Feel-good social analysis fails to show how real change happens

the wire hbo image
HBO’s The Wire (Photo courtesy of HBO)
Through analyzing what’s wrong with The Wire, Dave Zirin takes a hard look at what is missing altogether from supposedly progressive TV shows that supposedly delve into the social injustices that are screaming for attention all across the US recently. Interesting read. Dave says:

I always shoved it to the back of my mind when my friends in Baltimore – I live about 45 minutes from the city – almost uniformly would tell me they either did not like or would not watch the show. People were hostile toward The Wire for a multiplicity of reasons. Some felt it was like gangster rap for a more sophisticated audience, glorifying black-on-black hyper-masculine street violence while selling itself as somehow more literate and ennobling to consume. My friend Mark once pissed me off fiercely when he told me that my favorite show was “NWA for people who read The New Yorker.” read more

Prison to Whole Foods Pipeline: artisanal foods crafted by inmates

Prison work in progress
Flickr: kathrynsdays / Via Kathryndays Flickr
Fortune publishes the oddest stuff. This intriguing article covers the burgeoning artisanal food prison business, thriving because its labor force is prison inmates that earn – get this – 60¢ an hour. Although, Colorado Corrections Institute director Steve Smith points out, a whole $3-400 a month can be earned with incentives (emphasis mine). Naturally, the prison industry itself profits handsomely from these relationships as middleman and overseer, making it pretty clear what has been driving Big Money’s strategy to lock up 1% of the United States population. The US is returning to a slave labor model … and calling it “help” for prison inmates. UK politics professor Genevieve LeBaron says, read more

Newark Students’ May 22 walkout and protest over 2000 strong

Newark 1505 student walkoutOn May 22 2015, over 2000 students and supporters shut downtown Newark NJ down for several hours to create visibility and bring awareness to the horrors Newark students have experienced at the hands of Chris Christie, Cory Booker and Cami Anderson, who jointly created a plan to break the back of public education in this city.

Anderson’s “One Newark” plan has young children from a single family barred from attending the school local to their home and instead, being sent far outside their neighborhood to 4 different schools in different corners of the city. Each child must take 2-3 bus rides and spend an hour of commuting time each way to reach school. Throughout the city, public school students are denied books and sanitary food; the principals and administrative staff of the city’s most successful schools are fired; and police charges were filed against a PTA president for hanging flyers announcing the PTA’s next meeting. read more

A short list of remarkable truth-telling journalists

speak truth to power
After reporting on Colbert’s public attack on David Koch at a Time Magazine Gala, journalist David Harris Gershon shares his list of truth-telling US journalists we should honor and pay close attention to.

Honor, because they are ‘swimming upstream’ in an era of cowardly and self-interested reporting. He starts off with, “Stewart. Colbert. Maher (at times),” and expands his list to include:

As According to Fish and kovie point out, it’s important to recognize those journalists and political commentators who swim upstream in their efforts to serve as truth-tellers, such as (to name just a few of my favorites) Amy Goodman, Bill Moyers, Robert Scheer, Paul Krugman, Matt Taibbi and Glenn Greenwald. read more

Why America needs Elizabeth Warren to run for president

Elizabeth WarrenI love Bernie Sanders Bernie Sanders, but the politician that completely awes me is Elizabeth Warren. These progressives both speak powerful truths that America needs to hear, so maybe it’s a style thing – Warren is a bit more polished than Sanders – or, maybe it’s Warren being a woman. All I can tell you is that this lady has become very special to me. And I have a dream … that this outspoken advocate who believes in and champions decent values, dignity and living wages for working Americans, honesty and integrity in the business community; truth in politics and the media and students not being forced into a lifetime of debt in order to get college educated and protection of social security and other social safety nets … will run for president in the 2016 Election and win. read more

Newark students – heroes in spite of being deprived of books and food

Support Newark studentsThe Student Heroes of Newark is a phrase coined by Daniel Katz in a Huffington Post article on how Newark, New Jersey students are handling the challenges of being starved by the Christie Administration and Cami Anderson, Newark Schools superintendent for classroom books and even food.

One student explains that there may be four textbooks in a classroom of over 30 children. Another, that there isn’t enough food in the cafeteria for both lunch and breakfast: if the staff serve one meal, they run out of food for the other. Take a look for yourself at this 3 minute video – these young people are powerful advocates and know how to tell their story. read more

Laws making it illegal to feed homeless in 33 cities must be reversed

not crime to feed homelessOn HuffPo, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz writes about the 90 year old man arrested for feeding the homeless: “Arnold Abbott in Fort Lauderdale was arrested twice for publicly helping feed the vulnerable in his community.” And adds:

Astonishingly, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 33 American cities passed new restrictions on feeding the homeless between January 2013-April 2014.

Jews are commanded against following these laws, since we are obligated to feed and tend to the most vulnerable in our midst. The Shulchan Aruch writes: read more

America’s war on compassion – and cellphone charging?

Street Roots Newspaper, PortlandAdd this story to the growing evidence that a war is being waged in America to make compassion a crime and to deny the most basic services to our #neighborswithnoaddress – the vast US homeless population of over half a million people. Which by the way ‘but for the Grace of God‘ could be you or me. Emily Green of Street Roots News reports on the plight of “Jackie”, whom police arrested for theft for charging her cellphone in an outside receptacle located in a planter box in Old Town, Portland. This story was reported by Street Roots, a Portland newspaper that serves the poor and homeless. read more

Wyndham, don’t persecute the homeless

Homeless coupleMy statement to Wyndham Hotels on their Facebook page:

Your ambiguous statement about the homeless couple you threw out into 9º weather altho a benefactor had paid for the room for them is just meaningless lip service. You need to do better with a policy change. You also refused to refund the room fee the benefactor paid. That’s plain nasty.

The generous benefactors paid for three nights for the homeless couple and did give it back, but only after 110,000 people signed a Care2 Petition condemning Wyndham’s actions. read more

What is capitalism?

suffering_from_capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system in which a small group of people at the top of a financial hierarchy exploit others at lower levels according to the principle: buy low sell high. This small group uses profits to buy land and also control labor rates and conditions; food, water, transportation and processes others must buy, rent or use in order to participate in organized society – thereby setting in motion a self-perpetuating system of automatic wealth acquisition. As long as society functions, those holdings will be used and the holders of them will acquire greater wealth, which will translate into more acquisition in a never ending loop. read more

J4J report shares important data about attacks on public ed – Death by 1000 Cuts

School closings across the USA

School closings across the USA
The Journey 4 Justice Alliance has issued an important new report entitled Death By A Thousand Cuts which includes the number and location of school closings not previously gathered together by any major organization or media portal. It discusses the racist motivation of the misnamed “education reform” movement; the injustice that investor-based charters represent – institutions which are publicly funded but privately controlled; and is a must-read for any person interested in education equity. read more

How equity differs from equality

equity v. equality graphic

equity v. equality graphicEquality and equity may once have been completely interchangeable terms but in law and as pertains to social justice matters, they are not the same any longer. Equity speaks to making allowances for handicaps created by historic, economic or racially based lack of access in order to level the playing field for everyone. Equality is the goal of equity considerations: by giving a leg up to the underserved, we hope to become a society where all are truly equal.

Oxford Dictionary defines equity as “A branch of law that developed alongside common law in order to remedy some of its defects in fairness and justice, formerly administered in special courts.” read more

How Koch Bros’ $25M gift to United Negro College Fund can hurt us

A mind is a terrible thing to waste (girl)

A mind is a terrible thing to waste (girl)A friend posted this on Facebook about the $25 Million gift given to the United Negro College Fund by the Koch Brothers:

If this money comes from sincerity (their heart) it is a blessing, but if it comes with “strings attached” the Koch brothers will have not surprised us. They will show us as usual their true colors! Win-win situation either way!

My thoughts are different:

Not necessarily, Maria. The insidious multi-level strategies that typically accompany gifts by the rich and powerful are designed to have subtle, but long-lasting and far reaching effect. First we should ask, what is being asked for as a direct trade for the gift? We may never know everything that was bargained away behind closed doors but we do know that two Koch Brothers designees will sit on a scholarship decision committee of three that will decide which students get that blood money. Right out of the gate, it’s clear that the money was not given with an open hand. read more

Like Jobs and Winfrey, Suli Breaks will not let exam results decide his fate

Young people around the world are speaking up about education and careers. We need to listen to them because – this is their age. The age of information. And they know, much more than we give them credit for.


Suli Breaks - exam results

No dejaré que el resultado de un examen decida mi destino (subtitulado en Español)

Lyrics

Right now, there is a kid finishing parents evening in a heated discussion with his mother,
Saying why does he have subject subjects he will never ever use in his life…
And she will look at him blank eyed, stifle a sigh, think for a second,
And then lie.
She will say something along the lines of,
“You to get a good job you need a good degree and these subjects help you get a degree.
We never had this opportunity when I was younger”
And he will reply, “but you were young a long time ago weren’t you mum?” read more

Bob Braun explores relationship between Christie and NJ violence

Screaming ChristieLots of things Bob Braun says are way too important to only be seen on Facebook. Like his thoughts on the relationship between Christie’s ranting/abuse and youth shootings motivated by a desire for “respect”:

If the governor of the state can suggest that someone should “take a bat” to a woman, why should we be surprised that a child shoots people because they “disrespected” him?

We live in a state in which the governor prides himself in bullying, misogynistic behavior, someone who shows his displeasure with threatening gestures and who refuses to defend gun restrictions in court. We live in a state whose voters re-elected this bully and elected as US senator a man who, as Newark mayor, laid off cops and presided over the worst carnage in almost a decade. We live in a state where the busiest interstate crossing can be held for political ransom despite the threat to public safety. read more