She Wants to Be 'The People’s Sheriff' in Philadelphia

A well-known Philadelphia poor peoples advocate has decided to try something different. She’s running for Sheriff of Philadelphia.

Cheri Honkala, founder of the local Kensington Welfare Rights Union and national director of the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign, announced on Thursday, February 17, she will be running in the November election as the Green Party candidate for Sheriff in the City Of Philadelphia.

“I’m running for Sheriff because something needs to be done to address the plague of home evictions being faced by poor and working families in Philadelphia,” Honkala said. The theme of the Honkala campaign is: “Keeping Families In Their Homes.”

Since evictions and Sheriff’s sale auctions of foreclosed properties are a core task undertaken by the Office Of Sheriff, Honkala’s entrée adds a provocative dimension to an already interesting race.

Cheri Honkala announces she's running for Sheriff of PhiladelphiaCheri Honkala announces she's running for Sheriff of Philadelphia

As “The People’s Sheriff,” Honkala says she will fulfill all the traditional functions of the office that includes transport of inmates to and from city prisons and courthouses, as well as courthouse security. “We will green the transporting of prisoners,” she said, which includes preserving both public safety and the dignity of Philadelphia inmates.

Currently, the Sheriff’s office is facing subpoenas from a US Attorney in a federal grand jury probe addressing things like $53 million missing from the Real Estate Department, the department Honkala has her sights set on. The problems came to light after an audit by City Controller Alan Butkovitz.

When Sheriff John Green, who held the elected office for 22 years, was asked about the absence of records covering his staff’s vacation days, he reportedly said he didn’t need records, since Sheriff’s Office workers worked 24/7. Presumably they were working even if they were at one of the new casinos in the city.

Diplomatic and Consular Immunity: One Rule for Foreign Consulates in US, Another for US Consulates Abroad

President Obama, before he was a President or a Senator, was a constitutional law professor. He should know the law.

And yet in the increasingly dangerous show-down over Pakistan’s arrest and detention of Lahore consular contract “security official” Raymond Davis, who is charged with two counts of murder for the shooting deaths of two young Pakistanis on January 27, the president has grossly misstated what international law is with respect to the immunity from prosecution of diplomatic and consular officials.

As the president put it on a few days ago at a press conference, “With respect to Davis, our diplomat in Pakistan, we’ve got a very simple principle here that every country in the world that is party to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations has upheld in the past and should uphold in the future. If our diplomats are in another country, then they are not subject to that country’s local prosecution. We respect it with respect to diplomats who are here. We expect Pakistan, that’s a signatory should recognize Davis as a diplomat, to abide by the same convention.”

The first problem is that Davis isn’t a “diplomat.” At best he’s a consulate employee. Furthermore, whoever wrote the president his lines or gave him his background briefing sure didn’t read the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963! Nor did he or she read a document issued last August by the US State Department titled: Diplomatic and Consular Immunity; Guidance for Law Enforcement and Judicial Authorities (Dept. of State Pub. 10524)
US State Dept. has one rule on immunity for consular officials here, another for our guys overseasUS State Dept. has one rule on immunity for consular officials here, another for our guys overseas

US Misinformation: International Law is Clear that Diplomatic Immunity is Not Absolute

Lahore, Pakistan–You cannot open the TV, or read a paper here without more and more news about Raymond Davis and his murderous act. His killing on Jan. 27 of two young Pakistanis has created international waves, too, plunging the Pakistan-America relationship into stormy waters.

A great deal has been written about the case: Raymond Davis’s employment status, whether he is a diplomat or not, who his victims were and what led to their demise at his hands, and finally whether or not Davis can be detained and ultimately tried under the Pakistani Law.

Interestingly though, nobody in the media has made a study of the Vienna Diplomatic Coventions that discuss diplomatic immunity. The convention of 1961 gets cited routinely by the American government, which claims it grants all diplomatic workers immunity from prosecution.

But that claim overstates the case. The actual document — never actually quoted — is more nuanced.
Yasmeen AliYasmeen Ali

Tyrants Beware: The People of Egypt Have Done It! They Have Driven Mubarak Out!

Breaking News! After 18 days of huge protests, Egypt’s dictator of 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, has been driven from power by the uprising of the Egyptian people, who refused to accept his attempt last night to hang on to power.

Mubarak ousted by People Power!Mubarak ousted by People Power!

There is still much to know, but the 20-second announcement on state television at 6 pm Egyptian time informed the country that Hosni Mubarak had been driven from the Presidency of Egypt. It appears that his handpicked successor, the blood-drenched Interior Ministry head Omar Suleiman, who had been “vice president” for a few days, and who made the announcement, has also been pushed out–he said in flat tones on state television that the Army would henceforth be running the country’s affairs.

The reality is that it was the demonstrators and strikers who made this happen, but technically the ousting of Mubarak was a military coup, and It remains to be seen if the army will now to hold power and keep the ruling elite in power, or whether it will hand things over to civilians from the incredible people’s movement that has accomplished this astonishing feat.

One thing’s for sure: it would be hard to push the millions of Egyptians whose peaceful but unflinching protests achieved this revolution back into the shadows and margins of society and economic life where they have lived for half a century.

As one man told an Al Jazeera reporter: “The Egyptian People now know that they can do this. We have just witnessed the rebirth of a great nation!”

The Tahrir Blues

Hosni Mubarak has chosen not to fold his losing hand and to play it to the bitter end.

After the CIA and the Egyptian military said he was going to resign, he didn’t, which further escalated the tension around the question hanging over Cairo: Who is the military going to side with?

Is it the bloated kleptocrat and his bloody sidekick Omar Suleiman – the inseparable ally the generals have been in bed with since the State Of Emergency was declared in 1981 — or the Egyptian citizens who refuse to leave Tahrir Square and demand a suspension of the constitution, then fair and open elections.

For the military the choice seems like whether to let go of your 300-pound mother as she’s pulling you into powerfully raging floodwaters. If you don’t let her go, she’s going to drag you into even more dangerous waters that will assure all your doom.

As a veteran of decades of anti-militarism activism in America – child’s play here compared to Tahrir Square — I feel the people in Tahrir are my brothers and sisters. Like many, I’m moved by their bravery and determination.

Always hanging over them is a relentless wet blanket, an oppressive, smothering force represented by the militarist juggernaut reaching from Washington DC, through Israel and Saudi Arabia, to the deeply funded and entrenched military class of Egypt.

Tahrir Square and Presidents Mubarak and ObamaTahrir Square and Presidents Mubarak and Obama

After Mubarak’s speech on Thursday, the chants rose in Tahrir Square: “The people and the army! Hand in hand!”

Amazingly, the Egyptian Army, by all standards probably one of the more corrupt military institutions in the world, is now the peacemaker in Egypt, perched above it all like a vulture calculating how long the Tahrir Square forces can hold out and how long Mubarak and his fat cronies can keep believing they’re leading Egypt.

Do the generals appease the demonstrators and essentially pull off a coup for democracy, pushing Mubarak into exile, then suspend the constitution and arrange real elections? Or do they appease Mubarak and Suleiman and start shooting demonstrators in front of the international media?

Cities Like Philly Waste Millions Defending Crooked, Racist Cops: 'Alley Cat' Ethics and Other Antics

The ethics reforms Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter implemented recently covering most workers in that city’s perennially corruption-plagued government has a curious gap: there is no measure prohibiting retaliation.

Could that have anything do with a federal lawsuit that names the Hizzoner as principal defendant, alleging that Nutter engaged in retaliation against a city employee who helped expose corruption in press?

This federal civil rights lawsuit accuses Mayor Nutter of sacking a city employee who alerted a Philadelphia Daily News reporter about corruption within that city’s Police Department – long a cesspool of corruption and brutality.

The resulting series of articles about the rampant corruption within a squad of narcotics cops resulted in the Daily News winning a Pulitzer Prize last year.

The plaintiff in that lawsuit, Wellington Stubbs, is formerly the chief inspector for Philadelphia’s civilian police review agency. Stubbs alleges that
Nutter initiated retaliatory actions against him because of his directing a police informant whistleblower to the Daily News. Those actions eventually “forced” Stubbs to resign in November 2009.
 Too ready to cover up cop corruption?Mayor Nutter: Too ready to cover up cop corruption?

US Terror Campaign in Pakistan? What was Raymond Davis Shooting for in Lahore?

The mystery surrounding Raymond A. Davis, the American former Special Forces operative jailed in Lahore, Pakistan for the murder of two young motorcyclists, and his funky “security” company, Hyperion-Protective Consultants LLC, in the US continues to grow.

When Davis was arrested in the immediate aftermath of the double slaying in a busy business section of Lahore, after he had fatally shot two men in the back, claiming that he feared they might be threatening to rob him, police found business cards on him for a security company called Hyperion-Protective Consultants LLC, which listed as its address 5100 North Lane, Orlando, Florida.

A website for the company gave the same address, and listed the manager as a Gerald Richardson.

An investigation into the company done for Counterpunch Magazine that was published on Tuesday, disclosed that the address was actually for a vacant storefront in a run-down and almost completely empty strip mall in Orlando called North Lane Plaza. The 5100 shop was completely empty and barren, save for an empty Coke glass on a vacant counter.

Now Tom Johnson, executive of a property company called IB Green, owner of the strip mall property, says that the 5100 address was rented by a man named Gerald Richardson, who used it to sell clothing. “We made him move out in December 2009 for nonpayment of rent,” he says. Johnson recalls that at one point when Richardson was leasing the space for his clothing store, he told him, “Oh, I have another company called Hyperion which might get mail there.”

Hyperion-Protective Consultants LLC, as reported in the Counterpunch article, is not registered with the Florida Secretary of State’s office, although it still lists the vacant 5100 North Lane, Orlando address as its headquarters on the company website, which also provides an email address for Richardson, who is described as the company’s “manager and chief researcher.” (Efforts to reach Richardson via his email and by leaving a message on the one functioning number listed on the website have gone unanswered.)

But there are other mysteries here, too, regarding Davis (whose name does not appear on the Hyperion-Protective website), and regarding Hyperion.
Just a security guy? Guns, shells, clips, multiple cell phones and batteries all found in Davis's possession by policeJust a security guy? Guns, shells, clips, multiple cell phones and batteries all found in Davis's possession by police

America: Standing in the Way of Democracy

It is pathetic and even laughable to hear American leaders, and the leaders of the other Western democracies in Europe, cautioning that Egypt’s revolution needs to move slowly, as they call for a “transition” government that would be gently guided to elections by the very man, Omar Suleiman, who for years has headed the dreaded Mukhabarat, the Egyptian secret police, all under the protective umbrella of the Egyptian military.

What is this nonsense?

Did America’s revolutionary government have a slow transition to democracy? Did America’s revolutionaries sign the Declaration of Independence and then hand over the reins of government to a general from the British Army to oversee things as they prepared for elections? No. They immediately set up a democratic system, even in the midst of a bitter war for independence. Did the African National Congress turn to a general from the South African military to run a transition government in South Africa when they finally ousted the Apartheid regime in that country? No, they held an election, and went on to rule as the elected majority. When the People Power revolution in the Philippines toppled the Marcos dictatorship after a generation of autocratic and brutal martial law law, did the people turn to the country’s military and ask it to run the country for a transition year to democracy? No, of course not! They held a snap election and elected the widow, Corazon Aquino, wife of the martyred democracy activist Benigno Aquino.

Democracies don’t need “transitions” run by military rulers and hold-over tyrants. These are tactics designed to subvert, delay and even prevent true popular rule.
Tom Paine would be in Egypt's Liberation SquareTom Paine would be in Egypt's Liberation Square

Exclusive: The Deepening Mystery of Raymond Davis and Two Slain Pakistani Motorcyclists

This article appeared initially in Counterpunch magazine
 

The mystery of American Raymond A. Davis, currently imprisoned in the custody of local police in Lahore, Pakistan and charged with the Jan. 27 murder of two young men, whom he allegedly shot eight times with uncanny accuracy through his car windshield, is growing increasingly murky. Also growing is the anger among Pakistanis that the US is trying to spring him from a Punjab jail by claiming diplomatic immunity.

Davis (whose identity was first denied and later confirmed by the US Embassy in Islamabad), and the embassy have claimed that he was hired as an employee of a US security company called Hyperion Protective Consultants, LLC, which was said to be located at 5100 North Lane in Orlando, Florida. Business cards for Hyperion were found on Davis by arresting officers.

However ThisCantBeHappening! and Counterpunch magazine have investigated and uncovered the following information:

Firstly, there is not and never has been any such company located at the 5100 North Lane address. It is only an empty storefront, with empty shelves along one wall and an empty counter on the opposite wall, with just a lone used Coke cup sitting on it. A leasing agency sign is on the window.

 Hapless US consular employee, CIA agent or mercenary intelligence black-ops operative?Raymond Davis: Hapless US consular employee, CIA agent or mercenary intelligence black-ops operative?

The empty strip mall in Orlando where Davis claims his company, Hyperion Protective Consultants LLC, is basedThe empty strip mall in Orlando where Davis claims his company, Hyperion Protective Consultants LLC, is based

Shumaila, widow Faheem poisoned herself to death to demand justice for her husband, slain motorcyclist Mohammad Faheem.Shumaila Faheem poisoned herself to death to demand justice for her husband, slain motorcyclist Mohammad Faheem.