Assata Shakur’s autobiography, new book


This video is called Eyes Of The Rainbow – a documentary film with Assata Shakur.

By Carlos Martinez:

Inspiring account of a black activists struggle

Monday 1st August 2014

Assata: An Autobiograhy

by Assata Shakur

(Zed Books, £8.99)

ASSATA SHAKUR remains an essential text for understanding both the prison-industrial complex and the state of race relations in the US, as well as providing a profound insight into the successes and failures of the Black Power movement of the late 1960s and 1970s.

Born in 1947, Shakur — then Joanne Deborah Byron — grew up between North Carolina and New York, experiencing the intense racism that prevailed, and still prevails, on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.

As a black, working-class woman she became acutely aware of the special oppression she and others like her faced. When a college student, she came across activists — especially from newly liberated Africa –— who challenged her anti-communist prejudices and her internalised stereotypes.

They encouraged her to get involved in the struggle for black power and against capitalism and imperialism. This led to her membership of the Black Panther Party and, later, the Black Liberation Army.

The larger part of the book is devoted to documenting Shakur’s experiences with the US “justice” system in courts and prisons between her arrest in 1971 and her escape eight years later.

Few readers would fail to be shocked at the extent to which this human being, whose real “crime” in the eyes of the state was to be a loud campaigner for justice and equality, was tortured and abused in prison — often at the hands of openly fascistic prison officers.

Her account also serves as a crucial reminder that there remain many political prisoners in the US, languishing behind bars for decades on trumped-up charges and that international pressure must be maintained and intensified until Mumia Abu-Jamal, Sundiata Acoli, Leonard Peltier, Oscar Lopez Rivera, Kenny “Zulu” Whitmore, Albert Woodfox and all political prisoners are freed.

As the book demonstrates, it’s a fight that must be maintained against a phenomenally unjust prison system which disproportionately targets poor and non-white people.

This is not restricted to the US — a recent study showed that black people in Britain are seven times more likely than their white counterparts to be imprisoned.

Shakur’s profound and thought-provoking reflections on the decline of the black power movement deserve to be studied and discussed, as they could help illuminate a path for the current generation of organisers and activists.

Apart from the FBI’s large-scale covert assault on the Panthers and others, she focuses too on subjective elements —adventurism, sectarianism, amateurishness, the failure to consistently raise levels of political consciousness and alienation from the masses — which hampered the movement.

Shakur’s continuing relevance is not lost on the FBI. Last year it added her to its list of “most wanted terrorists” and she is the first woman to enjoy this honour — good to see US imperialism doing its bit for gender equality.

Thankfully, she is safely in exile in Cuba, a country she describes as “one of the largest, most resistant and most courageous palenques (palisades) that has ever existed on the face of this planet.”

Essential reading.

United Nations condemn U.S. police brutality


This music video from the USA is called G.A.G.E. – I Am Mike Brown (Tribute).

From Reuters news agency:

UN Condemns U.S. Police Brutality, Calls For ‘Stand Your Ground’ Review

By Stephanie Nebehay

Posted: 08/30/2014 8:31 am EDT

* Panel issues recommendations after review of U.S. record

* Says killing of Michael Brownnot an isolated event

* Decries racial bias of police, pervasive discrimination

* ACLU calls for addressing racial inequality in America

GENEVA, Aug 29 – The U.N. racism watchdog urged the United States on Friday to halt the excessive use of force by police after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman touched off riots in Ferguson, Missouri.

Minorities, particularly African Americans, are victims of disparities, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) said after examining the U.S. record.

“Racial and ethnic discrimination remains a serious and persistent problem in all areas of life from de facto school segregation, access to health care and housing,” Noureddine Amir, CERD committee vice chairman, told a news briefing.

Teenager Michael Brown was shot dead by a white police officer on Aug. 9, triggering violent protests that rocked Ferguson – a St. Louis suburb – and shone a global spotlight on the state of race relations in America.

“The excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against racial and ethnic minorities is an ongoing issue of concern and particularly in light of the shooting of Michael Brown,” said Amir, an expert from Algeria.

“This is not an isolated event and illustrates a bigger problem in the United States, such as racial bias among law enforcement officials, the lack of proper implementation of rules and regulations governing the use of force, and the inadequacy of training of law enforcement officials.”

The panel of 18 independent experts grilled a senior U.S. delegation on Aug. 13 about what they said was persistent racial discrimination against African-Americans and other minorities, including within the criminal justice system.

U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper told the panel that his nation had made “great strides toward eliminating racial discrimination” but conceded that “we have much left to do”.

Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown, has been put on paid leave and is in hiding. A St. Louis County grand jury has begun hearing evidence and the U.S. Justice Department has opened its own investigation.

Police have said Brown struggled with Wilson when shot. But some witnesses say Brown held up his hands and was surrendering when he was shot multiple times in the head and chest.

“STAND YOUR GROUND” LAWS

In its conclusions issued on Friday, the U.N. panel said “Stand Your Ground” Laws, a controversial self-defense statute in 22 U.S. states, should be reviewed to “remove far-reaching immunity and ensure strict adherence to principles of necessity and proportionality when deadly force is used for self-defense”.

Ron Davis, father of Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old shot dead in a car in Jacksonville, Florida during an argument over loud rap music in November 2012, attended the Geneva session. Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen killed in Miami, Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer, testified.

The U.N. panel monitors compliance with a treaty ratified by 177 countries including the United States.

“The Committee remains concerned at the practice of racial profiling of racial or ethnic minorities by law enforcement officials, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Transportation Security Administration, border enforcement officials and local police,” it said, urging investigations.

The experts called for addressing obstacles faced by minorities and indigenous peoples to exercise their right to vote effectively. This was due to restrictive voter identification laws, district gerrymandering and state-level laws that disenfranchise people convicted of felonies, it said.

Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the U.N. recommendations highlighted “shortcomings on racial equality that we are seeing play out today on our streets, at our borders and in the voting booth.

“When it comes to human rights, the United States must practice at home what it preaches abroad,” he said.

For the second time in less than a month, the New York City Medical Examiner’s office determined that New York Police Department officers were criminally responsible for a man’s death. A spokeswoman announced Friday that the death of Ron Singleton was a homicide attributable to “physical restraint by police.” Singleton, a 45-year-old worker, was killed by police officers on July 13 after being taken into custody as an “emotionally disturbed person”: here.

Kirtland’s warbler defends its nestling, video


This video from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in the USA says about itself:

20 August 2014

Adult male Kirtland’s Warbler defending nestling during the banding process. Note when he pretends to have broken wing when he lands on the scale.

Fortunately, after the banding the nestling went back into the nest, and the parent could relax.

German spies spied on John Kerry too


This February 2014 video is called New German TV Snowden Interview – Clapper Put in His Place.

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.

Iraq and the USA, a bloody history


This video from the USA about the Iraq war says about itself:

WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception

8 March 2013

Directed by MediaChannel Editor-in-Chief, Danny Schechter

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.”

From remembering the Maine to the Gulf of Tonkin and now ten years after smoking guns and mushroom clouds, what have we learned?

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.