Although there are abuses of power and problems with the rule of law in Venezuela – as there are throughout the hemisphere – it is far from the authoritarian state that most consumers of western media are led to believe. Opposition leaders currently aim to topple the democratically elected government – their stated goal – by portraying it as a repressive dictatorship that is cracking down on peaceful protest. This is a standard “regime change” strategy, which often includes violent demonstrations in order to provoke state violence. The latest official numbers have eight confirmed deaths of opposition protesters, but no evidence that these were a result of efforts by the government to crush dissent. At least two pro-government people have also been killed, and two people on motorcycles were killed (one beheaded) by wires allegedly set up by protesters. Eleven of the 55 people currently detained for alleged crimes during protests are security officers.
The pilot episode of the new one-hour format for the Resistance Report by Dennis Trainor, Jr. will premiere tonight on PopularResistance.org and Acronym TV. It will also air on Free Speech TV later this week. Trainor describes the new format as “What Meet the Press would look like if it wasn’t dominated by corporate advertising bias.” Trainor is a commentator, activist and filmmaker. He is the writer and director of AMERICAN AUTUMN: an occudoc, the documentary about the occupy movement hailed by The New York Times as “calm and smart, offsetting its stridency with discussion, music, even humor, while issuing a call to arms.” His first documentary, released in January 2011, was MANIFEST DESTINY’S CHILD on US foreign policy. The program was filmed in the Bond Street Studio in Brooklyn, New York on February 28. There are six segments.
This is a nation whose people are sliding into decline with 46 million already sunk below the poverty line. Here are just a few of the stats: African-Americans(AA) poverty rates 27%, nearly triple those of whites (10%); AA’s—making up 14% of the population yet comprising 28% of those on food stamps; AA’s comprising 40% of those in prison, about 1 million out of a total of 2.3 million; wirh about 33% of all Hispanics and AA’s living in substandard housing compared with 14% of poor whites.) The question today is not “What is the problem?” We all know the stats. We have walked the mean streets. We have seen the unemployed panhandling on the street corners. Some hardy souls among us have even visited the prisons. The question is, “What is the solution?” The answer is nothing is left to us but non-violent direct action.
The deal came after a marathon 23-hour-long bargaining session, but the critical factor in putting pressure on the school district–after 10 months of negotiations without much movement from school officials–was the union’s thorough preparation for a strike, which culminated in a near-unanimous vote on February 5 to authorize the walkout. In a February 24 report about the agreement to the union’s contract organizing committee, PAT officials said that they had forced the school board to concede on a number of fronts, including probably the most prominent demand of all–hiring additional teachers to allow for a meaningful reduction in class sizes. The district has promised to add a “minimum” of 150 teachers–a significant victory given the district’s prior refusal to even address the issue. Throughout bargaining, and until the last few days before the strike, officials had stuck with their offer of only 88 additional full-time employees (FTEs), claiming that the union’s demand of 175 was “unreasonable.”
Marcin said he first stumbled upon the homeless dwellings as he hiked through the woods bordering the city during hunting season. When he saw a ‘mini-fortress’ made of milk crates just yards from a major thoroughfare, Marcin began searching for other transients ‘living off the grid’. Most were based near railroad tracks, Walmarts, gas stations, and liquor stores. ‘I have always been interested in the unique places people live in, particularly where there exists an element of defiance or desperation, or both. In these situations, a house can often reflect the dilemma of its owner. In the case of the hobo camps, this reflection is quite pronounced for obvious reasons,’ he told The Atlantic Cities.
The 2013 law made it illegal to sleep “out-of-doors…adjacent to or inside a tent or sleeping bag, or atop and/or covered by materials such as a bedroll, cardboard, newspapers, or inside some form of temporary shelter.” The initiative referred to homelessness as “camping,” a benign term that minimizes the plight of people lacking reliable access to food and shelter. Yet after a torrent of critical press coverage and a Change.org petition, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward reversed his previous support for the ordinance and urged the council to amend it “after reflecting and praying on this issue.” Hayward tweeted a picture of himself and his wife supporting a blanket drive for the homeless earlier in the day and posted a photo to Facebook announcing the Council’s vote. Pensacola City Councilwoman Sherri Myers, an original opponent of the ordinance, brought forward the proposal to amend it.
Since the rebellion began, almost all the analysts have insisted that it had been inevitable and that they had been sure all along that something like this was bound to happen sooner or later. Of course, this is not true. Although the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina was indeed catastrophic, prior to all of this most analysts would have claimed that this kind of uprising was impossible because the people are passive, inert and divided by nationalism. But, as is often the case, there was an unpredictable spark and it all grew quickly from there. The uprising began in Tuzla in the North-East of the country; a city with a long left-wing and working class tradition. “A different city”, as is often claimed, because nationalism has never firmly established itself there, unlike the rest of the country.
Today the principle strategic challenge for U.S. radicalism is grounded in the question of whether or not the left can overcome its’ ideological and organizational fragmentation in order to develop a counter-narrative and a minimum program of opposition to neoliberalism. It is clear that without uncompromisingly radical organizations and a language of opposition that pierces the ideological fog that obscures the class bias of the state and state policies, working people and the poor will continue to be marginalized, ignored and eventually disappeared as they fall through the gaping holes in the social safety net. This is already happening to African Americans in places like Detroit, the South Side of Chicago and other parts of the country as a result of their new status as an economically “redundant” population.
By encouraging officials to abscond with one of the few tradable assets possessed by those in the lowest (and even middle) tiers of our economy, the U.S. healthcare system reveals itself to be another cornerstone in the structure of American economic inequality. While the lower- and middle-classes have had a tough time securing stable investments in real estate, the wealthier have profited on this instability. Ironically, speculation in real estate and mortgage-backed securities and the concomitant bail-outs for irresponsible banking institutions dramatically reduced state revenues. Governments across the country have been forced to play an agonizing game of budgetary triage. Meanwhile, as more people have been forced into poverty by the massive wealth destruction of the Great Recession, the state has had to pay more into safety net programs while drawing less revenue from a poorer population.
Barry Farm, a public housing complex in southeast Washington, “is the line in the sand,” says Schyla Pondexter-Moore, a community organizer. “If you take away Barry Farm, you’re basically just giving away the whole Ward 8.” Barry Farm is the latest battleground for grass-roots housing advocates in the nation’s capital, where intense gentrification has altered the city’s demographic landscape dramatically. Because Washington was America’s first city to have a black majority, it came as a shock to many in 2011 when DC’s black population dropped below 50 percent for the first time in more than 50 years. In the past decade, the district lost nearly 40,000 black residents, many driven out by skyrocketing rents fueled by an influx of mostly white professionals flocking to increasingly gentrified neighborhoods.
Obama talked about the deepening inequality. But that is a testament of his own presidency. A presidency that has betrayed the hopes of tens of millions of people who voted for him out of a genuine desire for fundamental change away from corporate politics and war mongering. Poverty is at record-high numbers – 95% of the gains in productivity during the so-called recovery have gone to the top 1%. The president’s focus on income inequality was an admission of the failure of his policies. An admission forced by rallies, demonstrations, and strikes by fast food and low wage workers demanding a minimum wage of $15. It has been forced by the outrage over the widening gulf between the super-rich and those of us working to create this wealth in society. While the criminals on Wall Street are bailed out, courageous whistleblowers like Edward Snowden are hunted down and the unconstitutional acts he exposed are allowed to continue.
“Believe it,” said the current Prevaricator-in-Chief, in the conclusion to his annual litany lies. President Obama’s specialty, honed to theatrical near-perfection over five disastrous years, is in crafting the sympathetic lie, designed to suspend disbelief among those targeted for oblivion, through displays of empathy for the victims. In contrast to the aggressive insults and bluster employed by Republican political actors, whose goal is to incite racist passions against the Other, the sympathetic Democratic liar disarms those who are about to be sacrificed by pretending to feel their pain.
These old theories of poverty are almost exactly verbatim what you hear today some 150 years later. Old theories of white poverty are especially consonant with what you see today because they were almost always about what amounted to cultural degeneracy, as the racial degeneracy theories offered to explain black poverty were not as available (though some arguments certainly get at that idea). As those racist theories have been driven out of respectable discourse, only the culture-focused theories really remain. Of course, these are not theories made in good faith; rather, they are rhetorical flurries meant to excuse distributing our national income so unequally that it leaves tens of millions of people struggling to meet their basic needs.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Trumpet of Conscience does not jibe well with the conventional domesticated and whitewashed image of King that is purveyed across the nation ever year during and around the national holiday the bears his name. That image portrays King as a moderate reformer who wanted little more than a few basic civil rights adjustments in a mostly benevolent American System – a loyal supplicant who was tearfully grateful to the nation’s leaders for finally making those adjustments. The official commemoration says nothing about the Dr. King who studied Marx sympathetically at a young age and who said in his last years that “if we are to achieve real equality, the United States will have to adopt a modified form of socialism”. It deletes the King who wrote that the “real issue to be faced” beyond superficial matter was “the radical reconstruction society of society itself.” In his first talk (“Impasse in Race Relations”), King reflected on how little the black freedom struggle had actually attained beyond some fractional changes in the South. He deplored “the arresting of the limited forward progress” blacks and their allies had attained “by [a] white resistance [that] revealed the latent racism that was [still] deeply rooted in U.S. society.”
Dozens of children, elderly people and others displaced by the Syrian conflict have starved to death in a besieged camp in Damascus, according to reports. The sprawling Yarmouk camp, in the southern suburbs of the city, is home to tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and displaced Syrians who have been trapped under a year-long blockade. “There are no more people in Yarmouk, only skeletons with yellow skin,” said Umm Hassan, a 27-year-old resident and mother of two toddlers. “Children are crying from hunger. The hospital has no medicine. People are just dying.” Her three-year-old daughter and two-year-old son were rapidly losing weight from lack of food, she added. Since October, 46 people have died of starvation, illnesses exacerbated by hunger or because they could not obtain medical aid, residents said.