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Proxy War Against Syria Allowed ISIS to Thrive
By arming and funding groups seeking regime change in Syria, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and Turkey have fostered the growth of ISIS, now called the Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate in vast stretches of the region. “It’s a classice case of blowback,” said Dr. Vijay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut. “The very fact that the Islamic State has declared a caliphate is an open declaration of war against Saudi Arabia,” whose monarchy bases its legitimacy on its role as defender of the holy places of Mecca and Medina.
Police Brutality is Built into the System
“Police brutality is not caused by a few aberrant, rogue cops. It is a systemic problem that arises from the system of social, economic and political oppression that we live under,” said Larry Hamm, chairman of the Newark, New Jersey-based Peoples Organization for Progress. Abuses persist, even in those cities that have community police review boards “because the use of violence against Black people has been necessary and condoned since the creation of the United States of America.” You can’t keep people in slavery, or commit genocide against Native Americans, without massive applications of violence, said Hamm, speaking at the annual conference of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, in Philadelphia.
Black Is Back Coalition to March on White House
The police response to Black protest in Ferguson, Missouri, has called attention to the massive militarization of U.S. police behavior and equipment. “They call it surplus military equipment that they have given to police departments, but that’s not surplus,” said Black Is Back Coalition chairman Omali Yeshitela. “The military budget includes the resources they are shooting into communities to control African people. It’s not surplus when you understand that the local police department is an extension of the same state apparatus that’s functioning today in places like Afghanistan. That’s colonialism,” said Yeshitela. The Coalition announced plans to march on the White House, on November 1, under the banner “Peace Through Revolution.”
Justice Department Should Review Every Police Killing of Unarmed Blacks
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund called on the U.S. Justice Department to mount a “comprehensive review of all police-involved assaults and killings of all unarmed individuals, with a particular focus on the killings of unarmed African Americans,” said associate director Janai Nelson. The review is one of four recommendations outlined by the LDEF in a letter to the Justice Department. “There are concerns of over-policing in these communities, of ‘broken windows’ policing, of racial profiling, that has led to this disparate number of killings among African Americans,” said Nelson.
Mumia: “We are All Michael Brown”
The Black people of Ferguson, Missouri, “have resisted every attempt to sidetrack or silence their efforts to achieve the arrest, prosecution and conviction of the white cop who shot and killed Mike Brown,” said Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner, in a report for Prison Radio. “The face of sweet-talking politicians promising peace; police with dark faces promising protection; preachers praying for placidity,” did not deter the protesters. ”They kept on marching for justice.”
“Broken Windows” Policing Must Go
Robert Gangi, director of New York City’s Police Reform Organizing Project, has documented the racial bias inherent in the NYPD’s pursuit of so-called “quality of life” offenses. “Police in New York arrest people for occupying two seats on the subway, even though it’s 2 o’clock in the morning and there’s nobody else in the subway car,” said Gangi. “Far too much of the NYPD’s resources focuses on activities that are not criminal, that are not dangerous, that are not predatory; activities that are engaged in by people of color,” like selling loose cigarettes. “The senseless death of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD is a worst-case scenario of what can happen with the aggressive application of broken windows policing.”
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Nation’s First All-Charter School System Restores Segregation
The last conventional public school in the New Orleans Recovery District closed last month, a harbinger of what may be in store in systems across the country. “Apparently, this model means taking education out of the public realm and putting it into the hands of private, non-profit boards and for-profit corporations,” said Karran Harper Royal, a parent advocate with the city’s Coalition for Community Schools, one of several groups that have filed a civil rights suit against the district and the Louisiana Board of Education. “It seems that white kids are disproportionately taking up the seats in the A- and B-rated schools,” while Black children are clustered in failing schools, said Ms. Harper Royal. “After all these years, we’re back in a segregated school system, only now it is also along class lines.”
Haiti Activists Urge Rejection of Both Congressional Candidates in Harlem
Incumbent Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel and his main challenger, State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, are both guilty of supporting “apartheid” policies against Dominicans of Haitian descent, charged demonstrators outside a televised campaign debate. Under a law passed by the Dominican Republic and endorsed by Rangel and Espaillat, less than 10 percent of 200,000-plus people with roots in Haiti will quality for Dominican citizenship, even though most have never set foot outside the country and speak only Spanish. Daoud Andre, a Haitian community activist, called on Harlemites “not to vote for either of these supporters of apartheid,” and for “people of conscience around the world to boycott Dominican products and services,” including tourism.
Black Is Back Coalition: Obama “Worse Than Bush”
Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, said Barack Obama has been “worse than Bush” for Black people, and for the cause of peace. “Bush couldn’t have gotten away with the things Obama did without some kind of response” from the Black community,” said Yeshitela. Obama “has neutralized so many forces, taken them out of action. It wasn’t understood that part of Obama’s function was to act as a cover for white power and for imperialism. He’s escalated war, he’s signed off on assassinations, and he’s done it with a neutralized Black community.” The Black Is Back Coalition holds its annual international conference in Philadelphia, August 16-17.
U.S. Pushes Russia and China into Closer Alliance
Washington’s provocations are driving Russia, the world’s top energy exporter, and China, soon to be the world’s largest economy, into a deeper economic and political alliance, said Eric Draitser, of StopImperialism.org. “It would seem a self-defeating strategy,” said the independent political analyst. “But, the reality is that the United States doesn’t have control anymore. Obama and his blundering foreign policy have provided the impetus” for closer Sino-Russian collaboration, which can only increase with development of a “New Silk Road stretching from China all the way through Turkey and into Europe.”
Mumia on the Passing of Ruby Dee
Actress and activist Ruby Dee, who died at age 91, supported many radical causes and political prisoners, including Mumia Abu Jamal. “One would be hard pressed to find a role where she played anything less than the best of Black people,” said Abu Jamal, in a report for Prison Radio. Ruby Dee and her late husband Ossie Davis’ “work was a theater of Black dignity, Black family and Black love.”
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Count-Down to a Class-Based Internet
The public has four months to respond to the Federal Communications Commission’s plans to end Internet neutrality. “The people are very clear about what they want,” said Kevin Zeese, an organizer of Occupy the FCC, which camped out in front of the Commission’s offices, in Washington. “They don’t want a class-based Internet. They don’t want a two-tiered Internet based on fees. They want an open, equal Internet,” as demanded by several million petitioners and callers to the FCC.
Rev. Pinkney Defiant Under House Arrest
The leading activist in mostly Black Benton Harbor, Michigan, will still be under house arrest when protestors converge on the PGA tournament, May 24. Rev. Edward Pinkney is facing 20 years in prison on elections law charges stemming from an effort to recall Mayor James Hightower, described as a “stoolie” for the Whirlpool Corporation, which dominates the town. Pinkney said Whirlpool hoped his arrest would defeat the recall effort and undermine the “Occupy the PGA” protests, “but we’re going to win both of them.”
U.S. War Against Libya Boosted Boko Haram
“We cannot understand the rise and strengthening of Boko Haram and, indeed, most of the radical Islamic activity in Africa, disconnected from” NATO’s overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s government in Libya, said BAR editor and columnist Ajamu Baraka, author of the article “From Benghazi to Boko Haram.” The 2011 triumph of U.S.-backed jihadists in Libya “provided a material source for training and equipment and money that strengthened these elements across the continent,” said Baraka.
“No War” Rally in Times Square
Activists will stage a “No War” rally at New York City’s Times Square, May 26, to demand the U.S. halt its aggressive confrontations with Russia – the root of the crisis in Ukraine. The Ukrainian coup-imposed, fascist-backed government in Kiev initially failed to crush resistance in the eastern parts of the country, said Sara Flounders, of the International Action Center, because the military “refused to fight against their own sisters and brothers. And now U.S. imperialism has only the fascists to lean on” in Ukraine. She likened the eastern Ukrainian resistance to “an armed Occupy Wall Street.”
Greg Butterfield, a contributing editor to Workers World newspaper, said the fascists that shot, beat or burned to death 46 people in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa were much like the Ku Klux Klan. “You can see why people have taken the initiative to form militias and protect themselves to keep the fascists out of eastern Ukraine, said Butterfield.
U.S. Goal is to Subdue Russia
Washington tries relentless to encircle and isolate Russia “to subordinate it, so it can be ripped off and integrated into the world market controlled by the United States and the European Union,” said Jeff Mackler, of Socialist Action, in Oakland, California. However, Mackler doesn’t think the U.S. wants to go to war with Russia, “although the Cold War rhetoric is still there,” because “Russia is no longer a workers’ state with a planned economy.”
Mumia: Systemic Racism Trumps Personal Prejudice
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s private racist remarks are fodder for the media, but the press ignores “systemic racism, which has an impact on the lives and life hopes of millions of people,” said Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner. Mass incarceration, for example, is a racist policy of the state. “It is this vase, impersonal, systemic racism that deserves our attention and condemnation,” not the private utterances “of an old goat lusting for a 30-something,” said Abu Jamal, in a commentary for Prison Radio.
Cornel West: Hands Off the Black Radical Tradition
“When you attack Tony Monteiro, you’re attacking a Black man called Cornel West, too,” said the nation’s best known Black public intellectual. Dr. West was speaking at a North Philadelphia rally demanding Temple University reinstate Dr. Anthony Monteiro at its African American Studies department. Dr. Molefi Asante, the department chairman, has launched a red-baiting campaign against Dr. Monteiro and his supporters. Dr. West sees this as an assault on the Black radical tradition. “You’re attacking Angela Davis; you’re attacking DuBois; you’re attacking the memory of Paul Robeson; you’re attacking the memory of Sinclair Drake,” said West.
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Special Edition: The Jackson Rising Conference
This week, Black Agenda Radio focuses entirely on the recent “Jackson Rising” conference on cooperative economies, organized by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM). Organizers had hoped the event would be hosted by Chokwe Lumumba, the revolutionary Black nationalist and MXGM co-founder who was elected mayor of mostly Black Jackson, Mississippi, last June. However, Lumumba died suddenly this past February, and his son Chokwe Antar Lumumba was defeated in a special election to fill his father’s seat, in April. Despite the loss, the Jackson Rising conference proceeded as scheduled, attracting hundreds of activists from the region and around the country. BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon was on hand for all three days of the conference.
Allies and Enemies
Ed Whitfield, of the Fund for Democratic Communities, said the people need a vision. “It’s a vision of where we’re able to use our labor to provide enough for our loved ones and ourselves, as well as the very young, the old, the infirm, and those people who are caretakers of the community, producing love and caring for other people.”
Mississippi law “does not allow for the incorporation of cooperatives in any other sector within the state except agriculture, Melba Smith informed a popular workshop. The restrictions pose a hardship on low-income people, who must go out of state to form cooperatives and then apply for a license to operate in Mississippi, said Smith, of the Coalition for a Prosperous Mississippi.
State Sen. Jim Evans, a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement, told delegates “You have allies all over the world” – but plenty of adversaries in Mississippi. “These folks ain’t gonna change nothing unless we organize and build a majority, said Evans, who works closely with organized labor. “They don’t know what’s right, and neither do they care.”
A Question of Self-Determination
Iya Falola, a local Jackson MXGM activist, said people need to put the concept of solidarity at the center of economic thought. “The real model of economic uplift is taking the ‘I’ out of the concept,” she said. “Until we come together collectively, and are all able to benefit from our efforts, there is no solidarity in economy. It’s still capitalistic.”
The Federation of Southern Cooperatives has been working with small farmers for almost 50 years, and was one of the main participants in the Jackson Rising conference. “For African Americans, from a cultural and historical standpoint, cooperatives offer a way for people to embrace values of working together with others to enhance the total community,” said the Federation’s John Zippert.
Salima Muhammad represented Praxis, which also provide support for the conference. She believes people want to be self-determining in their economic activities. “If we can own it, then we can determine how it’s used. I think that’s where people are directing their energy.”
Michael Peck spoke for the Spain-based Mondragon Corporation, the world’s best-known cooperative, with 80,000 worker-owners and plants in 39 countries. A Mondragon venture in Argentina went bust, causing suffering among the local workers. “We went into that region as a financial investor, but we didn’t take our values with us,” said Peck. After a long, democratic review of the episode, “we decided that we would never again make an international investment without taking our values with us.”
Solidarity Economy: Essential to Transformation
There is nothing capitalistic about MXGM’s cooperative vision, said Adofo Minka. “Cooperation Jackson” emphasizes “placing the means of production in the hands of the people, and focusing more on creating livable wages and benefits for the people who work in these businesses, as opposed to one owner who is only interested in developing his own pockets.”
Bruce Dixon engaged MXGM’s Mikea Kambui, Akil Bakari and Von Anderson in a wide-ranging discussion of cooperative possibilities. One idea is to form an entertainment cooperative that Jacksonians could buy into for, say, $5 a month. “Over three months, we could come to the city with a public-private partnership to start a movie theater, here, or two theaters,” said the activists. Currently, not a single movie is located in Jackson, which had 11 theaters in the 1980s.
Gus Newport, the former mayor of Berkeley, California and close friend of Malcolm X, has long experience in cooperative ventures. “The cooperative model teaches us how to create what Martin Luther King called ‘The Beloved Community’ – how to work together, to learn to have concern for your fellow human being.”
The conference was “a foundational moment,” said Rose Brewer, a Minneapolis activist with the U.S. Social Forum and the Black Left Unity Network. “To reignite that communal, as well as cooperative, spirit is absolutely essential to any social transformation,” she said.
Sage Crump, of Artists 4 Change, said: “What moved me most was this idea of the solidarity economy, and how do we shift the way we think about our exchange of goods and services, from an individual model of give-and-get to What is the benefit for all people?” Crump is from New Orleans.
Cornel West: Integrity is Key to Liberation
“They are closing our schools, they’re foreclosing our homes, closing our libraries, closing the factories, closing the post office,” said Larry Hamm, president of the Newark-based People’s Organization for Progress. “They continue to do it, because they have not yet met the countervailing force that can stop them from doing,” he told the Bethany Baptist Church crowd. Hamm then directed the question to the evening’s speaker, noted public intellectual Dr. Cornel West, of New York’s Union Theological Seminary. “How do we build this countervailing force?”
Organizing for liberation requires “three things,” said Dr. West. “Your vision, and the courage behind your vision. Your analysis; Do you really understand what you’re up against? And then, the organizing and mobilizing that has to take place.” Integrity is key. “When you confront a system that either buys off your leaders, lies on your leaders, or kills them, the freest persons are always those who have an absolute commitment to integrity and decency, and are willing to go under.”
Pressure Mounts on Temple University in Monteiro Firing
Students and community organizations plan a series of actions to protest Temple University’s firing of African American Studies professor Dr. Anthony Monteiro. A student walkout is set for this Wednesday and, next week, Philadelphia community groups will march on the campus seeking justice for Monteiro, a fair contract for university employees, and against gentrification of the Black neighborhoods that surround Temple. People recognize that “injustice to the community has gone hand in hand with this injustice to me,” said Monteiro. African American Studies chairman Dr. Molefi Asante has resorted to red-baiting to defend his complicity in Monteiro’s firing. Asante argues “that I am a radical, that I’m a Marxist, that I’m a socialist and, therefore, I don’t fit into his view of African American Studies at Temple,” said Monteiro.
The Friends and Foes of Amiri Baraka
Larry Hamm, chairman of the Newark, New Jersey-based People’s Organization for Progress, wants there to be no mistake: His friend and mentor Amiri Baraka, the activist/poet/public intellectual who died last week at age 79, “was a revolutionary. In the days ahead, until he’s buried, everybody is going to look back upon him with fond remembrances. But, for some of those people, if Amiri Baraka was coming down the street, they would cross to the other side.” Baraka’s funeral will be held on Saturday, in Newark.
War on Poverty was Underfunded and Restrained
From the very beginning of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, launched 50 years ago, “there was a push to keep the lid on new spending on anti-poverty programs – and that only got worse with the funneling of money to Vietnam,” said Alice O’Connor, professor of history at the University of California at Santa Barbara and author of Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy and the Poor in Twentieth Century U.S. History. Although newly created federal agencies were mandated to give the poor a voice in anti-poverty efforts, “there was pressure from the localities to keep that money out of the hands of groups that were going to challenge the status quo,” said O’Connor.
From Many Struggles, One
Progressive forces can achieve victory by building a “movement of movements,” said Margaret Flowers, co-author with Kevin Zeese of the article “Task of a People-Powered Movement for 2014.” Flowers and Zeese, directors of It’s Our Economy, have identified ten “fronts of struggle,” ranging from health care to jobs to peace. “Our task is to help connect these individual struggles to the broader struggle,” said Flowers.
President Obama’s recent promises about combating economic inequality are meaningless rhetoric,” said Doug Henwood, editor of the Left Business Observer. “The problem is, the Democrats are now so thoroughly a Wall Street party, that they can’t do anything serious” to help poor and working people. “I expect nothing out of the Democratic Party, nationally or locally.” Real social progress will require grassroots mobilization, said Henwood.
The Washington Post as a CIA Asset
RootsAction.Org co-founder Norman Solomon will this week present a petition to editors of the Washington Post, demanding the newspaper inform its readers of owner Jeff Bezos’ intimate business relationship with the CIA. Bezos is also the billionaire owner of Amazon, which last year concluded a $600 million contract with the CIA. “The responsibility of the CIA is to keep secrets, and the responsibility of journalism is to expose secrets,” said Solomon. Post journalists should be worried that it become commonly known as “being in bed with the CIA.”
Tutu Wrong About ICC, Says Herman
Edward Herman, professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, takes issue with former South African archbishop Desmond Tutu’s contention that the International Criminal Court is a force for justice in Africa. The ICC only indicts Africans, and only those Africans that are not allied with the United States, said Herman, co-author of The Politics of Genocide. “The bias has been blatant.” U.S. allies Uganda and Rwanda invaded the Democratic Republic of Congo and “killed literally millions of people,” with no response from the ICC, said Herman.
Mumia: Support the Dallas Five
On January 21, trial begins for five Pennsylvania inmates charged with riot and incitement stemming from a 2010 protest against violence by guards at a prison in the town of Dallas. The Dallas Five “are fighting for their lives,” said political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, reporting for Prison Radio.
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Racial Hatred in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic’s efforts to deny citizenship to hundreds of thousands of residents of Haitian descent is rooted in the racism of an “elite that has never wanted to have anything to do with Black people,” said Dr. Jemima Pierre, a professor of African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University. “They’re trying to establish rules that will also effectively get rid of dark-skinned people who don’t have Haitian ancestry. What about the poor Dominican woman who doesn’t have any papers and can’t prove she isn’t Haitian?” asked Pierre, who is also an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report.
The Uncounted Homeless
The Obama administration’s claim that homelessness declined last year is based on “incomplete” data, said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. The government’s methodology mainly counts “who is in a shelter, which really just measures the capacity of shelters – and we know that shelters turn people away every night,” while failing to adequately measure the number of people those who are living on the street or have crowded into unsustainable quarters with friends and relatives, said Foscarinis.
Nationalize the Banks
In the face of unremitting criminality by the biggest American banks, “any reasonable person would say that leaving banking in the hands of these banksters is unwise public policy, and terribly costly for everyone else,” said Dr. Richard Wolff, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Big Finance must be nationalized, not just broken up into smaller pieces – as would be obvious to most Americans “if we weren’t drowning in a fog of ideology,” said Wolff.
U.S. Spreads Chaos in World
“The one thing that’s become clearer than at any time in the past is that U.S. intervention creates spreading destabilization and chaos,” said Sara Flounders, of the United National Anti-War Coalition. “It’s designed to do that. We can see the immediate results in South Sudan, a country that came into existence under U.S. protection in order to put this oil-rich region directly under the control of U.S. and U.S.-led forces,” said Flounders. “A quarter of all the oil that is consumed in the U.S. comes from Africa. Washington has no interest at all in democracy, development and freedom” – only in power and profits.
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Length: One hour.
Newark Rallies for Mandela
“We marched because we wanted to highlight the revolutionary dimension of his personality, rather than an anemic and eviscerated Mandela,” said Larry Hamm, chairman of POP, the People’s Organization for Progress, following a demonstration in downtown Newark, New Jersey, last week, in honor of the deceased South African leader. “Believe it or not,” said Hamm, “there are still people who don’t know about Mandela.” Founded in 1983, POP’s first buttons demanded “Free Nelson Mandela!”
America’s Mostly War Budget
Peace and social justice activists gathered on Capitol Hill to mark International Human Rights Day and demand that Congress reject a budget that allocates more than 50 percent of resources to war-making. David Swanson, publisher of the influential website WarIsACrime.Org, noted that some lawmakers were away in South Africa. “You can’t celebrate nonviolence and then come back and dump over 50 percent of your money into so-called ‘defense,’” said Swanson. “It’s offensive, in every sense of the word.”
De Blasio Picks Giuliani “Retread” for Top Cop
According to Stop Stop-and-Frisk activist Carl Dix, New York City mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s choice of William Bratton as his police commissioner is designed to send a message: “Guess what? There will still be two cities, and the city that I represent, the city of the power brokers, of the elite, of the capitalist class, will continue to clamp down on the rest of you.” Bratton deployed the much-feared street crime units under law and order mayor Rudy Giuliani in the mid-Nineties.
Slavery + Genocide + Vast Theft = Capitalist Genesis
“The capitalist state was an imperialist state from its inception,” said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party, at the party’s 6th Congress in St. Petersburg, Florida. The wealth necessary to launch capitalism was accumulated through slavery, extermination and land theft. “Our material condition has its origin in the attack on Africa,” said Yeshitela.
Obama Mouth Runs Amok with Double-Talk
Rhetorically speaking, President Obama has once again positioned himself as a “populist,” declaring that income inequality is “the defining challenge of our time.” “Obama is quite practiced in double-talk,” said Paul Street, historian and author of The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama and the Real World of Power. “As if he hasn’t been attacking Social Security and Medicare; as if he hasn’t pushed deficit reduction, in some ways, even more dramatically than the Republicans have.”
Lynne Stewart “Home for the Holidays” Campaign
Federal prison officials pretend that people’s lawyer and political prisoner Lynne Stewart, who suffers from Stage Four breast cancer, “is getting better, but she is not,” said her husband and fellow activist Ralph Poynter. Supporters should sign a petition asking the Bureau of Prisons, President Obama and Attorney General Holder to grant Stewart compassionate release from prison in time for the holidays. The administration is “stalling and stonewalling, and the clock is running out,” said Poynter.
LA Schools Overrun by Cops
The Los Angeles Unified School District is among the most heavily policed in the nation, with Black students 29 times more likely than white students to be charged with disturbing the peace. “Are they trying to set students up for success and education, or are they trying to set them up to go to prison?” asked Ashley Franklin, an organizer with the Labor Community Strategy Center and one of the authors of a report titled “Black, Brown and Over-Policed in LA Schools.” Despite the heavy hand of the law, students have organized throughout the district. “Our youth have read their history and they’re fighting back,” said Franklin.
Charter Schools Increase Segregation
Studies show the spread of charter schools exacerbates economic and racial segregation, said Stan Karp, of New Jersey’s Education Law Center. “Systematically, if you look at the demographics of the charter experiment, this is where you’re finding the increase in segregation, higher attrition rates, and the different populations that are being served,” said Karp, author of the recent Rethinking Schools article “How Charter Schools are Undermining Public Education.” The privatizers are deceiving inner city parents. “Investors and business interests have been able to attach their agenda for market reform in education to the urgent needs of communities that have not been well served by the existing system.”
African People’s Socialist Party Holds 6th Congress
The struggles – and defeats – of the Sixties must be put in context in order to chart a course towards liberation in the future, said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party, which holds its 6th Congress in St. Petersburg, Florida, December 7 – 11. “We had a movement that was crushed” by state repression and assassinations, and “we’re seeing the consequences of that defeat” in the corrupt Black leadership that has emerged over the past 40-plus years. “Occasional spontaneous outbreaks” of protest after incidents like the Trayvon Martin killing cannot “substitute for real revolutionary work,” said Yeshitela.
Mumia: Where is Justice for the Living?
Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner, who is serving a life term in the 1981 death of a Philadelphia policeman, noted that the State of Alabama recently granted posthumous pardons to the 9 Scottsboro Boys, convicted in a 1931 “rape that never happened.” Meanwhile, the four Black women and five men of the Move 9 are in the 35th year of prison sentences in the death of a Philadelphia policeman. “In 2058, will a future governor declare them pardoned, and grant them symbolic justice?” asked Abu Jamal, with deep sarcasm. “Justice delayed is still justice denied.”
Bankers and State Owe Detroit
Instead of figuring out ways to strip Detroit of its assets to pay banks, the courts should force bankers and the state to repay the city hundreds of millions owed. “Some of the main creditors have been bogus, complicated interest rate swaps by banks who overcharged hundreds of millions of dollars of interest,” said community activist Debra Taylor. “If anything, that needs to be renegotiated.” Taylor said the city was also denied $224 million in revenue sharing funds when the state arbitrarily changed the payment formula.
Obama Schemes to Cut Social Security
President Obama has “enabled” the assault on Social Security and other entitlement programs since his first days in office, said independent journalist Arun Gupta, a co-founder of the Occupied Wall Street Journal. The president has long sought an austerity “Grand Bargain” with Republicans, but has been stymied by GOP reluctance to cut a deal. “The U.S. has become so dysfunctional, in terms of its political system,” said Gupta, “it seems the most you can hope for is gridlock.”
Who Stopped Stop-and-Frisk?
Opposition to stop-and-frisk is now all but mandatory among New York City Democrats. But, that wasn’t the case two years ago, when Carl Dix and others began a civil disobedience campaign under the Stop Stop-and-Frisk banner. “Things like stop-and-frisk were not front-burner issues” back then, said Dix. “The question of torture in prison was something hardly anyone knew anything about. We thought that waging a mass resistance movement was a key way to bring these issue front and center.”
Hi-Tech Corporations Behind National Surveillance State
A new study shows the high-tech industrial sector uses its campaign contributions to bolster congressional and White House support for the national surveillance state. “It’s really a giant interest-group issue,” said Dr. Thomas Ferguson, professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, at Boston, and an author of the report. “These are industries that we’d already identified as uniquely friendly to Obama,” based on campaign contributions.
U.S. Facilitates Congo Genocide
Six million Congolese have died since neighboring Rwanda and Uganda invaded the country in 1996, said Maurice Carney, director of Friends of Congo. Speaking at the 7th anniversary celebration of Black Agenda Report, at New York City’s historic Riverside Church, Carney said “these crimes could not be committed without the backing of the United States and the protection of its allies, Uganda and Rwanda.” How could Washington call for military action in Syria and Libya, where thousands were at risk, Carney asked, “when you’re not even willing to take diplomatic action in Congo, where we’re talking about millions?” It all depends on whether “one values Black life, or not.”
“Organize!” says Danny Glover
Actor and political activist Danny Glover called for a “reinvigoration of the idea of democracy.” Speaking at a fundraiser for Benton Harbor, Michigan’s Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), the TransAfrica Forum chairman said: “It is important that people are active in the process. We need to organize!”
Lynne Stewart Imprisonment Meant to “Chill” Defense Lawyers
New Justice Department guidelines on compassionate release from prison should, by all rights, apply to people’s lawyer Lynne Stewart, serving a 10-year sentence for zealously defending her client, said David Gespass, former president of the National Lawyers Guild. Stewart suffers from Stage 4 breast cancer. “The only possible reason not to release her would be just pure vindictiveness,” said Gespass, an attorney practicing in Birmingham, Alabama. “I think her prosecution was a warning to defense lawyers that they should not do their jobs as vigorously as they are required constitutionally to do, particularly in cases involving allegations of so-called terrorism.”
October 22 Day of Protest Against Police Atrocities
The Stop Mass Incarceration Network will hold the 18th annual National Day of Protest to stop police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation, said Carl Dix, a co-founder of the event. “If anything, it is even more relevant, today.” The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin killing “takes us back 150 years and more, to the Dred Scott Decision, when Black people were ruled to have no rights that white people are bound to respect,” said Dix.
October 24 is “Workers Demand a Raise Day”
The Baltimore Workers Assembly will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the federal minimum wage with demands that today’s minimum be raised to $15 an hour. “If wages had kept up with the cost of living since the first minimum wage was enacted, it would now be $15.23,” said organizer Karen Black. President Obama and other politicians have not been helpful in increasing workers’ paychecks. “That’s in part why we formed a workers assembly that can get a movement going to force these issues,” said Black.
Obamacare Would Still Leave U.S. Last in Developed World
Forty-eight million Americans are still without health insurance, and 48,000 of them die every year due to inadequate care, said Dr. David Himmelstein, of Physicians for a National Health Plan. “Billions and billions are drained out of the health care system by greedy insurance companies whose interest is in denying people care,” said Himmelstein, whose organization favors a Medicaid-for-All system. “Even if Obamacare works as planned, we’re still going to have 31 million people who won’t have coverage,” which means the U.S. health care system will remain “the worst in the developed world.”
The Incredibly Shrinking Welfare State
The remnants of the federal welfare program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, “needs to be made more accessible,” said Timothy Casey, senior attorney for Legal Momentum. “Right now, two out of three families and children who are eligible don’t get any benefits.” Moreover, “benefits in every state are far below the official poverty level – typically less than half,” said Casey. Legal Momentum was formerly known as the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund.
U.S. Protects Purveyors of Genocide in Congo
Washington refuses to bring real pressures on Rwanda to halt its 17-year war and occupation of the eastern Congo, the “deadliest conflict in the world since World War Two, in which millions of Congolese have lost their lives,” said Maurice Carney, executive director of Friends of Congo. “When you compare it to the way the U.S. has acted against Zimbabwe, or the way it’s been beating the war drums against Syria, the U.S. hasn’t brought substantial weight, whatsoever,” against its ally, Rwanda, said Carney.
Kenyans Say No to International Criminal Court
Both houses of Kenya’s parliament voted to sever ties with the International Criminal Court, which had previously indicted Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, the current president and deputy president of the country. “They had and election, and one of the major aspects of the campaign was, We can handle our problems ourselves and we don’t need the ICC,” said John Philpot, a Canadian attorney and expert on international criminal law who has defended clients before the ICC. Parliament’s action “was a good step,” said Philpot, “because the ICC is the right hand of military/political intervention” and only prosecutes Africans.
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Obama Still Looking for War Excuse
The Obama administration is “thrashing everywhere to find a new excuse to rev up another war threat,” said Sara Flounders, of UNAC, the United National Anti-War Coalition. The president’s current willingness to negotiate with the Russians over Syria “is a tactical retreat that gives the anti-war movement more time to organize.”
American Exceptionalism=White Supremacy
The American “exceptionalism” that President Obama cited in his Syria speech “is rooted in a notion of unacknowledged white supremacy,” said Ajamu Baraka, associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. For 500 years, European colonists have claimed the privilege “to determine who has the right to sovereignty, who has the right to rule, who should have the authority in certain countries,” said Baraka. “It’s nothing more than the dressed up re-articulation of the White Man’s Burden.”
Syria admitted possession of chemical weapons at least a year ago, according to Sam Husseini, of the Institute for Public Accuracy, citing a 2012 article from American Interest magazine. “Everything that I’ve been able to find indicates that Israel continues to build up its chemical weapons capacity,” said Husseini. “What is ironic,” however, “is that it is Israel that does not acknowledge its possession of nuclear weapons.”
When U.S. Presidents Want War, They Get War
“I can’t think of a time when a president said, ‘I want to begin bombing another country,’ and has not gotten to do it,” said Norman Solomon, co-founder of RootsAction.Org. “By hook or crook, it gets done.” However, this time around, “the militaristic center could not hold,” forcing President Obama into negotiations with the Russians. Actually, the Russians and Syrians did Obama a favor. “He needed a climb-down, somehow,” said Solomon.
Beware Obama’s Bay of Pigs Moment
“One of the frightening aspects” of the crisis over Syria, said historian and activist Paul Street, “is that Obama has taken such a black eye, here, he’s been so humiliated, that it has upped the ante of his need to escalate.” Street warns that this could be Obama’s “Bay of Pigs moment,” as when President John Kennedy pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war in 1962 after the humiliating defeat of a CIA invasion of Cuba, the year before. “All of humanity hopes this guy can be restrained,” said Street, author of The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama and the Real World of Power.
Affirmative Action Again Before High Court
On October 15, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Michigan’s defense of Proposition 2, which bans affirmative action. “If we lose this case,” said Shanta Driver, the lead attorney for BAMN, By Any Means Necessary, “a white majority will have been able to end affirmative action programs in our state, permanently. That means the beginning of an era of the new Jim Crow.”
Predatory Banks Prey on Public Sector
Activists will gather in Detroit, October 5 and 6, for an International People’s Assembly Against Banks and Against Austerity. “We’re asking for a complete cancellation of the debt to the banks, which is strangling the schools, the cities and the states,” said Abayomi Azikiwe, media outreach coordinator for the conference and editor of the Pan-African News Wire. “Detroit was locked into predatory lending at the municipal financing level,” he said. “That’s why they’re claiming that Detroit owes $22 billion to these financial institutions.”
Syria is Opportunity to Build a Real Peace Movement
“They’ve handed this to us on a silver platter: an announced war,” said David Swanson, veteran peace activist and publisher of the influential web site WarIsACrime.org. “This is an opportunity to build an anti-war movement.” However, so-called “progressives” on Capitol Hill have proven to be of little use. “For the most part, the Progressive Caucus has reached a new low,” said Swanson. “Now they’re split, half pro-war and half anti-war. You’re not seeing leadership from the usual congresspeople. You see incredible deference to the president.”
Obama is Going Down
“England and Germany and other forces that have usually been reliable partners in crime have tried to distance themselves from this criminal war” that Obama plans against Syria, said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition. The president’s domestic situation is also perilous. “It is difficult for many of the Negroes who have been in bed with Obama to continue this elicit affair. Obama stands the chance of going down in history as a war criminal.”
Deceitful War, American-Style
The U.S. routinely tells bald-faced lies to justify its military aggressions, said John Quigley, professor emeritus of international law at Ohio State University. Quigley, author of Ruses for War: American Intervention Since World War Two, cites phony U.S. pretexts for war in the Dominican Republic (1965), Grenada (1983), Sudan (1998), and Iraq (1993), not to mention the patently false basis for the Iraq invasion of 2003. Is the U.S. a rogue state? “In the sense of taking action that has no basis in international law, then I suppose” it is, said Prof. Quigley.
Lynne Stewart Critiques the “So-Called Left”
People’s lawyer Lynne Stewart, who is suffering from Stage Four breast cancer, will probably not benefit from Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent revisions of Bureau of Prisons regulations on compassionate release, since she is charged with terrorism, said Ralph Poynter, Stewart’s husband and comrade in struggle. Stewart “is very angry with what is happening in the so-called Left, who have neglected the struggle in the rest of the world,” said Poynter. “If we can’t get our minds around freeing our political prisoners, maybe all of our time has come.”
Misleadership Class in Deep Conflict with Black Masses
“I don’t believe there has ever been this wide and extensive a split between the Black elite and bourgeoisie, who are aligned through Obama to finance capital and American empire, and the broad masses” of African Americans, said Dr. Anthony Monteiro, professor of African American Studies at Philadelphia’s Temple University. Monteiro estimates the March on Washington commemoration, organized by traditional Black organizations in deep collaboration with the White House, drew only about 25,000 people. “The elite, the so-called leadership, is in trouble with the great masses of Black people.”
California Prisoners Suspend Hunger Strike
After nine weeks, inmates called a halt to the third hunger strike since 2011, without having forced California officials to accede to any of their major demands, most notably an end to the “torture” of long term solitary confinement. However, the struggle continues, according to Keith James, of the Stop Mass Incarceration Movement. “They are waging a protracted battle,” said James. “We really have to have these prisoners’ backs, because this torture is continuing." At its height, 30,000 inmates were involved in the protest.
NSA Could Ensnare Anyone in National Security Trap
“Every single person in this country owes Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning a debt of gratitude,” said Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, renowned whistleblower and a founder of the No FEAR Coalition. The NSA program that tracks human networks endangers all Americans, said Coleman-Adebayo, “because everyone is only a person or two or three or four away from being implicated in some scheme that the National Security State comes up with.” She called Bradley Manning’s 35-year prison sentence for exposing government secrets an example of growing “tyranny.”
Ray Kelly’s Rise Halted By Stop-and-Frisk Ruling
It is highly unlikely that New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly will be appointed head of Homeland Security, said Robert Gangi, of the Police Reform Organizing Project of the Urban Justice Center. A federal court found that the city’s stop-and-frisk practices routinely violate the constitutional rights of Blacks and Latinos. “There is now a big black eye on the face of New York City policing,” said Gangi. “Ray Kelly is no longer the iconic law enforcement figure he was a short two years ago.”
Black Is Back Coalition Magnifies Grassroots Forces
The betrayals and predations of the Black Misleadership Class can be overcome by out-organizing them. “Our objective is to replace that misleadership, not just to complain about it,” said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. Black is Back seeks to “provide the ability for all of these” grassroots organizations “to come together and to magnify their presence many times over,” said Yeshitela. The coalition recently held its national conference in Harlem.
Cornel West on Obama and the New Jim Crow
The Obama administration seems to believe it is immune from effective Black criticism. “It’s sad to see us pimped like that,” said Dr. Cornel West, the activist and academic currently based at Union Theological Seminary, in New York. “All of our suffering is rendered invisible because they know we will be highly protective of them.” The administration has “that kind of power, that kind of bully pulpit, but they can’t say a mumbling word about the New Jim Crow – and they’ve been in office for five years. That’s disgusting!” Dr. West spoke on the latest edition of Black Agenda TV.
Nursing Students Charge Fraud in Philadelphia
Six Black women, who call themselves the Liberation of Students Rights Group of Philadelphia, charge the now defunct St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing cheated them out of $22,000 each and a year of their lives. Sabrina Whitaker said she and her fellow students, all college graduates at the time, had heard that the school had a Black dean, and “wanted to work in an area that was African American.” But the school turned out to be unaccredited. “We had to share gloves, we had to share needles when learning how to do IVs,” said Whitaker. The women hope to prevail in court, to prove that “if you keep fighting, keep striving for what you believe in, your dream too can come true.”
Lynne Stewart’s Husband Asks: Where are the Unions and Clergy?
Claiming the law gave him no choice, a federal judge rejected people’s lawyer Lynn Stewart’s request for compassionate release from a ten-year prison sentence. Judge John Koeltl said he would have given “prompt and sympathetic consideration” to such a request if it had come from the federal Bureau of Prisons, which maintains that Stewart’s health is “improving” despite the ravages of Stage Four breast cancer. Pressure must now be brought directly on President Obama, who “seems to enjoy doing the work of this oppressive corporate juggernaut,” said Ralph Poynter, Stewart’s husband and comrade in struggle. Poynter noted that “the unions have not participated as a group in the support for Lynne Stewart, Bradley Manning, Snowden, or any others on the issues of freedom of speech. The ministers have also not participated in this struggle.”
Dream Defenders Fight Criminal Justice Racism
Stand Your Ground laws are only part of the agenda of the young people occupying state government offices in Florida’s capital. Dream Defenders political director Ciara Taylor said their focus also includes “the school-to-prison pipeline that takes children out of school and puts them into jail cells,” and “racial profiling practices. We want to disassemble all three of these practices in Florida.” Ms. Taylor said “Trayvon Martin would not even have been in Sanford, Florida, at that time, had it not been for a school suspension that he received on the basis of a zero tolerance policy.”
Zimbabwe Shows the Way for Africa
President Mugabe’s landslide victory in Zimbabwe’s recent elections was not only “a plebiscite on land reform, it’s a barometer reading of what Africa is really thinking,” said political analyst Eric Draitser, founder of StopImperialism.com. Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party “have stressed that political independence is meaningless without economic independence,” said Draitser.
Gold Rush Would Further Devastate Haiti’s Ecology
The U.S.-backed Haitian government is fashioning new laws to attract foreign mining corporations to exploit the country’s gold deposits. President Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly’s group “is, essentially, a kind of mafia, and they are joining hands with this international mafia of gold companies that are going around the world raping countries,” said Kim Ives, an editor of Haiti Liberte, the news and analysis weekly. “The people are very worried that words like ‘protecting national interest and sovereignty’ are a cover for just the opposite,” said Ives. Gold mining, which uses vast amounts of cyanide, has caused “an ecological disaster” in the neighboring Dominican Republic.
Why Not a Prisoner Exchange for the Cuban Five?
Every 5th of the month, supporters of the Cuban Five designate someone to write a letter to the U.S. president. Jane Franklin, author of Cuba and the U.S.: A Chronological History, did the honors this month. Asked about the prospects of a prisoner exchange between the U.S. and Cuba, Franklin replied: “Cuba has asked over and over again to sit down and discuss anything at all with representatives of the United States, but the U.S. has shown no interest in discussing the release of the Cuban Five.” The Cuban intelligence agents were imprisoned 15 years ago after revealing terrorist plots by Cuban exiles in South Florida.
New Black Activist/Scholar Think Tank
The Pan African Collective for Advocacy and Action makes its debut, this week, at a press conference in Washington, DC. “We’re sick and tired of these white organizations looking at issues within the Black community as if we’re some kind of terrarium or aquarium or incubator,” said Solomon Commisiong, one of the founders. The Collective “will do ‘white papers’” and such, but will not operate “solely as a think tank. It’s an organization of activists, scholars, and organizers whose aim is to go into our communities and work with grassroots organizations to try to deconstruct systemic issues that plague our communities.”
POP Chairman Reports on Mumia Meeting
Larry Hamm, chairman of the Newark, New Jersey-based People’s Organization for Progress, said his recent meeting with Mumia Abu Jamal was “a benchmark experience in my life that I will never forget.” The nation’s best-known political prisoner “has done more to bring about political consciousness than many of us who have our so-called freedom on this side of the prison walls,” said Hamm. During the two-hour visit, according to Hamm, Mumia said “President Obama has been able to enact policies that George Bush could not have gotten away with.” The first Black president’s election “has helped to demobilize people and blunt resistance that we might otherwise see in this country.”