U.S. and Israel say no to international investigation into Gaza flotilla attack

By Saeed Shabazz -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Jun 27, 2010 - 9:31:12 PM

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UNITED NATIONS ( - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon continues to insist that there be an international investigation into the May 31 Israeli attack against a nine-ship humanitarian aid ‘Gaza Freedom Flotilla' despite Israel's announcement on June 14 of an internal probe.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
The Israeli cabinet approved a three-man Israeli-led commission with two international observers: one from Canada and one from Northern Ireland, to examine Israel's role in the attack that killed nine humanitarian activists.

Graphic: Harold Muhammad/MGN Online
A spokesman for the secretary-general told reporters on June 14 that Mr. Ban had taken note of the Israeli announcement, but his proposal for an international inquiry “remains on the table.” Observers say that Mr. Ban's position is indicative of his doubt that an Israeli-led probe would be impartial. There have been discussions in the UN corridors that the secretary-general had been lobbying the Israelis to accept an international panel led by a former New Zealand Prime Minister.

While the UN may harbor doubts concerning Israeli impartiality in such a probe, the U.S. White House lauded the Israeli effort. The White House announced the day before the Israeli cabinet special session that it welcomed the Israeli call for a prompt and impartial probe of the incident.

“We believe that Israel, like any other nation, should be allowed to undertake an investigation into events that involve its national security,” the White House said in a statement. “We will not prejudge the process or its outcome, and will await the findings of the investigation before drawing further conclusions,” stated the White House.

A U.S. State Department spokesman told reporters during a briefing on June 14: “Certainly, as a government, Israel has the institutions and certainly the capability to conduct a credible, impartial and transparent investigation.”

The White House may be satisfied with the Israeli probe, but human rights organizations say the probe falls short of meeting international standards for impartiality as the proposed panel includes only two foreign observers, who will have no say on the proceedings, or on the conclusions of the Israeli commission.

“The format of this government-appointed commission represents a disappointment and a missed opportunity,” stated Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and Africa, Malcolm Smart in a press release. “The commission looks to be neither independent nor sufficiently transparent, and the two international observers may be denied access to crucial information, and the findings may not be used in future prosecutions,” he added.

Human Rights Watch said: “The Israeli government has undermined the credibility of the appointed panel to investigate its military's deadly attack on the ‘Gaza Aid Flotilla' by preventing it from questioning Israeli soldiers or compelling the military from providing evidence.”

In the meantime, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuloglu said his government would insist on an international commission, according to Reuters. “If an international commission is not set up and Turkey's rightful demands are ignored, Turkey has the right to review its relations with Israel,” the foreign minister said.

Turkey is a member of the 15-nation UN Security Council that endorsed a “Presidential Statement” on June 1 condemning the attacks that led to the nine deaths, all were Turkish nationals, calling for a “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation.”

It is being reported that port workers in Sweden have announced a boycott of Israeli ships, which follows the growing public fury in different European cities as well as Australia.

“A thorough investigation of the incident and the lifting of the siege against civilians in Gaza are essential steps. If Israel is to break out of the international siege and strategic catastrophe it now faces, it urgently needs a different policy,” stated an editorial in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on June 7.

Israeli officials since the May 31 attack have been denying that their three-year-old blockade against the Gaza Strip has affected its 1.5 million inhabitants. A UN report released on June 10 stated that the economic situation in Gaza remains “precarious.”

“The longer the closure continues, the more it undermines future prospects of workers and their families, in particular the younger generation,” states the International Labor Organization report. The ILO says that the unemployment rate in Gaza is nearly 40 percent, which is the highest in the world.


Should America Pay Reparations?

By Toure Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Jun 27, 2010 - 7:12:49 PM

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Activists, scholars: U.S. can’t avoid responsibility for slavery


‘People were scared to have the discussion on reparations over the last year and half because they said we have a Black president and should not be discussing it. I want to thank Henry Louis Gates for his opinion editorial, published in the New York Times, because he actually is helping us reenergize the discussion on reparations.’
—Dr. Conrad Worrill

CHICAGO ( - Although they believe Henry Louis Gates Jr. trivializes a most heinous crime against humanity—the European enslavement of African people—advocates say he has become an unwitting ally to the reparations movement.

Dr. Conrad Worrill took “strong exception” to the April 23, 2010 opinion piece, “Ending the Slavery Blame-Game,” by Mr. Gates, a Harvard professor, due to “gross errors, inaccuracies and misrepresentations in Mr. Gates' presentation of the trans-Atlantic European enslavement system.” Still the director of the Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies thanked Gates for bringing reparations back into public debate.

Dr. Worrill, and the National Black United Front hosted a community forum held in Chicago June 18 to discuss the resurgence of the reparations movement, fueled by reaction to the Gates' commentary.

“People were scared to have the discussion on reparations over the last year and half because they said we have a Black president and should not be discussing it,” said Dr. Worrill. “I want to thank Henry Louis Gates for his opinion editorial, published in the New York Times, because he actually is helping us reenergize the discussion on reparations.”

Reparations is defined as the making of amends for wrong or injury done. Advocates argue that reparations is a process of repairing, healing and restoring a people injured because of their group identity and in violation of their fundamental human rights by governments or corporations.

Dr. Raymond Winbush, director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University and author of “Should America Pay?” and “Belinda's Petition: A Concise History of Reparations for the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade” led the community forum discussion, titled “Revitalizing the Reparations Movement & a Critique of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s ‘Ending the Slavery Blame Game.' ”

After giving some historical context, Dr. Winbush began to address the main point of the Gates article which “contradicts his stated purpose of ending what he refers to as a blame-game, by erroneously making African rulers and elites equally responsible with European and American enslavers.”

In his article, Mr. Gates said that “most vexing is how to parcel out blame to those directly involved in the capture and sale of human beings for immense economic gain. While we are all familiar with the role played by the United States and the European colonial powers like Britain, France, Holland, Portugal and Spain, there is very little discussion of the role Africans themselves played. And that role, it turns out, was a considerable one, especially for the slave-trading kingdoms of western and central Africa.”

Mr. Gates shifts the “blame” in a clear attempt to undermine the demand for reparations, Dr. Winbush explained. Despite Gates' assertion, scholars of African history and reparations activists acknowledge the collaboration of some African rulers, elites, merchants and middlemen in the slave trade. Indeed, “collaboration accompanies oppression as a continuing fact of history,” said Dr. Winbush.

But collaborators were part of two other major Holocausts: the Jewish Holocaust and the Native American Holocaust. The Jewish Holocaust had its Judenräte, Jewish councils which chose Jews for enslaved labor and for the death camps and facilitated their transport to them, as well as its “kapos,” Jewish camp overseers, who brutalized their fellow prisoners along with Nazi guards. In the Native American Holocaust, there were Native Americans who fought alongside Whites to defeat, dispossess and dominate other Native Americans.

Such collaboration in oppression is not unique to Africa and Africans, said the scholars.

“Yet Gates, ignoring the historical record, merges three distinct groups involved in the Holocaust of enslavement: perpetrators, collaborators and victims,” said Dr. Winbush.

Reparation advocates say the facts are that White Europeans and North Americans initiated the Atlantic slave trade and profited most from it. How much did they profit? Harper's Magazine estimated the total of reparations for slavery due is over $100 trillion, based on 222.5 million hours of forced labor between 1619 and 1865, with a compounded interest of 6 percent.

The call for reparations is also not a new one. In Dr. Winbush's book, “Belinda's Petition,” he gives the account of a captured female African who petitioned the court of Massachusetts asking that her former slave master pay her for 30-plus years of free and forced labor. In 1783, Belinda requested an income from the estate of her former owner, Isaac Royall. The Massachusetts House and Senate awarded Belinda “15 Pounds, 12 Shillings” per year. The “pension” awarded to Belinda may be one of the first cases of reparation for slavery and the slave trade, according to the Winbush book.

Another monumental call for reparations was declared in the Honorable Elijah Muhammad's 10-point answer to one of the most frequently asked questions directed at him: What the Muslims Want. His answers can be found on page 39 of every Final Call or in his monumental book “Message to the Blackman.”

Point number four detailed some of his demand: “We want our people in America whose parents or grandparents were descendants from slaves, to be allowed to establish a separate state or territory of their own—either on this continent or elsewhere. We believe that our former slave-masters are obligated to provide such land and that the area must be fertile and minerally rich. We believe that our former slave-masters are obligated to maintain and supply our needs in this separate territory for the next 20 or 25 years until we are able to produce and supply our own needs.

“Since we cannot get along with them in peace and equality after giving them 400 years of our sweat and blood and receiving in return some of the worst treatment human beings have ever experienced, we believe our contributions to this land and the suffering forced upon us by White America justifies, our demand for complete separation in a state or territory of our own.”

The reparations movement has also been waged in the political arena. In January 1989, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) first introduced H.R. 40, the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act. He has reintroduced H.R. 40 at every congressional session since that year.

Rep. Conyers proposed legislation does four things: (1) acknowledges the fundamental injustice and inhumanity of slavery; (2) establishes a commission to study slavery and its subsequent racial and economic discrimination against freed slaves; (3) studies the impact of those forces on today's living Black Americans; and (4) would allow the commission to make recommendations to Congress on appropriate remedies to redress the harm inflicted on living Black descendants.

During the forum, Dr. Winbush outlined four steps to true racial reconciliation.

“First, the nation committing a crime against humanity must formally apologize to its victims; secondly, the nation must then conduct an investigation and accounting for the impact of the crime against humanity; thirdly, international law, such as United Nations recognizes that whenever crimes against humanity have occurred, compensatory measures must be made by the nations that committed the crimes; and finally the optional step is prosecution of the wrongdoers. This decision is made by the victims; however, an international court of law may prosecute regardless of victims' desire,” said Dr. Winbush.

Another critique of the Gates opinion piece, as highlighted by Dr. Worrill, is that the reparations debate includes much more than reparations for the trans-Atlantic slave trade and hundreds of years of chattel slavery. “There are 18 reasons for reparations. We seek reparations because of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, 400 years of our labor, slave codes laws, destruction of the African family, raping of African women, fugitive slave laws, colonization of our African culture, KKK lynchings, the 13 and 14th Amendments—they didn't ask the captured Africans if we wanted to be citizens—denied 40 acres and a mule, Jim Crow laws, forcing us to fight in imperialist wars, the assassination of Black leaders, COINTELPRO, the crack cocaine epidemic, criminalizing our young people, jailing our freedom fighters, and centuries of miseducation and mental atrocities,” said Dr. Worrill.

As the reparations movement finds resurgence, the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, known as N'COBRA, is hosting its 21st annual conference in New Orleans June 25-27. N'COBRA is a mass-based coalition organized for the sole purpose of obtaining reparations for African descendants in the United States. Since its inception N'COBRA has embraced public education, mobilization, and organization to obtain reparations. The conference theme is “United Voices for Reparations.”

As N'COBRA continues to support the House version of the reparations bill, the group is pushing U.S. Senator Roland Burris, a Democrat from Illinois, because he is a “proponent of reparations, an Afro-descendant” to sponsor a Senate version as well.

(For more info on the conference or the desired Senate bill, go to


Brutal racial attacks on Blacks are on the increase in America's post-racial era

By Jesse Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Jun 17, 2010 - 3:57:53 PM

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A group of people look at the dead body of 32-year-old Rubin Stacy hanging from a branch of a pine tree, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., USA, July 19, 1935. Stacy was forcefully kidnapped from the custody of the deputy by a masked mob resorting to lynch law. Stacy was accused of having attacked a White woman. Photo: AP/Wide World Photos
( - Anthony Hill is the latest victim in an on-going pattern of modern day lynchings against Blacks in the United States, say activists.

According to South Carolina authorities in Newberry County, Mr. Hill was shot in the head, tied up and dragged several miles by a White male in early June. In another incident, a young Black woman in Beaumont was also allegedly beaten to death then tied to the rear of a truck and dragged.

These horrendous incidents seem similar to the murder of James Byrd, Jr., who was killed in 1998 in Jasper, Texas. The 49-year-old Black man was chained to the rear of a truck and dragged along a rural road.

“The dragging death of Anthony Hill is a sadistic and brutal hate crime and Gregory Collins should be charged and tried with a federal hate crime and not merely in state county court,” said Attorney Malik Zulu Shabazz of the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

The group along with Black Lawyers for Justice, county community leaders, and residents held a press conference on June 10 outside the Newberry County Magistrate Building to demand justice.

They are calling for a national march against hate crimes on June 26 at the county building.

With police between them, White supremacists hold up a Nazi flag and yell at protesters marching on the town square in Paris, Texas, July 21, 2009. The conflict began with a march through downtown by about 100 Black activists who were protesting the state's handling of the case of a Black man who was run over and dragged by a vehicle. Photos: AP/Wide World Photos
“As in the James Byrd case in 1998 in Jasper, Texas, the use of ropes to tie a Black man up and drag him behind a pickup truck until he is just blood and bones is clearly a modern day lynching used to not only murder the immediate victim, but also spread fear amongst the wider Black population and society,” said Attorney Shabazz.

“That is awful what happened in South Carolina and it just continues. I know firsthand that America has not progressed racially because whenever hate crimes are done to Blacks, the murderer goes free. But if a Black man is the one committing the crime it's a different outcome in the courtroom,” Jacqueline McClelland told The Final Call. She says she lost her son, Brandon McCelland, to a similar dragging in Paris, Texas in 2008.

Greg Collins, who is White, has been arrested for allegedly tying up Mr. Hill around his torso and neck and dragging him 10 miles after first shooting him in the head.

According to Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster, agents discovered dozens of weapons inside Mr. Collins' rented mobile home. Mr. Collins is charged with murder and the case is being investigated by the FBI as a possible hate crime.

“We don't yet have a definitive motive for all this. We don't want to attribute something to Collins that isn't necessarily true,” said Reggie Lloyd, who directs South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division.

“But out of precaution, given the circumstances, we are investigating the racial angle,” said Mr. Lloyd.

According to the 2008 FBI Hate Crimes report, over 2,100 agencies reported 7,783 hate crime incidents involving 9,168 offenses, with 4,704 offenses racially motivated. Of these offenses, 72.6 percent were motivated by anti-Black bias, 64.0 percent were due to anti-Hispanic bias because of nationality, and 17.3 percent stemmed from anti-White bias.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (formerly the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009)was signed into law on October 28, 2009 by President Barack Obama but Ms. McClelland only sees it as a piece of paper that does not serve justice for the poor and Blacks.

“What the president needs to do is conduct a thorough investigation into the files and practices of these courthouses. They are rotten and corrupted. It seems like if you don't have a lot of money you can't fight. This is still going on 12 years after James Bryd,” said Ms. McClelland.

The act authorizes the federal government to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated crimes based on the victim's actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. The bill also gives the federal government jurisdiction over prosecuting hate crimes in states where the current law is inadequate or when local authorities are unwilling or do not have the resources to do so themselves.

“Since President Obama has been elected there has been a noted spike in hate crimes and racist acts toward Blacks, Mexicans and Hispanics. We call on President Barack Obama to stand up and deal with the reality that this has not become a ‘post-racial society.' In fact things are getting worse. With the rise of the Tea Party and other Confederates, demanding to ‘take their country back' certain aspects of society have become even more polarized and extremely dangerous,” said Attorney Shabazz.

A consistent pattern of hate against Blacks

Mr. Hill's mutilated body was found around 4:30 a.m. on June 3 on Highway 176 near an elementary school, according to news reports. Sheriff's deputies followed a trail of blood from Mr. Hill's body back to Mr. Collins' mobile home. Mr. Collins refused to surrender until tear gas was thrown inside forcing him to come out, said authorities.

On June 5, the Orange County Sheriff's office in Beaumont, Texas reported that 35-year-old White male William Baker Bibb confessed to killing 26-year-old Theresa Ardoin, who was Black. An autopsy was performed on Ms. Ardoin and the cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma. Then Mr. Bibb allegedly dragged her body a quarter of a mile behind his pickup truck.

The Orange County authorities say Mr. Bibb and Ms. Ardoin were in a relationship and were allegedly going for a ride to a nearby sandpit to “possibly do some drugs, have sex.” Authorities have said there is no evidence that the incident is a hate crime.

These two deaths came within days of the 12th anniversary of the murder of James Byrd, Jr., who lost his life on June 7, 1998.

Three White males wrapped a heavy chain around Mr. Byrd's ankles, connected the chain to a pickup truck, and then dragged him for several miles. The dragging resulted in Mr. Byrd losing his arms and his head. They eventually dumped the mutilated remains in front of a cemetery and then went to enjoy some barbecue. The three suspects were convicted, which marked the first time in Texas history that White men were found guilty of murdering a Black man. Today, two of the convicted murderers are on death row, while the third is serving a life sentence.

Mr. Hill and Mr. Collins were co-workers at a chicken processing plant in Newberry County and were hanging out together at Mr. Collins' mobile home the night before. Some might consider them friends, but Ms. McClelland says people should be wary of the term friends. “That's one of the reasons why the murderers of my son got off,” she said.

In September 2008, Brandon McClelland was dragged nearly 70 feet down a county road in Paris, Texas. Two White males, one of whom was allegedly a close friend, were accused of the crime. Last year, all of the charges against Shannon Finley and Charles Crostley were dropped. Ms. McClelland says she is still suffering strokes since losing her only son.

“By them calling those murderers my son's friend, it helped the case of the defense. But friends don't kill friends. This loss still hurts and I still don't know fully what happened to my son because the courts only give me the run around. All of a sudden certain papers related to the case are missing. This system is messed up!” said Ms. McClelland.

In their 2009 report, Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund notes that “despite the election of our nation's first African-American president, African Americans remain by far the most frequent victims of hate crimes.”

The civil rights group's research found that of 7,624 hate crime incidents reported nationwide in 2007, 34 percent (2,659) were perpetrated against Blacks.

“From lynching, to burning crosses and churches, to murdering a man by chaining him to a truck and dragging him down a road for three miles, anti-Black violence has been and still remains the prototypical hate crime, intended not only to injure and kill individuals but to terrorize an entire group of people. Hate crimes against African Americans have an especially negative impact upon society for the history they recall and perpetuate, potentially intimidating not only African Americans, but other minority, ethnic, and religious groups,” the report states.

Related news:

Desperate and Insecure, Whites see country slipping away (FCN, 09-15-2009)

FCN Editorial: A prophetic warning and White anger in America (FCN, 09-15-2009)

Final victory over race hatred elusive (FCN, 07-03-2009)

Obama candidacy exposes race hatred in America (FCN, 11-10-2008)

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Activists want ex-cop accused of torture jailed and police torture outlawed

By La Risa R. Lynch -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Jun 12, 2010 - 1:28:43 PM

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CHICAGO ( - Freed in 2007 from jail after 23 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit, Chicago native Darrell Cannon is not happy.

Mr. Cannon, 59, felt justice slipped through his fingers when federal prosecutors announced in 2008 that a former Chicago police commander who allegedly created a torture chamber at Area Two and Area Three police districts on Chicago's south side was being charged with lying.

Former police commander Jon Burge would not face charges for his alleged role in having two city police officers place a shotgun in Mr. Cannon's mouth, pulling the trigger three times in a mock-execution.

Mr. Burge would not face charges for his alleged part in having officers cattle prod a then-32-year-old Cannon in the genitals while in the backseat of a police car. Mr. Burge would not face charges for other alleged acts of brutality, including smothering suspected murders with a typewriter cover, burning some on a hot radiator or just simply beating confessions out of men held in police custody.

Dardy Tillis of Chicago participates in a rally outside Chicago's City Hall against alleged police brutality and torture under retired Chicago Commander Jon Burge May 24, in Chicago. Jury selection was beginning in Mr. Burge's federal trial where he is accused of lying about the long-ago torture of suspects. Photo: AP/WideWorldPhotos
Mr. Cannon's coerced confession got him a life sentence in connection with a 1983 murder. Mr. Cannon, who was a member of the El Rukn street gang, admits he drove the getaway car, but he contends he had no part in the killing.

During his murder trial, Mr. Cannon testified about his torture, but his claims were dismissed as desperate fabrications. The courts equally rejected similar claims from other Burge torture victims. In all, Mr. Burge and his underlings allegedly tortured 110 men from the 1980s until the police department fired him in 1993.

For Mr. Cannon, Mr. Burge's perjury trial is a slap in the face.

“I'm not happy about it,” said Mr. Cannon who believes Mr. Burge is getting off with a wrist slap. “I'm not enjoyed with Burge going on trial for anything of this magnitude. It should have been greater and should have been long before now. I hope people don't get complacent, thinking that this is the beginning of the end, because it is not.”

Mr. Burge faces two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury after testifying he did not use or know about the use of torture during a 2003 civil rights violation case. If convicted he faces 45 years in prison.

Justice, Mr. Cannon contends, won't be served until other detectives under Mr. Burge directly involved in the torture are indicted. Those include Mr. Cannon's alleged torturers, former officers John Byrne and Peter Dignan who both have been accused of torture and abuse in 13 other cases.


‘In the state of Illinois, there is no statute that criminalizes acts of torture by police officers. It is noteworthy, however, that there is legislation that criminalizes the torture of animals. We think there should be such legislation when law enforcement officials abuse their badge and torture individuals in their custody.’
—Joey L. Mogul,
ICAT member and an attorney for the People's Law Office.

“Until they're indicted, until Burge is convicted and hearings are held for the 23 men still rotting away in prison (based on coerced confessions)… I can't feel happy,” said Mr. Cannon, who works with CeaseFire, a violence prevention program in Chicago.

Mr. Cannon has a pending suit against Mr. Burge and Mayor Richard M. Daley in his torture case. Mayor Daley was then the Cook County state's attorney when allegation of police torture first surfaced.

Making police torture a crime

Grassroots community activists who toiled for years to expose the Chicago Police Department's dirty little secret also contend Mr. Burge's perjury trial falls short of justice. They are seeking tougher measures. They want to make torture by law enforcement officials a crime in the U.S.

The Illinois Coalition Against Torture, a broad coalition of community groups, are pushing city, state and federal officials to enact laws that criminalize police torture. ICAT also wants laws to remove statutes of limitation that prevent police torture victims from filing criminal charges. Mr. Burge is not facing more serious charges because the statute of limitation ran out.

The group also wants new trials for 23 men wrongfully convicted based on coerced confessions. They contend using those confessions violate state and federal laws.

“In the state of Illinois, there is no statute that criminalizes acts of torture by police officers,” said Joey L. Mogul, an ICAT member and an attorney for the People's Law Office. The People's Law has been a stalwart in investigating and representing police torture victims.

“It is noteworthy, however, that there is legislation that criminalizes the torture of animals,” she added. “We think there should be such legislation when law enforcement officials abuse their badge and torture individuals in their custody.”

Anti-police torture advocates hope legislation Congressman Danny K. Davis is drafting will give torture victims the redress needed to bring their abusers to justice. However, it is too late for Burge victims since the proposed legislation is not retroactive.

Rep. Davis's legislation would make torture by law enforcement a federal crime not bound by a statute of limitation. The legislation uses the United Nations' definition of torture to set a standard on what constitutes torture. The UN defines torture as any intentional infliction of severe physical or mental pain.

While there are laws protecting individuals' civil and human rights, there are no laws — state or federal — against police torture, Mr. Cannon's lawyer Flint Taylor explained.

Laws do not differentiate between a police officer punching someone or “electro-shocking some person to an inch of his life,” said Atty. Taylor, also with the People' s Law Office.

He explained both crimes under state law are considered battery and have the same statute of limitation of three years. Torture, as a federal offense, would be a violation of someone's constitutional rights, Atty. Taylor added.

“What we are trying to do here is have federal and state governments recognize torture by police as a more serious crime,” he explained. “The crime of torture should be treated quantitatively different in terms of punishment and in terms of statute of limitation.”

Mr. Burge got away with torture because he covered it for so long, while Mayor Daley, who was the prosecutor at that time, did not prosecute despite mounting evidence that surfaced that torture under Mr. Burge's command was systemic, Mr. Taylor added.

“If Burge had not come forward in a lawsuit and lied about torturing people, he wouldn't be charged at all,” he said.

Mr. Burge's perjury trial was precipitated by a civil rights case against him and several police officers brought by former Illinois death row inmates, including Madison Hobley, who were pardoned by then Gov. George Ryan. Mr. Hobley, also an alleged Burge torture victim, was on death row for a 1987 arson that killed his wife, child and several others.

Removing the statute of limitation would be a deterrent to future Burges said attorney Standish Willis, founder of Black People Against Police Torture. His group also has worked tirelessly to expose police torture and police brutality.

“I think that it will always be a deterrent because then we would start pressing local officials to prosecute under that law, and they can't get away by saying, ‘Well, it is too late. We can't do anything,' ” he said.

Mr. Cannon also believes torture should merit the same credence as arson or treason, which have no statute of limitation.

“There should never ever be a statue of limitation on torture,” added Mr. Cannon, who said adjusting to life after prison was difficult. “It has been very trying, but I have finally adjusted to being back in the free world again.”

A movement for justice

Efforts to create a police torture law and bring Mr. Burge to some semblance of justice grew out of grassroots activism among progressive Whites and Blacks working together to expose police torture.

A 1989 civil rights case brought by a cop killer sparked the groups' convergence. Andrew Wilson was charged with shooting two gang crimes detectives in 1982. His confession, however, was coerced. Atty. Taylor's law office represented Mr. Wilson who testified that Mr. Burge electroshocked his ears with a hand-cranked electric device and burned him on a radiator.

That testimony prompted a police department investigation while a diverse group of community activists began demanding Mr. Burge's firing. Activists soon began to rallying behind other alleged Burge victims, known as the Death Row Ten.

While progressive Whites in the legal community galvanized around the issue, the Black community was slow to catch on even though Mr. Burge's alleged victims were predominately Black.

Atty. Willis noted there was no sustained organizing movement within the Black community around police torture until he created his group in 2005. Additionally, police torture was not on the agendas of the city's leading civil rights agencies, like PUSH, NAACP or the Chicago Urban League.

“Periodically something would come up, and they would speak out, but none of them had sustained programs or organizations dealing with police violence,” Mr. Willis said, noting that even fewer Black attorneys dealt with civil rights work.

The absence of Black involvement didn't mean they were not concern, Mr. Willis explained. There just was no vehicle to mobilize them, he said. His group gave Blacks a way to get involved and raised issues not considered by other groups.

His group was the first to call for reparations for Mr. Burge's alleged victims and cited Chicago's own human right violation with the Burge case as reason not to bring the 2016 Olympics here.

“You need a Black political organization that has the ability and understands the importance of being able to coalesce with other groups … when we think it is appropriate,” he said.

The momentum further gained steam when the human rights and the anti-death penalty movements joined forces. Together, they successfully pressured Gov. Ryan to impose a moratorium on state executions in the late 1990s. He later emptied death row in 2003 after compelling evidence showed several men may have been put there because of Mr. Burge's alleged interrogation tactics.

“The two groups came together in common fight … because there were men who were tortured on death row so it became a unified struggle,” Atty. Taylor explained.

Gov. Ryan commuted death row prisoners to life sentences and pardoned four men—Mr. Hobley, Aaron Patterson, Leroy Orange and Stanley Howard—based on innocence because they were tortured into making false confessions. They won a $19.1 million settlement in their civil rights case.

“That was another victory for the grassroots movement,” Atty. Taylor said.

But the victory was bittersweet. The special prosecutor activists urged to be appointed to bring charges against Mr. Burge refused. The special prosecutor, then Cook County States Attorney Richard Devine, had ties with the Daley administration.

“He spent fours year investigating and refused to bring any indictments, refused to recognize the racist aspect of the torture and refused to call it systematic,” Atty. Taylor said.

“The grassroots movement was outraged that this special prosecutor who was so closely connected to the Daley machine and to the police had written a whitewashed report,” he added.

Undaunted activists wrote a shadow report outlining the extent of alleged Burge and police department crimes. Nearly 200 community groups signed onto the report, which demanded hearings at the city, county and federal level. Eventually that lead to the U.S. attorney indicting Mr. Burge in 2008 and investigating others under his command.

The movement's efforts garnered international attention, when activists presented their findings in 2006 to the UN's committee against torture. The UN's rebuke was resounding.

“The United Nations in their report talked about Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and Chicago,” Atty. Willis said. “I think that was enough to push the justice department to say, ‘Look! What's going in Chicago? Take care of this.' Right after that Burge is prosecuted.”

Atty. Taylor called the journey to get Mr. Burge indicted an uphill battle that many felt wouldn't see the day Mr. Burge got fired, let alone indicted or even some of his victims pardoned.

“These are uphill battles that would not have been able to be accomplished without a combination of the legal and the activist movement,” he said.

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Critics blast U.S. for, support of Israel after deadly attack on aid convoy to Gaza

By Ashahed M. Muhammad -Asst. Editor- | Last updated: Jun 10, 2010 - 6:31:52 PM

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The Mavi Marmara, the largest ship in the Freedom Flotilla convoy that was attacked by Israeli naval commandoes on May 31. (Photo:

CHICAGO ( - Less than a week after a Gaza bound aid-convoy, the Freedom Flotilla, was raided by Israeli naval commandoes resulting in the death of several humanitarian workers, including one American, another international standoff looms as another ship headed to the region.

That ship departed Ireland and was seized by Israel on June 5.

Protesters rallied outside of the Israeli consulate in downtown Chicago on June 1. Photo: Ashahed M. Muhammad
The Freedom Flotilla consisted of a fleet of nine ships sponsored by several aid organizations. The sea-bound convoy originated in Turkey.

A week of angry protests and demonstrations across the globe have many analysts wondering if the international condemnation is enough to bring an end to the Israeli blockade which prevents the delivery of essential goods to the suffering people of Gaza.

“I think there is a sickness in this country that prevents us from having an honest conversation about Israel,” said author and prominent Palestinian activist Ali Abunimah standing just outside of the Israeli Consulate in downtown Chicago after a rally on June 1 that drew thousands. “Those who do want to talk about it are demonized and attacked, called radicals or terrorists. People who just want to have an honest conversation about innocent people being killed,” he told The Final Call.

Mr. Abunimah said the passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara—the largest ship of the convoy attacked on May 31—were justified in defending themselves given the fact that the raid took place in the pre-dawn hours of the morning. According to organizers for the Freedom Flotilla, over 10,000 tons of valuable materials were on board making it an enticing target for pirates.

“There was a movie about Flight 93 and people were defending themselves against hijackers,” he said. “If there were Americans on those ships and they had been hijacked by Iranians or someone else and behaved the same way, we would be calling them heroes. We would be making movies about them.”

U.S. aid to Israel questioned

Important questions are being raised regarding the amount of aid given to Israel despite the stringent belt-tightening measures encouraged by the Obama administration during a time when states across America are experiencing severe financial challenges.

“If Israel is threatened by unarmed, humanitarian activists to the point of massacring them, then Israel is a failed state,” wrote former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney in an Op-Ed that appeared on internet blogs and news sites worldwide.

“U.S. President Barack Obama's most recent granting of an additional $205 million for Israeli ‘missile defense' is unconscionable, when in the same week, reports revealed for the first time, Israel's offer of nuclear weapons to apartheid South Africa,” she added.

According to statistics provided by the advocacy group, American Muslims for Palestine taken from the CSR Report for Congress titled “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” in the fiscal year 2008, the U.S. gave Israel $2.4 billion in foreign military funds, $40 million was given to Israel to help 11,500 Jewish immigrants move to Israel to settle there. The amount of U.S. military aid to Israel will be increased incrementally from August 2007 to 2018 by a total of $6 billion, meaning there are already budget provisions made for aid to Israel for the next 7 or 8 years.

A report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said 46 states have or are facing large budget shortfalls. In fact, financial analysts with the center estimate that states will have to deal with total budget shortfalls of nearly $260 billion for 2011 and 2012.

California, the most populous state in the U.S. recently faced insolvency almost declaring bankruptcy, and the city of Detroit, formerly an economic powerhouse sustained by a strong American auto industry, faces the possibility of a nearly $460 million deficit to its $1.6 billion budget. This would result in the city possibly falling into state receivership with the threat of bankruptcy looming.

Federal aid provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has almost run out, and critics claim much of the money failed to reach urban areas in terrible need of development. Municipal governments are using every idea possible to generate funds—most often opting for tax increases—and state budgets are stretched, yet, the federal government seemingly has no problem consistently delivering billions of dollars in aid to Israel.

Demonstrator dressed as Grim Reaper participates in protest against Israeli policy. Photo: Askia Muhammad
Thaer Ahmad, 21, believes the money is being improperly used. He was supposed to be a traveler on the Freedom Flotilla aid convoy attacked on May 31, however, he broke his ankle, which prevented him from going. He said he was kind of naïve and lacked a full grasp of what was going on in Gaza until he visited the region in the summer of 2009.

“I know all the numbers, I have all the statistics, but do we know how they feel? Do we look into their eyes when they are hungry? Do we look into their eyes when they need the wheelchairs and they are limping on an amputated foot?” he asked. “Seeing that really got me shook. I wanted to come back and do anything I could to help them out.”

Mr. Ahmad said after his second visit to the region in December of 2009, he reached the conclusion that the American politicians were being dishonest in their treatment of the Palestinians, and ignoring those experiencing discrimination in America.

With the federal debt hovering at around $13 trillion and growing, and unemployment rates for Blacks nearly double the national average, he believes the money can be used better elsewhere.

“After coming back, I had to figure out what was going on, and I began to realize that the politicians in this country are not dumb, they are not stupid. There are people in their pockets. They are the ones who know what is going on. They have exact details and they are being paid to shut up. They are being paid to be quiet.”

Mr. Ahmad, invoking the name and memory of Malcolm X, said what happens in Chicago and Harlem is similar to what goes on in Gaza and the struggles are related.

“The issues are all together,” he said. “Everyone is being oppressed. If your skin is a certain color, most likely, you are subject to oppression, racism and discrimination.”

Many activists at the protest mentioned the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, an American ship in which 34 Naval shipmen were killed and 171 injured when the Israeli Air Force bombed the ship, also in international waters just north of the Sinai Peninsula. They believe the one-sided American policy related to Israel is the main threat to peace in the Middle East, and the primary obstacle to establishing an American society free from threat of terrorism.

“The shocking thing is that when any other government attacks American citizens anywhere in the world, the United States stands with its citizens. When Israel alone attacks Americans, the United States stands with Israel. The U.S. government is being more loyal to Israel than to its own citizens, and that is something that should wake Americans up,” said Mr. Abunimah.

Related news:

Video: The Big Story: Israel's deadly attack on aid convoy (PRESS TV, 06-09-2010)

Israel condemned for deadly attack on aid ships (FCN, 06-08-2010)

Turkey vows response to Israeli attack (PRESS TV, 05-31-2010)

Israel declares war on peace groups (FCN, 01-08-2010)

Palestine: If Americans Knew (FCN, Alison Wier Interview, 12-24-2007


Runaway corporate greed haunts America

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Correspondent- | Last updated: Jun 2, 2010 - 8:42:19 AM

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WASHINGTON ( - In an effort to rein in greedy financial industry corporate practices, the U.S. Senate approved sweeping reforms of Wall Street May 20, ending months of debate over the biggest overhaul of financial regulation since the 1930s. The vote was 59 in favor, 39 against.

The vote comes at the same time public concern is increasing about runaway corporate greed.


Even as the Senate took this step, handing President Barack Obama a victory, oil giant BP—the firm responsible for the worst environmental accident in U.S. history, the Louisiana Gulf Coast oil spill—has gone to court to get a $75 million cap on its liability for the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion on April 20 which killed 11 workers, and for its aftermath: a massive oil spill which has transformed the Gulf of Mexico, literally into the “Gulf of Oil.”

Corporate greed. Billionaires behaving badly, this, even as the U.S. stock market has been in a freefall recently, and the entire Western European economic system is trying to ward off chaos.

“Over the last year, the financial industry has repeatedly tried to end this reform with hordes of lobbyists and millions of dollars in ads, and when they couldn't kill it they tried to water it down. ...Today, I think it's fair to say these efforts have failed,” Mr. Obama said after the Senate vote.

Mr. Obama supports the bill's tighter rules for banks and capital markets after the 2007-2009 financial crisis that threatened the U.S. economy with near ruin, leading to massive taxpayer bailouts. The Senate bill must be reconciled with the measure approved in December by the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, BP has, in the view of many, consistently underestimated the extent of its oil leak, claiming it was flowing at a rate of 5,000 barrels a day. Some scientists and the U.S. government have questioned that, suggesting that the real figure could be as high as 19 times more than the BP estimate.

But the British energy firm maintained its challenge to some of the third-party estimates of how much oil is gushing out of its leaking well on the sea floor as inaccurate and it denied a cover-up.

These real-life plots and manipulations of the U.S. economy eclipsed even the wildest Hollywood plots about Wall Street and young, impatient stockbrokers willing to do anything to get to the top, including trading on illegal inside information, while taking part in ruthless and greedy Wall Street piracy by legal corporate raiders.

Each real life story today is more shocking than the last. Often they are tragic.

A mine blast in a coal-shaft operated by Massey Energy exploded recently, in part because of sloppy safety procedures. In that incident, 29 miners were killed.

Exaggerated executive bonuses are rampant despite public outrage at the practices: “Wall Street bailouts,” “Main Street sellouts.”

On top of that, some of the world's biggest, most profitable corporations enjoy far lower tax rates than individual taxpayers, if these giants pay taxes at all, according to Corporate greed. Billionaires behaving badly.

“The most egregious example is General Electric. Last year the conglomerate generated $10.3 billion in pretax income but ended up owing nothing to Uncle Sam. In fact, it recorded a tax benefit of $1.1 billion,” Forbes wrote.

In upstate New York, more than 300 full-time manufacturing workers at the Mott's applesauce plant have been attempting to bargain a new contract with the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc. Corporate greed.

Despite the plant's most profitable year in the last five fiscal years, the company demanded a long list of concessions: a pay cut followed by a wage freeze. A pension freeze for current workers and pension elimination for future workers. A decrease in employer contributions to the 401K. An increase in employee contributions and co-pays for health care, noted Stuart Appelbaum in a Huffington Post article.

Corporate greed.

The public policy scale in every area is tipped in favor of the corporations. New figures show the number of financial industry lobbyists opposing derivatives market-reform outnumber pro-reform lobbyists by a ratio of 11 to 1. The group Public Citizen says 903 lobbyists have worked to oppose the reform compared to the 79 working for its passage. In all, thousands of lobbyists have descended on Capitol Hill. Big oil, the pharmaceutical industry, the banking and finance industries employ a total of five registered lobbyists for each elected member of Congress.

Corporate greed is the “subtext for this whole economic crisis,” according to Dr. Ronald Walters, professor emeritus at the University of Maryland.

Corporate greed “is what produced it,” Dr. Walters told The Final Call.

“It's a little phrase, but it's a powerful and big idea, because that's what the Congress has been trying to tamp down, trying to regulate, trying to legislate, because the previous Republican administrations simply let the corporate people do whatever in the hell they wanted to do,” Dr. Walters continued.

“It's run us into a wall, perhaps going over a cliff, if the Obama administration hadn't done something.”

This behavior is “barbaric,” according to Andrew Sheng, chief adviser to the China Banking Regulatory Commission in an article for The Wall Street Journal. He compares Wall Street barons today, to fictional characters in the book Barbarians at the Gate. “Wall Street raiders, aided by investment bankers, acted like Huns breaking down the Great Wall,” Mr. Sheng wrote.

In the case of BP, there are now known to have been many acts of negligence and incompetence that contributed to the explosion in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana April 20.

“We now know that the emergency shutoff valve, supplied by Transocean was leaking hydraulic fluid and its backup had one dead battery out of two. Halliburton (the company that cemented the well) had poured too little cement for the ocean depth so that it broke under pressure and allowed the gas leak to occur,” Mickie Lynn wrote for

British Petroleum “makes a good study in the ways that corporate greed for short term profits at the expense of people and complex ecosystems can create major catastrophes. First there's BP's safety record and willingness to pay large fines in pursuit of much larger profits over the past several decades,” Ms. Lynn wrote.

Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen's Energy Program reports that “BP has one of the worst safety records of any oil company operating in America.”

In the oil industry, don't just single out BP, according to a new report which examines the industry as a whole, in terms of safety and accident records. The international environmental education and resource group Global Exchange has found that operating errors and incidents around the globe are more common than the public likely realizes because most events don't even make the news.

Corporate greed.

“It's beyond the idea that corporate people have no nationality,” or patriotic loyalty said Dr. Walters.

“The way they have constructed the capitalist system to work, it is a system that they have put together where they don't lose. If you lose, they still win. That's what the hearings have revealed.

“That they have created this system, where they have bet against other people winning, for example the home foreclosure mortgage, that was securitized, they bet against them winning. So they created a system that was not only anti-nationalist, but in some sense, anti-ethical and anti-human.

“That's what has to be reigned in. When the human element has to be put back into capitalism, if it can, through regulation and through some sense of ethics,” Dr. Walters said.

These financial traders whose greedy and risky conduct with the money of others, is addressed in the financial reform legislation just approved by the Senate, ironically don't manufacture or produce anything of substance in the economy. They literally make money by selling money to those who make things, like furniture, or automobiles.

Corporate greed.

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