Sunday, April 03, 2011

One of my favourite paintings, she processed her rape...?

judith beheading holofernes by artemisia gentileschi

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The Leveller...


1 Historical: During the English Civil War (c. 1649), one who favoured the abolition of all rank and privilege. Originally an insult, but later embraced by radical anti-Royalists.

2 One who tells the truth, as in “I’m going to level with you.”

3 An instrument that knocks down things that are standing up or digs up things that are buried or hidden.

The Leveller is a publication covering campus and off-campus news, current events, and culture in ottawa and elsewhere. It is intended to provide readers with a lively portrait of their university and community and of the events that give it meaning. It is also intended to be a forum for provocative editorializing and lively debate on issues of concern to students, staff, and faculty as well as ottawa residents.

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"You don't like the truth"...

4 days inside guantanamo

i got this post via mostly water...

"You Don't Like the Truth": Omar Khadr's Canadian Lawyer Speaks

By Mat Nelson; April 1, 2011 - Media Co-op

Dennis Edney, the Canadian lawyer for Omar Khadr, gave a powerful talk on Mar. 21 at the University of Ottawa, where he presented the case that Khadr has been pushed through a sham legal system devoid of any real justice.

The event was sponsored by Amnesty International UO and a number of other campus groups, including the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa.

Edney, who was appointed as a foreign attorney consultant by the US Pentagon, is well known for his participation in the legal defence of Omar Khadr at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Edney has argued his case in several US and Canadian courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada and the United States Supreme Court.

Omar Khadr is accused of mortally wounding Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan when he was only 15 years old. Accused of five “war crime” charges, including murder, he has since been imprisoned in Guantanamo for nearly eight years. His defence lawyers describe him as a “child soldier,” who deserves protections as an innocent youth forced by his father Ahmed to participate in the war.

Edney recently entered a guilty plea on behalf of Khadr, who was sentenced to an additional eight years in prison – not including time served – on Oct. 25, 2010. Under the plea deal, Khadr will spend another year in solitary confinement at Guantanamo, after which he could possibly be returned to Canada. However, Canadian authorities deny that he will be repatriated as part of the agreement.

Khadr continues to be caged in a windowless, concrete cell, always shackled to the floor, with fluorescent lights on 24 hours a day. His cell is also purposely kept cold, a technique that is commonly used along with excess lighting to induce sleep deprivation.

The evening began with a screening of You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantanamo, a documentary film about Khadr based on seven hours of surveillance camera footage recently declassified by the Canadian courts. The film, directed by Patricio Henriquez and Luc Côté, was the winner of the Special Jury Award at the Amsterdam International Documentary Festival. The festival’s jury called it “an important story. Its effective use of evidence, opinion and testimony, creates a provocative and moving story that reaches into the dark hole of our consciousness.”

It also received the Grand Prix du jury Étudiant at the Festival des Droits de la Personne de Paris 2011, was a Genie Awards Finalist for Best Canadian Documentary, as well as a Jutra Awards Finalist for Best Quebec Documentary.

You Don’t Like the Truth tells the story of Khadr’s detention at Guantanamo Bay after his capture by American forces in 2002. Specifically, it follows his forced interrogation by an unnamed CSIS agent and his CIA liaison, and the various ways he was exploited by the US and Canada for the purposes of intelligence.

At the beginning of the film, Khadr is hopeful, but it soon becomes clear that his questioners want little more than for him to confess – even if this means lying – to Speer’s killing. The title of the film is a direct quote from Khadr, who consistently proclaims his innocence and maintains that his earlier confessions were obtained under torture.

Upon realizing the CSIS agent is not there to help him, Khadr appears to lose hope, and when left alone in the interrogation room, he begins to cry for his mother, pull at his hair, and moan repeatedly, “kill me.” According to Gar Pardy, a former director general of Canadian Consular Affairs, “These interviews are basically a continuation of his torture.”

The documentary includes numerous interviews with Canadian officials, Khadr’s laywers, past cellmates, psychiatrists, and former US soldier Damien Corsetti, who interrogated Khadr at the Bagram Airfield detention facility in Afghanistan. Based on his actions at Bagram, Corsetti was charged with dereliction of duty, maltreatment, assault, and performing an indecent act with another person, but was later found not guilty of all charges by a military jury in 2006.

Nicknamed the “Monster” and the “King of Torture” at Bagram, Corsetti even had a tattoo across his stomach of the Italian word for monster. In the film, he regretfully admits that his actions with respect to Khadr were an “outrage to human dignity.”

“I became that monster,” he recounts.

Michelle Shephard, a Toronto Star reporter and author of Guantanamo’s Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr, makes the case in the film that photographic evidence proves that Khadr was so wounded in the firefight that he could not have thrown the grenade that killed Speer. Pictures show Khadr’s face down in rubble with gaping bullet holes and shrapnel wounds in his back and shoulder.

After the film screening, Edney recounted many of his experiences as Khadr’s Canadian lawyer. He explained how despite his numerous successes in civilian courts, he was unable to escape the “legal black hole” that is the military tribunal process.

“Guantanamo Bay is a place without rules,” he said.

However, most of Edney’s scorn was directed specifically at the federal government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which according to a January 2010 Supreme Court ruling, has been complicit in the torture and human rights violations suffered by Khadr.

“I’ve never before met anybody who has been so abused and so abandoned,” said Edney. “What greater betrayal can there be of Canadian values?”

Edney is adamant in his belief that Khadr would not have received a fair trial, which is the ultimate rationale behind his decision to persuade Khadr to take the plea deal – even though he has never admitted to being a terrorist.

The talk ended with a passionate plea to the youth in the audience. For Edney, the notion of universal human rights is not some grand ideal, but something that can be achieved in actual practice.

“In my view, the story of Omar reflects the failure of civil institutions to act on his behalf,” he said. “But you are the leaders of the future. You will have to decide what values this country will live by... and you won’t do it by sitting in armchairs.”

This article originally appeared in the April 2011 edition of The Leveller.

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Title makes sense to me...

really, really like the title...

be your own leader dot blogspot dot com
Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, security, as well as other issues.

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Saturday, April 02, 2011

They punish her for effectively resisting them...

Jena Six Activist Convicted, Faces Decades in Prison
By Jordan Flaherty

Civil rights activist Catrina Wallace, who received national acclaim for her central role in organizing protests around the Jena Six case, was convicted today of three counts of distribution of a controlled substance. She was taken from the courtroom straight to jail after the verdict was read, and given a one million dollar bail. Her sentencing is expected to come next month.

Wallace, who is 30, became an activist after her teenage brother, Robert Bailey, was arrested and charged with attempted murder after a fight in Jena High School. Bailey and five others later became known as the Jena Six, and their cause became a civil rights rallying cry that was called the first struggle of a 21st-century Civil Rights Movement. Their case eventually brought 50,000 people on a march through the town of Jena, and as a result of the public pressure the young men were eventually freed. The six are all now in college or -- in the case of the youngest -- on their way. Wallace and her mother, Caseptla Bailey, stayed in Jena and founded Organizing in the Trenches, a community organization dedicated to working with youth.

Catrina Wallace was represented by Krystal Todd of the Lasalle Parish Public Defenders Office. The case was prosecuted by Lasalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters, who also prosecuted the Jena Six case, and famously told a room full of students: "I can make your lives disappear with a stroke of my pen." The case was presided over by 28th District Judge J. Christopher Peters, a former Assistant District Attorney under Reed Walters. Peters is the son of Judge Jimmie C. Peters, who held the same seat until 1994. The 12-person jury had one Black member.

Wallace was arrested as part of "Operation Third Option," which saw more than 150 officers, including a SWAT team and helicopters, storm into Jena's Black community on July 9, 2009. Although no drugs were seized, a dozen people were arrested, based on testimony and video evidence provided by a police informant, 23-year-old convicted drug dealer Evan Brown. So far, most of those arrested on that day have pled guilty and faced long sentences. Devin Lofton, who pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute, received ten years. Adrian Richardson, 34, who pled guilty to two counts of distribution, received twenty-five years. Termaine Lee, a twenty-two-year-old who had no previous record but faced six counts of distribution, received twenty years.

In response to the verdict, community members responded with sadness and outrage. "We don't have any help here," said Marcus Jones, the father of Mychal Bell, another of the Jena Six youths. "Catrina tried to keep in high spirits leading up to the trial, but when a bomb like this is dropped on you, what can you do?" Jones and others are calling for the US Department of Justice to investigate.

Wallace, a single mother, has three small children, aged 3, 5, and 10. The youngest child has frequent seizures.

For more background on this case, see "Jena Sheriff Seeks Revenge for Civil Rights Protests."

Jordan Flaherty is a journalist and staffer with the Louisiana Justice Institute. He was the first writer to bring the story of the Jena Six to a national audience, and his award-winning reporting from the Gulf Coast has been featured in a range of outlets including the New York Times,Mother Jones, and Argentina's Clarin newspaper. He has produced news segments for Al-Jazeera, TeleSur, and Democracy Now, and appeared as a guest on CNN Morning, Anderson Cooper 360, andKeep Hope Alive with the Reverend Jesse Jackson. His new book is Floodlines: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six. He can be reached at, and more information about Floodlines can be found at For speaking engagements, see

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Mostly water is right - most media outlets are under-reporting news re: Japan...

Japan's Apocalypse - by Stephen Lendman

Despite a disaster much worse than Chernobyl, major media reports all along downplayed it. Now they largely ignore it, moving on to more important things like celebrity features and baseball's opening day, besides pretending American-led Libya bombing is well-intended when, in fact, it's another brazen power grab - an imperial war of conquest, explained in numerous previous articles.

The horror of all wars aside, waged solely for wealth and power, never humanity, Japan deserves regular top billing, given its global implications and potential millions of lives affected. Ignoring it is scandalous, yet it's practically disappeared from television where most people get news, unaware only managed reports are aired omitting vital truths.

Over three weeks and counting, Japan's crisis keeps worsening. Radiation levels in Fukushima's underground tunnel water reached 10,000 times above normal and rising. In nearby seawater, they're 4,385 times too high. Heavy rainfall exacerbates the problem. Food, water, air and soil contamination is spreading.

On March 31, New York Times writer Henry Fountain headlined, "Cleanup Questions as Radiation Spreads," saying:

At issue is "how to clean up areas that have been heavily contaminated by radioactivity," stopping short of suggesting they're dead zones that may affect all northern Japan, an area comparable to Pennsylvania, potentially making it uninhabitable.

On March 31, the IAEA (the industry's global promoter) "said a soil sample from Iitate, a village of 7,000 about 25 miles northwest of the plant, showed very high concentrations of cesium-137," a harmful gamma ray-producing isotope, contaminating air, water and soil for decades.

Levels found are "double" those in Chernobyl's dead zone, raising concerns about extending Japan's evacuation, not done so far. Moreover, they're rising daily and will continue for months, perhaps years, creating permanent contamination combined with uranium, plutonium, and other hazardous toxins.

On April 1, Al Jazeera headlined, "Japan nuclear evacuation will be 'long term,' " saying:

"Residents of evacuated areas....have been warned that they may not be able to return to their homes for months," if ever, given increasing hazardous contamination levels. Cleanup will take decades and fall far short of making areas toxin-free.

Experts call conditions "unchartered territory," wondering what, if anything can be done. The nuclear genie is out of the bottle. The imponderables are huge, and potential implications staggering.

On March 25, Helen Caldicott highlighted "a medical problem of vast dimensions," saying "the situation has grown increasingly grave." A week later, it's worse with no end of crisis in sight, Caldicott calling nuclear power's harm "the greatest public health hazard the world will ever see."

On March 31, physicist Michio Kaku said "three (Fukushima) raging meltdowns" plus one or more (melting) spent fuel ponds opened to the air are ongoing, adding:

"This is huge," involving "uncontrolled radiation releases into the environment," including plutonium, the most toxic substance known. "A speck of plutonium, a millionth of a gram, can cause cancer if ingested." Moreover, if the plant site is abandoned, "we could be in free fall." Before it ends, Kaku believes it may far exceed Chernobyl. Perhaps it already has, though no one's admitting it or knows for sure.

Every Radiation Dose Is an Overdose

Experts like Harvey Wasserman agree. On March 27, he headlined, " 'Safe' Radiation is a Lethal TMI Lie," saying:

-- No amount of radiation is safe; they're harmful, cumulative, permanent and unforgiving;

-- It's why pregnant women aren't x-rayed;

-- "Any detectable fallout can kill;"

-- Fukushima's "serious danger" requires everyone to "prepare for the worst;"

-- "Fukusima is deadly to Americans;"

-- Minimally, "it threatens countless embryos and fetuses in utero, the infants, the elderly, the unborn who will come to future mothers now being exposed;"

-- There's "no defense against even the tiniest radioactive assault;"

-- "Science has never found such a 'safe' threshold, and never will;"

-- "All doses, 'insignificant' or otherwise, can harm the human organism;"

-- Three Mile Island (TMI) victims experienced "cancer, leukemia, birth defects, stillbirths, sterility, malformations, open lesions, hair loss, a metallic taste and much more....;"

-- Pennsylvania's Department of Agriculture also documented the farm and wild animal death and mutation rate;

-- TMI was minor compared to Fukushima; its radiation is "pouring into the air and water;" operators reported levels "a million times normal, then retracted the estimate to a 'mere' 100,000;"

-- Most frightening is what's unrevealed; coverup after TMI and Chernobyl was scandalous;

-- All North America and Europe are affected, especially by rain, increasing soil and water contamination;

-- "Fukushima's worst may be yet to come," by far the worst ever environmental and human disaster;

-- "The response of the Obama Administration has been beyond derelict," claiming Americans face no threat; he lied and now remains silent;

-- " 'Impossible' accidents continue to happen, one after the other, each of them successively worse."

What will it take to stop this monster? Because of enormous industry profits, perhaps it will take ending human life to convince skeptics.

Candidate v. President Obama

In 2008, candidate Obama was skeptical about nuclear power, telling NBC Meet the Press host Tim Russert on January 15, 2008:

Unless a "safe way to produce (and store) nuclear energy (is found), then absolutely we shouldn't build more plants."

At a January 13, 2008 town hall meeting, he said:

"Nuclear is bad because we don't know how to store it. And it poses security hazards."

On December 30, 2007, he said:

"....(N)uclear energy is not optimal so I am not a nuclear energy proponent....I am much more interested in solar and wind and bio-diesel (to produce) clean energy and (new) jobs....I have not ruled out nuclear (but) only so far is it is clean and safe."

Earlier he said:

-- "Nuclear power is not working for us right now;"

-- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is "a moribund agency that needs to be revamped, and it's become captive of the industries that it regulates and I think that's a problem."

He also called storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain "a bad idea." Nuclear power "has a host of problems that have not been solved," and "I don't think there's anything that we inevitably dislike about nuclear power. We just dislike the fact that it might blow up....and irradiate us....and kill us. That's the problem."

Even candidate Obama was less than candid. On July 4, 2007, CounterPunch co-editor Jeff St. Clair and contributor Joshua Frank called him "another automaton of the atomic lobby" in their article headlined, "Barack Obama's Nuclear Ambitions," saying:

During the 1990s, "the atom lobby....had a stranglehold on the Clinton administration and now they seem to have the same suffocating grip around (Obama's) neck, (the Democrat's) brightest star...."

It showed (and still does) in generous industry contributions. As of late March 2007, he "accepted $159,800 from executives and employees of Exelon, the nation's largest nuclear power plant operator." They previously funded his 2004 Senate campaign, contributing $74,350.

In return, he helped kill an amendment to stop large industry loan guarantees "for power-plant operators to develop new energy projects the public will not only pay millions of dollars in loan costs but will also risk losing billions of dollars if the companies default."

In 2005, Nuclear News praised him for "keeping an open mind" on nuclear power. In other words, for supporting it despite the unforgiving hazards. "The atom lobby must certainly be pleased." Why else would they help elect him president.

A previous article explained Obama's longstanding industry ties, including with Chicago-based Exelon. Its web site says it operates 17 reactors at 10 stations in Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, providing 20% of US nuclear capacity.

In addition, Obama's former top political aide, David Axelrod, once lobbied for Exelon, and Rahm Emanuel, his former White House chief of staff (now Chicago's mayor-elect), profited handsomely as an investment banker, arranging mergers that created the company.

In his proposed budget, Obama includes $36 billion in industry loan guarantees for new facilities - free money. He's committed to jump-start new construction, halted since Three Mile Island in 1979. Already takers are lining up, 20 or more applications pending before the NRC.

In fact, he and Energy Secretary Steven Chu downplay Fukushima, ignoring industry hazards, including 23 US nuclear plants at 16 locations using the same failed GE-designed Mark 1 containment vessels. Earlier, the NRC called them susceptible to explosions and failure because of cost-cutting design features.

Its 1985 study warned that failure within the first few hours after a core meltdown was very likely. Its top safety official at the time said it had a 90% probability of failing if an accident caused overheating and melting. When reactor cooling is compromised, the containment vessel is the last line of defense. However, GE's design is hazardous and unsafe.

Today, Obama supports the NRC, the same agency Karl Grossman calls "an unabashed promoter of nuclear power," the one candidate Obama called "moribund, (a) captive of the industries it regulates." The one with a perfect record - never having denied applicants new plant licenses. The one now dangerously extending operating lives of aging, poorly maintained plants with deplorable safety records to 80 years, assuring multiple likelihoods of trouble.

It now says no new regulation or oversight is needed. No moratorium on new construction or old plants will be instituted, and, in fact, Vermont's trouble-plagued Yankee plant (using the same type Fukushima reactor) got a 20-year extension instead of being shut down.

That in spite of recent reports highlighting serious industry "near misses," safety violations, failures to reveal legally-required information regarding defective equipment, electrical supply system inadequacies, and other examples of industry mismanagement and criminality, risking an American Fukushima disaster.

According to nuclear technician Tom Saporito:

"The administration, including the president of the United States, is recklessly endangering the population by promoting the construction of nuclear plants and by not taking affirmative action to deal with known safety problems."

In fact, shutting the industry down is crucial, especially as Grossman, a longtime industry expert, says:

"Safe, clean, renewable energy technologies fully implemented can provide all the power we need - and energy that we can live with" safely, unlike the hazardous nuclear roulette played each day these ticking time bombs operate.

As president, however, Obama fronts for Wall Street, war profiteers, Big Oil, Big Pharma, other corporate favorites, and his nuclear industry friends, risking a major disaster to assure generous 2012 campaign contributions for another four years to complete wrecking America and other nations globally. That's his "change we can believe in" plan, not the one sold to constituents.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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In treatment...this particular character's portrayal was bang on...

arrogant, middle-class, tense, clearly tormented, deeply in denial, repressed, completely unresolved where his own identity is concerned but completely willing to try to maintain a particular level of unachievable hype when it comes to speaking about who he is. i think blair underwood did a fantastical job with alex. he definitely embodied one of the most emotionally complex black male characters on television that i've ever seen.

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Friday, April 01, 2011

Like i said: wisconsin is not the site of a class war, it's a very effective middle-class tantrum...

i came by this via mostly water...

Race, class struggle and organized labour in the “Age of Wisconsin”


By Ajamu Nangwaya

Madison, Wisconsin, may have given organized labour - or the labouring classes - a hint at the possibility of resistance in the streets of America. Or should the credit go to the children of Caliban [1] in the streets and squares of Egypt? Can you imagine the role reversal implied by the prospect of the children of Caliban’s teaching those of Prospero, the great civilizer, the art of being human or striving for moral autonomy…collective personhood?

Many commentators have asserted that if there had been no revolt in Egypt, and no forced departure of the pharaoh-like Hosni Mubarak, there would not have been mass protest action in that oh-so-white of a state, Wisconsin. It is simply amazing to think that the fair citizenry of Wisconsin would require an external political stimulus to challenge their exploitation; the racialized section of the United States’ working-class has been bearing the brunt of the racist, sexist and capitalist battering of the welfare state structures since the 1980s without much sympathy from their white working-class counterparts.

But predominantly-white Wisconsin is up in arms when the chicken comes home to roost in their own backyard! Martin Luther King was quite right when he declared, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” We can only hope that white workers come to realize that white supremacist beliefs and practices only weaken the working-class - to the advantage of the small capitalist elite.

The political and economic elite in the United States is ruthlessly using the aftereffects of the Great Recession as a pretext to further weaken the economic, social and political conditions of the working-class. It was the actions of the captains of industry and commerce and their politicians that were responsible for the massive job losses, near-collapses of major financial firms, housing foreclosures (which largely affected racialized urban communities) and overall ‘bust’ of the capitalist business cycle.

One of the effects of the preceding events was a massive reduction in revenue flowing to the coffers of the different levels of government. It should be noted that prior and ongoing tax cuts - granted by the political class to corporations, wealthy individuals and high income earners - were also critical factors in the deficits now faced by state governments.

But it is the working-class in the public sector and the members of our communities who are dependent on public services that are being called upon to sacrifice their already tenuous or precarious standard of living to slay budgetary deficits across America. From the federal government under the pied piper leadership of President Barack Obama to two-bit governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin to multi-millionaire Governor Rick Synder in Michigan, tax-cuts to the well-heeled, disciplining of the working-class and social programme spending reduction are the preferred policy options. [2]

Hopefully, this bitter medicine from the neo-liberal or monetarist black bag will alert workers to their true class identity and interests. The fox (capitalist class) and the chickens (workers) cannot have a community of interest. It is in the nature of the former to desire the latter for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Many members of the United States’ working-class have been mislabeling themselves as middle-class as a result of the relentless ideological and social conditioning by the combined forces of the media, school, family, politicians, religious institutions and even union bureaucrats.

The capitalist or corporate elite are also implicated in the mental slavery or false consciousness of workers. According to Funiciello, the capitalist elite, in its capacity as bosses of the wage-slavery regime, plays a critical role in keeping workers distracted or servile:

Here in America, it has been difficult for rank-and-file Americans to see their own yoke. That’s how sophisticated is the hand of the very small elite that has controlled how many jobs we will have, where we will live, whether we will have a house or an apartment, how our children will be educated (or mis-educated?) and, even, what and how much we will eat.

The consolidation of power over the people by that small elite has occurred over several decades, but just now the minions of Corporate America are coming out into the open and trying to administer the coup de grace. The minions are Republicans and, unfortunately, they have had help from many Democrats.[3]

However, the current state-sponsored legislative initiatives aimed at destroying collective bargaining rights, decent wages, workplace benefits and the ability of unions to financially support political activities – along with union-crippling “right to work” laws - should disabuse workers of their middle-class illusions. If you sell your labour and do not exercise substantive control over the organizing, managing and directing of work or the labour process, you are a member of the working-class, period!

One may be forgiven for thinking that the pulse of resistance had disappeared from the body of organized labour in the United States. Other than participation in the farce that is electoral politics (politricks?), organized labour has been, for the most part, absent from political struggles against white supremacy, sexism and capitalism.

With the attack on public sector unionism in Wisconsin and other states and the tentative fight-back posturing of the labour movement that has begun to emerge in response, a curious observer may be excused for wondering aloud: “Has this Lazarus now risen from its deathly sleep and re-discovered its historical mission?” Has Lazarus, the working-class, finally remembered that its principal role ought to be the battle to free society from social oppression? We will know the answer in the fullness of time.
The assault on collective bargaining rights of public sector workers by Governor Walker could be an undisguised gift to social movement activism. It has certainly been a long time since labour and its allies have mobilized tens of thousand of people into the streets over point of production or workplace issues.

Andy Kroll, a writer and an eyewitness at the protest actions against this potentially game-changing legislative attack on public sector unionism, states that “within a week there were close to 70,000 protesters filling the streets of Madison.” [5] The writer was so moved by the spirit of resistance in the occupied Capitol building in Madison and events in the street that he declared, “Believe me, the spirit of Cairo is here. The air is charged with it.” [6]

While the protests on the scale in Madison, Wisconsin may bring into motion forces that represent radical or revolutionary demands, I am not among the commentators who are overly impressed with what I have been seeing and reading. I am reminded of the instructive refrain of the African Jamaican dub poet, “A revolt ain’t revolution.” A revolution ought to be guided by revolutionary ideas and demands. It would be a stretch to even think that the preceding condition exists in Wisconsin, or even Egypt. We are currently at such a low level of movement activism or upsurge that even a ripple of protest may inspire fantastic declarations and expectation.

However, Larry Pinkney of the online publication The Black Commentator has a more sobering assessment of the Wisconsin protest than Kroll, which runs counter to the euphoric pronouncements that I have read in alternative spaces:

While it is certainly heartening to see some people making and taking a stand in Madison, Wisconsin, this does not mean that Wisconsin has somehow become Egypt. It has not. There are numerous inherent contradictions that have yet to be forthrightly addressed in Wisconsin, U.S.A., and which strongly impact the most economically and politically dispossessed and despised of people in Wisconsin and throughout the United States. [7]

Pickney is raising questions about the oppression of the racialized working-class, inclusive of those with and without jobs. Their material interest does not garner substantive or broad sympathy from white union bureaucrats and rank-and-file members.

Where were the protests when Reagan and Clinton assaulted the working-class by changing “welfare as we know it” and demonized African Americans and the poor in the process? Where was the howling from organized labour when Clinton proudly declared his intention to put 100,000 additional cops on the streets of America [8] and dramatically increase the number of Africans, Hispanic and poor whites in the prison-industrial complex or penal colonies? Where was organized labour when affirmative action was being savaged for merely trying to weaken white supremacist employment and other structural barriers in the workplace and the wider society?

Organized labour is willing to move when it is faced with self-evident existential threats. Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of Wisconsin’s AFL-CIO, seemed to confirm the preceding assertion when she noted, "[o]ur very labor movement is at stake and when that's at stake, the economic security of Americans is at stake.” [9] I wonder whether her visual image of “Americans” looks like the people on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, New York. On the contrary, when the “slings and arrows” fired at the racialized working-class provoke even the slightest bit of racial animus, union bureaucrats and white workers, through their inaction or silence, tend to support the initiatives of the ruling-class.

White supremacy has been a reliable tool, used to set white workers against Africans and other racialized workers in the United States, from the days of chattel slavery up to our current period of wage-slavery. Marx’s 1867 assertion remains valid today: “In the United States of North America, every independent movement of the workers was paralysed so long as slavery disfigured a part of the Republic. Labour cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded” (emphasis mine). [10]

The class struggle and a united working-class movement in the United States (and Canada) will remain “paralysed”, deformed and underdeveloped, if the commitment to the elimination of white supremacy does not become a strategic goal of the organized labour and the general working-class. Would the outpouring of solidarity with Wisconsin workers be the same if the target was a group of largely racialized public sector workers?

Ford captures the issue at stake - the role of race and white supremacy in limiting the class struggle in the United States:

Wisconsin is, in a sense, a near-ideal terrain for a showdown with the Tea Party brand of Republicanism. The actors in the drama are overwhelmingly white, putting the raw class nature of capital’s aggression in stark relief. With relatively few Black scapegoats to complicate the issue, white folks must confront the bare facts of the way late-stage capitalism tramples ordinary people as it careens from crisis to crisis.

Or, maybe not. White supremacy is a dynamic ideology that has always been central to the domestic functions of American Exceptionalism, distorting not just race relations but all other social relations, as well. Once the foundational Nigger has been invented and given life in the public mind, with all his purported logic-bending and society-polluting defects, his[/her] characteristics can be imputed to other targeted groups – a ready-made demonization kit. Public employees in general and teachers in particular now find themselves Niggerized as lazy featherbedders, no-count malingerers, fellow travelers with welfare queens and other human malignancies that must be excised so that the free market can work its wonders. [11]

The task facing us class struggle and anti-oppression advocates is to be “ruthlessly” frank and firm in our commitment to challenge and eradicate white supremacy within the labour movement, the general working-class and the structures of the wider society. It was encouraging to know that the question of race and centring the interest of the racialized working-class surfaced within the conversations of the Madison resistance - albeit in a fairly marginal space. [12] The objective reality facing organized labour and the working-class in general is the need for a full integration of a principled anti-racist practice into the heart and mind of the resistance against capitalist domination.

Ajamu Nangwaya is a trade union and community activist and a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto.

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Greenpeace in Japan...

Greenpeace radiation team: extend Fukushima evacuation zone, especially to protect pregnant women and children

Greenpeace radiation experts are continuing their work in the Fukushima area. They have confirmed radiation levels of up to ten micro Sieverts per hour (1) in Iitate village, 40km northwest of the crisis-stricken Fukushima/Daiichi nuclear plant, and 20km (2) beyond the official evacuation zone. These levels are high enough to require evacuation.

Statement by Greenpeace radiation safety expert Jan van de Putte and head of the monitoring team:

“The Japanese authorities are fully aware (3) that high levels of radiation from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant have spread far beyond the official evacuation zone to places like Iitate, yet are still not taking action to properly protect people or keep them informed them about the risks to their health.

“It is clearly not safe for people to remain in Iitate, especially children and pregnant women, when it could mean receiving the maximum allowed annual dose of radiation in only a few days. When further contamination from possible ingestion or inhalation of radioactive particles is factored in, the risks are even higher.”

“The authorities must stop choosing politics over science and determine evacuation zones around the Fukushima nuclear plant that reflect the radiation levels being found in the environment. In addition to coming clean on the true dangers of the current nuclear crisis, the smartest move for Japan and governments around the world is heavily invest in energy efficiency, and redouble their efforts to harness safe and secure renewable energy sources.”


(1) The team measured radiation of between 7 and 10 micro Sievert per hour in the town of Iitate, on Sunday March 27th. The levels detected refer to external radiation, and do not take into account the further risks of ingestion or inhalation. The annual limit for accumulated dose is 1000 micro Sieverts.

(2) The current official evacuation zone is 20km around Fukushima, with 20km and 30km an area where people are advised to stay indoors.

(3) The Fukushima Prefectural Government has been measuring the radiation levels in the same village and confirming even higher range of radiation level during the past two weeks.

On March 20th, around 10 per cent of the residents of Iitate voluntarily evacuated:

Scope of Greenpeace monitoring:

This preliminary monitoring work sees the Greenpeace team spend several days documenting radioactive contamination and dose-rate levels in the areas north-west of the Fukushima evacuation zone (20km radius from nuclear plant) that have been most affected by the radioactive releases.

The team is lead by Jan van de Putte (Netherlands) an experienced radiation expert who qualified at the Technical University of Delft, and has participated in environmental surveys of radioactive contamination in Russia, Ukraine, Spain, Belgium and France.

Also in the team is radiation expert Jacob Namminga (Netherlands), who also qualified at the Technical University of Delft, and has taken part in environmental surveys of radioactive contamination in Ukraine, Spain, and France.

As part of the monitoring work, the team will be using a selection of standard radiation monitoring equipment:

- Gamma spectrometer: GEORADIS Identifier RT-30 (Super Ident)

- Geiger counter: Radex RD 1503

- Contamination monitor: RADOS MicroCont

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Chernobyl anniversary this month...

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The Guardian: the true face of protest...

Black bloc: 'Only actions count now'
Two participants in the black bloc protest at Saturday's anti-cuts rally

Stephen Moss, Guardian UK

"Meet us outside the British Library. That seems appropriate." I'm due to interview two men in their late 20s who were part of the "black bloc" direct action wing of last Saturday's anti-cuts protest. We'd originally agreed to meet at a bar in King's Cross, but they tell me later it was "too media" for their security concerns.

I conduct an interview of sorts, but they are reluctant to tell me much about themselves other than that one is a "low-paid public sector worker". In any case, they have come armed with handwritten answers to questions they have posed to themselves. Anarchists like to be in control. I agree to edit those answers for length, then show them the edited version. Their "self-interview" appears below. I never do learn their names.

The media, police and other sections of the left have called the black bloc "criminals", "hooligans" and "cowards". How do you respond?

In the legal sense, those who damage property or fight the police have committed crimes, so yes they are criminals. But in everyday language, a criminal is someone who lives by criminal means. We saw plenty of nurses, education workers, tech workers, unemployed workers, students, campaigners and charity workers on the bloc on Saturday, but we didn't see any criminals.

As for being hooligans or cowards, the black bloc formation is used for tactical purposes. We aren't trying to be "hard" or to give ourselves a thrill. We are trying to give uncompromising opposition to capitalism an appropriate image on the streets – and not end up in jail. True cowardice would be not fighting an economic system that wants to destroy us.

The black bloc is not a group or organisation; it's something that happens on marches or actions. It's not pre-planned; it relies on people turning up with the same ideas and clothes. That is why there is a "uniform": people who want to take direct action and resist containment arrive on the day in black and identify people with the same ideas this way.

We had no idea of the numbers before the event on Saturday, and no idea it would be so radical in its actions. The black bloc idea spread like a ripple through the march. As people saw others in black, they changed into black themselves. Some marchers even left the protest to buy black clothing.

Is it not fair to say you hijacked the TUC march?

No. To hijack it would have meant taking the front of the march and leading it away. What happened was that thousands of marchers left of their own accord to support our direct action and do some of their own. The black bloc largely avoided the march route, only dropping into it twice, briefly. We support the other marchers who didn't take direct action, just like many of them supported us.

Don't you think the violence has invalidated your message?

Our only collective points were the promotion of a confrontational attitude and the use of symbolic direct action to show that direct action in the wider society was both valid and possible, and that there is a radical movement in this country that's going to put up a fight. We made these points. Anyway, you cannot be "violent" to property. The police chose to attack and arrest people in their defence of property, and got themselves hurt in the attempt. If they had acted rationally, and decided a cracked window was not worth a protester's cracked skull, they would have been fine.

Is the black bloc a reaction to police heavy-handedness?

We don't do "good cops" versus "bad cops"; whether they smile or snarl while they do it, their primary function is to defend the rule of the wealthy. We do not want the police to control us "more justly" in the interests of capitalism. We want them to stand back for a just society to be created. If they don't, they have picked their side, and they will have to be opposed.

Was the bloc anarchist?

From the red and black flags in the crowd it seemed to be, but there is nothing inherently anarchist about masking up. By the evening thousands of people had left Hyde Park and were taking action all over central London; the open class warfare of the cuts has convinced far more than the UK's minority of radicals that only actions count.

Do you consider the black bloc to be the most radical part of the new movement?

No. Occupations of universities and town halls are far more important, and this is where the anti-cuts movement has been heading. To develop, it needs to spread into workplaces next. The black bloc tactic was appropriate to give the day a confrontational edge, and to target the real enemies: the rich. The aim was to make people realise this is not an abstract struggle between "the economy" and us, but between a group of super-rich exploiters and those they are exploiting – the workers.

There is now talk of a "mask law" in response to Saturday's action. Don't you feel responsible for that?

Introducing a mask law would be a serious misjudgment. Already we've seen how the tactic of kettling has backfired on the police, creating a desire among the crowd to be mobile and in effect unpoliceable. A mask law would probably just make more people wear masks. If last Saturday is anything to go by, they already are.

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