Archive | July 26, 2015

Puerto Rico the U.S. Colony Driven into Bankruptcy*

Puerto Rico the U.S. Colony Driven into Bankruptcy*

By Stephen Lendman

People walk through a shopping area in Río Piedras where many businesses have closed in San Juan, Puerto Rico. © Ricardo Arduengo/AP

Officially called a “Free Associated State or Commonwealth,” Puerto Rico has been exploited as a US colony since 1898. Its elected governor is powerless – little more than a potted plant ruled by Congress with America’s president its head of state.

Washington never granted islanders control of their lives, welfare and destiny. They have no say over foreign relations, commerce and trade, their air space, land and offshore waters, immigration and emigration, nationality and citizenship, currency, maritime laws, military service, US bases on its territory, constitutionality of its laws, jurisdictions and legal procedures, treaties, radio and television, communications, agriculture, its natural resources and more.

Independence supporters aren’t tolerated – men like Oscar Lopez Rivera, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, wrongfully imprisoned for wanting Puerto Ricans to live free, behind bars for over three decades.

Washington wants to continue exploiting its Caribbean colony for profit – raping and pillaging it at the public’s expense, much like what’s happening to Greece.

Athens is trapped in the euro straightjacket – Puerto Rico in America’s claws. Nominally, islanders handle their own local affairs, much like how Washington DC residents have home rule under full federal control.

The Constitution grants Congress exclusive jurisdiction over the District in “all cases whatsoever.” Its elected government exists at its pleasure. Local laws can be overturned.

District residents have no voting representation in Congress. They’re disenfranchised in federal elections. They’re colonial subjects like Puerto Ricans.

The Caribbean island is bankrupt – but can’t declare it under US law, making it harder to gain concessions from creditors. It’s debt entrapped, forced to pay bankers and other large creditors at the expense of providing vital social services. Its $73 billion debt is impossible to repay.


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Europe’s Vindictive Privatization Plan for Greece*

Dutch Police are Targeting and Killing People of Colour*

Dutch Police are Targeting and Killing People of Colour*

By Amari Roos

42-year-old Mitch Henriquez was beaten and suffocated to death by Dutch police officers in The Hague

When Aruban Mitch Henriquez made the decision to attend the ‘Night at the Park’ music festival in The Hague, Netherlands, on the 27th June, he undoubtedly expected to spend a pleasant evening listening to music with friends before going back home to his family. But when he left his house that evening, it was the last time his family would see him alive. A few hours later, Henriquez would effectively be beaten and suffocated to death by Dutch police.

On the evening in question, as the festival wound down, Henriquez was walking with friends when they passed a group of police officers. According to eyewitnesses, the police were “staring for a long time” at Henriquez, who jokingly said to the police officers “what do you want? Here is my gun”. An official police report on the incident also stated that Henriquez made a joke about having a gun on him. Without further warning several police officers jumped on Henriquez telling him that he “shouldn’t joke about that”. The fact that police realised it was a joke did not seem to moderate the violence they used against him. One witness wrote on her face book page:

When Aruban Mitch Henriquez made the decision to attend the ‘Night at the Park’ music festival in The Hague, Netherlands, on the 27th June, he undoubtedly expected to spend a pleasant evening listening to music with friends before going back home to his family. But when he left his house that evening, it was the last time his family would see him alive. A few hours later, Henriquez would effectively be beaten and suffocated to death by Dutch police.

“I saw the beginning. They were running towards him, and jumped him from behind. It was a whole group of police officers. He fell on the ground and about six officers were sitting on him, one officer with a baton kept hitting him on his head and legs. […] We yelled “don’t hit him, don’t hit him”, but we, my husband and I, a woman and a couple of other people were told to leave the scene and officers were coming towards us.”

Henriquez in the hospital

After being repeatedly beaten on the head, Henriquez lay seemingly unconscious on the ground while police officers continued to sit on him. Instead of being taken to the hospital, he was sent to the police station. According to the public prosecutor, Henriquez “became unwell” during the drive to the station, but from the video footage taken by one of the bystanders, it appears he was already unconscious or in a coma before he was put in the police car. Henriquez officially died the day after in hospital.

The autopsy revealed the cause of death as acute oxygen depletion due to suffocation. According to Chief Public Prosecutor Kitty Nooy however, it may take months for a conclusion regarding his death to be reached. The five police officers that took part in his arrest have been put on non-active duty, and are officially suspected of being involved in Henriquez’s death.

Taking a lesson from the USA

The murder of Henriquez bears a striking resemblance to the death of Eric Garner in New York last year. Several NYPD officers jumped Garner while one of them put him in a choke-hold. Garner died from this brutal treatment, meted out by those who claim to ‘serve and protect’. Garner’s last words were; “I can’t breathe”. Has the disease of reckless police brutality against civilians that is so common in the USA infected the forces of law and order in the Netherlands?

Identical to Garner’s case, Henriquez’s death caused a public outcry in The Hague. For four nights in a row at the end of June, Dutch citizens took to the streets to demand justice for Henriquez. On the first night, hundreds of people gathered in front of the De Heemstraat police station. During the protest, properties were destroyed and a store was looted. According to broadcast organisation NOS, rioters set off fireworks and threw stones and bottles at police officers. According to the police, oil was also thrown at them. Several officers were injured during the riot; 80-100 people were arrested, the majority were young adults. According to Arnoud van Doorn of the Islamic political party Partij van de Eenheid these riots could have been prevented, “with the already heightened anger and frustration among many people, the death of Henriquez was the last straw. Let’s hope that we have now woken up from the naive dream that dissatisfaction can be eliminated with neighbourhood barbecues and dialogue sessions. Use that money to fight poverty and youth employment”, van Doorn said.

Police officers surround protesters in the Schilderswijk district, The Hague

Indeed, tensions have been high in the Hague, home of the international court of human rights, where racist police violence is nothing new, particularly in the Schilderswijk and Transvaal districts. As one of the victims in these districts told the media:

I’m often asked for my ID, for no apparent reason. If I ask why I’m taken to the police station, I get beaten up and abused in the police car. It continues at the police station. They put me in a cell while I was handcuffed and kicked me repeatedly in my back. After that they took a fire hose and sprayed me with water. They left me in the cell soaked in water for the night.

A report published last year by the social-scientific research institute SCP revealed that many Moroccans, Turks, Surinamese and Antilleans have the feeling they are being treated unfairly by the police. According to a 2011 study conducted by Police and Science, youths with a non-Dutch appearance are targeted more frequently by police. They are almost four times as likely to be frisked compared with native Dutch youths and almost twice as likely to be taken to a police station. According to the youths themselves, the police act more aggressively while frisking youths with darker skin. The researchers report that “youths would like to see police discriminating less”. In addition, the study revealed that youths with a non-native Dutch appearance give a lower mark (4,8) than native Dutch youths (6,6) for their level of satisfaction with encounters with Dutch police.

Despite this, researchers behind this latter study do not conclude that police officers are treating minorities differently. Instead, they propose that the difference is due to non-Dutch youths spending more time on the streets and that their behaviour may be more criminal. They do admit that unfair treatment takes place on the streets by police officers, but disagree that there is a systematic unfair treatment of non-native Dutch citizens. This is a common theory used to explain away racial profiling by police; the police aren’t racist; those ‘types’ of people are simply more criminally-inclined than others. In fact, the Chief of the Hague police, Paul van Musscher, said as much in an interview in 2010:

Interviewer: How is it that young Moroccans from Gouda are so involved in crime? Is it their culture? Or are there other things at play, what do you think?

: Recently, this has been explained to me by someone who teaches us about multiculturalism. We take this issue very seriously. A Moroccan man. And he told me that residents from Gouda come from the Rif [a mainly mountainous region of northern Morocco]. They are Berbers. Berber comes from the word barbarian. And that is indeed culturally ingrained which makes them a bit wilder. Living easier on the streets. More rough. You could say that it came along genetically.

: Genetically, even?

: That is his statement.

: What do you think?

: You see of course that they culturally have a different habit than we do.

This echoes’ what I’ve written elsewhere about the Schilderswijk district and the way youths there, in particular Moroccans, are thought to behave more aggressively and criminally than their Dutch peers:

The perception of Moroccans in Holland as being violent and rebellious is long-standing. Mention it to any random Dutch person and they know exactly what you’re talking about. Certainly, Moroccan youths have caused trouble in many neighborhoods, The Hague being no exception, but as is often the case, these youths are effectively marginalised and neglected by Dutch society with increasing racism in the Netherlands, making it difficult for them to get a job.

Dutch readers may want to watch this documentary that illustrates the kind of relationship between the police and citizens, mostly Moroccans, in the Schilderswijk district of The Hague. The examples of police behaviour shown in the documentary, which include raiding houses in the middle of the night and kicking a helpless handcuffed Moroccan, probably contribute to some Moroccans’ rebellious behaviour towards authority. This is in contrast to the claim made by Dutch journalist Fleur Jurgens who said that parents of Moroccans ”are to blame for the antisocial behaviour of their children by teaching them at a young age to hate the Dutch and abhor their society.”

It is easier to refer to Moroccan youths as “barbarian and genetically criminal” or to blame their upbringing for their ‘violent’ behaviour, than to pay attention to the real source of the problem: social marginalization, racism, rough treatment by authorities and a negative portrayal by media, politicians, employers, their fellow citizens and the police force.

In recent years, former police officers have also spoken out about the kind of violence and racism that is an inherent part of police training and attitudes. Back in 2013, in response to allegations of heavy-handed and racist policing, the chief constable at De Heemstraat police station, Michiel de Roos, denied that his officers use excessive violence against immigrants and Dutch citizens of foreign extraction, he stated:

“my colleagues work really hard to maintain safety and are pretty successful in doing so.”

The Mayor of The Hague, Jozias van Aartsen, wholeheartedly agreed with him. Interestingly, years ago, in a letter to a police neighbourhood intervention team, the Mayor wrote: “[…] During that discussion, I have made it clear that ruling with an iron fist by the policemen in this part of the city is absolutely necessary, and I’ve made it clear that I fully support this. The results that have been achieved with this approach in the last two years buttress my view. […]”.

Mayor of The Hague, Jozias van Aartsen

It appears however that this time, van Aartsen has changed his mind on the matter. Two weeks after the murder of Henriquez, he admitted that racism and the use of inappropriate violence is present within the police force, and said that the police department is aware of this. He also said that his alleged statement regarding the nonexistence of racism among police officers is false. Wherever the Mayor stands on this issue, actions always speak louder than words, and the problem of police violence and especially their treatment towards minorities still has not been seriously dealt with. And until it is dealt with, the situation will further escalate and we may have more cases such as the tragic death of Henriquez in the near future.


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Geoengineering Climate Change*

Geoengineering Climate Change*

By Derrick Broze

In a new report, a team of 14 different organizations in Germany, the U.K., Norway, France, and Austria concluded that efforts to geo-engineer the climate are not without risk and not a substitute for reducing greenhouse emissions.

The project “European Trans-disciplinary Assessment of Climate Engineering” (EuTRACE) released their report, titled “Removing Greenhouse Gases from the Atmosphere and Reflecting Sunlight away from Earth,” which describes the limits and dangers of climate engineering schemes. Various methods for fighting climate change have been proposed, including controversial methods like Solar Radiation Management (SRM), which proposes spraying aerosols from planes in order to reflect sunlight.

EuTRACE was formed to provide a European perspective from scientific and non-expert stakeholders ranging from the natural sciences and engineering to social sciences and the humanities.

It is not yet clear whether it is possible to develop and scale-up any proposed climate engineering technique to the extent that it could be implemented to significantly reduce climate change,” said Naomi Vaughan of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia.

The report warns that nations should not rely on untested geo-engineering methods.

It is important to understand the possibilities and problems associated with climate engineering proposals, in order to make decisions on them in a responsible manner,” said Mark Lawrence, the project’s coordinator and scientific director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam.

But it would be irresponsible, based on all we know so far, to expect climate engineering to significantly contribute to solving the problem of climate change in the next several decades.”

Despite the warnings, the report said it was “sensible” to investigate techniques such as carbon capture and storage, SRM, or ocean iron fertilization.

One of the many dangers of manipulating the weather is the loss of blue skies. According to a report by the New Scientist, Ben Kravitz of the Carnegie Institution for Science has shown that releasing sulphate aerosols high in the atmosphere scatters sunlight. He says this could decrease the amount of sunlight that hits the ground by 20%, making the sky appear more hazy.

The controversy around geo-engineering has grown in recent years as more people ask whether or not climate engineering programs are already active. Most people who raise these questions are written off as conspiracy theorists by the corporate media. It is highly imperative to research the dangers of geo-engineering and consider the possibility that the U.S. (and other nations) may already be participating in live geo-engineering schemes without informing the public or the global community. Whether to combat climate change—or use as a weapon—altering the weather could have disastrous ramifications.

Believe it or not, the United States government has a history of weather modification. In a 1996 document entitled “Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather by 2025,” the U.S. Air Force discussed a number of proposals for using weather as a weapon. The Environmental Modification Treaty was signed by the United States and other nations to halt global weather modification.

But the government did not simply research these ideas. It actually implemented them. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. government operated covert weather modification programs under Operation Popeye. The government does not only experiment with technology in foreign countries—it likes to try it at home, as well. In 2012, it was revealed that the U.S. Army sprayed toxic chemicals over the skies of St. Louis without informing the public.

It’s also now known that the government is currently practicing another form of geo-engineering known as cloud-seeding. This practice is done in an attempt to cause rainfall and snow in drought stricken areas or cause artificial precipitation in typically dry places. In fact, as AccuWeather reports, six test sites in the U.S. are being used now to employ drones to conduct the cloud-seeding process.

Geo-engineering and specifically, Solar Radiation Management, have increasingly been in the news as the global community looks for solutions to a host of environmental issues, including climate change. Another international committee of scientists released a report stating that using geo-engineering techniques to combat the effects of climate change is not a viable alternative to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The committee report called for further research and understanding of various geo-engineering techniques—including carbon dioxide removal schemes and SRM—before implementation. The scientists found that SRM techniques are likely to present “serious known and possible unknown environmental, social, and political risks, including the possibility of being deployed unilaterally.”

While speaking at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose, California, Professor Alan Robock offered a warning on geoengineering. Robock discussed the possibility that the Central Intelligence Agency is using the weather as a weapon of war. Robock has done research for the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) in the past.

Robock stated he was phoned by two men claiming to be from the CIA, asking whether or not it was possible for hostile governments to use geo-engineering—or mass manipulation of the weather—against the United States.

Robock noted that, “The CIA was a major funder of the National Academies report so that makes me really worried who is going to be in control.”

The National Academy of Sciences report examined the effects and possibility of geo-engineering to combat climate change. The report was also funded by NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Want to know more? Check out “Renowned Climate Scientist Fears the CIA Could Use the Weather as a War Weapon” for a Background on geo-engineering.


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