Tuesday, June 27, 2017

DPP Update - June 23, 2017

Next DPP Meeting
BBQ/Potluck and informal Discussion!
Monday, July 10: 6:00-   Home of Emmy and Dan, 8 Carruth St.
Please a dish or drinks if you can.

We’ll have a report from Jared on the Chicago “People’s Summit” and discuss Didi Delgado’s provocative article  
Whites Only: SURJ And The Caucasian Invasion Of Racial Justice Spaces

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Come to the next monthly 
Dorchester Standout for Black Lives
Thursday July 20, 5:30-6:30 PM 
(and the third Thursday of every month)
at Ashmont T station plaza

Come to the next monthly Dorchester Standout for Black Lives
Thursday July 20, 5:306:30pm  (and the third Thursday of every month)  at Ashmont T station plaza.  There were 40 people at our June 15 standout!

We will hold a big banner saying “We Believe that Black Lives Matter” and Black Lives Matter signs (including about a variety of issues that impact Black lives), and hand out fliers to pedestrians and drivers stopped at red lights. Please join us; all are welcome!
Remaining dates this spring and summer are:
June 15, July 20, August 17, and September 21. Kelley kelready@msn.com or Becky, beckyp44@verizon.net, or call Dorchester People for Peace 617-282-3783

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At our last DPP meeting we heard a rundown of upcoming legislation and actions by Lew Finfer of MCAN(Massachusetts Community Action Network).  Here are the pending bills, supported by MECAN, Mass Alliance,  union-backed Raise Up Massachusetts and other progressive organizations.  DPP will discuss how to help signature collecting for the FAIR SHARE AMENDMENT. Please contact your legislators to ask their support for the following bills:

Hearing was held on Tuesday, June 13th. This Bill (S. 1048 | H. 2172) would give all people partially paid time off if they or a family member are seriously ill plus for maternity, paternity, and adoption leave as well.

This Bill (S. 1004 | H. 2365) will be implemented in increments over 4 years. The Fight for $15 would raise wages for over 932,000 low wage earners in Massachusetts.

This bill (S. 791 | H. 2308):
·         To repeal long mandatory minimum sentences on drug convictions which drive imprisonment and racial disparities in who goes to prison
·         Filed by Governor Baker, which is extremely limited, inadequate, and does not address mandatory minimums.
·         On reforming solitary confinement

“SAFE COMMUNITIES ACT” (An Act to protect the civil rights and safety of all Massachusetts residents) This bill (Bill # S.1305 | H.3269) would stop local and state law enforcement officials from cooperating with ICE federal agents on the detention and deportation of immigrants and prevents discrimination against Muslim and other immigrant communities.

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The hard reality of today's level of inequality is this: For an increasing share of the population—black and white—the market no longer works to serve basic needs like housing, health insurance, child care, or college education. As the share of income held by the middle 60 percent declines, the top 10 percent’s share continues to grow, and within that, the top 1 percent…  For Democrats, the problem with language that emphasizes the white working class as a separate problem from rising inequality of income and wealth is that it will racialize the debate rather than emphasizing the common assault on all who are not rich…  They need to focus on the urgency of the effect of income inequality on American democracy. They need to sound the alarm. And they need to wake up and see who they are in bed with. The power elite of the party think they have freed themselves of a dependency on union support. But the Wall Street vision of the economy is poison for workers of all races and for Democrats.   More

Following Ossoff Loss, Democrats Urged to Embrace 'Bold Progressive Vision'
"There are two lessons in the Georgia results," Galland argued. "One, that the Resistance movement is putting deep red districts and states in play. Two, even so, Democrats cannot take any race for granted—and if they want to win these tight races, they must do more than just be anti-Trump and spend millions of dollars. They must put forward a bold progressive vision for our country, running on core Democratic values."  Galland went on to note the Ossoff campaign failed repeatedly to place the Republican healthcare plan—which is deeply unpopular—at the center of attention, instead opting to focus on "cutting spending" and opposing Medicare for all.  "Democrats will not win back power merely by serving as an alternative to Trump and Republicans," she concluded…  Critics, however, have argued this is precisely the approach that has failed time and time again; it "hasn't been doing well for Democrats for quite some time," wrote policy analyst Ben Spielberg…  "Would Ossoff have won if he ran on an economic justice agenda? We don't know," Spielberg concluded. "But we do know that he lost doing the opposite."  More

Obamacare repeal would be one of the biggest cuts to the welfare state in history
Throughout the modern history of Congress, lawmakers have inexorably expanded progressive social policies, and while conservatives have successfully forestalled expansions to the social safety net, they've had very little success in reversing them.  Right now, however, Republicans have a chance to buck that trend, as they prepare legislation aimed at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The Senate bill released on Thursday, coupled with the House bill passed earlier this year, would be exactly the kind of cuts to the welfare state that conservatives have consistently failed to achieve.  The repeal measure, which follows weeks of unusual secrecy in its drafting, would bring down taxes, eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars in outlays on the social safety net and curtail the federal government's involvement in a crucial sector of the economy.   More

Poll Shows 'Overwhelming' Hatred for Trumpcare
Just following the release of the Senate's "morally bankrupt" healthcare bill—which would impose deep cuts to Medicaid, eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, and give enormous tax breaks to the wealthy—an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll published on Thursday found Americans "overwhelmingly" dislike the House version of the legislation.  "By a 3-to-1 margin, the American public holds a negative view of the American Health Care Act, legislation that House Republicans passed last month and that President Donald Trump supports," NBC's Mark Murray observed. "Just 16 percent of adults believe that House health care bill is a good idea, versus 48 percent who say it’s a bad idea."   More

Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
The Federal Prison Industries (FPI) under the brand UNICORE operates approximately 52 factories (prisons) across the United States. Prisoners manufacture or assemble a number of products for the US military, homeland security, and federal agencies according to the UNICORE/FPI website. They produce furniture, clothing and circuit boards in addition to providing computer aided design services and call center support for private companies.  UNICORE/FPI makes its pitch for employing call center support personnel to firms thinking about offshoring their call center functions. The logic is that, hey!, they may be prisoners, but it’s keeping the jobs in the USA that matters…  In January 2017, the Prison Policy Initiative (prisonpolicy.org) worked up a study titled Following the Money of Mass Incarceration. It shines the light on some of the unsettling reasons why the USA will never be able to reduce its reliance on mass incarceration. Those who depend on money that the prison industry provides will never give it up. It’s not just private companies but local communities, bondsmen, unions all the way up to the US Department of Defense who collect fees or purchase UNICORE/FPI products and services at dirt cheap prices.   More

Conservatives have long been arguing that the rise of political violence is, if not entirely a problem of the Left, at the very least coming from both sides of the spectrum. They would point to incidents like yesterday’s shooting, the various protests that turned violent in Berkeley over the last few months, neo-Nazi Richard Spencer getting sucker-punched, or Kathy Griffin’s photoshoot involving a fake severed Trump head as examples of the broad left’s turn to unacceptable violence.  But even if one were to allow these as examples, it’s become increasingly clear that around the world today the use of violence for political ends has been, and continues to be, overwhelmingly a feature of the Right…  It’s hard to believe it’s a coincidence that far-right militia groups began proliferating at the same time that GOP politicians and conservative personalities were claiming Obama was a sinister, alien threat, and even a terrorist, bent on undermining American values. Of course, many on the Right would probably tell you that these far-right extremists and their ideology have little do with mainstream conservatives and their beliefs. But if so, one has to wonder why then GOP leaders and conservative media harshly criticized the usually sacrosanct Department of Homeland Security in 2009 after it put out a report warning about the threat of right-wing extremists.   More

The  Castile Jury Was Stacked With Pro-Gun, Pro-Cop, Middle-Aged White People
It’s a verdict that’s maddeningly, infuriatingly and heartbreakingly illogical, yet consistent with every jury in this country that’s been asked to rule on the deaths of black people at the hands of police. The U.S. system of criminal injustice fails black folks from start to finish by design…  There were just two black people on the jury of Castile’s supposed peers…  The rest of those selected for the jury were overwhelmingly middle-aged white Minnesotans, many of whom expressly stated support for police or a belief in the infallibility of the criminal justice system.   More

Injustice Is Not a Glitch, It's a Feature: Reflections on the Murder of Castile
Philando Castile is dead because Officer Jeronimo Yanez shot him, within less than 40 seconds of approaching him at his driver’s side window. Yanez claims he feared for his life, and he feared for his life, supposedly, because Castile informed him he had a gun and was ostensibly reaching for it, even as the dash cam recording suggests Castile was calm and polite to Yanez. Of course, this makes no sense, and surely in a society less infected with the pathogen of what Jody David Armour calls "Negrophobia," we all would see why…  So we are left with the ineluctable conclusion that Yanez feared for his life because Philando Castile was a black man with a gun, and for no other reason. Although licensed to carry it, such a thing means little, either to police, the NRA or those “All Lives Matter” folks…  If a system is established to produce certain outcomes, and then proceeds to regularly and routinely produce them, upon what basis can we rationally suggest that the system is malfunctioning? Quite the opposite: If a system is established on the basis of unfairness and inequity, the only actual malfunction would be if that system suddenly and inexplicably began to produce justice.   More

Since Trump’s election, 20 states have moved to criminalize dissent
In what is being called the “biggest protest crackdown since the Civil Rights Era,” Republicans in at least 20 states have put forward or passed laws with the intention of making protest more difficult and the punishment for expressing dissent more draconian since President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January…  Republican lawmakers, it appears, have been emboldened by Trump’s open contempt for free expression. News outlets, alarmed by the trend, have kept a running tally of states with anti-dissent laws in the works. Common Dreams reported in April that the number had reached 19, up from 10 in January. Now, according to The Daily Beast, 20 states are in the process of attempting to suppress peaceful resistance.   More

75 Years for Protesting in Black?
But what civil liberties advocates find especially disturbing is the prosecution’s apparent strategy. With the first of the trials set for March 2018, there is scant evidence to substantiate the severity of charges against the activists. Only a handful of defendants who allegedly committed acts of rioting are named in the indictment. The rest of the indictment refers to “members of the conspiracy” to riot. Little evidence is offered other than that the alleged conspirators wore dark clothing, similar to outfits worn by black bloc brigades whose anti-capitalist presence at demonstrations is associated with property destruction…. “Obviously, it’s hard to know you could be facing a lot of time,” said Olivia Alsip. “We’re facing a maximum of 75 years, which is multiples the amount of time I’ve been alive. This case isn’t really about what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s about smothering any form of dissent that occurs that’s a threat to the state.”   More

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NEW WARS / OLD WARS – What Could Possibly Go Wrong

The Trump Administration’s Penchant for Escalation in Syria Must Be Challenged
From launching a volley of Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base, to repeatedly bombing pro-Syrian government forces, to shooting down a Syrian Air Force jet this past weekend, the Trump administration’s proclivity for escalation has led to a new chapter in the Syrian civil war. In this chapter, the threat of the U.S. sliding into all-out war with the Syrian government is higher, and the threat of direct confrontation with Russia is perhaps the highest it’s been since the Cold War.  Looking first at U.S. policy towards the Assad government, each new clash between U.S. and Syrian forces increases the likelihood of U.S. priorities in Syria officially expanding to include forcibly undermining or even toppling the Assad government… It’s unclear whether shortsighted battlefield decisions are now shaping U.S. policy in Syria more than any long-term strategy, or whether these escalations are in fact designed to draw us into a full-scale confrontation with Assad, but either way, the trajectory of U.S. policy in Syria has taken a turn for the far worse.   More

White House Officials Push for Widening War in Syria Over Pentagon Objections
A pair of top White House officials is pushing to broaden the war in Syria, viewing it as an opportunity to confront Iran and its proxy forces on the ground there, according to two sources familiar with the debate inside the Donald Trump administration.  Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council, and Derek Harvey, the NSC’s top Middle East advisor, want the United States to start going on the offensive in southern Syria, where, in recent weeks, the U.S. military has taken a handful of defensive actions against Iranian-backed forces fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  Their plans are making even traditional Iran hawks nervous, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, who has personally shot down their proposals more than once, the two sources said.   More

This Is How Great-Power Wars Start
Besides the risk of escalation with Russia, the more the United States starts directly attacking Shiite militias, the more likely the Iranian nuclear deal will completely break down. This would reopen the possibility of a U.S. war with Iran. Even before that point, Iran would likely react to counter the United States in the region by exerting much more aggressive influence over Baghdad. The nightmare scenario would be an Iranian puppet like ex-Prime Minister Nouri alMaliki getting back into power, and issuing a demand for U.S. forces to leave Iraq, which would put Washington in a vexed position of either accepting or returning to direct rule.   More

Syria the Latest Case of US ‘Stumbling’ Into War
Atlantic (6/9/17) earnestly pondered if the US was “Getting Sucked Into More War in Syria.” “Even as Washington potentially stumbles into war…” was how the article’s discussion began.  One of the most common tropes in US media is that the US military always goes to war reluctantly—and, if there are negative consequences, like civilian deaths, it’s simply a matter of bumbling around without much plan or purpose…  When US empire isn’t reluctant, it’s benevolent. “Initially motivated by humanitarian impulse,” Foreign Policy‘s Emile Simpson (6/21/17)  insisted, “the United States and its Western allies achieved regime change in Libya and attempted it in Syria, by backing rebels in each case.”  …War, of course, isn’t a “mistake.” Nor, unless your country is invaded, is it carried out against one’s will. The act of marshalling tens of thousands of troops, scores of ships, hundreds of aircraft, and coordinating the mechanisms of soft and covert power by State and CIA officials, are deliberate acts by conscious, very powerful actors.   More

How America Armed Terrorists in Syria
Gabbard’s “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” challenges for the first time in Congress a U.S. policy toward the conflict in the Syrian civil war that should have set off alarm bells long ago: in 2012-13 the Obama administration helped its Sunni allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar provide arms to Syrian and non-Syrian armed groups to force President Bashar al-Assad out of power. And in 2013 the administration began to provide arms to what the CIA judged to be “relatively moderate” anti-Assad groups—meaning they incorporated various degrees of Islamic extremism.  That policy, ostensibly aimed at helping replace the Assad regime with a more democratic alternative, has actually helped build up al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise al Nusra Front into the dominant threat to Assad…  The Obama administration’s Syria policy effectively sold out the U.S. interest that was supposed to be the touchstone of the “Global War on Terrorism”—the eradication of al Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates. The United States has instead subordinated that U.S. interest in counter-terrorism to the interests of its Sunni allies. In doing so it has helped create a new terrorist threat in the heart of the Middle East.   More

UAE and US accused of running 'secret prisons' in Yemen
The United Arab Emirates runs at least two secret prisons in Yemen and "disappears" high-profile inmates abroad for interrogation by US spies, two separate investigations alleged on Thursday.  A report by Human Rights Watch said UAE forces were arbitrarily arresting or forcibly disappearing Yemenis and appeared to have "moved high-profile detainees outside the country" including to a base in Eritrea.  In a separate investigation, US defence officials told the Associated Press that US forces had participated in the interrogations of hundreds of prisoners in the Emirati-run jails inside Eritrea and Yemen.  The UAE is a key member of a Saudi-led military coalition that entered Yemen's conflict in 2015 to battle on the government's side against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.   More

The Criminal 'Laws' of Counterinsurgency
There also must be the realization that our “national security” apparatchiks — principally but not solely the CIA — have served to exponentially increase the numbers of those people who hate the U.S. Some of these people turn to terrorism as an expression of that hostility. Anyone who is at all familiar with the CIA and Al Qaeda knows that the CIA has been Al Qaeda’s most important “combat multiplier” since 9/11, and the CIA can be said to have birthed ISIS as well with the mistreatment of incarcerated Iraqi men in U.S. prisons in Iraq…  In addition to the harm the CIA has caused to people around the world, the CIA works tirelessly at subverting its own government at home, as was most visible in the spying on and subversion of the torture investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The subversion of democracy also includes the role the CIA plays in developing and disseminating war propaganda as “information warfare,” upon the American people. This is what the Rand Corporation under the editorship of Zalmay Khalilzad has described as “conditioning the battlefield,” which begins with the minds of the American population.    More

The Saudis -- now joined by Trump and his foreign policy team -- have characterized the conflict as a war to blunt Iranian influence and the Houthi rebels have been cast as the vassals of Tehran.  In reality, they have longstanding political and economic grievances that predate the current conflict and they would undoubtedly be fighting at this moment with or without support from Iran.  As Middle Eastern expert Thomas Juneau recently noted in the Washington Post, “Tehran’s support for the Houthis is limited, and its influence in Yemen is marginal. It is simply inaccurate to claim that the Houthis are Iranian proxies.” … It’s bad enough that the Obama administration allowed itself to be dragged into an ill-conceived, counterproductive, and regionally destabilizing war in Yemen. Trump’s uncritical support of Saudi foreign policy could have even more dangerous consequences. The Saudis are more intent than Trump’s own advisers (distinctly a crew of Iranophobes) on ratcheting up tensions with Iran.   More

Secretary Tillerson Eschews Iran Diplomacy in Favor of Regime Change
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated he has no plans for negotiations with Iran and expressed favor for moving to support elements within Iran intent on regime change during testimony on the State Department budget in the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday. Tillerson’s remarks are certain to ratchet up tensions with Iran, where elements remain deeply suspicious of U.S. intentions and have levied charges on ordinary citizens for alleged collaboration with hostile powers…  On top of Tillerson’s effective endorsement of regime change, the top diplomat gave no indication that he had considered engaging Iran diplomatically. In response to a question from Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) on whether he would press his Iranian counterparts on the whereabouts of his constituent, Bob Levinson, who disappeared in Iran in 2007, Tillerson stated “I have no current schedule to meet with the Iranians.”   More

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Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine
The United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, seems to be championing a single cause: Israel.
When Haley speaks about Israel, her language is not merely emotive nor tailored to fit the need of a specific occasion.  Rather, her words are resolute, consistent and are matched by a clear plan of action.  Along with Haley, the rightwing Israeli government of
Benjamin Netanyahu is moving fast to cultivate the unique opportunity of dismissing the United Nations, thus, any attempt at criticizing the Israeli Occupation…  Sidelining the UN, then, also meant that the US would have complete control over managing the Middle East, but especially the situation in Palestine…  The US has supported Israel quite blindly at the UN throughout the years. Haley seems to adopt an entirely Israeli position with no regard whatsoever for her country’s allies, or the possible repercussions of dismissing the only international body that still serves as a platform for international engagement and conflict resolution.   More

Will New Saudi Crown Prince Usher in Open KSA-Israeli Alliance?
The Gulf Arab “game of thrones” took a dramatic turn Tuesday in Riyadh with the sudden ousting of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and the issuance of a decree by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud naming his son, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, as the next in the line of succession…  Across the Arab world, reports have swirled about a significant faction among Saudi royals hoping to move forward with the Israelis to carve out a nominal “Palestinian state” within the Occupied Territories, which in reality would be an Israeli-dominated enclave and “gussied up Palestinian prison” with a “fife-and-drum corps, and control over nothing” that Palestinian American historian Professor Rashid Khalidi has spoken of.  The establishment of this “state,” in the minds of Trump and the faction Mohammed allegedly represents, would then usher in the normalization of ties between the Israelis and the Saudi alliance comprising the kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain. Indeed, the Saudi-Israeli “condominium” has long worked in concert against their common foes in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Iran.  More

Americans disproportionately leading the charge in settling the West Bank
In recent years the main sources of immigration to Israel have been France, Russia, Ukraine and the United States. But while far more immigrants arrived in Israel last year from those first three countries, the United States took first place when it came to the number of immigrants moving to the settlements…  While French Jews accounted for 16 percent of all immigrants last year, their share among the settler immigrants was just over 2 percent. While Russians accounted for 27 percent of all immigrants, their share among the settler immigrants was just under 2.5 percent. For Ukrainians, these two numbers were 22 percent and just under 2 percent respectively. But while Americans accounted for just 10 percent of all immigrants, their share among the settler immigrants topped 9 percent. Similar trends were evident in the 2015 figures from the statistics bureau…  The Israeli government, therefore, knows better than to openly publish advertisements offering special rewards and financial incentives for those who build, buy or rent homes in the West Bank. That doesn’t mean, though, that it lacks more discreet ways of nudging newcomers over the Green Line.    More

'Devastating' survey shows huge loss of Israel support among Jewish college students
The current Israel advocacy programs are not working, and Jewish college students are the leading defectors from Israel support. ‘The future of America no longer believe that Israel shares their values’  … According to the report’s executive summary, since 2010, claimed knowledge of Israel has increased 14 percentage points nationally (from 23% to 37%) and is up among every demographic group (except for college students, where it is down 16 percentage points, from 50% to 34%). These increases, however, have not translated into increased favorability, which is down 14 percentage points (from 76% to 62%) nationally and by large margins across the board…  “The future of America no longer believe that Israel shares their values. This is huge! Devastating,” she said.   More

Saturday, June 24: Racism and Human Rights in Israel/Palestine, 7:30 pm, Beacon Hill Friends House
6 Chestnut St, Boston.  A Panel Discussion with Eve Spangler is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Boston College, Nadia Ben-Youssef is a lawyer and human rights advocate and Sa’ed Atshan is an Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore College.

Thursday June 29: Reclaim Roxbury Planning Forum: 6pm @ Dudley Library). The city is currently deciding how to build on public land in Roxbury, land that used to be housing that was destroyed by the city during Urban Renewal in the 1960-70’s. The city is saying they are including our voices in the process, but ultimately they are not allowing us to make decisions on land in our own community.

Tuesday, July 18:  National Bird, a film about the secret US drone assassination program, 7 pm, Central Square Library, 45 Pearl St, Cambridge.  Why is our government killing thousands of people around the globe they can’t even identify?  Directed by Sonia Kennebeck, this powerful documentary follows the dramatic journey of three whistleblowers who are determined to break the silence around one of the most controversial current affairs issues of our time: the hidden U.S. drone war, which has escalated under President Trump.