Saturday, December 28, 2013

Australian Anti-War Activist Joan Coxsedge's November 24, 2013 Letter

(The following letter from Australian anti-war and Latin American solidarity activist Joan Coxsedge—who is also a former member of the Victoria state parliament--originally appeared in an Australian-Cuban solidarity group’s newsletter).

November 24, 2013

Dear Comrades,

Last issue for the year so lots to talk about. Abbott’s only been PM for a minute and is already seen to be a dangerous far-right anti-secular dud, like his stable mate Dennis Napthine. Only surprised at the short time it’s taken. The spy scandal’s dominated our airwaves, but the media fail to report the reality, that Australia’s sovereignty is non-existent. We threw it away decades ago via a range of secret agencies and secret treaties that governments know nothing about. Our spies work for Washington, not for us, which is why I liked Chomsky’s article about a Chinese commentator who believes the world should become ‘de-Americanised’ because the US has failed to act responsibly as a global citizen. Crazy is the new norm among Tea Party extremists who have mounted an all-out assault against the population to privatise, deregulate and limit government, while retaining laws to serve those with wealth and power. Rejection of international obligations has grown so entrenched that foreign governments no longer expect Washington to ratify or participate in international treaties, a practice now accepted by Americans as if it’s their god-given right to terrorise large regions of the world with drone attacks and other killing machines. Fascism. And it’s not looking too flash here.

When it comes to Cuba, Washington defies the rest of the world (except Israel) by persisting in its blockade. Cuba committed the cardinal sin of beating back the US invasion and then had the audacity to survive an assault designed to bring ‘the terrors of the earth’, in the words of Kennedy advisor Arthur Schlesinger. This year’s anti-blockade ritual took place in the UN General Assembly with much the same result. And yet, despite all the obstacles thrown its way, Cuba managed to establish an excellent health care system, much better than the US and a template for others to follow. Each year, thousands of young leave poor countries to practise medicine in rich ones where there’s a glut of doctors, leaving people in their homeland without adequate care, whereas Cuba sends doctors to poor countries in an attempt to reverse this brain drain.

Before the Chilean coup, Allende’s ministers were warned ‘watch out, comrades, Jakarta is coming!’ ‘Jakarta’ referred to the bloody US-run coup in Indonesia in 1965 that killed more than a million people (Amnesty International, normally silent about the crimes of US imperialism, put the number at 1.5 million). ‘Jakarta’ was a monstrous experiment…to find out what happens to a poor country when hit by a coup, then thrown to religious zealots and forced to live under the heel of extreme capitalism and fascism and were no doubt thrilled by the result. Indonesia’s entire culture was destroyed and instead of education, brainwashing techniques perfected abroad were installed. Apart from the death toll, entire languages were banned, along with theatres, art films, atheism and everything that was left of centre, using thugs, paramilitaries, archaic family and religious structures and a toothless media to maintain the ‘new order’. A ruined environment, collapsed infrastructure, endemic corruption and a functionally illiterate population, ignorant about the world and its own history, completed the picture.

“…After the orgy of terror, the entire archipelago was silenced and unable to organise any resistance. But if you’re a corrupt local ruler or puppeteer that runs the country from abroad, you get easy access to all the natural resources. The West hailed this carnage as a splendid success, congratulating ‘Our Man Suharto as ‘Our Kind of Guy’! In 1988, Suharto fell, but the ‘model’ survived and the US has been busily administering it all over the world in different forms and variations to suppress dissent. Independence cannot be allowed, even in a country as small as East Timor, because it might spread. By the time Indonesian occupation ended in 1999, 200,000 Timorese – 30% of the population – had been wiped out.

In Chile, one of the world’s oldest democracies, the 1973 military takeover brought new horrors and also new hope when the soldiers arrested one of the nation’s most beloved singers, Victor Jara. They broke his hands and threw his guitar at him and shouted ‘now you can sing’, a crucial moment when the fight for freedom began. Despite great pain, Victor Jara stood up and sang Venceremos back to his tormentors. He sang loudly and they killed him, but he did not die. Victor Jara became the symbol of resistance against fascism and imperialism that spread throughout the continent, while in Indonesia there was silence. And Henry Kissinger continues to walk free. It’s fifty years since Kennedy was assassinated and the conspirators and their lackeys are still at it telling us there was no conspiracy and that the president was killed by one man, Lee Harvey Oswald. But in Mark Lane’s book Rush to Judgment, he describes in detail about all the unfortunate people with knowledge of the murder who mysteriously died. A few years later, The Parallax View by Loren Singer put the deaths into a political context. While on the subject of assassinations, it’s a matter of simple logic that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was also murdered. One of the most threatened persons in the world with dozens of Mossad agents and Phalangist spies determined to kill him. Israelis hated Arafat more than any other human being, after Hitler and Adolf Eichmann. Certain poisons do not need food. Slight physical contact is enough and Arafat’s body was not examined for radioactive polonium.

Hard to believe, but the head of a private UK outsourcing firm actually said out loud: ‘We need more wars’, blaming the lack of conflict for a spectacular collapse in Army recruitment. Take care on our roads and have a break over the holiday period. Viva!

Joan Coxsedge,

Monday, December 9, 2013

Did De Blasio's NYC Police Commissioner-Designate Bratton Violate Civil Liberties of New Yorkers?

New York City’s Democratic Mayor-elect, Bill de Blasio, recently named a former New York City police commissioner in former New York City Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s 1990s administration, Bill “Zero Tolerance” Bratton, to be the De Blasio Administration’s police commissioner in 2014. Coincidentally, De Blasio Administration Police Commissioner-Designate Bratton apparently tolerated New York City police violations of the civil liberties of many New Yorkers when he was the Giuliani Administration’s police commissioner. As University of Minnesota Law School Institute on Criminal Justice Judith Greene noted in an article, “Zero Tolerance: A Case Study of Police Policies and Practices in New York City,” that appeared in the April 1999 issue of “Crime and Delinquency”:

“The police reforms introduced in New York City by William Bratton are now hailed by...Rudy Giuliani as the epitome of `zero-tolerance' policing, and he credits them for winning dramatic reductions in the city's crime rate. But the number of citizen complaints filed before the Civilian Complaint Review Board has jumped skyward, as has the number of lawsuits alleging police misconduct and abuse of force...Police Commissioner William Bratton...served as commissioner for the first 27 months (from January 1994 to April 1996) of Giuliani's first term as mayor...

"...Bratton had served from 1990 to 1992 as chief of the New York Transit Police..At Transit, he pursued a...policing campaign that consisted of large-scale arrests of young New Yorkers for fare evasion...

"...Bratton attacked the legal restrictions that had impeded aggressive enforcement against those deemed disorderly. He `took the handcuffs off' the police department and unleashed patrol officers to stop and search citizens who were violating the most minor laws on the books (e.g., drinking a beer or urinating in public), to run warrant checks on them, or just to pull them in for questioning...

“Joel Berger--a prominent New York City civil rights attorney who represents alleged victims of police misconduct and abuse in New York City--reports that legal filings of new civil rights claims against the police for abusive conduct have increased by 75 percent in the city over the last four years...Amnesty International has reported that police brutality and unjustifiable use of force is a widespread problem in New York City...

"There is a wealth of documentation to support the charge that police misconduct and abuse have increased under the Giuliani administration's zero-tolerance regime. The total number of citizen complaints filed annually with the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) increased more than 60 percent between 1992 and 1996, and Mark Green--the elected New York City public advocate--has charged that the police torture of Abner Louima in a precinct station house in the Borough of Brooklyn in the summer of 1997 was part of a larger `pattern of police abuse, brutality, and misconduct' in New York City that the Giuliani administration has failed to address...

“Joel Berger says that during the first year of the Giuliani administration, the number of complaints filed by citizens before the CCRB that involved incidents where no arrest was made or summons issued showed a sudden and sharp increase. The proportion of `general patrol incidents'--that is, civilian complaints associated simply with routine police contacts (involving no suspicion of criminal activity, no hot pursuit, no arrest or summons)--among all complaints increased from 29 percent for the last year of the Dinkins administration to 58 percent under Mayor Giuliani...

“According to New York City Public Advocate Mark Green, recent CCRB complaint data suggest that the problem of police misconduct is disproportionately concentrated in New York City's...minority neighborhoods. Nine out of 76 precincts account for more than 50 percent of the increase in CCRB complaints since 1992; 21 precincts account for more than 80 percent. Mark Green charges that those precincts with the highest incidence of misconduct `appear to have disproportionately higher percentages of African American and Latino residents'...Norman Siegel--director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)...has presented data showing that three quarters of all CCRB complaints are filed by African Americans and Latinos. He reports that African Americans (who make up 29 percent of the city's population) filed 53 percent of all complaints in 1996...

“Moreover, the vast majority of complaints filed with the CCRB are never substantiated, and the small portion that are substantiated usually do not result in proper disciplinary actions...Furthermore, Public Advocate Mark Green has complained that so few substantiated cases ever result in charges brought or disciplinary actions taken by the police department that the civilian complaint process is a sham….Data from the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services from 1993 through 1996 show that arrests in New York City rose by 23 percent across the board. Reflecting the broken windows, zero-tolerance policing strategy introduced by Bratton, misdemeanor arrests rose by 40 percent--led by drug arrests, which were increased by 97 percent over this period..."



Friday, December 6, 2013

Black Worker Unemployment Rate: Still 12.5 Percent In November 2013

The official “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for all Black workers (youth, male and female) in the United States was still 12.5 percent in November 2013; while the official jobless rate for Black male workers over 20 years-of-age was still 12.3 percent during that same month, according to recently released Bureau of Labor Statistics data. In addition, between October and November 2013, the number of Black male workers over 20 years-of-age still in the U.S. labor force decreased by 13,000 (from 8,377,000 to 8,364,000); while the official unemployment rate for Black female workers over 20 years-of-age was still 11.1 percent in November 2013.

The official “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for Black youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age was still 35.8 percent in November 2013; while the number of Black youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age who still had jobs dropped by 12,000 (from 444,000 to 432,000) between October and November 2013. In addition, the number of Black youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age still in the U.S. labor force decreased by 21,000 (from 693,000 to 672,000) during the same period.

The jobless rate for white youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age was still 18.6 percent in November 2013; while the number of white youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age still in the U.S. labor force decreased by 16,000 (from 4,578,000 to 4,562,000) between October and November 2013..

The official “not seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for Latino youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age was still 23.9 percent in November 2013; while the number of Latino youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age who still had jobs decreased by 4,000 (from 821,000 to 817,000) between October and November 2013. In addition, the number of Latino youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age still in the U.S. labor force decreased by 55,000 (from 1,130,000 to 1,075,000) during the same period.

The official “not seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for Latina female workers over 20 years-of-age increased from 8.1 to 8.2 percent between October and November 2013; while the number of unemployed Latina female workers over 20 years-of-age increased by 26,000 (from 800,000 to 826,000) during the same period.

According to the “seasonally adjusted” data, the official jobless rate for all Latino workers (male, female and youth) was still 8.7 percent in November 2013; while the official “not seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for Latino male workers over 20 years-of-age was still 7.7 percent during that same month.

The official “not seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for Asian-American workers in the United States increased from 5.2 to 5.3 percent between October and November 2013; while the number of unemployed Asian-American workers in the United States increased by 14,000 (from 443,000 to 457,000) during the same period.

The official “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for white male workers over 20 years-of-age was still 6 percent in November 2013; while the official “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for white female workers over 20 years-of-age was still 5.3 percent during that same month.

In November 2013, the official “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for all youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age was still 20.8 percent; while the official jobless rate for all female workers over 16 years-of-age in the United States was still 6.7 percent during that same month. In addition, the official unemployment rate for all male workers over 16 years-of-age in the United States was still 7.3 percent in November 2013. And between October and November 2013, the number of youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age still in the U.S. labor force decreased by 28,000 (from 5,713,000 to 5,685,000); while the number of youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age not in the U.S. labor force increased by 17,000 (from 11,008,000 to 11,025,000) during the same period.

The official “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for all female workers over 20 years-of-age was still 6.2 percent in November 2013; while the official “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for all male workers over 20 years-of-age was still 6.7 percent during that same month.

In November 2013, the official “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for all U.S. workers was still 7 percent in November 2013; while the official total number of workers in the United States who were still jobless during that same month was 10,907,000.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ December 6, 2013 press release:

“…The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 4.1 million in November. These individuals accounted for 37.3 percent of the unemployed…The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) fell by 331,000 to 7.7 million in November. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job…

“In November, 2.1 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force…These individuals…wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey…Among the marginally attached, there were 762,000 discouraged workers in November…Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them…

“…Nursing care facilities lost jobs (-4,000)…Federal government employment continued to decline (-7,000) in November…Employment in…mining and logging, wholesale trade, information, and financial activities showed little or no change in November…The change in total nonfarm payroll employment…for October was revised from +204,000 to +200,000…”