Left out is also is the disaster in our relations with the American Indians with who we broke treaties with, stole their land and subjected them to live in impoverished conditions within a concentration camp without locks.
~Russell Means, Chief Facilitator, Republic of Lakotah
19 March 2010
On March 13, China’s Information Office of the State Council published a report titled, “The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009.”
This document was clearly intended as a rebuttal to the annual US State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009, released two days earlier.
The Chinese report quite legitimately notes that the US government “releases Country Reports on Human Rights Practices year after year to accuse other countries, and takes human rights as a political instrument to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, defame other nations’ image and seek its own strategic interests. This fully exposes its double standards on the human rights issue…”
Delivering the US government a well-deserved dose of its own medicine does not, of course, absolve the Chinese regime of its own gross violations of human rights. It rules autocratically over 1.3 billion people, most of them desperately poor peasants and super-exploited workers.
That being said, the Chinese report is an eye-opening document—factual, sober, even understated, drawn entirely from public government and media sources in the United States, with each item carefully documented. It presents a picture of 21st century America as much of the world sees it, one which is in sharp contrast to the official mythology and American media propaganda.
Not surprisingly, the report went unmentioned in the US mass media.
The 14-page report is divided into six major sections: Life, Property and Personal Security; Civil and Political Rights; Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Racial Discrimination; Rights of Women and Children; US Violations of Human Rights Against Other Nations. The cumulative picture is one of a society in deep and worsening social crisis.
A few of the facts and figures cited on violence and police repression in the United States:
• Each year, 30,000 people die in gun-related incidents.
• There were 14,180 murders last year.
• In the first ten months of 2009, 45 people were killed by police use of tasers, bringing the total for the decade to 389.
• Last year, 315 police officers in New York City were subject to internal supervision due to “unrestrained use of violence.”
• 7.3 million Americans were under the authority of the correctional system, more than in any other country.
• An estimated 60,000 prisoners were raped while in custody last year.
On democratic rights, the report notes the pervasive government spying on citizens, authorized under the 2001 Patriot Act, extensive surveillance of the Internet by the National Security Agency, and police harassment of anti-globalization demonstrators in Pittsburgh during last year’s G-20 summit. Pointing to the hypocrisy of US government “human rights” rhetoric, the authors observe, “the same conduct in other countries would be called human rights violations, whereas in the United States it was called necessary crime control.”
The report only skims the surface on the socioeconomic crisis in the United States, noting record levels of unemployment, poverty, hunger and homelessness, as well as 46.3 million people without health insurance. It does offer a few facts rarely discussed in the US media:
• 712 bodies were cremated at public expense in the city of Los Angeles last year, because the families were too poor to pay for a burial.
• There were 5,657 workplace deaths recorded in 2007, the last year for which a tally is available, a rate of 17 deaths per day (not a single employer was criminally charged for any of these deaths).
• Some 2,266 veterans died as a consequence of lack of health insurance in 2008, 14 times the military death toll in Afghanistan that year.
The report presents evidence of pervasive racial discrimination against blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans, the most oppressed sections of the US working class, including a record number of racial discrimination claims over hiring practices, more than 32,000. It also notes the rising number of incidents of discrimination or violence against Muslims, and the detention of 300,000 “illegal” immigrants each year, with more than 30,000 immigrants in US detention facilities every day of the year.
It notes that the state of California imposed life sentences on 18 times more black defendants than white, and that in 2008, when New York City police fired their weapons, 75 percent of the targets were black, 22 percent Hispanic and only 3 percent white.
The report refers to the well-known reality of unequal pay for women, with median female income only 77 percent that of male income in 2008, down from 78 percent in 2007. According to the report, 70 percent of working-age women have no health insurance, or inadequate coverage, high medical bills or high health-related debt.
Children bear a disproportionate burden of economic hardship, with 16.7 million children not having enough food at some time during 2008, and 3.5 million children under five facing hunger or malnutrition, 17 percent of the total. Child hunger is combined with the malignant phenomenon of rampant child labor in agriculture: some 400,000 child farm workers pick America’s crops. The US also leads the world in imprisoning children and juveniles, and is the only country that does not offer parole to juvenile offenders.
US foreign policy comes in for justifiable criticism as well. A country with so many poor and hungry people accounts for 42 percent of the world’s total military spending, a colossal $607 billion, as well as the world’s largest foreign arms sales, $37.8 billion in 2008, up nearly 50 percent from the previous year.
The Chinese report notes the documented torture of prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, the worldwide US network of military bases, the US blockade of Cuba (opposed by the UN General Assembly by a vote of 187 to 3), and the systematic US spying around the world, utilizing the NSA’s “ECHELON” interception system, as well as the US monopoly control over Internet route servers.
The report also points out the deliberate US flouting of international human rights covenants. Washington has either signed but not ratified or refused to sign four major UN covenants: on economic, social and cultural rights; on the rights of women; on the rights of people with disabilities; and on the rights of indigenous peoples.
The report does not discuss the source of the malignant social conditions in the United States—nor should that be expected, since that would require an explanation of the causal connection between poverty, repression and discrimination and the operations of the capitalist profit system, something that Beijing is hardly likely to undertake.
The preceding was first published on Indybay
Russell Means discusses how the lens through which America views its Indigenous people, shows how America views the world. From English-only laws and Christian righteousness to the perpetual state of war since its creation, the United States citizens continue to show a lack of respect for their relatives visions. Russell Means offers advice to the people of America in this edition of Weekend Update.
The following first appeared in the Rock Creek Free Press, June 2009
What do you suppose it is like to be elected President of the United States only to find that your power is restricted to the service of powerful interest groups?
A president who does a good job for the ruling interest groups is paid off with remunerative corporate directorships, outrageous speaking fees, and a lucrative book contract. If he is young when he assumes office, like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, it means a long life of luxurious leisure.
Fighting the special interests doesn’t pay and doesn’t succeed. On April 30 the primacy of special, over public, interests was demonstrated yet again. The Democrats’ bill to prevent 1.7 million mortgage foreclosures and, thus, preserve $300 billion in home equity by permitting homeowners to renegotiate their mortgages, was defeated in the Senate, despite the 60-vote majority of the Democrats. The banksters were able to defeat the bill 51 to 45.
These are the same financial gangsters whose unbridled greed and utter irresponsibility have wiped out half of Americans’ retirement savings, sent the economy into a deep hole, and threatened the US dollar’s reserve currency role. It is difficult to imagine an interest group with a more damaged reputation. Yet, a majority of “the people’s representatives” voted as the discredited banksters instructed.
Hundreds of billions of public dollars have gone to bail out the banksters, but when some Democrats tried to get the Senate to do a mite for homeowners, the US Senate stuck with the banks. The Senate’s motto is: “Hundreds of billions for the banksters, not a dime for homeowners.”
If Obama was naive about well-intentioned change before the vote, he no longer has this political handicap.
Democratic Majority Whip Dick Durbin acknowledged the voters’ defeat by the discredited banksters. The banks, Durbin said, “frankly own the place.”
It is not difficult to understand why. Among those who defeated the homeowners bill are senators Jon Tester (MT), Max Baucus (MT), Blanche Lincoln (AK), Ben Nelson (NE), Mary Landrieu (LA), Tim Johnson (SD), and Arlen Specter (PA). According to reports, the banksters have poured a half million dollars into Tester’s campaign funds. Baucus has received $3.5 million; Lincoln $1.3 million; Nelson $1.4 million; Landrieu $2 million; Johnson $2.5 million; Specter $4.5 million.
The same Congress that can’t find a dime for homeowners or health care appropriates hundreds of billions of dollars for the military/security complex. The week after the Senate foreclosed on American homeowners, the Obama “change” administration asked Congress for an additional $61 billion dollars for the neoconservatives’ war in Iraq and $65 billion more for the neoconservatives’ war in Afghanistan. Congress greeted this request with a rousing “Yes we can!”
The additional $126 billion comes on top of the $533.7 billion “defense” budget for this year. The $660 billion — probably a low-ball number — is ten times the military spending of China, the second most powerful country in the world.
How is it possible that “the world’s only superpower” is threatened by the likes of Iraq and Afghanistan? How can the US be a superpower if it is threatened by countries that have no military capability other than a guerrilla capability to resist invaders?
These “wars” are a hoax designed to enrich the US armaments industry and to infuse the “security forces” with police powers over the American citizenry.
Not a dime to prevent millions of Americans from losing their homes, but hundreds of billions of dollars to murder Muslim women and children and to create millions of refugees, many of whom will either sign up with insurgents or end up as the next wave of immigrants into America.
This is the way the American government works. And it thinks it is a “city on the hill, a light unto the world.”
Americans elected Obama because he said he would end the gratuitous criminal wars of the Bush brownshirts, wars that have destroyed America’s reputation and financial solvency and serve no public interest. But once in office Obama found that he was ruled by the military/security complex. War is not being ended, merely transferred from the unpopular war in Iraq to the more popular war in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Obama, in violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, continues to attack “targets” in Pakistan. In place of a war in Iraq, the military/security complex now has two wars going in much more difficult circumstances.
Viewing the promotion gravy train that results from decades of warfare, the US officer corps has responded to the “challenge to American security” from the Taliban. “We have to kill them over there before they come over here.” No member of the US government or its numerous well-paid agents has ever explained how the Taliban, which is focused on Afghanistan, could ever get to America. Yet this hyped fear is sufficient for the public to support the continuing enrichment of the military/security complex, while American homes are foreclosed by the banksters who have destroyed the retirement prospects of the US population.
According to Pentagon budget documents, by next year the cost of the war against Afghanistan will exceed the cost of the war against Iraq. According to a Nobel prize-winning economist and a budget expert at Harvard University, the war against Iraq has cost the American taxpayers $3 trillion, that is, $3,000 billion in out-of-pocket and already incurred future costs, such as caring for veterans.
If the Pentagon is correct, then by next year the US government will have squandered $6 trillion dollars on two wars, the only purpose of which is to enrich the munitions manufacturers and the “security” bureaucracy.
The human and social costs are dramatic as well and not only for the Iraqi, Afghan, and Pakistani populations ravaged by American bombs. Dahr Jamail reports that US Army psychiatrists have concluded that by their third deployment, 30 percent of American troops are mental wrecks. Among the costs that reverberate across generations of Americans are elevated rates of suicide, unemployment, divorce, child and spousal abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness and incarceration.
In the Afghan “desert of death” the Obama administration is constructing a giant military base. Why? What does the internal politics of Afghanistan have to do with the US?
What is this enormous waste of resources that America does not have accomplishing besides enriching the American munitions industry?
China and to some extent India are the rising powers in the world. Russia, the largest country on earth, is armed with a nuclear arsenal as terrifying as the American one. The US dollar’s role as reserve currency, the most important source of American power, is undermined by the budget deficits that result from the munition corporations’ wars and the bankster bailouts.
Why is the US making itself impotent by fighting wars that have nothing whatsoever to do with its security, wars that are, in fact, threatening its security?
The answer is that the military/security lobby, the financial gangsters, and AIPAC rule. The American people be damned.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
The Imaginary War
“Will the United States bomb itself?” ~Eduardo Galeano
With three months and change in office, its a fair time to take a look at the record of the 44th president of the United States. The leading deceptions of Barack Obama to date has been made capable by his understanding of the American psyche, and his misuse of the public’s desire for genuine change.
The best example of the psychological malfeasance of Obama is the Iraq war. In June of 2008, while campaigning, he stated that on day one of his presidency he would immediately begin the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and ship them instead to the good war in Afghanistan. Somehow, it is more acceptable to capture civilians and torture them for bad intelligence that then leads to more arrests and more torture in Afghanistan, than to perform the same practices in Iraq. But the goal of beginning the removal of troops was, after the election, immediately subverted by Barack Obama. The immediate withdrawl of troops became an 18-month drawdown, with now no end in sight.
If this is the case, what was the net effect of taking a position and then changing it? With this practice, the public gets the false impression that things are changing, that their opinion is valued and that their trust is sacred. In the current age, it is of central importance for most Americans to not feel offended. Perceived offense is taken as seriously as physical harm. With this mindset, all persons who lead guarded lives of safety feel just as at risk as those who are living from day to day, week to week, month to month, year to year, in an economy that keeps people permanently displaced, on the move from job to job. An economy that sees 22% of American children grow up in poverty. An economy that is seeing record foreclosures, massive unemployment, evaporating wages for the poor and coming epic inflation. In such an environment, ownership becomes rentership, and interpersonal trust becomes a matter of commerce.
The nation wanted universal, single-payer healthcare, and at first Barack Obama claimed he would provide it. But demanding a new plan was not a priority for him. The goal of universal coverage is now being kicked further down the road to a place where no one actually believes it will be picked up. There is a word for all of this, deceit.
Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency as well took the applauded position of halting mountaintop coal-removal, that process that blasts entire tops of the oldest mountains of the Eastern Americas for a finite, polluting resource. This after 400 acres of Tennessee was covered in up to 6 feet of coal sludge in December 2008. However, after the permits were delayed for one month, Obama’s EPA stated that 42 of 48 sites, including two dozen mountaintop sites, were A-OK, and that business could proceed as planned, by business, for business, for profit.
In addition, Obama promised and immediately acted to close the torture facility known as Guantanamo Bay. There were no words spoken as to whether Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan or other sites further afield known for torture as well would be closed, and it mattered little as the immediate order was allowed to air for a few weeks, then was quietly shelved. A public debate then ensues about whether the prisoners are allowed the rights of human beings, with no one seeming to notice that to date there are over two hundred people who have been held without due process, in massive isolation, for almost a decade now, in order to prove that the United States is a country of laws. To date, the only persons to be tried are Osama Bin Laden’s driver, and his cook. The gravest crime between the two is the forging of a passport. The matter of closing Guantanamo now proceeds toward the ever less likely for a public that is having its will publicly eroded.
To speak for a moment of the importance of location; in Afghanistan, in Palestine, in Iraq, to be a young man between the ages of 18 and 35 is to be a target. US reports of deaths of men between the ages of 18 to 35 proceed with the presumption that all men of this age group are presumed to be ‘terrorists’. For the United States, a country which has never had active on-going military bombardment, the use of robotic planes to eliminate the risk to the precious flesh of our soldiers while bombs are dropped on villagers and random mud huts in Pakistan and Afghanistan, surely indicates that our country has crossed a line into the realm of pure fantasy.
A young man, born into the country of Iraq, sees his neighborhood destroyed and his neighbors killed, tortured or forced to flee the country, and he has a choice. Leave, become a passive target for an unaccountable U.S. Military or Iraqi militia, or join the resistance. An entire population of people is considered, in the eyes of the American Media, guilty by age and location of birth and is pushed toward desparation. War does not even exist on television screens, apart from the sterile discussion of tactics. More time of televised discussion is focused on one sporting game than the active US military bombardment of three nations. We are at a sad point of dislocation from reality. The estimated 1 million people killed in Iraq are proportionally equal to the country of Iraq invading the U.S. and killing the entire population of the state of Michigan. The US has displaced a populace equivalent to the state of California.
All of this though isn’t altering the public’s ability to believe Barack Obama. The reason is a very straightforward trick of mnemonics. If the brain remembers something, anything, and if the brain then tries to remember that same thing later, the brain can literally not tell the difference between whether something occurred in reality, or if it is a memory of a memory. So when Barack Obama says the right thing, the moral thing, the thing the public believes in, he is able to give people the illusion of having made a difference, while deferring to their sloth and refusal to check-up on stories greater than 2 weeks old. All of this in order to have business continue unabated, unbridled, slightly reorganized, but funded, as the military is, at the same or greater levels, funding the same entities, with the same lack of oversight, for the same duration, forever.
In a world that is moving exponentially closer to economic, agricultural, environmental and inter-national collapse, one thing has been made very clear. The saving of the financial institutions, including Wall Street primarily, but secondarily the finance arms of GM and Chrysler, have shown that Obama is not interested in reviving the sections of the economy that produce a single thing. Bold change, bold leadership, would have seen Obama ban the sale of domestic automobiles for a year, two years, in order to have the plants retool for wind turbines and massively decrease the number of automobiles available while increasing the number of hybrids and electric autos on the road. Bold leadership would have followed through on what Obama said when he stated, “If I were designing a system from scratch, then I’d probably set up a single-payer (healthcare) system.” There will never be a better time to confront the insurance giants, the megalithic healthcare providers, and pharmaceutical corporations than right now. Bold leadership would have followed the advice of Major General Paul Eaton’s son, currently in Afghanistan, “I don’t need any more combat power. I need agriculture experts, I need water engineers, I need doctors, nurses, dentists .”
And so it is with Barack Obama. He has made it clear that the production economy is not his priority. The non-producing economies, the banking system, and the destructive economies, the war machines, are the priority. These are the areas that are being supported by the administration. These are the areas for which priority speed has been granted. Torture will continue under a different name. The American Public will continue to pay its tax money to be spied on by its own government, to risk random arrest, to be fed to another non-productive system, the prison system. At what point will the American Population begin to realize that a few more plastic baubles from Wal-Mart, a few more cheap poisoned tangerines, are not worth the amount of destruction we are leaving our children, are not worth the wreckage we are visiting upon our fellow human beings, do not amount to more than a hollow, ransacked way of doing things that we shouldn’t be saving in the first place?
On the day the American Populace figures that out, there will be revolution in this country, and it will be needed.
To Be Black and Head of the U.S.Empire: A Contradiction in Terms
by Larry Pinkney
The inescapable but deliberately ignored irony about Barack Obama being installed as this nation’s first so-called black president is that being Black in ‘America’ has in reality always meant so much more than mere color pigmentation.
To be the head of the most aggressive, violent, and hypocritical empire on this planet is not to be Black. It is to be opportunistically and cynically hypocritical while serving the interests of continued U.S. Empire. Those who choose to wrap themselves in the security blanket of the supposed wonderfulness of Obama’s so-called Blackness while ignoring the ongoing horrors that this person supports, are deeply complicitous in perpetrating the misery that this empire is heaping upon Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow peoples both inside and outside of its physical borders.
In April of 2007, this writer unapologetically wrote that: “Beyond mere color, being Black is first and foremost a conscious political, social, and economic commitment to the struggle for the collective betterment of the descendants of the Black slavery holocaust in what has now become the United States of America, in conjunction with other people of color and humanity as a whole.” (Reference The Black Commentator, April 19, 2007, issue 226, article entitled, To Be Black In America: An Unflinching Necessity.) In that same aforementioned article, your writer further wrote: “Blackness is, in fact, not only a rainbow of color but also a rainbow of active consciousness and commitment.”
Negrodian misleaders and their so-called “progressive” and “liberal” white counterparts have put forth and pontificated virtually every imaginable sorry excuse as to why Barack Obama and his current regime of the U.S. Empire should be supported. It is a truly pathetic for all conscious people of conscience of all colors to witness.
As the bloody U.S. wars of aggression rage on in Iraq and Afghanistan, and as the war drums of U.S. Empire intensify and deepen into Pakistan under the Obama regime; the peace movement in the United States has been castrated (i.e. made null and void), roaring overwhelmingly with a deafening silence.
As the bankers, the insurance companies, and the other gluttonous barons of Wall Street gorge themselves with trillions of dollars of the people’s money; as more and more people lose their jobs; and as every conceivable action is engaged in to crush the labor movement and the economic and political rights of working people in this nation; the Barack Obama regime, like clever rhetorical sorcerers of the system, keep pouring and passing around the poisonous Kool-Aid of rhetoric for the masses to gulp and ultimately die upon.
Be we Black, Brown, White, Red, or Yellow there is absolutely no legitimate excuse for wrapping ourselves in the hypocrisy of U.S. Empire. We all know, or certainly should know, that the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan are wrong and unacceptable.
Had George W. Bush boycotted and attempted to sabotage the recent United Nations Conference on Racism (in Durban) as did the Barack Obama administration, there would have been enormous outcry from the so-called Black and White left in the U.S. Had George W. Bush continued and even expanded upon the so-called “extraordinary rendition” program (i.e. the illegal kidnapping of persons in other nations by the U.S. Government) as has Barack Obama, there would have been unquenchable outrage! Why the virtual silence and hypocrisy now? It’s time to stop being hypocrites and apologists for yet another administration of U.S. Empire and hegemony.
To be Black has increasingly become clearly less and less about mere color and increasingly about the commitment to political, economic, and social justice.