Tag Archives: health care

in the Library ~ The New Jim Crow – by michelle alexander… Best Seller


The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, 10th Anniversary Edition

so, i read this review of a book that took me back to information given to us in class at the UW  …stunning, sad and eye opening information yet this book review revealed much more …

By Leonard Pitts Jr. / Syndicated columnist

Michelle Alexander’s ‘The New Jim Crow,’ a troubling and necessary book

Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. suggests reading “The New Jim Crow,” by Michelle Alexander, who contends that the mass incarceration of black men for nonviolent drug offenses, combined with sentencing disparities and laws making it legal to discriminate against felons in housing, employment, education and voting, constitute nothing less than a new racial caste system.

Syndicated columnist

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“You have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this all while not appearing to.”

— Richard Nixon as quoted by H.R. Haldeman, supporting a get-tough-on drugs strategy

“They give black people time like it’s lunch down there. You go down there looking for justice, that’s what you find: just us.”— Richard Pryor

Michelle Alexander was an ACLU attorney in Oakland, preparing a racial-profiling lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol. The ACLU had put out a request for anyone who had been profiled to get in touch. One day, in walked this black man.

He was maybe 19 and toted a thick sheaf of papers, what Alexander calls an “incredibly detailed” accounting of at least a dozen police stops over a nine-month period, with dates, places and officers’ names. This was, she thought, a “dream plaintiff.”

But it turned out he had a record, a drug felony — and she told him she couldn’t use him; the state’s attorney would eat him alive. He insisted he was innocent, said police had planted drugs and beaten him. But she was no longer listening. Finally, enraged, he snatched the papers back and started shredding them.

“You’re no better than the police,” he cried. “You’re doing what they did to me!” The conviction meant he couldn’t work or go to school, had to live with his grandmother. Did Alexander know how that felt? And she wanted a dream plaintiff? “Just go to my neighborhood,” he said. “See if you can find one black man my age they haven’t gotten to already.”

She saw him again a couple of months later. He gave her a potted plant from his grandmother’s porch — he couldn’t afford flowers — and apologized. A few months after that, a scandal broke: Oakland police officers accused of planting drugs and beating up innocent victims. One of the officers involved was the one named by that young man.

“It was,” says Alexander now, more than 10 years later, “the beginning of me asking some hard questions of myself as a civil-rights lawyer. … What is actually going on in his neighborhood? How is it that they’ve already gotten to all the young African-American men in his neighborhood? I began questioning my own assumptions about how the criminal-justice system works.”

The result is a compelling new book. Others have written of the racial bias of the criminal-injustice system. In “The New Jim Crow,” Alexander goes a provocative step further. She contends that the mass incarceration of black men for nonviolent drug offenses, combined with sentencing disparities and laws making it legal to discriminate against felons in housing, employment, education and voting, constitute nothing less than a new racial caste system. A new segregation.

She has a point. Yes, the War on Drugs is officially race-neutral. So were the grandfather clause and other Jim Crow laws whose intention and effect was nevertheless to restrict black freedom.

The War on Drugs is a war on African-American people and we countenance it because we implicitly accept certain assumptions sold to us by news and entertainment media, chief among them that drug use is rampant in the black community. But. The. Assumption. Is. WRONG.

According to federal figures, blacks and whites use drugs at a roughly equal rate in percentage terms. In terms of raw numbers, whites are far and away the biggest users — and dealers — of illegal drugs.

So why aren’t cops kicking their doors in? Why aren’t their sons pulled over a dozen times in nine months? Why are black men 12 times likelier to be jailed for drugs than white ones? Why aren’t white communities robbed of their fathers, brothers, sons?

With inexorable logic, “The New Jim Crow” propounds an answer many will resist and most have not even considered. It is a troubling and profoundly necessary book.

Please read it.

Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.’s column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His e-mail address is: lpitts@miamiherald.com

Things You May Not know about the Declaration of Independence


By Elizabeth Harrison
Independence Day, or the Fourth of July, celebrates the adoption by the Continental Congress of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. On the 236th birthday of the United States, explore nine surprising facts about one of America’s most important founding documents.


1. The Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed on July 4, 1776.
On July 1, 1776, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, and on the following day 12 of the 13 colonies voted in favor of Richard Henry Lee’s motion for independence. The delegates then spent the next two days debating and revising the language of a statement drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

On July 4, Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, and as a result the date is celebrated as Independence Day. Nearly a month would go by, however, before the actual signing of the document took place.

First, New York’s delegates didn’t officially give their support until July 9 because their home assembly hadn’t yet authorized them to vote in favor of independence. Next, it took two weeks for the Declaration to be “engrossed”—written on parchment in a clear hand.

Most of the delegates signed on August 2, but several—Elbridge Gerry, Oliver Wolcott, Lewis Morris, Thomas McKean and Matthew Thornton—signed on a later date. (Two others, John Dickinson and Robert R. Livingston, never signed at all.) The signed parchment copy now resides at the National Archives in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, alongside the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

2. More than one copy exists.
After the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the “Committee of Five”—Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston—was charged with overseeing the reproduction of the approved text. This was completed at the shop of Philadelphia printer John Dunlap. On July 5, Dunlap’s copies were dispatched across the 13 colonies to newspapers, local officials and the commanders of the Continental troops. These rare documents, known as “Dunlap broadsides,” predate the engrossed version signed by the delegates. Of the hundreds thought to have been printed on the night of July 4, only 26 copies survive. Most are held in museum and library collections, but three are privately owned.

3. When news of the Declaration of Independence reached New York City, it started a riot.
By July 9, 1776, a copy of the Declaration of Independence had reached New York City. With hundreds of British naval ships occupying New York Harbor, revolutionary spirit and military tensions were running high. George Washington, commander of the Continental forces in New York, read the document aloud in front of City Hall. A raucous crowd cheered the inspiring words, and later that day tore down a nearby statue of George III. The statue was subsequently melted down and shaped into more than 42,000 musket balls for the fledgling American army.

4. Eight of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were born in Britain.
While the majority of the members of the Second Continental Congress were native-born Americans, eight of the men voting for independence from Britain were born there. Gwinnett Button and Robert Morris were born in England, Francis Lewis was born in Wales, James Wilson and John Witherspoon were born in Scotland, George Taylor and Matthew Thornton were born in Ireland and James Smith hailed from Northern Ireland.

5. One signer later recanted.
Richard Stockton, a lawyer from Princeton, New Jersey, became the only signer of the Declaration of Independence to recant his support of the revolution. On November 30, 1776, the hapless delegate was captured by the British and thrown in jail. After months of harsh treatment and meager rations, Stockton repudiated his signature on the Declaration of Independence and swore his allegiance to King George III. A broken man when he regained his freedom, he took a new oath of loyalty to the state of New Jersey in December 1777.

6. There was a 44-year age difference between the youngest and oldest signers.
The oldest signer was Benjamin Franklin, 70 years old when he scrawled his name on the parchment. The youngest was Edward Rutledge, a lawyer from South Carolina who was only 26 at the time. Rutledge narrowly beat out fellow South Carolinian Thomas Lynch Jr., just four months his senior, for the title.

7. Two additional copies have been found in the last 25 years.
In 1989, a Philadelphia man found an original Dunlap Broadside hidden in the back of a picture frame he bought at a flea market for $4. One of the few surviving copies from the official first printing of the Declaration, it was in excellent condition and sold for $8.1 million in 2000. A 26th known Dunlap broadside emerged at the British National Archives in 2009, hidden for centuries in a box of papers captured from American colonists during the Revolutionary War. One of three Dunlap broadsides at the National Archives, the copy remains there to this day.

8. The Declaration of Independence spent World War II in Fort Knox.
On December 23, 1941, just over two weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the signed Declaration, together with the Constitution, was removed from public display and prepared for evacuation out of Washington, D.C. Under the supervision of armed guards, the founding document was packed in a specially designed container, latched with padlocks, sealed with lead and placed in a larger box. All told, 150 pounds of protective gear surrounded the parchment. On December 26 and 27, accompanied by Secret Service agents, it traveled by train to Louisville, Kentucky, where a cavalry troop of the 13th Armored Division escorted it to Fort Knox. The Declaration was returned to Washington, D.C., in 1944.

9. There is something written on the back of the Declaration of Independence.
In the movie “National Treasure,” Nicholas Cage’s character claims that the back of the Declaration contains a treasure map with encrypted instructions from the founding fathers, written in invisible ink. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There is, however, a simpler message, written upside-down across the bottom of the signed document: “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.” No one knows who exactly wrote this or when, but during the Revolutionary War years the parchment was frequently rolled up for transport. It’s thought that the text was added as a label.

Gov’t offers $680 million for Indian farmers …as reported by AP – Reminder


By MARY CLARE JALONICK, AP

WASHINGTON — The government is offering American Indian farmers who say they were denied farm loans a $680 million settlement.

Unlike a second round of the black farmers suit that is now pending in Congress, the American Indian money would not need legislative action to be awarded.

The two sides agreed on the deal after more than 10 months of negotiations. The government and the Indian plaintiffs met in federal court Tuesday to present the settlement to U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan.

The agreement also includes $80 million in farm debt forgiveness for the Indian plaintiffs and a series of initiatives to try and alleviate racism against American Indians and other minorities in rural farm loan offices. Individuals who can prove discrimination could receive up to $250,000.

A hearing on preliminary approval of the deal is set for Oct. 29. Sullivan indicated he was pleased with the agreement, calling it historic and coming down off his bench to shake hands with lawyers from both sides.

Assistant Attorney General Tony West and Joseph Sellers, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, both said they were encouraged by the judge’s positive reaction.

“Based on the court’s comments, we’re optimistic,” West said after the hearing adjourned.

The lawsuit filed in 1999 contends Indian farmers and ranchers lost hundreds of millions of dollars over several decades because they were denied USDA loans that instead went to their white neighbors. The government settled a similar lawsuit filed by black farmers more than a decade ago.

“Today’s settlement can never undo wrongs that Native Americans may have experienced in past decades, but combined with the actions we at USDA are taking to address such wrongs, the settlement will provide some measure of relief to those who have been discriminated against,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

Claryca Mandan of North Dakota’s Three Affiliated Tribes, a plaintiff in the case, stopped ranching after she and her husband were denied loans in the early 1980s. She said she was pleased with the settlement.

“This is a culmination of 30 years of struggle,” she said

And Republicans continue to interfere and hurt POC who own land

Politics | Funding for black farmers, Indians stalls again |blame Republicans


Repost

August 5, 2010

Funding for black farmers, Indians stalls again

Despite broad support, legislation to finalize $4.6 billion in settlements with black farmers and American Indians stalled in the Senate again Thursday amid partisan bickering.

By BEN EVANS

Associated Press Writer

Related

WASHINGTON —

Despite broad support, legislation to finalize $4.6 billion in settlements with black farmers and American Indians stalled in the Senate again Thursday amid partisan bickering.

Lawmakers from both parties say they support resolving the long-standing claims of discrimination and mistreatment by federal agencies. But the funding has been caught up for months in a fight over spending and deficits, with Republicans and Democrats arguing over how to pay for them. Read more …click on the link below

Politics | Funding for black farmers, Indians stalls again | Seattle Times Newspaper.

July 22, 2010

Senate rejects $3 billion Indian trust settlement

The U.S. Senate has rejected a $3.4 billion government settlement with American Indians that had been added to a much larger war-funding bill.

The Associated Press

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HELENA, Mont. —The U.S. Senate has rejected a $3.4 billion government settlement with American Indians that had been added to a much larger war-funding bill.

The Senate passed the almost $60 billion bill funding President Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan late Wednesday – but not before stripping out the settlement and $20 billion in other domestic spending approved by the House.

The Senate’s approval would have given the Obama administration the authority to settle a class-action lawsuit filed in 1996 by Elouise Cobell of Browning, Mont. Between 300,000 and 500,000 Native Americans claim the Interior Department mismanaged billions of dollars held in trust by the government.

The House attached the settlement to the war-funding bill earlier this month.

Thursday’s vote marks the second time the settlement has failed to pass the Senate. It was originally included in the Democrats’ jobs-agenda bill that was caught in a filibuster last month.

Massai seek return of the ancestral lands they lost at gunpoint


in Laikipia district, Kenya

a repost

Using a long stick with a hooked tip, Mary Kinyanga tugs a branch of the thorny savannah tree and brings juicy green seed pods cascading down for her goats.

As her flock munches audibly, she casts an envious glance at the neighbouring white-owned ranch, where guests are arriving by light aeroplane for a wedding party.

“They are giving us big problems,” Ms Kinyanga says of her neighbours. “They have grass. We need the land. It belongs to us, but if somebody goes grazing there, they get put in jail.”

Driven from their land at gunpoint in 1911, Masai tribes in Kenya’s Laikipia district are demanding the return of their ancestral territory. Their campaign pits them against a handful of white farmers whose families created vast ranches on the land after the expulsion of the tribes.

But the farmers accuse the Masai of destructive overgrazing of the land, and fear that attempts to reclaim the territory will spell doom for its wildlife and ruin a lucrative tourist trade.

The Masai campaign is based on a belief that a treaty signed with the British colonial government in 1904 gave the colonial power a 100-year lease on their ancestral lands, which will expire next month.

“Everyone is aware of the impending land issue,” says Michael Dyer, whose family owns the 13,000-hectare (32,000-acre) Borana ranch. “We had nothing to do with the ancestral land being taken away. We do recognise there is an issue [but] we are concerned about the ecological preservation of a very valuable resource.”

The vast Laikipia plateau stretches across 2m acres of mountain, savannah and forest from Mount Kenya in the east to the Rift valley in the west. Local wildlife experts say it is home to more endangered wildlife than anywhere else in Kenya, including more than half the country’s rhino population and 80% of the world’s population of Grevy’s zebra.

In recent years, prompted by falling beef prices, the white ranchers have shifted from farming to ecotourism for the ultra-rich: prices at some lodges top $500 (£270) a night.

“It does not matter to me who owns the land,” Mr Dyer says of the Masai claim. “It is more important what happens to it. Sections of the land are vastly overgrazed.”

There is a stark and visible contrast between the regions of Laikipia where the Masai are free to wander and the commercial ranches. The hills where Mary Kinyanga’s goats graze are bare and brown; the grass is baked a bright yellow in the dry season, and there is little sign of wildlife.

The white ranches are lusher and vast herds of elephants, giraffe and antelope roam behind electric fences.

But an expert on the resettlements argues that the Masai were forced into overgrazing by British colonial policies which took their best land and confined them to reserves.

“Of course they overgrazed,” says Lotte Hughes, an east African historian at St Antony’s College, Oxford. “They were confined to reserves, banned from leaving them, and banned from selling their surplus cattle because the British were obsessed by the idea of ‘disease-infested’ native cattle alongside exotic, imported stock.”

Dr Hughes criticises the wildlife preservation argument as the “Fortress Conservation model”.

“People don’t seem to realise that the landscape is shaped by people and their domestic herds,” she says. “For centuries there was no problem.”

The campaign to win the return of Laikipia was launched at the weekend by Osiligi, the community group which was instrumental in the Masai’s successful campaign for compensation from the Ministry of Defence for alleged injuries from British army ordnance.

In September 2002 a group of Massai and Samburu tribesmen received a £4.5m settlement for injuries and deaths blamed on munitions left over from British soldiers’ training exercises. That payment, and a further £500,000 settlement in February this year, has encouraged the belief that the Masai can win further compensation.

At a press conference staged with theatrical flair, the community group gathered 18 Masai elders, who dressed in their traditional scarlet robes and chanted a battle song adapted to their new theme.

“God, give us back our land,” a wizened Masai chief crooned, while the men who sat around him in a semi-circle cried their assent with a deep-throated “heh”. “May the world listen to us,” the chief chanted.

James Legei, manager of Osiligi, says: “The movement of the Masai from Laikipia marked the end of us conducting our [religious] ceremonies, because there are sacred sites that are now within electric fences.

“We hope that by August 15 our land will get back to us, and we can go to visit the graves of our great fathers.”

The belief that there is a 100-year lease expiring in August 2004 is the Masai equivalent of an urban myth, however. The 1904 agreement cleared the tribe from prime land to make way for white settlers. Their territory was reduced by two-thirds, but they were permitted to stay in Laikipia. But rather than a lease, the treaty promised the Laikipia plateau to the Masai in perpetuity.

That promise was broken between 1911 and 1913 when the Masai were forced to move from Laikipia to distant reserves.

Dr Hughes says: “I have every sympathy with the Masai. Their sense of betrayal at the hands of the colonial British government is justified and rooted in strong historical evidence that I have spent several years researching.

“But I must point out – with the greatest respect to my Masai friends – that some of the claims [they are making] are factually incorrect. [The 1904 agreement] was not a lease.”

The descendants of the white settlers are conscious of the need to contribute to the wellbeing of the people the British dispossessed. Even in the colonial era, some Masai returned to work for the British and built close ties with white landowners.

Some ranches in the district are now “community-owned” – run by Masai as farms and tourist lodges with the aid of their white neighbours.

Profits from the big ranches have been spent on mobile clinics and schools for the Masai, and the white farmers employ many Masai as park rangers, drivers and domestic staff.

Both the white residents and some Masai fear that the land claims will lead to violence, which will scare away the tourists and ruin livelihoods. David Masere, community liaison officer for the Laikipia Wildlife Forum, says: “It is a fact that this land was taken from the Masai. But if force is used, then we are going to have conflict and we are going to lose a lot.”