Category Archives: government

School Segregation Is Not a Myth Skeptics claim that concerns over racially divided schools are false alarms—but they’re missing the full picture.

Black students are escorted through the front door of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., Sept. 26, 1957. AP

Is school segregation getting worse?

Plenty of people say yes, including scholars, journalists, and civil-rights advocates. For the first time in years, there’s something approximating a consensus: Racially divided schools are a major and intensifying problem for American education—maybe even a crisis.

There’s seemingly compelling numerical evidence, too. According to my analysis of data from the National Center on Education Statistics, the number of segregated schools (defined in this analysis as those schools where less than 40 percent of students are white), has approximately doubled between 1996 and 2016. In that same span, the percentage of children of color attending such a school rose from 59 to 66 percent. For black students, the percentage in segregated schools rose even faster, from 59 to 71 percent.

But not everyone is on board. In the eyes of some writers, the warning signs of segregation are all a false alarm—little more than a statistical mirage. The National Review writer Robert VerBruggen recently made this case, attacking what he called the “resegregation myth.” VerBruggen and other skeptics contend that methods meant to identify school segregation are instead detecting something much more benign: The growing diversity of the American population.

This is possible because many measures of school segregation are narrow, focusing only on a single symptom. For instance, one common research technique is to count the number of schools above a certain demographic cutoff (for instance, more than 90 percent nonwhite). Another is to focus on “exposure,” or how common it is for white and nonwhite students to encounter each other in the education system.

Doubters like VerBruggen argue that people using these metrics have been fooled by demographic change. The past several decades have seen a precipitous increase in the racial diversity of U.S. schoolchildren. For example, since 1996, the share of Hispanic and Asian students in public schools has grown from 17 to 31 percent. As a result, across the board, schools have tended to become less white.

When diversity increases, some measures of segregation are likely to get worse, more or less by default. For instance, if an integrated school is growing, but most of the new students are Hispanic, at some point, it’ll tip over and become segregated. If white students become a smaller share of the American population overall, all else equal, “exposure” to white students will probably decline.

VerBruggen claims that this shift, and little else, is responsible for the perceived crisis. “The rise in ‘segregation’ disappears when one measures segregation properly,” he asserts. He and others say that, with slim evidence of increasing segregation, policies designed to proactively integrate schools are an obsolete form of social engineering.

It’s a simple case. Too simple: There is plenty of evidence that resegregation is urgently real.

School segregation seems like it would be easy to gauge: Just add up the number of segregated schools, and see whether that number is going up or down over time. But the reality, unfortunately, is a lot more complicated.

The core problem is that the nation’s schools are evolving in many ways at once. Student populations undergo slow shifts; new schools are constantly opening and closing; attendance boundaries are drawn and redrawn. As a result, the effects of large-scale demographic change and those of local school policy get tangled up with one another. It can be hard for researchers to separate one factor from the other.

Making things even tougher, increased national diversity tends to generate mixed signals about whether segregation is happening. As skeptics like Verbruggen point out, some measures of segregation, especially those that focus on the prevalence of white students, tend to look worse when student diversity increases. But other measures tend to look better. For example, one statistic known as a “dissimilarity index” calculates how many people would have to swap places to achieve demographic balance. When diversity increases evenly, dissimilarity indexes will improve—because the share of minority students in the least-integrated schools will grow, making fewer swaps necessary.

Contrary to the assertions of VerBruggen and others, there is broad statistical evidence of new racial stratification in schools. A recent (and helpfully illustrated) piece in Vox runs through some of that evidence, focusing on the changing role of attendance boundaries. The short version: Entire school districts are becoming more racially distinct from each other, even while racial diversity within those districts may be increasing.

In addition, while sweeping statistical indices have their uses, they tend to overlook some lower-level trends, like school openings and closures. That’s a major blind spot when talking about the causes of new segregation. According to my analysis of the most recently available federal data, closures are about three times as common among segregated schools, and new schools account for a substantial share of current segregation. In 2016, 38 percent of all segregated schools had opened within the last two decades, compared to 20 percent of predominantly white and integrated schools. In at least this sense, nearly four-tenths of educational segregation is the result of students being shuffled into newly opened schools.

And there are other numbers that suggest a worsening trend. Almost everybody agrees that economic segregation is growing in schools, and many of those dubious about racial segregation like to advance this idea as a competing, alternative theory for educational inequality. But while income segregation can be simpler to measure than race, race and income are closely interwoven. The poorest schoolchildren are very disproportionately nonwhite; the poorest schools are usually racially segregated. The existence of economic segregation does not contradict evidence of racial segregation—it helps confirm it. It shows that, underneath the confounding effects of growing diversity, American schoolchildren are still being divided on the basis of social caste.

While resegregation skeptics are relying on oversimplified statistical evidence, there are even larger holes in their argument. One major reason civil-rights advocates fear resegregation is because they’ve directly observed changes to school policy that seem likely to contribute to racial isolation. Changes like this won’t necessarily show up in statistical measures of student demographics—at least, not right away—but they’re still important.

For example, most researchers believe that court-ordered integration plans, maintained by many school districts throughout the 1970s and 80s, were effective at reducing segregation. But since the turn of the century, hundreds of court orders have been terminated, and virtually no new ones have been created.

In places where segregation is already firmly established, government action can have the effect of “locking in” those racial lines. Here, an analogy might help: Imagine a housing subdivision where almost everyone is white, surrounded by neighborhoods that are heavily nonwhite. Now, imagine that the subdivision builds a large wall, hires a security guard for the entrance, and refuses to sell houses to anyone new. You’d be hard-pressed to argue these changes weren’t segregative, even if, for the time being, everyone continues to live in the same place.

In American schools, metaphorical walls are going up all over the place. For instance, school districts in the south are traditionally larger than elsewhere in the country, often including entire counties. As a practical matter, this makes southern districts easier to integrate: Their wide expanse means they contain many white and nonwhite students alike. But in recent years, southern districts have begun to fragment. Sometimes this is caused by white neighborhoods and cities that attempt to “secede” and form their own, all-white districts. In other places, fragmentation is driven by statewide political forces, such as in North Carolina, where a conservative legislature is currently weighing breaking up large districts. No matter the cause, the ongoing splintering of districts places integration further out of reach.

In Memphis, Tennessee, for example, new racial lines are being drawn around the area’s schools. In 2013 the majority-black Memphis city school district merged with the schools of the surrounding county, which were majority-white. At first blush, this was a move that promised integration. That is, until the next year, when six cities seceded from the merged district. Five of the six new districts are even whiter than the original county district had been—a new geography of segregation, freshly imposed.

And there are other ways to raise barriers to integration. In many big-city school districts, policymakers have spurred the growth of new charter schools to compete with traditional public schools. But because charters usually operate independently of the district they’re in, students transferring into them can’t be as easily included in a district’s integration plans. This is another form of fragmentation, with charters acting as islands, administratively detached from the district around them. Perhaps not coincidentally, charters are also usually highly segregated, with students often sorted into distinct racial groups. Legal barriers are still barriers; this, too, is resegregation.

Underneath all of this is a deeper question: How much does the cause of segregation matter?

Imagine if a landlord, confronted with a leaking roof, responded by saying that the real problem is just too much rain. It’s true that, in some sense, rain causes leaks—but only because there was something wrong with the roof in the first place. And at the end of the day, the leaks are still a problem that needs to be fixed.

Likewise, it’s true that diversity in schools is increasing. But it’s only making segregation worse because of flaws that already existed in the education system. The fundamental defect in American schools—the hole in the roof, if you will—is that they have long exhibited patterns of racial concentration, mostly due to housing segregation and decades of discriminatory education policy. If schools were already integrated to begin with, you’d expect increasing diversity to raise all boats relatively evenly. Most schools would get less white, but few would find themselves truly segregated. Instead, in a long-segregated system, the effects of increased diversity are inevitably lopsided. Schools already suffering from a relatively high degree of segregation have found themselves completely isolated.

Because of this, demographic changes are not experienced evenly. Because black students were already overrepresented in segregated schools, they often bear the brunt of an increase in racial isolation, whatever the proximate cause of those increases. That’s why the share of black students in segregated schools has increased by 11 percent nationwide in the last two decades, faster than the share of either white students or nonwhite students overall, both of which have risen by about 6 percent, according to my analysis.

And, ultimately, there’s just not much reason to think that identifying the exact cause of resegregation will ameliorate its harms. The vast majority of research into school segregation does not focus on its causes, but rather on the costs of attending a racially isolated school. There are many. They include reduced academic achievement, increased exposure to the criminal justice system, and significantly worsened professional and educational outcomes. Children in integrated schools find it easier to live and work in diverse environments; children in segregated schools are more prone to hold racially prejudiced views later in life. Racial isolation also tends to deprive children of color of what are sometimes obliquely called “networks of opportunity”—in plain language, the day-to-day connections most people rely on to get a job or get into college.

And of course, there’s another reason to worry about school segregation, regardless of its cause: the problem of second-class citizenship. Ironically, this problem generates less discussion than wonky, technocratic concerns about test scores and income mobility. But it was pivotal in propelling the school-integration push of the 1960s and 70s, and for good reason. Civil-rights advocates are not wrong to worry that, beyond any set of individual outcomes, it is not healthy nor sustainable for a society to effectively consign most children of color to an alternative system of schools. Doing so helps construct or reinforce ideas about racial caste in the minds of Americans—and, worst of all, in the minds of the children themselves.

None of these ills will heal themselves so long as segregated schools exist, or grow in number. And right now, such schools are growing in number, for reasons ranging from the benign to the nefarious. Dedicated advocates and smart policymakers can thwart school resegregation, and eventually reverse it. But it will not reverse itself.

By Will Stancil/TheAtlantic

Posted by The NON-Conformist


Robert Mueller Is Not a Superhero

Robert Mueller, testifying before Congress in 2013. Credit Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call, via Getty Images

For many people, it’s up to Robert Mueller, the special counsel, to settle the question of “collusion” in the 2016 election. A clean, clear, nonpartisan legal finding would be the most acceptable possible outcome. If he uncovers a crime by the president, Congress would be justified in pursuing an impeachment inquiry.

So it should not matter that the House Intelligence Committee has abruptly ended its “investigation,” declining to compel testimony from key uncooperative witnesses or subpoena relevant records. In the words of one commentator, we need only “wait for Mueller.”

But this view is wrong, a confusion of constitutional roles and responsibilities. Mr. Mueller has one job, and Congress has another. The potential offense that each is investigating might go by the same shorthand — “collusion” — but it is not the same.

What counts as evidence, and how it is weighed and debated, is by necessity different in the two proceedings. Confusion over this point has major practical consequences for how long the nation must await a full and clear resolution of the question of Russian interference in the election, and any role Mr. Trump and his campaign played in it.

The problem seems to start with anxiety about impeachment as too “political” a process — especially in a hyperpartisan environment. That it is political in character is undeniable, but the founders thought of the politics of impeachment as being of the highest order, concerned with the protection of the constitutional system from serious executive misconduct. As James Madison told the Congress, a powerful presidency carried with it a high danger of abuse of office, and the remedy of impeachment was available “at all times.”

Legal and constitutional concerns require clarity about the nature and relevant evidence of misconduct. On the legal side, Mr. Mueller may be headed toward a theory of collusion, potentially implicating the president and others, in the form of a “conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
There are particular requirements for making such a case, as well as predictable defenses. Lawyers will disagree, for example, over the legal import of what the president, as candidate or president, has publicly said about Russia — his open appeal to the Russian government to locate and publish the emails of Hillary Clinton or his repeated references to the fact of Russian electoral intervention as a “hoax.”
Do these actions constitute affirmative acts in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy, subjecting Mr. Trump to “accomplice liability”? The courts would decide.

But these actions are undoubtedly relevant to any potential impeachment inquiry. What the president publicly stated and tweeted takes on greater significance in light of the revelation that his campaign representatives — as we learned in the memo from Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee — were told that Russians could disseminate emails stolen from Mrs. Clinton. In addressing collusion with Russia, Congress must decide whether this president should retain office if the facts establish that he entered into some form of political alliance with Russia and then came to office in debt to a foreign power while determined to obstruct a public accounting. Congress has the obligation to make this determination regardless of whether Mr. Trump may be guilty of aiding and abetting a criminal conspiracy.

That requires a constitutional judgment. Answering strictly legal questions in a potential trial does not resolve the issue of the president’s accountability under the Constitution. Congress’s inquiry can and should be informed by an unfettered special counsel investigation, but it cannot depend on it.

Furthermore, narrowing impeachable offenses to include only violations of law may lead to a constitutional dead end. In opinions issued in 1973 and 2000, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel has taken the position that a sitting president cannot be indicted while in office. If Mr. Mueller concludes that the president engaged in criminal conduct but follows O.L.C. opinions in declining to indict him, the president’s legal responsibility will not be adjudicated as long as he occupies the White House. On what basis would Congress then proceed to oust him from office under the legalistic conception of the impeachment power?

Many people assume that the special counsel will report to Congress on the evidence against the president. But the special counsel regulations, unlike the now defunct independent counsel statute, do not clearly mandate or authorize any such report from either the counsel or the deputy attorney general. Congress may be more likely to learn about Mr. Mueller’s work from publicly filed indictments and plea agreements.

And Congress cannot rely on the Mueller record alone. Even if Congress made impeachment a legal rather than political process, a president will be quick to argue that he is entitled to a fair adjudication of any criminal charge.

Moreover, the timetables for the two processes are not the same. Congress cannot responsibly defer its task for as long as it may take for lawyers to clash and courts to rule.

A Congress that was serious about meeting its responsibility would neither shirk nor rush a judgment about a president’s impeachable offenses. The House would structure an investigative and deliberative process that it would explain in clear terms to the public. As in 1974 in the Nixon impeachment process, the House Judiciary Committee would review and publish the best constitutional learning on what presidential misconduct rises to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” It would proceed in the same spirit as its predecessor did when the 1974 committee said that “what is said here does not reflect any prejudgment” of the allegations but is “intended to be a review of the precedents and available interpretive materials, seeking general principles to guide the committee.” The Committee would then move to the investigative phase.

As in the Watergate case, the congressional inquiry would run parallel to the legal process, each benefiting from the other even as Congress took steps as necessary to avoid compromising the criminal investigation. It’s not difficult to imagine a new Mueller indictment spurring the Congress to action. While the special counsel may conclude that he cannot indict the president, the nature of charges against close aides and relatives could support the initiation of an impeachment inquiry. Even in this case, Congress’s task is to carry on its own investigation and to arrive at an independent judgment about whether the president should remain in officeIn the end, some may hope that delegating Congress’s responsibility to the legal process will unite the public around the outcome. They will be disappointed. The independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton rallied Democrats against impeachment as much as any other aspect of his defense. Mr. Mueller has already had strong tastes of these attacks.

When the Trump-Russia matters comes to a conclusion, we will learn how well “the system” addressed an extraordinary challenge. A crucial measure of its success or failure will be its adherence to constitutional process on a correct understanding of institutional responsibility. It is up to Congress — evidently not this one, maybe the next — to show that it can rise to the occasion.

By Bob Bauer/NYTimes

Posted by The NON-Conformist

What the Koch Brothers Want Students to Learn About Slavery The history-teaching wing of the Koch brothers empire is seeking to promote an alternate narrative to slavery

Given that the billionaire Charles Koch has poured millions of dollars into eliminating the minimum wage and paid sick leave for workers, and that in 2015 he had the gall to compare his ultra-conservative mission to the anti-slavery movement, he’s probably the last person you’d want educating young people about slavery.

Yet the history-teaching wing of the Koch brothers empire is seeking to promote an alternate narrative to slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. The political goal of these materials is to ensure students see racism and slavery as flaws in an otherwise spotless U.S. record, rather than woven into the fabric of our country from its inception.

The Bill of Rights Institute (BRI) is the education arm of the network of front groups the Koch brothers use to promote their far-right ideology. Maureen Costello, the education director from Teaching Tolerance, has pointed out the many factual inaccuracies in the “Homework Help” video the BRI has recently promoted to teach students about slavery. She concludes that the history presented is “superficial, drained of humanity, and neglects to reckon with the economic and social reality of what opponents called ‘the slave power.’”

A dive into their “Documents of Freedom” readings reveals an even more disturbing agenda. The BRI bills the “Documents of Freedom” as a “modern take on the traditional textbook” — a “completely free digital course on history, government, and economics” authored by unnamed “teachers.” It’s essentially an online textbook that aims to promote a particular version of history, government, and economics that aligns with the interests of the Kochs.

The main “Documents of Freedom” reading on slavery, titled “Slavery and the Constitution,” is essentially a defense of the founding fathers and the Constitution against “some scholars” who “portray the founding fathers as racists.” The reading cherry-picks quotes from “the Founders” to argue that they believed slavery was morally wrong. Although the authors write that “most of the signers of the Declaration and the Constitution own[ed] slaves,” they steer clear of the brutal reality of chattel slavery.

They paint Thomas Jefferson as an anti-slavery crusader who “attacked the slave trade in harsh language” and “included African Americans in the universal understanding of the promise of liberty and equality.” But the Kochs’ curriculum fails to mention that Jefferson wrote Black people were “inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.” Jefferson kept nearly 200 people in bondage, and even in his death emancipated only five. He regularly sold human beings away from their families to raise money to buy wine, art, and luxuries that only wealthy planters could afford. Nothing in the BRI reading acknowledges any contradiction between “the Founders’” awareness of “the immorality of slavery and the need for action” and their actual actions defending and protecting slavery.

Furthermore, the reading justifies the so-called three-fifths compromise — whereby an enslaved person was counted as three-fifths of a person for the purpose of congressional representation — by arguing “the Founders” had to make a “prudential compromise with slavery because they sought to achieve their highest goal of a stronger Union of republican self-government. Since some slaveholding delegations threatened to walk out. . .” Not only is this type of “compromise” immoral, but the problem with this logic is that the “slaveholding delegations” that threatened to walk out were themselves “Founders” who played an important role in crafting the Constitution.

In addition to selectively quoting the founders, the authors use quotations from Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln to bolster their argument that the Constitution was an anti-slavery document. It ignores that most politicians, including Lincoln, believed that the Constitution protected slavery where it existed. It also ignores the very large wing of the abolitionist movement, whose most prominent figure was William Lloyd Garrison, that viewed the Constitution as a “devil’s pact,” one “dripping with blood.” Douglass himself was part of that wing of the movement until he broke with Garrison in the 1850s, when he became convinced that framing the Constitution as an anti-slavery document could be a useful tool in the struggle to end slavery.

The reading also ignores how central slavery was to the economic growth of the United States, with phrases like “the number of slaves steadily grew through natural increase.” Natural? There was nothing natural about the expansion of slavery. Slavery expanded because it was profitable. The authors seek to divorce the expansion of slavery from the economic design of the capitalist cotton empire and from the horrific practice of breeding, which became a large source of revenue, especially for Virginia slaveholders.

What is most egregious is what the reading leaves out. Even today’s corporate textbooks will include a paragraph or two that attempt to provide the perspective of enslaved people. However, this reading concludes by arguing there was a steady “rise of freedom” after the Constitution because “the new nation was mostly bent on expanding liberty and equality.” The only way the Koch brothers’ Bill of Rights Institute can draw this conclusion is by completely ignoring the perspective of those whose land and labor were violently stolen by the wealthy U.S. elite.

As if that reading wasn’t bad enough, the follow-up reading, titled “Civil War and Reconstruction,” is a long, boring account that almost exclusively focuses on the battles between Radical Republicans in Congress, who the authors claim wanted to “punish the South,” and Presidents Lincoln and Johnson, who favored more “moderate” reconstruction plans. It might be the first reading I’ve ever looked at on Reconstruction that makes almost no mention of what Black people were doing during the era and barely discusses anything happening in the South.

Only in a pro-KKK film like Birth of a Nation and in the Koch brothers’ curriculum is Reconstruction reduced to a punishment for white Southerners. Let’s look at Reconstruction from the standpoint of those who were freed from more than 200 years of enslavement. It was a time when the formerly enslaved became congressmen; when the Black-majority South Carolina legislature taxed the rich to pay for public schools; when experiments in Black self-rule in the Georgia Sea Islands led to land reform, new schools, and a vital local governance. During Reconstruction Blacks and poor whites organized Union Leagues, and led strikes, boycotts, demonstrations, and educational campaigns. During this period other social movements, especially labor and feminist movements, were inspired by the actions of African Americans to secure and define their own freedom.

As the late historian Lerone Bennett Jr. wrote: “It had never happened before, and it has never happened since, in America.” During Reconstruction, “the poor, the downtrodden, and the disinherited present[ed] their bills at the bar of history.” Of course, today’s elites like the Kochs have no interest in students learning this radical history. In the Kochs’ history, the only mention of Black people’s actions comes in one sentence at the end of the reading that papers over the massive accomplishments of the era: “Although African Americans soon made up the majority of voters in some southern states and even elected some black representatives to Congress, the right to vote was curtailed by southern states through several legal devices. . .”

Tellingly, the Koch authors finish off this reading with a quote from James Madison about the “Tyranny of Majorities.” The authors claim that Jim Crow was an example of when “African Americans in the post-Civil War South discovered firsthand the dangers of majority tyranny in a republic.” That’s the main lesson the Bill of Rights Institute wants students to draw from the Civil War and Reconstruction: You can’t trust the masses, so leave politics to elites like the Koch brothers. Of course, the inconvenient truth is that when one actually focuses on the South during Reconstruction, we see an era where poor white and Black people took political power away from elites. It’s this history that the Koch brothers don’t want students to learn.

By Adam Sanchez / Zinn Education Project

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The Emmett Till Effect in Israel

Is this justice?

Last Thursday, two Israelis were convicted of brutally beating an African refugee to death, but were spared long prison sentences when the judge agreed to reduce the charges against them from murder to manslaughter and grievous bodily harm, the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported.

In November 2016, 20-year-old Dennis Barshivatz and a 17-year-old who cannot be named under Israeli law beat Babikir Ali Adham-Abdo, a 40-year-old Sudanese asylum seeker, for an hour and a half in front of the city hall of Petach Tikva, a Tel Aviv suburb that is a sister city of Chicago, Ill. Barshivatz will serve a maximum of 10 years in jail and will be eligible for release much earlier. The court has yet to determine sentencing for his teenage accomplice.

The killing of Adham-Abdo has evoked comparisons to the Mississippi murder and mutilation of the Chicago teenager Emmett Till in 1955. Just as American racists attempted to excuse Till’s murder by posthumously accusing the black teen of having flirted with a white woman whose path he had crossed, some Israelis allege that Adham-Abdo had brought on the lethal beating he received when he supposedly sexually harassed a group of Israeli teenage girls at the scene.

In the case of Till, the woman he was accused of flirting with admitted over half a century later that she had fabricated the entire claim, and that Till had never made any advances toward her. The allegations against Adham-Abdo were also revealed to be baseless when CCTV footage of the incident was released. The city hall security camera video clearly showed that Adham-Abdo approached the table where the three teens were sitting, spoke to the group for less than 10 seconds, then turned and walked away. Moments later, his assailants set upon him and began to brutally beat him.

Another parallel between the Adham-Abdo and Emmett Till incidents lay in the grievous injuries wrought to their faces. In both cases, their faces were pummeled so badly that they were unrecognizable. Adham-Abdo’s brother was only able to claim the body for burial once he had identified it based on its missing fingers, which had been severed during murderous clashes in Darfur, from which Adham-Abdo had originally fled to Israel to escape.

“We don’t agree to the penalties,” Adham-Abdo’s cousin Moussa told Haaretz. “We thought there was justice in the Israeli courts, we thought Israel was a state of justice. If the victim had been an Israeli, the outcome would have been different. There’s racism here.”

Sadly, Adham-Abdo was not the first African refugee to be beaten to death by a group of Israelis in a public place in recent years. In October 2015, during a shooting attack at the central bus station in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, a security guard shot 29-year-old Ertirean refugee Haftom Zarhum under the premise that he was assumed to be one of the terrorists. The bus station’s security footage revealed that Zarhum was clearly unarmed and crawling on the ground like other innocent bystanders, trying to avoid the bullets of the terrorist attackers.

As Zarhum bled out on the ground, Israelis took turns kicking him in the face and slamming chairs and benches down on him, while other bystanders actively prevented medics from reaching him to treat his wounds. In June 2016, a judge ruled that one of the Israelis who slammed a bench down on Zarhum’s head would not be charged. Charges are pending against four other Israelis who participated in the lynching.

The vicious violence against non-Jewish African refugees in Israel follows years in which Israeli political leaders and religious officials regularly whipped up racist sentiments against them, accusing them of bringing to Israel deadly diseases, violent crimes and anti-state terrorism. Official Israeli government statistics have proven all these smears to be baseless. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s primary justification for expelling the refugees cannot be so easily dismissed: They should not be able to live in Israel, he claims, because they are not Jews.

That the refugees are not Jews is true. Of those who are religious, about half are Christian, and about half are Muslim. The belief that non-Jews have no right to live in the Holy Land has always had some currency among Israeli Jews, but it has become increasingly popular in recent years, with the country’s current chief rabbi now openly preaching that genocidal doctrine.

In 2013, Netanyahu completed the construction of a high-tech fence on Israel’s border with the African continent, in order to end the influx of asylum seekers. In the five years that followed, Israeli authorities cajoled over a third of the community, more than 20,000 refugees, to agree to self-deport, by withholding their refugee rights and promising instead that these will be granted to them in an unnamed African country. Now Netanyahu has warned that any African refugees who don’t agree to self-deport by April 1 will be jailed indefinitely until they do so. The first group to face this choice will be single African men who aren’t yet fathers.

Human rights activists, journalists and liberal lawmakers who have followed up with refugees already forced out of Israel have learned that the government never fulfilled its promises to them, and that they were quickly made stateless once more. Without state protection, the vast majority of these refugees then fled for the European Union, hoping to find asylum there. Many then endured horrific tortures at the hands of Libyan slave traders, or drowned in the Mediterranean in failed attempts to reach Fortress Europe.

Anticipating Netanyahu’s April 1 deadline to self-deport, progressive Israelis have begun to publicly oppose the impending expulsion. In recent weeks, groups of doctors and artists, pilots and teachers have taken out advertisements in Israeli newspapers, articulating their objections to the plan. Liberal rabbis have invoked the memory of iconic Holocaust victim Anne Frank in announcing that they plan to resist by hiding African refugees in their own homes, and some Holocaust survivors have also agreed to take them in.

But despite these expressions of solidarity, Netanyahu has vowed to carry out the expulsion as planned, reaping popular support for the plan that he sowed with years of racist incitement. A poll last month found that two-thirds of Israeli citizens support the government’s plan to round up and deport all the remaining African asylum seekers, who now number only about 36,000, less than 0.5 percent of the population.

On Saturday, 20,000 Israelis and Africans marched in the streets of Tel Aviv, calling on the government to allow the refugees to work legally, and to invest in the neighborhoods they live in, so that their presence is not perceived as a burden to long-time residents. It was a brief reminder that the left still exists, even after a decade of rule by what may have been the most racist governments in Israel’s history.

But it was also an indication of the vigilante violence that could be let loose against African refugees if Israeli racists feel that the government plan to expel them all is in danger of being annulled. According to Israeli news site i24, police detained two Israeli men and seized a gun from one of them after they publicly plotted over Facebook to attend a pro-refugee demonstration and attack the Africans with weapons.

By David Sheen/truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Income Inequality in the U.S. Is Even Worse Than You’ve Been Led to Believe Data show the country is failing its lower and middle-income earners miserably.

The more the ultra-rich prosper, the less they’re burdened with taxes, the greater the benefits for society as a whole. If you’re familiar with Republican economic theory of the past 40 years, you’ve probably heard this line of reasoning. In fact, just the opposite is true.

Take it from the world’s third richest man, Warren Buffett, who recently noted that between 1982 and 2017, “the wealth of the 400 [richest people in America] increased 29-fold—from $93 billion to $2.7 trillion—while many millions of hardworking citizens remained stuck on an economic treadmill. During this period, the tsunami of wealth didn’t trickle down. It surged upward.”

The reality is the United States is now home to some of the worst income inequality in the developed world, and thanks to the recent passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, this wealth gap will grow exponentially wider.

Lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent, the GOP’s massive overhaul of U.S. tax law exemplifies trickle-down economics at its worst. Trump supporters insist that corporations will generously share their gains with employees, but according to economist Robert Reich, “almost all the extra money is going into stock buybacks” rather than wage increases. Because the richest 10 percent now own 84 percent of stock shares in the U.S., he emphasizes, this will do little to nothing to improve the prospects of most Americans.

According to the firm Birinyi Associates, a record $170.8 billion worth of buybacks and counting have been announced since the president signed these tax cuts into law. Reich has denounced the legislation for creating greater inequality in a country that is already radically unequal.

In 2017, the World Bank’s Gini index, which measures inequality country by country, cited Haiti, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and the Central African Republic as the world’s five most unequal countries. (The most economically balanced nations include Norway, Ukraine, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.) Gini data also show that measured against other developed countries, the United States is failing its lower and middle-income earners miserably.

Citing the 2015 Gini data of 34 countries, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recently found that the top 10 percent in the United States earned 18.8 times more than the bottom 10 percent. By comparison, the wealthiest 10 percent of Danes, Fins, Belgians, Germans and Australians earned 5.2, 5.5, 5.9, 6.6 and 8.8 times more than the bottom 10 percent respectively. In Mexico, the most economically unequal country in the OECD’s report, the rich earned 30.5 times more than their poorest compatriots.

The 2018 World Inequality Report, compiled by Thomas Piketty and other economists and released in December, also paints a troubling picture of the United States’ wealth distribution. According to the study, the top 1 percent of wage earners went from owning 11 percent of the national income in 1980 to 20 percent in 2016. The bottom 50 percent’s share of the national income dropped from 21 to 13 percent over the same time period. In Western Europe, the 1 percent’s control of national incomes has risen from 10 to 12 percent, while the bottom 50 percent’s share has held steady at 23 percent—undesirable, perhaps, but decidedly more equal.

Although the U.S. remains the largest economy in the world, it is hardly the most inclusive. While Wall Street and Silicon Valley are thriving, OECD data indicate we not only suffer from harsh inequality but some of the highest rates of poverty in the developed world. In 2014, according to organization’s findings, the United States’ poverty rate was 17.2 percent compared to 10.4 percent in the U.K, 9.1 percent in Germany, 9 in Austria, 8.9 percent in the Republic of Ireland, 8.8 percent in Sweden, and 8.6 percent in Switzerland. Even in Greece, perhaps the European country hit hardest by the Great Recession, poverty was slightly lower than the U.S. in 2014, with a rate of 15.1 percent.

As a Republican candidate for president, Trump railed against out-of-touch elites, vowing to “make America great again” and revitalize the American Dream. Yet his administration’s proposed federal budget includes draconian cuts to a long list of social programs, including food stamps, housing and heating assistance. On the campaign trail, Trump insisted he would not touch Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, but his budget would defund Medicare by $266 billion, Medicaid by $1.1 trillion and Social Security by $72 billion.

What’s more, Trump has opposed raising the national minimum wage significantly, if at all. And by eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will cause 13 million Americans to lose their health insurance by 2027 and increase premiums by 10 percent, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Covered California, an ACA exchange program, has estimated that premiums could increase by as much as 30 percent in the Golden State in 2019.

The Trump administration has done everything possible to exacerbate inequality in the U.S. and undermine what little remains of the New Deal’s progressive policies. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has even praised Trump and Republicans in Congress for making “a great effort to break out of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt model.” If the U.S. remains on its current economic trajectory, there won’t be an economic safety net left to shred.

By Alex Henderson/Alternet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Brain surgery is no match for running HUD, a frustrated Carson says

Image: Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Before Ben Carson accepted President Donald Trump’s offer to become secretary of housing and urban development, a friend implored him to turn down the job to preserve the reputation he had earned as a brilliant neurosurgeon and lost, in part, as a politician.

The confidant, Logan Delany Jr., who was the treasurer of Carson’s 2016 presidential campaign, described HUD as a “swamp” of “corruption.” He predicted in an email that Carson’s “lack of a background in housing” would make him prey to the department’s career staff and political appointees, as well as predatory lobbyists.

To drive home the point, Delany appended a link toan obituary of Samuel R. Pierce Jr., the Reagan-era HUD secretary whose reputation as a trailblazing black corporate lawyer was tarnished by accusations that he steered contracts to Republican cronies.

Carson’s efforts to steer the agency toward programs that foster self-sufficiency, one of his stated goals, have been undermined by staffing mistakes, his indecisiveness and a president indifferent, at best, to the department’s mission of helping the poor, according to two dozen current and former HUD and administration officials

More from WRAL

Posted by Libergirl

School Takes Action Against Florida Teacher Who Secretly Hosted White Nationalist Podcast and Passed Ideologies Onto Students

A 25-year-old social studies teacher in Florida has been secretly hosting a white nationalist podcast and bragging about espousing her views to students in the classroom, an exclusive report by Huffington Post has revealed.

Dayanna Volitich, an educator at Crystal River Middle School, was the voice behind white nationalist podcast “Unapologetic,” where she comfortably spewed her racist views under the pseudonym “Tiana Dalichov.” Since news of Volitich’s secret podcast came to light, the Citrus County School District announced she’s been removed from the classroom pending an investigation.

In her most recent podcast on Feb. 26, Volitich sided with a caller who spoke out against diversity in schools and challenged the idea that “a kid from Nigeria and a kid who came from Sweden are supposed to learn exactly the same” and are equally intelligent. Volitich went on to brag about teaching her ideology in the classroom and lying to administrators about it.

“I’ve had a couple instances where parents were concerned,” she said in the episode. “One, at the beginning of the year, emailed the principal over my head, [saying] ‘I’m worried that your teacher, she’s injecting political bias.’ ”

Volitich said the Crystal Rivers principal confronted her about the parent’s complaint, to which she lied and said it wasn’t true.

“She believed me and backed off,” she said.

In the same episode, Volitich agreed with her guest’s argument that more white nationalists should infiltrate the school system by becoming teachers, according to Huff Post.

“Children is very important,” she said. “The communists always knew that. They always wanted the minds of the children. That’s the future. So, if we can have more teachers in those positions, that would be great. And I do hear from teachers all the time, people who are closet ‘Red Ice’ listeners that support what we do and I think that’s fantastic. We need a lot more of that.”

Florida Teacher White Nationalist
Twitter screenshot.

The report was able to link Volitich to Dalichov using public records shared on social media and comparing it to personal information like her age, hometown and work history. “Tiana Dalichov’s” Twitter account conveniently went dark the news broke. She also removed the website for her podcast.

Scott Hebert, executive director of educational services for the district, said he was unable to confirm if Volitich was in fact “Dalichov” but noted the district was actively investigating statements she made and “checking the validity to see if they violate our code of ethics and policy.”

“She does not speak on behalf of the Citrus County School District,” Hebert said. “The views she’s listed [online] are really not in line with how our district operates.”

The statement posted to the district’s Facebook page read in part,

“On Friday, March 2, 2018 the Citrus County School District was made aware of a concerning podcast by a Huffington Post reporter. The Human Resources department was notified and an investigation was initiated immediately. The teacher has been removed from the classroom and the investigation is ongoing. Pursuant to Florida Statute an open investigation and materials related to it are exempt from public record and cannot be discussed until the investigation is complete.”

Meanwhile, several commenters are calling for she to be fired.

Stephen Grayce wrote: “Seeing as she had a podcast and tweets were saved in screen shots, an “investigation” should take about 10 minutes. FIRE HER.”

Christine Walling added: “Fire her. Find out which other teachers were talking to her about infiltrating and indoctrinating our kids into their hate cult and gut them, too. We don’t want their kind near OUR kids.”

DC Paula noted: “If this is true, the only acceptable outcome of your investigation is permanent dismissal and loss of her teaching license.”

We will continue to update this story as more details become available.

By Tanasia Kenney/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist