Short news items from WS56


How low can they go? - 1,400 mentally disabled people in the 26 counties have no suitable place to live. Another 1,000 desperately need suitable day care. Last November their parents appealed to the government for £60 million to provide these essential services for their children.

It is a lot of money, but it's also a lot less than the government allowed AIB to steal in unpaid DIRT tax. Their appeal came at a time when the government had announced a £900 million budget surplus. Surely with so much cash available there would be no problem.

Fianna Fáil TD Mary Hanafin got up in the Dáil and quoted a parent as saying that if her son was "a cow or had a hurley stick in his left hand" he would get more help than he does now. And a minute later, without even a hint of embarrassment, she joined the other Fianna Fáil and PD deputies in saying NO to the £60 million.

Fine Gael, Labour and DL deputies were quick to proclaim their disgust and disapproval. They forgot to mention that when they were in government a couple of years ago they also denied the same necessary resources to the mentally disabled.

These hypocrites take turns at playing "good cop, bad cop" with our hopes and needs. When in opposition they say they support you, when in government they dash your hopes.

Unless, of course, you are a rancher or a beef baron or a tax evading bank. And it will stay much the same until the majority of working people end the rule of the millionaires and start taking control of the things that effect us.

"Suffer the children" or "make the children suffer"?

A 12-year-old Pontiac (a city near Detroit) youth is set to stand trial as an adult for murder. Nathaniel Abraham faces first-degree murder charges for the alleged October 1997 shooting of a 19-year-old man outside a convenience store. The charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole, which, if imposed, would violate the Convention on the Rights of the Child, an international agreement prohibiting the death penalty and life terms for youths under 18.

Amnesty International points out that of 194 United Nations members, only the U.S and Somalia haven't ratified the agreement. Up to 15 youths under the age of 18 have been sentenced to life terms in the U.S. and there is currently a bill pending before the U.S. Senate further lower the age that a juvenile can be charged as an adult for a crime.

Amnesty also cite numerous U.S. violations of children's rights, including the fact that more than 3,700 children are sentenced to prisons, and are not separated from adult prisoners, putting them at serious risk of physical and sexual abuse. African-American youth are disproportionately represented in the penal system.

African-American youth constitute 15 % of the national population, aged 10-17, but account for 30% of youth referred to juvenile court, 40% of youth detained before trial in juvenile court, 40% of youth held in custody for trial in adult criminal courts.

Source: Michigan Chronicle, Dec. 2nd, 1998

WSM to donate to Czech anti-fascists legal defence

On November 27, 1998, two members of the Czech Federation of Social Anarchists were brutally attacked by a group of at least five neo-nazis in the Prague club "Campton." One of the two was knocked out after a short fight, while the other, Michal Patera, was injured. Fearing for his life, Michal drew his legally owned gun and fired at his attackers.

One of the fascists was shot three times, and the others withdrew for a moment. Michal managed to escape, but was arrested shortly after by the police. For defending his life, Michal is now charged with "attempted murder motivated by ideological conviction." Michal is threatened by a sentence of 25 years in the hardest type of prison, and expects to spend at least one year in "protective custody" before his case goes to trial. None of the attacking neo-nazis face even minor charges.

We have decided to make a sizable donation from our international solidarity fund to Michal's legal costs. We encourage readers to add to this donation by sending cash/cheques/PO's to us at WSM (Czech Fund), P.O. Box 1528, Dublin 8, Ireland.

Iraq -act to end sanctions

A number of US socialists, including the anarchists Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, have circulated a call pointing out that

"this month U.S. policy will kill 4,500 children under the age of 5 in Iraq, according to UN studies, just as it did last month and the month before that, all the way back to 1991.

"This is not foreign policy &emdash; it is sanctioned mass-murder that is nearing holocaust proportions. If we remain silent, we are condoning a genocide that is being perpetrated ... perpetrated in our name.... we must organize and make this issue a priority, just as Americans organized to stop the war in Vietnam, and to protest U.S. policies in Central America and South Africa.

"We need a national campaign to lift the sanctions. Such a campaign is not equivalent to support for the regime of Saddam Hussein. To oppose the sanctions is to support the Iraqi people. The people are suffering because of the actions of both the Iraqi and U.S. governments, but our moral responsibility lies here in the United States, to counter the hypocrisy and inhumanity of our leaders."

This article is from Workers Solidarity No 56 published in March 1999