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[Spanish] [Economics] [ULK Issue 34]
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El Tema del que Nadie Está Hablando en el Diálogo del Primero de Mayo

1 de Mayo, 2013 — El llamado movimiento obrero en los países imperialistas ha tenido un respaldo social e influencia muy limitados desde hace mucho tiempo debido a las condiciones increíblemente privilegiadas en las que la mayoría de los primermundistas viven. Así, en un intento de parecer relevantes, y tal vez para ocultar su nacionalismo blanco, éstos proclaman su "solidaridad" con las luchas de los trabajadores alrededor del mundo. En el peor de los casos, esta "solidaridad" se utiliza de forma activa para dirigir erróneamente la lucha del proletariado hacia el economismo y el seguimiento del modelo de desarrollo del primer mundo. Pero incluso cuando esa "solidaridad" se queda en palabras, se utiliza para defender el privilegio de las poblaciones explotadoras del primer mundo. En este Primero de Mayo, la entrevista principal del programa Democracy Now! (¡Democracia Ahora!) resumió esta tendencia.(1)

Charlie Kernaghan del Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights (Instituto para el Trabajo Global y los Derechos Humanos) fue entrevistado en un segmento sobre la reciente tragedia en Bangladesh y la lucha obrera en general. Kernaghan nos informó que 421 personas han sido confirmadas muertas y otras 1,000 están aún desaparecidas, queriendo decir que probablemente han muerto bajo los escombras de la fábrica que se derrumbó. Explicó que los trabajadores no sólo fueron amenazados con no pagarles el mes, lo que significaría pasar hambre, sino que también se enfrentaban a la amenaza inmediata de matones con garrotes. Como nos enseñó la reciente explosión de fertilizantes en Texas, la búsqueda de los beneficios en el capitalismo pone en riesgo la vida de todos. Aún así, hoy una diferencia cuantitativa entre ser forzado a base de golpes a volver a una situación peligrosa, y el no ser consciente de que esa situación peligrosa existe. El riesgo relativo al que se enfrentan los trabajadores en el tercer mundo es más alto.

Como MIM y otros han mostrado en numerosas ocasiones, hay una diferencia cualitativa entre el salario que ganan los primermundistas y los proletarios explotados; el salario de los primeros está por encima del valor que generan, lo que los convierte en explotadores de los segundos(2). La conversación acerca de la tragedia en Bangladesh degeneró en nacionalismo blanco cuando la entrevistadora Amy Goodman comenzó a preguntarse sobre lo que deberíamos hacer. Después de defender la protección de los salarios Amerikanos, el invitado comenzó a pedir aranceles comerciales para las mercancías provenientes de países como Bangladesh hasta que puedan cumplir con ciertos estándares laborales similares a los de los Estados Unidos. Tal oposición al libre comercio organiza a los explotadores a costa de los explotados.

El tema tabú se hizo más difícil de ignorar cuando el invitado comenzó a hablar de trabajadores ganando 21 centavos a la vez que hablaba de la inmiseración de los trabajadores Amerikanos. Cuando Goodman empezó a danzar alrededor del tema de los salarios el invitado respondió: "Bueno, como dije con la legislación, no es nuestro trabajo el establecer salarios alrededor del mundo. Esto depende de los habitantes de cada país. Lo que si podemos hacer es exigir que si quieres traer productos a los Estados Unidos, debes dar a los trabajadores que los producen derechos legales."

¿Cómo es que podemos obligarles a aplicar leyes sobre trabajo infantil, pero en lo que se refiere a sus salarios el tercer mundo se las tiene que arreglar por su cuenta? ¿Cómo puedes hablar de "solidaridad internacional obrera" sin hablar de un salario mínimo internacional? La idea es ridícula y la única razón por la que esto sucede es porque los líderes obreros Amerikanos saben que el salario medio en el mundo está por debajo de lo que ellos ganan. Quieren seguir ganando más de lo que les corresponde y al mismo tiempo poner aranceles comerciales a los productos fabricados con mano de obra explotada.

Suponemos que las personas del Sur de Asia no confundirán a aquellos que ganan 20,000 dólares al año, o mucho más, como miembros del proletariado. Pero conforme nos acercamos al corazón del imperio la perspectiva de clase proletaria distorsiona más y más. No hay mejor ejemplo de ello hoy en día que el de Aztlán, donde trabajadores inmigrantes observan la enorme riqueza que les rodea y la posibilidad de obtener parte de ella. Después de que las naciones oprimidas tomaron el control del Primero de Mayo en los Estados Unidos hace siete años, el ala izquierda del nacionalismo blanco trabaja horas extra para infundir a este nuevo movimiento proletario en el corazón de la bestia con la linea política de la aristocracia obrera.

Hoy, conforme el gobierno federal declara estar cerca de promulgar una "reforma de inmigración" que equivaldrá a más excepcionalismo y favoritismo Amerikano, nosotros preferimos un enfoque basado en la reunificación de las familias que algunos ya defendieron en este Primero de Mayo en Los Ángeles. Este es un asunto que enlaza perfectamente con la cuestión nacional y no con las peticiones economicistas para un mayor acceso a salarios propios de los explotadores. La reunificación desafía la frontera represiva que mantiene a familias separadas, y mantiene a naciones completas alienadas de las riquezas que producen. Al igual que la integración dentro de los Estados Unidos ha avanzado, el desafio a la frontera y la lucha contra el nacionalismo blanco, o mejor dicho contra el primermundismo, necesita estar en el centro de un movimiento proletario progresivo en Aztlán. Estos son los problemas que realmente movilizaron a las masas en las manifestaciones del Primero de Mayo en 2006 en respuesta a la Amerika pro-Minutemen(3). Este es el espíritu con el que celebramos este Primero de Mayo.


Notas:
1. Democracy Now! 1 May 2013
2. Ver la sección de sobre la aristocracia obrera en nuestra página de materiales básicos.
3. Ver la página de archivos de MIM sobre represión en la frontera de EE.UU./México

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[U.S. Imperialism] [Security] [ULK Issue 33]
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Global Telecom Monitoring for Global Domination

A lot of talk and discussion has been flying lately about the recent exposure of the United $tates's massive worldwide spying apparatus. While the European Union superstructure of imperialist nations and empires cry "Foul!," their cries are for show only. In January 2012 the E.U super-state shot down a proposal that would have made it illegal for the United $tates to spy on E.U. citizens. The Amerikans threatened economic warfare and the U.$. administration heavily lobbied E.U. officials to crush the proposal before it was brought to member nations for referendum. E.U. officials promptly did so, proving the United $tates to be the current dominant world imperialist superpower.(1)

A reason some European countries/empires are reluctant to raise much of an outcry is because most communications at some point have to travel thru U.$. telecom and internet servers. European imperialist countries can then backdoor their own countries' warrant requirements by just requesting the information from U.$. spy agencies. Britain has also been known to do this to monitor insurgencies in its colonies.(2)(3) These revelations bring about the question, how else does this issue affect colonized peoples and the Third World?

The United $tates set up the notoriously corrupt Mexican government's entire telecommunications network to spy on its own citizenry, and of course to allow the United $tates to monitor all communications passing thru Mexico.(4) As stated above most of the world's communications will pass thru U.$. systems and systems set up by the United $tates. This allows the Amerikans to spy on the entire world's communications, thereby helping them to control entire populations, and manipulate governments and markets, which explains why the United $tates is so willing to export this technology.(5)

The United $tates and Israel have been exporting this technology for years.(6) One of the largest electronic surveillance companies Verint was founded by former Israeli intelligence officer Jacob "Kobi" Alexander. The CEO is Dan Bonder, former Israeli army engineer.(7) The United $tates uses a lot of Verint software for eavesdropping. Another major client of Verint is the government of Vietnam, who uses Verint technology to monitor dissidents and silence them.(8)

Another large U.$./Israeli intelligence firm, Narus, provides eavesdropping technology to the Chinese Government, which uses the technology to monitor citizens, silence dissidents and to prevent Chinese workers from organizing. Narus also provides and has provided its services to the oppressive regimes in Egypt (Mubarak), Libya, and Saudi Arabia.(9)

Without this U.$./Israeli technology these repressive governments could not track VOIP calls or block "unapproved" websites or track dissidents.(10) These systems allow these repressive regimes to impose a stranglehold on their citizenry/workers on behalf of the U.$. imperialists. This makes these U.$./Israeli firms not only responsible for helping to maintain this stranglehold but also largely responsible for the death, torture, and detention of the citizens and workers of these countries.


MIM(Prisons) adds:In issue 33 of Under Lock & Key we are focusing on the importance of independence in order to achieve self-determination. U.$. surveillance is just one more thing to consider in trying to maintain independence. One positive result coming out of the information released about the NSA's global data mining operations is a flurry of support in the First World (from people who haven't had to worry about things like COINTELPRO in the past) for independent, open source technology projects that focus on providing security to all. Many of these we mentioned in our article Self-Defense and Secure Communications in ULK 31. But using better technology is not the only lesson to take from this. Another lesson is that more traditional forms of communication, in societies less integrated into the imperialist system (where resistance also happens to be more fertile) will be an even better route than depending on technologies, such as social media, where the imperialists can easily dominate.

Sources:
1. James Fontaella-Khan, "Brussels bows to US over data protection", Financial Times, Thursday 13 June 2013.
article is called by
2. J.Mooney & O'Toole. Black Operations, Maverick House, 2005.
3. James Bamford. The Shadow Factory, Anchor Press, 2009.
4. ibid pg. 225-228
5. ibid pgs. 177,181,184,186,209,291,304
6. ibid pg. 254
7. ibid pg. 238
8. ibid pgs. 254 & 259
9. ibid pgs. 259
10. ibid pgs. 256 & 260

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[Organizing] [Campaigns] [Florida]
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Support Florida Prisoners Against Keefe Snack Sneak Attacks

We recently created a petition addressed to Governor Scott:

The families and friends of Florida prisoners petition for a state investigation of the Keefe commissary network contract with the FDOC. In this economy and in fairness, the people of Florida deserve a new contract that makes canteen prices more affordable or reasonable. (see www.tampabay.com/news/kickback/155046)

Keefe is one of the biggest if not the biggest prison and jail commissary vendors in the United States. Revenues from canteen operation for fiscal year 2009-2010 were $30,973,262. The prices prisoners are being charged are higher than prices for the same items sold in the free world. There are several vendors who bid for the FDOC contract who would offer a wider variety of available items at almost a 60% decrease of what Keefe presently charges. One has to "wonder" why were these other vendors not given the contract?

Keefe's sneak attack on snacks continue to prey on the families and friends of Florida prisoners who for the most part provides financial support to the prison population to spend on canteen. With the economy in recession it is doubtful prisoners families and friends are going to be able to spend more money.

Keefe, which is based out of St. Louis, MO, latest price increase has lead to more thefts, robberies and violence in Florida's prisons. Governor Scott, you can stop Keefe's price gouging with just one phone call, we urge you to be that champion of the fairness and justice that you promised all Floridians during your campaign by making that call.

The success or failure of this important project depends on genuine community interest and online petition signature support. To support Florida prisoners against Keefe's Snack Sneak Attacks visit: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/229/807/212/support-keefe-sneak-attacts-on-snacks-must-go/


CLASS="no-indent">MIM(Prisons) responds: We printed an article about Keefe back in 2009 with similar complaints from a prisoner in Pennsylvania. We don't hold out much hope that Governor Scott is going to turn his back on the capitalists to help out prisoners and their families, but the exposure of Keefe and education about the corruption in the criminal injustice system and its role in making lots of companies (and their employees) rich, is a valuable educational and organizing tool.

Also at issue here is the right to healthy and adequate food. Vending machine food is always going to more expensive and less nutritional. All pisoners should be provided with adequate, fresh food, so that supplementary snacks are a luxury.

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[Abuse] [Suwanee Correctional Institution] [Florida]
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Guanswaneemo Bay Continues

The following are a list of eye witnessed brutalities by staff against captives (prisoners) on close management (CM) at Guan"Suwannee"mo Bay (Suwannee C.I.) in Florida.

Early November 2012: a prisoner was targeted for being a writ writer. He was jumped on and cut with a razor by another prisoner placed in the cell. The police are paying extra trays to prisoners to jump on other prisoners. Currently one prisoner has been slapped with several fabricated DRs (disciplinary reports) and downgraded in CM status. He might remain on CM until he is broken from his writ writing ways.

Early November 2012: A mentally ill prisoner, after continuous daily harassment by Sgt Green and his crew, was gassed for no reason. He was used as an example to inflict terror in other prisoners.

December 3, 2012, CO McGuire and another CO jumped on a prisoner who was in handcuffs, hands behind his back. After being beaten the prisoner was slapped with a fabricated "battery on a CO" disciplinary report (DR) to justify this brutality. But how can one commit battery on CO with his hands in cuffs behind his back?

June/July 2012: A prisoner was jumped on by COs who sprayed chemical agents into his mouth and throat in the hallway of P-Dormitory at Suwannee Annex.

April 17, 2013: A prisoner was placed on strip because he said something to the recreation coach criticizing him for not announcing rec when he enters the yard, just so he can deny rec to prisoners who he deems not ready. He does this so that he will have fewer prisoners to take out to rec, less work.

April 18, 2013: A prisoner and his cellmate were gassed with chemical agents. The prisoner was given a choice to either be gassed or placed on strip. He chose to be gassed because when prisoners are placed on strip most of their personal property comes up missing. COs either throw the prisoner's personal property away or allow their orderlies to go through the prisoner's personal property.

April 19, 2013: Two prisoners were pepper sprayed by CO Mayo, then placed on strip.

April 21, 2013: Two prisoners were placed on strip. CO Mayo threatened one of the prisoners that he was "going to send him to CM if he's gotta fuck the mayor's daughter to get it done." He also called a prisoner a "pussy ass nigga" repeatedly, loud and clear, after denying this prisoner lunch and dinner by putting empty trays through his flap.

April 21, 2013: CO Mayo can be seen on GI cameras and/or heard on intercom audio recording extorting prisoners, charging prisoners canteen food items if they want to receive their purchase.

Many prisoners are falsely accused of gunning (masturbating) by female staff, just so prisoners can be gassed, placed on strip, and/or beaten and slapped with fabricated DRs, mostly by male COs acting in affinity with these female staff members, or just exerting DOC team spirit and loyalty. These sadist tyrants and their brutalities will not just stop on their own. There is no such thing as altruism towards prisoners in DOC/ Guan"suwannee"mo Bay. Altruism toward prisoners here is considered unamerikkkan and/or unpatriotic.

In October 2012, Taylor CI and Union CI underwent a major purge by higher authorities during which approximately 60 something staff members of all ranks were escorted off institution grounds due to their involvement in these brutalities and tyrant practices. Suwannee CI needs such a purge of sadists and tyrants like Lt. Martin (AKA white widow or misery) and Lt Harrold who are in charge of management wing goons such as Sgt Lynblade, Sgt Harvey, Sgt Patton, Sgt Silver, Sgt Gree, Sgt Kelly, Sgt Fisher, Sgt Linea and their subordinate ruffians like CO Murman, CO Mayo, CO Knowleds (who was involved in the Panama City boot camp murder of 13 year old Martin Lee Anderson, now working on CM here at Guan"Suwannee"Mo Bay and is still at his klansman ways), CO Barton, CO McGuire, CO Lynblade, CO Diaz, CO Landrum, CO Lane and CO Pope (who brags how he pays prisoners in G-dorm extra lunch trays to beat up other prisoners for him.) Also we can't forget their superior officers: captains, majors, colonels and wardens who not only condone, encourage and orchestrate, but participate in these willful and unlawful brutalities. There are also the classification officers, medical and mental health staff who are aware of the brutalities and either help cover them up or approve of them by not reporting them to the proper authorities.

The above mentioned brutalities are only a very few of the many that occur here on CM at Guan"Suwannee"Mo Bay (Suwannee CI) in Florida.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade has done the important work of documenting the ongoing abuse of prisoners at Suwanee CI. In a previous article incidents through most of 2012 are described. Our response to that article is important to repeat here: "The list of people this writer suggests need to be purged from Suwanee demonstrates our point that it is not possible to reform the Amerikan criminal injustice system. This is not a case of just a few bad apples, but rather a system of oppression and violence, in which employees must participate to receive a paycheck. We must expose the brutality, and fight the individual cases to create some livable space for our comrades, but we will only end the violence by dismantling the criminal injustice system entirely."

It is the systemic problem that puts us on the only possible path to liberation, from the criminal injustice system but also from the broader system of imperialism: communist revolution. We need to create a world where no group of people has power over another group.

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[Control Units] [Hunger Strike]
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Yasiin Bey force-fed like a Guantanamo prisoner

yasiin bey force fed crying
Click the image above to watch/download the video of Yasiin Bey being forcefed.

Today prisoners across California are beginning round 3 of their strike against Security Housing Unit torture. It is fitting that a video has been circulating today featuring Yasiin Bey (rapper and actor formerly known as Mos Def) undergoing the same force-feeding procedure that U.$. prisoners in Guantanamo Bay have been facing for months, and that California prisoners will likely be facing in the near future.

Hats off to Bey for being willing to do this to expose the torture that the United $tates is putting people through every day.

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[Campaigns] [Gang Validation] [California] [ULK Issue 33]
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USW Health Campaign Brings STG Violations

In recent months the idea of developing a collective health campaign has been tossed around within United Struggle from Within in California. This was to build on and expand on the long-standing agreement to end hostilities by developing more peaceful activities that would help prisoners see each others' commonality. It also came in response to the proposed new Security Threat Group policies that greatly expand repression in California prisons and serve to isolate and divide.

In a piece supporting this health campaign, Cipactli wrote in part,

"Exercise is another aspect that needs to be taken seriously by all revolutionaries, exercise is so important that the state has targeted it and labels it STG activity. They will validate you and send you to solitary confinement for decades for doing push ups with a comrade. This is how much they see exercise as a threat, because it strengthens us as humyn beings and it is a weapon we use to combat the effects of prison life. The state seeks to strip us of any forms of resistance, anything we draw strength from hinders their project of instilling a sense of helplessness in all prisoners so that we go along with their oppression and never dare to resist the oppressor.

As revolutionary prisoners we need to develop methods of exercise to keep our bodies in top shape. This helps us not only physically, but science tells us that there is a connection between our physical health and our mental health. Exercise prevents not only disease but also depression, stress, anxiety and anger. Our world in these dungeons is filled with all this negativity which harms us just like the bullets and batons even though we often cannot see this damage in its physical form but we react to it in negative ways, so exercise helps us keep this stuff in check. These emotions will not go away but exercise helps us better deal with them without them overpowering our lives.

A good exercise regime is from forty five minutes to an hour, this is usually done from four to six days a week. I have found burpies and calisthenics to be the most fulfilling. Our bodies need to sweat in order to flush out the toxins and many times push ups just won't do it. California prisons no longer have weights so in the holes and SHUs people mostly do burpies. This tradition, which many Cali prisoners are not aware of, came from George Jackson and his comrades who developed exercise regimes utilizing burpies and calisthenics. At the time, in the 60s and 70s, prisoners were not exercising in this way as these were military style exercise regimes. Comrade George was a step ahead in identifying the inter-connection between a strong body and mind. The early 80s saw Chicano prisoners from Northern Cali develop this same exercise regime, and the late 90s saw Chicano prisoners from Southern Cali along with white prisoners soon follow this tradition that started with Black prisoners. This is good that prisoners exercise, it is a positive thing, but now the state is using it against us so we must find ways to combat this.

One way to fight the STG labeling of exercise is for all prisoners to work out together. If all prisoners work out at once it can no longer be seen as STG activity. I believe this is a positive step forward for a united front, however I don't think the state will thus be prevented from labeling group exercise STG activity, just as all prisoners of all nationalities participate in hunger strikes yet it is still seen as STG activity. But prisoners working out together would also be an unprecedented step forward. Since most group exercise are done in the hole and most holes consist of cages side-by-side, I can see a future exercise regime consisting of each cage calling out an exercise, regardless of what nation or sub-group one belongs to, and everyone exercising together. In the SHU we can't see no one, as everyone is in an individual cell. Some people work out and some don't so this is a little more difficult. If you find yourself in a hole and people are in individual cages, one is free to jump in and participate with those exercising but the ideal is to have everyone participate. This is something to work on and begin discussing, by working out together it does not mean we are one car, it does not mean you're joining another nation or LO, it's simply exercise. If we can starve together why not sweat together?

Today's prisons are no longer like the prisons of our grandfathers, conditions have changed and we must find ways to change with these times. If we are to ever regain things like trailer visits for lifers, weights, parole dates for lifers, and all the rest, we must be more in sync. If we want the 'end to hostilities' to really last than we need to do more, we need to implement methods which reinforce such policies as an 'End to Hostilities' and group exercise involving all nationalities and subgroups reinforce this."

Some righteous comrades in Calipatria State Prison took up the task of developing exercise programs that included all prisoners. They ended up receiving rules violations, as one comrade reported:

"The correctional sergeant who wrote up the rules violation report doesn't even bother to check to see if we're all in fact 'Southern' Hispanics, she just makes a blanket accusation and the Disciplinary Hearing Officer who heard the rules violation report takes the sergeant's report at face value and finds us all guilty. We are appealing our write-ups, but this is what can happen if others follow the tactical advice given in the USW Health Campaign letter."

This is a fair warning, but this is true for anyone who tries to stand up for prisoners' rights from behind bars. Even doing so from the outside results in repression in the form of censorship, and occasionally worse. So we do not put forth these ideas lightly and this is just one tactic. But it is in line with our strategic goal, which is currently to develop peace between different groups within the prison populations. Without pushing towards that goal, conditions for prisoners will only continue to worsen.

The people oppressing others for exercising are state employees who are supposed to be accountable to the law. Every issue of Under Lock & Key contains just a few examples of the illegal and unjust things that they are doing. The potential for abuse in prisons is well-known and it is a struggle to hold the abusers accountable. Our struggle right now is often just to get these people to follow their own laws, which forbid torture and cruel and unusual punishment, and their own mandates which claim to promote rehabilitation.

It is our job as an independent advocate for prisoners of the United $tates to challenge the legitimacy and legality of new policies that restrict the rights of prisoners. With the current trajectory in the CDCR, it seems that anyone who isn't sitting in their room by themselves watching TV will soon be considered a security threat. This department of "Corrections and Rehabilitation" is more and more becoming an Orwellian nightmare. Despite what they may think, everything they say or do is not state-sanctioned. Of course, we also know that much of what they do that is state-sanctions still is not right in the eyes of the oppressed masses and all who believe in justice.

This controversy regarding exercise is just one petty example of what we are trying to prevent with the draft goals that MIM(Prisons) published leading up to the demonstrations in July. The final point of that list is:

"no punishment for affiliation with a gang, security threat group, or other organization - in other words a complete end to the gang validation system that punishes people (currently puts people in the SHU for an indeterminate amount of time) based on their affiliation and/or ideology without having broken any rules or laws"

The idea that exercising can be against the rules or laws is just plain unacceptable. The same is true for any action that a prisoner takes to improve the health of hself or others around h. We continue to promote these tactics of the USW Health Campaign as part of the larger effort to maintain the end to hostilities among groups of prisoners.

The end to hostilities is at the heart of this stage of our work. It is what we have been promoting with the United Front for Peace in Prisons, which was based in our assessment that the principal contradiction our movement faces today is internal to the prisoner population itself. It would be virtually impossible to progress without resolving that contradiction. At the same time, breaking down these barriers requires uniting around common concerns as prisoners in California have been doing for the last couple years. The effort for peace and the effort for humyn rights in prisons reinforce each other.

We've just received word from Pelican Bay affirming the plan to go without food or work until the five core demands are met. Many within Corcoran have asserted their plan to participate again. And San Quentin's Adjustment Center has organized their own list of demands and will be participating in full this time around. Some populations facing less harsh conditions are opting to just stop work until the demands are met. Last time many prisons participated to varying degrees, and we expect similar support this time around. But comrades should think strategically about where they are based. You probably know by now whether there is a base for indefinite striking where you are. Such a path should not be taken lightly. The prisoners in Guantanamo Bay have passed day 150 on their strike and they have not gotten anything from the state but force-feeding and abuse in response. While the response to a hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay is likely to be different from a response to a strike in California, any hunger strike will have to last a long time and gain a lot of public support to get the desired results.

Consider what results are possible where you are. Solidarity fasting for shorter periods can serve as agitational work to build unity and awareness. But we need to work on more long-term projects as well, like the health programs suggested here that can build solidarity in action at a basic level. It is not a crime to support each other in pursuing healthy lifestyles in a very unhealthy environment. And there are many other programs that can be developed around education, literacy and study groups and whatever other needs the people have where you are. Now is the time to do it, while spirits are rising and prisoners are looking for a way to be involved.

As always, let us know what is going on where you are. We will send you updates as we get information. So stay in touch and take care of each other.


Below is the statement from the four main representatives of the Short Corridor Collective as reported by the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition:

The principal prisoner representatives from the PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement does hereby present public notice that our nonviolent peaceful protest of our subjection to decades of indefinite state-sanctioned torture, via long term solitary confinement will resume on July 8, 2013, consisting of a hunger strike/work stoppage of indefinite duration until CDCR signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands, the heart of which mandates an end to long-term solitary confinement (as well as additional major reforms). Our decision does not come lightly. For the past (2) years we've patiently kept an open dialogue with state officials, attempting to hold them to their promise to implement meaningful reforms, responsive to our demands. For the past seven months we have repeatedly pointed out CDCR's failure to honor their word — and we have explained in detail the ways in which they've acted in bad faith and what they need to do to avoid the resumption of our protest action.

On June 19, 2013, we participated in a mediation session ordered by the Judge in our class action lawsuit, which unfortunately did not result in CDCR officials agreeing to settle the case on acceptable terms. While the mediation process will likely continue, it is clear to us that we must be prepared to renew our political non-violent protest on July 8th to stop torture in the SHUs and Ad-Segs of CDCR.

Thus we are presently out of alternative options for achieving the long overdue reform to this system and, specifically, an end to state-sanctioned torture, and now we have to put our lives on the line via indefinite hunger strike to force CDCR to do what's right.

We are certain that we will prevail.... the only questions being: How many will die starvation-related deaths before state officials sign the agreement?

The world is watching!

Onward in Struggle and Solidarity.

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[Hunger Strike] [Control Units] [Abuse] [New Jersey State Prison] [New Jersey] [ULK Issue 33]
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Protest at New Jersey State Prison

Prisoners at New Jersey State Prison, the only maximum security facility in the state, staged a non-violent protest June 6 through 8, 2013. Initially, prisoners on the West Compound, the older part of the prison, and one of the oldest in the nation, functioning since 1830, refused to go to the mess hall for the entire day. Despite some lack of cooperation at the breakfast movement, the mess hall finally remained empty at dinner time. The next two days the modern North and South compounds of the prison joined in the protest, bringing the institution to a complete standstill.

The protest came as a consequence of several factors. First was the issue of collective punishment. The prison administrator issued an official memorandum in which he threatened to suspend recreation and privileges to entire wings of any individual prisoner who had committed a serious offense (a common occurrence on a prison that houses close to 2000 people).

Ancillary issues involved the harassment of people at the central rotunda, a place of obligatory pass for any activities, including meals, recreation, education and religious programs. The officers, with little supervision, or perhaps encouraged by supervisors, overtly harass inmates, many times without probable cause, as demanded by the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of New Jersey, and affirmed by the 10A Code that regulates prisons in the state. Prisoners are stripped searched at the mere whim of any guard. Made up charges that lead to lock-up time are usually the result of such harassment.

The last issue that weighed on the decision to stage a non-violent protest relates to the abusive language and arbitrary searches conducted by a second shift sergeant. Sometimes, the results are outright sad and curious, i.e., the same shank found in several cells by the same sergeant.

In conclusion petty management practices, abuse of power by supervisors, lack of concern by the administrator and superintendent (supervision from an Ivory Tower), collective punishment, and indiscriminate use of lock-up as an instrument of control, led the prison community to unite as one to express their concerns.

It is important to highlight that the prison, at any given time, keeps an estimated 750 inmates on closed custody units such as 1-Left lock-up, Ad-Seg, MCU (Management Control Unit), and P.C. (Protective Custody) — a full 38% of the prison population. More than one in three prisoners are kept in solitary confinement.

Although nothing has changed as of the writing of this report, it is important to highlight that the level of unity achieved across nations and groups, the effective organization of the protest, and the fearful response by the state demonstrate the power of non-violent resistance in a corrections environment. During the demonstration the prison was militarized by SAG, the special operations response team of the DOC, hundreds of officers were summoned to work, and all administration had to report to work. It is presumable that the cost of overtime hours, and the emotional cost of an oppressive power challenged by the masses will affect the way in which future decisions are made by the administration. A group of prisoners were transferred to other facilities across the state, some others placed in solitary confinement. As it usually happens, most were not organizers of the protest.

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[Control Units] [Medical Care] [Mental Health]
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The Health Effects of Solitary Confinement

The author Charles Dickens (in American Notes for General Circulation) wrote these words about solitary confinement in 1842:
"I believe that very few men are capable of estimating the immense amount of torture and agony which this dreadful punishment, prolonged for years, inflicts upon the sufferers, and in guessing at it myself, and in reasoning from what I have seen written upon their faces, and what to my certain knowledge they feel within, I am only the more convinced that there is a depth of terrible endurance in it which none but the sufferers themselves can fathom, and which no man has a right to inflict upon his fellow creature. I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body, and because its ghastly signs and tokens are not so palpable to the eye and sense of touch as scars upon the flesh, because it's wounds are not upon the surface, and it extorts few cries that human ears can hear, therefore the more I denounce it."

Upon reading a study on solitary confinement I reflect on the following effects of this legalized tool of torture.

Significant decrease in the ability of the nervous system functions:

  1. Significant disruptions in hormone levels
  2. Absence of menstruation in women with no other physiological, organic cause due to age or pregnancy (secondary amenorrhea)
  3. Increased feeling of having to eat: Zynorexia/cravings, hyporerexia, compulsive overeating
  4. In contrast, reduction or absence of thirst
  5. Severe hot flashes and/or sensations of coldness not attributable to any corresponding change in the ambient temperature or to illness (fever, chills, etc.)

Significantly impaired perception and cognitive ability
  1. Serious inability to process perceptions
  2. Serious inability to feel one's own body
  3. Serious general difficulties in concentrating
  4. Serious difficulty, even the complete inability, to read or register what has been read, comprehend it and place it within a meaningful context
  5. Serious difficulties, even the complete inability, to speak or process thoughts in written form (agraphia, dysgraphia)
  6. Serious difficulties in articulating and verbalizing thoughts, which is demonstrated in problems with syntax, grammar and word selection and can even extend to aphasia, aphrasia, and agnosia
  7. Serious difficulties or the complete inability to follow conversations (shown to be the result of slowed function in the primary acoustic cortex of the temporal lobes due to lack of stimulation)

Additional limitations
  1. Carrying out conversations with oneself to compensate for the social and acoustic lack of stimulation
  2. Clear loss of intensity of feeling
  3. Situatively euphoric feelings which later transform into a depressed mood

Long-Term health consequences
  1. Difficulties in social contacts, including the inability to engage in emotionally close and long-term romantic relationships
  2. Depression
  3. Negative impact on self-esteem
  4. Returning to imprisonment situation in dreams
  5. Blood pressure disorders requiring treatment
  6. Skin disorders requiring treatment
  7. Inability to recover in particular cognitive skills (e.g. in mathematics) the prisoner had mastered before solitary confinement

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[Middle East] [Elections] [ULK Issue 33]
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Egypt Protests Demonstrate Power and Perils of Mass Protests

mubarak morsi the same
After a year under the elected rule of President Mohamed Morsi, in June and July the Egyptian people once again took to the streets to protest a government that was not serving their interests. Back in 2011 the Egyptian people successfully took down Hosni Mubarak and forced the country's first elections for President. As we wrote at that time in ULK 19: "The Egyptian people forced President Mubarak out of the country, but accepted his replacement with the Supreme Council of the Military — essentially one military dictatorship was replaced by another. One of the key members of this Council is [Omar] Sueliman, the CIA point man in the country and head of the Egyptian general intelligence service. He ran secret prisons for the United $tates and persynally participated in the torturing of those prisoners." But the Egyptian people were not fooled, and they rightfully took to the streets to force further change this summer. Still, we do not see clear proletarian leadership of the protests, and instead the U.$.-funded military is again stepping in to claim the mantle and pretend to represent the people.

Morsi is widely considered "Egypt's first democratically elected president." Prior to the elections in 2012 the country was led by an elected parliament and an unelected President, Hosni Mubarak, a former general who took power after the assassination of his predecessor in 1981. But it's important to consider what "democratically elected" really means. Democratic elections presume that the people in a country have the ability to participate freely, without coercion, and that all candidates have equal access to the voting population. Most elections in the world today do not actually represent democracy. In many countries dominated by Amerikan imperialism, there are elections, but we do not call these democratic, because it is not possible for candidates without lots of money and the backing of one imperialist interest or another to win. When democracy gets out of imperialist control and an anti-imperialist candidate does participate and win, they better have military power to back them up or they will be quickly murdered or removed by military force (see "Allende in Chile" or "Lumumba in the Congo"). We should not just assume that people participating in a balloting exercise represents democracy for the people.

There are some key political reasons why Morsi won the presidential election in 2012. Representing the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi was well educated and spent several years getting a doctorate in the United $tates and teaching at University in the 1980s. He is certainly not one of the 40% of the Egyptian population living on less than $2 a day.(1) The Muslim Brotherhood has long been a well organized activist group, which despite being banned by the government from participating in Parliamentary elections was allowed to organize on the streets as a counterforce to progressive anti-imperialist parties that faced complete repression.(2) Demonstrating the advantage it had over other banned organizations, the Muslim Brotherhood put together the most effective electoral campaign after Mubarak fell. It is telling that the runoff in the presidential election was between Morsi and Ahmed Shafiz, the prime minister under Hosni Mubarak, and the vote was close. Essentially the election was between a representative of the status quo that had just been overthrown, and a candidate who promised to be different but represented a conservative religious organization.

The military has once again stepped in to the vacuum created by the mass protests demanding the removal of President Morsi, pretending to be defending the interests of the people. This position by the military is no surprise after Morsi, in August, stripped the military of any say in legislation and dismissed his defense minister. The military selected the leader of the Supreme Constitutional Court to serve as interim president after Morsi stepped down. Morsi still enjoys significant support among the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt who continue to take to the streets to demand that he be freed from military prison and returned to power.

The Egyptian military actually has a long history of institutional power. In 1981, after Mubarak took power, the military expanded with the help of Amerikan aid. This aid came as a sort of bribe, as up until the 1977 peace accord Egypt had been attempting to lead an Arab resistance to Israel's occupation of Palestine, a cause the people of Egypt continue to support to this day. Since then the military has remained one of the top receivers of U.$. military aid, second only to Israel itself, until 2001 when Afghanistan became the largest. The armed forces in Egypt used this economic power to take up significant economic endeavors entering into private business with factories, hotels and valuable real estate.(3) It is clever leadership that allows the military to divorce itself from failed leadership of Egypt time and again while acting behind the scenes to ensure that only those individuals they support, who will carry out their will, gain the presidency. This is not a democracy. And the leadership of the armed forces will continue to serve their Amerikan masters, not the will of the people, as General el-Sisi is once again claiming.

MIM(Prisons) supports the interests of the masses of Egyptian people as they ally with the interests of the world's majority who are exploited by imperialism. We praise their ongoing activism in taking to the streets when the government is not meeting their needs. But we can learn from history that deposing one figurehead does not make for revolutionary change. Fundamental change will require an overthrow of the entire political institution in Egypt that is dependent on U.$. imperialism. And while President Nasser offered an independent road for Egypt during the anti-colonial era following WWII, true independence requires the full mobilization and participation of the masses in creating a new system based on need and not profit.

It is a truth in humyn history that those with the guns and power will not voluntarily step aside, but they will make cosmetic changes to try to fool the masses into complacency. We call on the Egyptian people, who have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to sacrifice for the movement, not to be fooled and not to allow electoral politics to drain their momentum. The military is not on your side, and neither are any of the branches of the existing government. Seize the power you have demonstrated in the streets and build for fundamental, revolutionary change to a government that actually serves the people and not the elite.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 34]
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We'll Never Know


Logic & Last Resort
featuring Maverick Sabre, Akala & Big Frizzle
from the album True Talk (2012)

[Logic]
Let me start with the basic structures of a Western country
Imperialism, it's all about the money
While we moan and complain when it's not sunny
Little kids hustle foods, tryna fill their tummy's
And, every kid's seen a gun, when you go to places like Iraq and Afghanistan
While kids over here think that shooting's fun
Kids over there shoot to protect their mums
And, over here, we can't claim real hardship
Trust me, we don't really know what hard is
A hard life, where your family is starving
A hard life, where your family is killed by the army
A life where you're seen as a target
A life that you wish never started
But, they got big hearts, big smiles and energy to make a change
I make music for them to play

[Hook: Big Frizzle]
I said we'll never know
Because the places we've grown
Ain't nothing like what they know
Cause we'll never know

[Maverick Sabre]
Whoa little lad, I know you're feeling sad
Trust me there'll be better days you never had
The pain you face will never last
Try and say we ain't the same, walkin' to different paths
Why must I hate? Turn on the TV and just sit and laugh
But, that child'll never smile, he's lost his dad
Seein' foreign flags fly above his mother land
He's hearin' gunshots like shots from your block
When he bleeds, do we not bleed the same blood?
There's no lovin' growin' up as cold thugs
Imagine growin' up where every sip of water makes you throw up
Where soldiers patrol every road, throwin' stones
To protect your home, all alone, when there's no-one else
So they say we ain't relatives, cause the difference in our melanin
As hell as being relevant, fuck it all, to hell with it
This evil has been spreading it
And, even if my death comes quick
I'll be fighting 'til the end of it

[Sample]
We live in a period where our world has both the resources,
The technology and the know-how to end world poverty.
But, unfortunately we also live in a point in time
When at no other point in history has there been so much suffering

[Hook: Big Frizzle]
Cause we'll never know

[Akala]
Okay, let me make clear my position
I know your estate feels like shit to live in
And, watching mummy graft to stop bailiffs from ringing
Is enough to make you wanna hit the block and start slingin'
I've been there, no gas, no electric to the kitchen
Fridge cuts off, defrosts and starts stinkin'
Whether Gorbals in Glasgow, Mumbai or Brixton
May not be the same shit but it is the same system
But, this is Britain. As hard as some of us have it
We're still far better off than ninety-percent of the planet
And, that is what you learn, when you get to start travelling
Unravelling the bullshit that they are babbling
So, this is for the nameless, faceless
Millions that die everyday, but don't even get a funeral
And, we tell ourselves because where they were born
They are less worth, less intelligent or beautiful
Well, I don't agree, they are you and me
And we are them, but we're too blind to see
While some have everything, they ain't got shit
And, we tell ourselves, well that's just how it is
There ain't enough to go around, on this abundant planet
Of course there is, it's just that some of us are ganits
And, the habits we developed
That are so far divorced from the source
We don't even stop to pause, at the destruction everyday
Of counts of this human family, it's just normal insanity

[Hook: Big Frizzle]
I said we'll never know (We'll never know, never know)
Because the places we've grown (Places we've grown)
Ain't nothing like what they know (Ain't nothing like ohh-oh)
Cause we'll never know (We'll never know, never know, never know)

I said we'll never know (We'll never know, never know, never know)
Because the places we've grown (Places we've grown)
Ain't nothing like what they know (Ain't nothing like they know, ain't nothing like)
Cause we'll never know

music video for We'll Never Know

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