Category Archives: Justice

US Alliance-imposed Afghan Holocaust

The serial war criminality and immense cruelty of the US Alliance has been enabled by the extraordinary mendacity, genocidal racism and  resolute exceptionalism of US Alliance governments and Western Mainstream media (MSM). Summarized  below are the horrendous realities of the US Alliance-imposed Afghan Holocaust and Afghan Genocide that are ignored by deeply racist, genocide-complicit and genocide-ignoring Western leaders and MSM.

(1). Massive US lying enabled the 9/11 false flag excuse for the invasion  and devastation of Afghanistan, Iraq and other Muslim countries. I.F. Stone: “Governments lie” and Gore Vidal: “Unlike most Americans who lie all the time, I hate lying”. Numerous science, engineering, architecture, aviation, military and intelligence experts conclude that the US Government was responsible for the 9-11 atrocity (3,000 people killed) with some asserting Israeli and Saudi involvement, but US-beholden Western Mainstream media are united in  blind belief in the “official version” of  mendacious George W. Bush whose administration told 935 lies about Iraq between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. Detailed scientific reports from the University of Copenhagen and the University of Alaska Fairbanks reject the lying Bush “official version of 9/11” and evidence the explosive demolition of the 3 WTC skyscrapers on 9/11 (that necessarily implies US Government  involvement in that atrocity). Asserted “terrorism” is to the Zionist-subverted US Alliance state terrorists as asserted “antisemitism” is to the genocidally racist, Islamophobic,  anti-Arab anti-semitic, anti-Jewish anti-semitic, holocaust-complicit and holocaust-ignoring  Zionists and Apartheid Israel. Re state terrorism, the British have invaded 193 countries, Australia 85, France 82, the US 72 (52 after WW2), Germany 39 and Canada 25, as compared to Japan 30, Russia 25, Apartheid Israel 12, China 2, Afghanistan zero since 1760,  Iran zero since the 7th century CE, and India and nearly all of the Developing World zero (0).

(2). The Afghan Holocaust and Afghan Genocide has been associated with 3.6 million under-5 infant deaths, 5.2 million  avoidable deaths from deprivation ,  an estimated 1.6 million violent deaths, and 6.8 million deaths from violence and deprivation  in US-, Australia- and NATO-occupied Afghanistan in 2001-2021. US-backed removal of a secular Afghan government in 1978 precipitated the USSR invasion and war involving US-backed Islamists (avoidable deaths from deprivation 2.9 million, 1979-1989) followed by civil war won by the Taliban  (avoidable deaths from deprivation 3.3 million, 1989-1999).  The variously US-implicated and US-imposed 1979-2021 Afghan Holocaust has been associated with 13.0 million untimely Afghan deaths.

(3). Global Opiate Holocaust. The  US rapidly restored the Taliban-destroyed Afghan  opium industry from 6% of world market share in 2001 back to 90%  by 2007,  and caused 5.8 million opiate-related deaths world-wide since 9/11. The US Government has been successively involved in the opiate scourge in Turkey, South East Asia, Afghanistan and Latin America. US-threatened and US-sanctioned Iran leads the world in interdiction of  US-protected Afghan opiates that presently kill about 0.3 million people annually. For religious reasons  the Taliban banned alcohol, prohibited smoking for government  employees, and banned opium production. Each year smoking, alcohol and illicit drugs kill about 8 million, 2.8 million and 0.8 million people each year  for  total of about 11.8 million people worldwide. In contrast, 7.4 million people presently die annually from deprivation on Spaceship Earth with the First World, notably the US, in charge of the flight deck.

(4). The US-imposed Iranian Holocaust has been associated  with 4 million Iranian deaths in the 4-decade US-imposed Iranian Holocaust, comprising 1 million Iranian deaths in the 1980-1988 US-backed Iran-Iraq War, and 3 million avoidable deaths from US sanctions from 1979 onwards. Iran suffered huge famines associated with British and Russian occupation in WW1  (up to 8-10 million dying in the  1917-1919 famine) and  in WW2 (up to 3-4 million dying in the 1942-1943 famine). Following US withdrawal from devastated Afghanistan, a nervous  world asks: which impoverished country  is next? Iran heads the list followed by Venezuela and Cuba (all subject already to unsuccessful armed US invasions). Iran has zero (0) nuclear weapons as compared to the US (5,800-6,185), Russia (6,372-6,490), China (300-320), France (290), UK (200-215), Pakistan (160), India (150), Apartheid Israel (90), and North Korea (30-40).

(5). The post-9/11 Muslim Holocaust and American Holocaust. The 2001-2021 Afghan Genocide and Afghan Holocaust (6.8 million deaths from violence and imposed deprivation) is part of a US-imposed, post-9/11 Muslim Holocaust and Muslim Genocide (32 million Muslim deaths from violence, 5 million, and imposed deprivation, 27 million, in 20 countries invaded by the US Alliance since the US Government’s 9/11 false flag atrocity that killed 3,000 people). 1.7 million Americans die preventably each year from “lifestyle choice reasons” and from “political choice reasons”. Thus 1.7 million per year x 20 years = 34 million Americans have died thus since 9/11. Since 9/11 Zionist-beholden US Administrations have spent $6 trillion on killing over 30 million Muslims abroad rather than trying to keep over 30 million Americans alive at home. 30% of Biden’s Cabinet are Jewish Zionists and the remainder are “moderate” Christian Zionists as opposed to the fervently Trumpist  Evangelical Zionists.

(6). There have been 7,000 post-9/11 US combat deaths versus 146,000  US veteran deaths from suicide. About 7,018 American soldiers died in the post-9/11 US War on Terror in Occupied Iraq (4,566) and Occupied Afghanistan (3,452), but vastly more US veterans have died from suicide. The US Veterans Administration has found that an average of about 20 US veterans have suicided daily in the past few decades, and thus post-9/11 US veteran suicides have totalled (20 suicides per day) x (365.25 days per year) x 20 years = 146,100.

(7). China observes but the US Alliance grossly violates the  Fourth Geneva Convention and the UN Genocide Convention. Killing in war occurs not just through violence (active killing) but also through avoidable deaths from imposed deprivation (passive killing). Mass mortality in a Subject population occurs in gross Occupier violation of Articles 55 and 56 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (the Fourth Geneva Convention) that unequivocally demands that the Occupier must supply its conquered Subjects with life-sustaining food and medical requisites “to the fullest extent of the means available to it”. Infant mortality (under-1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births) is 12 (China), 16 ([Chinese province] Tibet), 6 (USA) and 111 (US Alliance-occupied Afghanistan). The Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) (maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) is 20-27 (China), 100 ([Chinese province] Tibet), 14 (USA) and 400-1,200 (US Alliance-occupied Afghanistan). Contrary to US Alliance claims of  a “Uighur Genocide,” in Xinjiang (50% Uighur and 50% Han Chinese) the maternal mortality rate was 27 per 100,000 in 2018, the infant mortality rate was 14 under-1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, the average life expectancy was 74.8 years in 2015, and there has been no mass sterilization in the region. That said, China is legitimately criticized for harsh treatment of Uighurs (mass imprisonment of 1 million for re-education) [Harsh treatment? Evidence? Is deradicalization against Uyghur terrorists not legitimate? — DV Ed], dissidents and Hong Kong democracy protestors. Genocide is defined by Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” In relation to “the fullest extent of the means available to it” the GDP (nominal) per capita (US dollars, 2021) is as follows (in brackets) for Afghanistan ($592), China ($11,819), US ($68,309), UK ($46,344), Germany ($51,860), France ($44,995) and serial war criminal US lackey Australia ($62,723).

(8). Nazi and US Alliance  Occupied/Occupier death ratios of 10 and 1,970, respectively. In 1944 the Nazi Germany dictator Adolph Hitler ordered reprisals involving 10 Italian men and boys executed for every German soldier killed by Partisans (effected in the subsequent Ardeatine Caves Massacre). The Occupied/Occupier death ratio for the 2001-2021 Afghan War is accordingly 6,800,000/ 3,452 = 1,970 or about 200 times greater than the 10 advocated by Nazi mass murderer Adolph. Hitler. Ignoring violent Afghan deaths,  the Occupied/Occupier death ratio for the 2001-2021 Afghan War is 5,200,000/3,452 = 1,506 or about 1,500 and thus 150 times greater than the 10 advocated by Hitler. The post-9/11 Muslim Holocaust deaths/ 9/11 death toll = 32 million/3,000 = 10,667, 1,067 times greater than  the Them/Us reprisals ratio of 10 ordered by Hitler.

(9). Vital post-war aid provision for tens of millions of Afghans versus extraction of tens of thousands of  US Alliance personnel, collaborators and other anti-Taliban people fearing reprisals. Occupied Afghanistan was heavily dependent on international aid and Biden has threatened  to hamper such aid and hence post-liberation recovery if the new regime  doesn’t play ball. Biden has already frozen the assets of impoverished Afghanistan, a move that will entrench Afghan mass mortality from dire deprivation. The Taliban  have declared Amnesty for its opponents and proper treatment of  women “under Islamic law” but many remain fearful based on harsh Taliban rule 20 years ago. For Occupied Afghanistan in 2020, under-5 infant deaths totalled 76,000 and avoidable deaths from deprivation totalled 106,000. In 2020 the “under-5 infant mortality as a percentage of total population” for Afghanistan (0.1950%) was a shocking 118.5 times greater than for Japan (0.00145%), evidence of gross violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention by the occupying US Alliance countries. To this carnage we must add the infant mortality and avoidable deaths from deprivation among  the circa 3.3 million internally displaced Afghans and the 2.5 million registered refugees in Iran and Pakistan from Afghanistan (present population 39 million, half requiring aid). Those rightly supporting all human rights for all as set out in the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) should also spare a thought for the  undoubted right of millions of ordinary Afghan women to see the survival of their children.

(10). Exposure of the perpetrators of the Afghan Holocaust and Afghan Genocide. This is an immense crime that demands war crimes trials of the  perpetrators before the International Criminal Court (ICC). That is not going to happen because the US does not recognize the authority of the ICC whereas the ICC cravenly accepts the authority of the US. However international and intra-national war crimes trials by  eminent humanitarians are feasible and urgently required. Establishment of the truth is more important than punishment of the guilty (the more so since the latter is unlikely to ever happen). Inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in post-Apartheid South Africa, war crimes trials should be legislatively constituted on the basis that there should be no punishment for truth telling accompanied by sincere apology (see Gideon Polya , “Afghan Holocaust – The Awful Truth Versus US Alliance Lies,” Countercurrents, 22 August 2021).

The post US Alliance-imposed Afghan Holocaust first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Justice and Politics: When Words are Betrayed by Deeds

Michael Kovrig-Meng Wanzhou-Michael Spavor. Photograph: (Agencies)

For neither man nor angel can discern hypocrisy, the only evil that walks invisible, except to God alone.

— John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book III

Simply put, hypocrisy is when words and actions don’t agree. It is revealing when one applies this straightforward definition to the cases involving two Canadian detainees in China, business consultant Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, and the Chinese detainee in Canada, Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou.

The United States is seeking the extradition of Meng for fraud-related charges. The two Michaels were apprehended soon after in China and charged with spying on national secrets and providing state secrets to foreign entities.

On Wednesday 11 August, Spavor was sentenced by a Chinese court to 11 years in prison.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau was dismissive of the verdict. “Today’s verdict for Mr. Spavor comes after more than two and a half years of arbitrary detention, a lack of transparency in the legal process, and a trial that did not satisfy even the minimum standards required by international law.”

There are many parts of this statement by Trudeau that require deeper consideration.

First, Trudeau notes the duration of the detention, more than two and a half years. It is commonly held that justice delayed is justice denied. When the wheels of justice grind too slowly, there is a danger of a gross injustice being committed. When detainees are found to be not guilty, a nonrecoverable portion of their lives has been squandered. If Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are innocent, then a gross injustice has occurred. However, this applies equally in the case of Meng Wanzhou who has been under house arrest for over two and a half years.

Does Trudeau’s concern for long-term detention only apply to Canadians? Has Trudeau ever uttered one word regarding the over a decade-long detention and torture of Julian Assange for revealing US war crimes, a detention for which Canada may well be complicit?

Second, Trudeau claims the detentions are arbitrary. However, if the verdict reached was just, then the fact that Spavor was found guilty would indicate that his detention was not arbitrary.

The Global Times argued:

The Dandong Intermediate People’s Court handled the case of Spavor in strict accordance with the law, fully protected Spavor’s litigation rights, respected and honored the Canadian side’s consular rights such as visiting and receiving notification, and arranged for the Canadian side to attend the trial. However, Canada, disregarding the political nature of the Meng Wanzhou incident and acting as an accomplice of the US, has detained Meng, an innocent Chinese citizen who didn’t violate any Canadian law, for nearly 1,000 days. This is arbitrary detention in every sense of the term, the embassy in Canada said.

The Chinese Embassy in the US also said Meng has never violated any Canadian law but has been detained by Canada until today. Canada chooses to be an accomplice to the US and this is a textbook example of arbitrary detention by “exercising leverage over a foreign government.”

And as the film The Secret Trial 5 makes clear, arbitrariness is part of Canada’s so-called justice system; people can be locked away for many years in Canada without ever being charged.

Third, Trudeau has not denied or refuted the charges against the two Michaels. His words are directed against the process.

Fourth, as for the process, rightly or wrongly, a lack of transparency is the norm when the cases involve state secrets. The same lack of transparency holds true in Canada.1 A lack of transparency is antithetical to protecting the rights of the accused and for seeking justice. Nonetheless, to cast stones at the actions of another while carrying out the self-same actions speaks to hypocrisy.

Trudeau’s statement continues: “For Mr. Spavor, as well as for Michael Kovrig who has also been arbitrarily detained, our top priority remains securing their immediate release. We will continue working around the clock to bring them home as soon as possible.” In this regard, the Canadian authorities’ sentiments and actions for the Michaels are shared by Chinese authorities for Meng.

Canadian foreign affairs minister Marc Garneau said the verdict against Kovrig is “not acceptable in terms of international rules-based law.” Such a statement falls flat in light of the recent charge that Canada is violating international law by selling arms to Saudi Arabia, arms that can be used to continue its aggression against Yemen. One needs to dig much deeper into what the rule of law means for Canada. There is no escaping the fact that the country is a colonial-settler state imposed through genocide against the Original Peoples of the landmass designated Canada by navigator Jacques Cartier. Still today, one headline makes clear that “Canada Is Waging an All-Front Legal War Against Indigenous People.” This points to the quintessence of Canada and its political class. Despite having seized political control through genocide, having committed to reconciliation, and having pledged (as Trudeau did) to a “renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations peoples … [as] a sacred obligation,” the words have exposed betrayal. Instead capitalist exploitation continues unabated while the Canadian state stonewalls reconciliation and legal redress for the Original Peoples.

Cong Peiwu, China’s ambassador to Canada, rejected accusations that Spavor’s trial was unfair and not open. “I would like to say that the minimum standard is for other countries to respect our judicial sovereignty. So here I would like to stress that actually it’s the Canadian side which did not meet the minimum standard of the international norm.”

What is the American Gambit?

Foreign affairs minister Garneau seems to have faith in American president Joe Biden being able to secure the release of the Michaels by “treating them as if they were American citizens detained by China.” This is following previous president Donald Trump politicizing Meng’s proceedings: “If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made – which is a very important thing – what’s good for national security, I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.”

It points to a double standard for extradition as a means for achieving justice. Consider the case of Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US diplomat who the US refuses to send to Britain to stand trial for her hit-and-run accident that killed teenager Harry Dunn in 2019. Some Americans, it seems, are beyond the reach of the law.

China is well aware of what is transpiring. China’s Huawei is the world leader in cutting-edge 5G technology. The US fears being left behind and is seeking to dissuade other states from using that technology. Thus, China’s government views Meng’s arrest as part of US efforts to hamper its technology development. Neither are the allies of the US exempt from America’s extraterritorial reach as a weapon to stymie competition. The French company Alstom experienced this as its former senior executive Frederic Pierucci was arrested and imprisoned for over 2 years in New York. Alstrom eventually had to pay a huge fine of US$772 million. Said Pierucci, “That [fine] facilitated the buyout of 70 per cent of Alstom by its main American competitor General Electric, blocking a potential merger between Alstom and Shanghai Electric Company.”

Canada is harming its relationship with the rapidly developing economic colossus of China to appease the United States. However, it ought to bear in mind how the US swooped in to replace Australian exports to China. This was after Australia aligned itself with a belligerent US policy toward China causing China to curtail imports from Australia.

A Possible Deal?

Yesterday (14 August), Canada’s National Observer published an ad hominem piece calling for an exchange of detainees. It begins, “The ugly messy truth about the two Michaels is that we must get past our indignation, however justified, over China’s gross violations of all international norms.” What is the justification? What if Chinese indignation is justified? What adduces the hyperbolic “China’s gross violations of all international norms.” All?

The National Observer grants, “Meng is charged purely for geo-political gamesmanship.” What the newsletter does not discuss is that Meng previously turned down an offer for her release in return for admitting wrongdoing.

Doubts can be gleaned from the notes of the associate chief justice Heather Holmes who is presiding over the extradition case,

Isn’t it unusual that one would see a fraud case with no actual harm, many years later, and one in which the alleged victim — a large institution — appears to have numerous people within the institution who had all the facts that are now said to have been misrepresented?

The National Observer insults China by calling its government a “regime.” The Chinese “regime” is one that lifted its entire population out of absolute poverty. Elsewhere on Canadian streets, one will see too many homeless people, people whose dignity is disparaged by having to rely on food banks, begging, or dumpster diving to quell hunger.

So which “regime” is interested in looking after the people — all its people?

Meanwhile, Kovrig, who stood trial in March, continues to await word on a verdict. And Meng awaits a decision on the extradition outcome.

  1. Read “Kafka’s Canada at 15: The secret trials of Mohamed Harkat” and “Canada’s Supreme Court authorizes secret trials and arbitrary, indefinite detention.”
The post Justice and Politics: When Words are Betrayed by Deeds first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Family Separation Law: Israel’s Demographic War on Palestine Intensifies  

When the Israeli Knesset (parliament) failed to renew what is commonly referred to as the Family Reunification Law, news reports and analyses misrepresented the story altogether. The even split of 59 MKs voting in favor of the law and 59 against it gave the erroneous impression that Israeli lawmakers are equally divided over the right of Palestinians to obtain permanent residency status or citizenship in Israel through marriage. Nothing could be further away from the truth.

Originally passed in 2003, the Citizenship and Entry Law was effectively a ban on Palestinian marriage. Under the guise of ‘security’, the law prohibited Palestinians in the West Bank, who marry Israeli citizens, to permanently move to Israel, obtain work, permanent residency and, ultimately, citizenship.

The law was never made permanent as it was subjected to an annual vote, which successfully renewed it 17 times, consecutively. The 18th vote, on July 6, however, ran into an obstacle. Contrary to the perception given by media coverage, those who voted against the renewal of the ban did so for purely political reasons and not out of concern for the tens of thousands of Palestinian families that have splintered and broken up since the law came into effect.

Since the ousting of former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the hands of his protégé, current Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, Israel’s former leader has been determined to topple Bennett’s already fragile coalition. Bennett’s government allies cobble up extreme right-wing parties, including Yamina, the party of the prime minister himself, centrist and even leftist parties, the likes of Meretz. It even hosts an Arab party, United Arab List, or Ra’am, of Mansour Abbas. A coalition of this nature is unlikely to survive long, considering Israel’s tumultuous politics, and Netanyahu – eager for an early election – will do everything in his power to facilitate what he sees as an imminent collapse.

Netanyahu’s Likud party and its allies in the opposition voted against renewing the discriminatory law to score a political point. Their justification, however, was more appalling than the law itself. The Likud wants the temporary law to become a permanent fixture, a Basic Law, to be added to dozens of other similar racially-motivated laws that target the very fabric of Palestinian society.

Welcome to Israel’s demographic war on the Palestinian people. This one-sided war is situated in the belief among Israel’s Jewish majority, that Israel’s greatest challenge is sustaining its demographic advantage which, thanks to a decided campaign of ethnic cleansing that began over seven decades ago, has been held by Jews over Palestinian Arabs.

Israel’s main fear is not simply a decisive Palestinian majority between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. Israel’s Jewish ruling classes are also rattled by the real possibility of the growing political influence of Israel’s Palestinian Arab constituency, and are doing everything in their power to ensure Palestinian holders of Israeli citizenship are kept at a minimum. The Citizenship and Entry Law was designed specifically to keep this population in check.

The general elections of March 2020, in particular, provided a taste of what a doomsday scenario would look like.  Arab Israeli parties unified under the single ticket of the Joint List and emerged with 15 seats, making it the third-largest political bloc in the Israeli Knesset, after Likud and Blue and White. If Palestinian Arabs mastered this much influence, though they represent only 20% of the overall Israeli population, imagine what they could do if the demographic tide continues to shift in their favor.

For Israel, the future of Jewish majority – read: supremacy – is dependent on keeping the population equation in favor of Israeli Jews at the expense of Palestinian Arabs. Most of the laws that discriminate against Palestinians, regardless of where they reside – in fact, anywhere in the world – is motivated by this maxim.

According to the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah), Israel’s Palestinian Arab population is targeted with 65 different government laws and regulations, which ensure Palestinian Arabs do not prosper as a community, remaining politically disempowered, socio-economically disadvantaged and constantly threatened with the loss of their residency, and even citizenship.

Palestinians elsewhere suffer an even worse fate. For example, Palestinians living in Jerusalem, who supposedly hold permanent residency status, are subjected to different types of legal harassment, so that Jerusalem can maintain its current Jewish majority. When Israel illegally occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, the city was almost entirely Palestinian Arab. Through numerous tactics, the city’s Arab population is now an ever-shrinking minority. Worse still, in 2018 Israel passed a law that granted the Ministry of Interior the right to revoke the residency of Jerusalemites based on the murky accusation of ‘breach of loyalty’.

The occupied West Bank and Gaza are confined, as only Israel determines who remains and who is permanently exiled. The Israeli military occupation of these regions has taken population control to a whole new level; it is almost an exact science.

This is also precisely why Israelis abhor the very discussion of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees, for they consider it an implicit call for the ‘destruction of Israel as a Jewish state’. According to this logic, if millions of Palestinian refugees are allowed to return to their homes and lands in historic Palestine, Israel will no longer exist in its current form, as a Jewish state, but will become a democratic state for all of its citizens, instead.

What is likely to happen next is that Israel’s Interior Ministry will continue to find caveats in Israel’s ever-flexible laws to block the reunification of Palestinian families, until the Knesset officially renews the Citizenship and Entry Law or, worse, make it permanent. Either way, Israel’s demographic war on Palestinians is likely to intensify in the future. Considering that it is a war that cannot rationally be won, Israel is likely to delve deeper into the abyss of apartheid.

As Israel continues to experiment with controlling the Palestinian population, it would be shameful if the international community continued to remain silent. This moral outrage must end.

The post Family Separation Law: Israel’s Demographic War on Palestine Intensifies   first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Spiritual Advisor Confronts DA Krasner and the FOP

This new mural featuring Pam and Ramona Africa alongside other Black community activists was unveiled on May 11, 2021 directly across the street from Philadelphia City Hall, on the very same block where the infamous statue of Frank Rizzo once stood.Photo: Jamal Journal staff photographer Joe Piette

Mark Lewis Taylor has been a professor in religion and society at Princeton Theological Seminary since 1982. He is also the founder of Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal (EMAJ), which was first known as Academics for Mumia Abu-Jamal (AMAJ). In 2007, he co-authored “20 FAQs: The Pedro Polakoff Crime Scene Photos” with Journalists for Mumia. In recent years, he has also been working as Mumia’s spiritual advisor.

In this new interview, Professor Taylor covers many topics including his personal observations from Judge Sabo’s 1995-97 PCRA (Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act) hearings. Taylor also confronts Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s Feb. 3 brief filed in opposition to all of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s appeals. In support of the critiques made previously by Pam Africa and Dr. Ricardo Alvarez, Taylor now makes his own response to DA Krasner’s continued defense of Mumia’s unjust 1982 conviction.

If you have not yet done so, please sign our Color of Change petition to DA Krasner.

Jamal Journal: How did you first learn about Mumia’s case?

Mark Lewis Taylor: I still remember a rainy day in 1994 when I was just back from a summer of research and connecting with Maya activist groups in Guatemala, struggling then as it long had against European colonization, now against the neocolonialism of U.S.-backed governments in Central America. At the time of that 1994 trip back to the U.S., I was also taking up again some of the prison activist work I had done even earlier in the 1970s when working in the Virginia State Penitentiary investigating prisoner complaints.

So in the midst of all this, on the way into a New York City coffee shop to wait out the rain, I purchased a thin newspaper sold by a grassroots homeless organization – Street News, I think it was. There I read my first column by Mumia. I’m quite sure it was “War on the Poor,” which was also recorded by Prison Radio.

“War on the Poor”

Afterwards I began using many of Mumia’s writings in graduate-level classes. His writings ignited student thinking on the politics of imprisonment, policing and the death penalty. I resolved that if officials ever signed a death warrant to silence Mumia, “I couldn’t live my life as usual” (at least that’s what I found myself muttering to myself then).

Why that resolve? I often ask myself that. The answer I give is that by committing forthrightly to the movement to keep alive and release Mumia, I would be involved at the same time on multiple political fronts of liberation. I had already found that to support any one prisoner in the archipelago of U.S. mass incarceration demanded one’s utmost. It is to face a kind of abyss of human need.

While I’ve had to maintain some work for other prisoners too, the work for Mumia was such that by working for him, I felt, I was also working for so many more, and also on the larger fronts of national and international social change and liberation. (I do not accept the current squeamishness of U.S. academic culture making them reluctant to use the word “liberation,” even though I believe we should define it and use it carefully.)

Being at work as a full-time professor, in work that itself required far more than 40 hours a week, I needed every hour of my “outside” movement work to count politically in as comprehensive a way as I could imagine. Work for Mumia enabled that. That’s what I felt.

So, when Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge signed Mumia’s death warrant in 1995, I requested educators’ support for Mumia. I learned that many other educators had been using Mumia’s writings. And they too found his execution intolerable. My fax machine and email inbox blew up with responses from colleagues who wanted to go to work.

Thus began years of struggle to find ways to build educators into the larger movement for Mumia headed by International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal. We undertook years of organizing press conferences, newspaper ads and seeking other ways to build educators’ contributions into the larger movement.

We immediately took out ads in the Philadelphia Daily News, holding press conferences in Philadelphia. It was struggle, and we often faltered, got too busy with academic meetings and minutiae, with career advancement and more. But our moments of struggle went forward, and we continue. Our largest ad campaign culminated in a Sunday New York Times full page in the “Week in Review” section in May 2000. So, we were launched.

JJ: Why did you decide to attend the 1995 PCRA hearings in front of Judge Albert Sabo?

MLT: Well, I don’t remember any “deciding,” really. It was just a necessary stage of the movement work at the time. Besides, there was urgency in the air since Gov. Ridge had given Mumia an execution date. We joined the many who Pam Africa organized to pack the courtroom. I cannot recall who all among educators were present. I’m certain that Cornel West was (more on that below). There were other Philadelphia educators who had stepped forward for our ad campaigns and press conferences, who may also have been there: Achille Mbembe, E. Ann Matter, Ann Farnsworth-Alvear, Farah Jasmine Griffin (all four, then at UPENN), also Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak of Columbia University.

Cornel West, Angela Y. Davis and Manning Marable had already been to the fore of the struggle for Mumia long before me. They supported EMAJ (Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal) in very helpful ways. Manning Marable once told me, for example, “Always use my name in support of your events.” I am not sure if Davis and Marable were at the PCRA hearings or not. Marable at Columbia was a formative teacher for Dr. Johanna Fernández who assumed so many leadership roles in EMAJ and now coordinates the campaign to Bring Mumia Home.

I remember so much about those PCRA hearings: Pam Africa and MOVE organizing the seating in the courtroom and the rallies outside, Mumia coming into the courtroom in shackles and greeting us with raised fist, and Mumia’s lawyers drawing the ire of Judge Albert Sabo.

JJ: What do you think of Kiilu Nyasha’s description of Sabo’s courtroom in her essay, “Witness to a Lynching”?

From left, Dr. Ala Stanford, Ajeenah Amir, Sajda “Purple” Blackwell, artist Russell Craig, Pam Dr. Ala Stanford, Ajeenah Amir, Sajda “Purple” Blackwell, artist Russell Craig, Pam Africa, Krystal Strong, YahNé Ndgo and Kezia Ridgeway stand in front of the East side of the Crown mural that pays homage to their social justice work at Philadelphia’s Municipal Services Building. – Photo: Kimberly Paynter, WHYY

MLT: I still find Nyasha’s write-up to be accurate, especially in its description of the general ethos of humiliation and intimidation that Judge Sabo stoked and allowed prosecutors to inject into the proceedings. I personally did not see Sabo nod off, but he ran the courtroom indeed as the notorious “hanging judge” who had sent so many other Philadelphians to death row and long prison sentences with the racially biased demeanor that so many of us have long denounced. Even reporters working for established news venues in Philadelphia recognized this bias to be in operation.

Sometimes you wished Sabo would have fallen asleep more. What was so enraging was his continual denial of Mumia’s lawyers’ motions and his affirmation of the prosecutors’ objections. Sabo would also make off-hand remarks about Mumia’s plight, almost taunting him with references to the pending execution date.

I remember in one of the earlier hearings, when the antics of Sabo were so egregious, as he made so many off-hand racist comments and ran such a one-sided prosecutors’ courtroom. I was sitting beside Dr. Cornel West, then during his first stint at Harvard. At one point after a Sabo comment, Cornel rolled forward in his seat and gasped in loud whisper, “Mississippi 1955!”

Only toward the end of the hearings did Sabo finally relent and issue a stay of execution, precisely because of the large rallies in Philadelphia at the courthouse then and the presence in the courtroom of key dignitaries. On the day of the stay, I think the movement had helped facilitate the presence of Rev. Jesse Jackson in the courtroom among Mumia’s many other supporters. The stay came during one of the later hearings of the PCRA in 1995, really only 10 days away from the execution date in August.

JJ: In light of your experience observing Sabo, what is your response to DA Krasner’s Feb. 3, 2021, brief where he puts his stamp of approval on literally every single decision Judge Sabo made at both the 1982 trial and the later PCRA hearings?

MLT: Well, Krasner has to know what establishment reporters in Philadelphia know: All of Sabo’s courtrooms show at least a potential for racial bias as well as many comments that offer clear evidence of racial bias. Krasner also knows that the bar for tolerating racial bias in courtrooms is set exceedingly low. This “low bar” has been confirmed more than once, in a 1986 case (Batson v. Kentucky) and a 2008 case (Snyder v. Louisiana).

This means that the smallest amount of racial bias is often grounds for ruling in a defendants’ favor. One U.S. circuit court judge, Thomas Ambro of the Third Circuit, thought the low bar should be extended to Mumia, in keeping with the precedent confirmed by the Snyder case just a few weeks earlier. (See Ambro’s dissent in Abu-Jamal v. Horn et al, p. 78.)

But in the case of Mumia, who is often forced to labor under what Linn Washington has termed “The Mumia Exception,” the bar for proving racial bias was set so high that he is denied redress for what he has suffered. Krasner shows no interest in lowering the unfairly raised bar against Mumia. To perpetuate the state’s performance of that exception is to fail to be a prosecutor “for the people” of Philadelphia.

Krasner has a tendency to cite “the many other legal cases similar to Mumia’s” and the “many other problems and issues” that he wants to address progressively. He and his supporters often speak as if Krasner cannot keep up this “progressive” agenda, that he does need police cooperation to a certain extent to enact his reforms and can’t afford to alienate them.

The idea is that if he goes too far in challenging the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police), such as by pursuing litigation favorable to Mumia, the Philadelphia police and other political powers will block his larger agenda for change. It can appear that Krasner is sacrificing Mumia “for the greater good.” It is as if there is an unspoken deal with the FOP that Krasner gets to enact some positive reforms, so long as he doesn’t do anything that might lead to Mumia’s freedom.

I suggest, though, that with this kind of approach, Krasner risks losing even his more modest and comprehensive gains regarding other legal cases and issues. Remember, Mumia and his death remain a comprehensive aim of the FOP. Mumia remains the FOP’s “public enemy number one.”

If Krasner does not challenge the FOP at their own declared front-most battle line – on Mumia Abu-Jamal – then he really has not challenged the FOP fundamentally. He may achieve some short-term gains for “progressive” prosecuting, and indeed he has, but he has not really challenged the police power of the state that wants to kill Mumia and defeat the revolutionary and more humane form of the state for which Mumia fights.

JJ: In their recent SF Bay View newspaper articles, both Pam Africa and Dr. Ricardo Alvarez criticize page 5 of the Feb. 3 brief where Krasner endorses the official police version of Mumia’s arrest by writing that Mumia “resisted arrest” and “refused to walk” into the hospital. Dr. Alvarez writes: “The presumption that Mumia violently resisted arrest and then confessed is wrong, can be easily proven wrong, and is a form of harm that denies Mumia’s humanity.” What is your response to this section of Krasner’s Feb. 3 brief?

This is one segment of the original artwork created by longtime Mumia supporter Seth Tobocman to support our petition campaign. It is the centerpiece of Issue #1 and can be viewed on the Jamal Journal website.

MLT: Well, I think that both Pam Africa and Ricardo Alvarez make their cases quite well for disproving these points as they occur in Krasner’s brief. Also, Pam’s and Ricardo’s claims have been underscored numerous times by several of Mumia’s attorneys.

What is further concerning about Krasner’s arguing these points is that, to my knowledge, while his brief introduces no new characters or events into prosecutors’ view of the crime, it does rephrase the story in slight but significant ways. In the brief, the DA’s Office is not recreating a new story, but the arrest scenario is tweaked so as to emphasize many of the excuses that we now receive from police who handle protestors or who rationalize their killing of Black, Brown and Indigenous peoples in the U.S. Doesn’t this language sound familiar – “resisting arrest,” “would not walk” or was “reaching for a gun”? This language is consistent with current state power’s attempts to rationalize and describe police beatings and killings of protestors and others.

The police have still not provided an account for the evident physical battery that Mumia suffered at the hands of the police upon his arrest. Mumia was so badly beaten, said his sister, Lydia, that she hardly recognized him. Mumia has recounted how, after being shot, he was also beaten and rammed into a street light pole. In all likelihood, he was beaten more in the back of a paddy wagon headed for the hospital before being dumped on the floor of its ER. Instead of considering any of this as possible, Krasner’s brief foregrounds notions about Mumia “reaching for a gun” that an Officer Shoemaker reports seeing “eight inches away from Mumia’s hand?”

Krasner knows cops have been found lying and has himself spoken out about police disinformation and perjured testimony. So, why not consider them to be lying about this story? The brief says Mumia was “resisting arrest” and then is reported to have “refused to walk”? This language is especially passable and plausible for that part of the public – still all too many – who today buy into cops’ arguments designed to rationalize racialized police violence.

JJ: Returning to the topic of lynching, what do you think of Pam Africa’s assertion that police attempted to lynch Mumia on the morning of Dec. 9, 1981?

MLT: Well look, we know that the young journalist Abu-Jamal had received threats from the police long before they found him at the curb of Locust and 13th on that early morning of 1981. Terry Bisson’s biographical reflection on Mumia, entitled “On a Move: The Story of Mumia Abu-Jamal,” cites more than one occasion when Philadelphia police would drive slowly by Mumia making hand gestures of a pointed gun and moving trigger finger, as if they had him targeted for killing.

The 1981 police attack on Mumia occurred well after Mumia had served not only in the Panthers, but also after he had written to expose police practices against MOVE and other residents and after he had directly challenged the Rizzo pro-police regime. So, after all this, finding Mumia vulnerable and shot on a curb on Dec. 9 was an opportunity for attack the police could not pass up.

And yes, battering Mumia as they did that morning qualifies as an attempted lynching. If we recall the history of lynching, we know that those actions were not carried out only by mobs of general citizens. Lynching participants also included such officials as police, lawyers, even judges and local pastors, clad in Klan costumery or other disguise. And some felt emboldened to turn up and take pictures for posterity with no disguise at all!

Sure, maybe the early morning beating did not have the same status of spectacle that the “burning and hanging lynchings” had, but surely, if you add on Mumia’s later very public trial and death sentence, the function of Mumia’s overall brutal treatment is indeed that of a lynching. Lynching in the USA, like crucifixions in Rome were intended as a kind of public service announcement to the poor and repressed: “Act up like this one hanging before you now, and this too will become your fate!”

JJ: What do you think about the Medical Professionals for Mumia petition co-written by Dr. Alvarez?

MLT: The petition was a great thing to see. Even more, I think, is the way the group, “Medical Professionals for Mumia” is mobilizing the conscience of medically-trained personnel to act on the myriad health issues posed for the increasing numbers of infirm and elderly who are incarcerated and on the ways white supremacy is at work in the profession and in the U.S. healthcare establishment. Elite higher education is also often rife with pervasive white supremacist postures and practices.

Moreover, it is so important that Dr. Ricardo is taking the advocacy and work for Mumia into his own profession. Of course, he has been a participant in the larger diverse movement. But his instincts are so right, it seems to me, to attempt to integrate the broader movement for Mumia and for all political prisoners and the incarcerated into the work-world he inhabits. I think all of us need to attempt something like this in whatever be our places of work. Not everyone can take the movement work into their work-world, into their everyday spaces of employment. I know that. It is important, though, to try where we can.

Our founding reflex of Educators for Mumia was to integrate the broader movement into the daily educational labor of teachers, as well as to enable teachers to participate in and support the larger national and international work of the movement. So, I view the petition and its vision to be an exciting development as it seeks to take the concerns of our movement into the medical profession.

JJ: A central piece of evidence cited by our Color of Change petition to DA Krasner is the 2010 ballistics test conducted by Dave Lindorff and Linn Washington, where they concluded that “the whole prosecution story of an execution-style slaying of the officer by Abu-Jamal would appear to be a prosecution fabrication, complete with coached, perjured witnesses, undermining the integrity and fairness of the entire trial.” Pam Africa has now issued a public challenge to both Michael Smerconish and DA Krasner to try and disprove the conclusions of the 2010 test. How significant do you think are the conclusions of Lindorff’s and Washington’s test?

“Test Shows Missing Evidence and Falsified Testimony from Key Witnesses in Abu-Jamal Trial”

MLT: Very significant indeed. Here are two investigative journalists who know the case inside and out. Neither of them can be dismissed as a naïve advocate who might quickly throw out claims that have no evidence. On the contrary, both have a thorough knowledge of the trial transcripts. Linn Washington has written and researched the case continuously since he visited the crime scene within one hour of the incident. Dave Lindorff has written a detailed, book-length and fair analysis of the entire case. And here, in the video of their 2010 ballistics test, they raise serious questions about the veracity of prosecution claims that Mumia stood over Officer Faulkner lying on his back and executed him with a shot to the head with other shots hitting the sidewalk. So Pam’s challenge is right-on. Let DA Krasner and media talking head Smerconish respond to the video.

The Lindorff-Washington ballistics test joins other forms of exculpatory evidence that need revisiting in the form of media attention and more adequate judicial review. Among these forms I would include the following: (a) the argument for racial bias in jury selection that emerged with training-tapes by prosecutor Jack McMahon advising young prosecutors about how and when to keep Blacks off juries, (b) Veronica Jones’ 1996 recantation of her being pressured by cops to lie against Mumia at the original 1982 trial and (c) court stenographer’s sworn affidavit that during the trial she heard the notoriously racist Judge Sabo say out of court in another room, “Yeah, and I’m gonna help them fry the n***er.” Some of these have been reviewed quickly under judicial review, some totally ignored.

None of these forms of evidence for Mumia will see the light of day, much less receive serious judicial review without public pressure. And that’s why Pam’s challenge to Krasner and Smerconish on the ballistics test is so significant.

JJ: Let’s shift to looking at your role as Mumia’s spiritual advisor. What can you tell us about that? How has it been communicating with Mumia in recent months, since the COVID and congestive heart failure diagnosis in late February and then heart surgery in April?

MLT: Yes, I had been in to visit Mumia about once every month, often for visits as long as 3-4 hours, for four years prior to the arrival of the COVID pandemic. I saw him in January 2020, and then didn’t have a visit until video visits of 2021.

Obviously, I value every minute of any visit with Mumia, whether in person or on video (limited by the DOC to 45 minutes). Moreover, I try to make the visits count for the movement, by facilitating communication between Mumia and other family members and the movement when I can.

I visited by video once with him, between the time of his COVID diagnosis, and then his going into the hospital for surgery. It is especially enraging to experience Mumia’s “being disappeared,” as he was when taken in for heart surgery. To deny his family and friends – as well as outside medical advisor – knowledge of his whereabouts exacerbates the medical trauma for everyone. This is part of the state’s violence against the incarcerated and their families, which the state seeks to justify with its concerns for “security.”

I put a minister’s collar on and searched out some nearby hospitals and eventually confirmed where he was hospitalized. But of course, neither I nor Dr. Ricardo Alvarez, with whom I was in touch about this, were given any kind of access (even by phone). Ricardo and I sent a communication into the hospital, urging its supervising officials to keep the shackles off Mumia and to open all necessary communication between Mumia and his family and key supporters.

We received nothing but denials from hospital security that Mumia was even there. After much phoning of the prison, the governor’s office and the hospital, I did receive a brief call from the PA DOC’s (Pennsylvania Department of Corrections) special counsel saying that his lawyers would make sure that Mumia could call his wife 15 minutes a day. That did happen, as I understand it, because two of Mumia’s lawyers, Bret Grote and Bob Boyle, kept pressure on DOC officials.

I don’t view the role of a “spiritual advisor” in prison to be primarily that of a sharer of words from sacred texts or the imparting of religious wisdom per se. Maybe there’s a place for that at times when it is requested by prisoners. But recall, the notion of “spirit” in most languages refers to breath, to breathing that makes for life. To work spirit, to facilitate spirit, then, is to open up passages that allow life to occur and grow. In that sense, fostering connections and opening passageways between Mumia and his family, his friends and his necessary advocates – all this is spirit work even as it is also very material, often also a kind of political practice.

The established religions of colonizers and imperialists have regularly instilled in people the idea that spirit is somehow antithetical to body. In fact, the spirit is the life of the body, the life animating our struggle to liberate all realms of material creation that suffer from oppression and injustice.

JJ: How does Mumia and your work with him relate to your scholarly interest in “liberating spirit?”

MLT: Well, as your question indicates, you know I’ve explained this notion of “liberating spirit” elsewhere, as at my website. Liberating spirit creates freeing ways of being amid global and local structures and during the daily practices that grind us down, that destroy humanity and earth – that oppress. Liberating spirit names a way being “political” in the broadest sense of engaging the powers that subjugate us. It is material life struggling and fighting, acting up creatively through the many arts and mobilizing new community with a steady relentless, resilience in our social movements to revolutionize our lives against a state that represses.

I guess that in the U.S. my participation in the work for Mumia has been a way to observe and feel “liberating spirit” to be at work in a profoundly full sense. Consider how many political issues and fronts are encountered through the movement for Mumia. The U.S. white supremacy that rationalized and then grew stronger in the wake of the slavery that built the U.S. capitalist system – well, Mumia writes in a way that remembers and foregrounds all that. He has been a vocal critic of the surveillance and police state that enforces the alienation of labor and protects the rule of capital.

He has been a spokesperson for the earth – “mother earth” as he writes with MOVE – the earth that nurtures us all. He has written my class with special commentary on the frequent erasure of women’s leadership from Christian and other religious organizations of colonizers and empire builders. He dreams, writes and works for futures free from empires and capitalists and for “the return of nature” and of a genuine “socialism and ecology.” (These latter phases are from the work of a writer whom both Mumia and I appreciate, John Bellamy Foster.)

This fullness of liberating struggle, across so many issues and up against so many fronts of resistance, has been evident from the time of Mumia’s earliest columns to his most recent writings. See for example the collection edited by Johanna Fernández in Writing on the Wall. Note the breadth of concerns covered in the three-volume work Mumia authored with Stephen Vittoria, Murder Incorporated. Again, one person cannot take up all that “liberating spirit” demands of thought and practice, but to work through the movement for Mumia Abu-Jamal is to find oneself at work, directly or indirectly on so many of the important challenges of our time. This is one of the reasons that even though I cannot be involved in as many actions of the movement for Mumia, I continually introduce my students to Mumia and the movement.

Let me give just one example of the way those struggling for and with Mumia have impacted others. In my video visit that occurred between Mumia’s COVID diagnosis and his heart surgery, he mentioned to me how deeply moved he was by words from his relatively new prison doctor, Dr. Baddick. That doctor had read Federal District Judge Robert Mariani’s decision in favor of Mumia in 2017, allowing him to be treated with antiviral meds for his Hepatitis C infection. Mumia with the help of the movement and legal work was not only saved, but something more happened. As Dr. Baddick said to Mumia: “You saved thousands of other lives.” (Indeed, Missouri is just one other state where I understand that Mumia’s case for his Hepatitis cure has since become precedent-setting for many other prisoners).

In a revised version of my 2015 work, The Executed God (397-450), a book which I dedicated to Mumia, I added a new final chapter on Mumia, explaining his importance. I borrowed literary Marxist critic Walter Benjamin’s notion of the “great criminal” to explain that the terrorizing and repressive state often makes certain figures into “great criminal” figures. They do this to demonize them to the fullest, because the state sees them as especially threatening, able to expose the founding violence of the state and also to stoke popular revolt and revolution against the state.

This is why the struggle for Mumia has been so hard. This is also why the struggle for Mumia remains so necessary: Mumia exposes the state’s violence and equips our comprehensive resistance to it.

The post Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Spiritual Advisor Confronts DA Krasner and the FOP first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Indigenous Fisheries vs. Mob Rule

Suspicious fire destroys Potlotek First Nation cabins. CTV.news

On September 17, 2020, the Sipekne’katik First Nation of Nova Scotia opened its independent fishery, affirming the Band’s rights under Canada’s Supreme Court ruling of 1999 (the Marshall Decision), which allowed the Band to fish for a moderate living under its own regulations. On the 17th and in following days from 80 to 200 fishing boats of the commercial fishing industry came to St. Mary’s Bay to protest the new fishery. There were boat rammings, flare guns, intimidation, and destruction of lobster traps and gear. Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the DFO Conservation and Protection Divison, the RCMP, the Coast Guard, were there but provided the Band no protection.1

This began two months of intimidation, burnings, assaults, destruction and confiscation of lobster traps and gear, with mob actions by commercial fishermen unhampered by the few police on hand.

The Sipekne’katik First Nation requested and received from Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court a temporary injunction assuring protection from attacks until mid-December 2020. Canadian law was not protecting them. The Band was faced with mobs of men understood to represent commercial fishing interests but under the colors of conserving lobster stock. The commercial seafood industry is known for the near extinction of several Atlantic species of fish. If the non-Indigenous fishermen of Nova Scotia who attacked the Sipekne’katik First Nation were free men, why wouldn’t they form worker-owned fishing cooperatives similar to the Indigenous fisheries?

Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal government said the violence was a terrible thing and although military intervention was suggested by the Sipekne’katik First Nation, the number of RCMP officers was increased. While the RCMP was not able to intervene when a mob of over two hundred commercial fishermen torched a Sipekne’katik fisherman’s van and destroyed his catch, eventual arrests of over 20 participants resulted in a court date March 29th. As of mid-May reports of their trial aren’t available in the media.

Then, instead of de-escalating, the government aggressively pursued its policies of licensing restrictions and seasonal limits affecting Indigenous fisheries, despite the serious doubts of the government’s right to interfere in the Indigenous self-regulatory process. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, using the same argument of the commercial fishermen that the variant Indigenous lobster season (with its tiny catch) endangered the lobster stock, is legitimizing mob rule and the crimes of November and December 2020.

The Potlotek First Nation of Cape Breton is one of several bands self-regulating its native fishery. Durng this past April 37 lobster traps belonging to a Potlotek fisherman were seized by the DFO2 which has steadily confiscated the Band’s lobster traps since last October.3  To continue to assert its fishing rights the Potlotek Band has had to bring suit against Canada, May 10th at the Halifax Supreme Court.4

The DFO confiscates lobster traps of the Sipekne’katik First Nation as well, asserting regulations requiring conformity with the commercial industry’s season; the restrictions are imposed without Sipekne’katik’s consultation and permission as required. As a law unto itself the DFO also confiscates crab traps protected by Section 35 of the Constitution and the Sparrow Decision.5  The regulations risk closing and bankrupting native fisheries and stripping them of their Supreme Court guaranteed rights to fish for a “moderate livelihood.” The expense of proving that the government has exceeded its legal authority is placed on the First Nations.

Lack of visible prosecution of the primary crime here – terrorizing of a selected ethnic group, encourages the perpetrators.

From the perspective of the Convention on Genocide the concern is whether Canada’s government is intentionally continuing policies which lead to the extermination of Indigenous people. To limit discussion here to fishing rights, an indication of the controls on First Peoples is available in DFO licensing policy (as of November 2020); as revealed in response to a suit by Sipekne’katik First Nation against the Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance: the Alliance revealed that the seafood buyers were only permitted by the DFO to buy from fisheries licensed by the DFO, and these purchases had to be within the DFO defined seasons.6  These government regulations exclude the Sipekne’katik First Nation and other newly formed Indigenous fisheries from the right to market their small catches of seafood.

Divisions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples serve those who control both for profit. I tend to see current adversarial anti-Indigenous actions, with their similarities to KKK tactics and controls in the U.S. during the last century or so, as the result of corporate interests facilitated by the government. The criminal controls don’t really benefit the often desperate commercial fishermen who effect the terrorizing. While Prime Minister Trudeau’s government expressed horror at the violence dealt the Sipekne’katik fishery, his government’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans increased the dissent by confiscating Sipekne’katik’s lobster traps — much as boats from the commercial fleet had stolen them. The government failed to protect an Indigenous community requesting protection.1  Sipekne’katik First Nation Chief Sack suggested military intervention to protect his people but was refused.7  (The government was able to deploy sixty Canadian Armed Forces members to assist at Nova Scotia centres testing for COVID-19.8

The Sipekne’katik First Nation has given every indication that it will pursue justice under the law, and that this would include appeals to the U.N.. Canadian political science Professor John McGarry, described by the CBC as “an international expert on conflict management,” has assured Canadians the U.N. wouldn’t provide “peacekeepers” since the Canadian government would have to approve of any intervention. By this, Professor McGarry acknowledges the seriousness of acts against the Sipekne’katik First Nation as possibly requiring the armed military intervention of ‘peacekeepers.’9

The U.N. has refused to leave the Sipekne’katik First Nation to the promises of the Canadian State when faced by its commercial fishing industry. An April 30th letter from the head of the U.N.’s Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), Yanduan Li, asks Canada to answer the allegations made by Sipekne’katik First Nations band: “According to the information received during September and December 2020, especially between 13th and 17th October, Mi’kmaw people, and in particular Mi’kmaw fishers, have been subject to escalating racist hate speech, violence, including with firearms, intimidation, burning and destruction of their property, including lobster traps, lobster processing facilities and work vehicles.” Also noted: “It is further alleged that, despite being aware of the high risks of violence, the competent Canadian authorities – in particular the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) – failed to take appropriate measures to prevent these act of violence and to protect the Mi’kmaw fishers and their properties from being vandalized.” The three page letter challenges the government’s inaction and asks for a thorough investigation. It verifies the need to ask the Canadian government to “respect, protect and guarantee the rights of Mi’kmaw peoples in relation to their fishing activites and territories,” among other guaranteed rights.10 The deadline for response is July 14th.

  1. DFO, RCMP knew violence was coming but did nothing to protect Mi’kmaw lobster harvester: Documents,” Brett Forester, February 10, 2021, aptn.
  2. Traps seized by DFO in first day of Potlotek’s moderate livelihood lobster fishery,” Ardelle Reynolds, April 30, May 1, 2021, Saltwire.
  3. Potlotek chief says band losing patience with DFO over fishery,” Tom Ayers, October 23, 2020, CBC News.
  4. Potlotek First Nation seeks injunction against DFO over self-regulated fishery,” Erin Pottie, May 11, 2021, CBC News.
  5. Mi’kmaw fisherman has crab traps seized by DFO during food fishery,” Angel Moore, April 14, 2021, aptn.
  6. Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance says licences only let them buy from DFO-authorized fisheries,” Paul Withers, Novemher 17, 2020, CBC News.
  7. ’We’re being targeted now’: Mi’kmaq chief wants military called in to N.S. lobster clashes, attacks,” Greg Mercer, October 18, 19, 2020, Globe and Mail.
  8. Canadian Armed Forces deploying personnel for Nova Scotia COVID-19 response,” April 27, 2021, CBC News.
  9. UN peacekeepers won’t monitor Sipekne’katik fishery, says expert,” Paul Withers, April 30, 2021, CBC News.
  10. Letter to H.E. Ms. Leslie Norton, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations Office, Geneva, from Yanduan Li, Chair, Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,” Reference CERD/EWUAP/103rd Session/2021/MJ/CS/ks, 30 April 2021, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, Geneva Switzerland.
The post Indigenous Fisheries vs. Mob Rule first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Jen Psaki Grilled on Assange

The U.S. government is still appealing their stunning defeat in Julian’s extradition case. While the world waits for the UK courts to act, activists continue to draw attention to Julian’s plight.

Psaki Grilled on Assange

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was grilled yesterday on press freedom and Julian’s case. Psaki deflected New York Post reporter Steven Nelson’s question by stressing the “independence” of the Justice Department.

Activists Making Things Happen!

Activists are joining together to fund a series of #FreeAssange billboards! Led by Misty Winston, they’ve raised thousands in grassroots donations to put up the first billboard in Columbus, Ohio!

Western Hypocrisy on Press Freedom Has Global Implications

Our latest blog post delves into how the persecution of Julian Assange is exposing U.S. and UK hypocrisy and undermining the West’s moral authority.

We’ve long been concerned about how this assault on press freedom would be seized upon by global human rights violators, and now we’re seeing it. The danger isn’t hypothetical — it’s happening now as countries from China to Azerbaijan deflect attention from their own abuses by pointing to the West’s “double standard.”


The post Jen Psaki Grilled on Assange first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Jen Psaki Grilled on Assange

The U.S. government is still appealing their stunning defeat in Julian’s extradition case. While the world waits for the UK courts to act, activists continue to draw attention to Julian’s plight.

Psaki Grilled on Assange

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was grilled yesterday on press freedom and Julian’s case. Psaki deflected New York Post reporter Steven Nelson’s question by stressing the “independence” of the Justice Department.

Activists Making Things Happen!

Activists are joining together to fund a series of #FreeAssange billboards! Led by Misty Winston, they’ve raised thousands in grassroots donations to put up the first billboard in Columbus, Ohio!

Western Hypocrisy on Press Freedom Has Global Implications

Our latest blog post delves into how the persecution of Julian Assange is exposing U.S. and UK hypocrisy and undermining the West’s moral authority.

We’ve long been concerned about how this assault on press freedom would be seized upon by global human rights violators, and now we’re seeing it. The danger isn’t hypothetical — it’s happening now as countries from China to Azerbaijan deflect attention from their own abuses by pointing to the West’s “double standard.”


The post Jen Psaki Grilled on Assange first appeared on Dissident Voice.

What Does a “Racist Country” Look Like Anyway?

America is not a racist country,” Republican senator Tim Scott of South Carolina said in his party’s official response to President Biden’s address to the nation on April 28. There are reasons that should have been a laugh line: Biden did not say America was a “racist country,” the Black senator was rebutting the president’s call for racial justice across all ethnicities, and the reality is that America was founded as a country in which owning and selling Black people was justified and legalized on the basis of the racist doctrine that they were part of an inferior race. Scott didn’t get a laugh. He wasn’t trying to be funny. He was being intellectually dishonest and uttering a coded racist call to the white supremacist cohort of the Republican party that he is tolerant of their different, racist point of view. That’s where denial takes you, into crazy-land. That’s where partisanship takes you, invoking unreality to pander to polarization.

Scott’s maneuver is a variation on the same racist denial that’s worked for Republicans at least since Reagan. Countering the “not a racist country” argument is tricky, since it sets a trap for saying “America is a racist country.” There’s no such thing as a “racist country.” Countries contain racists and tolerant people, just as they contain dishonest and honest people.

Vice President Kamala Harris tried to evade the “America is racist” trap by adopting Scott’s framing, then trying to sidestep it and turn it to her own partisan advantage:

I don’t think America is a racist country…. But we also do have to speak truth about the history of racism in our country, and its existence today…. we know from the intelligence community, one of the greatest threats to our national security is domestic terrorism manifested by white supremacists.

Harris is right about the threat of “domestic terrorism” from the white right, but she’s engaged in threat inflation here. Worse, she uses an inflated threat to distract from the core realities of racism in America. Daily race realities are much less dramatic than “terrorism,” but just as lethal: they keep a crowd at bay watching a police murder, but they don’t protect a teenager with his hands in the air. President Biden talked about racism this way:

We’ve all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black Americans. Now is our opportunity to make some real progress. The vast majority of men and women wearing a uniform and a badge serve our communities and they serve them honorably. I know they want to help meet this moment, as well.

My fellow Americans, we have to come together to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve, to root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system and to enact police reform in George Floyd’s name that passed the house already….

The country supports this reform and Congress should act. We have a giant opportunity to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice, real justice, and with the plans outlined tonight, we have a real chance to root out systemic racism that plagues America and American lives in other ways….

This is not demagoguery built around some notion of a “racist country,” this is a reality-based appeal to Americans to demonstrate their goodness by addressing the systemic racism that ebbs and flows through American life every day, and always has. The nation has made progress, some progress, but daily justice is a far cry from reality.

Denying this reality, or minimizing it, is a habitual Republican tactic (or possibly a sincere belief, perhaps). Like Scott, Republican senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina doesn’t acknowledge that systemic racism is part of the fabric of American life. On Fox News, Graham denied any racism, arguing that, because the country elected a Black president and a Black vice president, “our systems are not racist. America is not a racist country.” Fox host Chris Wallace did not ask Graham to interpret the country’s election of a white bigot president in between the Black officials. That strikes me as a pretty clear example of systemic racism at work, although it could just be the familiar intellectual laziness of American journalism. Or both.

The day before the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict on April 20, CNN’s Chris Cillizza contributed to a multi-faceted example of the way systemic racism works. In Cillizza’s view, with the country “on knife’s edge” awaiting a verdict, “elected officials … need to urge calm and restraint.” He then falsely accused a congresswoman of inciting violence, with a headline reading: “Maxine Waters just inflamed a very volatile situation”

Cillizza chose not to acknowledge that the volatility of the situation, whatever it actually was, was the result of a long history of juries failing to convict guilty cops, possibly even a stone-cold killer like Chauvin. In advance of events he could know know, Cillizza was not only anticipating a racist verdict, he was preparing to scapegoat Maxine Waters for whatever reaction resulted from such a travesty of justice. Actually, he was scapegoating a Black congresswoman in advance on the basis of things she did not say in the way that he reported them:

“I hope we get a verdict that says guilty, guilty, guilty,” she said in response to reporters’ questions. “And if we don’t, we cannot go away. We’ve got to stay on the street. We get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”

Cillizza went on to editorialize based on his cherry-picked misquote:

… That sort of rhetoric — at a moment of such heightened tensions — is irresponsible coming from anyone. It’s especially irresponsible coming from an elected official like Waters.

By strong implication, Cillizza was accusing Waters of inciting violence. No matter that the violence had not happened (and, as it turned out, would not happen). Cillizza has been around long enough to know that Maxine Waters is constantly demonized by the right, so why is he jumping on that particular lynchwagon with such careless abandon?

In fact, Cillizza has quoted her out of context – whether out of malice or laziness, who’s to say? The full transcript of her remarks offers no evidence that she was calling for any violence. Although Cillizza acknowledges that Waters made her comments in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, in the context of another incident of cop violence, the killing of Daunte Wright in the driver’s seat of his car, Cillizza makes no effort to distinguish between those contexts.

Waters was addressing the Brooklyn Center killing when a reporter change the subject and asked about Derek Chauvin. After some overlap and confusion, Waters answers the question, “What should protestors do?” for which the context is ambiguous, but the only protestors were there in Brooklyn Center, where the case is far from adjudicated or resolved. Waters seems to answer in that context, informed by America’s systemic racism:

Well, we’ve got to stay on the street. And we’ve got to get more active. We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.

After the Chauvin verdict, variations on this answer became a common response (including Biden’s call for passing the George Floyd Act). There is no call for violence in the call to confront ongoing, systemic racism. But Cillizza in his lily-white political correctness feels free to lecture a victim based on his projection of her nonexistent call for violence. Even so, not a big deal if it stops there, with a casually racist slur from another veteran journalist. But it didn’t stop there, the story had legs. As the Washington Post reported:

Republicans have highlighted Waters’s comments as having the potential to lead to violence, but they have also faced accusations of hypocrisy over their lack of action over former president Donald Trump’s frequent inflammatory comments, or on members of their own party who have been accused of egging on violence.

Eric Nelson, one of Derek Chauvin’s defense lawyers, promptly tried to take advantage of the offending Waters quote. On April 19, with the jury out of the courtroom, he used it as the basis for a motion to declare a mistrial. He claimed that Waters:

… an elected official, a United States Congressperson, was making what I interpreted to be and what I think are reasonably interpreted to be, threats against the sanctity of the jury process, threatening and intimidating a jury, demanding that if there’s not a guilty verdict that there would be further problems….

After a brief colloquy with the judge, Nelson concluded:

And now that we have U.S. Representatives threatening acts of violence in relation to this specific case, it’s mind boggling to me, Judge.

Immediately, Judge Peter Cahill responded with extrajudicial commentary:

Well, I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned. But what’s the state’s position?

The state’s position was that the motion for mistrial was based on “vague statements” and that the basis of the motion was tantamount to hearsay:

If there’s a specific statement that a specific U.S. Representative made, then there needs to be some formal offer of proof with the exact quotes of the exact statement or some kind of a declaration. And I’m sure Mr. Nelson can do that if he thinks that that’s something that’s appropriate. I don’t know that this particular Representative made a specified threat to violence. I don’t know what the context of the statement is….

And so I just don’t think that we can muddy the record with vague allegations as to things that have happened without very specific evidence that’s being offered before the court….

And so without any specific offer of proof or information in the record, without any specific evidence that this particular jury was influenced in any particular way, I believe that the defendant’s motion should be denied.

This is precisely the sort of analysis that Cillizza and others should have made before accusing Maxine Waters of inciting violence. The evidence isn’t there. Attorney Nelson acknowledged that the best case is only interpretation – in other words: speculation, projection, predisposition to think the worst of a demonized Black congresswoman. Prejudiced people tend not to stop and think.

Before denying the motion for mistrial, Judge Cahill took the time to excoriate Rep. Waters and other unnamed elected officials for commenting on the Chauvin case in ways that, he implies, violate their oath of office. He concluded his brief diatribe by saying: “A congresswoman’s opinion really doesn’t matter a whole lot.” But if that’s the case, why rant on about it?

Elsewhere in the jungle of American racism, Republicans in Congress set about once again trying to censure Maxine Waters for the things they wished she’d said. This time, Republican leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy introduced a two-page censure resolution that selectively quotes Rep. Waters out of context. The bulk of the resolution relies on extensive quotes from Judge Cahill’s comments, also selectively and out of context.

On April 20, the House voted 216-210 (4 members not voting) along strict party lines to table McCarthy’s resolution, effectively rendering it moot. The previous motion to censure Rep. Waters was sent to the Ethics Committee, never to be seen again. Following the vote on her censure motion, Rep. Waters said:

I love my colleagues and they love me. I don’t want to do anything to hurt them or hurt their chances for re-election. I will make sure that they are comfortable with my kind of advocacy so that we can all be sure that we can do the right thing.

Even though America is not a “racist country,” far too many Americans, consciously and unconsciously, behave in racist patterns.

And sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they convict guilty cops. Sometimes they defend their Congressional colleagues. Sometimes they acknowledge that combatting racism requires endless, nonviolent confrontation.

The post What Does a “Racist Country” Look Like Anyway? first appeared on Dissident Voice.