Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Coming Race War Won’t Be About Race

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR  August 17, 2014 [Time Magazine]

Will the recent rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, be a tipping point in the struggle against racial injustice, or will it be a minor footnote in some future grad student’s thesis on Civil Unrest in the Early Twenty-First Century?

The answer can be found in May of 1970.

You probably have heard of the Kent State shootings: on May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on student protesters at Kent State University. During those 13 seconds of gunfire, four students were killed and nine were wounded, one of whom was permanently paralyzed. The shock and outcry resulted in a nationwide strike of 4 million students that closed more than 450 campuses. Five days after the shooting, 100,000 protesters gathered in Washington, D.C. And the nation’s youth was energetically mobilized to end the Vietnam War, racism, sexism, and mindless faith in the political establishment.


You probably haven’t heard of the Jackson State shootings.On May 14th, 10 days after Kent State ignited the nation, at the predominantly black Jackson State University in Mississippi, police killed two black students (one a high school senior, the other the father of an 18-month-old baby) with shotguns and wounded twelve others.There was no national outcry. The nation was not mobilized to do anything. That heartless leviathan we call History swallowed that event whole, erasing it from the national memory.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

And, unless we want the Ferguson atrocity to also be swallowed and become nothing more than an intestinal irritant to history, we have to address the situation not just as another act of systemic racism, but as what else it is: class warfare.By focusing on just the racial aspect, the discussion becomes about whether Michael Brown’s death—or that of the other three unarmed black men who were killed by police in the U.S. within that month—is about discrimination or about police justification. Then we’ll argue about whether there isn’t just as much black-against-white racism in the U.S. as there is white-against-black. (Yes, there is. But, in general, white-against-black economically impacts the future of the black community. Black-against-white has almost no measurable social impact.)

Then we’ll start debating whether or not the police in America are themselves an endangered minority who are also discriminated against based on their color—blue. (Yes, they are. There are many factors to consider before condemning police, including political pressures, inadequate training, and arcane policies.) 

Then we’ll question whether blacks are more often shot because they more often commit crimes. (In fact, studies show that blacks are targeted more often in some cities, like New York City. It’s difficult to get a bigger national picture because studies are woefully inadequate. The Department of Justice study shows that in the U.S. between 2003 and 2009, among arrest-related deaths there’s very little difference among blacks, whites, or Latinos. However, the study doesn’t tell us how many were unarmed.)

This fist-shaking of everyone’s racial agenda distracts America from the larger issue that the targets of police overreaction are based less on skin color and more on an even worse Ebola-level affliction: being poor. Of course, to many in America, being a person of color is synonymous with being poor, and being poor is synonymous with being a criminal. Ironically, this mis-perception is true even among the poor.

And that’s how the status quo wants it.

The U.S. Census Report finds that 50 million Americans are poor. Fifty million voters is a powerful block if they ever organized in an effort to pursue their common economic goals. So, it’s crucial that those in the wealthiest One Percent keep the poor fractured by distracting them with emotional issues like immigration, abortion and gun control so they never stop to wonder how they got so screwed over for so long.

One way to keep these 50 million fractured is through disinformation. PunditFact’s recent scorecard on network news concluded that at Fox and Fox News Channel, 60 percent of claims are false. At NBC and MSNBC, 46 percent of claims were deemed false. That’s the “news,” folks! During the Ferguson riots, Fox News ran a black and white photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with the bold caption: “Forgetting MLK’s Message/Protestors in Missouri Turn to Violence.” Did they run such a caption when either Presidents Bush invaded Iraq: “Forgetting Jesus Christ’s Message/U.S. Forgets to Turn Cheek and Kills Thousands”?How can viewers make reasonable choices in a democracy if their sources of information are corrupted? They can’t, which is exactly how the One Percent controls the fate of the Ninety-Nine Percent.

Worse, certain politicians and entrepreneurs conspire to keep the poor just as they are. On his HBO comedic news show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver ran an expose of the payday loan business and those who so callously exploit the desperation of the poor. How does an industry that extorts up to 1,900 percent interest on loans get away with it? In Texas, State Rep. Gary Elkins blocked a regulatory bill, despite the fact that he owns a chain of payday loan stores. And the politician who kept badgering Elkins about his conflict of interest, Rep. Vicki Truitt, became a lobbyist for ACE Cash Express just 17 days after leaving office. In essence, Oliver showed how the poor are lured into such a loan, only to be unable to pay it back and having to secure yet another loan. 

The cycle shall be unbroken.

Dystopian books and movies like SnowpiercerThe Giver,DivergentHunger Games, and Elysium have been the rage for the past few years. Not just because they express teen frustration at authority figures. That would explain some of the popularity among younger audiences, but not among twentysomethings and even older adults. The real reason we flock to see Donald Sutherland’s porcelain portrayal in Hunger Games of a cold, ruthless president of the U.S. dedicated to preserving the rich while grinding his heel into the necks of the poor is that it rings true in a society in which the One Percent gets richer while our middle class is collapsing.

That’s not hyperbole; statistics prove this to be true. According to a 2012 Pew Research Center report, just half of U.S. households are middle-income, a drop of 11 percent since the 1970s; median middle-class income has dropped by 5 percent in the last ten years, total wealth is down 28 percent. Fewer people (just 23 percent) think they will have enough money to retire. Most damning of all: fewer Americans than ever believe in the American Dream mantra that hard work will get them ahead.

Rather than uniting to face the real foe—do-nothing politicians, legislators, and others in power—we fall into the trap of turning against each other, expending our energy battling our allies instead of our enemies. This isn’t just inclusive of race and political parties, it’s also about gender. In her book Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution, Laurie Penny suggests that the decreased career opportunities for young men in society makes them feel less valuable to females; as a result they deflect their rage from those who caused the problem to those who also suffer the consequences: females.

Yes, I’m aware that it is unfair to paint the wealthiest with such broad strokes. There are a number of super-rich people who are also super-supportive of their community. Humbled by their own success, they reach out to help others. But that’s not the case with the multitude of millionaires and billionaires who lobby to reduce Food Stamps, give no relief to the burden of student debt on our young, and kill extensions of unemployment benefits. With each of these shootings/chokehold deaths/stand-your-ground atrocities, police and the judicial system are seen as enforcers of an unjust status quo. Our anger rises, and riots demanding justice ensue. The news channels interview everyone and pundits assign blame.

Then what?

I’m not saying the protests in Ferguson aren’t justified—they are. In fact, we need more protests across the country. Where’s our Kent State? What will it take to mobilize 4 million students in peaceful protest? Because that’s what it will take to evoke actual change. The middle class has to join the poor and whites have to join African-Americans in mass demonstrations, in ousting corrupt politicians, in boycotting exploitative businesses, in passing legislation that promotes economic equality and opportunity, and in punishing those who gamble with our financial future.

Otherwise, all we’re going to get is what we got out of Ferguson: a bunch of politicians and celebrities expressing sympathy and outrage. If we don’t have a specific agenda—a list of exactly what we want to change and howwe will be gathering over and over again beside the dead bodies of our murdered children, parents, and neighbors.

I hope John Steinbeck is proven right when he wrote in Grapes of Wrath, “Repression works only to strengthen and knit the oppressed.” But I’m more inclined to echo Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues,” written the year after the Kent State/Jackson State shootings:

Inflation no chance

To increase finance

Bills pile up sky high

Send that boy off to die

Make me wanna holler

The way they do my life

Make me wanna holler

The way they do my life

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

US JOB OPENINGS STAY NEAR 13-YEAR HIGH; HIRING UP

— Sep. 9, 2014 3:58 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of U.S. job openings remained near the highest level in 13 years in July, and companies also stepped up hiring that month to the fastest pace in nearly seven years, two signs the job market is slowly healing.
The tally of available jobs ticked down 2,000 to 4.673 million in July, from 4.675 million in June, the Labor Department said Tuesday. June's figure was the highest since February 2001.
The drop was led by a decline in government job postings. Businesses actually advertised slightly more jobs.
Total hiring, meanwhile, jumped 81,000 to 4.87 million, the highest level since December 2007, when the Great Recession began. That indicates companies are more likely to fill their open jobs. Still, that is below the pre-recession average of just over 5 million hires a month.
Job Openings
In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, job seeker Stephen Watson, of Fort Lauderdale, second from left, reviews the job qualifications during a job fair in Sunrise. Fla. The Labor Department reports on job openings and labor turnover in July on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
The figures suggest the job market is still making progress, despite last week's mildly disappointing employment report. That report showed that employers added a net total of just 142,000 jobs in August, the fewest since December. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent from 6.2 percent, but only because some of those out of work gave up looking. The government doesn't count people as unemployed unless they are actively searching.
Research by economists at JPMorgan Chase has shown that a rise in openings is typically followed 1-2 months later by greater net job gains.
"With the number of jobs available still near a 13-year high, the slowdown in net hiring exhibited in the August payrolls report is likely to be short-lived," John Silvia, an economist at Wells Fargo, said in a research note.
Job openings fell in manufacturing and construction, while they rose in retail and hotels and restaurants.
Tuesday's figures come from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, or JOLTS, which provides a more detailed look at the job market than the employment report. It reports figures for overall hiring, as well as the number of quits and layoffs. The monthly jobs figures are a net total of job gains or losses.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is closely following the JOLTS data as she considers when the Fed should begin raising interest rates.
Job openings have soared 22 percent in the past 12 months, evidence that employers are confident enough in the economy to boost staffing. Net job gains have also increased strongly: Employers added more than 200,000 jobs a month for six straight months through July, the best such stretch in eight years.
But overall hiring, as measured by the JOLTS report, hasn't increased as fast as openings. Hiring is up just 8 percent in the past 12 months.
The gap suggests that some employers are having trouble finding workers with the skills they need. Or they may not be offering sufficient pay to attract the necessary applicants.
The number of Americans who quit their jobs last month was little changed, at 2.5 million, the JOLTS report showed. More people quit their jobs in a healthy economy because they are more likely to find new, typically higher-paying, jobs. Quits fell sharply in the recession but have since recovered. Yet they are still below the 2.8 million that is typical in a healthy economy.

Monday, September 1, 2014


And now. a word from our sponsor.

Religion "Breaking Bad"


by DAVID BADASH
August 27, 2014 1:27 PM


The FBI was investigating Paul Crouch, the co-founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). Crouch, who died last year at the age of 79,  was one of the world's first "televangelists." Crouch and his wife, Jan Crouch, first began their "ministry" by renting time on a local Canadian TV station, and grew their "ministry" into TBN, a multi-million dollar international TV network which the co-founded with the now infamous grifter, Jim Bakker, and his wife, Tammy Faye Bakker.

The New York Times in 2012 reported on the TBN founders who were at the forefront of the so-called "prosperity gospel," noting that in 2010 alone they took in $93 million in donations through their "ministry."

Now, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, investigative journalism site MuckRock "reveals the laundry list of Crouch’s activities the FBI was monitoring or even investigating."

Among the more interesting revelations is the claim that the FBI's "reports accuse Crouch and his partners as being motivated by 'anti-semitic and white supremacist,' beliefs."

In 1997 the FBI labeled Crouch "an anti-semitic, white supremacist" -- but once they identified him as a religious figure they "conducted no further investigation."

Screen_Shot_2014-08-27_at_1.04.31_PM.jpg

The FBI file also states that "Paul Crouch, along with Reverend Earl Paulk, [redacted] and Oral Roberts were anti-Semitic and white supremacists. Crouch and the others were supposedly receiving funds from the PLO to 'run guns.'"

Screen_Shot_2014-08-27_at_1.09.40_PM.jpg

Paulk died in 2009, but his Wikipedia page offers startling insights. Roberts also died in 2009.

MuckRock reports that "the FBI and IRS were working closely with the Italian GDF, essentially their Internal Revenue Service, to fully investigate Crouch’s foreign and domestic holdings."
Apparently as soon as word got out that Crouch and TBN were in the money laundering biz, the Italian mob decided they wanted in. The file mentions phone contact between TBN and the Sons of Italy Lodge in the Bronx, NY. You might be thinking that this is pretty shaky evidence to suggest Crouch was in contact with the mob, but considering the fact that the phone record was included in a subsection of the infamous Bronx mobster Vincent “Chin” Gigante’s FBI file, it’s pretty clear that the FBI was drawing some kind of connection. This probably didn’t make the GDF too happy either.
There is a possible link reported to a federal drug and money laundering investigation as well.

"Other sketchy phone calls that went in and out of TBN over the years were from a Hungarian computer programmer whom TBN sponsored for U.S. citizenship, and phone calls from a number in Omaha to the TBN line which were documented in a separate FBI narcotics transfer investigation," MuckRock charges. "Maybe someday all those little white redactions will be peeled away and we’ll know exactly what Crouch was up to."

The complete, albeit redacted, FBI file can be read at MuckRock.
In 2010, The New Civil Rights Movement reported on allegations that Paul Crouch allegedly forced a male employee, Enoch Lonnie Ford, into homosexual acts.