Category: violence


The BBC reports on the rising cost of basic staples, such as wheat, soy, rice and corn. Surprisingly, corn is the least affected of those mentioned. For the last few months, corn used for biofuel has been blamed for the violence and protests over the cost of food. It was said that the land cleared for the biofuel production was leaving less room to grow food, and while this is true, it is the least liable of the trifecta affecting food prices.

The main culprits?

Increased population (It is estimated to reach 9 Billion by mid-century)



Increased Wealth in China and India (The trade and technology booms have hugely increased the number of wealthy- even middle class- citizens. This means they are adding meat, dairy and grains to their diets that may not have been before)




The third is a vast increase in the volume of food consumed globally. (From 1980-2007 the world went from eating 20kg of meat to 50kg on average.)

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The Associated Press reports that the World Food Program forsees a food shortage like we haven’t seen since WWII. With the intense competition for food, the World Bank is looking at options like Genetically Modified foods, food rations, as well as asking for a general reduction of the amount of food consumed by the global community.

The skyrocketing cost of food staples, stoked by rising fuel prices, unpredictable weather and demand from India and China, has already sparked sometimes violent protests across the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.

President Bush has released an urgent $100 Million and Britain promised another $59.6 Million in aid. Even so feeding programmes in Kenya and Cambodia have been scaled back.

And evolving diets among burgeoning middle classes in India and China will help double the demand for food- particularly grain intensive meat and dairy by 2030, the World Bank says.

Just in case the victims of Katrina hadn’t been slighted and robbed enough since the storm, here is a new story from the Associated Press and CBSnews (video below) on new allegation that the FEMA trailers offered for emergency housing, that over 50,000 people are still living in, are toxic. They measure high in formaldehyde fumes, causing nose bleeds, respiratory issues and even reported deaths. Of course, instead of addressing the news, now over ten months old, it seems FEMA did everything in their power to cover it up (assumedly to prevent lawsuits).

Just like Julia Hill, this young man heard nature’s call for protection and answered it. He lost his life, on September 17, 1998 David went to the redwoods to protest the Pacific Lumber Comapny whom had been caught practicing illegal methods in their logging business.

Some happy news for the holiday season:

The BBC Reported this week that Japan finally caved to global pressure to go on a humpback whale “science” expedition, in which they planned to kill 12 humpback whales along with minke whales and fin whales (both still endangered, but not to the extent of the humpback). Unfortunately, their plans to follow through with the minke and fin whales are in progress. Japan argues that the other species are not as rare and therefore can still be hunted.
When the plan was unveiled in November, Australia as well as the US and New Zealand spoke out vehemently about the plans, citing their logic as “intentional fallacy.”
A Greenpeace spokesman said on the cancellation:

“The Japanese government has confirmed a rumor, that they have abandoned plans to kill humpback whales in the Southern Ocean this season. While this is good news, Greenpeace will continue its expedition to the Southern Ocean Whales Sanctuary to stop the remaining 985 whales being killed, including 50 endangered fin whales.”

Yet another testimony of the power of a small group of people. Today I am thankful for small wonders.

One New Zealand man planned to confront the whaling fleet on his own:

“News that the humpback whale had been spared came just 24 hours after solo yachtsman David Taylor set off on his lone protest to Antarctic waters”

Merry Christmas, everyone. Have a wonderful week. Let the greenpeace team and David Taylor remind you that you can be the difference that you wish to see in the world. 🙂

Gotta love Vermont! This is why I will always call it home. Here’s Berney Sanders on the state of the country.

The BBC reported this morning that Bush will be visiting New Orleans today to mark the 2 Yr Anniversary of the tragic natural/man made disaster.
I’m just curious as to how Bush, who has done virtually nothing to rebuild, aid or even assess the damage of the storm feels he has the right to go “honor them.” Why don’t you honor them by giving them extensions on their FEMA trailers, George? Why don’t you honor them by not charging them $100 a day for each day their windows aren’t boarded and lawns aren’t mowed, since most still can’t afford to even GET BACK into the city, George!? Why don’t you honor them by blocking big corporations from buying up all the property and using it to keep the blacks out, George? Honor their heritage and culture by helping them come home, instead of barring them out. How bout that, George?
Damn it, this country makes me sad.


katrina

Lesbians sentenced for self-defense
All-white jury convicts Black women

By Imani Henry
New York
Published Jun 21, 2007 2:58 AM

On June 14, four African-American women—Venice Brown (19), Terrain Dandridge (20), Patreese Johnson (20) and Renata Hill (24)—received sentences ranging from three-and-a-half to 11 years in prison. None of them had previous criminal records. Two of them are parents of small children.

Their crime? Defending themselves from a physical attack by a man who held them down and choked them, ripped hair from their scalps, spat on them, and threatened to sexually assault them—all because they are lesbians.

The mere fact that any victim of a bigoted attack would be arrested, jailed and then convicted for self-defense is an outrage. But the length of prison time given further demonstrates the highly political nature of this case and just how racist, misogynistic, anti-gay, anti-youth and anti-worker the so-called U.S. justice system truly is.

The description of the events, reported below, is based on written statements by a community organization (FIERCE) that has made a call to action to defend the four women, verbal accounts from court observers and evidence from a surveillance camera.

The attack

On Aug. 16, 2006, seven young, African-American, lesbian-identified friends were walking in the West Village. The Village is a historic center for lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) communities, and is seen as a safe haven for working-class LGBT youth, especially youth of color.

As they passed the Independent Film Cinema, 29-year-old Dwayne Buckle, an African-American vendor selling DVDs, sexually propositioned one of the women. They rebuffed his advances and kept walking.

“I’ll f— you straight, sweetheart!” Buckle shouted. A video camera from a nearby store shows the women walking away. He followed them, all the while hurling anti-lesbian slurs, grabbing his genitals and making explicitly obscene remarks. The women finally stopped and confronted him. A heated argument ensued. Buckle spat in the face of one of the women and threw his lit cigarette at them, escalating the verbal attack into a physical one.

Buckle is seen on the video grabbing and pulling out large patches of hair from one of the young women. When Buckle ended up on top of one of the women, choking her, Johnson pulled a small steak knife out of her purse. She aimed for his arm to stop him from killing her friend.

The video captures two men finally running over to help the women and beating Buckle. At some point he was stabbed in the abdomen. The women were already walking away across the street by the time the police arrived.

Buckle was hospitalized for five days after surgery for a lacerated liver and stomach. When asked at the hospital, he responded at least twice that men had attacked him.

There was no evidence that Johnson’s kitchen knife was the weapon that penetrated his abdomen, nor was there any blood visible on it. In fact, there was never any forensics testing done on her knife. On the night they were arrested, the police told the women that there would be a search by the New York Police Department for the two men—which to date has not happened.

After almost a year of trial, four of the seven were convicted in April. Johnson was sentenced to 11 years on June 14.

Even with Buckle’s admission and the video footage proving that he instigated this anti-gay attack, the women were relentlessly demonized in the press, had trumped-up felony charges levied against them, and were subsequently given long sentences in order to send a clear resounding message—that self-defense is a crime and no one should dare to fight back.

Political backdrop of the case

Why were these young women used as an example? At stake are the billions of dollars in tourism and real estate development involved in the continued gentrification of the West Village. This particular incident happened near the Washington Square area—home of New York University, one of most expensive private colleges in the country and one of the biggest employers and landlords in New York City. The New York Times reported that Justice Edward J. McLaughlin used his sentencing speech to comment on “how New York welcomes tourists.” (June 17)

The Village is also the home of the Stonewall Rebellion, the three-day street battle against the NYPD that, along with the Compton Cafeteria “Riots” in California, helped launch the modern-day LGBT liberation movement in 1969. The Manhattan LGBT Pride march, one of the biggest demonstrations of LGBT peoples in the world, ends near the Christopher Street Piers in the Village, which have been the historical “hangout” and home for working-class trans and LGBT youth in New York City for decades.

Because of growing gentrification in recent years, young people of color, homeless and transgender communities, LGBT and straight, have faced curfews and brutality by police sanctioned by the West Village community board and politicians. On Oct. 31, 2006, police officers from the NYPD’s 6th Precinct indiscriminately beat and arrested several people of color in sweeps on Christopher Street after the Halloween parade.

Since the 1980s there has been a steady increase in anti-LGBT violence in the area, with bashers going there with that purpose in mind.

For trans people and LGBT youth of color, who statistically experience higher amounts of bigoted violence, the impact of the gentrification has been severe. As their once-safe haven is encroached on by real estate developers, the new white and majority heterosexual residents of the West Village then call in the state to brutalize them.

For the last six years the political LGBT youth group FIERCE has been at the forefront of mobilizing young people “to counter the displacement and criminalization of LGBTSTQ [lesbian, gay, bi, two spirit, trans, and queer] youth of color and homeless youth at the Christopher Street Pier and in Manhattan’s West Village.” (www.fiercenyc.org) FIERCE has also been the lead organization supporting the Jersey Seven and their families.

The trial and the media

Deemed a so-called “hate crime” against a straight man, every possible racist, anti-woman, anti-LGBT and anti-youth tactic was used by the entire state apparatus and media. Everything from the fact that they lived outside of New York, in the working-class majority Black city of Newark, N.J., to their gender expressions and body structures were twisted and dehumanized in the public eye and to the jury.

According to court observers, McLaughlin stated throughout the trial that he had no sympathy for these women. The jury, although they were all women, were all white. All witnesses for the district attorney were white men, except for one Black male who had several felony charges.

Court observers report that the defense attorneys had to put enormous effort into simply convincing the jury that they were “average women” who had planned to just hang out together that night. Some jurists asked why they were in the Village if they were from New Jersey. The DA brought up whether they could afford to hang out there—raising the issue of who has the right to be there in the first place.

The Daily News reporting was relentless in its racist anti-lesbian misogyny, portraying Buckle as a “filmmaker” and “sound engineer” preyed upon by a “lesbian wolf pack” (April 19) and a “gang of angry lesbians.” (April 13)

Everyone has been socialized by cultural archetypes of what it means to be a “man” or “masculine” and “woman” or “feminine.” Gender identity/expression is the way each indivdual chooses or not to express gender in their everyday lives, including how they dress, walk, talk, etc. Transgender people and other gender non-conforming people face oppression based on their gender expression/identity.

The only pictures shown in the Daily News were of the more masculine-appearing women. One of the most despiciable headlines in the Daily News, “‘I’m a man!’ lesbian growled during fight,” (April 13) was targeted against Renata Hill, who was taunted by Buckle because of her masculinity.

Ironically, Johnson, who was singled out by the judge as the “ringleader,” is the more feminine of the four. According to the New York Times, in his sentencing remarks, “Justice McLaughlin scoffed at the assertion made by … Johnson, that she carried a knife because she was just 4-foot-11 and 95 pounds, worked nights and lived in a dangerous neighborhood.” He quoted the nursery rhyme, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” (June 15)

All of the seven women knew and went to school with Sakia Gunn, a 19-year-old butch lesbian who was stabbed to death in Newark, N.J., in May 2003. Paralleling the present case, Gunn was out with three of her friends when a man made sexual advances to one of the women. When she replied that she was a lesbian and not interested, he attacked them. Gunn fought back and was stabbed to death.

“You can’t help but wonder that if Sakia Gunn had a weapon, would she be in jail right now?” Bran Fenner, a founding member and co-executive director of FIERCE, told Workers World. “If we don’t have the right to self-defense, how are we supposed to survive?”

National call to action

While racist killer cops continue to go without indictment and anti-immigrant paramilitary groups like the Minutemen are on the rise in the U.S., The Jersey Four sit behind bars for simply defending themselves against a bigot who attacked them in the Village.

Capitalism at its very core is a racist, sexist, anti-LGBT system, sanctioning state violence through cops, courts and its so-called laws. The case of the Jersey Four gives more legal precedence for bigoted violence to go unchallenged. The ruling class saw this case as a political one; FIERCE and other groups believe the entire progressive movement should as well.

Fenner said, “We are organizing in the hope that this wakes up all oppressed people and sparks a huge, broad campaign to demand freedom for the Jersey Four.”

FIERCE is asking for assistance for these young women, including pro-bono legal support, media contacts and writers, pen pals, financial support, and diverse organizational support. For details, visit http://www.fiercenyc.org.

The BBC reported word of a couple in Pakistan whom had been posing as a married heterosexual couple. The judge ruled that the sex-reassignment surgery did not make Sumail Raj a “real man.”
I only say “real man” because Sumail chose sex reassignment so the two could be married and be together.
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There sure are days I’m glad I live in this biggoted country and not some other one.

Today’s headlines offer up another mid-boggling, stomach wrenching look at our horrifically prejudiced religous, oops I meant political leaders. The Boston Herald reports “Whitehouse threatens to Veto Hatecrimes Law.” Let me get this straight… it’s not ok to beat someone for being black, but beating them for being gay is alright. It’s not ok to beat someone for being Muslim (although our current administration probably gives out metals for that), but it’s ok to kill a transsexual?
Ok, just so we are clear.