Net Briefs – November 2010
Thepeoplesresponse.org to the groundbreaking of the George W. Bush Library & Policy Institute is to organize a peaceful march and rally in Dallas on November 16, 2010. Organizers invite people to join them to remind past, present, and future Administrations that the truth cannot be buried or changed. Will the George Bush Policy Institute develop the same kinds of policies that brought pre-emptive war, economic crisis, environmental disaster, unprecedented presidential power, and diminished civil and human rights? They speculate that items unlikely to be found in the Bush lie-bury will include:
- Dick Cheney's papers
- The 35 Articles of Impeachment
- Video of Congressperson Dennis Kucinich reading all 35 articles
- Statements in support of Bush's impeachment
- The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush
- The 269 War Crimes
- U.S. v. Bush
- Historians' ranking of Bush as worst president ever
- The Downing Street Minutes
- The White House Memo (Jan. '03)
Politico.com makes note of the fact that never in modern political history has there been so much secret money gushing into an American election. By Election Day 2010, independent groups will have aired more than $200 million worth of campaign ads using cash that can't be traced to its original source, predicts Fred Wertheimer, president of the nonprofit group Democracy 21. "And this is just the beginning…. Unless we get some changes to mitigate this problem, I would expect we will see $500 million or more in 2012."
From Truthout.org comes a "Democracy Now!" report on the foreclosure fraud scandal. A coalition of as many as 40 state attorneys general is expected to announce a joint investigation into the recent revelations that major lenders may have committed fraud while forcing thousands of people out of their homes. Major banks and lenders are also back-pedaling in light of these allegations. On Friday, October 8, Bank of America became the first bank to halt foreclosures in all 50 states. JPMorgan Chase and Ally Financial had already suspended foreclosures in 23 states. But both Wall Street and the White House are against the moratoriums. On Monday, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association warned that, quote, "It would be catastrophic to impose a system-wide moratorium on all foreclosures and such actions could do damage to the housing market and the economy." While senior congressional Democrats have joined the calls for a national moratorium on foreclosures, the White House is arguing against punishing the industry.
Kevin Zeese sent a reminder that California's Proposition 19, if passed, would end marijuana possession arrests and allow local jurisdictions in California to make marijuana legal. He notes the incredible statistic—that is, "Since the founding of the Drug Enforcement Administration in 1973, 15 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana." Zeese also notes that the DEA's aggressive national law enforcement efforts have resulted in a marijuana arrest every 38 seconds, but that approximately 90 percent of youth have described marijuana as "easier to buy than alcohol or prescription drugs."
Amid plenty of mass media coverage of Tea Partying (and virtually none for progressive events), www.unitedforpeace.org reminds us via mass emails that on October 2, antiwar activists across the U.S. marked the 10th anniversary of the Afghanistan War with protests. Mock drone attacks dramatized the human cost of war in Madison, WI, Boston, MA, and Washington, DC. There was a die-in in Springfield, OR, and on Long Island, NY, Veterans for Peace and other peace activists demonstrated for an end to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In San Francisco, Daniel Ellsberg joined a panel on "Anti-War Perspectives from the Left and Right. "
Also, 175,000 people from all walks of life and from all 50 states gathered at the Lincoln Memorial under the umbrella of One Nation Working Together. UFPJ distributed over 5,000 posters, 25,000 stickers, and almost 15,000 leaflets making the connections between cutting military spending, ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the urgent need to revitalize our economy and create new green jobs here at home.
From [email protected] comes the news that on October 1, 2010 at 1:00 PM EST, U.S. military veterans, members of Veterans for Peace, hung an enormous banner on the front of the Newseum in Washington, DC, wrapping their message around the First Amendment chiseled in five stories of limestone (see photo). Several veterans dropped the banner down the front of the Newseum, while others distributed special edition copies of the War Crimes Times, explaining the action and what they considered obscene: "The American public should be shocked that we are still killing and crippling thousands of innocent people in these countries as well as our own soldiers—that's what's truly obscene," said Mike Ferner who served in Vietnam. "Blowing people's arms and legs off, burning, paralyzing them, causing sewage to run through their streets, polluting the water that kills and sickens children, terrorizing and bombing people and their livestock with flying robots—that defines obscenity. If this banner shocks and offends a single person who hasn't been shocked and offended by what's being done in our name, we've accomplished our mission."
License to Kill
From ccrjustice.org comes news that CCR and the ACLU have filed a joint lawsuit to challenge the legality and constitutionality of a licensing scheme that requires lawyers to seek government permission to represent individuals that same government intends to kill. The U.S. government has claimed the power to target and kill U.S. citizens and other individuals anywhere in the world outside of any battlefield without charge, trial, or a judicial process of any kind. Not only is the government trying to kill U.S. citizens without due process, it is also trying to stop lawyers from representing them to challenge the government's actions.
The suit charges that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury has exceeded its authority by subjecting pro bono legal services to a licensing requirement and that OFAC's regulations violate the First Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, and the principle of separation of powers. They are asking the court to invalidate the regulations and to make clear that lawyers can provide representation for the benefit of designated individuals without first seeking the government's consent.
News of a protest in Mexico comes from [email protected] More than 300 people from 60 countries gathered in the small village of Temacapulín, Mexico for Rivers for Life 3, a global gathering of dam-affected people and their allies. The village, located on the Rio Verde, is fighting a large dam that would flood the entire town. It is one of Mexico's longest-inhabited towns. "The whole village of Temacapulín is against the El Zapotillo Dam. We have tried many ways to stop the dam, but the government is completely deaf to our voices," said Marco von Borstel, of IMDEC, the Mexican Institute for Community Development and one of the organizers of the event. A cover story in the journal Nature brought even greater urgency to the global struggle to protect rivers. The magazine reports that the world's rivers are in crisis, suffering from the cumulative impacts of dams, pollution, agricultural runoff, the conversion of wetlands, and the introduction of exotic species.
Truthout.org forwards an article by Marjorie Cohn about the release of a Puerto Rican political prisoner after 30 years in U.S. prison. Carlos Alberto Torres was convicted of conspiring to use force against the lawful authority of the United States over Puerto Rico and punished for being a member of an armed clandestine organization called FALN (Armed Forces of National Liberation), which had taken responsibility for bombings (no deaths or injuries resulted). Torres was not accused of taking part in these bombings, only of being a member of the FALN.
In 1898, Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States by Spain as war bounty in the treaty that ended the Spanish-American War. Nevertheless, the U.S. invaded Puerto Rico and has occupied it ever since. Puerto Ricans have always resisted foreign occupation. Every year for 29 years the UN Decolonization Committee has passed a resolution calling for independence. There have been similar declarations from the Non-Aligned Movement and recent submissions to the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review. Cohn writes: "…there is a damper on the celebration, as Torres leaves behind his compatriot Oscar López, a 67-year-old decorated Vietnam War veteran. While celebrating Torres's release and the movement for Puerto Rican independence, we need to commit ourselves to continue the struggle until Oscar López Rivera and Avelino González Claudio, as well as all political prisoners in U.S. prisons, also walk free."
Atilio Boron's article on the failed coup in Ecuador, forwarded from machetera.wordpress.com, notes that the coup was not, as various Latin America media reported, an "institutional crisis," as if what happened had been a jurisdictional conflict between the executive and the legislature, rather than an open insurrection by one branch of the executive, the National Police, whose members make up a small army of 40,000, against the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Ecuador, who is none other than the legitimately elected president. Neither was it, as U.S. Under Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Arturo Valenzuela claimed, "an act of police insubordination." Boron further notes that all the media oligopolies offered a distorted version of what occurred, carefully avoiding talking about an attempted coup. Instead they referred to it as a "police uprising."
Boron points out that the coup was carried out by a group of social and political actors at the service of the local oligarchy and imperialism, who will never forgive Correa for having ordered the removal of the U.S. military base at Manta and the audit of Ecuador's foreign debt and its incorporation into ALBA, among many other actions.
The coup failed: (1) because of the rapid and effective mobilization of significant sectors of the Ecuadoran population which, in spite of the danger that existed, took to the streets and plazas to manifest their support for President Correa; (2) because the popular mobilization within Ecuador was accompanied by an urgent and extraordinary meeting of UNASUR in Buenos Aires—the clear backing received by Correa from the governments of South America and several from Europe was effective because it made clear that the future of the coup makers, had their plans ultimately proved successful, would have been ostracism as well as political, economic, and international isolation; and (3) President Correa would not give in and forcefully resisted the harassment and the kidnapping to which he was subjected.
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