Maggie Alarcón

Archive for the ‘National Lawyers Guild’ Category

Micheal Ratner

In ACLU, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, Julian Assange, National Lawyers Guild, Politics, Wikileaks on May 19, 2016 at 2:26 pm
"El autor, junto a Gerardo Hernandez su esposa Adriana Perez y Michael Ratner durante una de sus ultimas visitas a la Habana."

“The author with Gerardo Hernandez his wife Adriana Perez and Michael Ratner on one of Michaels last visits to Havana.”

 

By Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

He came to Cuba often. The last time was in February 2015, on the occasion of the International Book Fair in which the Spanish edition of “Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away with Murder” was presented. It was the result of painstaking research and more than ten years demanding access from relevant authorities to official documents jealously hidden.

The work of Michael Ratner and Michael Steven Smith proved beyond doubt that the murder of Ernesto Guevara was a war crime committed by the US government and its Central Intelligence Agency, a crime that does not have a statute of limitations, although the authors are on the loose in Miami and flaunt their cowardly misdeed.
We met again in July on the occasion of the reopening of the Cuban Embassy in Washington. We were far from imagining that we would not meet again. Michael Ratner looked healthy and showed the optimism and joy that always accompanied him. On that occasion we celebrated that the Cuban Five anti-terrorist Heroes had returned home and also the fact that President Obama had had no choice but to admit the failure of Washington’s aggressive policy against Cuba.
Michael was always in solidarity with the Cuban people since as a very young person he joined the contingents of the Venceremos Brigade. That solidarity remained unwavering at all times. His participation in the legal battle for the freedom of our comrades, including the “amicus” he presented to the Supreme Court on behalf of ten Nobel Prize winners, was decisive.
A tireless fighter, for him no cause was alien. He stood always on the side of the victims and faced with courage, even at the risk of his life, the oppressors who dominated that judicial system. He also did it with rigor, integrity and love. More than a brilliant legal professional, he was a passionate fighter for justice.
He was present in 1968 at the Columbia University strike before completing his studies, and fought racial discrimination together with the NAACP. Soon after graduating he represented the victims of the brutal repression at the Attica prison. Thus he began a remarkable career –impossible to describe in just one article– which knew no borders: Nicaragua, Haiti, Guatemala, Palestine, a never ending list.
When nobody did, he undertook the defense of the hostages in the illegal naval base in Guantanamo. He convened more than 500 lawyers to do so –also for free– and achieved an unprecedented legal victory with a decision by the Supreme Court recognizing the rights of the prisoners.
Many other cases absorbed his time and energy, working in a team, without necessarily appearing in the foreground. He did not hesitate, however, to legally prosecute powerful characters like Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush whose “impeachment” he tried very hard to obtain.
He also accused Nelson Rockefeller, when he was governor, and more recently Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He published books and essays in favor of legality and human rights. He was considered one of the best American lawyers and chaired the National Lawyers Guild and the Center for Constitutional Rights and founded Palestine Rights. He combined his work as a litigator with university teaching at Columbia and Yale and helped train future jurists able to follow his example.
He was the main defender of Julian Assange and Wikileaks in the United States. An insuperable paradigm of a generation that aimed for the stars, he was an inseparable part of all their battles and will remain so until victory always.

A CubaNews/Google translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.

Michael Ratner

In ACLU, Cuban 5, National Lawyers Guild, Politics, Politics Relaciones Cuba EEUU, US on May 16, 2016 at 3:17 pm

ratner

Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

Muchas veces vino a Cuba. La última fue en febrero del 2015, con motivo de la Feria Internacional de Libro en la que fue presentada la edición en español de “¿Quién mató al Che? Como la CIA logró salir impune del asesinato”, fruto de minuciosa investigación y más de diez años reclamando a las autoridades el acceso a documentos oficiales celosamente ocultos. La obra de Michael Ratner y Michael Steven Smith demostró de manera inapelable que el asesinato de Ernesto Guevara fue un crimen de guerra cometido por el gobierno de Estados Unidos y su Agencia Central de Inteligencia, un crimen que no prescribe aunque sus autores andan sueltos en Miami y hacen ostentación de la cobarde fechoría.

"El autor, junto a Gerardo Hernandez su esposa Adriana Perez y Michael Ratner durante una de sus ultimas visitas a la Habana."

“El autor, junto a Gerardo Hernandez su esposa Adriana Perez y Michael Ratner durante una de sus ultimas visitas a la Habana.”

Nos encontramos de nuevo en julio en ocasión de la reapertura de la Embajada cubana en Washington. Lejos estábamos de imaginar que no nos veríamos más. Michael Ratner parecía saludable y mostraba el optimismo y la alegría que siempre le acompañaron. Celebramos entonces que ya nuestros Cinco Héroes antiterroristas habían regresado a la Patria y que el Presidente Obama no tuvo otro remedio que admitir el fracaso de la política agresiva contra Cuba.

Porque Michael fue siempre solidario con el pueblo cubano desde que muy joven integró contingentes de la Brigada Venceremos y esa solidaridad la mantuvo sin flaquezas en todo momento. Fue decisiva su participación en la batalla legal por la libertad de nuestros compañeros incluyendo el “amicus” que presentó a la Corte Suprema a nombre de diez ganadores del Premio Nobel.

Incansable luchador para él ninguna causa fue ajena. Se puso siempre del lado de las víctimas y encaró con valor, aun a riesgo de su vida, a los opresores que dominan aquel sistema judicial. Y lo hizo, además, con rigor, entereza y amor. Más que un brillante profesional del derecho fue un apasionado combatiente por la justicia.

Estuvo presente en 1968 en la huelga de la Universidad de Columbia y antes de concluir sus estudios combatió la discriminación racial junto al NAACP. Recién graduado representó a las víctimas de la brutal represión en la prisión de Attica. Inició así una trayectoria admirable imposible de describir en un artículo y que no conoció fronteras: Nicaragua, Haití, Guatemala, Palestina, y un largo etcétera.

Michael Ratner en el Club Nacional de Prensa de EEUU junto a la actriz y activista Vanessa Redgave.

Michael Ratner en el Club Nacional de Prensa de EEUU junto a la actriz y activista Vanessa Redgave.

Cuando nadie lo hacía asumió la defensa de los secuestrados en la ilegal base naval de Guantánamo, pudo incorporar a más de 500 abogados que lo hicieran también gratuitamente y alcanzó una victoria jurídica sin precedentes con la decisión de la Corte Suprema reconociendo los derechos de los prisioneros. A muchos otros casos también dedicó su tiempo y energías, trabajando en equipo, sin aparecer necesariamente en primer plano. No vaciló sin embargo en encausar legalmente a personajes poderosos como Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton y George W. Bush cuyo “impeachment” trató afanosamente de conseguir, y acusó también a Nelson Rockefeller cuando era Gobernador y más recientemente al Secretario de Defensa Donald Runsfeld. Publicó libros y ensayos a favor de la legalidad y los derechos humanos. Considerado uno de los mejores abogados norteamericanos presidió el National Lawyers Guild y el Center for Constitutional Rights y fundó el Palestine Rights. Conjugó su labor como litigante con la docencia universitaria en Columbia y Yale y ayudó a la formación de futuros juristas capaces de seguir su ejemplo.

Era el principal defensor en Estados Unidos de Julian Assange y Wikileaks. Paradigma insuperable de una generación que quiso conquistar el cielo fue parte inseparable en todas sus batallas y lo seguirá siendo hasta la victoria siempre.

Jeremy Hammond, American Political Prisoner

In ACLU, National Lawyers Guild, US, Wikileaks on May 29, 2013 at 11:42 am

Originally posted in The Huffington Post 

By Vivien Lesnik Weisman

Jeremy Hammond is a well known Chicago (h)ac(k)tivist. Today he took a non-cooperating plea bargain of 10 years for his involvement in the intrusion of the private intel security firm Stratfor. He also pled to intruding into government, law enforcement and other corporate websites.

(H)ac(k)tivist is a combination of the word activist and hacker. Hammond is both an on-the-ground activist and an online one, or Hacktivist, fighting for anti-war, social justice and environmental causes. He put his hacking skills in service of his activism. (Full disclosure: I am currently making a movie about the targeting of activists, hacktivists and journalists by the government, and the nexus between the private intelligence security firms and the surveillance state. I combine the two words in the title of my film. Hammond is one of my subjects. Stratfor is one of the private intelligence firms at the nexus.)

In order to understand Jeremy Hammond’s case, it is important to explain what private intelligence security firms are. They are for-profit firms that contract with corporations and governments. They are mercenary intelligence outfits. They offer their services to the highest bidder nations and corporate clientele. China, Korea, and the United States all contract with these firms. US government agencies routinely outsource what used to be done in-house. The FBI, CIA, DoD, and Homeland Security contract with these firms. After 9/11, outsourcing skyrocketed. It is estimated that 70% of US intelligence work is done with outside, contracted companies. Those are the estimates from 2006 and the trend continues to grow. Gone are the days when the CIA and FBI were in charge of intelligence and law enforcement.

Outsourced intelligence work has no kind of congressional oversight or regulation, or any other kind for that matter. These companies operate in the shadows and, as the Stratfor hack revealed, are involved in criminal behavior. When under contract for the US government, they do what would be illegal for the government to do itself. A convenient byproduct: the government is given the ultimate plausible deniability, which simply means they can outsource whatever they do not want to know.

Jeremy Hammond is a political dissident. He violated the Computer Fraud and Authorization Act in order to make a political statement. His motivation was not personal or pecuniary enhancement. It was political. He wanted the public to know about the criminal behavior that our government colludes to keep out of our reach. When Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus she did so knowing she was in violation of the law. Similarly, Jeremy Hammond knowingly violated the law in order to expose greater criminality. He is oft quoted saying that he must work quickly before the government stops him.

In his words today, Hammond explains his motivations:

“Now that I have pleaded guilty it is a relief to be able to say that I did work with Anonymous to hack Stratfor, among other websites. Those others included military and police equipment suppliers, private intelligence and information security firms, and law enforcement agencies. I did this because I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors. I did what I believe is right.”

The case of Jeremy Hammond is illustrative of a trend to target, overcharge and come down hard on those the state perceives as threatening. The supposed threats are due to their beliefs and/or actions toward information freedom and transparency. In the increasingly growing number of (h)ac(k)tivist cases, Hammond’s case is most closely associated with that of Barrett Brown. Brown is a journalist and satirist, facing charges totaling 105 years for his journalistic work. He was also involved in exposing the criminality of Stratfor and other private intelligence firms. Other related cases are those of information activist Aaron Swartz and Internet troll Andrew “weev” Auernheimer. weev was sentenced to 41 months for embarrassing a corporation.

In Latin America, there is a distinction made in the prison system between common criminals and political prisoners. Sadly, the cases of Jeremy Hammond, Barrett Brown, Aaron Swartz and Andrew “weev” Auernheimer seem to indicate that we should begin making that distinction in the United States as well.

At Jeremy Hammond’s hearing today, Michael Ratner from The Center for Constitutional Rights introduced me to the New York Times reporter he was talking to, Colin Moynihan. They were speaking about the Fox reporter, James Rosen, who was surveilled by the government. I took the opportunity to pitch him the story of incarcerated journalist and publisher of ProjectPM, Barrett Brown. He politely demurred and said, “The New York Times does not take on crusades.” That is not entirely accurate. It would be more accurate to say that the NYT chooses its crusades. No doubt the crusade to shield the corporate media from the illegal activities and harassment of Obama’s DOJ will be among them. Maybe if they would have written about the case of Barrett Brown and other independent journalists and (h)ac(k)tivists, they would not now find themselves in the crosshairs.

My co-producer, Peter Ludlow, wrote about these cases in the NYT in his excellent article “Hacktivists as Gadflies.” With the exception of Aaron Swartz, this is the only time their names have appeared.

 Follow Vivien Lesnik Weisman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/vivienweisman

NYT Photos Don’t Do Justice to Police Presence at Anaheim Protests

In ACLU, Arts, Human Rights/Derechos Humanos, National Lawyers Guild, Occupy Wall Street, US on August 2, 2012 at 12:06 pm

 

By Vivien Weisman Lesnik

Originally published in the  Huffington Post

A picture is worth a thousand words is often used as short hand for the power of an image to convey information and elicit emotion. But a snap shot in time can distort reality and mislead, as is the case of the NYT’s photo of police in formation in Anaheim with the caption” No Passage to Disneyland.”

The real story in Anaheim this weekend was that the protests that were sparked by the Anaheim police killing of two Latino men, Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo, was the massive police presence that met a mere 100 to 150 peaceful protestors.

When I arrived at the Anaheim police station I expected to see a police force prepared for a demonstration and possible unruly behavior as tensions had been high all week. Since the shootings, a canine had been unleashed on an unarmed crowd of mostly women and children, and many rounds of non-lethal “rubber bullets” had been fired at the citizens of Anaheim.

Never did I forsee the scene before my eyes. I was shocked and frightened by the show of force. At about 3pm the demonstrators left the APD and marched toward Disneyland.

The NYT photo is taken from a particular angle and at a particular point in time and cropped in such a way that it minimizes the degree of police presence at the scene.

Here is the photo taken minutes later (the police are now wearing riot gear) from a slightly different angle and un-cropped to include what the NYT excluded, the “militarized police” in camouflage fatigues, grenade launchers and battle ready. Why would the APD wear camouflage fatigues? In an urban setting the fatigues have the effect of making the wearer stand out rather than blend and bring to mind a battle zone with all the danger and terror that connotes. The NYT seems to have taken great pains to show us only three policemen because everywhere the eye could see there was a phalanx of said “militarized police.”

The families and friends of the deceased, as well as a mixture of social justice organizations, political left groups, and OWS ( mostly from Orange County, Los Angeles and Oakland with their team of live- streamers), gathered outside of the Anaheim Police station at noon.

The police presence was astounding. Police in and out of riot gear stood in formation behind a rubber barricade. Snipers were on the roofs of the station and the church across the street, with lethal power weapons pointed at the crowd below.

A cavalry of about 20 large horses soon arrived, adding additional tension to the demonstration. Still the most astounding aspect was the fatigue clad “militarized police” presence.

The police presence was disproportionate to the numbers and demeanor of the demonstrators.

The question is why did the NYT seem to downplay the police presence? Is the MSM under a government prohibition of showing photos of this type of display? Is this like the prohibition against showing the coffins and the dead from our wars? Sadly, an outright prohibition would probably be superfluous as the NYT does such a great job of policing itself. The rest of the news organizations seem to fall into formation, including the left establishment press.

If you are reading this blog, Huffington Post continues to be the exception.

The photos, with the exception of the NYT’s, are generously provided by the dedicated streamers, photographers, and activists of OWS and others under Creative Commons.

Sunday afternoon, as the police presence mounted and the arrests began, the demonstrator’s chant “The Whole World is Watching” rang loud. Live-streamers, citizen journalists and activists captured, documented and tweeted.

On Monday, the NYT ultimately muted and distorted.

Silence in the face of violence

In ACLU, CAFE, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, Cuban Americans, Miami/Cuba, National Lawyers Guild, Politics, US on May 29, 2012 at 12:47 pm

 

Almost   a month ago, a Coral Gables travel agency chartering flights to Cuba was   firebombed. The agency had recently helped facilitate the pilgrimage of   hundreds of Cuban-American Catholic worshipers and others to Cuba to   participate in a papal mass.

The   fire department determined that the fire was deliberately set — windows were   broken and incendiary devices tossed in. Fortunately, no one was injured. This   incident appears to have been not simply a criminal act; it appears to have   had a political purpose — violence directed at people in retaliation for their   political beliefs or the political effect of their business.

Many   people in our community travel to Cuba to visit family members. Nevertheless,   doing so is still controversial in South Florida, though less so elsewhere in   the country. Those who disapprove of travel to Cuba are, of course, free to   express their opposition — but peacefully, within the law. It is their constitutional right to do so.

But   what expression of outrage or concern has been heard from elected officials,   including members of Congress, and other leaders of our community about this   local act of terrorism?

It   appeared that Miami had changed. It has been about a decade since the last act   of politically motivated violence. But the muted reaction of elected officials   and other leaders to this latest incident should be of concern — as much as   this latest ugly act of terrorism itself.

In   September 1963, the 16th Street Baptist Church, an African-American church in   Birmingham, Ala., that was at the center of civil-rights activities, was   bombed. Four young black girls were killed. The next day, Charles Morgan, Jr.,   a lawyer (and a friend and inspirational leader of the civil rights movement)   delivered a powerful speech to a city business club noting that, “Every person   in this community who has in any way contributed during the past several years   to the popularity of hatred is at least as guilty as the demented fool who   threw the bomb.”

Almost   50 years later, it’s hard not to arrive at a similar judgment about public   officials in our own community who, by their silence, seem to tolerate   politically motivated violence.

To   the extent that we, but especially community leaders, fail to stand up to   intolerance, we condone politically inspired violence by silence — and bear   some responsibility for it.

Howard Simon,

executive   director, American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Miami

John DeLeon, president, Greater Miami Chapter,

ACLU   of Florida, Miami

Best   regards,

Howard

Howard Simon

Executive   Director American Civil Liberties Union of Florida | www.aclufl.org

4500   Biscayne Blvd., suite 340, Miami, FL 33137

T/786.363.2706   | F/786.363.1104

Click here to sign up for breaking news from the   ACLU

 

NLG confers honorary membership on Roberto González/ GNA Le otorga membrecía honoraria a Roberto González Sehwerert – 03/12/2012

In Asamblea Nacional/National Assembly, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, Cuban Americans, National Lawyers Guild, Occupy Wall Street, Politics, Social Justice, US on March 12, 2012 at 3:58 pm

National Lawyers Guild honors ailing Cuban lawyer, urges Obama administration to permit Cuban Five brother visit

Contact:

Nathan Tempey,

Communications Coordinator

communications@nlg.org

(212) 679-5100, ext. 15

New York

The National Lawyers Guild made Cuban lawyer Roberto González an honorary member today in recognition of his contributions as an human rights defender and, in particular, his efforts in the case of the Cuban Five.

“Roberto’s career and his steadfast support of his brother are emblematic of the Guild’s basic principle that human rights are more sacred than property interests. We are proud to count him in our numbers,” said NLG Executive Director Heidi Boghosian.

Roberto González is a member of the legal team representing the Cuban Five, a group of political prisoners which includes his brother, René González, who was released five months ago after over 13 years in prison. Since his release, René González has been forced to serve time on probation in the United States rather than being allowed to return home to Cuba, despite the fact that  Roberto, his only sibling, is gravely ill with cancer in a Havana hospital.

René González recently petitioned the court to allow him to return to Cuba for two weeks to visit his brother. The NLG calls on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to show the compassion that has been so lacking from U.S. relations with Cuba by allowing his immediate return for at least those two weeks.

Over the course of the trial and imprisonment of the Cuban Five, the Guild filed three amicus briefs in support of efforts to have their convictions reversed. The most recent, filed in 2009, was one of a record number of 12 amicus briefs urging the Supreme Court to review the convictions. The Guild’s brief focused on the prosecution’s biased method of eliminating prospective jurors, in violation of the seminal ruling in the case of Batson v. Kentucky. This violation of due process was exacerbated by the overwhelming hostility to the Cuban government in Miami and the charged political atmosphere surrounding the case, which made finding an impartial jury locally virtually impossible.

For more information on the case of the Cuban Five visit http://www.freethefive.org/.

The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 and is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

El Gremio Nacional de Abogados de los Estados Unidos de Norte América honra a abogado cubano, insta a la administración del presidente Obama a que permita que el hermano lo visite.

Nueva York

El Gremio Nacional de Abogados le confirió al abogado cubano Roberto González Sehwerert el titulo de miembro honorario en reconocimiento a sus contribuciones como defensor de los derechos humanos y, en particular, por los esfuerzos realizados por este en el caso de los Cinco Cubanos.

“La trayectoria de Roberto y el compromiso inconmovible a su hermano son emblemáticos de los principios básicos del Gremio donde estipula que los derechos humanos son más sagrados que intereses materiales. Nos sentimos orgullosos de contar con él como uno de nuestros miembros,” dijo la directora ejecutiva del Gremio Nacional de Abogados  Heidi Boghosian.

Roberto González Sehwerert es miembro del equipo legal que representa a los Cinco Cubanos, un grupo de presos políticos que incluye a su hermano René González Sehwerert, quien fuera puesto en libertad supervisada hace cinco meses luego de haber cumplido 13 años de prisión. Desde su puesta en libertad, a René González Sehwerert se ha visto obligado a cumplir el tiempo de probatoria legal en los Estados Unidos en vez de habérsele permitido regresar a Cuba, a pesar del hecho de que Roberto, su único hermano, se encuentra gravemente enfermo de cáncer en un hospital de la Habana.

René González Sehwerert recientemente le presentó una solicitud a la corte para que le permitiera visitar a su hermano. El GNS le hace un llamado a la Secretaria de Estado Hillary Clinton a que muestre compasión algo que tanto ha faltado en las relaciones entre Cuba y los Estados Unidos y le permita regresar inmediatamente a Cuba para permanecer ahí por lo menos durante dos semanas.

Durante el curso del juicio y el encarcelamiento de los Cinco Cubanos, el Gremio ha presentado tres documentos de apoyo (amicus) en apoyo a los esfuerzos realizados tal de revertir las condenas. El más reciente, presentado en el 2009, formó parte de un número record de 12 amicus instando a la Corte Suprema a que revisara las condenas. El documento presentado por el Gremio se centra el método parcializado empleado por la fiscalía de selección del jurado, en violación medular del dictamen en el caso de Batson v. Kentucky. Esta violación de producirse un juicio imparcial fue exacerbada por la desmedida hostilidad hacia el gobierno cubano en Miami y la atmosfera políticamente cargada alrededor del caso, hecho que hiciera hallar un jurado imparcial virtualmente imposible.

Para más información sobre el caso de los Cinco Cubanos visite: http://www.freethefive.org/.

El Gremio Nacional de Abogados se fundó en 1937 y es la organización legal más grande y antigua en los Estados Unidos. Su sede principal se encuentra en Nueva York y cuenta con representaciones en cada uno de los estados de la nación.

Oligarchy, American Style

In Economics, Human Rights/Derechos Humanos, National Lawyers Guild, Occupy Wall Street, Politics, Social Justice, US on November 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm
 
By

 

Inequality is back in the news, largely thanks to Occupy Wall Street, but with an assist from the Congressional Budget Office. And you know what that means: It’s time to roll out the obfuscators!

Anyone who has tracked this issue over time knows what I mean. Whenever growing income disparities threaten to come into focus, a reliable set of defenders tries to bring back the blur. Think tanks put out reports claiming that inequality isn’t really rising, or that it doesn’t matter. Pundits try to put a more benign face on the phenomenon, claiming that it’s not really the wealthy few versus the rest, it’s the educated versus the less educated.

So what you need to know is that all of these claims are basically attempts to obscure the stark reality: We have a society in which money is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people, and in which that concentration of income and wealth threatens to make us a democracy in name only.

The budget office laid out some of that stark reality in a recent report, which documented a sharp decline in the share of total income going to lower- and middle-income Americans. We still like to think of ourselves as a middle-class country. But with the bottom 80 percent of households now receiving less than half of total income, that’s a vision increasingly at odds with reality.

In response, the usual suspects have rolled out some familiar arguments: the data are flawed (they aren’t); the rich are an ever-changing group (not so); and so on. The most popular argument right now seems, however, to be the claim that we may not be a middle-class society, but we’re still an upper-middle-class society, in which a broad class of highly educated workers, who have the skills to compete in the modern world, is doing very well.

It’s a nice story, and a lot less disturbing than the picture of a nation in which a much smaller group of rich people is becoming increasingly dominant. But it’s not true.

Workers with college degrees have indeed, on average, done better than workers without, and the gap has generally widened over time. But highly educated Americans have by no means been immune to income stagnation and growing economic insecurity. Wage gains for most college-educated workers have been unimpressive (and nonexistent since 2000), while even the well-educated can no longer count on getting jobs with good benefits. In particular, these days workers with a college degree but no further degrees are less likely to get workplace health coverage than workers with only a high school degree were in 1979.

So who is getting the big gains? A very small, wealthy minority.

The budget office report tells us that essentially all of the upward redistribution of income away from the bottom 80 percent has gone to the highest-income 1 percent of Americans. That is, the protesters who portray themselves as representing the interests of the 99 percent have it basically right, and the pundits solemnly assuring them that it’s really about education, not the gains of a small elite, have it completely wrong.

If anything, the protesters are setting the cutoff too low. The recent budget office report doesn’t look inside the top 1 percent, but an earlier report, which only went up to 2005, found that almost two-thirds of the rising share of the top percentile in income actually went to the top 0.1 percent — the richest thousandth of Americans, who saw their real incomes rise more than 400 percent over the period from 1979 to 2005.

Who’s in that top 0.1 percent? Are they heroic entrepreneurs creating jobs? No, for the most part, they’re corporate executives. Recent research shows that around 60 percent of the top 0.1 percent either are executives in nonfinancial companies or make their money in finance, i.e., Wall Street broadly defined. Add in lawyers and people in real estate, and we’re talking about more than 70 percent of the lucky one-thousandth.

But why does this growing concentration of income and wealth in a few hands matter? Part of the answer is that rising inequality has meant a nation in which most families don’t share fully in economic growth. Another part of the answer is that once you realize just how much richer the rich have become, the argument that higher taxes on high incomes should be part of any long-run budget deal becomes a lot more compelling.

The larger answer, however, is that extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy. Can anyone seriously deny that our political system is being warped by the influence of big money, and that the warping is getting worse as the wealth of a few grows ever larger?

Some pundits are still trying to dismiss concerns about rising inequality as somehow foolish. But the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake.

Unjust Extradition

In General, History, Human Rights/Derechos Humanos, National Lawyers Guild, Politics, Social Justice, US on November 2, 2011 at 2:23 pm
 
 
No court national or international ever extradited General Augusto Pinochet. Not a one has extradited Luis Posada Carriles from the United States to Venezuela where he awaits to stand trial. Both these men committed proven crimes against humanity and have the blood of hundreds on their hands. Julian Assange is accused of a bogus “crime” as a front to entrap him for what he is really guilty of: getting the truth out there!
 
This past Monday Tom Hayden posted the comment below on the Peace Exchange Bulletin originally published here.
 
 
UK Judges Ruling on Julian Assange Wednesday
Monday, October 31, 2011 at 10:52AM
Tom Hayden

The ruling on whether or not Julian Assange will be extradited to Sweden is scheduled Wednesday, November 2.A UK judicial panel will rule on Julian Assange’s extradition appeal this Wednesday, November 2. The ruling is expected to be in the form of a lengthy written decision.

“Whether Julian succeeds or fails here, it is of course what is waiting in the wings further down the line that is of the greatest concern,” a member of his legal team wrote the Bulletin, referring to the anticipated effort to extradite him to the United States on charges of a WikiLeaks conspiracy to distribute thousands of secret cables.

The Washington Times, published by the far-right Reunification Church, is reporting that the US Army soon will hold a pre-trial Article 32 hearing on its evidence against Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of downloading and disseminating classified military cables. Whether Manning will be charged with conspiracy linking him to Assange and WikiLeaks is uncertain.

For background on the Assange appeal, please see July 12-13 articles written by Tom Hayden from London below.

Assange Appeals Extradition Order in London Court,” by Tom Hayden, July 12, 2011.

Day Two: Assange Legal Team Catches Fire,” by Tom Hayden, July 13, 2011.

 

Today, the higher British Court has ruled against the founder of Wikileaks.

Julian Assange creator of f Wikileaks, the tunnel of light in these times of so much darkness.

 
Wikileaks’ Julian Assange Extradition Appeal Lost

By Cassandra Vinograd

In the Huffington Post

LONDON — Time seems to be running out for Julian Assange, whose long battle to avoid extradition to Sweden appears likely to end in failure.

A major setback Wednesday in London’s High Court means the founder of WikiLeaks has only a few more legal cards to play before being sent back to Sweden to face questioning on alleged sex crimes.

Two British judges rejected Assange’s appeal against extradition and the 40-year-old Australian said he will now consider whether to take his case to Britain’s highest court.

Wednesday’s ruling is the latest reversal for Assange, whose secret-spilling organization is on the brink of financial ruin. The group has suspended publishing the sensitive government documents that drew the ire of governments worldwide because of money woes.

Assange has denied any wrongdoing in the alleged rape of one woman and the molestation of another in Stockholm last year. He and his followers have maintained the sex crimes investigation is politically motivated by those opposed to WikiLeaks.

He has deeply polarized public opinion, appearing on Europe’s Most Wanted List while winning praise in some quarters as a brave advocate for freedom of speech and for challenging government power.

Assange did not seem angry or visibly upset outside London’s High Court.

“We will be considering our next steps in the days ahead,” he told reporters and supporters.

But experts said his legal options are now extremely limited.

“I think it’s highly likely that he’ll be in Sweden before the end of the year,” said Julian Knowles, an extradition lawyer not involved in the case.

Vaughan Smith, the owner of the country mansion where Assange is living out on bail, said his friend’s prospects appeared bleak. “It’s not good news,” he said.

Smith said Assange is concerned about the impact on his organization if he is sent to Sweden, fearing he would likely be held in prison as he contests the allegations against him.

“How can you run WikiLeaks from a jail? You can’t,” Smith said. “There is a pretty good reason for him not wanting to go to Sweden.”

Assange has 14 days to decide whether to apply to the High Court, and then must try to persuade judges that there is a point of law to justify an appeal to Britain’s Supreme Court.

The ruling means Assange will remain in Britain for at least several more weeks, and could potentially extend his fight against extradition into next year. Assange remains on bail, held under virtual house arrest at Smith’s rambling country estate in southern England.

It’s also not clear whether Assange has the money for a continued legal battle. In a recent dispute over his autobiography – a draft of which was published without his permission – the WikiLeaks founder revealed that he’d fallen out with his previous lawyers over the size of his bill and didn’t have enough cash to sue his publishers.

Assange and his supporters say he’s not drawing on WikiLeaks funds for his legal defense.

Claes Borgstrom, the lawyer representing the two Swedish women accusing Assange of sex crimes, told The Associated Press that his clients were both very pleased by the ruling.

“There’s a sense of relief and it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.

He said the long wait for the ruling has been difficult for his clients, adding that more delays are likely.

“A lot points to that he intends to appeal once more,” he said.

In the ruling, the appeal judges rejected key arguments from Assange’s legal team. They said Sweden had the right to issue a warrant for Assange, rejected claims that the alleged offense had been inaccurately described, dismissed issues over Sweden’s process for instigating criminal inquiries, and ruled that the prosecutors had been proportionate in their actions.

“This is self-evidently not a case relating to a trivial offense, but to serious sexual offenses,” the judges wrote, upholding an original court decision in February that Assange should be extradited.

Assange has said the sexual encounters were consensual, and his lawyer, Ben Emmerson, had previously argued the allegations would not be considered crimes in England.

The appeal judges said that apparent inconsistencies in some of the allegations against Assange should not affect his extradition to face questioning – even though those issues could be validly raised in any future trial.

With Assange one step closer to extradition, it’s an open question whether his site can survive.

Only last week Assange warned that WikiLeaks was so low on cash it would have to stop publishing leaks and could shut down altogether in two months unless its funding improves.

Assange also faces possible legal action in the United States, where prosecutors are weighing criminal charges.

Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army analyst suspected of disclosing secret intelligence to WikiLeaks, remains in custody at Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas. His case is pending in a military court.

Some supporters in London carried placards outside the court Wednesday that said: “Free Assange! Free Manning!”

____

Associated Press writers Raphael G. Satter and David Stringer in London and Louise Nordstrom in Stockholm contributed to this report.

Rosas en el Mar

In Arts, Blockade, CENESEX, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, Cuban Americans, Cuban Embargo, Culture, General, History, Human Rights/Derechos Humanos, Immigration, LGBT, Miami/Cuba, National Lawyers Guild, Politics, Social Justice, US on October 28, 2011 at 3:20 pm

es más fácil encontrar...

Margarita Alarcón Perea

En el año 1967, el cantautor español Luis Eduardo Aute compuso una canción llamada “Rosas en el mar”. Cuando uno escucha el primer verso da la impresión de estar oyendo una canción de amor típica de esos años contestatarios y distintos que marcaron a tantos:

“Voy buscando un amor
que quiera comprender
la alegría y el dolor,
la ira y el placer,
un bello amor sin un final
que olvidé para perdonar;
es más fácil encontrar
rosas en el mar.”

La canción se volvió himno en su tiempo y también le sirvió a una cantante naciente en España, La Massiel, para consagrarse hasta hoy entre muchos.

El siguiente verso lleva al publico por otro camino alejándonos del sentimiento personal y más hacia un sentir de búsqueda de paz interior:

“Voy buscando la razón
de tanta falsedad.
La mentira es obsesión
y falsa la verdad.
Qué ganarán, qué perderán,
si todo esto pasará;
es más fácil encontrar
rosas en el mar.”

El último verso es un total llamado hacia la conciencia social y política y nos separa completamente del camino del amor romántico bobalicón y nos deposita en uno de compromiso humanista puro:

“Voy pidiendo libertad
y no quería oír.
Es una necesidad
para poder vivir.
La libertad, la libertad,
derecho de la humanidad.
Es más fácil encontrar
rosas en el mar.”

Pensaba hoy, 28 de octubre, en esa canción que cantaba yo de niña con la “z” – ceceaba de pequeña – porque un día como hoy hace ya 52 años, Cuba perdió en un accidente de aviación a uno de sus más respetados y queridos combatientes del proceso contra la dictadura de Batista,. No llegaba a los 30 años y ya se había ganado las estrellas sobre los hombros y el cariño de su pueblo. Cada año este día el pueblo de Cuba de todas las edades sale a la calle y se dirige al agua, ya sea un rio, un lago o el mar, no importa donde estén, le llevan flores a Camilo Cienfuegos.

Camilo luchó y murió por un proceso de reforma social en un país que llevaba desde su incepción en la historia una batalla campal por la libertad y la independencia. Luis Eduardo Aute escribió Rosas en el Mar para esa misma revolución cubana por la cual luchó Camilo. Aute le dedicó la canción a la Revolución Cubana en el 67 y nunca se ha arrepentido de ello. Entonces pedía por la libertad y la independencia en tiempos tumultuosos en Europa, Asia y América. Habla de búsqueda por un mundo mejor. Igual que Camilo, Aute tenía la esperanza en su época que la Revolución Cubana iba ser los primeros pasos en el camino hacia ese mundo mejor.

Quizás ambos estaban equivocados, quizás ambos estaban en lo cierto, lo que si está claro es que nunca sabremos si la Revolución Cubana realmente ha sido el camino hacia un “mundo mejor” hasta que por fin la dejen tranquila, sola para cometer sus propios errores y resolver sus propias contradicciones; sin injerencia extranjera ni dentro ni fuera de la isla.

Continuaremos honrando la memoria de Camilo y hasta cierto punto la poesía de Aute llenando los mares con flores. Tengo la esperanza y estoy segura que Aute estaría de acuerdo conmigo, de que algún día, a Cuba la dejarán descubrir su propio camino bajo sus propias condiciones y metas, pero por ahora, es más fácil encontrar rosas en el mar.

Roses in the Sea

In Blockade, CENESEX, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, Cuban Americans, Cuban Embargo, Culture, Economics, General, History, Human Rights/Derechos Humanos, Immigration, LGBT, Miami/Cuba, National Lawyers Guild, Politics, Social Justice, US on October 28, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Rosas en el Mar

By Margarita Alarcón Perea

Years ago, back in 1967 the Spanish singer/song writer, Luis Eduardo Aute, composed a song entitled “Roses in the Sea” (Roses en el mar). When you hear the first verse it’s a love song:

“I’m looking for a love
Willing to understand
Happiness and pain,
Anger and pleasure,
A lovely endless love
I forgot in order to forgive,
It´s easier to find
Roses in the sea.¨

The song became an anthem in its day and the beginning of a carrier for an up and coming female singer in Spain, La Massiel, who is still remembered to this day somehow related to this song.

The next verse leads the listener on another path veering away from love in the personal sense towards a larger sense of the search for inner peace:

“I´m looking for a reason
To so much falsehood.
Lies are an obsession
And the truth a lie.
What will you lose, what will you win,
If all of this will come to pass;
It´s easier to find
Roses in the sea.”

The last verse is a total social and political call and takes the listener completely off the track of romantic love and on one of pure humanistic commitment:

“I´m asking for freedom
And didn’t want to hear.
It is a necessity
In order to live.
Liberty, liberty
A right of all humanity.
Its easier to find
Roses in the sea.”

I was thinking of this song today, October 28th, because on a day like today 52 years ago, one of the most respected leaders of the revolutionary process to overthrow the Batista regime died in an airplane crash. He was not yet 30 years old and he already had earned the stars on his shoulders and the love of his people. Every year on this day, Cubans of all shapes and sizes go to the water, no matter where they are and they throw flowers into the river, or the lakes or the sea for Camilo Cienfuegos.

Camilo fought and died for social change in a country that had been struggling for its liberty and freedom since the onset of its existence. Luis Eduardo Aute wrote Roses in the Sea for the same Cuban Revolution that Camilo fought for. Aute dedicated the song to the Cuban Revolution back in the year 1967 and has never taken this dedication back. He was asking then for freedom and liberty during times of turmoil in Europe and Asia and the Americas. He spoke of the possibility for a better world. Just like Camilo, Aute had hopes in his day that Cuba with its revolution was that opening to the path for a better world.

Maybe they were both wrong, maybe they were both right, but one thing is certain: we will never know if the Cuban Revolution actually is that “better world” till the island nation is left to make its own decisions with its own people and on its own without foreign intervention of any kind. For now we continue to honor Camilo’s memory and to a point Autes words by filling the Caribbean Sea with flowers, someday I hope and I’m sure Aute would agree with me, that Cuba will be left to fend its way on its own terms, but for now, it’s easier to find roses in the sea.