Friday, April 04, 2008


On May 2 1973, Black Panther activist Assata Shakur was pulled over by the New Jersey State Police. What happened next changed her life forever. A New Jersey state trooper was killed and one of the men she was riding with was shot dead. Her other friend escaped and was later captured, and Shakur was shot from behind in her arm and her shoulder while she had her hands up in the surrendering position. She never fired a shot.

She was convicted later as an accomplice to murder.

The judge did not allow evidence of COINTELPRO involvement to be admitted during her trial. Shakur's defense attorneys had attempted to subpoena FBI Director Clarence Kelley, Senator Frank Church and other Federal and New York law enforcement officials to testify about the Counter Intelligence Program, which was designed to harass and disrupt black activist organizations and other groups the government didn't like.

All of the jury members at her trial were white and five had personal ties to State Troopers (one girlfriend, two nephews, and two friends). One prospective juror was dismissed for reading Target Blue , a book by Robert Daley, a former New York City Deputy Police Commander, which dealt in part with Shakur and had been left in the jury assembly room.

Assata spent six and a half years in prison under brutal circumstances before escaping out of the maximum security wing of the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey in 1979.

With her supporters, many who admired her, members of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army on her side, Shakur succeeded in eluding the FBI for five years. In 1984, she fled to Cuba, which is where she still resides today.

Last year the federal government issued a statement in which they labeled her a domestic terrorist. In so doing, they also increased the bounty on her head from $150,000 to an unprecedented $1,000,000. New Jersey State Police superintendent Rick Fuentes said "she is now 120 pounds of money."

A 1979 special UN investigation into human rights abuses of political prisoners cited Shakur as "one of the worst cases" of such abuses and including her in a "a class of victims of FBI misconduct through the COINTELPRO strategy and other forms of illegal government conduct who as political activists have been selectively targeted for provocation, false arrests, entrapment, fabrication of evidence, and spurious criminal prosecutions."

The following is from the Black Commentator.

My 60th Birthday
from Assata Shakur

First of all, let me say thank you, to the many people who have helped me to celebrate my 60th birthday. Thank you for your beautiful birthday cards and for your warm and eloquent messages. Thank you for your activism, your radiant energy and most of all for your love. I am sincerely grateful for your support and for your commitment to social justice, truth and freedom.

It is somehow surprising for me to realize that I have lived on this planet for 60 years. I never imagined that I would live this long. Some of those years were very hard years, other years were happier, but I have never forgotten who I am or where I came from. For as long as I can remember, I was acutely aware of my oppression and of the oppression of my people.

In some ways it was easier for my generation. Racism was blatant and obvious. The "Whites Only" signs let us know clearly, what we were up against. Not much has changed, but the system of lies and tricknology is much more sophisticated. Today young people have to be highly informed and acutely analytical, or they will be swept up into a whirlpool of lies and deception.

Freedom, justice and liberty are words that are thrown around a lot in the United States, but for most of us, it is empty rhetoric. With each and every passing day the country becomes more repressive, the police more viciously aggressive and the so-called constitutional guarantees obliterated by scare tactics. The so-called ’Conservatives’ are only interested in conserving their privileges and power and helping their rich friends to become richer. Black ’Conservatives’ serve their "masters" and are basically interested in grinning, shuffling and ’Uncle Tomming’ all the way to the bank. This is the most corrupt administration that has ever existed. They have blatantly stolen not millions, but billions of dollars. They are actively seeking to preserve the old colonial order with a new face, where the oppressed people of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East are expected to suffer happily, and sing praises to imperialism to the tune of the star spangled banner.

It is extreme arrogance to attack and occupy a country and expect its people to rejoice and lick your feet. Not even Roman Emperors were involved in such misguided conceit. The U.S. government has no right whatsoever, to force its undemocratic "democracy" on the rest of the world. I am 60 years old and I cannot remember a time when my people ever experienced true democracy. It is still the active policy of the U.S. government to use a wide variety of tactics to prevent poor people and people of color from voting. And when we do get to vote, our votes usually do not count. For the most part, there are no decent candidates to vote for, because the U.S, government is a "dollarocracy" where candidates have to beg and pander to the corporate rich in order to be elected.

I am 60 years old, and I have never in my life seen such widespread violence and cruelty. The U.S. government has more people in prison than any other country in the world, and it is now actively involved in creating prisons all over the world. Abu Gharib is only the tip of the iceberg. People all over the world are being imprisoned in secret prisons, with no formal charges being made against them. They are imprisoned under the most inhumane conditions, and detained for indeterminate periods of time, with no rights, no trials, and no justice whatsoever. In short, the leaders of this country are war criminals. All the U.S. government has to do is call them terrorists or extremists, enemy combatants or whatever and they can do anything they want to these people. I live in Cuba, and the Cuban people watch horrified, as the U.S. Army illegally occupies their land in Guantanamo and commits unspeakable acts of torture on their soil, in the name of "freedom." The U.S. government not only destroys the lives of people around the world, many mothers have cried because many of our young people have had their lives destroyed as well. I believe that this earth was meant for tenderness and not terror. The imperialist countries not only implement terrorist policies in the Third World, their actions also provoke terrorist activities and internal disputes between people. I believe that when Western governments learn to respect the sovereignty of Third world governments, and to offer solidarity and support rather that imperialist policies and exploitation, most of the world’s problems will be close to being solved.

Inside the belly of the beast, conditions are also disastrous. Most of the victims of Katrina are still waiting for decent housing and public services. Schools and hospitals around the country are either deteriorating or closing down. Around the country social programs to help poor and working people are mostly a thing of the past. Our young people are being marginalized, criminalized and brutalized. It is often an act of courage to go to school, or simply drive down the street. The U.S. government’s occupation of Afghanistan has produced a record increase of heroin production, and the "war on drugs" continues to be a war on poor people and people of color. The police brutality in our communities is not a simple matter of randomly "bad" cops. This government is more repressive than ever and more and more of a police state. When you have a trigger happy president, a trigger happy vice-president, a trigger happy office of homeland security, you are bound to have an increase of trigger happy police and many of our young people are bound to end up dead or imprisoned. The social policies of the United States have deteriorated from so-called benign neglect to malignant hostility or indifference.

The role the press and the media have played in all this has been increasingly malignant. There is no such thing as a free press in the United States. Journalists receive big salaries for telling "official" lies. The media both knowingly and naively became the vehicle for misinforming the people of the United States and convincing the people that it was "necessary" to go to war. Their "reporting" was based on outright lies. Now they "embedded" in the military, continuing to misinform the people, and distort the truth.

I am 60 years old and I am proud to be one of those people who stood up against the ruthless, evil, imperialist policies of the U.S. government. In my lifetime I have opposed the war against the Vietnamese people, the illegal contras – war in Nicaragua, the illegal coup in Chile, the invasion of Haiti and of Grenada, and every other illegal, immoral and genocidal war the U.S. government has ever waged. I have never been a criminal and I never will be one. I am 60 years old and in spite of government repression, in spite of the media’s lies and distortions, in spite of the U.S, government’s COINTELPRO Program to criminalize and demonize political opponents, I feel proud to count myself as someone who believes in peace and believes in freedom. I am proud to have been a member of the Black Panther Party although the U.S. government continues try to distort history and continues to persecute ex-members of the Black Panther Party. Just recently, the U.S. government has indicted and arrested 8 ex-Black Panthers in a case that was dismissed 30 years ago. The case was dismissed some 30 years ago when it became obvious that the most vicious forms of extreme torture were used to extract false confessions from some of the so-called defendants.

I am 60 years and it is doubtful that I will ever live to see my people free of oppression and repression. But I am totally convinced that our collective dream of freedom will some day be realized. I sincerely implore young people to develop their minds, to develop their skills, to expand their states of consciousness, and sharpen their abilities to analyze reality. Those Africans who conspired with the European slave trade to sell us into slavery were seduced by trinkets. I hope and pray that our young people will not continue to fall into the same traps. I have always loved my people and always loved our culture. The culture of my people has always been rich and always been filled with the seeds of resistance. I hope that young people hold fast to that tradition. I sincerely hope that all young people will have the courage and the wisdom to hold on tight to their humanity and their historical mission. Most people in the Americas, were either indigenous people whose ancestors were victims of genocide, or brought to this hemisphere as slaves, or came to this continent seeking freedom. I believe that it is our collective duty to make freedom a reality. I truly believe that it is possible to end oppression and repression on this planet. If we all see ourselves as citizens of this planet, and citizens of the world, it will be easier for us to save this planet and recognize the human rights of human beings around the world.

Much love, Much Solidarity,

May we all make freedom a reality,

Assata Shakur


As the International Trade Union Confederation reports:
"...there has been no let up in the murders, attempted murders and death threats in Colombia and that the authorities appear to be no nearer to carrying out a full investigation into the crimes committed almost daily against the trade union movement."

The murdered trade unionists come from all sectors, including teachers, bank, factory, and health workers.

Ironically, several of the murders this year took place around the march “For the Dignity of Victims” held in Colombia earlier this year. On March 6, 2008, over 200,000 people participated in the “March Against State Terror” in Colombia. Between March 4, 2008 and March 11, 2008, hundreds of organizers and human rights activists were threatened. The organizer of the march and four other human rights spokespeople were killed, along with four trade union leaders for the Confederation of Colombian Workers.

Colombia is the most dangerous place to live if you are a union leader, activist or member: 3,000 have been murdered since 1985, according to an annual survey of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.
Others place the numbers of dead far higher.

“Colombia has a long and appalling record as the most dangerous place on earth for trade unionists, with dozens of killings taking place each year. Only a tiny fraction of these have been investigated properly. The government must fulfill its responsibility to protect trade unionists and end the culture of impunity which has reigned for so long”, said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.

The complicity of U.S.-based multinational corporations in attacks on union leaders is well documented.

Cases have been brought against Coca-Cola, the Drummond mining company and Occidental Petroleum accusing them of supporting paramilitaries that terrorize and kill union organizers.

In the meantime, the Hillary Clinton campaign is being rocked today by labor protests over relations between Columbia and chief strategist Mark Penn.

Penn met with Colombia's ambassador to the U.S. on Monday to discuss a bilateral free-trade agreement which Clinton opposes. According to the Wall Street Journal he wasn’t there in his campaign role, but in his separate job as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide, an international communications and lobbying firm. The firm has a contract with the South American nation to promote congressional approval of the trade deal, among other things, according to filings with the Justice Department.

According to the Justice Department, the Columbian government has paid Penn's firm $300,000 to lobby for Columbia's point of view and to secure $5 billion for the war on drugs program known as Plan Colombia.

Whatever hat he happens to be wearing, Penn is meeting with representatives of a regime of a country where more unionists are killed each year than in the rest of the world's countries combined.

The sad truth, of course, is that if we were to scrutinize the campaign of any major candidates for President of this country, we'd find that Penn's failure to be bothered bothered by dealing with murderers is not uncommon for campaign staff.

The following request is from UNI Global Union.

Assassination of trade unionist in Colombia -

On March 8 Leonidas Gomez Rozo was shot dead at his home in Bogotá. He worked at CITI BANK and was a trade union leader who performed a number of functions in the Union of Colombian Bank Employees and in the Unitarian Workers Central of Colombia.

His assassination took place after a number of threats had been received via email by various social and human rights organisations warning that the campaign against the members of the families of leaders opposed to the government would be intensified.

Leonidas Gomez Rozo had been playing an important role in helping to implement the goals fixed by UNI in Colombia.

UNI has sent a letter of protest to the President of Colombia and we would also ask you to send a protest message against this assassination and to demand that the Colombian government carry out a rapid and exhaustive inquiry and bring to justice the persons who ordered and carried out this new crime against the Colombian trade union movement and to ask that the necessary measures be put in place to put an end once and for all to the violence perpetrated against the trade union movement and other civil society organisations.

A click and go message has been set up at
En español:

Thank you for your solidarity.


In New York City people with pets had for years operated on the pretty much unwritten but accepted law that if you live "open and notoriously" with your pet for three months or longer, even if your lease has a no-pet clause, your landlord loses his or her right to evict you on that basis.

Unfortunately, a 1996 court ruling weakened that pet law by giving landlords a new three-month window for each pet you bring into your home.

That means if your pet dies, your landlord can evict you for getting another animal.

These tenants face either expensive court battles to stay in their homes, moving to new apartments or giving up their newly adopted pets. The legal bills easily mount into the tens of thousands of dollars. The emotional toll is equally high.

The ability to make a person choose between their animal companion and their apartment presents a real problem in the Big Apple where finding another place to live is no easy matter.

"It is a tremendous problem for the people and for the animals," Elinore Molbegott, legal counsel for the Humane Society of New York told the NY Daily News.

As someone who has lived with an animal friends all his life I know how cruel this is. I'd have to move. In fact, I did move once when a new owner bought my building (not in NYC) and announced a no pet policy. What, did the jerk think I was going to throw out my dog Dakotah like trash. I got to admit, I was about ready to shoot the guy. So to me any law that protects those living with an animal friend and that animal friends is a good law.

The Daily News reports in an effort to change the law, animal advocates are hoping to breathe new life into the Pets in Housing Bill (Intro 13), which has been languishing for years in City Council.

The Pets in Housing Bill would clarify the existing 1983 pet law so that once the no-pet clause in a renter's lease has been waived, it's waived for the duration of the tenant's occupancy -not only for the lifetime of one pet.

They say the main obstacle to passing the bill has been City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who so far has refused to schedule a hearing.

Despite the support of 30 co-sponsors - a majority of Council members - the bill remains in legislative limbo.

"It's very unfair for the speaker to hold up this bill," said Council member Tony Avella (D-Queens).

In an effort to push the bill, Avella plans to invoke the "sponsor's privilege" to push the committee for a hearing within 60 days.

But we should not be surprised by the action of the evil Quinn. After all he was one of nine Council members who scored a 0 last year on the League of Humane Voters scorecard, which rated the 51 members on a scale from zero to 100 for their work on behalf of animals. The average score for Council members was 47%.

There will be a rally (see details below) in New York City tomorrow in support of the bill.

The following announcement is from the League of Humane Voters.

TOMORROW: Pets in housing bill rally & press conference! Tell your friends!

The pets in housing bill's back and we're going to have a hearing thanks to Council Member Tony Avella (D-Queens)! Please attend the press conference being organized by the League of Humane Voters of New York City (LOHV-NYC) on April 5th and show your support for this bill. Details below.

As you may know, Avella's pets in housing bill would open up many new homes for animals in need of them. It would clarify the existing pet law so that the no-pet clause in a rental tenant's lease, once waived, is waived for the duration of the tenant's occupancy and not the lifetime of one pet. In other words, if your pet dies, your landlord wouldn't be able to prevent you from acquiring a new animal.

Over the past 2 years, the League of Humane Voters of New York City has been working diligently behind the scenes to build up support for the pets in housing bill, now known as Intro 13. We've lobbied hard and we've been successful at getting the support of more than a majority of Council Members. In the past few weeks, we've brought on *another* 2 members as co-sponsors, for a total of 30!

On Saturday, April 5th, at 12pm, please join the League of Humane Voters of New York City, the Humane Society of New York, The Humane Society of the United States, In Defense of Animals, the ASCPA, the Stonewall Democratic Club, the 504 Democratic Club and many others and show your support for the pets in housing bill!

If you're with an animal rescue group, please bring your banner and contact us at 212-889-0303 if you're interested in speaking at the event. Everyone else, bring pictures of your pets!

The Speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn, is rumored to oppose the bill, so we need hundreds of people to show up! Please, don't miss this event!

We CAN get this bill passed, but we need your help! Attend the press conference and donate to LOHV-NYC today!

Details on the press conference:

What: Press conference for the pets in housing bill, Intro 13
When: Saturday, April 5th at 12pm (don't be late!)
Where: The Steps of City Hall

Bring friends and photos of your pets!

Monday, March 31, 2008


I'm out of commission with a touch of the flu. We shall see about tomorrow.