Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Friday, 19 November 2010
A win for a 43 day SIT IN for a School Library (repost)
Mood:  lyrical
Now Playing: Parents in a low-income Chicago neighborhood endured a 43-day sit-in to get a library for their children.
Topic: PROTEST!

A Sit-In Success Story

Parents in a low-income Chicago neighborhood endured a 43-day sit-in to get a library for their children.

by Micah Uetricht

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/11/19-5

Whittier Elementary School is a lot like other public schools in low-income areas of Chicago. Located in the Mexican immigrant neighborhood of Pilsen, it lacks many basic resources that parents and students in wealthier districts take for granted: buildings that aren’t crumbling, cafeterias rather than hallways where students can eat lunch, a library.

In other ways, Whittier stands apart from other schools in the city. Students’ parents—many of whom are undocumented—just completed a 43-day occupation of a fieldhouse on school grounds, facing down police and threats of deportation to demand that the Chicago Public Schools reverse an order for the building’s demolition and provide their children with a library. And they won.

Protecting La Casita

Whittier parents have long been engaged in their children's educations. For seven years, a group made up mostly of students’ mothers has been organizing community meetings, talking with other parents, and pressuring local politicians to give more funding and attention to the things they say their school lacks. Their hub is a small fieldhouse they call “La Casita,” the little house, on school grounds near a parking lot.

Last year the parents achieved a breakthrough when alderman Danny Solis approved $1.4 million in tax increment financing (TIF) funds for the school. Whittier was still in need of major repairs, and still lacked a library, but the mothers thought they had scored a victory.

But in November 2009, as they examined an itemized budget of the TIF money they thought would improve their children’s education, they noticed that CPS had made a peculiar allotment of $356,000—to demolish La Casita and create a soccer field that would be shared with a nearby private school. The money for which the parents had fought was now being used to destroy their community center.

CPS administration claimed the building was dilapidated, too damaged to feasibly be repaired. But the parents disagreed, claiming that the money for demolition of La Casita was far more than it would take to fix it. Despite the parents’ complaints, administration officials would not budge. (Later, the parents were dismayed to learn that CPS had planned to demolish the building prior to conducting an assessment. They hired an independent assessor who said the building was fundamentally sound, in need mostly of work on the roof.)

Stymied by official channels, the parents decided there was only one way to prevent the razing of their community center: refuse to leave it.

43 days

One of those parents is Anastacia Hernandez, She is a mother of three—two Whittier alums and one current Whittier fourth grader—who has lived in the neighborhood for more than two decades. Born in Michoacan, Mexico, she immigrated to the U.S. in 1989, and has never lived anywhere other than Pilsen.

She became involved with other mothers at the school after a neighborhood activist invited her to a meeting; a few years later, she sitting in the field house, refusing to leave unless CPS officials called off the demolition and built a library.

On September 16, Anastacia, and about ten other parents entered La Casita in defiance of CPS’s condemnation order. They said they wouldn’t leave until citywide administrators agreed to rescind the order and build them a library.

Word traveled quickly around the city—both to supportive activists in Pilsen and beyond, and to the Chicago Police Department.

“I’ll never forget when I looked out the window and we were surrounded by police,” Anastacia told me, in Spanish. “I felt like I was in a war.”

For hours, there was a tense standoff between the parents inside La Casita and the police outside. When the CPD announced that immigration authorities would be called and everyone would be arrested, half the parents occupying the building left, fearing deportation or jeopardizing their tenuous immigration status. Anastacia stayed. In the midst of the chaos, she says she paused, considering what was happening.

“I asked myself why we had to suffer so much, simply because we want a library for our children,” she recalled. She began praying.

The large crowd of supporters gathered outside realized that the numbers were on their side—and that the police would likely be hesitant to drag a group of mothers out of their community center and arrest them in front of news cameras—and began jumping the fence, rushing past the police line to join the protesters in La Casita. With no other choices, the police left.

So began a 43-day standoff at Whittier, with parents sitting tight in the field house, joined by hundreds of community members. Police would return regularly to La Casita, but did little. On October 4, CPS cut off heat to the building, only to spark a public outcry that led to a unanimous city council resolution demanding it be turned back on.

“Why can’t my kids have what other kids have?”

Anastacia told me about the sit-in as we sat around the kitchen table of another protester—Araceli Gonzalez, affectionately known as “Cheli,” a 46-year-old mother of three current and former Whittier students who has lived in Pilsen for decades. Her small, second-floor apartment is a few blocks from the school. The walls are covered with glossy 8x10s of her children and her recently born grandchild; hand-drawn pictures, along with school notices, cover the entire fridge. As her daughter Daniela, 10, and her son Ricardo, 14, played Monopoly in their room, she and Anastacia sat in front of a large bowl of leftover Halloween candy, explaining the sit-in. Cheli says she was only "moderately" involved at La Casita before she occupied it for 43 days.

"I honestly have no idea how I got so involved," she says with a grin that acknowledged the statement's slight absurdity.

Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Cheli moved here with her parents when she was 11. Her often late and early hours as a teller at a bank to the west of the neighborhood prevented her from being as involved as Anastacia, but she has long been outraged at the condition of her children's school. Once the sit-in began, however, her life became La Casita: she spent almost every night there, going to work on little sleep; her teenage son cooked meals for her before football practice; she kept a change of clothes in her car so she could leave directly from Whittier to work.

One day, a demolition crew showed up, and a slight scuffle ensued between the crew and the protesters. Cheli was at work, but her 10-year-old daughter Daniela was at the field house. In the confusion, Daniela was pushed.

When Cheli heard about the incident, she went into a panic.

“Daniela was crying, I was crying, I was saying I was sorry over and over,” she remembered. “I felt so guilty, like I put her there. She could’ve been at home.”

Daniela wasn’t hurt, but the incident shook Cheli up. Soon after, it enraged her. “It’s ridiculous what we have to go through for our kids. And why?” she asked. “I wasn’t born here, but I took the test. I became a citizen. I did what they wanted. Now, I pay taxes. I follow the law. Why can’t my kids have what other kids have? Is it because we’re brown? Do I have to move somewhere else and pay $2000 in rent?”

Cheli called her daughter to the kitchen from her Monopoly game. Daniela had given an impressive interview on Democracy Now! from inside the field house a few weeks earlier that would have made a press secretary proud; as she shyly walked in the kitchen, avoiding eye contact in what appeared to be Hannah Montana pajamas, she again looked like a fifth grader. When I mentioned I had seen her on TV, she blushed.

Strength and success

During the occupation, as CPS dragged their feet on coming to an agreement, the parents decided they did not want to wait any longer for a decision on the library. They would make their own, there in La Casita. Book donations quickly poured in from around the world, and before long, La Casita had an impressively stocked library.

After almost a month and a half of negotiations with CPS administrators, including CEO Ron Huberman, the mothers finally got what they had been fighting for: a commitment, in writing, that La Casita would not be torn down, and that Whittier would get a library. The mothers were—and are—wary of CPS going back on its promises, but on the 43rd day of the occupation, they declared victory. The bold action of a sit-in had forced one of the largest school districts in the country to cave on every single major demand.

Today, the mothers are still meeting with administrators, negotiating and ironing out details. Parents have begun meeting in the field house again, although CPS officials still classified the building as structurally unsound, preventing children from entering. But on the whole, the battle has been won.

Both women said their fight for La Casita had changed them profoundly.

“I realized how strong we were,” said Ana. “And now my kids know, too, that they can fight, and they can win.”

Cheli agreed. “At 46 years old, I am a completely different person. And I’m so glad.”

The women discussed how the future library would make them “the happiest people in the world.” And they thought of the other 146 schools in the city lacking libraries.

“I want parents whose kids don’t have a library to fight for one,” said Cheli. “Look at us: We won everything we wanted.”


Micah Uetricht wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Micah is a staff writer for the Chicago web magazine GapersBlock.com, and is a frequent contributor to In These Times and WorkingInTheseTimes.com. He lives in Chicago, and can be reached at micah [dot] uetricht [at] gmail [dot] com.


Posted by Joe Anybody at 10:29 PM PST
"american kills" - Suicide the numbers are rising ....
Mood:  incredulous
Now Playing: MILITARY SUICIDE MURRAL
Topic: WAR
sebastian errazuriz: american kills


'american kills' installation


'american kills' by chilean-born new york based artist sebastian errazuriz is a public
installation showcasing the suicide rates of US soldiers. after searching on official
war sites on the internet, he accidentally found out that 2 times more american soldiers
had died in 2009 by committing suicide than those killed during that same year in the
war in iraq; an alarming comparison that errazuriz had personally never read or
heard about before.





according to the artist, a first google search showed only reports of media alarm about
suicide rates, but the information was always comfortably presented divided into months
and generally separated by statistics from the army, navy or air-force.





'when I first found the overall statistics summed the 304 suicides by US soldiers during
2009, I was shocked. I tried to find a number to compare that statistic. to my surprise
the suicide statistic doubled the total of 149 US soldiers that had died in the iraq war
during 2009 and equaled the number of soldiers killed in afghanistan.
' - SR





errazuriz's first instinct was to post the statistic on facebook, dumbfounded by the lack
of response and interest, he bought can of black paint and decided to 'post' the news in
the real world on his own wall outside his studio in brooklyn. equipped with a ladder,
he marked a black strip for every dead soldier, until both the suicide rates and war rates
occupied the entire wall and were registered as a single image.





'the counting of dead soldiers outside my studio was long and surprisingly eerie; it was
hard to forget that every brush stroke was a soldier who had died the previous year.
a lot of people stopped to read the mural and were immediately impressed by the reality
portrayed. most of them seemed quite shocked and approached me to ask if what I was
painting was real. I tried to explain that I simply wished to create a physical image that
could capture people's imagination, creating awareness of the current numbers in death,
war and the infinite discrepancy between the resources and energies destined to fight and
protect soldiers at war versus the energies invested in protecting their mental health
and stability.
'- SR

Posted by Joe Anybody at 4:52 PM PST
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
TSA (sick) Full Body Scanners - Or I will grope you with my creepy hands
Mood:  on fire
Now Playing: PERVERTS!
Topic: CIVIL RIGHTS

Posted by Joe Anybody at 9:21 PM PST
Updated: Wednesday, 17 November 2010 9:22 PM PST
Homeland Security and TSA and nakid pictures and Civil Rights violations
Mood:  down
Now Playing: Tell DHS to stop using BODY SCANNERS
Topic: CIVIL RIGHTS

My comment is the first 2 paragraphs the rest is from the ACLU's website that has the letter all ready written, you dont have to add anything. I did.
---------------------------------------

Let me preface this letter with "I'm ashamed of how far off the beaten path of reality we have gone" regarding all these airport TSA search procedures and now the body scanners. This is all getting slightly twisted, perverse, and un necessary and uncalled for. As I mentioned "I'm ashamed". There is no "good enough reason" to have the Government acting like this, in "total" disregard for "freedom, privacy, and liberty".

What have we become, and why are 'you allowing it' to go this far into degrading our civil rights, intergrety and honor? Have we as a country lost all respect for our constitution and for our citizens own unalienable Rights, Dignity and Privacy?

You have said that "Advanced Imaging Technology" scanners are "safe, efficient, and protect passenger privacy." But, the truth is that the GAO and experts have raised serious questions about the effectiveness of these machines and whether they could possibly justify the invasion of privacy involved.

Authorities at DHS say you can opt out of the naked scan. But doing so will subject you to new and highly invasive manual searches of your body, including your intimate parts by TSA officers.

In addition, DHS has claimed the right to search and seize the laptops and other electronic devices of international travelers. Never before have customs officers been able to routinely pour through a lifetime's worth of letters, photographs, purchase records and other data without any basis for suspicion.

-----------------------

Below is the email I received from the ACLU on this subject:

-----------------------


Planning to fly this holiday season? You've probably already braced yourself for long lines, delays and extra fees just to check your luggage.

Unfortunately, you can also expect another hassle at the airport this year. 70 airports around the country are now using controversial body scanners—also known as "naked scanners." These machines use low-dose radiation to produce strikingly graphic images of passengers' bodies, essentially taking a naked picture as passengers pass through security checkpoints.

Yes, authorities at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) say you can opt out of the naked scan. But doing so will subject you to new and highly invasive manual searches of your body, including your breasts, buttocks and inner thighs.

All of us have a right to travel without such crude invasions of our privacy. Tell DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to put in place security measures that respect passengers' privacy rights.  http://tiny.cc/s6p5g


The government is also violating travelers' privacy in another way: by searching and seizing the laptops and other electronic devices of international travelers. Never before in history have customs officers been able to routinely pour through a lifetime's worth of letters, photographs, purchase records and other data. This enormous invasion of privacy peers into people's lives in a way that has never been done before.

There's already an outcry building over all of these new searches. In fact, travelers and the ACLU have pushed back before against invasive screening, and the TSA quietly retreated back to a lighter touch. But if we want to stop these invasive practices, we've got to put our voices together.

Tell DHS to rein in these invasive, out-of-control searches and to implement security measures that ensure passenger privacy. http://tiny.cc/s6p5g

The ACLU has prepared a useful guide to help you navigate your options at the airport. It details ways to protect your privacy during air travel. It also describes how to file official complaints about any TSA trouble you encounter. View it here.

If you think your rights have been violated while you're traveling, please let us know about it. Just fill out this form online to share your story.

You shouldn't have to check your rights when you check your luggage. With the holiday travel season fast approaching, we need to make sure that security measures are in place that actually make us more secure without compromising passenger privacy.

Please write Secretary Napolitano today.

Thanks for speaking out, ACLU

 


Posted by Joe Anybody at 9:05 PM PST
Standing Up to the TSA - Protest the TSA in Portland on November 24 2010
Mood:  energetic
Now Playing: PROTESTING THE TSA - Homeland Security Airport Civil Rights Infringments 11.24.10
Topic: PROTEST!
Warning: 
.

Because of the new TSA "enhanced security" measures, we are now having to transmit words that we would never have used before in decent conversations.
"Why do we have to go through all of this?"
 
Standing Up to the TSA
By Becky Akers
View all 16 articles by Becky Akers
Published 11/17/10 

            
Don't Fly

Almost overnight, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has gone from national joke to national nightmare. Passengers used to laugh when screeners so inept they missed 60-75% of the fake bombs undercover investigators smuggled past them nonetheless proclaimed themselves gods. No one's laughing now, though, as the TSA ogles us with carcinogenic technology and sexually assaults anyone who objects. 

Over 300 of the agency's "naked" scanners lurk in 60-some airports nationwide, with more on the way; eventually, the agency will irradiate every passenger on every flight. These gizmos peer through clothing to photograph bodies in graphic detail. The TSA makes much of offering a "choice": if you dislike posing nude for the government, its perverts will grope you instead -- "prob[ing]," "prodding" and pushing "up your thighs and between your legs until we meet resistance" (and they don't mean a slap in the face). You also suffer this indignity, even if you submit to the scan, should it reveal "anomalies" such as piercings or prostheses. 

Are you still flying? Why? For your own protection and that of your children, for liberty's sake, stay on the ground until Congress abolishes the TSA. No destination on earth or convenience in reaching it, no vacation, Thanksgiving dinner, meeting or sales trip, is worth the degradation the TSA is dishing out. 

Its new "pat down procedures ... allow security officers to touch passengers of the same gender in sensitive areas such as the breasts and genitals..." These attacks have been "likened to ‘foreplay' pat-downs ... [screeners are] using the new front-of-the-hand, slide-down screening technique for ... over-the-clothes searches of passengers' breast and genital areas." 

Such mass mauling is unprecedented. No regime anywhere at any time, however totalitarian or brutal, has ever routinely denuded and molested citizens. 

Don't underestimate the trauma of such aggression nor succumb to the TSA's bland assurances that a screener "of the same gender" will paw you. We're talking sexual assault here, not a few moments of discomfort you'll quickly forget. Feelings of rage and helplessness, depression and worthlessness, can plague victims for months. 

Most pilots are veterans of the Air Force; they're pretty tough cookies who may even have survived combat. Yet one of them "experienced a frisking [from the TSA] that has left him unable to function as a crewmember. Words used to describe the incident include ‘rape' and ‘sexual molestation,' and in the aftermath of trying to recover this pilot has literally vomited in his own driveway while contemplating going back to work and facing the possibility of a similar encounter with the TSA." 

It's one thing for a predator to force your submission at gunpoint; it's another to voluntarily enter an airport and endure the TSA's onslaught. Knowing that you could have avoided it entirely but instead cooperated with your assailants and even paid them to violate you will cripple you with despair. 

Meanwhile, a former cop points out that the TSA no longer inflicts "pat-downs" but something far worse: "A ‘pat-down' search by definition is ‘a frisk or external feeling of the outer garments of an individual for weapons only. ... anyone who watches cop shows knows what a pat-down search is. The words are part of the American lexicon, and the public's image of a pat-down search by police is something that isn't all that bad." Shame on us that we didn't consider it "all that bad" for the TSA to defy the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on "unreasonable," warrantless searches, though previously with the "backs of their hands." The cop continues: "... In police work, [the TSA's current method is] called a custody search [and] includes everything short of a cavity search. The TSA needs to be honest about what they're doing. It's not nice to lie to the American people." 

Ah, but lying is the TSA's forte. Despite the hundreds of passengers wailing about molestation, despite the videotapes popping up on the internet to document their stories, despite infuriated pilots' unions and flight attendants' lawsuits, the agency blithely denies what millions have witnessed: "there is no fondling, squeezing, groping, or any sort of sexual assault taking place at airports," asserts its website. "You have a professional workforce carrying out procedures they were trained to perform to keep aviation security safe." Imagine if they trying to keep aviation security dangerous. 

The TSA lies about everything, all the time. But it surpasses even its own astounding record of deception when it comes to naked scanners. For starters, it implies it foisted them on us to counteract the Underwear Bomber. Yet it was already testing them years before Umar Farouk Abdullmutallab oh-so-conveniently emasculated himself. Indeed, as long ago as 2006, the agency was touting porno-scanners as "likely future replacements for the metal detectors now in use." Nor will these contraptions stay in airports. Cops may already be peering through your curtains and bathrobe with portable versions. 

But perhaps the TSA's biggest whoppers whitewash the hazards to our health from the two technologies with which it strips us. Experts in medicine, biochemistry, and biophysics warn that one, backscatter X-ray, concentrates in the skin rather than diffusing through the body as medical radiation does; therefore, the dose you receive is shockingly high -- far higher than the government admits. Dr. Jeff Zervas, a surgeon in Montevideo, Minnesota, told me, "As far as living tissue is concerned, the less exposure to ionizing radiation, the better. Zero is best." Dr. Zervas also worried about the TSA's legendary incompetence: "What happens, for example, if some clown leaves the machine on, and a passenger's standing in the field? And who calibrates these things? I wouldn't trust a bureaucrat or anyone else without a stake in its safety to do it properly." 

Dr. David Caskey, a cardiologist who was also teaching at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans when we spoke, seconded that: "In the medical industry we try as hard as possible to avoid even the smallest dose of radiation. Here you will be subjected to a rather significant amount. The result can and will be an increase in cataract formation, thyroid cancer, bone marrow suppression, etc." He was especially concerned for female passengers. "Even low level radiation can adversely affect a woman's ovaries. There's the potential for later birth defects. That risk increases if the woman is pregnant in the first trimester when she would likely be unaware of the pregnancy." 

Millimeter waves may be even worse. No one knows their exact effects on human flesh, but one study concludes that they "unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication. ... a new generation of cameras are set to appear that not only record [millimeter] waves but also bombard us with them..."

 

You might suppose that bureaucrats who constantly prate about protecting us would fret over the consequences of irradiating two million passengers per day, day after day. Nope. Instead, they insist against all evidence that the "technologyis safe and meets national health and safety standards. ... the radiation doses for the individuals being screened, operators, and bystanders were well below the dose limits specified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ... Advanced imaging technology screening is safe for all passengers, including children, pregnant women, and individuals with medical implants." 

As you value your life, as you value liberty, don't fly. We must boycott aviation until the TSA dies. Nor should we settle for a mere suspension of the agency's ogling and groping. Our goal is nothing less than the TSA's complete abolition; so long as it survives, it will await its chance -- or create one -- to molest us again. Another "terrorist" attack, and we'll fight this same battle. 

Indeed, we already did, in 2004: TSA was manhandling passengers then, too, though only women and above the waist. Its excuse? Two airliners had crashed within moments of one another in Russia that August. A Chechan woman had boarded each flight, and though the wreckage was so scattered authorities on the scene could not determine what caused the disasters, the TSA pronounced the ladies rebels who'd obviously hidden bombs in their bosoms. Hence, Americans screeners would molest female passengers. 

TSA got away with this for three months before the public's outrage forced it to desist. But this time must be the last. This time we stay on the ground until Congress disbands the TSA. Let's evict politicians and bureaucrats from aviation's security so that experts who understand the industry can design systems as unobtrusive and effective as those securing our homes, email accounts, cars. 

But don't waste your time begging Congress. Why bother after it went deaf to our cries on the bail-out and Obamacare? Hit its corporate cronies instead. Given the incest between the Feds and Big Business, boycotts are probably our most effective tactic. The American colonists tried one just before the Revolution exploded: under their "non-importation agreement," Patriots refused to buy British goods. Much of the despotism afflicting the colonies was due to mercantilism, to the government's favoring wealthy and influential merchants at everyone else's expense. Sound familiar? Just as the British East India Company benefitted from subsidies, the granting of monopolies, and protective laws, so do airlines today. But when the colonists refused to play their role as consumers, the whole rotten mess collapsed. 

So don't fly, or at least don't buy any more tickets until the airlines and allied industries press Congress to abolish the TSA. Educate your family and friends; infrequent travelers may not know of the TSA's newest, literal grab for power. 

If your job requires travel, talk to your boss about alternatives. Tell him how much productivity the TSA sucks from the American economy, that his interests, too, require this vile agency to disappear. Ask if you can "meet" with clients via teleconferences or iChat. 

If you're already holding tickets for the upcoming holidays, demand a refund and tell the airline why. Advise it you won't fly again until TSA is dismantled. 

If you absolutely must fly -- if you'll lose your job otherwise or the airline refuses you a refund (remember: the point of the boycott is to hurt the airlines' bottom line, not hand them free money for no services) -- prepare yourself mentally. Determine the point beyond which you will not permit the TSA to proceed -- "if he touches my thigh, if he seems headed below my waist" -- and leave when that seems imminent. Ergo, pack lightly or not at all so you don't worry about a checked bag continuing to Des Moines while you head home. 

Reports conflict about what happens to those who cut short the TSA's fun. The Ninth District Court of Appeals ruled in 2007 that once your bag hits the conveyor belt at the checkpoint, you may not depart: in effect, you become the TSA's prisoner. In practice, screeners may permit you to escape without much fuss, or they may "detain" you, threaten, browbeat and intimidate you, call the cops, or "escort" you from the airport. 

While grounded, write the CEO's of airlines, hotels, and tourist attractions that you'll patronize them only when the TSA vanishes. Cut up your frequent-flyer card and include it in your letter to the airlines; let hotels know how often you once travelled and how you'd love to do so again. Folks already using these tactics have succeeded so wildly that "executives from the travel industry, including online travel sites, theme parks and hotels" demanded a meeting with "Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and [TSA chief John] Pistole [last] Friday to discuss their concerns that security is crimping travel. ‘We have received hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from travellers vowing to stop flying,' said Geoff Freeman, an executive vice president of the U.S. Travel Association ... " 

You can also join groups like wewon'tfly.com and National Opt-Out Day. But these organizations object to the TSA's current insults rather than the agency itself. That's not only short-sighted, it betrays a profound ignorance of government's nature -- which the TSA is working overtime to reveal. Stripped of its marble monuments and fluttering flags, the State exposes its utter evil each time a screener torments a toddler or "groin-checks" another citizen. 

As the TSA denudes us, government is nakedly on display. 


Copyright © 2010 Campaign for Liberty 


PROTEST TSA and HOMELAND (In)SECURITY
Portland, OR
Nov. 24, Noon - 1:30pm
Speak Out! 
We need sign holders to join us in our protest of the unconstitutional TSA/Homeland Security policy?  These shake downs at airports are not about "security".  It  is about CONTROL!  If it is not stopped, it will lead to more humiliation in more areas of our communities.... malls, theaters, restaurants, offices, banks, schools, etc.  We must stop this infringement of our 4th Amendment rights to be secure in our persons and effects, against unreasonable searches.  Please join us in this 1-1/2 hour protest and stand up for freedom!
Mark your calendar!
Date:  November 24
Time:  Noon to 1:30pm (thereabouts)
Where:  At Lombard St. and Airport Way overpass (near PDX airport)
Bring:  Very large signs condemning the humiliating pat-downs and carcinogenic and porn x-rays; also condemning TSA, Homeland Security Agency and Patriot Act that started all this infringement of our rights.
Please RSVP, so that we can have a head count.
Also, contact your U.S. Reps and demand and to TSA, close up Homeland Security and abolish the Patriot Act.  See note below.
Thanks.
Suzanne  Brownlow

"Why do we have to go through all of this?" 

Posted by Joe Anybody at 10:31 AM PST
Sunday, 14 November 2010
F* Corporate Media - Do I have to Explain This? - Watch The Video ((( i )))
Mood:  hug me
Now Playing: F* Corporate Media
Topic: MEDIA
11.14.10
.
Cool
.
Fuck The Corporate Media


 
A compilation of video footage that is explained by the title

Posted by Joe Anybody at 7:30 PM PST
Updated: Sunday, 14 November 2010 8:37 PM PST
Monday, 8 November 2010
Bush & Cheney used Torture and Both Admit It - sound funny? its not!
Mood:  d'oh
Now Playing: Bush Admits He Authorized the Use of Torture, But No One Cares
Topic: TORTURE

No Appetite for Prosecution: In Memoir, Bush Admits He Authorized the Use of Torture, But No One Cares

by Andy Worthington

With just days to go before George W. Bush's memoir, Decision Points, hits bookstores (on November 9), and with reports on the book's contents doing the rounds after review copies were made available to the New York Times and Reuters, it will be interesting to see how many media outlets allow the former President the opportunity to try to salvage his reputation, how many are distracted by his spat with Kanye West or his claim that he thought about replacing Dick Cheney as Vice President in 2004, and how many decide that, on balance, it would be more honest to remind readers and viewers of the former President's many crimes - including the illegal invasion of Iraq, and the authorization of the use of torture on "high-value detainees" seized in the "War on Terror."

As I fall firmly into the latter camp, this article focuses on what little has so far emerged regarding the President's views on Guantánamo, and, in particular, on his confession that he authorized the waterboarding of "high-value detainee" Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which is rather more important than trading blows with a rapper about whether or not his response to the Katrina disaster was racist, as it is a crime under domestic and international law.

On Guantánamo

On Guantánamo, the only comments in the book that have so far emerged are insultingly flippant, which is disgraceful from the man who shredded the Geneva Conventions and authorized an unprecedented program of arbitrary detention, coercive interrogation and torture. In addition, Bush's baleful legacy lives on in the cases of the 174 men still held, in the recent show trial of Omar Khadr, and in the complacency regarding the basis for detaining prisoners of the "War on Terror" - the Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed by Congress the week after the 9/11 attacks - on which Barack Obama continues to rely, despite its formidable shortcomings.

As Michiko Kakutani explained in a review of the book for the New York Times:

He tries to play down the problems of Guantánamo Bay, writing that detainees were given "a personal copy of the Koran" and access to a library among whose popular offerings was "an Arabic translation of Harry Potter."

On torture

On torture, however, Bush remains as casual about authorizing waterboarding (a form of controlled drowning used on at least three "high-value detainees" held in secret CIA prisons), as he did in June this year, when he told the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, Michigan, "Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. I'd do it again to save lives."

In his book, he writes that his response, when asked if he would approve the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was, "Damn right!" He added,  "Had I not authorized waterboarding on senior al-Qaeda leaders, I would have had to accept a greater risk that the country would be attacked."

On Thursday, Reuters revealed more about the passages in the book in which Bush discusses waterboarding. This largely revisits the scenario as he described it in a press conference in September 2006, when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri (the three men waterboarded by the CIA), plus 11 other "high-value detainees," were transferred to Guantánamo from the secret CIA prisons whose existence, until that moment, had been strenuously denied by the administration.

On that occasion, he spoke at length about Abu Zubaydah, the supposed "high-value detainee" for whom the torture program was specifically developed, who, according to the "torture memos" released last year (written by lawyers in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in 2002 and 2005) was waterboarded 83 times.

Revisiting his claims that, "When Abu Zubaydah stopped answering questions from the FBI, CIA Director George Tenet told Bush he thought the detainee had more information to offer" (as Reuters described it), Bush explains that "CIA and Justice Department lawyers conducted a careful legal review and came up with an ‘enhanced interrogation program,' which he said complied with the US Constitution and all applicable laws, including those that ban torture."

"No doubt the procedure was tough, but medical experts assured the CIA that it did no lasting harm," Bush writes, adding that the methods were "highly effective," and that Abu Zubaydah "revealed large amounts of information about al-Qaeda's structure as well as the location of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who he called the logistical planner of September 11 attacks" - an analysis that is unconvincing, as FBI interrogator Ali Soufan explained in an op-ed for the New York Times in April 2009. Soufan wrote:

Defenders of these techniques have claimed that they got Abu Zubaydah to give up information leading to the capture of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a top aide to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed ... This is false. The information that led to Mr. Shibh's capture came primarily from a different terrorist operative who was interviewed using traditional methods.

Bizarrely, Bush also attempts to explain how Abu Zubaydah began cooperating, in a troubling passage in which he seems to be trying to make out that waterboarding was some sort of specific test for Muslims. He writes, "His understanding of Islam was that he had to resist interrogation only up to a certain point. Waterboarding was the technique that allowed him to reach that threshold, fulfill his religious duty, and then cooperate." He adds that Abu Zubaydah then explained, "You must do this for all the brothers."

Writing of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times, according to the OLC memos, Bush describes him as "difficult to break," as Reuters put it, "but when he did, he gave us a lot." As Reuters explained, "He disclosed plans to attack American targets with anthrax and ‘directed us to three people involved in the al-Qaeda biological weapons program,' among other breakthroughs."

Again, this is a claim that is not backed up with any evidence. As David Rose explained in an article for Vanity Fair in December 2008, "according to a former senior CIA official, who read all the interrogation reports on KSM, ‘90 percent of it was total f*cking bullsh*t.' A former Pentagon analyst adds: ‘KSM produced no actionable intelligence. He was trying to tell us how stupid we were.'"

In conclusion, however, Bush claims that "the CIA interrogation program saved lives," as Reuters described it, and states, "Had we captured more al-Qaeda operatives with significant intelligence value, I would have used the program for them as well."

Why waterboarding is torture, and torture is a crime

The problem with Bush's off-hand acknowledgment that he authorized the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - and Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri - is that waterboarding is torture, and torture is a crime.

As Isabel Macdonald of FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) explained in 2008 in an excellent overview of US reporting on waterboarding, "During the insurrection against the US occupation of the Philippines, the Washington Post described how the US military tortured suspected members of the Filipino resistance using "the form of torture known as the water cure." That was in September 1902, but after the Second World War, when US military tribunals tried Japanese military officials for war crimes for torturing prisoners of war with techniques including waterboarding, the New York Times described the procedure as "forced drownings," and it was referred to by the Washington Post as "water torture."

Similarly, in March 1968:

"water torture" was mentioned in the headline of a Washington Post article about the Australian army's admission that a soldier had administered the "water treatment" to a Vietnamese woman suspected of being a guerilla. Six months later, the Post published a front-page photographic exposé of US soldiers administering this same "water treatment" to a Vietnamese prisoner. A follow-up report in the Post [in 1970] referred to this practice, which resulted in charges against the commander of the US Army troops in South Vietnam, as "an ancient Oriental torture called ‘the water treatment.'"

Moreover, when it comes to torture in more general terms, the US anti-torture statute (Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113C of the US Code, introduced in 1994) describes torture as "an act ... specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering ... upon another person within his custody or physical control," and, as I explained in an article in July this year about Jay S. Bybee, the former OLC head (and now a judge in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) who signed his name to the most notorious of the "torture memos," written by John Yoo in the summer of 2002:

The US anti-torture statute [also] requires a fine, or 20 years' imprisonment (or both) for "[w]hoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture," and a death sentence, or a prison sentence up to and including a life sentence, "if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection."

In addition:

The UN Convention Against Torture [ratified by Ronald Reagan in 1987] stipulates (Article 2.2), "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture." Moreover, the Convention also stipulates (Article 4. 1) that signatories "shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law" and requires each State, when torture has been exposed, to "submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution" (Article 7.1).

These facts are generally ignored by mainstream media outlets, where those in charge have, since 2004, when waterboarding under the Bush administration was first introduced to the US public, coyly - and deceptively - chosen to refer to it as "a form of simulated drowning condemned by human rights activists as torture" (as Reuters did on Thursday), thereby helping to foster the culture of impunity which has allowed Bush to make this statement so publicly, and which, in February, allowed Dick Cheney to tell Jonathan Karl, on ABC News' "This Week," "I was a big supporter of waterboarding."

Why the Obama administration bears responsibility for Bush's impunity

In addition, the Obama administration is also responsible. Neither President Obama nor Attorney General Eric Holder has chosen to hold Bush administration officials and lawyers - up to and including the former President - accountable for their crimes, even though, as I explained in an article in March 2009:

In an interview with ABC News on January 11, 2009, President-Elect Obama responded to a recent CBS interview with Dick Cheney, in which the then-Vice President had sounded his usual alarms about the need for "extraordinary" policies to deal with terror suspects, by stating, "Vice President Cheney I think continues to defend what he calls extraordinary measures or procedures and from my view waterboarding is torture. I have said that under my administration we will not torture."

Two days later, at his confirmation hearing, Eric Holder reinforced Obama's opinion. Noting, as the New York Times described it, that waterboarding had been used to torment prisoners during the Inquisition, by the Japanese in World War II and in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, and adding, "We prosecuted our own soldiers for using it in Vietnam," he stated unequivocally, "Waterboarding is torture," and reiterated his opinion on March 2, 2009, in a speech to the Jewish Council of Public Affairs in Washington. "Waterboarding is torture," he said again, adding, "My Justice Department will not justify it, will not rationalize it and will not condone it."

Instead, after a promising start on torture, which involved the President upholding the absolute ban on torture in an executive order issued on his second day in office, and the release of the OLC "torture memos" last April, in response to a court order, the Obama administration has retreated to a place where every attempt to seek accountability for the Bush administration's torturers has been resolutely blocked.

In January this year, it was revealed that Holder had appointed - or had allowed - the veteran Justice Department fixer David Margolis to override the conclusions of a four-year internal investigation into the behavior of John Yoo and Jay Bybee, in which the author's conclusions - that both men had been willfully guilty of "professional misconduct" - were watered down so that they were merely reprimanded for exercising "poor judgment."

In addition, the administration's stock response to attempts to investigate torture claims in court - as, for example, in the cases of five men subjected to "extraordinary rendition" and torture, who sought to sue Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a Boeing subsidiary that acted as the CIA's torture travel agent - has been to slam all the doors shut mercilessly, inappropriately invoking the little-known "state secrets" privilege to prevent anyone with a valid complaint from even getting anywhere near a court.

This is unlikely to change in the near future, of course, leaving George W. Bush able to boast openly about his crimes, apparently secure in the knowledge that he is untouchable, although as David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University, and a long-standing critic of the Bush administration's interrogation and detention policies, told the Washington Post on Thursday, "The fact that he did admit it suggests he believes he is politically immune from being held accountable ... But politics can change."

At present, it is difficult to see how, but those compiling evidence will have taken note that, in the very public forum of an internationally available memoir, George W. Bush has failed to rehabilitate his legacy and has, instead, openly confessed to war crimes.

Note: For a perceptive analysis of George W. Bush's thoughts about his responsibility for the Iraq fiasco, see this post by Amy Davidson of the New Yorker.

Andy Worthington is a journalist and historian, based in London. He is the author of The Guantánamo Files, the first book to tell the stories of all the detainees in America's illegal prison. For more information, visit his blog here.


Posted by Joe Anybody at 5:10 PM PST
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Suicides in the Military rate is rising - What are we doing about it
Mood:  crushed out
Now Playing: Suicides in the Military and PTSD cries that only get ignored
Topic: WAR

Hi Z3 Readers,

This serious article was in my email box this morning from the great folks at VFP chapter 72.

My cousin Ted Westhusing comitted suicide in Iraq in 2005.


Subject: Soldiers fed up with mistreatment at Ft. Lewis


November 2, 2010 JOINT BASE LEWIS MCHORD, WASHINGTON ? An anonymous group of soldiers in 4-9 Infantry Brigade have released a statement detailing how the Army drove one soldier to suicide. It details the humiliation that soldiers who seek help for mental problems face from their superiors. This comes on the heels of a rash of incidents involving soldiers from JBLM who had untreated mental issues, including one soldier who shot a police officer in Salt Lake City, UT.

The letter reads: ?On March 17, 2010, Spc. Kirkland returned home from his second deployment to Iraq. Three days later he was dead?killed by the Army. Spc. Kirkland was sent home from Iraq because the burden of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder became too great?so much that he wanted to take his own life. Many of us also struggle with the effects of PTSD, which is a completely natural, human response to what we are exposed to overseas. It is not a sign of weakness or cowardice, but the inevitable result of serving in combat. It is a burden we all share, and we all deserve adequate treatment and understanding for the sacrifices we have made. Upon returning home, Spc. Kirkland was not more than three steps into the barracks before the acting First Sergeant publicly ridiculed him, calling him a ?coward? and a ?pussy,? knowing full well that Kirkland was suffering from severe depression and anxiety. He was then carelessly assigned to a room by himself, and like every other soldier !
 with PTSD, given substandard care by Army mental health doctors. Forty-eight hours after he was in the care of 4-9 Infantry, he was dead. Spc. Kirkland had a wife and young daughter. Before his blood had even dried off the floor, our respected leadership was already mocking his death.

Spc. Kirkland did not kill himself. He was killed by the Army. The Army inadequately treats PTSD, while it re-enforces a culture of humiliation for the soldiers who suffer from it. Spc. Kirkland was accused of faking his trauma. PTSD is a legitimate medical condition that is unavoidable in a combat zone. As soldiers who lay down our lives every day, we deserve adequate treatment for the wounds we receive in combat. We deserve to be treated for PTSD just like we would for a bullet wound or shrapnel. Spc. Kirkland received the opposite. But what happened to Spc. Kirkland is not an isolated incident. This is happening at such a high rate in the Army that it is becoming an epidemic. Now, more active duty soldiers commit suicide than are killed in combat. Every year, the number of suicides far surpasses the year before, and 2010 is already dwarfing last year?s numbers. How has the Army responded?

Scandal after scandal has broken out about Army officers ordering doctors not to diagnose PTSD; to instead deny veterans the care they deserve, pump them full of pills, and return them to combat. It has become Army policy to do everything possible to avoid diagnosing PTSD. And when it is diagnosed, the care is inadequate. Throughout the Army, soldiers have to fight for simple medical care. The Army doesn?t care at all about us, our lives, or our families?and hundreds of us are dying because of it.

We are denied care because the Army needs bodies to throw into two quagmires, and because the VA doesn?t want to pay us the benefits we deserve. Maj. Keith Markham, Executive Director of 4-9 Infantry, put it very clearly in a private memo to his platoon leaders: ?We have an unlimited supply of expendable labor.? That?s what we soldiers are to the Army and the Officer Corps: expendable labor. Spc. Kirkland was expendable, and we witness that fact every day. But soldiers all over the Army are standing up. At Ft. Hood, the base with the highest number of suicides, protests have been held both outside the base and in the hospitals, consisting of active duty soldiers demanding better treatment. All over the country soldiers are organizing in their units to fight for adequate care.

The Army will never give us the care we deserve unless we force it to do so. As soldiers, we have rights. Mental health care is a right for the job we were made to do. We have the right to be adequately treated and compensated for PTSD?but the Army is not doing that, so we have the right to collectively organize and demand proper treatment. Actual defense spending in the U.S. is over 1 trillion dollars a year. Most of that money goes into the pockets of defense contractors, while only a tiny fraction is allocated for mental health care.

There are hundreds of billions of dollars for new fighter jets, or to open Burger Kings and KBR facilities overseas, but when extra resources are needed to combat a suicide epidemic, we only get scraps from the table.? The Army has taken no disciplinary actions against the leadership involved with SPC Kirkland?s death. Nor has the Army released any statements regarding the circumstances behind the incident. GI Voice, DBA COFFEE STRONG, is a veteran owned and operated coffee house for soldiers, veterans, and military families to speak out about their experiences in a comfortable and safe environment. We provide free GI rights counseling, veterans benefit advocacy, and PTSD counseling for soldiers and veterans.

Coffee Strong is located 300 meters from the Madigan Gate of Fort Lewis at 15109 Union Ave. SW Ste B.

For more information please contact: Seth Manzel Executive Director GI Voice, DBA COFFEE STRONG 253-228-8912 http://www.facebook.com/l/87f8bB1GvdHR4Lf9QOCGQ2-eO9Q;www.coffeestrong.org


Dennis W. Mills, Board Member
Coffee Strong
(360) 867-1487
Skype: dennismills


Posted by Joe Anybody at 10:06 PM PDT
Tuesday, 2 November 2010
cough cough Vote results for House district 3 in Oregon
Mood:  down
Now Playing: earl blumenauer (cough) wins House dist. 3
Topic: POLITICS
LAST UPDATE
Nov-02-2010      11:50 PM       Pacific Daylight Time

 

U.S. Representative OR 3rd District

WinnerCandidateVotesVote %
XEarl Blumenauer118,70870%
 Jeff Lawrence26,44515%
 Delia Lopez22,36313%
 Michael Meo3,3562%

Posted by Joe Anybody at 11:54 PM PDT
Thursday, 28 October 2010
Socialism? The Rich Are Winning the US Class War: Facts Show Rich Getting Richer, Everyone Else Poorer
Mood:  bright
Now Playing: Bill Quigley: author - Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and professor of law at Loyola University New Orle
Topic: HUMANITY

Socialism? The Rich Are Winning the US Class War: Facts Show Rich Getting Richer, Everyone Else Poorer


by Bill Quigley

The rich and their paid false prophets are doing a bang up job deceiving the poor and middle class. They have convinced many that an evil socialism is alive in the land and it is taking their fair share. But the deception cannot last – facts say otherwise.

Yes, there is a class war – the war of the rich on the poor and the middle class – and the rich are winning. That war has been going on for years. Look at the facts – facts the rich and their false paid prophets do not want people to know.

Let Glen Beck go on about socialists descending on Washington. Allow Rush Limbaugh to rail about “class warfare for a leftist agenda that will destroy our society.” They are well compensated false prophets for the rich.

The truth is that for the several decades the rich in the US have been getting richer and the poor and middle class have been getting poorer. Look at the facts then make up your own mind.

Poor Getting Poorer: Facts

The official US poverty numbers show we now have the highest number of poor people in 51 years. The official US poverty rate is 14.3 percent or 43.6 million people in poverty. One in five children in the US is poor; one in ten senior citizens is poor. Source: US Census Bureau.

One of every six workers, 26.8 million people, is unemployed or underemployed. This “real” unemployment rate is over 17%. There are 14.8 million people designated as “officially” unemployed by the government, a rate of 9.6 percent. Unemployment is worse for African American workers of whom 16.1 percent are unemployed. Another 9.5 million people who are working only part-time while they are seeking full-time work but have had their hours cut back or are so far only able to find work part-time are not counted in the official unemployment numbers. Also, an additional 2.5 million are reported unemployed but not counted because they are classified as discouraged workers in part because they have been out of work for more than 12 months. Source: US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics October 2010 report.

The median household income for whites in the US is $51,861; for Asians it is $65,469; for African Americans it is $32,584; for Latinos it is $38,039. Source: US Census Bureau.

Fifty million people in the US lack health insurance. Source: US Census Bureau.

Women in the US have a greater lifetime risk of dying from pregnancy-related conditions than women in 40 other countries. African American US women are nearly 4 times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women. Source: Amnesty International Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA.

About 3.5 million people, about one-third of which are children, are homeless at some point in the year in the US. Source: National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.

Outside Atlanta, 33,000 people showed up to seek applications for low cost subsidized housing in August 2010. When Detroit offered emergency utility and housing assistance to help people facing evictions, more than 50,000 people showed up for the 3,000 vouchers. Source: News reports.

There are 49 million people in the US who live in households which eat only because they receive food stamps, visit food pantries or soup kitchens for help. Sixteen million are so poor they have skipped meals or foregone food at some point in the last year. This is the highest level since statistics have been kept. Source: US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.

Middle Class Going Backward: Facts

One or two generations ago it was possible for a middle class family to live on one income. Now it takes two incomes to try to enjoy the same quality of life. Wages have not kept up with inflation; adjusted for inflation they have lost ground over the past ten years. The cost of housing, education and health care have all increased at a much higher rate than wages and salaries. In 1967, the middle 60 percent of households received over 52% of all income. In 1998, it was down to 47%. The share going to the poor has also fallen, with the top 20% seeing their share rise. Mark Trumball, “Obama’s challenge: reversing a decade of middle-class decline,” Christian Science Monitor, January 25, 2010. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0125/Obama-s-challenge-reversing-a-decade-of-middle-class-decline

A record 2.8 million homes received a foreclosure notice in 2009, higher than both 2008 and 2007. In 2010, the rate is expected to be rise to 3 million homes. Sources: Reuters and RealtyTrac.

Eleven million homeowners (about one in four homeowners) in the US are “under water” or owe more on their mortgages than their house is worth. Source: “Home truths,” The Economist, October 23, 2010.

For the first time since the 1940s, the real incomes of middle-class families are lower at the end of the business cycle of the 2000s than they were at the beginning. Despite the fact that the American workforce is working harder and smarter than ever, they are sharing less and less in the benefits they are creating. This is true for white families but even truer for African American families whose gains in the 1990s have mostly been eliminated since then. Source: Jared Bernstein and Heidi Shierholz, State of Working America. http://www.stateofworkingamerica.org/swa08_00_execsum.pdf

Rich Getting Richer: Facts

The wealth of the richest 400 people in the US grew by 8% in the last year to $1.37 trillion. Source: Forbes 400: The super-rich get richer, September 22, 2010, Money.com

The top Hedge Fund Manager of 2009, David Tepper, “earned” $4 billion last year. The rest of the top ten earned: $3.3 billion, $2.5 billion, $2.3 billion, $1.4 billion, $1.3 billion (tie for 6th and 7th place), $900 million (tie for 8th and 9th place), and in last place out of the top ten, $825 million. Source: Business Insider. “Meet the top 10 earning hedge fund managers of 2009.” http://www.businessinsider.com/meet-the-top-10-earning-hedge-fund-managers-of-2009-2010-4

Income disparity in the US is now as bad as it was right before the Great Depression at the end of the 1920s. From 1979 to 2006, the richest 1% more than doubled their share of the total US income, from 10% to 23%. The richest 1% have an average annual income of more than $1.3 million. For the last 25 years, over 90% of the total growth in income in the US went to the top 10% earners – leaving 9% of all income to be shared by the bottom 90%. Source: Jared Bernstein and Heidi Shierholz, State of Working America. http://www.stateofworkingamerica.org/tabfig/2008/01/19.pdf

In 1973, the average US CEO was paid $27 for every dollar paid to a typical worker; by 2007 that ratio had grown to $275 to $1. Source: Jared Bernstein and Heidi Shierholz, State of Working America. http://www.stateofworkingamerica.org/tabfig/2008/03/SWA08_Wages_Figure.3AE.pdf

Since 1992, the average tax rate on the richest 400 taxpayers in the US dropped from 26.8% to 16.62%. Source: US Internal Revenue Service. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/07intop400.pdf

The US has the greatest inequality between rich and poor among all Western industrialized nations and it has been getting worse for 40 years. The World Factbook, published by the CIA, includes an international ranking of the inequality among families inside of each country, called the Gini Index. The US ranking of 45 in 2007 is the same as Argentina, Cameroon, and Cote d’Ivorie. The highest inequality can be found in countries like Namibia, South Africa, Haiti and Guatemala. The US ranking of 45 compares poorly to Japan (38), India (36), New Zealand, UK (34), Greece (33), Spain (32), Canada (32), France (32), South Korea (31), Netherlands (30), Ireland (30), Australia (30), Germany (27), Norway (25), and Sweden (23). Source: CIA The World Factbook: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2172.html

Rich people live an average of about five years longer than poor people in the US. Naturally, gross inequality has consequences in terms of health, exposure to unhealthy working conditions, nutrition and lifestyle. In 1980, the most well off in the US had a life expectancy of 2.8 years over the least well-off. As the inequality gap widens, so does the life expectancy gap. In 1990, the gap was a little less than 4 years. In 2000, the least well-off could expect to live to age of 74.7 while the most well off had a life expectancy of 79.2 years. Source: Elise Gould, “Growing disparities in life expectancy,” Economic Policy Institute. http://www.epi.org/economic_snapshots/entry/webfeatures_snapshots_20080716/

Conclusion

These are extremely troubling facts for anyone concerned about economic fairness, equality of opportunity, and justice.

Thomas Jefferson once observed that the systematic restructuring of society to benefit the rich over the poor and middle class is a natural appetite of the rich. “Experience declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to…the general prey of the rich on the poor.” But Jefferson also knew that justice can only be delayed so long when he said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

The rich talk about the rise of socialism to divert attention from the fact that they are devouring the basics of the poor and everyone else. Many of those crying socialism the loudest are doing it to enrich or empower themselves. They are right about one thing – there is a class war going on in the US. The rich are winning their class war, and it is time for everyone else to fight back for economic justice.

Bill is Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and professor of law at Loyola University New Orleans.
You can reach Bill at quigley77@gmail.com

Posted by Joe Anybody at 8:39 PM PDT

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