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August 1, 2013 - No. 95

No to Superpower Hooliganism!
Uphold the Principle of Sovereignty of All Nations!

Canada's Role in Organizing Electoral Coups in Middle East and North Africa

 

No to Superpower Hooliganism! Uphold the Principle of Sovereignty of All Nations!
Canada's Role in Organizing Electoral Coups in Middle East and North Africa
- Enver Villamizar
Policy Debate Over Invasion of Syria
Kerry Uses Arabs to Bully Palestinians - Nicola Nasser, The Palestine Chronicle

United States
Hunger Strikers Send Greetings to Supporters and All People of Conscience
Challenging Punishment: What the California Prisoners' Hunger Strike Tells
Us About Mass Incarceration
- Samuel K. Roberts, Associate Professor of History and Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University
 

Note to Our Readers


No to Superpower Hooliganism!
Uphold the Principle of Sovereignty of All Nations!

Canada's Role in Organizing Electoral Coups in
Middle East and North Africa

On July 18, Canada's new Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Lynne Yelich announced two Canadian projects to train women in electoral campaigning in the Middle East and North Africa, namely in Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen. The announcement comes as the U.S. imperialists are scheming to invade Syria in various ways. Jordan and Lebanon border Syria and the U.S. and Israel are active in Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen. In North Africa, the U.S. carries out drone strikes in Tunisia and NATO forces, including Canada, invaded Libya in 2011 and overthrew its government. Meanwhile, foreign interference continues in Egypt.

The two Canadian projects are said to "support the development of women candidates' electoral campaigning skills and help to expand recognition of women's rights as these countries continue to undergo political transitions."

The projects are also said to push Canada's efforts and interests in promoting "democratic transition" and "increasing the political participation of women" in the Middle East North Africa region.

So-called political or democratic transition is an imperialist euphemism for interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. Such a "transition" certainly applies to the NATO invasion of Libya, the assassination of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and imposition of a puppet government. Clearly these projects will not be to support those women who affirm national sovereignty and oppose and actively resist foreign interference -- only those who agree to be imperialist lackeys and join in their schemes to rip these countries open for monopoly plunder.

One project will take place in Lebanon, Libya and Tunisia. It is called the "Arab Women's Leadership Institute Candidate Preparation School," and is said to be aimed at building the capacity of female candidates in those countries. It is a straight payout to the International Republican Institute (IRI), which will be implementing it.

The project's activities include, "Training six individuals -- two from each country -- in campaign management; coaching the same individuals on strategic communications with the electorate; providing 'campaign school' training and mentoring to hundreds of other participants from the three countries."

The IRI is a notorious outfit affiliated with the U.S. Republican Party that functions as a mechanism for U.S. intervention and interference by financing selected political parties and institutions "in countries important to US interests" under the guise of promoting democracy and freedom. Its president, a former National Security Council and U.S. State Department official "helped conceive and implement the Bush administration's new Middle East democracy policy," according to the IRI website. The IRI Board of Directors is chaired by warmongering U.S. Senator John McCain and filled with other Republican Party operatives, many of them former state and government officials, as well as representatives of big U.S. monopolies. Much of its funding comes from the U.S. State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

IRI "democracy promotion" has included, among other things, funding and training opposition forces bent on destabilization and regime change in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, involvement in the 2004 coup against President Aristide in Haiti, the 2009 coup and its aftermath in Honduras and interference in the internal affairs of Egypt and other Middle Eastern and North African countries for similar ends.

The second project, to be implemented by the Forum of Federations in Jordan, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen, is called "Empowering Women for Participation in the Political Process of Building Devolved and Decentralized Democracies." The project's activities include:

"Providing regional capacity-building training for women's networks and coalitions dedicated to decentralization; enabling regional dialogue on common platforms and challenges among women, such as activists, parliamentarians, aspiring candidates and businesswomen already engaged in politics or leadership roles; developing gender-specific and gender-sensitive training materials, including audiovisual and virtual tools, on local governance and women."

The combined cost of these two projects is $971,200. Funding from Canada will be provided through the Global Peace and Security Fund.

Canadians should denounce these schemes to foment electoral coups as an insult to women and the ancient peoples of the Middle East and North Africa who have been fighting tooth and nail to rid themselves of the yoke of colonialism and neo-colonialism. Elections in Canada have become a farce whereby marketing firms and monopolies are able to gain state power through manipulative methods. All the more so because these electoral projects come from a government that has come under investigation by Canadian security forces, elections officials and the courts over allegations of abuse of the system and outright corruption to manipulate the electoral process in order to win elections and stay in power. These activities include overspending, voter suppression, micro-targeting, appointing partisan political insiders to positions of power and privilege and encouraging corrupt practices. This has nothing to do with empowering the people generally or women in particular.

Most countries, including Canada, have laws against foreign money being used to influence elections. This is a basic issue when it comes to upholding national sovereignty and preventing outside interests from manipulating a population and undermining the public authority. The activities Foreign Affairs has planned for the Middle East and North Africa would not be permitted in Canada under law (although no doubt the U.S. does so in various ways). Why would they be acceptable when the situation is reversed? It goes to show that anything goes nationally and internationally when public right is not recognized and monopoly right to act with impunity in the service of maximizing profits and suppressing rivals is given primacy.

The kind of underhanded election activity the imperialists want to bring to the people of the Middle East and North Africa is despised by Canadians from all walks of life, whether it be carried out in Canada or abroad.

(With files from DFAIT)

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Policy Debate Over Invasion of Syria


Speaking to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Armed Forces on July 18, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey said that the Obama administration is considering various scenarios including direct U.S. military intervention in Syria using "the brute of the U.S. military, and kinetic strikes." He pointed out the U.S. has "several options" for the use of force in Syria. Dempsey declined to provide more details during a question and answer session at the hearing when asked to explain "strategies" to overthrow the Syrian government.

Democratic Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee and Republican Senator John McCain used the hearings to push Dempsey to recommend to the Obama administration a "more aggressive response" to events in Syria, particularly in the face of the widespread recognition that internal subversion and external pressure by the U.S. and its allies, including claims of chemical and biological weapons to try and egg on its allies, has not worked in leading to the overthrow of the Syrian government since this most recent onslaught began.

Among the questions from the duo during the hearings was a request for Dempsey's assessment of the "costs, benefits and risks associated with training and arming vetted elements of the Syrian opposition." The pair asked: "In your view, could such action alone be sufficient to adequately build the military capability of the moderate opposition in Syria and create the necessary conditions for the administration's stated policy objective -- Bashar Assad's departure and a negotiated solution to the conflict in Syria -- to succeed?"

McCain later went so far as to threaten to block Dempsey's re-appointment as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff if he did not give his personal opinion on the use of military force against Syria indicating McCain's push for war.

The Senator requested "strategies" for regime change in Syria. This confirms that although the U.S. talks about the need for "political solutions" in Syria, it is on the basis of the imperialist logic that the Syrian people do not have the right to decide their own affairs. It also means that by whatever criminal means necessary, elements in the U.S. want the Syrian government eliminated.

The hearings follow a meeting hosted by Canada at the end of June of the "Friends of the Syrian People International Working Group on Sanctions." The meeting was attended by 42 countries and a faction of the Syrian opposition for the stated aim of "ensur[ing] coordination and effective implementation of sanctions against the Assad regime" to "help enable a democratic transition." In its communique, the "Friends" group blamed the Syrian government for "atrocities and the ensuing tragedy" in the country. They called for stepped-up sanctions against the government, and professed support for negotiations to establish a transitional governing body in which President Bashar al-Assad would have no role (or any role thereafter).

Whether via an electoral coup or other forms of political interference, or the use of military force, or both, the U.S.'s aim is to impose its dictate on the Syrian people as it tried to do in Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. The problem is that the more Syrians resist, the more the lie that the U.S. wants political resolutions, or to protect human rights, is shown to be a fraud to hide another blatant attempt at regime change.

The push by both Democratic and Republican Senators for military "options" in Syria shows the extent to which U.S. imperialism is trying to destroy public opinion against the use of force. They do this by presenting the use of force as a debate between external invasion and the use of internal subversion through arming and supporting an opposition that contains elements the U.S. claims to have been fighting since September 11, 2001.

The debate in the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee also goes to show that despite being elected, the U.S. Senate does not function as a mechanism to bring forward the popular will of the people of the United States against war and aggression. Instead, it is a sounding board for war crimes and other crimes against the peace.

The peoples of the world have bitter experience with U.S. "strategies" for regime change and the war crimes committed in the process. Whether in Korea, Vietnam and Southeast Asia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Cuba, Venezuela or Guatemala, just to name a few, the crimes of the U.S. imperialists are well-known to all. Today, U.S. imperialism and its allies in the Canadian government and elsewhere refuse to learn the lessons of history and continue operating as international gangsters, using whatever means at their disposal to undermine the ability of nations and peoples to set their own course and resolve their differences through negotiation and without resorting to force.

U.S. Paying Syrian Police Who Desert Their Posts

According to U.S. government officials, the United States has been paying thousands of Syrian police officers who deserted their posts in Syria.

"There are literally thousands of defected police inside of Syria," Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations Rick Barton said. "They are credible in their communities because they've defected." He said the U.S. stipend was meant to ensure that they stay on the job.

In an address to the Aspen Security Forum on July 19, Barton did not say how many Syrian police deserters were on the U.S. payroll. He said the officers were receiving about $150 per month, a significant salary in Syria.

Officials said the administration of President Barack Obama has approved tens of millions of dollars to pay the salaries of police officers who joined the rebels. They said the officers were working to maintain order in rebel-controlled territory, mostly in northern Syria.

"We'd rather have a trained policeman who is trusted by the community than have to bring in a new crowd or bring in an international group that doesn't know the place," Barton said.

Barton expressed the problem the U.S. faces in being being "effective" in Syria meaning they do not have strong links with Syrians on the ground through which they can gain informants and intelligence and create "credible" political alternatives. He did not mention that the U.S. does not have such strong links on the ground due to the resistance of Syrians to foreign intervention.

He also explained the U.S. is training Syrians in various ways, including how to be leaders in so-called "liberated areas." They have also established an FM radio network throughout the country. He related his experience to what the U.S. dealt with in Haiti, where they had to vet the opposition the U.S. was working with there.

Barton said the rebel movement in Syria was also awaiting a range of non-lethal U.S. equipment. He cited night vision systems and medical supplies.

U.S. Forces On the Ground In Neighbouring Countries

In addition to its role in fomenting and arming groups within Syria, the U.S. is using the situation in Syria as well as Egypt to a certain extent, to justify its military presence in neighbouring countries. Officially, the United States has deployed 800 troops in Jordan. Jordanian members of Parliament however, have complained that the number is significantly higher than 1,000.

UN Officials Visit Syria

On July 24, two UN officials arrived in Syria on the invitation of the Syrian government. They are there on a two-day visit to meet with Syrian officials regarding a UN planned probe into alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria's prolonged crisis, sources say. The officials were invited following the Syrian government's discovery of chemical weapons stashed by rebel groups which are enough to "destroy a whole country," Xinhua reports.

(Aspensecurityforum.org, DFAIT, Global Research, nsnbc, Xinhua)

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Kerry Uses Arabs to Bully Palestinians


Palestinians in Ramallah oppose the occupation and demand the recognition of the right of return of
all refugees to mark Nakba Day, May 15, 2013.

A new tactic by US Secretary of State John Kerry is causing a split within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) ranks regarding further talks with Israel. Kerry is apparently using the Arab League's Follow-Up Committee on the Arab Peace Initiative (FCAPI) to bully the Palestinians into accepting new ground rules for the talks to which they had objected in the past.

In his sixth tour of the region as secretary of state, Kerry did something unusual. Instead of visiting Israel, as he always does, he left it out of his itinerary, deciding instead to hold most of the talks in the Jordanian capital Amman. While there, he conferred with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as well as members of the FCAPI. As the talks progressed, it became clear that Kerry was no longer focusing on Israel, the country that has torpedoed all previous attempts at peace, but on the PLO. His aim is to get the latter to offer more concessions than any they have accepted in the past.

In order to do this, Kerry wanted to get the FCAPI to accept these concessions on behalf of the Palestinians, a new tactic that may or may not be working but that so far has succeeded in causing divisions and widespread consternation in Palestinian circles. The tactic is not totally new, for it resonates with the manner in which US diplomats have used the Arab League to justify foreign intervention for the sake of regime change in countries such as Iraq and Libya in the past.

Speaking after a meeting with Kerry in Amman, FCAPI diplomats voiced their "great support" for Kerry's efforts to revive the talks. Their remarks were seen as a "victory" for Kerry, said the Associated Press. It was a "success" for his diplomacy, added The New York Times. Kerry, for his part, announced that the gap was "narrowing" between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and that all that was needed now was to "iron out" a few kinks.

For the Palestinians, ironing out these kinks is going to be a quite a job, however. PLO chief negotiator Saeb Ereikat is said to have had a "stormy" meeting with the PLO leadership concerning Kerry's proposals. The PLO, its back to the wall, is now forming a working committee to decide what to do about the talks.

All of this is unprecedented. In the past, the FCAPI used to take its cue from the Palestinians. When the Palestinians were faced with demands for concessions they were reluctant to give, they politely said they needed to consult with the FCAPI, which was a courteous way of turning down unacceptable proposals. Now the FCAPI is getting them into trouble by agreeing to concessions before the Palestinians even have time to discuss them at length.

In the absence of FCAPI support for the PLO negotiators, the latter had no option but to play along with Kerry's proposals. On Friday, the US secretary of state declared his satisfaction with the current plans to get the Palestinians and the Israelis talking again about a "final status" deal. He has invited the PLO and Israel to send negotiators to Washington soon to work out details of the agreement. PLO senior officials told the French news agency AFP that Kerry was determined to declare the resumption of the talks before leaving the region.

US Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that unless progress was made on Kerry's sixth visit to the region, he would not be returning for more visits. If anything, this sounds like an unveiled threat aiming to put pressure on Abbas and his chief negotiator and force their cooperation.

During this round of talks, Kerry also left Abbas no chance to play for time. Instead of waiting for Abbas to go to talk with the FCAPI, Kerry brought the Arab League diplomats to Amman and had them agree to his proposals without prior consultation with the PLO.

In Amman, members of the FCAPI issued a statement saying that Kerry's ideas for the resumption of talks were a "suitable foundation" for further negotiations. The FCAPI stamp of approval placed the PLO in a difficult position. Abbas, unable to wiggle free from this diplomatic ordeal, remained silent. But his silence, as the saying goes in Arabic, was seen as a "sign of approval".

Yet, the situation is likely to spark resentment back home, where most of the PLO leaders are opposed to Kerry's proposals. However, they know that a blunt rejection of these proposals may invoke an unpleasant US reaction, if not sanctions.

Abbas is waiting to give his answer following consultations with the PLO leadership. In all likelihood, the latter will have to agree, despite its deep reservations about Kerry's proposals.

As a result of all this, the FCAPI has let down the Palestinians, and it is not the first time that this has happened. On 29 April, a Qatari-led FCAPI delegation offered Kerry what amounted to its consent to a land swap at a meeting in Washington. Critics of the FCAPI correctly noted that the step was extraordinary, for the FCAPI is not empowered to make such concessions. Only the Arab summit, which issued the Arab Peace Initiative, is entitled to make any amendment to this initiative. As a mere follow-up committee, the FCAPI had exceeded its mandate.

Israel, of course, is pleased to see the FCAPI offer concessions that the Palestinians do not seem willing to make. Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister at the time, described the FCAPI statement as "good news."

Lebanese analyst Ziad Al-Sayegh recently wrote that "after the failure of the internationalization of the talks [through the Quartet], we are now going through a regionalization of the talks [through the Arab League]." One symptom of this regionalization is that the land swap, overwhelmingly rejected by the Palestinians, is now getting the Arab League's stamp of approval.

Last Thursday, the Jordanian news agency Petra cited the Arab League chief, Nabil Al-Arabi, as saying that the "US plan concerning the peace process is based on three axes; political, economic and security-related". The Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot then offered an interesting interpretation of this statement. The political axis, it said, was the resumption of talks. The security axis was going to be left to the US top brass to decide. And the economic axis would mean a lot more aid to the Palestinian Authority.

During his last tour of the region, Kerry made no reference to the Israeli settlements. Nor did he object when Israel declared plans to build 732 new settlement units in the settlement of Modi'in Illit in west Jerusalem. For him, this was not even a kink worthy of ironing out. Even worse, the FCAPI has not seemed interested in Israel's active settlement-building program, and it did not even mention that future talks should focus on a two-state deal based on the 1967 borders.

Last Friday, Kerry said that the best way to give the talks a chance was to keep them "private". He declined to reveal the details of his plan as a result, and the FCAPI had nothing to say. For now, the PLO leadership is also keeping its cards close to its chest.

* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. (This article was first published and translated from Arabic by the Al-Ahram Weekly.)

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United States

Hunger Strikers Send Greetings to Supporters
and All People of Conscience


Women of Color Global Women's Strike action supports Pelican Bay hunger strikers, July 11, 2013.


Support is growing for Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers in California. On July 31, day 24 of the California prisoners' hunger strike, actions are being held in communities around the U.S. to stand with the hunger strikers. The actions call for justice for Trayvon Martin, the unarmed African-American youth unjustly killed by a police informant based on racial profiling. According to organizers actions will be held in Oakland; Santa Cruz; Los Angeles; Philadelphia and Jackson, Mississippi; London, England; Guyana; and Germany.

"[California Governor Jerry] Brown's absolute silence in the face of this hunger strike is a quiet endorsement of torture," stated Margaret Prescod, from Women of Color Global Women's Strike and host of the Sojourner Truth Show. "And we know the criminalization that killed Trayvon Martin, and the criminalization that justifies torture of prisoners is one and the same."

Two years ago a United Nations' expert on torture called on all countries to ban solitary confinement lasting longer than 15 days. The Governor hasn't spoken about any of the three rounds of hunger strikes in the past two years.

"I am looking forward to this historical event, in the coming together of all races as we work toward bringing an end to injustices everywhere, from solitary confinement to racial profiling to mass incarceration," says Dolores Canales, an organizer with California Families Against Solitary Confinement whose son is on Hunger Strike in the Secure Housing Units (SHU) at Pelican Bay. "Governor Brown, how much longer can you ignore what is going on in the State of California?"

Hunger Strikers' Appeal

In response to the broad support the hunger strikers are receiving, on July 10 they issued the following statement of greetings to their supporters and to all people of conscience:

"We are grateful for your support of our peaceful protest against the state-sanctioned torture that happens not only here at Pelican Bay but in prisons everywhere. We have taken up this hunger strike and work stoppage, which has included 30,000 prisoners in California so far, not only to improve our own conditions but also [as] an act of solidarity with all prisoners and oppressed people around the world.

"We encourage everyone to take action to support the strike wherever they live. Sign the petition demanding California Governor stop the torture; plan rolling solidarity fasts if you are able; use every means to spread the word; and participate in non-violent direct action to put pressure on decision-makers.

"If it was not for your support, we would have died in 2011. Thank you everyone. We are confident we will prevail.

"Signed

Pelican Bay State Prison-Secure Housing Unit Short Corridor Representatives"

Prison Officials Retaliate

In an update on July 16, hunger strikers inform that shortly after issuing their letter of greetings they were placed in Administrative Segregation:

"As expected the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has responded to the resumption of our peaceful protest by retaliating against 14 of us here at Pelican Bay, subjecting us to similar escalation as in 2011.

"Specifically, on July 11, 2013, we were placed in Administrative Segregation (Ad- Seg), where we are subjected to more torturous conditions than in the SHU. Despite this diabolical act on the part of the CDCR intended to break our resolve and hasten our deaths, we remain strong and united! We are 100% committed to our cause and will end our peaceful action when CDCR signs a legally binding agreement to our demands.

"Please join us in our struggle to stop CDCR from trying to destroy our lives, and the lives of our families.

"We can only win our demands with your support!

"In Solidarity,

PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Representatives

- Todd Ashker, C-58191, PBSP-SHU, D4-121

- Arturo Castellanos, C-17275, PBSP-SHU, D1-121

- Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), C-35671, PBSP-SHU,D1-117

- Antonio Guillen, P-81948, PBSP-SHU, D2-106"

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Challenging Punishment: What the California Prisoners' Hunger Strike Tells Us About Mass Incarceration

The hunger strike at Pelican Bay is the third such action in the past two years and only the most recent in a 20-year history of protests against conditions there going back to the 1995 Madrid v. Gomez case. Now the strike has spread to roughly two-thirds of the state's 33 prisons, currently involving at least 12,000 prisoners and perhaps as many as 30,000. Strikers' demands vary, but in total include an increase in hourly wages (currently 13 cents); more humane treatment; and the restoration of educational, rehabilitative, vocational and mental and physical health services recently excised from prison budgets. One of the main demands is an address of the inhumane conditions of solitary confinement, or extreme isolation, in Secure Housing Units (SHUs) and supermax prisons, in which prisoners are locked in a cell for 22 to 24 hours a day, and denied contact with anyone except prison staff.

What the strike highlights -- missed by most of the public -- is the deeply troubling nature of extreme isolation in U.S. penology. According to the Department of Justice's Bureau of Prisons, SHUs, where most prison solitary confinement takes place, are housing units in which "inmates are securely separated from the general inmate population ... [to] help ensure the safety, security, and orderly operation of correctional facilities." In reality, SHUs often are the sites of extreme and indefinite punishment for often trivial infractions. Many prisoners have spent months and even years in SHUs, deprived of the basic human interactions necessary for mental health; and of the forms of education, mental health treatments, and vocational training necessary for the rehabilitation which carceral institutions are ostensibly there to provide. Entire institutions -- supermax prisons -- are based solely on the philosophy of extreme isolation.

The number of individuals in solitary confinement/administrative segregation at any given time is not easily ascertained, largely because of the variance in record keeping and reporting among the U.S.'s city, state, and federal prisons, detention facilities, and jails.

Solitary Watch estimates that the number is at least 80,000, "including some 25,000 in long-term solitary in supermax prisons." However, in the long history of the American prison, extreme isolation is a relatively new, and brutal, feature. The first 23-hour lockdown came in 1983, after the murders of two correctional officers at the Marion, Illinois, U.S. Penitentiary. Emerging soon after, supermax prisons modeled themselves on this approach to confinement, while other correctional facilities constructed solitary confinement wards. Various departments of corrections have initiated and escalated their use of extreme isolation over the past 30 years: in just the years between 1995 and 2000, the number of individuals held in segregated cells rose by 40 percent, and by 2004, as many as 44 states reported having one or another form of supermax housing. The expansion of SHUs, the Vera Institute of Justice has shown, has been "accompanied by increasingly severe conditions of confinement" for infractions far less serious than murder. These may include being involved in a fight or simple disobedience of an order. Human Rights Watch reports that SHU confinement is liberally wielded as retribution for nonviolent or political acts such as voicing protest of prison conditions, assisting other prisoners in habeas corpus appeals, or engaging in litigation against the prison. A growing proportion of SHU residents are individuals with established and diagnosed mental health conditions which penal institutions are ill equipped or unwilling to treat properly. An unknown number of the roughly 95,000 minors held in adult jails in prisons are also subject to extreme isolation, either as punishment or for their own protection from the dangers of incarceration with adults.

The inhumane effects of extreme isolation are fairly well known, and have been for some time. In 1890, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Freeman Miller observed firsthand (see In Re Medley, 134 U.S. 160) that prisoners denied meaningful contact with other human beings quickly exhibited a range of behaviors, including signs of heightened violent state, suicide attempts, and severe depression "from which it was next to impossible to arouse them." Even those who survived relatively undamaged "were not generally reformed." Germany initially modeled its prison system after America's, but their physicians in the latter half of the 19th century documented the mental health harms -- including psychosis -- of extreme isolation. More recently, studies have confirmed these and other findings, including elevated risk of suicide and self-harm, and severe anxiety and paranoia. The frequent denial of access to needed medical and psychiatric services also has been documented. Perhaps most importantly, as one scholarly review has argued, "the characterization of SHU convicts as being 'the worst of the worst' contributes to an us-against-them mindset among correctional staff. This orientation serves only to heighten the potential for the abuse of prisoners ... The primary purpose of SHUs is to exercise complete control and dominion over convicts."

So apparent are the negative effects of extreme isolation that several organizations -- including the ACLU, the American Bar Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Human Rights Watch, and others -- have taken public stands against the practice. In October 2011, Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture called on all member states to abolish solitary confinement except in very exceptional cases, in which it should be limited to 15 or fewer days, and never applied to children or the mentally impaired. At the prompting of a petition submitted by Architects/Designers/ Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR), the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Architects, San Francisco Chapter (AIASF) in early March of this year voted to amend its Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct to ban even the design of solitary confinement or execution chambers. For several years, the Correctional Association of New York has made the investigation of solitary confinement one of its top priorities.

Over a century of evidence makes it clear that the inhumane treatment of prisoners by the practice of extreme isolation furthers no goal of rehabilitation, and dehumanizes its practitioners as well as its victims. This is a human rights issue, but it is also one of governance. A robust democracy and healthy populace cannot be maintained by or despite the infliction of such psychological and physical damage on tens of thousands of its citizens.

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Note to Our Readers

TML Daily will not be published during the month of August, unless there are exceptional developments to report. It will resume publication on Labour Day, September 2, 2013. The holiday does not affect TML Weekly Information Project which will be posted every Saturday. One more issue of the TML Daily supplement Ontario Political Forum will also be published to report on the Ontario by-election results.

Please continue to send us your letters, reports, articles and photographs. They provide the direct experience of the youth and working people on matters of concern to them which the monopoly-owned media completely ignores. This is indispensable to the publication of TML Daily. The volume of material we are receiving in turn makes it possible to consider establishing a Workers' Centre independent news agency in the foreseeable future.

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We wish you all the very best for the rest of the summer.

Keep fighting. Stay safe.

Technical and Editorial Staff
TML Daily

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