20th Anniversary of Clinton’s War Against the Poor
It’s been 20 years since President Bill Clinton and the U.S. Congress destroyed “welfare as we knew it” by replacing Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with the “workfare” regime called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The result, saidMaureen Taylor, chairperson of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, is growing poverty in the United States. Taylor says TANF should be changed to DANF, standing for “Disappearing Aid for Needy Families.” Residents of Michigan are only eligible for cash assistance for five years in their lifetimes. It’s a shame, said Taylor, how the political class is “turning, not against poverty, but trying to turn the nation against poor folks.”
Judge Finds Way to Avoid Ordering Hep C Cure for Mumia
A federal judge agreed that it is unconstitutional for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to deny curative medical treatment to Mumia Abu Jamal and thousands of other prisoners suffering from Hepatitis C. However, the court then ruled that Abu Jamal’s suit was technically flawed. Noelle Hanrahan, a director of Prison Radio who works closely with Mumia, was outraged that the state has condemned thousands of prisoners to early and unnecessary deaths. “You can’t construct a situation that is more grossly inhumane,” she said.
Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner, was more upbeat about the ruling. “It’s a good beginning that a federal judge recognizes that what the Commonwealth is doing, and has been doing for years, is not only unjust but unconstitutional, a violation of fundamental fairness and the human right to life,” he said.
Clinton and Trump Fear TV Debate with Stein and Johnson
“Our view is that if you have the potential for 270 Electoral College votes -- if you are on enough ballots to achieve that -- then you should be in the debate,” said Kevin Zeese, the veteran activist recently named as senior advisor to the Green Party’s Jill Stein-Ajamu Baraka presidential ticket. Zeese notes that polls show half the American public wants the televised debates open to Stein and Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate. However, the debates are a joint venture of the Democratic and Republican parties, who call the shots. “It’s a disgrace to democracy,” said Zeese, “that they can choose who they will debate.”
Obama Neutralized Blacks for Most of His Term
Barack Obama’s presidency has been “the highest expression” of the U.S. government’s long campaign to “neutralize the Black liberation movement,” said BAR regular contributor Danny Haiphong, who this week posted the ninth in his ten-part series on the Obama legacy. “It really wasn’t until 2014, when Obama was in his last years, that any semblance of a movement against issues like police brutality and racism began to come back to the fore,” said Haiphong. Black liberationist politics has been suppressed for two generations, said Haiphong, “with the help of a Black misleadership class that has diluted, sanitized and almost destroyed, up until recently, the Black Radical Tradition.”
U.S. Anti-War Movement Under Attack
A recent article by Terry Burke in the leftish magazine In These Times attacked a broad range of anti-war activists and groups for opposing the U.S. war against Syria. Burke claims U.S. activists aren’t listening to “the Syrian people.” In response, Sara Flounders, of the United National Anti-War Coalition, said the U.S. insists on regime change in Syria, and “anyone who has any confusion as to where that leads has only to look at Libya and at Iraq and see the howling wasteland that has been created” by U.S. intervention.
Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN.
This is Black Agenda Radio, the radio magazine that brings you news, commentary and analysis from a Black Left perspective. Your hosts are Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey, here they are with a weekly hour of African American political thought and action.
Rights Lawyers Target Arkansas Debtors Prison
The district court in Sherwood, Arkansas, is in gross violation of a 1983 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that it is unconstitutional to imprison people for debt, according to a class action suit filed by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Arkansas ACLU. Much like the pattern of abuse documented by the U.S. Justice Department in Ferguson, Missouri, Sherwood derives as much as 12 percent of its revenues from “imposing mounting fines or fees tied to very low level offenses,” said Lawyers Committee president Kristen Clarke. One of Clarke’s clients wound up spending 25 days in jail and owing nearly $3,000 to the courts because she bounced a $28.93 check. “Our hope is that we can bring national attention to this problem, and that we might inspire action by the Congress to breathe life back into this Supreme Court ruling,” said Clarke.
Reformers Hope Private Prison Phase-Out Will Spread
The Obama administration’s announcement that it will phase out contracting with private prisons in the federal system is “a real notable moment,” said Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, in Washington. “It’s yet another indication that the growing critique and challenge to mass incarceration is really gaining ground,” said Mauer. The vast bulk of the nation’s 2.4 million inmates are held in local and state institutions, and most immigrants under detention are not affected by the executive order. However, Mauer is “hopeful” that there will be a “spillover effect.”
Mumia: Trump or Clinton – Choose Your Poison
The nation faces “incredibly grim” choices for president, according to America’s best known political prisoner. Mumia Abu Jamal said Donald Trump is “an overt racist” while Hillary Clinton is a neoliberal that “supported one of the most poisonous public policies in decades: the prison industrial complex.” Neoliberalism, he said, is the “politics of repression with a smile.”
A Green Foreign Policy Against Permanent War
“Permanent war is a central part of the elite agenda,” said Green Party vice presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka, in an interview on Pacifica radio station KPFA. Since the presidency of George W. Bush, the U.S. has tried to impose “full spectrum dominance” over the entire planet, said the veteran human rights activist and editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report. “That policy was adopted and embraced by the Obama administration, and it is also embraced by Hillary Clinton.” Obama’s so-called “free trade” agreements are “the economic arm of full spectrum dominance,” said Baraka.
Confused Writer Claims Anti-War Movement is “Imperialist”
In an article in the leftish magazine In These Times, Terry Burke denounced activists that oppose the U.S. proxy war against Syria as being, themselves, “imperialist.” Burke lashed out at a long list of activists and organizations, including UNAC, the United National Anti-War Coalition. “That’s illogical,” said Margaret Kimberley, an editor and senior columnist for Black Agenda Report who serves on UNAC’s administrative committee. Burke and her ilk “are not opposed to U.S. intervention,” and are “pro any intervention run by a Democratic president,” said Kimberley, while UNAC “is steadfast in opposing American intervention abroad. That means we must oppose the 5-year-long war of terror waged against the country and the people of Syria.”
Philippines War May Be Nearing Resolution
The Philippine government and communist guerillas of the New People’s Army wrapped up the first phase of negotiations to end a 50-year-long war in the former U.S. colony. Bernadette Ellorin, chairperson of Bayam USA, which represents the above ground and armed resistance forces, said the breakthrough occurred because President Rodrigo Duterte “was not elected as the usual U.S. hand-picked candidate of the Philippines.” The country’s army and police, however, have “historically been a proxy army for the U.S...to kill off the longest armed revolution in the region against the U.S. – the Philippine revolution,” said Ellorin. Phase Two of the talks begins in October. In the meantime, President Duterte has ordered his armed forces to respect the mutual ceasefire.
Visit the BlackAgendaReport.com, where you’ll find a new and provocative issue, each Wednesday.
Welcome, to the radio magazine that brings you news, commentary and analysis from a Black Left perspective. I’m Glen Ford, along with my co-host, Nellie Bailey. Coming up: Ajamu Baraka talks about the Clinton campaign’s dirty politics and lies against the Greens; the Black Is Back Coalition gathers in Philadelphia for a conference on Self-Determination; and, a courtroom victory in defense of public education in Detroit.
But first – one of the ways the Republicans and Democrats keep their monopoly on U.S. electoral politics, is by excluding third parties from the televised presidential debates. The two major parties jointly own the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates, which excludes parties that fail to register 15 percent in the polls. However, veteran journalist Sam Husseini says the polling organizations are asking a trick question. Instead of asking people who they “want” to become president, they ask who people “plan to vote for” on the Election Day – which is a very different question.
And that it’s for this edition of Black Agenda Radio.
Be sure to visit us at BlackAgendaReport.com, where you’ll find a new and provocative issue, each Wednesday. That’s www.BlackAgendaReport.com. It’s the place for news, commentary and analysis, from the Black Left. I’m Nellie Bailey. Our thanks to the good people at the Progressive Radio Network.