Sunday, September 4, 2016

Bus Driver Union: "Dump Veolia"

Boston: Corporation which Exploited Syria & Iraq Opposed by Black Bus Drivers' Union "Dump Veolia" campaign. Workers also helped "Free Aafia" Movement. Islam forbids Private Ownership of Natural Resources.

Islam often presents itself as the Middle Path between the two extremes of Capitalism and Communism. Islamic Law would eliminate the need for class struggle by creating a society where property owners are held accountable. Yet, no Islamic society exists in this century. What is important to understand however is that Islam considers environmental and mineral resources to belong to Allah. That means nobody can own them. An Islamic movement has to protect and utilize natural resources for the public benefit. Leftist speech refers to "The People" while Islamic speech invokes "Allah" - but essentially they are both saying the same thing: that water and other resources belong to the government and cannot be privatized.

We have been hearing the word "privatization" a lot as local governments for example Flint, Michigan take the water and sewage infrastructure out of public control and give it to a private company that then contaminates the water and destroys the pipes. The Flint move was touted as part of "austerity measures," even though the privatization actually cost the city much more. It was really about corporations lining their pockets with public money. When a government hires a "private" company to run basic civilian infrastructure, we are not talking about a small private company with scientific expertise to solve environmental or organizational problems. These "private" companies are actually huge international corporations, which are steadily consolidating their power to create what increasingly appears to be a global takeover of control that is able to overrule local governments and impose its will on the people via distribution or non-distribution of water, food, and resources. Islamic hadith prophesied the coming of such a global rule - Dajjal - that represents an evil force of oppression, which rules by controlling access to food, water, and other resources.

The poorest of the poor, from India to South America suffer from lack of access to clean water while their freedom of movement is often brutally hindered. These conditions do not arise because of the backwardness of the people but are due to deliberate maneuvers by the political elite. The poor are further degraded by unsafe working conditions and inadequate compensation from corporate bosses that prevent workers from organizing to demand improvements. The ongoing current struggle against multinational corporations is being spearheaded by labor unions and social justice groups in a wide variety of locations. Because of increasing global communication, activists involved in protests and strikes all over the world are not only able to offer solidarity but compare notes on the common global enemy and strategies for defeating it. An increasingly organized, informed and supported labor movement can only be a good thing.

The business connections between those building the wall between the US and Mexico and those building walls surrounding Palestinian areas are unsurprising, but not everyone is aware of the vast extent of the massive web of international corporate control of water, sewage, and transportation systems around the globe. A particularly evil French corporation named Veolia, which dates back to the time of Napoleon, made huge profits from French colonization of the West Indies and Algeria by building railways and water treatment plants. In 2013 the UN hired Veolia to destroy Syria's chemical weapons. Veolia thus profited off the Syrian civil war, while engaging in a political charade, as the UN continued to allow Assad to destroy infrastructure and mass murder political opponents using non-chemical weapons. Veolia is also profiting off the US occupation of Iraq, as the Iraqi Ministry has employed Veolia to build a water treatment plant.

This same company, Veolia, is currently engaged in privatizing the water and transportation systems in many cities around the US, committing fraud and embezzlement, contaminating water, reducing services to poor areas while increasing fees, and breaking union contracts.
In 2013, Veolia also took over the management of Boston Public School Bus transportation, sparking an ongoing struggle by the school bus drivers union USW Local 8751 against Veolia's unfair labor practices including payroll shortages, impossible demands on bus drivers, overcrowding of buses, failure to provide agreed upon benefits, and bad faith negotiations resulting in the attempted prosecution and termination of union organizers. Veolia's efforts to crush Boston's only black and immigrant-majority union failed due to hundreds of protesting bus drivers and incredible support from solidarity activists. This union's struggle is important on many levels because not only are they resisting a corporation that has already destroyed many other cities' water supply and workers' rights on several continents, but Boston bus drivers themselves have a decades-long history of supporting people's justice issues. They played a huge role on the front lines of desegregation, escorting black children to school through angry racist white mobs. Not only has the bus drivers' union stood against Israeli Apartheid but they did much of the organizing and provided the sound system for Boston's recent rally to support Dr. Aafia Siddique on March 8, 2016.

The Dump Veolia campaign is growing in many countries around the world from Chile to India, resulting in a surge of political and social networking. "Veolia is just one window to understand the need for joint struggle, how corporatization entangles us with past histories of oppression and present global resistances," writes Maia Brown for Stop Veolia Seattle. "When we understand the historical continuities, exemplified by Veolia, between early structures of Western Imperialism and industrialization and today's globalization and neoliberalism, we strengthen our ability to form new solidarities and communities of struggle." 

Jahar: Short Film Review

An Alternative View of the Alleged Marathon Bomber. Loyalty or Treachery? Did he do it?

On Saturday, April 23, 2016 I attended the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City to see the 13 minute student film entitled, "Jahar" at the Bow Tie Cinema in the neighborhood of Chelsea. 

"In the days after the Boston Marathon bombing, a young man must come to terms with the fact that one of his friends is involved," reads the blurb on the Film Fest schedule. The director, Henry Hayes, was born and raised in Cambridge, MA. He moved to New York in 2011 to attend NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. He now lives in Brooklyn and works as a commercial editor.

The screenwriters were Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Henry Hayes. The cast was only four actors: Devante Lawrence, Andre Ozim, Andrew Raia, and Alberto Rosende.

The film starts out with the young men watching the TV news, which is announcing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan as the Boston Marathon bombers. Then it cuts to "Two Years Earlier." Jahar is portrayed as a short, dorky white guy, even though in reality he is over 6 feet tall. He is shown in high school being ridiculed. "What kind of name is Dzhokhar?"

His friend defends him, saying, "His name is Jahar." His friends, two black and one white, treat Jahar in an inclusive, yet condescending way. "That's my nigga right there," says "Mo" as they hang out in the basketball court smoking blunts. "That's my boy, my brother." They also call him "Jizz," which Jahar was clearly not comfortable about. Their conversation is vacuous.

In Jahar's mother's version of events, Tamerlan told her he was on his way to pick up Jahar from school, when the police started chasing them. In this film version of events, Jahar gets a call on his cell phone after his friends asked him for a ride somewhere. "Sorry, I got to go help my brother," he says. "Help him with what?" they ask. "I don't know," Jahar answers and leaves.

Without any transition, the film cuts to the three friends minus Jahar standing back on the basketball court in communal shock, contemplating what had just happened.
Only Jahar's friend, "Mo" was loyal. "Who was the one who drove us all home that night after the party? Eight drunk guys and one in the trunk and he was able to get us past the police. We know him," Mo insisted. The "Mo" character is supposed to be the screenwriter, Zolan.

But the other friend says, "I don't know man. Do we really know him?"

"That's our boy, that's our nigga," Mo continues to insist.

The film ends with the FBI asking Mo, "What was he like?"

After the film, native New Yorker Karina asked the director and artists if deep down inside they may think he's innocent? Any time in their mind did they ever think he was framed?

"They both said no they do not think he's framed, they believe he's guilty, and both looked at me like I had 10 heads. Rude, and clearly ignorant, making a film without any real research into the case," Kitty told NT. "I'm pissed at the producers who are so arrogant... They loving the success of this while their "friend" is on death row for something he didn't do."

Whether he was innocent or guilty, one would expect more personal concern from true friends. It was a very disappointing reaction, since the movie was actually quite moving regarding the one friend's defense of Jahar. It made me think a lot about loyalty.

Clearly, these young men were capitalizing off the fact that they knew the Boston Bomber in high school, without engaging in any character development or political challenge. The film seems quickly thrown together rather than deeply thought out. It only made the festival due to the high profile content. The line-up for the Question and Answer session had more participation from the makers of Jahar than from any other producers of short films, which added to my impression that the film was receiving special treatment. Zolan has now been given a job writing for the Boston Globe, at a time when many writers have been laid off.
"Seems strange that he would be right in with the propaganda media. Maybe that's the deal they offered him if he went along with the official narrative. The look on the actors face playing him at end made you think he got scared at that point," Karina told NT.

It was, on one hand, somewhat daring to stir up sympathy for the accused. However, the filmmakers' demeanor afterwards just made me think of traitors. Because if your friend truly did something like that, you would want to ask him why. Or if you believed he was innocent you would stand by that. The film gave the impression of some students that knew him superficially and decided to make themselves popular by using him.

"What was their point of making the film? For a different perspective? Why do they care about portraying a different perspective if they believe he's guilty? More questions than answers for me," said Nicole, who had driven from Vermont to see the film.

Jihad Jane: A Special Prison Visit

Jihad Jane: A Special Trip To Visit an Islamic Woman in Prison who Threatened Cartoonists of Prophet Muhammad, Pbuh. 

On Saturday, May 7, 2016 I traveled to Tallahassee, Florida's Federal Correctional Institution to visit Colleen "Fatima" LaRose, also known as "Jihad Jane." She was sentenced to ten years for conspiracy to commit murder overseas, for her role in a 2009 failed plot to kill Lars Vilks, the Swedish cartoonist who mocked the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). She spent four years in solitary confinement but now resides in general population in a unit containing 60 women.

Fatima was very surprised to see me, as she has not been receiving any mail for two months, ever since I sent her the article I wrote about her for New Trend. Oddly enough, the prison counselor never received my visitor request form in the mail either. Thankfully, he was very kind and expedited the approval process after I overnighted him a second form. Fatima has not received a visitor in years. She greeted me warmly with a long, tight embrace. The 52 year old convert to Islam wore a khaki prison suit with a white hijab. She was in good spirits and seems to be well-liked by the guards and the co-prisoners. The guard had joked to her laughingly, "Are you gonna behead me?" She calls the other women, most of whom are much younger than herself, "my babies." "I never had children before I came to prison," she laughs.

We shared a delightful 1 ½ hour visit eating cookies and drinking soda from the vending machine in a visiting room full of families sitting at round tables. There were also tables outside in the courtyard, but Fatima preferred to stay in the air conditioning. She had me cracking up, telling me a lot of funny stories about life in prison. For example, she likes to sneak food from the kitchen. One time she had a bra full of eggs and another inmate came up to her and gave her a big hug! She was later caught bringing a tomato to a cellmate, and lost her kitchen job. She is now relegated to the dishroom but occasionally sneaks into the kitchen to help her friends cook.

She spoke of her admiration for Br. Osama bin Laden. "You can see from his face that there is a light about him." She does not believe the news about Osama being killed by US forces and dumped into the sea. She hopes that he is still alive somewhere. I mentioned to her that he is likely to have died from kidney failure. Regarding 9/11, she said, "Osama explained to the Jews and them that the Muslims don't want your western ways and you need to get your troops out of our lands. He told them again and again. They were forewarned." She listens to the news and continues to be very interested in ongoing developments such as ISIS.

"I want to support them," she said, "But I think they've gone too far, burning that guy alive." I explained to her what I had learned from New Trend, that the man was a fighter pilot whose plane had gone down after he had firebombed people. "Oh, I never knew that!" she exclaimed. "In that case, he deserved it."

She said there are about 15 Muslim sisters in her prison, who attend jummah prayers. She is the only one keeping hijab. "They all call it 'high-jab!'" she laughs in her charming southern accent. She wears a black hijab to work and the white one other times.

Fatima has a very sunny disposition, she is energetic and friendly to everyone and seems to be respected and loved by the women in her unit. She has found a way to bridge the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims by staunchly refusing to back down from her own beliefs and values at the same time as graciously and lovingly accepting other people for who they choose to be - one of her favorite people to socialize with is a Spanish-speaking religious Jew who is also transgender. She introduced me to a pretty young black woman passing by. "Her husband is my baby." The "husband," Fatima's cellmate, is injecting male hormones and growing a beard.

"There's a lot of that going on in here!" she whispers, laughing cheerfully at the juicy gossip.

Fatima, who is expected to be released in Pennsylvania in 2018, is looking forward to becoming a part of a real Muslim community. Her interaction with the Ummah was almost entirely online. Fatima had become obsessed with jihad after learning about the situation in Palestine.

Fatima said people often asked her if she will do anything jihad-related again, once she is released but she says no. "They are not going to ask me to do anything else. I have already proved myself," she said of her mentors, whom she believes to be with al Qaeda. "I was very honored as a woman to be chosen for a mission. Usually they give those kinds of jobs to the brothers. I don't like that I'm in prison, but it's not that bad." She has always been very patient with the decision of Allah, even when she was in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) in solitary.

Regardless of what one believes about her choice of action, it says a lot about her character that she was willing to sacrifice herself in order to stand up for her brothers and sisters around the world, that she had never met, who had done nothing for her. Fatima's future plan upon release is to grow flowers and vegetables. For now, she is looking forward to fasting for Ramadan.

[New Trend urges readers to write to the sister.]

Register Number: 61657-066

Demo Condemns Extra Judicial Killing of Usaamah Rahim

On June 2, 2016, about 45 demonstrators called out by Mass Action Against Police Brutality commemorated the one year anniversary of the coordinated police and FBI assassination of 26 year old Al Hajj Usaamah Rahim in Roslindale, Massachusetts, where he was ambushed in the parking lot of CVS.

After murdering Rahim, the JTTF raided the home of his nephew, David Wright in Everett, Massachusetts and arrested him on charges of conspiracy to provide material support to ISIL, obstruction charges, and charges to commit terrorism across national boundaries. The crowd of protesters was majority Black, many Muslim, and very diverse.

After marching from Roslindale Square, flowers were strewn at the spot where Rahim died, and Imam Farooq of Masjid Alhamdulillah made a dua. Then white balloons were released into the air while reading al Fatiha. His mother and other close friends and family wore all white. Many people driving by seemed supportive or curious, and those who slowed down, as well as pedestrians we passed, were handed a leaflet headlined, "Justice for Usaamah Rahim!"

Rahim was on his way to work at CVS that morning on June 2, 2015 in broad daylight. FBI claimed the brother was wielding a knife, but the surveillance video clearly shows that the federal agents and police officers suddenly approached him, one with gun drawn. No federal or municipal judge served any warrant for Rahim. This was not a situation gone bad while someone was resisting arrest. This police killing appears to be premeditated murder organized by the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

The government claims that Rahim and Wright were in contact online with Junaid Hussain, whom Obama assassinated by drone in August 2015 in Raqqa, Syria. Hussain was a 21 year old British-Pakistani hacker who once posted Tony Blair's personal information online, and was later said to be recruiting volunteers for the Islamic State online, according to the government.

"This dangerous precedent of government abduction based on science fiction-like speculation and prognostication is a threat to the rights of everyone," states Mass Action. "It is also very concerning that the Boston Police force is involved with an FBI investigation blurring the line of the duties of local police and federal government. This is all part of the ever increasing expansion of police agencies and police powers that target the residents of this country in the name of fighting the 'War on Terror.'"

Wright's legal case has similarities to others' like Tarek Mehanna and Ziyad Yaghi, as well as Yassin Aref, in that the JTTF, BPD and FBI followed these young men for months previous to their arrest. The government has not provided any evidence of a conspiracy other than wiretapped conversations, which they claim contain hidden code words. For example, "going on vacation" to them meant "going for jihad." The government also claims that Rahim and Wright were planning to behead Pamela Geller. Wright, who maintains his innocence, has been held in the brutal Plymouth facility for one and ½ years awaiting trial.

The protesters demanded the indictment and prosecution of all police, FBI and others involved in the military tactile assassination of Al Hajj Usaamah Rahim; Full and complete investigation of all officers and personnel involved in the murder and plotting of the murder; Release of the full unedited video of the shooting to the public; Freedom for David Wright, imprisoned since June 2 2015; and and an End to the targeting of Blacks and Muslims!

Detroit, Michigan: The Shocking Case of Lacino Hamilton

It was July 1994 when Lacino Hamilton's foster mother was shot and killed inside her home. The Detroit woman who had raised Lacino was named Willa Bias, but he called her "Mom." Lacino, who was 19 at the time he was found guilty of the murder, is now 41 and imprisoned at Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer, Michigan, serving a sentence that will not expire until he is at least 71. He has always insisted that he loved his foster mother and that he is not the murderer. He was convicted based on the testimony of a "jailhouse snitch" in exchange for a lighter sentence, and a coerced confession from a friend who later refused to testify against him in court, but they still used the written confession.

In a personal letter, Lacino demonstrated a deep sense of self-reflection. He told me that while he is innocent of the murder, he was not "innocent." He was a drug dealer participating in the gangster lifestyle. Investigators speculate that Willa was murdered for the $70,000 cash Lacino had been storing in the basement. Lacino hopes that upon his release, he could work with urban youth to teach them positive alternatives to crime. He has spent his two decades in prison reading and writing many thoughtful essays addressing the problem of the "school to prison pipeline" and the irrational US policies that marginalize the poor.

"How some of us live is not a mistake; neither is it the product of a broken system. We live like that because it is profitable to a lot of people businesses: pawn shops, pay-day loan services, slum lords, creditors, social services and others who traffic in misery," he wrote.

Lacino also wrote letters to thousands of journalists, lawyers and colleges hoping someone would listen to his story of wrongful incarceration. Finally he heard back from Claudia Whitman, the director of the National Death Row Assistance Network, which recommends cases to the Innocent Project. At last an attorney, Mary Chartier, agreed to take on the case pro bono. If all goes well, Lacino will receive a retrial next year and hopefully be released.

In 2013, an investigator looking into Lacino's case contacted Christopher Brooks, who decided to finally speak out about Lonnie Bell, the man he saw exiting Willa Bias' home shortly after the murder, now that Lonnie is dead as a result of gang warfare. Lonnie had admitted to Christopher over lines of cocaine that he had committed the murder "because she was supposed to be dead." Lonnie also told Christopher that if he said anything, he would kill him too. Spooked, Christopher moved to Monroe, Michigan, a town near the Ohio border, to avoid Lonnie.

The informant, Olivera Rico Cowen, who is responsible for Lacino's false conviction, died of AIDS after he got his sentence reduced from 15 years to one year in exchange for "cooperating" with homicide detectives. Even though Olivera was the key witness in six other murder convictions, his testimony was accepted in lieu of evidence, leading to Lacino's 80 year sentence.

"In many cases, even if all the witnesses have recanted, or if a person claims innocence, it's still difficult to [overturn a conviction]. The courts are more concerned with whether the trial has been procedurally proper," Attorney Mary Ownes told Truthout.

However, US police, and in particular the Detroit Police Department, are coming under increasing scrutiny from the Federal Department of Justice and the public. Detroit police are notorious for withholding evidence from trials, that would prove the suspect's innocents. Detectives routinely provide witnesses with prewritten statements to memorize. Corruption in the homicide department led to the closure of the DPD's crime lab in 2008, while the FBI discovered that Detroit's former mayor, Kwame Kilpatric, who is now imprisoned, was discovered having a romantic affair with the federal monitor on police reforms, who had been sent to look into a report that Detroit police committed the highest number of fatal shootings compared to all other police forces in the US.

"Thinking broadly about the ways incarceration is constructed and reconstructed, or alternatives to incarceration, is complicated by networks of social control. Which operate to legitimize who has the authority to speak about incarceration, what can be said about incarceration, and what is sanctioned as true about incarceration," writes Lacino in the introduction to a book he is writing.

"One important mechanism for challenging the system of incarceration, then, is incarcerated men and women, and the communities in which they come from, must begin to speak for themselves. Incarcerated people can articulate an analysis of incarceration from the particular vantage point of lived experience. Use this to analyze policies and practices that support incarceration. And generate alternatives to caging people for part or all of their lives.

"These subjugated analyses about the world of incarceration define that world and possibilities differently. Thus, listening to and learning from the analyses and experiences of incarcerated men and women can help the broader society get a clearer understanding of the ordeal of retribution style justice; and suggest more imaginative alternatives for repairing harms caused in our society," Lacino concludes.

Lacino's investigative attorney team continues to track down witnesses and collect affidavits and push for a retrial. Please keep him and other wrongfully incarcerated people in your prayers.

Lacino Hamilton #247310
Thumb Correctional Facility
3225 John Conley Dr.
Lapeer, MI 48446

This article is based on a report by Aaron Cantu entitled "Ring of Snitches: How Detroit Police Slapped False Murder Convictions on Young Black Men," published March 31, 2015 in Truthout.

Attempt to Use Quds Day in Support of Assad Regime

Al Quds Day should only be for Palestine

I was confused by Al Quds day in Boston on July 1, 2016. The organizer was trying to "tie in" the issue of Syria, Yemen etc, condemning ISIS, Taliban, al Qaeda and talking about "stability in the Middle East" (code words for supporting Assad.]

When I mentioned that the Russians, Hizbollah and Assad bombing is what is destabilizing the region, and demanded why they are trying to limit Al Quds day for Shia and Assad loyalists, she would not budge from that position, and only one brother (a Palestinian refugee) defended my argument for keeping this strictly about Palestine so as not to alienate Sunni Muslims. Most people were saying I was really rude. It was disappointing to see exclusionary sectarian politics taking over what should be a unified mass movement in support of Palestine. 

Large Protest Against Police Brutality Ignored by the Media

Boston: On July 13, 2016 a very large demonstration organized by Mass Action Against Police Brutality took place at the police headquarters, then walking 3 ½ miles through the city of Boston. In the beginning speeches, much mention was made (that was omitted by all media) by his sister of the June 2015 killing of Usaama Rahim by Joint Terrorism Task Force along with FBI and Boston police.

As the demonstration proceeded along through the projects of Roxbury, the crowd swelled to several thousands. You could not see the end of the demonstration, the street was completely filled. Protesters eventually shut down all traffic at the Dudley T station while giving short speeches and then more speeches at Dudley Square filling every inch of space. The crowd was very ethnically diverse and in a very loving supportive energetic mood. When the mother or sister of a police victim began to cry, the crowd would shout out words of love and encouragement. One speaker wondered where all these supportive people were before, when she really needed them, at the time police committed these acts.

Recently, Boston Mayor Walsh made statements supporting police officers without also stating clear support for the lives of Bostonian civilians. There is a corrupt "Irish cop" mafia culture in Boston. However, Boston is also known for being relatively served and not instigating police riots. Police lined the crowd on bicycles but did not interfere with the crowd. In one instance, a white bigot rushed into the crowd and punched a Franciscan monk. A supporter of the march chased the attacker off. The police did nothing. The crowd was such that the police had to step aside. It was a historic day. Bostonians don't usually have large protests.