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Mon, 18 Oct 2021
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Meet Lucia Topolansky, Uruguay's first lady like no other

Lucia Topolansky is a first lady like no other. An outspoken senator, former Tupamaro guerrilla and key member of her country's ruling coalition, she is more than qualified to follow her husband Jose Mujica into the presidency.

But would she?

"No way," she told The Associated Press in an interview in her Senate office. "Now that I've seen the presidency up close, I wouldn't wish it on anybody. Look, I remember well how in your country Barack Obama didn't have a single gray hair in his first term, and now he's totally gray!"

Topolansky is, however, being talked about as a potential vice president for Tabare Vazquez, who preceded Mujica in office and is a likely front-runner to retake the presidency in 2014.

Now 69 and gray herself, Topolansky still speaks with the intensity of the young, blond militant who tried to change her country through armed revolution starting in 1966, organizing jailbreaks and even crawling through sewers to escape from prison.

Recaptured just before Uruguay's 1973 military coup, she suffered torture during her nearly 14 years in prison. With democracy's return in 1985, she and Mujica were among the former guerrillas granted amnesties. They eventually got married and kept working for change, achieving through the ballot box what bullets couldn't.

Mujica won the presidency through his charisma and common touch, but credits his wife for his political backbone - missing her birthday while visiting the United Nations last week, he called her his "hard drive."

Comment: See also: Man of the people: President of Uruguay José Mujica gives away 90% of his salary


People Power: Italy hit by wave of Pitchfork protests as austerity unites disparate groups

© NurPhoto/Rex Features
Protesters with loosely formed movement I Forconi (The Pitchforks) demonstrate in Turin, Italy.
Demonstrations point to frustration with traditional politics, with minister warning parliament of a country in 'spiral of rebellion'

They blocked roads and stopped trains,occupied piazzas, clashed with police and closed shops. From Turin and Milan in the north to Puglia and Sicily in the south, Italy was hit this week by a wave of protests that brought together disparate groups and traditional foes in an angry show of opposition to austerity policies and the government.

"They [politicians] have brought us to hunger; have destroyed the identity of a country; have annihilated the future of entire generations," read one poster from the "December 9 Committee", an umbrella organisation urging Italians to rise up against the euro, Brussels, globalisation and, primarily, Enrico Letta's government. "To rebel is a duty."

In a loosely formed movement which has gone largely by the name of I Forconi (the Pitchforks), lorry drivers, farmers, small business owners, students and unemployed people staged protests venting their fury at a political class which they blame for Italy's longest post-war recession and want to "send home".

But they were not alone. Alongside them were anti-globalisation groups, members of the Veneto Independence movement, elements of the far right and - for good measure - football "ultras". Among the sights "rarely seen before", reported the Turin-based daily La Stampa, were supporters of arch-rivals Juventus and Torino standing "side by side".

Although the protests had been publicised, especially on the internet, their scale and occasionally violent nature - particularly in Turin, a historic city of protest - appeared to take many by surprise.

In a country struggling to exit a two-year long recession, in which unemployment is at a record high of 12.5% and one in 10 children is thought to be living in absolute poverty, the causes of the unrest are hardly unfathomable.

Dollar Gold

Class divide: Wealthy travelers now have private terminal at Newark Airport

Ever wonder where celebrities and sports teams go when they fly into Newark Liberty Airport and want to avoid prying eyes? One of the places is an unassuming building off an access road at the northern edge of the airport, yards from truck traffic lumbering down an interstate.

Now, well-heeled travelers arriving for February's Super Bowl will find even cushier surroundings.

Signature Flight Support cut the ribbon Friday on a revamped, $11 million private terminal that offers amenities including a lounge with large flat-screen TVs, an executive conference room, free Wi-Fi and courtesy shuttle service.

Plans for the new building were already in place when MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford was selected to host the Super Bowl in 2010, according to general manager Eric Richardson. The awarding of the game and the possibility of a significant bump in customers provided more momentum to the project.

Bad Guys

NYPD broke down door without warrant, beat up family, stomped pet bird to death

© NY Daily News / Shawn Inglima
Edwin Avellant standing next to the birdcage.

"They (the cops) don't care about us as humans, they're going to care about the bird?"

A Staten Island family barbecue turned into a nightmare when it was interrupted by police investigating the improper use of a parking cone to save a parking spot on the street. What resulted was a day the family will never forget, as their home was invaded without a warrant, several family members were bludgeoned, and a NYPD officer sadistically stomped on a pet parakeet that lay helpless on the floor.
© NY Daily News / Shawn Inglima
Evelyn Lugo displays a picture of her beloved pet parakeet, Tito.

The incident occurred on September 2nd, 2012, as the family of Evelyn Lugo celebrated Labor Day at their St. George neighborhood home. Lugo, 57, and her children and grandchildren were at the home eating and enjoying each other's company.

When Lugo's son Edwin Avellanet, 26, went outside to dispose of a bag of garbage, he was approached by police investigating a parking cone. Someone had placed a cone on the street to reserve a parking spot without city permission. Avellanet was stopped and questioned about the suspicious cone, but insisted that he had done nothing wrong.

© NY Daily News
Not accepting his denial, police demanded identification. Avellanet had nothing to show them. When he was grabbed by the arm by one of the uniformed bullies, he broke free and retreated into the house.

Comment: When the police are behaving in such a violent, sadistic, unlawful and pathological way, how 'safe' - even within our own homes - can any of us really consider ourselves to be?


Italy's Grillo urges police to join "pitchfork" protests - some police comply

The head of Italy's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement Beppe Grillo urged police on Tuesday to join protesters as a wave of "pitchfork" protests gave vent to bitter frustration after years of austerity and recession.

The "pitchfork movement", originally a loosely organized group of farmers from Sicily, has been joined by other protestors including truckers, small businessmen, the unemployed, low-paid workers and others who have staged rallies in cities from Turin in the north to Sicily in the south.

Grillo, whose movement has no direct connection with the protests, welcomed reports that several police officers took off their riot helmets and expressed sympathy with demonstrators on Monday.

Heart - Black

Death sentence for Chinese school knife rampage - slashed 22 children

© IBTimes
Min Yongjun goes on a rampage with a knife at a Henan, China school.
A man has been sentenced to death for going on a knife rampage at a school in China last year.

Twenty two children were injured in the slashing spree by Min Yongjun in a school in the central province of Henan on 14 December 2012 - the same day as the Sandy Hook school massacre.

The 37-year-old Min Yongjun was caught on CCTV bursting into the school and chasing terrified youngsters through a gate, before being tackled by a group of adults equipped with brooms.


Sacramento State to go tobacco-free in 2015

© Unknown
California State University, Sacramento
Sacramento State will be a tobacco-free campus beginning in fall 2015, university officials announced Thursday afternoon.

The university's president, Alexander Gonzalez, approved the ban and directed staff to develop a policy to prohibit all tobacco use, including smoking, tobacco chewing and the use of electronic cigarettes on the university's grounds or in its vehicles.

The president's overarching goal is to "promote health and wellness and a healthful educational environment at Sacramento State," according to a news release.

Smoking is currently allowed at California State University, Sacramento, as long as it isn't within 20 feet of a building, in Hornet Stadium or on major walkways.

Arrow Down

North Carolina police say teen shot self in head...while handcuffed behind back

Jesus Huerta
Jesus Huerta
Only in a nation of brain-dead sheep could police departments be getting away with such nonsense. Remember the forced anal probes that recently happened in New Mexico in an attempt to find non-existent drugs? You have to read this to believe it. Anyone got a borrow on The Onion? Permanent short.

From Salon:

A strange phenomenon has been occurring in police custody around the U.S., which seems to defy both the laws of physics and the limits of human physiology. Young people of color, handcuffed with their hands bound behind their backs, are able to shoot themselves in the head. For the critical observer, belief is beggared.

A Durham teen [17-year-old Jesus Huerta] died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said...

"I know that it is hard for people not in law enforcement to understand how someone could be capable of shooting themselves while handcuffed behind the back," Lopez said. "While incidents like this are not common, they unfortunately have happened in other jurisdictions in the past."

Yep, I guess you need to be in law enforcement to understand the latest changes to the laws of physics.

Full article here.

In Liberty,

Bad Guys

Boy, 15, is one of 5 unexplained deaths at Apple's factories in China

© Apple
One of Apple's China suppliers.
A 15-year-old boy dropped dead at Apple's Pegatron factory in China, where the iPhone 5C is made. His death was one of five at Pegatron that labor activists say the company has failed to explain.

The boy, Shi Zhaokun, died of pneumonia shortly after Oct. 9. He had been working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, according to activists from China Labor Watch, a workers' rights organization that performs undercover investigations at Chinese electronics manufacturing plants.

Apple sent a medical team to investigate the deaths but found no connection to the work they did, Bloomberg reports. In a statement to the New York Times, Apple said:
While they have found no evidence of any link to working conditions there, we realize that is of little comfort to the families who have lost their loved ones. Apple has a long-standing commitment to providing a safe and healthy workplace for every worker in our supply chain, and we have a team working with Pegatron at their facility to ensure that conditions meet our high standards.
Apple has made efforts to prevent labor abuses at its Chinese suppliers, and subjects those factories to regular audits and inspections. Part of the problem is that there is high demand for jobs at Apple's factories. In September, there was a riot at Foxconn, another Apple supplier, between different groups of workers - about 200 in all - protecting their turf. The legal age for working in China is 16. Shi was carrying forged papers claiming he was 20.

Light Saber

Bill Moyers: The great American class war

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.

Class War
© Unknown
Bill Moyers on Class War in America
If you've heard the phrase "class war" in twenty-first-century America, the odds are that it's been a curse spat from the mouths of Republican warriors castigating Democrats for engaging in high crimes and misdemeanors like trying to tax the rich. Back in 2011, for example, President Obama's modest proposal of a "millionaire tax" was typically labeled "class warfare" and he was accused by Congressman Paul Ryan, among others, of heading down the "class warfare path." Similarly, in 2012, Mitt Romney and other Republican presidential hopefuls blasted the president for encouraging "class warfare" by attacking entrepreneurial success. In the face of such charges, Democrats invariably go on the defensive, denying that they are in any way inciters of class warfare. In the meantime, unions and the poor are blasted by the same right-wing crew for having the devastatingly bad taste to act in a manner that supposedly might lead to such conflict.

In our own time, to adapt a classic line slightly, how the mighty have risen! And that story could be told in terms of the fate of the phrase "class war," which deserves its Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart moment. After all, for at least a century, it was a commonplace in an all-American lexicon in which "class struggle," "working class," and "plutocrat" were typical everyday words and it was used not to indict those on the bottom but the rich of whatever gilded age we were passing into or out of. It was essentially purged from the national vocabulary in the economic good times (and rabidly anti-communist years) after World War II, only to resurface with the Republican resurgence of the 1980s as a way to dismiss anyone challenging those who controlled ever more of the wealth and power in America.

It was a phrase, that is, impounded by Republicans in the name of, and in the defense of, those who were already impounding so much else in American life. All you have to do is take a look at recent figures on income and wealth inequality, on where the money's really going in this society, to recognize the truth of Warren Buffet's famed comment: "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."

Recently, Bill Moyers (who needs no introduction) gave a speech at the Brennan Center in New York City in which he laid out what class warfare really means in this society. The first appearance of the host of Moyers & Company at TomDispatch is a full-throated call to save what's left of American democracy from - another of those banned words that should come back into use - the plutocrats. Tom