Politics

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Jesse Jackson

By Jesse Jackson Sr.
NNPA Columnist

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, Jan. 28, 2014 was scheduled to focus on inequality, the reality that this economy does not work for working people.

Given the obstruction of House and Senate Republicans, the President faces the reality that little of what he proposes can pass this Congress. He has vowed to use his “pen” and “phone” to act unilaterally where he can.

But the real challenge is to explain to the American people what the reality is, what must be done and who is standing in the way. Here are things we would have preferred to see in the presidential address:

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way:

Every great change president – Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, even Ronald Reagan on the right – uses what TR called his “pulpit” to rally Americans, to help them understand the challenge we face, and that it does not have to be this way.

With the middle class sinking and the poor struggling simply to survive, most blame themselves for their predicament. Some adjust to the new reality, thinking this is just the way things are. Some start to believe the best years of the country are behind us, that their children will face tougher odds and fare worse than they did.

The first task of President Obama is to not only make clear what the reality is, but to make it clear that it doesn’t have to be this way. There are basic things that can and should be done that can make a major difference.

Make Clear Who’s Standing in the Way:

The President should challenge the Congress to act immediately to renew emergency benefits for the jobless that expired in February. He should demand action on comprehensive immigration reform that has already passed the Senate.

He should call for a jobs corps for the young, putting them to work in installing energy retrofits in public buildings, in reviving our public parks, in serving impoverished infants and the elderly. And he should make it clear who stands in the way.

A minimum wage hike would pass the House tomorrow if allowed to come to a vote. House Speaker Boehner refuses to allow that vote. That is true about unemployment benefits and about comprehensive immigration reform as well. The President must help Americans understand who stands in the way.

But he should not stop there. Global corporations have squirreled nearly $2 trillion abroad to avoid paying taxes here at home. The private wealth of individuals secreted in nominally offshore tax havens is estimated credibly to total some $21 trillion.

We are not making investments vital to our future – in universal preschool and child nutrition, in high quality schools, in affordable college, in basic infrastructure from roads to airports to the electric grid vital to our economy.

Most Americans struggle with wages that aren’t keeping up with costs and fear that more spending will lead to more taxes. But the president should make it clear. We can invest in our future if the rich and the multinationals pay their fair share of taxes. Billionaires should pay a higher tax rate than their secretaries.

Huge multinationals should not pay a lower tax rate than small businesses. Obama should announce a range of executive initiatives to crack down on tax avoidance and challenge the Congress to join him in doing so.

Lift the Children:

One in four American children is born into poverty. This “birth lottery” should not determine their fate. We must act to give every child the opportunity to learn, to fulfill his or her potential.

This is a moral imperative – and an economic necessity. This country will not thrive unless the poorest children – disproportionately children of color – have the opportunity to develop.

President Obama has proposed a program to enlist the states in providing universal pre-K, one of the most cost effective investments that can be made in children. But he should go further than that.

Detail what must be done in the early years – from conception to six-years-old – to ensure that every child comes to school ready to learn. Level with Americans how much this will cost.

And detail where the money will come from – from ending wars abroad, from taking on special interests like the drug lobby that forces Medicare and Medicaid to pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, from ending subsidies to big oil, from fair taxes described above.

Challenge the better angels of the American people and they will respond.

We Are in This Together:

The reality is that we all do better when we all do better. America’s economy worked best when the broad middle class was created, and we all – poor, middle class and rich – grew together.

For the 30 years coming out of World War II, the economy grew faster, the middle class expanded, the poor did better –  and the rich prospered. Over the last 30 years, however, only the few have benefitted, while income for working people lost ground.

With growing inequality, the economy witnessed speculative booms and busts, with ever-harsher downturns and ever-slower recoveries. We cannot have a healthy and growing economy without rebuilding the middle class and lifting the impoverished.

President Obama will face entrenched and powerful resistance to whatever he proposes. Republicans have blocked all measures to create jobs, even as they blame the president for the bad economy. What is vital now is for the president to rise above this partisan strife – and to help Americans understand that it does not have to be this way.

Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. is founder and president of the Chicago-based Rainbow PUSH Coalition. You can keep up with his work at www.rainbowpush.org.

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Bill de Blasio celebrates with his family

By Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

NNPA Columnist

The inauguration of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Jan. 1, 2014, signaled an important left-of-center turning point in the evolution of progressive politics. It’s important not only for the largest city in America, but also for the masses of people who increasingly live in major urban centers throughout the world.

Mayor de Blasio represents a new challenge for a more “progressive” urban change and leadership in America. If the new mayor of New York City is successful in championing the cause of economic equality across the lines of race, class and gender, it will have a transformative impact on how other big cities are led and changed.

After being sworn in by former President Bill Clinton, de Blasio stood at the podium to boldly proclaim, “We care called to put an end to economic and social inequalities that threaten to unravel the city that we love.”

The term “progressive” is simply defined as an individual or group generally classified as liberal in making commitments and actions in support of social, racial and economic equality.  Put another way, a progressive is defined as one who seeks reform, change or improvement for the greater good of all.

African Americans and Latino Americans in particular know first-hand the social, racial and ethnic inequalities that characterize major metropolitan areas throughout the United States.

This has always been a tale of two cities for them – a city for the superrich and a city of the superpoor. De Blasio declared, “When I said we would take dead aim at the tale of two cities, I meant it. And we will do it. I will honor the faith and trust you have placed in me. And we will give life to the hope of so many in our city. We will succeed … as one city.”

It is important to note that Mayor de Blasio was overwhelmingly elected last November with over 74 percent of the vote.  His campaign did not shy away from a stern left-of-center progressive stance on all the major municipal political issues from education, employment, health care, and criminal justice to economic equality.

The majority of New York voters knew who and what they were voting for by electing Bill de Blasio.

Hopefully, this will also be a teachable moment for others who seek political office.  There have been too many closet progressives or liberals who have felt erroneously that in order to be elected, they had to hide or camouflage the fact that they were actual liberal in their principles and perspectives.

Of course, those kind of politically camouflaged elected officials usually end up failing because they have been too cowardly to stand up for their principles.

Harry Belafonte’s also did not shy away from speaking the truth at Mayor de Blasio’s inauguration.

He stated, “While it is encouraging to know that the statistics have indicated a recent drop in our city’s murder rate, New York alarmingly plays a tragic role in the fact that our nation has the largest prison population in the world.”

He explained, “Much of that problem stems from issues of race, perpetuated by the depth of human indifference to poverty.  Changing the stop-and-frisk law is as important as it is the change of the law is only the tip of the iceberg in fixing our deeply Dickensian justice system.”  Of course, Brother Belafonte was correct and on point.

It is refreshing to see the re-emergence of elected officials who are not afraid to represent their constituents and to speak truth to power.  The eyes of the world will be watching New York City  to see whether there is fundamental change.

At least for first days of 2014, the city appears to be headed in a good direction with a good leader.  Belafonte said it best: “Bill de Blasio gives New York another opportunity to open the door of possibilities.  We, New Yorkers, must not let him fail…. We’ve got a lot of work to do, so let’s get busy.”

(Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is President of Education Online Services Corporation and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, He can be reached at: http://drbenjaminfchavisjr.wix.com/drbfc)

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Mandela & Imam W.D.M.

By Amatullah Sharif

Amatullah Sharif“It always seems impossible, until it’s done” – President Nelson Mandela

This too are the thoughts of many people who protested against apartheid in what seemed like an insurmountable feat for South Africans to eradicate apartheid.  Obviously, G-d and history were on the side of the oppressed and therefore on the side of Nelson Mandela, who became his nation’s first Black President – a man of humility, self-sacrifice, fearlessness and compassion.  

I remember all too well, as if it were yesterday, how Muslims in America, under the leadership of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, became involved in the protest against apartheid.             

A Christian friend who worked with the African National Congress (ANC) in New York called to ask if I would be interested in some lectures by South African Muslim scholars, as she did not know what to do with them. 

Of course the answer was “yes.”  Under the auspices of Muslim Journal, these lectures were printed verbatim in the newspaper, thus Muslims Against Apartheid was born.

Through the various protests around the world, boycotting businesses, corporations and institutions doing business with South Africa, celebrities cancelling their concerts in Sun City, a march on the Embassy of South Africa where prominent dignitaries and politicians were arrested, Muslims also got involved.

In 1990, the American Muslim Council held its first Conference on Muslims Against Apartheid and Imam Warith Deen Mohammed spoke and participated in the Conference. 

Invited guests were several prominent anti-apartheid activists.  Dr. Fatima Meer, a petite South African writer, academic and a screenwriter was the most formidable female leader of Indian origin in the liberation movement for South Africa.

            In the 1950s, it was a period of intense political activity for Dr. Meer, as she fought government decisions such as the pass laws and the Group Areas Act, which segregated communities on racial lines and resulted in large numbers of Indians, including Meer's family, being forcibly evicted from their homes and businesses in areas declared "whites only".

            She was considered a threat and was banned from speaking three times under the Suppression of Communism Act. She was proud to be among the first banned when the powers of the act were widened to cover groups other than communists.

Among other restrictions, the banning order stipulated that she could not attend gatherings, make public statements or make contact with other banned persons. She was first banned in 1955 for two years, in 1976 for five years – along with Winnie Mandela – and again in 1981 for another five years.

            She was commissioned by Madiba to write his first biography, “Higher than Hope,” in 1988 along with more than 40 books, essays and lectures. She and her husband Ismail Meer, Esq. were interviewed by Muslim Journal Editor, Ayesha K. Mustafaa, at the anti-apartheid Conference.

            When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, he invited Ismail Meer to be his travelling companion and speech writer on his trips abroad. Meer is one of the unsung heroes of South African history.

A prominent Indian activist, he helped convince the young Mandela, decades earlier, to broaden his vision beyond Africans only. He is the author of “Fortunate Man” his autobiography.

Another activist who came to the anti-apartheid Conference was the Amir of the Zulus. As a teacher in the schools in South Africa, he was charged to teach his students about Islam. He refused by saying Islam is a religion of the Indians, as most Indians in South Africa were Muslims.

After given an ultimatum to introduce his students to Islam, after doing research, he realized that Islam is for all people and he converted to Islam by taking his shahadatain.  He later was chosen as the Amir of the Zulus, a very interesting person who I interviewed during the Conference.

Prior to the arrival of Madiba to America, I had become a liaison to the ANC for the Muslim Community.  We were invited to be Marshalls on the floor of the Convention Center in Washington, D.C. where he was to speak, and they gave me batches of tickets for his public address to distribute to the Muslim Community. It was an exciting time for us all.

After reading an article on Madiba’s  U.S. itinerary in Muslim Journal, the office of Imam Mohammed called and ask if it was possible to arrange a meeting with Mr. Mandela while here in the U.S., and that he would travel to see him.  

After meeting with Congressman Walter E. Fauntroy, we arranged for Imam Mohammed to attend the Congressional Black Caucus Breakfast they held for him. 

Later, I was asked to contact people working with his U.S. visit for Imam Mohammed to meet him in California, another stop in his visit, and told them Mr. Mohammed wanted to gift Mr. Mandela monetarily. 

“How much”, they asked, “$80,000.” And those rusty doors opened real fast and wide.  We passed the baton over to Imam Faheem Shuaibe of Oakland, California, and the rest is history.  Imam Mohammed added another $5,000 to the original amount bringing it to $85,000.

The Muslim Community of Imam W. Deen Mohammed gave the largest donation Mandela received while in the U.S. Oprah Winfrey donated $50,000 at that time.

 We truly thank Allah for the blessing of being a part of this great history and feel that in some small way we made a sincere contribution in helping the South African people and their cause.

Nelson Mandela was sworn in as the first African President of the Republic of South Africa on May 10, 1994, where politicians and dignitaries from more than 140 countries attended from around the world. 

This was a victorious celebration of the transition from apartheid rule to a democratic rule, from a White minority rule to a Black majority rule.

As he is laid to rest, the whole world mourns and celebrates the life and achievements of this “Statesman,” “Man of the 20th Century,” and “Father of South Africa.”

Quotes from the Inaugural Speech of President Nelson Mandela May 10, 1994:

“Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud.”

“Never, never, never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.”

                                                                        

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Former President Bill Clinton.

By Freddie Allen

NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During what he called one of his “favorite events every year,” President Barack Obama presented 16 outstanding individuals, including four African Americans, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation’s highest civilian honor.

President John F. Kennedy created the Presidential Medal of Freedom 50 years ago to honor exceptional people for their courage and contributions to society during their careers.

This year, President Obama selected 16 individuals for the honor.

The resident praised Ernie Banks for his play in the Negro Leagues and for being the first Black player on the Chicago Cubs major league baseball team.

Nicknamed “Mr. Cub,” Banks, won Most Valuable Player awards in 1958 and 1959 and played in 14 All- Star games. Banks hit 512 home runs during his career.

C.T. Vivian, a Baptist minister and adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was honored for his work leading the Freedom Riders and his efforts to register Black voters in Selma, Ala., where he was bloodied by Dallas County Sheriff Jim Clark after leading a Black delegation downtown to register.

President Obama also recognized Bayard Rustin, posthumously, for his work and sacrifices during the Civil Rights Movement. Rustin, an openly gay civil rights leader, was the key organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

The President honored Oprah Winfrey for her incredible broadcast journalism career and her charitable contributions.  Winfrey can add the Presidential Medal of Freedom to her resume, which also includes Bob Hope Humanitarian Award and the Kennedy Center Honors Award.

Oprah’s daytime talk show ran for more than 4,500 episodes.

“Oprah’s greatest strength has always been her ability to help us discover the best in ourselves.  Michelle and I count ourselves among her many devoted fans and friends,” said President Obama.

President Bill Clinton earned his Presidential Medal of Freedom for his public service that “was just getting started” when he left office.

“[President Clinton] doesn’t stop,” said Obama. “He’s helped lead relief efforts after the Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake.  His foundation and global initiative have helped to save or improve the lives of literally hundreds of millions of people.”

Also honored were Ben Bradlee, a former executive editor of The Washington Post who oversaw the newspaper’s award-winning coverage of the Watergate scandal; Late Senator Daniel Inouye (honored posthumously), the first Japanese American to serve in Congress; Daniel Kahneman, a scholar who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002; Richard Lugar, a former Senator from Indiana who led the effort to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons and Loretta Lynn, the country music icon who won the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

In addition, President Obama recognized Mario Molina,  a Nobel Prize-winning chemist and environmental scientist; Gloria Steinem, the women’s rights activist and co-founder of Ms. magazine; Arturo Sandoval,  a Grammy Award-winning jazz musician; Sally Ride (honored posthumously), the first American female astronaut to travel to space; Dean Smith, the former head coach of the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team who won two national titles and graduated 96 percent of his players; and Patricia Wald, the first woman to serve on the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

President Obama said: “These are the men and women who in their extraordinary lives remind us all of the beauty of the human spirit, the values that define us as Americans, the potential that lives inside of all of us.”

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Muslim Journal Political Coverage

By Marvis A. Aleem

With the conclusion of the sixteen-day U.S. government shutdown ending October 17, 2013, one should take the time to assess the damage done to the nation with regard to this unnecessary fiasco.

First of all, what is truly disturbing about this event is that it was brought about by a "minority within a slight majority (232 out of 432 occupied seats)" in the U.S. House of Representatives.

With the House Speaker bowing to the demands of the ultra-right wing zealots in the House who numbered around 80 of the Republican Party mix, they were able to throw a big "wrench" in the government's machinery and bring it to a grinding halt.

In retrospect, these "super-conservatives" had been talking about and planning this attack ever since they won back a House majority in 2010.   Such cavalier behavior almost brought the nation and the global community at large to their knees when one couples the threat of debt default that these irresponsible types ventured toward in mindless pursuit.

This latter tactic would have destroyed the "full faith and credit" of the nation, sent interest rates skyrocketing, and set in motion an avalanche/tsunami of economic woes that would have dwarfed the shutdown scenario.

Saner minds prevailed at the "11th hour" to prevent the latter travesty from occurring but damage was done to the tune of at least $24 billion in wasted economic activity.  In addition, it cost us a loss of 120,000 new jobs that would have been created during the shutdown period.

Yes, the Tea Party adherents had found a way to "game" the legislative system in an attempt to get their way, but at a high cost.  For a group that preaches cutting government spending more than anything else, they see nothing wrong with the $24 billion waste that the government shutdown incurred.

Ironically, this rebelling faction has no uniform policies on how the funding should be distributed.  What hypocrites!  They were playing with "fire" and almost set the national "house" on fire.

And yes, despite this scenario playing out for all to see via the electronic and print media, this faction had the nerve to blame the shutdown on President Obama, a Senate majority of 80  and the sane and reasonable House Democrats and Republicans who voted to end the shutdown standoff.

The notion of shutting down the government by using the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) as the battle cry of the group was obvious.  However, this was only a part of their agenda to seize control of the levers of government power and steer the nation in a direction that suits their aims and purposes.

The resultant scenario would be a living hell for the majority of Americans. But these renegades will not give up and must be challenged and fought until they are either brought to their senses or stuffed in the recesses of their rejected ideology where they can do little harm to the future of American progressivity.

The federal political leadership was able to "kick the can down the road" for a few months but who's to say that we won't revisit this folly in the January/February 2014 timeframe.

Despite the beating in the public polls that the Republicans took for creating this "mess", the diehards among them will not let go in waging this war to see their agenda implemented.  However, other events of extreme import may either add to the precariousness of such political ploys or even surpass these antics.

Economic consequences - The Federal Reserve Bank is still printing money, through its quantitative easing program, to the tune of $85 billion a month (or $1 trillion per year).  This program mainly benefits the large investment/commercial banks and preferred investors.  Investing in the stock market for the average investor can be extremely risky.

The rest of us, who are using various savings instruments such as IRAs, 401ks, certificates of deposit, money market accounts, etc. that are deposited in these institutions, are getting nothing (interest paid is close to zero) for our wealth.  In fact, since inflation is running unofficially up to 10 percent, we are actually being robbed!

Even though we dodged a couple of bullets in mid-October, it was not without consequences.  $24 billion, which represents 0.6 percent of the federal government's annual expenditure of $3.5 trillion, is "evaporated wealth" due to lost economic activity (the shutdown).

This will also cause a not-so-insignificant drop in 2013 projections for America's annual GDP (gross domestic product) numbers.  This translates into lost jobs and business failures.

The fact that we toyed with the nation's debt obligations sent a signal to Wall Street, global central banks, and rating agencies (Fitch Ratings, Standard & Poor, Moody's) that we might default, is prompting these agencies to consider lowering our credit rating once more even though default was averted.

Remember:  The debt ceiling standoff of August 2011 cost America its premiere AAA rating in which it was downgraded to AA+.

If it happens again, expect interest rates to go up on just about everything.  In terms of government debt, we are approaching the point at which we can only service the interest on the debt and none of the principal.

Translation:  We will never be able to pay off our current debt and at some point this would lead to outright national bankruptcy.  This isn't pretty!

Accelerating deeper into the rat hole — Irresponsible actions by irrational political leaders are those that are sending our nation into a state of economic collapse (the rat hole).  Here are a few tangible activities perpetrated by the Republican conservative class since they won a Congressional majority in 2010.

These actions and more that this group has within its sights have affected or will adversely affect millions of Americans.

  • · In the past three years these tax cuts, economic restraints, the sequester, etc. represent a combined total of approximately $700 billion in lost revenue; the renegades have actually fomented some depression in the national economy.
  • · Conservatives are primarily responsible for a two-year delay in reauthorization of the Farm bill.  If this bill is not approved by January 1, 2014, the result will be an escalation of grocery/commodity prices.
  • The Farm bill has far-reaching and pronounced effects on the American "landscape" in terms of energy, trade, jobs, conservation, food, and debt/deficit reduction.  Progressives and conservatives in Congress are expected to have big fights from now until the end of the year (2013) over the content of this bill.
  • · A cunning maneuver that the House Republicans were able to put in place recently was to separate out the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP - known as the food stamp program) from the rest of the Farm bill and deal with it singularly.   This allowed them to strip $4.5 billion out of  SNAP's annual $80 billion budget without having to negotiate the rest of the Farm bill.
  • · These conservatives want to reduce this budget by $4 billion/year (or more) for ten years in SNAP funding which serves the poor, unemployed, and needy.  By contrast, an obscure example of the "pork" (political graft) that has been doled out in the Farm bill for years by Congress is the continued subsidy to rich and undeserving "farmers"; there will probably be no decrease (maybe increases) in these handouts.
  • · The federal income replacement funds allotted for the unemployed are administered by the States who have no uniform policies on how the funds are distributed.  With increasing frequency, some States are short changing many citizens who qualify by either denying unemployment benefits outright or by reducing the amount of benefits or the time period that they are allotted.
  • · Conservatives are using a "starve the beast" approach to funding the federal government.  By refusing to raise taxes for government expenditures, their policies put the government in a position of having to choose between defense and non-defense budgeting where some important programs within both of these government sectors get cut or eliminated while others that should get the "axe" are retained or even bolstered.  The sequester is a good example of this.
  • · Let's not forget that the conservative bottom line is to continually lower taxes for the wealthy and powerful while constantly raising taxes on the American working class via direct, multifarious and devious tactics/means.

It is suggested that we pay closer and closer attention to what is really going on out here in our political/economic universe.

There is no doubt that all of us will be affected in some way as the outcome of the current political battles begins to materialize.  We must continue to pray for G-d's Help and work to seek solutions that protect our interests and survival.

 

0 26
Muslim Journal Political Coverage

Julianne MalveauxBy Julianne Malveaux

NNPA Columnist 

Voter suppression is alive and well, especially in the state of North Carolina, where a Republican official, Don Yelton, proved himself to be at best intellectually limited, and at worse, downright crazy.

While discussing North Carolina’s new voter ID law, Yelton made some absurd and incendiary statements:

“The law is going to kick the Democrats in the butt. If it hurts a bunch of college kids [that are] too lazy to get up off their bohonkas and go get a photo ID, so be it. If it hurts a bunch of whites, so be it.”

Yelton continued, If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it,”

What is wrong with this man?  Has he no decency?  He tipped his hand by telling the world what he really thinks, and indicating what the so-called voter ID laws are really about.  These laws are about suppressing likely Democratic votes.

They are about racism and racist attitudes.  These attitudes don’t belong in these United States of America 150 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Who the heck is Don Yelton, anyway?  He’s a local North Carolina precinct chair who initially answered questions about his interview with some belligerence.

“I’ve been called a bigot before,” he said before adding that his best friend is Black.  Then he goes on to talk about the “n” word, saying that if African Americans can use the word, then so can he.

Of course, Yelton was reprimanded by his party. He ended up resigning over his comments.  But no one reprimanded Mitt Romney over his 47 percent comments, and no one has reprimanded the many Republican racists who cling to the past because they are frightened of our multicultural future.

I am waiting for someone to tell me that Yelton is “just one person” and that his views do not represent those of the Republican Party.

I’m also waiting for ants to eat snakes.  I am certain that Yelton has used these kinds of comments before.  Is this the first time he has been reprimanded?

To apply the world “lazy” to students and African Americans is disingenuous, racist, and insulting. Yelton seemed careful, though, not to ignore senior citizens, some of who might be challenged to get new ID.

Yelton’s comments are especially revealing of the contempt that some elected officer for their constituents.  Now that Republicans control both houses of the North Carolina legislature, some feel free to say what they really think.

This is not a North Carolina problem. Many states want to suppress the vote with new voter ID laws, fewer polling places, and other methods of keeping voters away from the polls.

These efforts to “kick Democrats in the butt” by attacking likely Democratic voters ought to mobilize voters to outmaneuver and out vote these people who are so crazy that they call others lazy.

The lazy comment is connected to racist stereotypes.

Somebody needs to remind Yelton that the plantation and sharecropping systems that North Carolina’s economy rested on for at least a century was staffed by “lazy” people who were constantly being ripped off for their labor.

Shame on Don Yelton for being crazy enough to call hard working students and African Americans lazy.  Shame on the Republican Party that he purports to represent.  And shame on the state of North Carolina for its attempt to suppress the vote.

Shame, too, on the other states around the nation who, like North Carolina, who have made voter suppression a priority.

(Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer.  She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.)

0 20
Muslim Journal Political Coverage

By Marvis A. Aleem

With the conclusion of the 16-day U.S. government shutdown ending Oct. 17, 2013, one should take the time to assess the damage done to the nation with regard to this unnecessary fiasco.

First of all, what is truly disturbing about this event is that it was brought about by a “minority within a slight majority (232 out of 432 occupied seats)” in the U.S. House of Representatives.

With the House Speaker bowing to the demands of the ultra-right wing zealots in the House who numbered around 80 of the Republican Party mix, they were able to throw a big "wrench" in the government's machinery and bring it to a grinding halt.

In retrospect, these “super-conservatives” had been talking about and planning this attack ever since they won back a House majority in 2010.

Such cavalier behavior almost brought the nation and the global community at large to their knees when one couples the threat of debt default that these irresponsible types ventured toward in mindless pursuit.

This latter tactic would have destroyed the “full faith and credit” of the nation, sent interest rates skyrocketing, and set in motion an avalanche/tsunami of economic woes that would have dwarfed the shutdown scenario.

Saner minds prevailed at the "11th hour" to prevent the latter travesty from occurring but damage was done to the tune of at least $24 billion in wasted economic activity.  In addition, it cost us a loss of 120,000 new jobs that would have been created during the shutdown period.

Yes, the Tea Party adherents had found a way to “game” the legislative system in an attempt to get their way, but at a high cost.  For a group that preaches cutting government spending more than anything else, they see nothing wrong with the $24 billion waste that the government shutdown incurred.

Ironically, this rebelling faction has no uniform policies on how the funding should be distributed.  What hypocrites!  They were playing with “fire” and almost set the national “house” on fire.

And yes, despite this scenario playing out for all to see via the electronic and print media, this faction had the nerve to blame the shutdown on President Obama, a Senate majority of 80 and the sane and reasonable House Democrats and Republicans who voted to end the shutdown standoff.

The notion of shutting down the government by using the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) as the battle cry of the group was obvious.

However, this was only a part of their agenda to seize control of the levers of government power and steer the nation in a direction that suits their aims and purposes.  The resultant scenario would be a living hell for the majority of Americans.

But these renegades will not give up and must be challenged and fought until they are either brought to their senses or stuffed in the recesses of their rejected ideology where they can do little harm to the future of American progressivity.

The federal political leadership was able to “kick the can down the road” for a few months but who’s to say that we won't revisit this folly in the January/February 2014 timeframe.

Despite the beating in the public polls that the Republicans took for creating this “mess,” the diehards among them will not let go in waging this war to see their agenda implemented.

However, other events of extreme import may either add to the precariousness of such political ploys or even surpass these antics.

Economic consequences – The Federal Reserve Bank is still printing money, through its quantitative easing program, to the tune of $85 billion a month (or $1 trillion per year).

This program mainly benefits the large investment/commercial banks and preferred investors.  Investing in the stock market for the average investor can be extremely risky.

The rest of us, who are using various savings instruments such as IRAs, 401ks, certificates of deposit, money market accounts, etc. that are deposited in these institutions, are getting nothing (interest paid is close to zero) for our wealth.

In fact, since inflation is running unofficially up to 10 percent, we are actually being robbed!

Even though we dodged a couple of bullets in mid-October, it was not without consequences.  $24 billion, which represents 0.6 percent of the federal government’s annual expenditure of $3.5 trillion, is “evaporated wealth” due to lost economic activity (the shutdown).

This will also cause a not-so-insignificant drop in 2013 projections for America's annual GDP (gross domestic product) numbers.  This translates into lost jobs and business failures.

The fact that we toyed with the nation's debt obligations sent a signal to Wall Street, global central banks, and rating agencies (Fitch Ratings, Standard & Poor, Moody's) that we might default, is prompting these agencies to consider lowering our credit rating once more even though default was averted.

Remember:  The debt ceiling standoff of August 2011 cost America its premiere AAA rating in which it was downgraded to AA+.

If it happens again, expect interest rates to go up on just about everything.  In terms of government debt, we are approaching the point at which we can only service the interest on the debt and none of the principal.

Translation:  We will never be able to pay off our current debt and at some point this would lead to outright national bankruptcy.  This isn't pretty!

Accelerating deeper into the rat hole – Irresponsible actions by irrational political leaders are those that are sending our nation into a state of economic collapse (the rat hole).

Here are a few tangible activities perpetrated by the Republican conservative class since they won a Congressional majority in 2010.  These actions and more that this group has within its sights have affected or will adversely affect millions of Americans.

• In the past three years these tax cuts, economic restraints, the sequester, etc. represent a combined total of approximately $700 billion in lost revenue; the renegades have actually fomented some depression in the national economy.

 

• Conservatives are primarily responsible for a two-year delay in reauthorization of the Farm bill.  If this bill is not approved by January 1, 2014, the result will be an escalation of grocery/commodity prices.

The Farm bill has far-reaching and pronounced effects on the American "landscape" in terms of energy, trade, jobs, conservation, food, and debt/deficit reduction.  Progressives and conservatives in Congress are expected to have big fights from now until the end of the year (2013) over the content of this bill.

• A cunning maneuver that the House Republicans were able to put in place recently was to separate out the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP - known as the food stamp program) from the rest of the Farm bill and deal with it singularly.

This allowed them to strip $4.5 billion out of  SNAP's annual $80 billion budget without having to negotiate the rest of the Farm bill.  These conservatives want to reduce this budget by $4 billion/year (or more) for ten years in SNAP funding which serves the poor, unemployed, and needy.

By contrast, an obscure example of the "pork" (political graft) that has been doled out in the Farm bill for years by Congress is the continued subsidy to rich and undeserving "farmers"; there will probably be no decrease (maybe increases) in these handouts.

• The federal income replacement funds allotted for the unemployed are administered by the States who have no uniform policies on how the funds are distributed.  With increasing frequency, some States are short changing many citizens who qualify by either denying unemployment benefits outright or by reducing the amount of benefits or the time period that they are allotted.

• Conservatives are using a "starve the beast" approach to funding the federal government.  By refusing to raise taxes for government expenditures, their policies put the government in a position of having to choose between defense and non-defense budgeting, where some important programs within both of these government sectors get cut or eliminated while others that should get the axe are retained or even bolstered.

The sequester is a good example of this.

• Let's not forget that the conservative bottom line is to continually lower taxes for the wealthy and powerful while constantly raising taxes on the American working class via direct, multifarious and devious tactics/means.

It is suggested that we pay closer and closer attention to what is really going on out here in our political/economic universe.

There is no doubt that all of us will be affected in some way as the outcome of the current political battles begins to materialize.  We must continue to pray for G-d's Help and work to seek solutions that protect our interests and survival.

 

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Muslim Journal Political Coverage

By George E. Curry

NNPA Columnist

 

Believe it or not, President Obama’s decision to finally stand up to Teapublicans – a Republican Party hijacked by Right-wing Tea Party zealots – in the latest standoff over the Affordable Care Act and the debt ceiling was the easy part.

Next comes the real fireworks over the budget. And, judging from the past, the Democrats are  likely to wave the white flag of surrender, even before the first shot are fired.

Don’t forget that although Obama campaigned on the promise of extending the Bush tax cuts only for individuals earning less than $200,000 and couples making less than $250,000, which would cover 98 percent of all taxpayers, he eventually capitulated under Republican pressure, extending the Bush-era rates on incomes below $450,000 for families and $400,000 for individuals.

And in his unsuccessful effort to reach a grand bargain with House Speaker John Boehner in 2011, according to leaked confidential documents, Obama expressed a willingness to support cuts to TRICARE, the health insurance program for the military and military retirees;  Social Security, Medicare, housing, nutritional assistance and other social programs.

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich explained why he, too, feels Obama will cave in to Republican demands.

“He’s already put on the table a way to reduce future Social Security payments by altering the way cost-of-living adjustments are made – using the so-called ‘chained’ consumer price index, which assumes that when prices rise people economize by switching to cheaper alternatives.

This makes no sense for seniors, who already spend a disproportionate share of their income on prescription drugs, home healthcare, and medical devices – the prices of which have been rising faster than inflation.

Besides, Social Security isn’t responsible for our budget deficits. Quite the opposite: For years its surpluses have been used to fund everything else the government does.

“The President has also suggested ‘means-testing’ Medicare – that is, providing less of it to higher-income seniors. This might be sensible. The danger is it becomes the start of a slippery slope that eventually turns Medicare into another type of Medicaid, a program perceived to be for the poor and therefore vulnerable to budget cuts.

“But why even suggest cutting Medicare at all, when the program isn’t responsible for the large budget deficits projected a decade or more from now? Medicare itself is enormously efficient; its administrative costs are far lower than commercial health insurance.”

Equally troubling are the signals the president is already sending on the budget.

“Keep in mind that the budget that we are going to pass under any deal is going to be the Republican budget. It will have cuts that are much more substantial than Democrats would prefer,” Obama said in an interview with New York’s WABC-TV two days before the government reopened.

“The Democrats have not asked for anything to reopen the government. The Democrats haven’t asked for anything for paying our bills on time.”

The last time I checked, the Senate and the executive branch were controlled by Democrats. Republicans control only the House. And the only reason they control the House is because of gerrymandered congressional districts. In the last election, House Democrats received more votes than House Republicans.

So why does President Obama feel that the nation will be stuck with a “Republican budget”?

Second, Obama correctly noted that Democrats have not asked for anything to reopen the government or raise the debt ceiling. And, as Congressman Gregory W. Meeks of New York observed, that is the problem.

Meeks told Politico, “At no point have we said what our demands are. All you’ve heard was what their demands are. Maybe we should put down what our demands are of what we need and what we want because there’s things that are important and dear to us also, and then the negotiations start from there.”

The tragedy is that Democrats usually won’t stand firm even when public opinion is on their side. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press conducted a survey in March asking: What is more important, taking steps to reduce the national debt or keeping Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are?

According to Pew, 55 percent favored keeping Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are 34 percent preferred taking steps to reduce the national debt, and 11 percent said both are equally important.

Yet, Obama is willing to make concessions on Social Security and Medicare.

With no demands on the table, it’s impossible to know what, if anything, is important to the Democratic Party anymore.

That’s not the case with the Teapublicans. Love or hate them, they have clearly and forcefully stated they want to privatize Social Security, turn Medicare into a voucher system, and want deep cuts in social programs.

They have not only articulated their priorities, they have demonstrated with the shutdown how far they are willing to go to fight for their misguided beliefs.

What are Democrats willing to fight to the end for?  If you find out, please let me know.

 

 

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) can be reached through his website, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

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Newark Mayor Cory Booker

 

NNPA Correspondent

In what many expected, Newark Mayor Cory Booker nabbed the coveted U.S. Senate seat in a hotly contested race against Republican hopeful Steve Lonegan at a special election on Wednesday in New Jersey.

The gregarious mayor becomes the first African American elected to the U.S. Senate since President Barack Obama.

Booker, 44 made his acceptance speech just two hours after polling centers across the state closed and put the new Senator-elect with more than 56 percent of the vote—with about 75 percent of all precincts reporting.

Booker eventually garnered about 710,000 votes or about 55 percent compared to Lonegan’s 579,000 or about 44 percent with nearly all precincts reported. Booker will fill the vacant Senate seat of longtime politico Frank Lautenberg, who passed away earlier this year.

Delivering a fire and brimstone acceptance speech to a standing room audience at Booker election campaign headquarters at NJPAC Center in Newark, the gregarious and charismatic outgoing mayor paid homage to his modest beginnings; paid tribute to his father, Cary, who passed away last week and hinted about some of his plans as the Garden state’s newest senator in Washington.

“I will join Senator Menendez in moving the people of New Jersey ahead,” he said. “But make no mistake, we have work to do!” The mantra of “work to do” has long been a staple in dozens of Booker’s speeches—including one of his first speeches after becoming mayor in 2006.

Lonegan conceded defeat in a telephone call to the Booker camp shortly after the Associated Press predicted a Booker win. In a brief concession speech at Lonegan headquarters at the Marriott hotel in Bridgewater, the former mayor of the small town of Bogota, said he will move into the private sector and acknowledged his supporters—including Governor Chris Christie.

Throughout the campaign, Christie was criticized by members of the Lonegan camp for not being more vocal and participatory in the Republican’s senate bid. “Outside of running along the street placing campaign signs, I don’t know what else the governor could have done to help my campaign,” he said.

Lastly, once the election results are certified, Booker could be sworn in as senator within the next 30 days. Newark City Council President Luis Quintana is expected to be appointed interim mayor once Booker departs for Washington.

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By Marvis A. Aleem

Marvis AleemThrough extensive gerrymandering in at least half of the American States, collusion with a Right Wing-dominated Supreme Court, and much political conniving to prevent most Americans from getting their justifiable government entitlements (we all pay taxes), a plot is being carried out to take over the Nation.

At the same time, the renegades protect fiercely the tax breaks/cuts for the rich who are least in need of them and thereby force the government to borrow more and more to meet its obligations.  This has been a travesty and a shame.

There are many recent articles and predictions out there as to what would happen if the government was forced to default.  Except for the numb-brained renegades, some with questionable intelligence, most of us knew it would very quickly affect us catastrophically.

If a government is bankrupt (broke) and needs to continue functioning, where does it logically turn for financing?  Quick answer: The wealth and resources of its citizens.

Look at what recently happened (about four to five months ago) in Cyprus, a member of the European Union.  It was so strapped for cash, that its banks declared a “bank holiday” (all bank locations and ATMs closed) and none of its citizens could retrieve funds.

When they finally opened, the banks had commandeered many of the funds in its citizens’ accounts.  To date, these citizens have not been “made whole,” that is, some if not all of their funds have not been returned to them.

This kind of national bank theft is called a “bail-in” (bank confiscation of customer accounts) as opposed to a “bail-out” (government taxpayer funds to prop up the banks).

This scenario is scary but not out of the question if we to ever default.  The rapid cascading effect on the financial institutions and the economy as a whole would wreak havoc not only on our Nation but the world at large in short order.

And really, no one knows how we would be blindsided and where it would end.  Not good! So what would you do to prepare for such a calamity and protect yourself, family, community and your resources so that you may survive such a scenario?

I know that many are living “paycheck to paycheck” and don’t have much in savings or other resources to withstand such a demise.

Some questions here:

Do you have any emergency supplies, food and water to last for a week?  Two weeks?

Do you have cash on hand to buy food, gas, etc., for such a period of time or longer if the ATMs aren’t working?

Hint:  Draw out some of your funds in your checking and savings accounts and park in a safe place.  A mix of denominations:  $1, $5, $100 would be appropriate.

And remember:  There’s more and more talk and evidence that your 401ks, IRAs, and pensions could be on the table if the government is unable to pay its bills for an extended period of time.

They are even more vulnerable if tied to the stock market and could disappear permanently.  In fact, some of these “pockets” of money have already been “tapped” or depleted.  What’s an IOU worth?

If this sounds a little paranoid, then it is because what’s over the “cliff” will be a “long fall to nowhere” and you should be aware that.  The guys who were threatening to jump were and are suicidal and clueless; it wouldn’t be that bad if they didn’t want bring us along with them.

These times are unprecedented and full of perils.  We must be extremely astute right now – our survival may depend on it.  Let’s be prepared and pray to the Almighty for the wherewithal to prevail in these times!

We will be back to the brink in a few more months.

 

 

 

 

 

Politics

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By Nusayba Hammad, Communications Director, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (nusayba@uscpr.org) WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an act unprecedented in recent history, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand...
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