Friday, December 25, 2009

More on the Durham Human Rights and Bill of Rights Proclamations

Below is the Proclamation passed by the City Council on the 21st.  A similar "resolution" (the term preferred by the County Attorney) was passed by the County Commissioners on the 14th, 1-4, with Chairman Michael Page against.  Unlike in previous years, the resolution was not read aloud, and BORDC has yet to receive a copy of the official document. 
The Herald Sun reported on controversy at the meeting (see  According to the article, Page wanted to delay the vote until there is a resolution all parties can agree to.  Ellen Reckhow and Becky Heron said Durham is not trying to deport people, but if you run a red light in front of a police officer, you will be stopped.  I doubt the absence of racial profiling is that guaranteed, and hasa board overseeing the 287g program been established, as the program itself calls for in each participating county?  Anyone could be undocumented, but a rogue rightist police officer could harass Latinos more than other groups, in the hope of finding non-citizens as well as intimidating and driving off the rest of the immigrant community, documented or not.  At least profiling isn't the official policy in Durham, as it appears to be in some parts of the State, where law enforcement apparently has set up traffic stops around Catholic churches on Sundays.          
The City Council mostly agreed to the language requested by BORDC and DISC, but refused to say the Durham Police will accept Mexican Matricula Consular as identification, though apparently they already do accept it and these cards are reliable IDs.  They are issued by the Mexican government to their citizens living here and presumably in other countries.  In the fifth statement, Durham says it will not use 287g to deport people for minor things, and at the end the Proclamation says the police will use 287g "primarily" against felons, though the groups were requesting that 287g "exclusively" focus on felons. 
Human Rights and Bill of Rights Day Proclamation

December 21, 2009

Whereas, the City of Durham is home to a diverse population, including students, working people, and retirees, citizens and non-citizens, all of whom add to Durham's cultural richness and economic vitality; and
Whereas, the City of Durham is committed to the human rights of all of its residents, and to actions that both protect and preserve those rights; and

Whereas, the City of Durham respects and recognizes the civil rights and liberties guaranteed to all by the Bill of Rights; and

Whereas, on October 20, 2003, the City of Durham adopted both the Bill of Rights Defense Resolution and Resolution #9046: Supporting the Rights of Persons Regardless of Immigration Status; and

Whereas, the City of Durham has for the past six years endorsed a policy whereby an individual's civil immigration status shall not be inquired about unless that individual is being investigated for suspected involvement in serious criminal activity; and

Whereas, it is the policy of the Durham Police Department to endeavor to assure that an immigrant driver is no more likely to be arrested during a traffic stop than any other driver stopped for a similar cause; and

Whereas, the City of Durham recognizes the importance of maintaining a climate of acceptance and solidarity, thereby decreasing fear and promoting the cooperation of all residents with law enforcement;

Now, therefore I, William V. "Bill" Bell, the Mayor of the City of Durham, North Carolina do hereby proclaim December 22, 2009 as "Bill of Rights Day" in Durham, and hereby urge all the citizens of the City of Durham to hereby reaffirm their support of the Bill of Rights and of the civil rights and liberties it guarantees to all residents of Durham, and pledge to continue our City's policy of non-discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, national origin, and immigration status, and continue to pledge that Durham's 287(g) participation will continue to focus on primarily on felony investigations.

Witness my hand and the corporate seal of the City of Durham, North Carolina, the 21st day of December, 2009.

William V. "Bill" Bell


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bill of Rights Day Proclamation at City Council Monday

The City Bill of Rights Day Proclamation will be presented at the meeting tomorrow at 7pm in City Hall.  It will be accepted by the Director of El Centro Hispano, Pilar Rocha-Goldberg, but there will be a delegation from DBORDC and DISC.  This should happen at the beginning of the meeting, as usual, instead of being delayed until the end of the meeting like the County Proclamation was this year.   

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Obama's Nobel and Human Rights Day

Ironically Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on Human Rights Day, the anniversary of the UN General Assembly's proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (, December 10, 1948.  Obama's speech (the transcript, unfortunately divided into six pages, is online at uses high-flying rhetoric, but supports the domination and exploitation of the world by American imperialism, in alliance with the weaker imperialists in Europe and elsewhere, starting with the lie that war is an inevitable part of human nature. 
Obama said that war started with humanity, but war is political and its nature changes with different stages in the development of human society.  War was probably unknown or rare for most of human history, many tens of thousands of years, because there was nothing for wandering hunter-gatherers to fight over and the population was very dispersed.  Later most of humanity settled down and turned to agriculture and developed class systems, leading to war over resources and prestige.  War isn't caused by "evil," a concept more commonly used by Bush. Rational reasons can explain irrational violence, so there is no need for Obama to bring in religion, as he did repeatedly.  Obama also said humanity developed laws to limit war, but it seems to me that war in the 19th century was often less brutal than war now.  Under modern total war, hinted at by Sherman during the US Civil War, civilians and their property are targets and not just collateral casulties, because states can't fight without their industrial home front.  When the imperialists clash again and try to ignite World War III, they might use their nuclear weapons and kill millions.  The US, Israel, and other countries have few qualms about killing civilians in attacks on cities (Falluja and Gaza come to mind) or through sanctions (Albright said the death of Iraqi children was worthwhile), as long as they can hide it or blame their opponents.  Theories of "just war" seem like just another way to justify war, so the people will willingly fight for the interests of the elite, and against their own interests.      
Obama praises Woodrow Wilson, who violated his campaign promises and took the US into a war between two equally bad sets of imperialists who had nothing to do with the American people, and portrays the League of Nations and the UN as only tools for peace.  In a way the UN promotes peace, but look at the way the UN is dominated by the imperialists in the Security Council.  As a result, the UN acted as cover when the US fought to dominate Korea during the Korean War, the UN enforced sanctions that killed a million Iraqis, the UN does nothing to stop US wars of aggression, and it does nothing when Israel violates international law and the UN's own resolutions.  The UN, Marshall Plan and other international structures were tools the US and its allies used to fight the working class and national liberation struggles around the world, later in alliance with the Soviet and Chinese revisionists.  The Marshall Plan and other international economic structures have also been good at transferring wealth from other countries to the USA, so our economy can run on credit while sending real industry overseas.  
Early in his speech, Obama advocates the lie of American exceptionalism, saying that "Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms."  He refers to Germany (which the US, UK, and France divided, while the USSR was for a reunified, demilitarized, neutral, and even capitalist Germany), Korea (where the US committed atrocities against civilans and was allied with a military dictatorship until recently), and the Balkans (where NATO manipulated the just demands of various nations for self-determination to launch an imperialist war against Yugoslavia and now prevents Albanian self-determination).  It also needs to be asked, whose security the US is  really defending, and I think it it is the security of the multinationals and pro-US governments, whether elected or not.  The imperialists had to improve the economies of countries like the Republic of Korea (which not long ago faced the more developed DPRK), as bulwarks against socialism, and now those countries might be allowed to decline, just like social welfare spending is no longer necessary to make capitalism look better than socialism.   
Obama praises self-determination and freedom, but decries the secessionism that followed the Cold War.  Self-determination is only real if a nation has the right to independence, not that it has to decide to excerise that right.  It is only natural that nations wanted to be free from the domination of social-imperialists or other occupiers, and there are still unfree nations in the USA and Europe today.   
The USA and every country has the right to defend itself, but the invasion of Iraq was not self-defense, and I doubt that even the invasion of Afghanistan would count as self-defense unde international law.  The alleged 9/11 terrorists were not from Afghanistan and they trained in the USA, and it seems that they were helped by people in the US government and allied governments.  The Taliban was not the government of Afghanistan and was originally an ally of the US and Pakistan, and even offered to extradite Osama bin Laden.  According to a Pakistani official, American officials told him the plan was to attack Afghanistan in October 2001, before 9/11 provided a justification.  NATO is an aggressive alliance controlled by the US and originally aimed against the socialist bloc and the West European working class, but Obama praises it as a force for peace. 
Possibly going even beyond Bush in justifying imperialism, Obama endorses former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's concept of humanitarian intervention, under which the imperialists can meddle in the internal affairs of a country.  I doubt this means the US will attack Israel to liberate Palestine, or liberate the Tamils in Sri Lanka, occupy the DR of Congo to stop the civil wars, or stop using the base on Diego Garcia, which the British stole from the native inhabitants.  Obama mentions "rules of conduct," such as the prohibition on torture, but he has not ended extraordinary rendition, under which prisoners can be sent to other countries for torture and his Administration is covering up war crimes committed under Bush. 
He praises the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treat, under which the superpowers got to keep their weapons, and now it is being used against former victims of US meddling and nuclear blackmail, while Israel gets to have its semi-secret arsenal and India violates the NPT and gets US nuclear technology.  Obama says the nuclear weapons states would disarm, but the US and Russia still have many weapons, ready to launch, risking our extinction through a mistaken signal.  However horrifying and expensive, possessing a nuclear deterrent might be the only way to prevent the US from invading your country these days, and that still opens the way for fake color revolutions to topple a troublesome government.   
Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, but implicitly threatens countries like Sudan and Myanmar with invasion or genocidal sanctions.  It is also ironic that he refers to the military dictatorship in Myanmar while abetting the military coup in Honduras.  When people use social networking to fight capitalist and theological oppression in Iran, American capitalists and their media treat them as heroes, but Americans are brutalized when they peacefully demonstrate against unequal "globalization," and people are arrested for using social networks to warn about police countermeasures.  Americans are also ignored if not actively denigrated by much of the media when they oppose a US war.   
That Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize just for being different from Bush, and while occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, isn't that surprising considering some of the other people who have received the Prize, and the quiet but imperialist economy of Norway.  Human nature, imperfect as it is, is not what needs to be perfected, it is the legacy of history that has put the working majority under the tyranny of the capitalist minority, and almost every country under the hegemony of one imperialist, nuclear-armed superpower.  The control of the majority by a minority due to an exploitative and irrational economic system undermines our other human rights.   
For a small, but real act in support of human rights, come to the Durham County Commissioner meeting Monday that 14th at 7pm to support this year's Bill of Rights Proclamation, with stronger language in support of the rights of immigrants.  The Proclamation was negotiated by the Durham Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the Durham Immigrant Solidarity Committee, and there should be a City Proclamation later in the month.  Bill of Rights Day is the 15th.