Thursday, August 18, 2005

Indymedia roundup

Laila and her friend Cathleen were hanging out in the courtyard at Galileo Academy of Science & Technology, talking about shopping to blow off steam after their sixth-period math test. It was a cool December day in San Francisco, and Laila remembers wanting to go inside early.
A few minutes before the bell rang to end the lunch period, Laila, a Muslim student who wears a hijab, the head scarf worn by many Muslim women, says she noticed a boy, whom she recognized but did not know, approaching them. "He walked right over to us," Laila says. "There were a lot of people standing around. He got real close, and then he just started screaming at me:
'"Her father is bin Laden! She's going to blow up the school, she's going to blow it up! She has a bomb under her sweater! Everybody run, this jihad girl is going to kill us!'"
Laila says the boy and his two friends doubled over, laughing. Other students walked quickly as they passed. "I was so mad, just so embarrassed. I wanted to spit in his face," Laila says.
Laila, who is 17 and recently graduated, says she faced this kind of harassment and discrimination at school many times over the last four years. But the bin Laden incident stuck with her because so many people witnessed it, both students and teachers, and no one did or said anything about it.
"I had math after lunch, and I told my teacher what happened," Laila says. "My teacher said she had heard the whole thing. And then she said I shouldn't make a big deal out of it. 'He has the right to express his opinions,'" Laila remembers her saying.
Laila told her teacher that she didn't think that was fair. "She told me that my people had caused a lot of problems in the world, and that I should understand if people were frustrated with me," Laila says.
Laila went home and told her mother and father what had happened. When her mother, Sadaf, went to see the teacher, Sadaf says, she was sent away. "She asked me to come back after the Christmas break," Sadaf says. "And then she said, 'Or whatever you people celebrate.'"
Sadaf never went back. She never filed a complaint either.

The above, e-mailed by Maria, is from Cristi Hegranes' "Suffer the Little Muslims: A look at the appalling discrimination against Middle Eastern studenets countenanced by Bay Area pubic schools" (San Francisco Weekly).

It's Thursday so it's time for the Indymedia round up.

From Tennessee Indymedia, we'll note Emma Goldman's "Despite Violence from Company and Police, Mountain Take Over Halts Blasting" (sent in by Roger):

In a mountain take over yesterday, August 15, activists were met by aggression and violence on the part of coal company employees and rogue officers working hand in hand. Blasting on Zeb Mountain was temporarily halted due to the mountain take over action, which was executed by members of Mountain Justice Summer. Non-violent activists blockaded the entrance to the mine with two individuals locked down to a car and another suspended from a 30-foot tripod positioned in the middle of the road. There were 9 arrests at the end of the day. Police allowed an aggravated and aggressive employee unfettered access to the immobilized blockaders, resulting in several cases of physical assault, with one participant showing large bruises over her arms. Police not only allowed the employees open access to the demonstrator’s bodies, but they also directly participated in physical assault. Pain compliance methods were used on Nable Wallin, who was locked to the car. "I was screaming my brains out," Wallin said, "while they were doing the pain compliance, I couldn't have unlocked if I wanted to."
In another instance, police and employees worked together to jerk down the tripod. A demonstrator positioned about 25 ft above the ground warned them of the possible consequences of their actions. "There is a good chance you could kill me or rip my arms out," Mere recalls saying. Ignoring his pleas, the police continued. "I did not once see or hear the police tell the employees to not touch us," said Mere.
The demonstrators still believe the action was a necessary and successful step in the campaign to stop mountain top mining. "In the past National Coal has tried to silence us with lawsuits and intimidation, but we were still heard. Now is no different. These bars are see through and we’re not sitting down until the mountains are safe," said an activist calling himself Kid Last.
Activists are calling on Gov. Bredesen to step up to the challenge and set an example for all of Appalachia to protect our mountains. "Is he going to allow state police to act as common thugs for the coal companies or will he work for the citizens to protect the people and the mountains from National Coal," said Joe Overton, a Cumberland Plateau Tennessean.

Now two stories about the New York Times.

Bay State Banner publisher Mel Miller, whose weekly paper has served Boston's minority community for four decades, is not by temperament a bomb thrower or an inflammatory-quote machine.
But when it comes to the subject of the Gainesville Guardian -- the Florida weekly targeted to minority readers that will be launched on August 24 by the New York Times Company -- Miller doesn't mince words.

In a recent Banner editorial on the subject, he criticized the "journalistic carpetbaggers" trying to tap into the African-American advertising market and declared that "only the black press can be entrusted to unravel [complex racial] issues and advocate unequivocally for the interests of African-Americans."
In an interview, Miller expresses doubt that the Times Company has either the "ability" or "willingness" to produce a viable product for the minority community. "The black press," he warns sternly, "is not a community newspaper like the Arlington Advocate and the Wellesley Townsman."
With the newspaper industry frantically searching for new readers and revenues, certain segments of the ethnic press have become popular targets in recent years. From Knight Ridder's Vietnamese newspaper in San Jose to Gannett's Hispanic publication in Phoenix, major media companies are scrambling to plant a flag in the growing ethnic marketplace. That strategy appears vindicated by a June survey conducted for New California Media, an association of more than 700 ethnic-media organizations, which concluded that 29 million adults in the US prefer their own ethnic news sources to the mainstream press.
But the Times' decision to launch a free-distribution 10,000-circulation weekly for an African-American readership is risky and controversial on several counts.

The above is from Mark Jurkowitz's "Black and whiteThe New York Times Company’s plan for a free African-American weekly in Florida makes many see red" (Boston Phoenix) and was e-mailed by Keshawn.

Staying on the New York Times for a moment, Jonah e-mails to note Paul Moses' "'Times' to Commoners: Go Elsewhere: Don't soil our publicly subsidized new HQ with your riff-raff" (The Village Voice):

When The New York Times and Forest City Ratner Companies open their grand new office building on Eighth Avenue, it won't have a Taco Bell, McDonald's, Wendy's, or Nathan's, because they are specifically forbidden under terms of a land deal with the state. But a Starbucks or Cosi would be just fine.
The lease, which is on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, also bars renting space in the 52-story building for "a school or classroom or juvenile or adult day care or drop-in center." It forbids "medical uses, including without limitation, hospital, medical, or dental offices, agencies, or clinics." It gives the New York Times Company "the sole and absolute discretion" to reject United Nations or foreign-government offices, including any "considered controversial" or that are potentially the focus of demonstrations. It bans any "employment agency (other than executive-search firms) or job training center" and auction houses, "provided, however, the foregoing shall not apply to high-end auction houses specializing in art and historical artifacts." Discount stores are forbidden. And the deal bars "a welfare or social-services office, homeless shelter or homeless assistance center, court or court-related facility."
In fact, any government office is excluded from the building if it would attract people who arrive "without appointment."

Lease restrictions that exclude the public may not be unusual in luxury office buildings, but there is an irony in this case. The Pataki administration, acting on behalf of the New York Times Company, condemned the property for a so-called "public purpose." This is the standard the Fifth Amendment sets for the state to invoke the immense power of eminent domain.
At one time, "public purpose" usually meant a highway, bridge, or utility service--something the public was actually allowed to use. But now it's routine for the courts to declare it a "public purpose" for the state to seize privately owned land so that another private owner can erect a very private office building where the public can't even buy an inexpensive taco. In this case, the services many New Yorkers most need--health, education, job placement--are officially locked out of a building that will be heavily subsidized by city taxpayers. And, it should be noted, this is a site with unique public access, located across the street from the Port Authority Bus Terminal and upstairs from the city's subway crossroads.

Dominick e-mails to note dave's posting of "Solicitor Gareth Pierce Speaks out about English Deportees" (Indymedia.i.e.):

Press Statement - Birnberg Peirce & Partners 11/8/05
A number of men we represent who are the subject of Control Orders were arrested this morning and told that they would be deported. The Home Office did not think it necessary to give a single word of explanation to those individuals as to why this morning they can be safely deported to their respective countries of origin when last night they could not.

If there are "memoranda of understanding" between this country and the brutal regimes from which they have fled, those have not been provided to those men or to us. The men themselves in any event have been throughout today deliberately put out of reach of lawyers who represent them. We do not know where they are and the Home Office will not tell us.
We have a strong suspicion that they are deliberately being separated in a number of directions now so as to make access even more problematic.
The 2001 Anti Terrorism Crime and Security Act was introduced for this specific claimed purpose of being able to lock up foreign nationals without trial who with certainty would be tortured or killed if they were deported.
If the Home Office claims that it can now rely upon diplomatic assurances from appalling regimes whom it knows, on strong evidence make use of torture, then it does so in the face of universal international rejection of such "assurances".
Diplomatic assurances that torture will not be used could never be asked of countries that truly guarantee human rights. Such assurances carry no sanction if breached, they are unenforceable, they provide those brutal regimes with an endorsement by our government that they are true democracies and since regimes that use torture regularly subcontract that work, the regimes themselves can claim that rogue torturers operate without state blessing.
The Home Office can not suggest that either of the countries concerned, Algeria or Jordan, has undergone overnight any internal revolution that does away with torture. Jordan and Algeria are at the top of every list of countries known to use the most brutal of forbidden measures.
We ourselves believe that even now planes depart on behalf of the USA carrying suspects to detention centres in Jordan that use torture (the appalling practice of "rendition").
We know that in the recent "ricin" prosecution, false evidence was extracted by torture from a detainee in Algeria. That false evidence was thereafter seized upon and given as a justification for this country's invasion of Iraq. Each successive claim made by the Home Office during the past three years has contradicted itself. There is thereafter silence as to why the position changes.
If it is necessary that these men have to now be arrested, why does the Home Office say in March just before placing them under Control Orders that all could appropriately be on bail? If these men can be safely deported now, why has the Home Office claimed for so years that that was impossible? If it is claimed that recent incidents in this country demand these measures how is it that a number of men, primarily Algerians, come to be rounded up under yet new measures as the usual suspects; is there a single suggestion that can be made that they have in any way participated in or had any connection with recent incidents said to justify recent incidents said to demand these measures?
Ultimately this move risks disenfranchising this country from the international community that guarantees true observance of fundamental human rights. We cannot be part of that community which means abiding by our treaty obligations and trade human beings at will in this way.
This is insane and dangerous government at its worst. The Prime Minister is wrong. The rules of the game have not changed. The rules that we pray in aid cannot be changed for the purposes of political grandstanding and he, of all people, as a lawyer, should know that.
Gareth Peirce

Brandy e-mails to note Justin Park's "Broadband of Brothers: A small fraternity now controls the wires on which you receive your Internet connection" (Syracuse New Times):

Michael Ameigh teaches courses in telecommunications as an associate professor at SUNY Oswego. "We do have a duopoly in Syracuse," he says. "I don't like the idea of a duopoly because they seek parity rather than to compete and innovate. That situation could change but they have resources that the little guys don't."
Joe Plotkin, media spokesman for, a DSL provider in New York City, says letting only a few companies control broadband access to the Internet is like allowing General Motors to own the nation's highways. "You can imagine that GM might not allow Fords on the roads. The Internet is a platform for innovation. The excitement around it as an economic driver is because of that innovation and creativity emerging from it."
That sentiment is echoed in a post-Brand X release from Consumers Union, best known for their ad-free magazine Consumer Reports. "The Federal Communications Commission made the decision to exempt cable modem service from the obligation of providing nondiscriminatory access to the telecommunications network," the release says. "In its action, the agency abandoned a fundamental principle that has applied to all means of communications throughout U.S. history: Communications and transportation networks must be available to all on a nondiscriminatory basis if they are to serve the public interest. This principle has historically applied to roads, canals, railroads, steamships, airlines, telegraph and telecommunications."
Plotkin says problems arise as broadband providers become vertically integrated, controlling not only the physical means of delivering the Internet but the content and services as well. "To protect their movies and music, Time Warner could try to block peer-to-peer file sharing networks. Or instead of blocking Vonage {a Voice-Over-Internet Protocol phone company}, they find ways through price or bundling to make their {VOIP} phone service more attractive to the people using them for broadband." VOIP is simply phone service that runs over the Internet rather than the telephone grid.
Indeed, Unaitis explains that Time Warner is focusing its marketing efforts on getting people signed up for their "triple play" of phone, Road Runner and cable service, bundled on one monthly bill. "To convince someone to change their existing provider takes a lot. That's magnified threefold in a package of TV, phone and data," he says. However, in March a smaller phone company in North Carolina blocked calls from Vonage phones and the FCC immediately dropped a $15,000 hammer on them and forced them to raise the block. While it's unclear whether the FCC could take similar action if a cable provider did the same, Justice Clarence Thomas, in his majority opinion in Brand X, mused that they might.

Olive e-mails to note student activism in Australia, heraldscum's "Monash University Bar Occupation enters third week" (Melbourne Indymedia):

Students at Monash University Clayton continue to sustain the longest occupation in Monash University's recent history. In response to the University’' planned closure of the campus bar, students have occupied, defended and self-managed the space for almost three weeks.
'The Bar,' previously owned and run by Monyx, Monash University's commercial wing, was due to be shut down this semester as a result of poor management and was to be turned into yet another corporate function-centre-for-hire (there are already three such rooms in the building where the bar is situated).
With close to 70% of all student amenities fees being directed to Monyx, the company runs services on campus as they see fit. The company is supposedly jointly owned by the students of Monash (through the Clayton, Caulfield and Peninsula student Unions) and the University. However, the company operates to the exclusion of student input and the University sets the agenda on the board, holding the ultimate power in this so-called dual relationship.
The company itself does not include students in day-to-day decision-making and allows only a token student position on the board.
The bar under Monyx was nothing more than a (failed) money-making enterprise; its closure in favour of a for-hire function centre demonstrates perfectly Monyx's profit-making ethos, unconcerned with the quality of student life and completely opposed to student control of services on campus.
The occupation of the bar occurs as Voluntary Student Unionism threatens virtually all student services and spaces on campuses across the country.
Furthermore, many of the services that students stand to lose – childcare, etc. will possibly be provided on a user-pays basis by Universities post-VSU. The question posed by students at Monash is simple: If a University can’t operate something as simple as a bar competently, can they be trusted to operate anything else?
The new student-controlled bar has received huge support from a wide range of students and even people off campus; already local hip-hop act Fortknight (Mc Scifen and Dj Wasabi of Combat Wombat) have offered to be a resident act on Thursday afternoons. The bar is a non-profit co-op open to all students willing to help support the occupation; students and activists outside of Clayton are invited to participate at anytime.
At 1:00 pm this Thursday Fortknight will play with special guest MC Raceless from Curse ov Dialect (entry is free, of course).
For enquiries call the bar directly on 9905 1177.

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