HONDURAS UPDATE FOR JULY 31, 2009 A SURREAL SITUATION
By Emile Schepers
Two corrections on yesterday’s blog, both typos. Zelaya put his ARM around U.S. ambassador Llorens, not his ARMY. Not a Freudian slip, I assure you. And the name of the Nicaraguan town in which Zelaya has set up his base camp is OCOTAL, not whatever the Hell my word processor wrote in error. Sorry.
The world, and especially the people of Honduras, are waiting anxiously to see what is going to happen next in Honduras, as coup leader Micheletti threatens to cancel the visas of U.S. diplomats in Tegucigalpa, thereby viciously chomping down on the hand that may on the left assume has been feeding him. Anyway, here are the latest stories, again in no particular order.
1. MICHELETTI BLASTS LLORENS, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION. Reacting to the visit of U.S. ambassador Hugo Llorens to president Zelaya in Managua, Nicaragua, and to the cancellation by the State Department of his own U.S. diplomatic visa and those of several of his colleagues, the de facto president installed by the coup, Roberto Micheletti, lashed out at the Obama administration and specifically U.S. ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens for “interference” (intromission) in the internal affairs of Honduras, and threatened to cancel the diplomatic visas of personnel of the U.S. embassy in Tegucigalpa. He had already done this with the Venezuelan embassy, demanding that all its personnel leave Honduran soil, but the Venezuelan embassy staff refused to do this on the ground that Micheletti is not the legal president of Honduras and can not order anybody to do anything. I hope the US embassy personnel take the same attitude should Micheletti carry through on this threat. But this is a bit too much irony for so late at night, given that so many people having been calling on the United States to withdraw its ambassador in protest against the Micheletti regime. Now if the U.S. does that, it will seem like compliance to Micheletti's stated wish!
2. MICHELETTI GOES BACK TO OPPOSING THE RETURN OF ZELAYA. In spite of some equivocal statements over the last couple of days, Micheletti is now making clear that he opposes the return of President Zelaya. Micheletti says that if it is helpful he will step down as president (de facto) as long as Zelaya also is not returned to the presidency. The Mexican newspaper El Informador suggests that this means that the president of the Supreme Court (pro-coup), Jorge Rivera, would become president.
3. ZELAYA, WIFE EXPRESS APPRECIATION BUT ASK FOR MORE DECISIVE MEASURES BY THE UNITED STATES. Both president Zelaya and his wife, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, have expressed appreciation for the statement in Managua yesterday by U.S. ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens to the effect that the U.S. still recognizes Zelaya as the only president of the United States. However, they both separately (Zelaya is in Nicaragua and his wife is still within Honduras leading protest demonstrations against the coup regime) called for the Obama administration to take stronger measures against the coup regime. Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, speaking to anti-coup demonstrators in Tegucigalpa after returning from the border area with Nicaragua, said that “Yesterday, the State Department sent a very clear message to the President of the Republic, that he is the only President of the Republic of Honduras they recognize”. She added that ambassador Llorens told her husband that the United States has sent an ultimatum to coup leader Micheletti to step down or face the consequences.
4. REPRESSION CONTINUES. Honduran troops and police continue to repress anti-coup protesters, arresting and beating (then releasing) labor official and anti-coup leader Juan Barahona and numerous others. One of the injured was independent presidential candidate Humberto Reyes, who has been taken to Havana to be treated for wrist and head injuries.
5. COUP LEADERS TRY TO LINK ZELAYA SUPPORTERS TO THE COLUMBIAN FARC. In a maneuver that would have been laughable had it not also been so dangerous, the coup regime this week tried to link president Zelaya’s support base to the Colombian FARC (Armed Forces of the Colombian Revolution). The pretext was that the FARC (and virtually every other governmental and non governmental entity on the planet) had issued a communiqué denouncing the Honduras coup. The office of the coup attorney general and the head of the National Police are now claiming that demonstrations against the coup and in favor of the return of Zelaya are being funded by the FARC, the proof being found in what many call the “magic computer” of Raul Reyes, a FARC commandante who was killed in a Colombian raid on a jungle camp in Ecuador last year.
National Police spokesman Danilo Orellano claims that he has “receipts” showing payments to the Zelaya government’ supporters from the FARC.
6. HONDURAN ECONOMY SUFFERING FROM RESULTS OF COUP. The disruption to the Honduran economy caused by the coup and the ensuing conflict between pro and anti-Zelaya groups may seriously impact the Honduran economy, one of the poorest in the Hemisphere and already hard hit by the world financial and economic crisis. Cutoffs of financial aid and disruption of trade could cut economic growth by 2 percent, said the British news agency Reuters, without citing sources or providing very many details. Military checkpoints set up by the Honduran military, in addition to curfews have disrupted the movement of goods between Nicaragua and Honduras.
7. GRIJALVA SENDS OUT DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER. U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) is circulating a new “dear colleague” letter for action on Honduras. As I am writing this (10:30 Friday evening) I have not been able to get hold of a copy of this letter. If anyone has access to it please e-mail it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. SCORE ON DUELING RESOLUTIONS. H RES 630, denouncing the coup and calling for President Zelaya’s restoration to power, has 41 cosponsors, while H RES 619, applauding the coup and demanding that the Obama administration recognize Micheletti as president of Honduras, has 37. Keep up the contacts with your Congresspersons, we need many more cosponsors.
That’s all for now, I will have another update for you on Saturday evening.
Friday, July 31, 2009
HONDURAS UPDATE FOR JULY 31, 2009 A SURREAL SITUATION
WASHINGTON — The false allegation that President Barack Obama was born in another country is more than a fact-free hit job.
Marked by accusations and backstabbing, it's the story of how a small but intense movement called "birthers" rose from a handful of people prone to seeing conspiracies, aided by the Internet, magnified without evidence by eager radio and cable TV hosts, and eventually ratified by a small group of Republican politicians working to keep the story alive on the floors of Congress and the campaign trails of the Midwest.
It's a powerful story about what experts call political paranoia over a new face in a time of anxiety and rapid change — the sort of viral message that can take hold among a sliver of the populace that's ready to believe that the new president is a fraud, and just as ready to angrily dismiss anyone who disagrees as part of the conspiracy.
"He is NOT an American citizen," yelled a woman at a town hall meeting in Delaware, angrily confronting a congressman. "I don't want this flag to change. I want my country back."
When Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., responded that Obama is a citizen, she and others in the room jeered him.
"It's a fascinating phenomenon," said Jerrold Post, director of the political psychology program at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs and author of a recent book entitled, "Political Paranoia."
"They are not searching for the truth. They are searching for anything that confirms their fixed idea, their malevolent idea . . . It doesn't soothe people to tell them it's not legitimate. That makes them angry."
Birthers charge that Obama hasn't proved that he was born a U.S. citizen, and therefore isn't eligible to be president under the constitutional requirement that the president be 35 years old, be a resident of the country for at least 14 years, and be a natural-born citizen.
They also say that a birth certificate posted on the Internet by Obama during his campaign isn't the original, and a forgery anyway.
First, the 2007 document isn't a forgery. Independent experts from such groups as Factcheck.org at the University of Pennsylvania have examined it and said it's real.
Second, it's true that the 2007 document issued by the state of Hawaii, called a Certification of Live Birth, isn't a copy of the original 1961 document. Obama could ask for that from Hawaii but hasn't, without explanation. The longer, original form would show more details, including the name of the doctor, according to copies of other 1961 birth certificates.
White House aides say only that Obama has produced his birth certificate. That's true. It is A birth certificate, issued by the state Health Department and acceptable to prove citizenship to the federal government for purposes of obtaining a passport.
It's also true that it isn't THE original birth certificate.
Regardless, Hawaii state officials said again this week that they've examined the original and affirmed that it shows that Obama was born there.
Also, the two Honolulu newspapers report that they carried brief announcements of the birth of a boy to the Obamas in 1961. Said the Aug. 13 birth announcement in the Honolulu Advertiser: "Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalanianaole Hwy, son, Aug. 4."
The Hawaii state Health Department says it supplied the lists of births for those announcements. Announcements supplied by families were longer, more personal and normally included the child's name.
Many birthers, such as Pennsylvania attorney Phil Berg, allege that Obama was born in Kenya and that his Kenyan grandmother is on tape saying that she was present at his birth there.
Yet the tape circulated on the Internet doesn't actually say that — and the full tape actually contradicts it.
On the tape, the woman thought to be Sarah Obama is prodded by a Berg ally who's a self-described bishop from the U.S. to affirm that Obama was born in Kenya.
"Was she present when he was born in Kenya?" Bishop Ron McRae asks in the taped phone call.
"She says yes she was. She was present when Obama was born," says the voice of translator.
The tape ends abruptly.
Despite Berg's assertions, the response didn't actually confirm a birth in Kenya. Moreover, a longer version of the tape shows the elder Obama decidedly denying a Kenyan birth immediately after the first tape was cut off.
"I would like to go by the place, the hospital where he was born. Can you tell me where he was born? Was he born in Mombasa?" McRae is heard asking.
"Obama was not born in Mombasa. He was born in America," the translator says after talking to the woman.
"I thought he was born in Kenya," McRae asks again.
"He was born in America, not in Mombasa," says the response. Another response later says, "Obama in Hawaii. Hawaii. She says he was born in Hawaii."
Still, the charge has spread despite no evidence that Obama was born in Kenya and compelling evidence that he was born in Hawaii.
A handful of people started spreading the story. Among them:
Martin, a Chicagoan, is a legal gadfly who was among the first to file a lawsuit demanding to see Obama’s birth certificate in Hawaii, which was denied last year.
"I would like to claim the role of ringmaster in this birth certificate circus," Martin said this week on his Web site. "From the first day I began writing about Barack Obama's secret life five years ago, Obama has obstructed access to the truth about himself. Obama's sycophants in the media and government have tried to protect him from the truth and the facts of his life."
A frequent and always unsuccessful candidate for office — he's running this time for U.S. Senate in Illinois — Martin was the first to charge that Obama was a Muslim.
In an email, he distanced himself from other birthers who claim that Obama was born in Kenya. "I have continually expressed doubt about the Kenya theory," he wrote. "I openly state that there is a not a shred of credible evidence Obama was born in Kenya."
Martin has a history of inflammatory and often anti-Semitic comments. He once called a Chicago judge a "crooked, slimy Jew who has a history of lying and thieving common to members of his race." Preparing to run for office in Connecticut, one of his campaign documents said a purpose of the campaign was to "exterminate Jew power." A court filing in 1983 stated that, "I am able to understand how the Holocaust took place, and with every passing day feel less and less sorry that it did."
Asked about the anti-Semitic comments, Martin said they "took place over a quarter of a century in a very vicious lawsuit in which names were called on all sides."
Taitz, an attorney and dentist from Orange County, Calif., has filed lawsuits challenging Obama's citizenship and has traveled the country to marshal support for her drive to prove that Obama isn't a citizen and shouldn't be president. Her Web site asks people to contribute money via a Paypal account.
She filed one lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court; it was dismissed. She filed another in Georgia on behalf of a reserve army officer who wanted to take back his volunteer offer to serve in Afghanistan because Obama was a foreigner and not really his commander in chief. The Army excused the officer from going to Afghanistan, saying any volunteer could back out.
She once drove to a legal conference in Washington state to press Chief Justice John G. Roberts to consider Obama's citizenship; he declined to comment on any possible case as security officers prepared to escort her from the conference.
She's also met with Republican state lawmakers in Missouri. "She had a lot of documents there and has done a lot of traveling and spent a lot of money on the legitimacy of his citizenship," said Missouri state Rep. Ed Emery, a Republican.
Taitz boasts on her personal blog each time a prominent Republican, such as a member of Congress or Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, signs up as a "friend" on her Facebook account, although many public figures often sign off on such links routinely.
"I am in total disbelief and greatly honored," she said in one post on her blog. "It means that the leadership of the Republican Party understands the importance of the issues and legal cases I brought forward."
Not so fast, said RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho.
"Chairman Steele has thousands of Facebook friends. Obviously it doesn't mean he endorses the agendas of all of them," she said. "Chairman Steele believes this is an unnecessary distraction and that the president is a U.S. citizen. . . .Chairman Steele has other issues to take up with the president having to do with policy, not a birth certificate."
Berg, an attorney from Pennsylvania, has been described by the Allentown Morning Call as a "legal gadfly" and also has filed lawsuits unsuccessfully challenging Obama's citizenship and presidency.
"This has been a real sham," Berg said at one point to radio talk show host Michael Savage.
Berg's seen other conspiracies as well. In 2004, he filed a lawsuit against then-President George W. Bush _not to mention every male Bush from two generations — charging that the government secretly allowed the 2001 terrorist attacks to happen.
In detail, Berg's suit alleged that the World Trade Center towers were destroyed from within and that the Federal Emergency Management Agency maintained "a black-op shadow government designed to replace the elected government of the United States." (FEMA at the time was run by Michael Brown, later infamous for his stewardship of the agency following Hurricane Katrina.)
Once allies with Orly Taitz — the two appeared together in December at the National Press Club — Berg has had a falling out with the Californian, who's won more media attention.
"Orly Taitz, esquire, must be disbarred," Berg said in June as he filed a lawsuit against her.
"Orly has been grabbing the headlines but doing disservice to the millions who want Obama to prove he is constitutionally eligible/qualified to be president. . . . Orly has only one case pending . . . I have three lawsuits pending."
A writer at the Web site Worldnetdaily.com, Corsi has said repeatedly at such venues as the G. Gordon Liddy radio show that the birth certificate Obama's campaign posted on its Web site was fake. "It's a fake document," he said on Fox News. "I'm convinced it's a forgery," he said on Blogtalkradio.com.
Corsi was a co-author of "Unfit for Command," a book slamming 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, and the author of "Obama Nation," a book slamming Obama last year. His opening lines of the book credit the influence of Andy Martin.
Democrats weren't his only targets. He's said that Bush was secretly trying to surrender U.S. sovereignty to a new North American Union that would govern Canada, Mexico and the United States. "His secret agenda is to dissolve the United States of America into the North American Union," he wrote at one point.
Many mainstream conservatives recoiled at the North American Union conspiracy theory. Talk show host Michael Medved, for example, called it "paralyzing, puerile paranoia."
Corsi couldn't be reached to comment.
Martin, Taitz and Berg didn't respond to requests to comment.
SPREADING THE STORY
The Internet helped spread the story, through Web sites such as Worldnetdaily.com and dozens of other conservative sites, often repeating charges without evidence or attribution beyond other like-minded Websites.
"This is abetted by changes in the structure of communications," said Michael Barkun, an expert in conspiracy theories and a political science professor at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.
"What once would have been fringe ideas are spread very quickly and much more widely than would have been the case even 10 years ago. . . . Ideas that originate in quite small subcultures can very quickly get mainstreamed."
Once the story spread on the Internet, several of the birthers have found a stage on talk radio and cable TV. Lou Dobbs of CNN, for example, has said he thinks the allegation is false, yet he continues airing them.
Radio talker Rush Limbaugh has joked about it, saying, "Barack Obama has one thing in common with God. You know what it is? God doesn't have a birth certificate either."
Sean Hannity prominently featured Andy Martin on his Fox News program during the 2008 presidential campaign. Hannity also heavily promoted Corsi when Corsi's anti-Obama book came out.
Talk show host Liddy has repeatedly featured stories charging that the president was born in Kenya.
Ultimately, the story's taken hold with some Republicans.
Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla. introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would require a presidential candidate to produce a birth certificate "together with such other documentation as may be necessary" to prove natural-born citizenship. It would take effect in 2012, in time to force Obama to produce more documentation.
Posey has nine co-sponsors so far, all Republicans.
In the Senate, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., told the Tulsa World he didn't think it was a priority, but that he understood the birthers' quest.
"I don't discourage them from going ahead and pursuing that," he said.
There are signs that Republicans see political risk in encouraging the birthers.
Steele distanced himself from them on Thursday. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, his party's leader in the House, said he has other priorities, and that he has no reason to believe the allegation.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
From: Emile Schepers
Here is the latest on Honduras, in no particular order. The priority actions are still to get your congresspersons to sign on as cosponsors to H RES 630, which denounces the coup and calls for the restoration of Manuel Zelaya as president of Honduras. To find out whether your congressperson is already onboard, go to www.thomas.loc.gov
1. ZELAYA MEETS WITH AMBASSADOR LLORENS. Today president Zelaya some of his advisors met with a U.S. delegation consisting of U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens and others, according to reports by Prensa Latina, Telesur and others. The photo accompanying the Telesur report shows Zelaya throwing his army around the professorial looking Llorens. According to the reports there were no new proposals discussed in the meeting which had been planned for a while but which could not take place until today. Reportedly Llorens assured Zelaya that the US stills recognizes him as the only president of Honduras, and assured him that he (Llorens) has not had any conversations with the coup regime headed by Roberto Micheletti. Coming out of the meeting Zelaya’s foreign minister Patricia Rodas called for stronger pressure on the coup plotters by the United States. Referring to the US government’s action in cutting off diplomatic visas of Micheletti and some others from the coup regime yesterday, Rodas said “the suspension of visas, which are a personal slap [against the coup plotters] is not enough, but we consider that if the US response to the [coup] actors is lukewarm it will be felt as….a tacit support for their actions”.
2. NEW INTERVIEW WITH AMY GOODMAN ON DEMOCRACY NOW! President Zelaya was interviewed again by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! This interview is very worth reading. You should be able to find it on the Democracy Now! Website at http://www.democracynow.org. If you can’t, e-mail me and I will find a way to get you to it; my e-mail address is email@example.com. Important items in the interview include a statement by Zelaya that he does not consider that President Obama or Secretary of State Clinton were behind the coup. He does, however, call for the coup to be called a coup, and for more pressure on the coup perpetrators by the United States.
3. CLASH BETWEEN PROTESTERS AND COUP SECURITY FORCES NEAR TEGUCIGALPA. Radio Globo reports that army and police violently repressed a demonstration against the coup in the town of El Durazno about 3 miles outside Tegucigalpa. One person may have been killed and others injured as the security forces attacked with tear gas and beatings, which were directed also at journalists and camerapeople.
4. ARIAS CALLS FOR CONTINUED SANCTIONS. Today Costa Rican president Oscar Arias responded to a request by Micheletti that he send in a new negotiator to Honduras by calling for the continuation of firm sanctions against the coup regime. Micheletti had asked that Enrique Iglesias, former director of the Interamerican Development Bank and current secretary of the Ibero-American summit, be sent to Honduras to talk to various people to try to convince them to accept one or another set of proposals that Arias has made for a solution to the crisis. Arias did not respond to this request yet.
5. SENATOR LUGAR ASKS FOR EXPLANATIONS FROM HILLARY CLINTON. Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana has, according to Reuters, sent a note to Secretary of State Clinton asking her to explain U.S. policy toward Honduras. The note broadly hints that if she does not give a satisfactory explanation, the GOP may make trouble about the Obama administration’s nomination of several officials, including Arturo Valenzuela as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Thomas Shannon as U.S. Ambassador to Brazil (Shannon is leaving the position to which Valenzuela has been nominated), and Carlos Pascual as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Senator Jim deMint (R-SC) has already used senatorial privilege to delay the ratification of Valenzuela’s appointment, as a protest against the Obama Administration’s failure to support the coup.
6. PROGRESS ON H RES 630. As of this afternoon, House Resolution 630, which denounces the coup and exhorts the Obama administration to work hard to restore Pres. Zelaya to power, has 41 co-sponsors, the latest being Cong. John Lewis of Georgia. The rival resolution, H RES 619, which applauds the coup and calls for the US to recognize the Micheletti regime, has 34. Please make contacting your congressperson to get him/her to sign on to H RES 630 and work for its passage a priority activity. Take a look at the number of cosponsors from Illinois, which is the majority of the Democrats in that state’s congressional delegation. Let’s have some emulation of that in other states. It would be great to organize press activities with some of these Congresspersons.
That’s all for tonight.
A month has passed since Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a coup, organized by the military, political, and business elite of Honduras and their sponsors in the U.S and elsewhere. Worldwide the opposition to the coup has been massive. In a welcome change from earlier administrations that organized coups in Latin America and elsewhere, the White House and the State Department have protested the coup action.
As impressive as the internal and external opposition to the coup is, it is not enough yet to remove this right wing authoritarian regime in Honduras. Thus the Obama administration in its own interests (which I will explain in a moment) has to take more forceful and substantive actions to protect lives, defend democracy, and restore President Zelaya to power.
Military personnel could be withdrawn immediately, bank accounts of the coup leaders could be frozen, travel could be suspended, and other economic sanctions could be imposed.
I doubt President Obama expected that his desire for a new chapter in relations between our government and the governments and peoples of the Southern Hemisphere expressed in a recent speech would encounter a practical test so soon. But it has.
A coup has happened in Honduras. The president has to respond. What he does may well determine not only the future of democracy in Honduras, but also the prospects of a new (and long overdue) era of peace and neighborliness in our hemisphere. I'm sure that he envisioned that the evolution of a new chapter of U.S.-Latin American relations would proceed along different lines, which only goes to prove that the terrain and issues of struggle of the most powerful leader in the world (noted on than one occasion by President Lincoln) are in many instances set by circumstances out of the president's control.
The eyes of the people of Latin American are on the administration, listening to its every word and watching its every move. Our support for democracy in Honduras, along with practical steps to normalize relations with Cuba, are in my view the litmus test that Latin American states and people will use to determine whether President Obama is the "genuine article."
No longer will they allow their region to be the backyard of imperial interests. Much like other peoples on the periphery and semi-periphery of global development they are determined to be authors of their own history and lives in this century. The sooner this stubborn fact is appreciated by the peoples and states of the core capitalist countries the better off all of us will be.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the internationally notorious Arizona Sheriff who is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice, the House Judiciary Committee, the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security and who uses the law to prosecute vulnerable people and wants to cleanse Maricopa County of all "illegal" immigrants was defeated in the Maricopa County Superior Court yesterday July 28, 2009.
Orlando Arenas, 27, was protesting on February 4,2009 because immigrant prisoners were paraded to a separate "immigrant tent jail" by Arpaio as a publicity stunt. see link: http://www.americasvoiceonline.org/blog/entry/sheriff_joes_mini_gitmo_local_enforcement_out_of_control/
Orlando is a pro-immigrant and anti-Arpaio activist. He was selectively prosecuted for "criminal trespassing" for being on the sidewalk with others, including the press, during the prisoner march. When he was arrested by the Maricopa County Sheriff Office (MCSO) in a seemingly unrestricted area of the "Maricopa County Jail complex," an arresting officer wrote in his report that he recognized Orlando as one of the daily protestors from the PUENTE (http://www.puenteaz.org/) group who stand outside the Sheriff's luxury offices on the 19th floor of the downtown Phoenix Wells Fargo bank building. PUENTE and Orlando have been protesting since September 2, 2008.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Armando Gandarilla dismissed the charge with prejudice (meaning charges cannot be re-filed) and ordered monetary sanctions against the MCSO for the costs of the Defense Attorney. It was the fourth court appearance for the charges.
Since January, in 3 instances, 9 have been arrested by the MCSO for offenses such as clapping or speaking during Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meetings or for sitting at the offices of the Board of Supervisors waiting to speak with the Chairman of the Supervisors so that they could address the Supervisors about Arpaio. So far, charges were dropped for 2, but are pending for others.
At the Evidentiary Hearing yesterday, 35 supporters of Orlando observed the hearing in the public gallery and at least 10 children were outside the Court in the hallway.
Attorney Christopher Du Pont defended Orlando. Du Pont was contacted through the ACLU.
At an earlier hearing, the importance of the case to Arpaio was indicated when Arpaio's Chief Deputy and advisor, Attorney Jack MacIntyre was brought into the case. He is a civilian employee and is listed as a lobbyist for the MCSO, he has an office on the 19th floor of the Wells Fargo building with Arpaio. As noted by the public gallery, MacIntyre looks a lot like the 1960's cartoon character "Mister Magoo" and MacIntyre's bumbling manner mimics the cartoon character. He tried to impress the Court that somehow, he just didnt' recognize the "faxed" (his defense for not recognizing it as 'official') Court Order subpoena that was issued for the defense to depose the arresting officers. In typical Mister Magoo fashion, he just didn't get the details. More on his testimony later.
MacIntyre advised the young County Prosecutor in the case. In the end, she showed her contempt for the process and the public when she left the Courtroom after the Judge dismissed the case, muttering to an audible level "I hope you all get sanctioned."
MacIntyre also advised the three Sheriff's Deputies involved, Officer Crosby, an arresting officer, Officer Sanchez, an arresting officer and Officer Smith, a subpoena officer from Arpaio's 19th floor offices. MacIntyre directed Officers Sanchez and Smith not to give deposition. Officer Crosby was deposed as ordered.
In the testimony from the Evidentiary Hearing yesterday, the County Prosecuting Attorney brought 3 witnesses to make the case that it was all a misunderstanding, that they were confused. They tried to claim that they are clear, that they were issued Court Orders, that they would comply now, they would be deposed as ordered.
Because there was no deposition and the Court Order had been ignored, the Defense argued that the case should be dismissed with monetary sanctions. Defense argued that the MCSO manipulated the Court Orders for "vital witnesses" and Judge Gandarilla determined that the due process was violated and that the MCSO was acted in bad faith. There was conflicting testimony from Deputy Smith and Chief Deputy MacIntyre, Deputy Sanchez claimed that he was notified but that he would re-schedule because of his job with the MCSO Tactical Unit.
Each witness was testifying while the others were outside in the hallway so that they could not collude their testimony. MacIntyre testified that he was asked by Deputy Smith "in the office hallway" if she she should respond to the "faxed" subpoena. He claims he looked at the subpoena and "told Deputy Smith not to respond" though he obfuscated the issue by remarking that the subpoena had been faxed. All subpoenas are processed through a Process Serving system a standard operating procedure.
Witness Deputy Lindsay Smith, who has been with the MCSO for 8 years. Smith claimed that she was only following the orders of MacIntyre, her desk was so unorganized, she claimed that the "faxed" subpoena to be deposed was lost on her desk. As she was questioned by Defense Attorney Du Pont, she became hostile and defensive towards questioning, Judge Gandarilla stopped her and told her to change her demeanor.
Judge Gandarilla stated his decision was because as a sworn oath, "we are held to higher standards."
From: Emile Schepers
HERE IS AN UPDATE ON HONDURAS FOR JULY 29 2009. THESE ITEMS ARE NOT IN ANY ORDER SO PLEASE HAVE PATIENCE AND READ THROUGH TO THE END.
1. TEXAS FAIR TRADE COALITION STATEMENT ON HONDURAN COUP
The Texas Fair Trade Coalition (TFTC) condemns the recent coup in Honduras and calls on the United States government to use every tool available to reinstate the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. We are echoing the position already taken by the majority of our more than 40 labor, environmental, human rights, faith based, peace and social justice organizations that make up our coalition.
In addition to supporting the position taken by the AFL-CIO, the TFTC viewpoint is summed up by the statement of Leo Girard, international president of the United Steel Workers Union: “This military coup is an illegal attempt to use armed force to overturn the course of democracy and social progress chosen by the Honduran people at the polls, and we call upon the nations of the world, and especially the U.S., UK and Canada, to officially declare the seizure of power by the military in Honduras a "military coup" and to act accordingly.”
The TFTC views the political and economic turmoil that is threatening democracy in Honduras and other Central American countries as the result of the implementation of Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). This extension of the NAFTA-model of “free trade” to Central America has brought the same economic, social, and political calamities to its working people that NAFTA produced in Mexico. And once again workers in the United States have been faced with offshoring of good paying jobs to industrial sweat shops in Central America.
Honduran President Zelaya began his administration as a strong supporter of CAFTA and implemented it in the face of great opposition from workers, farmers and indigenous peoples organizations. Finally, however, it became clear to Zelaya that CAFTA, instead of delivering its promises of development, actually drove farmers from their land, lowered the wages of already poverty stricken workers and worsened the trade deficit with the United States.
When President Zelaya began to promote policies aimed at raising living standards and sought alternative trade agreements outside of CAFTA, the handful of elite families that control the economy of Honduras turned against him. Zeyala's progressive policies were also opposed by U. S. based multinational corporations like Hanes and Fruit of the Loom. Since the coup U.S. and Honduran corporations and trade associations have hired high powered Washington lobbyists to defend the illegal government put in place by the coup.
The TRADE Act of 2009, introduced by Congressman Mike Michaud of Maine and cosponsored by 114 members of Congress, would review all NAFTA-modeled trade agreements and mandate the changes needed to implement a trade policy that benefits all the people of the countries covered. Texas cosponsors of the TRADE Act include Congressman Al Green, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congressman Gene Green.
President Obama, as a Senator, voted against CAFTA and explained during the 2008 campaign why it was bad for the people of the U. S. and Central America .The Texas Fair Trade Coalition is hopeful that the President will utilize his understanding of CAFTA to craft a new trade policy that includes the changes called for in the TRADE Act. That is the surest way to safeguard democracy and economic progress in all of the Americas.
2. OBAMA ADMINISTRATION CUTS U.S. VISAS FOR TOP COUP OFFICIALS. On Wednesday the Obama administration cut off US visas for the following top coup officials:
Roberto Micheletti, the de facto or coup president
Jose Alfredo Saavedra, coupist president of the Congress
Ramon Custodio Lopez, Commissioner of Human Rights in the coup regime.
Adolfo Leonel Sevilla, coup minister of defense
Thomas Arita Valles, vice president of the coupist Supreme Court
Enrique Ortez Colindres, former coup minister of foreign affairs (who had called president Obama "that little black fellow who knows nothing about anything" and "that little black cane cutter".
President Zelaya, based now in Ocotlan Nicaragua, about 12 miles from the Honduran border, recognized this step but also asked the Obama administration to freeze the coup leaders' bank accounts, pointing out that they may well be looting the Honduran treasury and stashing the money, including aid Honduras has received through ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the People of America) in Miami banks.
The list of people whose visas are cancelled is not quite the same as the list that Zelaya had forwarded to Obama a couple of days ago, which consisted of the head of the armed forces (General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez), the heads of the navy and army, and the coup attorney general and chief prosecutor.
3. MICHELETTI WOBBLES AND MANEUVERS ON RETURN OF ZELAYA. The New York Times now reports that coup president Micheletti is saying that he has no problems with Zelaya coming back as president as long as his powers are limited. Micheletti attributes the reluctance to let Zelaya back to unnamed political and business interests in Honduras. He says he has asked Costa Rican president Oscar Arias to name a prestigious outsider, perhaps Enrique V. Iglesias, the head of the Ibero American Cooperation Secretariat (a group that promotes coordination among the Latin American countries, Spain and Portugal).
4. BOMB IN UNION HQ. On Sunday, a bomb went off in the union hall of the Brewery Workers' union, whose Secretary, Juan Barahona, is one of the chief spokespersons and leaders of the movement in support of Zelaya in Honduras. It exploded just after a big meeting of coup opponents. Nobody was hurt, and there was a small amount of damage.
5. TOUGH TALK FROM ARIAS. Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, who earlier had given the impression that he was giving up on his mediation role in the Honduras affair, made a tough statement in the context of a summit meetings of the presidents of Mexico, the Central American countries and Colombia. The summit then unanimously denounced the coup and called for Arias's return. Arias said that the Micheletti group "either will turn back from the path they are on, and annul certain laws..or they will face absolute ostracism. He threatened that the Honduran economy would be severely damaged if the coup government persists in refusing to accept a return of Zelaya as part of the 9 point San Jose proposal that Arias presented after the coup government rejected his first proposal. The representative of Zelaya's government in the talks, Rixi Moncada, had earlier said that her side considered the talks to have failed because of the intransigene of Micheletti's de-facto government.
6. CAUSUALTIES Various sources are saying that at least 9 people have been killed by coupist security forces since the coup began on June 28.
7. HONDURANS TRAPPED IN EL PARAISO, REFUGEES IN NICARAGUA. There are persistent reports about large numbers of people who had gone to meet pres. Zelaya at the Honduras-Nicaragua border being trapped without food and other supplies in the El Paraiso district around that area, troops and police not allowing them to leave. Also, about 1,000 Hondurans are now in a situation of refugees on the other side of the border in Nicaragua. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has asked the UN High Commission for Refugees to provide aid. The right wing opposition in the Nicaraguan Congress is pushing a resolution calling for Zelaya and his followers to be kicked out of Nicaragua.
8. ZELAYA'S NEXT STEPS. President Zelaya has not crossed the border again, and is talking about possible crossings at other points. He expressed frustration at Hillary Clinton's having said that his action in going to the border was "reckless", and also with the State Department's refusal to officially call the coup a coup.
9. RESOLUTIONS IN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. H RES 630, which denounces the coup and calls for Zelaya's restoral, now has 40 co sponsors, mostly from the Progressive, Black and Hispanic Caucuses. The other resolution, H RES 619, which applauds the coup and asks the US government to recognize the coup government, has 33. We all should be calling, faxing, e-mailing, writing and visiting our Congresspersons to ask them to become cosponsors of H RES 630, and to push for its passage. How about some local events to give the thing publicity.
That's all for tonight, more tomorrow.
John Bachtell, district organizer of the Communist Party of Illinois is interviewed by Houston KPFT's Ernesto Aguilar on health care fight and Bachtell's recent trip to Cuba.
zSHARE - bachtell.mp3
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Ricardo Ventura provided a series of photos that ran as a backdrop throughout the discussion. He outlined the situation in Honduras from the 1982 constitution, which he said was forced on the Honduran people by the United States, to the present. Although he joined the entire panel in appreciating the Obama Administration's insistence on democracy in Honduras, he also charged that American intelligence must have known about the coup in advance.
Hobie Hukill, who travels in Central America a great deal, displayed a map of Honduras to put developments in context. He talked about the importance of these events here in the U.S. He urged people to contact our own government to push for House Resolution 630, which calls for much more U.S. sanctions than have presently been taken. Americans are being asked to call the congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121, the White House at 202-456-1111, and the
State Department at 202-647-4000.
Margarita Alvarez gave a stunning description of the consequences of the coup d'etat on the rest of Latin America, which is united in opposing it. She said that immigration problems here are a direct consequence of U.S. policy in Spanish speaking countries. "Talk to your government," she said, "Or you'll spend the rest of your life doing immigration reform!"
Nancy Hall read the statement of AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, who condemned the coup in solidarity with all Honduran unions. She ended with the famous statement of political responsibility, "First they came for the socialists, but I was not a socialist..."
Several activists agreed to meet with Margarita Alvarez on the following Saturday to brainstorm ways to support House Resolution 630. Plans are underway for the North Texas Communist Party club to conduct an educational webinar on Honduras for all Texans.
In recent weeks I have seen pundits of various stripes grading the job performance of our new President. I read some of them and they invariably left me with a nagging feeling which I couldn't quite put my finger on until this morning.
It dawned on me (duh) that most of these evaluations are stripped of any political/social context.
In our constitutional setup, the president does wield considerable power. But he doesn't do it in a frictionless political environment. He has to contend with both rabid opponents as well as groupings within his own party that don't share his views entirely. No president governs with a magic wand.
Every president also has to take into account the status, breadth, and level of activity of the movements and coalitions across the country that either support or oppose him. And all this occurs in a complex world in which crises and challenges are ever present.
Shouldn't pundits, especially left and progressive ones, grading Obama's first months on the job be mindful of this bigger picture? Shouldn't they factor in the whole array of forces and conditions that weigh on his decision making process and performance before issuing a report card?
Looking back to the New Deal, FDR wasn't a political "free floater," going in one direction and then abruptly in another on no more than a personal whim. FDR's performance and policies were inextricably bound up with a broken economy and the clashing of diverse social groups, some of whom opposed him at every turn, some of whom tried to rein him in, and some of whom wished he would move faster and more boldly in a progressive/left direction.
The Obama Presidency too operates in a very complicated political and economic context. (economic crisis, rising unemployment, two wars, climate change, massive inequality, a no longer dominant, but still aggressive extreme right grouping, a divided Democratic party, powerful corporations, etc.) that should inform the judgment of political analysts - and again, especially progressive and left analysts. If it doesn't, their analysis will be shallow, their tactical prescriptions wrongheaded, and their presidential report card not fully reflective of the administration's performance.
One of the striking differences between the two presidencies (and this is a major factor in determining the successes of each administration) is that the people's upsurge in the 1930s (or should I say "upsurges" because that mass upheaval took many forms) in terms of its scope, depth, and level of action surpasses the current upsurge today. In fact, if the Depression era upsurge was a decisive (though not the only) factor powering FDR's achievements, the slowness of today's movement to regroup in the post-election period goes a long way in explaining the current impasse in the Congress with respect to health care reform.
Or to put it differently, the movement that elected President Obama doesn't yet match what is necessary to win the legislative reforms of the Obama administration - let alone more radical reforms that the administration will have to be nudged to support.
Thus analysts who grade poorly the performance of the Obama Presidency are at the same time grading poorly the movement of which they are an integral part -- even if they are unaware of it. Implicit in the criticism of the Obama administration is a more trenchant criticism of all of us who elected him. We haven't fully put the pedal to the metal!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
HONDURAS UPDATE FOR JULY 28 2008, by Emile Schepers
Here are some of the most important items concerning the crisis in Honduras for today. They are not in any order of importance, so please be patient and read all. Some of them have specific action items attached. Please follow up with vigor.
1. STATE DEPT CANCELS VISAS, G.O.P GOES APE. Tomorrow's New York Times is reporting that the U.S. State Department has cancelled the visas for several officials of the coup government. Though State did not mention whom, other sources, including the GOP, suggest that these include Arita Valle, a judge on the Honduran Supreme Court who signed orders for Zelaya's overthrow, and Jose Saavedra, a leader of the Congress. On Sunday, President Zelaya, now camped in Ocotlan, Nicaragua, near the border with Honduras, had asked the Obama administration to cancel the visas of another group, including the commanders of the armed forces, army and navy, the attorney general and the chief prosecutor.
According to the British news agency Reuters, a number of Republican legislators including Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) and congresspersons Connie Mack and Ileana Ros-Lehtinin have sharply denounced the cancellation of the visas. They and other GOP figures have been lobbying on Capitol Hill to overturn the Obama administration's position of calling for Zelaya's return. Some of them have also been buzzing back and forth between Washington and Tegucigalpa to show their support for the coup government. On Tuesday July 28 some Senate Republicans cast "no" votes in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the approval of Arturo Valenzuela to be the new Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs and Tom Shannon (who had been in the position that Valenzuela is taking) as ambassador to Brazil. The vote for Valenzuela was 15 ayes 4 nays, and for Shannon 14 ayes, 4 nays and one abstention. Many left wing commentators on the Honduras situation are not picking up on the major effort the GOP is engaged in to get US recognition for the regime, and to attack president Obama for "cozying up to Hugo Chavez" on the Honduras issue.
2. BIZARRE DOINGS WITH THE HONDURAN ARMED FORCES. There are repeated stories about dissent in the Honduran armed forces with regard to the coup. The attitude of one of the main coup leaders, armed forces commander Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, is also a subject of debate. On Monday general Vasquez was on what must have been a surreal radio talk show session on Radio Globo, progressive radio in Honduras. On the show also was Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, president Zelaya's wife, who "raked General Vasquez over the coals". According to Al Giordano, writer for Narconews who reported this, Vasquez sounded disconcerted or even apologetic in his replies, referring Mrs Zelaya to the National Police as being to blame.
3. NEW INITIATIVE BY CONGRESSMAN GRIJALVA: Congressman Raul Grijalva has circulated a sign-on letter to get another measure going in the House of Representatives asking the US government to increase pressure on the Honduran coup regime to stand down and agree to the return of President Zelaya. Unfortunately I have not been able to find a copy of the text of the letter (I will call Grijalva's office tomorrow) but here is some more info in the meanwhile: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1439/t/9410/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=1298
4. ANTI-COUP RESOLUTION IN CONGRESS. H RES 630 which denounces the coup and calls for the US government to act to restore pres. Zelaya has now got 40 cosponsors, as Congress goes into recess. The majority are from the Progressive, Hispanic and Black caucuses. The rival resolution, H RES 618, which applauds the coup and calls on the US to recognize the Micheletti regime, has 31. We need many more cosponsors on HR 630. You can see if your congressperson has signed on by going to http://thomas.loc.gov and typing in H RES 630 in the internal search engine.
5. NEW CPUSA STATEMENT ON HONDURAS. There is a new statement by the CPUSA on the Honduras situation on our website, www.cpusa.org. It has appended statements by the AFL-CIO, Workers Uniting (U.S., Canadian, British and Irish steelworkers) and other supplemental materials. Please forward this new statement far and wide, to all your lists and contacts.
6. PRO-ZELAYA PEOPLE TRAPPED NEAR THE BORDER. There are numerous reports that a large number of Hondurans who had headed to the border where President Zelaya was encamped are now trapped in the El Paraiso area by the Honduran army and police. There are reports of lack of food and water and other dangers. There are calls to send food, medical care and other help. Someone is setting up a bank account to help with this situation but that is not ready yet. I will keep you posted. The International Red Cross and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) are calling for help for the trapped people. The IACHR is calling for justice for Pedro M. Munoz who was found dead after reportedly being taken prisoner by police or military near the border.
7. U.S. COMPANIES WITH MAQUILADORAS IN HONDURAS TILTING TOWARD ZELAYA'S RESTORATION. Several US companies who have maquiladora operations in Honduras have been lobbying for the US to hasten the return of Zelaya as president. These include Nike, Adidas and Knights Apparal, who have written a letter to Secretary of State Clinton in which they ask among other things that civil liberties be restored. The letter can be seen at http://www.nikebiz.com/responsibility/2009SecretaryClintonHondurasLetter.html. There were earlier reports that some of the maquiladora companies were friendlier to Zelaya whereas the old agribusines monopolies such as Chiquita (United Brands ex United Fruit) plus Canadian mining operations were neck deep in the coup.
8. IMPORTANT TOUR OF HONDURAN LEADERS IN THE UNITED STATES. Rights Action is reporting that there is a tour of three important pro-Zelaya activists going on in the United States. The speakers on the tour include Dr. Juan Almendares, internationally known human rights activist and medical doctor, Abencio Ferandez Pineda, coordinator for the western region of the non-governmental organization Center for the Investigation and Defense of Human Rights in Honduras, CIPRODEH, Maria Luisa Jimenez, a former policewoman active in the defense of human rights in Honduras and now a candidate for the Honduran Congress for the Democratic Unification Party (the main left wing electoral party in Honduras), and Dr. Luther Castillo, a young Garifuna doctor and organizer, graduate of the Latin American Medical School in Cuba, and Gerardo Torres, a progressive Honduran journalist.
The tour will include the following cities and dates:
Wednesday to Friday July 29-32 WASHINGTON DC
Saturday to Tuesday Aug 1-4 NEW YORK CITY
Wednesday and Thurs Aug 5-6 BOSTON
Friday and Saturday Aug 7-8 Chicago
For info on specifics call Oscar Chacon, director of NALACC 733 991 9760
Patricia Montes (Centro Presente, Boston) at 617 959 3108
Isabel Vinent Florida Immigrant Coalition 796-210 8287
I received a letter from a friend a few days ago who said that she was dismayed to hear that I said socialism isn't on the agenda. And she went on to write that she agreed with the "gentlemen from Indiana," who apparently joined the movement to fight for socialism, not at some distant date, but NOW.
Here's my slightly edited reply:
You, along with the "gentlemen from Indiana" misconstrue my position. What I said is that socialism is not on the people’s action agenda at this moment; millions are ready to fight for universal health care, a second stimulus bill, economic conversion to a peacetime economy, withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, etc., but not yet for a socialist society.
I wish they were, but that is not the reality and communists ignore reality at our peril; it leads inexorably to mistakes in strategy and tactics and to political isolation.
That doesn’t that mean that we zip our lips and say nothing about socialism. In fact, this is a moment to bring our vision of socialism to a larger and larger audience, but not with the expectation that they are going to embrace and fight for it now. That will come, but not by propaganda alone; people, as Lenin said, need their own experience in more immediate struggles. In the course of these struggles and with the assistance of the left, millions will hopefully deepen and expand their unity and realize the necessity of socialist transformation.
Our task is to know what stage of struggle we are in and when one stage gives away to another stage of struggle. Without that understanding, no party or organization on the left, including the Communist Party, can play a leading role in the broader movement.
For the communists and others on the left to allow our mood, desires, and sense of urgency to substitute for a sober and exact assessment of the balance of political and social forces and what millions are ready to fight for at any given moment is a sure fire way to remain on the edges of politics in our country. Such an attitude makes us feel righteous, revolutionary, and carriers of a tradition of struggle into a new century, but it won't get us a flea hop closer to radical democracy and socialism. Is this a "straw man?" I wish it were.
Monday, July 27, 2009
The euphemism for 'illegal' is now 'being 287(g).'
from Wikipedia: euphemism is a substitution of an agreeable or less offensive expression in place of one that may offend or to make it less troublesome for the speaker.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio conducted a "saturation raid" in the Southeast part of Maricopa County last week, July 23-25. Over 200 deputies and posse members were in predominately immigrant neighborhoods.
Fox TV news broadcast audio conversations of from an MCSO Deputy and the Highway Patrol. Their dialog is refers to someone as a passenger in a car, profiled as "undocumented" and did not have "identification." The DPS officer is directs the MCSO Deputy to give the passenger a "form letters." The form letter requires the passenger to come back to the Sheriff's office and show proof of ID and proof of permission to be in the U.S.
It is my opinion that FoxTV news broadcast the radio conversation to spread the usage of the term "being 287(g)" in order to dilute the precise meaning of the term "287(g). " The newscaster, Sarah Acevedo helps define the euphemism by saying "the references for 287(g), that's shorthand for illegal immigrant."
Further, Arpaio says Washington DC is changing the rules in the middle of the game in the Border Battle (another euphemism)..."that has him very upset."
At issue is the fact that Arpaio is the one making decisions, but he's acting "annoyed and frustrated" saying that 13 of 25 "illegals had to be released" and "everything is being directed by Washington" and...."they could be murderers and everything else because we don't have probable cause if they are just riding in a car." Truth of the matter, Homeland Security made a statement explaining that all decisions to release are his. Arpaio acts exasperated. The new 287(g) rules are not in affect and the new rules are, according to Alessandra Solar-Metz of the Phoenix area ACLU said the "new" 287(g) does not prevent abuses, and in ways, is worse than the "old" 287(g)." The "new" 287(g) makes three levels of priorities but makes no measures of how to prioritize the Levels. And she said that the "new" 287g attempts to remove the DHS documents from public review.
The major news on Honduras today is the following:
1. President Manuel Zelaya has set up a base camp at the town of Ocotlan, Nicaragua, from which to observe and direct operations in coordination between himself and his supporters within Honduras. He has opted not to make another attempt to go into Honduras, saying that he wants to prevent violence against his supporters.
2. On the Amy Goodman show "Democracy Now", Zelaya's wife, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, crticized the US State Department for its slowness in implementing pressure against the coup regime headed by Roberto Micheletti, appealing to Hillary Clinton "as a mother".
3. The summit meeting of MERCOSUR, the trading and economic bloc of S. American nations, announced today that if elections are held in Honduras without a speedy return of Zelaya to power, they will not recognize these elections and their results as legitimate. Cesar Ham, the presidential candidate of the Honduran Democratic Unification Party, which has been subjected to repression by the coup regime, made similar comments.
4. It was reported in various media that General Romeo Vasquez Velazquez, the commander of the Honduran armed forces and one of the key coup plotters, was supposed to be in Miami last week to speak to an Evangelical Christian group, name given as "MIGApartners". I have not been able to find out whether the speaking engagement came off as planned. Vasquez is one of the key coup leaders whose US visas president Zelaya has asked president Obama to cancel (and also to freeze their bank accounts). The others are the commanders of the army and navy, and the coup attorney general and chief prosecutor.
5. Allegedly General Vasquez has said that he would not order his troops to fire on Zelaya supporters, in a document said (by various media sources) to have been drafted with the help of several US Congressional aides.
6. Two US congresspersons, Connie Mack (R-FLA) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA) have gone to Tegucigalpa on a supposed "fact finding mission", both are far right wingers vocally supportive of the coup and the Micheletti regime.
7. U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly on Monday criticized Zelaya for his move toward the border, saying "We are continuing to urge President Zelaya to allow the political process to play out, these negotiations that are being spearheaded by Costa Rican President Arias...we are urging all sides to refrain from actions that would not further this process....and we see this attempt...to enter Honduras absent any kind of political agreement between the two sides that would allow for his return, as not helpful". According to the Agence France-Presse account from which this was taken, Kelly added that the Obama administration still wants Zelaya restored, but on the basis of a mutual agreement with the Micheletti group, to be mediated through the Costa Rican process.
I will keep updating you on the Honduras situation via this blog.
It's clear that Sonia Sotomayor is more than qualified to become a Supreme Court justice. Yet, the Republicans going to continue to be The Party of No and probably vote en masse against this historic nomination. Well -- that will just go down on their growing permanent record of mean-spirited backwardness.
Top Republicans on Judiciary Panel Oppose Sotomayor
Sunday, July 26, 2009
I am sitting in a coffee shop in Cambridge, not far from the racial profiling incident of Henry Louis Gates that triggered a national conversation on race and racism, and, being a bit nosy, hear some references to "Skip" Gates.
What these conversations (and others like them) reveal, I'm afraid, is that many people fail to understand that racism is more than an attitude of one person or people toward another person or people. That misunderstanding allows the mass media to make the ludicrous claim that Sonia Sotomyor is a racist.
Racism is a historically developed set of practices and beliefs, some obvious, some more subtle, that systematically subordinate racially and nationally oppressed people to an inferior status in every area of life. It developed in a symbiotic embrace with predator colonialism and nascent capitalism in this hemisphere centuries ago. This symbiosis gave racism a particularly brutal, bloody, and exploitative character, while at the same time acted as a major engine of capitalist development in the Americas.
One would think that given this history, racism (as well capitalism and colonialism) would have exited the world stage long ago. But it persists. But not in exactly the same way as it did in earlier centuries. While its essence remains the same, the institutional and ideological structures of racism have changed, in part due to the developmental pressures of developing capitalism and in part due to the popular opposition to this vile system by the racially oppressed and their allies
The election of Barack Obama and the nomination of Sonia Sontomyer were inspiring moments in our nation's life that advance the freedom agenda and auger well for the struggle for racial (and gender) equality. But they didn't eliminate the structures, institutions, and rationalizing ideological systems that sustain racist oppression and white supremacist ideology in the early part of the 21st century. That still needs to be done by a multi-racial movement, powered in no small part by a working class and labor movement that understands that its class interests are interlocked with a successful struggle for affirmative action and equality.
A challenge no doubt, but a worthy and necessary one for the broad coalition that elected the first African American President!
Saturday, July 25, 2009
From robert mcelwain in Arizona
Today, Sat. July 25th, at the Home Depot near 36/38th and Thomas, Angry Jim is holding vigil with his signs saying "Don't Hire Illegals" etc. He has a presence with signs and a table and the pressure on the jornaleros is real. I drove past this morning, but didn't stop for consideration that it might escalate and give Angry Jim one more foe. However, Orlando and his friend were there talking to the jornaleros. Today is the second saturday in a row Angry Jim has parked his sorry ass there.
Last night we drove for CopWatch during the combined Arpaio/Bebuf (Sheriff of the county adjoining Maricopa, Pinal County) Sweep/Raid. It was the second night of the raids with 200 MCSO/PCSO (10 Pinal County officers reportedly took part). We witnessed a lot of combined stops with Chandler Police. My experience during the first 4 hours of driving was unlike any other raid. We were driving along Arizona Aveune between Ray Road and Chandler, sometimes driving west toward Alma School, Dobson. We (Salvador and two others in vehicle) didn't drive or patrol 5 minutes without seeing patrol car lights along the road or in neighborhood (barrios). We stopped, observed, video taped. There were cars towed away, people (white/brown) in handcuffs sitting on the curbs.
I guess we monitored 10 to 15 incidents. I have patrolled many times and never saw so many. I received over 50 text messages from the CopWatch dispatch team. They reported from the Scanners and the texts told of Sheriffs stopping vehicles all over the Southeast county. We weren't able to drive to the far away places, but there were at least 8 other teams. We finished and met about 10pm, but the Sheriff was able to continue sweeps of predominately brown people the rest of the night.
Here's a link to CBSand NBC news of the http://www.kpho.com/news/
Lastly, Bill Maher did the snow job on Janet Napolitano last night, covering her, not asking her about her old croney, Joe Arpaio who was sweeping through the county. Maher had over 50 protestors from NDLON (National Day Labor Org. Network) outside his studios. Maher was asked to question his guest, Homeland Sec'y Napolitano about the actions of Arpaio under her 287(g) program. He did provided the cover and talked about her work ethic (24/7, a way of implying she works so hard, she doesn't have a life....). Shameful. Maher's a fraud.
3 Detainees Freed In Crime Sweep
Because the three people had committed no other criminal or civil violations, the deputies were instructed by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to let them go free.
Arpaio said DHS breached a promise that he could operate under an existing agreement that allows him to enforce immigration law.
"I am stunned that this reversal came about so soon after I was promised the old policy would remain in effect for the immediate future," Arpaio said.
The illegal immigrants released by ICE did not commit any civil or criminals violations. Prior to the new ICE policy, they would have been booked, processed and deported as illegal immigrants, Arpaio said.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement late Friday afternoon. "The determination to release these individuals lies solely within the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. ICE officials gave permission to the MCSO officer to question the individuals and had no other engagement."
Arpaio's crime suppression operation netted 48 arrests Thursday, according to the sheriff's office.
The sweep, which is the 10th the sheriff's office has conducted, focused on the southeast cities in the Valley -- Chandler, Tempe and Mesa.
Of those arrested, 12 were suspected illegal immigrants.
The operation is set to continue through Saturday.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Who is fanning the flames on race and police in the wake of the arrest of esteemed historian and professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr.? To read all the headlines and hear all the bloviators -- its President Obama, its Gates himself or its Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. But it's never the media, never the Rush Limbaughs and never the police.
There was a lot of righteous outrage when Harvard's Gates was arrested -- and then relief when subsequently the charges were dropped. But even in the early hours of the news of Gates' arrest the media -- quoting the arresting officers report -- portrayed Mr. Gates as out of control and yelling.
Who wouldn't be just a wee bit upset after a long flight from China to come home and find your door unopenable. And then police showing up on your steps -- and perhaps -- rude themselves.
"Skip" Gates -- IMHO -- is a brilliant man who has dedicated his life to bringing to life the American experience as experienced by Black Americans. he is the WEB Du Bois of our times. A people's scholar and intellectual. Anyone who has seen his PBS shows tracking the geneaology of famous African Americans as a doorway for us all to walk through and understand history and its real time impact knows what an American treasure this person is.
Yet -- its anyone who agrees or raises their voice to the possibility of racial profiling and the link of this esteemed professor to the everyday occurance of thousands of African Americans -- and others -- in the hands of those who think they ARE the law, instead of just color-blindly enforcing the law who are stirring the racial pot. Not anyone who may be perpetrating racism. No.
Some police officer association spokesperson took offense not at President Obama's use of the word "stupidly" but at his linking the Gates outrageous arrest to the history of racial profiling! He demanded an apology for that! Come on. It's like the proverbial -- give em an inch they take a mile. Ok maybe stupidly wasn't the best word -- but you cannot fault the president for bringing up facts of life.
It's the opponents of the president -- and of equality and justice -- that have seized the moment to frame this discussion. It's past time to reframe it with truth.
Honduran President Zelaya, who was forced out of Honduras by a military coup on June 28, returned today crossing the border and was later threatened with arrest by the de facto coup government. He crossed back into Nicaragua.
Watch events in Honduras as they unfold. In Spanish:
Watch live -- as President Zelaya crosses from Nicaragua into Honduras to challenge the coup -- defacto -- government.
TeleSur broadcasts in Spanish. Watch the guys in the white cowboy hats...they are the good guys...going up against the riot police ... in dark grey. Incredible. He is in Honduras!!!
Ousted Honduran president arrives at border
Thursday, July 23, 2009
44 Charged by U.S. in New Jersey Corruption Sweep
Ok -- I know a few people from New Jersey -- good people. Hey, it's the state of poets: Bruce Springsteen, Amiri Baraka, Joyce Kilmer, Walt Whitman!
When I saw this headline, I just shook my head...from The Sopranos to the real Sopranos, who are all singing -- bass now.
The last few days a few blogs have reported that the People's Weekly World -- soon to be Peoples World -- will be going online only. Unfortunately the reporting has missed a few key components to the upcoming changes.
First -- we are now a daily online! This is something that our readership has wanted since we had to stop daily publishing in 1991. Now with the new technology and new focus on digital printing -- daily publishing is possible for us. This is a huge step and something to be celebrated.
Second -- we will be part of a new set of websites to be launched on Sept. 1, 2009. We will maintain our url: www.pww.org, but will interact with a group of websites under the portal: People Before Profits. The other websites will include Political Affairs, www.politicalaffairs.net, Communist Party, www.cpusa.org and Young Communist League, www.yclusa.org. Each site has its own editorial collectives and missions, yet will share information with each other.
(BTW, in each article the People's Weekly World is referred to as the Communist Party's newspaper. Actually the People's Weekly World is published by Long View Publishing -- not the Communist Party. And our editorial mission is broader than bringing only the news and views of the Communist Party. Our editorial mission seeks to bring the news and views of the very broad, multi-racial working-class movement in our country and the issues and struggles affecting the U.S. working class and people.)
Third -- the current format of the hard-copy People's Weekly World is still being published. This format -- 12 pp, web press, 11"x17" -- will cease in January 2010. So subscribers have 5 months to enjoy this current format.
Fourth -- in addition to the daily content online the People's Weekly World will publish a downloadable weekly PDF edition which can be copied and distributed locally.
Fifth -- for current subscriber without any access to a computer (this includes prisoner subscriptions) this weekly PDF edition can be sent to you weekly. There will be a cost -- like the current subscription rate -- involved, but it will guarantee that you have access to some of the most pressing stories we have published online. I am currently surveying readers and compiling a list for subscribers who have no online access. So far the number is relatively low -- only 1-2 percent of our readership.
We invite all bloggers to check out and review our new website set to go live September 1. Any readers who are interested in becoming "worker correspondents" for us, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Black and White and Red No More: Communist Paper Going Online-Only
(I have to say I thought this was a clever header! Others thought it made it sound like we aren't being read...what say you?)
Communist Party Will Stop Printing its Newspaper on Paper
Communist Party USA ends print edition of People’s Weekly World
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
My last blog was from Corning, NY on my way to the Chautauqua Conference; this blog is also from Corning; in fact, I am in the same coffee shop and the same booth as I was two days ago. The difference is that I am returning to NYC, after speaking yesterday afternoon to nearly a full hall at Chautauqua.
A few observations, not necessarily in importance: well, for two nights I slept in the same small, but very comfortable, bedroom that Jonas Salk slept in decades ago, overlooking Lake Chautauqua. What a treat! And this morning I awakened to a "red" sunrise.
Chautauqua and the Chautauqua Conference go back nearly one hundred and thirty years and many prominent people, including Presidents have spoken there. It grew, I suspect, out of the larger self and social improvement movements of the 19th century. It has obviously evolved since then, but its staff works to continue its founding mission in a very different world.
Living in the village is almost an other worldly experience. Everything is so clean and beautiful - houses, flowers everywhere, lecture halls, amphitheaters, music and dance schools for young people, etc. I'm sure you have to deep pockets to spend your summer at Chautauqua, but the shame of it all is not that, but that such summer accommodations are not available for most working people and their families. Everyone I met was very friendly and open - and most were meeting a communist for the first time.
After finishing my lecture in a very ornate lecture hall, I could only think that the biggest problem for communists and other people on the left is not our message (The theme of my remarks was "The Communist Party: A Work in Progress in a Changing World), but the size of our current audience. When people have an opportunity to hear what our positions are on near and longer term issues, including socialism, they respond well. Some agree with our pitch and most are happy to hear what we think. And nearly all are surprised at how much our views clash with their image and perceptions of communists and socialism.
Thanks goodness for the Internet. For us and many other left organizations. it gives us an unprecedented means to reach an audience of millions. I will post my speech later this week.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
U.S. Senate Votes to End Production of F-22 Fighter
"The U.S. Senate voted to end production of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-22 fighter jets at the 187 now on order after President Barack Obama threatened to veto any measure containing money to build more. "
I think this is a good thing. There are so many military-industrial complex weapons' systems that need to be eliminated. I always liked the poster "It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber. "
But behind the cutting of unnecessary military weapons programs are tens of thousands of workers who will lose their jobs.
In the Bloomberg article it reads, "Three labor unions -- the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the United Steel Workers and the AFL-CIO -- pressed senators to extend production.
"The plane supports 25,000 direct jobs and 70,000 indirect jobs in 40 states, the unions said in letters to senators. 'Ending the F-22 will result in immediate layoffs,' R. Thomas Buffenbarger, president of the Machinists union, said in a July 9 letter."
What will happen to these workers? It seems they will join the lines of the millions of other unemployed -- especially from the manufacturing sector.
This cannot happen. It's bad for the economy and bad for our country. Not in the traditional "national security" sense, but anytime a whole sector loses jobs it is an injury to all workers. Look at the auto industry.
This is an opportunity to turn these sword into ploughshares. But the private sector, I believe, will not be the job-creation motor that is necessary. The maximum profit-motive isn't there. Investment will flow to where you can get a 30 percent return not a mere 5 or 10 percent return -- that's a basic to capitalism.
So who will invest in jobs and a new, green manufacturing base of this country? One that can help rebuild the infrastructure? This is where another "public option" is needed.
John Bachtell wrote in Time to build a new mass movement for a peace economy http://www.pww.org/article/articleview/14104/
that Military spending supports roughly 5 million jobs. Therefore well-planned conversion to non-military-related jobs will need to take place in areas that depend on military spending, as the fight on domestic base closings showed.
A 2007 study by Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier at the University of Massachusetts showed more jobs are created with $1 billion spent on health care , education, mass transit , construction and even tax cuts compared to the same $1 billion spent on the military.
To build such a movement, demanding jobs where the skills and talent of machinists, engineers, steelworkers, autoworkers can help build our communities is a first and necessary step.
Reading the headlines over the last few days about the critical and historic health care reform battle unfolding in the country, I was reminded of a few of the articles we ran in mid-June and earlier on how the battle lines were going to be drawn.
Flavio Casoy wrote a few prescient articles describing how the Republicans saw the health reform battle as a way to "take down" the Obama presidency.
Casoy, then a medical student and activist for single-payer and health care reform, wrote in
As Congress shapes health care bill, opportunities and dangers for progressives
that the GOP "have chosen health care as the issue to defeat the president and turn the electoral winds in their favor in 2010. Their comeback would make it much more difficult for us to advance a truly worker-friendly legislative agenda.
"Their choice to fight the president’s popularity on health care imbues the issue with a dual nature. On one hand, we are fighting to expand access to quality and affordable care for everyone in America; on the other hand, we are fighting to defend the gains of last November. Success or defeat of the president on health care will determine our success or defeat on many other issues. "
Casoy, like many of the People's World writers, saw the forest for the trees. People's World writers can see the big picture of what is at stake, where are the battle lines, who are potential allies, who is the main oppostion, because our writers are active in the struggles and take a partisan stance. Partisan to what is best for the vast majority of people -- those who have to work in some capacity to live -- partisan to the working class and diversity of the American people.
That why Pete Seeger once said, "You learn something everytime you read the People's World."
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Monday, July 20, 2009
Sometimes don't you fantasize about jumping through the TV onto a talk show set? Well, I did exactly that this morning while watching CNBC's "Morning Joe" (Joe Scarborough, former Republican Congressman).
Let me explain: The early am talkfest was about the surging federal budget deficit and its meaning for the health care legislation in the House and Senate. The cast of characters, including a reporter from the NYT - Mat Bai, I think that was his name - and a couple others of the chattering class, were lamenting the growing bill that future generations will have to pay.
Their advice: scale back health care reforms, stick to incremental improvements, cut the deficit. Unanimity prevailed, leaving everyone feeling very self-satisfied. It was at this point that I made my leap from Corning, NY (I'm on my way to the Chautauqua conference where I'm going to present a paper: The Communist Party: A Work in Progress in a Changing World) through the TV screen, and, amazingly, landed on "Morning Joe" set, cup of coffee in hand.
Once there, I rightously reminded everyone, and of course, the television audience that 45 million Americans have no insurance and many more inadequate insurance. So let's not forget about them as we preach fiscal rectitude, I insisted. But I didn't stop there. The next thing out of my mouth to the 'Morning Joe" gang, all of whom, I'm sure, have good health care benefits and well-paying jobs, is that unemployment is over 9 per cent and most economists predict that it will soon reach double digits.
"Should we also make them invisible in the name of fiscal discipline?" I queried. Then raising my voice to these pundits of the status quo, I said, "No, what we need is a second stimulus bill?" They gasp! Such effrontery! And I went on to say, "It's an economic necessity. Any real recovery has to include infrastucturual spending, green investment, and job creation in the millions. And if you're so worried about the deficit: tax the wealthiest and make big surgical cuts in the military budget. Furthermore," ... and at that point stage hands dragged me off stage by the collar, but not without a triumphant look on my face.
Back in Corning, I think to myself: what a way to start the bloody week and then recall what I had been about to say before those thugs interrupted my fantasy: a second stimulus bill and a heath care option with teeth are as much a political necessity as an economic one. The coalition that elected Barack Obama last year will go to the matt in next's year's election only if they see some tangible improvements in their lives. My next blog will come from Chautauqa. Hope your week off to a good start too!
Friday, July 17, 2009
Because of McCarthyism, the Cold War, the long economic expansion following WW II, and a resistence to think anew, the Left has been on the edges of politics for more than a half century. During this time, our ability to impact on broader political processes in the country has been narrowly circumscribed – nothing like the 1930s, nothing like the Left in many other countries.
While we stubbornly fought the good fight and made undeniable contributions over the past half-century, we were not a major player; we didn’t set the agenda or frame the debate; we didn’t determine the political direction of the country; we were not a decider.
But the past doesn't have to be prelude to the future. Because of the new political landscape, the Left has an opportunity to step from the edges into the mainstream of U.S. politics. It has a chance to become a player of consequence; a player whose voice is seriously considered in the debates bearing on the future of the country; a player that is able to mobilize and influence the thinking and actions of millions.
Whether we do depends on many factors, one of which is our ability to shake off a “mentality of marginalization” that has become embedded in the Left’s political culture over the last half of the Twentieth Century.
How does this mentality express itself? In a number of ways – in spending too much time agitating the choir; in dismissing new political openings; in thinking that partial reforms are at loggerheads with radical reforms; in seeing the glass as always half empty; in thinking that our outlook is identical with the outlook of millions; in turning the danger of cooptation into a rationale to keep a distance from reform struggles; in enclosing ourselves in narrow Left forms; and in damning victories with faint praise.
In this peculiar mindset, politics has few complexities. Change is driven only from the ground up. Winning broad majorities is not essential. There are no stages of struggle, no social forces that possess strategic social power, and no divisions worth noting. And distinctions between the Democratic and Republican parties are either of little consequence or disdainfully dismissed.
Unless the Left – and I include communists – sheds this mentality, it will miss a golden opportunity at this moment to engage and influence a far bigger audience than it has in the past six decades. Where do we begin? The fight for a public option is a good starting point even for those of us (and I include myself) who prefer single payer.
News of bank profits soaring into billions from second quarter! $3.4 billion at Goldman Sachs, $2.7 billion at JP Morgan, $3.2 billion at BofA and now $3 billion for Citigroup http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090717/ap_on_bi_ge/us_earns_citigroup
Paul Krugman has a good take on Goldman Sachs and the "financialization" of the economy:
I am really sick though of the talk in most media outlets that the economy is all about how the "market" is doing -- the stock market, that is -- and how much profits banks and big corporations have made. That is just one measure of the economy -- and the measure that Big Capital cares about.
But the "real" economy is about regular people and families -- and those reports don't make the business news headlines. Joblessness continues to rise and the jobless numbers for African Americans and Latinos are much higher than the 9.5 percent national average. Joblessness leads to many, many other crises -- social, health, community, education ... The grassroots movement has to be stronger to help the president pass some of his initiatives and take on those that want to block them.
Those bank profits should be heavily taxed and the government can use that tax money for a job and infrastructure development bank, since all these banks aren't going to voluntarily invest in creating necessary jobs here. They will invest where the maximum profit is -- not for the socially necessary work. Like providing health care for all, making sure we have environmentally sound and modern water and sewage systems (another water main break in NYC today -- this time in front of our NY office!), mass transportation that's affordable and green, modern schools with WiFi and IT people to help staff them, no shortage of things that need to be done that could create good, union jobs for all.
Read our latest editorial 'Jobs needed now' http://pww.org/article/view/16386