Truth will not make you rich, but it will make you free.
--Francis Bacon

Black Bird Press News


Friday, August 22, 2014

Sen. Ran Paul on Ferguson and American Racism, esp. the high black incarceration rate

SALAMA, Guatemala — Just before departing for the rural town here where he performed charity eye surgeries over several days, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) caused a stir with an op-ed in Time about the violence in Ferguson, Missouri, calling for the police to be “demilitarized” and saying race skews the application of criminal justice in the U.S.

In an interview, he elaborated on his article and responded to critics on the right whom he said had misconstrued what he wrote.
“If you look at crime statistics, many people look at the crime statistics and say that blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately incarcerated with regard to what percentage of time they’re in for,” Paul said. “With drug statistics, they say blacks and whites use drugs at about the same rate, but the prisons are three out of four people are black or brown. So it’s not on purpose. It’s not a purposeful racism. It’s an inadvertent racial sort of outcome is what it is.”
In the op-ed, Paul wrote that “Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them.” Another sentence said, “Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention.”
The remarks prompted a pushback from critics who said Paul had attributed racial motives to the police officer who shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown after a confrontation about which details remain murky, even after nearly two weeks of national debate on the incident.
For example, the Missouri GOP’s executive director said Paul’s comments were “unhelpful,” and black conservative radio figure Larry Elder said that Paul’s op-ed “lend[s] fuel to this notion that 'cops are out to get us,’” something Elder argued on Laura Ingraham’s radio show hurts GOP efforts to reach potential black voters.
Paul said he wasn't accusing the Ferguson police of racism:
No, the point I’m making is that, let’s say you’re African American and you live in our country and see the statistics and see three out of four people in prison are black or brown, and you see whites are using drugs at the same rate, you’d say: ‘Gosh it seems unfair.’ Your perception would be that ‘I’m unfairly being targeted’ when in reality maybe it’s poverty, maybe it’s the police tend to patrol more in one area than another. What I was saying is that it’s impossible for them not to feel [that way], and I think we put the word ‘feel’ for them to feel like they’re not being targeted. But I wasn’t saying that about this particular instance—I have no idea about the specifics of this. But you see how if a black community has a lot of their community in jail for drugs or whatever, that when a young black man is shot while unarmed, you could see how this is something that is just a big example of what is going on.
Regardless of the facts of the case, Paul says, “that’s the perception.”
“I think what we said in the op-ed is that it’s impossible for them not to feel like they’re being targeted,” Paul added, emphasizing the word “feel.”
Paul noted that, while President Obama “has recently started commuting some sentences of people in jail for crack cocaine,” several people “who have 15 and 20-year sentences for crack cocaine are still in jail from even before we” changed the system to lessen the disparities between crack and powder cocaine sentencing.
“The disparity used to be 100:1 crack to powder, and five to 10 years ago we changed it to 18:1—they didn’t grandfather in the people from before we changed it,” Paul said. “There are many instances where a white kid goes to jail using powder cocaine and getting out in six months with a good attorney or never going to jail, and then someone with a similar weight of crack cocaine going to jail for 15 years.”
Paul said that when young people go away for such long sentences for nonviolent crimes, they get sucked into the criminal justice system, something that’s nearly impossible to break free from. “How do you get a job when you get out? It’s almost impossible to get a job,” he said. “It all adds together. There are statistics that back up that the criminal justice system and the war on drugs has disproportionately incarcerated Hispanics and African Americans, and that if you are an African American, and you see something happen, you think it’s just one more thing piling on top.”
“I have no idea about the intent about any of the people involved in this, and that ought to be judged by the people,” Paul added. “But I can see why people would be unhappy.”

Black Girls Rock: Monae Davis, Philly girl in the boys little league world series

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Marvin X and the BAM Poets Choir and Arkestra at UC Merced BAM Conf

Minister Farrakhan responds to Mike Brown shooting in Ferguson

There are two choices in this matter. Mumia calls for an independent collective. The other alternative is to demand the US do for the hoods what the US did in Iraq and is doing in Afghanistan to stop violence. They gave the so called insurgents three things to lay down their arms: housing, education and jobs. This is the solution for the hood, but the top priority is community security. The young men and women can secure the community. Thus, there is no need for police unless called upon by community security forces. ALSO, THERE IS NO NEED FOR THE DOPE MAN TO BE THE NUMBER ONE EMPLOYER OF YOUTH. IF YOUTH CAN SELL DOPE, THEY CAN SELL ANY AND EVERYTHING.--Marvin X

Russia signs long term agreement with China

Russia signs 30-year gas deal with China

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and CNPC Chairman Zhou shake hands with Russian President PutinGazprom CEO Alexei Miller (centre) and CNPC Chairman Zhou Jiping shake hands as Russian President Putin looks on during the signing ceremony in Shanghai

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin has signed a multi-billion dollar, 30-year gas deal with China.
The deal between Russia's Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) has been 10 years in the making.
Russia has been keen to find an alternative energy market for its gas as it faces the possibility of European sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine.
No official price has been given but it is estimated to be worth over $400bn.
President Putin said in a statement to the Russian news channel Rossiya: "The price is satisfactory for both sides.
"It is tied, like it is envisaged in all our international contracts with Western partners, specifically our partners in Western Europe, to the market price on oil and oil products. It is an absolutely calibrated, general formula for pricing."
Gazprom shares rose 2% on the news.
How significant is the deal?
The agreement, signed at a summit in Shanghai, is expected to deliver some 38 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year eastward to China's burgeoning economy, starting around 2018.
The main argument has been over price and China is thought to have been driving a hard bargain.
Over the last 10 years it has found other gas suppliers. Turkmenistan is now China's largest foreign gas supplier, and last year it started importing piped natural gas from Myanmar.
Alexei Miller, Chief Executive of Gazprom said the new deal was "the biggest contract in the entire history of the USSR and Gazprom - over 1 trillion cubic metres of gas will be supplied during a whole contractual period."
Analysis: Jamie Robertson, BBC News
The gas deal between Russia and China was signed at 04:00 China time, which gives some indication of the level of urgency over these talks. Mr Putin appears to have been determined not to leave Shanghai without a deal - and he got one.
But the financial details are a "commercial secret", so we don't know how much he had to give away to get it. Certainly China needs the gas to help it cut its coal-fired smog levels, and it wants to diversify supply. But it had the luxury of time in which to negotiate, something Mr Putin was short of.
The perceived motive for the deal is that Russia needs a second market for its gas, so it can face up to European sanctions. Given that the "Power of Siberia" pipeline won't start pumping gas into Chinese factories until 2018 at the earliest, its economic effect on the European crisis will be limited.
More important may be the investment that China will make into Russia's power and transport infrastructure. Putin may not have managed to sign the most advantageous of gas deals on Wednesday but the opening of economic doors with China could well be the greater achievement.
Rain Newton-Smith, head of emerging markets at Oxford Economics, said: "The whole tenet of the deal has a symbolic value - it says that the two countries are prepared to work with one another. For instance there were other elements such as Chinese participation in Russian transport infrastructure and power generation.
"It is similar in many ways to China's investments in Africa where they drive a hard bargain over the price of raw materials but then provide infrastructure for the economies they are doing business with.
Jonathan Marcus, the BBC's defence and diplomatic correspondent said tensions between Russia and the west were not just over Ukraine: "There are fundamental differences over Syria and about the whole direction in which President Vladimir Putin is taking his country.
"Thus this deal could symbolise an important moment of transition - when both in economic and geo-political terms, Russia's gaze begins to look more towards the East than towards the West."
Siberian power
Another sticking point on the deal has been the construction of pipelines into China.
Currently there is one complete pipeline that runs across Russia's Far East to the Chinese border, called The Power of Siberia. It was started in 2007, three years after Gazprom and CNPC signed their initial agreement in 2004.
But financing the $22-30bn cost of sending it into China has been central to the latest discussions.
China is Russia's largest single trading partner, with bilateral trade flows of $90bn (£53bn) in 2013.
The two neighbours aim to double the volume to $200bn in 10 years.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Night of Pain, Night of Rage by Mumia Abu Jamal

© ’14 Mumia Abu-JamalColumn written, August 11, 2014
Once again, a Black unarmed youth has been killed by a cop.
And while the facts surrounding the shooting are presently unclear, what is clear is that a cop shot 18 year old Michael Brown 8 times.
According to at least one eyewitness, Brown was shot as he stood with his hands up in the air.
To anyone who knows American history, this is not a rarity.
It is the result of a systematic function of police across the country, to repress, track and target the nation’s Black population.
That has been the case for generations.
We shall see voices trotted out to call for calm, as outrage arises in Black hearts in response to outrageous treatment. Never do those calling for calm become voices calling for true justice, for justice is equality; and who dare demand that cops be treated like the people that they oppress?
For they have no influence over the repressive forces, and in fact, no political office in America does. They have been bought off, paid off – or both.
Listen to the voices of ‘Black’ politicians.
Indeed, listen to the voices of white politicians.
Listen to the raging silence.
Needed in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri – and in every Black community in America – are independent, and uncompromising Black revolutionary collectives – determined to protect the lives and wellbeing of Black people –period.
Existing political structures – silent in the face of these outrages –have failed us, and cannot be made to serve our interests.
It’s time to learn from this, and build for our future necessities.