Issue #1157, December 23, 2012
1. Mexico: Analysts Compare Newtown Killings and “Drug War” Deaths
2. Mexico: New Details Emerge on Wal-Mart Bribery Scandal
3. Argentina: Massive Looting Returns After 11 Years
4. Argentina: First Civilian Official Sentenced for “Dirty War” Crimes
5. Puerto Rico: Government and US Agree on Police Reforms
6. Links to alternative sources on: Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Caribbean, Haiti, Dominican Republic, US/policy, US/immigration
ISSN#: 1084 922X. Weekly News Update on the Americas covers news from Latin America and the Caribbean, compiled and written from a progressive perspective. It has been published weekly by the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York since 1990. It is archived at http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com. For a subscription, write to email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/WeeklyNewsUpdat.
*1. Mexico: Analysts Compare Newtown Killings and “Drug War” Deaths
The Mexican media have closely followed the renewed US interest in gun control after the killing of 20 children and eight adults in a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school on Dec. 15. Laws regulating the sale of firearms in the US have an immediate impact on Mexico, where some 50,000 people have been killed since 2006 in the government’s “war on drugs” and in fighting between rival drug cartels. Statistics that the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) submitted to the US Senate in 2011 indicate that some 70% of the illegal firearms seized in Mexico in 2009 and 2010 came from the US; Mexico itself has very strict controls on gun ownership [see Update #1083].[...]
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by Stephen Lendman
US history is littered with repressive laws. Constitutional protections and civil liberties have been targeted. The 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts restricted First Amendment freedoms.
So did the 1917 Espionage Act, 1919 anti-communist Palmer raids, 1934 Special Committee on Un-American Activities, its House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) successor, FBI COINTELPRO crackdowns, 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, 2001 USA Patriot Act, and other post-9/11 measures.
Police state harshness today reflects US policy. Compromised civil liberties expanded government surveillance, eroded habeas rights, formalized military tribunals, permitted torture-extracted confessions, and sanctified violence in the name of national security.
Thousands of political prisoners languish in America's gulag. It's the world's largest by far. It's one of the harshest.
Many there deserve praise, not imprisonment. OWS activists may join them. More on that below.
For the first time, Patriot Act provisions created the crime of domestic terrorism. Section 802 applies to persons alleged to engage in acts "dangerous to human life."
Evidence isn't needed. Accusations suffice. US citizens and permanent residents are vulnerable. They're frequent targets. They're unjustly accused of violating federal, state, or local laws if they:
• intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
• influence government policy by intimidation or coercion; and/or
• affect government conduct by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.
Patriot Act legislation enacted sweeping federal powers. They're used to investigate and prosecute alleged terrorism. Civil libertarians, environmental and animal rights activists are targeted.
Peaceful demonstrations are criminalized. At times, long-term incarceration follows.
In 2001, prominent Americans demonstrated on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico. Civil disobedience actions were included. Activists entered a US airbase. They harmed no one.
They protested against Pentagon exercises. They included bombings. This type activism is called domestic terrorism if done to influence government policy.
Patriot legislation's Section 806 lets authorities confiscate or freeze foreign and domestic assets. No hearing or notice is required.
Individuals, organizations, and other entities are vulnerable. Prosecutors can say they engaged in planning, supporting, concealing, or perpetrating any anti-American act of domestic or international terrorism.
Evidence isn't required. Guilt by accusation follows. Victims are some of America's best. They're targeted for their political beliefs. Putting their bodies on the line for justice harms them.
Wide-sweeping, vague legislative language perversely permits calling constitutionally protected acts terrorism.
Imagine being criminalized for doing the right thing. Occupy Wall Street activists were targeted straightaway. Dissent is called subversive.
Patriot Act provisions compromise due process, freedom of association, and protections from unreasonable searches and seizures.
They authorize unchecked surveillance powers. They're used to access personal records, monitor financial transactions, as well as student, medical and other documents.
Virtually anything goes replaced constitutional protections. No one's safe anywhere for doing the right thing.
America's on a slippery slope toward full-blown tyranny. Freedom hangs by a thread. Anyone challenging state power is vulnerable. Constitutional protections don't apply.
On December 24, Russia Today headlined "Terrorists and criminals: Documents prove FBI monitored OWS."
Federal surveillance was initiated weeks before demonstrations began.
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) is a public service legal organization. It's "dedicated to the defense of human and civil rights secured by law, the protection of free speech and dissent, and the elimination of prejudice and discrimination."
PCJF issues involve constitutional law, civil rights, women's rights, economic justice matters, and Freedom of Information Act cases.
Its work includes "landmark constitutional rights litigation, often concentrated in the areas of free speech, assembly or other protected political organizing activity."
On September 20, PCJF sued local authorities. They challenged New York police arrests "based on….association with or proximity to dissent and protest."
In March, PCJF obtained heavily redacted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requested documents. They showed federal agencies began "coordinated (anti-OWS) intelligence gathering and operations." They began in August 2011.
On December 22, PCJF headlined "FBI Documents Reveal Secret Nationwide Occupy Monitoring," saying:
FOIA documents "reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat."
It did so "even though the agency acknowledges in documents that organizers explicitly called for peaceful protest and did 'not condone the use of violence' at occupy protests."
FBI surveillance is standard practice. PCJF called information received "just the tip of the iceberg." It reflects longstanding policy.
It treats peaceful protests against massive financial fraud and related malfeasance as "potential criminal and terrorist activity."
Documents show FBI, Homeland Security, and other federal agencies function "as de facto intelligence arm(s) of Wall Street and corporate America."
Heavily redacted material shows federal authorities concealed more than they revealed. PCJF is appealing for full disclosure.
What's known divulges police state harshness. In October 2011, Obama lied. Doing so comes easy to him.
He alleged OWS support. He told ABC News:
"The most important thing we can do right now is those of us in leadership letting people know that we understand their struggles and we are on their side, and that we want to set up a system in which hard work, responsibility, doing what you’re supposed to do, is rewarded."
"And that people who are irresponsible, who are reckless, who don’t feel a sense of obligation to their communities and their companies and their workers that those folks aren’t rewarded."
His key words were "we are on their side."
At the same time, FBI, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Secret Service agents were working cooperatively with state and local authorities.
They still do. They actively engage in infiltrating, disrupting, subverting, and destroying OWS in cities and communities nationwide.
Peaceful protests, marches, public speeches, picketing, sit-ins, camp-outs, leafleting, banner and placard displays, as well as other constitutionally protected activities are targeted.
Various Supreme Court cases affirmed that First Amendment protections are wide-ranging. They're not limited to speech and assembly. They include conduct intended to convey vital messages.
OWS activists put their bodies on the line for justice. They want Wall Street crooks held accountable. They're criminalized for doing the right thing.
It bears repeating. Tyranny in America approaches full-blown. Freedom hangs by a thread. Activism is called terrorism. Constitutional protections are null and void.
Some of America's best are called enemies of the state. Indefinite detentions threaten them. So does military tribunal justice. Perhaps targeted assassinations come next.
Police state harshness reflects official policy. No one anywhere is safe. Rogue governance takes precedence.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
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.
Happy Holler Days from Broadway Phil & the Shouters! This is our newest single from the upcoming Shouter album, "Home." It's the blues, Baby!
"I Ain't Getting Squat for Christmas"
As an alternative to the holiday hype, PDXABC suggests writing to a person in prison. Letters mean so much to someone living in a cage. Join us: Open meeting at 6pm, letter writing at 7.
All materials will be provided and we are happy to answer any questions, just bring yourself!
address: Red & Black Cafe, 400 SE 12th Portland, OR
In August, 2012, Atlanta I.A.T.S.E. Local 927 was hired by Birmingham based American Entertainment Group to work the Labor Day weekend R&B show at Wolf Creek Amphitheatre in Fulton Co. Local 927 is the stagehand union in Atlanta. Three months later the crew that worked the show has yet to be paid, just like other companies that worked this same show. On Monday, December 10th, nine union members drove out to a suburb of Birmingham and went to the home of the promoter who owes them money. Their message: Pay The Union Now! This film covers that visit to Birmingham. It runs 8 minutes.
According to a commander of the Syrian Presidential Guard, at least seven Syrian soldiers were killed on Saturday after they were attacked by a chemical weapon which produced a toxic yellow gas.
The soldiers were reportedly killed within an hour after inhaling the gas.
Foreign-backed militants have repeatedly threatened to use chemical weapons against the army and pro-government civilians in recent days.
They have also threatened to contaminate Syria’s drinking water supply in a bid to kill all Alawite Shias and the supporters of President Bashar al-Assad.
The threat was made in a video posted on YouTube in which militants tested water contaminated with a lethal mixture on lab rabbits. The rabbits stopped breathing and their chests swelled shortly after drinking the poisoned water.
The militants had earlier released a footage in which lab rabbits were killed by inhaling poisonous gas.
The militants’ use of chemical weapons come as the US and its allies have alleged that the Syrian government possesses the deadly weapons and is prepared to use them against militants.
Produced by Mimi Rosenberg & Ken Nash
Public Housing Tenants Hung Out To Dry In Wake Of Sandy
When Hurricane Sandy slammed NYC, tens of thousands of public housing
tenants were left without power, heat, and running water; elderly & disabled
residents were trapped on the upper floors of the developments, oftentimes
lacking food and water and life essential medical needs. Weeks after the
wind roared and the water surged the voices of New York City Housing
Authority (“NYCHA”) tenants continued to be drowned out, amidst the
complacency of NYCHA to the still unresolved issues and conditions.
When NYCHA management finally met with the tenants, long after Sandy
came and went it was greeted by the pained and angry protestation of the
tenants due to its failure to show concern for, response to and accountability
for the horrible conditions that many still endure. The chorus of residents
decried NYCHA’s response to refusing immediate rent abatements, to
compensate them for their suffering and losses during & in the aftermath of
the hurricane. Chanting "No services, no rent," many of the residents left
the meeting in disgust to reconvene later, formulate demands and plan to
take their complaints to NYCHA headquarters.
To Download or listen to this 28:17 minute radio program,
Building Bridges is regularly broadcast live over WBAI,
99.5 FM in the N.Y.C Metropolitan area on Mondays from
7-8pm EST and is streamed, and archived cast at
Building Bridges National Edition is regularly broadcast over:
WAPJ, Torrington, CT.
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WAZU, Peoria, Illinois
KMEC, Ukiah, CA
KOWA, Olympia Washington .
WHUS, Storrs, CT
WMNF HD FM Tampa, Florida
WPVM - MAIN-FM Asheville, NC
WERU Blue Hill and Bangor, Maine
WGOT - Gainesville, Florida.
WUOW - Oneonta, N.Y.
WWUH, - West Hartford, CT
WVJW- Benwood, WV
KRFP, Moscow, ID
KCSB, Santa Barbara, CA
KSOW,Cottage Grove, Oregon
WKNH ,Keene, NH
CKDU, Halifax, N.S., Canada
WRPI, Troy, New York
WNRB, Wausau, WI
KGIG, Modesta, California
East Hill Radio, Snoqualmie, WA
KSKQ, Ashland, Oregon
KWMD, Kasiloff-Anchorage, Alaska
WPRR, Grand Rapids, Michigan
as well as internet stations:
Geneva Radio, Geneva, N.Y.
WTF Radio, Bodega Bay CA
CPR Metro, NYC
Radio Free Radical
Radio Free Kansas
Radio Veronica, West Point, PA
Seattle Radical Radio
Radio for Peace International
Grateful Dread Public Radio
Detour Network, Knoxville, TN
KDX Radio, Homeland, North American
For archived Building Bridges Programs go to
James Chionsini of Senior and Disability Action and Michael Lyon of the Gray Panthers addressed the rally after they had closed their organizations’ accounts and called on other organizations to also take their money out of predatory banks. All morning Wells Fargo customers had to show ID and Wells ATM cards before guards would allow them into the bank.
Archbishop Franzo King of St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church and the NAACP addressed the rally saying that Wells Fargo made money off trading slaves and now it is foreclosing on the African American decedents of slaves. Protesters raised voices in agreement with the Archbishop when he said that the banks have no morality if they continue to put seniors and poor people out of their homes and on to the streets.
Read More with Photos
Senior and Disability Action | Gray Panthers
An action plan regarding Occupy Atlanta from the Atlanta Police Department is now available. On Monday, November 17th, 2011 a team of around 10 defense attorneys went to trial with 28 defendants who were arrested in the early morning of October 26th, 2012 for (allegedly) being in Troy Davis (Woodruff) Park after park closing hours.
As part of the preparation for the trials of Occupy Atlanta members who were arrested while engaging in this peaceful protest, the defense team requested relevant documents. This involved a pre-trial process where the prosecution turned over documents that can be used at trial, as well as a subpoena to the Atlanta Police Department for police materials that could be used at trial.
Discussing Houselessness in Portland Oregon [video 38 minutes]
On the Pubic Access television program, "A Growing Concern," Ibrahim and Lisa discuss the importance of the Camp, not only to the houseless, but also to the neighborhood in which it is located.
"The first thing houseless people look for is sleep; the second thing they look for is a place to eat. So we figure we can have a place where they can come get 8 - 12 hours of rest and get fed. Then we can help to get them productive.......refer them to social services, what to do if you need Identification, a drivers license, a bus ticket to get out of town, subsidized housing, health care. What happens if you are sleeping on the street and you get a citation, where to go or who to contact."
"Even though there are laws, some of the police and security guards don't practice that law when it comes to people that live without houses. We set that up and it's up to them whether or not they wish to become productive."
Thanks to the vigilance of the encampment, crime in the area is down markedly, including drug dealing which has always been a serious problem in that area of downtown Portland.
Lisa Fay says that, "not only do we look out for 4th and Burnside, but we look out for the entire block. We make routine checks around the whole block.....we do a lot of extra policing during week ends and night time hours, and make sure that you're not going to be selling drugs on this corner."[...]
Ibrahim believes that the City Council is moving against the camp because the local business community considers it an eyesore. "They're trying to get us out of there, it's right on prime property; this is the city that works, and they're seeing people that are out of work, they're being reminded that this city is like every other city. We have our problems, it's not our fault, but it's our fault if we do nothing to address these problems, if we overlook people, sweep it under the carpet."
[Related PIMC post]
Video: R2D2 serves lawsuit papers to city hall on 12.10.12
While Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Dan Saltzman have strongly criticized the effort to move up the fluoridation vote by a year, Mayor Sam Adams and Commissioner Leonard are ready to throw fair process and democratic values under the bus once again and support fluoridationists' efforts to fast-track the vote.
Commissioner Fish says he's leaning towards supporting the latest effort to rush through fluoridation, which would leave no time for Join the "Don't Rush Fluoridation Again!" Rally TODAY at noon at City Hall!formation of a scientifc review panel. Come help us change his mind!
We know what a truly independent review of the current science will show, and Portland deserves to know the truth about fluoridation.
AND IF YOU HAVEN'T CALLED AND EMAILED THEM ALREADY:
Mayor Sam Adams email@example.com 503-823-4120
Nick Fish firstname.lastname@example.org 503-823-3589
Amanda Fritz email@example.com 503-823-3008
Randy Leonard firstname.lastname@example.org 503-823-4682
Dan Saltzman email@example.com 503-823-4151
Please be respectful in your comments.
Thanks for your support and we hope to see you at the rally and hearing on Thursday!