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Zoom Athens, Greece: Unions representing private sector workers and state employees in Greece launched a 24-hour nationwide general strike against the austerity measures put through by the government, April 9, 2014.

Athens, Greece: Unions representing private sector workers and state employees in Greece launched a 24-hour nationwide general strike against the austerity measures put through by the government, April 9, 2014.

04.09.14 50

HAPPENING NOW: Youth March for Jobs is gathering in Detroit, Michigan, April 4, 2014.

Photos by Kris Hamel

04.04.14 31
Zoom April 4, 1968: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated.
“Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain …” 
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Riverside Church on the Vietnam War, on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination. 
Here are the speech and teaching ideas: http://zinnedproject.org/posts/548 
Photo: March 25, 1967 anti-war march, Associated Press.
Via Zinn Education Project

April 4, 1968: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated.

“Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain …”

— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Riverside Church on the Vietnam War, on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination.

Here are the speech and teaching ideas: http://zinnedproject.org/posts/548 

Photo: March 25, 1967 anti-war march, Associated Press.

Via Zinn Education Project

04.04.14 220
The heir, the judge and the homeless mom: America's prison bias for the 1%

In 2009, when Robert H Richard IV, an unemployed heir to the DuPont family fortune, pled guilty to fourth-degree rape of his three-year-old daughter, a judge spared him a justifiable sentence – indeed, only put Richard on probation – because she figured this 1-percenter would “not fare well” in a prison setting.

Details of the case were kept quiet until just the other day, as Richard’s ex-wife filed a new lawsuit accusing him of also sexually abusing their son. Since then, the original verdict has been fueling some angry speculation – shock, horror - that the defendant’s wealth and status may have played a role in his lenient sentencing.

I hate to shatter anyone’s illusions, but inequality defines our criminal justice system just as it defines our society. It always has and it always will until we do something about it, beyond just getting upset at local news stories.

America incarcerates more people than any other country on the planet,with over 2m currently in prison and more than 7m under some form of correctional supervision. The people who make up this outsize correctional population do not typically come from the Delaware trust-fund-creep demographic: more than 60% are racial and ethnic minorities, and the vast majority are poor.

04.03.14 23

Detroit, Michigan: Hundreds rally outside bankruptcy court to protest austerity plan, April 1, 2014.

Photos by Kris Hamel

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is offering the court a “Plan of Adjustment.” . This austerity plan asks the more than 20,000 city retirees to take a 34 percent cut in their pensions if they reject the plan, or a 26 percent cut if they accept the plan.

On April 1, Detroiters will rally outside the bankruptcy court and let their objections be heard in the streets. Union members, active employees, retirees, residents and community activists are expected. Some of the collected objections will be turned in to the court at that time.

The deadline for objections to the austerity plan of adjustment has been extended to April 28. They may be delivered in person or by U.S. mail to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Judge Steven Rhodes, c/o Clerk of the Court, 231 W. Lafayette St., Detroit, MI 48226. If done by letter, please reference case no. 13-53846 on your objection. A downloadable “People’s Objection” instructions and form can also be found at detroitdebtmoratorium.org.

An objector is not required to live or work in the city of Detroit to file. According to Moratorium NOW! organizers, the banks’ austerity plan for Detroit retirees and residents is a test case for the rest of the country and must be stopped.

04.01.14 103
IMF will lend Ukraine up to $18 billion in exchange for 'painful' austerity measures

KIEV, Ukraine—The International Monetary Fund agreed to lend Ukraine up to $18 billion to avert a financial collapse, in exchange for what Ukrainian officials described as “painful” budget cuts and other measures that will strain the country’s fragile government.

The IMF agreement, which still requires approval from the fund’s executive board, will unlock additional aid from other donors, with Ukraine set to receive a total of $27 billion over the next two years, IMF official Nikolay Gueorguiev told a news conference at Ukraine’s central bank in Kiev on Thursday.

Ukraine must complete certain “prior actions” before the IMF’s board will approve a loan in the range of $14 billion to $18 billion, Mr. Gueorguiev said. These include steps to “institutionalize” a flexible exchange rate and to reform the energy sector, he said.

03.27.14 45
Detroit Should Become Part of Ukraine to Get US Aid It Needs to Survive

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Should Detroit annex itself to the Ukraine to receive US financial aid?

Biting satire, as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report so uproariously reveal, is often closer to the heart of reality than the “packaged reality” it mercilessly skews. 

In the BuzzFlash at Truthout e-mail this weekend, we received our weekly quips from Howard Albrecht, an octogenarian comic writer who staffed many of the top shows of the golden age of comedy during the ’50s and ’60s.  Retired now, Albrecht’s audience is his list serve.  This Saturday, his package of one-liners included this one: “To help stabilize the region, the US is giving a billion dollars to Ukraine. In an effort to uplift their city, Detroit just declared war on Russia.”

Like the cutting remarks on Comedy Central, there is a ring of absurdist truth in Albrecht’s sarcastic proposition: if we want to save an American city decimated by national and corporate financial neglect and abandonment, then instead of declaring the city bankrupt, why don’t the remaining citizens of Detroit issue a declaration of war against Putin’s Russian Federation?

In turn, Putin can threaten Detroit, and the Neo-Cons then — in order to defy the bear of Moscow — would urge massive funds be sent to the Motor City.

Of course, Albrecht’s proposal was written for laughs, but it raises the point that we are allowing many of our own cities and citizens to collapse into moonscapes of destitution while massively funding nations thousands of miles away merely because the ex-head of the KGB, Putin, growls at them.

03.11.14 81
New York City: Bill “broken windows” Bratton returns to old tricks

New York’s returning police commissioner is reportedly relying on his trademark style of policing policy, developed in his years as Mayor Giuliani’s top cop. Bratton, who returned to the commissioner post under new Mayor Bill de Blasio, is enacting “broken windows” theory policing. Focusing on minor violations and particularly targeting peddlers and panhandlers on the subway, once again Bratton’s “tough-on-crime” approach means tough on the poor.

As the New York Times reported Thursday, under Bratton’s first two months of leadership this year, “arrests of peddlers and panhandlers on subways have more than tripled over the same period last year.” Similarly “police statistics also indicate a noticeable spike in arrests for low-level violations in public housing developments … [and] arrests for violations — a category of infractions that includes drinking beer in public and riding a bike on the sidewalk — has increased by more than 21 percent.”

Meanwhile, as Bratton had promised, the number of suspicionless stop-and-frisks has dropped significantly. As the Times noted, “In the transit system so far this year, police officers recorded making 353 stops for behavior deemed suspicious, compared with 5,983 last year.”

Certainly a drop in stop-and-frisks is a welcome change. However, if it has simply been replaced by arresting more and more New Yorkers for petty crimes regularly reflective of hard economic circumstance — like busking and begging — or drinking in public, then the NYPD are no less a bane for New York’s poorest.

03.10.14 10
Zoom Member of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense at the Free Breakfast for Children Program in Oakland, California, 1971.
Via El Machetero

Member of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense at the Free Breakfast for Children Program in Oakland, California, 1971.

Via El Machetero

03.08.14 241
Arrests of Panhandlers and Peddlers on Subway Increase Sharply Under Bratton

Russell S. Novack, a Legal Aid lawyer who represents low-level offenders in court in Midtown Manhattan, said that some of those arrested in recent weeks in the subway system “don’t all fit the profile of the homeless panhandler.”

“In recent weeks,” Mr. Novak said, “I represented a woman arrested for selling churros in the subway system,” as well as a steady stream of people who were arrested after asking passers-by for MetroCard swipes so they could pass through the subway turnstiles.

One of the *new* stop-and-frisks that aren’t called stop and frisk.

03.06.14 11