Archive for September 2012
Chicago Teachers First to Stand Up to Obama School Policies
“This is the first time that a teachers union stood up to the privatization of the Obama administration, stood up to the Democrats as the purveyors of these policies,” said journalist Jaisal Noor, who covered this month’s teachers strike for the Real News Network and other outlets. “The reason that the union knew it could strike and that it could maintain public support is because they had spent the last couple of years working with communities. There was massive support from parents and from students.”
Both Parties Ignore Poverty
Democrats are even less likely than Republicans to talk about poverty this election season, as evidenced by the near-absence of the word at both parties’ national conventions, said Paul Street, author of The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama and the Real World of Power. In Black inner cities, “we’re looking at unemployment and poverty rates that harken back to the Great Depression. And, of course, that’s something that Barack Obama is instructed never to talk about.”
Oligarchs and Plutocrats Rule
“Poverty in America is a national disgrace and a moral obscenity, which is rendered invisible by the system under which we live, run by oligarchs and plutocrats,” said Dr. Cornel West, of Union Theological Seminary, in New York. West and journalist Tavis Smiley recently completed their Poverty Tour 2.0, including stops in four so-called “battleground” states. “If we can get the Black Freedom Struggle off life support, we can really turn this country around.”
Occupy the Debates
Progressives will hold streaming analysis and discussion of the Obama-Romney debates, starting with the first event on October 3. “We’ll discuss the obvious crises the country faces, from housing to the environment to mass incarceration, the issues that are not being dealt with…by the corporate candidates,” said organizer Kevin Zeese. For information, go toOccupyTheDebates.org.
Black Educator Faces Prison for Challenging Whitening of HBCUs
Dr. Jahi Issa faces two years in prison on riot charges for supporting Black students protesting the “whitening” of historically Black Delaware State University, last March. “He was touching a very raw and sensitive nerve,” saidDr. Jeff Perry, biographer of Hubert Harrison, considered the father of Harlem radical politics. “Historically Black colleges and universities get substantial federal support,” said Perry. “Corporate interests want to take it over for both profit and social control.” To assist Dr. Issa’s legal defense, go tohbcuinstitute.org. Dr. Issa’s article “The Ethnic Cleansing of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Age of Obama” appeared in Black Agenda Report, September 6, 2011.
The Mother of all Blowbacks
In Libya and now Syria, as in Afghanistan beginning under President Jimmy Carter, “the West has once again empowered fundamentalist forces that will inevitably turn against Washington, the Greatest Infidel of all,” said BAR executive editor Glen Ford. Recent anti-U.S. protests in the Islamic world are “only a small foretaste of what is to come: a blowback of such intensity that the foundations of Empire will crack, and crumble.”
Information as Weaponry
Last year’s U.S.-NATO war against Libya “was not conducted just with bombing and with troops, but was an information war, and that’s the parallel with what’s going on in Syria, today,” said journalist Don Debar. “The bloodshed is conducted on behalf of, or directed by, the United States, France and Britain. Iran is public enemy number one for the West, “as it has been since 1979.”
Jesus on Death Row
“Jesus Christ spent his last days on death row and was murdered by the government at that time,” said Pam Africa, head of International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu Jamal, speaking at Riverside Church, in New York. “We cannot forget political prisoners. These brothers and sisters are in jail because they have a love for us, and understand that we must never give in.”
Preventive Detention Law Ruled Unconstitutional
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Obama administration will appeal” a Federal District Court ruling that knocked down preventive detention legislation signed into law by the Obama administration, said Professor Marjorie Cohn, of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, in San Diego, California. “Keep in mind that indefinite detention without charges” also “violates a treaty the United States ratified, called the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. But the Obama administration, like the Bush administration, does not seem to feel bound by these treaties,” said Cohn, author of United States of Torture.
Stop Stop-and-Frisk Enters New Phase
Young Black and brown people blew whistles across New York City on September 13, to call attention to police abuse of power. The “Blow the Whistle” campaign is “a way for the people who bear the brunt of the criminal injustice system…to get involved in the resistance” without “opening the door to further arrests,” said Carl Dix, who founded Stop Stop-and-Frisk along with Prof. Cornel West, last year. Huge proportions of Black and brown youth are already under some form of criminal justice system control. “They aren’t going to be the ones that will take up a civil disobedience campaign” – but they will blow the whistle when they see police misconduct, said Dix.
Both Major Parties Run Racist Campaigns
“At least since the Dixiecrats abandoned the Democratic Party to join the Republicans, everything they have done has been based on race,” said Kevin Alexander Gray, the South Carolina activist and author. This election season, “the Democrats have responded with a platform that aims at reaching out to white working class voters, which is what racist campaigns do.” That’s where former president Bill Clinton comes in. But, at least that’s “better than Obama doing what he usually does, playing ‘kick-a-nigger’ politics when he’s felt the need to do so,” said Gray.
Poverty Pervasive in U.S.
While U.S. Census Bureau figures for last year show poverty hovering slightly below 1965 levels, its long term reach is far deeper, said Stephen Pimpare, associate professor of sociology at Columbia University. Twenty-eight percent of Americans were poor at some point between 2008 and 2009. During the three years between 2004 and 2007, 46 percent, “experienced poverty.” That’s “very nearly a majority of Americans,” said Pimpare, author of A People’s History of Poverty in America.
U.S. and Israel Isolated in World
The recent unanimous vote by the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement, affirming Iran’s rights to nuclear power technology, “proves that Iran is not isolated, but in fact it is the United States, Israel and the NATO powers that are isolated” from the rest of the world, said Dr. Anthony Monteiro, professor of African American studies at Temple University, in Philadelphia. The Non-Aligned Movement comprises two-thirds of the United Nations General Assembly.
Arne Duncan an “Absolute Disaster” for Black Children
President Obama’s Race to the Top “has been an extension of, and even worse than,” President Bush’s public schools program, said veteran Black educator Dr. Donald Smith, an organizer of the upcoming Summit on Saving the African Child, October 11 and 12, in Chicago. “People will discuss charter schools, unions and corporations that have, in many instances, taken over the curriculum and instruction of schools of children of color and other children of poverty,” said Smith, who will keynote the conference. Education Secretary Arne Duncan “has been an absolute disaster” for Black students in public schools.
School Discipline Bias Pushes Black Kids into Prison
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, charging public schools in Okaloosa, Florida, with disciplining Black students far more harshly than whites. Forty-seven percent of students suspended by the district are Black, although African Americans make up only 12 percent of the student body. There is a link between racially biased school discipline and the so-called school-to-prison pipeline, said Atty. Stephanie Langer, of the SPLC’s Florida office. “Once these kids get into the system, it’s very hard to get out of the system.”
GOP and Dems Much Alike
The two major corporate parties agree on much more than they disagree, said journalist Arun Gupta, co-founder of The Occupied Wall Street Journal and The Indypendent. That’s one reason why “there’s been no discussion of regulating Wall Street and almost no discussion of the continuing home foreclosure crisis,” said Gupa. “Both parties are attacking public education, and neither party has any sort of plan to create more jobs” aside from “the mysteries and magic of the ‘free market.’”
U.S. Labor Movement Can’t Move
Harry Kelber, the 98 year-old labor organizer and publisher of LaborEducator.org, says American trade unions “are not fighting, they’re not organizing, and they don’t have a plan to organize.” Too many union officials, said Kelber, are simply “biding their time, waiting to retire with a fat pension.” Labor spends tens of millions electing Democrats, but “What are they getting out of it?”
Rwanda's Kagame Commits Genocide
Opposition parties from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda have asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to charge Rwandan strongman Paul Kagame with genocide and crimes against humanity. Kagame’s regime is responsible for many of the six million deaths in neighboring Congo since the mid-Nineties, and for killing hundreds of thousands of Hutus in Rwanda, said Sixbert Musangamfura, a spokesman for the United Democratic Front of Rwanda, one of the complainants to the ICC. Rwanda is one of Washington’s closest allies in Africa.
Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk
The police racial profiling practice known as stop-and-frisk is “wrong, it is immoral, it is racist and unconstitutional” said social activist Dr. Cornel West, announcing a “Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk” campaign starting September 13. “This struggle is going to intensify. We want to connect it to the military industrial complex,” the Wall Street complex, the prison industrial complex, and “we want to connect it to this election, where you see the farce between one oligarchic part and another.”
Noche Diaz, an activist facing multiple trials for confronting stop-and-frisk, asked “By is that I have to look at 15 year-olds in the playgrounds of the Bronx, who tell me that if you’re not a white person in this world, you don’t matter?”
Push for $10 Minimum Wage
Democrats are “dialing for the same dollars” as Republicans, seeking corporate campaign contributions and “rejecting Franklin Roosevelt’s legacy,” said social activist Ralph Nader. “Polls show over 70 percent of the American people consistently want a minimum wage kept up with inflation.” Adjusted for inflation, the 1968 minimum wage would now be $10.35, rather than the current $7.25. The United States, said Nader, has “the lowest minimum wage in the western world.”
Black Is Back Coalition Examines Electoral Strategies
“We want to take this conversation beyond an examination of Obama, to an examination of the electoral process, itself,” said Ayesha Fleary, at the recent conference of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, in Newark, New Jersey.
“Let us use the electoral process as one form of struggle,” said Coalition chairman Omali Yeshitela. “Our future depends on our willingness to build a real capacity to utilize every form of struggle in the quest for liberation.”
Black people were ill-served by the “misleadership class” that arose after the collapse of the Sixties mass movements, said Glen Ford. “The same class of Black opportunists who has risen to local power through the Blackening of America’s cities, presided over the demographic reversal of fortunes, later on,” with the mounting loss of Black urban majorities.
“Corporate American and the banks have a death grip on Harlem, that will produce an even greater forced migration out of Harlem,” said Nellie Bailey, of the Harlem Tenants Council.
U.S. rulers have placed Black and brown “neocolonialists” in positions of nominal power “to make it appear that people are making progress,” said Charles Barron, the Brooklyn city councilman. What’s needed are “African-conscious, radical, revolutionary people” elected to city councils, nationwide.
“Do we want to participate” in elections “just to raise issues…or to actually get people elected?” asked Larry Hamm, leader of the Newark-based People’s Organization for Progress. “We’ve got to be able to come up with candidates, and when we put people in office, we’ve got to keep them accountable.”