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Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK; Schools More Segregated today; Iranian 'Chernobyl' Thanks to US/Israel; Gun Control; WikiLeaks and US Hypocrisy; BP Oil; Republican Hypocrisy

- Stuxnet Virus Attack: Russia Warns of 'Iranian Chernobyl' Russian nuclear officials have warned of another Chernobyl-style nuclear disaster at Iran's controversial Bushehr reactor because of the damage caused by the Stuxnet virus- widely believed to have been the result of a sophisticated joint US-Israeli cyber attack.

- On MLK Day, Some Thoughts on Segregated Schools, Arne Duncan, and President Obama American schools are more segregated by race and class today than they were on the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, 43 years ago. The average white child in America attends a school that is 77 percent white, and where just 32 percent of the student body lives in poverty. The average black child attends a school that is 59 percent poor but only 29 percent white. The typical Latino kid is similarly segregated; his school is 57 percent poor and 27 percent white.

- Talk About Civility is Fine, but Where are the New Calls for Gun Control? Behold the silence of the lambs. Naturally, I'm talking about the Democrats.

One of their own House members has been plugged in the head by a nut job armed with a Glock and a high-capacity magazine, yet even now they can't muster the courage to talk about sensible gun curbs. That issue is off the national agenda because Democrats have been rendered mute by their terror of [the Republican's best friends,] the gun lobby.

- Amid WikiLeaks Storm, US Gov't Promotes Ellsberg Film AMERICAN HYPOCRISY: Even as prosecutors build a case against the Army private suspected of passing hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, the State Department is promoting a documentary film that celebrates Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg.

- BP Targets One of the World's Last Unspoilt Wildernesses Speaking to The Independent on Sunday  yesterday, Mike Childs, FoE's head of climate change, said: "BP, a number of years ago, were positioning themselves to be the greenest of the oil companies, promising to go 'beyond petroleum'. This latest move positions them quite nicely as environmental villain number one, given the huge impact they had in the Gulf of Mexico as well."
The oil giant "cannot be trusted" to drill oil in difficult waters, and any oil spill would be "completely catastrophic". He added: "The Arctic should be a no-go for fossil fuel extraction as it's one of the few pristine environments we have left. It's very fragile and we should be looking at ways to protect it, not seemingly trying to find ways of wrecking it."

- Martin Luther King's Legacy n the mid-1960s, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. contributed an annual essay to The Nation on the state of civil rights and race relations in the United States.  His last piece, from March 14, 1966, could have been written today: "Jobs are harder to create than voting rolls. Harmonizing of peoples of vastly different cultural levels is complicated and frequently abrasive." Read and share four of King's timeless and timely essays to mark this year's holiday.

- Darrell Issa (Republican) asks business: Tell me what to change Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wants the oil industry, drug manufacturers and other trade groups and companies to tell him which Obama administration regulations to target this year.

- Don't Look Back Darrell Issa, the corrupt Republican congressman about to launch endless "investigations" into the Obama administration has had some troubles of his own.

Which Side Would Martin Luther King Be On?
[President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meet at the White House, 1966]President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meet at the White House, 1966

When it comes to newly maligned public workers, the answer is easy
by Roger Bybee
Published on Monday, January 17, 2011 by In These Times

If Martin Luther King, Jr. were to be resurrected today, just in time for the national holiday commemorating his memory, many of the anti-public sector politicians praising his legacy would be choking on their words.

After all, King was a persistent, unwavering champion of the most despised and disparaged members of society, like the public employees now being systematically demonized for state and local fiscal crises (Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich decimates the myths behind the campaign against government workers here).

Recent portraits of Martin Luther King, like Michael Eric Dyson's I May Not Get There With You and the brand-new All Work Has Dignity by Michael Honey, stress his unwavering commitment to labor unions and economic rights as well as full racial justice.
King's exhausting pace of organizing and mobilizing helped to force the passage of landmark civil rights legislation in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But he never considered resting on his laurels. He remained utterly unconcerned with retaining elite approval, as he had a larger vision of economic and social justice he sought to pursue.
Dr. King maintained a disciplined method of non-violence, but increasingly went "too far" in challenging America's economic inequality and the inequality its corporations established across the globe, backed up by U.S. military might. In a little-known speech at the Highlander Institute for activists in 1957, King proudly proclaimed:
I never intend to adjust myself to the tragic inequalities of an economic system which takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes. I never intend to become adjusted to the madness of militarism and the self-defeating method of physical violence.
King fought not just against "Jim Crow" laws, but against the underlying structure of America's economy which condemned all working people--black, white, and Latino--to a fundamental lack of power, dignity, and economic security. The condition of black people in America was a distinct product of American racism, but it was also intertwined with the economic powerlessness facing all poor and working people, King argued.

The Northern media—which largely applauded his efforts to bring down the irrational system of Southern segregation which kept the entire region backward for a century and impeded economic development—were far less sympathetic to his forceful denunciation of economic injustice and the Vietnam War.
As Norman Solomon and Jeff Cohen noted,
But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation's fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without "human rights" — including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for "radical changes in the structure of our society" to redistribute wealth and power."
Thus, at the time of his death on April 4, 1968, Dr. King was deeply immersed in the struggle of 1,300 black sanitation workers in Memphis who had organized themselves into an AFSCME local.. At the same time, he was also building a coalition for a "Poor People's Campaign" that would assemble in Washington, D.C., to demand "economic rights" for people of all colors. It was aimed at building a mighty coalition that would span autoworkers in Detroit, discarded coalminers in Appalachia, Latino farmworkers, and oppressed blacks in both the South and North.

In his new book All Work Has Dignity, Honey pulls together 11 of King's speeches on labor and explains the lasting significance of King's emphasis on the need for "economic rights" for all.
People forget that Dr. King was every bit as committed to economic justice as he was to ending racial segregation. As we struggle with massive unemployment, a staggering racial wealth gap and near collapse of our financial system, King’s prophetic writings and speeches underscore his relevance for today.
King saw domestic inequality as inextricably linked with the foreign policy of U.S. corporations and the government. He spoke out against the Vietnam War not as a "tragic well-intentioned mistake," as so many liberals described it, but the inevitable result of the U.S. empire of corporate power expanding under a growing military umbrella.
In an audacious statement that would get him branded a dangerous "extremist" today, King declared on April 4, 1967, that the United States was "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." King was an early critic of corporate globalization, which exploited the misery of the world's poorest nations:
capitalists of the West [are] investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries.
The current version of globalization would seem familiar to Dr. King, as the the Southern economic model of all-powerful management, docile low-wage labor, and publicly subsidized operations, is now hugely expanded and ported around the globe.
Were he with us today, Dr. King would stand against the opportunistic politicians overlooking the untaxed wealth of billionaires to target public workers. In choosing which side to take in this growing battle, King would have little trouble making a decision, states Honey:
Efforts to shred public employee unions would have deadly effects on the wages, jobs and living standards of the rest of us—especially African Americans, who constitute the most highly unionized group of workers in the country. King fought for the right of all workers to belong to unions, and died supporting that right in Memphis.