Monday, April 27, 2015

Monday News about Baltimore and other Important Issues.

There have been massive protests in the city of Baltimore. People are upset and rightfully so at the death of Freddie Gray. Even the cops admitted that they did not use a safety belt on Freddie Gray, which was against procedure. The Republican Maryland Governor Larry Hogan talked about dispatching 32 state troopers to Baltimore. More of the facts are coming out, but we want the total truth about what happened. Gray was unarmed. He was arrested, but the officers had no legitimate reason to arrest him. He was running. A bystander recorded much of the incident. Gray was screaming in pain while officers dragged him into the police van. He was not immediately given medical treatment or immediately sent to a hospital. Eyewitnesses said that prior to the events captured in the video, the police contorted Gray’s body, forcing his heels onto his back. One bystander said the young man was “folded up like he was… a piece of origami.” The six cops allowed him to be in the vehicle for 30 minutes until he was sent to a hospital. Gray had a coma and died. His spinal cord was heavily damaged. The officers were only suspended with pay. Dondi Johnson back in 2005 died after he was arrested and transported without a seat belt while his hands were cuffed behind his back. The Democratic and African American Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said that she expresses sympathy to the devastated family of the victim, she wants a thorough investigation, and she urged protesters to remain peaceful. The Sunday events in Baltimore revolve around a few people using violence against police cars, other cars, and windows of buildings. These were not peaceful protesters. They were people who did the wrong thing and I wouldn’t be surprised if those folk were agent provocateurs. Like usual, some are trying to use those violent incident as an excuse for them slander all protesters as violent. The family of Freddie Gray have called on people to act peaceful. Also, the police must act peaceful too. Baltimore, for decades, has suffered deindustrialization, the impoverishment of its working class inhabitants, and a narrow oligarchy being grown. Also, many Baltimore residents protested the city’s decision to begin shutting off water service to households that are behind on their water bills. This is wrong. Water is a basic human right. The city’s Department of Public Works announced it would begin cutting off water to as many as 25,000 people. About 368 people have been killed by the police so far in 2015. We are still fighting for racial and economic justice.

I agree with 100 percent with those who have said that the Atlanta teachers are being sent to long prison sentences unjustly. The crux of the matter is that we have a messed up system. The children and the teachers have been the victims of it. I have noticed that the judge wanted to make the case all about him instead of it being about the case. The judge acted narcissistic. There is not a single excuse for cheating on tests, but they can have their licenses revoked, pay a fine, and never be allowed to teach children again without being sent into prison. Critical thinking is critical in education. When I was in elementary school (back in 1988), I never had massive computers. I had teachers who taught me the basics and other things. We had to carry books home and there were tons of after school programs. Also, we worked in summer reading programs that developed our critical skills. Dr. Boyce Watkins made a great point about the meaningless, corrupt standardized testing system. Many are correct to mention that white teachers collectively would never be treated like that. Rapists, murderers, and molesters on some case receive less punishment than these teachers. I disagree with Mayor Kasim Reed. These teachers are being classified as murderers by the status quo, which isn’t the case at all. One teacher was not convicted from the trial. The teachers could have received probation and a fine (which they ought to receive). The teachers serving multiple years in prison is blatantly excessive in my view. Also, the situation in Atlanta Public Schools existed in part because of the issues with high stakes testing. Many teachers massively disapprove of high stakes testing, because teachers teach to the test instead of meeting the educational needs of the students. Each student is different and unique methods must be used to help kids. Many black kids suffer in schools, because of biases found in the system, socioeconomic conditions, lax resources sent to some poorer schools, etc. The establishment promotes the privatization of education, so corporate power can dominate American education. Teachers are not only demonized unfairly. Students are demonized too and many zero tolerance policies, unfair suspensions, falsely labeling some black students as belonging in special education, etc. have harmed the lives of many black students. The teachers who were convicted were humiliated by the judge too. Cheating scandals exist nationwide not just in Atlanta. For long decades, big corporations wanted to harm education. There was one minister, Andrew Young, who even called for the judge to give mercy. Many teachers are underpaid, exploited, and bounded to submit to high stakes testing. Modern schools need to get down to basics. Dr. Watkins has made a great point about the massive racism and classism in American society. American society has violated the human rights of black people then and now. Many industrialized nations have universal health care, great educational services, etc. We have to care for our children and the crumbling schools are reflections of the neglect of the kids (of their educational rights) by the status quo. So, we need revolutionary change in society. That is why many black families are increasingly using home schooling and using more African-based education, which I have no issues with. At the end of the day, we don’t need neoliberalism. We want justice.

The video from the white racist Sheriff from Florida was not surprising at all. Numerous cops readily embrace white supremacist views. The sheriff lied and said that the term African-American has no value, but any black person acknowledging their black African heritage is a blessing. The sheriff David Morgan (who is a white supremacist) said that racism is not a problem in America, but mainstream studies prove that black people with a degree have the same chance of getting a job as white felonies on many cases. We have racial disparities in the criminal justice system and recent studies proving that colorism (which is evil and abominable) is found in the hiring process. Another study documents that people with more “African-sounding names” have a less of a chance of getting a job than those with more “Eurocentric-sounding names.” We have massive incidents of black people being mocked, assaulted, and killed because of their race now not just back then. We have racism and classism being found in America. I read a story where a group of black college students were called the N word by white racists. The establishment may allow a select number of black elites or rich blacks to have some money, but the masses of black people have their wages stagnant, they experience their wealth being stripped especially since the economic recession, and they suffer other issues as well. The racist cop talks about black people embracing “thug culture,” which is a lie. Black people, who are conscious, reject misogyny, unjust violence, murder, and other evils. Black people then and now have embraced progressive art, music, and real culture. There are black organizations now that are fighting all of the time against socially destructive behavior. There is a double standard where the sheriff refuses to talk about how many white kids curse out their parents, about how many whites have meth addiction, and how most serial killers in America are white. That Sheriff won’t call those white people doing such things as embracing “thug culture.” The Sheriff (who ignores the evil of white supremacy while minimizing the pain and suffering of black people) is a true deceiver and uses deflection and deception as a way for him to slander the black community. Also, black people have not been treated as true Americans then and now. Black people have experienced Jim Crow, slavery, sundown towns, income inequality, racism, and police terrorism in America. Malcolm X said that just because we’re born in America doesn’t mean we’re Americans. We have been the victims of American oppression. Just because a black person is President of the United States doesn’t mean that we, as black people, are free from injustice. So, these crooked cops are like race soldiers who use their preconceived notions as a way for them to oppress black people. Black people are being terrorized in society. Any politician should oppose white supremacy outright and want black people to receive compensation as a product of us as black people being terrorized by an evil system. It seems that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination. We need not only economic development. We need to understand our real history and love our Blackness unapologetically. When black, unarmed people are being killed in broad daylight by cops, then we have an epidemic of police terrorism. Many in the older generation are speaking truth to power too. The younger generation needs encouragement, love, and inspiration to carry on the torch. Racism still goes on today. If an accountant involved in the Holocaust was arrested decades later, then we have every right to fight back for our freedom and liberation. We have to be bold and strong against evil. We reject imperialism and we reject neoliberalism. Black freedom is what we want.

The 2nd intifada continued for a long time during the early part of the 21st century. The international community mostly during this time had sympathy for the Palestinians. On many cases, armed PA policemen, often positioned at the rear of unarmed demonstrations, returned fire. Israel saw the protests as acts of aggressive. Israel used tanks, helicopter gunships, and even F-16 fighter planes to try to stop the intifada. We know that the Israeli army attacked PA installations in Ramallah, Gaza, etc. Civilian neighborhoods were subjected to shelling and aerial bombardment. The Israeli response happened in the occupied territories. Israeli officials said that they were in a war, because they claimed that Israel had a right to “self-defense.” In November 2000, Hamas and Islamic Jihad (and then later the PFLP and the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade) began to use suicide bombings and other armed operations. There were over 150 such attacks from 2000 through 2005, compared to 22 incidents from 1993 to 1999 by Islamist opponents of the Oslo process. I don't agree with suicide attacks at all. A Palestinian life is just as valuable as an Israeli life. In January 2001, Palestinian-Israeli negotiations only briefly resumed. The negotiations came close to a final agreement according to the lead negotiators. Yet, Ehud Barak called it off in advance of early elections he had called for Prime Minister to forestall a likely vote of no confidence in the Knesset. Ariel Sharon handily won the 2001 elections. Ariel Sharon first term as the premier was marked with the most violent part of the second intifada. Sharon allowed the targeted killings of Palestinian militants and Palestinian attacks inside Israel continued too. Then, there was the suicide bombing in Netanya on March 27, 2002 during the Passover holiday. The attacked killed 30 Israelis. Israel of course retaliated. This retaliation was called Operation Defensive Shield. This was about a full scale tank invasion of the West Bank that lasted for several weeks. We know that armored Caterpillar bulldozers raze swathes of the Jenin refugee camp and tanks ringed the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Also, Israeli forces imposed all-day curfews in seven of the West Bank’s eight major towns. The George W. Bush administration backed Israel’s extreme measures. International opinion opposed especially the attack on the Jenin refugee camp. Another, shorter tank invasion against Palestine happened in June. The Likud Party dominated Israeli politics from that moment to the present in 2015. Sharon in 2002 authorized the construction of a barrier between Israel and the West Bank. This was one of his biggest mistakes as Prime Minister. He wanted separation, which is nothing more than apartheid. The wall runs to east of the Green Line marking the border between Israel and the West Bank. The wall blocks locations of travel even within towns and villages. It has changed or reconfigured the geography of the West Bank. The Wall has electronic fences, patrol roads, and observation towers. The ICJ ruled that the wall is disproportionate and therefore constitutes a violation of international law.

Many Palestinians resisted the wall. There were demonstrations and people trying to stop bulldozers from digging the foundation of the barrier. The International Solidarity Movement and thousands of Israelis, many of them organized by Ta‘ayush/Palestinian-Israeli Partnership and Anarchists Against the Wall, have supported the Palestinian popular resistance and regularly participated in its activities. The four-month “peace camp” at the village of Masha in the spring and summer of 2003 and similar efforts in several other villages were critical experiences in forging solidarity among Palestinians, Israelis and internationals. Living and struggling together with Palestinians at this level of intensity for a protracted period raised the consciousness of the hundreds of Israeli participants to an entirely new level. The Oslo peace process ended and we exist in a new situation. Likud opposed a new Palestinian state and refused territorial compromises. Most Palestinians came to reject the limitations of the Oslo Declaration of Principles and its two decades of “process without peace or a Palestinian state." Still, the peace process continued mainly as a way for the U.S. to control Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. The 2002 Arab peace Plan developed. By 2002, the Beirut summit of the Arab League endorsed a peace initiative, which was proposed by Saudi Arabia (as it was a closet ally of Israel even today. Libya didn’t attend the summit). The plan offered an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict. It wanted the recognition of Israel, peace agreements and normal relations with all the Arabic states in exchange for a full Israeli withdrawal from all territories occupied since 1967 (This included the Golan Heights). The plan wanted a  “a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194,” and establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Arab League renewed its peace initiative in 2007. In 2002, the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty lasted for almost a quarter of a century. In 1994, Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel. Israel established mutual interest sections with Morocco and Tunisia in 1996. Oman and Qatar initiated trade relations with Israel in 1998. Many people wanted a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement. Only the treaties with Egypt and Jordan survived the second intifada. The Arab League did talk about the Palestinians returning to their homes, but it didn’t use the term “right to return.” Sharon rebuffed the Arabic initiative and Benjamin Netanyahu became prime Minister in 2006. Netanyahu of course rejected the Arabic peace plan in 2007.  Mahmoud Abbas, who succeeded Yasser Arafat as Palestinian Authority president, enthusiastically supported the Arab League proposals and urged the US to embrace them. In 2009 President Barack Obama announced that he would “incorporate” the Arab proposals into his administration’s Middle East policy. But no public statement by the Obama administration suggests any substantive step in this direction.

By Timothy

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