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Iran 1980-81, Khomeini and BaniSadr (the first president of the IRI), called for a cultural revolution, to ‘cleanse’ the society from those who were not true believes in the fundamentalist ideas of the regime. What followed was an unbelievable horror for the vast majority of secular Iranians. Many of them picked up a fight and died but many others left the country to an exile that lasted close to 40 years (and it is still going), the few who stayed had to pretend to be believers and obey the fanatic rules of the regime and turn a blind eye or in some cases even participate and support it’s crimes.

Last Night tRump called for authorization to start a similar actions in the US. To ‘cleanse’ the US government from unbelievers.
Will this be the end of the US democracy and turning US into a Christo-Fascist society?

“But Trump’s speech was also deeply dangerous for an even more important reason: Under the cover of his soothing rhetoric about unity and bipartisanship, Trump called on Congress to give him unprecedented and unquestionably antidemocratic powers: “Tonight,” he said, “I call on the congress to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers—and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.””

Donald Trump Just Asked Congress to End the Rule of Law
This should be the biggest headline of the speech.
Source: Donald Trump just asked Congress to end the rule of law.

I spent many years writing letters to support the release of Herman Wallace back in the 80s and 90s when I was very active with Amnesty.

Today, I read the news, Herman Wallace, the innocent man who sat in solitary confinement for the past 15000 days, died as a free man.

I was so happy the other day to hear about his release, I told my kids and my wife that it was like waking up from a bad dream, knowing that Wallace was still in solitary confinement after all these years that I left his case, but then I saw the news on CommonDreams, tears started falling off my eyes in an uncontrolled reaction.

He died as a free man! The bastards who took years of his life only released him days before his death, but the shame of keeping a man in shackles and in a small room, all by himself for 41 years, will stain the history of a country that sends 1000s of troops to far away countries to wage wars to “free” other nations, but fails to free innocent people in their own country from such barbaric punishment.

Rest in peace Herman Wallace, we all miss you, at least you proved them wrong and you died in freedom, you will be in our minds for ever.

 

“I Am Free. I Am Free.” Prisoner Herman Wallace Dies Just Days After Release

– Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Herman Wallace, the “Angola 3” prisoner who was released from jail earlier this week after being held in solitary confinement for 41 years, died early Friday morning after a battle with liver cancer.

Herman Wallace rides in an ambulance taking him away from prison. (Photo: Democracy Now!)Among his last words, according to those in attendance, were: “I am free. I am free.”

71-year-old Wallace, who was wrongfully accused of murdering a prison guard 41 years ago, maintained his innocence for that duration and finally had his case overturned Tuesday.

However, as he lay on his death bed,Wallace was re-indicted by a Louisiana grand jury on Thursday, according to District Attorney Samuel D’Aquilla who filed for the re-indictment.

Wallace died shortly after on Friday morning at 5:30 am Louisiana time.

“He passed away in my home,” saidAshley Wennerstrom, a long-time friend and program director at Tulane’s School of Medicine. “He was surrounded by friends and family and love in his last few days.”

“He completed that mission,” said longtime friend Parnell Herbert. “And he was able to see himself a free man. He passed away peacefully in his sleep.”

Following Wallace’s release from prison earlier in the week, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! wrote of Wallace’s final days:

As he lies dying, Herman Wallace knows that after a lifetime of enduring the torture of solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit, he is now a free man. […]

The Angola 3 were united for the last time Tuesday. The prison rules allowed King and Woodfox to say their final goodbyes to Wallace, not because he was leaving prison, but because he was dying. By sheer coincidence, that was when the judge overturned Wallace’s conviction, and they were the ones who gave Wallace the news. Robert King described their final moments together: “Albert’s last words were, ‘Herman, we love you, and you’re going to get out today.’” King described how Albert Woodfox leaned over, hands and feet shackled, and kissed Herman goodbye on his forehead. […]

Wallace was transferred to an ambulance and driven to the Louisiana State University Hospital in New Orleans. He has dreamed of his release for years, and describes it in “Herman’s House”:

“I got to the front gate, and there’s a whole lot of people out there. … I was dancing my way out. I was doing the jitterbug. … I turn around, and I look, and there are all the brothers in the window waving and throwing the fist sign—it’s rough, man. It’s so real. I can feel it even now.”

Herman Wallace was strapped into an ambulance, not dancing, as he left the prison, hanging on to life by a thread. But he was free, after almost 42 years in solitary confinement, longer than any other prisoner in U.S. history.

“Nothing can undo the authorities’ shocking treatment of (Wallace), which led more than 200,000 people to act on his behalf,” said Amnesty International USA Executive Director Steven Hawkins, in reference to an Amnesty campaign for the release of Wallace and the last co-defendant of the Angola 3 case who remains behind bars, Albert Woodfox. “The state of Louisiana must now prevent further inhuman treatment by removing Wallace’s co-defendant Albert Woodfox from solitary confinement.”

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NYU to Host Screening of Documentary on Lives and Works of Female Iranian Artists—Sept. 29

NYU to Host Screening of Documentary on Lives and Works of Female Iranian Artists—Sept. 29

September 12, 2011
New York University will host a screening of Robert Adanto’s “Pearls on the Ocean Floor,” a documentary on the lives and works of female Iranian artists, followed by a panel discussion moderated by journalist Laura Secor, on Thursday, September 29, 7 p.m. at the university’s Cantor Film Center (36 East 8th Street at University Place).

“Pearls on the Ocean Floor” examines the lives and works of female Iranian artists living and working in and outside the Islamic Republic. The work features interviews with art luminaries Shirin Neshat, Shadi Ghadirian, Parastou Forouhar, Sara Rahbar, who express what is seldom seen in the western media: unique individual perspectives regarding issues of identity, gender, and the role that art plays in challenging the traditional stereotypes often associated with women in Iran.

Following the screening, Secor, who covers contemporary Iran for the New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine, will moderate a panel discussion featuring: Adanto, who directed and produced the film; Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran; Shouleh Vatanabadi, a professor in NYU’s Global Liberal Studies program and co-editor of A Feast in the Mirror: A Collection of Short Stories by Iranian Women, among other works.

The screening is presented by NYU’s Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies and the university’s Iranian Studies Initiative.

Tickets, which may be purchased at the door, are $10 and $3 for students with a valid ID. For more information, call 212.998.8877. Subways: N, R (8th Street); 6 (Astor Place).

“Pearls on the Ocean Floor” was an Official Selection at the UK Iranian Film Festival in London, the Glasgow International Film Festival, the New Orleans Middle East Film Festival, and the Petaluma International Film Festival. It received the Bronze Palm award for Best Documentary at the 2011 Mexican International Film Festival.  Adanto holds an MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Press Contact: James Devitt | (212) 998-6808

NYU to Host Screening of Documentary on Lives and Works of Female Iranian Artists—Sept. 29

NYU will host a screening of Robert Adanto’s “Pearls on the Ocean Floor,” a documentary on the lives and works of female Iranian artists, followed by a panel discussion moderated by journalist Laura Secor, on Thursday, September 29. The above image is courtesy of Shadi Ghadirian’s “Qajar Series”.

Abu Mazen’s Gambit » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

Abu Mazen’s Gambit

by URI AVNERY

A WONDERFUL SPEECH. A beautiful speech.

The language expressive and elegant. The arguments clear and convincing. The delivery flawless.

A work of art. The art of hypocrisy. Almost every statement in the passage concerning the Israeli-Palestinian issue was a lie. A blatant lie: the speaker knew it was a lie, and so did the audience.

It was Obama at his best, Obama at his worst.

Being a moral person, he must have felt the urge to vomit. Being a pragmatic person, he knew that he had to do it, if he wanted to be re-elected.

In essence, he sold the fundamental national interests of the United States of America for the chance of a second term.

Not very nice, but that’s politics, OK?

IT MAY be superfluous – almost insulting to the reader – to point out the mendacious details of this rhetorical edifice.

Obama treated the two sides as if they were equal in strength – Israelis and Palestinians, Palestinians and Israelis.

But of the two, it is the Israelis – only they – who suffer and have suffered. Persecution. Exile. Holocaust. An Israeli child threatened by rockets. Surrounded by the hatred of Arab children. So sad.

No Occupation. No settlements. No June 1967 borders. No Naqba. No Palestinian children killed or frightened. It’s the straight right-wing Israeli propaganda line, pure and simple – the terminology, the historical narrative, the argumentation. The music.

The Palestinians, of course, should have a state of their own. Sure, sure. But they must not be pushy. They must not embarrass the US. They must not come to the UN. They must sit with the Israelis, like reasonable people, and work it out with them. The reasonable sheep must sit down with the reasonable wolf and decide what to have for dinner. Foreigners should not interfere.

Obama gave full service. A lady who provides this kind of service generally gets paid in advance. Obama got paid immediately afterwards, within the hour. Netanyahu sat down with him in front of the cameras and gave him enough quotable professions of love and gratitude to last for several election campaigns.

THE TRAGIC hero of this affair is Mahmoud Abbas. A tragic hero, but a hero nonetheless.

Many people may be surprised by this sudden emergence of Abbas as a daring player for high stakes, ready to confront the mighty US.

If Ariel Sharon were to wake up for a moment from his years-long coma, he would faint with amazement. It was he who called Mahmoud Abbas “a plucked chicken”.

Yet for the last few days, Abbas was the center of global attention. World leaders conferred about how to handle him, senior diplomats were eager to convince him of this or that course of action, commentators were guessing what he would do next. His speech before the UN General Assembly was treated as an event of consequence.

Not bad for a chicken, even for one with a full set of feathers.

His emergence as a leader on the world stage is somewhat reminiscent of Anwar Sadat.

When Gamal Abd-al-Nasser unexpectedly died at the age of 52 in 1970 and his official deputy, Sadat, assumed his mantle, all political experts shrugged.

Sadat? Who the hell is that? He was considered a nonentity, an eternal No. 2, one of the least important members of the group of “free officers” that was ruling Egypt.

In Egypt, a land of jokes and jokers, witticisms about him abounded. One concerned the prominent brown mark on his forehead. The official version was that it was the result of much praying, hitting the ground with his forehead. But the real reason, it was told, was that at meetings, after everyone else had spoken, Sadat would get up and try to say something. Nasser would good-naturedly put his finger to his forehead, push him gently down and say: “Sit, Anwar!”

To the utter amazement of the experts – and especially the Israeli ones – this “nonentity” took a huge gamble by starting the 1973 October War, and proceeded to do something unprecedented in history: going to the capital of an enemy country still officially in a state of war and making peace.

Abbas’ status under Yasser Arafat was not unlike Sadat’s under Nasser. However, Arafat never appointed a deputy. Abbas was one of a group of four or five likely successors. The heir would surely have been Abu Jihad, had he not been killed by Israeli commandoes in front of his wife and children. Another likely candidate, Abu Iyad, was killed by Palestinian terrorists. Abu Mazen (Abbas) was in a way the choice by default.

Such politicians, emerging suddenly from under the shadow of a great leader, generally fall into one of two categories: the eternal frustrated No. 2 or the surprising new leader.

The Bible gives us examples of both kinds. The first was Rehoboam, the son and heir of the great King Solomon, who told his people: “my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions”. The other kind was represented by Joshua, the heir of Moses. He was no second Moses, but according to the story a great conqueror in his own right.

Modern history tells the sad story of Anthony Eden, the long-suffering No. 2 of Winston Churchill, who commanded little respect. (Mussolini called him, after their first meeting, “a well-tailored idiot.”). Upon assuming power, he tried desperately to equal Churchill and soon embroiled Britain in the 1956 Suez disaster. To the second category belonged Harry Truman, the nobody who succeeded the great Franklin Delano Roosevelt and surprised everybody as a resolute leader.

Abbas looked like belonging to the first kind. Now, suddenly, he is revealed as belonging to the second. The world is treating him with newfound respect. Nearing the end of his career, he made the big gamble.

BUT WAS it wise? Courageous, yes. Daring, yes. But wise?

My answer is: Yes, it was.

Abbas has placed the quest for Palestinian freedom squarely on the international table. For more than a week, Palestine has been the center of international attention. Scores of international statesmen and -women, including the leader of the world’s only superpower, have been busy with Palestine.

For a national movement, that is of the utmost importance. Cynics may ask: “So what did they gain from it?” But cynics are fools. A liberation movement gains from the very fact that the world pays attention, that the media grapple with the problem, that people of conscience all over the world are aroused. It strengthens morale at home and brings the struggle a step nearer its goal.

Oppression shuns the limelight. Occupation, settlements, ethnic cleansing thrive in the shadows. It is the oppressed who need the light of day. Abbas’ move provided it, at least for the time being.

BARACK OBAMA’s miserable performance was a nail in the coffin of America’s status as a superpower. In a way, it was a crime against the United States.

The Arab Spring may have been a last chance for the US to recover its standing in the Middle East. After some hesitation, Obama realized that. He called on Mubarak to go, helped the Libyans against their tyrant, made some noises about Bashar al-Assad. He knows that he has to regain the respect of the Arab masses if he wants to recover some stature in the region, and by extension throughout the world.

Now he has blown it, perhaps forever. No self-respecting Arab will forgive him for plunging his knife into the back of the helpless Palestinians. All the credit the US has tried to gain in the last months in the Arab and the wider Muslim world has been blown away with one puff.

All for reelection.

IT WAS also a crime against Israel.

Israel needs peace. Israel needs to live side by side with the Palestinian people, within the Arab world. Israel cannot rely forever on the unconditional support of the declining United States.

Obama knows this full well. He knows what is good for Israel, even if Netanyahu doesn’t. Yet he has handed the keys of the car to the drunken driver.

The State of Palestine will come into being. This week it was already clear that this is unavoidable. Obama will be forgotten, as will Netanyahu, Lieberman and the whole bunch.

Mahmoud Abbas – Abu Mazen, as the Palestinians call him – will be remembered. The “plucked chicken” is soaring into the sky.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.