Lynne Stewart Rings in New Year on the “Outside”
People’s lawyer Lynne Stewart called her New Year’s Eve compassionate release from a Texas federal prison a “true victory” of the people. The Obama administration “would not give an inch, and we would not give an inch, and it worked out in the end that they blinked,” said Stewart, who served four years of a ten-year sentence for zealously defending her client. “It’s a victory for the people because the people adopted me as their heroine. I’m determined to fight the cancer, I’m determined to become an activist again.” Stewart is battling Stage Four breast cancer.
“Human Rights” Needs Redefinition
“The potential of the human rights ideal has been hijacked by western powers” to “justify their continued hegemony,” said Ajamu Baraka, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and founder of the U.S. Human Rights Network. What’s needed is a “people-centered” approach to human rights, one that rejects exploitation of humankind. So-called “humanitarian” military intervention under the doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) “is no more than a 21st century re-articulation of the White Man’s Burden,” said Baraka.
Washington DC Moves Toward Pot Decriminalization
The District of Columbia, which racks up more arrests of Black people for marijuana possession than any other major population center, will soon pass “one of the most progressive decriminalization bills in the country,” said Seema Sandanandan, program director for the Nation’s Capital chapter of the ACLU. The legislation would set the penalty for possession of an ounce or less of pot at a $25 civil citation. It would also forbid police from using the scent of marijuana as a pretext to search people, said Sandanandan.
What NAFTA Has Wrought
In the two decades since President Bill Clinton pushed his North American Free Trade Agreement through Congress, “NAFTA has completely devastated United States manufacturing,” causing the loss of five million jobs and tens of thousands of factories, said Alisa Simmons, field director of Public Citizens’ Global Trade Watch. The organization’s report, “NAFTA at 20,” details how “trade agreements are designed to serve corporations, not the people,” said Simmons. President Obama’s proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is shrouded in secrecy, is even worse: “NAFTA on steroids.”
Assassination and Mass Killing in Congo
Many Congolese suspect assassins killed popular army Col. Mamadou Ndala, who was considered a hero in the war against Rwandan-backed rebels, according to Kambale Musavuli, of Friends of Congo. Ndala was uncompromising in his pursuit of M-23 fighters, with whom the Congolese government signed yet another accord, late last year. In Kinshasa, the capital city, at least 100 youthful followers of a political preacher were killed by security forces after they seized a television station and accused President Joseph Kabila of being a “Rwandan imposter.” “The Congolese people are caught in a very vicious circle,” said Musavuli. “They have an illegitimate, oppressive government” and “neighbors who support and arm rebels.”
Mumia on Winnie Mandela
Nelson Mandela’s former wife Winnie, who was banned as a non-person during much of her husband’s long incarceration, was demonized after the end of formal apartheid “because she wouldn’t agree to a new political dispensation that left most Africans exploited,” said U.S. political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal. In a commentary titled “For the Love of Winnie,” Mumia wrote: “For millions and millions of people, her brilliance, her beauty and her courage were like a torch in the mountains. Indeed, she is adored.”