Archive for May 2012

Obama Asked to Veto a “Poison Pill” Whistleblower Bill

A bill purporting to protect whistleblowers contains a “poison pill” that would effectively abolish federal workers’ rights to access to the courts, said Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, a founder of the NO FEAR Coalition and herself a noted whistleblower. The so-called Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which has passed the Senate, would allow a board of federal employees acting as judges to pass final summary judgments on workers’ discrimination complaints – a reversal of guarantees to due process provided by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, said Coleman-Adebayo. Historically, she said, the board has turned thumbs down on all but 2 percent of discrimination complaints. If the House passes the measure, Coleman-Adebayo urges President Obama to veto it. “You do not want to be the president who overturned the 1964 Civil Rights Act.”

Roots of Police Killings of Blacks in New Orleans

New Orleans has always been “a very violent city with a particularly toxic racial environment,” said Dr. Jeffrey Adler, professor of history and criminology at the University of Florida and author of “The Killer Behind the Badge: Race and Police Homicide in New Orleans, 1925-1945,” an article recently published in the prestigious Law and History Review. “The low level of training, the lack of professional standards, the corruption of politics, were more powerful and more deeply entrenched in New Orleans than in many other southern cities,” said Adler. “If police officers believed that social stability was bound up in rendering African Americans submissive and compliant, then they understood resistance as a threat…and they could shoot.”

Hunger Strike at Virginia’s Prison

A number of inmates at Virginia’s infamous Red Onion maximum security prison refused to eat in protest of harsh conditions, including mass solitary confinement. “The racial dynamic that exists there, it’s out of control,” said Max Gaskins, who spent four years behind bars at Red Onion and is a founding member of SPARC, Supporting Prisoners and Acting for Radical Change. “I saw men get their eyes shot out, me were shot in the back and paralyzed,” he said. Prison officials now claim the hunger strike has ended.

Black Middle Class “Largely Cut Ties” With Black Poor

“The African American middle class has partly been successfully integrated into the American mainstream and has, maybe to the greatest extent in its history, cut ties with the Black and working class,” said Dr. Gary Peller, a professor of law at Georgetown University, in Washington. Peller is author of the new book, Critical Race Consciousness: Rethinking American Ideologies of Racial Justice. Integrationism “helps to apologize for the basic distribution of wealth, power and prestige in American society.” Dr. Peller said “Black nationalism achieved its real pinnacle of theoretic sophistication in the late 1960s and early Seventies, with Malcolm X and his followers, the Black Panther ideologists, and others.” The Panthers, in particular, “not only had programs for Black liberation, but also had a critique of American involvement around the world.”

POP Protest in Newark Only 43 Days from Goal

The People’s Organization for Progress (POP) has passed the 338-day point in its daily demonstrations in Newark, New Jersey – just 43 days from matching the 381-day longevity of the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, Bus Boycott. Nearly 200 local organizations have endorsed POP’s marathon action for jobs, housing, education, peace and justice. “The only avenue we have is to do what POP has done, to be out there and demonstrate and let people know that we’re not satisfied,” said Jerry Owens, vice president of the local long shore workers union and president of the area’s A. Philip Randolph Institute.

Cory Booker and Obama Beholden to Vulture Capitalists

The Black Misleadership Class, including Newark Mayor Cory Booker and President Barack Obama, “must deliver the votes of their people to the campaign contributors who made their careers possible,” said Bruce Dixon, managing editor of Black Agenda Report. However, they “must pose as at least half-hearted opponents of the blood-sucking model of parasitic vulture capitalism practiced by Bain Capital, JP Morgan, Citibank and other players.” Obama’s “heart belongs to JP Morgan.”

Preventive Detention Gone Wild

“It’s come down to the point where some guy riding a bike down a street in New Delhi is a threat to the United States and we’ve got to know where he’s going, what his name is, who his family is and who his friends are, so we can round him up and put him under surveillance so that he can’t communicate with some guy who’s riding a bike in Malaysia,” said Doug Valentine, co-author of a paper, “The Dangerous World of Indefinite Detention.”

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Suit Against Preventive Detention Moves Forward

A federal judge ruled that plaintiffs attempting to overturn preventive detention without trial showed a “likelihood to prevail” in their suit. Former New York Times correspondent Chris Hedges, one of the plaintiffs, said the law would allow “anyone to be swept up” by government “acts of extraordinary rendition on American soil against American citizens.” Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame, said the legislation has already had a chilling effect on reporters and activists, like himself, who don’t want to wind up in a “black hole.”

Father’s Day NYC March Against Stop-and-Frisk

Opponents of New York City’s stop-and-frisk practices plan a Father’s Day protest march. A new study of the nearly 700,000 individual stops, last year, shows that “wherever people of color are,” in the city, “they’re going to be stopped by police,” said Candis Tolliver, of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Slain Prisoner’s Family Files Complaint

The family of John Carter, who died last month when guards at the Rockview, Pennsylvania state prison entered his solitary confinement cell firing pepper-spray and electric shock weapons, is seeking criminal charges against prison staff. Brete Grote, of the Human Rights Coalition, said “We’ve documented hundreds upon hundreds of human rights violations, many amounting to torture, in well over a dozen Pennsylvania prisons over the last five years.”

Report on Prison Sexual Abuse

A new study b the U.S. Justice Department shows about one in ten prison inmates is sexually assaulted during his or her term of confinement. Lovisa Stannow, executive director of Just Detention International, said the survey was more accurate than previous studies because it was conducted on former prisoners “who are no longer living with the active and acute fear of retaliation” by guards or inmates.

Housing Settlement Money Diverted

Troubled home owners expected that a $25 billion settlement between state attorneys general and the nation’s top banks would provide some relief from imminent foreclosure. But at least 29 of the states plan to divert at least some of their share of the money to non-housing uses. Arizona wants to spend much of it on prisons. “It’s an awful idea, and I think it’s unlawful,” said Tim Hogan, executive director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest. Alan Jenkins, executive director of Opportunity Agenda, in New York City, said the settlement funds were “intended to address a specific harm: an insult to the American dream and a violation of our belief in equal opportunity for all.

New Voter Bill

Democrats in the U.S. House have introduced a Voter Empowerment Act designed to “modernize voter registration,” said Nicole Austin-Hillery, of the Brennan Center for Justice. The Brennan Center helped develop parts of the legislation, such as eliminating “voter caging” – the purging of voter rolls of people whose mail is undeliverable.

Robin Hood Tax

Protesters mobilized by National People’s Action and the National Domestic Workers Alliance marched to the suburban, Washington DC home of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, demanding a financial transaction tax on Wall Street trading. National People’s Action spokesperson Mary Moreno said the so-called “Robin Hood tax” would “generate a lot of revenue” to fund needed social programs.

Death March” in Benton Harbor

Veteran activist Rev. Edward Pinkney blames the giant Whirlpool corporation’s jobs outsourcing policies for shrinking the population of mostly Black Benton Harbor, Michigan, down from 30,000 to less than 10,000 in recent years. Pinkney will lead a “death march” through the local PGA-affiliated golf course, this week, featuring a coffin filled with the names of dead or displaced citizens. A sign will declare, “Whirlpool Commits Genocide.”

It’s Expensive to the Poor

Gary Rivlin, author of Broke USA, said the added costs of poverty, such as check cashing fees and appliance rentals, amount to about $2,500 a year for a typical working poor household. The extra costs represent a “poverty tax.”

U.S. Veers Right as World Goes Left

Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston, said “the world is moving to the left, but the U.S. is not.” Horne spoke on host Norman Richmond’s Saturday Morning Show, on Regent Radio, in Toronto, Canada. While Europe rebels against austerity, U.S. courts have drifted rightward and could conceivably rule that the remnants of America’s social safety net are unconstitutional.

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NATO to Plan More War in Chicago

This week’s NATO summit meeting, in Chicago, “will be full of aggressive activities: plans for energy wars around the world, new decisions about how the U.S will maintain hegemony in the oil-rich Middle East and Afghanistan,” said Chris Gavreau, spokesperson for UNAC, the United National Anti-War Coalition. Thousands of demonstrators are expected to converge on the city.

Boycott the Two Major Parties

“We know him as a war president, we know him as an anti-civil liberties president, we know him as an austerity president – that’s the record,” said Dr. Tony Monteiro, professor of African American Studies at Temple University, in Philadelphia, speaking of Barack Obama. “The same goes for Mitt Romney.” Progressives and the Black Left should “boycott the two major parties” this election cycle.

Obama the Militarist

The president proclaims his militarism “proudly, with repeated references to ‘taking out’ al Qaida operatives through the most illegal methods imaginable,” said political analyst Paul Street, author of The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama and the Real World of Power. Street noted that Obama called his own health care program “centrist,” while admitting that it is modeled on a plan developed by the rightwing Heritage Foundation in the Nineties.

Derivatives Wreak Havoc at Banks

JP Morgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank, gambled away billions because neither party made any real “effort to crack down on derivatives in general,” said Doug Henwood, editor of Left Business Observer. “It’s remarkable how little has changed since the financial crisis” of 2008, said Henwood. “This is precisely the sort of thing that was supposed to be stopped.”

Cap Earnings of Rich

The U.S. should return to President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1942 proposal to use tax policy to cap wages at $25,000 a year – $364,000 in current money – said Johnny E. Williams, associate professor of sociology at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut. Prof. Williams recently authored the article “Toward a Maximum Wage,” published in Counterpunch. A maximum wage should be linked to the minimum wage, he said. If the max goes up, so would the minimum, creating “a sense of community.”

Obama’s Allegiances

President Obama’s “policies are similar to the Bush administration but, in my opinion, are far worse, because he presented himself in 2008 as a change agent,” said Abayomi Azikewe, editor of the Pan African Newswire. Today, people see Obama as he really is, “a representative of the banks, the transnational corporations and the Pentagon – pure and simple.” Azikewe spoke with host Solomon Commissiong on Your World News, broadcast on WPWC Radio, in Washington, DC.

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New York Stop-and-Frisk Trial Ends in Convictions

After a 5-day trial, 20 activists were convicted of disorderly conduct charges in a protest at a Harlem police precinct, last October. “This was a political showcase, in which not only stop-and-frisk was on trial, but our First Amendment rights,” said defendant Nellie Bailey, of Occupy Harlem. “Mass incarceration plus silence equals genocide,” said Carl Dix, co-organizer of Stop Stop-and-Frisk, along with activist Dr. Cornel West. “We are simply trying to minimize the suffering of these young people out there,” said Dr. West. Among those who spoke at a press conference outside the courthouse were: Rev.Stephen Phelps, Riverside Church, Rev. Earl Kooperkamp, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Harlem, John Hector, Jamal Mims, Randy Credico, Jose LaSalle, Elaine Brower, and Sade Adona.

Welfare Drug Testing is Part of War Against Poor

Mandatory drug testing for public assistance recipients “has everything to do with an ongoing war against the poor in this country,” said Sara Totonchi, executive director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, in Atlanta. The Center is preparing potential legal action to thwart Georgia from imposing the tests, which courts have ruled unconstitutional. “Georgia politicians know that the way to win elections is to throw around this red meat, rhetoric-filled legislation,” said Totonchi. “Two years ago, the target was immigrants.”

Corporate Media Lose Interest in “Income Inequality”

A study by FAIR – Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting – finds corporate media make far less use of terms such as “income inequality” and “corporate greed” than when the Occupy Wall Street movement first brought these issues to the forefront. After an initial peak in interest in corporate behavior, media coverage returned to previous norms. “Income inequality, in the way that traditional journalists and editors see news, is not news. It’s a sort of given, a baseline,” said John Knefel, who covered the story for FAIR’s publication, EXTRA!. “They have no incentive to talk about income inequality or corporate malfeasance because, for one thing, they’re corporations.”

OWS in Danger of Cooptation by Democrats

What is going on is a very sophisticated strategy to shunt a lot of this energy into the 2012 election,” said Arun Gupta, a co-founder of the Occupy Wall Street Journal who covers OWS for Salon.com. Moveon.org, for example, pushes the line that “Mitt Romney is Mr. 1% – like Obama isn’t part of the 1%?”

ICC Let’s Blair and Bush Go Free

My beef with the International Criminal Court is its one-sided nature,” said Dr. Gerald Horne, prolific author and professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston. “They seem to have a proclivity for indicting Africans or a handful of Europeans who were once involved with socialist regimes” – Serbia. However, international lawbreakers like Tony Blair and George W. Bush seem to enjoy immunity. The ICC recently convicted former Liberian President Charles Taylor of crimes against humanity. Dr. Horne appeared on Regent Radio’s Sunday Morning Show, hosted by Norman Richmond, in Toronto, Canada.

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McKinney Sees New “Movement” in the Making

If veteran community organizations and the Occupy movement can combine their strengths, “you have the beginnings of the makings of the movement that many of us have been longing to see,” said Cynthia McKinney, the former Georgia congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate. McKinney is engaged in a nationwide Build People’s Power Tour. She said community groups have “experience and some expertise” while Occupy brings “youth and vitality and fresh ideas” to the table.

POP Marks May Day in Home Stretch of Daily Newark Demos

The People’s Organization for Progress marked its 310th day of daily demonstrations on May Day, just 71 days short of its goal to match the longevity of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. The campaign for jobs, housing, education, justice and peace, which has been endorsed by 175 community organizations, “has strengthened and disciplined our organization,” said POP chairman Larry Hamm. “We’ have an impact.”

U.S. Moving in “Fascist Direction”

“We need to build an anti-war movement that is also an anti-bankster, anti-plutocrat, anti-injustice movement – as it is all connected – and to push it hard on our representatives before it’s too late,” said David Swanson, publisher of the influential web site War Is A Crime. “Our country is moving in a dangerously fascistic direction and, at some point, fear may become overpowering.”

Protest and Mumia’s Birthday at Justice Department

“Why is George Zimmerman walking the streets and Mumia isn’t walking the streets?” saidMonica Morehead, of the International Action Center, at the Occupy the Justice Department demonstration. April 24 was also political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal’s 58th birthday. “We want de-carceration, and the destruction of the mass incarceration complex,” said Jamal, in a recorded message. Fellow political prisoners Sekou Odinga, 67 years old, and Mutulu Shakur, 61, sent birthday greetings to Mumia. Public Enemy’s Chuck D told the crowd, “two and a half million people are incarcerated, but they’ve built facilities to hold five to seven million in the next ten years.”

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