It’s an occupation

It’s very tiresome to keep hearing reference to the so-called “war in Iraq” when there isn’t an actual war in Iraq.

Instead, following the illegal invasion of that ruined, but still sovereign, country, for more than four years U.S. soldiers have been clumsily trying to enforce a foreign military occupation upon Iraq, unable yet to quell the resultant patriotic armed resistance. The ensuing chaos has prompted the deaths of near a million Iraqis, while creating a desperate flight to refuge by millions more now forced to huddle in neighboring countries to escape the carnage.

Our national discourse is highly confused, as politicians debate ghosts and illusions cynically created by our leaders’ dishonest, inaccurate rhetoric. The lazy, lapdog media only amplify this unceasing fog of dangerous misinformation.

Meanwhile, we have lost many of our liberties and even some of our constitutional rights due to a willfully hyped concern over “national security,” a hoary justification all tyrants employ while driving to undermine freedom. And our armed forces have been hijacked for essentially partisan purposes, even as they are eviscerated by the president’s craven quest for some elusive “victory.”

In reality, our troops have been ordered to fight and die in order to assuage Bush’s neurotic vanity and to enable America’s debilitating addiction to Middle East oil.

Cord MacGuire
Boulder CO

88 glory years

In Chicago, 88 years ago on Sept. 1, 1919, the Communist Party USA was founded and has been working in America for sweetness and light ever since. Let’s hope it can continue to be an intelligencer of peace and socialism until the whole world is set free!

Kudos for the party that opposes evils and stands for good.

George Gaylord
Anaheim CA

Mumia Abu-Jamal legal update

We continue to await a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia, concerning my client, Mumia Abu-Jamal. This complex case was orally argued before a three-judge panel on May 17, 2007. In my experience of successfully defending a large number of murder cases involving the death penalty, it was a great day.

It is impossible to know what the federal court ruling will be. If the judges follow the law and fairly apply the U.S. Constitution, we will win. One thing is certain: whoever loses will seek a rehearing and petition the U.S. Supreme Court.

I have previously described the different rulings that the federal court could make. Nevertheless some people have recently sent out e-mail containing false information. Contrary to their claim, the federal court cannot impose a sentence of life in prison without parole. Only a jury verdict could result in such an outcome, unless in the event of a penalty reversal the prosecution elected not to seek the death penalty. Likewise the court unfortunately cannot order that Mumia be released, for that would require a new guilt-phase jury trial and a favorable verdict which is certainly our goal. To once more clarify the legal situation, the scenarios of how the U.S. Court of Appeals might rule include:

Grant an entirely new jury trial of the guilt phase;

Order a new jury trial limited to the issue of life or death;

Remand the case back to the U.S. District Court for further proceedings;

Deny all relief.

Racism, fraud and politics are threads that have run through this case since Mumia’s 1981 arrest. The issues in this matter concern the right to a fair trial, the struggle against the death penalty, and the political repression of an outspoken journalist.

Mumia’s objective is a reversal of the murder conviction and death sentence, and the granting of an entirely new trial. At the end of that jury trial, I expect to win and see my client freed so that he can finally go home to his family.

Thank you for your interest in this campaign for human rights.

Robert Bryan
San Francisco CA
Robert Bryan is lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Labor laws

I’d like to correct this statement in the Sept. 1 This Week in Labor: “It’s no wonder that the battle for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make harassment of union organizers illegal, continues to go strong.”

Harassment of union organizers is already illegal under the National Labor Relations Act. The EFCA simply adds penalties for engaging in illegal activity, which makes following the law more attractive to scofflaw corporations who are willing to violate the law when it is profitable.

Unfortunately the Employee Free Choice Act is stalled in the Senate, and our “labor friendly” Democratic senators continue to allow Republicans and business lobbyists to characterize the bill as “undemocratic.” Republicans refuse to increase the penalties for violations of the law because the EFCA also makes the currently optional “card check” signature count mandatory, which eliminates government administered “secret ballot” elections.

These senators could stop talking about upholding “labor rights” and actually enforce them, by compromising and adding the much-needed penalties for the existing law and keeping the contentious mandatory “card check” procedure as optional.

If the Republicans insist on maintaining a “big government” program to administer a superfluous secret ballot election, then let them. But with proper penalties to enforce the law, and additional funding of the National Labor Relations Board to conduct secret ballot elections in a timely manner, the effect of the Employee Free Choice Act would be the same, allowing employees a fair opportunity to choose to organize.

Of course, the Republicans might also oppose enforcing current labor laws, but unless the Democrats propose the compromise how would we know? Until the Democrats lead, they merely support the status quo of corporate illegal activity, which harms all Americans, whether they are in a union or not.

John Rose
Larkfield CA
John Rose is president of Liberty Cookies, Inc.

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