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Assata Shakur Becomes the First Woman Added to FBI’s Most Wanted List


Assata Shakur Becomes the First Woman Added to FBI’s Most Wanted List

Assata Shakur

Madeleine DaviesJezebel.com, May 3, 2013
As of yesterday, former Black Panther and member of the Black Liberation Army Assata Shakur became the first-ever woman to be added to the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list. She is currently 66 years old and living in Cuba where she has been granted political asylum.

In May of 1973, Shakur was in a car that was pulled over by police on the New Jersey highway. A shootout occurred, resulting in the deaths of her companion and fellow activist Zayd Malik Shakur and State Trooper Werner Foerster. Assata Shakur was wounded in the gunfight, having been shot twice. Accounts of what happened that night differ greatly — surviving Trooper James Harper (also wounded) claimed that Zayd Malik Shakur began firing when they asked him to step out of the vehicle whereas Assata Shakur attests that the police fired first, even after she had her hands in the air.

Shakur was convicted of Foerster’s murder and sentenced to a life in prison. In 1979, with the help of allies, she was able to escape from confinement and flee to Cuba where she still lives and calls herself a “20th century escaped slave.” Read more »

Filed under: Abusive PoliceAfrican-AmericansCOINTELPROFBIPolitical PrisonersRacism,U.S.US Wars | Tagged: ,,, | 1 Comment »

An Open Letter From Assata

Posted on May 3, 2013 by reed

My name is Assata Shakur, and I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of color. I am an ex-political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984.

I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party. By 1969 the Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. Because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it “greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.

In 1978, my case was one of many cases bought before the United Nations Organization in a petition filed by the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, and the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, exposing the existence of political prisoners in the United States, their political persecution, and the cruel and inhuman treatment they receive in US prisons. According to the report:

‘The FBI and the New York Police Department in particular, charged and accused Assata Shakur of participating in attacks on law enforcement personnel and widely circulated such charges and accusations among police agencies and units. The FBI and the NYPD further charged her as being a leader of the Black Liberation Army which the government and its respective agencies described as an organization engaged in the shooting of police officers. This description of the Black Liberation Army and the accusation of Assata Shakur’s relationship to it was widely circulated by government agents among police agencies and units. As a result of these activities by the government, Ms. Shakur became a hunted person; posters in police precincts and banks described her as being involved in serious criminal activities; she was highlighted on the FBI’s most wanted list; and to police at all levels she became a ‘shoot-to-kill’ target.”

I was falsely accused in six different “criminal cases” and in all six of these cases I was eventually acquitted or the charges were dismissed. The fact that I was acquitted or that the charges were dismissed, did not mean that I received justice in the courts, that was certainly not the case. It only meant that the “evidence” presented against me was so flimsy and false that my innocence became evident. This political persecution was part and parcel of the government’s policy of eliminating political opponents by charging them with crimes and arresting them with no regard to the factual basis of such charges.

On May 2, 1973 I, along with Zayd Malik Shakur and Sundiata Acoli were stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike, supposedly for a “faulty tail light.” Sundiata Acoli got out of the car to determine why we were stopped. Zayd and I remained in the car. State trooper Harper then came to the car, opened the door and began to question us. Because we were black, and riding in a car with Vermont license plates, he claimed he became “suspicious.” He then drew his gun, pointed it at us, and told us to put our hands up in the air, in front of us, where he could see them. I complied and in a split second, there was a sound that came from outside the car, there was a sudden movement, and I was shot once with my arms held up in the air, and then once again from the back. Zayd Malik Shakur was later killed, trooper Werner Foerster was killed, and even though trooper Harper admitted that he shot and killed Zayd Malik Shakur, under the New Jersey felony murder law, I was charged with killing both Zayd Malik Shakur, who was my closest friend and comrade, and charged in the death of trooper Forester. Never in my life have I felt such grief. Zayd had vowed to protect me, and to help me to get to a safe place, and it was clear that he had lost his life, trying to protect both me and Sundiata. Although he was also unarmed, and the gun that killed trooper Foerster was found under Zayd’s leg, Sundiata Acoli, who was captured later, was also charged with both deaths. Neither Sundiata Acoli nor I ever received a fair trial We were both convicted in the news media way before our trials. No news media was ever permitted to interview us, although the New Jersey police and the FBI fed stories to the press on a daily basis. In 1977, I was convicted by an all- white jury and sentenced to life plus 33 years in prison. In 1979, fearing that I would be murdered in prison, and knowing that I would never receive any justice, I was liberated from prison, aided by committed comrades who understood the depths of the injustices in my case, and who were also extremely fearful for my life. Read more »

Filed under: CIACOINTELPROColonialismFBIGovernment RepressionHistory of anti-imperialist/revolutionary movementsImperialismInternationalInternationalismMediaPolice,Political PrisonersPolitical PrisonersPrisonsRacial ProfilingRacismSlaveryslavery,SolidarityU.S.US WarsWAR CRIMESWomenWomen | Tagged:  | 7 Comments »

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Guantánamo Bay hunger strike: Do hunger strikes usually work?


One hundred detainees at Guantánamo Bay continued their hunger strike on Wednesday, even though President Obama renewed his promise to close the prison. Are hunger strikes usually successful?

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It depends on how you define success. Hunger strikers sometimes win clear victories. Scholars credit suffragette Marion Wallace-Dunlop with the first political hunger strike of modern times—and it was a smashing success. After her 1909 arrest for stenciling a portion of the British Bill of Rights on an outer wall of the House of Commons, Wallace insisted that she be treated as a political prisoner rather than an ordinary criminal. She refused food for nearly four days. Fearing for her life, the authorities released her from prison altogether, going well beyond her demands. There are, in contrast, plenty of failed hunger strikes, such as Dan Choi and James Pietrangelo’s 2010 fast to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The pair abandoned the hunger strike after a week, and the rule remained in place for more than a year after that. While such cases of clear winners and losers are salient, the outcome of many—perhaps most—hunger strikes is more difficult to call.

In March 1981, Irish nationalist prisoners in Northern Ireland embarked on a hunger strike for the same reason that Wallace-Dunlop did in 1909: to be treated as political prisoners. That would mean the right to wear civilian clothes, the right to education and recreational opportunities, freedom from work obligations, and a set of other benefits not afforded to other inmates. The hunger strikers gained so much renown that Bobby Sands, the most famous of them, was elected to Parliament during the protest. By Oct. 3, when the protest ended, 10 of the strikers were dead, including Sands. The British government eventually granted most of the prisoners’ requests, and public opinion shifted massively in favor of the protesters.

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Muddled endings are more common than deaths. Hundreds of Kurdish prisoners embarked on a hunger strike late last year and demanded, among other things, that high-profile inmate Abdullah Öcalan be released from solitary confinement. Öcalan called the fast to an end after 68 days, when the government finally agreed to allow Kurdish people the right to speak Kurdish in Turkish courts. Öcalan himself, however, remained in solitary confinement. (A recent deal between the Turkish government and Kurdish separatists may soon change Öcalan’s imprisonment status.)

It’s hard to calculate a winning strategy for hunger strikers, but a few themes emerge. The first rule of hunger striking is to have a demand that is reasonably achievable within the time frame of a hunger strike. That means around 60 days if the hunger striker is refusing all nutrition. Those who allow themselves sweetened coffee or energy drinks can go significantly longer, building up publicity and pressure on the opposition. That tactic recently paid off for William Lecuyer, a New Jersey inmate who was placed in solitary confinement for refusing to submit a urine sample. Lecuyer insisted that the failure was the guard’s fault—he allegedly made Lecuyer wait so long that he had to empty his bladder before the test—and Lecuyer consumed only liquids for more than a year. The Department of Corrections finally caved in March and promised a new hearing for Lecuyer, who has lost nearly one-half of his body weight.

Choi and Pietrangelo’s failed protest against the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy illustrates the second rule of hunger striking: It works best as a last resort. A hunger strike is an appeal to the public. If people perceive a hunger strike as frivolous, possibly because less-risky alternatives were available, they’re unlikely to blame the government. That’s why inmates are among the few people who can launch a successful hunger strike.

These rules don’t apply to the famous and powerful. If you’re Gandhi, the world is so worried about your health that any threat of self-harm is taken seriously from the beginning.

via Guantánamo Bay hunger strike: Do hunger strikes usually work? – Slate Magazine.

via Guantánamo Bay hunger strike: Do hunger strikes usually work? – Slate Magazine.

Goldman Rejects Proposal That Firm Run for Elected Office


Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), the investment bank nicknamed “Government Sachs” because of senior executives who have moved into public posts, won’t be entering politics itself.

A shareholder proposal that the New York-based company run for office instead of funding political campaigns was discarded, according to a letter last month from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which agreed the firm can exclude the measure from its annual meeting.

Harrington Investments Inc. President John Harrington submitted the proposal last year, saying the $6.39 million in 2012 political contributions from the firm’s employees risks doing more harm to its reputation. He said the bank should explore running for office, using a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that corporations have similar political rights to individuals.

“It would be less damaging to the integrity of our political system and our company, for our corporation to directly run for office as a person under federal or state law, than to continue in the current form of political participation,” Harrington wrote in the proposal.

Goldman Sachs said in a letter to the SEC that it “currently has no involvement, never has had any involvement, and has no plans to become involved in the business of running for political office.”

The bank also said that its political action committee is funded by voluntary employee contributions, not shareholder money. The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling gave corporations the same rights as individuals to spend money independently to support candidates.

‘Social Objectives’

Harrington Investments provides advisory services for investors “who want their investment portfolios to serve progressive environmental and social objectives while yielding positive long-term returns,” according to its website. The firm expressed its support for Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Two former Goldman Sachs chiefs, Henry Paulson and Robert Rubin, served as U.S. Treasury secretaries after leaving the firm, and another, Jon Corzine, represented New Jersey in the U.S. Senate and as governor. Mark Carney, the incoming Bank of England head, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley are among company alumni now setting monetary policy.

Harrington said he will continue to search for ways to bring up the issue of corporate political involvement, as well as the balance of power between shareholders and companies’ management teams and boards of directors.

“It’s too bad we didn’t get it on the ballot, it would have been a good discussion piece,” Harrington said today in a phone interview. “You begin to see a pattern of how much influence corporations have on our political balance, and now it’s so skewed that you figure, ‘Why don’t we have Goldman run for president and JPMorgan Chase run for vice president.’ And that way, they can run the system for real.”

via Goldman Rejects Proposal That Firm Run for Elected Office – Bloomberg.

via Goldman Rejects Proposal That Firm Run for Elected Office – Bloomberg.

Donald Trump -The Failure -1


dek

The Bankruptcies

I don’t like the B word,” Donald Trump said in 2010 while testifying in a New Jersey bankruptcy courtroom about his gambling company, Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., which had filed for bankruptcy for the third time. Given the number of times Trump has flirted with bankruptcy, you’d think he’d be used to that word by now.

In 1990, the banking institutions that backed his real estate investments had to bail him out with a $65 million “rescue package” that contained new loans and credit. But it wasn’t enough, and nine months later the famous developer was nearly $4 billion in debt. He didn’t declare personal bankruptcy, although his famous Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, N.J., did have to file for it (bondholders ended up taking a 50% stake in the investment). Trump’s economic troubles continued through the early ’90s, while he was personally leveraged to nearly $1 billion. In 2004, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts also filed for bankruptcy. The company was only a small portion of Trump’s real estate empire, but he did still have to personally cough up $72 million to keep it afloat. In 2009, the same company (by then renamed Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc.) filed for bankruptcy again. Yet during all of this, no one ever told Trump, “You’re fired!” Probably because no one could.

via The Bankruptcies – Top 10 Donald Trump Failures – TIME.

via The Bankruptcies – Top 10 Donald Trump Failures – TIME.

Why Chris Christie bear hug will deliver White House to Barack Obama — Did New Jersey governor deliberately snub Mitt Romney after VP diss?


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s bear hug embrace of Barack Obama during Hurricane Sandy will deliver the White House again to Barack Obama, I believe.

Since he did so the polls have moved perceptively to Obama, which should allow him to eke out a 51 per cent to 49 per cent victory in the popular vote I predict.

It was an extraordinary moment and a dagger aimed at the heart of Republican contender Mitt Romney who had passed Christie over for the Vice President slot after originally indicating he was choosing him as Politico.com revealed.

(There is no love lost between the two Republicans, they angrily disputed why Christie was not on the stage at a Romney rally in neighboring Pennsylvania on election eve.)

Christie saw himself on the sidelines and knew a victory for Romney essentially sidelined him for a possible eight years. He likely made a calculation that Obama would be re-elected.

Facing probable political oblivion, Christie acted.

Read more on the US Presidential Election here

Embracing Obama ensured his re-election in New Jersey also with Obama hardly likely to champion a Democratic opponent. It also ensured that moderate Democrats will be naturally drawn to supporting him when he runs for re-election.

It was a lifeline to Obama. Barack Obama was in a desperate fight to the death last week and in a dead heat at best when the hurricane struck.

Americans rally to the president in a crisis and Obama has the Commander-in-Chief down to an art form.

But the Christie embrace was the icing on the cake. Americans yearn for the type of cross community politics that sees politicians from opposite sides work together.

There are few more popular figures than the larger-than-life Christie who has never met a doughnut stand he didn’t like and calls a spade a spade.

When he appeared all day with Obama it sent a clear message to Americans that despite the attempt to demonize Obama by the GOP, Christie was willing to work with him.

The polls that had been in a permanent freeze before Sandy began to tick back in Obama’s direction and he goes into Election Day with polls clearly moving in his direction.

In a very uncertain year, that last tilt in the polls will, I think, put Obama over the top. The October/November surprise in the end proved to be of all things a hurricane and a 350 pound governor from the opposite party feeling the love for the president.

via Why Chris Christie bear hug will deliver White House to Barack Obama — Did New Jersey governor deliberately snub Mitt Romney after VP diss? | Periscope Niall O’Dowd | IrishCentral.

via Why Chris Christie bear hug will deliver White House to Barack Obama — Did New Jersey governor deliberately snub Mitt Romney after VP diss? | Periscope Niall O’Dowd | IrishCentral.

Hurricane Sandy batters huge swath of eastern US, Canada: update |


Andrew Burton / Getty Images

Fire fighters evaluate the scene of an apartment building which had the front wall collapse due to Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012 in New York, United States. Hurricane Sandy, which threatens 50 million people in the eastern third of the U.S., is expected to bring days of rain, high winds and possibly heavy snow. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the closure of all New York City will bus, subway and commuter rail service as of Sunday evening.

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Superstorm Sandy slammed into the New Jersey coastline and hurled a record-breaking 13-foot surge of seawater at New York City on Monday, roaring ashore after washing away part of the Atlantic City boardwalk and putting the presidential campaign on hold.

Just before its centre reached land, the storm was stripped of hurricane status, but the distinction was purely technical, based on its shape and internal temperature. It still packed hurricane-force wind, and forecasters were careful to say it remained every bit as dangerous to the 50 million people in its path.

The National Hurricane Center announced at 8 p.m. that Sandy had come ashore near Atlantic City. The sea surged a record of nearly 13 feet at the foot of Manhattan.

 Lower manhattan. Bye bye wall streetpic.twitter.com/bGGf2oxg

In an attempt to lessen damage from the storm, New York City’s main utility cut power to about 6,500 customers in lower Manhattan. Authorities worried that seawater would seep into the New York subway and cripple it, along with the electrical and communications systems that are vital to the nation’s financial centre.

As it closed in, Sandy knocked out electricity to more than 1.5 million people and figured to upend life for tens of millions more. It smacked the boarded-up big cities of the Northeast corridor, from Washington and Baltimore to Philadelphia, New York and Boston, with stinging rain and gusts of more than 85 mph (135 kph).

As it made its way toward land, it converged with a cold-weather system that turned into a fearsome superstorm, a monstrous hybrid consisting not only of rain and high wind but of snow. Forecasters warned of 20-foot (66-feet) waves bashing into the Chicago lakefront and up to 3 feet of snow in West Virginia.

via Hurricane Sandy batters huge swath of eastern US, Canada: Live updates | News | National Post.

via Hurricane Sandy batters huge swath of eastern US, Canada: Live updates | News | National Post.

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