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Emergency Action! Protest To Show Solidarity With Striking Georgia State Inmates!

December 19, 2010 Leave a comment

 

Submitted by kennyyates on Wed, 12/15/2010 – 3:05pm.

Friday December 17, 2010
11:30am – 1:00pm
Richmond, Virginia Courthouse
701 E. Broad St.

To endorse this action please visit:
[ https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?hl=en&pli=1&formkey=dHVBcXNrOFBIUmExM19TMVN4Z2daOEE6MQ#gid=0 ]

“A threat to justice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King Jr

Not unlike the prisoners in the United States, the working class, without an organized Union, lose their rights granted to them by the U.S. Constitution. The moment you clock in, you are subject to the will of the employer, losing your individuality and status as a free human being. We immediately enter the realm of second class citizens, which should not be tolerated by any moral human being. Understanding that our second class status as a worker isn’t far removed from that of the prisoner, the Richmond Industrial Workers of the World feel it is within our responsibility as fellow workers, to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Georgia state prison system, and echo their demands to retain their dignity and status as human beings:

“These conditions can be changed and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in any one industry (or in this case ‘industrial complex’), or in all industries if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one, an injury to all.” – Industrial Workers of the World Preamble

The hereby undersigned stand in solidarity with the striking inmates in the Georgia State prison system. We urge the Georgia Department of Corrections (DOC) to recognize and respect the rights and demands set forth in the press release by the organized prisoners, and cease the brutal repression of their collective voice.

To endorse this action please follow this link!
[ https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?hl=en&pli=1&formkey=dHVBcXNrOFBIUmExM19TMVN4Z2daOEE6MQ#gid=0 ]

Support The Largest Prison Strike in U.S. History!

On Thursday morning, December 9, 2010, thousands of Georgia prisoners refused to work, stopped all other activities and locked themselves down in their cells in a peaceful protest for their human rights. The ‘December 9 Strike’ became the biggest prisoner protest in the history of the United States.

Thousands of men, from Augusta, Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith and Telfair State Prisons, among others, initiated this strike to press the Georgia Department of Corrections (“DOC”) to stop treating them like animals and slaves and institute programs that address their basic human rights. They set forth the following demands:

·A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the 13thAmendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC demands prisoners work for free.

·EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.

·DECENT HEALTH CARE: In violation of the 8thAmendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.

·AN END TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS: In further violation of the 8thAmendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.

·DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS: Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.

·NUTRITIONAL MEALS: Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.

·VOCATIONAL AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES:The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.

·ACCESS TO FAMILIES: The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.

·JUST PAROLE DECISIONS: The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility.

Despite that the prisoners’ protest remained non-violent, the Department of Corrections (DOC) violently attempted to force the men back to work—claiming it was “lawful” to order prisoners to work without pay, in defiance of the 13th Amendment’s abolition of slavery. In Augusta State Prison, six or seven inmates were brutally ripped from their cells by CERT Team guards and beaten, resulting in broken ribs for several men, one man beaten beyond recognition. This brutality continues there. At Telfair, the Tactical Squad trashed all the property in inmate cells. At Macon State, the Tactical Squad has menaced the men for two days, removing some to the “hole,” and the warden ordered the heat and hot water turned off. Still, today, men at Macon, Smith, Augusta, Hays and Telfair State Prisons say they are committed to continuing the strike. Inmate leaders, representing blacks, Hispanics, whites, Muslims, Rastafarians, Christians, have stated the men will stay down until their demands are addressed. One issuing this statement:

“…Brothers, we have accomplished a major step in our struggle…We must continue what we have started…The only way to achieve our goals is to continue with our peaceful sit-down…I ask each and every one of my Brothers in this struggle to continue the fight. ON MONDAY MORNING, WHEN THE DOORS OPEN, CLOSE THEM.DO NOT GO TO WORK. They cannot do anything to us that they haven’t already done at one time or another. Brothers, DON’T GIVE UP NOW. Make them come to the table. Be strong. DO NOT MAKE MONEY FOR THE STATE THAT THEY IN TURN USE TO KEEP US AS SLAVES….”

When the strike began, prisoner leaders issued the following call: “No more slavery. Injustice in one place is injustice to all. Inform your family to support our cause. Lock down for liberty!”

Please take a moment and call the following prison systems and declare your support for the striking inmates!

Georgia Department of Corrections (478) 992-5246

Macon State Prison (978) 472-3900
Hays State Prison (706) 857-0400
Telfair State Prison (229) 868-7721
Baldwin State Prison (478) 445-5218
Valdosta State Prison (229) 333-7900
Smith State Prison (912) 654-5000

For more information on the ‘December 9 Strike’ please contact the following designated representatives:

Elaine Brown, 404-542-1211, sistaelaine@gmail.com;
Valerie Porter, 229-931-5348, lashan123@att.net;
Faye Sanders, 478-550-7046, reshelias@yahoo.com

For more information please contact:
Richmond Industrial Workers of the World • 804.496.1568 • richmondiww@gmail.com

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Industrial Workers of the World
General Headquarters
PO Box 180195, Chicago, IL 60618, USA
tel: (773) 857-1090
Email – ghq [at] iww.org
Website – www [at] iww.org

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How Democracy Dies: Lessons from a Master

October 12, 2010 4 comments

Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges

By Chris Hedges

From Truthdig

AP / Matt York

The ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes spent his life battling the assault on democracy by tyrants. It is disheartening to be reminded that he lost. But he understood that the hardest struggle for humankind is often stating and understanding the obvious. Aristophanes, who had the temerity to portray the ruling Greek tyrant, Cleon, as a dog, is the perfect playwright to turn to in trying to grasp the danger posed to us by movements from the tea party to militias to the Christian right, as well as the bankrupt and corrupt power elite that no longer concerns itself with the needs of its citizens. He saw the same corruption 2,400 years ago. He feared correctly that it would extinguish Athenian democracy. And he struggled in vain to rouse Athenians from their slumber.

There is a yearning by tens of millions of Americans, lumped into a diffuse and fractious movement, to destroy the intellectual and scientific rigor of the Enlightenment. They seek out of ignorance and desperation to create a utopian society based on “biblical law.” They want to transform America’s secular state into a tyrannical theocracy. These radicals, rather than the terrorists who oppose us, are the gravest threat to our open society. They have, with the backing of hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate money, gained tremendous power. They peddle pseudoscience such as “Intelligent Design” in our schools. They keep us locked into endless and futile wars of imperialism. They mount bigoted crusades against gays, immigrants, liberals and Muslims. They turn our judiciary, in the name of conservative values, over to corporations. They have transformed our liberal class into hand puppets for corporate power. And we remain meek and supine.

The huge amount of taxpayer money doled out to Wall Street, investment banks, the oil and natural gas industry and the defense industry, along with the dismantling of our manufacturing sector, is why we are impoverished. It is why our houses are being foreclosed on. It is why some 45 million Americans are denied medical care. It is why our infrastructure, from public schools to bridges, is rotting. It is why many of us cannot find jobs. We are being fleeced. The flagrant theft of public funds and rise of an obscenely rich oligarchic class is masked by the tough talk of demagogues, themselves millionaires, who use fear and bombast to keep us afraid, confused and enslaved.

Aristophanes saw the same psychological and political manipulation undermine the democratic state in ancient Athens. He repeatedly warned Athenians in plays such as “The Clouds,” “The Wasps,” “The Birds,” “The Frogs” and “Lysistrata” that permitting political leaders who shout “I shall never betray the Athenian!” or “I shall keep up the fight in defense of the people forever!” to get their hands on state funds and power would end with the citizens enslaved.

“The truth is, they want you, you see, to be poor,” Aristophanes wrote in his play “The Wasps.” “If you don’t know the reason, I’ll tell you. It’s to train you to know who your tamer is. Then, whenever he gives you a whistle and sets you against an opponent of his, you jump out and tear them to pieces.”

Our democracy, through years of war, theft and corruption, is also being diminished. But the example Aristophanes offers is not a hopeful one. He held up the same corruption to his fellow Greeks. He repeatedly chided them for not rising up and fighting back. He warned, ominously, that by the time most citizens awoke it would be too late. And he was right. The appearance of normality lulls us into a false hope and submission. Those who shout most loudly in defense of the ideals of the founding fathers, the sacredness of Constitution and the values of the Christian religion are those who most actively seek to subvert the principles they claim to champion. They hold up the icons and language of traditional patriotism, the rule of law and Christian charity to demolish the belief systems that give them cultural and political legitimacy. And those who should defend these beliefs are cowed and silent.

“For a considerable length of time the normality of the normal world is the most efficient protection against disclosure of totalitarian mass crimes,” Hannah Arendt wrote in “The Origins of Totalitarianism.” “Normal men don’t know that everything is possible, refuse to believe their eyes and ears in the face of the monstrous. … The reason why the totalitarian regimes can get so far toward realizing a fictitious, topsy-turvy world is that the outside non-totalitarian world, which always comprises a great part of the population of the totalitarian country itself, indulges in wishful thinking and shirks reality in the face of real insanity. …”

All ideological, theological and political debates with the representatives of the corporate state, including the feckless and weak Barack Obama, are useless. They cannot be reached. They do not want a dialogue. They care nothing for real reform or participatory democracy. They use the tricks and mirages of public relations to mask a steadily growing assault on our civil liberties, our inability to make a living and the loss of basic services from education to health care. Our gutless liberal class placates the enemies of democracy, hoping desperately to remain part of the ruling elite, rather than resist. And, in many ways, liberals, because they serve as a cover for these corporate extremists, are our greatest traitors.

Aristophanes too lived in a time of endless war. He knew that war always empowered anti-democratic forces. He saw how war ate away at the insides of a democratic state until it was hollowed out. His play “Lysistrata,” written after Athens had spent 21 years consumed by the Peloponnesian War, is a satire in which the young women refuse to have sex with their men until the war ends and the older women seize the Acropolis, where the funds for war are stored. The play called on Athenians to consider radical acts of civil disobedience to halt a war that was ravaging the state. The play’s heroine, Lysistrata, whose name means “Disbander of Armies,” was the playwright’s mouthpiece for the folly and self-destructiveness of war. But Athens, which would lose the war, did not listen.

The tragedy is that liberals and secularists, like Obama, are not viewed as competitors by the corporate forces that hold power, but as contaminates that must be eliminated. They have sought to work with forces that will never be placated. They have abandoned the most basic values of the liberal class to play a game that in the end will mean their political and cultural extinction. There will be no swastikas this time but seas of red, white and blue flags and Christian crosses. There will be no stiff-armed salutes, but recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance. There will be no brown shirts but nocturnal visits from Homeland Security. The fear, rage and hatred of our dispossessed and confused working class are being channeled into currents that are undermining the last vestiges of the democratic state. These dangerous emotions, directed against a liberal class that as in ancient Athens betrayed the population, have a strong appeal. And unless we adopt the radicalism held by Aristophanes, unless we begin to hinder the functioning of the corporate state through acts of civil disobedience, we are finished.

Let us not stand at the open gates of the city meekly waiting for the barbarians. They are coming. They are slouching towards Bethlehem. Let us, if nothing else, like Aristophanes, begin to call our tyranny by its name.

Author’s Bio: Chris Hedges, currently a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and a Lecturer in the Council of the Humanities and the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow at Princeton University, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. Hedges, who has reported from more than 50 countries, worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, where he spent fifteen years. He is the author of the best selling “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning,” which draws on his experiences in various conflicts to describe the patterns and behavior of nations and individuals in wartime. The book, a finalist for The National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, was described by Abraham Verghese, who reviewed the book for The New York Times, as “…a brilliant, thoughtful, timely and unsettling book whose greatest merit is that it will rattle jingoists, pacifists, moralists, nihilists, politicians and professional soldiers equally.” Hedges was part of the New York Times team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism and he received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. He published his most recent book, “Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America” in June 2005.

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Enbridge oil pipeline leaking in Illinois

September 12, 2010 1 comment

Company said it was stopped

BY TINA LAM and TODD SPANGLER
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS

A second spill in a pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy Partners, this time in Illinois, was leaking 200-600 barrels of oil an hour late Friday, despite the company’s insistence earlier that the leak had been halted. The Environmental Protection Agency ordered the company to stop the leak by noon Monday.

Enbridge already is under fire for the biggest oil pipeline spill in the Midwest after its pipeline burst in July near Marshall, leaking at least 820,000 barrels of oil into the Kalamazoo River.

The leak near Romeoville, Ill., on the company’s 34-inch 6A pipeline, was noticed Thursday shortly after noon. Oil splashed onto a road and then flowed into a nearby retention pond. The company said the pipeline was shut down minutes after the discovery, and the leak was contained.

But the EPA said Friday that was not true. The agency said oil was flowing from storm and sanitary sewers to the retention pond, which was nearly full. The EPA ordered the pond to be pumped so it didn’t overflow.

In a conference call, EPA officials told congressional staff that although the pipe had been closed off at either end, oil still was flowing and no one knew exactly where the leak was located.

Pipeline 6A is Enbridge’s largest and runs from Superior, Wis., to Griffith, Ind. Because of its shutdown, oil futures spiked Friday. The pipeline delivers oil to midwestern refineries.

Pipeline 6B runs from Griffith through Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario. That line has been shut down since Enbridge’s July spill near Marshall, and there’s no certainty if or when it will reopen.

Enbridge has been under fire from federal regulators for the maintenance and flaws in its 1,900-mile Lakehead pipeline system, which delivers oil from western Canada to the U.S.

Reports reviewed by the Free Press show that as long as eight years ago, the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which inspects pipelines, noted problems with maintenance and repairs on the system. In February, Enbridge officials were summoned to Washington, D.C., to meet with regulators about correcting those problems.

U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer of Battle Creek has been critical of Enbridge’s history of spills. “This most recent spill by Enbridge left me stunned, but not entirely surprised,” he said.

Congress plans hearings on Enbridge’s conduct Wednesday.

Contact TINA LAM: 313-222-6421 or tlam@freepress.com

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Deadly blaze destroys Calif. community

September 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Photos:

Massive fire in San Bruno

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Deadly blaze destroys Calif. community

The sun rises to reveal rows of chimneys where homes once stood in San Bruno, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 10. The neighborhood was devastated by a massive natural gas explosion Thursday night.

  • A home for sale sign is shown in front of three houses that were destroyed after a massive fire roared through a mostly residential neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday. Firefighters from San Bruno and surrounding cities battled the blaze that started on a hillside and consumed homes in a residential neighborhood.

    A woman is treated by paramedics after an explosion in San Bruno, Calif.

    SAN BRUNO, Calif. — As fire crews sprayed the ruins of burning homes Friday after a massive explosion and fire in a San Francisco suburb killed at least four people and destroyed more than 50 homes, residents in the area told local NBC affiliate KNTV that they had complained about a natural gas smell for weeks.

    Tim Guiterrez, who lives in the neighborhood, told KNTV that a representative from the utility PG&E was in the neighborhood last week and told people to shut their garage doors and stay inside as they looked into the complaint.

    PG&E President Chris Johns said at a news conference Friday that the utility is looking into reports and will go over their records from the phone calls about the complaints.

    Meanwhile, the death toll fluctuated as authorities began assessing the damage.


    1. Residents: We smelled gas before deadly blast

      A massive explosion sent flames roaring through a neighborhood south of San Francisco on Thursday night, destroying more than 50 homes and leaving at least four dead.

      Full story

      California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado said that four residents had died, but state Sen. Leland Yee said the California Emergency Management Agency told him six perished.

      Maldonado said area hospitals had taken in 52 patients. Emergency room personnel also treated four firefighters, he said.

      San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane told MSNBC that emergency personnel expect the death toll to rise as they start morning search and rescue missions.

    Utility officials said a natural gas line ruptured in the vicinity of the blast, which left a giant crater and sent flames tearing across several suburban blocks in San Bruno just after 6 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET) Thursday.

    After the initial blast, flames reached as high as 100 feet as the fire fueled itself on burning homes, leaving some in total ruins and reducing parked automobiles to burned out shells. At least 120 homes also suffered serious damage.

    Blast shook fire station ‘to its foundation’

    Witnesses heard the explosion miles away and said it shot a fireball more than 1,000 feet in the air, sending frightened residents fleeing for safety and rushing to get belongings out of burning homes.

    “I thought a 747 had landed on us,” Fire Capt. Charlie Barringer told the Los Angeles Times. “It shook our station right to its foundation.”

    The fire had spread to 15 acres, Maldonado said, but firefighters have managed to contain 75 percent of the fires.

    Maldonado, who is the acting governor while Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is on a trade mission to Asia, declared a state of emergency in San Mateo County.

    Pacific Gas and Electric Co, which serves the San Francisco Bay area, said Friday morning a damaged section of a 30-inch steel gas pipeline had been isolated and gas flow had been stopped. About 300 customers were without gas service and about 700 without electricity at 4 a.m. (7 a.m. ET) Friday.

    “If it is ultimately determined that we were responsible for the cause of the incident, we will take accountability,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.

    The National Transportation Safety Board said Friday that it has sent a four-member team to San Bruno to investigate.

    Barringer, the fire captain, said flames engulfed the neighborhood by the time firefighters arrived, even though the fire station was only a few blocks away. He said the blast took out the entire water system, forcing firefighters to pump water from more than two miles away.

    “We were overwhelmed. We had multiple neighborhoods on fire,” he told the Times.
    ‘I don’t know where to go’

    Resident Connie Bushman returned home to find her block was on fire. She said she ran into her house looking for her 80-year-old father but could not find him. A firefighter told her he had left, but she had not been able to track him down.

    “I don’t know where my father is, I don’t know where my husband is, I don’t know where to go,” Bushman said.

    Resident Marla Shelmadine told NBC the explosions came down her street, destroying one house at a time in quick succession. She said she got out of her house with her pets, and did not know if her home was destroyed or not.

    Omar Naber and his mother, Lana Naber, told the San Francisco Chronicle they were in their home when the house shook violently.

    “I thought it was the biggest earthquake ever,” he told the paper.

    Naber described how he ran to his door and tried to open it, but the handle burned his hand. He then fled the house with his mother and as they ran to their car they could see the fireball. The intense heat burned hair off his arms, Naber said.

    Other neighbors told NBC they saw the street rip apart and ran for their lives from a huge wall of flames, with one man describing how he jumped into his car and drove through the blaze.

    The man, who was not identified, told NBC the explosion was followed by a hail of asphalt falling from the sky. His bumper was fried by the time he got to safety, but he was safe.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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  • Categories: US News Tags: ,

    US soldiers ‘killed Afghan civilians for sport and collected fingers as trophies’

    September 9, 2010 Leave a comment

    Soldiers face charges over secret ‘kill team’ which allegedly murdered at random and collected fingers as trophies of war

    Stryker soldiers who allegedly plotted to kill Afghan civilians.Andrew Holmes, Michael Wagnon, Jeremy Morlock and Adam Winfield are four of the five Stryker soldiers who face murder charges.

    Photograph: Public DomainTwelve American soldiers face charges over a secret “kill team” that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies. Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were allegedly killed for sport in separate attacks this year. Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses, including members of the unit smoking hashish stolen from civilians.

    In one of the most serious accusations of war crimes to emerge from the Afghan conflict, the killings are alleged to have been carried out by members of a Stryker infantry brigade based in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.

    According to investigators and legal documents, discussion of killing Afghan civilians began after the arrival of Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs at forward operating base Ramrod last November. Other soldiers told the army’s criminal investigation command that Gibbs boasted of the things he got away with while serving in Iraq and said how easy it would be to “toss a grenade at someone and kill them”. One soldier said he believed Gibbs was “feeling out the platoon”.

    Investigators said Gibbs, 25, hatched a plan with another soldier, Jeremy Morlock, 22, and other members of the unit to form a “kill team”. While on patrol over the following months they allegedly killed at least three Afghan civilians. According to the charge sheet, the first target was Gul Mudin, who was killed “by means of throwing a fragmentary grenade at him and shooting him with a rifle”, when the patrol entered the village of La Mohammed Kalay in January.

    Morlock and another soldier, Andrew Holmes, were on guard at the edge of a poppy field when Mudin emerged and stopped on the other side of a wall from the soldiers. Gibbs allegedly handed Morlock a grenade who armed it and dropped it over the wall next to the Afghan and dived for cover. Holmes, 19, then allegedly fired over the wall. Later in the day, Morlock is alleged to have told Holmes that the killing was for fun and threatened him if he told anyone.

    The second victim, Marach Agha, was shot and killed the following month. Gibbs is alleged to have shot him and placed a Kalashnikov next to the body to justify the killing. In May Mullah Adadhdad was killed after being shot and attacked with a grenade. The Army Times reported that a least one of the soldiers collected the fingers of the victims as souvenirs and that some of them posed for photographs with the bodies. Five soldiers – Gibbs, Morlock, Holmes, Michael Wagnon and Adam Winfield – are accused of murder and aggravated assault among other charges.

    All of the soldiers have denied the charges. They face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted. The killings came to light in May after the army began investigating a brutal assault on a soldier who told superiors that members of his unit were smoking hashish. The Army Times reported that members of the unit regularly smoked the drug on duty and sometimes stole it from civilians.

    The soldier, who was straight out of basic training and has not been named, said he witnessed the smoking of hashish and drinking of smuggled alcohol but initially did not report it out of loyalty to his comrades. But when he returned from an assignment at an army headquarters and discovered soldiers using the shipping container in which he was billeted to smoke hashish he reported it.

    Two days later members of his platoon, including Gibbs and Morlock, accused him of “snitching”, gave him a beating and told him to keep his mouth shut. The soldier reported the beating and threats to his officers and then told investigators what he knew of the “kill team”. Following the arrest of the original five accused in June, seven other soldiers were charged last month with attempting to cover up the killings and violent assault on the soldier who reported the smoking of hashish. The charges will be considered by a military grand jury later this month which will decide if there is enough evidence for a court martial.

    Army investigators say Morlock has admitted his involvement in the killings and given details about the role of others including Gibbs. But his lawyer, Michael Waddington, is seeking to have that confession suppressed because he says his client was interviewed while under the influence of prescription drugs taken for battlefield injuries and that he was also suffering from traumatic brain injury. “Our position is that his statements were incoherent, and taken while he was under a cocktail of drugs that shouldn’t have been mixed,” Waddington told the Seattle Times.

  • guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
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    America’s Grand Strategy: Militarizing Space

    September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

    September 8, 2010

    By Stephen Lendman

    On January 3, 2001, the UN General Assembly’s Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space Resolution A/55/32 said:


    “The exploration and use of outer space….shall be for peaceful purposes and be carried out for the benefit and in the interest of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development. (The) prevention of an arms race in outer space would avert a grave danger for international peace and security.”


    Over 140 nations agreed. Only two declined support, both abstaining – America and Israel.


    On August 9, 1996, in Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine, then Commander-in-Chief US Space Command, Joseph W. Ashy asserted:


    “It’s politically sensitive, but it’s going to happen. Some people don’t want to hear this, and it sure isn’t in vogue, but – absolutely – we’re going to fight in space. We’re going to fight from space and we’re going to fight into space. That’s why the US has development programs in directed energy and hit-to-kill mechanisms. We will engage terrestrial targets someday – ships, airplanes, land targets – from space.”


    On April 18, 2002, the Center for Defense Information’s Theresa Hitchens headlined, “Weapons in Space: Silver Bullet or Russian Roulette,” saying:



    Weaponizing space “could actually undermine, rather than enhance, (America’s) national security….There is nothing to be gained, and potentially much to be lost, by (pursuing) a momentous change in US space policy.”



    Co-founder and coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, Bruce Gagnon warned:

    “If the US is allowed to move the arms race into space, there will be no return. We have this one chance, this one moment in history, to stop the weaponization of space from happening. The peace movement must move quickly, boldly, and publicly,” what so far hasn’t happened, most people mindless to the danger.


    First revealed in the 1998 US Space Command document, Vision for 2020, it was later released in 2000 as DOD Joint Vision 2020 calling for “full spectrum dominance” over all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems with enough overwhelming power to wage and win global wars against any adversary, including with nuclear weapons preemptively, ultimately from space, America wanting unchallenged control.


    The Pentagon’s Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) plans an array of sophisticated weapons to achieve it, some operational, others being tested, and new ones under development for its Operations Plan (OPLAN) 8010-08 Strategic Deterrence and Global Strike use, the US Strategic Command’s (STRATCOM) Strategic War Plan.


    Since at least WW II, America’s strategy has been permanent war, a topic discussed earlier, accessed through the following link:


    click here


    On June 17, Space.com’s Jeremy Hsu headlined, “Air Force Sees Hypersonic Weapons and Spaceships in Future,” saying:



    “A recent (Air Force) scramjet test has hinted at a future where hypersonic vehicles,” traveling five times the speed of sound, fly around the world and in space, an “experimental X-51A Waverider,” achieving the longest ever Mach 5 flight on May 26, using a rocket booster and air-breathing scramjet.


    Charles Brink, head of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s X-51 program envisions future hypersonic weapons flying “600 nautical miles in 10 minutes,” including in space. NASA’s James Pittman, principal investigator of its hypersonics project, hopes to have “large vehicles for access to space using air-breathing propulsion.”


    Earlier X-43A hypersonic scramjet test flights reached Mach 6.8 in March 2004 and Mach 9.6 in November that year – about 7,000 MPH. The X-51A project uses a more sophisticated scramjet engine, but hasn’t yet matched or broken the X-43A’s record, nor can it reach orbit, a goal Boeing Phantom Works/Defense hypersonics director Joseph Vogel hopes to achieve in the next 15 – 20 years, saying he expects the technology will be able to fly missions not possible today, the X-51A showing early promise.

    In April, after years of development, the Air Force successfully launched the X-37B, its robot space shuttle, a reusable spacecraft traveling like an aircraft at Mach 5 – perhaps another future space weapon. Global Security.org’s John Pike told Space.com that projects like the X-37B may “represent the tip of a space weapons program hidden within the Pentagon’s secret ‘black budget,’ or they might be nothing more than smoke and mirrors,” intended to deceive America’s rivals, fueling a space arms race, hoping they’ll “waste money chasing down dead ends.”


    For its part, the Air Force denies wanting the X-37B for an orbital weapons delivery system or for surveillance. Others disagree, journalist Sharon Weinberger saying “the most daring job of a space plane, and the one least discussed, is (its) role (as) a bomber, (letting it) fly over targets within an hour of launch to release cone-shaped re-entry vehicles that would both protect and guide weapons through the atmosphere.”



    It would also be able to “carry 1000 or 2000-pound re-entry vehicles armed with precision munitions like bunker-busting penetrators or small-diameter bombs (including mini-nukes more powerful than the atom bombs destroying Hiroshima or Nagasaki), or simply use the explosive impact of kinetic rods cratering at hypersonic speeds to destroy targets.”



    On the other hand, the X37B’s main function may be a test platform, perhaps for developing even more destructive space weapons, part of America’s permanent war strategy, waging future ones from space, using technologies adversaries can’t match.


    OPLAN-08 – The Pentagon’s Strategic War Plan


    OPLAN 8010-08 is a “family of plans” against six or more potential adversaries, including Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Syria, and other “terrorist” states. In 2002, the Bush administration asserted the right to:


    “do whatever is necessary to deter the use of (undefined) weapons of mass destruction against the United States, its allies, and its interests. If a weapon of mass destruction is used against the United States or its allies, (or it such use is imminent or threatened), we will not rule out any specific type military response,” including first-strike nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states.


    Under Obama, the policy remains in force. His May National Security Strategy “reserve(s) he right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend our nation and our interests.” In other words, to wage preemptive wars, using first-strike nuclear weapons “to keep the American people safe (and advance the nation’s) values and ideals,” ones pursuing unchallenged global and space hegemony, ruling it by intimidation and war.

    OPLAN 8010-08 – Updating SIOP


    Unlike the Cold War’s Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP), OPLAN 8010-08 contains “more flexible options to assure allies, and dissuade, deter, and if necessary, defeat adversaries in a wider range of contingencies.” It includes conventional strike options, but it’s mostly nuclear, custom designed for each potential adversary.

    The nuclear options include the Emergency Response Options (ERO), Selective Attack Options (SAO), Basic Attack Options (BAO), and Directed/Adaptive Planning Capability (DPO/APO) options, specific details, of course, highly classified.

    Options range from limited ones to massive “shock and awe” strikes against many targets, by manned and drone aircraft, ICBMs, and from attack submarines and surface ships, using hundreds of strategically located warheads.
     
    The Pentagon’s National Target Base includes four categories – military forces, WMD infrastructure, military and national leadership, and war supporting infrastructure – a post Cold War strategy to deter all so-called WMDs, the Bush administration saying America: 
     has made it clear for many years that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force to the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States, our people, our forces and our friends and allies. Additionally, the United States will hold any state, terrorist group, or other non-state actor fully accountable for supporting or enabling terrorist efforts to obtain or use weapons of mass destruction, whether by facilitating, financing, or providing expertise or safe haven for such efforts.” 
    The policy remains unchanged under Obama, OPLAN 8010-08 for preventive or retaliatory “strategic deterrence” and preemptive “global strike.” STRATCOM describes the former as its “first line of operation….that includes nuclear force operations.” The latter expands national and theater operations globally, the terms Prompt Global Strike and Global Strike used interchangeably, whether with conventional or nuclear weapons, or if prompt or deliberate. 
    The Air Force’s nuclear/conventional command is called Global Strike Command, using America’s full attack capabilities to destroy targets, including WMDs preemptively, STRATCOM’s counterproliferation strategy designed to destroy all WMDs “before they can be used….(a) preemptive….counterforce….or offensively reactive” strategy. 
    While claiming to “put an end to Cold War thinking (by) reduc(ing) the role and number of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy,” Obama’s National Security Strategy puts old wine in new bottles, rebranding it to appear softer while keeping hardline policies in place, backed by a growing arsenal of globally positioned sophisticated weapons, asserting the right to use them preemptively against perceived threats. 
    During the Cold War, MAD (mutually assured destruction) held both sides at bay. Today’s strategy includes “more flexible options (for) a wider range of contingencies (with weapons) to optimize performance,” meaning destroy an adversary’s capabilities preemptively, then target another.
    With America on a nuclear hair-trigger, it’s reinvented MAD in new form, threatening potential global nuclear winter, defined as “a long period of darkness and extreme cold that scientists predict would follow a full-scale nuclear war, a layer of dust and smoke in the atmosphere cover(ing) the earth and block(ing) the rays of the sun, (causing) most living organisms (to) perish.”
     
    Anti-nuclear expert Helen Caldicott says “one single failure of nuclear deterrence could end human history (quickly). Once initiated, it would take one hour to trigger a swift, sudden end to life on this planet.” Only nuclear disarmament and abolition of nuclear weapons can stop it. 
    In their joint July 1955 Manifesto, Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell put the nuclear threat bluntly: 
    “Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war? (The) best authorities are unanimous that a war with H-bombs (or today’s arsenal) might possibly put an end to the human race.” For some, it will be instant, but “the majority (will experience) a slow torture of disease and disintegration.” It’s our choice. So far we’ve made it badly. 
    Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com 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.

     
    http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/. 

     

    Author’s Bio: I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.
     

    Original Content at http://www.opednews.com/articles/America-s-Grand-Strategy–by-Stephen-Lendman-100908-890.html
     


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    Explosion Rocks Honeywell Uranium Facility Run by Scab Workers

    September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

    Tuesday 07 September 2010

    by: Mike Elk  |  The Huffington Post | Report

    photo
    (Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: Jan Michael Ihl, TimScott, Angela Wolf)

    Union workers have been locked out at the uranium enrichment facility in Metropolis, Illinois for two months now after contract negotiations broke down over Honeywell’s demand that workers give up their retiree health care coverage and pension plans. The Metropolis uranium facility is the only one in the United States that can convert U308 into the extremely deadly UF6.

    Because the plant is the only conversion facility of its kind in the United States, familiarity with the Metropolis plant, and not just generic experience in the field, is essential to ensuring the plant’s safety. Concerns have been raised by local community members and union officials that replacement workers at the Honeywell facility cannot safely operate the plant since they have no site-specific experience in this type of conversion facility.

    Workers claim that Cote is far more interested in keeping his record profits high than actually protecting workers and the surrounding community. They believe that Honeywell CEO David Cote is willing to risk nuclear fallout in order to demand that uranium workers cut their retiree health care and pension plans.

    On Saturday, nuclear regulators allowed Honeywell to start up core production at the facility, where core production had been shut down for over two months due to concerns about the training of replacement workers. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission delayed reopening the plant for several days after questions were raised about the unusually high levels of uranium that were appearing in the urine tests of several nuclear workers.

    The following day, a hydrogen explosion rocked the plant. The blast shook the ground in front of the plant and could be heard a mile away, according to local reports. State Trooper Bridget Rice said that police were called to investigate to the scene of the explosion after receiving several phone calls reporting an explosion at the plant. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Roger Hannah also confirmed that there was indeed “a small hydrogen explosion that was very loud” at the Metropolis facility.

    The plant splits hydrofluoric acid into hydrogen and fluoride. The hydrogen then gets scrubbed and released into the atmosphere and fluorine goes into the process. If the hydrogen and fluorine recombine, it can be very reactive and cause a non-radioactive hydrogen explosion. On Saturday, hydrogen was accidentally recombined with fluorine causing a massive explosion that could be heard a mile away and leading to the plant being temporarily shut down.

    Honeywell Spokesman Peter Dapel released this statement: “There was a noise at Metropolis Works yesterday that occurred as a result of the normal venting of one of our systems…. The union workforce is very familiar with the procedure that caused yesterday’s noise, having executed similar processes on at least two occasions earlier this year prior to the work stoppage with the exact same outcomes. It is common to plants that work with fluorine, and characteristic of plants that are following correct procedures.”

    However, union spokesman John Paul Smith claims that the workers who worked at the plant for decades said very minor explosions had occurred, but no explosion of such a magnitude that it could be heard outside of the plant. State police also could not cite an incident where they had been called to the plant to investigate an explosion at the Metropolis facility that had been reported to them by local community members.

    Workers and local community members see this explosion as evidence that the quickly trained replacement workers are not qualified to operate the plant.

    Local union officials claim that the workers are not properly trained to work in the plant. In a statement released last week USW Local 7-699 claimed, “The Union workforce was required to have extensive on-the-job training on running units from qualified trainers for several months prior to being qualified. We have recently learned that several Fluorination workers were deemed ‘qualified’ by company personnel after one week of training. Furthermore, Union employees were required to have been a qualified operator for six months on a running unit before they were allowed to begin to train another employee. The company is currently training their own employees with people who themselves are not qualified.”

    Additional concerns have been raised about the safety records of the replacement workers at the Metropolis facility who are employed by the Shaw Group. In 2009, a subsidiary of the Shaw Group was made to pay $6.2 million to the federal government for forcing its workers not to report safety and site violations when working on nuclear plant sites in Alabama and Tennessee.

    Local community members are claiming that Honeywell is also not properly reporting safety violations at the nuclear facility in Metropolis. A recent report by Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) says Honeywell has failed to notify the NRC of 37 reportable unplanned, uranium contamination events at its Metropolis facility between January 2008 and January 2010.

    The Metropolis facility had previously been shut down after a release of deadly toxic UF6 gas in December of 2003, which hospitalized four community members and lead to evacuations of dozens of residents near the plant. This was only the second time in American history (the first being the infamous Three Mile Island disaster) where a site area emergency forced the evacuation of a community surrounding a nuclear power facility. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission at the time found that Honeywell “failed to implement some parts of its emergency response plan and did not provide sufficient information to local emergency responders”.

    The Environmental Protection Agency has also been very critical of the safety record of the uranium enrichment facility. According to the report by Sam Tranum of Uranium Intelligence Weekly, in May of 2009 the EPA listed the Metropolis facility as being “in significant noncompliance – a high priority violator” of the Clean Air Act and that the Metropolis facility had been in violation of the Clean Air Act for the nine months prior to that. Also, the EPA found that the Honeywell Metropolis uranium facility had been violating the Clean Water Act for about two years, but returned to compliance in December of 2009.

    A federal grand jury has been convened to look into criminal violations of federal environmental laws. Honeywell initially tried to cover up the grand jury investigation to local community and union members. However SEC reports forced the company to reveal they were under grand jury investigation. According to Sam Tranum of Uranium Intelligence Weekly:

    Details of the investigation are being kept under tight control by the relevant authorities, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), but the existence of a grand jury probe was confirmed by Honeywell International’s most recent 10Q filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission. It stated that the EPA and DOJ are investigating “whether the storage of certain sludges generated during uranium hexafluoride production at our Metropolis, Illinois facility has been in compliance with the requirements of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act [RCRA],” adding that, “The federal authorities have convened a grand jury in this matter.”

    Honeywell’s long history of safety violations, the poor training of replacement workers at the Metropolis facility, and Saturday’s hydrogen explosion, have lead local workers and community members to call on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to shut down production until the contract dispute can be resolved. “This just simply isn’t normal, what’s happening at the plant,” said union member John Paul Smith.

    Workers are also calling on President Obama to put pressure on his close economic adviser Honeywell CEO David Cote to settle the safety and contract issues at the plant. They are asking President Obama to remove David Cote from the President’s Deficit Commission if he does not resolve the safety and contract issues.

    Last week, the 350,000 members of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees called on President Obama to fire Cote from the so-called Deficit Commission. They released a statement saying:

    Mr. Cote’s cruel and calculated behavior towards workers at its hexafluoride plant in Metropolis, Ill. clearly illustrates that he’s unqualified and inappropriate to help decide issues such as whether to reduce the federal deficit by cutting programs like social security or by upgrading the faulty military contracting process, from which Honeywell benefits.

    Mr. Cote should be evicted from the so-called Deficit Commission immediately before he can use that position to harm all Americans the way he is injuring Honeywell workers in Illinois.

    Follow Mike Elk on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MikeElk

    Mike Elk is a labor journalist based in Washington, D.C. Mike Elk is a third-generation union organizer who has worked for the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers, the Campaign for America’s Future, and the Obama-Biden campaign. Also, Mike conducted research on barriers to communication between middle class and working class activists at the Instituto Marques de Salamanca in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN, Fox News, and NPR, and writes frequently for In These Times, Huffington Post, Alternet, and Truthout. When Mike is not reading twenty blogs at a time, he enjoys golden retrievers, crab bakes and playing horseshoes.

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