Archive for June 2012
Abolish – Don’t Tweet – Stop-and-Frisk
As popular anger rises against New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s draconian policing policies, “we must avoid being sidetracked by politicians, preachers or anybody else who might want to lead it into sit-downs and negotiations with the mayor and the police commissioner,” said Carl Dix, a founder of Stop Stop-and-Frisk. “The challenge” is to reject “some surface reform, some tweets, to a racist, illegal policy,” he said. Stop-and-frisk, “a pipeline to mass incarceration,” has to go.
Contemptible: Holder, Obama and the Congress
“We can openly admit that this attorney general and this president are Black and the congressmen going after them are a bunch of racists,” and still “condemn abuses of power” by President Obama and Eric Holder,” said David Swanson, publisher of the influential website WarIsACrime.org. The House committee that charged Holder with contempt in a gun trafficking scheme acted “hypocritically,” said Swanson. However, “you have a president who has been claiming state secrets powers in courts…to protect himself and his predecessors and their corporate allies, far and away beyond anything Bush or Cheney ever tried.”
A “Human Rights” Approach to Public Schooling
“Parents and communities and students must participate in all decisions that affect the right to education,” said Ellen Raider, of ICOPE, the Independent Commission on Public Education, in New York City. High drop-out rates violate the “human right to the full development of each child, to its fullest potential. It’s the new Jim Crow, as Michelle Alexander says.” Charter schools have been “used as a wedge to separate parents in Black and Latino communities,” said Raider. Meanwhile, the Coalition for Public Education has established the Paul Robeson Freedom School, in Brooklyn, to provide “education for liberation,” said spokesman Rodney Deas.
A U.S. Chapter for ILPS
Twenty-eight United States organizations have become the newest country-chapter of the International League of People’s Struggle. “We cannot succeed, either as an anti-war movement or as a movement against injustice in this country, without being united with our sisters and brothers around the world,” said U.S. chapter spokesperson Bill Dores.
Congo President Shares Blame for Genocide
Evidence mounts of Rwandan complicity in violence that has killed six million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1996. However, DRC President Joseph Kabila is also part of the problem, said Jacques Bahati, policy analyst for the Africa Faith and Justice Network, based in Washington. If Congo had an “efficient and effective government, they could set up an army to secure its borders,” said Bahati. Rwanda gets away with destabilizing Congo because “it has a very good army” and is a close ally of the United States.
Western Heads of State, Including Obama, Guilty of High Crimes
The Pan-African Solidarity Hague Committee, comprised of activists from throughout the Diaspora, delivered a petition to the International Criminal Court charging the heads of state of the U.S. and other NATO countries with war crimes and crimes against humanity in Libya, Ivory Coast, Haiti, and in the “targeting and persecution of Black people in the United States,” said human rights lawyer Roger Wareham. “We have no illusions that the ICC is going to take our evidence, which is rock-solid,” said Wareham. “Of the 26 case that are before the Criminal Court, all involve Africans.” The ICC “has become a tool for the West to recolonize Africa.”
Backwards Logic: Obama’s “We Got Your Back” Black Campaign Ad
The Obama 2012 campaign’s radio ad, in which a chorus of Black voices assures the president that “We got your back,” implies a “reciprocal relationship” between Blacks and Obama – “that we’re all in this together,” said Dr. Johnny Williams, professor of sociology at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut. However, “there’s been very little that he’s done directly for Black people to show us that he’s got our back.”
Why Wisconsin mobilization and Occupy movement “Faltered”
The “biggest ongoing labor rally since the 1930s got shunted into electoral politics…because there wasn’t also the pursuit of independent movement building,” said Arun Gupta, co-founder of the Occupy Wall Street Journal. The problem, said Gupta, was not simply that Democratic Party and labor union “honchos” steered the movement into an unsuccessful bid to unseat Republican Scott Walker. Rather, the Wisconsin mobilization and the Occupy movement, “despite their potential, have been faltering because of…a lack of organization, a lack of discipline, and a lack of strategy.”
Medicaid for All Would Have Passed Constitutional Muster
President Obama could have avoided constitutional problems if he had chosen a health care plan that “most people have long supported” and which is “constitutionally safe”: Medicare for All, said political analyst and author Paul Street. “All you have to do” to create a single-payer system ”is to go into the Medicare bill and take out the clause that says its for people over 65 – and just say its for everybody.” Instead, Obama pushed a bill that guaranteed price-setting power to the drug and insurance “mafias.” The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on Obama’s health care legislation, which requires people to purchase private insurance.
Obama Violates His Own Law on Congo Killings
Friends of Congo is circulating a petition demanding that Washington cut off funds to nations that “destabilize” their neighbor, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Executive director Maurice Carney notes that the law was authored by Sen. Barack Obama and co-sponsored by Sen. Hillary Clinton, now U.S. Secretary of State. Rwanda and Uganda are both guilty of destabilizing the DRC, “resulting in the death of millions of Congolese,” said Carney. Both Rwanda and Uganda are close allies of the U.S.
No Compromise with Capitalism
“You have to have, as an objective, overturning the system of capitalism, itself. And to do that, you’ve got to be organized,” said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party, founded in 1972. Yeshitela was speaking at the national convention of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, in Philadelphia.
Black Politics Neutered by Corporate Democrats
The business-friendly African American politicians that came to prominence under President Clinton “prioritized electoral politics over mass movements and grassroots politics,” said Dr. Anthony Monteiro, professor of African American studies at Temple University, in Philadelphia. In more recent years, “a good part of the soft Black Left, the weak Black Left – they call themselves the ‘pragmatic’ Black Left – capitulated to the Obama movement,” allowing corporate politicians to achieve unchallenged leadership among Blacks.
Inventing Security Threats
“In the wake of 9/11, we have made policing into a business,” said Black Agenda Report managing editor Bruce Dixon, speaking on Press TV. The Department of Homeland Security is mostly private contractors who are chiefly concerned with drumming up business. “It’s a growth industry,” said Dixon. “So, look out – you might be the next threat.” The U.S. government has been inventing threats to internal security “for at least 100 years,” said journalist Don DeBar, of CPRmetro.org.
Servants of Empire in “Human Rights” Garb
“Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are, essentially, weapons in the imperial arsenal,” said BAR executive editor Glen Ford. “Who better than self-styled human rights activists to justify ‘humanitarian’ war?”
Prof. Cornel West on Black Mass Incarceration
“If our precious white brothers and sisters were going to jail at the intensity” that African Americans are incarcerated, “it would be a national emergency,” said Dr. Cornel West, speaking at a benefit for the Brecht Forum, at New York City’s Hunter College. “If Black middle class brothers and sisters were going to jail at the same level of intensity” as lower class Blacks, “we’d have a different kind of Black leadership.”
“Liberal” Contradiction: Support for Charter Schools
“Liberals” are seduced by “this virtuous narrative, that these ‘reforms’ are going to make things better for poor kids,” said journalist Liza Featherstone. She singled out Black New York State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, a “progressive” congressional candidate who is “at the forefront of efforts to open up the public school system to private interests” – a position that is “fundamentally at odds” with the progressive agenda. The fact that there’s lots of campaign money behind charter schools expansion “doesn’t hurt,” said Featherstone.
A “Human Rights” Approach to Public Education
The “business model” of education holds that “the student is a product, the teacher is a production line worker, and the parent is a consumer who has ‘choices,’” said Dr. Sam Anderson, of New York's Independent Commission on Public Education, ICOPE. The business model is an attempt by hedge funders and other business interests to “exploit the trillion dollar trough of public education.” ICOPE advocates a “human rights approach to education that “promotes the intellectual development of children to their maximum capability,” with “direct parental involvement in decision making at the public school level.”
Black Colleges Without Black People
“If you don’t have a Black faculty, you don’t have an HBCU,” said Jahil Issa, professor of history and Africana studies at Delaware State University. Issa warned that the school is in danger of following in the footsteps of Bluefield State College and West Virginia State University, two historically Black institutions that are now overwhelmingly white. Delaware State University’s faculty is now majority non-African American, although the student body remains predominantly Black. Prof. Issa wrote “How Black Colleges are Turning White: The Ethic Cleansing of HBCUs in the Age of Obama,” which appeared in Black Agenda Report, last year. In what he describes as retaliation, Issa is being prosecuted under charges that could send him to prison for more than two years.
Florida Voter Suppression Law Struck Down
A federal judge struck down provisions of a Florida law that constituted “a naked attempt to limit the electorate,” said Atty. Lee Rowland, of the Brennan Center for Justice, the lead lawyer in the case. The Florida legislation “was part of a wave of suppressive laws that hit in 2011 and 2012” that “targeted specific communities.”
Wall Street Loves Democrats
“The Democratic machines in our big cities are very much creatures, not just of Wall Street, but of local real estate interests,” said Doug Henwood, editor of Left Business Observer. Newark Mayor Cory Booker received more than half a million dollars from the financial sector in his first race for City Hall, in 2002, more than $36,000 from Bain Capital, Mitt Romney’s old firm. Booker recently defended Wall Street’s influence in U.S. politics.
Congress “Un-Declares” War with Iran
Both Houses of the U.S. Congress recently passed military spending bills that included the language, “nothing in this Act shall be construed as authorizing the use of force against Iran” – words clearly chosen to prevent a president from claiming a congressional mandate for war. Kate Gould, a “peace lobbyist” with the Friends Committee on National Legislation, called the language “a remarkably sober note of caution and common sense in an otherwise dangerous and reckless piece of legislation.” She wrote an article titled, “Congress Un-Declares War With Iran.”
Obama Assault on Community Control of Schools
The so-called “turnaround model” of school reform pushed by the Obama administration, in which teachers and staff are fired wholesale, is part of “a corporate agenda” that results in “total destruction” of communities, said journalist Jaisal Noor, producer of the recently-aired Free Speech Radio News documentary, “Neighborhood Schools: The Fight for the Future of American Public Education.” Noor described Chicago’s system of community control of schools, implemented in the Eighties under the late Mayor Harold Washington, as “the most radical democratic experiment that’s ever been tried in the United States.” Under the “turnaround” policy, however, “Black teaches have been decimated” and community input is being destroyed.
Lynching Town “Hasn’t Changed”
Fourteen years after three white men chained James Byrd, Jr. to a pickup truck and dragged his body to pieces, the town of Jasper, Texas, remains racially polarized, said Ricky Jason, who produced an award-winning film on the murder. Jason doesn’t think the film will ever be shown in Byrd’s home town, where “Blacks shop on one side of the Wal-Mart, whites on the other.” He said Byrd’s gravesite is in disrepair, and has twice been vandalized with racist slurs.
Pelican Bay Prison “Cruel and Unusual”
The Center for Constitutional Rights launched a class action suit on behalf of over 500 prisoners who have endured solitary confinement for ten years or more at California’s Pelican Bay high security facility. Such treatment is “something international society considers torture, and is beyond the pale for any civilized nation,” said CCR president Jules Lobel.