February 20, 2017

This is the post excerpt…


‘Blood in the Water,’ a Gripping Account of the Attica Prison Uprising”, Mark Oppenheimer, The New York Times

I recently attended a lecture at the university given by history professor Heather Ann Thompson who is currently touring her book, “Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy”. I had heard of the Attica prison uprising, but just the simple fact that it had happened. I never knew the actual story and it is quite a story indeed. The book itself is 20% about the events of that day and 80% about the cover up that came after. Dr. Thompson’s research met many peculiar dead ends and even came up against massive destruction of documents. A lot of her sources were only obtained due to a mismanagement of documents after a building flooded and a good deal sleuthing.

To Dr. Thompson, this story deserves to be told because of the grave injustices that were carried out by the state against both the prisoners, prison staff, and survivors of  prisoners and prison staff killed (Many of whom were persuaded to accept small checks for workers’ compensation, giving up their right to sue for damages), but Maybe more important is the role this story played in American mass incarceration, which she calls “the civil rights issue of our time”.

She correlates misleading press coverage of the uprising with a gradual, but marked shift in public support for punitive justice and incarceration, which was at an all-time low in the 70s, but has since been on the rise. From the book review:

Ms. Thompson’s sympathies are with the prisoners. In her epilogue, she draws a straight line from the trauma of Attica to the Rockefeller drug laws, whose sentencing guidelines have caused the prison population to mushroom up to the present. But she is just as concerned with the undertrained, overworked guards. They knew what had caused Attica. After the uprising, Jerry Wurf, president of the correction officers’ union, called for more “secure and humane penal facilities” rather than the “decaying relics of penal theories discarded long ago.”

And yet in 1971 the State of New York had only 12,500 prisoners, a number that grew, by 2000, to almost 74,000. None of them can vote. But they can still strike or riot, and it’s Ms. Thompson’s achievement, in this remarkable book, to make us understand why this one group of prisoners did, and how many others shared the cost.

Top Stories
Immigrants Do Not Increase Crime, Research Shows: A group of criminologists show the claim of a link is false”, Chris Kubrin, Graham C. Ousey, Lesley Reid, Robert Adelman, Scientific American

In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump named victims who were reportedly killed by undocumented immigrants and said:

“They are being released by the tens of thousands into our communities with no regard for the impact on public safety or resources…We are going to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities.”

But, what does research say about how immigration impacts crime in U.S. communities? We turned to our experts for answers.

Author Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor speaks at MU about black liberation”, Blare Roth, The Maneater

Taylor: “We must be clear about how we got to this point. And in doing so, it is critical to remember that embedded inside of every right-wing backlash is the failure of the liberal establishment to provide a better way.”

Weekly Update:

Antarctic sea ice shrinks to smallest ever extent: Data contradicts climate change sceptics, who have pointed to earlier increases in areas of sea ice to support their views”, Reuters in Oslo

World average temperatures climbed to a record high in 2016 for the third year in a row. Climate scientists say warming is causing more extreme days of heat, downpours and is nudging up global sea levels

Thousands Protest Aluminum Plant in Chinese Oil City of Daqing”, Yang Fan, Radio Free Asia

Thousands of people took to the streets of northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province on Tuesday in protest over plans to build an aluminum plant near their home, protesters told RFA. . . Protesters said the demonstrations will likely continue until there is clear evidence that the project has been halted.
Universities Oppose Paying Their Postdocs Overtime, but Will Pay Football Coaches Millions of Dollars: At a salary of $42,000 a year, these postdocs are being paid about $13.50 an hour”, Ross Eisenbrey, Alternet

Colleges and universities have made the indefensible argument that they can’t afford to pay their low-level salaried employees for their overtimeunder the Department of Labor’s new overtime rule. Universities have singled out postdoctoral researchers, many of whom spend 60 hours a week or more running the labs that turn out the nation’s most important scientific advances, as a group of employees that would just cost too much if they had to be paid for the extra hours they work each week.

Climate Change Predictions: What Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking and Noam Chomsky Are Saying About Future of Global Warming”, Pranshu Rathi, International Business Times

“The question that was left was whether it would be possible to carry forward this global effort to deal with the highly critical problem of environmental catastrophe, if the leader of the free world, the richest and most powerful country in history, would pull out completely, as appeared to be the case,” Chomsky said. “That’s the stated goal of the president-elect, who regards climate change as a hoax and whose policy, if he pursues it, is to maximise the use of fossil fuels, end environmental regulations, dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency—established by Richard Nixon, which is a measure of where politics has shifted to the right in the past generation—and, in other ways, accelerate the race to destruction.”

This week in the executive: Gateway Pundit

Gateway Pundit: Pro-Donald Trump blog granted White House press credentials”, The Independent

Donald Trump’s administration has granted press credentials to an outspoken conservative news site that has promoted false rumors about Hillary Clinton’s health and voter fraud.

Odds and Ends

Video of the Week:
“Who is the Nigger?”, James Baldwin

A clip from, “Take this Hammer”…
KQED’s mobile film unit follows author and activist James Baldwin in the spring of 1963, as he’s driven around San Francisco to meet with members of the local African-American community.
Baldwin reflects on the racial inequality that African-Americans are forced to confront and at one point tries to lift the morale of a young man by expressing his conviction that: “There will be a Negro president of this country but it will not be the country that we are sitting in now.”

Tonight I’m going to go see the James Baldwin documentary, here’s the trailer. It starts with a brilliant quote:

“IF any white man in the world says ‘give me liberty or give me death’ the entire white world applauds; when black man says exactly the same thing, he is judged a criminal and treated like one and everything possible is done to make an example of this bad nigger so there won’t be anymore like him”

“I Am Not Your Negro”, James Baldwin
Director: Raoul Peck
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson
Producers: Raoul Peck, Rémi Grellety, Hébert Peck

School of Life:
“Why We Look Down on Low Wage Earners”

Earning little money is a sure route to being neglected and patronised in modern societies. But why is this, and what can we realistically do to counteract the psychological humiliation this causes?


The Confusion Candidate: The Democrats’ central weakness comes from being a party of business but having to pretend otherwise”, Katie Halper and Doug Henwood, The Katie Halper Show and Jacobin

I think the destructive thing would be to continue on the same course of raising lots of money from rich people and Wall Street. Hillary did that. She spent the month of August talking to billionaires instead of going to Wisconsin. It’s very funny to watch Obama trolling her now about what a miserable campaign she ran.

But what they would have to do — and I doubt that they would do this, given the structure of American politics and the Democratic Party, specifically — is wean themselves from elite funding and adopt a Sanders model of small contributions. He raised a ton of money in a short amount of time. He came out of nowhere and ended up running a very credible campaign based on grassroots funding because he was very appealing. He was saying things that people wanted to hear. So, that’s one thing. You need to break away from the elite funders and recast the funding — something like a membership organization — a real political party in the sense that it is in other parts of the world.

Track of the Week:
“”بتي سهرانة “Betti Sahranah”, Mina

Nations (Additions in BOLD)
Rachael and I have embarked on a years-long ambition to memorize all the nations and capitals. I’m adding 10-15 each week and posting it here so you can join us and/or help us by throwing us a pop quiz from time to time!

South America
Argentina — Buenos Aires
Bolivia — La Paz
Brazil — Brasilia
Chile — Santiago
Colombia — Bogota
Ecuador — Quito
French Guiana — Cayenne
Guyana — Georgetown
Paraguay — Asuncion
Peru — Lima
Suriname — Paramaribo
Uruguay — Montevideo
Venezuela — Caracas

North America
Belize — Belmopan
Canada — Ottawa
Costa Rica — San Jose
Cuba — Havana
Dominican Republic — Santo Domingo
El Salvador — San Salvador
Guatemala — Guatemala City
Haiti — Port-au-Prince
Honduras — Tegucigalpa
Jamaica — Kingston
Mexico — Mexico DF
Nicaragua — Managua
Panama — Panama City
Puerto Rico — San Juan

Belarus — Minsk
Bulgaria — Sofia
Czech Republic — Prague
Hungary — Budapest
Moldova — Chisinau
Poland — Warsaw
Romania — Bucharest
Russia — Moscow
Slovakia — Bratislava
Ukraine — Kiev
Albania — Tirana
Bosnia and Herzegovina — Sarajevo
Croatia — Zagreb
Cyprus — Nicosia
Estonia — Tallinn
Latvia — Riga
Lithuania — Vilnius
Macedonia — Skopje
Montenegro — Podgorica
Serbia — Belgrade
Slovenia — Ljubljana
Turkey — Ankara
Belgium — Brussels
Denmark — Copenhagen
Finland — Helsinki
Austria — Vienna
Greece — Athens
Kosovo — Pristina
Netherlands — Amsterdam
Norway — Oslo
Sweden — Stockholm
Andorra — Andorra la Vella
Malta — Valetta
Monaco — Monaco
Switzerland — Bern
UK — London
France — Paris
Germany — Berlin
Iceland — Reykjavik
Ireland — Dublin
Italy — Rome
Liechtenstein — Vaduz
Luxembourg — Luxembourg
Portugal — Lisbon
San Marino — San Marino
Spain — Madrid
Vatican City — Vatican City


Morocco — Rabat
Algeria — Algiers
Tunisia — Tunis
Libya — Tripoli
Egypt — Cairo
Mauritania — Nouakchott
Mali — Bamako
Niger — Niamey
Chad — N’Djamena
Sudan — Khartoum
South Sudan — Juba
Eritrea — Asmara
Djibouti — Djibouti
Senegal — Dakar
Gambia — Banjul
Guinea-Bissau — Bissau
Guinea — Conakry
Sierra Leone — Freetown
Liberia — Monrovia
Cote D’Ivoire — Yamoussoukro
Burkina Faso — Ouagadougou
Ghana — Accra
Togo — Lome
Benin — Porto Novo
Nigeria — Abuja
Cameroon    Yaoundé
Central African Republic — Bangui
Ethiopia — Addis Ababa
Somalia — Mogadishu
Kenya — Nairobi
Uganda — Kampala
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) — Kinshasa
Congo — Brazzaville
Gabon — Libreville
Equatorial Guinea — Malabo
Rwanda — Kigali
Angola — Luanda
Malawi — Lilongwe
Mozambique — Maputo
Madagascar — Antananarivo
Zambia — Lusaka
Zimbabwe — Harare
South Africa — Pretoria
Tanzania — Dodoma

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