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Archive for December 14th, 2009

What she said HERE.

Amnesty International is calling this an important speech.

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Do you know under what rules USA military troops abide when they go overseas and interact with locals? It’s in the Status Force Agreements.

I don’t know if you have been following this, but there has been quiet a bit of ongoing diplomacy and negotiation over USAn agreements with other nations for military installations.

A case in point is the Marine Corps Airbase in Okinawa. In 2006 an agreement was made between the US and Japan to move a portion of US troops, numbering 8000, from Japan to Guam. Since the election of Japan’s new Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, that agreement is coming under scrutiny. Part of the agreement was to move US troops stationed at Futenma to Kadena Air Base. (Both bases are in Okinawa.) Japan is rethinking whether they want the also want the airbase removed and are negotiating for the idea that the Futenma troops will be completely removed to Guam.

Local sentiment in Okinawa is growing over this dispute. Part of the mix is the Japan- US Status of Forces Agreement. The recent incident of an alleged hit and run accident by an Army sergeant has brought the issue to the front. The man has been detained by the US military, to be handed over to Japanese authorities upon indictment. However, local officials are calling for him to be handed over now.

Air force bases are not easy to move. While in Guam recently, Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa to Guam, met with Guam Governor Felix P. Camacho. Camacho said he was confident the stand-off between Washington and Tokyo would be resolved. However, during their meeting Camacho stated that the island did not have the capacity to provide a new home for the Futenma airbase as well.

There are other concerns. As a territory of the US, Guam has representatives in the US House. However, those representatives are unable to vote. This places them in a similar position to Washington DC, and constitutes taxation without representation. The have legitimate concerns over the additional damage that dredging to expand the current military facilities would cause to coral reefs and what is left of their fishing industry. Their economy depends on the US military and tourism, mostly from Japan. Unemployment of the native population, poor structure and educational deficits are all locked into the system.

Upon that textural ground then, walks Ellen Tauscher, until recently, my District’s elected member of the US House of Representatives. She was appointed to be Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, by Barack Obama and some ways is very like Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom she supported in the presidential election primary.

Last week she and her team concluded an agreement with officials in Poland to install a missile defense system there. While it remains to be ratified by the Polish government it is likely that it will. This will allow certain commitments, agreed to under the Bush presidency to be met.

Alluded to as being a reduced plan that will mollify Russian concerns, of particular interest to the Polish government was the nature of the Status Force Agreement. As the CS Monitor reports, Poland’s Deputy Defense Minister Komorowski said:

“It was virtually the most important provision that we wanted to obtain. The American side expected us to drop this claim, but finally, we’ve established that in every case, the Polish justice system will be given the priority of jurisdiction over crimes committed by U.S. troops on Polish soil,” Poland’s Deputy Defense Minister Komorowski told the Rzeczpospolita daily. “However, on the US government’s special request and in extraordinary circumstances, we may decide not to use this power,” he added.

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It’s a world sprung anew. Even as we tweet away, others are watching. Transparency will be even more important – it’s time to end the Patriot Act. Only if we are vigilant about our rights, and work to be part of the legal architecture that builds around our new forms of communication, will those rights be upheld. It’s up to us.

Twitter Tapping

Published: December 12, 2009

The government is increasingly monitoring Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites for tax delinquents, copyright infringers and political protesters. A public interest group has filed a lawsuit to learn more about this monitoring, in the hope of starting a national discussion and modifying privacy laws as necessary for the online era.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/13/opinion/13sun2.html?src=tptw

I drove through Pecos once in 2006. It was in the evening, we were late, and my family, in the back of the RV was hot and already tired of the trip from SF to Leander, where my older daughter lived. There might have been three other cars on the road with me. A man was out on the main road with a big bunch of gorgeous looking cantaloupes – a tired man. His eyes bored right into mine as I passed. I hated myself even as I was doing it, but I passed him and his cantaloupes by.

Later, in the real estate news I saw homes going for next to nothing.  I saw a hundred acre farm, it could have been that tired old man’s, flat and plowed, with water and a home, for sale for less than most RV’s. Desperation builds desperate lives. Profit based prisons sprout and grow is such places. They are a disease of human nature preying on the desperate and less than equal. They do not provide equal protection under the law, as I think of it. They do not profit society. They profit people like those running the Vanguard Group and Geo Corporation and Wackenhut.

A Death in Texas

Profits, poverty, and immigration converge

Tom Barry

The Reeves County Detention Complex burns on the morning of February 2, 2009.

County Clerk Dianne Florez noticed it first. Plumes of smoke were rising outside the small West Texas town of Pecos. “The prison is burning again,” she announced.

About a month and a half before, on December 12, 2008, inmates had rioted to protest the death of one of their own, Jesus Manuel Galindo, 32. When Galindo’s body was removed from the prison in what looked to them like a large black trash bag, they set fire to the recreational center and occupied the exercise yard overnight. Using smuggled cell phones, they told worried family members and the media about poor medical care in the prison and described the treatment of Galindo, who had been in solitary confinement since mid-November. During that time, fellow inmates and his mother, who called the prison nearly every day, had warned authorities that Galindo needed daily medication for epilepsy and was suffering from severe seizures in the “security housing unit,” which the inmates call the “hole.”

http://bostonreview.net/BR34.6/barry.php

As the article below states, in fact, civil rights have been warred against since the law’s inception in 1964 – essentially how long our country has been leading off to the right. Human rights, that include equality by sex, were never achieved, even though some rights have been eked out law by law. It will take years to put us back on the path. The time to start is NOW and this looks like a start.

Civil Rights Division To Clean Up After 8 Years of Bush

Posted Wed, 12/09/2009 – 07:08

“Bush packed the Civil Rights Division with right-wing lawyers and administrators determined to erase even the most elementary gains made by minorities.”

The Obama administration has accomplished one solid achievement that may go down in the history books as at least a partial reversal of fortune for racial minorities in the United States. For eight long years, the Bush administration waged vicious political warfare against the very concept of civil rights, as we had come to understand it in America. Equal protection under the law became a dead letter in the U.S. Justice Department, whose Civil Rights Division was transformed into a bulwark of white male supremacy and petty reaction….]

http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/civil-rights-division-clean-after-8-years-bush

A settlement from a Democratic administration, and for the individuals who fought for their rights:

Tribal Justice News

[Attorney General Holder, Secretary Salazar Announce Settlement of Cobell Lawsuit on Indian Trust Management (AG) 
On Dec. 8, 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced a settlement of the long-running and highly contentious Cobell class-action lawsuit regarding the U.S. government’s trust management and accounting of over three hundred thousand individual American Indian trust accounts…



http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2009/December/09-ag-1312.html
…]

http://nativetimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2740:tribal-justice-news&catid=55&Itemid=31

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Medicare coverage for those aged 55-64

[POLITICO Breaking News:
—————————————————–

The White House is encouraging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), which would mean eliminating the proposed Medicare expansion in the health reform bill, according to an official close to the negotiations. Lieberman threw health care reform into doubt Sunday when he told Reid that he would filibuster the bill if it allowed Americans ages 55 to 64 to purchase coverage in Medicare.

For more information…http://www.politico.com%5D

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