HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » polly7 » Journal
Page: « Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 Next »


Profile Information

Gender: Do not display
Hometown: Saskatchewan
Home country: Canada
Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 20,582

Journal Archives

The Amount of Our Taxpayer Money the Military Pisses Away Is Just Unbelievable

The Military Waste Machine is running full speed ahead.

By William D. Hartung / Tom Dispatch April 10, 2016

This piece originally appeared on TomDispatch.

Late last year, I spent some time digging into the Pentagon’s “reconstruction” efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, countries it invaded in 2001 and 2003 in tandem with a chosen crew of warrior corporations. As a story of fabled American can-do in distant lands, both proved genuinely dismal no-can-do tales, from roads built (that instantly started crumbling) to police academies constructed (that proved to be health hazards) to prisons begun (that were never finished) to schools constructed (that remained uncompleted) to small arms transfers (that were “lost” in transit) to armies built, trained, and equipped for stunning sums (that collapsed). It was as if nothing the Pentagon touched turned to anything but dross (including the never-ending wars it fought). All of it added up to what I then labeled a massive “$cam” with American taxpayer money lost in amounts that staggered the imagination.

All of that came rushing back as I read TomDispatch regular William Hartung’s latest post on “waste” at the Pentagon. It didn’t just happen in Kabul and Baghdad; it’s been going on right here in the good old USA for, as Hartung recounts, the last five decades. There’s only one difference I can see: in Kabul, Baghdad, or any other capital in the Greater Middle East and Africa, if we saw far smaller versions of such “waste” indulged in by the elites of those countries, we would call it “corruption” without blinking. So here’s my little suggestion, as you read Hartung: think about just how deeply what once would have been considered a Third World-style of corruption is buried in the very heart of our system and in the way of life of the military-industrial complex. By now, President Dwight Eisenhower must be tossing and turning in his grave.-Tom Engelhardt

Full article: http://www.alternet.org/world/amount-our-taxpayer-money-military-pisses-away-just-unbelievable

We’re Speeding Toward a Climate Change Catastrophe...and That Makes 2016 the Most Important Election

in a Generation

How the U.S. confronts climate change will shape the world for generations; neither Clinton nor Trump seems to care.

By Phil Torres / Salon April 10, 2016

And multiple high-ranking U.S. officials have affirmed a causal connection between climate change and terrorism. For example, John Brennan, the current Director of the CIA, recently stated that “the impact of climate change” is one of the “deeper causes of this rising instability” in countries like Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Yemen and Libya. Similarly, Chuck Hagel, the former secretary of defense, describes climate change as a “threat multiplier” that “has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we are dealing with today — from infectious disease to terrorism.” And the Department of Defense notes in a 2015 report that “Global climate change will aggravate problems such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership and weak political institutions that threaten stability in a number of countries.”

Consider some recent data that underline the fact that climate change is a “clear and present danger.” As of this writing, the hottest month on record was last February. It completely “obliterated” the previous “all-time global temperature record” set by — take a guess — January 2016. And January 2016 beat the previous records set by October, November and December 2015. Similarly, the hottest 16 years on record have all occurred since 2000, with only a single exception (1998). The current record-holder is 2015, followed by 2014, 2010 and 2013, but it appears that 2016 could be even hotter than 2015.

This being said, climate change isn’t just a “present” danger with implications for human well-being this century. As a 2016 paper published in Nature points out, the fossil fuels that we’re burning right now could affect future generations for up to 10,000 years. We are, in other words, “imposing adverse changes on more humans than have ever existed.” To quote the study, co-authored by more than 20 scientists from around the world, at length: “The next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far. Policy decisions made during this window are likely to result in changes to Earth’s climate system measured in millennia rather than human lifespans, with associated socioeconomic and ecological impacts that will exacerbate the risks and damages to society and ecosystems that are projected for the twenty-first century and propagate into the future for many thousands of years.”

If studies like this are to be believed — and they ought to be, given that they’re published in peer-reviewed journals and based on objective, checkable evidence — then it follows quite directly that the 2016 presidential election really could be the most important in a generation. Indeed, one could plausibly argue that this election will be the most important political event in the entire history of human civilization, given the U.S.’s standing as the leading superpower and the second biggest polluter in the world (by a long shot). How the U.S. handles the global, transgenerational problem of climate change will not only have a significant impact on what the world looks like by 2100, but it will shape the world for hundreds of human generations. It is, therefore, absolutely crucial that the next POTUS recognizes the multi-millennial scope of climate change and responds to this “severe” and “pervasive” threat with true wisdom and foresight.

Unfortunately, neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump — the two leading presidential candidates right now — inspire much confidence that climate change will be a priority for their administrations. As the activist Naomi Klein recently bemoaned, while Clinton was secretary of state, “she had a huge megaphone to make [climate change] an issue, to show that she understands the connections between human security and climate, [yet] she didn’t use the megaphone.” Because of this, Klein opines that Bernie Sanders would be “a significantly better candidate.” Indeed, not only has Sanders made climate change a central theme of his campaign, but he twice characterized it as the biggest national security threat facing the country, a claim that comports with the above-mentioned statements by Brennan, Hagel and the Department of Defense.

..........These problems require exceptional wisdom and careful attention to the facts (as best we know them) to solve, yet the leading presidential candidates of the world’s superpower don’t appear to be aware of just how globally catastrophic climate change could be. This is a bad situation in which to find ourselves. It’s also a bad situation for potentially billions upon billions of future humans who could come to inhabit our planetary spaceship many thousands of years from now. Let’s hope future generations look back on this unique moment in human history with sighs of relief, rather than groans of resentment.

Full article: http://www.alternet.org/environment/were-speeding-toward-climate-change-catastropheand-makes-2016-most-important-election


Dear Clinton supporters - how exactly is she proposing to handle this, has she mentioned anything?

We dream about drones, said 13-year-old Yemeni before his death in a CIA strike

Mohammed Tuaiman becomes the third member of his family to be killed by what he called ‘death machines’ in the sky months after Guardian interview


A 13-year-old boy killed in Yemen last month by a CIA drone strike had told the Guardian just months earlier that he lived in constant fear of the “death machines” in the sky that had already killed his father and brother.

“I see them every day and we are scared of them,” said Mohammed Tuaiman, speaking from al-Zur village in Marib province, where he died two weeks ago.

“A lot of the kids in this area wake up from sleeping because of nightmares from them and some now have mental problems. They turned our area into hell and continuous horror, day and night, we even dream of them in our sleep.”

Mohammed Saleh Tauiman was 13 when the Guardian gave him a camera to record his family life. Photograph: guardian.co.uk

When the Guardian interviewed Mohammed last September, he spoke of his anger towards the US government for killing his father. “They tell us that these drones come from bases in Saudi Arabia and also from bases in the Yemeni seas and America sends them to kill terrorists, but they always kill innocent people. But we don’t know why they are killing us.

“In their eyes, we don’t deserve to live like people in the rest of the world and we don’t have feelings or emotions or cry or feel pain like all the other humans around the world.”

"He wasn’t a member of al-Qaida. He was a kid"

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/10/drones-dream-yemeni-teenager-mohammed-tuaiman-death-cia-strike

(An older article but included as a link in an email.)

* these *'ing killing machines.

Why we must save the EU

By Yanis Varoufakis
Source: The Guardian
April 12, 2016

Alas, on 21 April 1967, my mother’s plans were laid in ruins, along with our imperfect Greek democracy. For in the early hours of that morning, at the command of four army colonels, tanks rolled on to the streets of Athens and other major cities, and our country was soon enveloped in a thick cloud of neo-fascist gloom. It was also the day when Uncle Panayiotis’s world fell apart.

Unlike my dad, who in the late 1940s had paid for his leftist politics with several years in concentration camps, Panayiotis was what today would be referred to as a neoliberal. Fiercely anti-communist, and suspicious of social democracy, he supported the American intervention in the Greek civil war in 1946 (on the side of my father’s jailers). He backed the German Free Democratic party and the Greek Progressive party, which purveyed a blend of free-market economics with unconditional support for Greece’s oppressive US-led state security machine.

The heavy footprint of US agencies in Greek politics, even going so far as to engineer the dismissal of a popular centrist prime minister, Georgios Papandreou, in 1965, seemed to Panayiotis an acceptable trade-off: Greece had given up some sovereignty to western powers in exchange for freedom from a menacing eastern bloc lurking a short driving distance north of Athens. However, on that bleak April day in 1967, Panayiotis’s life was turned upside down.

Long after Panayiotis’s death, I discovered the last of these: a matchstick model of a Stuka dive-bomber in my old family home’s attic. Torn between leaving it intact and looking inside, I decided to take it apart. And there it was. His last missive was not addressed to anyone in particular.

It was a single word: “kyriarchia”. Sovereignty.

Soon we had a fully-fledged plan, whose final version I co-authored with Jeff Sachs. It consisted of three chapters. One proposed smart debt operations that would make Greece’s public debt manageable again, while guaranteeing maximum returns to our creditors. The second chapter put forward a medium-term fiscal consolidation policy that would ensure the Greek government would never get into deficit again, while limiting our budget surplus targets to levels low enough to be credible and consistent with recovery. Finally, the third chapter outlined deep reforms to public and tax administration, product markets, and the restructure of a broken banking system as well as the creation a development bank to manage public assets at an arm’s length from politicians.

This is precisely what some of us are working towards in creating DiEM25 – the Democracy in Europe Movement, with a view to conjuring up a democratic surge across Europe, a common European identity, an authentic European sovereignty, an internationalist bulwark against both submission to Brussels and hyper-nationalist reaction.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/why-we-must-save-the-eu/

Cuba’s Medical Mission

By Don Fitz
Source: Monthlyreview.org
April 12, 2016

When the Ebola virus began to spread through western Africa in fall 2014, much of the world panicked. Soon, over 20,000 people were infected, more than 8,000 had died, and worries mounted that the death toll could reach into hundreds of thousands. The United States provided military support; other countries promised money. Cuba was the first nation to respond with what was most needed: it sent 103 nurses and 62 doctors as volunteers to Sierra Leone. With 4,000 medical staff (including 2,400 doctors) already in Africa, Cuba was prepared for the crisis before it began: there had already been nearly two dozen Cuban medical personnel in Sierra Leone. After an initial assessment, Cuba dispatched another 296 to Guinea and Liberia. Since many governments did not know how to respond to Ebola, Cuba trained volunteers from other nations at Havana’s Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine. In total, Cuba taught 13,000 Africans, 66,000 Latin Americans, and 620 Caribbeans how to treat Ebola without being infected. It was the first time that many had heard of Cuba’s emergency response teams.

The Ebola experience is one of many covered in John Kirk’s new book Health Care without Borders: Understanding Cuban Medical Internationalism. It has a very different focus than his Cuban Medical Internationalism: Origins, Evolution and Goals, coauthored with Michael Erisman in 2009. That book was a definitive work on the political history of Cuba’s medical involvement across the globe. Health Care without Borders provides updates on the recent expansion of Cuba’s programs, with a focus on the politics of international medical cooperation.

The other major form of neglect projection has been to ignore or minimize the significance of Cuba’s emergency response teams for floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanoes, epidemics, and the Chernobyl meltdown. These stories rarely appear in the corporate media, despite dozens of Cuban life-saving interventions. Many Americans first learned of Cuba’s disaster missions from news photographs of the 1,586 doctors waiting to leave Havana for New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Not only did President Bush refuse the offer; when U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack thanked fifty organizations and countries for offering assistance, Cuba was noticeable by its omission.

Five years later, Haiti was not at all reluctant to accept Cuba’s help following the country’s devastating earthquake. Cuba was the key provider of help, since it had had so many medical personnel in Haiti since 1998. Over the years, 6,000 Cuban medical staff have treated over three million Haitians. Cuba also had previous emergency experience in Haiti, having sent a medical brigade during the massive flooding of 2004. Within a month of the 2010 earthquake, many foreign emergency teams were gone. But 600 Cubans and 380 Haitians trained in Cuban medical schools remained. In October 2010, Haiti was hit by the first cholera outbreak it had seen in over a century. Had Cuba not been in the habit of staying in a country after the initial excitement of disaster relief, and if it had not been teaching Haitians preventive medicine, the cholera death toll would have been much worse.

Though Cuba was in Haiti before the earthquake, provided the quickest and most professional emergency assistance, and remained long after the earthquake was history, Spain’s leading paper, El País, omitted Cuba from its list of countries that provided help. In the United States, a 2012 study by Harvard Medical School failed to mention Cuba’s contribution. Fox News actually criticized Cuba with the astounding claim that it failed to provide assistance. Meanwhile, the 22,000 Americans in Haiti were almost entirely military. Not only did U.S. doctors reach Haiti later and depart sooner than those from Cuba; they did not stay where Haitian victims huddled. After working hours, they tended to return to luxury hotels, while Cuban doctors lived in the communities of the Haitians they treated.

Kirk uses the term “disaster tourism” to describe the way that many rich countries respond to medical crises in poor countries. Many go to disaster areas, he writes, “to have an ‘experience’ rather than provide meaningful assistance to those affected” (118). Many end up getting in the way of serious rescue work. The approach of Cuban doctors is in stark contrast to disaster tourism. Cubans have extensive training in intercultural disaster response. They build on the experience of thousands of medical staff who have already worked in poor countries. Cuban response teams or replacement staff stay in afflicted countries for months or years, helping to develop programs of community medicine and preventive health.

In many ways, Venezuela is a prototype of Cuban intervention. It began with Cuban assistance during the flooding of 1999, the year following Hugo Chávez’s election as president. The first medical cooperation agreement was signed in 2000, amid widespread opposition by the Venezuelan right. The hostility greatly diminished as Venezuela’s rate of infant mortality per 1,000 live births dropped from twenty-five in 1990 to thirteen in 2010. Huge numbers of Venezuelans have received treatment from Cuban or Cuban-trained doctors. Indeed, the greatest change in recent years has been Venezuela’s taking over much of the care and training formerly provided by and in Cuba.

Operación Milagro (Operation Miracle), well-known for restoring sight to over three million people, began in Venezuela by accident. In 2004, Venezuela and Cuba were partnering in a program to teach literacy to eight million people when they realized that a major reason that many could not read was poor vision. Patients from Venezuela and throughout Latin America began flooding into Havana for eye surgery. The second stage of the program saw Cuba training Venezuelan and Bolivian doctors to perform eye surgery for their own and neighboring countries. Operación Milagro has been widely acclaimed for achieving such a great impact on so many lives at such a small cost. Much of the blindness in Latin America is preventable, often caused by living conditions such as contaminated water, malnutrition, and inadequate access to health care. Being blind is vastly worse in a poor country than in a rich one: families have few resource to spend on blind relatives, who become a burden on the family and face a life expectancy half that of the general population.

Health Care without Borders ties the issue of blindness into the first great investigation of its kind regarding disabilities. The family burden factor is why the handicapped or discapacitados are often referred to as minusválidos (those of lesser value). Meeting the needs of disabled people might seem routine in the United States, but it is highly unusual in impoverished countries. Many millions of poor Latin Americans were amazed to find Cubans working with their government to address their needs. Some had to be reached by helicopter, donkey, or canoe. In Bolivia, 101 surveyed communities were so remote that they did not appear on any map. By 2013, hundreds of thousands of those surveyed in Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had received concrete support such as wheelchairs, walkers, hearing aids, and prosthetic limbs.

Though most of what Kirk addresses are new twists on recognizable themes of Cuba’s medical internationalism, he also brings to light areas likely unfamiliar to many readers, including Chernobyl and the south Pacific. The April 26, 1986, meltdown at Chernobyl occurred only a few years prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, forcing Cuba to pay a high price for its humanitarianism. Cuba opened its doors, hospital beds, and a summer camp to 25,000 Ukrainians, mostly children. Many had severe injuries or chronic pathologies. Some stayed in Cuban hospitals for months or years. In October 2011, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych expressed his gratitude and promised to pay the full cost of treatment. Ukraine never got around to paying Cuba. The cost of medicine alone was estimated at $350 million.

In using new technologies to attack labor or gain market control, capital is willing to create inferior products. McCormick used molding machines that produced inferior castings that cost consumers more, because they were an invaluable weapon against the union. Likewise, GMOs in agriculture result in lower-quality food. Since two-thirds of GMOs are designed to create plants that can tolerate poisonous pesticides such as Roundup, pesticide residues increase with GMO usage. GMOs are also used to increase the corn syrup which sweetens a growing quantity of processed foods, thereby contributing the obesity crisis. At the same time, uniform food engineered to survive transportation and have a longer shelf life contains less nutritional value. Use of GMOs in corporate agriculture is one of the largest contributing factors to the phenomenon of people being simultaneously overweight and undernourished.

How do these disastrous effects of new technologies in corporate agriculture compare with Cuba’s use of biotechnologies in medicine? Kirk convincingly argues that Cuba has produced new medicines that improve people’s lives while sharing its biotechnology knowledge with other countries, in ways that empower rather than subdue them. Even a partial list of drugs developed in Cuban laboratories is impressive. Use of Heberprot B to treat diabetes has reduced amputations by 80 percent. Cuba is the only country to create an effective vaccine against type-B bacterial meningitis, and it developed the first synthetic vaccine for Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib), which causes almost half of flu infections. Cuba has also produced the vaccine Racotumomab against advanced lung cancer, and has begun clinical tests for Itolizumab to fight severe psoriasis.

Patents for these and the vast number of other medical innovations are held by the Cuban government. There is no impetus to increase profits by charging outrageously high prices for new drugs, so these medications become available to Cubans at much lower cost than they would in a market-based health care system like that of the United States. This has a profound impact on Cuban medical internationalism. The country can provide drugs, including vaccines, at a cost low enough to make humanitarian campaigns abroad more doable. Use of synthetic vaccines for meningitis and pneumonia has resulted in the immunization of millions of Latin American children.

Cuba’s second phase of medical biotechnology is also unknown in the corporate world. This is the transfer of new technology to poor countries, so that they can produce drugs themselves. Collaboration with Brazil has meant meningitis vaccines at a cost of 95¢ rather than $15 to $20 per dose. Cuba and Brazil are working together on several other biotechnology projects, including Interferon alpha 2b, for hepatitis C, and recombinant human erythropoletin (rHuEPO), for anemia caused by chronic kidney problems.

In October 2015, it came to light that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would extend the length of patent protection for pharmaceuticals to twelve years. During that time, cheaper generic alternatives to brand-name drugs could not be sold, leaving thousands, perhaps millions, of people in the twelve TPP countries unable to afford critical medications. Such trade deals reveal drug companies as having the warmth and compassion of a school of leering sharks about to begin a feeding frenzy. The path that Cuba is forging leads in the opposite direction from that demanded by production for profit.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/cubas-medical-mission/


Barry Wood April 12, 2016

"It is staggering the depths to which the capitalists will stoop to defame such an admirable cause like Cuba’s international medical aid."

Thank you, Cuba.

Noam Chomsky - German Weapons Exports to Israel & Saudi Arabia and the Refugee Crisis

By Noam Chomsky
Source: AcTVism

In this video MIT professor, anarchist, political philosopher and renowned linguist, Noam Chomsky, discusses the impacts of arms and weapons exports into Saudi Arabia and Israel. He also talks about the refugee and Syrian crisis that is engulfing neighbouring states as well as the European continent.

How does the military industrial complex of Germany affect the security of the populations of the countries in the Arab world?

Do military and arms exports promote stability in the region?

What are the roots of the refugee crisis that the European Union as well as neighbouring countries to Syria and Iraq are facing?

The Establishment Snarls a Warning to Sanders

Paul Krugman Over the Top

by Rick Sterling / April 10th, 2016

When Republicans are in the White House, Paul Krugman and the New York Times sometimes sound pretty good. But when someone starts seriously and effectively challenging core assumptions and values of our political economic system, the progressive veneer quickly vanishes. This is demonstrated in Paul Krugman’s verbal attack on the Bernie Sanders campaign in his “Sanders Over the Edge” editorial.

Krugman does not hold back. Bernie supporters and Bernie himself are described by Krugman as intolerant, cultish, shallow, vague, without substance, lacking character and values, dishonest, short on ethics, really bad, petulant and self-righteous. Wow!

Krugman’s diatribe deserves scrutiny and lampooning. The purpose seems to be to ridicule, threaten and warn Sanders to get back in line. Hopefully progressives will intensify support for Bernie and tell Krugman to get his facts straight.

Here are some key falsehoods in the Krugman attack:..........

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2016/04/the-establishment-snarls-a-warning-to-sanders/#more-62336

(BBM). I had heard him a few times over the years, he's certainly changed his tune. I wish he'd go back to the statements he made then and try to figure out where he stands.

She never 'kidded' (or made a fake apology) a bit about the Libyan deaths and all those caused by

it since, has she? An atrocity she pushed ...... against Obama's wishes with Sid Blumenthal's input (representing both the Clinton foundation and investors in a failed Libya - on her private server).

Any opinion on that?

Business opportunities!!!

By John Pilger
Source: Johnpilger.com
March 29, 2016

“If we have to use force,” said Madeleine Albright, US secretary of state in the liberal administration of Bill Clinton and today a passionate campaigner for his wife, “it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future.”

One of Hillary Clinton’s most searing crimes was the destruction of Libya in 2011. At her urging, and with American logistical support, NATO, launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, according to its own records, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. They included missiles with uranium warheads. See the photographs of the rubble of Misurata and Sirte, and the mass graves identified by the Red Cross. Read the UNICEF report on the children killed, “most [of them] under the age of ten”.

In Anglo-American scholarship, followed slavishly by the liberal media on both sides of the Atlantic, influential theorists known as “liberal realists” have long taught that liberal imperialists – a term they never use – are the world’s peace brokers and crisis managers, rather than the cause of a crisis. They have taken the humanity out of the study of nations and congealed it with a jargon that serves warmongering power. Laying out whole nations for autopsy, they have identified “failed states” (nations difficult to exploit) and “rogue states” (nations resistant to western dominance).

Whether or not the targeted regime is a democracy or dictatorship is irrelevant. In the Middle East, western liberalism’s collaborators have long been extremist Islamists, lately al-Qaeda, while cynical notions of democracy and human rights serve as rhetorical cover for conquest and mayhem – as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Haiti, Honduras. See the public record of those good liberals Bill and Hillary Clinton. Theirs is a standard to which Trump can only aspire.

Talking to the Young in a World That Will Never Truly Be ‘Postwar’

Posted on Apr 7, 2016

By Rory Fanning / TomDispatch

Filling in the Blanks

The first time I went to speak to high school students about my life with the Rangers in Afghanistan, I was surprised to realize that the same nervous energy I felt before jumping into Lake Michigan or lacing up my gym shoes for a bone-shaking work-out was coursing through my body. But here was the strangest thing: when I had said my piece (or perhaps I really mean “my peace”) with as much honesty as I could muster, I felt the very sense of calmness and resolution that I’d been striving for with my other rituals and could never quite hang onto come over me—and it stayed with me for days.

That first time, I was one of the few white people in a deteriorating Chicago public high school on the far south side of the city. A teacher is escorting me down multiple broad, shabby hallways to the classroom where I was to speak. We pass a room decorated with a total of eight American flags, four posted on each side of its door. “The recruiting office,” the teacher says, gesturing toward it, and then asks, “Do they have recruiting offices in the suburban schools you talk to?”

“I’m not sure. I haven’t spoken to any on this topic yet,” I reply. “They certainly didn’t have an obvious one at the public high school I went to, but I do know that there are 10,000 recruiters across the country working with a $700 million a year advertising budget. And I think you’re more likely to see the recruiters in schools where kids have less options after graduation.”

At that moment, we arrive at the appointed classroom and I’m greeted warmly by the social studies teacher who invited me. Photos of Ida B. Wells, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, and other revolutionary black leaders hang neatly on a wall. He first heard about my desire to talk to students about my wartime experiences through Veterans for Peace, an organization I belong to. “There is no counter-narrative to what the kids are being taught by the instructors in Junior ROTC, as far as I can tell,” he says, obviously bothered, as we wait for the students to arrive. “It would be great if you could provide more of a complete picture to these kids.” He then went on to describe the frustration he felt with a Chicago school system in which schools in the poorest neighborhoods in the city were being shut down at a record pace, and yet, somehow, his school district always had the money to supplement the Pentagon’s funding of the JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training) program.

Just the other day I spoke at a college in Peoria, three hours south of Chicago. “My brother hasn’t left the house since returning home from Iraq,” one of the students told me with tears in her eyes. “What you said helped me understand his situation better. I might have more to say to him now.”

It was the sort of comment that reminded me that there is an audience for what I have to say. I just need to figure out how to get past the gatekeepers. Believe me, I’ll continue to write about, pester, and advertise my willingness to talk to soon-to-be-military-age kids in Chicago. I’m not giving up, because speaking honestly about my experiences is now my therapy. At the end of the day, I need those students as much as I think they need me.

Full (very long) article: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/talking_to_the_young_in_a_world_that_will_never_truly_be_postwar_20160407

People Over for-Profit Prisons: A Social Movement in Gary, Indiana

By Paul Street
Source: Counterpunch
April 9, 2016

The GEO Group: Turning Mass Incarceration Into Gold

One particularly inspiring and instructive example of such people’s activism can be found in the predominantly Black city of Gary, Indiana. A multiracial and multi-ethnic coalition there has been engaged in a remarkable struggle with a powerful private, for-profit prison corporation. The company, GEO Group (hereafter “GEO”) owes its name to George Zoley, its founder and CEO, once described by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) as “America’s Highest Paid ‘Corrections Officer.” Boasting an annual revenue of $1.7 billion, GEO stands in the odious vanguard of the global mass imprisonment state with a distinctively white-supremacist and English-speaking taste for locking down people of color. It manages 104 human warehousing and lock-up facilities, with 87,000 beds and 20,500 employees across four countries: the United States. the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa. Nearly two-thirds (64) of its prisons are located in the U.S., the disparate mass incarceration capital of the world and home to roughly a quarter of the planet’s prisoners – most of them Black and Latino.

Formerly known as “Wackenhut,” the Florida-based GEO is the nation’s second largest private prison firm after Corrections Corporations of America (CCA). It describes itself as “the first fully-integrated equity real estate investment trust specializing in the design, development, financing, and operation of correctional, detention, and community reentry facilities worldwide.” Zoley “earns” $1.5 million a month on the backs of taxpayers, under-paid workers, and of course, inmates – the critical dehumanized raw material for “correctional” profits.

Since its founding 32 years ago, GEO Group has turned the racist nightmare of mass incarceration into gold, pushing “law and order” and nativist prison-state policies while crafting deals that charge government (taxpayers) for empty beds. As CMD reported two and a half years ago:

the GEO Group has profited from federal and state policies that have led to a dramatic rise in incarceration and detention in the United States – an increase of more than 500 percent over the past three decades. In recent years, with crime rates dropping and sentencing reform spreading, GEO Group has found a new way to keep its profits high: many of its contracts contain bed guarantees or ‘lock up quotas’ that require that a state keep prisons full, and put taxpayers on the hook for empty beds….For many years GEO Group participated in the task force of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that pushed bills that lengthened time in prison, such as so-called ‘truth-in-sentencing’ and ‘three strikes’ legislation, as models for states to adopt across the nation. Today, locking up non-violent illegal immigrants is a new profit center for the firm.”

The Corporate Prison Playbook

Since last fall, GEO has been trying to secure municipal approval to build a sprawling, 800-bed immigrant detention center across the street from Gary’s badly underused airport. In Gary as elsewhere, the company has followed the usual corporate prison playbook: target an economically stressed community and promise “jobs and development.”

It must have figured that the savagely deindustrialized and 84 percent Black city of Gary was a perfect mark. Thirty-two miles south of Chicago, the former leading steelmaking town is plagued by an astronomical poverty rate of 39 percent and a mind-boggling child poverty measure of 61%. “To call Gary a struggling city,” journalist Casey Tolan wrote last December, “is to put it lightly. You can drive down blocks here where every single house is vacant, burned out, or gaping open behind smashed windows. Broadway, the main drag, is lined with big, handsome brick buildings that have every window boarded up.”

It’s a Dickensian, Rust Belt disaster zone on par with Detroit and Camden, New Jersey. The city has lost more than half its population over the last four decades. That’s a big part of why it has an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 abandoned homes, a quarter of its housing stock – a remarkable number in a city of 80,000.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/people-over-for-profit-prisons-a-social-movement-in-gary-indiana/
Go to Page: « Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 Next »