Occupy protesters prepare for day of ‘solidarity’ across US

Series of events planned to support evicted Zuccotti Park activists by highlighting growing inequality and need for jobs

by Paul Harris in New York

Supporters of the Occupy movement are gearing up for a national day of protest and direct action across America, taking in dozens of events from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles.

Thursday has been declared a day of “solidarity” with the Occupy Wall Street activists in New York after their camp in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park was raided and dismantled by police. But it is also aimed at highlighting several of the movement’s broader aims in terms of income inequality and a desperate need for job creation in America’s floundering economy. …

Read more » guardian.co.uk

Can India Rescue Pakistan? – a peace conversation in Goa

Seven ways India can rescue Pakistan

Editor’s Note: Firstpost editors Sandip Roy and Lakshmi Chaudhry report on the ultimate celebrity conference. A five star line up of authors, intellectuals, biz tycoons, actors, politicians and more have gathered at the Grand Hyatt in Goa as part of Thinkfest. Co-organized by Tehelka and Newsweek, this haute version of TED brings together an eclectic and intriguing range of A-list names, from Nobel peace prize winning Leymah Gbowee to Omar Abdullah to author Siddharth Muherjee to Arvind Kejriwal. Here are their reports on some of the most interesting conversations.

Pervez Hoodbhoy: Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff offered him the Sitara-i-Imtiaz, the third highest honour in the State of Pakistan, but Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, 61, refused it. A Pakistani scientist, essayist, and political-defence analyst, Hoodbhoy is a professor of nuclear physics and heads the physics department at Quaid-e-Azam University. A strong and avid supporter of nuclear disarmament, non-nuclear proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear technology in Pakistan. ….

Read more » FirstPost

The United States of Prisons

21st-Century Slaves: How Corporations Exploit Prison Labor

In the eyes of the corporation, inmate labor is a brilliant strategy in the eternal quest to maximize profit.

By Rania Khalek

There is one group of American workers so disenfranchised that corporations are able to get away with paying them wages that rival those of third-world sweatshops. These laborers have been legally stripped of their political, economic and social rights and ultimately relegated to second-class citizens. They are banned from unionizing, violently silenced from speaking out and forced to work for little to no wages. This marginalization renders them practically invisible, as they are kept hidden from society with no available recourse to improve their circumstances or change their plight.

They are the 2.3 million American prisoners locked behind bars where we cannot see or hear them. And they are modern-day slaves of the 21st century.

Incarceration Nation

It’s no secret that America imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation in history. With just 5 percent of the world’s population, the US currently holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. “In 2008, over 2.3 million Americans were in prison or jail, with one of every 48 working-age men behind bars,” according to a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research(CEPR). That doesn’t include the tens of thousands of detained undocumented immigrants facing deportation, prisoners awaiting sentencing, or juveniles caught up in the school-to-prison pipeline. Perhaps it’s reassuring to some that the US still holds the number one title in at least one arena, but needless to say the hyper-incarceration plaguing America has had a damaging effect on society at large.

The CEPR study observes that US prison rates are not just excessive in comparison to the rest of the world, they are also “substantially higher than our own longstanding history.” The study finds that incarceration rates between 1880 and 1970 ranged from about “100 to 200 prisoners per 100,000 people.” After 1980, the inmate population “began to grow much more rapidly than the overall population and the rate climbed from “about 220 in 1980 to 458 in 1990, 683 in 2000, and 753 in 2008.”

The costs of this incarceration industry are far from evenly distributed, with the impact of excessive incarceration falling predominantly on African-American communities. Although black people make up just 13 percent of the overall population, they account for 40 percent of US prisoners. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), black males are incarcerated at a rate “more than 6.5 times that of white males and 2.5 that of Hispanic males and “black females are incarcerated at approximately three times the rate of white females and twice that of Hispanic females.”

Michelle Alexander points out in her book The New Jim Crow that more black men “are in prison or jail, on probation or on parole than were enslaved in 1850.” Higher rates of black drug arrests do not reflect higher rates of black drug offenses. In fact, whites and blacks engage in drug offenses, possession and sales at roughly comparable rates. ….

Read more » AlterNet

Some constructive work by Pakistani Parliament – Congratulation to women of Pakistan & congratulation to all those parliamentarians who supported this women protection bill

NA passes women protection bill

By: Javaid-ur-rahman

ISLAMABAD – The National Assembly Tuesday unanimously passed ‘The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Amendment Bill) Bill 2010’ to prohibit certain practices leading to exploitation and discrimination against womenfolk including marriage with the Holy Quran, giving a female in marriage or otherwise in Badla-e-Sulh, Wani or Sawara and depriving women of inheriting property.

The bill moved by MNA Donya Aziz was succeeded to get clearance in the third attempt, as the bill has twice been deferred in the last NA session (35th session) of private member day. The four clauses of the anti-women practices bill had been passed after thorough discussion. …

Read more » The Nation

No mention of the Munabao-Khokrapar trade option in India-Pak trade talks!?

Normal trade ties with India from February

By Jawed Naqvi

NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan agreed on Tuesday to resume normal trade ties in February, paving the way to end decades of political mistrust and military rivalry.

“We have turned the corner,” Pakistan’s Commerce Secretary Zafar Mehmood told reporters at a joint news conference with his Indian counterpart Rahul Khullar. “We are talking of a complete normalisation roadmap.”

Mr Mehmood said in a separate TV interview that Pakistan’s decision to accord India a most favoured nation (MFN) status would be conveyed officially to the world trade body before February. Misgivings about the move among ‘stakeholders’ in Pakistan who fear open trade with India would be allayed by then, he said. …

Read more » DAWN.COM