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Report: “Failing to Address the Status Quo Will Drive the Racial Wealth Divide for Centuries to Come”

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A new report on the nation’s growing racial wealth divide was released on Monday by the Institute for Policy Studies, editors of www.inequality.org, and Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED).

DEDRICK ASANTE-MUHAMMAD, dasantemuhammad@CFED.org @DedrickM
CHUCK COLLINS chuckcollins7@me.com
Muhammad is the director of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at the Corporation for Enterprise Development and the author of “African-American Economic Inequality: A Twenty-First Century Challenge” within What It’s Worth: Strengthening the Financial Future of Families, Communities and the Nation. Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and long-time inequality activist.

The report is called The Ever-Growing Gap: Failing to Address the Status Quo Will Drive the Racial Wealth Divide for Centuries to Come . The report release coincides with the 2nd anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, MO. police officer, which spawned the Black Lives Matter movement and calls for racial justice across all segments of society. Here’s a summary of key findings within the report:

 

  • “If current federal wealth-building policies remain in place, it will take the average African-American family 228 years to amass the same amount of wealth that white families have today and it will take Latino families 84 years to reach that goal.

 

  • “By 2043, when households of color will constitute a majority of the U.S. population, the racial wealth divide between white households and African- American and Latino households will have doubled from about $500,000 in 2013 to $1 million.

 

  • “The Forbes 400 will see their average wealth skyrocket to $48 billion by 2043—more than eight times the amount they hold today. During that same period, the average wealth for white families will increase by 84% to $1.2 million compared to $165,000 for Latino families (69% growth) and $108,000 for African-American households (27% growth).”

CFED and IPS call for a range of reforms to address the problem, including fixing an “upside down” tax system that currently doles out more than half a trillion dollars annually to help primarily wealthy households get wealthier, while providing almost nothing to lower-income households.

U.S. Bombing Libya May Destabilize Tunisia

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VIJAY PRASHAD,
Vijay.Prashad[at]trincoll.edu,
@vijayprashad
Vijay Prashad is professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author of 18 books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter.

See Prashad’s article It’s Bombs Away for the USA in Libya,” on AlterNet.

“The United States returned to aerial bomb Libya. The target is Islamic State (IS) positions in the north-central city of Sirte. IS has held Sirte and its surrounding areas since last year. Sirte is the birthplace of Muammar Qaddafi, who was also killed there. After the fall of the Qaddafi government, this central Libyan town languished. …”

“Will the airstrikes actually degrade and destroy the Islamic State? It is not merely the Islamic State that is Libya’s problem. Airstrikes such as this will only move these fighters to other locations — to Tunisia, for instance, or to Benghazi. They will continue to be a serious problem in North Africa. Indeed, if they return to Tunisia, they will bring great peril to that country, which has only just seen its head of government lose a vote of no-confidence. In March, the Tunisian town of Ben Guerdane, on the Libyan border, saw virulent clashes between IS and the Tunisian army.”

Sheehan on Trump and Khan

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CINDY SHEEHAN, cindysheehanssoapbox@gmail.com

Sheehan’s son was killed in Iraq and she has repeatedly confronted Bush, Obama and other U.S. political figures about U.S. policy. Media outlets have brought up her name in light of Trump’s comments about the Khan family.

She debunked myths in two recent posts Do Tell, Obama?” and “Cindy Sheehan’s Statement on Trump vs. Khan.”


Get Out of Jail Broke Cards

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ARUN GUPTA, arun.indypendent[at]gmail.com, @arunindy

Gupta is an investigative journalist who has written for dozens of publications including the Washington Post, the Guardian and Salon. His most recent article was just published in The Nation.

He said today: “This 19-month investigation of a known sector of the for-profit prison industry reveals how hundreds of thousands of inmates are deprived of their money every year by shady ‘inmate banking companies.’

“The Nation went undercover at a Sheriffs conference and scoured migrant shelters in Tijuana to piece together how one company in particular is siphoning money from some 500,000 inmates a year with virtually no oversight or legal recourse.

“Reformers say the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau could easily close the loopholes that allow this predatory business to exist with simple rules changes.”

In the article, Gupta writes: “Veronica Thompson, a 31-year-old social worker, was arrested at another Justice Center protest … and was released as the sun rose the next morning. Eager for a quick bus ride home, a hot meal, and sleep, she was … handed a Numi [Prestige Prepaid MasterCard] instead of her $15.50 in cash. Thompson says the correctional officer told her, ‘It works like a debit card.’ He didn’t say, ‘Hey, there’s a bunch of fees attached.’ Among the documents Thompson received was a handout explaining that cardholders could avoid fees by getting money back from a cashier.

“Thompson attempted to get cash at a nearby convenience store, but the cashier refused her. With no money, she walked the three miles home. …

“In the following days, determined to avoid charges, Thompson used the card for no-fee purchases like groceries. But she hadn’t yet spent all her money when the monthly fee drained her balance.

“Transaction histories and bank receipts from seven people arrested in Portland over a 16-month period who received Numi cards show they lost from 7 percent to 67 percent of their money to fees. …

“At least 10 companies now offer release cards or inmate banking services to correctional systems. …

“Numi is one of many for-profit players in an increasingly privatized prison industry. State spending alone on corrections hit $52.4 billion in 2012. Hundreds of private-sector contractors now provide food, clothing, riot gear, phone service, computers, and health care, in addition to directly operating many correctional facilities. In addition, prisoners and their families pay for numerous services, including phone calls, a $1.2 billion-a-year business, according to the New York Times. …

“Leaked company emails indicate Numi’s high fees are an issue for many jails, not just Santa Clara’s. ‘The fee plans are designed to meet facility concerns over inmate fees (some locations are more concerned about this than others),’ reads one e-mail to a prison-industry vendor from Deloney. But for Numi’s corporate partners, the e-mail notes, those same fees ‘enhance the potential partner revenue share (the higher weekly fee structure naturally generates more profit for sharing).’ …

“Numi Financial has spread its products into our nation’s jails so quietly that many experts in criminal justice and the prepaid cards, even staff on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, were unaware of its operations until contacted by a reporter. Oversight is so minimal that, in Multnomah County, Numi routinely violates its contract. The contract stipulates that Numi charge the maintenance fee after five business days, but in all the cases we documented, the fee was deducted before the five-business day grace period ended. Hundreds, even thousands, of Numi cardholders from Multnomah County jails may have been improperly charged the $5.95 monthly fee.”

Trump and the Roots of Anti-Muslim Hate

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ARUN KUNDNANI, arun[at]kundnani.org

Kundnani is the author of The Muslims Are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror and a lecturer at New York University.

Kundnani said today: “Donald Trump’s slander of Captain Humayun Khan’s family is horrifying. But, in the rush to condemn it, it is easy to lose sight of why the Khans lost their son in the first place and what that tells us about our attitudes to Muslims. Humayun Khan died fighting in an illegal war, which was launched on the basis of Islamophobic lies and supported by Hillary Clinton. It is clear from the Democratic Party convention — with its chanting of ‘USA–USA’ in response to anti-war delegates — that Clinton will launch similar wars again if she is elected.

“She says we should embrace patriotic Muslims like the Khans in order to strengthen national security and show a positive image of the U.S. to Muslims around the world. But this implies that acceptance of Muslims is dependent on whether it is perceived to be in the U.S.’s geopolitical interests. This gives rise to a deeper danger — that American Muslims will be seen as suspicious and unworthy if they choose to oppose U.S. wars. True equality means treating Muslims as fellow citizens, not as pawns on a national security chessboard.”

“Hillary and Her Hawks”

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GARETH PORTER,
porter.gareth50[at]gmail.com,
@GarethPorter
An investigative journalist and author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, Porter just wrote the piece, “Hillary Clinton and Her Hawks” for Consortium News, which states: “As Hillary Clinton begins her final charge for the White House, her advisers are already recommending air strikes and other new military measures against the Assad regime in Syria.

“The clear signals of Clinton’s readiness to go to war appears to be aimed at influencing the course of the war in Syria as well as U.S. policy over the remaining six months of the Obama administration. (She also may be hoping to corral the votes of Republican neoconservatives concerned about Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ foreign policy.)

“Last month, the think tank run by Michele Flournoy, the former Defense Department official considered to be most likely to be Clinton’s choice to be Secretary of Defense, explicitly called for ‘limited military strikes’ against the Assad regime.

“And earlier this month Leon Panetta, former Defense Secretary and CIA Director, who has been advising candidate Clinton, declared in an interview that the next president would have to increase the number of Special Forces and carry out air strikes to help ‘moderate’ groups against President Bashar al-Assad. (When Panetta gave a belligerent speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night, he was interrupted by chants from the delegates on the floor of ‘no more war!’ …

“It is highly unusual, if not unprecedented, for figures known to be close to a presidential candidate to make public recommendations for new and broader war abroad. The fact that such explicit plans for military strikes against the Assad regime were aired so openly soon after Clinton had clinched the Democratic nomination suggests that Clinton had encouraged Flournoy and Panetta to do so.

“The rationale for doing so is evidently not to strengthen her public support at home but to shape the policy decisions made by the Obama administration and the coalition of external supporters of the armed opposition to Assad.

“Obama’s refusal to threaten to use military force on behalf of the anti-Assad forces or to step up military assistance to them has provoked a series of leaks to the news media by unnamed officials – primarily from the Defense Department – criticizing Obama’s willingness to cooperate with Russia in seeking a Syrian ceasefire and political settlement as ‘naïve.’

“The news of Clinton’s advisers calling openly for military measures signals to those critics in the administration to continue to push for a more aggressive policy on the premise that she will do just that as president.”

“No More War!” Chants at DNC

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McClatchy reports in “Protestors drown out former CIA director at Democratic convention” that: “Former CIA Director Leon Panetta was giving a … speech in support of Hillary Clinton when the crowd erupted.

“Chants of ‘no more war,’ ‘lies’ and ‘USA’ broke out at the Democratic National Convention, interrupting Panetta several times before he finished his speech.” See videos. “USA!” chants were used to drown out antiwar chants.

The Washington Post lists Panetta as a “loser” in its roundup: “Unfortunately for Panetta, his speech came the moment when the most committed Bernie Sanders supporters decided to make a statement; a chant of ‘no more war’ broke out on the convention floor, forcing Panetta to pause during his speech.”

LENNY SIEGEL, lsiegel[at]cpeo.org
Siegel is a Bernie Sanders delegate to the convention from Mountain View, California. He said: “The highlight of the evening for me came when former CIA Director Leon Panetta spoke. Other than honoring veterans, few speakers at the convention have addressed foreign policy. But Panetta was assigned to defend the Obama-Clinton policies of regime change and the war on terror, two terms they don’t use because they were associated with George W. Bush. To be honest, given what happened, I don’t remember exactly what he said, other than claiming credit for killing Osama bin Laden. I sat there quietly and sadly, holding up a hand-made sign I got from the fellow sitting next to me. It read, ‘End the drone wars.’ Democrats are quick to criticize Republican wars, but most are reluctant to challenge Democratic Commanders in Chief. I am not looking forward to four or eight more years of endless war.

“To my surprise, across the hall the Oregon delegation started chanting ‘No more war!’ Or maybe it was ‘wars.’ Our larger group quickly echoed them. I couldn’t tell if other delegates joined in. Before long, the masters of the house dimmed the lights shining on the Oregon delegation. We shouted ‘Lights, Lights …’ The Oregonians pulled out their smartphones and turned on their flashlight apps. It looked like a cosmic constellation. We shone ours, and I believe others were shining elsewhere in the arena.”

Siegel was a leader of the anti-war student movement at Stanford University from 1966 to 1975. He founded Mountain View Voices for Peace for both Iraq Wars. Since 1989, he’s become a national leader in the effort to clean up contaminated military bases. Today, he’s taking time off from the convention to meet with activists outside of Philadelphia on those issues.

DAVID SWANSON, davidcnswanson[at]gmail.com, @davidcnswanson
Swanson’s books include When the World Outlawed War and War Is A Lie. He said today that former CIA director and Pentagon head Panetta “tried to fearmonger by blaming Russia for supposedly interfering in a U.S. election (by allegedly revealing how the Democratic Party had in fact rigged its primary for Hillary Clinton). The delegates from Oregon began a chant of ‘No More War!’ and held up signs including ‘End the drone wars!’ California and other delegations joined in. Panetta had to stop speaking. The party bosses turned off the lights on the Oregon section, which then pulled out cell phones and turned on flashlight apps.

“Neither big party convention in the United States has expressed any interest in ending war, outside of that wonderful chanting. We’re going to be needing a powerful global peace movement to control U.S. warmongering. Help us build it by attending No War 2016: WorldBeyondWar.org/NoWar2016.” (See videos from Nobel Peace Prize winners Desmond Tutu and and Mairead Maguire supporting the conference.)

What Kaine Didn’t Learn in Honduras

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GREG GRANDIN, grandin[at]nyu.edu, @GregGrandin
Author most recently of Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman, Grandin just wrote the piece “Eat, Pray, Starve: What Tim Kaine Didn’t Learn During His Time in Honduras,” which states: “In picking Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate, the campaign has front-and-centered Honduras — not as a victim of Clinton’s realpolitik neoliberalism but as a sacred space of healing poverty. … [See accuracy.org news release “Hillary Clinton Killed Berta!“]

“Kaine was in Honduras for nine months (though two-year commitments for U.S. volunteers were the standard for Jesuits). Mary Jo McConahay, a journalist with longtime experience in Central America, told me that it is ‘notable that Kaine’s work is being described as “missionary,” as if fishing for converts, when it was anything but.’ According to his own account, he provided politically neutral technical training, helping with a program that taught carpentry and welding. Yet, as Boyer tells me, ‘if Tim Kaine was working as a Jesuit volunteer in 1980, he could not have avoided become immersed in these socio-religious, political currents and cross-currents. He would have been exposed to both conservative and generally more left and activist work of his hosts and mentors.’

“Kaine didn’t run for public office until the 1990s, so there is no public record of what his opinion was of the Contra war, or the Guatemalan genocide, or the 1989 murder of the Jesuits in El Salvador, or what his Honduran mentors thought of Pope John Paul II’s efforts to neutralize Liberation Theology.”

Grandin writes, Kaine uses his brief time in Honduras to “prove he is a true Christian to Virginia conservatives, to court the Latino vote, and, now, to convince rank-and-file Democrats he’s a progressive. …

“In Honduras, extreme poverty has increased since CAFTA has gone into effect, as has political repression, especially following the 2009 coup [while Clinton was Secretary of State]. Kaine, as far as I can tell, has said nothing about that coup (his beloved Jesuits condemned it in no uncertain terms). Watching Kaine talk about Honduras, he does seem troubled by the country’s poverty and political repression. But, like most neoliberal politicians, he disassociates in his political rhetoric the trade and security policies he votes for from the catastrophic consequences of those policies.

“Kaine helps the Clinton campaign transform Honduras from a real place, engaged in political struggle, into an imaginary kingdom of banality. The sharp political and economic analysis of someone like [recently assassinated activist] Berta Cáceres, who before her death named Hillary Clinton and U.S. policy as responsible for Honduras’s terror regime, is converted into the virtues of anonymous poor people offering up their ever-more-costly (thanks to CAFTA) food as a life lesson in humility.”

Grandin is a professor of history at New York University. His other books include The Empire of Necessity and Fordlandia.

* Poverty in Philly * Cáceres at TPP Rally

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CHERI HONKALA,
cherihonkalappehrc[at]gmail.com
Honkala is with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, which highlights glaring poverty and gross income inequality in Philadelphia, Penn.

See: “A guide to the Philadelphia DNC that media won’t show you, from extreme poverty to police misconduct,” from Salon.

The group helped organize the “March for Our Lives,” which released a statement: “The city will spend thousands of dollars to host this convention for millionaires and billionaires, yet fails to provide for its most vulnerable citizens. Demonstrate that this hypocritical practice is UNACCEPTABLE. Join us in demanding an end to unemployment, hunger and homelessness; money for education; affordable, accessible housing; living wages; and an end to the prison industrial complex. Money for the poor not for WAR!”

LAURA CACERES, via Lillian Boctor, lillian[at]ggjalliance.org
Laura Cáceres is daugher of slain Honduran Indigenous activist Berta Cáceres. She will join a rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the DNC Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon at 5:00 p.m.

It Takes Roots to Change the System released a statement: “Laura Zuñiga Cáceres arrived in Philadelphia this weekend on a bus full of multiracial organizers from across the U.S. who have been on the road with the It Takes Roots to Change the System People’s Caravan from Cleveland to Philadelphia demanding justice for her mother, Berta Cáceres. Berta Cáceres, a Lenca woman, was one of the leading organizers for indigenous land rights in Honduras. Internationally recognized for her Human Rights work, Cáceres won the renowned Goldman Environmental Award in 2015 for her leadership in the campaign to stop one of Central America’s biggest hydropower projects, the Agua Zarca cascade of four giant dams in the Gualcarque River basin. On March 2, 2016, Berta Cáceres’s life was taken from her and those who loved her when armed gunmen stormed into her home and shot her.”

Laura Cáceres said: “We know very well the impacts that free trade agreements have had on our countries. They give transnational corporations, like the one my mom fought against, the power to protect their profits even if it means passing over the lives of people who defend the water, forest and mother earth from destruction caused by their very own megaprojects.”

The group states: “The assassination of Berta Cáceres has become one of the most controversial issues of Secretary Clinton’s campaign because of her support of the military coup in 2009. Organizers on the caravan are calling on Secretary Clinton to take responsibility for the role of the U.S. in supporting the military coup, and to take immediate action to end U.S. military aid to Honduras. Among the DNC platform committee are House Representatives Keith Ellison (MN), Barbara Lee (CA) and Luis Gutierrez (IL) who are co-sponsors of the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act which calls for an end to U.S. military aid and training to Honduras.”

Protests at DNC

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RUSSELL MOKHIBER,
russellmokhiber[at]gmail.com,
@corpcrimereport
Currently in Philadelphia, Mokhiber is editor of Corporate Crime Reporter, a weekly print newsletter based in Washington, D.C. Mokhiber also produces a daily podcast — the Corporate Crime Reporter Morning Minute. On Monday afternoon he wrote the piece “Bernie Delegates Take on Bernie Sanders,” which foreshadowed the chanting and protests of the first night of the Democratic convention. On Twitter, he noted what some delegates were chanting during the speeches. This included — as speakers were claiming Hillary Clinton would be tough on Wall Street — “Release the transcripts!” and “Goldman Sachs! Goldman Sachs!” When Bernie Sanders talked about Hillary Clinton on crime, some shouted, “super predators!”

RAED JARRAR, rjarrar[at]afsc.org, @raedjarrar
Jarrar is acting director of public policy and advocacy at the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization based in Philadelphia. The group has worked with other groups in a series of protests in Philadelphia, see: dncactioncommittee.com/about/calendar for events. See recent interview with Jarrar, who focuses on foreign policy.

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