Archive for March 2012

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Doctors to Supreme Court: Single Payer, Not Individual Mandate

In addition to arguments from the Right against President Obama’s health care plan, more than 50 medical doctors submitted a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, contending the so-called “individual mandate” is unnecessary. “We could achieve the goal of guaranteed, universal, affordable health care by doing a single-payer program,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers, of Physicians for a National Health Program. Flowers warned that 20 million Americans stand to lose their job-related health care coverage, forcing them “into the individual market where the plans have less coverage and are more expensive.”

Occupy EPA: Lisa Jackson Must Go

Lisa Jackson should be fired as a “symbol of corruption” and an “ineffective and reactionary” administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, an organizer of March 30 demonstrations against the agency. Other Occupy EPA demands include “cessation of the war against whistleblowers” at EPA, an end to polluting of low income communities, and “justice for Trayvon Martin.”

Occupy the Justice Department on Mumia’s Birthday

On April 24, protesters will gather at the U.S. Justice Department to “link the Mumia Abu Jamal case to the broader crisis of criminalization of Black and Latino men, the criminalization of immigrants, the criminalization of protesters and occupiers, and the crisis of mass incarceration,” said Johanna Fernandez, professor of history at New York City’s Baruch College. The date is also Abu Jamal’s 58th birthday, his first outside of Pennsylvania’s death row in 30 years.

Occupy Wall Street’s Race and Gender Problem

Many whites in the Occupy movement believe, “If we just stop talking about race, then it won’t be a problem,” said journalist and activist Jordan Flaherty, co-author of the recent article, “Race, Gender and Occupy.” Flaherty, a producer of the Fault Lines series on Al-Jazeera English TV, has been “surprised and impressed that so many activists of color have continued to engage the movement despite all these problems.

POP Prepares for April 4 MLK Rally and March in Newark

The People’s Organization for Progress “has brought a consciousness to critical issues for Black and poor people who are stuck in the Bantustans” of urban New Jersey, said James Harris, president of the state NAACP and an endorser of POP’s daily demonstrations for jobs, housing, education and justice. Perry notes that “most young people have not participated in any demonstration of consequence since the execution of Troy Davis,” in Georgia.

Louisiana Balks at Building New Housing

The state is using most of its $750 million in Katrina housing money to elevate or repair homes, instead of “helping people to rebuild their homes on the vacant lots” that cover large sections of New Orleans. James Perry, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, said Louisiana is even “sending money to people who got no damage at all” in the hurricane.

Reparations Movement in 23rd Year

NCOBRA, the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, holds its 23rd annual conference in Philadelphia, June 22-24, at the Church of the Advocate. Ari Merretazon, male co-chair of the conference, said oppression of Black people has moved “from chattel slavery to public policy enslavement, like mass incarceration.”

High Gas Prices Won’t Go Away

“There’s no more easy oil,” said Michael T. Klare, author of The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources. Fossil fuels are “much more expensive to produce, and environmentally hazardous to develop.” Klare said “speculation is also playing a role, because of the risk of conflict breaking out in the Middle East, especially over Iran.” However, the central problem is that “each barrel will cost more to produce than the one before it.”

Kony is Like Kindergartner Compared to U.S. Ally Museveni

Lords’ Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony “looks like a kindergarten student compared to the crimes” of the man he has been fighting for decades, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, said Kambale Musavuli, of Friends of the Congo. President Museveni has been a U.S. ally and client since seizing power in 1986 with a guerilla force largely comprised of child soldiers. “Rather than holding the American government accountable for supporting a dictator who has committed more crimes than Kony and is still committing crimes as we speak, they are calling for military support for Museveni’s army and sending U.S. troops there,” said Musavuli. Uganda has been implicated by both the United Nations and the World Court in the deaths of some of the six million Congolese who have been killed since the mid-Nineties.

McKinney on “Build People’s Power Tour”

Former Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney has teamed with the International Action Center for a “Build People’s Power” campaign. “You can’t build a movement if people aren’t talking to each other,” said the former Green Party presidential candidate. “There is a kind of balkanization of the areas of protest.” The idea behind the tour, which has so far visited New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Los Angeles, is to bring various organizations into the same space to “plan an agenda, a calendar of actions that we’re going to do, and everybody participates,” said the former Georgia congresswoman.

Obama Not a Lesser Evil

“The Black Left cannot be rebuilt on the delusion of some ‘lesser of two evils,’” said Dr. Tony.Monteiro, professor of African American Studies at Temple University, in Philadelphia. “We have to fight to rebuild the historical Black politician consensus and a Black Left that is based on principle.” President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney “are like twins. We have to call for a boycott” of the presidential election, said Monteiro.

EEOC a “Cesspool of Racism and Corruption”

“If they can only find reasonable cause in racial complaints from African Americans and foreign born Blacks 3.5% of the time, that alone tells you what’s going on,” said Ricardo Jones, Sr., a former senior New York investigator for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “The perception at the EEOC is that all Black people lie,” said Jones. “Things got worse under Obama than Bush,” when “President Obama appointed his wife’s Harvard Law School girlfriend,” Jacqueline A. Berrien, as chairperson. “Because I wouldn’t take bribes and wouldn’t go along with the corruption, they fired me.”

Newark Protests Gain Momentum

Daily demonstrations for jobs, housing, education and justice have passed the nine-month mark, with a matching the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott’s 381 days of protest. “Each day it seems the momentum picks up,” said Lee Herbert, political and human rights adviser to the local Utility Workers union. His members “see there’s somebody out there fighting on their behalf. I see a movement coming out of this, because you can’t stop after 381 days.”

Mumia Live from Outside Death Row

Political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal made his first live radio appearance since release from Pennsylvania’s death row into the general prison population. Speaking on Atty. Michael Coard’s program on Radio Station WURD, in Philadelphia, Abu Jamal recounted how ‘the police beat me right into the Black Panther Party” as a teenager in 1968.

Civil Rights Groups “Dropped the Ball” on Affirmative Action

In their zeal to help the Democratic Party, mainline civil rights organizations have “dropped the ball” on affirmative action, said Donna Stern, of By Any Means Necessary. “They are very much responsible, in terms of their inactions, for the loss of rights that were gained during the civil rights movement. Their deep ties to the Democratic Party” means not talking about race, if they can avoid it,” said Stern. Detroit-based By Any Means Necessary mounted student demonstrations outside federal district court in Cincinnati, where lawyers argued that referendums on affirmative action be outlawed. “A white majority does not have the right to vote up or down whether minorities have equal rights,” said Stern.

Obama: The Assassination President

“When the history books are written, Obama is going to be known as the assassinations president,” said Kevin Alexander Gray, the Columbia, South Carolina-based writer and political activist. “Everything that he has done in regards to the Constitution and transparency and protecting human rights and the due process rights of all people, regardless of nationality, has been a failure.” Attorney General Eric Holder’s narrow definition of “due process” of law is really “the due process of the star chamber. Traditional civil rights organizations have not moved to “checked” Obama because “they are all in the tank for the administration,” said Gray.

Call to Support May 1 General Strike

In an Open Letter to Occupy Wall Street and the movement’s supporters, OWS activist Dennis Trainor called a proposed May 1 general strike “one of the biggest opportunities to demonstrate our power, and that we have not gone away.” Organized labor cannot be expected to be central to the action, because “the right to strike, for unions, has been all but taken away.” Rather, the strike would mobilize student and community groups in targeted cities. Trainor’s latest documentary, “Which Side Are You On?” is scheduled for release at the end of April.

Bring Me the Head of Ed DeMarco!

President Obama must fire Federal Housing Finance Agency acting director Ed DeMarco because he “has flatly refused to do any kind of principal reduction for the millions of ‘underwater’ homeowners that are suffering, that are drowning in debt because of how the banks crashed the economy,” said Tracy Van Slyke, co-director of New Bottom Line. The coalition of faith-based and community organizations demand a “minimum of $300 billion in principal reduction.” Van Slyke claims New Bottom Line and other Occupy Wall Street-related efforts have “moved the administration far along from where they were. We have moved the dial.”

Obama and Wall Street Money

Scholar and activist Paul Street finds it curious that at study of 68 most influential Wall Street firms shows the fat cats giving Mitt Romney 12 times as much money as Obama. “The real test will come when Obama and Romney go up against each other,” said Street, author of The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama and the Real World of Power. He notes that Obama has held a record 191 fundraisers in the last year. “It would be pretty ironic” if Wall Street abandoned Obama, said Street, “because he has given them everything they wanted.”

UNAC Conference March 23-25

The United National Anti-War Coalition’s conference, in Stamford, Connecticut, “is THE antiwar conference and, perhaps, the main conference on the left, this year,” said UNAC spokesperson Joe Lombardo. The Obama administration plans new aggressions, at home and abroad, which is why they are narrowing the definition of “due process” of law. “What they’re really doing,” said Lombardo, “is preparing for increased military and economic attacks, and they don’t want to see an opposition and a protest movement built up.”

Rally for Affirmative Action in Education

“We’ve got to rebuild a movement for affirmative action,” said George Washington, an attorney for United for Equality and Affirmative Action Legal Defense Fund. “The established civil rights movement has just let the ball drop. A new form of separate and unequal is being erected right before our eyes,” as universities become whiter and, in some cases, more Asian. Atty. Washington and his team appear in federal court on March 7, to argue against allowing voter referendums to ban affirmative action.

Charter School Profiteers

School privatizers “are looking at a $500 billion education industry” and looking to make “fantastic profits,” said lawyer and education writer Danny Weil. Charter schools are the “perfect Trojan Horse” for the Right.

High Stakes Testing Causes Cheating

The administration thinks it can improve the quality of education for all “simply by raising the bar and yelling, ‘Jump higher’ and promising punishment for those who don’t get over the high bar,” said Bob Schaeffer, of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing. Educators are “pressured to cheat, in order to get the test scores that are all that matter in the educational system, today.”

Workers Saved the Auto Industry

It’s wrong to claim, as Republicans do, that union autoworkers were “bailed out” by the federal government, said Al Benchich, a former United Auto Workers Union local president. “The auto industry got loans, the banks received the bailout,” while new employees now make only $14 an hour, said Benchich. “GM just posted their largest profit in history, which is indicative of what has been given up” by workers.

Robin Hood Tax Needed

The National Nurses United (NNU) union is “challenging austerity, worldwide,” with demands for a small tax on every financial distraction.” NNU president Deborah Burger said the so-called “Robin Hood tax” cold raise $350 billion per year, to be spent on “creating jobs, investing in education, health care and housing.” Great Britain already has such a tax, said Burger, Germany and France are considering one.

Human Rights D-Graded in DC

The local Washington, DC government earned only Ds in the subjects of public education, criminal law enforcement, and racial and gender discrimination, according to a report card compiled by the DC Human Rights People’s Movement. Report card co-editor David Schwartzman said the federal government rated an “F” for failing to give statehood to DC.

White House Wants More Money for Cops and Prisons

Despite historical declines in crime, the Obama administration’s budget calls for more than $27 billion for more prisons and police. “Let’s back off the prisons, let’s back off the police, and put the money into long term jobs that actually benefit people,” said Amanda Petteruti, of the Justice Policy Institute.

Lynn Stewart’s Appeal

Attorneys for movement lawyer Lynn Stewart asked a federal panel of judges to roll back her 10-year prison sentence on charges of assisting terrorists. Said her husband and comrade, Ralph Poynter: “When Lynn tries to ‘defeat the law’ on behalf of her clients – the poor or people the government doesn’t like – then she becomes the bad girl.” Stewart supporters hope for “time served, or bail pending appeal.”

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