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Here are 10 things about 9/11 that deserve more attention – and 5 that deserve less

People need to know just how absurd the official story of the Shanksville "crash" is.

People need to know just how absurd the official story of the Shanksville “crash” is
By Craig McKee | Truth and Shadows | October 2, 2014

Let’s face it: the 9/11 Truth Movement is all over the place. But that’s not surprising – nor necessarily bad.

When you have an official story that is so clearly false in so many ways, there are going to be a multitude of valid angles from which to examine and expose the deception. There are also going to be many directions the movement can take to advance the cause and to awaken the uninitiated.

But all these ways are not created equal. When you have many thoughtful and intelligent truthers, some not-so-intelligent and not-so-thoughtful truthers, and an undetermined number of outright disinformation agents, you’re bound to get a “diversity of opinion” that would make Cass Sunstein very happy indeed.

So how do we decide what is important and was is not? How do we know where our efforts are best directed? It’s clear that we must keep our focus on things that will advance the cause, which is to expose the lies of 9/11 and other false flag operations. To this end, there are clearly some areas of 9/11 research that deserve all the attention they get and more. Meanwhile, there are areas that are getting attention to the detriment of the cause. Below, I list the areas I feel deserve more attention and those that deserve less, or none, especially when it comes to awakening newcomers. I know that readers will have their own items that they feel should be included. Some will also want to contest the items on my two lists.

We need to be fighting this battle on a multitude of fronts because the movement as a whole has to expose all elements of the 9/11 lie. When you look at the entirety of the bogus official story, the case for inside job becomes overwhelming. For the movement as a whole, picking just one area to concentrate on is not the best approach. What convinced me was an accumulation of all the evidence. The twin towers, Building 7, the Pentagon, Shanksville, the military stand down, the absence of proof that any alleged hijackers boarded any planes, the bogus Bin Laden “confession” video. And so much more.

Of course, individuals and organizations can be extremely effective by specializing – Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth continues to be very valuable by focusing on the controlled demolition of the twin towers and Building 7. It is also doing a great job reaching out to the public and the media with the Rethink 9/11 campaign and other efforts in an effort to advance the cause.

And, no, it’s not as simple as saying let’s avoid obvious disinformation. Yes, overcoming disinformation is one of the greatest challenges we face, but sometimes the cure is worse than the disease – or perceived disease. We’ll never be able to eradicate all the ideas we don’t like, especially if those ideas are being promulgated by fake truthers, because they’ll never get tired and go away. If we turn our attention away from our best evidence and instead spend all our time trying to crush bad ideas and attack those who may or may not sincerely believe them, we risk bringing more attention to those ideas than they really deserve. And the idea that if we don’t obliterate everything we think is disinfo then “we’ll look stupid to the world” is overstated, in my opinion.

We can’t destroy disinformation completely but we can expose the mechanisms that make it function and in doing so, marginalize it. And we can stay on message with the strongest and most undeniable evidence.

And there’s so much to choose from.

MORE ATTENTION SHOULD GO TO…

1. Shanksville and the self-burying plane: Without a doubt, the single major area of 9/11 study that has received the least attention is the impossible tale of Flight 93, which is supposed to have crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The plane, so the absurd story goes, is supposed to have crashed into the field and buried itself in the “soft” soil with the hole covering itself in. That’s right, the government claims (without a shred of proof offered to the world) that the plane ended up completely underground. They had to dig the whole thing up (except for the drivers license of one of the alleged hijackers, which was suitably singed and found above ground). It’s really more accurate to say that most people – at least 99 out of 100 – have no idea that this is what the official story says. How many have a clue, for example, that the scar in the field that was supposedly made by the wings penetrating the ground could be seen in aerial photographs taken by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1994? The only thing added on 9/11 was the nice round crater in the middle that represented the supposed impact of the hollow, aluminum fuselage. And people actually believe this…

2. Evidence that a 757 did not hit the Pentagon: The claim that annoys me more than any other is that we should ignore the Pentagon evidence because it is “too controversial” and “too divisive.” This is nonsense and plays right into the hands of the perpetrators. The only reason it appears controversial is because some misguided members of the Truth Movement, along with some real live disinfo agents, are trying to convince us that the part of the official story that says a plane crashed into the Pentagon – and plowed through three of its five rings – is actually true.

I get why disinfo agents would want us to ignore the overwhelming evidence that a plane crash was faked there, because a faked crash would positively implicate the Pentagon itself, but I have never understood why any sincere truther would do so. The justification given – that if it proves untrue later it will embarrass the movement – is paper thin. Some even use the demonstrably faked video images as proof that a real plane zipped along the lawn, parallel to the ground. They point to pictures of scraps of metal as proof of the crash (Look! There’s a piece painted with American Airlines colors!). They’ll even resort to claiming that the DNA evidence proved that a real plane crashed.

When did these people forget that this was an event designed to look like one thing (terrorist hijackings and crashing of commercial planes into specific targets) when it was actually another? The World Trade Center “attack” was supposed to create the impression that plane impacts caused so much damage that the buildings collapsed. But we know that the buildings were destroyed by explosives, not jet fuel and not plane impacts.

So why do we want to toss out the overwhelming evidence that the Pentagon event was not what it appeared to be? When you combine: the wreckage (or lack of it), the damage to the building (or lack of it), the absence of trenches dug in the lawn and building foundation by the engines; the two video views that are incompatible with each other; the withheld video from 85 other Pentagon cameras, the aviation evidence, the highly credible witnesses interviewed by CIT, the Flight Data Recorder (which, whether the data is fake or not still discounts the official story), and quite a lot more, you get a very clear picture that no airliner crashed into the Pentagon.

3. The absence of evidence that any “hijackers” ever boarded any planes: This is a hugely important area that needs a great deal more attention (It will be the subject of a future post). The fact is that there is not a shred of hard, verifiable evidence that any one of the 19 alleged hijackers ever boarded any of the four alleged 9/11 flights. Not one.

There is no video footage that proves any of them boarded. All we have is video showing Mohamed Atta and Abdul al-Omari in the Portland airport earlier that morning, and we have the five alleged hijackers of Flight 77 in Washington’s Dulles International Airport (with no time stamp or camera identification number that would authenticate the footage).

There are no witnesses that can positively place any of them on any of the planes. There are no authenticated flight manifests that place any of them on any planes. Nor are there any authenticated boarding passes. We can add to that the fact that several alleged hijackers turned up alive after 9/11 and that the 19 alleged hijackers’ identities have changed numerous times without an explanation being given for how the replacement names were arrived at.

4. Positive initiatives to advance the cause: it’s easy to dismiss some of the public awareness and legal efforts to punch holes in the official 9/11 lie, but I think we do so to our own detriment. Yes, we might think that one initiative or another may not succeed, but I believe we need to continue to hack away at the official story until we find a vulnerable point that will begin unravelling the public’s trust in that story. Certainly the worst thing we can do is nothing. To be sure, we have all been frustrated by the court failures of Ellen Mariani, April Gallop, and others. But there have also been hopeful signs, including video of the destruction of Building 7 is showing on a huge digital screen in New York City’s Times Square as we speak. We also have the rest of the Rethink 9/11 campaign; the High-Rise Safety Initiative; the recent documentaries September 11: The New Pearl Harbor by Massimo Mazzucco and The Anatomy of a Great Deception by David Hooper; Richard Gage’s appearance on C-Span and on Jesse Ventura’s Off the Grid, the opportunity afforded by the 9/11 Memorial and Museum to focus opposition and reach the public, and many other developments. In fact, we should be thinking of new and creative ways every day to shine a light on 9/11.

The 9/11 Truth Movement appears to be revitalized and making progress. We even saw a mainstream newspaper, the Fresno Bee, publish an opinion piece calling for a new investigation into 9/11. We could be discouraged by the fact that 13 years have passed, but I think people are starting to notice that we’re still here and we’re not going anywhere.

5. The workings of disinformation: There is no question that the 9/11 Truth Movement has been under assault from agents, infiltrators, and shills since very early in its existence. It is also clear that this assault has had a damaging effect on the movement. As a result, it has become essential that we discuss and come to understand how disinformation works, how it is being used against us, and how best to react to it (and when not to react at all).

Disinformation, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is:

“The dissemination of deliberately false information, esp. when supplied by a government or its agent to a foreign power or to the media, with the intention of influencing the policies or opinions of those who receive it; false information so supplied.”

DELIBERATELY false information.

So when someone who purports to be a 9/11 truther shares information that he or she knows to be false, this is disinformation. This does NOT mean that all incorrect information and poorly supported arguments are disinformation.

6. The connection between the Anthrax attacks and 9/11: This one is excellent timing considering the recent publication of Graeme MacQueen’s new book The 2001 Anthrax Deception: The Case for a Domestic Conspiracy. MacQueen shows how the original official story of the anthrax attacks – that it was the same Muslim extremists who supposedly perpetrated 9/11 – had to be tossed when it became clear that al-Qaeda did not have the means to produce or acquire highly sophisticated and weaponized anthrax. MacQueen shows us the role the media played in raising the fear level of a biological attack (and specifically an anthrax attack) even before the first case was reported. He also explains how the targeting of Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy helped facilitate passage of the Patriot Act. MacQueen has done his part to reveal the depth of this deception, now it’s up to the rest of us to make sure everybody hears about it and understands its implications.

7. The links between 9/11 and the advancing police state: The intelligence apparatus of the United States (and those of other Western countries, including my native Canada), has grown massively since 9/11, and this is no accident. The Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act and many other legal (and illegal) initiatives are steadily hacking away at the U.S. Constitution. And it’s all done under the guise of protecting the population against terrorists. The problem is that most of these supposed terrorists and their groups end up having ties to Western intelligence (and this was going on before 9/11: Try Googling operations Gladio and Northwoods). The war on terror is a deception that is designed to scare us into surrendering our freedom, our privacy, our safety, and our right to determine our own future.

We’ve seen recently how local police forces have been equipped with military equipment that they could not – under any reasonable conditions – ever need. But they are using it against the population. People are no longer to be served and protected, they are the enemy to be controlled.

It seems very clear that the infrastructure is being put in place for complete martial law. This includes FEMA camps and Fusion Centers and immigration checkpoints and Constitution free zones. Add to that, the erosion of the sovereignty of nations being orchestrated by a global elite through the Bilderberg Group, Council on Foreign Relations, and other organizations, and you have a very disturbing picture of where our future is headed.

8. The links between 9/11 and past deceptions and false flags: 9/11 is not unique, except maybe in its scope and its audacity. Operations like the Kennedy and King assassinations, the London 7/7 bombings, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, Operation Northwoods, Operation Gladio, MK-Ultra, Pearl Harbor, and a host of other events and programs fit into a historical context that includes 9/11 and recent events like the Boston Marathon bombing (which was a dress rehearsal for martial law). The more we educate the public about the history of false flag operations and other deceptions that trick us into supporting things we otherwise would not, the better chance we have of waking some people up and reaching a critical mass.

And a major part of this, of course, is looking at who was and is responsible for all of these events. Who benefited? Who had foreknowledge? Who picked the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 to be out of their office because his wife made an appointment for him with his dermatologist?

9. Why the “let it happen on purpose” position is untenable: Some people cling to the notion that incompetence was the reason for the “success” of the 9/11 operation. This is the position that the U.S. government itself would like us to take. But it holds no water at all.

Others are willing to believe that the government found out about a coming terrorist attack and decided to allow it to happen. This is known as the “let it happen on purpose” or LIHOP position. But the position that the evidence points to is that 9/11 was an inside job involving the U.S. government (and likely other governments). This is known as the “made it happen on purpose” or MIHOP position.

On a moral level, LIHOP and MIHOP amount to the same thing: mass murder for political gain. But the critical difference – and the reason we must expose the full spectrum of the lie – is that the LIHOP position allows the myth of the Muslim terrorist threat to stand. It accepts that real terrorists wanted to attack the United States (presumably for its “freedoms”) and that they remain a real threat. The truth, of course, is that the terrorist threat is manufactured and groups like al-Qaeda are really instruments of Western intelligence.

10. Eliminating language that supports the official story: We must carefully consider the words we use to describe what happened on 9/11 so that we don’t inadvertently reinforce the official story. This means we should never refer to “what hit the Pentagon” or “the terrorist attacks of 9/11” or “the plane that crashed in Shanksville” or “the 9/11 hijackers.” I know it means using “allegedly” and “supposedly” a lot, but it has to be done. As Barrie Zwicker says, each of these phrases carries the DNA of the 9/11official story.

AND LESS ATTENTION SHOULD GO TO…

1. Judy Wood and Directed Energy Weapons: I just don’t get it. With so much strong evidence available to the Truth Movement, I see no value in arguing about Judy Woods and her non-theory about directed energy weapons and dustified steel. Yes, she has raised some questions. And yes, she authored the glossiest textbook that has been produced about 9/11, but fighting about her won’t bring new and constructive attention to the movement or the effort to tell people that this event was an inside job. To Woods’ opponents, stop obsessing about her.

2. Nukes at the World Trade Center: Even mentioning this (or no planes) is going to get me into trouble with somebody. The nuclear position has been getting a lot of attention lately with the efforts of Jim Fetzer, Don Fox, Gordon Duff, and others to raise the profile of the issue and to take on established figures in the movement like Richard Gage of AE911Truth, Steven Jones, and Niels Harrit over their position that thermite (or nano-thermite) played an important, although not exclusive, role in destroying the three WTC towers. (It is important to note that AE does not claim that thermite destroyed the towers on its own; their position is that it was combined with explosives of some kind.) The proponents of the nuke position say they have already proven their case. Their opponents say there’s no evidence at all to support their claim.

I can’t see how this fight at this time can help us to advance our cause, particularly since AE911Truth has been making some real progress with its public outreach initiatives. Why would we want to work against those efforts when they seem to be bearing some fruit? There is just so much evidence that these buildings were blown up that I think our focus should be on bringing this truth the widest audience possible.

3. Excessive preoccupation with disinformation: This case has been made in the article already. And I mean “excessive” preoccupation. I’m not saying we ignore all disinformation, but I am saying that we have to try and reduce its power to dominate the agenda.

4. Excessive cynicism about the future of 9/11 Truth: it’s an uphill battle and it won’t be won in a year or two. And yes, the deck is stacked against us. But we have to see the positives in small victories and keep pushing forward. Telling each other that it’s hopeless and that we’re tired of making this argument or that argument is not going to help us achieve our goals. If you’re tired and fed up with fighting, take a break. Recharge the batteries. Don’t discourage others from the efforts they are making.

5. The incompetence defense: We have seen a lot of supposed 9/11 truthers like Abby Martin of Russia Today talk about the Aug. 6 memo “warning” the Bush administration about Bin Laden’s intention to attack the U.S. and all the other supposed warnings that an attack was coming. But all of this supports the lie that 9/11 was a real terrorist event that could have been prevented by a stronger and more alert defense. The incompetence theory is the worst thing that anyone who calls themself a truther should ever push. It reinforces the terrorist threat and justifies the continued war on terror.

November 29, 2014 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , | 6 Comments

New Black Panther Party Members Framed In Alleged Plot To Bomb St. Louis Arch, Kill Police

As a figure of speech, it’s really unbelievable – racist white America is pulling out all the stops and all its old tricks to demonize dissent and the black community standing up for itself.

If only it truly was unbelievable that the collusion between government, the “just-us system” and the media is attempting to tip public opinion in its favor in the wake of its own corruption by villainizing the very people and community it wronged in the first place. If only. . .

Two members of the St. Louis chapter of the New Black Panther Party are being accused of plotting to blow up the Gateway Arch, kill prosecutor Robert McCulloch and Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, as well as vaguely stated, “harm police officers,” but I call bullsh*t.

And who alleges all these charges? “Sources.”

Chief Jackson said he “was warned about a plot,” but things were left very vague. He was “not given a lot of detail.”

Yep, that’s it. That’s all you get, folks. “Sources” say these two men were involved in a plot that will help the crooked police, the “just-us system” and the complicit media obliquely suggest that the black community is made up of nothing but “thuggish” violent brutes, so the murder of Michael Brown, the media blackouts when things get heavy, the lack of an indictment on Darren Wilson, the National Guard and police firing on protestors (and even their partners in crime, the media) – all of it is just and necessary. Right?

Brandon Baldwin and Olajuwon Davis were arrested Nov. 20 and have been indicted (unlike someone else we all know) on these trumped up charges after an alleged investigation tailing them “for months,” yet all the public is told in their quest to blow up the Gateway Arch and kill, kill, kill, is that they bought a couple guns allegedly with false information at a Cabela’s in Hazelwood, Missouri, and that they’d allegedly been “aggressively pursuing explosives.”

No mention of what the explosives allegedly were is provided by a majority of media covering the story, and when they are mentioned at all, it’s left vague, though one outlet did state the explosives were allegedly in the nature of pipe bombs. The charges attempt to sound legitimate through the repetition of them in the media, as well as the repetition of the explosives allegations being stated in “court documents,” but anyone who’s ever been through the court system knows that anything can be alleged by anyone and wind up in court documents; that hardly makes them fact by any stretch of the imagination. They are still, even there, merely allegations by “sources.”

And who are these likely sources? They are the very same police and system under the microscope for racism and corruption, under enormous public pressure by international protests in response to the murder of Michael Brown in broad daylight

Does it seem like a convenient conflict of interest?

“Sources” say Baldwin and Davis had explosives and plans, but all that’s been proven they really had were a couple small handguns, and considering the violence out there, who could blame them for wanting to secure a pistol for self-defense should it come down to it? Have we already forgotten that guns have been flying off the shelves in Ferguson and the greater St. Louis area in anticipation of the verdict?

Have we forgotten, already, the white woman who shot and killed herself by accident in her own car, yelling out, “We’re ready for Ferguson!”

Have we forgotten the threats made by the f*cking Klu Klux Klan that no law enforcement or government official has urged to stay home in order to de-escalate the situation, or at the very least, provide them one of those lovely “free speech zones” several miles away from the heart of the action, as the government is so prone to do for dissenters?

Buying a couple guns is nothing to paint such enormous charges against these two men for by any means.

Hmmm… why would local law enforcement paint such a smear campaign? Any guesses?

“Sources” also say these men were committing a straw purchase and allegedly buying the guns for someone else. So far, nothing has been shown to the public to corroborate that story – just more vague references to “court documents” — but let’s say for the sake of argument that’s true. There are numerous reasons why that might occur. It’s also something that is quite common. And, it’s a hell of a long shot from the bigger charges of intent to murder and blow up the Gateway Arch. Do you really think some pipe bombs could take down the Arch? How many people in the area have likely said out of anger and frustration, too, that they’d like to kill those two *ssholes? Venting is hardly equated to actual intent to murder.

Now let’s reflect for a moment, here, on the image versus the true history of the Black Panther Party.

The Panthers were formed out of necessity for self-defense and community insecurity

The organization was inspired by Robert F. Williams’ actions in North Carolina back in the late ‘50s, who formed the Black Armed Guard for the same reason: self-defense.

And just to state the obvious here, self-defense is not offensive violence that goes out and seeks confrontation, vengeance, retribution, etc. No, it minds its own business, but is simply prepared to protect itself when trouble and harm comes its way. Self-defense is preparation for self-preservation. That is all. It is actually peaceful in nature, as was Robert Williams and the Black Panther Party. It just assumes a posture of not hesitating to defend one’s self by any means necessary should one need to do so. You can watch a fabulous documentary on Robert Williams called “Negroes With Guns” below:

The Black Panthers did the same, in the spirit of the Black Armed Guard, and contrary to the public image of them fostered by white media as gun-toting killers with nary an emotion, the Panthers were actually peaceful; they just didn’t take any sh*t, and good for them.

The Panthers actually started several community service programs that were vital to the success and betterment of their community, such as free breakfasts for the community. That is what they really did. The guns were only there to protect themselves should they need it, because, just like today, young black men were continually being harassed and killed, especially by law enforcement.

While the media painted them as cold-blooded killers, the reality is that law enforcement and the government waged war on the Panthers and killed numerous members in cold blood, like Fred Hampton in Chicago – shot dead over and again as he lay asleep in his bed. Time has proven Hampton was murdered while he slept, by police, though at the time authorities tried to claim Hampton had shot first.

That is the true history of the Panthers, peaceful self-defense and community programs for the betterment of all while under the murderous sights of the police, constantly. Time has shown that it is the government and law enforcement that lies and kills, over and over again

Learn your history and you’d know all this; then maybe today’s current events would be clearer to you. People only sensationalized the Panthers as killers because they saw black people with guns and their white fear ran wild, but that would have never been white folks’ response had white culture not oppressed people of color for the last millennia. Karma comes around, baby. What was that old line about chickens Malcolm used to say?

And it is under that same peaceful moral code the New Black Panther Party formed. Think of where we’ve seen them recently. The only thing that likely comes to mind is their standing guard outside polling stations to ensure black folks feel secure enough to vote in this new age of Jim Crow voting laws and gerrymandering. Who can blame them? But even in those instances they have been painted as a violent menace attempting to intimidate white voters. America, you are too confused and full of sh*t for words, really.

It is reported that the New Black Panthers have responded with a statement on their Facebook page, but visiting their page, no such statement can be found. Nonetheless, the media reports their response as the following:

The allegations that the two men were in, ‘preparations to destroy the arch by blowing it up as a sign of white racial oppression as well as killing as many cops as they could during the impending unrest in Ferguson after the grand jury decision is announced’ we believe is TOTALLY UNFOUNDED, and is against the rules and regulations of the New Black Panther Party.

Just as the original Panthers believed, the New Black Panther Party does not endorse acts of violence, only self-defense.

Just take a moment to think critically about the media coverage and you can tell this is bullsh*t to muddy the waters and public mind. It’s an attempt to legitimize the heinous actions of authorities in Ferguson and defame Michael Brown and the black community

It’s the same old song and Yankee-Doodle dance, folks.

Media repeats over and again the charges against Baldwin and Davis, leaving those precious little nuggets of misinformation in your head to sway you against the New Black Panther Party and the black community, all while presenting literally no evidence despite authorities “trailing them for months.” Not one piece of evidence could be given to media to substantiate these charges? Really? That’s red flag number one.

Red flag number two is the discrepancy in the reporting that states Baldwin and Davis had been “vigorously seeking” explosive devices while other sources say they “had” explosive devices. Which is it? These claims of “explosive devices” are yet again the same old hat; fallback charges that are used against dissenters all the time. They try to paint this scene like the Weather Underground is coming back to blow us all to smithereens. They did this multiple times during the Occupy movement, and they did it in 2012 during the NATO protests. It’s hogwash to instill fear in the public and sway public opinion toward the side of authority. Wake up, folks! Such charges have been used against dissenters for simply being home-brewers of amateur beer.

Red flag number three is the exoticizing of Baldwin and Davis by the media in telling the public that Brandon Baldwin is also known as Brandon Muhammed, and Olajuwon Davis is also known as Olajuwon Ali, a.k.a., brothers Muhammed and Ali. This is an attempt to stir echoes of terrorism by making these two men sound like Muslim extremists. But again, it is the white American system that acts as extremists more so than the people trying to defend themselves against extremism. Demonizing the dissenter is an old tactic by the government, and well-documented if you know your history.

You should also be suspicious of the media’s coddling of the black folks they interview. They trot out a few black folks and call a little girl “darling” to endear themselves as if to suggest earnestness because they know they can’t show a bunch of white folks on camera saying they’re afraid of black folks. Racism has to be more subtle these days, after all.

Can you see how these things are orchestrated?

But let’s just say for a moment that these two fellas are just as guilty as they are being charged. That still does not mean that two defective members cannot be a part of any organization. Even if these guys are guilty of these bullsh*t charges (and I highly doubt they are), that is no reflection on the New Black Panther Party whatsoever. You cannot change history.

The Black Panthers, and the New Black Panthers, are peaceful organizations intent on helping their brothers and sisters of color through social programs and self-defense, should such an unfortunate situation arise that self-defense through physical action becomes necessary.

All of this is yet one more example of the government and authorities as a whole in this country attempting to stifle dissent against their own crooked, oppressive natures. Just watch the progression of news coverage shown in the links above through to the video below to see the picture clearly. It is one more reason why citizens of this country need to educate themselves enough to see all this clearly, and get angry enough to organize against it.

Baldwin and Davis are due in court for the charges Dec. 17.

November 29, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

The Fight for $15 Shakes Awake the U.S. Labor Movement

By Shamus Cooke | CounterPunch | November 28, 2014

Something big is happening. The union-led victories for a $15 minimum wage in Seattle and San Francisco have reverberated throughout the labor movement, spawning copycat campaigns across the country. Most notably the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is nationally demanding $15 for its home care workers and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) is demanding $15 for Walmart workers as a strategy to finally unionize the mega-corporation. Other unions with low wage members are demanding and winning $15 at the bargaining table.

Only a year ago a $15 minimum wage was denounced as “crazy.” But Seattle and San Francisco proved it was possible, and now $15 has seized the imagination of people across the country, pushing them into action.

By fighting for and winning a $15 minimum wage across the country, labor unions can win better contracts for low-wage workers, organize new members, raise the status of unions and defend against anti-union attacks such as the Harris vs. Quinn Supreme Court decision. After winning $15, unions will be empowered enough to put forth new demands that can bring even more people into the labor movement.

In San Francisco it was SEIU Local 1021 that led the victorious campaign for a $15 minimum wage, building a comprehensive community and labor coalition within the San Francisco labor movement. The Vice President of politics for SEIU 1021, Alysabeth Alexander, recently spoke at a public event in Portland, Oregon.

According to Alexander, there are several key lessons to take from their fight for $15 in San Francisco.

1) Build Strong Coalitions.

Unions and workers’ organizations are powerful when they act collectively, and forming an unbreakable union coalition was the backbone of the $15 campaign in San Francisco. Once united, the labor movement found its voice and realized its power.

In response to an off-the-cuff statement by SF Mayor Ed Lee that a $15 hour minimum wage was worth “considering,” SEIU 1021 went into action. When Mayor Lee was having a meeting with business leaders to discuss the city’s growing wealth disparities, SEIU 1021 staged a protest outside for a $15 minimum wage.

Just days later progressive unions and community labor organizations came together to discuss the real possibilities of passing such a wage increase. In order to create leverage and make the minimum wage fight real, SEIU 1021 filed for a ballot measure for a straight $15 minimum wage and the coalition began to collect signatures. While gathering signatures, the coalition was faced with real decisions of how to balance the demand for $15 with the possibility that the Mayor could put a lower minimum wage measure on the ballot with the support of the business community and city-funded non-profits, thereby creating the potential of all-out war.

According to Alysabeth Alexander:

“There were a lot of balls in the air — the same coalition that was pushing the minimum wage increase was also fighting to close loopholes to our health care ordinance, and pass a ‘retail workers bill of rights’ and ‘fair scheduling’ law. Overall, we created leverage through having an aggressive pro-worker agenda, focusing on positive media and in-depth features of low-wage workers, and by having full discussions within the coalition. We didn’t agree every step of the way, but we kept talking and listening to each other. This made us a strong coalition and built an incredible amount of trust between all the groups involved.”

The Mayor tried several tactics to pressure the unions to drop their $15 demand, going so far as putting forward a “last and final offer,” to which the unions responded “that’s a non-starter.” The balance of power had tipped towards the coalition, which felt empowered to act boldly.

2) Control the process.

According to Alysabeth Alexander, the politicians and business interests in San Francisco were eager to get involved to “work together” with the unions to draft minimum wage legislation, with the likely intention of injecting dozens of loopholes, and extending the phase-in time for implementation.

This is the key reason why the $15 legislation in San Francisco is superior to Seattle’s victory: in Seattle the politicians maneuvered to get a seat at the table in drafting the legislation, while in San Francisco the coalition wrote a strong ballot initiative where they were willing to make only a few concessions. San Francisco’s union-led coalition bargained from a position of strength, essentially imposing their will on politicians.

This example can be copied in cities and states that have a ballot initiative process, where unions can immediately bring a $15 minimum wage to the voters.

3) Control the narrative.

Too often labor and community groups fall victim to the business-friendly media or corporate-friendly politicians, whose communications skills and talking points prioritize the needs of corporations while putting unions on the media defensive.

SEIU 1021 changed this dynamic by taking the initiative, grounding all of their talking points on the premise of “no one deserves poverty wages.” They used this point as a foundation and added workers’ stories about trying to live on minimum wage. They took complete control of the conversation, and politicians were never able to recapture it, since “no one deserves poverty wages” is irrefutable.

Conclusions:

By building a strong coalition of labor and community groups and boldly putting forth a demand for a $15 minimum wage, the unions in San Francisco and Oakland lifted up tens of thousands of workers, and consequently uplifted the status and power of unions in the Bay Area.

Once the coalition acted as a united, independent force, the Mayor and other politicians saw the writing on the wall; it would have been political suicide to publicly oppose the extremely popular $15 ballot initiative, which a stunning 77 percent of San Franciscans voted in favor of.

The $15 minimum wage is a demand that has been gift-wrapped to the national labor movement. Fighting for and winning $15 strengthens the status of unions in the community and consequently helps shield against anti-union attacks. The demand is $15 and unions and community groups needn’t settle for anything less.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com 

 

November 29, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

UN panel slams US for police brutality, torture, botched executions

RT | November 29, 2014

A UN report has condemned the United States for violating the terms of an international anti-torture treaty. The panel took Washington to task for police brutality, military interrogations, and capital punishment protocols.

“The Committee is concerned about numerous reports of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials,” the paper released by the UN Committee Against Torture says, adding that in particular this brutality is seen against persons belonging “to certain racial and ethnic groups, immigrants and LGBTI individuals.”

The document was released on Friday, just days after the contentious decision of a Missouri grand jury not to indict a white officer accused of shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen. The decision triggered a wave of protests nationwide.

Although the report didn’t specifically mention the events in Ferguson, Mike Brown’s parents met with the committee to discuss their son’s case in Geneva earlier this month.

The UN watchdog expressed “deep concern at the frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals.”

The 10-person panel, which periodically reviews the records of the 156 countries which ratified the Convention Against Torture – a non-binding international human rights treaty – cited mounting concerns over “racial profiling by police and immigration offices, and growing militarization of policing activities.”

The committee called on US authorities to “prosecute persons suspected of torture or ill-treatment and, if found guilty, ensure that they are punished in accordance with the gravity of their acts.”

“We recommend that all instances of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers are investigated promptly, effectively and impartially by an independent mechanism,” said panel member, Alessio Bruni, at a news conference in Geneva.

Urging for tougher laws to define and ban torture, the committee called on Washington to reevaluate the treatment of detainees at the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention facility, which currently houses 148 prisoners.

“The Committee is particularly disturbed at reports describing a draconian system of secrecy surrounding high-value detainees that keeps their torture claims out of the public domain.”

In addition, the committee criticized the recent spate of botched executions, especially in Arizona, Oklahoma, and Ohio, citing reported cases “of excruciating pain and prolonged suffering that procedural irregularities have caused to condemned prisoners in the course of their execution.”

The UN body further highlighted “continued delays in recourse procedures which keep prisoners sentenced to death in a situation of anguish and incertitude for many years.”

“The Committee notes that in certain cases such a situation amounts to torture in so far as it corresponds to one of the forms of torture (i.e. the threat of imminent death) contained in the interpretative understanding made by the State party at the time of ratification of the Convention.”

The report urges US authorities to establish “a moratorium on executions with a view to abolish the death penalty” and “to commute the sentences of individuals currently on death row.”

US activists welcomed the findings as a call to action for the federal government.

“This report – along with the voices of Americans protesting around the country this week – is a wake-up call for police who think they can act with impunity,” said Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as quoted by Reuters.

READ MORE: ‘We crossed the line’: US mea culpa at UN panel on use of torture

November 29, 2014 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment