Tear gas fired by Ferguson police comes from company supplies Israel, Bahrain and Egypt

“When tear-gas was first fired into the streets of Ferguson, Missouri at people angry at the police killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, Palestinian activists sent out messages on Twitter giving people tips for how to deal with tear gas’ effects. And there was another direct connection between events in Missouri and the West Bank, as Palestinian activist Mariam Barghouti noted: the company that supplies the Israeli army with tear gas is the same company supplying the police in Ferguson. […]”

(Read full article at Mondoweiss.net)

tear gas canisters from egypt, palestine, ferguson - and the headquarters of cts

“Combined Systems Inc. (CSI) calls Jamestown, Pennsylvania home. Often marketed and produced under the brand name Combined Tactical Systems (CTS) – they provide tear gas to the governments of Israel and Egypt as well as many others. In fact, until recently, Combined Systems used to fly the Israeli flag at its headquarters. According to its own advertising, its ‘OC Vapor System is ideal for forcing subjects from small rooms, attics, crawl spaces, prison cells,’ and is used against prisoners in the US. CSI is owned by Point Lookout Capital and the Carlye Group. Point lookout Capitol, which holds a controlling number of shares, says glowingly of CSI: ‘The company’s CTS branded product line is the premiere less-lethal line in the industry today.’ Point Lookout Capital is headquartered in New York City. Nearly every week Combined Systems Inc. holds trainings across the US for law enforcement and security personnel, in using their ‘chemical munitions’ and other weaponry. Combined Systems tear gas was exported into Egypt via Israel during the January 2011 Egyptian uprising and is one of the largest suppliers of tear gas used to repress uprisings globally.

Combined Systems has aggressively propagandized its products. On May 18, 2011, the Chilean government announced— in the wake of a study by the University of Chile which demonstrated that CS exposure may lead to miscarriages— that they would temporarily suspend the use of tear gas throughout the country. Latin America News Dispatch quotes then-Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter as saying: ‘[I]t seems reasonable to suspend the use of tear gas until new medical reports dispel any doubts about the appropriateness of employing these gases to confront situations of public disorder and vandalism.’ Fortunately for the Chilean government— and unfortunately for Chilean protesters, such as the 30,000 protesters who, a week earlier, had gathered to demonstrate against the HidroAysén hydroelectric project and been faced with tear gas— the Chilean government was able to put together a report, three days later, citing Combined Systems, arguing that tear gas was safe. The report, and the lifting of the ban on tear gas, came just in time for the state to use tear gas against the next round of HidroAysén protests.

In the West Bank, many protesters have died or been seriously injured as a result of being shot at close range by Combined Systems tear gas canisters, including 28 year old Mustafa Tamimi of Nabi Saleh who died in 2011 after half of his face was shot off by a Combined Systems tear gas canister. In 2009 Bassem Abu Rahmah, from Bil’in, was killed by a Combined Systems canister, and in 2010, his sister Jawaher was as well. The number of deaths as well as serious injuries as a result of teargas cannisters has drastically increased since 2008, when Israel began using Combined Systems’ ‘extended range’ 40mm cartridges, sold under the brand name ‘Indoor Barricade Penetrator,’ and which travel at a velocity of 122 meters per second and are designed to penetrate buildings. Although the manufacturers’ labels clearly indicate that the teargas grenades are not to be used at short range and are not to be fired people, this has not stopped the Israeli military from doing so— effectively turning these canisters into large bullets. (For more info, check out the B’Tselem report, page 8. To see the manufacturer’s website for the Indoor Barricade Penetrator, click here.) Combined Systems canisters have also been used to kill protesters in Guatemala.”

(Source: Facing Tear Gas)

Newly declassified State Department documents outline torture methods employed by US-backed military dictatorship in Brazil

“Allegations of Torture in Brazil.” department of state memo
Released State Department document showing that US officials were clearly aware that their buddies in Brazil were torturing dissidents (click to enlarge)

excerpt from “Remembering Brazil’s Military Coup 50 Years Later” (NACLA, April 2014):

In 1964, the Brazilian military dictatorship rolled in like a bad dream. President João Goulart fled to Uruguay, and with him went the hopes of progressive reforms. The first of seventeen military decrees, or Institutional Acts (AI), were issued. Institutional Act 5, decreed by military president Artur da Costa e Silva on December 13, 1968, suspended habeas corpus and disbanded congress. Inspired by the 1959 Cuban revolution, and insurgent guerrilla movements in Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela, Communist Party militants went underground and formed armed movements against the dictatorship, including the National Liberation Alliance and the Popular Revolutionary Vanguard, which would later become the Revolutionary Armed Vanguard Palmares (VAR-Palmares). […]

Dissidents were tracked down, arrested, imprisoned, tortured, disappeared, or worse. According to the 2007 report from the Brazilian government’s Special Commission on Murders and Political Disappeared entitled “The Right to Memory and the Truth,” 475 people were disappeared during the twenty-year-long military dictatorship. Thousands were imprisoned and roughly thirty thousand were tortured. More than 280 different types of torture were inflicted on “subversives” at 242 clandestine torture centers, by hundreds of individual torturers. Current Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff was at the time a student activist who became active in the VAR-Palmares (among other guerrilla groups). She was captured by the Brazilian military on January 16, 1970, tortured, and imprisoned for two and a half years, for participating with the guerrilla. Within a few years the armed resistance to the Brazilian dictatorship had been largely eliminated.

state dept memo describing forms of torture used by their brazilian dictator friends
Excerpt from the recently declassified State Department memo “Widespread arrests and psychophysical interrogation of suspect subversives” (click to enlarge)

Meanwhile U.S.-Brazilian relations became tighter than ever, as the United States worked to turn Brazil into a “success story” in the fight against communism. According to a five-and-a-half-year 5,000-page investigation into the human rights violations of the dictatorship, entitled Brasil Nunca Mais (Brazil Never Again), CIA agents, such as U.S. officer Dan Mitrione, actively trained hundreds of Brazilian military and police officers in torture techniques, or what they called the “Scientific Methods to Extract Confessions and Obtain the Truth.” Several documented accounts reveal that Mitrione tested his techniques on street kids and homeless beggars from the streets of Belo Horizonte. Many of these techniques would be replicated across the region through the U.S.-sponsored Plan Condor, as Brazil’s neighbors also fell to military dictatorships.

… and this via the National Security Archive article “Declassified Documents Given By Biden to Rousseff Detail Secret Dictatorship-Era Executions, ‘Psychophysical’ Torture in Brazil“:

The Brazilian military regime employed a “sophisticated and elaborate psychophysical duress system” to “intimidate and terrify” suspected leftist militants in the early 1970s, according to a State Department report dated in April 1973 and made public yesterday. Among the torture techniques used during the military era, the report detailed “special effects” rooms at Brazilian military detention centers in which suspects would be “placed nude” on a metal floor “through which electric current is pulsated.” Some suspects were “eliminated” but the press was told they died in “shoot outs” while trying to escape police custody. “The shoot-out technique is being used increasingly,” the cable sent by the U.S. Consul General in Rio de Janeiro noted, “in order to deal with the public relations aspect of eliminating subversives,” and to “obviate ‘death-by-torture’ charges in the international press.” […]

Brazil’s Comissão Nacional da Verdade (“National Truth Commission”), which is investigating torture and other human rights abuses committed by the Brazilian dictatorship, has released all 43 of the recently declassified US documents on their website. To view the memos in their entirety, see: “CNV torna públicos documentos entregues pelo governo norte-americano

On this day in history: IWW members imprisoned for anti-war activism

On this day, March 23, 1918, 101 members of the radical labor union Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) went on trial in Chicago for opposing World War I. They were charged with violating the Espionage Act and Selective Service Act for their anti-war activities, such as distributing literature which criticized war and encouraging people to resist the draft.

The jury found them all guilty, and the judge sentenced Big Bill Haywood and 14 others to 20 years in prison. 33 others were given ten years each, 34 received five year sentences, and 18 received two year sentences. They were also fined a total of $2,500,000.

The trial imprisoned almost all of the IWW’s most active organizers — including their national/regional organizers, Executive Board members, and newspaper editors, amongst others, and played a major role in the decline of the IWW over the following years.

Militiamen in Lawrence, Massachusetts use bayonets to hold back crowds of immigrant workers during the Great Textile Strike of 1912, which the IWW played a central role in organizing
(Photo: Militiamen in Lawrence, Massachusetts use bayonets to hold back crowds of immigrant workers during the Great Textile Strike of 1912, which the IWW played a central role in organizing)

Freed Ex-Black Panther Marshall “Eddie” Conway on 44 Years in Prison & FBI Surveillance

Freed Ex-Black Panther Marshall “Eddie” Conway who spent 44 Years in Prison before being released‘[…] former Black Panther Party leader Marshall “Eddie” Conway joins us less than 24 hours after his release from nearly 44 years in prison. Supporters describe Conway as one of the country’s longest-held political prisoners. He was convicted of killing a Baltimore police officer in 1970, for which he has always maintained his innocence. The shooting occurred at a time when federal and local authorities were infiltrating and disrupting the Black Panthers and other activist groups. At the time of the shooting, the FBI was also monitoring Conway’s actions as part of its counterintelligence program, COINTELPRO. Numerous groups have campaigne, blackd for years calling for his release, saying he never received a fair trial and was convicted largely on the basis of testimony from a jailhouse informant. Politically active in prison, Conway founded Friend of a Friend, a group that helps young men, often gang members, resolve conflicts, and published a memoir, “Marshall Law: The Life & Times of a Baltimore Black Panther.” In his first interview since being released, Marshall details his time behind bars and the government surveillance he faced as a prominent Black Panther. […]’

Read full article: http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire/2014/03/05/freed-ex-black-panther-marshall-eddie-conway-on-44-years-in-prison-fbi-surveillance/

Statist “gun control”: promoting an elite monopoly on armed violence

The most common solution put forth (by the corporate media) to address the high levels of gun violence in the United States is “gun control” —  that is, asking the state to regulate the manufacture, sale, and use of firearms. Gun violence is a problem, and something needs to be done about it  But federal/state “gun control” legislation is not the solution.

"Photo of victims killed in drone strike on wedding convoy from Yemeni journalist & being circulated widely on social media."
Photo of victims killed in a U.S. drone strike on a wedding convoy in Yemen (December 2013) … The oligarchs who ordered and oversaw this act of mass murder will also oversee “gun control”. Do you trust them to make good decisions about who should and should not be armed?

There are several problems with asking the U.S. government to stop gun violence by controlling who has access to firearms and ammunition. The most obvious of these is that the US government is the single largest perpetrator of gun violence on the planet. It spends over $500 billion per year on military, police, and intelligence forces. The military has killed far (i.e. millions) more people than civilians with guns. They are also the world’s largest arms dealer — giving billions of dollars worth of weaponry to foreign dictatorships (Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Bahrain, etc.), paramilitary death squads, and domestic police forces. They oversee the largest prison system in the world (something that can only be maintained through the constant employment of violence). Why would we rely on these people to stop armed violence? When bureaucrats like Diane Feinstein (whose top campaign donors included several weapons manufacturers, and who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee which has overseen the torture and assassination of thousands of people) get up and talk about “gun control”, what they really mean is that they want to be in control of all of the guns, so they can continue using them to murder people who threaten corporate profits.

The second problem is that “gun control” does nothing to address the social causes of violence in our society — racism, militarism, sexism, economic exploitation, etc. Yes, it is true that firearms are frequently used by abusive men to murder their partners. However, when police are twice as likely to be domestic abusers as the general population, why would we expect that granting police a monopoly on firearms would protect women from gun violence? When we send millions of young men and women overseas to murder people in the name of the U.S. military, why do we act surprised when they come home and commit gun violence here? … The point is that we need to work towards social changes that address the root causes of violence, if we want it to stop.

Gun violence is a real problem (as we all were reminded of by the tragedy today), which we desperately need to come up with solutions as a community (working towards the ultimate goal of peaceful coexistence and universal disarmament). But the “gun control” debate (promoted by the corporate media) is totally backwards. If we really want to gain control of gun violence, we need to go after the largest perpetrator (the US government) first. The people need to disarm the police and military, rather than the other way around. Only after the people have disarmed the state, and replaced the police and military with community self-defense groups, could we safely start working on a local level towards voluntary disarmament (i.e. once arms are no longer necessary to defend our communities against violence).

Rahmatullah, 19, a victim of a NATO air strike, tries to sit up on his bed in a hospital in KabulPhoto: Ramatullah, a 19-year old Afghan boy who was the victim of a NATO airstrike

Deconstructing recent propaganda surrounding “vigilante groups” in Southern Mexico

The corrupt local government was kicked out of the town, and replaced with a traditional indigenous form of communal self-governance, centered around democratic community assemblies.
The corrupt local government of Cheran, Michoacán, was kicked out of the town, and replaced with a traditional indigenous form of communal self-governance, centered around democratic community assemblies.

There is a lot of propaganda in the corporate media right now regarding community self-defense groups (“autodefensas”) in Mexico. Papers such as the LA Times, the Guardian, and Washington Post are calling them “vigilante groups” to give the image of random gangs of people running around with guns and arbitrarily shooting people they don’t like, and is talking about how the government is coming in to “restore peace”.

First of all, regarding the term “vigilante”, most of these groups are not random individuals with guns “taking the law into their own hands”. They are well-organized groups of trusted/respected citizens, who have decided that they want the cartels out of town. They have also decided that the police and government are controlled by the cartels, and so they need to go as well. Autodefensas are the result of community members coming together and deciding that they wanted to take their town back from the cartels, and that the only way to do this was to take up arms against them.This movement for self-determination and community self-defense is spreading like wildfire, in dozens of towns across southern Mexico.

Formerly housing the corrupt, cartel-controlled local government, this building has now been converted into a community building.
Formerly housing the corrupt, cartel-controlled local government, this building has now been converted into a community building.

Second, regarding the military coming in to “restore peace” — they are talking about the “peace” of living under constant terror from the cartels controlling these towns, people being tortured and beheaded, laws made by corrupt politicians and cops that work for the cartels. This is what the military is coming in to restore. The drug cartels, the rich, and the Mexican government cannot be considered as separate groups — at the top, you have the same people benefiting from all three. These criminal elites are terrified about what is happening in Michoacán — people taking back community power by force, kicking out the cops and governments that give the cartels/rich their power. This is why there is suddenly this wave of propaganda coming out of the corporate media in both Mexico and the U.S. trying to paint these groups as “vigilantes”. This is why the Mexican government is sending in the military to restore the “order” of their criminal syndicates controlling the towns. When you hear the corporate media say that the Mexican army is coming in to “restore order”, know that this is code for the cartel-dominated army coming in to put the cartels back in charge of these towns, and brutally kill all of the people who tried to take back their own communities.

Please, whenever you see your friends sharing these propaganda articles from the NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, etc. regarding “vigilante groups”, help them understand the reality of the situation. Deconstruct the propaganda for them, and promote the use of the term “community self-defense” instead of the loaded term “vigilante”.

Here is a great documentary (~45 minutes) about the community self-defense groups in the town of Cheran, Michoacán:


Bank of America employs 20 full-time social media spies, watches anarchists and Occupy protesters

Bank of America works with fusion centers, the FBI, state and local police, and campus security to monitor public protest in the United States, newly disclosed documents confirm.

A Washington state public records request has unearthed an email chain which includes a message from a Vice President of Global Corporate Security for Bank of America, describing efforts to combat economic justice organizing. The official explains that the powerful financial institution employs a staff of 20 full-time social media spies, and references public-private surveillance efforts directed at activists who aim to hold banks accountable for social crises like the foreclosure disaster.

The bank official, Kimberly Triplett-Kolerich, says she is a former Washington State Patrol officer with 25 years of experience in law enforcement. On September 23, 2013, Triplett-Kolerich wrote:

“I am [now] the Operational Criminal Intel Analyst for Bank of America for the 14 western states and also am the NW Executive Protection Market Manager. From time to time I will see items that I believe will be of use to my friends at WSP–especially during session. May Day I will pick your brain for intel and I will give you a lot also–the Public-Private Partnership worked great last year and hopefully being ahead of the Anarchists will protect all of you from protests/arrests/injury. If you find any intel on Anarchists or Occupy Protesters please let me know–I will most likely find it first as Social Media trolling is not what the WSP does best–Bank of America has a team of 20 people and that’s all they do all day and then pass it to us around the country!!” […]

—-

Read full article, and download the released documents at:http://privacysos.org/node/1293