Category Archives: Community

Chart of the day II: Global crisis aid shortfall


From the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs via IRIN, graphic evidence of the growing shortfall between global pleas for financial assistance to relieve humanitarian crises and monies raised:

BLOG Aid shortfall

Social justice from Ferguson to Ayotzinapa


The latest edition of Chris Hedges’ new series for teleSUR English offers a look at the thinking of two young people from Missouri and the growing radicalization that has linked their movement for social justice with similar struggles in Palestine and Mexico.

Outraged by the 9 August 2014 police slaying of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, St. Louis hip-hop artist T-Dubb-O and Rika Tyler from Ferguson joined with three others to create Hands Up United to organize and mobilize the community in pursuit of social and economic justice.

What is evolving is nothing less that a new global awareness that injustice is the cornerstone of the global corporate and financial enterprise and a sense that may result absent major concessions by those wielding power nothing less than revolution will accomplish their goals.

Theirs is a message that is an once sobering and hopeful.

Via The Real News Network:

Days of Revolt: The New Black Militants

From the transcript:

HEDGES: Let’s begin maybe with you, Rika, about the precursors to this violence. The hold by white power in predominantly African-American communities, the use of extortion to in the name of austerity extract greater and greater sums from the poor. Lay the, set the scene for, you know, the unrest that culminated with the killing of Michael Brown.

TYLER: Well, in St. Louis, a lot of people don’t know that Ferguson is in North County area of Ferguson, Missouri, Ferguson was isolated August 9, 2014. A lot of people also don’t know that Michael Brown wasn’t the first person who was unarmed that got killed by a Ferguson police officer. Jason Moore, in 2009, he got killed with a Ferguson police officer as well. There wasn’t an uprising. But the new rise of black radicals and the new resilience in our generation, we came outside and we stayed outside.So when Darren Wilson decided to–.

HEDGES: This was the officer who murdered Michael.

TYLER: Yes. Darren Wilson’s the officer who decided to murder Michael Brown, and his body laid out in the street for four and a half hours. That was the community. That was the, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. That was the drop that spilled the cup.

HEDGES: And what had been happening? Talk a little bit about the–I mean, one of the things that you had pointed out when we spoke a while ago was that 30-40 percent of the budgets of these counties depend on tickets, fines, you know, imprisonment. You know, this kind of neoliberal version of extortion of the poor.

TYLER: Yeah. So before Michael Brown was killed, like, everyone knew as a black person you couldn’t ride in certain areas. Like, we’d be like, oh, we’re in Ferguson. Buckle up, drive slow, do the speed limit. Because like you said, the officers make their revenue off of the black community. So–.

HEDGES: Right, they’re hunting.

TYLER: They’re, like, looking for things. If you don’t stop at a stop sign long enough, if you look like you’re riding four deep, and you’re black in a car, like, they’re automatically going to pull you over. Most people can’t afford license plates or insurance or anything.

Podemos: Seen on the brink of a breakthrough


Podemos, a political movement born on Span’s college campuses 22 months ago out of anger of the extreme austerity measures immiserating Spain’s young people, because the third most powerful political force in the country in elections 20 December, capturing 21 percent of the national vote, one point behind the Spanish social democrats [PSOE], and just eight points behind the ruling neoliberal Popular Party.

Their rise to big numbers effectively ended Spain’s long duopoly and gave organizational form to the demands expressed by the hundreds of thousands of Spaniards who took to the streets for the marches of the 15-M Movement in 2011.

Writing in the 17 December issue of the London Review of Books, Dan Hancox examines the party’s origins:

The roots of Podemos lie in the huge 2011 indignados protests against the Spanish political system in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008. The crisis left a quarter of Spanish families living below the poverty line, and a majority of the rest earning no more than a thousand euros a month; 400,000 families were evicted over the next few years, while more than three million homes lay empty. Unemployment rose above 26 per cent, and above 60 per cent for 16-24-year-olds; a significant proportion of Spain’s graduates left for the US and Northern Europe. In 2012, under the guidance of the Troika, the prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, who has led the PP since 2004, made deep cuts to public sector jobs and public spending while also introducing labour reforms to make it easier to sack employees.

The Spanish establishment, meanwhile, thrived. The market for luxury goods soared, and rates of corporation tax plummeted: revenues dropped from €40 billion in 2007 to €22 billion in 2012, while income tax revenue rose by €10 billion. Spain’s nightly TV news was dominated by corruption scandals affecting both of the main parties, the judiciary, the unions, the royal family and any number of private sector corporations. Few of these scandals have been prosecuted, let alone ended in convictions. It is unsurprising that a new political formation emerged to challenge the complacency and corruption of the politicians, bankers, royals, media barons and judges: the political and economic establishment Podemos refers to as ‘la casta’.

To get a better sense of what drove this dramatic rise, the Guardian’s Owen Jones, himself a Podemos supporter, traveled with the party’s leaders on the day of their last pre-election rally.

From the Guardian via Journeyman Pictures:

Podemos: On The Path To Election Success

Program notes:

[The] Spanish general election saw anti-austerity party Podemos win 69 parliamentary seats, and 21% of the vote. This report followed Podemos and their leader Pablo Iglesias during their pre-election campaign, up to the surprising results.

“We are experiencing in the city councils in Spain, in the very small margins of the state, of the administration, it is possible to change many things” said Pablo Iglesias, the party’s secretary-general in an interview last week. During the last week of their campaign before the general election strong support is evident, with 13,000 people attending a Valencian rally. Does this signal the collapse of the two party system in Spain? As Ada Colau, Major of Barcelona explains “The nation-of-nations approach that Podemos has articulated is an authentic revolution in this country.”

Just what impact Podemos will have in the short term is still unclear, though the Popular Party, as the leading vote-getter, is trying — still unsuccessfully — to form a coalition government.

The PSOE has rejected a coalition with the Popular Party and instead has announced plans to call for a coalition of the Left should Prime Minister and Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy fail to forge a coalition.

On thing is certain: Things are going to be interesting.

Headline of the day II: Call it a Dutch treat


Starting with an experimental payment of $971 to a small group of benefits claimants, with the idea of extending payments to all

And they can keep whatever they make on top of the benefit.

Dutch city plans to pay citizens a ‘basic income’, and Greens say it could work in the UK

Utrecht takes step towards paying people a salary whether they work or not

Map of the day: Cooperatives in the U.S.


From the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives:

BLOG Coops

Sheldon Adelson stirs up a journalistic free-for-all


Since this is an intimately personal essay, I’ll resort to first person [maybe someday we’ll offer a post on why we typically opt for the third person].

My very first job at a daily newspaper was as a cub reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, then and now the largest paper in the Silver State.

I was 19 when I started, hired on a fluke because I was owed a favor. There wasn’t an opening, and while I was assigned the night cops assignment then standard for newbies, I had six other hours a day to cover other things, five when two minor beats were added.

Since all beats were filled, the editor, Jim Leavey, asked what else I’d like to write about [a really remarkable option for a teenager]. So I said “How about civil rights, radical politics, and [Lyndon Johnson’s] war on poverty?”

A year later, I had won the paper the state’s highest journalism honors, the Best Community Service award from the Nevada State Press Association for my coverage of Sin City’s African American community — which had previously been covered, if at all, with brief statements from “black leaders” essentially picked by the establishment for their politically “safe” opinions.

The paper was then owned by Don W. Reynolds, an Arkansas old school libertarian and a man who let the paper alone, save for an occasional editorial. Some of the other editorials were written by me, and were notably provocative.

But that’s what the R-J was then.

As for now, let’s begin with a quote from a 10 April 2012 profile by Rick Perlstein for Rolling Stone about Sin City’s preeminent casino mogul, Sheldon Adelson, now 82 and worth nearly $30 million, give or take:

Right before the grand opening of the {Adelson’s Venetian hotel and casino], in 1999, the Culinary Workers staged a demonstration on the public sidewalk out front. Adelson told the cops to start making arrests; the cops refused. Glen Arnodo, an official at the union at the time, relates what happened next: “I was standing on the sidewalk and they had two security guards say I was on private property, and if I didn’t move they’d have to put me under ‘citizen’s arrest.’ I ignored them.” The guards once again told the police to arrest Arnodo and again, he says, they refused. The Civil Rights hero Rep. John Lewis, in town to support the rally, said the whole thing reminded him of living in the South during Jim Crow.

Marvels Arnodo, “Here you have a sidewalk that 12 billion people walk down, [and] the only people who can’t use it are the union!” The Culinary Workers argued before the National Labor Relations Board that Adelson’s attempts to keep them from demonstrating violated federal labor law. Adelson’s lawyers countered that their client’s First Amendment rights were being violated – because his threats of arrests were an instance of “petitioning the government.” The union won the right to protest; Adelson refused to comply with the settlement, copies of which the union passed out on that very same sidewalk. That was “fraudulent use of the seal of a government agency,” the Venetian argued, further claiming that union workers had “impersonated” NLRB officials, and that the volunteer labor activists had been coerced. The great civil liberties attorney Alan Dershowitz got involved – on Adelson’s side. “The Venetian has no property rights to the sidewalk,” a federal appeals judge told them in 2007. Unmoved, Adelson tried, without success, to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.  After all, Adelson told the Wall Street Journal, radical Islam and the right to more easily join a union were the two most “fundamental threats to society.”

Did I mention Adelson is nuts? But don’t take my word for it – it was George W. Bush who called him “some crazy Jewish billionaire.”

Adelson has one cause above all other, Israel, one he approaches from the zalous perspective of the Likud.

Consider this from an Adelson Family Foundation press release issued in Jerusalem on 29 April 2009:

The Shalem Center and the Adelson Family Foundation, today jointly announced the creation of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. The Institute will be funded by the Foundation with a gift of $4.5 million. The gift launches an academic and research institute that will develop, articulate and build support for the strategic principles needed to address the challenges currently facing Israel and the West.

The newly named Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies is part of the Shalem Center, a research and academic institute in Jerusalem. The Adelson Institute, whose founding chairman and head is Natan Sharansky, includes as fellows Lt. Gen (Res.) Moshe Yaalon, Martin Kramer, Michael Oren and Yossi Klein Halevi. The institute will explore topics ranging from democracy and security, to nationalism, terror and identity.

“Long-term strategies have to be built on values, not short-term interests. Real, lasting interests are always connected to values like democracy, respect for identity, religious tolerance, and freedom. The gift and vision of Sheldon and Miri Adelson will enable us to tackle the most serious challenges facing the Middle East and the West and to build long-view approaches and plans that will ensure the stability and peace of Israel and of the free world,” said Adelson Institute Founding Chairman Natan Sharansky, a distinguished fellow at the Shalem Center.

Now why do we mention Adelson?

It’s because he has just bought the R-J, paying a price that’s probably what it’s worth just so he can have a platform to advance his own interests, most notably destroying political enemies and ensuring that Nevada sends neocon Republicans to Congress instead of Democrats like Harry Reid.

Otherwise, journalism doesn’t really matter to Adelson.

From A 2014 report in the Israeli paper Haaretz:

Adelson already owns Israel Hayom, a free Israeli newspaper widely seen as reflecting the positions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is considered close to Adelson, and, more recently, news website NRG and religious newspaper Makor Rishon.

“I don’t like journalism,” Adelson said, highlighting what he said was the media’s insistence on focusing on the empty half of the glass.

And while Adelson contends he won’t endanger editorial independence, he’s already belied that claim, as reporters from the Las Vegas Review-Journal were able to document in a story published 19 December:

Just over a month before Sheldon Adelson’s family was revealed as the new owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, three reporters at the newspaper received an unusual assignment passed down from the newspaper’s corporate management: Drop everything and spend two weeks monitoring all activity of three Clark County judges.

The reason for the assignment and its unprecedented nature was never explained.

One of the three judges observed was District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, whose current caseload includes Jacobs v. Sands, a long-running wrongful termination lawsuit filed against Adelson and his company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., by Steven Jacobs, who ran Sands’ operations in Macau.

The case has attracted global media attention because of Jacobs’ contention in court filings that he was fired for trying to break the company’s links to Chinese organized crime triads, and allegations that Adelson turned a blind eye to prostitution and other illegal activities in his resorts there.

But all their story didn’t make it in print, as noted by Newsonomics the same day:

In a cascade of curious events, the paper’s own reporters and editors attempting to report on the sale — and to question the potential editorial impact and brand damage of the “secret” sale — reportedly saw their online-first story significantly changed, and the presses subject to a brief halt, as the paper re-plated with a new version of the suspect story.

According to the Huffington Post, “[Jason] Taylor, the paper’s publisher, stopped the presses Thursday night to remove some noteworthy quotes from the paper’s story on the sale, as The Huffington Post reported Saturday. For instance, the edited version no longer included Review-Journal editor Michael Hengel asking who is behind the company and what are their expectations. Eric Hartley, who covers Clark County for the paper, tweeted the HuffPost story on Saturday night and wrote, ‘This is simply wrong.’”

Mike Hengel, the editor who allowed those reporters the freedom to report the actual news, was soon for the chop, as noted in a 23 December MediaWire report:

Hengel, who has led the Review-Journal since 2010, will be succeeded by an interim replacement selected by newspaper chain GateHouse Media. In the meantime, Adelson’s management will search for a long-term editor.

Earlier today, Hengel told the Los Angeles Times he first realized he’d accepted a buyout offer when he read about it in a front-page editorial written by Adelson’s new managers.

“I figured, I may as well see what the offer was,” Hengel told the Los Angeles Times.

Here’s his message to the newsroom announcing his replacement:

Subject: It’s been a privilege and a pleasure

To: Newsroom

All:

I may not get around to see all of you, so I’ll hope you’ll accept my thanks through this email. I admire you all and thank you for giving the RJ your very best while I was the editor. I leave here knowing that won’t change. You are professionals.

I feel very lucky that I had the opportunity to work with all of you. And I was fortunate to be involved with a newspaper that breaks stories, not just news. The aggressiveness you have shown in covering the stories revolving around our new ownership has been inspiring. I am very proud of James, Howard, Jennifer, Eric and Jim for the their great work. I say that knowing that there are many others in this newsroom who would have performed just as admirably had they been asked.

I never imagined I would go out while working one of the great stories of my 40-year career. Yet, it happened. How lucky can an editor get?

I have no idea what I will do going forward, but I plan to stay in Las Vegas, so I’ll probably see you around. Until then, thanks again for everything.

Onward,

Mike

Next up, there’s this from a 27 offering from Dave Danforth, a columnist for the Aspen Daily News in Colorado:

We wanted to escape attention on billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s quiet purchase of Nevada’s largest paper in the last two weeks, but we can’t. It’s just too riveting. Two shoes dropped. Then, came a third when the paper dug up the identity of its new owner. Now comes the fourth, about a mystery writer and a Las Vegas judge whose performance was slammed — in a Connecticut newspaper 2,200 miles away.

Our lesson comes first. If you ever buy a newspaper in order to control what it prints, don’t follow the Las Vegas road map. Though Adelson has denied any intentions to make the Las Vegas Review-Journal a mouthpiece for his Republican leanings in an election year, practically no one in the outside world — or at the newspaper — believes him.

Now, we come to what simply must be a fictitious story. It involves a small daily in Connecticut taking a sudden interest in a Las Vegas judge who apparently sorely irritated Mr. Adelson, a billionaire casino owner whose Sands Company runs the Venetian in Las Vegas.

More after the jump, including a notable cartoon. . . Continue reading

Map of the day: Berkeley makes the list


As do the two towns immediately to our north on this Washington Post graphic of the most liberal and conservative places in the U.S. based on patterns of campaign contribution recipients:

BLOG Chart