Comments today from : 1. CliveYoung - Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition 2. DonnaSmith - National Nurses United. The union is pushing for a tax on Wall Street stock trading, instead of cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Says it’s a no brainer. 3. Tonya Ward Jordan - Coalition4Change, a grassroots organization for Black federal government employees. Coalition has noted a marked increase in complaints of racial discrimination in the federal workforce – up 4 percent in 2010. 4. Sabrina Shupe - Educators and supporters of public education from around the country will converge on Washington, DC, on July 30, for a rally and march to “Save Our Schools.” Former teacher Sabrina Stevens Shupe says high stakes testing and assaults on teachers are a clear and present danger to American public schooling. 5. Sikivu Hutchinson - The same anti-abortion forces that put up posters targeting African Americans, declaring that the most dangerous place for a Black baby is the womb, have launched a similar campaign among Latinos. Sikivu Hutchinson, a frequent Black Agenda Report contributor, has followed those developments closely. 6. David Cobb - On August 24, a convention on and about democracy will be convened in Madison, Wisconsin. The event, which is billed as the first national democracy convention, will include no less than nine mini-conventions on subjects such as Economic Democracy, Media Democracy and Education for Democracy. David Cobb is one of the organizers. He says the convention is designed to attract the widest constituencies for radical change.

Welcome, to the radio magazine that brings you news, analysis and commentary from a Black Left perspective.

Today commentary by great guests like:

David Swanson, peace activist and publisher of the influential web site War Is A Crime.

Joyce Schon, of BAMN’s Equal Opportunity Now Caucus of the NEA and AFT.

George Washington, who argued the winning case for Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (BAMN.)

Tom Stephens an attorney and activist in Detroit.

Andy Kroll, an investigative journalist in Washington, DC. Wrote an article titled “Racism is at the Root of the Black/White Jobs Gap.” What it all finally boils down to, is racism.

Ed Mead, publisher of Prison Focus, former inmate. Explain “SHU”

Eligah “Ricky” Byrd created the documentary “Byrd: The Life and Tragic Death of James Byrd.” Dragged behind truck by chain in June, 1998.

Comments today from : 1. CliveYoung - Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition 2. DonnaSmith - National Nurses United. The union is pushing for a tax on Wall Street stock trading, instead of cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Says it’s a no brainer. 3. Tonya Ward Jordan - Coalition4Change, a grassroots organization for Black federal government employees. Coalition has noted a marked increase in complaints of racial discrimination in the federal workforce – up 4 percent in 2010. 4. Sabrina Shupe - Educators and supporters of public education from around the country will converge on Washington, DC, on July 30, for a rally and march to “Save Our Schools.” Former teacher Sabrina Stevens Shupe says high stakes testing and assaults on teachers are a clear and present danger to American public schooling. 5. Sikivu Hutchinson - The same anti-abortion forces that put up posters targeting African Americans, declaring that the most dangerous place for a Black baby is the womb, have launched a similar campaign among Latinos. Sikivu Hutchinson, a frequent Black Agenda Report contributor, has followed those developments closely. 6. David Cobb - On August 24, a convention on and about democracy will be convened in Madison, Wisconsin. The event, which is billed as the first national democracy convention, will include no less than nine mini-conventions on subjects such as Economic Democracy, Media Democracy and Education for Democracy. David Cobb is one of the organizers. He says the convention is designed to attract the widest constituencies for radical change.

Guest Commentary by:

Dorsey Nunn, director of the non-profit organization Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, also an ex-inmate. Says the goal of the people who run the prisons is not to gather evidence on crime or to improve security; it’s to psychologically destroy the individual.

Christian Parenti, journalist and author, “Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence.” To understand the disaster in the Horn of Africa, one must know something about the history of the region.

Kevin Alexander Gray - Activist and writer, based in Columbia, South Carolina. On Obama’s quest for a “Big Deal” with the Republicans.

Doug Henwood, Editor of Left Business Observer. Why are hedge funds so interested in charter schools?

Efia Nwangaza, Black Is Back Coalition. Obama says the United States is not at war with Libya.

Ben Manski, one of the Liberty Tree Foundation, one of the organizers of the Democracy Convention, August 24 to 28 in Madison, Wisconsin. What’s different about this gathering?

Today's show focuses on:

McKinney: NATO Bombs Libya Water Facilities

August 20 Action on “Other Wars”

De-Professionalizing Teachers Through Charter Schools

Prison Hunger Strike Raised Consciousness

Mass Incarceration Not Driven By Crime

Dhoruba Bin Wahada - Mass Incarceration Dhoruba bin Wahada, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, speaking in Atlanta. Says mass Black incarceration is now a high profile topic.

Marsha Coleman-Adebay The woman at the center of the movement that brought passage of the No FEAR Act to protect whistleblowers in the federal work force, is preparing to do battle, once again. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo says the man who fired her from the Environmental Protection Agency, and who was later promoted to head the agency’s civil rights office, Rafael DeLeon, is continuing to abuse women employees.

Roger Wareham - Zimbabwe Roger Wareham, New York-base human rights lawyer, an organizer of the August 13 Millions Harlem March against the bombing of Libya and sanctions against Zimbabwe. Wareham says that, just as the U.S. and Europe have demonized Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, in the same way they have spread lies about Zimbabwe, over the years.

Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. On August 20 International Day of Action Against the “Other Wars” – the ones waged against Africa and African people.

How have preparations been going?

Sanchez Garzoli - Colombia Free Trade Gemina Sanchez-Garzoli, Washington Office on Africa. A so-called “Free Trade” treaty with Colombia will likely come up for a vote in the U.S. Congress, in September. Sanchez Garzoli explains the many ways that the agreement will harm Colombians, especially Black and Indigenous people.

Dr Finch - African Civilization Dr. Charles Finch III, scholar of African antiquity, medical doctor, and author, on Your World News with Solomon Comissiong, from College Park, Maryland. Dr. Finch is preparing for the second “Nile Valley Conference” at Morehouse College, in Atlanta. The first “Nile Valley Conference” was held 18 years ago, also at Morehouse. What would Dr. Finch says to those who claim civilization began, not in Africa, but in the “fertile crescent” of Asia?

Bill Quigley - Libya

Center for Constitutional Rights, New Orleans. The U.S. government and corporate media tell Americans the attack on Libya was both legal and just. Quigley disagrees.

Mark Weisbrot - Haiti

Center for Economic and Policy Research, Washington, Just returned from a trip to Haiti. Sees no progress in alleviating the people’s suffering, and many setbacks in the cholera and housing crises.

Bahati Jackque - Congo

Africa Faith and Justice Network

Omali Yeshitela - BIB

Chairman, Black Is Back Coalition

Larry Hamm - BIB

President People’s Organization for Progress, Newark.

Monami Malik - BIB Immigrants

Executive director DRUM, Desis Rising Up and Moving.

Karen Lewis - Chicago Schools

President, Chicago Teachers Union

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.

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.”

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

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."

Season of Protest
Three thousand Bostonians protested Bank of America’s predatory policies, resulting in two dozen arrests. “Two-thirds of Bank of America foreclosures have been in minority communities,” said Rachel LaForest, executive director of the Right to the City Alliance. “They targeted these communities from the outset with bad loans, and now they have more homes in foreclosure than any other bank in the city.” Grassroots activists’ analysis is “clearer and sharper” these days, said LaForest. “They are calling out who the enemy is.”
New Bottom Line: An Economy that Works for All
The Boston demonstration was part of a larger, ten-city campaign by The New Bottom Line, a coalition of 1,000 community organizations, congregations and labor unions, to challenge banking interests, according to co-director Tracy Van Slyke.  Activists blame “big banks for bankrupting our economy, draining wealth from the most vulnerable communities,” said Van Slyke. “We’re all fighting together for a new bottom line – and economy that works for all of us.”
Liberate Freedom Plaza Oct 6
The Wall Street occupation has spurred increased interest in planting the people’s flag in Washington, DC’s Freedom Plaza, starting October 6. The “core demand,” says national organizer Margaret Flowers, is that the U.S. “stop using our resources for war and exploitation of the planet, and start using them to serve human needs and clean up the planet.” Flowers said activists will address “about fifteen core crises” affecting the nation and world, and then try to design solutions at the Plaza or online, at
“Filibuster” Against Racism at USDA Oct 5
Minority federal employees kick off an open-ended protest against the U.S. Department of Agriculture on October 5, calling the agency “the last plantation” where “an ante bellum kind of culture” rules. Lawrence Lucas, president of the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees, said “this agency, even under the present administration, has been allowed to conduct reprisals, racism, sexism, sexual assaults, intimidation, and bullying” against agency workers and minority farmers. The daily filibuster, said Lucas, will not end until “someone from the White House or USDA comes out there and says, We’re willing to meet with you and fix the problem, once and for all.”
Prison Hunger Strike Renewed
Supporters of inmates on hunger strike against torture and inhumane treatment at California’s high-security prisons say 12,000 inmates in 14 facilities have joined the protest. Ed Mead, editor of Prison Focus magazine and himself a former inmate, said there is “some possibility that this might spread to the general population mainline in the form of a work strike.” Activist Clive Young, also an ex-prisoner, reported that “prisoners in Palestine who are on hunger strike have sent solidarity messages to prisoners in the California system.”
Obama Needs “Time Machine”
“The only way he could possibly get [his current ‘jobs’ bill] passed, is if he could go back in a time machine to when he had a Democratic majority in the House and Senate,” said South Carolina activist and writer Kevin Alexander Gray. Obama’s bill is actually a “poison pill” that bleeds payroll tax money from Social Security, said Gray. “In the end, you can claim there’s an emergency” in Social Security funding “and turn it over to Wall Street.”
UN Anti-Racist Process Affirmed, But U.S. Still Resists
Although the United Nations General Assembly has affirmed the language of the Durban Declaration and Program for Action against racism and xenophobia, worldwide, the U.S. and its “crony,” Israel, continue to resist implementation. Efia Wangaza, of the U.S. Human Rights Network, says America’s “toxic” influence led the UN to allocate only a “paltry” $97,000 for commemoration of the ten-year-long Durban process. The miserliness was doubly insulting, said Wangaza, in that the UN has proclaimed this the Year of Persons of African Descent.

Occupy! Occupy! Occupy!

Comedian and social activist Dick Gregory had a “bulletin” for the protesters at the kickoff of the occupation of Freedom Plaza, in Washington, DC, last week: “President Obama endorsed what you all are doing here!” The crowd was skeptical, to put it mildly.  HYPERLINK ""October2011 organizer Dennis Trainor set the record straight. “We will endorse Barack Obama when he disproves Martin Luther King’s assertion that the United States of America ‘is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, today,’ when he brings home all the troops, and when he redirects all those resources to human and environmental needs,” said Trainor, who is also an accomplished political comic and satirist. “A whole generation of Gordon Gekkos has hijacked control of the three branches of government away from We The People.”

People of Color Come Forward

People of color are prepared to bring “our platform, our agenda” to the proliferating centers of protest, says Kanane Holder, a spokesperson for the People of Color Working Group at the Occupy Wall Street nexus, in Liberty Park. Some African Americans hesitated to join what began as an overwhelmingly white initiative for fear that “we are going to be the first ones to be brutalized by police” and “so many of us are already in ‘the system’ because of stop-and-frisk” and other targeting of Blacks, said Holder, a writer and performing artist. People of color will bring a perspective that “includes the prison industrial complex, racial profiling,” and other facts of Black life in the United States.

Right Place, Right Time, to Stop Stop-and-Frisk

The young white activists in Liberty Park are getting an education on the real nature of the police. “They don’t have the day-to-day experience with cops being on top of them 24-7,” said Carl Dix, of Stop Stop-and-Frisk. “You guys are in the right place,” he tells the demonstrators, “because Wall Street is a symbol of capitalism, and it is capitalism that is responsible for all these problems you’ve identified and for the horrors in the world.” However, the protesters must disabuse themselves of the idea that police brutality is a fault of “a few bad cops. It is a system that you are dealing with.” The Stop Stop-and-Frisk disobedience campaign kicks off on October 21 at “the worst” police precinct in Harlem, said Dix.

Getting Ready for a Winter of Struggle

“No one can speak for the movement at this time,” said David DeGraw, editor of  HYPERLINK ""Amped Status online magazine, who was part of the relatively small group that set the stage for the Occupy Wall Street project. The “central theme” of protest is “breaking up the concentration of power” in the U.S., which is experiencing “the highest level of inequality ever.” Most people “don’t understand derivatives and CDOs, yet,” but they know that “the system does not work for 99% of the population,” said DeGraw. “Everyone that’s here is not planning on going anywhere. There are extensive plans go get us through the winter” in New York City. “We’re in it for the long haul.”

Haitians Join the Occupation

“We think that what is happening to Haiti is an amazing example of the beast that is destroying this country, destroying people of color, destroying working people,” said Ray LaForest, one of the organizers of a contingent of Haitians that marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to make common cause with the Wall Street protest. Capitalists “are willing to use any means to achieve what they want, including imposing wretched conditions on the Haitian people, incredible violence, malnutrition, denial of rights, and denial of education and health care,” said LaForest. “We think these kids are pretty brave. We have to seize the moment, we have to find the way to make the connection.”

Have African Americans Turned Their Backs on Haiti?

Black Americans seem no longer to be dependable allies of Haitians and other oppressed people, laments Dr. Jemima Pierre, an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report. Since Obama became president, Haitians have been forced to endure the “selection” of “Sweet Micky” Martelly as their president, the return of former dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier, U.S. efforts to bar the return of ousted elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide, and the total takeover of the country by former U.S. president Bill Clinton, among other insults to their sovereignty. “I’m wondering where the outrage is,” said Dr. Pierre, who sees “a shift from the African American response to Haiti” in the past. “There’s less focus on international politics within the Black community. Look at Libya, look at what’s happening in Somalia. Back in the day, we used to think of all those struggles as linked.”

A “Manufactured” Postal Crisis

“It’s almost like they took a page right out of that book,” The Shock Doctrine, said Michael Paskon, executive vice president of the letter carriers union local, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Congress five years ago forced the Postal Service to make $5 billion in upfront yearly payments to pension funds – a hurdle union officials say has never been imposed on any company, public or private. Management now wants to “fix” the phony crisis by firing 100,000 employees – a classic case of what Naomi Klein dubbed “disaster capitalism,” said Paskon. “It bothers a lot of the free market ideologues that there is a potential to make a lot of money in what we do, and they can’t get their hands on it” – except through privatization.

Gaddafi Death Puts U.S. on More Aggressive Course in Africa

“Gaddafi was slaughtered. There was no attempt to utilize the rule of law” by the NATO-backed Libyan rebels, said Prof. Vijay Prashad, director of international studies at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut. “Are we going to see the same kind of retribution and bloodbath in the short term which we have already seen over the past two months?” Prashad thinks the U.S. has gained “renewed confidence in operating militarily on the African continent,” and can be expected to behave more aggressively in the future. Kenya, which recently sent a large force of troops into Somalia, “would never have moved without a [U.S.] go-ahead.”

The FBI’s “Industrial Strength” Racial Profiling Campaign

Under the guise of ferreting out national security threats, the FBI is systematically “mapping” Black, brown and Muslim communities, said Michael Germain, of the American Civil Liberties Union. For example, an October, 2009, Atlanta FBI office “threat alert” on supposed “Black separatist” activity actually “tracks census data to show the growth of the Back community” in the Atlanta area. “The Bureau uses such hypothetical ‘threats’” as “justification for collecting information on what they call racial and ethnic behavior,” said Germain. These “mapping” practices amount to “industrial strength racial profiling” of entire communities.

Direct Action to Stop Stop-and-Frisk

With police stop-and-frisks of New Yorkers on track to exceed 700,000 this year, local activists and volunteers from the ranks of Occupy Wall Street descended on the “worst” police precinct in Harlem. Thirty-three were arrested, including Princeton professor Cornel West and Rev. Stephen Phelps, interim senior minister of historic Riverside Church. “We can’t simply observe these wrong systems, we have to put ourselves on the line,” said Rev. Phelps. “Direct action is the best way to bring this to light.” Prof. West said a focus on stop-and-frisk allows the movement to “make the connection between this arbitrary police power and how it ties in with corporate greed, Wall Street…the military-industrial complex.”

Occupy All of the Hoods

“It’s critical for us to participate now” in the Occupy Wall Street movement, “and strike while the iron is hot,” said Jamal Crawford, an activist with Occupy the Hood, Boston. “Our people have been organizing around these issues for decades, at a minimum. If white people are upset about unemployment, imagine how average Black people feel when our rates are double, and in some cases triple or quadruple.” If the OWS movement were “purely a group of the worst affected, it would be a lot Blacker and browner.”

Workers’ Interests Not Necessarily the Same as Democrats

Organizers of the Million Worker March of 2004 endorsed the Occupy Wall Street movement. Clarence Thomas, of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10, in the San Francisco Bay Area, recalls that seven years ago unions and the Democratic Party “wanted the working class to get behind the election of John Kerry, to the denial of the workers agenda.” Since then, “the crisis has intensified and it is global. That’s why it is so critical that we find a way to connect to this movement.”

Newark Union Joins POP for “Peace, Jobs, Equality and Justice”

Local 108 of the retail workers union has assumed responsibility for some of the daily protests mounted by Newark, New Jersey’s Peoples Organization for Progress (POP). Local president Charles Hall said his members “will go to the finish line” with POP, which is in its 121st day of demonstrations for “Peace, Jobs, Equality and Justice” – and has vowed to keep it up for 381 days, the duration of the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott. “We all need to come together,” said Hall. Days later, the Newark Teachers Association joined the campaign.

NPR Faulted in DC Protester’s Firing

Lisa Simeone, a freelance host for an opera show aired on National Public Radio stations, was fired after taking part in October2011 demonstrations at Washington DC’s Freedom Plaza. NPR was “frantically trying to get her out of work because they were beginning to get right-wing criticism,” said activist and writer David Swanson, publisher of the influential web site War Is A Crime. “NPR goes out of its way to kiss up to corporations and the extremely wealthy, who fund it.”

Imprison George Bush for Torture Crimes

The New York based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Canadian Centre for International Justice have teamed up to force Canada to bring charges against former president George Bush. The legal teams have provided Canada’s attorney general with a 65-page indictment of Bush and 4,000 pages of evidence, CCR senior attorney Katherine Gallagher, in hopes that Ottowa will do its duty as a signatory to the international Convention Against Torture. If not, they will initiate a private prosecution of Bush, and ultimately take the issue to the United Nations.

European “Vultures” Will Not “Pick Over” Libya

“The Nation of Islam mourns the loss of the great Brother Leader, the Lion of Africa,” said NOI Min. Louis Farrakhan, speaking on Cliff Kelly’s show on radio WVON-AM, Chicago. Col. Muammar Gaddafi “had already set up an African Development Bank, so that Africa would not have to go to the World Bank or to the International Monetary Fund,” said Farrakhan, whose relationship with Gaddafi goes back decades. “[Secretary of State] Clinton is in for a shock, if she thinks the vultures of Europe are going to pick that body. I want you to know you are through as a world power. Through. Through.”

OWS Must Recognize Slavery As Original American Sin

The mostly young white people that initiated the Occupy movement need to ask themselves some questions, said activist and writer Kevin Alexander Gray. “Is this about your lost expectations of white privilege, or is this about fighting and abolishing privilege, altogether?” The United States “was set up to protect a rich, white, propertied class. That’s the root of the problem in American society. The lynchpin of modern capitalism was chattel slavery, and unless the people at Occupy Wall Street understand these basic things, their movement will be flawed from the beginning.”

Occupations Shift Public Debate to Jobs

The Occupation movement has shifted the public conversation “from this silly focus on deficits to a focus on jobs and getting the economy moving again,” said Kevin Zeese, an organizer of Occupy Washington DC. Although the protesters at Freedom Plaza were given a multi-month permit, Zeese says they’ve been told of pressures to shut them down. President Obama should know, said Zeese, that “if he does not stop us from being evicted or arrested, he will be blamed for it.”

Howard University Solidarity with Occupations

Students and alumnae from predominantly Black Howard University marched in solidarity with the Occupation movement, because “African Americans have been hardest hit by joblessness,” said Washington attorney Talib Karim. He cautioned that Blacks “want to see clear goals” emerge from the movement. The racial imbalance in OWS is mainly due to the fact that “people organize with who they know.”

Nurses Have Been On Wall Street’s Case Longer than OWS

One of two nurses arrested when Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s police cleared out the Occupation site says they were singled out for harsh treatment in jail. Jan Rodolfo, of National Nurses United (NNU), points out that “even in military combat situations, health care personnel are usually respected. I was pretty outraged and saddened that Rahm Emanuel wasn’t willing to respect that.” NNU’s focus on Wall Street predates the Occupation movement. The union has been demanding a tax on stock trading since the Spring.

Divest From Prison Corporations

“We should close down the concept of prison as a business,” said Soffiyah Elijah, executive director of The Correctional Association of New York, which recently endorsed the Occupation movement. Ms. Elijah supports abolition of prisons in the long term, and down-sizing and a halt to privatization of prisons, in the near-term. OWS should encourage divestment in corporations that are involved in prisons, just as a previous movement urged divestment of corporations that did business with South Africa, she said.

Black Is Back March and Rally Wins Permit, in Philly

Philadelphia police reversed themselves and issued a parade permit to the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, which holds its national conference on November 5. The police initially claimed all their resources were dedicated to the Occupy Philadelphia protest, said Black Is Back organizer Diop Olugbala, who is also running for mayor. “Budgetary constraints have never been a condition to determine the right to free speech for anybody in the United States,” he said. “It’s the war on the Black community that made it possible for the 1% to become so fabulously wealthy.”

Teachers Join Marathon Protest in Newark

“We are in sync with what the People’s Organization for Progress is standing for,” said Annette Alston, president of the Newark Teachers Association. In June, POP began 381 days of  demonstrations for jobs, education, peace and justice. Teachers and the retail workers union have assumed responsibility for some of the daily protest duties. “Greedy corporations are the reason for the economic situation we’re in,” said Alston. Corporations also try to scapegoat teachers for the problems afflicting public schools. “Teachers are the ones who come in early and stay late, and the parents know it,” she said. “It’s all about union busting.”

Dems Plan to Co-opt OWS Will Fail

“God knows the Democrats are desperate” to co-opt the OWS movement, said activist and author Paul Street. “They see in this movement an opportunity to give themselves a populist makeover.” But Street believes “the OWS and it’s off-shoots are conscious of the danger of being hijacked by electoral politicians.” He says the idea that OWS is a “Tea Party of the Left” is a “lame equation” because the Occupation forces understand themselves as a social movement while the Tea Party is a well-financed vehicle “to elect hard-Right Republicans.” Street is co-author of Crashing the Tea Party: Mass Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics.

Churches Seek to Withdraw $1 Billion From Big Banks

“If our New Bottom Line Coalition can move a billion dollars,” said Rev. Ryan Bell, of Hollywood Adventist Church, in Los Angeles, “then not only does that make a fiscal impact on the banks, but to accumulate a billion dollars worth of transfers you’ve got to get a movement. And that’s what’s afoot right now.” The New Bottom Line Coalition is an umbrella of 1,000 faith-based organizations. Rev. Mario Howell, pastor of the Antioch Church Family, in the San Francisco Bay area, said churches are also pressing local governments to divest from the Bank of America and other behemoths. “If you don’t,” he said, “we’re going to remember you when it comes time to vote again.”

Banks “Swindled” Residents of Mostly Black City

Protesters braved a snowstorm to demand that New Jersey’s attorney general prosecute lending agencies for overpricing housing in Irvington, a 95 percent Black city of 60,000. “Price-fixing is a crime” and the banks that colluded in the crime are “swindlers,” said David Hungerford, of the Coalition to Save Our Homes. The coalition demands that banks be prosecuted and forced to reduce the principle on mortgages by the amount of the over-pricing.

Police Crackdowns Only Fuel Oakland Occupation

A protester who was shot with a rubber bullet while peacefully “just taking some pictures” of police in Oakland, California, said “the movement grows every time the police come down on us; I don’t know why they haven’t learned that, yet.” Scott Campbell added, “If there is one thing that Oakland is known for, it’s police violence.”

Was Protest Really a “General Strike”

“From my perspective, nothing about the situation in Oakland fits or is generally thought of as a general strike,” said Melvyn Dubofsky, professor emeritus of sociology and history at the University of New York, at Binghamton. Most Oakland residents went to work or school on the day protestors called for a general strike. Prof. Dubofsky said “there is no agreed definition” of what constitutes a general strike, but that historically, general strikes involve whole sectors of industry or entire cities and “were called or directed by the local labor unions.” In the final analysis, “the test is whether they achieved their objectives,” he said. Dubofsky is author of The State and Labor in Modern America.

The Occupation is Not a White Thing

“When racist stuff comes up in the larger movement, we’re first to respond to it,” said Andrew Hoyles, of the People of Color Working Group at Occupy Wall Street, in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. One problem is that media seek out “a white face, oftentimes a white male,” to interview. “That’s a struggle. The issues that people of color face didn’t start with college debt.” It’s very important, Hoyles said, “that Black people in America start to see Occupy Wall Street not as a white issue. It’s very much their issue.” The 99% “aren’t just educated white men in debt; it is the ones who have continuously been the first to be fired and the last to be hired.”

UNAC: Economic Justice and Peace are Inseparable

“The effort to end U.S. interventions abroad, to end NATO attacks against nations that are attempting to fight back against the banking elite, are incredibly strengthened by the fact that a real economic justice movement is forming” in the U.S., said Chris Gauvreau, of the United National Anti-War Coalition. UNAC is organizing protests at a summit of NATO and simultaneous meeting of the G-8 nations in May, in Chicago.

Occupation Puts Dems “In a Pickle”

“As far as I can tell,” said Doug Henwood, editor of Left Business Observer, the ramifications of the Occupy Wall Street movement have not yet entered the consciousness of “the market. They don’t perceive it as more than a curiosity, at this point.” The Democratic Party is another matter. “Some of the Democrats are in a pickle,” said Henwood. “It’s a party of capital that has to pretend, for electoral reasons, that it’s not.” If the Democrats embrace Occupation issues, “it would be good electoral news for them, but their paymasters don’t want them to do that.”

Protesters are Learning About Real Homelessness

“The people who are now part of that movement are now understanding what it means for the people who were already living on the street,” said Jeremy Rosen, policy director for the National Law Center on Homelessness, in Washington. “Things like, how are we going to stay warm, and where are we going to use the bathroom.”

Jared Ball, BAR editor and columnist: White demonstrators at Occupation events should cease using “slave” and “slavery” metaphors that distort history.

Glen Ford, BAR executive editor: Thousands of federal prison inmates are eligible for early release on crack cocaine convictions.

Black Is Back Coalition Holds National Conference

“We’ve got to uproot this system, so that our people can live,” said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, at a conference in Philadelphia that marked the groups second year of operation. Yeshitela recalled that, back in the autumn of 2009, when the new coalition decided to stage a march on the White House, lots of Blacks “were upset that we would challenge of Negro president.” The coalition has tried “to create a new trajectory for the African Liberation movement.” Membership in the Black is Back Coalition, Yeshitela told the crowd, “is something that will enhance what you do” in your usual political work, “not hurt what you do.”

Peoples Organization for Progress Supports OWS

“This system cannot deliver a decent quality of life for our people,” said Larry Hamm, president of People’s Organization for Progress (POP), at the Black Is Back Coalition conference. POP, a coalition affiliate, is statewide grassroots organization in New Jersey. POP supports the Occupy Wall Street movement. “Yes, there are contradictions,” said Hamm. “But, as long as I read that the captains of finance and industry hate what they are doing, we will support it.” Hamm reminded the conference that POP launched daily demonstrations for jobs, education, housing and peace back in June, before there was an OWS movement. The protests, in Newark, are set to last for at least 381 days, the duration of the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott.

Historic Church Joins POP Protest

Newark’s Bethany Baptist Church, which this weekend celebrated its 140th anniversary, marked the occasion by joining with POP’s daily demonstrations. “I like the idea of partnering with other organizations,” said Bethany’s Rev. William Howard. “There is no more critical question than meaningful employment for our community. So many of our young people are criminalized at an early age and unable to pursue conventional employment.” Rev. Howard is a former president of the National Council of Churches.

Occupation Movement Has Made Politics as Usual “Trivial”

The Occupation movement “has established for tens of millions of people that it is finance capital and Wall Street that are at the very core of the economic and social problems we face in this country,” said Tony Monteiro, professor of African American Studies at Temple University, in Philadelphia. “The Occupation has such moral authority that it has, literally, taken the Tea Party out of the news, and has made politics as usual trivial to millions of people,” said Monteiro. “It has the potential of animating and bringing militancy to the labor movement, and to forcing Black people to come out of the stupor we are in as a result of confusion about Obama and bourgeois politics.”

Derivatives at Root of Banking Problem

The very existence of $600 trillion-plus in derivatives, most of them held by “about six banks,” represents a grave threat to the global financial system, said Karanja Gacuca, a member of the People of Color Working Group of the Occupy Wall Street movement, in New York City. Banks are hoarding money, refusing to make job-producing investments, because “if any of these six banks defaulted, the effects to the economy would be catastrophic,” said Gacuca, whose background is in finance. The entire world’s gross annual product is only about $64 trillion. “Some of those banks have to fail. I really don’t see how we get out of this.”

Occupy Movement is Making Clear Demands

“I’ve been to 16 occupations and at every one I’ve heard the same thing: get money out of politics,” said Arun Gupta, who helped found The Occupy Wall Street Journal and is covering the national occupation story for Salon and Alternet. “It is a message about extreme concentration of wealth and power, and that wealth is used to dominate the political system. There is a very clear demand of what people do want.” Gupta concedes that many Occupiers still think in “moralistic terms, like greed,” despite the fact that “the laws of capitalism impel the corporations towards buying the system…. It’s probably the greatest return on investment you can get.”

Wealth, Not Deficit, is the Problem

“The truth is, we don’t have a deficit problem,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers, an organizer with Occupy DC, encamped at Washington’s Freedom Plaza. “We have the wealth in this country to meet our needs, but our government is not willing to take that revenue from the rich and major corporations.” Occupy DC  HYPERLINK ""held hearings on the so-called congressional SuperCommittee’s mandate to make vast cuts in federal spending. Of the ten biggest contributors to the 12 senators and representatives on the panel, six are mega-banks, one is Microsoft, and the other is the huge corporate law firm Skadden, Arps.

Black Chicago Gears Up for Housing Push and NATO/G-8 Meetings

Under the umbrella of Occupy the Hood, Chicago Black activists are “focusing on tasks in our communities that have been neglected for so long,” said veteran organizer Pat Hill. She acknowledged that, these days, corporate media tend to pay more attention to Black activism when the “Occupy” label is attached. The next community offensive is called “Homes for the Holidays,” to tackle the housing crisis in Black neighborhoods. Then, in the spring, local activists will join with national organizations to confront simultaneous Chicago meetings of NATO and G-8, the organization of the world’s wealthiest nations. “We are actively involved in that, and intend to exercise our First Amendment rights” in the face of heavy security measures.

The Hood and Occupy Boston Didn’t Mix Well

Some Black activists who attempted to collaborate with Boston’s OWS outfit came away less than satisfied. Jamal Crawford, of the city’s Occupy The Hood umbrella, cited the Boston OWS’s “leaderless structure,” “lack of foundational principles,” and “lack of organization” – as well as “abundant” white privilege and instances of racism – for failure to forge a working relationship. “The question has never been, Can Black people navigate in a white world, because that’s something we’ve been doing,” said Crawford. “The real question has been, Can white people navigate in a Black world – and that remains to be seen.” Crawford, however, credits OWS headquarters in New York with having been “very supportive of Occupy The Hood.”

Occupation Has Energized Oakland Black and Brown Movement

“This current moment has opened up a lot of opportunities for us to get more resources, in terms of new people who are really motivated,” said Robbie Clark, a housing activist with the Oakland-based non-profit Just Cause. “A lot of organizations are willing to come together about how to win some concrete demands, especially around bank accountability, workers rights and immigrant rights.”  Clark said “people are learning from how the Occupiers have been able to engage masses of people” – even if those masses are not necessarily Black and brown. The Occupiers have also learned from local activists of color, said Clark. “This movement around economic equality can be traced back to Reconstruction: 40 acres and a mule.”

Under Obama, Rule of Law Crumbles

“The president can commit murder whenever he wants,” said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, citing the string of U.S. and allied assassinations that have marked the past year of Barack Obama’s presidency. “This is the man who won the Nobel Peace Prize, and now he believes he can launch drones all over the world,” said Ratner. “This [Libya] is about the sixth war that Obama is involved in, and it looks like he is more of a warlike president than almost anybody we’ve ever had.” In the current era, all U.S. ware are waged in pursuit of global hegemony – and, specifically, to corner oil supplies. “We have to end our support for militarism, just as Dr. (Martin Luther] King said.”

BAR’s Dr. Jared Ball explores the cooptation of Hip Hop, not just by media moguls and commercial marketers, but by the U.S. State Department – “a situation where hip-hop is turned against itself and, indeed, the world.”

Cornel West: OWS Has Changed Public Discourse

“There’s been a shift in public discourse towards truth and justice,” said Black public intellectual Cornel West, “the truth about corporate greed, the truth of escalating poverty, the truth about obscene levels of unemployment and, we hope, the truth about arbitrary military power abroad and arbitrary police power at home.” Dr. West, who recently relocated from Princeton University to New York’s Union Theological Seminary, lamented unquestioning African American allegiance to Barack Obama, despite the First Black President’s pro-corporate policies. “Our precious Black brothers and sisters are so desperate, so scared,” he said. “We’ve got lackluster, milquetoast leadership that doesn’t want to tell the people the truth.”

Stop-and-Frisk Action in Sean Bell Precinct

Twenty people were arrest at the Queens, New York precinct in the neighborhood where Sean Bell was killed in a fusillade of police bullets, five years ago. About 200 people took part in the demonstrations, according to “Stop Stop-and-Frisk” leader Carl Dix. “What’s been needed is mass resistance,” said Dix. “The New Jim Crow is meeting some new freedom fighters.” The group holds a citywide Day of Student Action Against Stop-and-Frisk on December 2, spearheaded by a contingent from Columbia University.

Uhuru Joins POP in Newark

The International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement sent delegations from Philadelphia and Washington, DC, to join demonstrations for jobs, peace, equality and justice organized by the People’s Organization for Progress – or POP – in Newark, New Jersey. Uhuru Movement leader Diop Olugbala said the same tyranny of corporations and banks that exists in Newark also prevails in Philadelphia, Washington and every other major U.S. city. POP has been holding daily protests for five months.

Mass Demonstrations Planned for Chicago

The United National Anti-War Coalition, UNAC, is determined to hold mass demonstrations in May against meetings of NATO and the wealthy G-8 nations, in Chicago, despite government plans to put severe limitations on protests. UNAC spokesperson Chris Gavreau says the feds are categorizing the meetings as “National Security Events.” “I believe that means they are declaring the rules on civil liberties and the right to protest are off the table,” she said. UNAC demands the right to protest the G-8’s “austerity cutbacks and other horrors” and NATO’s “bombing of Libya, the occupation of Afghanistan and new outrages all over the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.”

Every Armed American Must Leave Iraq

Despite the Obama administration’s claims that U.S. withdrawal from Iraq will be complete by the end of the year, “the State Department seems to be planning to leave 16,000 personnel in Iraq,” including “8,000 armed military contractors, or mercenaries,” said Raed Jarrar, a Washington-base Iraqi-American journalist and political analyst. He points out that 16,000 men is the equivalent of an Army division. “There are no other examples of an embassy this size anywhere in the world.”

U.S. Public Opinion Counts for Nothing

All that the so-called congressional SuperCommittee had to do, if it really wanted to cut the deficit properly, according to University of Massachusetts political scientist Thomas Ferguson, “was listen to public opinion.” Polls show “by over 2 to 1, Americans want higher taxes on the rich, and they don’t want cuts in Social Security and Medicare.” So, what did the Democrats do? “They begin by offering cuts in Social Security and Medicare,” said Prof. Ferguson. “Popular opinion plays almost no role in what these guys decide to do.” By elevating deficits over job-creation, U.S. politicians “are discrediting the whole political system.”

California Prison Strikers Said to Commit Suicide

Three inmates who took part in hunger strikes against California’s high security confinement practices were found dead, apparent suicides. Isaac Ontiveros, of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, said the deaths point out the need to “call solitary confinement what it is: torture.” Classically, said Ontiveos “torture is used to cause despair…to create a climate of profound and disorienting uncertainty.”

Obama’s Civil Liberties Record “Very, Very Bad”

Under President Obama, the state of civil liberties in the U.S. has become “very, very bad” and is “actually worse” than under the Bush administration, said Bill Quigley, Loyola University professor of law and associate legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. One reason for the decline is that “so many of us were beguiled by the beautiful rhetoric and speaking voice of President Obama,” said Quigley, author of a recent article titled “Twenty Examples of the Obama Administration Assault on Domestic Civil Liberties.” Had President Bush or a President McCain undermined civil liberties to the extent that Obama has, “people would have protested, would have organized, would have educated and would have challenged” the Republican in the White House.

Ejected Occupiers Should “Come on Down” to DC

As Occupy sites are shut down one by one across the country, dislodged activists should relocate to the Occupy Washington DC encampment at Freedom Plaza, said David Swanson, activist and publisher of the influential web site War Is A Crime. The Occupy Movement needs to target the political servants of Wall Street in Washington, as well as the finance capitalists in Manhattan. “We have to go after both the people who are funding the campaigns and asking for the corruption, and those [politicians] who are soliciting and accepting the money.”

Poverty, Not OWS, is a Public Health and Safety Hazard

It is the height of hypocrisy for big city mayors to close down Occupation sites on the “pretext” of public health and safety, when Black neighborhoods face jobless rates of 30-35 percent, representing huge threats to life and limb. Activist and author Paul Street said Black communities are “plagued by a host of incredible public health and safety issues,” with boarded up homes, no place to buy fresh vegetables, and an absence of doctors. Street wrote the article “Urban Neoliberal Racism, Mass Poverty, and the Repression of Occupy Wall Street.”

Occupation Movement Can’t Substantiated Its Claims

“It’s a positive thing that large numbers of white youth have become somewhat socially engaged and been willing to try to step out and put themselves on the forefront of some aspects of the social struggle,” said Kali Akuno, of the U.S. Human Rights Network. “The negative piece, however, is making claims that can’t be substantiated, because they haven’t organized the 99%.” Black communities have “started to step out and say, Hey, we like some of what we see” in OWS, “but we object to folks speaking in our name and trying to articulate our interests without our input.” Akuno reserved particular criticism for the Occupy effort in Atlanta, where he is based.

NYC Top Cop Gets Bull Connor Award

New York City police commissioner Raymond Kelly is the winner of the Bull Connor Award, named for the Birmingham, Alabama, public safety commissioner who set dogs on Black children in 1963. Kelly oversees a stop-and-frisk policy that is on track to accost and humiliate 700,000 people, this year, the vast majority of them Black and Latino. Kelly has proven himself, like Connor, to be unrelenting “in hounding Blacks and Latinos, persecuting Freedom Fighters, and keeping the city safe for upper class white men.”

Newark’s People’s Organization for Progress Adds Allies

“I think it is really important that union people and progressive groups support each other,” said Pat Fahy, of Newark, New Jersey’s IBEW Local 827, who had just addressed a rally of POP, People’s Organization for Progress. POP has been holding daily demonstrations since June for jobs, social justice, adequate housing, education and peace, and has so far been joined by over 110 community, church, student and labor groups.

Employers Steal Workers Blind

Employer theft of worker wages is rampant in the U.S., said Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice and author of “Wage Theft: Why Millions of Americans Are Not Getting Paid and What They Can Do About It.” One out of four low wage workers isn’t paid the minimum wage and three-quarters of low wage workers are not paid overtime, said Bobo. She blames much of the problem on declining union strength and “ridiculously weak” federal enforcement of workers’ rights.

Mumia Being Set Up for Assassination

Pennsylvania authorities intend to have Mumia Abu Jamal killed if he is transferred to the general inmate population, said Pam Africa, of International Family and Friends of Mumia Abu Jamal. The Philadelphia District Attorney agreed last week to no longer pursue the death penalty in the killing of a police officer, 30 years ago. “This is a devious trick of theirs,” said Ms. Africa. “This is the same government that attempted to assassinate [American Indian Movement activist] Leonard Peltier, this is the same government that murdered [San Quentin inmate and Black Panther] George Jackson, and the list goes on.”

McKinney: Preventive Detention to Quell Dissent

Former Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney denounced congressional moves to establish indefinite preventive detention for so-called terrorism suspects, including U.S. citizens. “What happens to a group of people who want to go to Libya and report the truth?” asked the former Georgia congresswoman, who led several fact-finding delegations to Libya before and during the NATO assault on that country. “Who will they put on the terrorist list, to be detained? It could be you, it could be me, it could be the young people of Occupy, it could be anyone who dares to dissent.”

Blacks Must Return to Grass Roots Organizing

“The idea that protest politics is played out, or that it doesn’t garner results, is completely ahistorical,” said Newark city councilman Ras Baraka, a speaker at a People’s Organization for Progress (POP) rally, last week. “Everything we have been able to do in this community and this country has always centered around our ability to organize to protest, to march, to sit in, to speak out,” said Councilman Baraka, a school principle whose father is the poet and activist Amiri Baraka. Since June, POP has held daily demonstrations for jobs, housing, adequate education, social justice and peace, and vows to continue for 381 days, to match the duration of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Actions on Foreclosures

Organizations associated with the Occupy movement and The New Bottom Line launched campaigns against home foreclosures in dozens of cities. New York Communities for Change targeted properties abandoned by banks and “severely over-leveraged buildings that are not getting any repairs done,” said  NYCC legal and political director Amelia Adams. In Minneapolis, Neighborhoods for Change joined with OWS to send teams to live with families in two foreclosed properties. Out-of-work householder Monique White said she believed, mistakenly, that “the Obama [home foreclosure] program was for people like myself,” while Vietnam-ear veteran Bobby Hull reported that when he tried to join the program with Bank of America, “they could never find my information, and then didn’t converse with me.”

Give the Broadcast Spectrum to the People

Members of the Georgia Green Party, local Occupiers and Atlanta community radio station WRFG demanded that the Federal Communications Commission halt auctions of the broadcast spectrum to private parties and make commercial media pay the cost of community broadcasting. “The FCC ought to give these frequencies back to the public, back to not-for-profit community broadcasters, who will be glad to provide access to local voices, local news coverage and public service that commercial broadcasters have refused to provide us,” said Bruce Dixon, a Green Party activist and managing editor of Black Agenda Report.

Congo Elections Rigged

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila engineered his own reelection by pushing through constitutional changes that eliminated a runoff vote and by appointing his own supporters as judges and elections officials, said Kambale Musavuli, of Friends of the Congo. “Kabila is supported by the United States,” he said. Despite the election theft, “We Congolese can organize to make sure that we really achieve the independence that Patrice Lumumba dreamed of in 1960.”

Jared Ball: J Edgar a “Horror Film”

In Clint Eastwood’s new film J Edgar, the infamous “Hoover returns, even in death, to remind the liberal, the affluent, the white, that their place atop the social pyramid is legitimate and must be protected by any means necessary,” says BAR columnist Jared Ball. “Black activists don’t even appear…. We get nothing of his concern over the Black Panther Party, or the surveillance and deportation of people like Claudia Jones and CLR James, or culpability in the killings of Malcolm X and Fred Hampton, to name a few.”

Black Ministers Form “Occupy The Dream” in “Lock-Stop” with OWS
“The Black church cannot afford to sit on the sidelines, but must be on the front lines of this fight for justice,” said Rev. Jamal Bryant, of the newly-formed Occupy the Dream movement. Bryant, who was joined at a Washington press conference by former NAACP executive director Dr. Benjamin Chavis and Occupy Wall Street activist David DeGraw, said African American clergy will demand an immediate moratorium on housing foreclosures, strengthening of rights to Pell Grants for college education, and $100 billion from Wall Street for economic development. “These companies owe a debt to the citizens that made them the wealthy entities that they are,” said Rev. Bryant, calling the sum a “drop in the bucket.”  Occupy the Dream will target Federal Reserve sites in various cities on January 16, Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, depositing crutches, walkers and wheelchairs at the scene to symbolize how the economy has been crippled by the quasi-public agency’s policies.
“We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the African American community in this campaign for economic fairness and justice, said David DeGraw, reading a statement written by “about 30” Occupy Wall Street organizers.” Rev. Chavis, now a co-chair, along with media mogul Russell Simmons, of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, said, “It is in our interest to build coalitions beyond ourselves.” Black people must “participate in our own resurrection, our own empowerment.”
Black Church Not the “Lynchpin” of Rights Fight
“Black American thinkers running the gamut from liberal, progressive to radical espoused secular humanist views on white supremacy, economic capitalist exploitation, women’s rights, on imperialism, all of the issues that affect contemporary African Americans,” said activist and scholar Sikivu Hutchinson, author of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars. Even Dr. Martin Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference “were actively disavowed and demonized by the mainstream Black church organizations for their radicalism, particularly Dr. King during the latter part of his life,” said Hutchinson. “This idea that Black theological traditions are the lynchpin of Black human rights thought and civil rights resistance and political organizing, is extremely egregious.”
People’s Organization for Progress to Rally for Voting Rights, Economic Justice
“The issues that P.O.P. is fighting about are issues of working people,” said Adrienne Taylor, an activist with the Communications Workers of America, Local 1040, in Newark, New Jersey. P.O.P marks day 176 of its planned 381-day marathon of daily demonstrations for jobs, education, housing, justice and peace, with a major rally for economic justice and voting rights set for January 15. Protesters will be on the streets of Newark on Christmas and New Years, said P.O.P. president Larry Hamm.
Congress Doesn’t Care if DC Residents “Live or Die”
Government-funded abortions and free needle programs have once again been made illegal in Washington, DC. The U.S. Congress, which under the Constitution has exclusive control over the nation’s capital, “is riding our backs into the grave,” said Anise Jenkins, of the Stand Up for Democracy in DC Coalition. “They don’t care if we live or die.” President Obama “was willing, as he was in April, to sell us out,” despite having gotten “over 90 percent of our vote” in the 2008 election, said Jenkins. “Does he expect us to continue to vote for him, because he thinks we have no alternative?” She urged support for legislation that would make Washington, DC, a state. “We’re the only jurisdiction in the country that has to suffer this oppression” of rule by Congress.
Most Blacks, and Nearly Half of Americans, Are Economically Insecure
A study shows 62 percent of African American households and 45 percent of all American families live with economic insecurity. Donna Addkison, president of Wider Opportunities for Women, which commissioned the study, found that 80 percent of single Black mothers “working the equivalent of full time still are not earning enough to get” beyond economic insecurity. “We’re talking about a baseline, we’re not talking about even cable television or cell phones,” but the costs of housing, food, transportation, health care and child care, “basic needs,” said Addkison. “Economic issues are women’s issues.”
Political Prisoners Central to Black Movement
Movement-building “must deeply involve the plight of political prisoners,” said Dr. Jared Ball, editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report and professor of communications at Morgan State University, in Baltimore. Political prisoners should be valued for their experience, their analysis, “and the standard they set for the rest of us,” said Ball. The movement “wouldn’t do half bad by replacing some of the Dysons, Simmons and Sharptons with folks like Ashanti Alston, Mutulu Shakur and Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoats.”
Buju Banton Appeals 10-Year Sentence
Lawyers for Jamaican Reggae and Dance Hall artist Buju Banton have appealed his ten-year conviction on cocaine charges in a trap set by the Drug Enforcement Agency. “Buju Banton has a voice that many in conservative positions and in power would rather see silenced,” said Aula Sumbry, of the Buju Banton Defense Support Committee. The singer is currently incarcerated in a prison near Miami.
Congolese Election A Fraud
“The results of the elections are clearly showing that there was fraud, a staged kind of fraud,” said Bahati Jacques, of the African Faith and Justice Network. Jacques, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, suggests a negotiated solution that would impose a runoff election between President Joseph Kabila and the official second-place candidate, Etienne Tshisekedi. Or, Tshisekedi could be proclaimed president, on the basis that the party that engaged “in fraud deserves no trust at all.”

Preventive Detention Threatens Occupiers, All Dissidents

The recently passed preventive detention measure poses a direct threat to the Occupation movement, said Dr. Margaret Flowers, an organizer with the encampment at Washington DC’s Freedom Plaza. People in power would like to paint dissenters as allies of terrorism. “Occupy London was actually determined by London police to be a terrorist organization,” said Flowers. Had she even imagined, back in 2008, that Barack Obama would be leading the preventive detention charge? “It doesn’t matter who is put into the system, it only works for the top one percent,” she said.

The Democrats’ “Killing Embrace”

The Occupy movement is constantly “being invited into the killing embrace of the Democratic Party,” which is ”just another face of the enemy,” said Carl Dix, of the Revolutionary Communist Party. Dix, a founder of “Stop Stop-and-Frisk,” harkened back to 2008, when virtually the entire Left “got swept up in Obamamania.” “The guy who says he is the best leader for the empire isn’t going to represent your interests,” he said.

NATO Committed War Crimes Against Libyan Civilians

NATO’s refusal to investigate civilian deaths in its seven-month bombing campaign against Libya is in violation of Article 15 of the Geneva Convention on the Wounded and Sick, Francis Boyle, the world-renowned University of Illinois professor of international law. The Article states that combatants are obligated “to go out and search for the wounded and sick, also the dead,” said Boyle, “but it doesn’t look like NATO really cares.” In fact, NATO policy was not to investigate civilian deaths in Libya – a practice that guaranteed the official death toll would be zero. “To violate the Geneva Conventions is a war crime, there is no doubt about it,” said Boyle.

Christmas in Newark is for Demonstrations

For the People’s Organization for Progress (POP), Christmas was simply day-182 of its marathon of demonstrations for jobs, housing, education, justice and peace. POP and its many allies spent the holiday at their usual places of protest in downtown Newark, New Jersey, keeping a promise to demonstrate for 381 consecutive days – the duration of the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott. Min. Thomas Ellis, of the anti-violence Enough is Enough Coalition, said “fighting for jobs for people in the community is one of the issues that we stand with POP on…. POP stood up against the war before the war started in Iraq, and the Enough is Enough Coalition stood with them on the corners of Broad and Market Streets, in March, 2003.”

American Revolution was a Racist Revolt

Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston, said, the American revolt of 1776 against British rule “was basically a successful revolt of racist settlers. It was akin to Rhodesia, in 1965, assuming that Ian Smith and his cabal had triumphed. It was akin to the revolt of the French settlers in Algeria, in the 1950s and 1960s, assuming those French settlers had triumphed.” Dr. Horne explores the racist roots on the American Revolution in his new book, Negroes of the Crown. “It was very difficult to construct a progressive republic in North America after what was basically a racist revolt,” said Horne. “The revolt was motivated in no small part by the fact that abolitionism was growing in London…. This is one of the many reasons more Africans by an order of magnitude fought against the rebels in 1776, than fought alongside them.”

U.S. Waging Two-Prong War of Repression

With the signing of preventive detention legislation, Washington is “upping the stakes, where the United States homeland is now part of this so-called global war on terror,” said Tony Monteiro, professor of African American Studies at Temple University, in Philadelphia. “All of us who are in one way or another in solidarity with the Cuban revolution, with 21st Century socialism in Venezuela, are now at the top of a hit list of ‘terrorist supporters’ who could be arrested an detained indefinitely.” He expects the emergence of a “great global movement that has to oppose this international thrust of finance capital and the Obama administration and the other NATO countries. They have to crush the rising class conflict in the United States and in other western capitalist countries,” said Prof. Monteiro. “So you have this two-sided project What they are proposing is a regime of domestic and global repression, of fascism.”

Blacks Will Vote for Obama, But Without Enthusiasm

Most Blacks will still vote for President Obama this year, “but it will be different, this time,” said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. “Before, people thought they had a real champion who was going to make a difference in the lives of Black people, but it didn’t happen. We’re not going to see the same kind of enthusiasm for Obama this time around.” In 2008, “we heard many of our Black leftist friends and many nationalists who were predicting that if Obama didn’t get elected, we would see a police state – but people have experienced that with Obama. We were told there would be economic catastrophe, but that has occurred even with Obama there.” In a lot of ways, said the Black Is Back chairman, “Obama has outdone Bush,” including “the declaration of the right to kill even U.S. citizens any time he wants to.”

UNAC Conference Against Preventive Detention

Preventive detention without trial “is the most serious blow to the Bill of Rights that we have experienced, and it’s no accident that it is occurring while” the U.S. is ”expanding military adventures abroad,” said Chris Gavreau, a spokesperson for UNAC, the United National Anti-War Coalition. “The language is so broad, they will use these laws against anyone that they seriously think is a threat to their ability to implement foreign policy.” UNAC will hold a conference March 23-25 in Stanford, Connecticut, to plan “a broad campaign to fight around indefinite detention” and other civil liberties violations.

For Whom The Whistle Blows

“While there is still a myth of freedom of speech, journalists’ voices worldwide are being drowned out” by imprisonment of those “that speak truth to power,” said veteran whistleblower Marsha Coleman-Adebayo. “We have a state-run media in this country – what we call the corporate media – that is influenced more by corporate pressures and by money and politics, than by a search for truth,” said the former Environmental Protection Agency official whose battle with the agency led to landmark protections for federal employees that speak out. “Journalists as whistleblowers, whistleblowers as journalists – at some point it would be lovely to see those communities merge.”

UN Force Should Leave Haiti

The United Nations has failed to acknowledge its responsibility for the cholera deaths of 6,000 Haitians and the sickening a half a million others, despite the fact that the world body’s “own report is the most persuasive evidence of the UN’s culpability,” said Fran Quigley, director of the Health and Human Rights Clinic at the University of Indiana Law School. Quigley recently returned from a fact-find trip to Haiti, where “a lot of people think its long past time for the peacekeepers to leave, even before this deadly cholera outbreak.” Haitians should have their rights protected, including from the United Nations,” said the law professor.

U.S. Pursues War, Chaos in Middle East and North Africa
“If there is a substantial military strike on Iran, it is going to create mayhem in the region,” said Dr. Vijay Preshad, director of International Studies at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut. “And that is precisely what the Gulf Arabs and the United States would like to see. The last thing they want is a proper Arab Spring germinate into new, democratic regimes in North Africa and Est Asia.”
McKinney: America Guilty of “Sociocide”
The U.S. is engaged in “sociocide” – the “wholesale destruction of entire societies,” said Cynthia McKinney, the former Georgia congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate. “One can honestly say that sociocide has occurred in Iraq and Libya,” she said. “This is purposeful behavior, to go into these countries and destroy all aspects of the infrastructure.”
Obama Outdoes Bush in Power-Grab
“Obama has claimed vastly more power than Bush did,” said peace activist David Swanson, publisher of the influential web site “He has gone to great lengths to protect and cover up and provide immunity to his predecessors and, in doing so, claimed greater powers of secrecy than his predecessor ever claimed.” Of 35 article of impeachment drawn up by Rep. Dennis Kucinich against President George Bush, in 2008, 27 would also apply to Obama, said Swanson. “Many of these are offenses that a great many people would be outraged about – if Obama were a Republican.”
DemoPublicans Speak with Forked Tongue
Organizers of the Occupy encampment at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, expect large numbers of protesters to gather for month-long activities in April, including direct actions. In addition to protests, said Dr. Margaret Flowers, “we also need to build something that will replace the power structure.” The Democratic and Republican electoral rhetoric amounts to “a false conversation that’s limited by their corporate funders. The real conversation will be happening in the Occupy movement.”
Stop Stop-and-Frisk
“Spying on communities has got to go, stop-and-frisk has got to go,” shouted Kalfani Nkrumah, leading the chants at a Bronx, New York, demonstration by Stop Stop-and-Frisk. “If our elected officials refuse to stand up for us, then they have to go to, too.”
Michelle Authenticates Obama
Attendees at a recent conference on “African Identities in the Age of Obama,” at Virginia’s George Mason University, “were outright frank about why they voted for Obama, in 2008: “because he was married to a ‘sister.’” Conference organizer and professor of history Benedict Carton said President Obama “didn’t come from a historical trajectory of slavery in Ameriva and post-slavery dynamics.” African Americans “needed to root him through his wife.”
In the Spirit of Lumumba
The election of Patrice Lumumba as prime minister of newly independent Congo, in 1960, was that country’s first and last free election, said Luwezi Kinshasa, secretary general of the African Socialist International and a Congolese. In the spirit of Lumumba, Africans must “struggle to overturn all compromises made with imperialism,” and take ownership of the continent’s resources.
Lynn Stewart’s Appeal
On February 29, imprisoned movement lawyer Lynn Stewart appeals her 10 year sentence on charges of aiding “terrorists” – in her defense of “blind sheik” Obama Abdel Rahman, convicted in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. “If there were the rule of law” in the United States,” said Stewart’s husband, Ralph Poynter, “Lynn would not be in jail.”
U.S. Pursues War, Chaos in Middle East and North Africa “If there is a substantial military strike on Iran, it is going to create mayhem in the region,” said Dr. Vijay Preshad, director of International Studies at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut. “And that is precisely what the Gulf Arabs and the United States would like to see. The last thing they want is a proper Arab Spring germinate into new, democratic regimes in North Africa and Est Asia.”

Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of February 20, 2012

U.S. Foments Violence in Syria

Washington appears to be attempting a re-run of last year’s regime change in Libya. “That’s what the drumbeats have been, all along,” said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. The West puts the “opposition” together and arms it, “and then the United States claims we have to intervene to stop the very violence that we perpetrated. That is the absolute playbook for Libya.” At this point, the Syrian regime has to use violence to survive. “It doesn’t seem to me that there is a great deal of choice, here, for Syria,” said Ratner.

Single Payer Activists Ask High Court to Throw Out Individual Mandate

Fifty medical doctors have filed a brief, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down provisions of President Obama’s health care legislation that force Amerians to by private health insurance. “There’s a dire need right now to get rid of, not only the individual mandate, but to get rid of the private health insurance corporations,” said Russell Mokhiber, of Single Payer Action. Obama’s bill “wasn’t an accomplishment for the American people, it was an accomplishment for the insurance industry. They drafted this law. It kept them in the game.”

Newark Daily Protests Link Local, National Struggles

Daily demonstrations begun in June by the People’s Organization for Progress (POP), in Newark, New Jersey, “provide a real opportunity for everyday people who feel that their voices have been heard, that they’ve been drowned out by the Super Pacs,” said Jerome Harris, immediate past president of the New Jersey Black Issues Convention. POP vows to continue demonstration for jobs, education, peace and justice for at least 381 days, the duration of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Chicago Torture Commission Lacks Funds

Standish Willis, the Chicago attorney who drew up legislation that authorized a commission to gain the release of Black men imprisoned on evidence and confessions obtained by police torture, said state funds for the project have been cut in half. That’s barely enough to pay an executive director and an assistant, said Willis. “Without funding, the Commission will die,” and at least 20 torture victims will languish in prison.

Push to Ban Death Penalty in Maryland

Political prisoner Marshall Eddie Coleman, a former Black Panther incarcerated for the last 42 years, is leading a campaign to end capital punishment in the state. Maryland may be “Up South,” said Atty. James Reston, secretary of the Baltimore-Washington chapter of the Jericho Project, but “it has a Deep South mentality.” Seventy-seven percent of the state’s inmates are Black, and four Black men and a white woman sit on Death Row.

Economist Skeptical of Obama Housing Scheme

“This has a lot more to do with getting a good photo-op” for the president, than providing substantial help to homeowners, said Dr. Richard Wolff, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts, at Amherst. “We are now in the third or fourth effort. None of the others succeeded. It would be strange for us to believe, now, with an election coming up,” that a $26 billion settlement will solve a $700 billion problem.

Black Power Redefined

Joanne Griffith, a British-born journalist, is on a speaking tour for her new book, Redefining Black Power: Reflections on the State of Black America. “We are looking at activism from different perspectives – from the legal perspective, from the media perspective, and from the emotional impact that the Obama presidency has had on African Americans,” she said.

Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Tuesday at 4:00pm ET on PRN. Length: One hour.

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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