F-Word: Time for Socialist History Month?

It’s that time of year again, when we’re encouraged to celebrate Black and soon it’ll be women’s history month; the time when people like me ask, what about the rest of the year?  

This season, Black history month’s coinciding with the start of the presidential candidate primaries. On the Democratic side, we’re already seeing journalists stretching for their pencils to divvy the candidates up. So far, the main divides they've identified seem to stem from which of the contenders lead with race and gender justice, and which want to sock it to the corporations.    

But those social vs economic distinctions aren’t going to hold up for long when every last Democrat, for all their faults, is a civil rights paragon in contrast to the Klan endorsed guy in the White House.  

No,this primary campaign is not going to be about where Democrats stand on things like abortion and marriage and voting rights, but rather on where they stand on property rights and public ownership and workplace democracy and taxes. Much as they’re out of practice, journalists are going to have to grapple with economics. 

 

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F-Word: An End to Amazon’s Two-Bit Romance. No Low-Rent Rendez-Vous

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The Amazon corporation walked out in a huff.  On Valentine’s Day the retailer announced that its romance with New York is off. 
Faced with stiffer than anticipated resistance, the company announced February 14th that it is pulling out of its previously reported plan to build a gleaming corporate headquarters in Long Island City. 
The timing seemed perfect for what has felt from the start like a very old-school seduction routine. 
Having led this city and others around in an embarrassing flirt-to-the finish, Amazon, the wealthy suitor, chose to bed down in Long Island City. Now they’ve stormed out. Apparently Amazon didn’t like the fact that the city of Lady Liberty wanted to set a few terms before sex.  
Photo by Jacob Passy
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F-Word: In Prison, The Power's On But There's No Accountability

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The power is back on at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn and the street outside is relatively silent, but it shouldn’t take a week without heat during a polar vortex and hour after hour of hands hammering on windows, to sound an alarm about conditions in federal lock up.
The Metropolitan Detention Center Brooklyn is a holding jail mostly for people awaiting federal trial, just a few miles from downtown Manhattan. It’s a grim, recreation-less place, more like warehouse than house, rife with abuse, including sexual abuse, even in the best of times.
The end of January, as a record breaking freeze hit the Northeast, were not the best of times in the lock up. For at least a week, as far as we know, as many as1,600 inmates at MDC lost heat, light, electricity and access to phone and internet and attorneys and family visits.
mdc protest

We don’t know for sure how many shivered in the cold for how long because although it’s a federal facility, which is to say, it’s publicly funded, it’s the opposite of public. City officials got access last week, but only after a protest, only after those hands started hammering on those walls and windows in panic.

 

Here’s a clip.

 

That rapping was the most chilling sound I heard all week, until the President’s State of the Union Speech where he started bragging about bilateral action on criminal justice reform, the so called First Step Act. 

 

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F-Word: In the French Yellow Vests Murdoch Finds a Movement to Like

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When French protestors hit the streets in opposition to their President Macron, the Wall Street Journal called it a Global Carbon Tax Revolt, and sounded broadly sympathetic.

“Nothing reveals the disconnect between ordinary voters and an aloof political class more than carbon taxation,” wrote the editors.
Rupert Murdoch’s Journal wasn’t the only money media to find in the French a protest movement to get excited about.

Especially when those actions turned violent, the very same US media that are loathe to cover protests here, and that are beyond skimpy in their reporting of everywhere else, were all over the so called yellow vest rebellion. And no wonder—along with the close-ups on the graffiti at the Arc de Triomphe and the burning cars on the Champs Elysee, the reporters were able to tot up the damage to people and property and the French Presidency for taking action on climate change, and to make their real point: namely the lessons for Democrats.

“France ‘yellow vest’ protests should be a lesson for green activists in the US,” Fox News declared bluntly. Better think twice, they and others intoned, before acting on climate demands if you’re the leadership of the new House.


 

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Laura Flanders on George H. W. Bush's Legacy as One of "Merciless" Bloodshed

From the desk of Laura Flanders:
 
I couldn't face thinking too much about George Herbert Walker Bush last week, but today I'm ready, so here goes.
----
My first real job in journalism was working with Dennis J Bernstein and Robert Knight on Contragate (later called Undercurrents), a radio show on WBAI 99.5 FM New York which began as a daily update on the twists and turns of the Iran-Contra affair (1985-87). With Bernstein, one of the first feature stories I researched was on G.H.W. Bush for Rolling Stone. (The story was killed, as I recall, and I think we never got paid.) While the obits have done their best to sanitize the record, it's beyond bloody. As Jeremy Scahill put it well this week, George H.W. Bush is one of the imperial saints of the national religion of US exceptionalism. As such, his hands are dripping.
 
The senior Bush's history with with the CIA began before he became director in 1976 and continued long after. He was their man, bucking them up after the pesky Church Committee tried to rein the agency in after Watergate. Bush kept the covert operators of the Vietnam-era in work, in the Condor assassination program that fed and fertilized the Central American wars. Dictators served American capital's interests, and so Bush's CIA worked hand-in-dirty-glove, facilitating the assassination of their opponents all over the Americas, including on US soil, in the terrorist car bombing of Orlando Letelier and the Institute for Policy Studies' Ronni Mofffitt which happened on his watch, at the behest of Chile's Pinochet.
 
Bush never saw a death squad he couldn't make peace with, not in Guatemala, not in El Salvador nor Nicaragua. He endorsed the US bombing of Libya, the trumped-up invasion of left-leaning Grenada and the invasion of Panama to arrest Manuel Noriega, a drug dealer he had had an asset-to-master relationship with for years (even as Bush unleashed the racist "War on Drugs" at home.) Throughout the 1980s, Bush propped up dictators and covered up the slaughter of freedom fighters in Haiti, Guatemala, El Salvador, and of course Iraq, until men like Duvalier, Noriega and Saddam Hussein no longer served their US purpose.
 
 

 

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A Note From Laura

Dear all,

As many of you know, it takes a village to build one episode of one independent tv show. And certainly more than one Tuesday.  In fact, it might take 10 years. 

The Laura Flanders Show has been on air for a decade, from GRIT TV in 2008 to its current form. Over those years, a lot of thing have changed: our set, our format, our focus, and even our host's hair. Laura has interviewed forward-thinking people who say there are many alternatives to imperialist, capitalist, and white supremacist eco-apartheid. 

See for yourselves:
 

 

10 Years of Building Power Through Media.


In our 10th year, will you become a part of our project? Will you give $10, $100, or $1000 to support media that shines a light on possibility and that is building power, in solidarity with our movements? 

We need you with us.

With love,

Laura Flanders
 
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F-Word: HUD Officially Moves Into Public Housing?

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The federal housing official responsible for the New York City region says she plans to move into public housing to spotlight inhumane conditions, but if she really wanted to spotlight inhumanity in housing, she’d move big money out of precious city housing stock.   

Longtime Trump aid Lynne Patton told the press recently that she intends to move out of Trump Plaza where she lives and into public housing to cast a spotlight on the inhumane conditions in which some city residents live. Her target is NYCHA. The New York City Housing Authority is one of the nation’s biggest and in many ways the program’s flagship so it’s no surprise it comes in for lots of grief.

 

Image result for lynne patton

Some of it is well deserved. Federal investigators have found mold and rodents and lead in New York public housing. Over 25,000 residents spent a very frigid thanksgiving weekend without heat and hot water, some going for water from a hydrant in the street.  But Patton moving in for a month, on her $161,000 salary won’t shed a spotlight on inhumanity as much as on herself, and on the Trump agenda, which, like most Republicans' is about promoting the private at the expense of the public. Which is ironic given that Tump’s money, which is to say his father's money came to him from a public housing grant. Vilifying public agencies are part of the pro privatization agenda.  So is underfunding them.

 

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F-WORD: Amazon Wants to End Homelessness? That's Rich.

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They call it Giving Tuesday and we’ve just marked the seventh annual this week. It’s supposed to kick off a season of charitable giving, but the way some corporate robber barons use it for public relations is enough to turn your stomach. 
So let’s rename it Stomach-Turning Tuesday. This year’s prime stomach turner was Amazon, of course. The corporate megastore that would sell everything to everybody and put all competition out of business, publicizes its December-long #DeliveringSmiles program that supposedly gives away toys to kids. This year they announced they’ll give half a million dollars away in toys and throw in an additional $1 for every mile their #DeliveringSmiles trucks drove on #GivingTuesday. 
Amazon Seattle
This is the same trillion dollar corporation that just extracted billions of taxpayer dollars in what amount to bribes from two cash-strapped states, Virginia and New York.  Those public billions could have gone to public housing, or transit or other public services. Instead they’ll go to Amazon, one of the world's richest companies - to defray their costs for doing business. 
What’s in store for local residents? Well, Amazon’s first home, the city of Seattle is now the third most expensive housing market in the country. When Amazon arrived it wasn’t even close. According to the real estate site, Zillow, home prices in Seattle rose 73% in the last five years and rents another 31% .  
Call me cynical but I’d bet those Giving Tuesday dollars that Amazon’s giving to fight homelessness will come as cold comfort to those in Long Island City and Crystal City who are about to be made homeless.  
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for giving. But this isn’t charity, it’s feudalism. Aristocratic Amazon is tossing crumbs to peasants. And don’t forget  — for all those so-called charitable gifts, the company gets to claim a tax break. That picks yet more money out of public pockets and puts it back in the corporation’s. If only it happened just one day a year, instead of every Robber Baron week.  
Watch the Laura Flanders Show - which is donor supported - and learn about ways that people are shifting power from the few to the many right here right now, and all around the planet. Every week, on LinkTV, FreeSpeechTV, CUNYTv and online at www.LauraFlanders.org. And contribute to keep us Amazon-free. Thanks. 
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WTF White Women?

2016 was bad. 2018 was worse. While fifty-two percent of white women voted for Donald Trump and Mike Pence in 2016. In 2018, 76 percent of white women voted for Brian Kemp.

This Tuesday, 76 percent of white female voters in Georgia cast their ballots against Stacey Abrams becoming this nation’s first black female governor. 59 percent in Texas voted for Republican Ted Cruz against latino Democrat Beto O’Rourke. Fifty-one percent opposed Andrew Gillum becoming the first African American Governor of the Sunshine state.

White women rained all over that new day dawning. Did they vote on the issues? Statistically, there aren’t enough anti-choice, anti-healthcare, anti-minimum wage, gun-mad voters out there to blame just conservative women. 

So white women are either stupid or spoiled. I say spoiled. 

We reap plenty of spoils from white supremacy. To name a few: we get to be race-less, sexy, vulnerable and at least relatively safe. 

Structurally, the system’s set up such that white women earn more, own more, and live significantly longer than anyone else (except for our brothers and fathers and husbands and sons.) 

We’re more likely to be cared-for than killed when we’re having a mental health crisis and cops come to our door.

We’re more likely to be counseled than kicked-out when we act up in school. 

We’re way more likely to be hired, and way, way less likely to be incarcerated. That’s in no small part because we’re more likely to be seen as beautiful and loved (in advertising, magazines, and Hollywood), and far less likely to be seen as scary or a threat.

 

 

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F-Word: Hate Speech at Homeland Security

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Hate Speech Scrawled on Plaque at African Burial Ground National Monument 

 

Someone scrawled “KILL N------” on the African Burial Ground National Monument in New York this week, thirty five feet from the headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE and the FBI.

The racist graffiti showed up shortly before noon, Thursday, on the burial ground of 15,000 free and enslaved Africans.

The burial ground sits directly across from 26 Federal Plaza, a block away from the federal court house and a stone’s throw from City Hall. The street is closed to traffic by checkpoints and crash barriers and patrolled around the clock by federal police, as well as the NYPD, the Parks Department and private guards.

A bare expanse of grass with just a few explanatory signs, the Burial Ground attracts passers-by and Thursday was a glorious day.

Which is to say, someone, most likely in broad daylight, beneath half a dozen surveillance cameras, felt confident enough to write KIlLL N------- perfectly clearly on what has got to be one of the most highly policed blocks in the world.

Who?

Will we ever know? A picture of the defaced plaque was sent to the Public Advocate’s office and to a City Councillor. A call was made to the Hate Crimes Task Force, which transferred the caller to the NYPD. The federal police are aware of the situation, I was told.

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