Changeseeker: March 2008 Archives
I received the following statement a couple of days ago from the Southern Poverty Law Center:
"Before he leaves office, President Bush is trying to give another gift to his corporate allies. His Department of Labor has proposed sweeping changes to regulations intended to protect both U.S. and foreign workers in this country. The deadline for public comment is March 31, 2008, just a week away. Please add your voice to those who say 'no' to labor abuse.
"Farmworkers put food on our tables. Every time we sit down for a meal, we should thank them. Yet, if the Bush Administration gets its way, it will be easier for giant growers like Del Monte to hide behind middlemen and evade responsibility for labor abuses from which they profit. It also will be easier for big corporations to bring in foreign workers even if there is no shortage of U.S. labor. In a myriad of ways, the Bush Administration's proposals would erode protections for all workers.
"The systematic abuse of foreign and domestic laborers by powerful corporate interests is one of the most important human rights issues of our time. We've issued a major report, Close to Slavery, that exposes how "guestworkers" imported into this country are routinely exploited. We've also filed numerous lawsuits against some of the worst corporate violators. Just last week, we won a major victory against a Del Monte subsidiary.
"But it will take more than lawsuits and reports to stop the Bush Administration. It will take a public outcry from people of good will across the nation. Add your voice to those who say 'no' to labor abuse."
If you are so inclined, please go here to leave your input on this important issue.
More than thirty years ago, Sami Al-Arian, the son of Palestinian refugees, came to the United States as an immigrant. He married, had a family, and eventually became a tenured professor of computer science at the University of South Florida. Five years ago, after years of illegal surveillance of both he and his family, he was arrested for supporting terrorism.
The trial was a travesty. The government found no evidence (in 21,000 hours of illegal wiretapping!) such as would convict Al-Arian, but they tried to manipulate the emotions of the jury by showing videos of bombings in Israel, implying that Al-Arian was some sort of mastermind of such activities. The jury refused to convict. They ruled him innocent on eight charges, remaining deadlocked (10-2) on nine more.
As his continued incarceration was wearing on both he and his family, Al-Arian ultimately agreed to plead "guilty" to one charge consisting of such heinous crimes as lying to a reporter about whether or not he knew someone (this is against the law?). In any case, the agreement was that the government would release Al-Arian to join his family and leave the United States. In a last minute shocking move, however, the judge sentenced Al-Arian to the maximum possible for the trumped up charges and Al-Arian was shipped to a back-water county jail in Virginia where he was brought up before a Grand Jury and subsequently cited for contempt for not testifying. This meant MORE time to serve, of course, so he is now in his fifth year of continual incarceration without having been convicted of a single crime!