Daily News Digest February 22, 2018

Daily News Digest Archives

Laura Gray’s cartoon from the front page of The Militant August 18, 1945, under banner headline: “There Is No Peace”During This Economic Crisis, Capitalism’s Three Point Political Program:  1. Austerity, 2. Scapegoating Blacks, Minorities, and ‘Illegal Immigrants’ for Unemployment, and 3. The Iron Heel.

Democracy?: As the Capitalist Robber Barons Steal from the 99% — Only the 1% Voted For Austerity — The 99% Should Decide On Austerity — Not Just The 1% Who Profit From Austerity! Under Austerity, All of the World Will Eventually Be Pauperized, Humbled, and Desecrated Like Greece and Puerto Rico

February is Black History Month

Daily News Digest February 22, 2018

Quotes of the Day:

More than forty years later, civil rights advocacy is stuck in a model of advocacy King was determined to leave behind. Rather than challenging the basic structure of society and doing the hard work of movement building —the work to which King was still committed at the end of his life — we have been tempted too often by the opportunity for people of color to be included within the political and economic structure as-is, even if it means alienating those who are necessary allies. We have allowed ourselves to be willfully blind to the emergence of a new caste system—a system of social excommunication that has denied millions of African Americans basic human dignity. The significance of this cannot be overstated, for the failure to acknowledge the humanity and dignity of all persons has lurked at the root of every racial caste system. This common thread explains why, in the 1780s, the British Society for the Abolition of Slavery adopted as its official seal a woodcut of a kneeling slave above a banner that read, “AM I NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER?” That symbol was followed more than a hundred years later by signs worn around the necks of black sanitation workers during the Poor People’s Campaign answering the slave’s question with the simple statement, I AM A MAN. — Michelle Alexander,  Chapter 5, The New Jim Crow: Obama—the Promise and the Peril

. . .In 1968, having won landmark civil rights legislation, King strenuously urged racial justice advocates to shift from a civil rights to a human rights paradigm. A human rights approach, he believed, would offer far greater hope than the civil rights model had provided for those determined to create a thriving, multiracial democracy free from racial hierarchy. It would offer a positive vision of what we can strive for-a society in which people of all races are treated with dignity and have the right to food, shelter, health care, education, and security.“We must see the great distinction between a reform movement and a revolutionary movement,” he said. “We are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society. The Poor People’s Movement seemed poised to unite poor people of all colors in a bold challenge to the prevailing economic and political system. . . . — Michelle Alexander, Think Outside the Bars Why real justice means fewer prisons.

Videos of the Day:

Once a Poster Child for Austerity, Latvia Becomes a Hotbed of Corruption Austerity didn’t produce recovery in Latvia, it produced the semblance of recovery, says white-collar criminologist Bill Black. It also led to rampant criminal activity in the banking sector, such as money laundering, taking bribes, and violating sanctions against North Korea

And I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government. — Martin Luther King,  Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence


A Consensus Emerges: Russia Committed an “Act of War” on Par With Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Should the U.S. Response Be Similar?  The claim that Russian meddling in the election is “an act of war” comparable to these events isn’t brand new. Senators from both parties, such as Republican John McCain and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, have long described Russian meddling in 2016 as an “act of war.” Hillary Clinton, while promoting her book last October, described Russia’s alleged hacking of the DNC and John Podesta’s email inbox as a “cyber 9/11.” And last February, the always war-hungry Tom Friedman of the New York Times said on “Morning Joe” that Russian hacking “was a 9/11-scale event. They attacked the core of our democracy. That was a Pearl Harbor-scale event.” By Glenn Greenwald

Yale University Under the Spotlight for Its Investment in Puerto Rican Debt A coalition of activists uncovered late last year that Yale University’s $27.2 billion endowment had a direct investment in Puerto Rican debt instruments through a Cayman Islands-registered shell corporation. It is believed to be the first documented proof of a university endowment holding Puerto Rican bonds directly in its portfolio. But the investment manager that maintained the bonds, Cyrus Capital, quietly sold them in January, just as critics were finalizing a campaign to condemn Yale for profiting from the crisis in Puerto Rico. Yale’s endowment still has hundreds of millions in the care of at least four hedge fund managers that carry Puerto Rican bonds among their investments. In addition, Yale’s top alumni donor, Charles Johnson, is the retired board chair and largest shareholder in Franklin Resources, which holds $1.8 billion in Puerto Rican debt. Student advocates for Puerto Rico plan to continue to pressure the university, hoping to channel the campus passion for racial justice into economic justice for those on the island. By David DayenEnvironment:

At Current Rates Of Use World Could Run Out Of Thoughts And Prayers By As Early As 2019 A worldwide shortage of thoughts and prayers may leave us with no choice but to actually do something by as early as January 2019, researchers are warning, after a recent study revealed the popular refrain is now fueling 93% of government inaction globally. And we are running out. By Paul Duncan 

Ongoing Big Energy Crisis:

Civil Rights/ Black Liberation:Freedom Rider: Russiagate and Democracy “They can use Russophobia to silence the left, distract from the Democratic Party’s payment for the Steele dossier, and whip up war propaganda all at the same time.” Hillary Clinton is the author of Russiagate. She created the scandal to cover up Clinton Foundation dealings with the Russian government. As Secretary of State she approved a deal shepherded by Bill Clinton that gave Russia control of 20% of America’s uranium supply . The foundation received $145 million in pledged donations from persons associated with the Uranium One consortium and Bill Clinton personally received $500,000 to give a speech in Moscow after the deal was done. Because the revelation would have been problematic during her presidential campaign Clinton chose to project her own corruption onto her opponent Donald Trump. By Margaret Kimberley, BAR editor and senior columnist Independent Journalist Corner: A Conversation Andre Vltchek “Those who claim to be objective, like the BBC or The New York Times, are actually the most professional propagandists for the Western Empire.”This week I spoke with philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist Andre Vltchek. Vlchek has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are his tribute to “The Great October Socialist Revolution” a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire .” His other books can be viewed here . Also be sure to watch Rwanda Gambit , his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism” . Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter . By Danny Haiphong, BAR contributor 

“Black Panther” Is Not the Movie We Deserve  A movie unique for its black star power depends on a shocking devaluation of black American men.” Black Panther, the most recent entry into the Marvel cinematic universe, has been greeted with the breathless anticipation that its arrival will Change Things. The movie features the leader of a fictional African country who has enough wealth to make Warren Buffet feel like a financial piker and enough technological capacity to rival advanced alien races. The change that the movie supposedly heralds is black empowerment to effectively challenge racist narratives. This is a tall order, especially in the time of Trump, who insists that blacks live in hell and wishes that (black) sons of bitches would get fired for protesting police violence. Which makes it a real shame that Black Panther, a movie unique for its black star power and its many thoughtful portrayals of strong black women, depends on a shocking devaluation of black American men. By Christopher LebronThe Panther Movie: Why is It Dangerous? Why Do We Fall for It? “Our situation is so dire that we will reach out for this Hollywood fantasy as if it can be helpful, healing, and a lens through which to view history.” The Panther movie is out and people are going in droves to check it out. Both Black and white. This requires clear hard-headed thinking. It’s not about the actors in the film and their careers. Can’t blame a brother or a sister for needing a payday and a chance to make it inside the system, in this case Hollywood. It’s certainly not about the capitalists promoting it on all media, as they have the dual interest of making money and controlling our consciousness to prevent our movement from making sure they stop making all this money. It has to be about our clear understanding of history, and how we can get free from this system. By Abdul AlkalimatDrones in the Sahara  “American, Italian, German, and French military forces are active in the country, and if any one of them makes a mistake, they can all become targets for retribution.” Late in the morning of October 4 last year, a convoy of Nigerien and American special forces soldiers in eight vehicles left the village of Tongo Tongo. As they made their way between mud-brick houses with thatched roofs, they were attacked from one side by dozens of militants, if not hundreds. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Nigeriens and Americans fled, some on foot, running for cover behind trees and clusters of millet, their boots caked in the light brown earth. By the time the fighting was over, five Nigeriens and four Americans were killed, their bodies left naked in the bush after the militants took their uniforms. By Joe Penney Major South African Trade Union Federation Welcomes Resignation of Jacob Zuma “Zuma is a creation of the ANC, not the other way around.”The South African Federation of Trade unions warmly welcomes President Jacob Zuma’s resignation. This is long overdue! Zuma betrayed the working class of this country. He conned many into believing that he had the working class’s interests in his heart, but he proved through his actions that he is the most self-centered and self-serving leader only concerned about his self-preservation. By Zwelinzima Vavi The Reckless Resistance “Americans didn’t need Russia’s social media meme bombers to find writers, broadcasters, and social media aficionados saying horrible things about Secretary Clinton.”Anti-Trump, anti-Russian fundamentalism emanates from the heart of “The Resistance.” Fundamentalism—meaning strict adherence or imposition of the basic principles of any theory, politics, or religion—is one aspect of totalitarianism and/or fascism, but I’m not using those words because we’re not there yet, or at least not domestically. “Global hegemony” more accurately describes the US empire of bases, and “barbarism” the cruise missiles, proxy wars, and covert operations savaging the Global South. Bombs literally smash dissent and defiance, but they don’t persuade hearts and minds. More often they have the opposite effect. By Ann Garrison, BAR contributor

AFRICOM – Staggering But Not Yet Down For The Count “The AFRICOM serpent has spent more than a decade slithering into almost every African country and establishing a venomous presence.” Even though Donald Trump thinks Africa is a “shit hole” the continent forced its way into his life anyway in October when four U.S. soldiers were killed in Niger. After Trump deflected blame to others and made a soldier’s widow cry, he apparently returned quickly to his fantasies about boatloads of Norwegian immigrants swarming Ellis Island. By Mark P. Fancher Labor:


Is that Cartel of Wall Street Lawyers Fixing Bank CEO Pay? Nothing buttresses Senator Bernie Sanders’ position that fraud on Wall Street is not a bug but a feature better than the news last week that the Citigroup Board was bumping up CEO Michael Corbat’s pay by 48 percent to $23 million for 2017. Corbat has sat at the helm of the bank since October 2012 as the bank has paid more than $12 billion in fines and restitution for serial abuses of the public and investors, including its first criminal felony count in more than a century of existence. The felony count came on May 20, 2015 from the U.S. Department of Justice over the bank’s involvement in a bank cartel that was rigging foreign currency markets. Numerous other charges against the bank have focused on money-laundering. Citigroup’s long history of involvement in money-laundering also gives the appearance of being a feature not a bug. (See a timeline of the charges against Citigroup under Corbat’s tenure at the end of this article.) By Pam Martine and Russ Martens


U.S.-Trained Police Are Hunting Down and Arresting Protesters Amid Post-Election Crisis in Honduras It was the middle of the night when they broke down the door. The children, aged 3 and 6, and their parents were all fast asleep in their home in Pimienta, a town 18 miles south of San Pedro Sula, in northwestern Honduras. “They arrived at three in the morning,” said the mother of two whose home was raided. U.S.-trained and supported special forces agents, known as TIGRES, as well as criminal investigation officers searched the family home, flipping over the beds and ripping pillows apart while she and her children watched. Her partner had already been handcuffed and taken outside. By Sandra Cuffe South Africa: Marxists reject middle-class illusions in Ramaphosa A wave of optimism has swept across South Africa since Jacob Zuma resigned as president of the country last Wednesday. There was a collective sigh of relief that the 9-year scandal-ridden presidency of Zuma was finally over. Middle-class commentators said that a ‘new dawn’ has arrived. But Marxists have explained many times that the crisis facing South Africa is not that of an individual, a single political party nor one section of the ruling class. The political crisis is only an expression of the crisis of the capitalist system as a whole. And as long as the system survives, changes at the top will not result in changes of anything fundamental. By Ben MorkenVenezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire Only in the world of comic-book fantasies is the United States a friend to the oppressed in Africa or anywhere else on the planet. In the real world, the U.S. is a predator, colonial/capitalist nation. But like the imagined nation of Wakanda, in the latest cultural assault on critical mass consciousness, “American exceptionalism” and “make America great again” – two slogans representing both sides of the imperialist coin, ruling class interests are obscured and the people are reduced to working against their objective interests and being accomplices to imperial lawlessness. by Ajamu Baraka

Health, Science, Education, and Welfare:

US Falls Behind Other Wealthy Countries in Infant Mortality Rates Majority of wealthy countries listed in UNICEF’s report provide citizens with government-run healthcare systems. by Julia Conley

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