Friday, June 17, 2016

The time for talk is over. We now need to act.




"To achieve a just and desirable goal we sometimes have to make great sacrifices and pay a heavy price"
Gulamhusein A. Abba


The needs and aspirations of the people so correctly identified and vociferously voiced by Bernie Sanders will never be met by Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party. We all know this. The way the party has maneuvered to deny Bernie a fair chance to win over non-pledged delegates should open our eyes.

The time for talk is over. The need is to move to action and start working right now to rid ourselves of both the corrupt parties beholden to the rich and powerful and build up an alternative party.

We cannot and should not support either Trump or Hillary. The third party or independent candidate we vote for is not likely to win this election but at least the ground work for the next election will be laid. If nothing else, a strong message will be sent to the Democratic Party that it cannot take us for granted and needs to reform and be more receptive to our demands.

Our refusal to support Trump AND Hillary is likely to hand over victory to Trump. That is a price we must be prepared to pay to nourish the evolution and keep alive the flame of democracy and justice.

Nothing comes without a price. To achieve a just and desirable goal we sometimes have to make great sacrifices and pay a heavy price

There comes a time when the issue is so important and the voice of conscience so strong that we have to put all other considerations aside and courageously act no matter what the cost of doing so.

Unless we act now, we will forever have to choose “the lesser of two evils”, both of which are the pawns of the rich and the powerful.
Gulamhusein A Abba

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Bernie Sander's ‘revolution’ is dead. What next?

By: Gulamhusein A Abba 

Nothing comes without a price. To achieve a just and desirable goal we sometimes have to make great sacrifices and pay a heavy price. 



 It is no use pretending. The ‘revolution’ is dead – Benie’s revolution. Whether the real revolution will die depends on what we who supported him so passionately decide to do.

Bernie’s ‘revolution’ was killed by none other than the President of the US, Barrack Obama. He struck the fatal blow by prematurely announcing his endorsement of Hillary Clinton. By doing so he effectively robbed Sanders of his chance of persuading non-pledged delegates to switch from supporting Hillary to supporting him.


The Democratic Party has a vested interest in perpetuating itself as it is now. Millions of Americans, especially the young, have come to realize that the Democratic Party is nothing more than the second side of the same coin. The Republicans and the Democrats are both ruled by the rich and the powerful and they both are beholden to them.

It is against this that the people wanted to revolt. Bernie initially so rightly put it, it was not about electing this person or that. But now he is reduced to focusing on “Doing whatever I can” to defeat Trump, and, by implication, electing Hillary. What the people wanted was a revolution against the status quo. What they wanted was to make America a better place, electoral reform, a reversal of the flow of wealth from the poor to the rich, an end to fracking, universal health care, free tuition in colleges, making an ‘adjustment’ (as Bernie pit it) in our relationship with Israel, putting an end to supporting corrupt dictators who so wantonly disregard human rights, abandoning going round the world toppling popular, freely, democratically and constitutionally elected leaders, to name but a few of their aspirations.

In Bernie, this army of passionate millions, saw a General and they flocked round him, contributed what little they could, cast their ballots at the primaries and attended in unprecedented members at his rallies.

After Obama’s endorsement of Hillary, Bernie changed his direction. The argument is that the country cannot afford to have Trump become the President and all efforts should be to prevent him doing so and the only way to do this is to strengthen the Democratic Party and stand unitedly behind its nominee. Sanders did not want to be a ‘spoiler’, a second Nader.


We have heard this argument again and again. Yes Hillary is the face of Wall Street. Yes Hillary is opposed to universal health care and almost all the aspirations of Bernie and his supporters. But for now, to prevent Trump becoming the President, one must resign one’s self to choosing the ‘better of two evils’.

If we dance to this tune, there will never be the revolution this country needs and what we, the supporters of Bernie so passionately worked for.

The question looms: What else could Bernie do? He could have fought on till the voice call at the Convention. He could have decided to take his vast army with him to another political party closer to the issues that trouble him and his vast army of like-minded soldiers. Or he could have fought on as an independent.

If that resulted in handing over the President’s chair to Trump it would be Obama, Hillary and the delegates that would be to blame for shutting their ears to the demands of the people and being focused on maintaining the status quo and on making “history” for a second time by electing, for the first time, a woman as the President of US!

The defeat of Clinton would be good for the nation in the long run because it would make the Democratic Party realize that it cannot take us for granted. It would make the Party more receptive to the wishes of us common folks in the future..

Here was a chance to usher in a real revolution in an orderly, peaceful and constitutional way. The Democratic Party blew it. And, in the end, Sanders succumbed.

Trump’s win would be disastrous for the country. Nothing comes without a price. To achieve a just and desirable goal we sometimes have to make great sacrifices and pay a heavy price. 

Now it is for us, the citizens to decide. Are we going to allow ourselves to be suckered in once again by the argument that if we do not support the nominee of the Democratic Party we will be handing over the country to the Republicans? Or are we going to take our destiny in our own hands and do what we can to make America really great?

We do not want Trump to win. But we do not want Hillary to win either. So let us free ourselves from these two streams of the same source and start helping a third party become a force to be reckoned with. Or just make the Democratic Party realize that it cannot take us for granted, and do this by not only not voting for the Republican candidate but also not voting for the Democratic candidate.

This is not a call not to vote. Your vote is valuable. Use it. Vote for a third party or an independent or, if possible, cast a blank ballot. The point is not to elect this one or that but to cast a protest vote.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A slice of hidden Indian history:George Fernandes’ triumph, Morarji Desai’s first sin


by Gulamhusein A Abba

This old photo from the past  is of the famous, ambitious, shrewd George Fernandes who started as a petty trade unionist and jockeyed himself into becoming a Union minister, holding the post of Defence Minister and later holding several other ministerial portfolios, including communications, industry and railways.

I remember three incidents that propelled him to fame. I was there at the time!

The first came in 1967. In the general elections held that year. the Samyukta Socialist Party offered him a party ticket for the Bombay South constituency. Standing against him was the formidable S.K.Patil, a seasoned politician. To everyone’s surprise, George won! This win earned him the title of “George the Giantkiller”

His second notable triumph came just seven years later. As President of the All India Railwaymen's Federation, he organized the All India Railway strike of 1974,
Till now George had organized several Bombay Bandhs (Bombay Shutdowns) to press his union demands and succeeded in shutting down parts of Bombay.
But this was big. Railways are the arteries of the nation. Shutting them down would shut down the whole nation. And that is what it did.

George Fernandes lay down on the tracks of the railways to prevent key trains from moving forward. He was arrested and the picture here is of him being led away from a railway station after his arrest.
That made him a man to be reckoned with.

A year later Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, declared a state of emergency. The constitution was suspended and along with it all fundamental rights. Indira ruled through edicts.
The nation was outraged. Indira, who was adored till then, fell out ot favor. Political dissidents, trade unionists, newspaper reporters, opposition leaders vehemently opposed the emergency.

.One of the things Indira did was to order the arrest of all trade union leaders Most of them, along with other protestors,  were arrested and jailed. An arrest warrant was issued against George Feranandes also but he went underground to avoid arrest

George chose to oppose the emergency in his own way. While hiding in Baroda, he, along with others, acquired dynamite to launch a violent opposition to the emergency. The plans included blowing up a dais four hours before Indira Gandhi was to address a meeting in Varanasi, robbing a train used to carry weapons from Pimpri (near Poona) to Bombay (the weapons were to be used to blast government offices) and take the help of other countries by using ham radio.

Ultimately he was arrested in 1975 in Calcutta on charges of smuggling dynamite to blow up government establishments in protest against the imposition of emergency. This came to be known as the Baroda Dynamite Case.

By now George was no longer just a Bombay leader. He had become a well known figure not only nationwide but also internationally.

After his arrest, Amnesty International members cabled to the Government of India to give him access to a lawyer and ensure that he was physically protected. According to various reports, three world leaders from Germany, Norway, and Austria cabled Indira Gandhi and cautioned her against harming Fernandes.

The emergency was lifted in 1977. Fresh general elections were held in India. The Congress Party, led by Indira Gandhi, suffered a defeat at the hands of the Janata Party, a coalition created in 1977 out of several small parties that opposed Gandhi's Emergency era, and Morarji Desai became the first non-Congress Prime Minister of India, breaking the Nehru dynasty’s hold on power.
Fernandes was still in jail when the Janata Party under Morarji Desai came to power. However, he had contested from the jail and won the Muzaffarpur seat in Bihar by an overwhelming majority and became an elected member of Parliament.

NOW PAY ATTENTION. THIS IS IMPORTANT.

After he won the Muzaffarpur seat the defence counsel moved, for the ninth time, a bail application on behalf of Gerorge Fernandes. Though this court, and higher courts, had repeatedly rejected the plea for bail made by George Fernandes and his 24 co-accused, this time it was accepted.

TWO DAYS LATER, THE PROSECUTION COUNSEL ASKED THE COURT THAT IN "PUBLIC INTEREST AND CHANGED CIRCUMSTANCES CHARGES AGAINST THE ACCUSED BE DROPPED."

No satisfactory explanation was given for the withdrawal of the case..Those who believed in the rule of law (I among them) were shocked.

As Chairman of the Rule of Law Committee I raised my voice against the withdrawal. I had an opportunity to ask Morarji Desai personally about this. He explained, in confidence (and I am revealing this in public for the firt time) that the coalition party, on the support of which the government relied to hold power, threatened to withdraw its support if the case was not withdrawn. Morarrji pointed out that if this had happened, the government would have fallen and another election held and, in all probability, Indira would come to power again. That would have been disastrous for the country

In other words, the government was blackmailed into withdrawing the case. 
                            
I went on claiming that a criminal case having been filed, it was for the courts to decide whether the accused were innocent or guilty and the executive department had no right to intervene and withdraw the case.

There is more to this story but I have already revealed too much and will leave it at that.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Peter Goselin on U.S. foreign policy




Peter Goselin commenting on Bernie Sanders remaining mostly silent on foregn policy:

What difference does it make if Bernie Sanders, as a presidential candidate, has remained mostly silent on foreign policy?

The U.S. client state, Saudi Arabia, is conducting bombing raids on rebels in Yemen. Yesterday, the bombing of a wedding party resulted in the deaths of 135 people, mostly women and children.

The U.S. client state, Egypt, has been accused by human rights activists of crimes against humanity, including the massacre of more than 800 protesters in 2013. Last week the Committee to Protect Journalists sent a letter to President Sisi complaining that his regime continues to harass and attack journalists reporting on conditions in that country.

The U.S. client state, Turkey, is accused by an investigatory report of British jurists of human rights violations. The report claims that opponents of the regime "have suffered systematic purges that have removed as many as 40,000 employees from public positions, led to mass arrests and in some cases periods of detention."

The U.S. client state, Israel, has recently been described by Bradley Burston, a Haaretz columnist and Senior Editor of Haaretz.com, with well-established credentials as a pro-zionist journalist, as an apartheid government.

The U.S. client state, Hungary, is in the midst of a refugee crisis because of failed U.S. policies in Libya, Iraq, and Syria. Among the measures it is taking to keep out refugees: a razor wire fence on its border with Serbia. The hardline president of that U.S. ally claims that these steps are necessary because Hungary is protecting European Christian culture from Muslims
.
We already know and have come to expect that the liberals who support Obama and candidate Clinton will not speak out on any of these issues even IF they oppose these developments. Americans and the people of the world are looking to see what a "progressive" American presidential candidate has to say about these developments.

That the "progressive" candidate is silent, that his silence encourages the silence of his supporters, that his silence endorses the atrocities carried out by U.S. allies (and, indeed, by the U.S. itself) is a deep and horrible harm. It tells the American people and the world that "progressivism" in the U.S. is silent on, and therefore complicit in, U.S, imperialism.



Since 1995, Attorney Peter Goselin has been representing employees in virtually every kind of dispute with employers. Following ten years as a partner in the firm of Livingston, Adler, Pulda, Meiklejohn & Kelly, Peter recently established a solo practice, The Law Office of Peter Goselin in Hartford


A graduate with honors from the University of Connecticut School of Law, Peter is admitted to practice in Connecticut’s state and federal courts and in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Peter Goselin is a member of the Connecticut Employment Lawyers Association and is the Connecticut contact person for the National Lawyers Guild, an organization of attorneys dedicated to protecting human rights.

 In addition to representing clients, Peter is a frequent speaker to student and community organizations on issues relating to workers’ rights and human rights.


Friday, September 4, 2015

Red shirt… blue jeans… little sneakers

Editor's note: The following is powerful writing by Samah Sabawi and is printed here by special permission.. Deeds have consequences, always. Blowbacks are real. Nothing comes free. There is always a price to paay, in one form or another.Red shirt … blue jeans…little sneakers -. face down in the sand, A lifeless wake up call to the nations that caused the ravage. A jolt to the conscience of the world. Will they listen? Will they learn? They better do. Next time the call may not be so passive.

Red shirt… blue jeans… little sneakers Not on a boat of asylum seekers. Not holding the hand of a hijab wearing mother. Not in the embrace of a brown skinned father. Not in the company of anyone that the world can demonize. Face down in the sand, with his eyes eternally shut he pries open our eyes. He looks familiar, like a son, a grandson, a nephew, a toddler in the playground. He looks like that kid at the grocery store who always manages to stare us down.
Red shirt… blue jeans… little sneakers. No papers, no visa, no ID. A victim of our policy. The wars we started over there have come to haunt us here. The voices we muted for so long have suddenly become loud and clear. A picture is worth a thousand words, but how many words do we need to erase our fear of the other? How many words does it take to affirm humanity?
The resort was the last place they expected to be confronted with this. The tourists were shocked. All they wanted was to watch the sun rise and make love on the beach. ‘He was not supposed to be here washed up on our shore’ . Red shirt…blue jeans…little sneakers…thoughtless refugee. Did he really have to drown in our sea?
Can we just take one minute to learn from history? Palestinians were the first wave of dispossessed in the Arab world, now they are a drop in the ocean of exile and grief. The lesson learned is this: When injustice is left to fester, it expands beyond the horizon. Everyone becomes a refugee. Red shirt…blue jeans… little sneakers…they were riding the waves along the shores of Haifa, desperate they climbed into wooden boats to escape from the Irgun. Face down in the sand. Nakba is infectious. Untreated and unopposed, Nakba grows past the checkpoints and the siege of Gaza, it spreads to Syria… Iraq …Afghanistan…and Yemen… Its poison taints the waters of the Mediterranean.
Red shirt … blue jeans…little sneakers. He is beautiful and intact. Face down in the sand, the sharks did not devour him. They left him for the bigger beasts. The arms dealers…warlords and oil sheiks. The neo cons in the west and the tyrants of the east. He is an
offering for their feast.


About the author: Samah is a Palestinian-Australian-Canadian writer, commentator, author, playwright and Social Justice advocate. She has co-authored with her father, Abdel-Karim Sabawi, a play “Cries from the Land” and produced it as a play (2003).In 2008 she produced Three Wishes(, based on her adaptation of Deborah Ellis's book "Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israelis Speak Out".  Both were successfully staged in Canada. Her two-city premier of her most recent play Tales of a City by the Sea, completed a sold-out season in Melbourne in 2014 and also was staged in Palestine.  Sabawi's essays and op-eds have appeared in various media outlets and her poetry has been featured in various magazines and books, most recently in an anthology published by West End Press titled With Our Eyes Wide Open: Poems of the New American Century.

Samah Sabawi is former Executive Director and Media Spokesperson for the National Council on Canada Arab Relations and former Public Advocate for the Melbourne based advocacy group Australians for Palestine,

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sandra's death needs to be avenged.




I just can’t get the Sandra Bland case out of my mind.

I am not an Afro-American, nor a female nor a Christian. Just a human being with strong feelings for the helpless and victimized and against injustice, exploitation and oppression, be it by the Taliban in Afghanistan or Sisi in Egypt or Netanyahu in Israel or a cop in America.

Sandra Bland, a promising young activist, should never have been arrested. After an unwarranted arrest, she should never have been held in a police cell but allowed to go home on a promise of showing up in court. After being placed in a cell, she should have been placed on suicide watch, constantly monitored and the plastic bag in her cell removed.

Suicide or not, the actions of the arrogant, egoistical, power drunk cop who arrested her, and the subsequent actions or lack thereof at the police station and holding cell are responsible for Sandra Bland’s death.

Unless a full investigation of the whole matter is undertaken by an independent authority and severe action to the fullest extent possible is taken against the concerned officer and Sandra Bland’s family is paid an appropriate amount by way of retribution, and unless steps are taken to control the out of control, arrogant, trigger happy cops, people will lose confidence in the police, and the existing respectful attitude towards law enforcement officers will be replaced by suspicion, distrust and rebellious attitude. Worse, more and more will feel compelled to arm themselves against the aggressions of the police. The perception that those in power are attempting to subjugate the people through the police will spread

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

ARROGANCE OF POWER

Sandra Bland’s death a result of a convergence of race, gender and power.
By: Gulamhusein A. Abba.

Suicide or not, the police are clearly responsible for her death. And we cannot, must not rest till they are made to pay for it, especially the arresting officer.

It is time for the police to understand that they literally are the servants of the people and their job is to keep law and order, protect the citizens, and help them. And do all this “politely and nicely’.  They have no right to oppress the citizens, trample on their rights and lord it over them. If they cannot understand all this by themselves, they must be made to understand.

The spreading culture among police of Entitlement and Power and Immunity needs not just to be curbed but eliminated.s time for the police to understand that they literally are the servants of the people and their job is to keep law and order, protect the citizens, and help them. And do all 

A memorial for Sandra Bland at the spot where she was arrested in Hempstead, Tex., this month. Credit Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times (Photo: courtesy of New York Times)

What is maddening, really, really maddening about this case is people continuing to say, “If she had only been polite she would have been alive today”.

This has been said again and again in recent cases of suspects being killed by police. It is nothing short of blaming the victim and trying to absolve the police of any blame.

This claim is particularly inappropriate in the Sandra Bland case. For Heaven’s sake, she WAS civil and polite.  Here is how it unfolded.

She is written up for changing lanes without using a signal – an infraction motorists travelling on highways commit routinely. She accepts it without any protest of any kind. About two minutes later, seeing that she is being tailed by a police car, she pulls up on the side, as law abiding citizens are required to do.

The police officer tailing her walks up to her car and asks her a couple of questions and she replies. He then asks her for her driver’s license and registration etc.  and she hands these over, again without any question or protest. He returns about 5 minutes later and hands back the papers. Everything quite normal until now. Then he asks her if she is OK.  Having been asked, Sandra replies: “You. You. That is your job.” Still nothing offensive from her.

He goads her on. He comments, “You seem to be very irritated.” Of course she is. Even now Sandra maintains her calm and tells him truthfully and calmly that she indeed is irritated and tells him why.

He then  provocatively asks, “Are you done?”.  Sandra continues being “nice and polite” and answers civilly, “You asked me and I told you, So yes, I am done now”

The officer was apparently bent on provoking her into some action that would give him cause to escalate the situation. He now asks her to put out the cigarette. This is when Sandra stops being “polite and nice.” She tells him, still calmly and politely but firmly, that she is not required by law not to smoke in her own car and she is not required to put out the cigarette.

This is what the officer has been waiting for. He asks her to step out of the car. She answers, still within her rights, “I don’t have to get out of the car”.

The officer is obviously incensed that this chit of a girl, and black at that, instead of obeying him meekly, is asserting her rights.

He now ORDERS her to get out of the car. He opens the door of the car and once more orders her to step out of the car. Here is the conversation that follows: Sandra, “You don’t have the right…“.  He, shouting “Step out of the car”. She “You don’t have the right to do that…”. He, “I DO have the right. Now step out or I will remove you”.

At this point Sandra starts reciting what activists are advised to do in such situations,  She, “I refuse to talk to you other than identifying myself…..”. He cuts her short and orders, “Get out of the car now or I will remove you”.

Sandra tells him, “I am going to call…. “. He, “I am going to yank you out of here,” She, “OK So you are going to yank me out of my car? OK . Alright. Let’s do this”.

At this point, he reaches into the car, She, “Don’t touch me”. He, “get out of the car”. She, “Don’t touch me. I’m not under arrest …”. He, “You ARE under arrest”. This is the first time he has told her she is under arrest. She, “I’m under arrest for what? Why am I being apprehended? You said ….”. He, “get out of the car. Get out of the car NOW. Get out of the car’ At this point he seems to be pointing what appears to be a taser. at her face. He, “Get out of the car or I will light you up. Get out”.

 Sandra gets out of the car and starts walking with him. This is where she loses her cool. She, “Wow, Wow. FOR FAILURE OF A SIGNAL. You are doing all this….”. He “Get over there”. She “Right. Yea. Yea. Let’s take this to court’. He, ”Go ahead.”, She, “For failure of a signal”, She repeats, louder “For failure of a signal…”

He handcuffs her roughly and Sandra is taken to the police station.

It will be noted that Sandra was “nice and polite” all the way till the officer starts implementing what he tells her is a “lawful order’ but which was not.

So, clearly, being “Nice and Polite” does not save a black, especially if she is young and a female, from having her rights trampled and being treated like a piece of shit.

The important point to remember here is that though one must be nice and polite at all times towards all people, including the police, it has its limits. If you continue in this mode even when a police officer becomes abusive and starts threatening you and abusing his authority and issuing unlawful orders and putting his/her hands on you, then you cease being a nice and polite person and become a spineless enabler.

It is this knowledge that the citizens will do whatever they are told to do that makes police officers believe that they can treat the citizens as they will and get away with it.

It is time for citizens to stand up for their rights. And it is time for the police to understand that they literally are the servants of the people and their job is to keep law and order, protect the citizens, and help them. And do all this “politely and nicely’.  They have no right to oppress the citizens, trample on their rights and lord it over them. If they cannot understand all this by themselves, they must be made to understand.
The spreading culture among police of Entitlement and Power and Immunity needs not just to be curbed but eliminated.

Unless this is done, this cancer will spread and will lead to people becoming suspicious and hostile towards the police. And arming themselves to protect themselves from the lawlessness of the increasingly militarized, lawless and oppressive police.

Now to the question of whether Sandra committed suicide or was murdered by the police while in their custody.

Please remember that she is a well-educated young lady, had recently been offered two jobs and was an ardent activist for justice and the rights of blacks. This for her was a made to order case to take to the courts and expose the lawlessness of the police. Indeed, before being dragged to her cell, while she was being taken into custody she is heard to tell the arresting officer, “Let’s take this to court”. “Oh I can’t wait to go to court. Oh I can’t wait. I cannot wait till we go to court.” These are her actual words and can be heard on the video released by the police. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuPvDMN73hQ at 10.42 and 11.54)

There was no reason for her to commit suicide and every reason to live to take this matter to court. On the other hand, the police had every reason to want to silence her forever. 

Besides, the police claim that Sandra had, in her pre-booking interrogation, told them that she had felt depressed in the past. With this flag raised, why was she not put on a suicide watch? Why was she not properly monitored while in the cell? Why was a plastic bag conveniently left in her cell?

What about the coroner’s finding that there was no indication of a struggle just prior to her death? That is not proof of her not being murdered.

Suicide or not, the police are clearly responsible for her death. And we cannot, must not rest till they are made to pay for it especially the arresting officer.