Saturday, July 30, 2011


This is the sort of news that drives me just about over the edge.  The post comes from Prison Culture.

To the State of Florida, Eric Perez’s Life Isn’t Even Worth $5,000

I read with rage this morning the story of the death of a young man who was detained in Florida on a low-level marijuana charge and died in custody “after unsuccessfully seeking medical attention for several hours.” The department of juvenile justice promised to pay $5,000 towards his funeral expenses but at the last minute the CFO of the State of Florida pulled back the check.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is refusing to pay the funeral expenses for a teenager who died in state custody after unsuccessfully seeking medical attention for several hours.
Juvenile justice administrators had offered to pay up to $5,000 in funeral costs to bury 18-year-old Eric Perez, who died at the West Palm Beach detention center on July 10. But after cutting a check to the Tillman Funeral Home, Florida’s chief financial officer ordered that the check be destroyed, records show.

According to the Miami Herald:
Eric, who turned 18 eight days before he died, was stopped June 29 while riding his bicycle because the bike did not have a night light, sources told The Herald. During the stop, officers found a small amount of marijuana on the teen. Because he already was on probation for a years-old robbery charge, Eric was sent to the detention center. He was five feet, eight inches tall, and weighed 120 pounds. A picture of the teen attached to the log shows a youthful-looking kid with a thick Afro and his mouth partly agape. He had a tattoo on his right arm, and was missing a tooth.
At admission, Eric told lockup staff he had smoked marijuana three hours earlier, “one hit.”
Here’s some background about the death of Eric Perez from the Miami Herald:
When Eric Perez died Sunday, July 10 at the Palm Beach County juvenile jail, there were no doctors or nurses on duty, according to the nurse jailers say they tried in vain to reach.
“Nobody works there at night,” Diana Heras said of lockup medical staff. “There is no state funding for night nurses for any night of the week. They do not have a nurse who works at that … facility on the night shift, and they do not work weekends.”
Here’s still more on the tragic story of the young man’s unnecessary death:
Some of Eric’s final agonizing hours — which began as early as 1:30 a.m. and ended with his 8:09 a.m. death — were captured on lockup videotape, DJJ administrators have confirmed. Walters’ agency won’t release the video depicting Eric’s final hours, but sources say it doesn’t bode well for the lockup staff.
The footage, sources told The Miami Herald, depicts Eric’s limp body being dragged on a cot or mat from his room to a common area of the lockup and then back again — a sign that guards knew he was terribly ill and were worried he would infect other lockup detainees
As you read the details of this incident, I dare you not to become progressively more enraged by the minute.
On Sunday, July 10, beginning around 1:30 a.m., Eric complained he had a severe headache, and began hallucinating that an imaginary person was on top of him. He had been throwing up for hours as guards sought “guidance” from a different nurse who did not answer her phone. Records say lockup supervisors and the facility’s superintendent instructed staff not to call 911.
There is much to say about this sorry episode. First, Eric Perez should NOT have been in detention at all. Why are we detaining 18 year olds for marijuana possession? This is another example of the futility and destructiveness of the so-called “War on Drugs.” It is shameful.
Next, the state is claiming that juvenile justice budget cuts did not contribute to the young man’s death. This claim is patently ridiculous on its face. One of the Herald articles quotes Cathy Craig-Myers, who heads the Florida Juvenile Justice Association, saying that “DJJ’s current spending plan, which took effect July 1, contains $77 million fewer dollars than last year’s budget.” How can these types of cuts not eventually have an impact on the care of youth in custody? There was no night nurse on duty in the facility for God’s sake. Come on.
Finally, the state owes this young man and his family a lot more than $5,000. I hope that they are sued for millions.

About The Author

prison culture

I have been an anti-violence activist and organizer since my teen years. I recently founded and currently direct a grassroots organization in Chicago dedicated to eradicating youth incarceration. My anti-prison activism is an extension of my work as an anti-violence organizer.

Friday, July 29, 2011


The more any movement represents an actual threat to the power of Capital, the more it will face real repression. With the planet teetering on or over the breaking point, the global "environmental" movement must become that real threat. The time for dilly calling around is over. I fear myself that we have already passed the point of no return, but it doesn't hurt to hope for the best and give it our best shot. However, the insanity of capitalism means it can't concern itself with such minor problems as making our planet virtually uninhabitable. Capital must grow...or capitalism dies, and for the capitalist that just isn't an option. Sure it's insane, but that is how it is. So when you see a major crackdown on any environmental activists, when you see the slur of terrorist tossed at them, then ypukmow that those are some folks who are a bit too real. Anyway, the I tee Jew below was printed in GRIST.

Green is the new red: environmental activists under attack

26 JUL 2011 7:00 AM

Will Potter.
For centuries, the arbitrary use of power by the state against dissidents has been a key threat to freedom. More recently, the concentrated wealth of corporations has emerged as a major impediment to democracy. When those two centers of power decide to come after people, not only do the individuals suffer, but freedom and democracy take a beating.

In his debut book, Green Is the New Red: An Insider's Account of a Social Movement under Siege, independent journalist Will Potter details one such assault on freedom and democracy: the targeting of environmental and animal rights activists. In recent decades, corporations whose profits depend on degrading the ecosphere started to worry that those activists posed a real threat to their operations. Politicians and law-enforcement agencies responded with laws and tactics targeting not only the illegal actions of some of those groups, but also the constitutionally protected speech and association of a wider range of groups. The fear-and-smear campaigns take their toll on the activists.

In a book that alternates between reporting and reflection, Potter not only details the strategy and tactics of corporations and the state, but also gives readers a feel for the human costs for the activists. In an interview, I asked Potter to explain the threat posed by these campaigns.

[Full disclosure: Potter was a student in two of my classes at the University of Texas at Austin. Since his graduation, I have followed his work and now think of him as a colleague rather than a former student.]

Q. Let's start with what you don't mean by the title, Green is the New Red. You say in the book that you aren't suggesting the environmental/animal rights movements are directly analogous to the left/radical/socialist/communist movements that were targeted in the Red Scares of the 20th century in the United States. If the scope of those Red movements was wider and their level of repression much more severe, what is the title intended to communicate?

A. Although I make clear that what's going on now is not the same or worse than the Red Scare (nor is it the same or worse than what Arab and Muslim people have experienced since September 11th), these current events need to be understood in a historical context. Coordinated campaigns to target and repress dissident voices have taken place throughout U.S. history, and foremost among them is the Red Scare. For most Americans, of all political stripes, that term is synonymous with using fear to push a political agenda -- it is a dark era of U.S. history where lives were ruined, and freedoms chilled, in the name of national security. Beyond those big-picture similarities, though, there are eerie parallels between the Red Scare and this Green Scare, in terms of the specific tactics used by corporations and politicians to instill fear and silence dissent.

Q. Whatever the size or current influence of these radical environmental movements, you write that they are challenging core notions of what it means to be a human being. Based on your experience as an activist and on your reporting, how do you assess these movements?

A. These movements, like all social justice movements, have diverse components. Although it has become fashionable to "go green," the true nature of the environmental and animal rights movements goes much deeper than promoting hybrid cars and energy-saving light bulbs. They are about more than promoting a quick fix or advocating environmentalism through consumerism.

These movements are challenging deeply held religious and cultural beliefs that the interests of human beings are always paramount, and that we have the right to use the earth and other species in whatever ways we see fit, costs be damned. These movements recognize that behaving as if human beings are the only species on the planet is destructive, but their critique is more than an appeal to self-interest. It is about critically examining our relationship with the natural world, and all other species on the planet, and questioning what it means to be a human being.

Q. Do you think that is the reason those movements are being targeted, because people in power in government and corporations understand how fundamental that challenge is, and want to suppress it?

A. Absolutely. In fact, that's how the threat is often described by these individuals themselves in Congressional hearings, internal corporate documents, FBI memos, Homeland Security reports, and in the media. At first I dismissed much of this as political theater -- exaggerating the threat in order to justify the crackdown. For instance, it was hard not to laugh when the CEO of Yum Foods (KFC's parent company) testified before Congress that PETA represents the threat of a "vegetarian world." He called them "corporate terrorists." But this culture war rhetoric stops being funny when you see how it plays out in real life. PETA, and other mainstream groups like the Humane Society of the United States, have been attacked as "terrorists" by corporations and politicians, and investigated by the FBI. The only way we can explain that groups like the Humane Society are being investigated as terrorists alongside the Animal Liberation Front is that all of it -- the aboveground and the underground, the mainstream and the radical -- represents a cultural threat.

Q. Let’s go back to your reference to the specific tactics used, by both government and corporations, in this campaign. What are some of the most common tactics, and what is the strategy behind them?

A. The comparison of today's political climate to the Red Scare was particularly useful in identifying and classifying the tactics used in this campaign. The tactics, then and now, can be grouped into three main areas: legal, legislative, and a third I would call extralegal, or scare-mongering. The courts have been used to push the limits of what constitutes "terrorism," and to hit activists with disproportionate penalties and prison sentences. In this realm the word terrorist is used early, and used often, to skew public opinion against defendants before they ever set foot in a courtroom. At some point these legal tactics have limitations, though, and so corporations and politicians have lobbied for new laws that go even further. Federal laws like the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, coupled with state-level legislation, are being used to single out activists based on their political beliefs. The intention with these legislative efforts is not only to enact new laws, but to use Congressional hearings and political theater to shift cultural perceptions of these movements. The final element is perhaps the most dangerous of them all. During the Red Scare, court cases and legislation sent people to prison, but scare-mongering tactics (PR campaigns, press conferences, ads, reckless use of language to demonize people) leveraged the weight of fear and incarcerated many more.

The strategy behind these tactics is fragmentation. In discussing this, I think it's helpful to visualize social movements as having a "horizontal" and "vertical" component. The intention is to separate these movements horizontally, and create rifts between them and the broader left. Animal rights activists and environmentalists are therefore depicted as ideological extremists who, if they have their way, will stop you from eating meat and driving cars and having pets. There are of course already tensions between these movements and the more traditional left, but campaigns by corporations and politicians intend to exacerbate them. If these movements are not seen as part of a broader social justice struggle, it is easier for other leftist and progressive groups to turn their backs on their repression.

Similarly, there is a campaign to fragment these movements vertically. Aboveground, lawful groups are told that they must condemn underground groups, and if they do not they will also be treated as terrorists. This two-prong strategy -- breaking these movements away from other social movements, and breaking the aboveground away from the underground -- isolates those who are being targeted and intensifies the repression.

Q. Whatever one thinks of the specific analyses or tactics of groups such as the Earth Liberation Front, the accelerating pace of ecological collapse suggests their call to consciousness about the larger living world is more important than ever. After your investigation into the Green Scare, what is your assessment of the likelihood the culture will listen?

A. As the scale of the ecological crisis we are facing becomes more apparent, and as the backlash against social movements that are challenging our self-destructive culture intensifies, it is difficult to not feel dark, to feel helpless. I certainly feel that way quite often -- not just because of the content of my own work, but from the near-blackout in the mainstream press. Unfortunately, I do not see any of this changing anytime soon. As the ecological crisis accelerates, the accompanying crackdown by corporations and people in power will intensify as well. The people who have the most to lose will cling desperately to that culture as it is threatened, and this includes not just CEOs but much of the overwhelmingly privileged United States and so-called First World.

After all of that, this will probably sound quite odd, but in the face of this I would argue that there are reasons to be inspired. Through my work, and in particular through book and media tours, I have been fortunate to meet people all over the country from diverse backgrounds. What has been striking to me is that, even if people are unfamiliar with the Green Scare or the targeting of political activists, they are rarely surprised. People may not know the specifics, but they know that corporations have more power than people. They know the scope of ecological destruction is increasing. They know we have no choice but to change but that people in power will not change willingly. I'm not convinced that the question at hand is whether or not the culture will listen, because I think that so many people already feel this. I think the question is: Will we find the courage to be heard?
Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin, one of the partners in the community center �5604 Manor."

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Here is one for you. I am sure you would not be surprised that as a white ex-con I am less likely to be called back to a job interview that a white person who is not an ex-con. But do you realize even as an ex-con I am more likely to be called back for that interview than an African American who has done NO time, never been to prison. Do you know what the chances of a black ex con are of getting that call back by the way? It is 5%.

Okay, here is another one for you. It turns out that the unemployment rate for African Americans would be 5% higher but for the fact that so many are incarcerated and not counted one way or the other. In fact, there are more black men incarcerated today then were enslaved in 1860. Speaking of enslaved, most prisoners do work at often dangerous jobs (I remember when I was in prison the big job was at the broom factory where losing a few fingers was not uncommon) for pennies an hour...some jobs pay zero.

Be all that as it may, the following article delves I to the whole question of black unemployment rates in this so called "post racial land of ours. It is from our old friends at the San Francisco Bay View.

How racism, global economics and the new Jim Crow fuel Black America’s crippling jobs crisis
July 28, 2011
by Andy Kroll

Like the country it governs, Washington is a city of extremes. In a car, you can zip in bare moments from northwest District of Columbia, its streets lined with million-dollar homes and palatial embassies, its inhabitants sporting one of the nation’s lowest jobless rates, to Anacostia, a mostly forgotten neighborhood in southeastern D.C. with one of the highest unemployment rates anywhere in America. Or if you happen to be jobless, upset about it and living in that neighborhood, you could have joined an angry band of protesters marching on the nearby 11th Street Bridge on a crisp morning in March.
They weren’t looking for trouble. They were looking for work.

Those protesters, most of them Black, chanted and hoisted signs that read, “D.C. JOBS FOR D.C. RESIDENTS” and “JOBS OR ELSE.” The target of their outrage: contractors hired to replace the very bridge under their feet – a $300 million project that will be one of the largest in District history. The problem: Few D.C. citizens, which means few African Americans, have so far been hired.

“It’s deplorable,” insisted civil rights attorney Donald Temple, “that … you can find men from West Virginia to work in D.C.” He continued, “You can find men from Maryland to work in D.C. and you can find men from Virginia to work in D.C.; but you can’t find men and women in D.C. to work in D.C.”

The 11th Street Bridge arches over the slow-flowing Anacostia River, connecting the poverty-stricken, largely Black Anacostia neighborhood with the rest of the District. By foot the distance is small; in opportunity and wealth it couldn’t be larger. At one end of the bridge, the economy is booming even amid a halting recovery and jobs crisis. At the other end, hard times, always present, are worse than ever.

Live in Washington long enough and you’ll hear someone mention “east of the river.” That’s D.C.’s version of “the other side of the tracks,” the place friends warn against visiting late at night or on your own. It’s home to District Wards 7 and 8 – neighborhoods with a long, rich history.

Once known as Uniontown, Anacostia was one of the District’s first suburbs. Frederick Douglass, nicknamed the “Sage of Anacostia,” once lived there, as did the poet Ezra Pound and singer Marvin Gaye. Today the area’s unemployment rate is officially nearly 20 percent. District-wide it’s 9.8 percent, a figure that drops as low as 3.6 percent in the whiter, more affluent northwestern suburbs.

D.C.’s divide is America’s writ large. Nationwide, the unemployment rate for Black workers at 16.2 percent is almost double the 9.1 percent rate for the rest of the population. And it’s twice the 8 percent white jobless rate.

The size of those numbers can, in part, be chalked up to the current jobs crisis in which Black workers are being decimated. According to Duke University public policy expert William Darity, that means Blacks are “the last to be hired in a good economy; and when there’s a downturn, they’re the first to be released.”

That may account for the soaring numbers of unemployed African Americans, but not the yawning chasm between the Black and white employment rates, which is no artifact of the present moment. It’s a problem that spans generations, goes remarkably unnoticed and condemns millions of Black Americans to a life of scraping by.

That unerring, unchanging gap between white and Black employment figures goes back at least 60 years. It should be a scandal, but whether on Capitol Hill or in the media, it gets remarkably little attention. Ever.

The 60-year scandal

The unemployment lines run through history like a pair of train tracks. Since the 1940s, the jobless rate for Blacks in America has held remarkably, if grimly, steady at twice the rate for whites. The question of why has vexed and divided economists, historians and sociologists for nearly as long.

For years the sharpest minds in academia pointed to upheaval in the American economy as the culprit. In his 1996 book, “When Work Disappears,” the sociologist William Julius Wilson depicted the forces of globalization, a slumping manufacturing sector and suburban flight at work in Chicago as the drivers of growing joblessness and poverty in America’s inner cities and among its Black residents.

He pictured the process this way: As corporations outsourced jobs to China and India, American manufacturing began its slow fade, shedding jobs often held by Black workers. What jobs remained were moved to sprawling offices and factories in outlying suburbs reachable only by freeway. Those jobs proved inaccessible to the mass of Black workers who remained in the inner cities and relied on public transportation to get to work.

Time and research have, however, eaten away at the significance of Wilson’s work. The hollowing-out of America’s cities and the decline of domestic manufacturing no doubt played a part in Black unemployment; but then, chronic Black joblessness existed long before the upheaval Wilson described. Even when employment in the manufacturing sector was at its height, Black workers were still twice as likely to be out of work as their white counterparts.

Another commonly cited culprit for the tenaciousness of African-American unemployment has been education. Whites, so the argument goes, are generally better educated than Blacks and so more likely to land a job at a time when a college degree is ever more significant when it comes to jobs and higher earnings.

In 2009, President Obama told reporters that education was the key to narrowing racial gaps in the U.S. “If we close the achievement gap, then a big chunk of economic inequality in this society is diminished,” he said.

Educational levels have in fact steadily climbed over the past 60 years for African Americans. In 1940, fewer than 1 percent of Black men and fewer than 2 percent of Black women earned college degrees; jump to 2000 and the figures are 10 percent for Black men and 15 percent for Black women. Moreover, increased education has helped to narrow wage inequality between employed whites and Blacks. What it hasn’t done is close the unemployment gap.

Algernon Austin, an economist for the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., crunched data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found that Blacks with the same level of education as whites have consistently lower employment levels.

It doesn’t matter whether you compare high school dropouts or workers with graduate degrees, whites are still more likely to have a job than Blacks. Degrees be damned.

Academics have thrown plenty of other explanations at the problem: declining wages, the embrace of crime as a way of life and increased competition with immigrants. None of them have stuck. How could they? In recent decades, the wage gap has narrowed, crime rates have plummeted and there’s scant evidence to suggest immigrants are stealing jobs that would otherwise be filled by African Americans.

Indeed, many top researchers in this field, including several I interviewed, are left scratching their heads when trying to explain why that staggering jobless gap between Blacks and white won’t budge. “I don’t know if there’s anybody out there who can tell you why that ratio stays at two to one,” Darity says. “It’s a statistical regularity that we don’t have an explanation for.”

Behind bars – the invisible unemployed

So what keeps Blacks from cutting into those employment figures? Among the theories, one that deserves special attention points to the high incarceration rate among Blacks – and especially Black men.

In 2009, 7.2 million Americans – or 3.1 percent of all adults – were under the jurisdiction of the U.S. corrections system, including 1.6 million Americans incarcerated in a state or federal prison. Of that population, nearly 40 percent were Black – even though Blacks make up only 13 percent of the American population.

Blacks were six times as likely to be in prison as whites and three times as likely as Hispanics. For some perspective, consider what the author of “The New Jim Crow,” Michelle Alexander, wrote last year: “There are more African Americans under correctional control today – in prison or jail, on probation or parole – than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.”

Incarceration amounts to a double whammy when it comes to African American unemployment. Rarely mentioned in the usual drumbeat of media reports on jobs is the fact that the Labor Department doesn’t include prison populations in its official unemployment statistics. This automatically shrinks the pool of Blacks capable of working and, in the process, lowers the Black jobless rate.

In the mid 1990s, academics Bruce Western and Becky Pettit discovered that the American prison population lowered the jobless rate for Black men by five percentage points, and for young Black men by eight percentage points. Of course, this applies to whites, Asians and Hispanics as well; but the figures are particularly striking given the overrepresentation of Blacks in the prison population.

Even that vast incarcerated population pales, however, in comparison to the number of ex-cons who have rejoined the world beyond the prison walls. In 2008, there were 12 million to 14 million ex-offenders in the U.S. old enough to work, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). So many ex-cons represent a serious drag on our economy, according to CEPR, sucking $57 billion to $65 billion in output from it.

Of course, such research tells us how much, not why – that is, why are ex-cons so much more likely to be out of work? For an answer, it’s necessary to turn to an eye-opening and, in some circles, controversial field of study that may offer the best explanation for the 60-year scandal of Black unemployment.

Twice as hard, half as far

In 2001, a pair of Black men and a pair of white men went hunting for work in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Each was 23 years old, a local college student, bright and articulate. They looked alike and dressed alike, had identical educational backgrounds and remarkably similar past work experience. From June to December, they combed the Sunday classified pages in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and searched a state-run job site called “Jobnet,” applying for the same entry-level jobs as waiters, delivery truck drivers, cooks and cashiers. There was one obvious difference in each pair: one man was a former prisoner and the other was not.

If this sounds like an experiment, that’s because it was. Watching the explosive growth of the criminal justice system, fueled largely by ill conceived “tough on crime” policies, sociologist Devah Pager took a novel approach to how prison affected ever growing numbers of Americans after they’d done their time – a process all but ignored by politicians and the judicial system.

So Pager sent those two young Black men and two young white men out into the world to apply for perfectly real jobs. Then she recorded who got callbacks and who didn’t. She soon discovered that a criminal history caused a massive drop-off in employer responses – not entirely surprising. But when Pager started separating out Black applicants from white ones, she stumbled across the real news in her study, a discovery that shook our understanding of racial inequality and jobs to the core.

Pager’s white applicant without a criminal record had a 34 percent callback rate. That promptly sunk to 17 percent for her white applicant with a criminal record. The figures for Black applicants were 14 percent and 5 percent. And yes, you read that right: In Pager’s experiment, white job applicants with a criminal history got more callbacks than Black applicants without one. “I expected to find an effect with a criminal record and some with race,” Pager says. “I certainly was not expecting that result, and it was quite a surprise.”

Pager ran a larger version of this experiment in New York City in 2004, sending teams of young, educated and identically credentialed men out into the Big Apple’s sprawling market for entry-level jobs, once again, with one applicant posing as an ex-con, the other with a clean record. As she did in Milwaukee, Pager had the teams alternate who posed as the ex-con. The results? Again, Pager’s African American applicants received fewer callbacks and job offers than the whites.

The disparity was particularly striking for ex-criminals: a dropoff of 9 percentage points for whites, but 15 percentage points for Blacks. “Employers already reluctant to hire Blacks,” Pager wrote, “appear particularly wary of Blacks with known criminal histories.”

Other research has supported her findings: A 2001-2002 field experiment by academics from the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, uncovered a sizable gap in employer callbacks for job applicants with white-sounding names – e.g., Emily and Greg – versus Black-sounding names – e.g. Lakisha and Jamal. They also found that the benefits of a better resume were 30 percent greater for whites than Blacks.

These findings proved a powerful antidote to the growing notion, mostly in conservative circles, that discrimination was an illusion and racism long eradicated. In “The Content of Our Character” (1991), Shelby Steele argued that racial discrimination no longer held Black men or women back from the jobs they wanted; the problem was in their heads.

Dinesh D’Souza, a first-generation immigrant of Indian descent, published “The End of Racism” in 1995, similarly claiming racial discrimination had little to do with the plight of Black America.

Not so, insists Pager, Darity, Harvard’s Bruce Western and other academics using real data with an unavoidable message: Racism is alive and well. It leads to endemic, deeply embedded patterns of discrimination whose harmful impact has barely changed in 60 years. And it cannot be ignored. As the old African-American adage puts it, “You’ve got to work twice as hard to get half as far as a Black person in white America.”

Is there a solution for Black America?

Tracing Black unemployment in America since World War II, there are two moments when, briefly, the gap between Black and white joblessness narrowed ever so slightly: in the 1940s and again in the late 1960s and early 1970s. For example, in 1970, unemployment was at 5.8 percent for Blacks and 3.3 percent for whites – a sizable gap but significantly better than what followed in the Reagan era. Those are moments worth revisiting, if only to understand what began to go right.

According to University of Chicago professors William Sites and Virginia Parks, those periods were marked by a flurry of civil rights and anti-discrimination activity on the federal level. A series of actions ranging from the creation of the Fair Employment Practices Commission in 1941 to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – which mandated the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 – had “dramatic impacts on employment discrimination,” write Sites and Parks.

But those gains of the 1970s were soon wiped out due to the thinning of union membership and the dwindling power of organized labor after decades of pressure on employers to end discrimination against workers of color.

Today, in terrible times, with the possibility of social legislation off the table in Washington, the question remains: What, if anything, can be done to close the jobless gap between Blacks and whites? When I asked Devah Pager, she called this the “million-dollar question.”

This form of discrimination, she pointed out, is especially difficult to deal with. As she noted in 2005, many employers who discriminate don’t even realize they’re doing so; they’re just going with “gut feelings.” “It’s not that these employers have decided that they are not going to hire workers from a particular group,” Pager told me.

What won’t work is relying on discrimination watchdogs to crack down more often. The way federal anti-discrimination law works, it’s up to the person who was discriminated against to raise an alarm. As Duke’s William Darity points out, that’s a near impossibility for a job applicant who must convincingly read the mind of a person he or she doesn’t know.

Worse than that, the applicant who wants to lodge charges of discrimination also has to prove that the discrimination was intentional, which, as Pager’s experiments make clear, is no small feat. Under the circumstances, as Darity told me, perhaps no one should be surprised to discover that Blacks “grossly underreport their exposure to discrimination and whites grossly overreport it.”

Of course, fixing a problem first requires acknowledging it – something the nation has yet to do, says the Economic Policy Institute’s Algernon Austin. To put Blacks back to work, lawmakers should invest federal money directly in job creation, especially for Black workers. Other avenues for putting people back to work like a payroll tax credit won’t do the trick. “We’ve spent billions in trying to build jobs overseas” in war zones, Austin told me. “But if we invested that money here in our cities, we wouldn’t have this racial gap.”

But how likely is that at a moment when, in a Washington gripped by paralysis, any discussion of spending begins and ends at how much to cut? The painful reality of permanent crisis for Black workers is here to stay. That’s how it seems to Blacks in D.C., especially those who live east of the river.

In April, another group of protesters took to the 11th Street Bridge to demand more D.C. hires; and the following month, the group D.C. Jobs or Else took their complaints to City Hall. But progress is slow. “We’re being pushed out economically,” said William Alston El, a 63-year-old unemployed resident who grew up in D.C. “They say it’s not racism, but the name of the game is they have the money. You can’t live [in] a place if you can’t pay the rent.”

Andy Kroll is a reporter in the D.C. bureau of Mother Jones magazine and an associate editor at TomDispatch. He’s appeared on MSNBC, Al Jazeera English, Current TV and Democracy Now! to discuss the economy and its ills. This article originally appeared at

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Some say Zionism is racism. I think a better analogy, a more true definition, is that Zionism is white (read here, Jewish skin privilege), at least in Israel. All political argument there is subsumed in the occupation. The left and right are defined that way. Israeli Jews identify as Jews not as workers. Consequently, even though, for example, the majority of Israeli Jews deplore capitalism and espouse socialism, their elected representatives are primarily a bunch of neoliberal capitalists...and the supposed egalitarian values of the Zionist state are nothing but a myth...and not just for Palestinians. However, even though working class, poor, and even middle class Jews are exploited, because they receive vast material privileges on the back of the much more exploited Palestinians inside Israel and in the occupied territories, there is no real struggle for true socialism, egalitarianism, democracy, or even a better future. Sure, there are flare ups from time to time for some table scraps, but nothing real happens and nothing real can ever happen until the Jews of Israel shed themselves of their privilege, until, say Jewish workers understand they are workers and not "Jews" and join in solidarity with Palestinian workers for something new and bright in the middle east. As long as the Jews of Israel continue to define themselves as "Jews" and hold onto their privileged position not only will the struggle of the Palestinian people be made very difficult, but their own struggle to rid themselves of exploitation by rich capitalist will be worth nothing and come to nothing.

The following is from Haaretz. The author does not really understand what he is writing.

More political than politics

For Israel's housing protest to succeed, it must be defined as political - and it must be translated into political acts. The issues it raises must be placed at the center of Israel's democratic life. The argument over who gets what must find expression within political parties and elections.

By Michal Shamir
Tags: Israel housing protest
The housing protest is political. Politics, as communications theorist Harold Lasswell once explained, is about "who gets what, when and how." Every action taken to influence policy is politics. Thus there is nothing more political than the tent camps springing up around the country.

The housing protest also makes a clear left-wing statement. In the world of political ideas, demands for social justice, the state's responsibility for its citizens' welfare, reducing social gaps, and equality are the very essence of the left. Even in the realm of practical politics, these are the issues at the center of the political battle in most of the world's democracies. These issues are the main difference between parties in the elections and constitute the basis for the accepted definitions of left and right.

Why isn't this obvious? Because in Israel, "left" means being a dove and in favor of peace and compromise with the Palestinians, while "right" means being a hawk and swearing by the greater Land of Israel. Ever since the Six-Day War in 1967, the party system, politics and the political debate have been mired in the political divide defined by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This is particularly noticeable, and critical, in the socioeconomic realm, which is what defines politics in most countries. In Israel, there are no clear differences between the major parties on these matters.

The major parties do not propose realistic and well-thought-out alternatives. There is no ongoing, intelligent public debate that can help citizens understand the issues, formulate a coherent doctrine and then connect this to their party preference and their vote. Questions of socioeconomic policy are easily defined as professional matters, which politicians must never touch.

Since these controversial issues are not on the parties' agenda or reflected in their election campaigns, the public's preferences in these areas go unrepresented. The vast majority of the public is very far from its leaders and the neoliberal policies they have been implementing for years; most of the public wants an egalitarian social policy that reduces socioeconomic gaps. But these preferences find no expression in the Knesset, or in policy.

Almost 60 percent of the members of the 18th Knesset belong to parties that clearly espouse a neoliberal, capitalist position: Likud, Kadima and Yisrael Beiteinu, which together have 70 MKs. But the public is somewhere else entirely when it comes to socioeconomic policy, and many studies show that.

In the 2009 Israeli election survey, we repeated a question that we have asked for over 40 years: "When it comes to economic life in Israel, do you favor the socialist approach or the capitalist approach?" Among those who answered the question, 32 percent chose capitalism and 68 percent supported the socialist approach.

This is the lowest support for capitalism we have found since the Economic Stabilization Plan was launched in the mid-1980s. That plan marked a turning point in Israeli economic policy, from a policy with a socialist character to a liberal capitalist policy.

The 2009 survey also found that 74 percent of respondents thought "the government should be responsible for ensuring that everyone has a job and a reasonable standard of living"; only 9 percent thought that "the government shouldn't intervene and everyone should look out for himself."

The fact that the political parties and the political debate are locked into the divide of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is what has enabled Israel's acute transformation - from a society that served as a global exemplar of solidarity and equality in the 1970s to a society so unequal that it rivals the United States - to proceed so smoothly and "naturally."

Thus for the protest to succeed, it must be defined as political - and it must be translated into political acts. The issues the housing protests raise must be placed at the center of Israel's democratic life. The argument over who gets what must return to the political foreground, which means it must find expression within the political parties and the elections.

Otherwise, it will once again be swallowed by the black hole of the dispute over the territories.

The author is a professor of political science at Tel Aviv University

This story is by: Michal Shamir

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Israel, really, is Israel next on the list. What started as a demonstrations by Israelis fed up with housing issues has become suddenly a whole lot more. The biggest question is will progressive forces recognize that Palestinians cannot be excluded from any real "revolution.". There is no progressive alternative that doesn't recognize the rights of the Palestinian people. On the other hand, are there enough Israeli's ready to join with their Palestinian counterparts (and vice versa) to actually make something new happen. Seems unlikely, on both sides, but we can always imagine.

The following piece comes from THE RED ANT LIBERATION ARMY.

Israel Erupts in Protest, Tens of Thousands Chant “Revolution”
July 26

Approximately 30,000 protesters marched in Tel Aviv last night, with social justice activists blocking central streets and chants of “Mubarak. Assad. Netanyahu” filling the air.

Tel Aviv police arrested 42 activists, which is an extremely rare number, “if not unprecedented,” according to +972 Magazine, which has been closely following the circumstances surrounding the sudden rise of Israel’s progressive left.

The protests are part of a larger movement that began as opposition to rising housing prices, and indeed is still centered around that issue, but has spread to other social justice and progressive causes.

These protests are being described as “the greatest challenge PM Netanyahu faces on the home front,” and show that the progressive left in Israel has awoken.

Change in Israel may be coming

It happened almost overnight: Friday morning a week ago, walking near Habima Square in central Tel Aviv, I saw only a handful of tents, with no more than a few dozen Israelis who answered an internet call for an ongoing protest against rising rent costs. On Saturday evening the tents covered an entire block on Rothschild Boulevard, and protesters threw cottage cheese containers on the Likud HQ on nearby King George Street. A couple of days later, the tent protests came to dominate the news cycle.

Housing minister Ariel Attias (Shas) argued that the protesters were spoiled kids that refuse to leave the fashionable center of the country, but by Tuesday there were tents in Jerusalem, the southern city of Beer Sheva and as far north as Kiryat Shmona, near the Lebanon border (see a map of all the protests here). By Wednesday protesters tried to break into empty apartments in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem; the tents on Rothschild Boulevard stretched several blocks, all the way from Habimah Square to Shenkin Street, and marches and rallies were scheduled for the weekend. The Friday papers declared that Binyamin Netanyahu sees the tent protest as the greatest potential political threat to his governing coalition.

These protests, which began as explicit anger at the rising rental prices in cities across the country, have been fueled by the response of Netanyahu’s government, which initially, with hostile rhetoric, dismissed them as being part of a large, leftwing movement being funded by outfits such as the New Israel Fund. The initial rhetoric, which claimed that the protests were not about anything other than the “Zionist Left’s” political agenda, only served to increase protesters’ anger and resolve.

These reactions from Netanyahu and other government officials have served to broaden the protests, which have now moved from rent prices to a host of social justice issues: women’s rights, union rights and education reform, among other things, with general chants of “revolution” heard on the streets last night.

What has yet to be heard, in the protests, are calls for more democracy in the wake of the anti-democratic laws that have recently been passed. Also absent has been the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, as these protest spread, and all indications are that they are going to continue – as Israel’s progressive left awakens – I suspect that all of the above issues will become represented by the protests, which are taking on a large, general “anti-Netanyahu”

For the first time, last night, Israel appeared as its neighbors have for some time. Yes, the protests may have had a different genesis, but they share a common thread: anger with the current regime.

Things may be changing in Israel.


Author’s Note 1: Protests have moved in earnest to Jerusalem, where a thousand protesters blocked the entrance to the Knesset.

The protesters, who have set up camp in the city near the Prime Minister’s residence, marched by Netanyahu’s home on their way to the Knesset. As Haaretz reports:

On their way, the protesters passed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence and tried to block a nearby street while calling on Netanyahu to resign. They were consequently scattered by police forces and continued marching to the Knesset.

This, from Haaretz, shows that Netanyahu’s frustration is clear:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuked Likud ministers on Sunday for not trying to solve the housing crisis that gave rise to the mass nationwide protests.

Sources close to Netanyahu said he is extremely frustrated by the Likud ministers’ lack of cooperation, not only in trying to find solutions but also for not defending the government in media interviews.

Meanwhile, more tent cities have sprung up throughout Israel, showing that this crisis only appears to be growing for Israel’s ruling

And in Haaretz, Gideon Levy addresses what many commentators have wondered: how could these protests impact larger political issues (such as I/P) in Israel? He writes:

If this unclear struggle by the renters of apartments on Shenkin Street is successful, matching the struggle against the price of cottage cheese, then additional Israelis will see that it is worthwhile, and that there is a chance and there is hope. Perhaps then they will go out and fight for matters that affect our fates to a much greater extent. If they see they have the strength to reduce the price of one-room apartments of 30 square meters, perhaps they will understand that they also have the power to change the nature of the country – 22,000 square kilometers not including the occupied territories.

If the struggle succeeds against the tyranny of the apartment owners and the Finance Ministry – which was what motivated them to go out and demonstrate – perhaps they will find the way of struggling also against other more severe forms of tyranny. That is the big test before the people.

A political pilot project whose importance cannot be underestimated is taking place now on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, and in other tent cities throughout the country. It is up to the Israelis to blow an empathetic, encouraging and impassioned wind into their sails. We must now leave apathy and cynicism behind at home and go out to the tents.

Author’s Note 2: Aziz Abu Sarah, in a very interesting piece called “Israeli housing protest makes no connection to the occupation,” writes:

This argument doesn’t hold water anymore. It seems like many Israelis didn’t receive Mr. Daum’s memo about Israel’s golden era. On Saturday tens of thousands protested the housing problem in Tel Aviv. The main squares in Israel have become tent cities. Medical doctors and students are protesting their working conditions as the prices of food and gas are increasing rapidly. School teachers’ paychecks are shrinking every year . The social democratic ideals upon which Israel was established are evaporating. The rich are getting richer and the poor remain poor.

Israel’s low unemployment rate and high GDP are indeed impressive, but not necessarily indicative of a healthy community. China has the second largest economy in the world and has one of the highest GDPs. However, China is run by dictators and is filled with poor people. Many of Israel’s poor are the employed poor.

What amazes me is many Israelis’ inability to make the connection between the continuation of the occupation and the domestic problems Israel faces today; Israel is building constantly in the West Bank but it is failing to provide housing to its citizens within Israel proper. The current Israeli government’s focus on improving living standards in settlements while failing to do the same for the rest of the country is a moral failure.

Author’s Note 3: For additional reading on the “tent city” protests, I suggest the following:

+ Understanding the tent protests
+ Why we march tonight
+ Netanyahu rebukes ministers: give me ideas to solve housing crisis

Author’s Note 4: Christy1947 has a diary up discussing the possible connection between Israel’s housing crisis and the settlements, among other things. It’s a very interesting read.


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Monday, July 25, 2011


The Rupert Mirdoch scandal has received a great deal of coverage from the corporate media, yet for some unknown reason they have forgotten to mention what it means about THEMSELVES. The media in the USA and much of the West is nothing but a mouthpiece for monopoly capital which owns it lock, stock, and barrel. We talk about a free press in this county and the truth is it simply does not exist. It is the "BIG PRETEND.". For years the US loved to harp on the "government controlled media" in China. Now China gets to return the favor.

From the PEOPLE'S DAILY comes the following opinion piece. By the way. If you think the Chinese media doesn't have some independence, then you haven't read it for a long time.

Phone hacking scandal reflects Western media's institutional dilemma
16:03, July 25, 2011      
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The phone hacking scandal of the U.K.-based News of the World has triggered a domino effect: Other media under the News Corporation are finding themselves embroiled in the scandal one after another. The voices calling for investigating and self-examining the ethics of media and how journalism is supervised have become very strong in the United State, Australia and other countries. The scandal has even surpassed the borders of media and caused chain reactions in the police and political circles, and the U.K. Premier David Cameron has experienced the largest taunting since he took office.

The phone hacking scandal is not an aberration caused by a media agency that disregards its social responsibility and abuses its freedom of press. It reflects the institutional dilemma that the Western media and democratic system encounter during their development processes.

In the history of Western journalism, the mass media once held high the flag of "freedom" and beat the drum for the establishment and development of the capitalist democratic system. Western media also flaunted that they were "the Fourth Estate" that was independent from the administration, judiciary and legislature and were "an uncrowned king" who spread truths and safeguard the justice.

However, when the tide of capital monopolies and mergers came, mass media were inevitably involved. In the 1980s, 50 large companies mainly controlled journalism in the United States. In the middle of 1990s, it had fallen into the hands of 10 companies.

Now, in the 21st century, the media of the United States is almost monopolized by only five financial groups, including Time Warner, Walt Disney and News Corporation. Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation reaches several continents, and holds 40 percent of the world's newspapers, including the Times and News of the World. In the United States, it controls many media heavyweights, including the Wall Street Journal, Fox Television Network, and dozens of TV stations. In addition, more than 70 percent of Australian-based newspapers belong to the corporation. The freedom of the media has become dull and pale in the shade of mergers.

A review article titled "capital is tougher than freedom, Murdoch won" says that the journalists of the United States have to face such a sad fact that they are not God but rather only His followers, and God's name is "Capital."

American scholar W. Lance Bennett said that all political figures and groups, including the president, senators, interest groups and radicals, should realize the importance of the media to their political success. Multinational media groups have not only controlled media outlets but also formed powerful interest groups with the business and political elite to protect their own interests.

Government agencies and the media cooperate with and restrain each other. A politician must know how to use the media wisely and sometimes even need sto pander to the media in order to enhance his or her influence and status with the help of the media.

According to British media reports, Andy Coulson, former editor-in-chief of the News of the World and former director of communications of British Prime Minister David Cameron, was recently arrested over phone hacking. With strong ties in the media world, Coulson played a major role in helping propel Conservative leader Cameron to power in elections last year. Peter Oborne, the Daily Telegraph's chief political commentator, said that for the past 20 years, the most important thing for all British politicians has been ingratiating themselves to Murdoch.

In order to maximize commercial interests, certain media outlets have used illegal means, such as bugging and bribery to obtain exclusive inside information and policy support. Related government agencies have turned a blind eye to the illegal practices of the media, so as to win their support. The bugging scandal has fully exposed the close and complex ties between the media and the police as well as senior government officials.

Too much freedom of the press has dragged Western democratic countries into a vicious circle of "the media shaping public opinion, public opinion pressuring politicians, and politicians colluding with the media."

At the initial stages of the wars in Iraq and Libya, major media outlets in the United Kingdom and United States provided massive coverage of the multi-state coalitions' victories but ignored the tragic civilian casualties and the brutalities of the wars. Arms companies, media companies and government agencies have formed various communities of interests, using all means possible to shape and control public opinion.

Monopoly is the natural enemy of freedom. Global media groups, which are the beneficiaries of existing mass communication systems and democratic systems, have been making great efforts to cater to the needs of certain domestic social classes and groups by providing limited or even biased coverage and reinforcing the people's negative stereotypes about other countries. The voice of developing countries has long been suppressed by the influential Western media, and the huge information dissemination gap between developed and developing countries has inevitably increased their political and economic disparities.

The media shapes public opinion, but cannot get rid of the influence of politics and economics. The News of the World admitted, "We lost our way," in its final editorial. There is one question for the media: What else has been lost?

By Wang Fang from People's Daily, translated by People's Daily Online

Sunday, July 24, 2011


This is the sort of things the secret police just hate. The group known as ANONYMOUS has

laughed off threats against them and issued warnings of their own. One of the great things the old YIPPIES did back in the day was make a mockery of the HOUSE UNAMERICAN ACTIVITIES COMMITTEE, not to mention the federal courts, and the Nixon- Mitchell regime. They were supposed to be afraid. They weren't and neither is this amorphous collective of hackers. Sometimes fear of the Feds is a reasonable thing, sometimes laughing at them is the best response.


Hackers Unafraid of LulzSec/Anonymous Member Arrests by FBI

Hackers say they "are not scared anymore"

Hacker groups LulzSec and Anonymous have made their point clear: they can infiltrate pretty much any government/corporate system they choose, and can cause plenty of chaos while doing so. In 2011 alone, Sony,, PBS, NATO,, the Arizona Police Department, the CIA, News Corp., Bank of America and many more were hacked by the two groups.

Just this week, the FBI arrested 16 alleged members who were associated with some of the cyber attacks. Fourteen were responsible for the attack against PayPal last December, while the fifteenth person was arrested on charges associated with the intrusion of computer systems at InfraGard and the sixteenth had allegedly downloaded thousands of documents related to AT&T's LTE broadband network and 4G data network. Those arrested ranged from ages 20 to 42, and were located in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Nevada, Washington D.C. and Ohio.

When these arrests were made, the FBI's Deputy Assistant Director Steven Chabinsky told NPR that this victory for the FBI sends "a message that chaos on the Internet is unacceptable." Hackers responded with the following message:

We are not scared any more. Your threats to arrest us are meaningless to us as you cannot arrest an idea. Any attempt to do so will make your citizens more angry until they will roar in one gigantic choir. It is our mission to help these people and there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- you can possibly do to make us stop.

The message didn't end there. Anonymous also added that governments and corporations are the real enemy, and even listed why.

Now let us be clear here, Mr. Chabinsky, while we understand that you and your colleagues may find breaking into websites unacceptable, let us tell you what WE find unacceptable:
Governments lying to their citizens and inducing fear and terror to keep them in control by dismantling their freedom piece by piece.
Corporations aiding and conspiring with said governments while taking advantage at the same time by collecting billions of funds for federal contracts we all know they can't fulfill.
Lobby conglomerates who only follow their agenda to push the profits higher, while at the same time being deeply involved in governments around the world with the only goal to infiltrate and corrupt them enough so the status quo will never change.
Chabinsky noted in the NPR interview that LulzSec and Anonymous' activities, no matter the reason, could put citizens in danger of terrorists or organized crime groups caught a glimpse of the government documents the hacker groups leak online.

"There has not been a large-scale trend toward using hacking to actually destroy websites, [but] that could be appealing to both criminals or terrorists," said Chabinsky. "That's where 'hacktivism,' even if currently viewed by some as a nuisance, shows the potential to be destabilizing."

LulzSec tweeted a similar message to Anonymous' on July 21, with a quirky twist:

"Arresting people won't stop us, FBI," said LulzSec's tweet. "We will only cease fire when you all wear shoes on your heads. That's the only way this is ending."