Up to 12,000 employees of Anglo American Platinum received messages Friday saying they were fired. The mining powerhouse dismissed the workers after a three-week strike. The labor stand-off has already taken 48 lives across South Africa since August.
The news was broken to the employees via SMS and emails.
Commenting on the move, Amplats declared miners had failed to appear before disciplinary hearings “and have therefore been dismissed in their absence.” The miners had been warned that would happen if they failed to turn up, the company said.
The world’s largest platinum producer says its lost over $80 million in revenues since a major strike gripped their mines in mid-September, involving at least 20,000 miners.
“Despite the company’s repeated calls for employees to return to work, we have continued to experience attendance levels of less than 20 percent,” the firm said in a statement quoted by Agence France Presse.
Strike leader Gaddafi Mdoda was one of the those fired on Friday. He says that even if Amplats no longer employs them, this is no reason to end the struggle. The mineworkers are demanding 12,500 rand (about $1,500) in take-home salary, their current wages are reported to be around $500.
Amplats says they still continue “exploring the possibility of bringing forward wage negotiations within our current agreements”.
The sackings came hours before another striking miner was mortally wounded in clashes with police, bringing the total number of protesters killed since strikes began in August, to 48. Police would not confirm the cause of death, but protesters say he was shot with a rubber bullet.
The strikes peaked at over 75,000 participants, or 15 percent of workforce in the mining sector. Clashes with police often turned violent, involving tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon. In a single day thirty-four strikers were killed by police at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine, on August 16.
Despite the growing tensions, negotiations with mine owners don’t appear to be yielding any substantial results. A rare breakthrough was reached at the Lonmin platinum mines, where the worst violence broke out, with salaries being boosted 22 per cent. But on Thursday, South Africa’s Chamber of Mines, the main industry body, said wage talks will not be based on that precedent. This may force coal miners to join platinum, gold, iron ore and diamond miners in further work stoppages.
The Israeli occupation forces have turned the roofs of Palestinian homes in the ancient city of Hebron, south of the West Bank, into military barracks and control points under the pretext of providing security for Jewish settlers during the Hebrew celebrations of the Sukkot Feast.
Human rights sources in the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee reported that a large number of Israeli forces took over the roofs of several Palestinian homes along the lanes of the old town. These houses, including the family home of the Islam Al-Fakhouri in Al-Sahla area, have been turned into military barracks and control towers while the families have been forced to leave.
Israeli soldiers also commandeered the roofs of the Abdulmutallab Abu Sunaina, Imran Abu Rumaila, Daoud Jaber, Nader Salaymeh and AliAl-Rajabi households turning them into control points.
Sources also point out that the regions extending between the settlement of Kiryat Arba, the Cave of the Patriarchs, Tel Rumeida, Al-Shuhada, Al-Ras, and Wadi El-H’aseen streets; and the areas of Al-Masharqa Al-Fawqa and Tahta, are subjected to a blanket Israeli police and army presence.
- Army Kidnaps Two Palestinians In Hebron (imemc.org)
- Soldiers Kidnap A Child In Hebron (imemc.org)
- Israeli high court rejects south Hebron village petition (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Jewish Settler’s Vehicle Rams Child in Hebron Hit and Run (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Soldiers Physically Attack Palestinian Youth In Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Jewish Settlers Invade Palestinian Home In Hebron, Attack Family Members (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Four Residents, Including Two Children, Kidnapped By The Army In Hebron (imemc.org)
- Hebron: Soldiers invade Kultuba School, attempt arrest 2 sixth grade students (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Soldiers Kidnap A Child playing near the Ibrahimi mosque In Al-Khalil (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
Earlier this week, Chris Dodd, a 30-year veteran of the Senate and now chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), spoke in San Francisco at an event aimed at addressing “the shared future of the content and technology industries.” It’s a testament to the continuing impact of January’s blackout protests against Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that Dodd should frame the discussion this way, and his conciliatory words during the talk struck a refreshing tone. But given that less than a year ago he was the nation’s leading advocate for a bill that would have censored large parts of the Internet, there’s still a long way to go.
Dodd made many positive comments during his speech, voicing strong support for freedom of speech online and calling on the content industry to move away from criminal actions against file-sharers. He also conceded that SOPA and PIPA are “dead,” and when pressed by EFF in discussion afterwards, he was emphatic that his organization no longer wanted to pursue legislation as the solution to the problems purportedly facing the content industry.
But let’s not forget that he serves as the chairman and CEO of one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington, and that the actions of the industry have yet to back up his rhetoric. In fact, the evidence suggests the opposite is true.
After all, his words stand at odds with a statement in April that he was “confident” negotiations on SOPA 2.0 were taking place, and the MPAA is again distributing talking points to members of Congress touting copyright maximalism. We also know SOPA’s author Lamar Smith tried to re-introduce components of that bill again in July. And even now, the content industry’s “six strikes” agreement with ISPs is moving forward, and US Trade Representatives are secretly negotiation dangerous new copyright rules into international agreements like the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).
Dodd’s statements, such as “I would do anything and everything I could to protect the vitality of the internet,” stand in stark contrast to the content industry’s advocacy for the due-process-free domain name seizures conducted by Homeland Security during the past two years. Websites accused of copyright infringement on flimsy evidence were censored for a more than a year before the Justice Department abandoned the cases with no explanation. The Justice Department’s prosecution of Megaupload, a case now falling apart, also led to many innocent people losing property they stored online.
Unfortunately, Dodd’s most impassioned advocacy for the First Amendment came not when sticking up for the Internet, but when defending his job lobbying. The man who once pledged he would not become a lobbyist when he left the Senate, said freedom of speech is “critically important” because it allows lobbyists — now “experts” in his view — to inform legislators about the issues. But when members of the public speak out in one of the largest grassroots efforts in US history, Dodd and the MPAA derided it as a “stunt” and a “gimmick” and accused companies that participated in the protest of an “abuse of power.”
But more broadly, Dodd’s speech indicated that the MPAA and other content groups still remain fiercely opposed to evidence-based policy-making, in legislation and other areas. Even as Dodd pulled the heartstrings with stirring words about the middle-class jobs that the entertainment industry creates, he continued to cite bogus stats about the industry. Repeatedly he referred to the 2.1 million such jobs, despite the fact that the Congressional Research Service has pegged the number at around 374,000 — an order of magnitude off. Blatantly bogus numbers like these have become a hallmark of the content industry efforts to pervert the copyright system, so much so that the Government Accountability Office recommended other government bodies should stop citing MPAA-backed studies.
Dodd’s speech echoed the recent messages from other content industry representatives: the content and the tech industries have to work together, not as adversaries, to make “an Internet that works for everyone.” Here again, the disregard for ordinary users makes a nice commitment ring hollow. For one thing, the content industry missed plenty of opportunities before introducing SOPA and PIPA to get input from Internet users and the tech industry. They even refused to show up at the negotiating table when the tech industry was willing to work with them. But more fundamentally, Hollywood’s new rhetoric reframes “innovation” as “innovation by permission” — and the public is worse off for it.
The fundamental goals of copyright are sound: it’s a good thing when policy promotes the progress of science and the useful arts. But by continuing to reject evidence about how copyright works, by relegating freedom of speech to economic concerns, and by leaving the public out of the discussion, Dodd and the MPAA are working against those noble goals.
We’ve written plenty about how the US government has been quite aggressive in spying on Americans. It has been helped along by a court system that doesn’t seem particularly concerned about the 4th Amendment and by the growing ability of private companies to have our data and to then share it with the government at will. Either way, in a radio interview, Wall Street Journal reporter Julia Angwin (who’s been one of the best at covering the surveillance state in the US) made a simple observation that puts much of this into context: the US surveillance regime has more data on the average American than the Stasi ever did on East Germans. And, of course, as we’ve already seen, much of that data seems to be collected illegally with little oversight… and with absolutely no security benefit.
To be fair, part of the reason for why this is happening is purely technical/practical. While the Stasi likely wanted more info and would have loved to have been able to tap into a digitally connected world like we have today, that just wasn’t possible. The fact that we have so much data about us in connected computers makes it an entirely different world. So, from a practical level, there’s a big difference.
That said, it still should be terrifying. Even if there are legitimate technical reasons for why the government has so much more data on us, it doesn’t change the simple fact (true both then and now) that such data is wide open to abuse, which inevitably happens. The ability of government officials to abuse access to information about you for questionable purposes is something that we should all be worried about. Even those who sometimes have the best of intentions seem to fall prey to the temptation to use such access in ways that strip away civil liberties and basic expectations of privacy. Unfortunately, the courts seem to have very little recognition of the scope of the issue, and there’s almost no incentive for Congress (and certainly the executive branch) to do anything at all to fix this.
What if the White House were deliberately misleading America and the world about a major foreign policy issue involving war and peace, would it not be something worth investigating? What if, on top of that, the US Congress and Senate were going along with the subterfuge, remaining silent and not questioning it in the slightest? Wouldn’t that phenomenon be remarkable?
What if the mainstream news media, both television and print, were also enabling the same White House campaign of misrepresentation? Would this not be even more shocking? Should not a free press be checking the facts, asking basic questions, instead of blindly parroting a government party line which could be little more than war propaganda?
If you guessed I am describing Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, hyped at every opportunity by the Obama White House and the Congress and by the Republicans and Mitt Romney, you would be on target. The nonstop campaign of harassing and demonizing Tehran, premised upon the existential threat supposedly posed by an Iranian atomic bomb, is a determined bipartisan affair in Washington.
Every Tom, Dick and Jane has a stake in the game, the only difference being the extent to which a particular Tom, Dick and Jane is willing to proclaim his or her outrage and commit the United States to punitive action, ranging from ruinous economic sanctions to a bunker-busting military assault in tandem with our dauntless nuclearized ally[sic], Israel.
True, this scenario has been in place for years and is becoming tedious, but we now seem to have arrived at a new plateau of mass hysteria thanks to the 2012 U.S. Presidential campaign. Why? In a word, leverage. The leverage to determine who gets elected in Washington and under what conditions. I am referring in part to a foreign leader who is acting in concert with his American lobbyists and financial backers.
As part of this electioneering process, extravagant commitments have been extracted from craven American officials to further the interests and expand the greater territorial ambitions of the nuclear-armed foreign entity at issue, in exchange for campaign contributions and votes. Nothing new here, but I am getting ahead of myself.
Let me dramatize the problem with a recent example. I have not spoken with John McLaughlin in over ten years, but I believe we remain on good terms. I watch his weekly Washington-based show, the McLaughlin Group, to hear in particular what Patrick Buchanan has to say about the week’s events. The Group remains informative and a partial antidote to the mainstream media. McLaughlin often wanders off the MSM reservation, but never too far.
Last Friday, September 28th, something occurred on the program which blew this fake Iranian crisis sky high. Issue One was, naturally, the interminable and largely irrelevant 2012 Presidential campaign. Issue Two was Iran and Bibi Netanyahu’s speech the day before, at the UN General Assembly, in which he explained why the world must set “red lines” to Iran’s enrichment of uranium to halt its quest for an atomic bomb.
Two days prior to Bibi’s speech, President Barack Obama had proclaimed from the same dais: “… America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy… there is still time and space to do so. But that time is not unlimited… Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained… And that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” Where’s the daylight between the two?
John McLaughlin turned to Mort Zuckerman for a comment. Zuckerman repeated the party line that the development of an Iranian nuclear bomb would be an existential threat to Israel which must be stopped. As in all such pronouncements, just like those of Barack and Bibi at the UN, the indisputable assumption was that the Iranians are, of course, working to build The Bomb. Then Buchanan weighed in with this bombshell:
“But John, Iran has no nuclear weapons program. There is no nuclear weapons program according to 16 United States intelligence agencies in 2007, reaffirmed in 2011. Even the Israelis are now saying we think the Americans were right. They don’t have a nuclear weapons program. The Ayatollah [Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei] has said nuclear weapons on Iran’s part would be immoral, unjust and un-Islamic. So why are we now considering talking about a war on a country to deprive it of weapons of mass destruction it does not have?
So I’m thinking, whoa, we have arrived at the Emperor-has-no-clothes moment. It is out in the open at last. Buchanan has challenged the undeniable: the premise that Tehran has a program underway to build The Bomb. What’s more, he has done it by pointing to the conclusions of the U.S. Government itself, as embodied in its 16 intelligence agencies. Buchanan did not rely upon his own research or idle speculation. He cited the best available conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community.
All right, this is not new information. I wrote an article about it in 2007 for Taki’s Magazine when the news first broke regarding the National Intelligence Estimate. The NIE was a true revelation back then as well as a wake-up call. It demonstrated that Dick Cheney and G.W. Bush and their Neoconservative foreign-policy brain trust were actively deceiving their fellow-Americans by attempting to entice the country into yet another war, on top of Iraq, under false premises.
It was assumed at the time that the NIE ended this deceit and that the project to smack Iran could not go forward. How could it? There were no nuclear weapons in Iran and no program underway to develop them, just like there had been no WMD in Iraq when Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched at the beginning of 2003. Now we knew. The 2007 NIE was reaffirmed in a 2011 NIE update. The Neoconservatives had a cow. Where was the threat needed to start another conflict and continue their undertaking to remake the Middle East?
Please note, however, that during the interim since Peace Prize Obama was handed the torch in 2008, no one in the Executive Branch–not Obama or Hillary Clinton, and no one on Capitol Hill–dares mention these NIE conclusions. It is as if they do not exist. Only the disinformation from misguided and suborned office-holders matters. At the end of the day, only that counts, not reality. In essence, Peace Prize Obama and the Democrats have continued, under different packaging, the same Neoconized foreign policy of Dick Cheney and the Republicans. The question you might ask yourself is, why?
What was the reaction to Buchanan’s assertions? For me, the reaction of his fellow panelists was more interesting and eye-opening than what Buchanan actually said. You could have expected the Group to react in horror at Buchanan’s denial of what everyone else in Washington was taking for granted. But no, that is not what happened. No one challenged Buchanan. No one challenged the veracity of his pronouncement.
Not Mort Zuckerman, a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Zuckerman is one of the top Zionists in the country and a personal friend of Netanyahu. Not Rich Lowry, the editor of the Neoconservative outlet, National Review, which competes with the Weekly Standard and Commentary for warmongering and American exceptionalism. And not the liberal columnist and professional Democrat, Eleanor Clift, who idolizes Obama. And not the former Jesuit priest and host, John McLaughlin.
All of them simply ignored what Buchanan had said, did not address it, even though its implications blew the legs out from under long-standing U.S. foreign policy and reduced the speeches of Barack and Bibi at the UN to nonsense.
The only reason I can think of why Zuckerman, Lowry, Clift and McLaughlin did not confront Buchanan is that they knew what Buchanan had said was the truth. To enter into a discussion with Buchanan would be to acknowledge the possibility that his view might be correct. This would reveal that a colossal con game was underway in which both political parties and the press were enablers.
The principal con man in this game would be the President of the United States, followed by his Secretary of State. The victims of the con game would be the American people, just like they were under Bush and Cheney. And of course the Iranians, who now must cope with crippling economic sanctions for no legitimate reason. The larger question remains, why is this happening? Why is the deception continuing from one Administration to the next? Cui bono?
PATRICK FOY is an essayist and short story writer as well as a former altar boy. He graduated from Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut and from Columbia University in New York City, where he studied English literature, European history and American diplomatic history. His work can be found at www.PatrickFoyDossier.com.
- The Amazing Msm (theburningplatform.com)
This top 10 list is controversial, and not for the faint of heart. These unnerving videos include police officers and their unwarranted BEAT-DOWNS of the following: a special-ed kid, a grandmother trying to pay her bills at a Hooters, a homeless man with schizophrenia, and a woman already handcuffed and at the police station who had just gotten in a car wreck (no alcohol involved)… to name a few. Do these cops truly believe they are above the law? You decide:
10) Greenville County Police taser and punch 18-year-old in the face 13 times (Sep 26, 2009)
Greenville, SC – An 18-year old beaten over and over by an undercover police officer. As you watch and count the punches, you feel like “Wow, is he ever going to stop…?” Yes, the kid was at a known drug house and was possibly buying drugs or maybe had some sort of connection with drugs, but damn! As a user he’s actually more a victim than a perp.
9) LAPD Officers Slam Defenseless Cuffed Woman to Ground (August 29, 2012)
A security camera from Del Taco captured this footage of a nurse, Michelle Jordan, being pulled over on a routine traffic stop (she was texting on her cell-phone while driving) and handled quite excessively by two officers. Fast-forward to view the bruises on her face and body brought on by the police officers use of excessive force. Note the officers, who included a 20-veteran with the rank of commander, fist-bumping after each man had tackled her.
8) Police Officer Attacks Grandmother at Hooters (Nov 18, 2010)
Fast forward to about 1:00 in the clip to see where the off-duty police officer starts getting rough with this grandmother and Hooters patron in Oak Lawn, Illinois. It all started over an issue with the bill, which got completely out of hand.
7) Denver Police Brutality Caught on Tape, Camera Pans Away… (August 17, 2010)
The video surveillance you see here was actually recorded by the police officer’s own equipment. Knowing that, it’s very interesting how the camera pans away, just as the officer begins pummeling the innocent bystander talking on his cell phone.
6) Officer Beats Special Ed Student Over an Un-tucked Shirt (Oct 27, 2010)
A special needs kid, 15-year old Marshawn Pitts, was at the wrong place at the wrong time in Dolton, Illinois. What began as verbal abuse over something as silly as his shirt not being tucked in, led to strong physical abuse and a broken nose at the hands of an “unidentified police officer”.
5) Houston Police Beat Handcuffed 15-Year-Old Boy (Feb 7, 2011)
The end of a pursuit is caught on a security camera, where 15-year old Chad Holley falls on the ground and surrenders. I don’t think the cops want it to be that easy on him… Watch while he lays there with his hands on top of his head only to get kicked about a hundred times and have his head stomped in.
4) Rhode Island Police Officer Kicks Woman in Handcuffs (Sep 2, 2012)
Here we have a 2009 case where a Rhode Island police officer (Edward Krawetz) kicked a woman in the face, while she sat handcuffed on the ground. The video surveillance only recently went public. Officer Krawetz was convicted of “felony battery with a dangerous weapon” and sentenced to a 10-year suspension — an unusually stiff response to police brutality, which is probably only because the incident was recorded. Significantly, this was actually not his first assault charge (the other’s weren’t recorded).
3) Police Turn Off Security Camera and Beat Woman to Bloody Pulp (Sep 23, 2009)
This woman was taken into the police station under “suspicion of DWI.” She had just gotten in a wreck and the police assumed that alcohol was involved. Fast forward and you’ll see the Shreveport, Louisiana officer turn off the surveillance camera and when it comes back on, you’ll notice the woman lying in a pool of her own blood.
Kelly Thomas is a schizophrenic drifter who was tased and brutally beaten to death by officers Manuel Ramos and Corporal Jay Cicinelli. It was recorded using surveillance video taken from the Fullerton, California, Transportation Center.
Talk about scary. This Chicago Tribune article says it best:
“Eugene Gruber was drunk, hostile and uncooperative when he walked into the Lake County Jail, but a day later, he was paralyzed, had a broken neck and barely registered a pulse after an encounter with guards, records show”
Two people have been killed and several others wounded in clashes between security forces and demonstrators protesting against the cost of electricity in Guatemala.
The demonstration was held in the village of Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan, west of the capital Guatemala City, on Thursday.
The office of President Otto Perez Molina said the clashes broke out after two army vehicles, carrying troops to support police, faced a blockade set up by protesters on a highway.
The presidential office added that protesters in a truck in front of the army vehicles “opened fire.” However, reports did not clarify whether the shooting killed the two victims.
Meanwhile, Guatemala’s Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Erick Escobedo said seven soldiers were hurt in the clashes.
According to Guatemalan authorities, 34 people were also taken to hospital following the incident.
Syria’s UN envoy said Thursday his government is not seeking any escalation of violence with Turkey and wants to maintain good neighborly relations, Today’s Zaman reported.
Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said the government hasn’t apologized for the shelling from Syria that killed five Turkish civilians because it is waiting for the outcome of an investigation on the source of the firing.
He read reporters a letter he delivered to the deeply divided UN Security Council that sent Syria’s “deepest condolences” to the families of the victims “and to the friendly and brotherly people of Turkey.”
It urged Turkey and its other neighbors to “act wisely, rationally and responsibly” and to prevent cross-border infiltration of “terrorists and insurgents” and the smuggling of arms.
The Security Council has so far failed to respond to Wednesday’s deadly attack from Syria.
The US and its Western allies are seeking a strong statement condemning the attack on Turkey but Russia, Syria’s most important ally, is opposed and is seeking much weaker language that the West says is unacceptable, UN diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because talks have been private.
US Ambassador Susan Rice said the original draft, proposed by Azerbaijan and backed by the Turkish government, “adequately reflected the key points that need to be made.” But diplomats said many council members objected to Russia’s proposed amendments watering down the text. So council experts were meeting to see if they could bridge the differences.
“This sort of cross-border military activity is very destabilizing and must be stopped,” Rice said. “While I think it’s too early to say what will be the result of those negotiations, we think it’s very important that the council speak clearly and swiftly to condemn this shelling.”
The border violence has added a dangerous new dimension to Syria’s civil war, dragging Syria’s neighbors deeper into a conflict that activists say has already killed 30,000 people since an uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime began in March 2011.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm Thursday at the escalating border tensions and warned that the risks of regional conflict and the threat to international peace is increasing, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.
The UN chief called on all parties “to abandon the use of violence, exercise maximum restraint and exert all efforts to move toward a political solution,” he said.
Nesirky said Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy, has been in contact with Turkish and Syrian officials “in order to encourage an easing of tensions.”
Syria’s Ja’afari said the “Syrian government is keenly interested in maintaining good neighborly relations with Turkey.”
“The Syrian government is not seeking any escalation with any of its neighbors, including Turkey,” he stressed.
But he said Syria wants to explain to the Turkish people that their government’s policies supporting the opposition “are wrong and have been wrong since the beginning of the crisis.”
Ja’afari said Turkey responded to the incident by launching artillery shells into Syria starting at 7 p.m. local time Wednesday and stopping at midnight. Turkish troops then resumed artillery shelling Thursday morning until 7 a.m., injuring two Syrian army officers, he said.
“Our forces practiced self-restraint and did not respond to this Turkish artillery shelling,” Ja’afari said.
The Syrian ambassador said he delivered another letter to the Security Council seeking its condemnation for four suicide bombings in the country’s largest city and commercial capital, Aleppo, which killed scores of innocent civilians and took place about the same time Wednesday as the cross-border shelling.
But he said the council once again has been unable to condemn “these suicide terrorist attacks.”
Ja’afari urged the Turkish government to show “the same kind of sympathy” to the hundreds of innocent Syrian civilians killed in the suicide bombings as the Syrian government showed to the Turkish victims.