This video from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in the USA says about itself:
20 August 2014
Fortunately, after the banding the nestling went back into the nest, and the parent could relax.
This video from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in the USA says about itself:
20 August 2014
Fortunately, after the banding the nestling went back into the nest, and the parent could relax.
Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:
Saturday Aug 16 2014, 16:52
The German secret service has spied on a call by the US American Secretary of State, John Kerry. According to the weekly Der Spiegel it was a ‘bycatch’ in a thorough interception of Turkish officials.
Lots of criticisms are possible about the Turkish government. However, officially Turkey is a NATO ally of Germany. There are German soldiers in Turkey, close to the border with Syria, increasing military tensions in that area. So much for the honesty in military alliances.
The German government commanded this in 2009 and that monitoring continues until the present day. According to the magazine it is not clear who are spied on.
Yesterday German media already published that the predecessor of Kerry, Hillary Clinton, had her phone tapped two years ago. Germany had previously been critical of the US because Chancellor Merkel was bugged by the NSA.
This video from the USA about the Iraq war says about itself:
WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception
8 March 2013
This documentary is about the media itself, viewed as a weapon system: Weapons of Mass Deception. Those weapons drove a media war, a war that many now believe perverted freedom of the press in order to manipulate public support for a real war.
Rather than challenging official assertions, most media outlets, used patriotism as a promotional tool, pandered to unjustified fears and nationalist sentiment, extolled the brilliance of military technology, and uncritically trumpeted the Bush administration’s “product.”
By Barry Grey in the USA:
ISIS in Iraq: A disaster made in the USA
9 August 2014
The launching of a US air war against the Islamist State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq will only compound a catastrophe that has “Made in the USA” stamped all over it. The overrunning of much of the country by the Al Qaeda offshoot is the result not of a “failed policy,” but of criminal decisions that go back nearly twenty-five years.
The Gulf War of 1991 was followed by more than a decade of brutal sanctions and air strikes that killed an estimated one million Iraqis. Next was the conspiracy, hatched behind the backs of the American people, to use outright lies as the pretext for a war of conquest launched in 2003.
It is not possible to discuss the current situation without naming names: Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell—the plotters who knowingly lied to the American people and the world to justify a war for oil and US imperialist domination. As everyone now knows, their claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were a tissue of lies.
The other big lie was the claim that Saddam Hussein was in league with Al Qaeda. Before the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, there was no Al Qaeda in the country. The secular Baathist regime was hostile to the Islamist jihadist group. But the overthrow of Hussein and installation of a sectarian Shiite puppet regime opened the door for Al Qaeda to set up shop and flourish.
The authors of this slaughter themselves coined the terms that condemn them, such as “shock and awe.” They introduced other terms into the world’s vocabulary: Abu Ghraib, Fallujah, white phosphorus, rendition, water-boarding and Guantanamo.
Thousands of US troops were killed in the eight-year war and occupation. Tens of thousands more suffered permanent physical and psychological damage. Trillions of dollars were squandered while US workers’ living standards were devastated by layoffs, wage cuts and the gutting of social programs.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were slaughtered, millions were turned into refugees, and the entire country was reduced to near rubble. Sectarian tensions between Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish populations were deliberately stoked as part of a divide-and-rule strategy.
Obama, who won election largely by presenting himself as an opponent of the Iraq war, once in office continued the war and adhered to the timeline proposed by Bush for withdrawing US troops. He saw to it that none of the conspirators of the Bush years were held to account for their crimes.
Not only that. He and accomplices such as Hillary Clinton cultivated Al Qaeda-linked groups, such as ISIS, and used them as proxy forces in their wars for regime-change in Libya and Syria. The result was 50,000 deaths in Libya, the murder of the deposed president, Muammar Gaddafi, and the descent of the country into anarchy, bloody fighting between rival militias, and the collapse of its oil industry.
Thus far, the civil war stoked up by Washington and led by ISIS in Syria has killed over 100,000 and turned millions into refugees. Now, Washington is bombing in Iraq the very forces it has built up in Syria.
The attempt by the president in his Thursday night announcement to present the launching of an air war in Iraq as a humanitarian effort to rescue besieged Yazidis reeks of hypocrisy—all the more given his full backing for Israeli mass murder of civilians in Gaza. Obama’s claim that he will carry out only a “limited” and “targeted” campaign and not send “combat troops” back to Iraq is another lie.
“As the president made clear,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Friday, “the United States military will continue to take direct action against [ISIS] when they threaten our personnel and facilities.” Another official said, “The enemy gets a vote. If they stop, we stop. If they attack, we bring down the hammer.” The current campaign could last weeks, officials said.
The very same people who have set aflame the entire Middle East are preparing a similar disaster in Ukraine and mapping out plans for war against Russia and China, both nuclear powers.
As always, the American media pumps out government propaganda in the guise of “news.” In all the coverage seeking to justify the renewed bombing campaign, not one of the well-heeled commentators and columnists thinks to ask whether the American government and military bears responsibility for the catastrophe in Iraq.
All of this shows that the eruption of US militarism abroad goes hand in hand with the breakdown of democracy at home. None of those responsible for these crimes are answerable to the American people. None of them are held to account. They are part of an oligarchy of corporate billionaires, intelligence chiefs and military brass that rules America.
It is up to the working class to disarm the warmongers and bring the war criminals to justice. The alternative is one war after another, leading inevitably to a new world war, this time with nuclear weapons.
With a series of air strikes beginning Friday and continuing through the weekend, the United States has gone to war again in Iraq. This new imperialist military adventure has been launched in defiance of overwhelming popular opposition and without a shred of legal or constitutional authority: here.
US President Barack Obama authorised the air strikes to protect US interests in the region. Many US oil companies have bases and offices in Irbil: here.
This video is called Mother Jones ‘The Most Dangerous Woman in America’.
By Peter Lazenby in Ireland:
Spirit of Mother Jones lives on in Cork reunion
Saturday 9th August 2014
A remarkable festival in Ireland brought together Irish, British and US trade unionists. Peter Lazenby reports
IT MUST have taken some doing to be labelled “the most dangerous woman in America.”
Mother Jones did it. But she wasn’t a gangster. She was a trade union organiser and political agitator.
“Mother Jones” was the name given to her by the labour and trade union movement of the United States, where she is a legend.
She was born Mary Harris at Shandon in Cork in 1837, emigrated from Ireland as a teenager to Canada and died in the US in 1930 aged 93.
My Morning Star colleague Peter Frost told her story in his column in April.
Mother Jones’s name lives on in many ways, not least among campaigning women in the US who call themselves Daughters of Mother Jones.
Today, back in the land of her birth, her story is being revived and spread.
Three years ago a Mother Jones Committee was formed in Cork to organise an annual Spirit of Mother Jones Festival. The project is supported by Ireland’s trade union movement.
In 2012 they staged the first festival in celebration of her life. It involved political speakers, poetry and, of course, music. A plaque was unveiled on a street wall close to Mother Jones’s birthplace.
Last year the festival grew, and this year’s festival in the last week of July was the biggest so far, building on its international links with the US and Britain.
Over four days speakers from Britain included Durham Miners’ Association general secretary Dave Hopper, Anne Scargill and Betty Cook of Women Against Pit Closures, ex-miner Paul Winter of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign and campaigning solicitor Gareth Peirce.
The film The Battle of Orgreave was shown.
Other accomplished speakers included leading academics and trade unionists from Ireland and from the US.
There was a lecture on the Cork Harbour Soviet — the takeover of Cork Harbour by its workers in a dispute in 1921, and the raising of the red flag over the harbour commissioner’s office.
Scargill and Cook were reunited at the festival with a former mineworker from West Virginia, Libby Lindsay, renewing an old friendship.
Thirty years ago women mineworkers from the US raised funds for Women Against Pit Closures during the 1984-5 miners’ strike. The friendships forged then are still strong today.
In a joint address to the audience with Cook, Scargill told the audience that during the strike the people of Dublin sent over enough money in a single donation “to keep all our soup kitchens going for a fortnight.”
Such acts are not forgotten.
A new banner was raised at the festival in honour of Mother Jones and bearing her portrait, pit-head gear and mill chimneys.
The pit-head gear is an image of the winding machinery at Allerton Bywater colliery, the last pit to close in the Leeds district of West Yorkshire.
It was created by Morning Star supporters Joan Heath and Sheila Woodhead and when the reverse side is completed it will be presented to the women mineworkers from the US.
The banner celebrates the transatlantic links forged between women during the miners’ strike. It bears the title: “Women Against Pit Closures, Barnsley Miners’ Wives Action Group, United Mineworkers of America (UMWA) Women Mineworkers, and Daughters of Mother Jones.”
There’s also a quote from Mother Jones: “Pray for the dead — and fight like hell for the living!”
The banner will be taken to the US next year to be handed over to women mineworkers of the UMWA in Illinois, where Mother Jones was buried in a mineworkers’ cemetery at her request.
A replica of the banner will be created for use by Women Against Pit Closures in Britain.
Speaker after speaker at the festival talked of the relevance of Mother Jones’s socialism and activism to today’s struggles.
Hopper told of the growth of the Durham Miners’ Gala and the record crowd which attended this year, before making presentations of framed pictures to the festival’s organisers.
When the festival ended, Scargill, Cook and other activists headed for Dublin, where they joined the picket line of the city’s locked-out refuse and waste recycling service.
In a mirror image of what is happening across Britain, the workers’ jobs were transferred from the public sector to a private operator, Greyhound, which demanded a 35 per cent pay cut.
The workers refused to accept and were locked out. The solidarity of the Dublin workers and the British coalfields during the miners’ strike 30 years ago lives on.
Next year’s Spirit of Mother Jones festival is expected to be bigger still and bring together more trade unionists and political activists from both sides of the Atlantic and both sides of the Irish Sea.
This video from the USA is called US-Saudi Weapons Deal.
From the Huffington Post in the USA today:
By Ed Mazza
07/30/2014 5:11 am EDT
If you’re thinking such shipments are a recipe for anything other than peace, you’re not alone. Watch the clip above for more.
This video from the USA says about itself:
Another Sad Low Milestone For American Democracy
26 July 2014
“More than half the states to hold primary elections so far have seen record-low turnouts, according to a nonpartisan survey of voter rolls released Monday. That perhaps is a sign of widespread apathy within both political parties ahead of November’s midterm elections.
Of the almost 123 million voters who were eligible to cast ballots in primaries, only 18 million have done so, and states with same-day voter registration actually saw their turnout rates drop, according to the Center for the Study of the American Electorate. Despite heavy campaign spending that is poised to make history, 15 of the 25 states that have held statewide primary elections each reported a record low percentage of voters who cast ballots.
The low turnout comes amid high stakes. Republicans are driving for the six-seat gain required to control the Senate.”* The Young Turks host Ana Kasparian (http://www.twitter.com/anakasparian) breaks it down.
*Read more here from Philip Elliott (AP) / The Huffington Post.
By Patrick Martin in the USA:
Record-low US primary voting shows mass alienation from two-party system
29 July 2014
A report issued last week tabulating the results of the first 25 statewide primary elections held in the United States this year found that voter turnout was the lowest in history, at least since the primary system became the norm after the Second World War.
Only 14.8 percent of eligible citizens have voted in the primaries held so far, a decline of 3.5 percentage points from the turnout in the same 25 states in 2010. This is less than half the postwar record turnout of 31.9 percent set in 1966.
In raw figures, the mass abstention is even more staggering. Of the 122.7 million citizens eligible to vote in the first 25 primaries this year, only 18.2 million actually went to the polls, while 104.5 million declined to participate in choosing Democratic and Republican nominees for the November 4 election.
Given the enormous media coverage of the primary campaigns and the record expenditures by both parties and a myriad of corporate-financed groups established to influence the outcome of the voting, the mass abstention is a stark reflection of the disillusionment and alienation of the broad mass of working people from the American two-party system.
He wrote: “Many decades ago citizens turned out to vote out of a sense of civic duty and because of an allegiance to one or other major party. That motivation has largely been lost. The numbers in this report reflect how deeply citizens are turning away from political engagement and from positive feeling about one or another major political party.”
The CSAE report documents the obstacles to popular participation in elections, including voter registration procedures so cumbersome that 61 million eligible citizens are not registered and therefore cannot vote. To this could be added the exclusion of former prisoners from the voter rolls in many states, particularly in the South, and the spread of laws requiring photo IDs, enacted to reduce the percentage of voting by the poor, who have greater difficulty obtaining the necessary identification.
However, Gans noted that a slew of procedural measures established to make voting easier, including same-day registration, expanded mail-in voting, and early voting, showed no long-term effect. California, where two-thirds of the votes are cast by mail, and Oregon, which is entirely a mail-in procedure, both posted record low primary voting.
He concluded: “The core problem of participation does not reside in the realm of procedure, but rather in motivation. Contributing factors to the decline in motivation are not hard to find: campaigns that are run on scurrilous attack ads that give the citizen a perceived choice between bad and awful; one major party situated far to the right of the American center and the other without a clear and durable message; a decline in faith that government will address major societal need…”
This considerably understates the nature of the political dilemma confronting working people. It is not just the Republican Party that is “situated far to the right” but the Democratic Party as well.
Both parties adhere to the political consensus prevailing within the financial aristocracy, supporting imperialist war, attacks on democratic rights, and savage austerity measures that undermine working class living standards and public services. …
The figures presented in the CSAE report are worth considering in some detail, since they demonstrate that the great mass of the American people have become so alienated from the two-party system, and particularly the Democratic Party, that there exists an enormous political vacuum in the country.
Of the 25 states holding primary elections prior to mid-July, 15 showed record low overall voter turnouts. Only three showed an increase in turnout from 2010 to 2014. Democratic turnout was higher in only four states, while Republican turnout was higher in six states. Democratic Party turnout hit record lows in 15 of the 25 states.
Republican primary turnout, at 8.2 percent of eligible voters, was down from the 2010 level of 9.6 percent, but only slightly below the average of 13 midterm elections over the last half-century, where the average Republican primary turnout was 8.9 percent.
The historical decline is thus in large measure due to declining participation in Democratic Party primaries—significant because for decades the Democratic Party was the main vehicle for the subordination of the working class to capitalist politics, with the AFL-CIO unions peddling illusions that Democratic candidates were “friends of labor.”
Popular participation in Democratic Party midterm election primaries hit its post-World War II high in 1970—a year of mass antiwar activity and popular radicalization that the unions and organizations such as the Communist Party and Socialist Workers Party sought to divert behind supposedly antiwar candidates within the Democratic Party. This culminated in the 1972 presidential campaign of George McGovern.
In 1970, 20.9 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in Democratic Party primaries. This year, that figure is down to only 6.4 percent of eligible voters. In other words, popular participation in Democratic midterm primaries has fallen by 70 percent over the past 44 years. Participation in Republican midterm primaries has fallen by 38 percent over the same period.
Voter participation in Democratic primaries has fallen for 11 consecutive midterm elections, from 1974 to 2014. (Because voter participation is generally much higher in presidential years like 2008 and 2012 than in non-presidential years like 2006 and 2010, the study compares 2014 only with other “midterm” elections, when only congressional and state offices are on the ballot).
The experience of the Obama administration represents a definite turning point in this long-term process of decline. Democratic turnout increased significantly in both the 2006 congressional elections and the 2008 presidential election, with record numbers of black and other minority workers going to the polls.
But whatever the initial illusions that the first African-American president would produce a positive change in the conditions of life for working people, the right-wing, pro-Wall Street record of the Obama administration has produced a historically unprecedented collapse in popular support for the Democratic Party, culminating in a 29 percent decline in participation in Democratic mid-term primary elections between 2010 and 2014.
The figures presented in the CSAE report strongly suggest that millions of working people are fed up with the Democratic Party and are looking for an alternative to oppose the reactionary policies of the financial oligarchy promoted by both the Democrats and Republicans.
This video is called ‘Third Strike’ Gets Top US Spy Booted From Germany.
Translated from the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily in Germany:
July 23, 2014 18:30
Intelligence: Berlin wants to monitor allied intelligence services
In the future, counterintelligence should also include friendly countries: According to information from Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR and WDR television, the Federal Government has decided to observe US American and British intelligence on German soil as well.
By Christoph Hickmann and Georg Mascolo, Berlin
In the future, the federal government also wants to monitor allied intelligence services in Germany. After months of discussions, the Chancellor’s Office, Interior and Foreign Ministry agreed according to information from the Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR and WDR on this project. The so-called 360-degree view will allow it to keep also American and British agents on German soil in view. So far, counterintelligence of the German Verfassungsschutz secret service was especially against the Russians, Chinese and Iranians.
The decision, said to have been reached by the Chancellor’s Office Minister Peter Altmaier, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, (both CDU party) and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD), is regarded as a direct response to recent revelations of espionage allegations against the United States secret service CIA.
An employee of the German secret service BND has already confessed to having worked for two years for the United States as an agent; a suspect employee of the German Defense Ministry denies such accusations vehemently. The boss of the CIA station in Berlin has by now been forced to leave Germany because of these incidents.
Germany begins spying on Britain and America for the first time since 1945. Government responds to a series of spy scandals which began last year with revelations that the NSA had bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone: here.
This video from the USA says about itself:
J. Z. “Ramtha” Knight
21 March 2010
Anyone tempted to be taken in by this cheater should read Carl Sagan’s book, The Demon-Haunted World. “Suppose Ramtha were available for questioning. Could we verify whether he is who he says he is? How does he know that he lived 35,000 years ago, even approximately? What calendar does he employ? Who is keeping track of the intervening millennia? Thirty-five thousand plus or minus what? What were things like 35,000 years old, in which case we discover something about that period, or he’s a phony and he’ll (or rather she’ll) slip up.” – Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.
By Tom Boggioni in the USA:
New Age leader sues ex-students over leaked video of her drunken racist anti-gay rant
Monday, July 21, 2014 14:58 EDT
The leader of a New Age consciousness and enlightenment school, who channels the voice of a 35,000-year-old Lemurian warrior when speaking to her followers, is suing two former students after they posted a drunken rant by her saying Jews have enough money to “have paid their way out of the goddamned gas chambers by now,” and Mexicans breed “like rabbits,” among other slurs.
JZ Knight, a 65-year-old former rodeo queen and cable TV saleswoman who heads the Ramtha School of Enlightenment (RSE) in Yelm, Washington, is suing ex-students Virginia Coverdale and David McCarthy for uploading live-streamed video from a 2011 Ramtha ’channeling’ that turned into a drunken bigoted diatribe, according to Susy Buchanan of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Fuck God’s chosen people! I think they have earned enough cash to have paid their way out of the goddamned gas chambers by now,” Knight told her students in the released video. Knight explained “I’m telling you this, every goddamn Mexican family is a Catholic—they’re breeding like fucking rabbits,” before adding that “all gay men were once Catholic women.”
Knight delivered her speech while students followed her in a drinking game, taking a drink of wine every time she did. Wine ceremonies have been a ritual at RSE since 1996, where students are taught to believe that wine grapes were brought to Earth by extraterrestrials 450,000 years ago.
JZ Knight, born Judith Darlene Hampton in 1946 in Roswell, New Mexico, encountered Ramtha the warrior in 1977 while experimenting with construction paper pyramids. According to her biography, she placed a pyramid on her head and Ramtha, a 7-foot-tall apparition of golden glitter clad in a purple robe, appeared in her kitchen.
“I am Ramtha the Enlightened One. I have come to help you over the ditch,” he told her.
Beginning in 1979, JZ (short for Judith Zebra, no periods needed) began channeling Ramtha at workshops and retreats called “Ramtha Dialogues.”
Early students included Shirley MacLaine (who broke off contact with Knight 30 years ago, according to a spokesperson for the actress), and actors Richard Chamberlain and Mike Farrell. According to RSE officials, actresses Salma Hayek and former “Dynasty” star Linda Evans are current students.
Knight has grown wealthy over the years, purchasing the ranch in Yelm where the school is located. According to RSE, the land was once part of ancient Lemuria during Ramtha’s lifetime, before he migrated to Atlantis and freed his people from tyranny at the age of 14. Ramtha then went on to conquer two-thirds of the world at the head of an army of 2.5 million, before spending seven years meditating and then ascending like Jesus.
According to Knight’s Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based PR firm, “Since the school was founded in 1989, more than 86,000 people worldwide have attended RSE events including about 7,500 in Washington State.” Approximately 2,000 students live near Yelm, a town with a population of close to 7,000.
At the school, students are taught the four tenets of Ramtha’s philosophy: the statement, ‘You are god’; the mandate to make known the unknown; the concept that consciousness and energy create the nature of reality; and the challenge to conquer yourself.
Knight also teaches students to hoard gold and prepare food and supplies to survive for two years following one of the natural disasters that she often predicts will hit the earth. Knight, as Ramtha, is also a believer in the “New World Order” making her a favorite of white nationalist website Stormfront, which lists her writings under headings such as “Jews were responsible for causing WW1 & 2.”
Recently followers have become disenchanted with Knight’s drunken rambling, feeling this is not the enlightenment they are seeking.
In the 16-hour video released by the ex-students, a drunken Knight proclaims, “Fuck Jehovah,” in Ramtha’s voice, before claiming Jesus as a fellow alien who came to Earth to teach the same basic philosophy.
From the same stage, an acolyte of Knight’s, former priest Míceál Ledwith, calls the biblical God “fickle, capricious, psychotic, neurotic, and insecure, and we are supposed to believe that he is the creator God.”
Knight adds that God is a “psychotic, insecure son of a bitch,” before dancing onstage with Ledwith.
Former student Coverdale, currently appealing a $600,000 judgement against her from Knight and RSE, said “Although admittedly, as a rule, the cult does not have as one of its ideologies hating Mexicans or Jewish people or gay people or Catholics, JZ Knight herself is proving she does as her [drinking] increases and she is unable to keep up the love act she had going in the ’80s. It is beyond hate speech.”
“In America, there are many First Amendment rights I agree with, even if I disagree with what is being said. Where I get concerned is when you have a large group of people that believe they are hearing from a powerful enlightened entity, creating an ‘us versus them’ situation,” she added.
For her part, Knight maintains the videos were heavily edited, saying ““Those tapes were illegal from the get-go, and that they were distributed, edited and chopped to make us look like bigots and hateful people when nothing could be further from the truth, nothing! I will not let other people rewrite our history!”
The video continues to keep popping up on the Internet, despite efforts by Knight’s attorneys to have it removed on copyright grounds.
US televangelist Pat Robertson: Gays will make you ‘have open sex with anybody’: here.
Bakers in Oregon who drew ire for refusing to serve a gay couple are now serving ex-gay cupcakes.
This video is called Prison Abuse and Torture in U.S. Prisons.
By Andre Damon:
Torture and death in America’s prisons
15 July 2014
Viewed from the high-rise multi-billion-dollar apartments lining the South side of New York’s Central Park, colloquially referred to as Billionaires’ Row, Rikers Island looms just over the East River. The sprawling island prison complex, which warehouses over 12,000 inmates in squalor and misery, lies between Manhattan, home to a fifth of America’s billionaires, and the Bronx, where half of all children live in households that do not have enough to eat.
“There’s lots of brutality… Horrible brutality,” the former director of mental health services at Rikers told the New York Times. On Monday, the newspaper reported, based on a review of internal prison documents, that over a single eleven-month period, 129 inmates were beaten so severely by prison guards that their injuries were “beyond the capacity of doctors at the jail’s clinics to treat.” In four out of five cases, the prisoners were beaten after they had been handcuffed.
The Times article describes blood-splattered examination room walls and inmates bound and beaten unconscious with brass knuckles, even as medical staff begged the guards to stop. This is not happening in some remote “third world” dictatorship, but in the financial center of world capitalism. All the brutality of class relations in America, where an oligarchy of a few tens of thousands gorges itself while condemning millions to misery, is expressed in America’s teeming prisons.
Rikers Island is the rule, not the exception. Last month, the Miami Herald ran an interview with an inmate who recounted how he had been roused by guards early in the morning to clean up “large chunks of human skin” that had peeled off of Darren Rainey, a 50-year-old inmate scalded to death the previous night by guards at Miami’s Dade Correctional Institution.
The guards had turned one of the prison’s showers into a torture chamber, controlled from a nearby mop closet. They made a regular practice of locking their victims in the shower, laughing, cracking jokes, and asking, “Is it hot enough for you?”
Over the July 4th weekend, three more bodies were found in Florida state prisons under mysterious circumstances, bringing the total number of in-custody prison deaths currently under investigation in Florida to ten.
Such incidents, widespread despite being only occasionally and superficially reported in the press, make a complete mockery of America’s pretensions to being a model of democracy and defender of democratic rights around the world.
A large share of those who are killed or tortured in US prisons are mentally ill or handicapped. According to one BBC investigation, “More than 80 people with mental health problems have died as a result of abuse or neglect in US jails since 2003.”
The report notes that there are more than a million people with mental health problems in US prisons. Due in part to reduced government funding for mental health, correctional facilities hold up to 95 percent of the institutionalized mentally ill population in the United States.
Conditions are emerging in America reminiscent of the debtors’ prisons of Dickensian England. Last month, a 55-year-old mother of seven died in prison while serving a two-day sentence for failing to pay truancy fines imposed because her children missed too many days of school. She was one of tens of thousands of poor people who are put in jail for failing to pay fines or other court costs.
In the United States, every social problem, whether gun violence or domestic abuse, is treated as a policing problem and reason for imposing longer sentences and hiring more police. The US imprisons more people than all other developed countries combined, in a sprawling prison system that sweeps up hundreds of thousands of people every year.
The latest revelations of torture and murder in US prisons touch on just one aspect of the intimidation, violence and brutality inflicted every day by police in America. Since 2010, the Albuquerque Police Department has killed 26 people, including James Boyd, a mentally ill homeless man whose killing sparked nationwide outrage. Last week, it was reported that the Albuquerque Police Department was purchasing at least 350 more assault rifles similar to those used to kill Boyd.
According to official statistics, the police on average commit between one and two “justifiable homicides” every day in the United States. Over the July 4th weekend, police in Chicago shot five people, two of whom died.
Night-time, no-knock police raids have become increasingly prevalent in the United States, with over 100 raids by SWAT teams taking place every 24 hours. Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union reported that the Defense Department has transferred more than $4.3 billion in military assets to police departments, including helicopters and armored vehicles.
The growth of police violence is an expression of the brutalization of society amid soaring social inequality and an endless and escalating series of wars. While the wealth of the country’s billionaires has more than doubled since 2008, workers’ wages are being slashed and social programs gutted. In Detroit, which once had the highest standard of living of any American city, thousands of the city’s residents have had water to their homes shut off, while the city’s retirees are seeing their pensions slashed to pay off the city’s millionaire bondholders.
Police violence currently targets the poorest and most vulnerable elements of society, including the homeless and mentally ill. But these practices are being prepared for use against a far broader section of the population amid the growth of popular opposition to inequality and war.
This is part of the broader attack on democratic rights. The president defends his “right” to order the assassination of American citizens, the CIA steals documents from the Senate with impunity, and Americans’ most intimate personal data is collected, stored, analyzed and read by the intelligence agencies. As the trappings of democracy fall away, the dictatorship of the financial elite over society becomes more brutal, naked and open.
Inequality, war, and police violence are not blemishes on an otherwise healthy social order. Rather, they are expressions of the intractable crisis of the capitalist system itself, and the inevitable outcome of growing poverty and misery on one hand and the enormous concentration of wealth on the other.
New York City will pay $2.75 million to settle a lawsuit against Rikers Island Correctional Facility for brutally beating an inmate to death in 2012: here.
A report from the office of Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has exposed what it calls a “deep seated culture of violence” by New York City’s Department of Corrections (DOC) against teenage inmates in the Rikers Island prison complex, which houses over 14,000 prisoners: here.
A new report, entitled “Bursting the Bubble: The Challenges of Working and Living in the National Capital Area,” details the massive growth of social inequality across the Washington, DC metropolitan area since the 2008 financial breakdown. The report, put out jointly in June by the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute and the Maryland Center for Economic Policy, shows that inequality and poverty reign even in the region which houses the US federal government and its many contractors, and is also the home of numerous elected officials who themselves are millionaires: here.
Violence by guards at New York’s Rikers Island prison grew under Bloomberg: here.
This video from the USA says about itself:
24 May 2014
My first year film at CalArts in the Experimental Animation program – A short stop motion film exploring the writings and adventures of naturalist, author, and father of the National Parks, John Muir.
For more about John Muir: here.
Film by Ian Timothy
Voice of John Muir: Brad Wills
Music: Marianna Filippi
Puppet Costume: Lucia Tello
By Maren Hunsberger in the USA:
Green Life: Claymation Sensation: Artist Animates John Muir
Ian Timothy’s John Muir creation is only eight and half inches tall, with a posable wire skeleton, liquid latex skin, adorable tiny hand-sewn clothes, and a thick Scottish brogue. In Timothy’s latest gorgeous stop-motion video, the mini Muir recites some of his famous reflections on the beauty of nature while walking through forests made from old water bottles and papier mâché. This film comes on the heels of his Beaver Creek series, raising awareness about beavers as a keystone species, and Raptor Blues, which centers around the dangerous effects of rodent poison on raptors.