The Change Makers: The Other 1 Percent

Philadelphia school protest 10-16-14

Over the years, I have been astonished at how less than one percent of the citizenry, backed by the “public sentiment,” have changed our country for the better by enacting reforms to protect the people from abuses of power, discrimination and deep neglect. Specifically, if – one percent or less – were to dedicate a modest amount of their time and money working together for much-needed changes that are overwhelmingly supported by public opinion in each congressional or state legislative district, they would prevail against the government and corporate power structures. There are obstacles, such as a corporate influence over City Hall and wavering politicians who insincerely pledge support, but defer and delay action. But, if people work together, almost any problem can be solved. History shows that it only takes a dedicated few to gain the momentum from many more to enact change.

Black Opposition To Rigged Trade Neoliberalism

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 12.59.19 PM

President Obama and the corporate Democrats continue to press Congress to provide Obama with trade promotion authority (TPA), or so-called “fast-track” authority to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the first of a series of pernicious so-called free trade agreements. The Flush the TPP website, a major resource for the anti-TPP movement characterizes the treaty as: “A secret trade agreement…(that) threatens to undermine democracy by entrenching corporate power in virtually every area of our lives, from food safety and the environment, to worker rights and access to health care, the TPP is about much more than trade. It is a global corporate coup.” In the process of organizing the fight-back to deny President Obama fast-track authority to conclude the TPP and ram it through Congress behind the backs of the people, I wrote about the fact that in some black circles there was uncertainty regarding the priority that the TPP should be given or whether or not it was even an important issue for African Americans.

Tell The Congressional Black Caucus, Don’t Fall For Obama’s Race Card On Fast Track

1tppdemocracy

We understand that the First Black President is now leaning heavily upon members of the Congressional Black Caucus to provide the handful of Democratic votes in the House needed to achieve fast track status for TPP and TTIP. To their credit so far, many CBC members are quietly resisting the president, and a few dare to say so out loud. It’s time to let the Congressional Black Caucus know that this is a time and a place when they MUST resist narrow appeals to racial solidarity, when they MUST refuse to line up behind the president. President Obama will demand their support in the name of racial solidarity, if nothing else, but they must refuse. But for the next 10 days, we want to gather as many online signatures to present to the Congressional Black Caucus as possible demanding that they stand up for their constituents, to stand up to the president and SAY NO TO FAST TRACK, NO TO TPP AND TTIP.

Militants Who Reject The Ballot Box In Spain Form New Network

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 12.54.19 PM

Four years ago this month, the 15-M movement, commonly referred to as the indignados, burst forth in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol. The movement united a wide variety of political factions and tendencies. It managed to gain momentum behind a widespread critique of the austerity measures of the two ruling parties (the PP and the PSOE, which many 15-M signs refer to collectively as the PPSOE) and a desire for “real democracy now!” (¡Democracia real ya!) embodied in directly democratic assemblies and a rejection of hierarchy. In May 2014, Podemos surged onto the scene as a new political party that attempted to channel the popular democracy of the 15-M into the ballot box, winning five seats in the European parliament. Although Podemos claims to be the legitimate heir to the fading 15-M movement, Left critics have argued that the new party has hastened popular demobilization by selling the notion that social ills can be simply voted away and that this new party isn’t like the ones who came before it.

Five Ways Baltimore Police Were Out Of Control Before Freddie Gray

Protest in Baltimore: March to Stop the Incinerator	   United Workers

“It became clear that the most brutal cops in our sector of the Western District were black. The guys who would really kick your ass without thinking twice were black officers. If I had to guess and put a name on it, I’d say that at some point, the drug war was as much a function of class and social control as it was of racism. I think the two agendas are inextricably linked, and where one picks up and the other ends is hard to say. But when you have African-American officers beating the dog-piss out of people they’re supposed to be policing, and there isn’t a white guy in the equation on a street level, it’s pretty remarkable. But in some ways they were empowered. Back then, even before the advent of cell phones and digital cameras — which have been transforming in terms of documenting police violence — back then, you were much more vulnerable if you were white and you wanted to wail on somebody.”

Editor-In-Chief Of Renowned Medical Journal: 1/2 Of Literature Is False

(Image: Health care costs via Shutterstock)

In the past few years more professionals have come forward to share a truth that, for many people, proves difficult to swallow. One such authority is Dr. Richard Horton, the current editor-in-chief of the Lancet – considered to be one of the most well respected peer-reviewed medical journals in the world. Dr. Horton recently published a statement declaring that a lot of published research is in fact unreliable at best, if not completely false. “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”

Health Insurance Getting More Expensive With Less Coverage

(Shutterstock)

If you ask any economist the main purpose of health insurance, the answer you’ll probably get back is this: to protect against financial catastrophe. Yes, the free annual check-ups or discounted gym memberships that health plans sometimes offer are nice. But the real thing you’re purchasing with your monthly premium is protection against financial ruin. You’re paying for someone else to be on the hook for the big medical bills that can and will pile up in the case of serious illness or accident. Except, increasingly, insurance does not provide that type of protection. That’s the main takeaway from a new Commonwealth Fund report on the “underinsured,” or people who have health insurance that leaves them exposed to really big costs — and who appear to skip care due to the price.

High-Stakes Testing Is A Social Justice Issue

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 12.24.49 PM

Few things please parents more than learning that their children are invigorated about and engaged in their education, perhaps deconstructing the representation of womenthrough a media literacy unit or trying Columbus for possible crimes against humanity – activities that represent education at its best. Unfortunately, however, too many students are coming home from school deflated, defeated, and disillusioned. Why? The high-stakes testing season is in full swing. What are high-stakes tests? Tests are considered high-stakes when they are tied to major consequences, such as graduation. But this year’s season is anything but business as usual. Instead, we are experiencing the largest revolt against high-stakes testing ever, as historic numbers of families from New York to Seattle opt their children out, refusing to subject them to what is too often education at its worst.

Hawaii Groups Plant Coconut Trees, Protest Against Monsanto

Pohai George, left, Ashley Montogmery and Nathaniel Whittaker, right, protested against Monsanto at a Waikiki Beach rally in Honolulu on Saturday, May 23, 2015. They were part of an international day of protests against the company. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz) The Associated Press

Demonstrators spent Saturday planting coconut trees and waving signs in rallies across the Hawaiian Islands as part of an international day of protests against agriculture business Monsanto. The protesters complained about the impacts that companies like Monsanto have on the community when they spray fields with chemical pesticides. They say they want agribusiness companies to stop using Hawaii as a testing ground for pesticides and genetically modified foods. “Get off the island,” said Diane Marshall, a Honolulu teacher. “I would like to see them close up shop.” In Waikiki, a man wore a gas mask in front of a statue of surfer Duke Kahanamoku to demonstrate the dangers of pesticides. Others in bikinis talked with tourists about why they don’t want genetically modified goods to be grown in Hawaii.

Spanish Local Elections: Upstart Podemos, Ciudadanos Parties Shine

An electoral observer from Spain's Socialist Party (PSOE) watches as a man casts his ballot at a polling station during municipal elections in Ronda, southern Spain May 24, 2015.(Reuters / Jon Nazca)

Preliminary results from Spain’s regional elections show big gains for upstart leftist and center-right parties and the Conservatives losing their majority. While receiving the most total votes, the ruling PP party may now face coalition politics. With more than 90 percent of the votes counted in Sunday’s elections, the ruling People’s Party (PP) appears to have secured most of the votes in many of Spain’s 8,122 municipalities. However, it also lost the majority in most of them. Notably in the Madrid city council, PP managed to win 21 of the 57 seats, while 20 seats went to The Madrid Now (Ahora Madrid) coalition backed by a number of left-wing movements, such as Podemos. The Socialist Party (PSOE) won 9 seats in the capital’s assembly.

A Global Security System: An Alternative To War

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 12.09.24 PM

Resting on a convincing body of evidence that violence is not a necessary component of conflict among states and between states and non-state actors, World Beyond War asserts that war itself can be ended. We humans have lived without war for most of our existence and most people live without war most of the time. Warfare arose about 6,000 years ago (less than .5% of our existence as Homo sapiens) and spawned a vicious cycle of warfare as peoples, fearing attack by militarized states found it necessary to imitate them and so began the cycle of violence that has culminated in the last 100 years in a condition of permawar. War now threatens to destroy civilization as weapons have become ever more destructive. However, in the last 150 years, revolutionary new knowledge and methods of nonviolent conflict management have been developing that lead us to assert that it is time to end warfare and that we can do so by mobilizing millions around a global effort.

‘This Is Straight Murder’: Protests Following Cleveland Acquittal

A protester wearing a shirt that reads "I Can't Breathe," a reference to the police killing of Eric Garner, is arrested in Cleveland on Saturday night. (Photo: AP)

After a white police officer in Cleveland, Ohio was acquitted on Saturday in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man and woman in 2012, protests against racism and police brutality spread throughout the city as activists called for justice. Police in riot gear arrested multiple protesters marching peacefully through the streets of Cleveland, where the shooting took place. Activists chanted, “No justice, no peace” outside of the courthouse where the officer was cleared of voluntary manslaughter and felonious assault. The trial had been closely watched as a growing civil rights movement swept the country. The officer, Michael Brelo, and 10 other officers fired 137 shots at Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams after a 20-minute car chase, with Brelo climbing onto the hood of Russell’s car and delivering 15 shots at close range.

US Empire: American Exceptionalism Is No Shining City On A Hill

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 12.02.11 PM

The concept of American exceptionalism is as old as the United States, and it implies that the country has a qualitative difference from other nations. This notion of being special gives Americans the sense that playing a lead role in world affair is part of their natural historic calling. However there is nothing historically exceptional about this: the Roman empire also viewed itself as a system superior to other nations and, more recently, so did the British and the French empires. On the topic of American exceptionalism, which he often called “Americanism”, Seymour Martin Lipset noted that “America’s ideology can be described in five words: liberty, egalitarism, individualism, populism and laissez-faire. The revolutionary ideology, which became American creed, is liberalism in its eighteenth and nineteenth-century meaning. It departed from conservatism Toryism, statist communitarianism, mercantilism and noblesse-oblige dominant in monarchical state-church formed cultures.”

Eyes On The Spies: Art In The Age Of Hyper Surveillance

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 11.55.21 AM

Repression breeds resistance, Sixties radicals once insisted – and sometimes, as newspaper headlines remind us, repression simply silences citizens from China to Chile and the Czech Republic. Then, too, repression makes for mighty fine protest art all around the world. In London recently, an anonymous artist painted an immense street mural that showed a man on a ladder printing the words “One Nation Under CCTV,” while another man in uniform films him. (CCTV stands for Closed Circuit Television, now a fixture in many cities from London to New York and Chicago.) Now, a new exhibition opening Thursday in San Francisco, called “Bearing Witness: Surveillance in the Drone Age” (May 21 – June 7), features eight artists from the group 1030 – which uses art to make people more aware of the depth and breadth of spying, listening, recording and gathering data – along with installations by at least 15 others.

Reflections On The Vietnam War: Things A Warrior Knows

NAPALM STRIKE

There is nothing in the lives of human beings more brutal and terrifying than war, and nothing more important than for those of us who have experienced it to share its awful truth. As the 45th anniversary of my being shot and paralyzed in the Vietnam War approaches, I cannot help but reflect upon those years and the many lessons I have learned. Nearly half a century has passed since I left my house in Massapequa, N.Y., to join the United States Marine Corp and begin an extraordinary journey that led me into a disastrous war that changed my life and others of my generation profoundly and forever. The nightmares and anxiety attacks for the most part have disappeared, but I still do not sleep well at night. I toss and turn in increasing physical pain.