Happy Birthday, You’re Not a Person

Today is my birthday. North Carolina voters just decided I’m not fully human. Here is a response.

Whereas miscegenation
queered the rite’s unstable battle,
today another state banned endogamy,
the joining of like to like, ironically
as ever calling difference into being.
Not so much for domestication
but facing inhumanity ratified
by popular declaim,
I become monstrous in public,
skin peeling back to reveal
the fat melting off muscle
as my joints fail I topple first in
supplication then prostration
limbs spread apart in the face of
you who vote on the humanity of others.
My heart lands beating on the dry desert floor
and my parts strive for each other and on the way
find random dessicated limbs
a horned bony mask,
auto parts, twisted gutters,
railroad ties
odd ends
of rusted steel dragged through the dust to
fabricate a new miscegenated body
an unnatural cyborg warrior
the aftermarket subject.

Didn’t we always wish that
in the movie
Linda Hamilton were the one with the forbidden microchip
the indestructible frame and hardened heart
to save her self and the world?
A postapocalyptic mutation,
my arms and hands rattle with ugly vengeance.
If you think that I am less than fully human
I will show you how
very right you are.

Action alert: What you can do for RNC protesters

** PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY **

National Call for Action to Stop Police Brutality at the Republian National Convention!
Support 300 people arrested in Saint Paul! Demand an end to illegal detention and brutality in Ramsey County Jail!

9/3/08, St. Paul – Approximately 300 people have been arrested for participating in demonstrations since the beginning of the Republican National Convention.  The majority of arrestees remain in custody and are being held in inhumane conditions.  Of the 300 arrested, approximately 120 have been accused of trumped-up felony charges by police; many of them are being held  illegally beyond Minnesota’s 36-hour limit on detentions without formal charges.

All people who value democracy and fear for the erosion of our constitution, regardless of political affiliation, are called upon to demand an end to this egregious denial of constitutional and human rights.  Prisoners have reported being denied medical treatment and essential medications, and many are engaged in a hunger strike to pressure the sheriffs to give them critical care. Many are being held in 23 hours/day lockdown and/or have not been allowed to meet with lawyers or make phone calls – especially trans prisoners.  Several prisoners have been able to reach legal support to report brutal physical assaults by multiple corrections officers.  The constitutional and legal rights of all prisoners are being denied across the board, with no apparent end to this outrageous treatment.

Please call the following offices and continue calling until all arrestees have been released:

St. Paul Mayor –  Chris Coleman (651.266.8510)
Head of Ramsey County Jail – Capt. Ryan O’Neil (651.266-9350 ext 1)
Ramsey County Sheriff –  Bob Fletcher (651.266.9333)
County Chief Judge Gearin (651.266.8266)

Demand the following:

Immediate medical attention as needed for ALL arrestees;
That the prisoners who haven’t given their names (Jane & John Does and Jesse Sparkles) have access to group meetings with a lawyer in jail;
Dismissal of all charges;
Release of all minors; and
Ensure trans prisoners have access to phone and attorneys, and are held in gender group of their choice.

Donate!

Money is needed to help cover legal costs and get people out of jail.  Any amount you can give is greatly appreciated.  To donate by Pay Pal visit https://coldsnaplegal.wordpress.com and click on the donate button.

For more details and up-to-date information about jail conditions and prisoner status, please see:

http://coldsnaplegal.wordpress.com <http://coldsnaplegal.wordpress.com/&gt;
http://twincities.indymedia.org <http://twincities.indymedia.org/&gt;

RNC activists charged as “terrorists” for exercising democratic rights

http://twincities.indymedia.org/2008/sep/breaking-rnc-8-charged-conspiracy-riot-furtherance-terrorism

BREAKING: RNC 8 Charged with “Conspiracy to Riot in
Furtherance of Terrorism”

In what appears to be the first use of criminal charges
under the 2002 Minnesota version of the Federal Patriot Act,
Ramsey County Prosecutors have formally charged 8 alleged
leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee with Conspiracy to
Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism. Monica Bicking, Eryn
Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor,
Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald, and Max Spector, face up
to 7 1/2 years in prison under the terrorism enhancement
charge which allows for a 50% increase in the maximum
penalty.

Affidavits released by law enforcement which were filed in
support of the search warrants used in raids over the
weekend, and used to support probable cause for the arrest
warrants, are based on paid, confidential informants who
infiltrated the RNCWC on behalf of law enforcement. They
allege that members of the group sought to kidnap delegates
to the RNC, assault police officers with firebombs and
explosives, and sabotage airports in St. Paul. Evidence
released to date does not corroborate these allegations with
physical evidence or provide any other evidence for these
allegations than the claims of the informants. Based on past
abuses of such informants by law enforcement, the National
Lawyers Guild is concerned that such police informants have
incentives to lie and exaggerate threats of violence and to
also act as provacateurs in raising and urging support for
acts of violence.

“These charges are an effort to equate publicly stated
plans to blockade traffic and disrupt the RNC as being the
same as acts of terrorism. This both trivializes real
violence and attempts to place the stated political views of
the Defendants on trial,” said Bruce Nestor, President
of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
“The charges represent an abuse of the criminal justice
system and seek to intimidate any person organizing large
scale public demonstrations potentially involving civil
disobedience, he said.”

The criminal complaints filed by the Ramsey County Attorney
do not allege that any of the defendants personally have
engaged in any act of violence or damage to property. The
complaints list all of alleged violations of law during the
last few days of the RNC — other than violations of human
rights carried out by law enforcement — and seeks to hold
the 8 defendants responsible for acts committed by other
individuals. None of the defendants have any prior criminal
history involving acts of violence. Searches conducted in
connection with the raids failed to turn up any physical
evidence to support the allegations of organized attacks on
law enforcement. Although claiming probable cause to believe
that gunpowder, acids, and assembled incendiary devices
would be found, no such items were seized by police. As a
result, police sought to claim that the seizure of common
household items such as glass bottles, charcoal lighter,
nails, a rusty machete, and two hatchets, supported the
allegations of the confidential informants. “Police
found what they claim was a single plastic shield, a rusty
machete, and two hatchets used in Minnesota to split wood.
This doesn’t amount to evidence of an organized
insurrection, particularly when over 3,500 police are
present in the Twin Cities, armed with assault rifles,
concussion grenades, chemical weapons and full riot
gear,” said Nestor. In addition, the National Lawyers
Guild has previously pointed out how law enforcement has
fabricated evidence such as the claims that urine was seized
which demonstrators intended to throw at police.

The last time such charges were brought under Minnesota law
was in 1918, when Matt Moilen and others organizing labor
unions for the Industrial Workers of the World [ed.
correction-TCIMC] on the Iron Range were charged with
“criminal syndicalism.” The convictions, based on
allegations that workers had advocated or taught acts of
violence, including acts only damaging to property, were
upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court. In the light of
history, these convictions are widely seen as unjust and a
product of political trials. The National Lawyers Guild
condemns the charges filed in this case against the above 8
defendants and urges the Ramsey County Attorney to drop all
charges of conspiracy in this matter.

Source:
Bruce Nestor, President
Minnesota Chapter of National Lawyers Guild

Al-Arian released!

Subject: BREAKING NEWS: DR. AL-ARIAN RELEASED ON BOND

Press Release
September 2, 2008

After five-and-a-half years of harsh and gratutious detention, former
Florida professor and civil rights activist Dr. Sami Al-Arian was
released on bond, reuniting with his family for the first time since
his ordeal began in 2003.

Earlier today (Tuesday), a federal judge ordered the Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release Dr. Al-Arian from their custody.
Judge Brinkema had granted Dr. Al-Arian bail last month, but the ICE
had been holding him until today on the pretext that they were
completing deportation procedures.

Dr. Al-Arian’s family was overjoyed upon hearing the news. Four of
his five children along with his attorney met him at an ICE facility
in Fairfax, Virginia earlier this afternoon. “We couldn’t believe our
eyes,” Leena, Dr. Al-Arian’s second oldest daughter, said. “We were
so relieved. It’s been 2,020 days since he’s last been with us.”

His eldest daughter Laila added that “We are overjoyed that our
father is finally back with us after what felt like an eternity. I
hope that this is just the beginning, that he’ll be finally released
for good, and this horrific nightmare will be over. We’d like to
thank all the people who’ve supported my father throughout the past
several years. Their consistent dedication and hard work in the cause
of justice has been invaluable.” Dr. Al-Arian – who is unable to make
any direct statements to the press because of his legal situation –
echoed these sentiments, expressing his heartfelt appreciation for
the countless thousands who have shown their support for his case.

“We owe so much to our lawyers, Prof. Jonathan Turley, Will Olson,
and P.J. Meitl,” Abdullah Al-Arian told the TBCJP. “Their incredible
work for justice has allowed our family to finally be reunited after
so long. On behalf of my father and my family, we thank you from the
bottom of our hearts.”

Dr. Al-Arian will remain under house arrest until he is brought to
trial for the current contempt charges against him or until Judge
Brinkema resolves the matter in some other manner. On August 8th,
Judge Brinkema had postponed his trial pending his appeal before the
Supreme Court concerning the prosecution’s violation of the 2006 plea
agreement.
——————-

Hamas: We are not against Jews, just against the Israeli occupation

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/bassem_naeem/2008/05/hamas_condemns_the_holocaust.html

Hamas condemns the Holocaust

We are not engaged in a religious conflict with Jews; this is a
political struggle to free ourselves from occupation and oppression

Bassem Naeem

May 12, 2008

As the Palestinian people prepare to commemorate the 60th anniversary
of the Nakba (“catastrophe”) – the dispossession and expulsion of
most of our people from our land – those remaining in Palestine face
escalating aggression, killings, imprisonment, ethnic cleansing and
siege.  But instead of support and solidarity from the western media,
we face frequent attempts to defend the indefensible or turn fire on
the Palestinians themselves.

One recent approach, which seems to be part of the wider attempt to
isolate the elected Palestinian leadership, is to portray Hamas and
the population of the Gaza strip as motivated by anti-Jewish
sentiment, rather than a hostility to Zionist occupation and
domination of our land.  A recent front page article in the
International Herald Tribune followed this line, as did an article
for Cif about an item broadcast on the al-Aqsa satellite TV channnel
about the Nazi Holocaust.

In fact, the al-Aqsa Channel is an independent media institution that
often does not express the views of the Palestinian government headed
by Ismail Haniyeh or of the Hamas movement.  The channel regularly
gives Palestinians of different convictions the chance to express
views that are not shared by the Palestinian government or the Hamas
movement.  In the case of the opinion expressed on al-Aqsa TV by Amin
Dabbur, it is his alone and he is solely responsible for it.

It is rather surprising to us that so little attention, if any, is
given by the western media to what is regularly broadcast or written
in the Israeli media by politicians and writers demanding the total
uprooting or “transfer” of the Palestinian people from their land.

The Israeli media and pro-Israel western press are full of views that
deny or seek to excuse well-established facts of history including
the Nakba of 1948 and the massacres perpetrated then by the Haganah,
the Irgun and LEHI with the objective of forcing a mass dispossession
of the Palestinians.

But it should be made clear that neither Hamas nor the Palestinian
government in Gaza denies the Nazi Holocaust.  The Holocaust was not
only a crime against humanity but one of the most abhorrent crimes in
modern history.  We condemn it as we condemn every abuse of humanity
and all forms of discrimination on the basis of religion, race,
gender or nationality.

And at the same time as we unreservedly condemn the crimes
perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jews of Europe, we categorically
reject the exploitation of the Holocaust by the Zionists to justify
their crimes and harness international acceptance of the campaign of
ethnic cleansing and subjection they have been waging against us – to
the point where in February the Israeli deputy defence minister Matan
Vilnai threatened the people of Gaza with a “holocaust”.

Within 24 hours, 61 Palestinians – more than half of them civilians
and a quarter children – were killed in a series of air raids.
Meanwhile, a horrible crime against humanity continues to be
perpetrated against the people of Gaza: the two-year-old siege
imposed after Hamas won the legislative elections in January 2006,
which is causing great suffering.  Due to severe shortages of
medicines and food, scores of Palestinians have lost their lives.

It cannot be right that Europeans in general and the British in
particular maintain a virtual silence toward what the Zionists are
doing to the Palestinians, let alone supporting or justifying their
oppressive policies, under the pretext of showing sympathy for the
victims of the Holocaust.

The Palestinian people aspire to freedom, independence and peaceful
coexistence with all their neighbours.  There are, today, more than
six million Palestinian refugees.  No less than 700,000 Palestinians
have been detained at least once by the Israeli occupation
authorities since 1967.  Hundreds of thousands have so far been
killed or wounded.  Little concern seems to be caused by all of this
or by the erection of an apartheid wall that swallows more than 20%
of the West Bank land or the heavily armed colonies that devour
Palestinian land in a blatant violation of international law.

The plight of our people is not the product of a religious conflict
between us and the Jews in Palestine or anywhere else: the aims and
positions of today’s Hamas have been repeatedly spelled out by its
leadership, for example in Hamas’s 2006 programme for government.
The conflict is of a purely political nature: it is between a people
who have come under occupation and an oppressive occupying power.

Our right to resistance against occupation is recognised by all
conventions and religious traditions.  The Jews are for us the people
of a sacred book who suffered persecution in European lands.
Whenever they sought refuge, Muslim and Arab lands provided them with
safe havens.  It was in our midst that they enjoyed peace and
prosperity; many of them held leading positions in Muslim countries.

After almost a century of Zionist colonial and racist oppression,
some Palestinians find it hard to imagine that some of their
oppressors are the sons and daughters of those who were themselves
oppressed and massacred.

Palestinians had nothing to do with the Holocaust but find themselves
punished for someone else’s crime.  But we are well aware and warmly
welcome the outspoken support for Palestinian rights by Israeli and
Jewish human rights activists in Palestine and around the world.

We hope that journalists in the west will begin to adopt a more
objective approach when covering events in Palestine.  The
Palestinian people are being killed by Israel’s machine of
destruction on a daily basis.  Nevertheless, we still see a clear
bias in favour of Israel in the western media.

The Europeans bear a direct responsibility for what is befalling the
Palestinians today.  Britain was the mandate authority that handed
over Palestine to Israeli occupation.  Nazi Germany perpetrated the
most heinous crimes against Jews, forcing the survivors to migrate to
Palestine in pursuit of safety.  We, therefore, expect the Europeans
to atone for their historic crimes by restoring some balance to the
inhuman and one-sided international response to the tragedy of our
people.

Bassem Naeem is the minister of health and information in the
Hamas-led Palestinian administration in Gaza.

The cost of war: social security crisis, 47 million without health care, rising college costs, rampant world hunger. . .

Not to mention the many hundreds of thousands of lives. This from Bob Herbert at The New York Times:

“For a fraction of the cost of this war we could have put Social Security on a sound footing for the next half-century or more.”

The money spent on the war each day is enough to enroll an additional 58,000 children in Head Start for a year, or make a year of college affordable for 160,000 low-income students through Pell Grants…

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/04/opinion/04herbert.html

The $2 Trillion Nightmare

By BOB HERBERT
Published: March 4, 2008

We’ve been hearing a lot about “Saturday Night Live” and the fun it has been having with the presidential race. But hardly a whisper has been heard about a Congressional hearing in Washington last week on a topic that could have been drawn, in all its tragic monstrosity, from the theater of the absurd.

The war in Iraq will ultimately cost U.S. taxpayers not hundreds of billions of dollars, but an astonishing $2 trillion, and perhaps more. There has been very little in the way of public conversation, even in the presidential campaigns, about the consequences of these costs, which are like a cancer inside the American economy.
On Thursday, the Joint Economic Committee, chaired by Senator Chuck Schumer, conducted a public examination of the costs of the war. The witnesses included the Nobel Prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz (who believes the overall costs of the war – not just the cost to taxpayers – will reach $3 trillion), and Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International.

Both men talked about large opportunities lost because of the money poured into the war. “For a fraction of the cost of this war,” said Mr. Stiglitz, “we could have put Social Security on a sound footing for the next half-century or more.”

Mr. Hormats mentioned Social Security and Medicare, saying that both could have been put “on a more sustainable basis.” And he cited the committee’s own calculations from last fall that showed that the money spent on the war each day is enough to enroll an additional 58,000 children in Head Start for a year, or make a year of college affordable for 160,000 low-income students through Pell Grants, or pay the annual salaries of nearly 11,000 additional border patrol agents or 14,000 more police officers.

What we’re getting instead is the stuff of nightmares. Mr. Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia, has been working with a colleague at Harvard, Linda Bilmes, to document, among other things, some of the less obvious costs of the war. These include the obligation to provide health care and disability benefits for returning veterans. Those costs will be with us for decades.

Mr. Stiglitz noted that nearly 40 percent of the 700,000 troops from the first gulf war, which lasted just a month, have become eligible for disability benefits. The current war is approaching five years in duration.

“Imagine then,” said Mr. Stiglitz, “what a war – that will almost surely involve more than 2 million troops and will almost surely last more than six or seven years – will cost. Already we are seeing large numbers of returning veterans showing up at V.A. hospitals for treatment, large numbers applying for disability and large numbers with severe psychological problems.”

The Bush administration has tried its best to conceal the horrendous costs of the war. It has bypassed the normal budgetary process, financing the war almost entirely through “emergency” appropriations that get far less scrutiny.

Even the most basic wartime information is difficult to come by. Mr. Stiglitz, who has written a new book with Ms. Bilmes called “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” said they had to go to veterans’ groups, who in turn had to resort to the Freedom of Information Act, just to find out how many Americans had been injured in Iraq.
Mr. Stiglitz and Mr. Hormats both addressed the foolhardiness of waging war at the same time that the government is cutting taxes and sharply increasing non-war-related expenditures.

Mr. Hormats told the committee:

“Normally, when America goes to war, nonessential spending programs are reduced to make room in the budget for the higher costs of the war. Individual programs that benefit specific constituencies are sacrificed for the common good … And taxes have never been cut during a major American war. For example, President Eisenhower adamantly resisted pressure from Senate Republicans for a tax cut during the Korean War.”

Said Mr. Stiglitz: “Because the administration actually cut taxes as we went to war, when we were already running huge deficits, this war has, effectively, been entirely financed by deficits. The national debt has increased by some $2.5 trillion since the beginning of the war, and of this, almost $1 trillion is due directly to the war itself … By 2017, we estimate that the national debt will have increased, just because of the war, by some $2 trillion.”

Some former presidents – Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower – were quoted at the hearing on the need for accountability and shared sacrifice during wartime. But this is the 21st century. That ancient rhetoric can hardly be expected to compete for media attention, even in a time of war, with the giddy fun of S.N.L.

It’s a new era.

Meanwhile, back at the war . . .

Iraqis blame U.S. for discord. Shocker.
The Dems keep giving Bush $. Promises, promises.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/18/AR2007121802262.html

All Iraqi Groups Blame U.S. Invasion for Discord, Study Shows

Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S.
military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences
among them, and see the departure of “occupying forces” as the key to
national reconciliation, according to focus groups conducted for the
U.S. military last month.

That is good news, according to a military analysis of the results.
At the very least, analysts optimistically concluded, the findings
indicate that Iraqis hold some “shared beliefs” that may eventually
allow them to surmount the divisions that have led to a civil war.
(!!)

…The results are analyzed and presented to Petraeus as part of the
daily Battle Update Assessment or BUA (pronounced boo-ah).

– – –

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-budget-battle,1,5411202.story

Senate OKs $70B for Iraq, Afghanistan

The Senate gave President Bush a big win on Iraq Tuesday night as it
passed a massive $555 billion spending bill combining funding for 14
Cabinet departments with $70 billion for U.S. military operations
there and in Afghanistan.

…In rapid succession, the Senate cast two votes to approve the
hybrid spending bill.  By a 70-25 vote, the Senate approved the Iraq
and Afghanistan war funds — without restrictions that Democrats had
insisted on for weeks.