Archive for September, 2015


September 30, 2015

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio. Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. Next show: REPLAY TONIGHT at 9:00 PM Eastern Time 8:00 PM Central 6:00 PM Pacific. Mary Sanders and Arshad Saalik will join us to talk about the Community Party’s Sandra Bland Police Reform and Economic Justice Plan. Mary will also provide an update on the plight of the Spanish Speaking Center of New Britain, CT. SSC closed after 50 years, due to budget cuts. We’ll discuss the bipartisan war on the poor. Community Party Radio will return to its regular day and time next week: Tuesday, October 6. Former Auburn, Alabama police officer Justin Hanners will be our guest.



September 29, 2015

Tonight’s scheduled Community Party Radio broadcast has been postponed until tomorrow night, due to an important community event. Tune in at 9:00 PM Eastern Time, 8:00 PM Central and 6:00 PM Pacific. We’ll discuss CP’s Sandra Bland Police Reform and Economic Justice Plan with Mary Sanders and Arshad Saalik.

Community Party Police Reform & Economic Justice Plan

September 29, 2015

Activist Sandra Bland died in the custody of Waller County, Texas police July 13, 2015.



Community Party Police Accountability Legislation

Trayvon Martin Act

Mental and Emotional Crisis Act


Every 28 hours a Black person is killed by police, security guards or vigilantes. Police in the U.S. kill more citizens each year than all of the other developed countries combined.   Police in China, a dictatorship 41/2 times the size of the U.S., killed 12 people in 2014. Police in the U.S. killed 1100 people in 2014 and 476 in the first five months of 2015. The police in this country killed more people in three days in July 2015 than cops killed in Germany, England, Spain, Switzerland and Iceland in 2014 combined.  The United Nations Human Rights Council has denounced law enforcement in the U.S. for its failure to follow their recommendations.

Cops nationwide such as former LAPD officer Alex Salazar ( ), Retired LAPD Sgt. Cheryl Dorsey (, former Auburn, Alabama police officer Justin Hanners (, and members of the NYPD ( ) are all speaking out against police brutality, racism and corruption. A group of NYPD officers are suing the department over illegal arrest quotas.
Samuel Walker wrote a report that found Maryland police union contracts and officers’ bill of rights language impede accountability. Add to this biased district attorneys, an opaque grand jury process, and brutal, corrupt police officers are protected by a system that places them above the law. A holistic approach is required to address racial profiling and police violence in the U.S. This includes an urban policy plan which addresses economic issues and police containment of low income communities of color. Poverty and police brutality are both forms of state sponsored violence. Lack of economic opportunity forces urban community residents to engage in the underground economy, which brings them in contact with law enforcement. Addressing racial economic disparities is a key component of ending racial profiling and police violence. The so-called War on Drugs is actually a war on poor Black and Brown people. The disease of addiction is criminalized. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is a national organization of police officers who have declared the drug war a failure.  Gloucester Police Department Chief Leonard Campanello has launched a revolutionary program which treats drug addiction as a public health issue.

Police Union Contracts/Bill of Rights

Police union contract language, which includes officers’ bill of rights, impedes accountability. A provision regarding death/use of force investigations provides officers with up to ten days before they can be interviewed by investigators. Officers involved in the death or injury of citizens and any officers who are witnesses should be interviewed immediately and separately at the scene.

“Some police union contracts in the U.S. have provisions barring interviews with officers involved in use of force and other incidents for 48 hours. The Baltimore, Maryland, contract (and the Maryland Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights) provide for a ten-day waiting period. Additionally, there is evidence that some police  departments voluntarily delay interviews for 48 hours because of union pressure.
Police unions and their supporters claim there is “scientific evidence” that a stressful incident impairs an officer’s memory and that “two sleep cycles” (i.e., 48 hours) are required for that person’s memory to fully recover.
A report by Sam Walker, University of Nebraska at Omaha has found that there is no such scientific evidence. A systematic review of research by psychologists on the impact of stress on memory found no support for a 48-hour delay. The systematic review of 244 studies over 100 years found it a highly complex issue, with mixed findings.Walker’s report concludes that the police union claims for a 48-hour or longer waiting period are “ inconsistent, hypocritical and self-serving.” ~ Samuel Walker website

Misconduct Investigations/Disciplinary Process

Union contract/bill of rights language stipulates that a police officer or district attorney must investigate officers accused of misconduct, and that a three person panel including a peer police officer will hear an appeal on a finding of misconduct which could result in suspension or termination before the police chief decides on a course of action. Investigations should be conducted by an entity separate from the police department and the district attorney, who partners with the police on criminal cases. Appeals should take place after a decision on discipline is made. Peer police officers should not be involved in the appeal process, as this is an obvious conflict of interest. Police officers should have rights that are equal to those of community residents.

“First, it is unreasonable that such a hearing occur before the police chief has imposed discipline in the case. (The right to an appeal of discipline after it has been imposed is an established matter of due process.)  In practice, the Hearing Board provides an additional step in the disciplinary process that is an opportunity for mitigating the seriousness of the alleged misconduct. A proper disciplinary process involves the internal affairs (IA) or professional standards bureau (PSB) investigating allegations of misconduct, including citizen complaints, determining whether misconduct occurred, and forwarding that finding to the chief for disciplinary action.  Second, including a peer officer as a member of the Hearing Board serves to protect misconduct. This is a particularly serious matter in departments that have troubled histories of a pattern of misconduct. By giving the rank and file a direct voice in disciplinary investigations, the police union contract and Maryland law necessarily lowers the standards for police conduct. The peer officer member of a Hearing Board has a vested interest in shielding all officers from meaningful investigations and discipline.  In passing, it should be noted that the Maryland statute does not specify whether decisions of a Hearing Board require a unanimous vote or may be approved by a 2-1 vote. This is an ambiguity that creates uncertainty, possible disagreements, and possible appeals.”  ~ Samuel Walker website
The disciplinary process should remain transparent. Police departments should not be allowed to expunge the records of police officers who are accused of misconduct.
The police controlling dashboard and body camera videos of use of force incidents resulting in injury or death is a conflict of interest. A special prosecutor should have custody of the video. Officers involved in these incidents should not be allowed to view the video prior to giving a statement to investigators. A special prosecutor and the victim and/or victim’s family/loved ones are the parties who should view the video. The victim’s family/loved ones should have veto power on any decisions regarding release of the video to the public. Body camera videos should be live streamed.
50% of police killings involve people with mental illness. Officers who use excessive force against mentally ill people or individuals in crisis, especially when children are present, should face criminal sanctions. De-escalation should be the focus in these situations.Treating Drug Addiction as a Public Health Issue

The Gloucester Police Department drug program model has taken a revolutionary approach to addressing drug addiction. Individuals who bring their drugs and paraphernalia to the Gloucester police station will not face criminal charges; they will instead be immediately entered into treatment. Heroin overdoses have decreased since the Gloucester program was launched. Police departments should adopt the Gloucester model.

New Deal 2.0

U.S. Census data shows that child poverty, the poverty rate among families, the amount of people whose income is below the federal poverty level and the number of residents without health insurance in Connecticut have all increased since 2003.  The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) perpetuates the cycle of poverty, emphasizing low wage, dead end jobs over education and job skills training that will make clients more marketable, and increase their chances of obtaining gainful employment that  will lead to financial independence.  Black and Latino unemployment rates are at Depression era levels. The jobless rate among Black males age 18-25 is as high as 50%. Poverty and lack of economic opportunity fuel gun violence in urban neighborhoods. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program employed over 8 million people at its peak, pulling the U.S. out of the Great Depression. A New Deal type of program could deliver the same results in low income communities of color and poor rural areas.

Rocky Anderson, the Justice Party’s 2012 candidate for president, included in his platform a job creation initiative modeled after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Work Progress Administration program. Anderson described his plan during the Democracy Now! Expanding the Debate special, which aired in conjunction with the October 3, 2012 presidential debate between President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney.
 “During the last 43 months we have had more than 8% unemployment. It is the only time in this nation’s history that we have had a president that has presided even over three years of over 8% unemployment. There are things that have been proven in our history to work. We could have put in place, and it needs to be put in immediately, a WPA Works Progress Administration kind of program where we are investing in the future by building up our nation’s rapidly deteriorating infrastructure, putting people to work. In the WPA project they put 8.5 million people to work. We could be putting 20 million to 25 million people to work and making that kind of investment in our nation’s future.”
The UFE State of the Dream report found that funding from Obama’s 2009 job stimulus initiative did not reach urban areas and focused on industries that mostly employs
white people.
“Most of the job-creation projects in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and other federal initiatives are investments in infrastructure and transportation, ‘green’ building retrofits, and pass-through funds that help states maintain schools and other important programs. All are worthy, but there is no evidence that the jobs these initiatives create are going to the communities most in need. In some cases, the opposite is true.
• The Associated Press found that, across the U.S., stimulus money for transportation was directed away from where the economic conditions are most dire. More money went to areas with higher rates of employment.
• The New York University report Race, Gender and The Recession reported that federal recovery money is creating more jobs in construction and retail than any other industries. These are industries that traditionally have not been major job sources for African American communities.
If the rain falls on relatively well-watered areas of economic opportunity, it does little to revive the driest economic landscapes in our country. Targeted approaches are much more likely to be effective. Prioritizing our nation’s highest-unemployment communities is precisely the way to end the downward economic spiral in those places and start a real, broad-based recovery for the entire nation.
Congress must identify communities with the highest unemployment rates and target job-creation initiatives toward those communities, whether by census tract, zip code, or other method. This policy direction will lift up working-class white communities while narrowing the racial income gap. Congress should also ensure that as many of those jobs as possible pay a living wage. This report shows that broad-spectrum, universal solutions to the economic crisis will neither solve the pervasive racial wealth divide nor end gaping racial differences in income. We need job-creation and foreclosure-prevention programs that are targeted to communities most in need, including those with the highest unemployment and foreclosure rates. Such focused strategies will not only help close the racial wealth divide, but will lift up working-class families of all races.”
A federally funded, state WPA kind of program monitored through equity assessments would ensure that program dollars would reach low income communities of color in Connecticut. UFE explains how equity assessments would function.
“To ensure that stimulus funds reach working class and disenfranchised communities, equity assessments should be required for all federal spending. A proper equity assessment will track where funds go, what jobs are created and in what communities. Demographic data on race, ethnicity, gender, class, and geography will be required for an equity assessment. This information will help future government programs reach the disenfranchised and the working class, the communities who must be at the center of an economic recovery.”

Racial Economic Disparity

Blacks/Latinos currently earn about 60 cents for every dollar whites make, and possess about 10 cents of net wealth for every dollar whites have. Houses are the primary wealth asset for Blacks/Latinos. The toxic mortgage scam that contributed to the 2008 economic collapse disproportionately targeted people of color, who subsequently have lost their homes at a higher rate than whites. UFE recommends a plan to build wealth in low income communities of color.
Foreclosures – Draining the Wealth Reservoir:
Foreclosures continue to rise alarmingly. There were an estimated 3.4 million foreclosures in 2009 “Due to the rise in homeowner walk-a-ways, lack of forced bank modifications, growing unemployment figures… Housing Predictor forecasts foreclosures will now top 17 million homes through 2014.”
In addition to rampant unemployment, communities of color experience higher foreclosure rates due to racially targeted predatory lending, in which virtually every sector of the mortgage industry participated. A 2006 study that controlled for income and credit worthiness found that non-whites were significantly more likely than whites to receive high cost loans.
Revisiting the State of the Dream 2008: Foreclosed
The wealth-stripping effects of the recession and foreclosure crisis were documented in UFE’s 2008 State of the Dream: Foreclosed, which showed that predatory lending practices were stripping wealth from communities of color. People of color were more than three times more likely to have subprime loans than whites. Commonly, lenders gave people of color loans with less advantageous payment rates, even when they qualified for better ones. Lenders failed to provide those applying for a home loan with information on the strenuous repayment schedule. Lenders inserted stiff fines for people to pay to get out of a subprime loan if they discovered it was too expensive. Since homes are the main form of wealth for working-class families and especially for communities of color, these practices drained their wealth reservoirs to dangerously low levels.
Source: RealtyTrac reports, with NCRC projecting foreclosures for December 2009 (see Endnotes in report for full citation).
2007 2008 2009
In three years, there have been more than 7.1 million foreclosures in the U.S.
3,400,000 (estimate)
Over half of the mortgages to African Americans in recent years were high-cost subprime loans. This predatory lending formed the epicenter of the first stage of the foreclosure crisis. Significantly, more than 60 percent of those subprime loans went to borrowers whose credit ratings qualified them for lower-cost prime loans, according to a 2008 Wall Street Journal study.
The disproportionate damage from foreclosures compounds the economic challenges that communities of color face and makes their economic recovery more difficult. A recent study shows that workers laid off in an economic downturn can take up to 20 years to replace their lost earnings. Replacing the wealth stripped from communities by predatory lending and foreclosure could take even longer. And while some economic indicators are improving, unemployment and the foreclosure crisis continue to do long-lasting damage to the nation’s economy.
Are we narrowing or widening the racial wealth divide? Arresting the foreclosure crisis is a critical first step toward restoring health to the national economy. The housing industry employs millions of workers and provides the property tax base of cities across the country. Housing is also a main pillar of the nation’s credit markets; while that pillar remains shaky, credit cannot fully recover.
The irresponsible and predatory lending practices of our nation’s financial institutions directly led to the current foreclosure crisis that is stripping wealth from communities of color at alarming rates. The Obama Administration and Congress missed opportunities in 2009 to stop foreclosures, stabilize the economy, and start rebuilding wealth in the communities that the predatory mortgage industry targeted. Our government has an important role in protecting communities from the destructive actions of any party, be it the breaking and entering of a common burglar or the deceptive actions of the
mortgage industry. On this front, the government has failed.
While the Administration and Congress set up several programs to stem the tide of foreclosures, these efforts have been largely ineffective in getting the mortgage industry to renegotiate most mortgages.
Actions that could have been taken include:
• Declare an immediate moratorium on foreclosures. This would have stabilized housing markets, stopped the vicious spiral of wealth stripping in communities of color, and given the financial industry an incentive to renegotiate predatory loans.
• Give bankruptcy judges the power to lower mortgages for insolvent homeowners. This would have kept millions of families in their homes.
• Make mortgages more affordable by requiring cooperation from financial institutions with the affordability programs, including loan modifications, set up by the Administration.
• Strongly regulate financial markets and protect consumers. This would prevent future financial market failures that strip wealth and jobs from all communities and take down the nation’s economy.

Poverty and the Need for TANF Reform in Connecticut

by Mary Sanders

The candidates running for office this year are all avoiding the “P” word!  Poverty is a hot potato that causes candidates to cringe when questioned about their agenda to improve the lives of those most in need. For many single parents who are unemployed or underemployed, public assistance, also known as ‘welfare’, makes the difference in meeting their basic survival needs.  It used to be that people could get help as long as they needed it, there were also programs available to prepare people to become self- sufficient. What we have now does not meet the needs of families and individuals living in poverty.  The candidates for public office, all the way up to the governor’s seat, do not seem to understand or care enough to change things.
When President Bill Clinton’s administration announced the overhaul of the welfare system, what resulted was a federal maximum of 5 years of assistance throughout a person’s life. The message was, grab any job and don’t use up all your time in case you need it down the road!  Even in those states with the maximum of 5 years, this is problematic.  Imagine CT where you are only allowed 21 months and if you qualify a couple six-month extensions. The goal is to get as many people off assistance as possible during the year and look good to the feds. I know that someone analyzing the data may say, “CT has lowered the number of AFDC cases – Aid to Families with Dependent Children (now TANF, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) households by 10%.” But because important information is not attached to those closed cases, they neglect to say – or may not even know – that 3% of the clients are gainfully employed and 7% got kicked off the program for a variety of reasons.  After years of President Reagan’s demonization of “welfare queens”, CT’s welfare reform created an illogical timeline of activity that Department of Social Services caseworkers and the subcontractors are expected to enforce. The program used to be Job Connection and is now Jobs First. In the old program, recipients were assessed for potential return to school and/or vocational training. They were asked what they were good at and what career they would like to pursue and, if reasonable, their DSS social worker, the employment counselor and the school would work as a team to make sure nothing interfered with their training and job placement. This was changed to recipients spending a year looking for work before education or training is considered. It used to be that individuals needed a high school diploma to get a decent job; now that is not enough.
The last 2 decades have seen the largest growth of income for the elite few and the worst decline and climbing poverty rates for too many. And it’s not just that there are more poor people, it’s that more people are experiencing a deeper kind of poverty.  As “cash assistance” has ended for many, and people only have their food stamps, studies have shown that families exchange food benefits to buy their kids’ shoes and other household necessities.   Unscrupulous storeowners are complicit in this deprivation of food for the kids. They pay pennies on the dollar for whatever is left on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) card.  Parents do whatever they need to do when cash benefits end. This system is cruel and punitive; there is no way to get out of the vicious cycle of poverty. For adults with no dependent children it’s even worse, as city welfare departments were all closed in favor of the new State Administered General Assistance program. SAGA is a misnomer as little assistance is actually given. Recipients used to receive about $300 cash monthly in addition to their food stamps & Medicaid.  At least recipients could rent a room from someone. Now there is no cash assistance, resulting in extremely harsh circumstances for anyone who loses their job who has no unemployment benefits coming in. Lack of housing assistance is a huge problem and many new homeless are seeking some type of relief. The new 211 shelter line has at least 3 or 4 weeks of wait time for even an assessment and possible placement in shelters. This is not a good system for those seeking employment & stability. This is especially true for the able-bodied but long-term unemployed. That’s another story for another day but housing vouchers are what’s needed, so people can pay a portion of their income and have the stability they need to work towards self-sufficiency.
In spite of all the spending that goes to meet the DSS goals, pending cases sit on piled- high desks waiting for review, clients have no way to pay rent, buy food, get medical care, get childcare assistance, etc.  Applications are frequently lost, and it’s almost impossible to reach workers by phone. Caseworkers are overloaded and cannot provide the services they would like to for their clients.  Restrictions on what type of supports, training opportunities, and other services can be provided tie the hands of workers. On top of all the restrictions and the time limits, due to former Gov. Rowland’s privatization of the Jobs First program, state workers are no longer doing the case management they used to.  Now it’s up to private nonprofits, who are charged with getting X number of participants off the rolls each year. Get out there and prove you went to see 25 potential employers, filled out applications and got the names of the people you saw. Recipients must attend the workshops on how to fill out applications, how to interview, how to dress, etc., whether you’ve never worked or have an extensive work history and just need a decent job.
The benefit of 1 or 2 years of schooling would raise recipients’ potential earnings.  If people could get the proper supports and enter training paid by the Department of Labor or DSS, they might have a decent chance to become self-sufficient but those opportunities are few and far between.  It’s no wonder so many low-income people are lured into student debt trying to attend ‘private educational institutions’ that offer high cost trainings to anyone that will sign the loan notes.  Unfortunately, many people are falsely led to believe their training will be subsidized then all of a sudden they are signing off on loan applications. Many of them are unprepared and not able to complete successfully; they still owe thousands of dollars. Someone needs to do something about these for-profit schools and those that have changed their status to non-profit are no better. Lives are ruined and children are even more deprived when these predators take advantage of low-income folks seeking training opportunities that they’ll be repaying for the next decade or so.
For those TANF clients who have found employment; how about not terminating people’s benefits as soon as they become employed and letting them put a little something away for a rainy day? Clients are afraid to accept any job that will cause them to lose their benefits because these days jobs are temporary, do not provide benefits, and most do not pay livable wages.  Don’t say, “Well they can get back on assistance if they need to”. It’s not that easy!  If an individuals send their application in by mail, it’s frequently misplaced and needs to be done again. Forget about getting through to DSS workers by phone; clients can be on hold 30 minutes to 2 hours and may get to speak to the right person.  Most low-income people have free government phones with very limited monthly minutes.  Those could be used up in a couple calls to DSS.  I know the department is overwhelmed by all the new cases being opened, but there has to be a way to process people’s redetermination forms so that they do not constantly have their benefits cut off.  Many of them end up at our food pantry asking for groceries and the toilet paper we purchase for distribution. It’s a damn shame that in our wealthy state, we cannot properly administer mandated entitlement programs that provide for the basic needs of our residents. Apparently, the computer system in place is programmed to automatically terminate people’s benefits on certain dates, if a worker does not physically enter data to stop that from happening. That means that if the worker is behind, and has 100 redetermination forms piled up on a desk, whose due dates have past, all those cases will automatically be closed. People who were expecting to receive their cash or food benefits are then in a crisis situation, and when told they did not send in their redetermination forms, will just send them over again, creating an even bigger pile. More people comply than do not; therefore, it would make sense to de-program that automatic cutoff feature and have workers physically enter data to close any cases that warrant termination, either for noncompliance or eligibility reasons.
CT was already cited by the feds for their inability to get SNAP applications processed quickly enough and for disqualifying too many who actually qualified.  People should not be going hungry, especially the kids. Their parents should have decent employment but if they do need assistance, their food stamps also shouldn’t run out mid-month. In another case, the young mother with a 4-year-old shouldn’t have been cut off of her cash benefits after 21 months when she hadn’t finished preparing for her HS exam. Now she sleeps on the couch at her mom’s house with her son on a cot near her.  Someone should give her a housing voucher, daycare, a good educational/vocational program and help her, not punish her for missing an appointment and denying her extension. I opted our agency out of participating in the Jobs First model; I didn’t want to be part of that because I knew that most people needed more time. We run a food pantry and have a social worker but we also have English and GED classes and help people go to college. I don’t want to send people out to look for work if they have education and training needs.  Some of the regulations have eased up a little, allowing people minimal training & education opportunities, but the majority of recipients of public assistance are still denied real vocational training or college, which would truly help towards self-sufficiency.
Tell our public officials that money needs to be allocated for the hiring of additional caseworkers to handle the backlog; we need timely processing of applications for assistance. We also need to be able to speak with caseworkers directly and not be relegated to a phone system that routes calls to full voice mailboxes. Tell them that more time needs to be allowed on public assistance while folks are going through adult education and vocational training or higher education so they can reach self- sufficiency (New York City recently implemented reforms, see our Resources section below). SNAP benefits also need to be increased, as food prices continue to climb and more housing vouchers need to be issued for all municipalities, not just urban areas. Those becoming homeless or jobless are flocking to the cities in search of services that are already stretched thin.  Additionally, a committee of diverse stakeholders should meet regularly to assess the progress the department is making towards the goal of true client self-sufficiency. The department should not take credit for reducing welfare rolls when half of those exited simply were deemed non-compliant and were therefore removed. There are hungry children out there whom the department has forgotten about.
At the federal level, we already know that poor people are not a priority, and military and corrections systems are more fully funded than education, health and social services. Government officials believe it is more important to avoid taxing the rich and corporations, than to make sure kids have their needs met.  It is time we rethink our priorities and come up with ways to protect our most vulnerable. There have been a few active grassroots community groups and non-profits trying to improve the lives of families living in poverty, a couple of them in Hartford have been around for years, organizing and meeting with legislators. The Community Party is also part of the discussion and we have some ideas on how to come up with the money needed.  Plans to address hunger, affordable housing, healthcare, and education for low-income CT residents are the topics I want to see on the candidates’ platforms. Why aren’t they discussing these critical issues?  Why are they afraid of the “P” word?
We will continue to enhance this plan in the coming months. Follow the Community Party on Twitter for updates. We will present this policy paper to legislators.

David Samuels


Contributors:  Mary Sanders, Laurie Valdez, Janet Frazao-Conaci

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio

September 29, 2015

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio. Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. Next show: Tuesday at 9:00 PM Eastern Time 8:00 PM Central 6:00 PM Pacific. Mary Sanders and Arshad Saalik will join us to talk about the Community Party’s Sandra Bland Police Reform and Economic Justice Plan. Mary will also provide an update on the plight of the Spanish Speaking Center of New Britain, CT. SSC closed after 50 years, due to budget cuts. We’ll discuss the bipartisan war on the poor.

Native Groups Protest Pope Francis’ Canonization of Junípero Serra over Role in California Genocide

September 24, 2015

Check out the Democracy Now! website:

Pope Francis’ decision to canonize the 18th century Spanish missionary Junípero Serra has drawn a strong protest from many indigenous groups. Serra founded nine of the 21 missions in California that later were the basis of what is now the modern state. Hundreds of thousands of people died after the missionaries arrived. According to historian Alvin Josephy, what happened in California “was as close to genocide as any tribal people had faced, or would face, on the North American continent.” We speak to Valentin Lopez, chair of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. He’s been leading efforts to oppose Pope Francis’ decision to canonize Father Junípero Serra.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Valentin Lopez, I wanted to ask you about this—the founder of the California missions and the controversial role he is seen as having played throughout history, yet the pope is talking now about the possibility of canonization for him.

VALENTIN LOPEZ: Yes, he will be canonizing Junípero Serra in the—today, I believe, later today, here—in Washington. Junípero Serra was brutal for the California Indians. He was the first padre presidente. As a result of that, it was his responsibility to develop the systems and the regulations and the policies for capturing and caring for the—well, I say “caring for”—and holding the Indians. They would go out with soldiers and forcefully capture the Indians and march them to the mission. Once they got to the mission, they could not leave. They were a labor force for the missions. They were a slave labor force for the missions. If they ran away, they would send out the soldiers to capture them and bring them back, and they would be whipped repeatedly, sometimes for up to a month.

During the mission time—also, the other things that the missions are, that they separated families, mothers from fathers, from children. Part of the reason for that is so that the parents couldn’t pass on the culture to the children, and so it was an actual—a culturecide of the indigenous people there. The missions would use shackles, and they used stocks on the Indians. The women that were—when they separated the families, the women were repeatedly raped by the soldiers. There was no other women in California at that time. And so, the men would go into the women’s dormitory or barrack at nighttime and just repeatedly rape them. Those dormitories were locked, but the soldiers would just go on in and repeatedly rape them.

The conditions of the missions were horrible. They would just put a pot in the corner for the—to use as a bathroom, and that was all, and they were not showering and stuff like that, so they talked about the smell in there just being horrible. Whenever disease would come, it would just go through like a wildfire. It wasn’t unusual to have 10—I mean, 1,200 Indians dying at one time. In Mission San Juan Bautista, during that period of time, there were over 19,000—during a 36-year period of time—26, rather, year period of time, 19,421 Indians died. At the beginning of the mission period, there were 30,000 Ohlone Indians. That’s Monterey to San Francisco. At the end of the mission period, there were less than 100. In total, over 150,000 California Indians died under this system that Junípero Serra developed.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Rubén Mendoza of California State University, Monterey Bay, was invited to the Vatican in April as part of a panel of experts to discuss the basis for Father Serra’s canonization. Mendoza told USA Today, quote, “Father Serra was not only a man of his time, he was a man ahead of his time in his advocacy for native people on the frontier.” Others have also defended the pope’s choice for canonization. Monsignor J. Michael McKiernan of Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano said Father Serra helped spread the love and mercy of God.

MONSIGNOR J. MICHAEL McKIERNAN: I think the role of somebody like Serra, who had human flaws and difficulties and struggles and was set in his own time, yet had a vision and had an ability to look into a place and say, you know, “We need to bring Christianity here, share the love of God and the mercy of God with the people of this time.”

AMY GOODMAN: If, Valentin Lopez, you could respond to these comments?

VALENTIN LOPEZ: Two things. When they were closing the mission, the last padre presidente said, “We are going to be judged very harshly. All we have done was consecrate, baptize and bury the Indians. There are no Indians along the coast of California. We have killed—they’re all dead.” And they said, “We need to come up with a”—basically, that we need to come up with an alibi or an excuse for what happened. And so the Catholic Church started creating the myth that Junípero Serra was wonderful to the Indians, that the Indians came in voluntarily, they came in for a better life, they came in to learn agriculture, and they came in to find God. And they started teaching that. And then, in the California schools, when they started developing their curriculum for schools to teach the mission period, they went to the churches to find out about the mission period, and that’s what they learned. And so, for generations, you know, I mean, ever since the time beginning, that is what they taught, that Junípero Serra was a very gentle and kind person. But there’s nothing that can be any further from the truth.

And saying that he is a man of his—well, the Catholic Church has evidence of what I just said. The Catholic Church, if you went to a lot of the Catholic websites, they will say that Junípero Serra was the first person to develop a bill of rights and that he developed a 32-point bill of rights for the California Indian. And all of the Catholic sites refer to that. But yet, whenever you go look for that site—that bill of rights, it’s very hard to find. And when you find it, all it is is a document that is meant to increase Serra’s power over the military and give him more control over the Indians. Spain wanted to go to develop cities in California, so they can bring in other people. They wanted to develop San Jose and Los Angeles. But Serra wanted to build additional missions and stuff for the Indians. And as a result of that, there was a big struggle, and so he wrote a 32-point bill of rights for the Indians that had nothing to do with Indians.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Valentin, I wanted to ask you, in—contrary to what the pope has done here with the Spanish presence in the United States, he was speaking earlier this year in Bolivia, where he apologized for the Catholic Church’s complicity in the oppression of indigenous people in Latin America. This is what he said.

POPE FRANCIS: [translated] I say this to you with regret: Many grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God. My predecessors acknowledged this, CELAM has said it, and I, too, wish to say it. Like Saint John Paul II, I ask that the church “kneel before God and implore forgiveness for the past and present sins of her sons and daughters.” I would also say, and here I wish to be quite clear, as was Saint John Paul II: I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Pope Francis in Bolivia. But many native peoples are calling on him to renounce, finally, the doctrine of discovery that was pronounced in certain papal bulls. Could you talk about that, as well?

VALENTIN LOPEZ: The documents of discovery were documents that were issued—were papal bulls. That means they’re basically the word of God, given by the popes in the mid- to late 1400s and very early 1500s. The popes issued a number of papal bulls that said that it was—that the indigenous people are pagans, savages and heathens, that the indigenous people have no soul, indigenous people are the enemies of Christ, that we should be cast into perpetual slavery, and that all our property and our possessions should be taken. And that right there was the basis for the conquering and conquest of much of the world, including India, Indonesia, the Pacific Islands and all of the Americas.

AMY GOODMAN: You wrote a letter to the pope opposing the canonization of Father Serra; as well, you wrote it to Jerry Brown, the governor of California. Did you receive a response on either case?

VALENTIN LOPEZ: We’ve actually written six letters to Pope Francis and two letters to Governor Brown. We received one response about two weeks ago from the archbishop of New York, who’s at the Holy See Mission at the United Nations. Basically, he said that the church has received the letters and read them, and the secretary of state asked him to forward an historical note, one-page historical note, that was developed in 1986, I believe. And that historical note said very simply that the church has looked at all the records and had the best historians take a look at Serra’s life, and they all conclude that Serra is worthy of sainthood. And they do this with—and they are recommending the sainthood with a clear conscience.

False Choice: The Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color

September 23, 2015

Trebol Press has published Community Party founder David Samuels’ first nonfiction book on politics. The Democrats and Republicans spar publicly, but the reality is that these two parties have more in common than they have differences. This duopoly is run on corporatist economic policies that benefit the ruling class, at the expense of the workers and the poor. Global hegemony is at the core of the foreign policies of the Dems and the GOP. False Choice is a diary of national and global issues, set against the backdrop of the Connecticut gubernatorial election between incumbent Gov. Dannel Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley that was rated as the most negative in the country in 2014. The book also features commentary on politics at Hartford City Hall, including analysis of the highly controversial baseball stadium deal orchestrated by Mayor Pedro Segarra and City Council President Shawn Wooden. Segarra will face challenger Luke Bronin in a Democratic Party mayoral primary September 16. Visit the Trebol Press website for ordering info.

Don’t Get Berned Again! The Sanders Bribe

September 23, 2015

Check out the Counterpunch website:

by John Walsh September 21, 2015

By now we have heard chapter and verse, repeatedly so, on the failure of Bernie Sanders to take an antiwar position, much less a stance against U.S. Empire. (Yes, Bernie, there is an Empire.) Paul Street is a leader in the genre with well-documented dissections of Sanders’s flaws on every front and David Swanson provides the latest addition.

The Pro-Empire Candidate

We have heard Sanders’s defense of the Israeli atrocities in the bombing of Gaza, his call for Saudi Arabia to do even more killing and his concern about Putin for – well, being Putin and Russian. Thus Bernie is joining a cheering section that could root us right into nuclear war and oblivion. Here cited by Chris Hedges is a sample from an interview with Bill O’Reilly:

‘“The entire world has got to stand up to Putin. We’ve got to deal with sanctions, we’ve got to deal with freezing assets,” and “You’ve got to totally isolate them politically. You’ve got to totally isolate them economically… You freeze assets that the Russian government has all over the world… International corporations have huge investments in Russia, you could pull them out…”

Confirmation comes in an NPR interview with David Green:

BS: …..The United States has got to work with our European allies and allies throughout the world to come up with an intelligent, rational approach to deal with Russia, to deal with ISIS and deal with other national security threats.

DG: Sounds like you would intervene less than this president has?

BS: No, I didn’t say that. You’ve got to look at each particular case, obviously.

And, obviously also, there is not a shred of anti-interventionist or anti-imperial philosophy displayed here.

To give Bernie credit, he did vote against the war on Iraq and he has supported the nuclear/sanctions deal between Iran and the U.S., Russia, China, UK, France and Germany. (Certainly the latter is a positive step toward peace in that it removes the Israeli excuse for an attack on Iran, but it remains unclear how Obama and company intend to use the deal. Is it simply a way to free up resources from the Middle East for an assault on Russia and China? That is the most likely outcome, but we shall see.) And certainly Sanders’s Iraq vote suggests he is not as reckless or bloodthirsty as Killary, but that is setting the bar somewhere beneath the belly of a viper.

Bernie’s Bribes

The fundamental problem with Sanders’s campaign is that it is based on bribery, and an especially immoral sort of bribery at that. For Bernie promises more social benefits if we, the beneficiaries, let him continue the Empire’s warfare – both economic and military. That is a most unsavory sort of bribe. Basically he gives us butter if we give him guns to kill innocents.

In fact, Killary’s campaign is much the same thing, perhaps presented in a more noxious, arrogant fashion as only she can do, but nevertheless the same thing. So it is not surprising that a few weeks back E.J. Dionne in his weekly cameo on NPR suggested that Bernie’s campaign could help Killary by keeping attention focused on domestic issues. Unsaid is that such an approach keeps attention off the constant wars and interventions.. And most important, Bernie soaks up support and energy that progressives might otherwise bestow on a genuine anti-interventionist candidate. In so doing he protects Killary.

Sanders’s stance is the essence of every imperial candidate. On the Republican side, the goodies promised are tax cuts in return for the electorate’s backing of wars. In fact this is the tactic of every Empire. The British provided unparalleled freedoms at home while they raped much of the globe. Even in the Roman Empire a citizen had privileges, which non-citizens lacked. For example a Roman citizen convicted of a capital crime was not executed by the horrendous torture unto death of crucifixion – unless for treason, that is, a lapse in loyalty to the Empire. Bernie is only the latest to promise the imperial citizenry more goodies if we are loyal to the Empire. This does not mean that Bernie is worse than the other candidates – only that he is no different from them. He is simply more of the same.

Bernie Will Be a Loser With His Present Strategy.

But there is something even more troubling about Bernie. As Obama showed in 2008, Killary’s Achilles heel is her blood curdling, deranged bellicosity. So Obama paraded as a peace candidate. Unfortunately he was And this would be a winning strategy for Bernie. There is a substantial peace base in the Democratic Party, and virtually every one of his supporters would welcome an anti-Empire position. It would motivate them and also quiet those many antiwar progressive voices now opposed to him. It is most odd for a candidate to eschew a winning strategy. The conclusion is that interventionism is Bernie’s heartfelt conviction.

Sanders is an advocate of what was once called in the socialist movement “social chauvinism” in contradistinction to “social democracy.” Social chauvinism, where loyalty to Empire replaces loyalty to peace and the humanity of all nations, has been a plentiful commodity on the planet since World War I, at least, and Sanders appears to stand squarely in that barbarous tradition. On domestic matters there is little difference in the rhetoric Killary and Sanders will deploy in the campaign; he is Killary’s doppelganger. Thus Sanders is unable to distinguish himself sharply from Killary, and politics is all about making clear distinctions for the voters. So with his present strategy, he will lose.

The Task for Sanders Supporters

To return to Paul Street’s analysis, on one matter he falls short. He writes in answer to the ever wishy-washy David McReynolds: “I’m really not sure why … (McReynolds) puts the onus on peace and racial justice activists to initiate discussion with Sanders. Those activists are not purporting to run for the White House. Sanders is. If he’s serious about peace (not likely) and racial justice (probably), then it’s on him to reach out to movements.” But that is just the point. If these activists are working to put Sanders in the White House and he is an interventionist, aka social chauvinist, then it is up to them to either withdraw their support or demand a change in Sanders in return for that support. That seems pretty obvious. As Nader points out the time to make demands of a candidate is before you give them support, because after they are elected all leverage is lost. Did these people not learn that when they scurried after Obama in 2008 on the basis of “trust” and “hope”?

So the question must be put. Is it moral to support a candidate to get some more goodies in return for the sacrifice of ever more lives by the US military machine? Or if this moral appeal does not move the Sanders supporters, then the prospect of a new World War with Russia and/or China should give them pause. As a decades long worker for Single Payer, I am not willing to gain Single Payer as Bernie promises at the cost of more war, death to innocents in the developing world and perhaps annihilation of humanity. The task for Bernie supporters is to demand and get an antiwar stance or drop their support. Not only is this a winning strategy as opposed to the losing strategy Sanders is now pursuing; it is the ethical position.

So if you are “feeling the Bern,” especially if you supported Obama in 2008, watch out. Don’t get Berned again.

John V. Walsh can be reached at

The Trumpocalypse: Democrats Rule Blacks by Fear

September 23, 2015

Check out the Black Agenda Report website:

Submitted by Glen Ford on Wed, 09/09/2015

Trump is a very useful man, to both the Democratic and Republican factions of the ruling corporate party. The “White Man’s Party” (Republican) faction can blame excesses of hate on him, and the other faction (Democrats) can make their case as the lesser evil. Black people will once again feel they have no choice in the matter. “It is fear of Republicans that holds Black people captive to the Democratic Party.” That’s why the party is a trap.

The Trumpocalypse: Democrats Rule Blacks by Fear

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“The White Man’s Party will be a permanent contender for national electoral dominion as long as white supremacy remains the dominant ideology among white people in the U.S.”

Donald Trump, the real estate developer who plays a billionaire on television and in real life, has added new levels of sleaze and maniacal white Know-Nothingism to the U.S. electoral farce – which makes him a very useful man, indeed. Republicans can blame Trump for pulling the bar of their party’s racial discourse down to sewer levels. “Some party leaders worry that the favorable response Mr. Trump has received from the Republican electorate is luring other candidates to adopt or echo his remarks,” wrote Jonathan Martin, in Monday’s New York Times. “It is a pattern, they say, that could tarnish the party’s image among minority voters.”

To the unaided eye and ear, this election cycle’s GOP lineup is not demonstrably more, or less, racist than the 2012 crowd, but this time they can blame it on The Donald. The devil (Trump) made them do it (behave like the white supremacists they are, including Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson).

Trump is even more useful to liberals and Democrats of all kinds. He is the Trumpocalypse, the guy who makes the other evils appear lesser. In this week’s New Yorker, Evan Osnos’ article “Trump and the White Nationalists” informs us: “Ever since the Tea Party’s peak, in 2010, and its fade, citizens on the American far right – Patriot militias, border vigilantes, white supremacists – have searched for a standard-bearer, and now they’ve found him.”

“This time they can blame it on The Donald.”

That may or may not be true, but the Democrats have surely found their “trump” card in The Donald, whose singular rhetorical non-flourishes make them look MLK-like in comparison. Electoral politics in the United States is comparison-shopping at its most vulgar and pointless, with Wall Street vetting the choices offered by both parties.

One of them must be The White Man’s Party. This function had been performed by the Democratic Party and its predecessors since the days of Thomas Jefferson. When the Republican Party emerged in the decade before the Civil War, the Democrats made sure to label it the “Black” party, for the sake of racial-political continuity, even though Abraham Lincoln and many, if not most, of his colleagues would have preferred that free Blacks be deported from the country, rather than elevated to full citizenship. The Democrats retained their status as the White Man’s Party in the South through the Franklin Roosevelt New Deal years until 1948, when South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond briefly bolted the party to protest the dilution of their brand by northern members pushing a civil rights plank in the platform. The Dixiecrats rebelled again in 1964, opting for Goldwater Republicanism. Richard Nixon sealed the deal in the 1968 election with his “southern strategy,” effectively transferring the White Man’s Party brand to the Republicans.

“Electoral politics in the United States is comparison-shopping at its most vulgar and pointless, with Wall Street vetting the choices offered by both parties.”

There is no Black people’s party. There have been some brief efforts at independent Black electoral politics, but they have all become imprisoned in the bifurcated muck of the Democratic Party vs. The White Man’s (Republican) Party, with Wall Street reigning over both.

If Black people in significant numbers were so foolish as to invade the Republican Party – as they did the Democratic Party in the South, following the Voting Rights Act – the GOP would repel them like foreign organisms, or create a new organization (Tea, anyone?) to reclaim the coveted White Man’s Party brand. The White Man’s Party will be a permanent contender for national electoral dominion as long as white supremacy remains the dominant ideology among white people in the U.S. (White majorities have not voted for the Not-Entirely-White Man’s Party [Democrats] in national elections since the burning baton was handed to the GOP, in 1968.)

The racial bifurcation of what is actually a Rich Man’s electoral duopoly makes the Democratic Party a trap for Black people. The subtext of the Black electoral conversation, since the founding of the Republic, has always been about protection: which party is more willing to protect Black people from the worst excesses of the most aggressive white supremacists? Certainly for the last half-century, the Democrats have won that argument largely by default, since race hate is the Republicans’ barely-muffled sales pitch.

It is fear of Republicans that holds Black people captive to the Democratic Party, not high ideals or a shared worldview or a Democratic track record of service to the group that makes up about a quarter of its members – and a lot more in the South. In the end, it all boils down to fear of the “crackers” that gather under the Republican brand.

“The Black elite – and those that aspire for membership – cling to the Democratic Party like a lifeboat.”

Of course, a small Black elite actually derives some benefits from ties to the Democratic Party, in the form of patronage jobs, contracts, discretionary grants, entrée to corporate boardrooms, etc. They are the most fearful of all – afraid of losing their precarious privileges, and terrified of the instability that might result if the masses of poor Black people, especially the youth, lost their fear. The Black elite – and those that aspire for membership – cling to the Democratic Party like a lifeboat, and curse those who might abandon the vessel. They want all of us trapped in the hold.

But, that ship – like the ones that brought us to these shores – is not, and cannot possibly be, bound for freedom. Black Democrats know this full well, but they have signed on with Captain Clinton, or whomever the Party assigns, in dread of Donald Trump and the rest of the Republican pirates. The same thing will happen, with different captains, the next election cycle. Independent Black politics is forever postponed.

Maintenance of the Democratic Party amounts to preservation of the racially bifurcated Wall Street duopoly in perpetuity – and to perpetual fear. All our efforts must be dedicated to building a mass Black movement that is not just independent of the two corporate parties, but opposed to them. In the process, we will forge allies that are similarly opposed to the rule of Wall Street, here and abroad, and are respectful of our right to self-determination.

Take time to go see The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. It will remind you of a time when some of us conquered our fear.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Glen Ford’s blog
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Brilliant Article

Submitted by Ralph dd on Wed, 09/09/2015 – 17:05

Mr Ford, you have explained some things that many feel but were not able to put it into words. I hope this article is featured on some of the other websites that pick up your articles but I would be surprised as they may not when push come to shove want to awaken the sleepy lesser of two evils black democrat voters. As you stated, the intersts of white democrats and black democrats are not one and the same. Most of us get to be a large part of the sheep herd that the sheepdog patrols and our turn at bat never comes. Its telling it like it is with no shame.

Who gets hepatitis C drugs? Who pays?

September 23, 2015

Check out the SF Bay View website:

September 23, 2015

by Peter Erlinder, Esq.

The recent op-ed by North Memorial Healthcare CEO Kevin Crosston and Medica V.P. Robert Longendyke responded to a first-in-the-nation class action lawsuit seeking the new FDA “breakthrough” cure for life-threatening hepatitis C infections by 1,500 Minnesota Department of Corrections prisoners, first reported by Chris Snowbeck of the Star Tribune.

They wrote that the prisoners’ suit – filed by the International Humanitarian Law Institution that I founded and direct – had started a statewide “conversation” about “ethics, costs and access” because the drugs are a 95 percent effective cure but cost $90,000 for the 12-week course of daily oral medication. In conclusion, they wrote, “(T)he best patient and consumer is … informed and able to be his or her own best advocate.”

The fact that respected health care executives acknowledge that this prisoners’ lawsuit has encouraged this statewide health policy “conversation” is very gratifying. But a meaningful “conversation” about either the lawsuit OR treating the hepatitis C epidemic is not possible without providing facts the authors left out:

“Who gets treated for hepatitis C?” is a medical decision for infectious disease specialists, not a question of “ethics, costs or access” for well-meaning executives.

“Who pays?” depends on measuring the real social costs of failing to treat a national epidemic and cannot be measured by the limited considerations of private entities and public agencies in a single state, or even several states.

First, a “Minnesota conversation” is valuable, but the HCV epidemic infects some 4 million Americans, most of whom don’t know they are infected. The Centers for Disease Control say more die from the Hep C virus (HCV) than from HIV/AIDS every year. Like polio, the nation’s bloodstream has to be cleared of HCV for Minnesotan’s to be clear of the infection. The HCV epidemic does not respect borders.

Second, the Minnesota lawsuit was filed after the FDA approved the “breakthrough drugs” and professional associations the American Association of Liver Disease, the Infectious Disease Society of America and the International Antiviral Society-USA issued HCV “standard of care” protocols for all physicians:

The Minnesota suit has been followed by similar suits in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, with other states to follow. As of June 2015:
•All HCV-infected patients should be treated immediately with the most recent FDA breakthrough drugs, known as Harvoni and Viekera Pak;
•All prior treatments – using Interferon – are NOT medically recommended;
•ONLY healthcare providers lacking financial resources may triage treatment of patients with more serious symptoms first – such as cancer, fibrosis or cirrhosis.

Prisons and jails must provide the current medical “standard of care” for serious illness irrespective of cost, according to the Supreme Court. Some government providers may triage services. But private healthcare providers must also provide the current “HCV standard of care” because their doctors cannot provide less, so the authors’ employers are bound by it, too.

Prisons and jails must provide the current medical “standard of care” for serious illness irrespective of cost, according to the Supreme Court.

Third, $90,000 is the retail price the “patient/consumer” pays, not healthcare providers. The authors don’t mention UnitedHealth, private pharmacy wholesalers, the Veterans Administration and other healthcare providers have already reduced their wholesale costs nearly 50 percent by negotiating with AbbeVie and Gilead Sciences, the two U.S. manufacturers.

Forbes reports generic versions of the same drugs sell for $900 overseas, and cost of production is about $1.00 per dose. The cost would be much less than $90,000 if retailers passed wholesale prices along to “patient/consumers.”

Fourth, the monopoly pricing is likely to come down. In addition to the two manufacturers now in the U.S. market and generic suppliers overseas, two additional manufacturers are in FDA trials. Gilead Sciences has been sued for monopoly pricing. Both the California and U.S. Senate have held hearings into unreasonable HCV “breakthrough” drug pricing. Presidential candidate Sanders has called for a repeal of the patent, in part, because the Veteran’s Administration cannot afford to treat all of the HCV-infected veterans, which could prevent 5,000 infections and 500 liver transplants a year.

Fifth, treating HCV is cost-effective overall, even at retail pricing. As the authors point out, the costs of not treating the national HCV epidemic are staggering, with a liver transplant upwards of $500,000. But they fail to mention that two recent studies published by Stanford and the Journal of Hepatology report that even treating at the retail price would be cost-effective by preventing the HCV epidemic from spreading and by saving Medicare, Medicaid and secondary costs to the society.

Treating HCV is cost-effective overall, even at retail pricing.

Sixth, “managing costs” requires re-examining how those costs are allocated in the first instance or whether there are social costs and benefits that don’t appear in a single company’s income statement and balance sheet? The American people have already made the long-term public investment to create the educational, scientific and technological infrastructure that made the HCV breakthrough drugs possible and have long been bearing the cost of a “silent” epidemic that could be cured using the model of low-cost mass treatment pioneered by eliminating other formerly fatal infectious diseases, like polio, measles and the flu.

This is not the first time science has promised to transform the health of the nation by taming potentially fatal disease as it did with the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines, insulin, penicillin or the flu vaccine. Of course, in those days such pharmacological miracles were considered part of the social wealth of the nation and “consumers” were not forced to pay $1,000 a dose because one or two manufacturers were not permitted to control the market for life-saving medications needed by the whole population.

This is not the first time science has promised to transform the health of the nation by taming potentially fatal disease as it did with the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines, insulin, penicillin or the flu vaccine.

Of course, that was then and this is now, when market-oriented thinking so dominates healthcare policy “conversations” that the actual medical standard of care, required to cure all HCV-infected patients, is not even on the agenda. The authors are correct when they write that “responses” to the HCV epidemic are ideological, and their own op-ed is a good example.

Professor Peter Erlinder, retired from the William Mitchell College of Law, is director of the International Humanitarian Law Institute in St. Paul. He can be reached at or at the International Humanitarian Law Institute, 325 Cedar St., Suite 308, St. Paul, MN 55101. A slightly different version of this op-ed appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Yale’s Lucrative Wet Kiss Anoints #BlackLivesMatter’s Deray McKesson Their Kind of “Transformational” Leader

September 23, 2015

Check out the Black Agenda Report website:

Submitted by Bruce A. Dixon on Wed, 09/16/2015 – 13:20

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

When Yale Divinity School bestows a fat check on #BlackLivesMatter activist, former Teach For America alum, and current CampaignZero co-founder Deray McKesson to deliver 2 days of guest lecturing on “Transformational Leadership in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement”, it means exactly what you think it means. It’s a sloppy wet kiss from corporate America, signifying that Deray is their kind of black leader, leading their kind of “transformation.”

The original version of this story named the amount McKesson was to receive as $40K, based upon a 3 way split of a reportred $120K grant. Now we understand Yale is saying McKesson will get considerably less than $40K but they’re not saying exactly how much. $30K? $20K? They’re not saying. We regret the error.

Yale’s Lucrative Wet Kiss Anoints #BlackLivesMatter’s Deray McKesson Their Kind of “Transformational” Leader

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

What does it mean when Yale Divinity School bestows a big padyday on former Teach For America alum, #BlackLivesMatter activist and CampaignZero honcho Deray McKesson for two days of guest lecturing on “Transformational Leadership in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement?” It’s not complicated. It simply means that Mr. McKesson exemplifies the kind of “transformational leader” whatever that means, that our elites have decided to laud, to prop up and to place in front of us. It certifies that Deray is their kind of leader, offering their kind of leadership.

Deray McKesson is the kind of deep thinker who, during the same week that Apple, apparently through the US Chamber of Commerce succeeded in overturning a law that would have obliged Apple and its competitors to disclose what percentage of their products originated in places like the Eastern Congo, where 6 or 7 million Africans have perished since the late 1990s to ensure the free flow of strategic minerals like gold, tantalum, tungsten and coltan, to the West. Coltan is a vital component of every cell phone, every computer, every car and aircraft manufactured on this planet. Transformational leader that he is instead served his two hundred thousand Twitter followers brain farts about the massive market share of Apple products. Evidently some black lives matter a lot less than others.

Deray McKesson is the kind of slavish “thought leader” whose tweets have likened liken the privatization of education via the wave of unaccountable charter schools forced upon parents and communities across the country, to the free breakfast for children programs of the 1960s Black Panther Party. But what should one expect from a “transformational leader” spit out by Teach For America, a corporate funded outfit that specializes in replacing experienced black teachers with younger and usually whiter temps, who either go on to careers in banking, law and finance, as consultants to the testing and school privatization industry, or as school administrators devoted to running public schools more like businesses.

Deray says he loves your blackness, and his own, and issues scores of tweets and retweets to that effect daily. What he doesn’t seem to love is bottom-up local leadership. Going into the 30th day of a hunger strike by Chicago parents and community leaders resisting the forced privatization of south side Dyett High School, nobody’s haven’t heard a word from Deray on the subject yet.

Deray McKesson is the kind of shallow activist who shows up at the scene of the latest police atrocity to take selfies, maybe with cops and demonstrators in the background, huff a little tear gas and live tweet to his two hundred thousand twitter followers about the persistence of racism.

Deray McKesson’s brand of “transformational leadership” led him to be the first prominent figure in #BlackLivesMatter to eagerly seek and accept private meetings with Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and with the campaign of Hillary Clinton, as it led him to co-found, along with Teach For America’s Brittney Packnett and a couple others, to establish CampaignZero, a pseudo ”movement” outfit that is just as non-transparent and undemocratic as #BlackLivesMatter, though unlike #BlackLivesMatter it has more specific and updated demands.

The bottom line is that corporate shot callers at Yale are gifting Deray McKesson because he’s their kind of leader, of their kind of movement, a movement based on what the owners of Twitter, Facebook and the like want us to call social media, but which are really online corporate marketing tools. Deray can probably use the money, having left his six figure a year job in the Minneapolis school system, the kind of school administration gig Teach For America grads who stay in education typically end up with.

Though it happened just last week, the fact that Yale Divinity School is taking Deray on as a visiting professor of black twitter, or whatever isn’t new news, it’s old news, part of an old pattern. McKesson is the latest in a long line of black “leaders,” so-called movement leaders who emerge not from the people’s struggle, but from the gut of their corporate sponsors, leaders put in place by our rulers to speak not for us but to us, with their sponsors’ mouths.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at, and be sure to subscribe to our free weekly email newsletter at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)