The Slaves Rebel

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The only way to end slavery is to stop being a slave. Hundreds of men and women in prisons in some 17 states are refusing to carry out prison labor, conducting hunger strikes or boycotting for-profit commissaries in an effort to abolish the last redoubt of legalized slavery in America. The strikers are demanding to be paid the minimum wage, the right to vote, decent living conditions, educational and vocational training and an end to the death penalty and life imprisonment.

These men and women know that the courts will not help them. They know the politicians, bought by the corporations that make billions in profits from the prison system, will not help them. And they know that the mainstream press, unwilling to offend major advertisers, will ignore them.

But they also know that no prison can function without the forced labor of many among America’s 2.3 million prisoners. Prisoners do nearly all the jobs in the prisons, including laundry, maintenance, cleaning and food preparation. Some prisoners earn as little as a dollar for a full day of work; in states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas, the figure drops to zero.

Corporations, at the same time, exploit a million prisoners who work in prison sweatshops where they staff call centers or make office furniture, shoes or clothing or who run slaughterhouses or fish farms.

If prisoners earned the minimum wage set by federal, state or local laws, the costs of the world’s largest prison system would be unsustainable. The prison population would have to be dramatically reduced. Work stoppages are the only prison reform method that has any chance of success. Demonstrations of public support, especially near prisons where strikes are underway, along with supporting the prisoners who have formed Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, which began the nationwide protest, are vital. Prison authorities seek to mute the voices of these incarcerated protesters. They seek to hide the horrific conditions inside prisons from public view. We must amplify these voices and build a popular movement to end mass incarceration.

Rest of story from Chris Hedges/truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

 

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New poll shows just how little North Carolinians know about what they’ll be voting on

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If North Carolinians are even aware that they’ll have the chance to vote on changes to the state constitution this November, there’s a good chance they’ll still be confused about what they’re being asked to approve.

A new poll from Elon University asked registered voters around the state about the six proposed constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot this year. The result: Most people don’t know much about the amendments, and in some cases people think the amendments would have the opposite effect of what they would really do.

“It seems to me that a lot of voters are going to be making a permanent decision that could impact North Carolina for decades to come, based on pretty limited information,” said Jason Husser, the director of the Elon Poll.

While a small majority of the voters polled did know that there will be constitutional amendments on the ballot this November, almost none claimed to know “a lot” about what the amendments will do if they pass.

Although 89 percent said they plan to vote in November, just 56 percent knew there will be amendments on the ballot — and only 8 percent said they’ve heard a lot about what the amendments would do.

John Dinan, a Wake Forest University political professor who is an expert on state-level constitutional amendments, said the results aren’t surprising.

“It’s normal for there to be a lot of undecided voters, at least at the beginning of the campaign,” he said. “That means there’s also a lot of opportunities to educate voters.”

Voters go to the polls on Nov. 6.

Amendments on the ballot

For those who would like more information, here’s a brief recap of the six amendments:

Voter ID: Create a requirement to show a photo ID to vote. The exact details are a mystery, however, since the General Assembly has not yet written the actual law that would be enacted if this amendment passes. North Carolina’s last attempt to create a voter ID law was ruled unconstitutional in 2016.

Income tax cap: The state’s current income tax rate is 5.499 percent, and that won’t change no matter what happens with this amendment. Instead, the amendment would lower the maximum possible rate that state income taxes could be raised to in the future, from 10 percent to 7 percent.

Changes to elections board: The board has four Democrats, four Republicans and one politically unaffiliated person. This amendment would remove the ninth — and potentially tiebreaking — vote and leave the board equally split with eight members. It would also transfer power to pick board members from the governor to the legislature.

Changes to judicial appointments: When judges die, quit or retire, the governor appoints a new person to take over until the next election. This amendment would take that power away. In some cases it would be up to the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, and in other cases the amendment would require the governor to select an appointee from a list provided by the state legislature.

Hunting and fishing: This amendment is broadly worded to re-affirm the rights of people to hunt and fish. It’s not entirely clear if it would make any actual changes to North Carolina law.

Marsy’s Law: This amendment would give additional rights to crime victims and is part of a national push to do so.

All six amendments were written by the Republican-controlled General Assembly, and the North Carolina GOP is asking people to vote in favor of all six. Meanwhile, the N.C. Democratic Party is asking people to vote against all six.

Dinan, however, said it’s possible that in November voters will approve some and deny others. While North Carolina does not have a history of frequently amending its constitution, he said, there are lessons to be learned from other states that do.

“Voters have been known to make distinctions,” he said. “We have states that have six amendments on the ballot on a regular basis, and voters will say ‘Yes’ to these four and ‘No’ to these two.”

For North Carolina Democrats in 2018, some amendments are more controversial than others.

No one challenged the hunting amendment or the victims’ rights amendment in court, and in the General Assembly both passed with support from Democrats as well as Republicans.

On the other hand, the amendments changing the board of elections and judicial appointments amendments drew a lawsuit from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. And the amendments about voter ID and the income tax cap drew a lawsuit from the NAACP and environmental groups. However, both Cooper and the NAACP were handed losses on Tuesday by the N.C. Supreme Court.

By Will Doran/nando
Posted by The NON-Conformist

People are destroying their Nike gear to protest Colin Kaepernick’s ‘Just Do It’ campaign

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Nike revealed on Monday that Colin Kaepernick — the out-of-work NFL quarterback who generated controversy for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality — would be one of the faces of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.

“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” read a teaser for an ad Kaepernick tweeted.

Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoItpic.twitter.com/SRWkMIDdaO

— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018

Some Kaepernick critics took that to mean sacrificing their Nike products.

Immediately, some people began posting pictures of socks and shoes being defaced or destroyed, or declaring they would be soon switching allegiances to Adidas, Brooks or Converse. (Nevermind that Nike owns Converse.)

More from The Washington Post

Posted by Libergirl

Trump-loving GOP official in Pennsylvania raged against black NFL ‘baboons’ and told them to go back to Africa

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The secretary of the Republican Committee of Beaver County, Pennsylvania called NFL players baboons for protesting against racism during the national anthem and suggested they go back to Africa. She also whined about reverse racism, reports The Times, and predicted an impending civil war.

Carla Maloney posted the comments to Facebook in 2017.

“Tired of these over paid ignorant blacks telling me what I should believe in. I will tell you what I believe in and that is our Flag the National Anthem and America period end of story,” she wrote. “You don’t like it here go to Africa see how you like it there. We are all Americans not African American not Hispanic American. WE ARE ALL AMERICAN.”

She went on to call the players animals.

“Steelers are now just as bad as the rest of the over paid baboons. You respect your flag, country and our national anthem. How many men and women have lost limbs or died to protect this country and you baboons want respect,” she added wrote. “If you want respect you need to earn it and so far you haven’t. Stop watching, or going to a game and paying for over priced food, water and tickets. Let’s see how the baboons get paid when white people stop paying their salaries.”

The racist rant is reminiscent of GOP candidate Ron DeSantis’ comments yesterday, when he warned that a vote for black candidate Andrew Gillum would “monkey up” the state. Many commentators pointed out that DeSantis was flagrantly dog-whistling to racist supporters.

By Tana Ganeva/RawStory

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Republican Candidates are Paying a Fossil Fuels Conglomerate for Voter Data Mining

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Photo Source DonkeyHotey | CC BY 2.0

Koch Industries is a fossil fuels conglomerate with estimated revenues of more than $100 billion annually and 130,000 employees spread around the globe. It’s one of the largest, private corporations in the world with a history of funding nonprofit front groups and political candidates who are climate change skeptics. Typically, political payments go in one direction from this behemoth: from the Koch Industries Super Pac (KochPac) to Republican political candidates or political committees. Now, quietly, political payments are going in both directions, effectively creating an Orwellian campaign finance model.

Quietly, and without any corporate press release on such an unusual acquisition, Koch Industries has purchased i360, a vast voter database and data harvesting operation. According to i360’s website, it has “1800 unique data points” on 290 million American consumers as well as detailed information on 199 million voters from all 50 states. It brags that its data “shows you everything you need to know including the demographic and psychographic breakdown of your target market.”

The propriety of a multinational industrial conglomerate with an anti-regulatory agenda having a stranglehold on a highly sophisticated voter dating mining platform with unlimited funds to hire Ph.Ds., statisticians and computer scientists trained in artificial intelligence and machine learning, has yet to enter the national discourse.

In the April 1, 2017 issue of the company’s Discovery Newsletter, Charles Koch, Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, owned up to owning i360, writing that “Thanks to the acquisitions of Molex, EFT, Infor and i360, we now have better information and systems than we’ve ever had in the history of the company.” Charles Koch declined to answer our emailed request to clarify when Koch Industries purchased i360, but Koch Industries is currently running help-wanted ads for database engineers and data scientists to assist i360 in the 2018 election. According to LinkedIn’s roster of existing i360 employees, Koch Industries already has plenty of highly skilled coders and tech professionals in various geographic locations around the country.

There may be synergies between i360, EFT Analytics and Infor. The website for EFT Analytics states that it “combines powerful advanced analytics software with your experienced process engineers” while allowing you to be “predictive and actionable in real time.” According to Infor’s website, one of its products is Birst, which was built with “patented technologies,” and “puts the power of analytics in the hands of every information worker and dramatically accelerates the process of delivering insights across the enterprise.” A division of Koch Industries invested over $2 billion in Infor in February of 2017. The EFT Analytics acquisition came in 2016. Terms were not disclosed.

From February 13, 2017 through May 22, 2018, the Massachusetts Republican Party paid i360 more than $25,000 for voter data management services. The Republican Party of Wisconsin, the Nevada Republican Central Committee, the Montana Republican State Central Committee and dozens of Republican candidates have paid i360 tens of thousands of dollars for assistance in the 2018 midterm elections. FEC records designate the services paid for as everything from digital and TV placement of ads, to software, to research and phone calls, to voter data modeling, to building campaign web sites.

Senator Chuck Grassley’s principal campaign committee wrote out a check to i360 for $6,269 on January 12, 2017 for “campaign voter data.” Grassley was re-elected to a new 6-year term in 2016 and Chairs the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. That committee conducts confirmation hearings for all Federal judges, including those for the U.S. Supreme Court. It also holds confirmation hearings for the U.S. Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General and all U.S. Attorneys throughout the United States.

The largest single disbursement from a political committee to i360 came from Freedom Partners Action Fund, a Super Pac. On June 26, 2018, the Super Pac wrote out a check for $1,520,592 to i360, designating the funds for “media placement-broadcast/cable, digital & survey research.” According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the largest donor during the current election cycle to the Freedom Partners Action Fund is Charles Koch’s Trust, which has donated $3 million. Since 2014, Charles Koch and his trust have given $14 million to the Freedom Partners Super Pac. This raises the question as to whether Charles Koch, a multi-billionaire, is subsidizing the work of i360. Charles Koch, and his brother David, are majority owners of Koch Industries. Forbes puts their net worth at $53.5 billion each as of August 12, 2018.

One person who is suspicious of Charles Koch’s agenda is Ronna McDaniel, Republican National Committee Chair. Earlier this month Politico published a memo from McDaniel that urged candidates not to use i360 and use the official RNC voter database instead. McDaniel wrote that “some groups who claim to support conservatives forgo their commitment when they decide their business interests are more important than those of the country or Party. This is unacceptable.”

That warning might have more bite if the RNC itself had not assisted in i360’s rise to power. The RNC signed data sharing arrangements with i360 for both the 2014 and 2016 elections. That was, however, when i360 was reported to be part of a tax-exempt group set up by the Koch donor network — the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, now shortened to just Freedom Partners, which is also associated with the Freedom Partners Action Fund, the Super Pac.

The Freedom Partners/Koch network played a major role in the 2016 election and was quick to demand that its agenda be implemented in the Trump administration. In January 2017, it released a formal memorandum of those demands, many of which have now been implemented by the Trump administration, including the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord.

One i360 employee profile listed at LinkedIn suggests that Koch Industries plans to innovate further in the field of data and information management. A Senior Data Analyst employed at i360, Carter Fawson, says he is simultaneously working at a company he founded, Eliot LLC. The demo for Eliot LLC says it uses artificial intelligence to deliver a truthfulness and accuracy score to news articles. The article that the Eliot demo has chosen to critique is a Washington Post article that Eliot did not feel was fair to Charles Koch.

By Pam Martens/CounterPunch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Here are 5 things you need to know about progressive candidate Andrew Gillum who just won a stunning victory in the Florida primary

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Progressive candidate Andrew Gillum won a major upset victory in the Democratic Party primary Tuesday night for the upcoming Florida gubernatorial election.

The Tallahassee mayor was seen as a longshot for the statewide race, where he had been polling in fourth place. But he has now seized the nomination and will face off against Ron DeSantis, a supporter of President Donald Trump, in November.

Here are five things to know about the upstart candidate:

1. He secured an endorsement from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Gillum’s association with Sanders and the left-leaning wing of the Democratic Party appears to have provided him the boost he needed to garner the nomination. Republicans are certain to hope they can tarnish his reputation by painting him as a radical in the famously moderate swing state of Florida. But Sanders supporters are optimistic that they have the wind at their backs and can ride a nationwide trend to victory.

2. Gillum was the only Democratic candidate in the primary who was not a multi-millionaire, according to MSNBC.

He stood out from the crowd as not coming from the wealthiest segments of society. Gwen Graham, the presumed frontrunner in the primary race, is from a political dynasty as the daughter of a former Florida governor.

3. His campaign was vastly outspent by his competitors.

“My opponents have spent, together, over $90 million in this race. We have spent 4 [million],” Gillum said Saturday, according to the New York Times. “Money doesn’t vote. People do.”

4. If he wins, he’ll be the first black Florida governor.

Gillum joins neighbor Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democratic candidate for governor and the first black woman to earn a major party gubernatorial nomination, in running for a historic spot in statewide office.

5. Among many other progressive causes, Gillum supports expanding Medicaid in Florida.

The state has stubbornly refused to expand Medicaid to a wider swath of the population since the implementation of Obamacare. Failing to expand the program leaves hundreds of thousands of residents with few options for health insurance, as Vox reports. If he takes the governorship, Gillum would be well-positioned to push for this change.

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Taibbi: Why Did John McCain Continue to Support War?

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I was surprised to hear the great Stevie Wonder — the creator of the searing anti-war, anti-Vietnam song “Front Line” — paid tribute to John McCain in the middle of a concert this past weekend.

On one hand it made sense, as Wonder has always been about love and forgiveness, and he’s rarely had a bad word for anyone. But he is also a political voice, who sings passionately about America’s inability to reckon with its violent nature.

That 1983 song, “Front Line,” describes a phenomenon we don’t talk about much: Our unthinking worship of all things military, and our unparalleled ability to quickly forget military atrocities, so as to embrace the inevitable next invasion.

……………………………………………..

We leave smoldering ash-piles around the world, and instead of wondering why we’re hated in those places, we keep thinking it’s football and we’ll just call the right plays the next game. “We’ll get ‘em next time” became our official foreign policy, and McCain was long ago elevated as chief spokesperson.

McCain never changed his mind about Vietnam, in particular, and it colored his opinion of every war that followed. Here’s what McCain wrote in 2003, months into the invasion of Iraq:

We lost in Vietnam because we lost the will to fight, because we did not understand the nature of the war we were fighting and because we limited the tools at our disposal.

McCain added that Iraqis had less chance to “win” because they “do not enjoy the kind of sanctuary North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos provided.”

Between 1963 and 1974, we dropped two million tons of ordnance on Laos — not North Vietnam, but Laos — which works out to “a planeload of bombs every eight minutes, 24 hours per day, for nine years.”

The death toll from that one country is said to be 70,000 (50,000 during the war, 20,000 who died later from unexploded bombs). Similar operations in North Vietnam are said to have killed 182,000 civilians, and estimates about bombing deaths in Cambodia range from 30,000 to 150,000.

Read on www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/mccain-support-war-716416/

Posted by Libergirl

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