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California and the U.S.

Is there a balm in Gilead?

April 29, 2016

The great Black activist and artist Paul Robeson in 1958, in Carnegie Hall, sang the gospel song, “Balm in Gilead”: “♪There is a balm in Gilead, ♪To make the wounded whooole♪ ….” These words in song sprang back from over half a century, when the news emerged of a big pharmaceutical, Gilead Sciences, Inc., buying the drug Sofosbuvir – and then tripling its preferred price – to treat hundreds of thousands of people suffering from Hepatitis C.

While Hillary Clinton tries to recast herself as a champion of Black empowerment, even a child can sense the hypocrisy behind the smile.

Hillary Clinton is no friend of Black empowerment

April 26, 2016

As an African American, I have struggled to understand why so many of my Black brothers and sisters seem to prefer Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. Hillary’s record on civil rights is indeed extensive, albeit inconsistent and often ignoble. By contrast, Bernie has a long, proud, consistent record on fighting inequality – often far ahead of the Democratic Party in this regard – and always far, far ahead of Hillary Clinton.

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Wil b Revolution, cropped

Free Wil B and the other 13 defendants fighting police terror in LA!

April 26, 2016

Block Report Radio interviews Wil B about the charges that can land him in prison for eight and a half years after being arrested at an anti-police terrorism rally a year ago in Los Angeles. Some of Wil’s 13 codefendants have taken plea deals, but he says that he will fight the charges until the end and declare his innocence. Please read the attached letter to the faith community calling for folks to contact LA Prosecutor Mike Feuer and ask him to DROP THESE CHARGES.

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Crystal Chaplin’s sons André and Bryson

Two sons shot in the back by police: A mother’s cry for justice

April 23, 2016

As I write these words with tears in my eyes, my chest is so heavy and it aches like I’m living those days again. I relive the nightmare every day of being told my boys were shot. I live this every day. A mother should never have to hear those words or, even worse, be told that their child has died. My heart goes out to the families that have lost a loved one to this madness. I want justice for my sons Bryson and André.

Apache Stronghold is on the march to prevent the sacred site of Oak Flat, Arizona, from becoming the site of the largest copper mine in North America.

From Oak Flat to Oakland, the fight to save all of our mountains on Turtle Island

April 12, 2016

“If this act goes through, it will not just mean the privatization of Oak Flat but of all federal open land all across the U.S.,” said Duke Romero, Indigenous land warrior and member of the Apache Stronghold occupation at the sacred site of Oak Flat, Arizona. The bill will enable a foreign mining company, Resolution Copper, to take over Oak Flat and build the largest copper mine in North America – and it would effectively open up all federal land to corporate desecration.

Former President Bill Clinton has a heated exchange with Black Lives Matter protesters during a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Thursday in Philadelphia. Clinton was interrupted by people holding signs reading “Clinton crime bill destroyed our communities” and “Welfare reform increased poverty.” – Photo: Ed Hille, The Philadelphia Inquirer/AP

Michelle Alexander: Bill Clinton’s rant was a tutorial on all that’s wrong with the ‘New Democrats’

April 11, 2016

Bill Clinton says that he “almost” wants to apologize for embracing “super-predator” rhetoric, insisting Black Lives Matter protesters support murderers, and blaming his crime bill on Black politicians. Personally, I am not demanding an apology from Bill Clinton. Instead, I would like to say thank you, Bill, for giving the nation a 10-minute tutorial on everything that was wrong – and apparently remains wrong – with the “New Democrats” and their approach to racial politics.

Bill Clinton lectures Black Lives Matter protesters at a rally for his wife Hillary in Philadelphia on April 7. – Photo: Dennis Van Tine, Star Max-AP

Bill Clinton yells at Black Lives Matter protesters, defends violent crime bill

April 9, 2016

Bill Clinton has a history of sometimes suffering from severe foot-in-mouth disease and veering dangerously off message while on the campaign trail for his wife, Hillary. On Thursday, a short video clip of the former president sparring with Black Lives Matter protesters from the stump in Philadelphia once again raised the question of whether Bill is actually helping or hurting Hillary’s campaign.

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John D. Ehrlichman, appointed counsel to the White House, is seen in 1968. (AP Photo)

Nixon aide reportedly admitted drug war was meant to target Black people

April 2, 2016

An eye-opening remark from a former aide to President Richard Nixon pulls back the curtain on the true motivation of the United States’ war on drugs. John Ehrlichman was Nixon’s chief domestic advisor when the president announced the “war on drugs” in 1971. The administration cited a high death toll and the negative social impacts of drugs to justify expanding federal drug control agencies. Doing so set the scene for decades of socially and economically disastrous policies.

Jacqueline Bediako

Prison abolition is overdue

April 1, 2016

On March 4, I heard Angela Davis speak at the Beyond the Bars: Connecting the Struggles conference, which was held at Columbia University. Davis’ speech focused on the necessary abolition of the criminal justice system, specifically incarceration. As Davis spoke, I flicked through the mental photographs of Black men and women locked in cages. The story of Jamycheal Mitchell came to mind.

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church on Cleveland’s largely Black east side on Saturday, March 5, to an audience of 800. To the left of Sanders is Olivet senior pastor, Rev. Dr. Jawanza Karriem Colvin. Skeptical expressions on the faces around him changed as Sanders spoke and, by the time he finished, the audience had given him several standing ovations. – Photo: Rhonda Crowder

Bernie Sanders speaks to Cleveland’s Black community at Olivet Baptist Church

March 28, 2016

The Community Coalition Concerned for Black Life convened a town hall-style meeting with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at the historic Olivet Institutional Baptist Church on Cleveland’s majority Black east side on Saturday, March 5. Organizers said that the overall purpose of the meeting at Olivet was to discuss issues affecting the Black community and how Sanders would address such issues if ultimately elected president.

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Far too many relatively affluent Americans are oblivious to suffering they could reach out and touch – and help to end if they had the will. – Photo: Lucas Jackson, Reuters

America, we have a problem: Homelessness is out of control

March 28, 2016

It’s hard to imagine that the country that controls so much nuclear firepower and drops so many bombs every day is unwilling to educate its children and house its own people. As much as I would like to see zero poverty in the United States, I know that the political will for such policies is just not there today. This, despite the efforts of thousands of people just like me all over the country to alleviate the unnecessary suffering of the poor in the U.S.

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Sharon Jasper, leader of the “Bring the People Home” movement to allow 4,500 New Orleans families to return to their perfectly livable public housing apartments after Katrina, most untouched by the flood, discusses strategy with Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the only member of Congress who devoted herself to enabling poor New Orleanians to recover. Despite their brilliant and valiant efforts, public housing was almost entirely demolished in New Orleans. In the years since then, city after city has privatized and/or demolished its public housing, driving thousands of residents – families, the elderly and the disabled – into homelessness.

Rep. Maxine Waters unveils landmark legislation to end homelessness in America

March 24, 2016

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., ranking member of the Committee on Financial Services, introduced landmark legislation that would provide significant resources to end homelessness in America. The measure is a bold effort to declare what is really needed to address this crisis. The legislation provides $13.27 billion in new funding over five years to several programs and initiatives that will help the nearly 600,000 Americans who are currently homeless.

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Current owner The Trump Organization’s description: “At 52 stories, 555 California St. towers over San Francisco as the city's second tallest skyscraper and one of its most iconic business addresses. Built in 1969, the building formerly known as Bank of America Tower was designed to represent the bank's success, power and wealth. Currently home to many high-profile occupants, the building is a business mecca as well as a city landmark.”

Trump building in San Francisco is a legitimate target for protesters

March 20, 2016

Fascist presidential candidate Donald Trump owns the former Bank of America building in San Francisco at 555 California St., which has become a legitimate target for protesters who want to stop his hateful presidential bid for the White House. In addition to Trump’s hateful words of contempt for women, people of color, Asians, Mexicans and the disabled, records show that Trump’s father was arrested at a KKK brawl. Trump appears to be a chip off of the old block.

Bill and Hillary Clinton leave a Wall Street event. – Photo: A. Katz, Shutterstock

The Clintons’ $93 million romance with Wall Street: a catastrophe for working families, African-Americans and Latinos

March 16, 2016

For 24 years Bill and Hillary Clinton have courted Wall Street money with notable success. No other political couple in modern history has enjoyed so much money flowing to them from Wall Street for such a long time – $92.57 million over a quarter century. Because of the Clintons’ romance with Wall Street and their corrupt New Democratic Party, the New York bankers and the Clintons are richer today. Others – betrayed, abandoned, savaged – are not.

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Chicago students march on Trump. – Photo: Chris Geovanis

How students in Chicago organized to shut down Trump

March 14, 2016

The announcement of Donald Trump’s visit to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) came one week before his scheduled March 11 appearance. Within minutes, there was a Facebook page announcing plans to protest. There was also a moveon.org petition calling on the administration at UIC to cancel the rally. By later that afternoon, over 5,000 people signed up to protest and, by later that night, 50,000 had signed the petition.

According to the Advocate, “Activists who interrupted a Donald Trump rally Friday night in New Orleans with chants of ‘Black lives matter’ appear to have achieved the most sustained and disruptive protest of the Republican presidential front-runner’s events to date.” – Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The New York Times

Trumping Trump: Deafening the white noise of racial supremacy

March 11, 2016

It was a few minutes before we began chanting that I found out what we were going to do – that we were going to do anything at all besides be passive observers at the white supremacist rally disguised as a presidential campaign. My nerves churned a bit like anyone’s do as they realize they’re about to engage in an altercation that could become physical. Or violent. It’s a strange thing that happens when you know you’re in a “no turning back” situation. What you won’t do is back down from the principles on which you stand. Or turn away from the ledge from which you’ve been forced to leap.

Freddie Gray mural in Baltimore

Black Lives Matter and the Freddie Gray effect

February 29, 2016

Speaking at the funeral for Freddie Gray last April the family’s attorney said, “Many of us are here not because we knew Freddie Gray personally, but because we know hundreds of Freddie Grays.” The Freddie Gray effect and the cry that Black Lives Matter is about more than improved police-community relations. It is the fight and the need in countless Black neighborhoods for income equality, access to quality education, environmental justice and criminal justice reform.

SFBV 40th Willie Ratcliff, Jane Kim, Mark Leno 022116 SF Main Library by Peter Menchini, cropped

New legislation increases transparency in law enforcement records

February 27, 2016

In an effort to improve transparency, accountability and trust between law enforcement and the public, Sen. Mark Leno has introduced SB 1286, a bill allowing greater public access to peace officer records related to serious uses of force and sustained charges of misconduct. “California is behind the times when it comes to providing transparency in law enforcement records,” said Sen. Leno, D-San Francisco.

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Gilead, the profiteer pricing its Hep C cure far too high for 3 million sufferers, including 700,000 prisoners in the U.S. to use it, participated in a “health conference” sponsored by JP Morgan at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. The big boys from Big Pharma were greeted by a crowd of mostly retired workers protesting their unconscionable greed. – This and all the protest photos: Anka Karewicz

Sen. Sanders, Big Pharma’s greed is killing 3 million Hep C sufferers, including Mumia

February 25, 2016

Sen. Sanders, you have spoken out against the depredations of Big Pharma, refused to take donations from any of them, and call for “Medicare for all.” You’ve also spoken to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Currently in Pennsylvania there is a case before a federal court which embodies both of these battles, Abu-Jamal vs. Kerestes. Mumia Abu-Jamal is suing to force the Department of Corrections to immediately provide him treatment with the Hep C drug.

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Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz, left, and Sen. Marco Rubio both gesture at businessman Donald Trump during the Republican debate in Greenville, South Carolina, Feb. 13. – Photo: © Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

Scourge of US elections: Electoral College, hackable voting machines and obscure rules

February 19, 2016

The Electoral College was created by the framers of the U.S. Constitution to ensure that the votes of the plebes did not supersede the interests of the landed gentry. That’s not just my opinion. For example, according to FairVote, an organization with which I worked in the 2000 presidential election, a whopping 78 percent of the votes cast were rendered unimportant due to the arcane rules of the Electoral College.

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