4 July 2012 — Black Agenda Report – News, commentary and analysis from the black left
Obama Bound for Mount Rushmore?
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
President Obama‘s healthcare plan, now vetted by the U.S. Supreme Court, is the spawn of Republican reactionaries, “based on the principle that people should pay for their own bodily maintenance.” It bears no resemblance to world-class healthcare systems, “expanding the healthcare compact only for those who are destitute, while turning everyone else into profit-centers for corporations.” Obama has locked in the past, and put up a roadblock to the future – just as the right-wingers that invented the “individual mandate” intended.
Hunger Strikes Reportedly Continue in Multiple Georgia Prisons, Prisoners Await A Movement Outside Prison Walls
A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
The ongoing hunger strikers in Georgia‘s Jackson State prison have reportedly been joined by others in Augusta and Macon. But the 37 rounded up as alleged leaders of the December 2010 strike are still officially not named by the state are believed to have been on 24 hour lockdown the last 18 months, with many suffering brutal beatings and denied medical attention. Why has the state not revealed their identities? Why are there still thousands of children and illiterates in Georgia‘s prisons? Why do prisoners still work without wages, and why does Bank of America still extract monthly tolls from their accounts? Why has so little changed?
Ten Years of No Child Left Behind: Disaster Capitalism in the Schools
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
No Child Left Behind has only been a failure if you believed the hype about its purposes. In fact, NCBL has been a roaring success in using “federal spending as a hammer to impose corporate governance over privatized public schools.” Wall Street has converted publicly-financed education into a no-risk market, teachers unions have been “demonized, demoralized and rendered largely politically inert,” and Black community control of schools is more remote than ever.
Can the International Criminal Court Deliver Impartial Justice? Margaret Kimberley on Al Jazeera’s Inside Story
On July 1, 2002, the International Criminal Court (ICC), the only permanent criminal tribunal set up to try genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, came into force.A decade later, it has been ratified by 121 states with another 32 intending to join. The US and China, however, have opted not to. In its 10 years, the ICC has only made one conviction – Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese warlord found guilty of recruiting child soldiers.
Stop-and-Frisk Goes to Frisco
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The “progressive” Chinese-American mayor of “liberal” San Francisco is considering instituting stop-and-frisk – which no doubt is already informally practiced by his city’s police. Mayor Ed Lee’s intention to endorse legal apartheid puts him in the historical American mainstream, since “stop-and-frisk never stopped in the United States.” The practice stretches, unbroken, from slavery times. “If the laws are applied unequally, then there is no law, and the police are nothing but an occupying army enforcing martial law” – selectively, against Black and brown people.
Chief Justice Roberts, The Jury is Still Out
by Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III
Much of the Right is furious with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts for saving President Obama‘s healthcare legislation from constitutional defeat. But Roberts may have had a larger conservative agenda. “Could it be that by rejecting the Obama administration’s assertions under the Commerce Clause that Roberts is paving the way for upcoming conservative challenges to established civil rights legislation?” Justice Roberts might right now be advising his fellow right-wingers: Calm down, you’ll thank me later.
Will Affirmative Action Disappear?
by Dr. Julianne Malveaux
Affirmative action’s final fate may soon be decided by a hostile U.S. Supreme Court, yet there are few signs of a major mobilization by those who still support diversity in education. The objective facts of disparity are stark: “While 29 percent of the US population over 25 has a college degree, the number for African Americans is 14 percent.”
An Unwanted Army for Haiti
by Dr. Nia Imara
Armed men in uniform by the thousands are encamped around Haiti, claiming to be the national army, although the country has no military of its own – by choice. “The people have consistently expressed their desire for free and widespread access to education, employment, housing, an inclusive and democratic government, and an end to the UN/US occupation-not for an army.” But the U.S.-backed president wants to bring the military back. “Many in Haiti who are old enough to remember compare the period today with the Duvalier dictatorship, which used the army as an instrument of repression against the poor majority.”
The 4th of July: Indoctrination, Oppression and Hypocrisy
by Solomon Comissiong
“We must reject all forms of injustice, as well as symbols of inequality that have been imposed upon us. The 4th of July holiday,” says the author, “is one of those repugnant symbols.”
Reflections on Gil Scott-Heron
by Norman (Otis) Richmond aka Jalali
Gil Scott-Heron’s repertoire was as wide and deep as the audience that loved him. “He dealt with racism, capitalism, the environment, Pan-Africanism, substance abuse, nuclear power, women’s liberation and just plain ‘silly’ little love songs.”
Give the People Medicare-for-All
The U.S. Supreme Court’s vetting of President Obama‘s health legislation means Americans will be forced to “spend up to 9 percent of their income and still not get actual healthcare,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers, who joined other physicians in a brief on behalf of Medicare-for-All. The Obama bill amounts to “corporate welfare on steroids,” said Dr. Flowers. Jean Ross, a co-president of National Nurses United, said “No one should have to wait till they’re 65 to have the best healthcare system. We need Medicare-for-All, from the time you’re born.”
Mandatory Life in Prison for Juveniles is Unconstitutional
“In every area of the law we protect child status, except in the criminal justice system, where we increasingly sentence them just as if they are adults – even if they’re as young as 13 or 14,” said Bryan Stevenson, of the Equal Justice Initiative. Under the high court’s ruling, juveniles can still be sentenced to life, but the penalty cannot be mandatory. Minorities make up about 70 percent of kids serving life terms.
Arizona Immigration Decision is a Victory, But…
“It is wrong to assume that Justice Roberts has a rebirth as some type of moderate,” said Shanta Driver, national chairperson of BAMN, By Any Means Necessary. Racial profiling remains embedded in U.S. immigration practice, “including the federal Secure Communities Act,” backed by the Obama administration.
It’s “All Purely Race” in Jasper, Texas
The Texas town where three white men chained and dragged James Byrd Jr. to his death behind their pickup truck, in 1998, recently recalled two of its Black city councilmen and fired its first African American police chief. The town’s racists “believe that they can do and say anything without anybody taking issue with them,” said Atty. David Bersen, who filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint on behalf of ex-police chief Rodney Pearson. “It’s all purely race.”
Lynne Stewart Sentence Stands
Human rights lawyer Lynne Stewart lost her appeal of a 10-year prison sentence for her conduct in defending a client on terror charges. Stewart, 72, is held at a medical prison near Fort Worth, Texas, where she recently underwent surgery. “They’re referring to Lynne as having disrespect for the law,” said her husband, Ralph Poynter. “My reaction is, anybody that has studied the history of American law knows it’s based in genocide, slavery and the double standard. The only things we can look up to in America that are positive are those people that followed justice rather than law.”
New Orleans Katrina School Firings Illegal
A federal judge ruled that local and state officials acted illegally when they fired 7,500 New Orleans public school employees to make way for charter schools, in the wake of the 2005 Katrina disaster. Seven of the former employees won cash awards ranging from $48,000 to $48,000, and the total owed to the entire class of plaintiffs could run in the tens of millions. “From the beginning it was a wrongful takeover” based on “manufactured evidence of failure,” said Willie Zanders, lawyer for the plaintiffs. “Many people saw this as an opportunity to privatize public education.” Eighty percent of New Orleans schools are now charters.
POP Demonstration Marathon Passes One-Year Mark in Newark
“We’ve certainly drawn attention to the issue of unemployment in our community,” said Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress (POP), based in Newark, New Jersey. POP set out last June 27 to hold daily demonstrations, 7 days a week, to match or exceed the 381-day longevity of the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott. The grassroots activists are building for a huge rally for jobs, peace, equality and justice on July 11 – with help from a coalition of 179 endorsing organizations.
U.S. Enables Genocide in Congo
“The United States has been an enabler” of Rwanda’s destabilization of the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, contributing to the deaths of 6 million Congolese since 1996, said Claude Gatebuke, of the African Great Lakes Network. “The U.S. is one of the largest donors to the Rwandan government in terms of funds, but also military training” to the tune of over $1 billion in the past decade, said Gatebuke. “When you give a world criminal more resources, they commit more crimes.”
Buju Banton Loses Appeal
A federal appeals court confirmed Jamaican musical artist Buju Banton‘s 10-year sentence on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The government case against Banton, who turns 39 on July 15, relied heavily on a paid informer. “Buju’s case represents a lot of cases in America in terms of the use of confidential informants who make millions of dollars of untaxed income,” said Chris Sweeney, editor of the New Times, in Miami. Dr. Carolyn Cooper, a member of Banton’s support committee and a lecturer at the University of the West Indies, in Jamaica, said “There are many of us who feel that Buju’s arrest and incarceration is really an attack on the Jamaican music industry, because of the kinds of messages that some of the artists have sending out about sexual politics. So many of us in Jamaica believe that it is a set-up.”