they are ‘not Christian’. Its about time the DUP moved out of the Dark Ages and stopped leading their followers down a path of sectarianism, racism and homophobia.”
Friday, November 18, 2005
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLU) announced that it has today filed three lawsuits charging that officers of the Miami, Miami-Dade and Broward police departments used excessive force to intimidate and unlawfully arrest innocent bystanders and protesters who were exercising their free speech rights during the November 2003 Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) ministerial meetings in downtown Miami.
The three lawsuits filed today – on the two-year anniversary of the FTAA summit – are on behalf of a former Miami New Times reporter, four labor union members and a college student from Massachusetts whose skull was fractured after police hit him in the head three times with a baton. All six ACLU plaintiffs were arrested on November 20, 2003, during marches that resulted in hundreds of arrests after police used unnecessary force to disperse crowds.
“The ‘Miami Model’ was a police tactic designed to intimidate political demonstrators, silence dissent, and criminalize protest against the government policies,” said ACLU Greater Miami Chapter President Terry Coble, referring to the City of Miami’s law enforcement strategy during the FTAA meetings. “If this type of police action is allowed to continue, our country will have lost one of our most basic rights, and we will be on the road to a totalitarian government.”
The ACLU noted that despite the overwhelmingly peaceful nature of those gathered to protest at the FTAA, “…police officers arrested approximately 300 people, most of them for minor offenses such as disorderly conduct and failure to obey a lawful command. Hundreds of people were held in local jails for more than 24 hours. The charges against virtually all of those who were arrested were later dismissed.”
According to the AFL-CIO during the FTAA Week, protestors were subjected to an unprecedented show of intimidation, harassment and abuse at the direction of top Miami police officials. Fundamental civil liberties were trampled, and public safety was put at risk, in order to send a clear political message: peaceful protest against the FTAA is not welcome in Miami, Florida.
Top Miami police officials did everything they could says the labor organization, to silence union members, retirees, and members of the public who wanted to speak out against the FTAA. They convinced the City of Miami to pass an ordinance limiting free speech just a week before the FTAA Ministerial began - the ordinance has since been criticized by a Federal Court, and the city has promised to repeal it now that the FTAA protests are over.
During the day of the permitted rally and march against the FTAA, police leadership deployed thousands of cops, many in full riot gear, with an array of helicopters, weapons and water cannons outside the amphitheater where the FTAA rally was to take place. Four out of five union and retiree buses were never allowed to reach the site of the march and rally, despite promises to the contrary from top police officials. Police authorities prevented thousands of peaceful protestors from entering the amphitheater where the FTAA rally was occurring.
The ACLU says, “Working under the overall command of Miami Police Chief John Timoney, officers from the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County and the Broward Sheriff’s Office made extensive plans to militarize the police force in an attempt to limit demonstrations. According to news reports, police officers from more than three dozen law enforcement agencies converged on downtown Miami to create an almost surreal backdrop that included armored vehicles on the ground and helicopters dotting the skyline above. The police marched in lines wearing full riot gear and wielding batons, tear gas, pepper spray and beanbag rifles to control the crowds of demonstrators.”
Plaintiffs include Celeste Fraser Delgado, then a New Times reporter who was arrested while covering the demonstrations and jailed overnight. She was later released; a charge of failing to obey a lawful command was dropped.
''When I showed them my credentials, that I was a member of the press, they told me to put my hands behind my back,'' Delgado said Thursday. ``I placed my badge and notebook in front of me and they cuffed my hands so tight. I was lying there for more than an hour.''
The second case involves Edward Owaki, then a 19-year-old college freshman at the University of Amherst in Massachusetts. Owaki was participating in a demonstration when an officer hit his head with a baton three times, fracturing Owaki's skull, according to the lawsuit. Owaki spent a night in jail, then nine days in intensive care at Jackson Memorial hospital, the suit claims.
Lorne Battiste, a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and United Steelworkers members Laura Winter, Ricky Hamblin and Luis Cardona said they were arrested while following police orders to disperse.
Winter stated at an ACLU news conference today. “The police used intimidation and fear to basically shut us up. When I asked them why they were arresting us, they replied that they were simply following orders and proceeded to handcuff me and force me face down into the grass. At that moment, it felt like I had no rights; they had complete power to suspend my rights for the sake of what they called ‘security,’ but in reality they were the ones causing all of the violence and problems.”
The ACLU alleges in all three lawsuits that the actions of City of Miami, Miami-Dade and Broward Sheriff’s officers violated the rights of demonstrators, specifically the First Amendment right barring the government from unreasonably interfering with people’s rights to engage in political demonstrations and other expressive activities, and the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits the police from using unreasonable and excessive force.
“Despite the pride that Mayor Manny Diaz and Police Chief John Timoney have taken in the ‘Miami Model,’ trampling on the constitutional rights of demonstrators in order to make downtown peaceful during the FTAA meetings was not a successful police operation,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. “Police officers failed to fulfill law enforcement’s two equally important duties – ensuring the safety of the community and at the same time protecting everyone’s constitutional rights. As a result, taxpayers in several South Florida communities will now be required to compensate people from around the country for the violation of their constitutional rights.”
The Miami Model, according to the AFL-CIO calls for authorities to foment irrational fears about peaceful political protest in order to legitimize suppression of our rights. This climate of panic enables top police officials to harass and intimidate protestors and sympathetic members of the public through profiling, random stops, and pre-emptive arrests; to neutralize protestors by isolating them from the public and shielding their intended political audience from them; and to punish protestors through unwarranted and indiscriminate use of force, mass arrests, and mistreatment in jail. These tactics are designed to discourage ordinary Americans from exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech and free assembly.
Even the stodgy old labor AFL-CIO has said these tactics are part of a larger strategy of the Bush Administration to chill political dissent and stifle civil liberties here in America. Anti-Bush demonstrators are caged in "free speech zones," the FBI is using expanded powers to profile those who protest Bush's foreign policies, while national security is invoked to roll back workers' rights. Sources: ACLU, AFL-CIO, Miami Herald, Florida Sun-Sentinel
There is no room for Rummy down under.
Protesters turned out yesterday in Adelaide, Australia and called United States Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a war criminal and demanded he go home. The rally also called for the freeing of Australian terror suspect David Hicks from Guantanamo Bay jail and chanted: "Rummy go home to your mummy".
Rumsfeld is in Adelaide for the annual Australian and US ministerial consultations, known as AUSMIN.
Australian Democrats SA leader Sandra Kanck said the rally was originally intended to protest at the proposed new terror laws. "We would not need terror laws if our Prime Minister had not tied us to the coat tails of (US President) George W Bush and Donald Rumsfeld," she said. "I have been delighted to hear much sedition here today and I have been delighted to see placards that are saying seditious things. But by Christmas this may not be allowed in our democracy."
South Australian Greens MP Kris Hanna said Rumsfeld was a symbol of that power and money which runs the United States and Australia. "They are willing to kill, they are willing to murder innocent civilians by the tens of thousands to exploit the resources of other countries and sacrifice even their own soldiers for these goals of war and expropriation."
The protesters marched from Parliament House down King William Street to Victoria Square, stopping peak hour traffic. It was reported that one person was removed and then later arrested by police for disorderly behavior, after a clash with a sole pro-US demonstrator.
More than 500 police officers were stationed in the city for Rumsfeld's two-day visit, with large concrete barricades surrounding the town hall and hotel where the guests stayed, closing nearby roads closed.
This morning police arrested three people who attempted to block Rumsfeld’s departure from the Adelaide Town Hall. The Australian reports that two men, aged 34 and 32, were arrested for disorderly behavior and a 17-year-old youth was arrested for theft and assault after allegedly stealing a police officer's hat. Another youth was removed from the area for breach of peace, police said.
One Australian newspaper reporter that Rumsfeld has been surrounded by a security detail, the size of which has never been seen in Adelaide. Sources: The Australian, Advertiser (Adelaide), Australian Broadcasting Corporation, IMC (Sydney)
Once again George Bush found himself in the midst of street violence. This time, of course, it is South Korea where the Prez was attending the APEC summit.
Thousands of farm activists and union workers hurled bottles in a clash with police near a meeting of Pacific Rim leaders on Friday in Pusan. Participants in the rallies chanted slogans like "No Bush, No APEC, No Rice Market Opening and No WTO."
Thousands more never made it to the protest as organizers reported police had blocked busloads of people from even entering Pusan. Still others were prevented from even getting on the buses to begin with.
The clash broke out about a mile from the convention center where leaders from 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies were meeting.
As the day wore on protestors converged towards the bridge connecting the city to the area where the summit was being held. Here they were met by thousands of riot police (a total of 30,000 were deployed in all apparently) with a barricade of buses and shipping containers. Some pitched battles broke out between the bamboo-spear wielding farmers and the riot police, who began to respond with water cannon. Riot police wielding 3-metre-long metal pipes attacked the demonstrators and angry protestors responded by using ropes to pull the shipping containers from the barricades and into the sea. The fighting went on after dark.
Organizer of the rally planed to hold protest on Saturday in Busan when the APEC leaders hold second retreat at "Nurimaru" APEC House in the Dongbaek Island in southern Busan. Nurimaru means peak of the world in Korean.
South Korean farmers attended the rallies to protest their government's plan to open wider its rice market to foreign imports under a World Trade Organization-imposed deal.
Early this week, hundreds of farmers and policemen were wounded in Seoul clashes. Sources: People’s Daily (China), Prensa Latina, Kotaji, Simply Left Behind
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
In Honor of Vine Deloria, Jr. (1933-2005) - From the Colorado AIM web site,,,,
The great indigenous visionary, philosopher, author and activist Vine Deloria, Jr. passed over to join his ancestors today, November 13, 2005. Our thoughts and prayers go to his wife, Barbara, to his children and his other relatives. The passing of Vine creates a huge intellectual and analytical void in the native and non-native worlds. He will be greatly missed.
It is appropriate on this website to reflect on the meaning of Vine's contibutions to indigenous peoples' resistance, and to reflect on our responsibilities to maintain and to advance the lessons that Vine gave to us. It is safe to say that without the example provided by the writing and the thinking of Vine Deloria, Jr., there likely would have been no American Indian Movement, there would be no international indigenous peoples' movement as it exists today, and there would be little hope for the future of indigenous peoples in the Americas.
Vine Deloria, Jr. was a true revolutionary when he wrote "Custer Died for Your Sins" in 1969, the first of his scores of books and scholarly articles (for a partial bibliography of Vine's important books go to:
http://www.ipl.org/div/natam/bin/browse.pl/A31). He had the courage and the vision to challenge the dominating society at its core. He was unapologetic in confronting the racism of U.S.law and policy, and he was prophetic in challenging young indigenous activists to hone their strategies.
We will write much more about Vine in the upcoming days. He was our elder statesman and mentor. For now, we will share this passage from "Custer Died For Your Sins," as a reminder of our responsibilities, and to ensure that we are more deliberate and strategic in our resistance.
"Ideological leverage is always superior to violence....The problems of Indians have always been ideological rather than social, political or economic....[I]t is vitally important that the Indian people pick the intellectual arena as the one in which to wage war. Past events have shown that the Indian people have always been fooled by the intentions of the white man. Always we have discussed irrelevant issues while he has taken our land. Never have we taken the time to examine the premises upon which he operates so that we could manipulate him as he has us."
-- "Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto," (1969) pp.251-252
and this relevent passage regarding the example of the great Oglala Lakota leader Tashunka Witko (Crazy Horse):
"Crazy Horse never drafted anyone to follow him. People recognized that what Crazy Horse did was for the best and was for the people. Crazy Horse never had his name on the stationery. He never had business cards. He never received a per diem. *** Until we can once again produce people like Crazy Horse all the money and help in the world will not save us. It is up to us to write the [next] chapter of the American Indian upon this continent." page 272
For many of us, Vine was a contemporary Crazy Horse. Perhaps we squandered his time with us. We took him for granted, and assumed that he would always be with us. Now, the question is, not only will we produce more Crazy Horses, but will we produce more Vine Deloria, Jr.s?
Vine, we will miss you, but we will continue your work toward freedom for native peoples everywhere. Mitakuye Oyasin.
The Legacy of Milton Hanson RN
By David Neita
Taken from NHS Exposed
Milton Hanson, Registered Nurse and Community Leader & Activist, is deceased. His spirit lives on though, because he was exceptional and inspirational in carrying out his duty of standing up for his community when it mattered most. When others turned their backs on the racism within the National Health Service (NHS) and specifically within his place of work, he courageously confronted this system of discrimination.
He witnessed the dehumanisation of Black people at his workplace but his strong sense of social justice would not allow him to ignore the plight of the abused. He challenged his employers on the record of racism he experienced within the clinic, where he worked, and in an unfair twist he was dismissed. His job and his livelihood were taken away but he never allowed his dignity and integrity to be wrested from him.
When it seemed that things could get no worse he was charged by his professional body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). He must have felt like Job in the land of Uz. He was charged, in effect, for speaking out against racism, incompetence, and un-professionalism. They had the power to strike him off the Register of Nurses and indicated that they reserved the right to do so if they found against him. It is a perverse mockery that the NMC charged Milton for a deed that amounted to the protection of the public; yet the NMC projects itself as ‘protecting the public through professional standards. Milton’s advocacy in this matter was on behalf of the patients the clinic where he worked. They were predominately Black because of the postcode of the clinic; the location is in a ‘Black area’. The question the NMC needs to resolve is: are Black people not members of the public? Sojourner Truth asked a similar question in relation to women over 100 years ago: ‘…ain’t I a woman?’ This same quest for the recognition of Black people as human beings worthy of dignity continues from the last millennia into this millennia. This pursuit that will never cease from spiritual struggle till Heaven’s system of moral justice is established here on Earth.
In all of this Milton maintained his commitment to humanity and although he was charged by his professional body, the NMC, he continued his activism in his community. As a specialist in Sexual Health he regularly spoke on the community circuit, raising awareness around sexual health. He also supported positive initiatives around education and empowerment, amongst other issues, in his community.
Till the very end Milton maintained his innocence in relation to the charges laid against him. He was guided by a sense of justice and conviction. He has found peace and neither his former employers nor the NMC can touch him now; he is no longer within their jurisdiction! He remained a Nurse until the end of his days and can never be struck off.
For those of us who knew Milton, this Jamaican Nurse in Britain, he will always be our RN, our Revolutionary Nurse. For those of us who did not have the opportunity to meet him I can tell you that Milton was lauded by the many people he cared for, advocated for and served in his community. He was a nurse of the calibre of Mary Seacole, in character and courage; and like her, A Hero!
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Folks, it is not one of my better weeks.. I'm out of commission with dental problems, medical problems and (not me) vet problems. Nothing serious, mind you, but enough to keep me busy for a few days visiting dentists, doctors, and veterinarians. Anyway, I just wanted to complain and mope. So no Oread Daily until later (I will probably post a few articles from other sources here in the meantime).
But for now - ouch!
Malik Rahim is a veteran of the Black Panther Party in New Orleans. For decades he has worked as an organizer of public housing tenants both there and in San Francisco. He recently ran for New Orleans City Council on the Green Party ticket. He is the Executive Director of the Common Ground Collective which was formed in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to provide immediate aid and long-term solidarity along the Gulf Coast.
Last week Rahim joined in a march across the Crescent City Connection Bridge in a protest over the barring of Katrina victims from entering Gretna on the other side of the Mississippi River. The city narrowly escaped a full-scale race war, the activist told marchers. “Martial law was imposed only on Black people. It was ‘shoot to kill.” Writes the San Francisco Bay View, "The anger in his voice belied his calm telling of the racist and immoral act of Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson Jr., who ordered deputies armed with guns and police dogs to stop Blacks fleeing from the hurricane from entering his predominately white town, population 17,000, in Jefferson Parish."
Now Rahim is running for mayor of New Orleans. The primary there is next February.
“I’m running for mayor to make sure that what transpired during this hurricane doesn’t happen again and to make sure that New Orleanians play a part in the rebuilding process,” Rahim explained to the Bay View.
“I’m running against the slave syndicate,” Rahim adds. Card-carrying members of this group include both Black and white elected officials and capitalists who regularly exploit the poor while enriching themselves, he says.
“If we see exploitation, racism and corruption, we are going to shut them down. I don’t care if they’re Nagin cronies or Morial cronies,” says Rahim, who equates the office holders and their administrations with “house negroes” on the plantations during America’s slavery period.
“The only way the slave syndicate is going to end is when people get up the courage to expose this injustice.”
Rahim says, “There was no reason for anyone to leave New Orleans. Marrero, Algiers and Bridge City were not flooded. We didn’t have to send people out of this state. Why didn’t the governor come down here and force Jefferson Parish to shelter New Orleans residents?” Rahim adds.
He says people stood outside the Superdome for five hours because everyone had to be searched. “If you searched everyone, how can you say a group of armed thugs were running through the Superdome raping and stealing? But they (media) always characterize us like that; especially Black males."
“Texas made out like a bandit. It pitted one group of poor people against another. So now, Texans who were waiting for government assistance are complaining about what their state is doing for the evacuees, but the state is getting paid for what it is doing for both groups."
“That’s why I’m running against the ‘plantation syndicate,’” says Rahim of the racists with power who couldn’t care less about what happens to people of color.
Protecting New Orleanians from future hurricanes is not rocket science, according to Rahim, who says rebuilding New Orleans without restoring the wetlands first is crazy. “Why not just spend the $14 billion to restore the wetlands? It’s crazy to talk about rebuilding an area that will remain vulnerable until you restore the wetlands. We spend more money to build a tunnel under Boston than to save our entire wetlands."
The levees should be rebuilt to withstand a Category 5 hurricane like Katrina, instead of the pre-Katrina Category 3 levees that congressional Republicans want. Houses should be re-built 12 feet off the ground, he adds.
Recently during an interview on Democracy Now Rahim was asked what he would have done differently than the current mayor.
“I would have commandeered everything, Greyhound buses, Amtrak trains, school buses, public service buses and had them all filled with people getting them out of harm's way. That was the very first thing I would have done. Secondly, I would have asked for volunteers. Volunteers of people that lived in the community and that know the community that didn't need a map to find out where such and such is -- street exists. And had them come back in here. I would have had my police force to commandeer every boat that was available. Because everybody knew the flooding was going to happen. You know, to make sure that people would have been getting out. I wouldn't have left it on the faith-based community. I would have made sure that everybody would have had a means that wanted to leave, or they had the means to leave.” He added, “There's no way in the world I would have put people in that Superdome. Everybody knew that that Superdome was nothing but a death trap. Because if we would have gotten 30 feet of water, how are you going to survive in that Superdome? I mean, everybody knew this. And then when you start hearing the horror stories, last year we had test run. A hurricane came, but at the last minute, it veered off. So, we had a test run. Everybody knew what needed to be in place, and it seemed like -- he still got caught unprepared with his pants down.”
In the same interview Rahim had more advice as to what the mayor could have done. He said, “The very first thing he should have done is made sure that one, that the medical assistance he knew it was going to be needed was made available. He should have had that in place. He should have had food in place. He should have had water in place. He should have had ice in place. He should have had generators in place. That's something that the city could have done. Even if they had to commandeer them from these stores. You know, you have backup generators in every one of these high rise buildings. What's in them? People not living in them? So, why couldn't he take them? Or he could put people in them. You know, he didn't do either. You know? It's all about property. Everything is about property. I tell you what, look at Cuba. Any time a hurricane -- when that -- when Hugo was passing through Cuba, and it was about to hit Havana, Cuba -- the Cuban government came through there and took everybody out of Havana. I mean, everybody was safe.”
Common Ground, which Rahim helped to build, is in fact a testament to what a determined people can accomplish.
Common Ground Collective is a local, community-run organization offering assistance, mutual aid and support to New Orleans communities that have been historically neglected and underserved. Common Ground's teams of volunteers include: medical and health providers, aid workers, community organizers, legal representatives and people from all over with broad skills from all walks of life. Common Ground’s mission is to provide short term relief for victims of hurricane disasters in the gulf coast region, and long term support in rebuilding the communities affected in New Orleans.
Today the Common Ground Collective and the Common Ground Health Clinic operate 12 hours daily, seven days a week. More than 300 volunteers have served New Orleanians with compassion and dignity through the collective. They have tarped roofs, cut down and removed trees and debris and created a brain trust for future action.
Additionally, more than 100 medical doctors and professionals have treated at least 3,600 people at the Common Ground Health Clinic located in Algiers at 331 Atlantic Ave. All services are free.
The collective’s volunteers have come from 40 states across America, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and France, and from various career paths. From doctors, lawyers and engineers to environmental scientists, they have come to donate their time, resources, money and services.
Part of what Rahim has learned from the collective, he says, is “Not all blacks are for us and not all whites are against us. People call me an Uncle Tom for working with whites, but I’d rather be an Uncle Tom than an old Black militant who is talking loud and doing nothing."
“When I got death threats for speaking out against injustice, two white men sat on my porch with shotguns to protect me. And three white medics walked the public housing developments to see if anyone needed medical services.” Sources: San Francisco Bay View, Democracy Now, Common Ground Collective
Aljazeera reports the Libyan Supreme Court has postponed for 10 weeks its ruling on the appeal of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who were condemned to death for allegedly infecting more than 400 children with the Aids virus.
Judge Ali al-Allout announced the postponement in a session lasting fewer than five minutes, saying the hearing was adjourned to Jan. 31.
In Sofia, Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dimitar Tsantchev said his government would press ahead to procure a favorable resolution of the case. "We are deeply concerned about the protracted process which has put our compatriots on the ropes of their physical and mental stability," the spokesman said.
Bulgaria's President Georgi Parvanov said he had hoped that November 15 hearing would result in the only possible decision - acquittal. He said, the thorough analyses of the case evidence proves that the nurses are innocent, therefore the president expressed his hopes that Tuesday's postponement would be the last one and that the case will be fairly solved. Parvanov told the Sofia News Agency, “I would like to address you personally, Valya, Nasya, Kristiana, Valentina, Snezhana and Zdravko, who are already reaching the limits of their human capacity. I assure you that Bulgaria will not spare any sources and measures to reach a favorable end of that long and painful trial. "
Several European diplomats attended the session, while more than 100 relatives of the infected children were outside the court holding banners calling for the death sentences on the accused to be carried out. The relatives clashed with police and three were arrested.
During the trial last year, French Professor Luc Montagnier - the co-discoverer of HIV - testified that the virus was active in the hospital before the Bulgarian nurses began their contracts there.
In a report released on Tuesday, the New York-based Human Rights Watch quoted the Palestinian doctor, Ashraf Ahmad Juma, as saying he was tortured by electric shock, beating and sleep deprivation.” The confession was like multiple choice, and when I gave a wrong answer, they shocked me," HRW reported Juma as saying in the presence of a prison guard.
The London-based Amnesty International reported that two of the nurses said they had been raped. Sources: People’s Daily (China), Sofia News Agency, Aljazeera
Monday, November 14, 2005
Penn State students were joined by Centre County, PA residents out front of a Wal-Mart store on Saturday to protest unfair labor practices and workers’ rights violations.
Also on hand was a representative from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.
Protesters holding signs that read: "Wal-Mart: Always a bad neighbor," said the demonstration was a response to what they called the company's unfair business practices, which include a failure to provide health care to 52 percent of its employees.
They also said Wal-Mart is facing a large number of child labor law violations. They cited a report from the Child Labor Coalition pointing out that U.S. Department of Labor fined Wal-Mart several thousand dollars in this year for allowing employees under 18 to handle hazardous materials
The Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) joined the United Students Against Sweatshops and the national Wake-Up Wal-Mart campaign to bring the demonstration to State College. The protest aimed to educate consumers and make them aware of Wal-Mart's unfair labor practices, SLAP co-founder Zach Scheid told the Penn State Digital Collegian.
"This is a very important event because Wal-Mart is the largest employer in the nation and sets the trend for the rest of our corporations," Scheid said. "The effects of Wal-Mart's unfair business practices extend to every corner of the business community." He added that Wal-Mart also faces the largest class action gender discrimination lawsuit in history.
SLAP also held a Teach-In on Wal-Mart on Friday night. The event included speakers such as author and activist Liza Featherstone and Wake-Up Wal-Mart campaign coordinator Kate Keller. It also included discussions with current and former Wal-Mart employees and a satirical skit about Wal-Mart.
"We don't want to shut down Wal-Mart. We want to challenge them to be leaders in labor practices," said the chairman of the State College Wake Up Wal-Mart community campaign, Paul Clark.
The protests were a part of a nationwide initiative called Wake Up Wal-Mart. "We want to educate the community about Wal-Mart -- not this Wal-Mart, but the corporation -- about their unfair labor practices," said Olivia Guevara, co-chairwoman of the Student Labor Action Project.
There are a number of upcoming events SLAP is planning, and members hope that even more students will get involved next time, Guevara said. The next event is the screening of the new film Wal-Mart: The High Costs of Low Prices at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow in 121 Sparks. The film is open to anyone, and viewers are being encouraged to donate $1.
Meanwhile, another protest was taking place at a Wal-Mart in Alexandria, Virginia over the weekend.
That protest featured street theater and a picket designed to educate Wal-Mart shoppers about the harmful impact that the "big box store" has on local businesses, the environment and labor standards both here and abroad.
"We are asking consumers to question the products they are purchasing and demand that they stores they frequent carry organic, local, and Fair Trade or Fair Made alternatives," said Ronnie Cummins, executive director of the Organic Consumers Association, which launched the Breaking the Chains campaign. "Consumer, environment, labor and independent business groups have organized events in over 1000 locations across the country."
The Virginia protest was organized by Breaking the Chains. The group says, “Wal-Mart, which already controls 20 percent of the grocery store sales in the U.S., has recently announced that they intend to become the dominant retail force in organic products. This is troubling to organic consumers and farmers, given the company's notoriety for driving down prices to producers and selling low- grade products at discount prices. Additionally, Wal-Mart is the nation's leader of suburban sprawl, poverty wages and gender discrimination. Local, independent businesses are a community's best bet for long-term prosperity.” Sources: US Newswire, Penn State Digital Collegian, Centre Daily Times (PA)
Friday the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) and the Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) jointly staged a sit-in in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka and in other parts of the country. The journalists' organizations staged the program protesting the 'undemocratic' and 'fascistic' behavior of the government that forced the union leaders to cancel a national convention against repression on journalists.
Covering their mouths with black clothes, the agitated journalists also observed a two-hour token-hunger strike and held a rally protesting the same. At the protest rally, BFUJ President Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury accused the government of repressing the journalists. “We have called the 'National Convention against Repression on Journalists, Terrorism and Militancy' but the government, in the name of security reasons, prevented us from holding the convention," he added.
Though the BFUJ was scheduled to hold the national convention at the Institute of Diploma Engineers (IDE) Saturday, it was forced to postpone the convention as IDE authorities, following a directive of the National Security Intelligence (NSI), cancelled the booking of the auditorium for convention for security reasons of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meeting in Dhaka.
Besides the capital city, the journalists in Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Bogra, Dinajpur and Mymensingh also observed token hunger strike protesting the government's 'undemocratic' behavior.
Reporters Without Frontiers (RWF) in its latest annual report said that for the third year in a row Bangladesh was the country with the largest number of journalists physically attacked or threatened with death.
RWF said the, “…conservative government showed no interest in combating the scourges of corruption and violence against the press. Protected by the authorities, Islamist groups stepped up their intimidation of independent news media.”
The group says Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s ruling alliance of conservative and Islamist parties, which has been in power since October 2001, displayed criminal ill-will in refusing to acknowledge human rights violations, including press freedom violations.
"The government displays an open hostility towards the press," said the head of one journalists’ association who did not want to be identified. "It uses all sorts of methods to reduce criticism in the name of the national interest. These range from the assignment of state advertising - the daily Janakantha has been deprived of it - to unjustified libel prosecutions against the leading editors of privately-owned media. In fact, the government is afraid of the media because most of them defend the public interest."
Maoist groups have also been responsible for many attacks on journalists. This was most true in the south-western Khulna region. Sources: Reporters Without Borders Asia Media, Financial Express