Posts Tagged ‘Black Panther Party’

Washington’s Russia policy has failed, US experts note, adding that whether one likes it or not the US “has no better option than to keep trying to work with Russia” in Syria.
Washington’s Russia policy has largely failed, Thomas Graham, managing director at Kissinger Associates, and Matthew Rojansky, the director of the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, state in their article for Foreign Policy magazine.

“By any number of measures, Washington’s Russia policy has failed. While ostensibly suffering from diplomatic and economic isolation under a US-led international sanctions regime, Moscow has succeeded in challenging a wide range of American interests, most notably in Ukraine, Syria, and cyberspace,” Graham and Rojansky emphasized.

The scholars argued that the US leadership, both Democratic and Republican, have misread Russia in the last three decades. At the root of Washington’s misconception about Russia lies the belief that it can be either defeated or involved in the US’ fold.
“The next president needs to accept that Moscow cannot simply be defeated or contained in the emerging multipolar, globalized world order. It must be engaged through a comprehensive balance of cooperation and competition,” the US scholars stressed.
Instead of futile attempts to defeat or transform Russia, “a new US approach should deal with Russia as it really is,” they note, adding that it is still “a major power on the world stage.”
The scholars continued that the next US administration will have to convince Moscow to cooperate on issues like preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), recognizing the fact that Russia still has its own geopolitical interests which seldom overlap entirely with those of Washington.
“The goal should involve constructing a web of interactions, both cooperative and competitive, that yields the most beneficial balance for our [the US’] national interests,” Graham and Rojansky highlighted.
As for Syria, whether one likes it or not, the US “has no better option than to keep trying to work with Russia,” the US scholars believe.
They explained that Moscow has the wherewithal to maintain a longstanding military presence in Syria with Damascus, Iran and “perhaps even” Turkey supporting Russia’s Syrian operation.
The scholars noted that the much-discussed no-fly zone in Syria, championed by some of US policymakers, should be dismissed as unrealistic, since it bears the risk of igniting an all-out war with Moscow “in the region and elsewhere.”
At the same time Graham and Rojansky insisted that US-Russian discussions on Syria would have a greater chance of success if they were linked with the Ukraine crisis issue and the broader issue of European security.
Enea Gjoza of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government echoes Graham and Rojansky. The US academic believes that it is time for Washington to return to “smart diplomacy” while dealing with Moscow.
“A return to the smart, interest-based diplomacy that characterized US foreign policy during the Cold War is essential for making progress on intractable problems,” Gjoza emphasized in his op-ed for The National Interest.
“Particularly in dealing with other nuclear powers, coming to terms through diplomacy is the only way to safeguard our interests while preserving peace,” he added, referring to the situation in Syria.
In reality, the US and its European allies have no leverage on Russia, according to Moscow-based political analyst Irina Alksnis.
The West’s inability to influence Russia in Syria prompts Washington and Brussels to issue empty threats, such as to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court and hold Damascus and Moscow responsible for “war crimes,” she noted in her article for Russian online newspaper Vzglyad.
While there are no legal preconditions for bringing Moscow and Damascus to trial, the West’s intention to exert pressure on Russia and the Syrian government could be rephrased as the following: “We can’t defeat Russia and Syria either politically or militarily, so they ought to surrender themselves to us so that we can punish them for their behavior that we don’t like,” Alksnis remarked with a touch of irony.
The political analyst stressed that behind the hawkish rhetoric of some Western policy-makers lies their irritation with Russia coupled with their inability to swing the balance in the West’s favor.
Although the Obama administration has repeatedly signaled that it is considering military options in Syria, including arming the opposition and launching direct air strikes against Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Arab Army, it appears that Pentagon and NATO war planners are not really ready to provoke a direct conflict between Russia and the US, Alksnis underscored.
That means, the political analyst suggested, that Moscow and Damascus will continue their counter-terrorism campaign in Syria while waiting for the West to adopt more cooperative and negotiable stance on foreign policy issues.
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The FBI ignited a powder keg in Baton Rouge by issuing warnings to police about an unsubstantiated plot to “kill all police” which led law enforcement to victimize and arrest non-violent Black Lives Matter protesters.

Social media erupted this morning with #FreeDeray after news broke that the Black Lives Matter founder who travelled to Baton Rouge as a voice of peace and reason monitoring protests against the senseless killings of local resident Alton Sterling and a Minnesota man Philando Castile at the hands of trigger happy cops despite both men being unarmed and failing to present a threat to police.

 The tragic deaths immediately sparked a new wave of outrage and protests across the country led prominently by the Black Lives Matter movement that has looked to curb abuses of power by local police forces that lead all too often to the premature death of law-abiding black residents under horrific, caught on camera moments.

Just as the public began to digest the horror of Alton Sterling’s death, shot at point blank range in the chest several times as two officers forcibly held him down, the world was met face to face only hours later with the image of an unarmed Philando Castile bleeding out on a Facebook livestream as his girlfriend narrated in a state of shock and fear.

The situation unraveled further with Thursday’s attack at a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas that left five officers dead and nearly a dozen others wounded when a lone gunmen decided to take matters into his own hands to avenge the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police throughout the country.

 While Dallas once again received the news on Saturday with a false alarm report of a man in a gas mask preparing for another attack on the city’s police and with bomb threats circulating throughout the metropolitan area, the frontline of a movement for black empowerment and equal justice under the law was Baton Rouge, Louisiana where the actions of police against protesters looked like something out of the 1960s digitally remastered for color television.
 Black Lives Matter protester Deray McKesson was arrested along with hundreds of others including Krystal Muhammad of the New Black Panther Party for simply videotaping acts of police brutality against the protesters.
 The actions by the police, who came out in full riot gear to handle the protests, was in no small part shaped by the FBI issuing a warning of an unsubstantiated social media threat of a ‘police purge’ to ‘kill all police’ in Baton Rouge and other cities around the country explained Loud & Clear host Brian Becker who felt that the nation’s top cops gave local police license to suppress free speech and crackdown on peaceful assembly.
 “It is a reign of terror in Louisiana,” said Becker explaining details of firsthand accounts by protesters who were locked up before they were able to complete their march onto the airline highway in Baton Rouge to shutdown commerce and make their voices heard.

17-year-old protester Chris Hollins who says that police “ambushed” him at the protest.

“I was calling my mom cause they started to arrest people, then saw my sister about to run in the streets,” said Hollins. “I stopped her (and) dropped my phone. I picked up my phone and two officers ambushed me.”

“Basically they ambushed us and tackled us for now reason,” said Hollins in a text message at 12:26am. “They never read me my rights and I’m only 17 years old with no record.”

 Pictures from the scene show police with automatic rifles and tactical gear threatening the lives of peaceful dissenters if they did not immediately disperse.

Of course, a Trump social media aide with the handle King Robbo reminded us that America in 2016 appears to be approaching a 1960s-style divide in hyperbole and race relations.

“Who else is hoping that @deray gets ‘disappeared’ by the good old boys at #BatonRouge PD? Come on boys, be HEROES! #BlueLivesMatter,” said the staffer in a Tweet before quickly deleting it.

The good old boys is a reference to white racist cops prior to the civil rights movement who would often make people “disappear,” or kill them with their bodies appearing under strange circumstances, prior to the age of social media where the whole world is monitoring abuse of government power.

More protests are scheduled in Baton Rouge and throughout the country on Sunday.

The United States holds over 25% of the world’s incarcerated, despite comprising just 5% of the planet’s population. The US doesn’t acknowledge having political prisoners, but political activists from the 1960s and 70s continue to languish in America’s prisons.

Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear spoke with Eddie Conway, a former political prisoner and journalist; Noelle Hanrahan, a journalist with Prison Radio who co-wrote and produced the documentary “Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary” about Mumia Abu-Jamal; Ramona Africa of the MOVE Organization; and Cynthia Dunne, who works as co-counsel for the release of Native American activist Leonard Peltier.

MOVE is a militant organization, founded in 1972 and based in Philadelphia, that has been at the forefront of environmentalism, animal rights, veganism, and, as Africa puts it, “Anything dealing with life.” Their philosophies have, in the past, often put them at odds with the city authorities and, in particular, the notoriously racist Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo because, “those representing this system… they don’t care about life, they care about money. How much money they can make and how to keep this system going as it is.”

On May 13, 1985, using neighbor complaints as a pretext, Philadelphia police initiated a shootout and eventually bombed the MOVE house, killing 11 people, including five children. Africa asserts that the attack was in retaliation for the group’s work to the release the so-called MOVE 9, nine organization members who were imprisoned following a police attack in 1978. MOVE-member Africa was the only person to serve time after the 1985 bombing, on a “laundry list of charges,” including possession of explosives. “Because MOVE could not be bought off, bribed, intimidated or beat into submission, the government made a simple decision, that they could just kill us off if they could not control us…that’s what the bombing was about,” she said.

Conway was the minister of information for the Baltimore chapter of the Black Panther party. He was charged with ordering Panthers to shoot at police, and was imprisoned for 44 years, in what most consider to have been a kangaroo court. Conway said that, when it comes to political prisoners, the US says one thing and does another.

Mumia Abu-Jamal - the outspoken political activist serving a life sentence for the murder of a police officer -  has been taken into an intensive care unit after a medical emergency.

“Political prisoners really don’t get any excessive time, they get the same kind of time as other prisoners get. What happens is they’re treated differently,” he said. “If (political prisoners) get a life sentence, they are kept in solitary confinement for 29 or 30 years … the average person that gets a life sentence goes up for parole three or four times, then they get paroled. Political prisoners, because of their politics, can go up for parole 20 times and never get paroled.”

Conway stated that America “claim(s) there’s no political prisoners, but if you have that political label in your file, you’re treated differently no matter what the charge is, and no matter what the amount of time is.”

Hanrahan noted that activist Mumia Abu Jamal faced persecution, in part, because of his sympathetic coverage of the MOVE family. She said that recently Mumia has been denied treatment for Hepatitis C and that such negligence is typical for many prisoners, political prisoners especially.  “At any moment (prisoners) who are political experience this extra level of scrutiny and not getting released and it is very intense.”

Native-American Leonard Peltier was incarcerated for the 1973 shooting of two FBI officers at the Wounded Knee reservation, even though the bullets were shown not to have came from his gun. Dunne described the process for drafting a petition of clemency for Peltier. “We’re asking, because of the unique situation in this case and the government’s history and connection with his case and the American Indian Movement in general, that it’s in the interest of justice to allow Leonard Peltier, who has now served 40 years in maximum security prisons and 5 years in solitary confinement, to go home and live out his final years on the Turtle Mountain reservation where he has family and relatives he’s never met.