Archive for September 2011

AU Should Investigate "Barbarity" Against Blacks in Libya
Black Libyans, as well as sub-Saharan migrant workers, "have been treated barbarically" by NATO-backed rebels, said Prof. Vijay Preshad, director of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Three African members of the UN Security Council voted for the "no-fly" resolution that led to the NATO assault. Had Africa opposed the intervention, said Prof. Preshad, "I think the African Union would have come out of this with its head held high and said, We stood up to what was blatantly NATO's attempt to capture the Arab Spring." Even at this late stage, "It would behoove the African Union to take leadership" by sending a team to investigate atrocities in this "very racialized conflict."
No Oversight on NYPD Spies
New York City's intelligence and "counter-terrorism" budget is rivaled only by that of the FBI, said Faiza Patel, of the Brennan Center for Justice, yet "any rules that constrained them with respect to monitoring political activity have been gutted" and "there has been no oversight of what their intelligence activities are." The City Council has "never held a hearing" on police spying, and there is no equivalent to the FBI's inspector general to oversee the NYPD's 500-officer, $93 million a year surveillance program, said Patel.
Wall Street Protest is Good Omen
"One of the things I'm most excited about" at the protests on Wall Street "is the enthusiasm and radicalization of a lot of young folks," said Larry Holmes of Bail Out the People. "Targeting Wall Street was a shrewd and necessary idea; we live in a plutocracy," said Holmes. "I hope that, sooner rather than later, labor is compelled to join it." He thinks "2011 and 2012 is going to see a sea change in the level of mass protests and anti-capitalist political consciousness in this country."
Mother and Child Poverty Deepens
Even as poverty rates hit record levels, "the poor are no longer referenced in the national debate," said Timothy Casey of Legal Momentum, the country's oldest legal defense and education organization for women and girls. Female-headed households with children under six years of age are four times as like to live in poverty as married couple households, said Casey. What's needed is "real welfare reform" that would raise the level of benefits for poor families.
Higher Premiums, More Uninsured, Sicker Population
"For almost a decade we've seen the number of uninsured increase by about a million a year," said Dr. Garret Adams, president of Physicians for a National Health Program. Insurance companies continue to "siphon off about 30 cents on the dollar" while premiums get higher. But, because of the economy and high co-payments, "people are not going to the doctor as much and insurance companies are making even more money."
The GOP's Voter Suppression Offensive
Republicans used their 2010 gains in state legislatures to "pass a series of voter suppression measures" targeting traditional Democratic constituencies, said Brenda Wright, of Demos, the public policy outfit. " Republicans constantly raise the specter of individual voter fraud. However, "impersonation of another voter at the polls is so rare as to be nonexistent," said Wright.
BAR Columnist Dr. Jared Ball says Defying the Tomb, by incarcerated author Kevin "Rashid" Johnson, is "a programmatic ideological blueprint for us all."
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McKinney: Ethnic Cleansing Spreads in Libya “Ethnic cleansing is taking place in Libya,” said former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. “People are being killed because of the color of their skin.” Atrocities like the virtual erasure of the mostly Black city of Tawergha by rebels have “spread to other parts of Libya,” said McKinney, who has visited the country several times since NATO began its bombing campaign and maintains contacts with people inside Libya. “We are under a massive psychological warfare effort,” said the 2008 Green Party presidential candidate. “Therefore, we cannot believe anything that comes from the mainstream media, because they have been part and parcel of the invasion, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Who is Next Target for “Responsibility to Protect”

“The military action in Libya sets a dangerous precedent,” said Prof. Marjorie Cohn, of Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California. “What is to prevent the United States from stage managing some protests, magnifying them in the corporate media as mass actions, and then bombing or attack Venezuela, Cuba, Iran or North Korea?” NATO’s actions violate not only the UN General Assembly’s position on the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine, but also UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which called for the exhaustion of all peaceful means of resolution, said Cohn. “Instead of immediately pursuing a cease fire, immediate military action was taken.”

Durban Plus Ten at “Make or Break” Point

Ten years after an historic United Nations conference in Durban, South Africa, the U.S. and its allies and Israel remain “hell bent on destroying” global efforts to fight racism, said Sam Anderson, of the Black Left Unity Network. The UN General Assembly is set to take up the so-called Durban Principles, this week. It’s a “make or break” moment, said Anderson, a New York City activist and educator. “The progressive movement, globally, has been fragmentized and atomized over the past ten years since the original Durban conference.”

Capitalism Isn’t Working – It’s Just That Simple

It makes no sense to keep throwing “incentives” and tax breaks at corporate America, in hopes of alleviating unemployment, since “this is a system that fundamentally isn’t working, and that’s the problem,” said economist Richard Wolff, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, at Amherst. The demand for goods and services is low because “the real wages of Americans…are the same today as they were in 1978.” Those Americans that are employed are “working more hours than any working class in the world” and can’t borrow any more money.

Favored Obama Jobs Program Doesn’t Work, and is Illegal

The Georgia Works Program, praised by President Obama as a model for providing people collecting unemployment benefits with jobs and job training, “violates federal wage and hour law and federal unemployment insurance law,” said George Wentworth, of the National Employment Law Project. The program, which has since been largely phased out in Georgia, is a “bad model” that provided little meaningful job training or permanent employment. Workers “should be getting paid the minimum wage, and not an employment insurance benefit.”

Olugbala Runs for Mayor of Philly

Campaigning on a platform of inner city economic development and community control of police, Black activist Diop Olugbala said incumbent Mayor Michael Nutter’s imposition of a selective youth curfew is nothing but an election gambit. More funds are being spent on “stopping and frisking…and brutality against our people, than on overall economic development,” said Olugbala.

BAR columnist Jared Ball celebrates William Parker, the free Black Pennsylvania man who killed “man stealers” attempting to kidnap his family to the South, in 1851

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NATO Legally Liable for Ethnic Cleansing of Blacks In Libya

The United States and its European allies are liable for prosecution for mass killings and ethnic cleansing of Black Africans in Libya under the principle of “command responsibility,” but “that’s not going to happen” at the International Criminal Court. The ICC, which has charged Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi with crimes against humanity, “is a joke and a fraud” and “nothing but an imperialist tool.”

EPA Chief Challenged To Resign Over Obama Pollution Retreat

Renowned federal whistleblower Marsha Coleman-Adebayo challenges Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson to resign in the wake of President Obama’s cancellation of new air pollution controls. “Blow the whistle on Mr. Obama,” urged Coleman-Adebayo, whose fight against corruption and big business influence at the EPA led to passage of the landmark NO FEAR legislation to protect whistleblowers, in 2002. EPA chief Jackson is now “in a position where there is a conflict between your conscience and what you’re called upon to do to save your job,” said Coleman-Adebayo. “This could be her Rosa Parks moment. Let’s see what she’s going to do.”

Obama Jobs Scheme Inadequate

The president’s jobs plan “is better than nothing,” but will not make much of a difference in the unemployment crisis, said Doug Henwood, editor of the Left Business Observer. “Obama never really articulated a new path, and therefore has a very, very weak political foundation,” said Henwood. “He fundamentally agrees with imperial neoliberalism.” The problem is not whether the president has backbone or not. “He is a fairly center-right politician” who is “facing an extremely rightwing party, but he is no progressive, himself.”

$300 Billion Could Employ All of the Jobless

Obama’s $450 billion jobs plan, weighed down with incentives for business, “is, at best, going to give us five months of what we need, and then it’s going to run out,” said Randall Wray, professor of economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Wray expenditure of just $300 billion in direct federal job creation would put every unemployed person back to work. Obama’s plan, said Wray, is based on the supply side economics that came into vogue under President Reagan. “We recovered jobs at a much faster pace during the 1930s Great Depression than we are doing under President Obama.”

How to Challenge Obama in 2012

David Swanson, publisher of the influential web site “War Is A Crime,” has come up with a formula by which a progressive could run against President Obama in 2012 and escape being pummeled as a “spoiler” for the Republicans. Swanson has drawn up a list of eight executive actions that Obama could take on his own, requiring no assent from the Congress, including withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan by October 2012, casting a veto against any reduction in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and introduction of new clean air standards. The challenger would agree to withdraw if Obama took these actions. If not, the Obama would bear responsibility for creating the progressive challenge to his presidency.

Humanity of Attica Prisoners Remembered on 40th Anniversary

“What Attica really showed was the humanity of the prisoners, as juxtaposed with the inhumanity and viciousness of the state,” said Atty. Elizabeth Fink, who helped win an $8 million settlement for 1,200 inmates tortured in the aftermath of the 1971 rebellion. New York State lawmen “mowed everybody down to show what happens when you rebel,” said Fink. Thirty-two inmates and 11 guards died in the massacre. “Our morality, the effectiveness of our society, is totally undermined by the prison industrial complex.” Mother Who “Stole” Her Child’s Public Education Wants Change of Venue

The Black Connecticut mother who enrolled her five-year-old son in a suburban public school outside heavily minority Bridgeport is asking that her trial on theft of educational services be moved to another jurisdiction. Tanya McDowell’s attorney, Darnell Crosland, says statements by the mayor of Norwalk have made the venue “toxic” for his client. In addition, the prosecutor in the case is the mayor’s stepdaughter – “just like a hired gun in this particular case.”

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MLK As “Captain of Capital”

America’s rulers “seem to want to King a captain of capitalism,” said South Carolina political activist and writer Kevin Alexander Gray. MLK’s new memorial on the Washington Mall is “sponsored by every corporate interest that is against Black and working folk’s interests,” plus people like former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright “who ought to be prosecuted as a war criminal.” None of the movement of King’s era any longer exists, while the multi-cultural, coalition based movement that must replace it “is not fully formed,” said Gray.

Economy Resembles 1930s

“The world economy is grinding to a halt,” said political scientist Thomas Ferguson, amid economic indicators that look eerily like those that prevailed in the 1930s. “The only people for whom the recession clearly ended were some parts of business and the banking community,” said the University of Massachusetts at Boston professor. “Everybody is being reduced to begging. I have a feeling it may be too late for the Obama administration.”

Libya Latest Victim of U.S. Power Grab

The West is determined to re-colonize the Arab world, according to Nasser Arruri, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. “Libya is just another avenue for expanding U.S. influence in the region,” said Arruri. “Iraq was the precedent. Iraq was destroyed, just like Libya has been destroyed by the bombs of NATO.”

Obama Shows True Colors in Garvey Pardon Denial

The Obama administration’s refusal to grant a pardon to Marcus Garvey, convicted of fraud in 1923 and later deported to Jamaica, shows that the president “is not about Black empowerment, symbolic or otherwise, said Black Agenda Report editor and columnist Jemima Pierre. “Obama is making a clear political statement: Garvey is not the kind of Black leader he wants to memorialize.” In 2008, President George Bush posthumously pardoned an American convicted of violating the Neutrality Act by supplying military aircraft to Jewish fighters in Palestine.

Honkala Runs Zero Evictions Campaign

“If the politicians don’t have the backbone to step forward and keep families in their homes, and if the banks refuse to take the money that they’ve got and modify the loans, then damn it, I will refuse to throw any person in Philadelphia out of their homes,” said Cheri Honkala, a candidate for sheriff of Philadelphia. The veteran poor people’s activist spoke at the Convention for Democracy, in Madison, Wisconsin.

Alabama Immigration Law Worst in Nation

The Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center considers HB 56 the “most draconian” of a rash of anti-immigrant laws recently passed in the South. The legislation would punish drivers who give undocumented people a lift, and revokes the business licenses of farmers that employ them. “HR 56 will devastate Alabama farmers,” said the Law Center’s Lecia Brooks.

Tax Stock Trading, Say Nurses

“The political parties have not really taken a side, but we’re telling them, Take a side, either Wall Street or Main Street,” said Theresa Harding, speaking for her union, National Nurses United. NNU held a nationwide day of action to demand that stock trading be taxed to pay for universal health care. “We believe that health care should be a right, not a privilege,” said Harding, a staff nurse at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

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