Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Watch This Psycho Cop Beat This Murder Charge

'16 Shots': Chicago Police Shooting Footage Raises Questions and Outrage

About 500 people protested after dash-cam video came out Tuesday night; additional demonstrations are planned for Wednesday and Friday
Protesters question why it took 14 months for city officials to release the footage—and to charge Officer Jason Van Dyke. (Photo: Reuters)
Protests spilled into the streets of Chicago Tuesday night, and more are expected, after the city was forced to release damning dash-cam footage showing a white police officer fatally unloading 16 shots into 17-year-old Laquan McDonald last year.
Made public more than a year after the shooting, the video raised additional questions and outrage—not only about what the footage contained, but about why it took so long to see the light.
"Day by day, week by week, month by month, what happened here?" wrote Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn on Wednesday. "Who was pursuing justice and the truth and what were they doing? Who were they talking to? With whom were they meeting? What were they trying to figure out for 400 days?"
"[W]ere they simply biding their time," he continued, "hoping the video would never be released and that this incident would simply fade from memory?"
"It is graphic. It is violent. It is chilling," Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said in advance of the video's court-ordered release. "To watch a 17-year-old young man die in such a violent manner is deeply disturbing. I have absolutely no doubt that this video will tear at the hearts of all Chicagoans."
As described by the Chicago Tribune:
There is no sound on the controversial dash-cam video released late Tuesday afternoon by the city, only startling images that show a white Chicago police officer unloading 16 rounds on an African-American teen, who though armed with a small knife appeared to be trying to get away, police said. The video captures 15 seconds of shooting. For 13 seconds of it, McDonald is lying on the street.

Two clouds of smokelike debris silently puff upward immediately after McDonald falls. His head appears to lift, his arm moves. Then more bullets. Another cloud of white debris kicks up from behind his head.

And then it is over. The teen lies on the road for nearly a minute alone.
The Chicago public school system deemed the video so disturbing that it sent pupils home with a letter to parents Tuesday saying counselors would be available, NBC Chicago reported.
Shortly after the video's release, protesters began marching through city streets. The Associated Press said "[s]everal hundred people blocked traffic" near where the shooting took place, and some "circled police cars in an intersection and chanted '16 shots'."
In its different incarnations, the city-wide protest lasted for nine hours, into Wednesday morning. Putting the number of people arrested at five, NBC Chicago reported:
There were many tense moments during the protests across the city.
One man could be seen coming within inches of a Chicago police officer’s face, in a stare-down that lasted several minutes.
At another point during the nine-hour march, crowds blocked the entrance to the Eisenhower Expressway, stopping traffic.
Alvarez revealed Tuesday that her office learned of the video two weeks after the killing and has had a copy of the video since Nov. 4, 2014. According to the Huffington Post, "[t]he disclosure prompted a new round of criticism over the 13-month delay in releasing the video and bringing charges."
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and is being held without bail. Alvarez admitted that the prospect of the video going public forced her hand in bringing charges.
Activists saw the delays by city officials in a cynical light.
"Superintendent [Garry] McCarthy knew about this tape a year ago, but he never said anything about it," protester Tio Hardiman told the Chicago Tribune. "The only reason they're speaking up now is because the judge ordered the tape to be released. This is hypocritical."
Or, as the Chicago Sun-Times wrote in its editorial published Wednesday:
When justice is delayed — and failing to level with the public this long was justice delayed — it becomes justice denied. When justice is delayed, it smacks of politics when it finally arrives.
Additional protests are expected on Wednesday and Friday.
Meanwhile, the freelance journalist whose Freedom of Information Act request eventually forced the release of the dash-cam video in the first place says he was barred from attending a news conference with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Superintendent McCarthy on Tuesday.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Washington Shamefully Turns A Blind Eye to Palestine Too

Street Violence Continues In Jerusalem And West Bank

Forty-one Palestinians and seven Israelis have died in the recent street violence.

Share on Pinterest
JERUSALEM, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Israeli authorities said four Palestinians had been shot dead and a fifth seriously injured in thwarted knife attacks on Saturday in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank as tensions ran high after more than two weeks of unrest.
Forty-one Palestinians and seven Israelis have died in the recent street violence, which was in part triggered by Palestinians' anger over what they see as increased Jewish encroachment on Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound.
Israel says it is keeping the status quo at the holy compound, which is also revered by Jews as the location of two destroyed biblical Jewish temples.
The Palestinian dead include attackers wielding knives and protesters shot by Israeli forces as they threw rocks. The Israelis were killed in random attacks in the street or on buses.
In the latest attack, a Palestinian stabbed and wounded an Israeli border policeman at the Qalandia crossing in the West Bank, a police spokesman said. The attacker was initially shot and wounded in the leg.
During a follow-up body search, the attacker drew a second knife and tried to stab another officer, after which he was shot dead, the spokesman said.
In East Jerusalem and Hebron, two Palestinians who also attempted knife attacks were killed and another was seriously wounded, Israeli authorities said. One Israeli border policewoman was lightly wounded.
A fourth Palestinian was shot dead, also in Hebron, but there were conflicting reports about the incident.
Israel's military said the Palestinian attempted to stab an Israeli civilian, who was carrying a gun and shot the attacker dead. A Palestinian man told Reuters that his daughter, a high school student, had seen the shooting and said it happened when Jewish settlers attacked an unarmed Palestinian.
There has also been violence along the Gaza-Israel border. Israel's army defused a rocket that it said had been fired by Gaza militants overnight and landed in an open area.
Peace talks collapsed in 2014 over Israeli settlement-building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas that the Palestinians seek for a state, and after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas angered Israel by reaching a unity deal with the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.
The last major armed confrontation was the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas in 2014, which left large sections of Gaza destroyed. Around 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 Israelis, most of them soldiers, were killed.
The United States has stepped up efforts to try to restore calm. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by phone with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas to discuss ways to end the violence.
Kerry and Netanyahu are due to meet next week in Germany. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Saudi Oil, Economic and Military Ties Will Turn Washington's Eyes Away From This Atrocity

Mother of Saudi Teen Sentenced to Crucifixion Urges Obama: 'Rescue My Son'

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was sentenced to death at the age of 17 after taking part in a rally for equal Shia rights in Saudi Arabia
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was sentenced to death by crucifixion when he was just 17 years old. (Image: Reprieve)
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was sentenced to death by crucifixion when he was just 17 years old. (Image: Reprieve)
The mother of teenage pro-democracy protester Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, sentenced to crucifixion by Saudi Arabia, pleaded with President Barack Obama to use his power to pressure the close U.S. ally to spare her son.
In her first interview with foreign media outlets, Nusra al-Ahmed told the Guardian that Obama "can interfere and rescue my son."
"To rescue someone from harm, there is nothing greater than that," she continued. "My son and I are simple people and we don’t carry any significance in this world but despite that, if he [Obama] carried out this act, I feel it would raise his esteem in the eyes of the world. He would be rescuing us from a great tragedy."
Al-Nimr was arrested in 2012 when he was just 17 years old following his attendance of a rally for Shia rights in the eastern city of Qatif, according to his mother. After being denied access to a lawyer, al-Nimr was sentenced to death by beheading and crucifixion in May 2014 on charges that include taking part in demonstrations against the government and possessing a gun—the latter of which his family strongly denies. "The court seems to have based its decision solely on 'confessions' which Ali al-Nimr has said were extracted under torture and other ill-treatment," noted Amnesty International.
Al-Ahmed confirmed to the Guardian that her son had been tortured and brutalized. "When I visited my son for the first time I didn’t recognize him," she said. "I didn’t know whether this really was my son Ali or not. I could clearly see a wound on his forehead. Another wound in his nose. They disfigured it. Even his body, he was too thin."
Al-Nimr is not alone. Dawoud al-Marhoon was also sentenced to die at the age of 17 under similar circumstances, and both executions are imminent. Between August 2014 and June 2015, at least 175 people were executed by the Saudi state after unfair trials, in a country where adultery is punishable by death and neither children nor the mentally handicapped are spared from execution.
Al-Nimr's case has shined a global spotlight on Saudi human rights abuses—within its own borders and around the world, including in Yemen where the state stands accused of numerous war crimes in its ongoing military onslaught. The pending execution has also called attention to the complicity of global superpowers that maintain close relations—and sell weapons to—the Gulf state, particularly the U.S. and UK.
Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at human rights organization Reprieve, charged Wednesday that "the response of the U.S.—the Saudis' closest ally—to these outrages has been woefully inadequate."
"The beheading of these two boys, who were arrested and tortured for merely attending protests, would be a grotesque miscarriage of justice," Foa continued. "President Obama must listen to the call from Ali's desperate family, and step in now to urge the Saudis to change course."
When questioned by a reporter last month, U.S. State Department spokesperson Mark Toner expressed "concerns" but declined to condemn al-Nimr's sentence. He went on to "welcome" Saudi Arabia's recent appointment to head a U.N. Human Rights Council panel.

The True Reason for US Backed Wars, Environment-Destroying Capitalism, and Decline in Worldwide Respect

'Out of Control' Inequality: Global One Percent Owns Half of World's Wealth

The Credit Suisse report shows worldwide inequality growing even faster than experts had predicted
Deirdre Fulton, staff writer          
Credit Suisse estimates that the number of global millionaires will probably increase 46 percent to 49.3 million over the next five years. (Photo:
The top one percent of households "account for half of all assets in the world," according to a new report from a leading multinational bank.
The 2015 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report puts worldwide wealth inequality at a level "possibly not seen for almost a century," the researchers write. The data also reveals a declining middle class and that the poorest half of the world's population owns just one percent of its assets. Meanwhile, the number of "ultra-wealthy" people continues to climb.
"The 'trickle up' economic model is working its magic for the super rich at the expense of the rest."
—Claire Godfrey, Oxfam
Credit Suisse's analysis is in line with a warning from the international humanitarian group Oxfam, issued earlier this year, that the richest one percent of people on the planet would own at least half of the world's wealth by 2016.
"The Credit Suisse report shows that inequality is growing faster than we had thought," said Claire Godfrey, global inequality policy lead for Oxfam. "The fact that it has happened this year underlines the urgency of the problem."
Furthermore, Godfrey said, the report illustrates how "the 'trickle up' economic model is working its magic for the super rich at the expense of the rest. This is bad news for global economic growth and bad news for democracy. Our political leaders must take action now to raise the incomes of the poor and maintain the incomes of the middle class."

The annual report also shows that more global wealth is coming from investments—which the majority of people do not have. "Which leads to an inescapable conclusion," NPR's Nancy Marshall-Genzer explained. "If the richest people in the world get more of their wealth from financial assets like stocks and bonds, the wealth gap gets even wider."
Of course, economists have been warning of these consequences for years. As Mark Goldring, Oxfam Great Britain's chief executive, told the Guardian: "This is the latest evidence that extreme inequality is out of control. Are we really happy to live in a world where the top 1 percent own half the wealth and the poorest half own just 1 percent?"

Thursday, October 8, 2015

TPP=NAFTA on Steroids = Global Greed=Global "Illegal" Migration=Global Suffering

Published on

Millions Voice Opposition to 'Corporate Power Grab' Trade Deals

'These dangerous Trojan horse treaties... benefit big corporations at the expense of people.'— Magda Stoczkiewicz, Friends of the Earth Europe
Demonstrators Wednesday at the Citizens Initiative signature handover in Brussels. (Photo: Alexander Garrido Delgado via Stop TTIP/flickr/cc)
Organizers of a citizens' initiative on Wednesday delivered a petition with over three million signatures to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels in their continuing bid to stop trade deals they say pose a threat to democracy and boon to corporate interests.
They say the number of signatures—over 3.2 million at the time of publication—is proof of the vast public opposition to the trade deals in question: the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and United States.
"By signing this petition, an unprecedented three million people from countries across Europe have made it clear that they reject these dangerous Trojan horse treaties which benefit big corporations at the expense of people," stated Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of Friends of the Earth Europe.
Their petition, which has the support of over 500 European organizations, states:
We want to prevent TTIP and CETA because they include several critical issues such as investor-state dispute settlement and rules on regulatory cooperation that pose a threat to democracy and the rule of law. We want to prevent lowering of standards concerning employment, social, environmental, privacy and consumers and the deregulation of public services (such as water) and cultural assets from being deregulated in non-transparent negotiations. The ECI supports an alternative trade and investment policy in the EU.
As the London-based Global Justice Now explains in a media statement, the petition
was initiated by a coalition of NGOs, trade unions and consumer groups from across Europe, had originally been intended to act as a European Citizens Initiative, a formal mechanism whereby a petition with a million signatures from seven or more EU states can force the [European] Commission to formally respond to their request and hold a public hearing in the European parliament. In September 2014 campaigners accused the Commission of attempting to ‘stifle democracy’ after it had ruled the TTIP petition to be invalid on a technicality—a move which is currently being challenged in the European Court of Human Rights.
"Three million people demanding an end to the TTIP negotiations shows that the EU does not have the public mandate to continue this deal," the organization's director, Nick Dearden, adds. "People across Europe are standing up to protect our labour rights, our environmental standards and vital public services, like the [National Health Service], from TTIP. Everything that we know about this secretive trade deal shows that it is very little about trade and very much about enshrining a massive corporate power grab."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

After Decades of Discrimination, Farm Workers Get Pesticide Protections

Published on

After Decades of Discrimination, Farm Workers Get Pesticide Protections

Environmental Protection Agency creates new rules giving equal protection against pesticides to farm workers
Workers harvest corn on a farm in Gilroy, California. (Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture/flickr/cc)
Farm workers will now have sweeping new protections from pesticides under new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules announced Monday—safeguards which labor leaders say eluded farm workers for decades due to racial discrimination.
The new rules, announced by EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, and United Farm Workers (UFW) president Arturo Rodriguez, include the following stipulations:
  • All pesticide applicators will be required to be at least 18 years old, rather than 16;
  • Whistleblower protections, including for undocumented workers, must be implemented so that farm laborers can safely file complaints over workplace abuse;
  • Workers or their representatives must be allowed easy access to records involving hazardous chemical exposure.
The full list of regulations can be found at the EPA website.
"Farm workers deserve to be healthy and safe while they earn a living," McCarthy said on a press call Monday. "We will not turn our backs on the people who help feed this nation."
As United Farm Workers (UFW) president Arturo Rodriguez explained, "Racism forced farm workers to be excluded from major federal labor laws since the 1930s, when some members of Congress made it very clear they didn't want black or brown farm workers to enjoy the same rights and protections as white workers. That discrimination continued when farm workers were exempted from pesticide protections first issued for all other U.S. workers in the 1970s by the Labor Department."
Monday's announcement goes a long way toward rectifying those disparities, UFW said. The union was involved in helping the EPA craft the protections, which McCarthy and Perez said was an example of the collaboration and outreach necessary to implement large-scale institutional reform.
"No one should ever have to risk their lives for their livelihoods, but far too many workers, especially those who work in agriculture, face conditions that challenge their health and safety every day," Perez said. "Workplace illness and injury contribute greatly to economic inequality, and can have a devastating impact on workers and their families. By promoting workplace safety, these provisions will enhance economic security for people struggling to make ends meet and keep more Americans on the job raising the crops that feed the world, and we are proud to support the EPA in this effort."
Perez also noted that accountability would be ensured through federal investigations and on-the-ground action to inform workers of their new rights.
Farm workers have long campaigned for the EPA to update its pesticide protections. Laborers and advocates often note the government's own statistics that between 10,000 and 20,000 farm workers experience pesticide poisoning every year; as late as 2011, an average 57.6 out of every 100,000 workers experienced "acute pesticide poisoning, illness or injury each year, the same order of magnitude as the annual incidence rate of breast cancer in the United States," according to Beyond Pesticides, an advocacy group.
"The same rules that have protected other American workers from dangerous cancer- and birth-defect causing pesticides are finally going to protect farm workers," Rodriguez said Monday. "It's been a long time coming, but it has come today."
"It's never too late to do the right thing," he said.
Last week, environmental legal nonprofit Earthjustice produced a video chronicling the history of farm workers' exposure to pesticides to illustrate the need for stronger protections. Watch below: