How America Went From Mom-and-Pop Capitalism to Techno-Feudalism

Posted on May 19, 2021 by Ellen Brown (ellenbrown.com)

The crisis of 2020 has created the greatest wealth gap in history. The middle class, capitalism and democracy are all under threat. What went wrong and what can be done?

In a matter of decades, the United States has gone from a largely benign form of capitalism to a neo-feudal form that has created an ever-widening gap in wealth and power. In his 2013 bestseller Capital in the 21st Century, French economist Thomas Piketty declared that “the level of inequality in the US is probably higher than in any other society at any time in the past anywhere in the world.” In a 2014 podcast about the book, Bill Moyers commented:

Here’s one of its extraordinary insights: We are now really all headed into a future dominated by inherited wealth, as capital is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, giving the very rich ever greater power over politics, government and society. Patrimonial capitalism is the name for it, and it has potentially terrifying consequences for democracy. 

Paul Krugman maintained in the same podcast that the United States is becoming an oligarchy, a society of inherited wealth, “the very system our founders revolted against.” While things have only gotten worse since then thanks to the economic crisis of 2020, it’s worth retracing the history that brought us to this volatile moment.

Not the Vision of Our Founders

The sort of capitalism on which the United States was originally built has been called mom-and-pop capitalism. Families owned their own farms and small shops and competed with each other on a more or less level playing field. It was a form of capitalism that broke free of the feudalistic model and reflected the groundbreaking values set forth in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights: that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, including the rights to free speech, a free press, to worship and assemble; and the right not to be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process. 

It was good in theory, but there were glaring, inhumane exceptions to this idealized template, including the confiscation of the lands of indigenous populations and the slavery that then prevailed. The slaves were emancipated by the US Civil War; but while they were freed in their persons, they were not economically free. They remained entrapped in economic serfdom. Although Black and Indigenous communities have been disproportionately oppressed, poor people were all trapped in “indentured servitude” of sorts — the obligation to serve in order to pay off debts, e.g. the debts of Irish workers to pay for passage to the United States, and the debts of “sharecroppers” (two-thirds of whom were white), who had to borrow from landlords at interest for land and equipment. Today’s U.S. prison system has also been called a form of slavery, in which free or cheap labor is extracted from poor people of color.

To the creditors, economic captivity actually had certain advantages over “chattel” slavery (ownership of humans as a property right). According to an infamous document called the Hazard Circular, circulated by British banking interests among their American banking counterparts during the American Civil War:

Slavery is likely to be abolished by the war power and chattel slavery destroyed. This, I and my European friends are glad of, for slavery is but the owning of labor and carries with it the care of the laborers, while the European plan, led by England, is that capital shall control labor by controlling wages.

Slaves had to be housed, fed and cared for. “Free” men housed and fed themselves.  Free men could be kept enslaved by debt by paying them wages that were insufficient to meet their costs of living. 

From ‘Industrial Capitalism’ to ‘Finance Capitalism

The economy crashed in the Great Depression, when Franklin D. Roosevelt’s government revived it and rebuilt the country through a public financial institution called the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. After World War II, the US middle class thrived. Small businesses competed on a relatively level playing field similar to the mom-and-pop capitalism of the early pioneers. MMeanwhile, larger corporations engaged in “industrial capitalism,” in which the goal was to produce real goods and services. 

But the middle class, considered the backbone of the economy, has been progressively eroded since the 1970s. The one-two punch of the Great Recession and what the IMF has called the “Great Lockdown” has again reduced much of the population to indentured servitude; while industrial capitalism has largely been displaced by “finance capitalism,” in which money makes money for those who have it, “in their sleep.” As economist Michael Hudson explains, unearned income, not productivity, is the goal. Corporations take out cheap 1% loans, not to invest in machinery and production, but to buy their own stock earning 8% or 9%; or to buy out smaller corporations, eliminating competition and creating monopolies. Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis explains that “capital” has been decoupled from productivity: businesses can make money without making profits on their products.  As Kevin Cahill described the plight of people today in a book titled Who Owns the World?:

These latter day pharaohs, the planet owners, the richest 5% – allow the rest of us to pay day after day for the right to live on their planet. And as we make them richer, they buy yet more of the planet for themselves, and use their wealth and power to fight amongst themselves over what each possesses – though of course it’s actually us who have to fight and die in their wars. 

The 2020 Knockout Punch 

The final blow to the middle class came in 2020. Nick Hudson, co-founder of a data analytics firm called PANDA (Pandemics, Data and Analysis),  argued in an interview following his keynote address at a March 2021 investment conference:

Lockdowns are the most regressive strategy that has ever been invented. The wealthy have become much wealthier. Trillions of dollars of wealth have been transferred to wealthy people. … Not a single country did a cost/benefit analysis before imposing these measures. 

Policymakers followed the recommendations of the World Health Organization, based on predictive modeling by the Imperial College London that subsequently proved to be wildly inaccurate. Later studies have now been done, at least some of which have concluded that lockdowns have no significant effects on case numbers and that the costs of lockdowns substantially outweigh the benefits, in terms not just of economic costs but of lives

On the economic front,  global lockdowns eliminated competition from small and medium-sized businesses, allowing monopolies and oligopolies to grow. “The biggest loser from all this is the middle class,” wrote Logan Kane on Seeking Alpha. By May 2020, about one in four Americans had filed for unemployment, with over 40 million Americans filing jobless claims; and 200,000 more businesses closed in 2020 than the historical annual average. Meanwhile, US billionaires collectively increased their total net worth by $1.1 trillion during the last 10 months of 2020; and 46 people joined the billionaire class. 

The number of “centi-billionaires”– individuals with a net worth of $100 billion or more – also grew. In the US they included:

  • Jeff Bezos, soon-to-be former CEO of Amazon, whose net worth increased from $113 billion in March 2020 to $182 billion in March 2021, up by $70 billion for the year; 
  • Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, whose net worth increased from $25 billion in March 2020 to $164 billion in March 2021, up by $139 billion for the year; and 
  • Bill Gates, formerly CEO of Microsoft and currently considered the “global vaccine czar,” whose net worth increased to $124 billion in March 2021, up by $26 billion for the year.

Two others are almost centi-billionaires: 

  • The net worth of Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, grew from $55 billion in March 2020 to $95 billion in March 2021, up by $40 billion for the year; and 
  • The net worth of Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway grew from $68 billion in March 2020 to $95 billion in March 2021, up by $27.6 billion for the year. 

These five individuals collectively added $300 billion to their net worth just in 2020. For perspective, that’s enough to create 300,000 millionaires, or to give $100,000 to 3 million people. 

Philanthrocapitalism

The need to shield the multibillionaire class from taxes and to change their predatory corporate image has given rise to another form of capitalism, called philanthrocapitalism. Wealth is transferred to foundations or limited liability corporations that are designated as having charitable purposes but remain under the ownership and control of the donors, who can invest the funds in ways that serve their corporate interests. As noted in The Reporter Magazine of the Rochester Institute of Technology

Essentially, what we are witnessing is the transfer of responsibility for public goods and services from democratic institutions to the wealthy, to be administered by an executive class. In the CEO society, the exercise of social responsibilities is no longer debated in terms of whether corporations should or shouldn’t be responsible for more than their own business interests. Instead, it is about how philanthropy can be used to reinforce a politico-economic system that enables such a small number of people to accumulate obscene amounts of wealth.

With $100 billion, nearly anything can be bought – not just land and resources but media and journalists, political influence and legislation, regulators, university research departments and laboratories. Jeff Bezos now owns The Washington Post. Bill Gates is not only the largest funder of the World Health Organization and the Imperial College London but the largest owner of agricultural land in the US. And Elon Musk’s aerospace manufacturer SpaceX has effectively privatized the sky. Astronomers and stargazers complain that the thousands of satellites it has already launched, with many more in the works, are blocking their ability to see the stars. Astronomy professor Samantha Lawler writes in a piece for The Conversation

SpaceX has already received approval for 12,000 Starlink satellites and is seeking approval for 30,000 more. Other companies are not far behind […] The point of the Starlink mega-constellation is to provide global internet access. It is often stated by Starlink supporters that this will provide internet access to places on the globe not currently served by other communication technologies. But currently available information shows the cost of access will be too high in nearly every location that needs internet access. Thus, Starlink will likely only provide an alternate for residents of wealthy countries who already have other ways of accessing the internet […] With tens of thousands of new satellites approved for launch, and no laws about orbit crowding, right-of-way or space cleanup, the stage is set for the disastrous possibility of Kessler Syndrome, a runaway cascade of debris that could destroy most satellites in orbit and prevent launches for decades…. Large corporations like SpaceX and Amazon will only respond to legislation — which is slow, especially for international legislation — and consumer pressure […] Our species has been stargazing for thousands of years, do we really want to lose access now for the profit of a few large corporations? 

Public advocacy groups, such as the Cellular Phone Task Force,  have also objected due to health concerns over increased electromagnetic radiation. But the people have little say over public policy these days. So concluded a study summarized in a January 2021 article in Foreign Affairs. Princeton professor and study co-author Martin Gilens wrote: 

[O]rdinary citizens have virtually no influence over what their government does in the United States. … Government policy-making over the last few decades reflects the preferences … of economic elites and of organized interests. 

Varoufakis calls our current economic scheme “postcapitalism” and “techno-feudalism.” As in the medieval feudal model, assets are owned by the few. He notes that the stock market and the businesses in it are essentially owned by three companies – the giant exchange-traded funds BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street. Under the highly controversial “Great Reset” envisioned by the World Economic Forum, “you will own nothing and be happy.” By implication, everything will be owned by the techno-feudal lords.

Getting Back on Track

The capitalist model has clearly gone off the rails. How to get it back on track? One obvious option is to tax the uber-rich. As Chuck Collins, author of The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions (2021), writes in a March 2021 article

A wealth tax would reverse more than a half-​century of tax cuts for the wealthiest households. Billionaires have seen their taxes decline roughly 79 percent as a percentage of their wealth since 1980. The “effective rate” on the billionaire class—the actual percentage paid—was 23 percent in 2018, lower than for most middle-​income taxpayers.

He notes that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-​Mass.) and co-authors recently introduced legislation to levy a 2 percent annual tax on wealth starting at $50 million, rising to 3 percent on fortunes of more than $1 billion:

The tax, which would apply to fewer than 100,000 U.S. residents, would raise an estimated $3 trillion over the next decade. It would be paid entirely by multi-​millionaires and billionaires who have reaped the lion’s share of wealth gains over the last four decades, including during the pandemic. 

 Varoufakis contends, however, that taxing wealth won’t be enough. The corporate model itself needs an overhaul. To create a “humanist” capitalism, he says, democracy needs to be brought to the marketplace. 

Politically, one adult gets one vote. But in corporate elections, votes are weighted according to financial investment: the largest investors hold the largest number of voting shares. Varoufakis argues that the proper principle for reconfiguring the ownership of corporations for a market-based society would be one employee, one share (not tradeable), one vote. On that basis, he says, we can imagine as an alternative to our post-capitalist model a market-based democratic society without capitalism.   

Another proposed solution is a land value tax, restoring at least a portion of the land to the “commons.” As Michael Hudson has observed:

There is one Achilles heel in the globalists’ strategy, an option that remains open to governments. This option is a tax on the rental income – the “unearned income” – of land, natural resources and monopoly takings. 

Reforming the banking system is another critical tool. Banks operated as a public utility could allocate credit for productive purposes serving the public interest. Other possibilities include enforcement of anti-monopoly legislation and patent law reform.Perhaps, however, the flaw is in the competitive capitalist model itself. The winners will inevitably capture and exploit the losers, creating an ever-growing gap in wealth and power. Studies of natural systems have shown that cooperative models are more efficient than competitive schemes. That does not mean the sort of “cooperation” coerced through iron-fisted totalitarian control at the top. We need a set of rules that actually levels the playing field, rewards productivity, and maximizes benefit to society as a whole, while preserving the individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. 

_______________________

This article was first posted on ScheerPost. Ellen Brown is an attorney, chair of the Public Banking Institute, and author of thirteen books including Web of DebtThe Public Bank Solution, and Banking on the People: Democratizing Money in the Digital Age.  She also co-hosts a radio program on PRN.FM called “It’s Our Money.” Her 300+ blog articles are posted at EllenBrown.com

Philly DA Larry Krasner beats primary challenger Carlos Vega by wide margin in closely watched race

Krasner’s primary win puts a second four-year term easily in reach after he campaigned on his record of criminal justice reform.

District Attorney Larry Krasner embraces City Councilmember Helen Gym as he arrives to make his victory speech on Tuesday.
District Attorney Larry Krasner embraces City Councilmember Helen Gym as he arrives to make his victory speech on Tuesday.TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
  • May 18, 2021 (Inquirer.com)

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner easily defeated Democratic primary challenger Carlos Vega on Tuesday, taking a giant step toward winning a second term after campaigning on his record of criminal justice reform.

The Associated Press projected Krasner as the winner over Vega late Tuesday night. As of Wednesday morning, with 72% of the projected votes counted, Krasner held a wide advantage, 65% to 35%.In a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans seven to one, Krasner is now very likely to win November’s general election. Hewon the 2017 general election with 75% of the vote.

“Four years ago we promised reform and a focus on serious crime,” Krasner told supporters at a Center City hotel Tuesday night. “We kept those promises. And this time they put us back in office for what we have done. Not ideas, not promises, but realities.”

Krasner, 60, was a defense and civil rights lawyer for three decades, with a long record of suing the Philadelphia police before he was elected as a reformer in 2017. That victory helped propel him to the forefront of a new crop of progressive prosecutors across the country, a reform movement that was tested this election in Philadelphia by rising violent crime.

In his victory speech, Krasner said he had a mandate “from the people most affected by serious crime,” voters he suggested had rejected critics who blame the DA for shootings plaguing the city.

“That mandate has rejected, definitively, a politics of fear that is built on falsehoods,” he said, calling for more funding for crime prevention. “We have to invest in all those things because we were robbed of them a long time ago. And what we are facing now is the consequences.”

» READ MORE: We talked to voters across Philly as they cast ballots for district attorney

Vega, 64, was a prosecutor for 35 years until Krasner fired him during his first week as DA in 2018. Vega still has a federal age discrimination suit pending against Krasner and last week also sued Krasner’s campaign for slander.

Despite financial support from the local police union and other Krasner opponents that kept him competitive in fund-raising, and a soaring homicide rate that could have made the incumbent more politically vulnerable, Vega was unable to make it a close race. He struggled to mount a case for his candidacy beyond not being Krasner and often-vague promises of continued reforms paired with a greater emphasis on public safety. “I’m not going to reverse any policies,” Vega told The Inquirer at one point.

Late Tuesday night, the Vega campaign asked an Inquirer reporter to leave its results watch party, which the campaign had attempted to prevent media from covering despite a longtime tradition of journalists observing candidates’ election night events. Vega declined a parting interview. He conceded on Twitter shortly before midnight.

“It looks like tonight we did not get the result we wanted, but even in defeat we have grace & we smile,” he wrote. “THANK YOU to our supporters, and most especially the victims of crime who bravely stood up when the establishment, the celebrities and the media decided they wouldn’t listen.”

» READ MORE: From before the primary: Crime victims are some of the most visible figures fighting against Krasner’s reelection

Defense attorney Chuck Peruto, the only Republican in the race, significantly trails Krasner in fund-raising and has drawn scrutiny for controversial statements in candidate forums and on his campaign website. Peruto, a former Democrat who voted for Krasner four years ago, had vowed to drop out of the race if Vega won the Democratic primary.

Voters were also awaiting results in local and statewide judicial races and for a series of Pennsylvania ballot questions.

Krasner cast the election as a choice between returning to a past of discrimination in the criminal justice system or continuing to remake prosecution in the city — with an emphasis on fair treatment for defendants, reducing mass incarceration, exonerating wrongfully convicted prisoners, and holding police accountable for wrongdoing.

“This is a showdown between the past and the future,” Krasner said earlier Tuesday while campaigning outside a West Philadelphia polling place.

Vega centered his campaign on concerns about violent crime — an increase happening in large cities across the country, including ones with more traditional prosecutors. He promised a balance of continued reforms and increased public safety.

» READ MORE: Philly elected Larry Krasner district attorney to reform the system. Here’s what he did.

Krasner was able to maintain and reenergize the coalition that helped him win four years ago, including progressive groups like Reclaim Philadelphia and vote-rich, predominantly Black wards in Northwest and West Philadelphia, where high-profile elected officials publicly supported him.

That coalition helped Krasner overcome a lack of support from the city’s Democratic Party, which voted not to endorse either candidate — a rare snub with an incumbent Democrat on the ballot.

Mayor Jim Kenney also declined to take a position. Krasner’s one television ad lumped actions under Kenney’s administration in with examples of the city’s “broken justice system,” opening with a scene of officers teargassing demonstrators on I-676 last year. Kenney acknowledged that he approved the use of tear gas in what became a national embarrassment for the city.

State Rep. Joanna McClinton, the Democratic leader in Harrisburg and a former public defender from West Philadelphia, said voters were deciding whether to return to an era of prosecutors “doing anything they need to do to win,” or to continue with the accountability Krasner brought to the office.

Vega visits the East Passyunk Community Center on on Tuesday.
Vega visits the East Passyunk Community Center on on Tuesday.JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer

Vega’s strongest financial and public support came from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, the local police union, which has been fiercely critical of Krasner’s reforms and blamed him for rising violent crime. Krasner cast the union as another opponent on the ballot, saying Vega would follow the FOP’s agenda.

A group of retired officers founded Protect Our Police PAC, which spent almost $134,000 to air television ads featuring the families of people killed in the city criticizing how Krasner handled those cases. The FOP gave the group $113,000. The Vega campaign itself never purchased TV ads, and instead spent heavily on mailing fliers to voters.

Rather than conventional get-out-the-vote rallies with crowds of supporters, Vega made his closing argument to groups with a mix of skeptical voters and others who were open to his message. His events in the final days were small neighborhood gatherings, including a meet-and-greet hosted by a community activist and an antiviolence rally.

His campaign also hoped for a boost from a last-minute endorsement by former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, the former Philadelphia mayor and longtime district attorney who hired Vega for his first job as a city prosecutor.

» READ MORE: Philly’s overturned murder cases call decades of homicide investigations into question

Krasner campaigned with people who had been exonerated by his Conviction Integrity Unit and denounced Vega as part of a win-at-all-costs approach that sent innocent people to prison.

A political action committee funded by billionaire George Soros, who backed Krasner in the 2017 primary, spent $90,000 on radio ads supporting his reelection. Vega spent just $30,000 on last-minute radio ads. Krasner’s hit the airwaves late, but he ended the campaign as the biggest spender in the race, dropping almost $160,000 on TV and radio ads, according to the advertising tracking firm AdImpact.

It combined for far less advertising spending than in the 2017 primary, when a Soros-funded group spent $1.7 million just on its own.

One case, from before Krasner took office, haunted Vega in the campaign — that of Anthony Wright, who was acquitted in a 2016 retrial of his 1991 conviction for rape and murder. Vega and another prosecutor went forward with the retrial despite DNA evidence that showed another man committed the crime. Wright won a $10 million settlement from the city in 2018.

Vega tried to minimize his role in the case, saying he was brought in to help.

“We can’t go back to that,” Wright said while campaigning with Krasner on Saturday.

Krasner outside City Hall on May 4 with a group of men exonerated of wrongful murder convictions. From left to right behind him are Theophalis Bilal Wilson, Terrance Lewis, Jimmy Dennis, Anthony Wright, and Tony Wright Jr.
Krasner outside City Hall on May 4 with a group of men exonerated of wrongful murder convictions. From left to right behind him are Theophalis Bilal Wilson, Terrance Lewis, Jimmy Dennis, Anthony Wright, and Tony Wright Jr.Read moreJESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer

Karen Smith, 48, voted for Krasner in Strawberry Mansion because Krasner had “cleaned house” at the DA’s Office.

“Being an African American person, when it comes to justice, we’re not given a fair shake sometimes,” Smith said. “I feel like Larry Krasner has done a great job making sure that everybody is held accountable.”

John Teague, a community leader in Manayunk, survived an attack in the neighborhood a few years ago and said the experience makes him wary of Krasner, whom he sees as soft on crime. He spent the last few months campaigning for Vega with signs taped to his red convertible.

“You can have criminal justice reform without tossing the baby out with the bathwater,” Teague said.

In the days leading up to the election, Vega made a series of stops at community events in primarily Black neighborhoods like Mill Creek and Germantown. At a Germantown daycare owned by Wanda Walker, who lives in Montgomery County but is a community activist in the neighborhood, Vega said he would make the DA’s Office more effective at prosecuting crime by recruiting experienced prosecutors — rather than the ones Krasner plucked from top law schools to replace Vega and the 30 other prosecutors he fired after taking office.

“The defense attorneys are killing these DAs like they don’t know what they’re doing. I was trained,” Vega said. “I always said when I lecture to DAs, ‘We don’t work 9-to-5.’ Because if you work 9-to-5, it’s Mickey Mouse results. Crime is 24/7. I have found witnesses at midnight, 2 in the morning, whatever. That’s because I have heart.”

As the meeting wrapped up, Walker said that Vega made good points but that his candidacy would struggle in Black neighborhoods to overcome his association with the police union.

-Staff writers Anna Orso and Julia Terruso, and staff photographer David Maialetti contributed to this article.

Articles ~ Actions ~ Events for Wed., May 19 – Saturday, May 22 (from Adrienne Fong)

Periodic posting

NOTE: Articles are divided in two sections  – there’s a section of articles on Palestine / Israel

*** ASL interpretation – Let me know if your event needs this service .***

Please include Accessibility and ASL info in your events! And if your action is ‘child friendly’

Please post your actions on Indybay: https://www.indybay.org/calendar/?page_id=12

 See Indybay  for many other listings of events.

Site for other Bay Area Events

ARTICLES:

A. Roundup verdict of $25M upheld in US appeals court – May 18, 2021

Roundup verdict of $25M upheld in US appeals court – NationofChange

B. Crystal Geyser pulls out of Mount Shasta water bottling plant – May 17, 2021

Crystal Geyser Water Company pulls out of Mount Shasta plant (mtshastanews.com)

C. Caltrans evicts rent-paying tenants from mostly empty parking lot  – May 17, 2021

Caltrans evicts rent-paying tenants from mostly empty parking lot | 48 hills

D. ‘Allende Is Smiling’: Chilean Voters Elect Progressive Alliance to Rewrite Pinochet-Era Constitution – May 17, 2021

‘Allende Is Smiling’: Chilean Voters Elect Progressive Alliance to Rewrite Pinochet-Era Constitution | Common Dreams News

E. Highlights: House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples Hearing – May 13, 2021

Outtakes: House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples Hearing — May 13, 2021 (lakotalaw.org)

F. Chernobyl Radiation Surge ‘Cause for Concern,’ Say Scientists – May 13, 2021

Chernobyl Radiation Surge ‘Cause for Concern,’ Say Scientists | Common Dreams News

G. Chief Scott issues rare apology to man shot by SF police  – May 13, 2021

Chief Scott issues rare apology to man shot by SF police – The San Francisco Examiner (sfexaminer.com)

H. Healthcare workers are suffering “full body convulsions” from covid vaccines – May 13, 2021

Healthcare workers are suffering “full body convulsions” from covid vaccines – NaturalNews.com

  – Scroll down the article to the video…

ARTICLES on PALESTINE / ISRAEL

  See Actions #’s  1 & 7

  See Event #’s 10 & 13

A. Ocasio-Cortez Unveils Resolution to Block Biden’s $735 Million Weapons Sale to Israel – May 19, 2021

Ocasio-Cortez Unveils Resolution to Block Biden’s $735 Million Weapons Sale to Israel | Common Dreams News

B. Demonstration Outside Israeli Consulate in San Francisco – May 18, 2021

Demonstration Outside Israeli Consulate in San Francisco – NBC Bay Area

C. Updated: Extensive Israeli Bombing On Gaza, Dozens Of Casualties

Updated: Extensive Israeli Bombing On Gaza, Dozens Of Casualties – – IMEMC News

D. ZIM Backs Down – May 17, 2021

Arab Resource and Organizing Center | ZIM Backs Down (araborganizing.org)

– See info on Zim ship below ‘Actions”

E. ‘Huge loss’: Experienced Gaza doctors killed in Israeli attacks – May 17, 2021

‘Huge loss’: Experienced Gaza doctors killed in Israeli attacks | Gaza News | Al Jazeera

F. Qatari Red Crescent’s Gaza office targeted by Israeli air strike – May 17, 2021

Qatari Red Crescent’s Gaza office targeted by Israeli air strike | Gaza News | Al Jazeera 

G. Tax-Exempt U.S. Non-Profits Fuel Israeli Settler Push to Evict Palestinians – May 14, 2021

Tax-Exempt U.S. Nonprofits Fuel Israeli Settlers in Jerusalem (theintercept.com)

H. Italian Dockers Stop Arms Shipment to Israel in Solidarity with Palestine – May 14, 2021

Italian Dockers Stop Arms Shipment to Israel in Solidarity with Palestine | Left Voice

ACTIONS:

1. Congress: Bar unconditional military aid to Israel that enables human rights abuses

  SIGN: Congress: Bar unconditional military aid to Israel that enables human rights abuses! | Win Without War

2. Tell Congress: STOP future Muslim bans. Pass the NO BAN ACT

  SIGN: Tell Congress: STOP future Muslim bans. Pass the NO BAN Act! (actionnetwork.org)

3. Contact your Rep. to Address Violence in Colombia

  SIGN: Contact your Rep. to Address Violence in Colombia – Action Network

4. Abortion is a human right – protect abortion access

  SIGN: Sign the petition: I believe abortion is a human right. We must protect abortion access. (dailykos.com)

5. Let’s Build Truly Affordable Housing for the Sunset!

  SIGN: Let’s Build Truly Affordable Housing for the Sunset! – Action Network

   – See event #

6. Email Home Depot to Get Roundup Off Shelves

  SIGN: Email Home Depot to Get Roundup Off Shelves (sumofus.org)

  Home Depot executives and shareholders meeting in 2 days!

7. Call Congress Now! End All Support for Israel!

Action Alerts – Israel Palestine News

~    ~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Return of the Zim Ship was expected this week. The ship  has turned around – See info below

The Israeli Zim Ship attempted to return to the Port of Oakland. It was learned that the ship has turned around. Text ‘BTB’ to 1-81BLOCKZIM (1.812.562.5946) to get our text blast system for news and calls to action at the Port of Oakland if they return. Their movement is being monitored.

What is Zim?  and Why Block it?

-The Israeli Zim company is Israel’s largest shipping company and one of the top twenty global shipping companies in the world.

-Zim’s history includes transporting European settlers to support the development of the settler-colonial project of Isreal in 1948, transporting weapons to be used against the global south most recently in the US

-As part of the BDS movement during the 2014 war on Gaza, workers from Palestine called unions across the world to stand in solidarity with Palestine.

– AROC led the Block the Boat coalition where they worked with workers of ILWU Local 10 to encourage them not to unload the Zip, as a means to put economic and political pressure `on apartheid Israel. Since the successful action the Zim ship has not returned to the Port of Oakland. For the first time since 2014 the Zim ship is scheduled to return to the Bay Area.

-For each day the ship is unable to unload its goods Zim loses millions of dollars!

Is this really meeting the needs of Palestinians on the ground?

-Yes. On May 17th, The Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions in the Gaza Strip issued a call to US labor unions asking them to boycott the Israeli Occupation, including refusing to unload Israeli ships and cargo

Host: Arab Resource & Organizing Committee (AROC)

Info:

EVENTS

Wednesday, May 19 – Saturday, May 22

Wednesday, May 19

1.  Wednesday, 3:00pm – 7:00pm: Food Not Bombs, Mission Food Sharing (Every Wednesday)

Food Not Bombs in the Mission is open to volunteers from 3PM to 7PM every Wednesday – email beforehand to be sure someone will welcome you- sffnbvolunteers@riseup.net

Schedule:

Cookhouse:  St. John The Evangelist Church, 110 Julian Avenue (at 15th).

Food Pickups: 110 Julian Avenue-3:00PM to 4:00PM–Help Needed!

Cooking:  110 Julian Avenue–4:00 PM to 6:30 PM–Help Needed!

Sharing: 16th and Mission BART Plaza–6:30 PM–Help Needed!

Cleaning Up:  110 Julian Avenue–after Cooking–6:30 PM – 7:30 PM–Help Needed!

Info: Serving Info | San Francisco Food Not Bombs (sffnb.org)

Thursday, May 20

2. Thursday, 10:00am, Our Vision of a Just Immigration System

Online: Our Vision of a Just Immigration System Tickets, Thu, May 20, 2021 at 11:00 AM | Eventbrite

Free

The current immigrant and refugee rights movement is part of the larger fight for racial and economic justice and central to the struggle against right-wing authoritarianism. So what’s the path forward for creating a 21st-century immigration system where immigrants and refugees can thrive?

Join us for a conversation centered around the new book “Immigration Matters: Movements, Strategies, and Vision for a Progressive Future” with co-editor Deepak Bhargava about not only undoing the harms of the Trump era but creating an equitable system that enables new Americans to thrive. We’ll be joined by contributors from the immigrant rights movement to touch on emerging issues in the field, including: climate migration, future flows of migration, enforcement policy, border policy, and the intersections with labor rights.

Featuring:

Deepak Bhargava, Co-Editor, Immigration Matters: Movements, Strategies, and Vision for a Progressive Future

Angelica Salas, Executive Director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)

Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC)

Moderated by Nicole Melaku, Executive Director of the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA)

Host:  National Immigrant Integration ConferenceNational Immigration Law Center and 2 others

Info: Our Vision of a Just Immigration System | Facebook

3. Thursday, 1:00pm (PT); 4:00pm (ET), Climate Consciousness at Center For Food Safety

Webinar RSVP: Free Webinar: Climate Consciousness at Center for Food Safety

  Zoom info will be sent after registering

Food and agriculture have a critical role to play in both the causes of and  the fight against climate change. Learn about the different lawsuits and projects CFS is undertaking in its approach to climate change and fighting for a just and resilient future for our planet.

Speakers:

Andrew Kimbrell, Executive director CFS, Regenerating Paradise producer

Ashley Lukens, Regional Development director

Climate Team

4. Thursday, 5:00pm – 6:30pm, Justice is a Vital Healer 2021

Online register: Webinar Registration – Zoom

Are you or someone you know trying to recover from sexual violence, domestic violence, police abuse and brutality, incarceration, racism, homophobia, and transphobia or other violence?

Join us where we will discuss justice as a vital healer: explore and begin to learn different ways of healing to support our recovery

Host: US PROStitutes Collective

5. Thursday, 5:30pm, Faith in Public | Nuestra Fe Popular

SF City Hall
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Pl
SF

Join us on May 20 at 5:30pm for “Faith in Public” to speak truth, seek justice, & build power together for change. 

“Faith in Public” is an interfaith gathering every third Thursday at 5:30pm in public spaces around San Francisco. In this moment of great possibility, as we emerge from this pandemic, it is time to renew the soul of our city by claiming our power for change. Join people of faith and spirit to creatively witness to the San Francisco we know is possible, where all people are treated with dignity and respect. Each month we will hear testimony from community members, celebrate our resilience, and commit to building power together to transform injustice.

Host: Faith in Action Bay Area

Info: Faith in Public | Nuestra Fe Popular | Facebook

Friday, May 21

6. Friday, 12Noon – 1:30pm, Anti-Chevron Day Protest at Richmond Refinery

Gather:

Chevron Richmond Refinary
Castro St. entrance

Street parking in Point Richmond (the other side of I-580); please allow up to 15 minutes to walk to the gate.

Richmond

Plan to arrive early to help sketch and paint a street mural with nontoxic paint.

May 21, 2021 is the 8th annual Global Anti-Chevron Day. Communities damaged by Chevron share their stories about the impact of the oil company’s environmental destruction and human rights violations in advance of Chevron’s annual shareholder’s meeting.

Background:

 For over a century Chevron has poisoned Richmond and other SF Bay Area residents with deadly air pollution from its Richmond refinery. Its influence over Richmond politics and nonprofits is legendary. Communities around the globe—Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Burma (Myanmar), to name just a few—suffer from deadly water, soil, and air pollution as well as inhumane working conditions and political interference. Chevron and its partner companies steadfastly deny any responsibility, in order to keep the oil and their profits flowing.

Stand with Richmond residents and all those affected by Chevron’s irresponsible and destructive business practices!

See sites for other participating groups.

Hosts: Amazon Watch, Asian Pacific Environmental Network & Idle No More-SF Bay

Info: (4) Anti-Chevron Day Protest at Richmond Refinery | Facebook   or  Anti-Chevron Day Protest at Richmond Refinery : Indybay

7. Friday, 1:00pm – 2:00pm, Shut Down The Police Officers Association

SF Police Officers Association (outside)
800 Bryant St. (@ 6th St)
SF

Wear mask / social distancing

RESIST with Mothers on the March, Black and Brown for Justice, Peace and Equality, Family’s who loved ones have been killed by SFPD, and Community

   – Demand the San Francisco Police Officers Association be Shut Down!

   – The SF Police Officers Association Be Declared a Non Grata Organization

   – Demand the Police Officers Bill of Rights be Abolished.

   – Jail Killer Cops – we want killer cops to be charged with murder.

   – Abolish the Police

After the trial of Chauvin in MN it is clear that ABOLISHION of the police with community control is the solution!

8. Friday, 5:00pm – 6:30pm, Mental Health Rights and Resources: a public forum

To register, visit: https://bit.ly/3fbPUsH

Join us for a panel and discussion on mental health, focusing on legal rights and peer support.

Featuring:

Kim Swain,
Attorney at Disability Rights California

Sally Zinman,
Executive Director at CA Association of Mental Health Peer Run Programs

Moderated by Ana B. Guttierez

With discussion to follow.

Hosts: Mad Mob-SF & Senior and Disability Action

Info: (1) Mental Health Rights and Resources: a public forum | Facebook  or  Mental Health Rights and Resources Video Forum on Friday May 21st 5pm : Indybay

9. Friday, 6:00pm – 7:00pm, Remembering Alex with Refugio and Elvira Nieto

Alex Nieto’s Altar
Bernal Hill
SF

On the monthly anniversary of Alex’s murder on the 21st day of each month, gather with Refugio and Elvira Nieto at Alex’s Altar – observing ‘social distancing’.

With restrictions of gatherings if you can’t attend – light a candle this evening for Justice for Alex and ALL others who lives have been taken by the police.

On March 21, 2014, Alejandro “Alex” Nieto 28 years old, was killed when he was struck by 14 – 15 bullets (of a total of 59 shots) fired by four San Francisco Police Department officers, on Bernal Hill Park, without justification. The officers who killed Alex Nieto are: Sgt. Jason Sawyer (then lieutenant. He is also the killer of John Smart in 1998!), Officer Roger Morse, Officer Richard Schiff and Officer Nathan Chew.

Saturday, May 22

10. Saturday, 11:00am, Resistance Until Liberation: Rally & Protest

Gather at:

16th & Mission St.
SF

March to Civic Center

1:00pm – Rally at Civic Center

SPONSORED BY:

NorCal Islamic Council, Arab Resource & Organizing Center, American Muslims for Palestine, Bay Area, Islamophobia Studies Center,
Palestinian Youth Movement, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Al-Awda, US Palestinian Community Network, Answer Coalition, WWP, Workers.org,
ICNA Council for Social Justice, Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance, QUIT!

Info: (1) Resistance Until Liberation: Rally & Protest | Facebook

11. Saturday, 12Noon – 1:00pm, Rally to Support Affordable Housing in the Sunset!

2550 Irving St.
SF

Join the Westside Community Coalition (WCC) to show support for affordable housing and an inclusive Sunset neighborhood now! 10% of Sunset residents lived in poverty before COVID-19 and the inequality has only deepened. As we address the housing crisis in San Francisco, we need deeply affordable housing in the Sunset neighborhood.

WCC updates on Instagram: @westsidecommunitycoalition

Hosts: Coalition on Homelessness, Housing Rights Commission of SF, Faith in Action Bay Area, Richmond District Rising

Info: Rally to Support Affordable Housing in the Sunset! | Facebook

12. Saturday, 3:00pm – 5:00pm, Come Together, Speak Out, Fight Back! Defending public housing in the Bay Area

Bobby Hutton Park
16th Street & Adeline
Oakland

Join public housing tenants from Cypress Village and Lockwood Gardens in Oakland and Sunnydale in San Francisco in a discussion about recent tenant organizing efforts. The San Francisco and Oakland Housing Authorities, just like Housing Authorities across the country, have been forcing tenants to live in dangerous conditions in order to justify selling public housing off to the highest bidder. Tenants at the few public housing projects left in the Bay Area are coming together to fight back.

Learn about the nationwide plan by the politicians, the developers, and the banks to eliminate all public housing by handing it over to private developers and management companies, and what tenants in the Bay Area are doing to stop it! There will be a brief presentation and some roundtable discussion about how people can work together to fight against the privatization of public housing and gentrification locally and nationally.

In Oakland, tenants have been organizing at the last two public housing developments in the city: Cypress Village in West Oakland and Lockwood Gardens in East Oakland. Cypress and Lockwood are not currently facing privatization but residents have been organizing to form independent tenant unions to fight for residents’ interests and be prepared to fight against privatization.

In San Francisco, there is a citywide privatization plan called HOPE SF. The city government, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Google, Kaiser Permanente, and foundations in the city are working together via the HOPE SF scheme. HOPE SF’s plan is to eliminate the last public housing in San Francisco (Sunnydale, Potrero, Double Rock/Alice Griffith, and Hunters View) by destroying it and building mixed income developments owned and managed by different private developers like Mercy Housing, the John Stewart Company, and BRIDGE Housing.

There are only two remaining public housing developments still under the San Francisco Housing Authority: Sunnydale and Potrero. Tenants at Sunnydale have been organizing to resist the privatization and destruction of their homes, to not be bullied into signing leases with the private developer Mercy Housing, and to speak up about the truth that these private developers are just going to make the situation worse for residents and leave them more vulnerable, as we’ve seen in developments that have been privatized in the Bay Area and across the country. Sunnydale residents have been working with residents at Potrero and privatized developments like Double Rock.

 Event is sponsored by the United Front Against Displacement, the Cypress Village Tenant Union, and the Residents of Sunnydale.

Info: Come Together, Speak Out, Fight Back! Defending public housing in the Bay Area : Indybay

Sunday, May 23

13. Sunday, 8:00am-10am (PT); 11:00am-1pm (ET), Peace and Occupation Cannot Coexist in Palestine

Online register: Webinar Registration – Zoom

Speakers:

Aida Touma-Sliman
Palestinian Member of Israeli Knesset;
Coordinator, Peace and Solidarity Committee of Israel

Dr. Aqel Taqz
Coordinator, Palestinian Committee for Peace and Solidarity

Vijay Prashad
Member of Executive Committee, U.S. Peace Council

Iraklis Tsavdaridis
Executive Secretary, World Peace Council (WPC)

Moderated by Bahman Azad
Executive Secretary, U.S. Peace Council

Host: U.S. Peace Council

If you care about Black lives, you cannot support the effort to remove Chesa Boudin

District Attorney Chesa Boudin rallies with supporters at a campaign event on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

District Attorney Chesa Boudin rallies with supporters at a campaign event on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

By Cat Brooks

Last summer, the murder of George Floyd ignited unprecedented support for the movement for Black lives. Finally, after decades of screaming genocide into the ether – only to have it fall on deaf ears –the brutality of Floyd’s public execution seemed to mortify white Americans into action. A national chorus of voices spoke up to stand with Black demands for more accountability for law enforcement and a change to the legal system. Support among white progressives boomed, with thousands joining protests against systemic racism and brutality in policing. Corporations and sports leagues, long allergic to criticizing law enforcement, spoke out en masse against the unequal and abusive treatment of Black people. This wider acknowledgement that profound change was necessary brought the movement to defund the police into the mainstream.

With discussions about transforming policing came fierce opposition from defenders of the status quo, including fear mongering, misinformation, and doomsday predictions that defunding the police would mean BIPOC communities running rampant in the streets, doing whatever fearful white folks think cops keep us from doing. In many circles however, those tactics fell on deaf ears as would-be accomplices in our struggle stood firmly in solidarity with the defense of Black life.

Where is that solidarity now? The fight is far from over and yet, not even a year after thousands took to the streets, and as the police continue to gun down Black and Brown people, there are efforts to take down elected leaders who stand for more accountability and equality in our system. Some of the same people who decry violence towards Black people are leading those charges.

The current effort to recall San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin is one of them. I supported Boudin’s candidacy for DA and I support him now. I support him because unlike most prosecutors, he’s taking real steps to move us away from the criminal industrial complex. Chesa is actively addressing racial bias and disparities, dramatically shrinking the criminal legal system, and respecting the inherent value and potential of all those drawn into it. For the first time in San Francisco, an elected D.A. has held police accountable. This recall effort endangers the safety of Black people in our community, with a looming threat of return to the status quo of mass incarceration, dead Black bodies, and singular pathway pursuits toward public safety.

The criminal legal system inflicts needless and unjust suffering on Black people every day. As compared to other races, Black people are more likely to be arrested, held in jail pretrial, and ultimately convicted. Prosecutors charge Black people with more serious crimes, including those that carry mandatory minimum sentences. We receive disproportionately longer sentences than do people of other races and ethnicities. These patterns hold true at all levels of the criminal legal system, from the least significant to the most serious offenses.

One out of every three Black boys born today can expect to serve time in prison during his lifetime. Hundreds of thousands of Black men and women have disappeared from our communities, leaving loved ones and children without social, emotional, psychological and financial support.

Children with incarcerated parents have a substantially increased likelihood to become homeless, suffer from depression, anxiety, or behavioral problems, struggle with learning disabilities, or become involved in criminal activity. Partners of incarcerated individuals suffer from depression and economic hardship. Members of communities heavily impacted by mass incarceration are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, even when they have not been incarcerated or had a loved one sent to jail or prison.

Of any actor in the criminal legal system, the prosecutor has the most power to limit or eliminate these types of threats to Black lives. Prosecutors choose not only who will be charged and what sentences will be sought, but also whose potential will be recognized, whose life will be valued, and whose contributions to their families and communities will be respected.

Chesa Boudin is committed to bringing equality, fairness, and humanity to the criminal legal system. Of course, like reimagining policing, substantial changes to our criminal legal system make some uneasy, particularly those whose power is centered in mass incarceration. Boudin’s opponents are using the same tactics that conservative media harnessed to thwart the movement for Black lives: fear mongering, misinformation, and doomsday predictions.

No one who genuinely cares about Black lives can support the effort to remove Boudin. Without progressive prosecutors, we will return to a system where jail and prison are the only acceptable responses to all of society’s ills, where those caught in the criminal legal system are villainized and thrown away, where communities of color continue to be devastated not just by racist policing, but also by inhumane prosecutions, harsh punishments, and mass incarceration and where Black life doesn’t really matter at all.

Cat Brooks is a nationally-recognized Bay area artist and activist against police brutality.

San Francisco Plans to Flood Mid-Market and Tenderloin With Cops and Community Ambassadors In Response to Chaos

18 MAY 2021/SF POLITICS/JAY BARMANNl (sfist.com)

With financial help from UC Hastings — who last year sued the city over the homeless problem in the neighborhood — San Francisco is launching a new initiative aimed at taming the chaos and open-air drug market of the Tenderloin and Mid-Market.

What for decades has been a bit of a cluster where a blind eye was mostly turned from low-level drug transactions, the Tenderloin and Mid-Market have become more dangerous and chaotic during the pandemic, with fewer tourists and downtown workers on the street. Violent crime may have been down overall last year, but a few high-profile attacks — particularly against elderly Asian Americans — in recent months, as well as a massive overdose crisis have made law enforcement a priority for Mayor London Breed.

Enter the “Mid-Market Vibrancy and Safety Plan.”

“All of our residents and workers deserve to feel safe, and this area of the city continues to face a number of challenges that need to be addressed,” said Mayor London Breed in a statement. “With this plan, we’re focusing on both addressing the illegal activity that is unacceptable and will not be allowed to continue, while also building up our community presence so that the area is more welcoming, friendly and accessible to everyone who lives, works and visits the area.”

In an era when there are broad calls for defunding the police and deploying fewer police into non-emergency settings, the plan is guaranteed to garner pushback.

The two-pronged plan includes increased police presence, particularly on foot patrol, “to deter criminal activity,” as Breed says. And there will be community ambassadors “stationed on every block of the area from Powell Station (5th Street) to 8th Street on Market Street and adjacent areas just south of Market Street, UN Plaza, and the Tenderloin blocks bordered by Larkin Street and Eddy Street.”

The ambassadors will come from Urban Alchemy, the nonprofit that also contracts with the city to manage its Safe Sleeping Villages.

The police presence is expected to begin rolling out on Wednesday, May 19, with the ambassadors joining police on June 15.

Alluding to the increased sense of chaos in the area, SFPD Chief Bill Scott said in a statement, “San Francisco residents and businesses made enormous sacrifices over the past year to make our City’s COVID-19 response a nationally recognized success, and nowhere were those sacrifices greater than in our Tenderloin and Mid-Market neighborhoods.”

“Mayor Breed’s Mid-Market Vibrancy and Safety Plan is another bold step that makes good on our shared civic commitment to come back even stronger than before,” Scott added. “For all of us in the San Francisco Police Department, we’re grateful for this opportunity to showcase what community policing and 21st century police reform look like.”

The initiative is being funded with $5 million from the city and $3 million from UC Hastings, which settled its lawsuit last year after the city agreed to relocate the majority of those camped around the law school to hotel rooms or other shelters.

“This funding is a game-changer,” says Randy Shaw, Executive Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, in a statement. “It returns the Tenderloin to the path toward revitalization it was on pre-pandemic.”

And the American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.), which opened its Stand Theater across the street from UN Plaza on Market in recent years, praised Urban Alchemy’s work in the neighborhood.

“In 2019, A.C.T.’s Strand Theater was the first site to contract independently with Urban Alchemy for ambassadors to replace security guards at the theater,” said Eric Brizee, the theater’s operations and facilities manager, in a statement. “Their community-focused and non-confrontational intervention methodologies have proven very effective at making the Strand a more welcoming, safer site and will be critical in having audiences return to the Strand.”

In addition to the fentanyl crisis, which helped to kill 700 people who died of overdoses in San Francisco last year, homelessness and mental health issues appear to have spiraled during the pandemic as well. And nowhere has that been more center-stage than in the Tenderloin and along Mid-Market.

“The pandemic’s stifling impact on the positive life in our neighborhood has created a new, unacceptable paradigm for our city,” says Simon Bertrang, Executive Director of the Tenderloin Community Benefit District. “This [plan] is about giving our communities the calm and confidence they need to recover.”

What could remain a sticking point between the police department and the district attorney’s office, however, is the ongoing arrests of low-level drug dealers. Chief Scott has taken the approach that any amount of fentanyl is worth taking off the streets, but DA Chesa Boudin has said in speeches and reiterated in a recent interview that he’s told the cops to “bring me kilos, not crumbs.”

Boudin has been accused frequently in recent months of not being tough enough on serial offenders, particularly in the wake of several high-profile crimes — including the recent stabbing of two elderly Asian women on Market Street — involving suspects who allegedly were reoffending after being let out of jail or some other custodial program.

Top image: Wikimedia

‘Palestinian Lives Matter,’ Declares Bernie Sanders in NYT Op-ed

May 14, 2021 by Common Dreams

“If the United States is going to be a credible voice on human rights on the global stage, we must uphold international standards of human rights consistently.”

by Kenny Stancil, staff writer

 67 Comments

A Palestinian man carries the body of Ibrahim Al-Rantisi, a young child who was killed during an Israeli airstrike, before his burial in Rafah, located in the southern Gaza Strip. (Photo: Yousef Masoud/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A Palestinian man carries the body of Ibrahim Al-Rantisi, a young child who was killed during an Israeli airstrike, before his burial in Rafah, located in the southern Gaza Strip. (Photo: Yousef Masoud/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Offering further evidence that the rights of Palestinians are receiving more vocal support from U.S. Congress members than at any time in living memory, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday published an opinion piece in the New York Times demanding a more “even-handed” and morally consistent approach to Israel and Palestine that promotes peace.

 “We must recognize that Palestinian rights matter. Palestinian lives matter.”
—Sen. Bernie Sanders

Early in his essay, the Independent senator from Vermont posed a question: “Why do we only seem to take notice of the violence in Israel and Palestine when rockets are falling on Israel?”

Whenever this happens, Sanders noted, Democratic and Republican administrations declare, as President Joe Biden did earlier this week, that “Israel has the right to defend itself.” 

“Why is the question almost never asked: ‘What are the rights of the Palestinian people?'” Sanders continued.

“Israel has the absolute right to live in peace and security,” the lawmaker wrote, “but so do the Palestinians. I strongly believe that the United States has a major role to play in helping Israelis and Palestinians to build that future.”

“While Hamas firing rockets into Israeli communities is absolutely unacceptable,” Sanders wrote, “today’s conflict did not begin with those rockets.”

The senator proceeded to highlight just some of the recent steps taken by the Israeli government and settlers to violently oppress Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

As examples, Sanders cited the forced expulsion of Palestinian families living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the occupied West Bank as well as the ongoing blockade on Gaza that “makes life increasingly intolerable for Palestinians.”

“In the Middle East, where we provide nearly $4 billion a year in aid to Israel, we can no longer be apologists for the right-wing Netanyahu government and its undemocratic and racist behavior.”
—Sanders

In addition, Sanders denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to “marginalize and demonize Palestinian citizens of Israel, pursue settlement policies designed to foreclose the possibility of a two-state solution, and pass laws that entrench systemic inequality between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel.”

Sanders emphasized that “in the Middle East, where we provide nearly $4 billion a year in aid to Israel, we can no longer be apologists for the right-wing Netanyahu government and its undemocratic and racist behavior.”

“We must change course and adopt an even-handed approach, one that upholds and strengthens international law regarding the protection of civilians, as well as existing U.S. law holding that the provision of U.S. military aid must not enable human rights abuses,” wrote the senator.

“If the United States is going to be a credible voice on human rights on the global stage,” he added, “we must uphold international standards of human rights consistently, even when it’s politically difficult. We must recognize that Palestinian rights matter. Palestinian lives matter.”

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Us Kids | Official Trailer (2020)

Us Kids | Official Trailer (2020) Directed by Kim A Snyder Produced by Maria Cuomo Cole, Lori Cheatle, and Kim A Snyder Featuring Emma González, David Hogg, Jaclyn Corin, Cameron Kasky, Alex King, and Bria Smith alongside youth activists nationwide www.uskidsfilm.com/ *Virtual Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Release on FRIDAY, 10/30* Sparked by the plague of gun violence ravaging their schools, Us Kids chronicles the March For Our Lives movement over the course of several years, following Emma Gonzalez, its co-founders, survivors and a group of teenage activists as they pull off the largest youth protest in American history and set out across the country and globally to build an inclusive and unprecedented youth movement that addresses racial justice, a growing public health crisis and shocking a political system into change.

Book: “Central America’s Forgotten History: Revolution, Violence, and the Roots of Migration”

Central America's Forgotten History: Revolution, Violence, and the Roots of Migration

Central America’s Forgotten History: Revolution, Violence, and the Roots of Migration

by Aviva Chomsky 

Restores the region’s fraught history of repression and resistance to popular consciousness and connects the United States’ interventions and influence to the influx of refugees seeking asylum today.

At the center of the current immigration debate are migrants from Central America fleeing poverty, corruption, and violence in search of asylum in the United States. In Central America’s Forgotten History, Aviva Chomsky answers the urgent question How did we get here? She outlines how we often fail to remember the circumstances and ongoing effects of Central America’s historical political strife, which is a direct result of colonial and neocolonial development policies and the cultures of violence and forgetting needed to implement them.

Chomsky expertly recounts Central Americans’ valiant struggles for social and economic justice to restore these vivid and gripping events to popular consciousness. She traces the roots of displacement and migration in Central America to the Spanish conquest and brings us to the present day, where she concludes that the more immediate roots of migration from the three Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) lie in the wars and in the US interventions of the 1980s and the peace accords of the 1990s that set the stage for neoliberalism in Central America.

Chomsky also examines how and why histories and memories are suppressed, and the impact of losing historical memory. Only by erasing history can we claim that Central American countries created their own poverty and violence, while the United States’ enjoyment and profit from their bananas, coffee, vegetables, clothing, and export of arms are simply unrelated curiosities.

Central America’s Forgotten History shows that if we want to create a more just world, we need to acknowledge the many layers of complicity and forgetting that underlie today’s inequalities.

The Millionaires Trying To Cut Off Jobless Benefits


BY DAVID SIROTA – 17 MAY 2021 – VIEW ONLINE →
(The Daily Poster)
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been leading the conservative movement’s effort to block a $15 minimum wage and depict jobless workers as overly coddled layabouts who do not deserve a meager $300 of extra unemployment benefits during the pandemic. At the same time, the Chamber has paid millions of dollars to a handful of its top executives, including hundreds of thousands of dollars to some of them for only a few hours of work every week, according to documents reviewed by The Daily Poster.As Washington’s largest spender on federal lobbying in 2020, the Chamber is widely considered the most powerful influence peddler for large corporations. Last week, the Chamber declared that “paying people not to work is dampening what should be a stronger jobs market” and called for “ending the $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit.” Sixteen Republican governors have followed that demand after the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform dumped $850,000 into the Republican Governors Association in the last few years.The Chamber depicted unemployment benefits as overly lavish, asserting — without offering any actual proof — that too many Americans are “taking home more in unemployment than they earned working.”Meanwhile, the Chamber has been paying millions of dollars to its top executives.According to IRS filings, the Chamber and its affiliated organizations paid its top officials more than $87 million between 2013 and 2019. In that latter year alone, the Chamber paid seven of its top executives a combined total of nearly $13 million. Then-Chamber CEO Thomas Donahue was paid $6.6 million that year, and he remains an advisor to the organization. Two others were paid 7 figures that year.That same year, documents show that Eric Eversole, a Chamber vice president, was paid $209,000 for an average of 4 hours of week at one arm of the organization — a rate of about $1,000 per hour, or 66 times a $15 minimum wage.Carolyn Cawley Westermann was paid $359,000 and for an average of 20 hours a week at the group’s affiliated foundation — a rate of $345 per hour, or 23 times a $15 minimum wage.For comparison, $300 of unemployment benefits comes out to $7.50 per hour of survival benefits for a 40-hour work week.Photo Credit: Maryland GovPics/Flickr