Fascism is the union of government with private business against the People.
"To The States, or any one of them, or to any city of The States: Resist much, Obey little; Once unquestioning obedience, at once fully enslaved; Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, ever afterward resumes its liberty." from "Caution" by Walt Whitman

Friday, June 27, 2014

Indiana: "The Ultra-Right-Wing State Nobody Mentions"

2014-06-27 by Bryan K. Bullock from "Truthout"
Indiana is a right-wing, conservative state. Somehow, however, the state seems to fly under the radar of the national media when they address the right-leaning activities in other states like Texas and Wisconsin. This is curious because it has frequently been Indiana at the forefront of many of the right-wing laws that have garnered attention from the national media in other states. Indiana has been ground zero in privatization of public resources, voter ID laws, assaults on reproductive rights, lax environmental regulations and dismantling unions - to name a few pet right-wing initiatives.
Several years ago, much of the media attention was focused on far-right-wing, anti-union activities in the Wisconsin legislature. While this attention was warranted, what was missed was that Wisconsin's neighbor, Indiana, was engaged in similar anti-union and ultra-conservative legislative initiatives. Governor Mitch Daniels, governor at that time, and the Republican-controlled House and Senate had advanced many of the same types of laws that were garnering attention in Wisconsin. One of Daniels' first tasks upon becoming governor was to delegitimize the state's public service unions. The unions had been lawfully recognized as a bargaining unit by executive order. Daniels, with a stroke of a pen, decertified the public sector union, saying that government worked better without them. This garnered some media attention, but not enough to raise the alarm in other states. Daniels continued his assault on unions by pushing charter schools on poor black communities like Gary, Indiana, and, in his final days, by signing so-called "right to work" legislation. The latter issue did pique the interest of national media, but only mildly.
One of Daniels' initial acts as governor that did get some media traction was his decision to privatize the administration of the state's welfare support system. He awarded a $1.34 billion contract to IBM to deliver the state's welfare system. This taxpayer giveaway met with little resistance and culminated in disastrous results - with IBM eventually suing the state of Indiana when Daniels rescinded the contract. His next big privatization scheme was to lease the state's toll road. He leased the state's toll road, which happens to run through the poor communities of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago, but the governments and citizens of those communities received nothing in return for the lease. This move also displaced many former state toll road employees. Daniels never advanced any progressive jobs agenda that would put the state's poor and minority citizens to work in good-paying jobs. His answer to the state's poor job creation was to privatize everything and bust up the unions. Despite this record, Indiana is not mentioned among the pantheon of conservative states in America.
Daniels also enacted one of the first voter-ID laws in the nation despite the fact that studies had shown that voter fraud in the state was negligible and unworthy of legislative resources and attention. The conservative credentials of Daniels and the Republican-held legislature were on full display for the nation, yet the nation barely noticed. Indiana's Democrats showed themselves to be simply moderate Republicans, and, although they picked their battles and voiced opposition at times, they were never able to rally their constituents to action, mainly because many of them were implicitly in agreement with many of Daniels' actions.
Whenever Indiana did get mentioned in the national media, Mitch Daniels was largely portrayed as a decent governor and his presidential ambitions, despite his extreme conservatism, were not signaled as a red flag. Under Daniels, Indiana's legislatures, along with Daniels' education secretary, Tony Bennett, advanced the Arne Duncan-esque education program of charters, more charters, blame the teachers and vilify the teachers' union's program for poor black school districts. Most of the charters in Indiana are, of course, in poor, black communities, and they have not appreciably improved the educational lot of the children of the parents chareters were sold to. Also by pushing charters and school vouchers (under the banner of "choice"), he economically minimized one of the only stable workforces in places like Gary: the teachers and their union. All of this flew under the radar in the national media. A simple, sustained coverage of Indiana would have revealed a Republican agenda in full swing during the full eight years of the Daniels governorship.
Indiana's Republican congress and governor also engaged in a very public attack in the culture wars. They sought to enact Arizona-style immigration legislation, which would have allowed police officers to stop "suspected" illegal immigrants. They enacted laws that sought to limit the right of women to make their own reproductive decisions and introduced legislation that would legalize the drug testing of women who receive government assistance. When other states engage in this practice, the media attention is glaring, but for some reason, Indiana's case was barely covered by the national press. Indiana has also been at the forefront of pushing for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Once he left office, Daniels, who is now president of Purdue University, launched an attack to censure the use of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States in the curriculum at the university. This too gained some media traction, but Daniels was not portrayed as an arch-conservative, and the state that he governed, and the school that hired him to be its president, were not characterized as being deeply backward and conservative, evidence of same notwithstanding.
Environmental groups likewise largely ignore the state. Indiana ranks 49th out of 50 states in environmental regulations that protect its citizens, yet no appreciable media attention is focused on this. Indiana has no environmental justice regulations; its metropolitan planning organizations, particularly in northern Indiana, advance policies that encourage urban sprawl and all of the social and environmental results attendant to it and still, no coverage from media that cover these issues.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is widely seen in Indiana's environmental circles as being severely pro-business instead of pro-environment. The BP Amoco facility in Whiting, Indiana, is the second largest tar sands processing plant in the country. BP invested 3.8 billion dollars in the plant for the purpose of facilitating the processing of tar sands. IDEM issued a permit for BP to engage in the processing, as it has done with other polluters in the state. The lax environmental regulations and the pro-business culture of IDEM are directly in line with the conservative nature of the state.
The election of Mike Pence, the arch-conservative former congressman, as governor was likewise not described as a continuation of Indiana's hyperconservative politics. Pence, a Tea Party favorite, once claimed that Rush Limbaugh doesn't have a racist bone in his body. He also said of Limbaugh, "He's a man about opportunity of all Americans, regardless of race, creed or color, and I think that's why he's so admired and appreciated all across America." Yet, there seems to be no clamor justly characterizing a state that elects men like Pence and Daniels, as ultraconservative or right-wing.
It seems that most of what goes on in Indiana goes largely unreported, or when it is, it is not portrayed as a part of the right-wing agenda. This is probably due in part because Indiana's citizens do not protest as loud and long as do citizens of other states. The most progressive portion of the state, which is in the Gary area, has been beaten down economically, and its representatives in the state legislature are old and trending conservative. The majority African-American population in Gary is progressive, but it has suffered economic disinvestment and isolation for the past 40 years or so, which has muted much of its progressivism. Gary was Detroit before Detroit became the poster child for neoliberal economic policies. Weakening Gary is particularly troubling since populations like Gary's have been at the center of the right-wing attack in the state, just as cities like Detroit, Newark, Benton Harbor and other majority black cities have shouldered the brunt of the right-wing policies of their respective state governments. Yet, Indiana's neoliberal policies and their effects on Gary, the site of the historic black political convention, go unreported even in Chicago media outlets - where Gary gets its news. In fact, the northern part of Indiana, the most politically progressive part of the state, receives all of its news from Chicago and has more cultural and political affiliation to the windy city than to the Hoosier capital.
Then, there is the Indiana government's relationship to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Current governor Pence and former governor Daniels both spoke at ALEC functions and have spoken highly of the entity. Daniels' former superintendent of schools, Tony Bennet, who relentlessly ushered in the privatization of Indiana's schools, especially in black communities like Gary, has also spoken at ALEC events. Indiana has consistently had between 20 and 29 state legislators with known ties to ALEC. Even after the ALEC-crafted "stand your ground law" (which Indiana has a version of), caused many legislators and companies to back away from the group, Indiana's legislators moved closer to it. The Indiana connection to ALEC is as deep and cozy as it gets, and the laws pushed by the state's legislators make Indiana a virtual ALEC subsidiary - or at least a willing testing ground for ALEC's legislative efforts for the rest of the country. Indiana companies Eli Lilly, Wellpoint and BP either are, or were, on ALEC's board. All of this should be headline news for the national media. Oddly, it's not.
The national media should call the politics, governors and legislatures of Indiana, what they are: archconservative. Indiana should be spoken of in the same way that Wisconsin, Arizona and Texas are. The state should be seen as deeply anti-immigrant, institutionally racist, anti-poor, corporatist, privateering, anti-choice and conservative. Indiana, in fact, has been at the forefront of the conservative agenda in the states, and it should be known as such to the rest of the nation. This is important because as long as Indiana flies under the radar, national civil rights, environmental, civil liberties and other progressive organizations will not focus their efforts on assisting their local affiliates to fight against Indiana's regressive political climate. At a minimum, the national media should hold a bright light to what's happening in Indiana so that the voters in the rest of the country can accurately assess how far to the right presidential or vice presidential candidate Pence is and - given ALEC's success in the state - the media can issue citizens of other states a warning about what's in store for them.

Black Business Association: Fascism's version of Black Power!

Donald Sterling is the former owner of the NBA Clipper's basketball team of Los Angeles, and was recorded as stating that Israel is a racist country, and that he is influenced by Israel, and would like to see Israel's anti-African sentiments be used to operate his sports team. After the recording was made public, the ensuing public scandal ended with Donald Sterling being stripped of his team by the NBA, who paid him millions in compensation... however, the release of the recording, and the scandal, doesn't stop African-American capitalists from using Donald Sterling's money and influence...

"Donald Sterling has a friend in the Black Community"
2014-06-26 from J.T., a Jewish author in Los Angeles [link]:
The Los Angeles City Council voted to declare February 28, 2013 as “Skip Cooper Day” in the city honoring the work of Earl “Skip” Cooper II, President of the Black Business Association. 
For more on how that happened: [https://web.archive.org/web/20130620020639/http://lasentinel.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10630:skip-cooper-day-in-los-angeles&catid=80&Itemid=170].
I was privileged to attend the BBA 2014 40th Annual Awards Dinner last night:

Overall the event was positive.  One speaker in particular spoke eloquently about the history of civil rights activism and civil rights laws and executive orders that assisted African American business and the critical effect on African American employment.  But the event had a low mark where it started at the bottom when people realized that there was a full page ad in the program from Donald Sterling; starting at the bottom it managed to work its way down when BBA President Earl “Skip” Cooper II said that Sterling is his “friend” and claimed that Sterling “isn’t a racist.”
Seriously.  I’m not making this up:

Earl “Skip” Cooper II extolling the virtues of Donald Sterling at the BBA 2014 Awards Banquet

If you’re not familiar with my past writings about Donald Sterling, check these blog entries out:
* "Happy Birthday, Donald Tokowitz Sterling, you Jew Oreo" [link]
* "RICO, not profit, for Donald Sterling" [link]
* Donald Sterling: Keep Quiet until Yom Kippur" [link]
To me, Donald Sterling is about as welcome as Adolf Hitler at a Bar Mitzvah. Frankly, that’s the way most of the people in the audience took Skip’s remarks about Sterling: jaw dropping; “no you didn’t just go there?” “WTF!” etc and so on….and then there was my reaction….. “What kind of Negro said that?”
You be the judge of whether Skip’s statements about Sterling and his denial of Sterling’s being a racist is consistent or inconsistent with BBA’s claimed Mission (see below).  If it’s inconsistent, maybe BBA should change it’s name to Negro Business Association.  Of course to me, denying that Sterling is a racist is like a Jew joining the Neo-Nazi so-called Historical Revisionists in claiming that the Holocaust is a myth and nothing but Jewish propaganda….

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fascists hold conference to prepare for theocratic 'hostile takeover' of United States government

"Bobby Jindal: ‘People Are Ready for a Hostile Takeover of Washington, D.C.’"
2014-06-22 by Dave Urbanski [http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/06/22/bobby-jindal-people-are-ready-for-a-hostile-takeover-of-washington-d-c/]:
WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — “I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Saturday night, ”where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.”
Jindal’s keynote address at the annual conference hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition accused President Barack Obama and other Democrats of waging wars against religious liberty and education.
Jindal emphasized that there was a “silent war” on religious liberty being fought in the U.S. — a country that he said was built on that liberty.
“I am tired of the left. They say they’re for tolerance, they say they respect diversity. The reality is this: They respect everybody unless you happen to disagree with them,” he said. “The left is trying to silence us and I’m tired of it, I won’t take it anymore.”
Organizers of the group led by longtime Christian activist Ralph Reed said more than 1,000 evangelical leaders attended the three-day gathering. Republican officials across the political spectrum concede that evangelical voters continue to play a critical role in GOP politics.
Earlier this week, Jindal signed an executive order to block the use of tests tied to Common Core education standards in his state, a position favored by tea party supporters and conservatives. He said he would continue to fight against the administration’s attempts to implement Common Core.
“The federal government has no role, no right and no place dictating standards in our local schools across these 50 states of the United States of America,” Jindal said.
Jindal used humor in criticizing the Obama administration on several fronts, referencing the Bergdahl prisoner exchange and the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
“Are we witnessing right now the most radically, extremely liberal, ideological president of our entire lifetime right here in the United States of America, or are we witnessing the most incompetent president of the United States of America in the history of our lifetimes? You know, it is a difficult question,” he said. “I’ve thought long and hard about it. Here’s the only answer I’ve come up with, and I’m going to quote Secretary Clinton: ‘What difference does it make?’”
The conference featured most of the well-known Republicans considering a 2016 presidential run, including Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Jindal is expected to announce after the November midterm elections whether or not he will launch a presidential bid.

Monday, June 16, 2014

"How Joe Montana refused to play ball when FBI tried to sting him"

2014-06-16 by Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross for "San Francisco Chronicle" [http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/How-Joe-Montana-refused-to-play-ball-when-FBI-5554528.php]:
The FBI sent an undercover agent posing as a real estate investor to meet with Joe Montana in an attempt to lure the 49er great into a sting, according to a defense attorney in the Leland Yee case who was made privy to certain details of the government's investigation.
"It shows the deepest lack of judgment I can imagine," said the attorney, James Brosnahan.
The undercover agent set up the meeting to discuss a possible investment in Montana's planned hotel development next to the 49ers' new stadium in Santa Clara, Brosnahan said.
He said he didn't know if the agent was wearing a wire when he met with Montana a couple of years back at a South Bay restaurant, though the feds regularly did that during the investigation that resulted in the indictments in March of Yee, the now-suspended state senator from San Francisco, and 28 others.
The agent "presented himself as an honest businessman who wanted to invest in Montana's hotel," Brosnahan said.
There is no indication that Montana was asked to do anything illegal, and we're told he showed no interest in taking on a new partner.
In the end, Brosnahan said, the government backed off because it "wasn't going to fund investments in a hotel."
The Montana meeting was part of a four-year investigation in which the FBI pointed undercover agents at a variety of targets, including Yee and Brosnahan's client, former San Francisco school board President Keith Jackson, to try to ferret out corruption.
"In a sting, they have real reason to believe someone is committing a crime," Brosnahan said. "But here they fanned out all over California to see who would talk to them about anything."

The U.S. attorney's office, which is prosecuting Yee, Jackson, Chinatown tong leader Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow and the other 26 defendants, declined to comment on the apparent targeting of Montana. And neither the FBI nor Montana's attorney, Rob Mezzetti, returned our calls.
Brosnahan said the FBI meeting with Montana is evidence of how far the feds were ready to go to make a case.
"Who decided to take Joe to lunch and cast a cloud on Northern California's greatest sports hero?" he said. "Nobody was exercising any judgment about the scope of this thing."
It should be noted that Montana's partner in the 9.5-acre development deal near Levi's Stadium, Kurt Wittek, was convicted of bank fraud by a federal jury in 1992 after he helped a business associate secure an illegal loan to buy a North Carolina savings and loan. He later got part of the case tossed on appeal, and his five-year prison sentence was reduced to probation.
As we first reported last month, fear that Montana's name would bubble up as part of the FBI's corruption probe was among the reasons U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer issued a protective order barring prosecutors and defense attorneys from disclosing certain evidence to the public, including wiretaps and recordings.
Brosnahan said he wasn't violating the order because none of his comments "come from any of the protected evidence."
It was Brosnahan - one of the defense lawyers assigned to negotiate the terms of the protective order - who alerted his colleagues that Montana was among those the government was looking to shield.
Brosnahan had earlier declined our request to talk about the Montana matter. But now he's speaking up, in what appears to be a defense strategy to paint the feds as overzealous in their campaign to root out public corruption.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Hillary Clinton publicly claims NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden should have relied on the government for protection

"Hillary Clinton Sides with NSA over Snowden Disclosures; Likely presidential candidate criticizes whistleblower for not going through proper channels and defends US global surveillance practices"
2014-06-13 by Sarah Lazare for "Common Dreams" [http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/06/13-6]:
Likely 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has taken a firm stance against the actions of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, denying his revelations have brought any positive impacts and slamming him for accepting asylum in Russia.
Speaking with NPR's Terry Gross on Thursday [https://web.archive.org/web/20140613010849/http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=321313477], Clinton claimed Snowden could have "expressed his concerns" in other ways "by reaching out to some of the senators or other members of Congress or journalists in order to convey his questions about the implementation of the laws surrounding the collection of information concerning Americans' calls and emails."
Her comments sparked criticism from progressives, journalists and civil liberties advocates.
"[Clinton] is just piling on with others who criticized Snowden, not recognizing that if it were not for him and his courageous disclosures, we wouldn't even know our government is routinely violating our 4th amendment rights," Matt Rothschild, senior editor of The Progressive magazine, told Common Dreams.
The former U.S. Secretary of State defended U.S. mass surveillance, stating, "collecting information about what’s going around the world is essential to our security." She added, "The pieces about the metadata collection, the other impacts on Americans, is a small sliver of what was stolen. Most of what was stolen concerned the surveillance that the United States undertakes, totally legally, against other nations."
Clinton condemned Snowden for leaving "first to China, then to Russia—taking with him a huge amount of information about how we track the Chinese military's investments and testing of military equipment, how we monitor the communications between al-Qaida operatives."
While the high-profile Democrat condemned the wiretapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone, and claimed that she favors a discussion of spying through the appropriate channels, she refused to acknowledge positive development from Snowden's revelations.
According to Rothschild, "To say that he should have gone to elected officials or other members of the media is to say he should have just gone through the safest channels for the establishment. As it is, he went to legitimate journalists who are doing what journalists are supposed to do, which is to tell the American people what our government is up to."
And Kevin Gosztola, writing for on FireDogLake on Friday, challenges Clinton's assertions about the choices available to Snowden [https://web.archive.org/web/20140614011809/http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2014/06/13/hillary-clinton-still-doesnt-think-snowden-did-anything-positive-continues-to-delude-the-public/]: "Clinton does not even begin to fathom the possibility of retaliation for talking to members of Congress. She does not recognize that he would have received no “independent due process hearing or day in court” and it would have been very easy for the NSA to push him out of his job or fire him and ensure he never worked another position in government in which a security clearance was required."

"Frankenstein Fears His Monster: The Gates Foundation Wants You To Boycott High-Stakes Tests"

2014-06-13 by Jesse Hagopian Common Dreams [http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/06/13-1]:
Jesse Hagopian [www.iamaneducator.com] teaches history and is the Black Student Union adviser at Garfield High School, the site of the historic boycott of the MAP standardized test [http://scrapthemap.wordpress.com/], and an associate editor for Rethinking Schools magazine [http://www.rethinkingschools.org/].
“…the Gates Foundation agrees with those who’ve decided that assessment results should not be taken into account in high-stakes decisions on teacher evaluation or student promotion for the next two years, during this transition.”  — Vicki Phillips, director of the U.S. education program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
How do you know the United States is currently experiencing the largest revolt against high-stakes standardized testing in history?
Because even the alchemists responsible for concocting the horrific education policies designed to turn teaching and learning into a test score have been shaken hard enough to awaken from the nightmare scenario of fast-tracking high-stakes Common Core testing across the nation. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation issued a stunning announcement on Tuesday, saying that it supports a two-year moratorium on attaching high-stakes to teacher evaluations or student promotion on tests associated with the new Common Core State Standards.
Labor journalist Lee Sustar put it perfectly when he said of the Gates Foundation’s statement, “Dr. Frankenstein thought things got out of hand, too.”
The mad-pseudoscientists at the Gates Foundation have been the primary perpetrators of bizarre high-stakes test experiments in teacher evaluations, even as a growing body of research — including a report from the American Statistical Association [http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/04/13/statisticians-slam-popular-teacher-evaluation-method] — has debunked the validity of “value added method” testing models. The Gates Foundation has used its immense wealth to circumvent the democratic process to create the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) with very little input from educators. As Rethinking Schools editor Stan Karp wrote of the Common Core development process [http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/28_02/28_02_karp.shtml]: [begin excerpt]
Because federal law prohibits the federal government from creating national standards and tests, the Common Core project was ostensibly designed as a state effort led by the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve, a private consulting firm. The Gates Foundation provided more than $160 million in funding, without which Common Core would not exist… According to teacher educator Nancy Carlsson-Paige: “In all, there were 135 people on the review panels for the Common Core. Not a single one of them was a K–3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional.” Parents were entirely missing. K–12 educators were mostly brought in after the fact to tweak and endorse the standards—and lend legitimacy to the results. [end excerpt]
And thus the Gates Foundation’s unnatural methods brought to life the Common Core State Standards. As parents, students, and teachers around the nation have grown tired of being the targets of hazardous corporate experimentation and excluded from major policy decisions about education, they have built the largest revolt against the use of high-stakes standardized testing in our nations’ history [http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/education-uprising/pencils-down]. Teachers at my own Garfield High School in Seattle refused to administer the district mandated MAP test last year. This year, teachers at Saucedo Elementary were threatened with the revoking of their teaching certificates for refusing to administer a state exam, but have continued in their civil disobedience [http://iamaneducator.com/2014/03/03/the-test-boycott-is-on/]. Some 33,000 parents in New York State alone have opted their children out of tests in the current school year. Students from Portland to Rhode Island have led rallies and walkouts against the tests.
The Providence Student Union recently gathered at the Rhode Island Statehouse, dressed as rodents, to protest a state-wide standardized test recently incorporated into high school graduation requirements. Jose Serrano, a sophomore at The Met School, addressed the crowd saying, “The reason we are dressed like guinea pigs and lab rats is simple — that is how we are being treated. (The Rhode Island Department of Education) had a hypothesis — that high-stakes testing alone, without the extra resources our schools need, would solve our educational problems and radically improve our proficiency. But this was nothing more than an experiment.”
So when the Gates Foundation writes that they, “agree with those who’ve decided that assessment results should not be taken into account in high-stakes decisions on teacher evaluation or student promotion for the next two years,” I take that to mean they have sided with our movement and activists like Jia Lee of the Earth School who is refusing to administer a CCSS test [http://iamaneducator.com/2014/04/07/an-act-of-conscience-teachers-at-new-yorks-earth-school-boycott-common-core-tests/]. I can only assume the Gates Foundation is getting ready to sign the petition and cut a check to support the group, “Teachers of Conscience,” responsible organizing this Common Core testing boycott.
The Gates Foundation may be attempting to corral a runaway anti-high-stakes testing movement by appearing to listen to the overwhelming numbers of people who are demanding an end to the use of test and punish mysticism in education. But in calling for a two-year dousing of cold water on the high-stakes attached to CCSS tests, the Gates foundation has only poured gasoline on a fire threatening to consume the multi-billion dollar Pearson corporation’s testing products around the nation. Imagine the confidence of the next group of teachers who refuse to administer high-stakes Common Core tests when they justifiably claim the creator of the Common Core doesn’t want them to administer it.
This latest backtrack by the Gates Foundation shows they are vulnerable to pressure. But the question remains, will the Gates Foundation pursue its call for constraining the testing creature it created with the same zeal as it showed in creating the Common Core? Will the Foundation use its undue influence and wealth to pressure states to drop the use of high stakes testing attached to Common Core tests?  On June 26th, public education advocates from around the country will arrive in Seattle to protest at the global headquarters of the Gates Foundation [http://saveourschoolsmarch.org/event/rallytosaveeducation-seattle/]. You should join them and find out if the Gates Foundation is brave enough to answer these questions.
While the Gates Foundation may be bending to the will of a popular revolt, it will take nothing short of mass civil rights movement to defeat its grotesque monster of high-stakes testing that is menacing our schools.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

"Rally and march on the White House demands economic and social justice; Demonstration calls attention to administration's broken promises"

2014-06-12 from "International ANSWER" [http://www.answercoalition.org/national/news/rally-and-march-on-the-white.html]:
(Photo showing Imam Mahdi Bray)

A broad coalition of community activists, civil rights, peace and human rights organizations held a Rally for Economic and Social Justice at Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C., on June 7 starting at noon. Following the rally, the crowd marched to the White House.
"We are rallying because President Obama has not lived up to his promises to the people,” stated Imam Mahdi Bray, the principle organizer of the event. “Guantanamo prison remains open even though it has been declared a torture facility by the UN, immigrants are being deported in record numbers, the illegal drone warfare program has expanded when he should have ended it, and the NSA has carried out a massive secret spying program that violates the most basic rights of the people.”

"Illinois Democrats gut Chicago city worker pensions"

2014-06-12 by Alexander Fangmann and Kristina Betinis [https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/06/12/chic-j12.html]:
On Monday, June 9, the Democratic governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, signed into law a bill cutting retirement benefits for an estimated 57,000 Chicago municipal workers and laborers in the greater Chicago area.
The law, championed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff, imposes severe cuts on workers participating in two city worker pension funds. This is part of the nation-wide drive by the financial elite and its representatives in both big business parties to rob the pensions of public sector workers and channel even more money into the hands of the super-rich.
As in Detroit, California and other locales in the US and around the world, the political establishment claims the slashing of pension benefits is the only way to deal with bad fiscal situations and the only alternative to junking pensions altogether. The last six years of austerity policies have been premised on the lie that “there is no money.” In 2014, the dramatic polarization of wealth in the US coincided with a historic peak in total national net worth of $81.8 trillion—up $1.5 trillion in the first half of 2014 alone. The gains since 2008 are primarily concentrated in the financial and real estate markets.
The Illinois measure is expected to eliminate $10 billion in pension funding that Chicago would have otherwise had to raise. The law is similar to other measures passed by the Illinois state government over the past year targeting workers in state government, public universities and community colleges and the Chicago Park District, as well as teachers downstate. Public employees do not pay into federal Social Security or Medicare, and it is common for workers to rely on pensions for most or all of their retirement income.
The change affects benefit levels primarily by eliminating a compounding 3 percent annual cost of living increase, replacing it with a non-compounding yearly increase of 3 percent or half the level of inflation, whichever is lower. This reduced adjustment will not even be provided every year, with workers denied increases in 2017, 2019 and 2025. According to estimates the average worker will lose 20 percent of retirement pay under the new formula.
In addition to the cut in benefits, the retirement age will also be pushed up, with workers under 45 forced to wait an extra five years to retire with full benefits, while those over 45 will have to wait somewhat less. Workers will also be forced to put up a higher percentage of their own pay to fund the pensions. Currently, the affected workers pay 8.5 percent of their income into the pension funds, but will have that amount increased by 0.5 percent per year for five years, eventually reaching 11 percent.
Mayor Emanuel emphasized the implications of the bill for pensions fund cuts affecting other workers, saying, “Unlike everything I’ve done before, this is a statewide issue that affects every municipality... This is not limited to Chicago.”
That the bill would become law was never seriously in doubt. Having passed both Democrat-controlled houses of the Illinois General Assembly, it would have become law automatically on June 10 if Quinn had taken no action.
The nearly 60-day wait occurred because Quinn was maneuvering with Emanuel to ensure that the city’s plan for paying its enormous backlog of pension payments, the so-called “unfunded pension liability,” would not depend on a large increase in city property taxes, as mandated in the original version of the law.
The business press lauded Quinn’s decision to sign the bill, with Crain's Chicago Business gushing, “Gov. Pat Quinn did the right thing today and approved legislation overhauling two Chicago public-employee pension plans. He did it with a flair for the dramatic that we didn’t know he possessed—making us wait until nearly the 11th hour before the deadline for signing or vetoing the legislation expired. The GOP was quick to jump on the news and accuse Mr. Quinn of unfairly burdening taxpayers with property tax hikes. Unions—Mr. Quinn’s traditional allies –weren’t happy, either. Governor-wannabe Bruce Rauner quickly issued a statement saying, ‘I would have vetoed this law.. . .This should have been a no-brainer—veto the bill, don’t squeeze Chicago families even more.’”
Quinn is currently locked in a tight race for governor with Rauner, a billionaire private equity magnate and close friend of Emanuel, and is desperate to appear to be a populist. One of his main messages has been the rejection of property taxes as regressive saying, “The property tax is not based on ability to pay.” He has also campaigned for homeowners to receive a $500 property tax “relief” refund.
A solution to make it appear that Quinn was not tacitly approving a Chicago property tax increase was found through another law, which Quinn signed on June 6. That law approves an increase to the city’s monthly telephone tax from $2.50 to $3.90 per month. Although it is supposed to fund the city’s 911 emergency calling system, it will free up money to be used for pension payments. As Emanuel said, “It gives us the opportunity now to take property taxes off the table for the first year.”
The property taxes are regressive and unfair, but Quinn’s claim to champion the interests of workers on this issue is completely phony. Aside from his push for pension cuts, Quinn played a central role in calling for an extension of the state’s extremely regressive income tax increase. The increase, which Quinn had called for early in his tenure as governor, raised personal income taxes by 67 percent—from 3 percent to 5 percent. That law is set to expire at the end of the year. The governor spent last Memorial Day weekend calling for its extension.
Quinn’s posturing on the property tax issue is intended to distract attention from the relentless cuts to social services he has implemented, and provide the trade unions—who will be mobilizing for his campaign in the upcoming election—with some political cover while they collaborate with the governor’s gutting of workers’ pensions.
The executives who run the unions are dutifully lining up behind Quinn in order to defend their own dues revenue stream and institutional interests. They fear that Rauner is a figure more in the mold of Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, who would prefer to dispense with the unions rather than using their services to defuse popular anger and prevent the emergence of an independent political opposition from workers.
The unions, in the guise of their “We Are One Illinois” coalition, have for months been supporting pension “reforms” while encouraging illusions that Quinn and the Democratic Party could be persuaded to make less radical cuts. In the last few days leading up to the June 9 deadline, WeAreOne.org urged workers to call the governor and other representatives as if the Democrats were answerable to the working class.
Nothing could be further from the facts. Upon signing the bill cutting state worker pensions last year, Quinn referred to retiree benefit cuts as his central mission, saying, “When I took office...we inherited a lot of challenges and problems, and pension reform was the number one challenge... I look forward to signing this pension reform. It’s important that we understand that action of the General Assembly, in a bipartisan way, will make the state stronger and the people stronger... advancing the interest of the common good, of everyday people.”
Far from calling mass demonstrations, let alone strikes, to oppose the attack on pension rights, the unions are doing everything to suppress opposition. Meanwhile, the unions are seeking to provide themselves with a cover by telling workers their rights can be defended through appeals to the capitalist courts. In that vein, the We Are One Illinois coalition issued a statement promising to pursue court action, saying, “The Mayor’s plan is unfair and unconstitutional, and our unions intend to seek justice and will be preparing to file suit.”
Token legal opposition to the pension cuts has been the hallmark of the trade unions’ posturing, as they continue to support the Democratic Party politicians leading the attack on the working class.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"Teachers Sound Alarm over 'Anti-Public Education' Ruling: Ruling slammed for 'scapegoating teachers for problems originating in underfunding, poverty, and economic inequality.'"

2014-06-11 by Sarah Lazare from "Common Dreams" [http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/06/11-3]:
'This lawsuit has nothing to do with what’s best for kids,' said CTA President Dean Vogel, 'but was manufactured by a Silicon Valley millionaire and a corporate PR firm to undermine the teaching profession and push their agenda on our schools.'
In a ruling with broad implications for public education across the United States, a California court on Tuesday struck down key workplace protections for the state's public school teachers by siding with student plaintiffs—backed by powerful political forces— who claimed such policies negatively impacted the quality of their learning [http://studentsmatter.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Tenative-Decision.pdf].
Issued by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu, the decision sparked outrage from teachers unions and public education advocates across the country.
"Like the lawsuit itself, today’s ruling is deeply flawed," said Dean Vogel, president of the California Teacher's Association, in a statement about the decision [http://www.cft.org/news-publications/media-center/news-release/861-california-educators-and-state-of-california-to-appeal-judge%E2%80%99s-ruling-in-vergara-v-state-of-california.html]. "This lawsuit has nothing to do with what’s best for kids, but was manufactured by a Silicon Valley millionaire and a corporate PR firm to undermine the teaching profession and push their agenda on our schools.”
Speaking with Common Dreams, communications director for the Chicago Teachers Union Stephanie Gadlin called the ruling "ludicrous" and "hypocritical."
"Due process and other protections for educators is ruled unconstitutional," Gadlin said, "yet closing schools, mandating unnecessary high-stakes testing, privatizing local school districts through charter expansion and destabilizing neighborhood school communities is good law?"
In a 16-page decision [http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1193670-tenative-vergara-decision.html], Treu overturned key workplace safeguards and due process rights for teachers, including seniority, tenure, and other job protections. He backed the plaintiff's argument that laws protecting tenure and seniority are discriminatory because they keep, in his words, "grossly ineffective teachers" in classrooms that disproportionately serve "low-income and minority students."
Yet, Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers, declared in a statement, “Rather than provide resources or working to create positive environments for students and teachers, this suit asserts that taking away rights from teachers will somehow help students. This suit is not pro-student. It is fundamentally anti-public education, scapegoating teachers for problems originating in underfunding, poverty, and economic inequality.”
Kevine Boggess of San Francisco-based Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth told Common Dreams that the ruling is "misleading" about the problems that students in his community face. "What we see in San Francisco is issues of civil rights and racial disparities, as well as arrests at school sites, come down to the fact that key constituents are not allowed in decision-making. The real issue is how do we improve the education system, not how do we take rights away."
According to education policy analyst Diane Ravitch [http://dianeravitch.net/2014/06/11/what-was-the-evidence-in-the-vergara-case-who-wins-who-loses/], Treu's claim that making it easier to fire teachers will improve education "lacks any evidentiary basis" and is the "latest example of the blame-shifting strategy of the privatization movement."
The lawsuit, Vergara v. State of California, was brought by nine public school students who were heavily backed by the organization Students Matter, which was founded by Silicon Valley millionaire David Welch.
Welch, whose organization is associated with prominent corporate education reformers, bankrolled a team of lawyers to represent the plaintiffs and worked with a corporate PR firm to garner public support for the challenge. According to the New York Times, the organization is considering similar lawsuits in cities across the United States, in a bid to expand from the three states, as well as the District of Columbia, that have already overturned tenure protections [http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/11/us/california-teacher-tenure-laws-ruled-unconstitutional.html].
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan immediately hailed the California decision, calling it a model for a "a new framework for the teaching profession."
Ravitch charges, "If they were truly interested in supporting the needs of the children, the backers of this case would be advocating for smaller classes, for arts programs, for well-equipped and up-to-date schools, for after-school programs, for health clinics, for librarians and counselors, and for inducements to attract and retain a stable corps of experienced teachers in the schools attended by Beatriz Vergara and her co-plaintiffs."
California teachers unions have vowed to appeal the ruling, and Treu moved to keep existing laws in place while the appeals process is ongoing [http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/statement-us-secretary-education-arne-duncan-regarding-decision-vergara-v-califo].
"This lop-sided decision is outrageous," said Gadlin, "and must become the national linchpin for teachers, parents, and defenders of our students to press forward with our fight for education justice in this country."

"The Ayn-Rand Loving Billionaires and Vast Right-Wing Machine Behind David Brat; David Brat's "surprise" win over Eric Cantor was in the works for years"

2014-06-11 by Thom Hartmann for "AlterNet" [http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/eric-cantors-upset-dark-portent-future-billionaires-dark-money-elections]:
Dark money is flowing like water in Washington.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who has always been considered one of the more Conservative members of the House, lost in a primary to upstart Tea Party challenger David Brat.
Brat, an economics college professor, was vastly outraised by Cantor, and most polls leading up to the primary showed Cantor with a very comfortable lead.
In the immediate aftermath of last night’s shocker in Virginia, analysts have been saying Brat’s victory was just a fluke.
They couldn’t be more wrong.
Dave Brat’s victory wasn’t just a fluke, and he isn’t just some Tea Partying economics college professor from Virginia.
Both he and his victory have dark money written all over them.
Back in 2008 during America’s financial collapse, BB&T Bank was one of the many big banks that crashed. In order to stay afloat, that bank took a $3.1 billion bailout from the Bush administration.
At the helm of the bank at that time was John Allison, an Ayn Rand-loving CEO.
According to The Street [https://web.archive.org/save/http://www.thestreet.com/print/story/11661640.html], during his time as CEO of BB&T, Allison regularly used the BB&T Charitable Foundation, “to provide grants to schools that agree to create courses on capitalism that feature the study of ‘Atlas Shrugged.’”
Meanwhile, according to New York Magazine [https://web.archive.org/web/20140612015110/http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/06/eric-cantors-shocking-richly-deserved-defeat.html], Allison gave $500,000 to Randolph-Macon College to hire Dave Brat, so that he too could teach the Ayn Rand libertarian philosophy as an economics professor.
Shortly after BB&T accepted $3.1 billion government bailout from the Bush Administration, Allison resigned as CEO, and was picked up by Charles Koch, to become the new president of the Cato Institute, formerly known as the Charles Koch Foundation, and to keep spreading the work of Rand.
Much like the BB&T Charitable Foundation, Koch-allied groups like The Cato Institute have spent millions of dollars, putting college professors in economics departments across the country, so that they can spread the good word of Ayn Rand, and help create a libertarian paradise in America.
As ThinkProgress pointed out back in 2011 [https://web.archive.org/web/20110612232531/http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/05/10/165015/koch-florida-state/], Florida State University’s economics department accepted a $1.5 million grant from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, now the Cato Institute, which would provide funding for new professors, who would likely teach about Ayn Rand and libertarian economics.
Similarly, Koch-backed groups have given money to a number of other universities, including West Virginia University, George Mason University, Clemson University, and even the Ivy-League Brown University.
Basically, the Kochtopus is spending millions and millions of dollars, placing college professors in economics departments across the country, so that they can promote Ayn Rand and the libertarian philosophy to future generations of Americans.
So, Dave Brat is far more than just a college professor who beat Eric Cantor in a fluke of a primary.
He is a complete shill for Ayn Rand-loving libertarians and the Koch Brothers.
And he is apparently a graduate of the Kochtopus’ “Teach Ayn Rand in College, Do Well, and We’ll Send You to Washington” program.
Besides saying that Brat’s win was just a fluke and that he’s just a college professor, pundits have also been saying that Cantor lost to Brat because of his stances on immigration, and because he ran a poor campaign.
Again, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Last night, after Cantor was declared the loser, talking heads on Fox So-Called News praised the power of talk radio, and gave credit to right-wing talk radio pundits, particularly Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin, for Brat’s win. That credit is probably well deserved.
That’s because for weeks leading up to last night’s primary, Ingraham and Levin absolutely pounded Eric Cantor at every chance possible on their respective radio programs.
Meanwhile, they were preaching to the people of Virginia that Dave Brat was their guy, and he was the man that should be in Washington, not Eric Cantor.
So, why were Ingraham and Levin pounding Cantor so hard?
Well, as Politico brilliantly pointed out earlier this year [https://web.archive.org/web/20140613220728/http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm], “A Politico review of filings with the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Election Commission, as well as interviews and reviews of radio shows, found that conservative groups spent nearly $22 million to broker and pay for involved advertising relationships known as sponsorships with a handful of influential talkers including [Glenn] Beck, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh between the first talk radio deals in 2008 and the end of 2012.”
And you guessed it; Koch-affiliated groups are first among the conservative groups handing out money to the right-wing talking machine.
Politico notes that, “The Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity paid at least $757,000 primarily to sponsor his [Mark Levin’s] radio show—a sponsorship that covered part of the 2012 cycle.”
So, the Koch brothers gave over $700,000 to Mark Levin, the same man who promoted Dave Brat, the Koch brothers-funded college professor, for months.
And while specific numbers aren’t known about Ingraham, she's also subsidized by the Koch brothers, according to Politico, which could help explain her eagerness to slam Eric Cantor and promote Brat.
This isn't to allege any sort of corruption on the part of Levin or Ingraham—supporting somebody with money who already supports politicians you support is just good political investing. And doing it under the radar is particularly useful when Harry Reid is calling you out on the floor of the senate.
The bottom-line here is Dave Brat didn’t beat Eric Cantor because Cantor’s campaign was poor or because of his immigration stance. And Brat’s victory over Cantor wasn’t just a fluke.
What happened last night in Virginia was in the works for years, and it has dark money written all over it.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Drug War against Cannabis: Who profits?

"Big Tobacco Planned Big Marijuana Sales in the 1970s", 2014-06-03 by Dan Kedmey from "Time" weekly newsmagazine [http://time.com/2817517/tobacco-companies-marijuana]: [begin extract]
In early 1970, an unsigned memorandum distributed to Philip Morris’ top management read, “We are in the business of relaxing people who are tense and providing a pick up for people who are bored or depressed. The human needs that our product fills will not go away. Thus, the only real threat to our business is that society will find other means of satisfying these needs.
A hand-written letter from Philip Morris president George Weissman read, “While I am opposed to its use, I recognize that it (cannabis) may be legalized in the near future…Thus, with these great auspices, we should be in a position to examine: 1. A potential competition, 2. A possible product, 3. At this time, cooperate with the government.”
[end extract]

Also read how the monopolist tobacco product companies planned on exploiting cannabis if it were legalized during the 1970s, "Milbank Quarterly" magazine Vol 92, No 2, 2014, "The Tobacco Industry and Marijuana Legalization" [http://www.milbank.org/uploads/documents/featured-articles/pdf/Milbank_Quarterly_Vol-92_No-2_2014_The_Tobacco_Industry_and_Marijuana_Legalization.pdf]

"One Trade Unionist's Horrific Experience Under the Affordable Care Act"

Healthcare in the USA controlled by profit-driven private companies [link]

2014-06-06 from "Labor Fightback Network":
When the President first proposed the "health care reform" that is today known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), he famously said, "The good news is, if you like your health insurance you get to keep it." What he should have said was, "If your boss likes your health insurance, you're stuck with it." He could have added that if a mean-spirited Republican governor got to block good health insurance options, you would really be stuck.
What follows is a true story of one worker's experience with "affordable care." He is a member of the New Jersey State Industrial Union Council and an activist with the Labor Fightback Network. His experience illustrates the problems with so-called "Obamacare" and shows why working people need a single-payer health plan.
When I got my journeyman's card in the International Typographical Union in 1978, I had health insurance coverage that would be the envy of any working person today, and I got it on Day One. It covered everything, and I didn't have to pay a dime for it, unless the employer contribution under our contract failed to meet the premium increases (and it often happened) in the last year of the contract. The Scale Committee always managed to get the employer's contribution to the Welfare Plan increased in the new contracts to cover the previous increases-and even back then the cost of health insurance was rising much faster than inflation, which was running rampant at that time. When we did have to cover the shortfall in the Welfare contributions, it was a few dollars a week, nothing like the payroll deductions that most workers have to pay now.
In 1992 the shop closed, and I was unable to get another union job in the trade. For the rest of my working life, I had to cope with health insurance plans, including Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), with high deductibles, high copays, and a long list of procedures and medications that were not covered. And of course, there was a hefty deduction from my paycheck to pay for it. As inadequate as it was, I was glad to have it when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001. I was able to get treatment and remained cancer-free for eleven years thereafter.
As working people's living standards steadily declined through the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and son-of-Bush administrations, I gradually gave up on the idea that I would ever be able to retire, and I was reconciled to remaining on the job until St. Peter tapped me on the shoulder and said, "It's time."
That changed in November of 2010, when my boss informed me that he had to "reduce payroll" and that I was being terminated "effective immediately." I was given two months' pay as severance and a bill to continue my health insurance under the COBRA plan-$1,400 a month, to cover me, my wife, and my daughter. Here's the thing: this was no "Cadillac" health insurance plan! It was barely adequate, and in many ways inadequate, but adequate or no, $1,400/month was a budget buster. If I attempted to keep the health insurance up, my family would be destitute within six months. My family and I became uninsured.
As bad as private health insurance often is, I don't recommend being uninsured, especially if you're at the age where health problems start showing up more often. In the early spring of 2012, my doctor informed me that my prostate-specific antigen blood test (PSA) had gone from 0.2 to 7.0-higher than it had been when I had cancer the first time. I saw a specialist, who confirmed: the cancer was back. Recurrent prostate cancer cannot be cured; it can only be managed. The usual treatment is an injectable drug to suppress the hormone testosterone, which causes the malignancy to grow. It is administered every three months, and it is very expensive.
Prostate cancer generally is not life-threatening, but left untreated it will metastasize. That's when it kills-when it gets into the bones, the pancreas, or travels up the bloodstream to the brain. So it's important to keep it from growing and metastasizing. At first, I tried holding it back with diet-including going to a completely vegan diet-and immune-building supplements. The PSA kept rising for about a year, and here I was uninsured facing massive expenses to stay alive. Fortunately, the doctor and I came to an arrangement: he offered treatment to me at his cost, and I managed to "fund-raise" the money from sources within the family. We'll revisit this issue.
That summer I was in Newark, NJ, on a 97° day and got heat stroke. A friend-I should say a life-saving friend-called the ambulance and I was transported a few blocks away to University Hospital. I was there from late afternoon until past 2 a.m. In those hours I ran up medical bills exceeding $8,000. It took nearly eight months to straighten the mess up. I managed to get the bill reduced considerably, but I will still be paying it off for years to come, for perhaps the rest of my life.
Then in December I had another fainting spell: two days after Thanksgiving I collapsed in my bathroom and had to be taken by ambulance to the nearby hospital where my personal doctor had attending privileges. I spent two-and-a-half days there, running up thousands more dollars in medical bills. Again, I negotiated them down, but I will be paying indefinitely.
No, I don't recommend going without health insurance.
I am not yet old enough to be eligible for Medicare, so when enrollment opened under the ACA, I did as I was told and tried to enroll. What an ordeal! First I tried the website. I would enter my information, and the website would change it. Then I attempted to edit the information, and the website threw all of it out and made me start again at the beginning. It changed the information I had entered in the same way the second time! Finally, I called the enrollment phone number and asked if I could submit my enrollment anyway. I was told that I could, but when my reply came back, the spaces where it was supposed to tell me how much of a subsidy I could get were blank! I called the phone number. The first time I called I was told that I didn't qualify for any subsidy at all as a long-term unemployed person over the age of 60, who has cancer! I called again and was told to apply for Medicaid. I tried that and found that I did not qualify for Medicaid. This runaround went on for weeks.
Of course, I was not the only American coping with this non-functioning website. It soon became a national scandal, ultimately costing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius her job.
After two months, the ACA website was revamped. I threw out my original enrollment and attempted to re-enroll from square one. This time I was given a subsidy that seemed in line with my income, and I proceeded to enroll in a health insurance plan that cost $285 per month to cover my wife and me.
The policy reminds me of nothing so much as the health insurance I had when I was working-overpriced and inadequate. The deductible is enormous, and the copays are not much different than paying the full bill at the doctor's office. However, I can't afford another hospitalization without insurance, and the regular testing that every cancer patient needs to have becomes cost-prohibitive without health insurance. Of course, like so many others, I'm scratching my head and asking, "So this is health care reform?" However, I was quite surprised by what I was to find out next.
When I became insured, the specialist treating my cancer wrote a prescription for the testosterone-suppressant and asked me to fill it at the local pharmacy. His nurse would still administer the injection, but I would supply the medication, and my insurance would pay for it-supposedly. I was astonished when the local pharmacist informed me that my insurance did not cover the medication that is quite literally keeping me alive, and that to fill the prescription it would cost me over $3,000 per dose, which, by the way, is a 500% markup (according to my doctor). I am still reeling from this shock. The good news is that my doctor is willing to continue the same arrangement we had when I was uninsured.
Is this what the Obama administration considers "health care reform"? Is this the best that can be done in the United States of America? So many countries that are less rich and less powerful than this one have single-payer health care systems that provide care for every citizen. Even after enacting the ACA, our health care system is a national disgrace.
The inadequacies of the so-called "Affordable Care Act" have handed the labor-hating politicians of the far right a golden opportunity in the upcoming elections. Working people, including rank-and-file trade unionists, can see that the Obama administration's "health care reform" is woefully inadequate. Elected union officials and elected government officials who claim that the ACA is working well will lose all credibility. We should not have to choose between the dishonest defense of the ACA on one side and the across-the-board attack on health benefits on the other. The time for the organized labor movement to rejoin the campaign for a single-payer health care system, starting with Medicare for All -- HR676, sponsored by John Conyers of Michigan, and S1782, sponsored by Bernie Sanders of Vermont -- is now.

- - - - -
Issued by the Labor Fightback Network. For more information, please call 973-944-8975 or email conference@laborfightback.org or write Labor Fightback Network, P.O. Box 187, Flanders, NJ  07836 or visit our website at laborfightback.org. Facebook link : <https://www.facebook.com/laborfightback
Donations to help fund the Labor Fightback Network based on its program of solidarity and labor-community unity are necessary for our work to continue and will be much appreciated. Please make checks payable to Labor Fightback Network and mail to the above P.O. Box or you can make a contribution online. Thanks!

Fascist populist organizations, funded by telecommunication corporations and their allies, advocate for complete private control over internet

"'Astroturf' Groups Leading Drive to Kill Open Internet; Vice report exposes industry-created and backed organizations that pose as consumer groups"
2014-06-06 by Sarah Lazare from "Common Dreams" [http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/06/06-2]:
(Photo: Free Press)

The telecommunications industry is creating and funding front groups which pose as consumer organizations and aggressively lobby to kill net neutrality, journalist Lee Fang revealed in an article published in Vice on Friday [https://web.archive.org/web/20140611050611/https://news.vice.com/article/cable-companies-are-astroturfing-fake-consumer-support-to-end-net-neutrality].
"We've known since the beginning of the net neutrality debate that the phone and cable industry has been willing to spend limitless amounts of money on public relations firms, think tanks, and 'astroturf' groups who will then do their bidding," Timothy Karr, senior strategy director for media justice organization Free Press, told Common Dreams in response to the report.
Industry front groups have led the drive to overturn net neutrality and block a grassroots push to reclassify the internet as a public utility—a designation that could bolster efforts to protect the open internet, Fang's article revealed.
The American Consumer Institute, a professed consumer organization, has aggressively lobbied the FCC against such reclassification. As it turns out, annual tax returns reported by Vice show that this organization is financially backed by an internet service provider lobby group.
Broadband for America, which describes itself as an organization of 300 members [https://web.archive.org/web/20140611021101/http://www.broadbandforamerica.com/about/members] "ranging from independent consumer advocacy groups, to content and application providers, to the companies which build and maintain the internet," has also opposed naming the internet a public utility. $2 million of the organization's $3.5 million budget comes from the National Cable and Telecom Association, according to a disclosure obtained by Vice.
The Heartland Institute, also working to kill net neutrality, receives major funding from Comcast, AT&T, and Time Warner Cable, the reporting revealed.
"The groups exposed in the Vice report have been known to take industry money and then generate press releases, studies and others reports favorable to the phone and cable industry's positions, and they are not alone," said Karr.
He added that grassroots media justice advocates are not fooled by industry "astroturfing." According to Karr, "This has been a classic battle between corporate money and grassroots organizing. Whereas our power is derived from building broad and diverse coalitions of a lot of people, their power comes from the checkbooks and their ability to influence the debate inside the Beltway."

Missouri State Politicians are destroying all public schools, to be replaced with inferior private charter schools operating solely for profit

"Missouri Politicians Dismantle Public School Districts"2014-06-06 by Jim Hays [http://socialistorganizer.org/missouri-politicians-dismantle-public-school-districts]:
All the employees in the Normandy School District in North St. Louis County, Missouri, will be terminated on June 31. They will lose their tenure, salary, and benefits. Only a few may be hired back in the fall when the state-appointed “Normandy School Collaborative” takes over and abolishes the whole school district along with its elected school board.
The Missouri State School Board in recent years has begun to take over and dismantle local school boards in St. Louis and Kansas City because they have low test scores and are being declared “unaccredited.” Welston, St. Louis City (SLPS), Riverview Gardens, Normandy, and Kansas City are the main targets. All are in areas of poverty, and the majority there are people of color.
Last year a state law allowed thousands of students in “unaccredited” districts to be a part of a new “transfer” program. The students are bused to “better” wealthier, mostly white suburban school districts. The schools are sometimes very far from the students’ homes. This law has now become a huge mess, with the home districts going into financial ruin. The home districts are charged the full cost of transportation and also pay a higher annual tuition cost to the receiving districts.
The Special Administrative Board appointed by politicians took over the St. Louis Public Schools in 2007 and has just had its powers extended by two years. The SLPS-elected board still exists, but with no power. The SLPS superintendent (who trained in the New Orleans charter school system) has recently come out with a “Transformation Plan” that would put 18 individual schools under probation. If they fail again this coming year, they will be turned over to “private” management, and all their teachers will have their employment contacts torn up.
There has been a widespread outcry against these events by parents, teachers, clergy and community groups — including a walkout at one Normandy middle school and protests at the closing of Cole Elementary neighborhood school.
However, community leaders and the two Missouri teachers’ unions that are directly affected (NEA and AFT) have not organized large united-front meetings or actions to defend public education.
Schools, especially in impoverished communities, need more funding than what can be raised from local real-estate taxes. Mass community meetings and united protests in St. Louis and Kansas City are needed urgently to demand full state funding to cover all the costs of public education. Missouri is one of lowest-ranking states in the country in terms of funding public education and Medicaid.
It is also essential to restore all elected school boards to power. The State Board of Education in Jefferson City — as well as the Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — should be directly elected by Missouri voters.
In addition, all voucher plans and new charter schools must be opposed. These plans are supported by Democratic Party politicians like St. Louis Mayor Slay, by “progressive” Black Caucus senators     like Maria Chapel Nidal, and by Republicans and right-wing political action funds.
In response to these increased attacks on teachers and public education, there is growing local and national resistance to the collaborationist policies of the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers. The union officials only meekly oppose the attacks on public education; in fact, they go along with such management schemes as the  St. Louis Plan and the Newark (NJ) teacher evaluation policy.
In St. Louis city, a group of younger but experienced teachers ran a full slate of officers headed by   Sheria Hughley against the Local 420 President in the May union election. Though they did not win on their first bid to challenge the incumbent slate, they obtained about one third of the votes.
Below are some upcoming events in the St. Louis area and nationally that should be of interest to union and community activists who defend public education:
* June 21 — Peter Downs, former president of the elected St. Louis Board of Education and author of a book about the defense of public education in St. Louis, will speak on “The Billionaires’ War on Public Education” — 12 p.m. at 1924 South 12th Street near Soulard in St. Louis.
* July 13 — The AFT Peace and Justice Caucus will have a panel discussion about attacks on K-12 public education throughout the United States at the AFT national convention in Los Angles.
* August 1-2 — A meeting of rank-and-file activists in the teachers’ unions will gather in Chicago to form closer collaboration among teacher union activists.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"Participatory Totalitarianism: We are not passive objects of the surveillance state. We are active subjects of our own YouTube channels"

2014-06-04 by John Feffer, co-director at "Foreign Policy in Focus" [http://fpif.org/participatory-totalitarianism/]:
According to the Chinese zodiac, the heavens circle around every 12 years. The Year of the Snake, the creature that sheds its skin to emerge anew, marks a time of great transformation. Indeed, for the last quarter century, the world has experienced three profound shifts at 12-year intervals, beginning with the Year of the Snake in 1989.
On June 4, 1989, on one side of the globe, Poles were participating in their first semi-free elections in more than 40 years, which—though few suspected at the time—sounded the death knell for Communism in East-Central Europe. Meanwhile, on the same day on the other side of the globe, the Chinese government was cracking down on the Tiananmen Square protests and ensuring that Communism would continue there as an official ideology for at least another 25 years.
Twelve years later, the Year of the Snake returned, and the ground shifted radically beneath our feet once again. This time, the 9/11 attacks brought the two sides of the world together as both China and Poland threw their weight behind the U.S.-led war on terror. Poland, presided over by a former Communist who’d embraced market reforms, even went so far as to host one of the “black sites” that the Bush administration set up to interrogate suspects gathered up through extraordinary rendition. China, presided over by a current Communist who’d also embraced market reforms, used the opportunity of 9/11 to ramp up operations against separatists in Xinjiang and secure “unprecedented” counter-terrorism information sharing with the United States [http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/terror/RL33001.pdf].
And then last year, the Year of the Snake came around again, and this time it was Edward Snowden who caused a seismic shift in our understanding of everyday reality. We thought that we’d seen through the efforts of the Communist state to control our minds and the efforts of the corporate state to control our desires. But it turned out that we really didn’t know the full extent to which intelligence services and corporate entities had invaded our private spaces. Nor had we understood our own complicity in this brave new world. It wasn’t just states like Warsaw and Beijing that had joined forces with Washington against non-state actors. We had all become informers under this new regime, whether we liked it or not.
The old metaphor for surveillance was the Panopticon: the warden, sitting at the hub of a penitentiary, could see what all the inmates were doing along the perimeter of the structure. Then came the Big Brother of the Cold War era: a state apparatus that used informers, propaganda, and interrogations to infiltrate every crevice of society.
Today’s metaphor is still Big Brother—but it’s the TV show, not the sinister presence of the George Orwell novel. In this reality TV show, the public watches what goes on inside a house fully monitored by surveillance cameras. But here’s the twist: we are both voyeurs and exhibitionists, for we have also turned the cameras on ourselves so that the surveillance can be mutual. We don’t just like to watch, like Chance the gardener in Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There. We like to be watched as well.
It’s time to update Socrates for the era of selfies and YouTube: the unwatched life is not worth living.
The novel that out-Orwells Orwell in its depiction of this new reality is The Circle by Dave Eggers, in which characters willingly wear cameras that track their every movement and broadcast to an ever-increasing number of social media followers. The novel exaggerates only slightly what we are already doing through Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, or what is being done to us through our cell phones and our credit card purchases and our Google searches.
To rein in Big Corporations and even out the inequities of Big Politics, activists have long clamored for participatory democracy. What we didn’t expect was that Big Corporations and Big Politics would team up in what I’ve previously called the “surveillance blitz” to create a new phenomenon: participatory totalitarianism [http://fpif.org/surveillance-blitz/].
If we look at the three seismic shifts that have taken place between 1989 and today, they all center around the state and its ability to maintain its authority in the post-modern world. In 1989, the Communist states failed in their effort to manage the economy through five-year plans and artificially fixed prices. In both post-Communist Poland and post-Deng China, the market became the arbiter of production and consumption, restricting the state largely to redistribution (with a bit more capacity for strategic investments in China). Privatization and austerity budgeting in the capitalist world also whittled away what remained of the welfare state’s ability to intervene in the economy. This was the neo-liberal victory in what had been an epic 20th-century war, though many skirmishes continue to this day and a second grand battle may yet take place in the wake of the global financial crisis.
In 2001, states faced a second major challenge from al-Qaeda, though more as an idea than an actual military force. Al-Qaeda is an unusual hybrid of the globalized and the localized. It grew out of a specific context (the mujahedeen’s attacks on the Soviet army in Afghanistan) and has taken on a different character in each national context where it has taken root (Yemen, Syria, North Africa). Al-Qaeda is a franchise not unlike McDonald’s, offering a universal product (a global caliphate) that can be adapted to the cultural preferences of local consumers just as McDonald’s sells its well-known French fries with the McAloo Tikki burger in Mumbai or the McArabia Chicken sandwich in Doha. To use the awkward phrase from academia, al-Qaeda is a “glocalized” phenomenon. It thus has represented both a global and a local challenge to the state—offering a vision of subsuming the state into something larger and, from below, attacking the state’s monopoly on violence. It’s no wonder that states as different as Poland and China found common cause in fighting against al-Qaeda.
And now, after 2013, the state is suffering yet another challenge to its authority. After the revelations of Snowden, the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman and his colleagues point out, “It may not be going too far to suggest that what we still call national security has been colonized by a new nobility of intelligence agencies operating in an increasingly autonomous transnational arena.” National security, as the phrase suggests, has been the responsibility of the nation-state. But intelligence agencies, led by the disproportionately powerful NSA, have skirted the traditional mechanisms of the state to operate across borders and with little oversight. Members of Congress, even though many have branded Snowden a traitor, have pushed for changes in the way the NSA does business domestically. The leaders of Germany and Brazil who discovered to their dismay that they too have been punked by the NSA—U.S. spies listened in on the communications of both Angela Merkel and Dilma Rousseff—are also pushing at an international level for reform.
The state’s status has deteriorated over the decades. It no longer provides the “iron rice bowl.” Its monopoly on violence has been challenged by non-state actors, and many states have failed or are near failure as a result. And intelligence-gathering organs have metastasized beyond the control of the traditional nation-state in order to sift through the rapidly expanding universe of global data to stop plots while they are still twinkles in the eyes of the conspirators (shades of Minority Report [http://fpif.org/lighting_the_terrorist_fuse/]).
If surveillance was monaural during the Cold War and became stereophonic in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, it is now quadrophonic. It can’t be reduced to the activity of a single state or even a particular government-industrial complex. We are all now embedded in a veritable matrix of surveillance. It has become surround sound.
In the Communist era, Hungarian writer Miklos Haraszti wrote about what he called the “velvet prison.” Under state socialism, he observed, the vast majority of artists accommodated to the strictures imposed from above. “We learn to live with discipline,” he wrote. “We are at home with it. It is a part of us, and soon we will hunger for it because we are unable to create without it.”
We are at home in the new surveillance state, for we barely register all the cameras, all the targeted advertising, all the intrusions into what had previously been considered sacred private space. We are not passive objects of observation. We are active subjects of our own YouTube channels.
This is not inevitable. States like Germany and Brazil are fighting back. Organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation are fighting back [https://www.eff.org/nsa-spying]. Whistleblowers and journalists are fighting back. So, perhaps when the next Year of the Snake rolls around and we are preparing to shed our skin once again, we will see a shift in the other direction—toward a new economy, a new kind of politics, a new definition of security, and a new way to interact with our fellow citizens that relies on mutual solidarity and not mutual surveillance.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

To recover the quality of life for the people, do the opposite of what the USA does, says Europeans

"Dramatic community sit-in at ABQ Mayor's office protests rampant police brutality. Several ANSWER organizers among 13 arrested"

2014-06-03 from "International ANSWER":
(Photos by Joleen Carrico)
Organizers hang "crime scene" tape

Sit-in in Mayor's office

Prof. Correia, falsely charged with a felony

ANSWER organizer Oscar Chavarria

APD's military response to the non-violent action

Statement issued by ANSWER New Mexico on June 2 -
Three weeks after the take-over of Albuquerque’s City Council chambers to protest police violence, community members and families of victims staged a near two hour sit-in at the Mayor’s office to protest Mayor Barry’s failure to use the authority of his office to take meaningful action against rampant police killings, violence and abuse.
Around 20 people walked into the Mayor’s office, put up yellow “crime scene” tape and sat on the floor chanting for officers involved in killings and incidents of brutality to be fired, arrested and jailed. Immediately after the sit-in began a press conference was called by the organizers, which took place 30 minutes later outside the building.
Organizers and participants included several family members of victims killed by APD, the ANSWER Coalition, the League of United Latin American Citizens, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center Task Force on Public Safety and more.
The non-violent sit-in triggered an excessive, massive martial response. City Hall was immediately locked down. Police swarmed a perimeter that spanned several city blocks. The Albuquerque SWAT team then stormed into the building carrying assault rifles.
The sit-in ended with thirteen arrests. Most were charged with criminal trespassing, unlawful assembly and interfering with a public official or staff. One protester, Professor David Correia, was unjustly charged with felony battery of an officer after a plain clothes officer attempted to shove him out of the Mayor’s suite.
The office of the ANSWER Coalition, which played a central role in planning and carrying-out the action, has been open all night providing support to those that were arrested, and will be a collection point for those that are able to donate bail money. FOR MORE INFORMATION, CALL 505-268-2488.
The sit-in comes just four days after an autopsy report confirmed what video evidence already proved; that Albuquerque police shot James Boyd, a homeless man who struggled with mental illness, in the back. Boyd’s killing was the straw that broke the camel’s back, sparking the three-month wave of action and organizing against the epidemic of abuse by APD and refusal of the politicians and courts to take action.
This determined act of protest was covered by all Albuquerque news outlets, and calls are coming in from all over the United States.
At the press conference held outside the Mayor’s office, Mike Gomez, father of Alan Gomez, who was shot in the back and killed by APD in 2011, said: “We need answers and the police chief and the mayor does not give them to us—they hide, they hire people to do their talking for them. Where was the Mayor for eight days after James Boyd was shot? He couldn’t face anybody because he’s a coward.”
Celina Trujeque, an organizer with ANSWER New Mexico, told the press: “Enough is enough! We demand that Mayor Barry issue an immediate condemnation of the current lynch mob tactics and strategies of the APD. We demand that the Mayor call publicly for the arrest, trial, and incarceration of killer cops.
“Instead of wining and dining wealthy business executives, the Mayor must stand up for all our city, including those most vulnerable and most often victimized by brutal and violent cops, including homeless people, Black, Latino, Native people and those suffering from mental illness.”
Jewell Hall, President of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center Task Force on Public Safety, said in a statement “The problem is bigger than just the police department. Much of the problem with APD stems from decades of racism, oppression and violence toward poor people and communities of color.”
Mayor Berry has refused to use the authority of his political office to take any meaningful action to address the pattern of police violence. He has also refused to meet speak with the community at every turn.
The press conference was followed by a picket in solidarity with the sit-in.  This protest was a reflection of the determination of the people to forward the movement to end police brutality in Albuquerque and to hold accountable the officers who committed these acts of violence.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Defend Rev. Pinkney against unjust incarceration, physical attack, in retaliation against his anti-fascist organizing

* Emergency Managers of Michigan: [link]
* Benton Harbor, a town in Michigan under an executive dictatorship [link]

"Fighting the corporate dictatorship in Michigan"
2014-06-01 [http://www.blackactivistwg.org/blog/fighting-the-corporate-dictatorship-in-michigan/]:
Larry Pinkney (not related to Rev. Pinkney) was quoted in the People’s Tribune (Chicago) in June 2014 [http://peoplestribune.org]. Here is the entire letter that includes the quote: [begin letter]

Dear Readers,
Benton Harbor, MI has become ground zero in the struggle against the corporate dictatorship sweeping across our country. Rev. Edward Pinkney has been fighting the take over of Benton Harbor by the Whirlpool Corporation for years. The community’s latest battle is the recall of Mayor James Hightower, a puppet for the Whirlpool Corporation. Rev. Pinkney is under house arrest and faces 25 years imprisonment on false “vote fraud” charges. Fellow resident James Cornelius also faces lessor vote fraud charges. What appears on these pages are statements from some of the movement leaders across America in support of those under attack in Benton Harbor. Take this message out! Donate to the defense at BANCO, 1946 Union Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022 or visit bhbanco.org
[end letter]

Pinkney and supporters outside the courthouse after he received a hung jury in the first vote fraud trial in 2007. He was later convicted by an all white jury. (PHOTO/DAYMONJHARTLEY.COM)

Fighting the corporate dictatorship in Michigan -
“All across Berrien County—the Sheriff’s Department and the county administrators are making it harder and harder for Americans, particularly, African Americans, to exercise their right to sign a recall petition. These measures include intimidation by the mayor, the Sheriff’s Department and the prosecutor’s office. The message is clear: Recall any elected official that the corporations support and you will go to jail. The whole city is under siege today. We are now under the power of the corporations, the elites, and the dictators. We must organize and demonstrate that a new world is possible.”  — Rev. Edward Pinkney

“I went out and got signatures, knocked on people’s doors, went down to the soup kitchen, got 12 signatures per paper just like I was supposed to.  I haven’t done nothing wrong. I haven’t done any fraud or changed any documents. Why are they treating me like a criminal? I feel Mayor Hightower is not doing a good job. I’m entitled to that opinion. I think they are bothering me because I’m associated with Rev. Pinkney." — James Cornelius, charged with election fraud in Benton Harbor mayoral recall”

I am 100% in support of Reverend Pinkney. The biggest oversight is that he is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That has been removed from the table of justice." — Marcus Mohammad, candidate for Mayor in the Benton Harbor recall election

Protest against the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) for gentrification and displacement of the poor in Benton Harbor. (PHOTO/DAYMONJHARTLEY.COM)

“In my mind, the only reason the voter harassment is occurring is to have a harmful impact on eligible voters who are trying to exercise their constitutional rights.” — Marquette Coates, Benton Harbor

“Whirlpool, Harbor Shores, the PGA, have all the money. They financed Hightower’s campaign. He’s their boy and that’s why they are pushing this arrest. They were shocked when the recall went through. Michigan is a test ground. If they see how easy it is to get us, it will soon be coming your way.” — Patsy Heinz, Benton Harbor

“They [Whirlpool] want to confuse the community. They will do anything to sabotage the mayoral elections so that Hightower wins. I see them as puppeteers pulling Hightower’s strings. They are using the mayor to take control of Benton Harbor. We want them stopped. This is another Occupy—Occupy Benton Harbor.”  — Mary Donald, Benton Harbor

“Rev. Pinkney is standing up for justice and righteousness for all people, not just a few. We need to start looking at what is happening to our nation when we lift up a certain number of people and condemn the rest. Our country is going to Hell if we don’t do something righteous. We are asking everyone to stand up for the truth. God wants this nation healed.” — Rev. Charles W. Taylor, West Addison Church of God, South Bend, Indiana

Fall 2013 BANCO dinner with keynote speaker actor Danny Glover. From left to right, Belinda Brown, Danny Glover, Rev. Pinkney, Dorothy Pinkney. (PHOTO/BRETT JELINEK)

“Rev. E. Pinkney is a friend of Edgewood United Church . . . [he] has educated our Congregation regarding the use and abuse of the emergency manager law . . . he has earned wide respect in this community, this state and across the nation for his devotion to justice . . . Be it resolved that we call for an investigation of all charges against him by an independent commissioner.” — Edgewood United Church Taskforce, Lansing, MI

“Rev. Pinkney was charged with election fraud. His issue is political corruption in Benton Harbor. Rev. Pinkney’s group was able to provide enough valid signatures to recall their Mayor. This is just another way to postpone the mayoral election. — Tijuana Morris, Detroit

“For over a decade, Rev. Pinkney has devoted time and energy to helping individual citizens have a voice in their government and their lives — in Benton Harbor, across Michigan, and around the country." — John Anthony La Pietra, Elections Coordinator, Green Party of Michigan

“Rev. Pinkney and the people of Benton Harbor are on the front lines of the struggle for democracy and self-determination. The model used in Michigan is similar to what the U.S. has done abroad for decades and is now turning on poor communities at home. I urge people to support Rev. Pinkney." — Margaret Flowers, M.D., Physicians for a National Healthcare Program (for identification purposes only)

“My earliest memories of Rev. Pinkney include his diligence in including a Hip Hop voice in his messaging. Benton Harbor is ground zero in the assault on democracy, humanity and our planet. Rev. Pinkney and Benton Harbor represent the reality that many of us face if we don’t take a stand now. Free Rev. Pinkney.” — Shamako Noble, President, Hip Hop Congress

“Rev. Edward Pinkney used his democratic rights to challenge a corrupt system.  Now there is an attempt to silence him.  The same system is also incarcerating and separating families by deporting their loved ones.  We need to support each other and not allow these injustices to continue.  We need a system that is “of the people, for the people, and by the people!” — Gloria Meneses-Sandova, Central Valley High School counselor, California

“It is no surprise that a fascist “Emergency Financial Manager” was imposed on Benton Harbor. What is happening in Benton Harbor is coming to the rest of the country unless we organize and educate a movement. Please join me in making a financial contribution to Rev. Pinkney’s legal defense.  — David Cobb, 2004 Green Party Presidential Nominee

“All of us fighting for justice and humanity are Rev. Pinkney.  His arrest and false charges should be a rallying call to all of his brothers and sisters across the country to stand up and get serious about the situation we all face.” — Cheri Honkala, co-founder, Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign

“Rev. Pinkney has not been convicted of anything in this matter but the actions by Benton Harbor authorities demonstrate that these authorities will stop at nothing to silence and unjustly convict Rev, Pinkney and anyone else in Benton Harbor who dares to oppose the corrupt corporate, judicial and political system in Benton Harbor.“ — Larry Pinkney, writer

Rev. Pinkney faces immediate jail time if he uses his computer. A lawyer said no case had been found where a defendant is told they cannot use your computer at all. it is meant to isolate him from the movement. ~Peoples Tribune

Rev. Pinkney faces immediate jail time if he uses his computer. A lawyer said no case had been found where a defendant is told: you cannot use your computer at all. It is meant to isolate him from the movement. – People’s Tribune