Archive for June 2014

Detroit Financial Dictator Uses Water as Weapon

 

The water cut-offs that could soon affect 30,000 Detroit households are “an effort on the part of the Emergency Financial Manager to intimidate people, to drive even more people out of the city – but, moreover, it is aimed at privatizing and breaking up the Detroit Water and Sewage Department,” said Abayomi Azikiwe, an organizer for the Moratorium Now Coalition and editor of the Pan African News Wire. A United Nations panel of experts called the shut-offs “an affront to human rights.”

Empower the Urban Renting Majority  

 

A new report on housing calls for a change in government policies that favor homeowners over renters. Titled “Renter Nation: Solutions to the Housing Affordability Crisis,” the report outlines “models of cooperative housing that allow for people to build wealth and also maintain an investment in the community they live in, and to maintain the housing that they live in as affordable for the people who come after them,” said Rachel LeForest, executive director of the Right to the City Alliance.

Socialist Takes on Washington State Speaker of House

 

“What’s lacking in state houses across the country are unambiguous fighters for working people and others who are disenfranchised,” said Jess Spear, the Socialist Alternative candidate for Washington House Speaker Frank Chopp’s seat. In 2012, Chopp won 70 percent of the vote against Socialist Alternative’s Kshama Sawant, who went on to win a seat on the Seattle City Council and passage of a $15 an hour municipal minimum wage. Spear said Chopp has failed to move a $12 an hour state minimum wage out of committee. “It really exposes him and the rest of the Democratic Party as just grandstanding and paying lip service to what working people need and    deserve,” she said.

Mass Conspiracy Charges in Harlem

 

Residents of two Harlem housing projects remain outraged over a 400-officer police raid that resulted in attempted murder, weapons and conspiracy charges against more than 100 young people. “They’re charging everybody with the crimes of a couple of people. It’s like you’re guilty by association,” said Angela Dunmore, at a press conference called by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. New York City authorities “feel threatened by two or more Black men together – and that is not fair.”

H. Rap Brown/Jamil al-Amin Seriously Ill in Super-Max

 

The former chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Minister of Justice of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, and revolutionary icon formerly known as H. Rap Brown, is seriously ill with a gum infection that has spread through his body. Jamil al-Amin’s “outspoken defense of self-defense earned him the eternal enmity of the government,” said political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, in a report for Prison Radio. Al-Amin is serving a life sentence at the federal super-max prison in Florence, Colorado, in the shooting of two Atlanta policemen.

Why “Freedom Summer” Activists Chose Voter Registration over Direct Action

 

Fifty years ago, organizers with SNCC and other civil rights organizations brought 1,000 mostly white students to Mississippi to assist in registering Black voters. On The Real News Network, former SNCC field director Bob Moses told host Paul Jay that activists considered mounting a direct action civil disobedience campaign instead of voter registration. “They were faced with whether they wanted to do the Nelson Mandela,” said Moses. “If they were going to do direct action, then they’ve got to stay in jail for a long time.”

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“Broad Social Movement” Confronts Philadelphia’s Temple University

 

Protests against the firing of Temple University African American Studies professor Anthony Monteiro have evolved into a “broad united front” of students, grassroots community forces, organized labor and elected officials. “Black Philadelphia, in particular, understands that Temple University is not only gentrifying the community, but is hyper-policing the community,” creating “an island of privilege in a city of poverty,” said Dr. Monteiro. “All that was necessary was for someone to stand up and say that this powerful institution must be made answerable to the community.”

CIA Plays Both Sides in Iraq

 

“The CIA has a long history of being on both sides of conflicts that we later sacrifice a great deal to address,” said Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. The jihadist fighters of ISIS, currently on the offensive in Iraq, have benefited from U.S. and allied support for regime change in Syria. In the past, the CIA “trained the precursor of al Qaida in Afghanistan” and supported Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq. Buttar, a constitutional lawyer, has produced a video titled “NSA vs USA,” a “hip hop history lesson set to music.”

Massachusetts to Have Highest State Minimum Wage

 

The Massachusetts state legislature has passed, and the governor is certain to sign, a bill to raise the minimum wage from $8 to $11 over three years – the highest state minimum in the country. Lew Finfer, director of the Massachusetts Community Action Network, credits the victory to a “broad coalition” of faith-based, community and labor organizations that collected over 200,000 signatures to put the wage hike on the ballot, this fall. The threat of a referendum worked. “Had we not gotten the signatures,” the legislature “would not have passed a bill or would have passed much less of a wage increase,” said Finfer.

Petition to Block Ugandan from UN Post

 

Sam Kutesa, Uganda’s Foreign Minister, is unfit to assume the presidency of the United Nations General Assembly, according to a petition circulating on Change.org. Kutesa is engaged in massive corruption and theft of public funds, war-profiteering in South Sudan, and is complicit in Uganda’s genocidal crimes against the Democratic Republic of Congo, said Milton Allimadi, publisher of the New York-based Black Star News. “He diminishes the legacy and the name of other Africans who have served as president of the UN General Assembly, and should resign.” Kutesa was elected to the UN post without opposition.

Syrian Election Shows People’s Determination

 

The recent elections in war-torn Syria, which President Bashar al-Assad won handily, were a demonstration of the Syrian people’s determination to prevail against western and jihadist “terror,” said Paul Larudee, part of an international team of election observers. The U.S. and Israel are intent on sowing “eternal conflict and death and destruction” in the region. However, “I don’t think [the Syrians] are going to lose this war,” said Larudee, a member of the International Palestine Solidarity Network. “They’re absolutely determined.”

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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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