CIA Study Warned of U.S. Failures in Propping Up Rebel Forces

Comments by Special Envoy Gen. John Allen follow the leak of a CIA study that said previous U.S. efforts to arm and train rebel groups have mostly failed. President Obama first commissioned the study in 2012 as he weighed arming Syrian rebels fighting the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The findings fueled White House skepticism about backing the rebels, but Obama went ahead with training efforts that have recently expanded to Saudi Arabia. Although the CIA found most U.S. attempts to prop up insurgent forces failed in countries such as Cuba and Nicaragua, there was one exception: the mujahideen rebels who fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Its members would go on to form the core of al-Qaeda.

React to the killing of innocents in Middle East

Also boycott following Israeli related companies

Intel, Motorola, Hewlett-Packard (HP),, IBM, Pampers, Coca-Cola, Caterpillar
GAP, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, BOSS, M&S, DKNY which uses Delta-Galils textile
Gillette, Head & Shoulders, Vicks, Old Spice, Procter & Gamble (P&G), Johnson & Johnson, Revlon, McDonald’s, Nestle, Milkmaid, Maggi, KitKat, L’Oréal

Please reduce oil use as energy source as well as fertilisers, plastics etc in the chemical industry.
This list is not complete.

Posted in News, war | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Missing american journalist

Joyce Horman talking:

We were living in Santiago. And he had just managed to get back from Viña del Mar, where he had taken a friend of ours from New York right before the coup and was trapped there for five days. So, he returned on Sunday, and then, Monday, he was going to go and find out about airplane tickets downtown. The curfew had been lifted during the day. So he and our friend, Terry, went down to the center of Santiago to look for tickets or a way out.

he saw American battleships off the shore. He saw the launch of the coup in Viña del Mar. They experienced that all the roads had been blocked and the trains had been stopped that night, Monday night before the coup, which is why he knew that was happening. But he also—he also met, in the hotel that they stayed, military—U.S. military people who were taking quite a large credit for the coup and were very excited about the success. And my husband, the journalist, knew that that was not something that anybody in the United States knew about. So, he was aware that it was incredible information at that point.

He was brought back to Santiago, to the search-and-destroy mission that was Santiago at that time, by the head of the U.S. MILGROUP, Military Group, who had come through blockades to get to Viña del Mar to see his military people in Viña, and then, because they had asked him if he would give a lift to Charles and Terry back to Santiago. His name is Ray, Captain Ray Davis, and he is an extraordinary figure in our story, and the extradition request for him was issued—well, was approved by the Chilean Supreme Court recently. But let me go back. So, he’s the one who went—again, drove through all the roadblocks, because he had all of the connections with the Pinochet forces, and brought them back to Santiago, dropped them in Santiago on Saturday. They came home on Sunday.

We said goodbye as I was leaving to check on some other friends to be sure that they were OK, because there was very little communication for a week, and he was taking our friend Terry downtown to try and get a passage out. I did not get back that night because of the curfew. The buses stopped running. And as the movie Missing portrays, I was in a stairwell for the night.

When I got back to the house the next morning, I found the house completely ransacked. And my neighbors told me to go elsewhere, because the police—or the military people that had taken my husband would probably come back. Only they didn’t say they had taken my husband. They just said they had been there and ransacked the place, so I wasn’t sure that my husband had gotten back that night.

I guess it was the next day, neighbors from our old neighborhood got a call from the military intelligence saying, “Do you know—do you know an extremist gringo with a beard?” And it terrified our neighbors, but it told us that the military actually had Charles. And the next opportunity I had, I went to the consulate and the—the embassy, actually, to announce that he had been taken and that I wanted their help to find him and get him out. They were more interested in what had been taken from the house, the ransacked house. But that was the first contact I had with the U.S. officials at that point.

Peter Weiss talking:

role of Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon in Allende coup

just one day before Charles Horman was seized between then-President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger. When discussing the U.S. role in the Chilean coup, Kissinger said, “The Chilean thing is getting consolidated.” Nixon responded, “Well, we didn’t—as you know—our hand doesn’t show on this one, though.” Kissinger replied, “We didn’t do it. … I mean we helped them. [Omitted word] created the conditions as great as possible.” And Nixon responded, “That is right.” The two then discussed, quote, “this crap from the liberals” in the media about the overthrow of a democratically elected government, and Kissinger noted, “In the Eisenhower period … we would be heroes.” Now, that is taken from a declassified memo that was declassified for the National Security Archive.

they were responsible for the coup, because they decided as soon as Salvador Allende, who was a Socialist, became president of Chile, that he had to go. And Chile was not the only country where the United States then was deciding that people had to go. And Kissinger was eventually put in charge of the 40 Committee, which was given such a nondescript name because one couldn’t say what it was actually about. But it was about preparing the coup. And the coup had two tracks, essentially. It had track one, which was managed by the State Department, more or less overtly. And then it had track two, managed by the CIA, entirely covertly. And Nixon allocated $10 million to the CIA to prepare for the coup, to mobilize, to have a relationship between the corporations that were interested in getting rid of Allende, and it was also supposed to activate the media. And it worked, as you said when you quoted Nixon and Kissinger saying, “We did it, but we didn’t do it.”

a declassified U.S. State Department memo on the Charles Horman case dated August 25th, 1973. It says, quote, “There is some circumstantial evidence to suggest US intelligence may have played an unfortunate part in Horman’s death. At best, it was limited to providing or confirming information that helped motivate his murder by the [government of Chile, or] GOC. At worst, US intelligence was aware that GOC saw Horman in a rather serious light and US officials did nothing to discourage the logical outcome of GOC [government of Chile] paranoia.”

there were actually two ways in which Charles Horman was failed by his government. One was that they helped to orchestrate the coup, and the other was that they didn’t lift a finger to get him out of Chile when they had every reason to believe that he was in great danger. And there is an international law, an obligation, for governments to keep their citizens from being killed in foreign countries. The United States completely failed to do anything about that.

The case was dismissed, Joyce and Peter, against Kissinger. Our case was dismissed because we couldn’t conduct discovery. When you bring any kind of case, civil or criminal, you have to look for the evidence and produce the evidence to the judge or the jury. And everything that we wanted, we were told, was classified and would not be made available to us. So, eventually, the case had to be dismissed, because we couldn’t establish the causal relationship between Charles’s death and what people like Ray Davis, whom Joyce mentioned, who was the head of the—Military Group at the embassy.

— source

Joyce Horman, widow of journalist and human rights activist Charles Horman, who was disappeared and killed in Chile soon after the 1973 coup. His story was the focus of the movie Missing. Joyce filed a criminal suit against Pinochet in 2000 and established the Charles Horman Truth Foundation to support ongoing investigations into the human rights violations during Pinochet’s regime.

Peter Weiss, vice president of the board of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He represented the Horman family in their case against Kissinger and others for the death of Charles Horman.

Posted in Dictatorship, Terrorism, ToMl, USA | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Wealth tax on assets of multimillionaires

The Green party has called for a wealth tax of up to 2% on the assets of multimillionaires that it believes could raise more than £40bn a year.

Presenting the radical new proposal, Natalie Bennett, the Green leader, said other political parties only offered minor tweaks to the UK’s failed economic system, instead of major changes to deal with inequality.

The party said the tax would affect around 300,000 people with assets of more than £3m – the richest 1% of people in the UK. In a report on possible rates, it suggested the tax could be set between 1% and 2%, which would raise £23bn at the lower end or up to £43bn at the higher end of the spectrum.

The report points out that wealth taxes of different kinds are already in place in France, Spain, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland. It also cites the work of French economist Thomas Piketty, who has found that the rate of return on capital outstrips the rate of growth and that inherited wealth will therefore always grow faster than earned income.

Piketty’s much-discussed new book, Capital in the 21st Century, is on Labour leader Ed Miliband’s reading list. Miliband has said inequality is the defining problem of modern times.

The wealth tax policy is one of a number of offers from the Greens, whose pledges also include re-nationalising the railways, bringing in a living wage, capping bankers’ bonuses, opposing austerity and scrapping the welfare cap.

Bennett said the party is the only one committed to progressive policies that tackle Britain’s problem with inequality, helping it to gain more votes than the Liberal Democrats in May’s local elections.

“Our strong general election polling and surge in membership goes to show that the Green party’s commitment to people over profits policies are really hitting home,” Bennett said. “The Green party is prepared to take principled stands and an increasing number of voters recognise and value this.”

The party said the UK’s richest 1,000 people have doubled their wealth in the last five years, while the number in poverty and resorting to food banks has risen. It also mentioned an analysis by the Equality Trust that has found the richest 1% of Britons has the same amount of wealth as 54% of the rest of the population.

The Greens are polling roughly equally with the Liberal Democrats at the moment, and claim the party’s membership has risen by almost a quarter in the last five months.

The party’s only MP is Caroline Lucas, the member for Brighton Pavilion, but the party is hoping to challenge Stephen Williams, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West, where it gained a slight poll lead in May.

— source

Posted in Economics, ToMl | Tagged | Leave a comment

Anti-Mining Protests in Nicaragua

While the Nicaraguan government opens its doors to foreign investment through the 1st International Mining Congress, more than 1,000 people from communities affected by mining projects are being detained to prevent them from mobilization to Managua to publicly express their concerns about negative impacts of mining in their communities.

Managua, Nicaragua – Today, social organizations concerned with the protection of the environment organized an environmental walk in Managua to express concerns about the negative impacts that mining projects are having on communities around the country, but as the organization of the walk progressed, several measures were taken by government officials to prevent the mobilization of communities to defend their commons and mother earth.

On August 12, 2014, officials with the national police called drivers hired to mobilize from Matagalpa to inform them that they did not have permission to drive to Managua and were directed to cancel already scheduled trips to Rancho Grande that would mobilize people to the environmental walk Managua. Today, August 13, 500 members of the Movement Yaoska Guardians community organization are retained in the town of Palo Solo, Peñas Blanca in Matagalpa by riot patrol and traffic police. The police are withholding documents (licenses and vehicle registration) and are telling community members that they are not allowed to travel to Managua.

Rancho Grande is a highly productive district, which generates by the main export of the country (coffee), in an organic and sustainable manner. Community members argue that any extractive activity will destroy the environmental conditions that exist in the area ensure sustainable production which already provides general employment, a sustainable local economy and a sustainable development model for the country.

The 36 communities in the municipality have publicly rejected the “El Pavón” mining project owend by Canadian mining company B2Gold.

In the town of Santo Domingo, 500 people are also been detained by the national police, and also prevented from participating in the walk for the defense of the environment in Managua. In a similar fashion, community members were not given permission to leave the town, and finally 3 buses full of people have been retained.

In this municipality, communities are opposed to the “El Jabali” mining project which has operated without prior consent from the population since 2012. This project is also owned Canadian mining company B2Gold.

Janeth Castillo, Member of the strategic alliance for the defense of the environment of Matagalpa stated that “Government authorities are violating Articles 53 and 54 of the Constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua that guarantees freedom of movement and freedom of expression and the right to protest and express ourselves in defense of our commons “.

Given the above stated facts:

• We, men and women of organizations and social movements in the Central America region, demand respect for the civil and political rights of the inhabitants of these municipalities, particularly their freedom of movement and freedom to speak freely in defense of our common goods.
• We demand that the Government of Nicaragua guarantees the integrity of the people who are being detained.
• We express our opposition to the installation of extractive projects in our countries, because of the environmental and social costs they bring to the region.
• We demand the creation of sustainable development policies that guarantee the right to life, to a healthy environment for future generations.

— source

Posted in Mining, ToMl | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Truth Behind Mergers

Last year Microsoft announced its buyout of Nokia, the Finnish communications and information technology multinational corporation. Now as Microsoft absorbs Nokia, the new CEO of Microsoft has announced the largest layoff – 18,000 employees – in the company’s history. After the announcement of the layoffs, the company’s stock increased to a point that it hasn’t seen since the dot-com boom. Although Microsoft is no stranger to the idea of consuming its competitor, it does beg the question: How will this affect the economy?

Mergers and acquisitions are promoted as having a good economic impact for the general public and consumers. Following the announcement of the layoffs, Microsoft’s new CEO has been adamant that the recent absorption of Nokia will allow the company to focus on consumer needs to better benefit them through their products. With the acquisition of Nokia’s 30,000-employee workforce, 12,500 will be laid-off. At the same time Microsoft is laying off 5,500 of its own employees.

Historically, it seems most mergers and acquisitions are either achieving a takeover of a company’s technology, assets, customers and patents, or purposely invading other competing markets – as was the case with Oracle’s takeover of Peoplesoft or the current attempt by Comcast to acquire Time-Warner.

Currently we are seeing the biggest boom in mergers and acquisitions since the recovery, with no sign of slowing. Many would say this is good news as mergers usually occur when the economy is doing better. Yet, the irony is that most, if not all, mergers have led to mass layoffs, while the stock for investors and packages for corporate managers increase.

The recent increase in mergers has been carried out with the large hoards of cash these companies have been sitting on. Most companies have extra cash on hand because of their lack of investment during the recession and the extremely low interest rates offered by the Federal Reserve. And instead of investing this “extra” cash into their company and employees, they buyout competition and patents with the benefits going to the investors (with the increase of stock prices) and bankers who assist in the mergers.

Microsoft, before the acquisition, was struggling at the bottom of the phone market with their Windows phone. Although the tablets and Xbox have fared better than their mobile department, many have questioned Microsoft’s intent with taking over Nokia. After the announcement of their massive layoffs, the CEO was quick to alert their stockholders and customers that the company will be focusing on its cloud market, with the intention of becoming head of the cloud and mobile industry, competing with Google, Apple and others.

At the same time, as most of the layoffs from Nokia’s headquarters are going to impact Finland, it’s left the leader of Finland very upset over the recent buyout, calling it a broken promise by Microsoft. Yet, it’s not all bad news for Nokia. The former CEO of Nokia has been secured a spot within Microsoft. The layoffs affecting Microsoft’s staff has some in Washington – it’s main region – worried about potential economic impacts on their community.

Nokia had suffered setbacks after it fell out of being the top phone company. It’s massive collection of patents had kept it afloat long enough for many to speculate that the company had to be bought or it would dissolve after it had laid off 10,000 workers and cut its R&D in 2012. Many speculated that Nokia was over after it fell out of its number one spot in phones as Apple and Google took the lead. This continued trend of consuming and hoarding of patents has led to less competition and when the big companies fail, they’re absorbed into bigger and more concentrated markets, leaving fewer companies for customers to choose from.

As mergers and acquisitions grow alongside the increase of corporations moving their headquarters overseas to avoid taxes, our country is going to continue to feel the repercussions with more layoffs, and less tax revenue to go to our deteriorating infrastructure, public health, schools and local communities. We will continue to see an increase of taxes on the middle and lower class as they are burdened for the sake of these companies and the wealthy to maintain their “competitive edge.” But this is the issue no one wants to confront. With the continued trends of corporate tax evasion and corporate consolidations, we are going to continue to have a lack of good paying jobs, a lack of competition, and a shrinking middle-class with limited choices for their consumer needs.

The news of the layoffs with Microsoft is nothing new and many can argue whether the overall outcome for the consumers and the tech community will be positive or not. The thing to confront is the fact that 18,000 staff members sit in fear of being let go over the next year. All things considered, the deal has been good to Microsoft’s stock, reinforcing the idea that most transactions that take place through the market don’t benefit the public. They benefit the few making the deals over the boardroom.

— source

Posted in Economics, ToMl | Tagged | Leave a comment

How much methane came out of that hole in Siberia?

Siberia has explosion holes in it that smell like methane, and there are newly found bubbles of methane in the Arctic Ocean. As a result, journalists are contacting me assuming that the Arctic Methane Apocalypse has begun. However, as a climate scientist I remain much more concerned about the fossil fuel industry than I am about Arctic methane. Short answer: It would take about 20,000,000 such eruptions within a few years to generate the standard Arctic Methane Apocalypse that people have been talking about. Here’s where that statement comes from:

How much methane emission is “a lot”? The yardstick here comes from Natalie Shakhova, an Arctic methane oceanographer and modeler at the University of Fairbanks. She proposed that 50 Gton of methane (a gigaton is 1015 grams) might erupt from the Arctic on a short time scale Shakhova (2010). Let’s call this a “Shakhova” event. There would be significant short-term climate disruption from a Shakhova event, with economic consequences explored by Whiteman et al Whiteman et al (2013). The radiative forcing right after the release would be similar to that from fossil fuel CO2 by the end of the century, but subsiding quickly rather than continuing to grow as business-as-usual CO2 does.

I and others have been skeptical of the possibility that so much methane could escape from the Arctic so quickly, given the century to millennial time scale of warming the permafrost and ocean sediments, and point out that if the carbon is released slowly, the climate impacts will be small. But now that explosion holes are being found in Siberia, the question is

How much methane came out of that hole in Siberia? The hole is about 80 meters in diameter and 60-100 meters deep.

It’s hard to say exactly how much methane did this, because perhaps the crater allowed methane to be released from the surrounding soil. There may be emissions in the future from permafrost melting laterally from the sides of the hole. But for a start let’s assume that the volume of the hole is the same as the volume of the original, now escaped, bubble. Gases are compressible, so we need to know what its pressure was. The deeper in the Earth it was, the higher the pressure, but if we are concerned about gas whose release might be triggered by climate warming, we should look for pockets that come close to the surface. Deep pockets might take thousands of years for surface warming to reach. The mass of a solid cap ten meters thick would increase the pressure underneath it to about four atmospheres, plus there may have been some overpressure. Let’s assume a pressure of ten atmospheres (enough to hold up the atmosphere plus about 30 meters of rock).

If the bubble was pure methane, it would have contained about … wait for it … 0.000003 Gtons of methane. In other words, building a Shakhova event from these explosions would take approximately 20,000,000 explosions, all within a few years, or else the climate impact of the methane would be muted by the lifetime effect.

What about the bubbles of methane they just found in the Arctic ocean? There were reports this summer of a new expedition to the Siberian margin, documenting vast plumes of methane bubbles rising from sediments ~500 meters water depth.

It is certainly believable that warming ocean waters could trigger an increase in methane emissions to the atmosphere, and that the time scale for changing ocean temperatures can be fast due to circulation changes (we are seeing the same thing in the Antarctic). But the time scale for heat to diffuse into the sediment, where methane hydrate can be found, should be slow, like that for permafrost on land or slower. More importantly, the atmospheric methane flux from the Arctic Ocean is really small (extrapolating estimates from Kort et al 2012), even compared with emissions from the Arctic land surface, which is itself only a few percent of global emissions (dominated by human sources and tropical wetlands).

In conclusion, despite recent explosions suggesting the contrary, I still feel that the future of Earth’s climate in this century and beyond will be determined mostly by the fossil fuel industry, and not by Arctic methane. We should keep our eyes on the ball.

— source

Posted in Climate Change, Methane, ToMl | Tagged , | Leave a comment


Speaker systems for electric vehicles

One of the nice things about electric cars, reviewers often mention, is they are blissfully quiet. But that is also a problem. Pedestrians often hear an oncoming vehicle without seeing it. That’s why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has published this list of proposed sounds that electric vehicles should make. The basics are that electric cars should produce a sound when in reverse, and when driving at speeds of up to 30 km/h. The proposed regulations will require carmakers to include “a dynamic range speaker system that is protected from the elements and attached with mounting hardware and wiring to both power the speaker and receive signal inputs and a digital signal processor that receives information from the vehicle regarding vehicle operating status (to produce electric engine sounds dependent upon vehicle status). ”

Socialist Candidate Kshama Sawant Wins Seattle City Council Seat

Socialist candidate Kshama Sawant has won a seat on Seattle’s City Council. Sawant is an economics professor who participated in the Occupy Wall Street movement. She is the first socialist candidate to win citywide office in Seattle in a century.

The Ocean’s Surface Layer Has Been Warming Much Faster Than Previously Thought

Surface layers of the ocean have been warming significantly faster than previous estimates had projected, according to a new study. The study, published in Nature Climate Change, found that the upper 700 meters of the ocean have been warming 24 to 55 percent faster since 1970 than previously thought. This difference in estimations is likely due to “poor sampling” of ocean temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere, the study notes. If estimations for temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere are readjusted to fit better with climate models, they increase, the scientists found.

Budget Cuts Prevented Ebola Vaccine

A U.S. health official says an Ebola vaccine would likely be ready if it were not for budget cuts. Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, told The Huffington Post, “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine.”
[If our policies are defined by the idiots named Economists, then this will be the result.]

Chile becomes first South American country to enforce carbon tax

Chile has set a major precedent by becoming the first country in South America to introduce a tax on carbon emissions. The legislation was ratified by the Chilean government last week, bringing big power companies into the fold. Tax will now be imposed on all fossil fuel-based power plants with an installed capacity of at least 50 megawatts. At $5 per tonne of carbon emitted, the move will affect four energy companies, Endesa, AES Gener, Colbún and E.CL, in the country. Together, these companies are expected to contribute almost $160 million in carbon taxes to government revenues.

Posted in Economics, Electric Vehicle, Global Warming, Medicine, News, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yellow Ribbon

Yellow Ribbon
Emily Yates

Take that yellow ribbon off your car
Take that waving flag off of your door
Don’t act like you understand what we’ve been fighting for
Take that big concern off of your face
Take that handshake and just move along
Stop appreciating me for all that I’ve done wrong
And take that yellow ribbon off your car

You think that I went to liberate
So when I come home you celebrate
But you can’t bring back the dead by throwing a parade
You tell me I made my nation proud
I wish you wouldn’t say it so damn loud
My boots were on the ground while your head was in the clouds
So take that yellow ribbon off your car

Don’t pay for my meal
Don’t give me special deals
Unless you wanna hear all about the way I feel
Don’t make me your hero
Just lend me your ear, oh
And wipe the tears I cry
While I apologise
For that goddamn yellow ribbon on your car

If you want to show me that you care
Think about how things are over there
We’re bombing schools and hospitals
In case you weren’t aware
So when you tuck your children in at night
Don’t tell ‘em it’s for freedom that we fight
Let ‘em know that there’s a war on but don’t tell ‘em their side’s right
And take that yellow ribbon off your car

Don’t pay for my meal
Don’t give me special deals
Unless you wanna hear all about the way I feel
Don’t make me your hero
Just lend me your ear, oh
And wipe the tears I cry
While I apologise
For that goddamn yellow ribbon on your car

Video | Posted on by | Tagged | Leave a comment

A 9/11 fourty years ago

another September 11th. It was 40 years ago this week, September 11, 1973, that General Augusto Pinochet ousted Chile’s democratically elected president, Salvador Allende, in a U.S.-backed military coup. The coup began a 17-year repressive dictatorship during which more than 3,000 Chileans were killed. Pinochet’s rise to power was backed by then-President Richard Nixon and his secretary of state and national security adviser, Henry Kissinger.

In 1970, the CIA’s deputy director of plans wrote in a secret memo, quote, “It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup. … It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG [that’s the U.S. government] and American hand be well hidden,” unquote. That same year, President Nixon ordered the CIA to, quote, “make the economy scream” in Chile to, quote, “prevent Allende from coming to power or [to] unseat him.”

After the 1973 coup, General Pinochet remained a close U.S. ally. He was defeated in 1988 referendum and left office in 1990. In 1998, Pinochet was arrested in London on torture and genocide charges on a warrant issued by a Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzón. British authorities later released Pinochet after doctors ruled him physically and mentally unfit to stand trial.

Last week, Chile’s judges issued a long-awaited apology to the relatives of loved ones who went missing or were executed during the Pinochet dictatorship.

Joan Jara talking:

this lawsuit, which is for the central justice and accountability, is a civil lawsuit, but the—our aim is not to receive pecuniary, because this doesn’t help at all. It’s to reinforce the extradition petition, which was approved by the Chilean Supreme Court and is now in United States territory. It’s somehow to support that and to appeal to public opinion here in the United States. We know we have—there are many people here. In repeated visits here, I have met so many friends who have condemned the coup on the 11th of September, 1973. And I appeal to all the people who listen to Víctor’s songs, who realize—and for all the victims of Pinochet, for their support and appeal to their—your own government to remit a reply positively to this extradition request.

we were both at home with our two daughters. There was somehow a coup in the air. We had been fearing that there might be a military coup. And on that morning, together, Víctor and I listened to Allende’s last speech and heard all the radios, the—who supported Salvador Allende, falling off the air as, one by one, being replaced by military marches.

Víctor was due to go to the technical university, his place of work, where Allende was due to speak to announce a plebiscite at 11:00, and Víctor was to sing there, as he did. And he went out that morning. It was the last time I saw him. I stayed at home, heard of the bombing of the Moneda Palace, heard and saw the helicopter’s machine gun firing over Allende’s residence. And then began the long wait for Víctor to come back home.

I waited a week, not knowing really what had happened to him. I got a message from him from somebody who had been in the stadium with him, wasn’t sure what was really happening to him. But my fears were confirmed on the 11th of September—well, I’m sorry, on the 18th of September, Chile National Day, when a young man came to my house, said, “Please, I need to talk to you. I’m a friend. I’ve been working in the city morgue. I’m afraid to tell you that Víctor’s body has been recognized,” because it was a well-known—his was a well-known face. And he said, “You must come with me and claim his body; otherwise, they will put him in a common grave, and he will disappear.”

So then I accompanied this young man to the city morgue. We entered by a side entrance. I saw the hundreds of bodies, literally hundreds of bodies, that were high piled up in what was actually the parking place, I think, of the morgue. And I had to look for Víctor’s body among a long line in the offices of the city morgue, recognized him. I saw what had happened to him. I saw the bullet wounds. I saw the state of his body.

And I consider myself one of the lucky ones, in the sense that I had to face at that moment that—what had happened to Víctor, and I could give my testimony with all the force of what I felt in that moment, and not that horror, which is much worse, of never knowing what happened to your loved one, as what happened to so many families, so many women, who have spent these 40 years looking for their loved ones who were made to disappear.

The truth was bad enough. There was no need to invent more horrors. Víctor’s hands were not cut off. When I saw his body, his hands were hanging at a strange angle. I mean, his whole body was bruised and battered with bullet wounds, but I didn’t touch his hands. It looked as though his wrists were broken.

he didn’t really learn to play the guitar until he was adolescent, but his mother was a folk singer, and he learned from her, yeah.

We met because in the University of Chile we—Víctor was a student in the theater school, and I was a dancer in the national ballet, but I also gave classes in the theater school. That’s how I met him. He was an excellent student. He was at least the best of his course. But we actually got together after, later, when I was recovering from when I was sort of ill, and he heard I was ill. He came to see me with a little bunch of flowers that I think he took out of the park, because he was penniless.

My first daughter is actually the daughter of my first husband, whom I had separated from, but she was very, very small when Víctor came to see us that day. She was only a year old, slightly less than a year old. And she always felt that Víctor was her father, and Víctor always felt that he—she was her daughter. She—he—sorry, I’m not used to speaking English. So, they were very, very close.

I was one of the lucky ones. I was able to claim his body, but we had to take it immediately to the cemetery and inter it in a niche high up in the back wall of the cemetery. There could be no funeral. And after that, I had to go home and tell my daughters what had happened.

Almudena Bernabeu talking:

these lawsuits are happening in the United States, and there’s an important number of them. They are civil by nature, because it’s what the—it’s a tort, which is a legal word, but, I mean, it’s—what they really look for is a reward on damages. But really, the nature of the evidence and the relevance of the documents and everything that goes into the case really doesn’t distinguish, in my mind, between criminal and civil. It’s under two federal statutes in the United States called the Alien Tort Statute from 1789—ironically, first Congress—and the Torture Victims Protection Act, which is later on in 1992. And what they provide for is the right to victims, whether they’re aliens under the ATS or also U.S. citizens under the TVPA, or what we call the TVPA, to bring suit for human rights violations. The second statute provides for torture, extrajudicial killing, specifically. And the Alien Tort Statute allows you to bring in a more open or wide number of claims, including crimes against humanity, war crimes and slavery, many claims over the years. Colleagues and friends have brought suit under these laws.

In, I guess, the jurisdictional basis, not to be overtechnical, but one of the more solid ones has been the physical presence of the defendant in the United States, which is what I will say the Center for Justice and Accountability specialize. Other colleagues at the Center for Constitutional Rights and other institutions have more experience with corporate cases and so forth. And in this particular instance, Pedro Pablo Barrientos, the guy who has been investigated and identified by Chilean prosecutors and judges as the author, through testimony, of Víctor Jara’s assassination, was living—has been living for number of years, for almost 20 years, in Florida, of all places.

this came to the attention Chile television first, and they did a big program about both the investigation in Chile and the likelihood of this person—it was an interesting step—likelihood of this person being the Barrientos that was named in the pleadings in Chile. And after the program, the judge ordered a couple of extra, you know, steps from a criminal investigation standpoint, and they were able to identify him. And I was contacted by the prosecutors in Chile, with whom we have a relationship from prior work, to see if we could actually corroborate one more step to see if he was the person. And he is the same officer that left Chile, we believe between 1989 and 1990, and relocated in Deltona.

He was granted U.S. citizenship. And what I don’t—I don’t necessarily know that at the time that he was probably requesting to file his naturalization application, that the U.S. will know of his involvement. And I think that these guys specialize in lying in those applications, in my experience. So there’s no way necessarily for the U.S. to know, although I do believe that, overall, the U.S. looked somewhere else when all these people were coming from Latin America in the aftermath of their conflicts, no question, particularly military men.

archbishop of El Salvador, Óscar Romero really was an important case, on a personal and professional level. It was filed in 2003. And also with a little bit of this twisting of fate, the—a guy who was crucial to the assassination had been identified by the truth commission, by U.S. important declassified documents and other sources, as the driver, as the sort of right-hand man of Roberto D’Aubuisson, who conceived the assassination and sort of the whole plot. And he was the guy who drove the shooter to the church, and he was living in Modesto, California, running an auto shop. And after we were able to establish that truthfully and corroborate it, we filed suit, which was a very important suit, I will say. It was the only time in the history of the crime for the conditions of El Salvador when any justice has been provided for this emblematic killing, and it was the first case—

He was killed March 24th, 1980. The archbishop of El Salvador, While celebrating mass, absolutely. And he was kind of marks—in the history and the imaginary of Salvadorans, marks the beginning of their 10-year civil war. It really was a declaration of war in the old-fashioned sense. It was—and against all civilians and against the pueblo that he defended so much. It was one—a provocative statement, killing the archbishop, who had been in his homilies and publicly condemning the actions of the army against the people of El Salvador.

Joan Jara talking:

the Chilean army would not give the information of who—of the officers who were responsible for the Chile stadium where Víctor was killed. But gradually, within the proceedings of the case, officers were named, especially by the conscript, under whose—become orders, they were, yeah. And it’s these people who were these soldiers of lesser ranks who have identified the officers who were responsible for the crimes.

there’s been no desire or willingness on behalf of the armed forces in Chile to collaborate with the families and the victims struggling for 40 years. They have to rely, the investigators, in now testimony from these low-level soldiers, who don’t have that kind of pact of silence, and they’re providing information that is crucial for their work.

they say that they have had to have a pact of silence during many decades because they have been threatened by the armed forces, they should not speak. And there have been many who have been very scared to give their testimony until now.

— source

Joan Jara, widow of Chilean singer Víctor Jara, who was tortured and killed following the 1973 coup. Jara’s hands were smashed so he could no longer play guitar before he was shot over 40 times. Joan Jara is the author of An Unfinished Song: The Life of Victor Jara, first published in 1984.

Almudena Bernabeu, attorney for the Center for Justice and Accountability, where she directs the Transitional Justice Program.

Posted in Dictatorship, ToMl, USA | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Worker Owned Co-Op Lifting People Out of Poverty

Before Zaida Ramos joined Cooperative Home Care Associates, she was raising her daughter on public assistance, shuttling between dead-end office jobs, and not making ends meet. “I earned in a week what my family spent in a day,” she recalled.

After 17 years as a home health aide at Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA), the largest worker-owned co-op in the United States, Ramos recently celebrated her daughter’s college graduation. She’s paying half of her son’s tuition at a Catholic school, and she’s a worker-owner in a business where she enjoys flexible hours, steady earnings, health and dental insurance, plus an annual share in the profits. She’s not rich, she says, “but I’m financially independent. I belong to a union, and I have a chance to make a difference.”

Can worker-owned businesses lift families out of poverty? “They did mine,” Ramos said. Should other low-income New Yorkers get involved in co-ops? She says, “Go for it.”

New York City is going — in a big way — for worker-owned cooperatives. Inspired by the model of CHCA and prodded by a new network of co-op members and enthusiasts, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council allocated $1.2 million to support worker cooperatives in 2015’s budget. According to the Democracy at Work Institute, New York’s investment in co-ops is the largest by any US city government to date.

Cooperatives are businesses owned and controlled by their members on the basis of one member, one vote. Given enough time, worker-owned cooperatives tend to increase wages and improve working conditions, and advocates say a local co-op generally stays where it’s founded and acts as a leadership-building force.

“There is no greater medicine for apathy and feelings of living on the edges of society than to see your own work and your voice make a difference,” says a report on co-ops by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies in New York.

Selling the council on co-ops

This January, as a new mayor (who ran on combating inequality) and a progressive majority of the City Council were taking office, the Federation’s report inspired Councilmember Maria Del Carmen Arroyo to think about co‑ops. “A bulb went off,” she said.

Arroyo, incoming chair of the Community Development Committee, represents a South Bronx district that’s still one of the poorest in the nation, even after years of “development.” National retailers, attracted by tax breaks, typically pay low wages and squeeze out local businesses. Partly in response, the Bronx is also home to an array of co‑ops, from the large CHCA to the small Green Worker Cooperatives, which incubates local green businesses.

When Arroyo convened a first-of-its-kind hearing on co-ops this February, New Yorkers packed not one but two hearing rooms at City Hall.

Among the co-op members who testified was Yadira Fragoso, whose wages rose to $25 an hour — up from $6.25 — after becoming a worker-owner at Si Se Puede, a cleaning co-op incubated by the Brooklyn-based Center for Family Life. Translation at the hearing was provided by Caracol, an interpreters’ cooperative mentored by Green Worker Cooperatives.

By spreading risk and pooling resources, co-ops offer people with little individual wealth a way to start their own businesses and build assets. That said, if starting and sustaining a successful cooperative business were easy, there would probably be more of them.

As of January 2014, just 23 worker-owned co-ops existed in New York, of which only CHCA employed more than 70 people. Nationwide, according to data from the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, roughly 300 worker-owned cooperatives average 11 workers each. Lack of public awareness and funding, as well as a weak support system, holds co-ops back, researchers say, and cumbersome city paperwork doesn’t help.

A working model

CHCA is over 90 percent owned by women of color and yet (because of the co-op’s many owners) it hasn’t qualified as a minority- and women-owned business, Arroyo told the hearing. (Such businesses enjoy privileges in bidding for contracts.) “There’s no earthly reason we can’t change that,” Arroyo said.

If they are to change anyone’s life for the better, though, co-ops have to be successful businesses, and that’s hard, says Michael Elsas, CEO of CHCA.

The co-op was founded in 1985 on the premise that if workers owned their own company they could maximize their wages and benefits, and if workers were better trained and better treated, they’d offer better care to their clients. Creating the worker co-op was the first step. But to truly change life for their workers in a race-to-the-bottom industry such as health care, the founders knew they’d have to change the industry.

To that end, CHCA worked on several connected tracks. To raise industry standards, not just for CHCA workers but across the field, CHCA started the worker-run Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI) that trains agencies across the country while also fighting for policy shifts. (PHI was instrumental in the campaign that recently expanded the Fair Labor Standards Act.)

To better address the needs of home care clients, in 2000 they created Independence Care System (ICS), a multibillion-dollar managed-care company, which contracts with the city to work with chronically sick and disabled adults. With ICS, CHCA filled an unmet need while also creating its own primary customer to fuel the co-op’s growth. ICS is responsible for 60 percent of CHCA’s business, and the co-op has grown from 500 workers in the late 1990s to 2,300 today.

Workers become “owners” with a buy-in of $1,000, paid over time. Of today’s 2,300, some 1,100 are worker-owners, Elsas says. The company had $64 million in revenues in 2013. They’ve raised wages, but more important to workers like Ramos are the regular hours, the family health insurance, and membership in the Service Employees International Union Local 1199. In short, respect.

CHCA occupies two floors of a new office building on Fordham Road. Peer-mentors answer caregivers’ calls at desks, with plenty of cushioned sitting-room space for talking. In the PHI training lab, there are no model plastic dummies. Workers in training learn what it’s like to be both caretaker and patient.

Wages for CHCA’s health care workers stand at $16 an hour including benefits, Elsas says. It’s not affluence, but it’s still almost twice market rate. Workers enjoy guaranteed hours — an average of 36 a week, compared to an industry norm of 25 to 30. They’re paid for business meetings, and in a state where the CEO-to-minimum-wage-worker pay ratio stands at 405: 1, the ratio at CHCA hit its highest (11:1) in 2006. Turnover stands at 15 percent, compared with an industry standard close to four times that.

“If I didn’t like it here, I wouldn’t have stayed all these years,” Ramos says.

Asked about New York’s new co-ops, CHCA’s Elsas hesitates. He’s all for making it easier for co-ops to get contracts, but he’s concerned about scale.

“I’m just not sure that setting up 26 new small co-ops will help change policy or practice,” he says.

Helen Rosenthal was changed by a small co-op: Her mother started one of the first nursery co-ops in Detroit, and she saw how lives improved. Now she chairs the New York City Council’s powerful Committee on Contracts, where she’s helping push the co-op legislation. “With co-ops, democracy is built into the legal DNA,” she said.

Administered by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA), the city’s new funds will go to 10 nonprofits (among them, Green Worker Cooperatives and the Center for Family Life). The groups must create “234 jobs in worker cooperative businesses, reach 920 cooperative entrepreneurs, provide for the start up of 28 new worker cooperative small businesses and [assist] another 20 existing co-ops.”

With so few co-ops in existence, creating more is better, says Hilary Abell, author of a new study from the Democracy Collaborative titled Pathways to Scale. More is better. Co-ops thrive in a mutually supportive ecosystem. “But the biggest need right now is certainly for larger businesses, capable of hiring 100 workers and up,” she says, adding that start-ups may not be the best path to scale: “There are 200,000 small businesses in the US today, employing half of all America’s workers. Most have no succession plan.” Might some be ripe, she asks, for takeover by their workers?

After 92 years of the Federation’s fight against poverty, its leaders are clear: “Making sure that a safety net exists is not enough to help New Yorkers have satisfying lives. We needed a new approach to workforce development that would not only reduce poverty but also promote upward mobility, and that’s where co-ops can be an anchor,” says Wayne Ho, FPWA’s chief program and policy officer.

Funding for supportive nonprofits is not the only thing co-ops need from cities. In Spain, Northern Italy, Quebec, and France, robust worker co-ops benefit from laws that help co-ops access capital and public contracts. In New York, even as public dollars flow to big businesses as incentives, public spending is on the chopping block. The first city-sponsored trainings with a new, cooperative-inclusive curriculum started this summer, but passing co-op-friendly laws is going to take political power — of the sort that elected today’s progressive city leadership.

This $1.2 million won’t end poverty, but it’s a step in the right direction, says Christopher Michael of the New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives. “We have all the raw ingredients of a successful policy initiative: engaged groups, a bit of a track record and support in the city council…

“This is just a start.”

— source

Posted in Co-op, Economics, ToMl | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Do You Trust the Government?

87% of Americans Don’t.

Americans are seriously lacking faith in the system – in fact, trust in the U.S. government is at an all-time low. According to the latest CNN poll, just 13% of Americans agree that the U.S. government “can be trusted to do what is right always or most of the time.”

Instead, nearly everyone (75%) says that the government works properly just “some of the time,” a troubling figure. Certainly, a healthy, functioning democracy would not brew so much distrust amongst its population.

“The number who trust the government all or most of the time has sunk so low that it is hard to remember that there was ever a time when Americans routinely trusted the government,” said Keating Holland, the head of CNN Polling.

This is a notable departure from the legitimate trust that existed decades ago. Through the 1960s, Americans held favorable opinions toward the government. The majority of respondents in the ’60s said they trusted the government “always or most of the time.”

That all changed when the Watergate scandal struck. By 1974, only 36% of Americans expressed good faith in the government. That number has never rebounded above 50% since then, with one prominent exception: the period immediately following the September 11 attacks in 2001. While the outpouring of collective patriotism resulted in an upswing in the figures temporarily, the numbers have dropped steadily since, presumably impacted in part by the U.S.’s hasty decision to declare war with Iraq, a country uninvolved in 9/11.

Speaking of Watergate, in conjunction with the scandal’s 40th anniversary, CNN also polled Americans about their feelings on Watergate. The age gap on this issue is quite telling. Americans over the age of 40 declared Watergate a major problem, while those under 40 labeled the incident politics as usual. Of course, the fact that younger American citizens are collectively shrugging at Watergate isn’t a sign that they view that sort of behavior as acceptable. More accurately, it reflects the growing distrust toward the government and the belief that underhandedness like Watergate is standard practice in modern politics.

In addition to government-related questions, the poll asked Americans whether they had faith in the private sector. The amount of Americans who trust corporations is similarly abysmal: just 17%. That said, the correlation between these low fingers isn’t altogether surprising considering that the unholy alliance between corporations and U.S. politicians prompts many Americans to look at them as essentially the same entity.

— source

Posted in Government, ToMl, USA | Tagged , | Leave a comment