Amid a shameful paucity of media coverage, inmates at facilities in several states have organized work stoppages following a call for a nationwide prison strike to begin on Sept. 9—the anniversary of the 1971 Attica prison uprising. Organizers say inmates in at least 29 prisons in 12 states have launched strikes, with an unprecedented more than 24,000 prisoners participating. "This is a call to end slavery," reads the official call for the strike, issued by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee. "They cannot run these facilities without us." While there have been prison strikes before—two earlier this year, in Texas and Alabama—this marks the first one to be nationally coordinated. Prisoners are using social media and smuggled cell phones to organize the national strike.
The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Oct. 3 affirmed (PDF) an Indiana district court ruling that blocked the state government's effort to prevent resettlement of Syrian refugee families in the state. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of Exodus Refugee Immigration. The complaint (PDF) alleged that Indiana Governor Mike Pence violated the Constitution and federal law, specifically the Refugee Act, by attempts to interfere with resettlement of Syrian refugees. In an opinion by Judge Richard Posner, the Seventh Circuit agreed:
The UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent issued a report Sept. 26 concluding that African Americans are owed reparations for historical and ongoing "racial terrorism." The report to the UN Human Rights Council (PDF) emphasized that this legcy continues in the recent spate of police killings of Black youth: "In particular, the legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remains a serious challenge, as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent. Contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching." The panel warned of "impunity for state violence" creating a "human rights crisis" that "must be addressed as a matter of urgency... The dangerous ideology of white supremacy inhibits social cohesion amongst the US population." (Atlanta Daily World, Sept. 29; Washington Post, Sept. 27)
A new report compiled by California State University, San Bernardino finds a dramatic increase in hate crimes in 2015, particularly those targeting Muslims and Arab-Americans. The study compiled data from 20 states, representing over 53% of the national population. Overall hate crimes across the 20 states increased by about five percent. However, hate crimes against Muslims increased by 78%. The number of anti-Muslim hate crimes committed in these 20 states alone (196) is so high that even if no other hate crimes were reported in any other states, it would still signal the highest increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes since shortly after the 9-11 attacks in 2001. Hate crimes against Arab-Americans increased by over 200%, while attacks against transgender individuals increased about 40%, although the researchers warn this could be affected by improvements in data collection. The director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at the university believes the rise may be caused in part by the political discourse in the country, and slight increases are noticed after a candidate makes incendiary comments about the Muslim population. Official statistics for 2015 from the FBI are due to be released in November.
Well, isn't this cute. Talking Points Memo notes that when Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein supped with Putin at a Moscow confab sponsored by Kremlin state media mouthpiece RT in December, also on hand was Donald Trump's military advisor, retired General Mike Flynn. The same Mike Flynn who has called for the "destruction of Raqqa" to defeat ISIS, and boasts that he is "at war with Islam," The Intercept informs us. Yet Stein, in her viral YouTube statement from Red Square during the trip, filled with predictable "anti-war" rhetoric, had not a syllable of criticism either for Flynn or for her Kremlin hosts—who were then (as now) busy bombing the crap out of Syria.
The Baltimore Police Department (BPD) has engaged in tactics that violate the First and Fourth Amendments and numerous anti-discrimination laws, according to a report released by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) on Aug. 10. The report is centered on the use of excessive force and illegal stops, seizures and searches, especially within the African American community. Most at fault for the systemic discrimination, the DoJ said, are "deficient policies, training and accountability systems," including the "zero-tolerance" street enforcement. A variety of statistics were used to highlight the problem within the Baltimore force, including a finding that African Americans accounted for over 80% of all BPD vehicle stops, despite white individuals being found with contraband twice as often.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein just announced her running mate as Ajamu Baraka, who she hails as "a powerful, eloquent spokesperson for the transformative, radical agenda whose time has come—an agenda of economic, social, racial, gender, climate, indigenous and immigrant justice." (Politico) Among his touted credentials is that he served on the board of Amnesty International, where he apparently did anti-death penalty work. That is certainly a worthy cred. But it is also hilariously ironic in light of Baraka's vigorous support for what is probably the bloodiest regime on the planet right now: the genocidal dictatorship of Syria's Bashar Assad.
We know we're going to be accused of alarmism, but please follow the logic. First, however self-serving it may be, the accusation of a Russian intelligence hand in the WikiLeaks dump of hacked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee is plausible. Famously, the e-mails reveal DNC staffers pulling for Hillary Clinton and against Bernie Sanders, prompting the resignation of the supposedly neutral body's chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The DNC had apparently been hit by Russian hackers, and Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook is now openly charging that Moscow is trying to boost Donald Trump.