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Mass Incarceration

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    CA Supermax Prisoners Win Right To Sue As A Class Over Torture, Decades-Long Solitary

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

    The state of California may soon have to defend the indefensible. A federal judge has allowed inmates at the dreaded Pelican Bay supermax prison to challenge the constitutionality of decades-long terms of solitary confinement. The state will be compelled to prove that it is not in the business of mass torture.

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    “The More Effective Evil” Curtain Call and the Prospect of Hilary 2016

    by Danny Haiphong

    President Obama has proven far more effective than George Bush in consolidating the rule of corporate imperialism. It will soon become Hillary Clinton’s turn to neutralize Blacks and white liberals in pursuit of the imperial agenda. Her presidency would “further expose the collaboration between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to economic and foreign policy endeavors.”

    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 5/19/14

    Count-Down to a Class-Based Internet

    The public has four months to respond to the Federal Communications Commission’s plans to end Internet neutrality. “The people are very clear about what they want,” said Kevin Zeese, an organizer of Occupy the FCC, which camped out in front of the Commission’s offices, in Washington. “They don’t want a class-based Internet. They don’t want a two-tiered Internet based on fees. They want an open, equal Internet,” as demanded by several million petitioners and callers to the FCC.

    Rev. Pinkney Defiant Under House Arrest

    The leading activist in mostly Black Benton Harbor, Michigan, will still be under house arrest when protestors converge on the PGA tournament, May 24. Rev. Edward Pinkney is facing 20 years in prison on elections law charges stemming from an effort to recall Mayor James Hightower, described as a “stoolie” for the Whirlpool Corporation, which dominates the town. Pinkney said Whirlpool hoped his arrest would defeat the recall effort and undermine the “Occupy the PGA” protests, “but we’re going to win both of them.”

    U.S. War Against Libya Boosted Boko Haram

    “We cannot understand the rise and strengthening of Boko Haram and, indeed, most of the radical Islamic activity in Africa, disconnected from” NATO’s overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s government in Libya, said BAR editor and columnist Ajamu Baraka, author of the article “From Benghazi to Boko Haram.” The 2011 triumph of U.S.-backed jihadists in Libya “provided a material source for training and equipment and money that strengthened these elements across the continent,” said Baraka.

    “No War” Rally in Times Square

    Activists will stage a “No War” rally at New York City’s Times Square, May 26, to demand the U.S. halt its aggressive confrontations with Russia – the root of the crisis in Ukraine. The Ukrainian coup-imposed, fascist-backed government in Kiev initially failed to crush resistance in the eastern parts of the country, said Sara Flounders, of the International Action Center, because the military “refused to fight against their own sisters and brothers. And now U.S. imperialism has only the fascists to lean on” in Ukraine. She likened the eastern Ukrainian resistance to “an armed Occupy Wall Street.”

    Greg Butterfield, a contributing editor to Workers World newspaper, said the fascists that shot, beat or burned to death 46 people in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa were much like the Ku Klux Klan. “You can see why people have taken the initiative to form militias and protect themselves to keep the fascists out of eastern Ukraine, said Butterfield.

    U.S. Goal is to Subdue Russia

    Washington tries relentless to encircle and isolate Russia “to subordinate it, so it can be ripped off and integrated into the world market controlled by the United States and the European Union,” said Jeff Mackler, of Socialist Action, in Oakland, California. However, Mackler doesn’t think the U.S. wants to go to war with Russia, “although the Cold War rhetoric is still there,” because “Russia is no longer a workers’ state with a planned economy.”

    Mumia: Systemic Racism Trumps Personal Prejudice

    Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s private racist remarks are fodder for the media, but the press ignores “systemic racism, which has an impact on the lives and life hopes of millions of people,” said Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner. Mass incarceration, for example, is a racist policy of the state. “It is this vase, impersonal, systemic racism that deserves our attention and condemnation,” not the private utterances “of an old goat lusting for a 30-something,” said Abu Jamal, in a commentary for Prison Radio.

    Cornel West: Hands Off the Black Radical Tradition

    “When you attack Tony Monteiro, you’re attacking a Black man called Cornel West, too,” said the nation’s best known Black public intellectual. Dr. West was speaking at a North Philadelphia rally demanding Temple University reinstate Dr. Anthony Monteiro at its African American Studies department. Dr. Molefi Asante, the department chairman, has launched a red-baiting campaign against Dr. Monteiro and his supporters. Dr. West sees this as an assault on the Black radical tradition. “You’re attacking Angela Davis; you’re attacking DuBois; you’re attacking the memory of Paul Robeson; you’re attacking the memory of Sinclair Drake,” said West.

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    Coming Home to Roost: American Militarism, War Culture, and Police Brutality

    by Colin Jenkins

    The endemic violence of a society born of genocide, slavery, misogyny and ruthless capitalism is institutionalized in modern American structures. “The equipment and machinery regularly utilized by local police forces across the US now mimics that of a war zone,” while the “violence that is perpetrated abroad mimics the violent culture at home” – an awesomely deadly cross-pollination.

    Freedom Rider: State of the Union: Awful

    by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

    Do not expect honesty, accuracy, or even a semblance of reality from U.S. presidents’ reports on the State of the Union. Better to call it the State of Delusion address. So, skip the charade, here are the facts: “The state of the union is not very good for anyone except the ruling 1%.”

    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 1/29/14

    A Black-Green Alliance in Libya?

    Reports of intense fighting in southern Libya against the NATO-installed regime indicate that “Green” supporters of the former Gaddafi government could form an alliance with Black Libyans, who have been subjected to murderous ethnic cleansing, said political analyst Eric Draitser, of StopImperialism.com. “As these two forces begin to fight back against these racist and imperialist puppets that run the country, we’re beginning to see a form of mass resistance. What form that ends up taking still remains to be seen,” said Draitser.

    NSA is Like J. Edgar Hoover on Steroids

    The recent report of the federal Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which described the omnibus NSA spy program as unconstitutional, will make Congress “more responsive to the public outcry” against the Surveillance State, said Carl Messineo, legal director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. “Public opinion polls are clear that a majority of Americans recognize that there has been an unacceptable loss of civil liberties in the so-called pursuit of anti-terrorism,” said Messineo. “This is J. Edgar Hoover’s intelligence program on steroids.”

    Sexual Abuse Rampant in U.S. Prisons

    A Bureau of Justice Statistics report shows continued high rates of sexual misconduct against inmates in the nations federal, state and local prisons and jails. However, only a very small proportion of cases lead to prosecutions of prison staff, said Chris Daley, deputy executive director of Just Detention International, a watchdog group. Most sexual abuse victims get no medical care, despite the fact that “the vast majority of facilities have medical folks on staff who, within about a 12-hour period, could easily provide both emergency care and collect evidence needed for prosecution” – but that rarely happens in U.S. prisons, said Daley.

    NYC Police Commissioner Bratton is “War Criminal of Our Communities”

    A father recently took his two daughters to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to hear Angela Davis and watch a film on political prisoners. Instead, the place was packed with “establishment Democratic Party speakers backslapping each other about [Mayor Bill] de Blasio’s election,” including Bill Bratton, de Blasio’s new police commissioner and an architect of stop-and-frisk. “I was aghast that this type of forum” during MLK week “would give a voice to this war criminal of our communities,” said Greg Butterfield, of New Yorkers Against Bratton.

    Bring Mumia Home Campaign

    The Fraternal Order of Police is spearheading a drive against former NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyer Debo Adegbile’s nomination as head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The LDF helped overturn the death sentence against Mumia Abu Jamal, in the killing of a Philadelphia policeman in 1981. Dr. Johanna Fernandez, professor of history at Baruch College and a member of Mumia’s defense team, said the FOP “distorts race to delegitimize the claims of Mumia Abu Jamal and all people who have been wrongly incarcerated by the state.”

    Anthony Monteiro spoke in support of the Bring Mumia Home Campaign. “At some point, white America has to confront itself and its own contradictions,” he said. “It is not Mumia that they fear; it is the truth that Mumia represents.” Temple University has refused to renew Dr. Monteiro’s contract as a professor of African American Studies – in retaliation, many believe, for his political activism.

    Amiri Baraka Eulogized by His Son

    “My father was – IS – a revolutionary,” said Ras Baraka, in his eulogy for famed poet/activist Amiri Baraka, who died at age 79 in Newark, New Jersey. City councilman Ras Baraka is running for mayor of Newark.

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    When Prisons Retaliate: California Inmates Still Paying Price for Demanding Rights

    by Sarah Lazare

    California prison inmates have held three hunger strikes and mass work stoppages in the last two years, protesting appalling conditions and the torture of solitary confinement. The state is striking back. "We've received letters around individual guards or groups of guards targeting people who participated in the strike.” As many as 30,000 inmates may face some form of retaliation.

    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 9/23/13

    Lynne Stewart Imprisonment Meant to “Chill” Defense Lawyers

    New Justice Department guidelines on compassionate release from prison should, by all rights, apply to people’s lawyer Lynne Stewart, serving a 10-year sentence for zealously defending her client, said David Gespass, former president of the National Lawyers Guild. Stewart suffers from Stage 4 breast cancer. “The only possible reason not to release her would be just pure vindictiveness,” said Gespass, an attorney practicing in Birmingham, Alabama. “I think her prosecution was a warning to defense lawyers that they should not do their jobs as vigorously as they are required constitutionally to do, particularly in cases involving allegations of so-called terrorism.”

    October 22 Day of Protest Against Police Atrocities

    The Stop Mass Incarceration Network will hold the 18th annual National Day of Protest to stop police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation, said Carl Dix, a co-founder of the event. “If anything, it is even more relevant, today.” The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin killing “takes us back 150 years and more, to the Dred Scott Decision, when Black people were ruled to have no rights that white people are bound to respect,” said Dix.

    October 24 is “Workers Demand a Raise Day”

    The Baltimore Workers Assembly will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the federal minimum wage with demands that today’s minimum be raised to $15 an hour. “If wages had kept up with the cost of living since the first minimum wage was enacted, it would now be $15.23,” said organizer Karen Black. President Obama and other politicians have not been helpful in increasing workers’ paychecks. “That’s in part why we formed a workers assembly that can get a movement going to force these issues,” said Black.

    Obamacare Would Still Leave U.S. Last in Developed World

    Forty-eight million Americans are still without health insurance, and 48,000 of them die every year due to inadequate care, said Dr. David Himmelstein, of Physicians for a National Health Plan. “Billions and billions are drained out of the health care system by greedy insurance companies whose interest is in denying people care,” said Himmelstein, whose organization favors a Medicaid-for-All system. “Even if Obamacare works as planned, we’re still going to have 31 million people who won’t have coverage,” which means the U.S. health care system will remain “the worst in the developed world.”

    The Incredibly Shrinking Welfare State

    The remnants of the federal welfare program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, “needs to be made more accessible,” said Timothy Casey, senior attorney for Legal Momentum. “Right now, two out of three families and children who are eligible don’t get any benefits.” Moreover, “benefits in every state are far below the official poverty level – typically less than half,” said Casey. Legal Momentum was formerly known as the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund.

    U.S. Protects Purveyors of Genocide in Congo

    Washington refuses to bring real pressures on Rwanda to halt its 17-year war and occupation of the eastern Congo, the “deadliest conflict in the world since World War Two, in which millions of Congolese have lost their lives,” said Maurice Carney, executive director of Friends of Congo. “When you compare it to the way the U.S. has acted against Zimbabwe, or the way it’s been beating the war drums against Syria, the U.S. hasn’t brought substantial weight, whatsoever,” against its ally, Rwanda, said Carney.

    Kenyans Say No to International Criminal Court

    Both houses of Kenya’s parliament voted to sever ties with the International Criminal Court, which had previously indicted Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, the current president and deputy president of the country. “They had and election, and one of the major aspects of the campaign was, We can handle our problems ourselves and we don’t need the ICC,” said John Philpot, a Canadian attorney and expert on international criminal law who has defended clients before the ICC. Parliament’s action “was a good step,” said Philpot, “because the ICC is the right hand of military/political intervention” and only prosecutes Africans.

    Download the episode here.

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    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 9/09/13

    Syria is Opportunity to Build a Real Peace Movement

    “They’ve handed this to us on a silver platter: an announced war,” said David Swanson, veteran peace activist and publisher of the influential web site WarIsACrime.org. “This is an opportunity to build an anti-war movement.” However, so-called “progressives” on Capitol Hill have proven to be of little use. “For the most part, the Progressive Caucus has reached a new low,” said Swanson. “Now they’re split, half pro-war and half anti-war. You’re not seeing leadership from the usual congresspeople. You see incredible deference to the president.”

    Obama is Going Down

    “England and Germany and other forces that have usually been reliable partners in crime have tried to distance themselves from this criminal war” that Obama plans against Syria, said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition. The president’s domestic situation is also perilous. “It is difficult for many of the Negroes who have been in bed with Obama to continue this elicit affair. Obama stands the chance of going down in history as a war criminal.”

    Deceitful War, American-Style

    The U.S. routinely tells bald-faced lies to justify its military aggressions, said John Quigley, professor emeritus of international law at Ohio State University. Quigley, author of Ruses for War: American Intervention Since World War Two, cites phony U.S. pretexts for war in the Dominican Republic (1965), Grenada (1983), Sudan (1998), and Iraq (1993), not to mention the patently false basis for the Iraq invasion of 2003. Is the U.S. a rogue state? “In the sense of taking action that has no basis in international law, then I suppose” it is, said Prof. Quigley.

    Lynne Stewart Critiques the “So-Called Left”

    People’s lawyer Lynne Stewart, who is suffering from Stage Four breast cancer, will probably not benefit from Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent revisions of Bureau of Prisons regulations on compassionate release, since she is charged with terrorism, said Ralph Poynter, Stewart’s husband and comrade in struggle. Stewart “is very angry with what is happening in the so-called Left, who have neglected the struggle in the rest of the world,” said Poynter. “If we can’t get our minds around freeing our political prisoners, maybe all of our time has come.”

    Misleadership Class in Deep Conflict with Black Masses

    “I don’t believe there has ever been this wide and extensive a split between the Black elite and bourgeoisie, who are aligned through Obama to finance capital and American empire, and the broad masses” of African Americans, said Dr. Anthony Monteiro, professor of African American Studies at Philadelphia’s Temple University. Monteiro estimates the March on Washington commemoration, organized by traditional Black organizations in deep collaboration with the White House, drew only about 25,000 people. “The elite, the so-called leadership, is in trouble with the great masses of Black people.”

    California Prisoners Suspend Hunger Strike

    After nine weeks, inmates called a halt to the third hunger strike since 2011, without having forced California officials to accede to any of their major demands, most notably an end to the “torture” of long term solitary confinement. However, the struggle continues, according to Keith James, of the Stop Mass Incarceration Movement. “They are waging a protracted battle,” said James. “We really have to have these prisoners’ backs, because this torture is continuing." At its height, 30,000 inmates were involved in the protest.

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    The Black Mis-Leaders' Love-Fest with Power on the Mall

    by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

    The commemoration of the March on Washington has been ruined. President Obama, the global assassin, protector of Wall Street, and reigning Great Mass Incarcerator, will star in the production on the National Mall. “Dr. Martin Luther King serves as a mere prop in the ceremony.” In their embrace of Power, the organizers have desecrated the Black American legacy of struggle.

    America’s Disappeared

    by Chris Hedges

    When three guys go missing in the ghetto, it’s an ordinary event. The criminal justice system is a body-snatcher. “In America, when you are poor, you can instantly disappear into the subterranean rabbit holes of our vast jail and prison complex.”

    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 7/29/13

    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 7/29/13

     

    Trayvon Protests Should Lead to Movement Against Racial Surveillance

    If there is to be a mass movement against racial profiling, “we’ve got to talk about the War on Drugs and decriminalization and legalization; we’ve got to talk about the surveillance state, where the government at the local and the national level profiles you every day of your life,” said South Carolina activist and author Kevin Alexander Gray. “We’ve got to talk about the idea that the only people that are being required to show something to prove that they are not guilty of something are people of color in this country – and we’ve got to figure out a way to fight back.” Gray is author of The Fundamentals of Black Politics.

    Obama Approval Rating Drops Among Blacks

    A recent NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll shows Black approval of President Obama dipped to 78 percent following George Zimmerman’s murder acquittal. “It’s a perceptual shift, a big-time shift in how Black people are perceiving Obama when it comes to being responsive to the needs of our community,” said Dr. Johnny Williams, professor of sociology at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut. The president’s high praise for New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly, who runs the nation’s biggest stop-and-frisk operation, as a potential new chief of Homeland Security “speaks to where Obama is, morally,” said Williams. “How are you going to put somebody who, basically, does the same thing that George Zimmerman did to Trayvon Martin, in charge of Homeland Security?”

    White Reaction to Zimmerman Verdict Disturbing

    An ABC News-Washington Post poll showing two-thirds of whites think Trayvon Martin’s killing was justifiable, is a measure of the “separateness in perspective that reflects very real, savage, and profound, literal segregation” of the races in America, said historian and activist Paul Street. “That’s a lot more than just the segment of the white population that’s Republican or Tea Party,” said Street, author of The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama and the Real World of Power. “There’s a lot of Democrats in there, and that probably includes a whole bunch of ‘liberals.’ This isn’t just about cracker whites in the South.”

    NSA Vote Shows Hope in Face of Fascist Trends

    The narrow defeat of a U.S. House bill to halt wholesale NSA spying on Americans’ telephone calls was “a tactical loss but a strategic victory” for the rule of law, said Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. He warned of the rise of “fascist principles” in the U.S., including “collusion between the corporate private sector and the government sector to abuse fundamental rights,” and “xenophobia and militarism…vilifying the Other, within our country, justifying international belligerence towards other countries.”

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    Obama Supports the Racial Surveillance That Killed Trayvon

    by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

    In his effort to “put the angry Black genie back in the bottle” following George Zimmerman’s acquittal, President Obama once again claimed to oppose racial profiling. He’s lying. Obama has endorsed the most prolific racial profiler in the country as a potential head of Homeland Security. The president is a bulwark of the system that targets millions of Trayvon Martins.

    The Obama Project and the Politics of Race

    by Paul Street

    The president expended 2,600 words to create the illusion of deep personal identification with the contemporary African American condition. But, in fact, Obama “has been actively hostile to the notion that the government ought to do anything to correct or even acknowledge racial oppression and inequality in the U.S.”

    Obama's Trayvon Speech: Massa Trying to Keep the Slaves on the Plantation by Acknowledging Their Pain

    by Carl Dix

    President Obama’s attempt to diffuse Black rage in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal is rooted in deception. “The fact is, Barack Obama has played a major role in the further demonization of Black youth.”

    Hunger Strike in the Empire of Dungeons

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

    Thousands of inmates are pitting their bodies against the State of California, which is determined to reduce them to “non-persons, groveling masses of flesh.” But the Incarceration State “is not in the habit of acting in good faith, even with the judicial branch of government, on prison matters, much less negotiating with inmates.”

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    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 7/17/13

    Obama Turns Federal Workers Into Snitches

    President Obama’s “Insider Threat Program,” which profiles potential whistleblowers in the federal workforce, “is straight out of fascist models of government and behavior,” said Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, of the No FEAR Coalition. Obama’s executive order requires federal managers and employees to view as “suspect” workers that are under stress, going through divorce, or experiencing money problems. “I think the Obama administration views whistleblowers as terrorists,” said Coleman-Adebayo. “Therefore, he’s put the Gestapo on us.”

    WalMart Vs. DC City Council

    Lots of folks would be happy if WalMart makes good on its threat to cancel plans for three stores in Washington, DC, and halt construction of three others. The low-wage retailer is balking at compliance with a DC City Council bill compelling WalMart to pay $12.50 an hour, as opposed to the local $8.25 minimum wage. “The effects on small businesses and homeowners within a ten-block radius of their stores is devastating,” said anti-WalMart activist Assantawaa Nkrumah Toure. “Even at $12.50 an hour, if you have a 40-hour work week, that’s still not enough to live on in a city like Washington, DC, where the average one-bedroom apartment can be $1,200 a month.”

    Newark Activists: “Hands Off Social Security”

    Newark, New Jersey-based Peoples Organization for Progress holds its seventh demonstration against President Obama’s planned cuts in Social Security benefits, with a 25-hour vigil on Tuesday at the agency’s Newark offices. “We say to the Obama administration and the Republicans in Congress, ‘Hands Off Social Security,’” said POP chairman Larry Hamm. “For folks on fixed incomes,” the projected yearly loss of “$500 or $600 is a lot of money, and could be the difference between eating and not eating, or not being able to get a prescription filled.”

    California Hunger Strike Gains Traction

    “You’ve got 30,000 people putting their lives on the line, refusing to eat because of the tortuous conditions that are forced on them by the state of California,” said Carl Dix, of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network.” The hunger strike was called by inmates in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay. A Center for Constitution Rights lawsuit claims lengthy solitary confinement constitutes torture. “However,” said Dix, “the State of California has shown that it is willing to ignore even court orders to do anything about conditions in prison.”

    Socialists Offer “Alternatives”

    “The people of Seattle are well to the left of the city establishment,” said Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative candidate for the Seattle city council. Sawant won 27 percent of the vote in a run for the Washington state legislature, last year. Socialist Alternative candidates are also running for city council in Boston and Minneapolis. “What we’re trying to show is that the political space that is currently fully dominated by corporate interests and the wealthy can be taken over by grassroots representatives, by movements.”

    What Happened to Malcolm’s Grandson in Mexico?

    Hundreds of Mexico City police attacked hunger strikers protesting the killing of Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of Malcolm X, allegedly in a robbery, in May. The protesters, Black expatriates that have settled in Mexico, believe Shabazz was murdered by police. Their U.S. liaison, Dr. Randy Short, said “Mexico is known for being a notoriously bigoted and racist society.” The Shabazz family has only recently asked for help in finding out what happened to 28 year-old Malcolm, said Dr. Short.

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    Rise Up or Die

    by Chris Hedges

    As more and more of the nation is transformed into “sacrifice zones” like Detroit and Camden, New Jersey, with civil liberties stripped bare, the biosphere pushed to the point of no return, and the corporate security estate triumphant, “it is time to employ the harsh language of open rebellion and class warfare.”

    Bards Behind Bars: Prison Literature In The USA

    by William T. Hathaway

    Prison literature is a major component of U.S. literature – as it should be, since the U.S. prison population is, proportionately and in raw numbers, the largest on earth. There are insights in incarceration. “Prisons can crush some psyches and produce diamonds of art and wisdom in others.”

    Freedom Rider: When Cops and Prosecutors are Criminals

    by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

    It should surprise no one that the world’s biggest and harshest criminal injustice system puts many innocent people in jail, disproportionately Black. “America’s addiction to racism and violence creates outright criminality among police and prosecutors.” Police and prosecutors routinely frame the innocent, knowing that “mass incarceration depends on an assembly line of conviction.”

    End Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons, Prepare to Back Hunger Strikers

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

    The total U.S. prison inmate population held in solitary confinement on any given day exceeds 100,000 – “the equivalent of locking up every man, woman and child in Charleston, South Carolina, in their own little 8 by 12 foot box – for an eternity.” Prisoners in solitary at California’s Pelican Bay may once again go on hunger strike, July 8. They need support from the outside.

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    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 5/6/13

    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 5/6/13

     

    America: A Law Unto Itself

    Longstanding principles of international law “have given way to the idea that there are two sets of rules in the world: one for the United States, and one for everyone else,” said David Swanson, anti-war activist and publisher of the influential website, WarIsACrime.org. “Even so-called ‘human rights’ organizations like Amnesty International are sending out emails lamenting the war-making arsenal of Assad and never mentioning similar actions by the other side, in order to provoke a wider war,” and in which even Congressional Progressive Caucus leader Keith Ellison holds up the U.S. assault on Libya “as a model.”

    Release Lynne Stewart, Now

    Human rights lawyer Lynne Stewart’s prospects for compassionate release from a 10-year prison sentence have increased because of the many “voices from around the world, the petitions that people have signed,” said Ralph Poynter, Stewart’s husband and partner in activism. “There is no one who can argue whether Lynne has been the sister of us all, or not.” Stewart is suffering stage four breast cancer.

    Corporations Too Big for the Law

    The Justice Department is handing out these non-prosecutions and prosecution deferred agreements like candy,” said Russell Mokhiber, editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter. The publication sponsored conference, in Washington, under the heading, “Neither Admit Nor Deny: Corporate Crime in the Age of Deferred Prosecutions, Consent Decrees, Whistleblowers and Monitors.” Corporations are “too big to fail, too big to indict, and too big to challenge, apparently,” said Mokhiber.

    Mumia Lauds Student Fight Against Mass Imprisonment

    You and those you inspire can be the spark that spells the end of mass incarceration – because movements change everything,” said political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, in a telephonic address to the first national conference of Students Against Mass Incarceration, at Howard University, in Washington.

    The system of mass incarceration is about controlling the people at the bottom of society so that they will not rise up against the 1%,” said Baruch College professor Johanna Fernandez.

    Pam Africa, head of International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu Jamal, told the conference that Abu Jamal’s death sentence was set aside “because the movement was large, and it needs to get a whole lot larger.”

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    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 4/15/13

    More Whites Swept Into U.S. Gulag

    The racial incarceration gap has narrowed, slightly, with more whites and going to prison in recent years. “It’s almost like law enforcement is looking for more feeders for their beds,” said Soffiyah Elijah, executive director of The Correctional Association of New York. “As the economy continues to decline, poverty is closely associated with who law enforcement goes after,” she said. “So, you find more whites being swept up in the system.”

    New Book Exposes Manning Marable’s Lies About Malcolm X

    The central lie” of Manning Marable’s book Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, “is the idea that Malcolm X was not an African Internationalist, not committed to revolution, but that when push came to shove, he was really part of the American dream and the American structure,” said Dr. Todd Burroughs, a professor of communications at Morgan State University. Burroughs and Dr. Jared Ball are co-editors of A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable’s Malcolm X, a collection of essays by prominent Black intellectuals and activists. “It was a shame that we had to do the book,” said Burroughs. “For him to mess it up this badly is a travesty.”

    U.S. Will Bring About World War Three

    The U.S. and its allies are running amuk, much like the Axis powers in the 1930s, said Dr. Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois, at Champaign. “After 9/11, we’ve had the United States, Britain, France and NATO literally rampaging around the world, destroying and invading states,” said Dr. Boyle. “They are going to lead us into a Third World War over something.” Boyle’s newest book is titled Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution.

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    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of January 7, 2013

     

    Both Parties Sabotaging Entitlement Programs

    Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid “have been set up to take the fall for the nation’s deficit,” said Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, president of Washington-based Global Policy Solutions. President Obama “views it as his legacy to rein in entitlement programs while creating this grand bargain” with the Republicans. Those who expected a more progressive Obama in his second term are mistaken. “I think that the president did not make a Freudian slip in his first debate when he said that he and Mitt Romney actually agree on Social Security.”

    EPA Chief Used Alias

    Lisa Jackson was forced to resign as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency because she conducted some of her public duties under an alias, said famed whistleblower Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, of the NO FEAR Coalition. Jackson was “extremely upset” with the Occupy Movement, which staged demonstrations against “her cowardly behavior” as guardian of the environment. Dr. Coleman-Adebayo believes Jackson used her alias to cloak her role in government spying on movement activists.

    End Stop-and-Frisk

    We feel that 2013 has to be a year of rising resistance to stop-and-frisk in the streets and in the courtrooms,” said Carl Dix, a founder of Stop Mass Incarceration Network. “We’re not talking about mending an injustice; we’re talking about ending it.” The capitalist system is incapable of providing a “future for millions and millions of young people growing up in the urban areas of the country,” said Dix. “You can put Black faces in high places, but if it’s the same system that has oppressed and exploited you, it’s not going to change. Revolution is the solution.”

    Big Brother Obama Hears All

    President Obama has shown himself to be a more aggressive foe of civil liberties than George Bush. “Absolutely, we’ve seen this to be true from the FISA authorization, to the use of drones, and with the NDAA” preventive detention bill, said Samantha Peetros, spokesperson for the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. Just before New Years, Obama signed a five-year extension of legislation allowing warrantless phone and email surveillance.

    Charters Crowding Out Public Schools in Philly

    I think that there is a growing movement among decision makers to shut the door on public education,” said W. Curtis Thomas, a Black state lawmaker from Philadelphia. The city has targeted 60 public schools for closing, while expanding charter schools by 5,000 seats. “The decision to move kids towards these charter schools is really an effort to resegregate a system that was never totally integrated, anyway,” said Rep. Thomas.

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    Stop-and-Frisk Should be on Trial, Not Us

     

    by Jamel Mims

    The Stop Stop-and-Frisk movement has frightened the mass incarceration apparatus in New York City, which has upped the ante on protest. The author is among four activists facing two years behind bars. “The intended effect of this prosecution is insidiously transparent: to send a chilling effect through the movement against mass incarceration, and dampen the spirit of resistance it has ignited.”

    Fifteen Issues this Election is Not About

     

    by Bill Quigley

    The ties that bind the two corporate parties and their presidential candidates are much stronger than any differences that separate them. That’s why a progressive platform could be built almost entirely around opposition to those positions shared by Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Below is a litany of issues that will not see the light of day in corporate campaign 2012.

    U.S. is the Worst Police State in the World – By the Numbers

     

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

    There’s no getting around the fact that the United States is the Mother of All Police States. China can’t compete in the incarceration business. With four times the U.S. population, it imprisons only 70 percent as many people – about the same number as the non-white prison population of the U.S. Even worse, 80,000 U.S. inmates undergo the torture of solitary confinement on any given day.

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    Every 40 Hours: New Report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement Highlights Human Rights Violations Against Black People

     

    by Kali Akuno

    Extra-judicial executions of African Americans occur with appalling, near-daily regularity in the United States, according to a report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Such carnage demands the creation of a movement that “challenges the various forms of state repression and internal colonialism, including racial profiling, extrajudicial killing, mass incarceration, mass deportation, economic exploitation and various forms of displacement.”

    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of May 7, 2012

     

    New York Stop-and-Frisk Trial Ends in Convictions

    After a 5-day trial, 20 activists were convicted of disorderly conduct charges in a protest at a Harlem police precinct, last October. “This was a political showcase, in which not only stop-and-frisk was on trial, but our First Amendment rights,” said defendant Nellie Bailey, of Occupy Harlem. “Mass incarceration plus silence equals genocide,” said Carl Dix, co-organizer of Stop Stop-and-Frisk, along with activist Dr. Cornel West. “We are simply trying to minimize the suffering of these young people out there,” said Dr. West. Among those who spoke at a press conference outside the courthouse were: Rev. Stephen Phelps, Riverside Church, Rev. Earl Kooperkamp, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Harlem, John Hector, Jamal Mims, Randy Credico, Jose LaSalle, Elaine Brower, and Sade Adona.

    Welfare Drug Testing is Part of War Against Poor

    Mandatory drug testing for public assistance recipients “has everything to do with an ongoing war against the poor in this country,” said Sara Totonchi, executive director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, in Atlanta. The Center is preparing potential legal action to thwart Georgia from imposing the tests, which courts have ruled unconstitutional. “Georgia politicians know that the way to win elections is to throw around this red meat, rhetoric-filled legislation,” said Totonchi. “Two years ago, the target was immigrants.”

    Corporate Media Lose Interest in “Income Inequality”

    A study by FAIR – Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting – finds corporate media make far less use of terms such as “income inequality” and “corporate greed” than when the Occupy Wall Street movement first brought these issues to the forefront. After an initial peak in interest in corporate behavior, media coverage returned to previous norms. “Income inequality, in the way that traditional journalists and editors see news, is not news. It’s a sort of given, a baseline,” said John Knefel, who covered the story for FAIR’s publication, EXTRA!. “They have no incentive to talk about income inequality or corporate malfeasance because, for one thing, they’re corporations.”

    OWS in Danger of Cooptation by Democrats

    What is going on is a very sophisticated strategy to shunt a lot of this energy into the 2012 election,” said Arun Gupta, a co-founder of the Occupy Wall Street Journal who covers OWS for Salon.com. Moveon.org, for example, pushes the line that “Mitt Romney is Mr. 1% – like Obama isn’t part of the 1%?”

    ICC Let’s Blair and Bush Go Free

    My beef with the International Criminal Court is its one-sided nature,” said Dr. Gerald Horne, prolific author and professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston. “They seem to have a proclivity for indicting Africans or a handful of Europeans who were once involved with socialist regimes” – Serbia. However, international lawbreakers like Tony Blair and George W. Bush seem to enjoy immunity. The ICC recently convicted former Liberian President Charles Taylor of crimes against humanity. Dr. Horne appeared on Regent Radio’s Sunday Morning Show, hosted by Norman Richmond, in Toronto, Canada.

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    Bradley Manning, Solitary Confinement and Occupy 4 Prisoners

     

    by Bill Quigley

    The United States is the world leader in both mass incarceration and the systematic isolation of prisoners. President Obama has earned his own grotesque superlative, having “prosecuted more whistleblowers for espionage than all other presidents combined.” In the case of Bradley Manning, “much of what was published by Wikileaks was either not actually secret or should not have been secret.”

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