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"BroadSnark" - 5 new articles

  1. Things You Might Have Missed
  2. How Consumers Choose Their Corporate Masters
  3. Things You Might Have Missed
  4. Marijuana Decriminalization Isn’t Stopping Arrests in DC
  5. On the BRICS Bank and Missed Opportunities
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Things You Might Have Missed

This is gonna be a long one. And I’m saving some for next week. Apologies. Not only did I miss last week, but I also did a lot of catching up on reading. And, of course, I have been obsessively following Ferguson.

I know none of you have missed what has been going on in Ferguson. But I will drop a few of the more important links:

Ferguson isn’t the only place people have had enough. In the Mandalay Region of Burma/Myanmar, farmers had their land taken away by the military. They protested by, for example, plowing the fields that had been stolen from them. The cops came and started shooting. The protesters, along with local villagers who ran out to help, “detained 37 police personnel“. The rest ran away. Nicely done, farmers.

While we wait to hear whether or not the cop will be charged in Ferguson, we know that Shaneen Allen is going to be prosecuted for gun possession.

San Bernardino PD tased a man to death last week. Maybe they were trying to one up the South Dakota PD who tased an 8 year old?

In New Orleans, a man was shot in the head and the PD didn’t report it for two days. And in LA, they refused to release the autopsy of the man they shot.

If You Were Gunned Down By Police, What Photo Would the MSM Use to Portray You?

You have probably seen the picture going around of all the people killed by police. But maybe you missed this series of Last Words: A Visual Tribute to Men Killed By Police.

Nobody knows how many people cops murder every year.

I don’t know if this new police accountability app will do any good. But these teens are clearly awesome.

Prisoners in PA have been protesting and need some support.

We don’t hear enough of the stories from people in prison, especially not women in prison. Which is why this account from a woman at Virginia Correctional is so important. And why people should support films like this one about Marcia Powell, a sex worker who died in prison.

It turns out that Telling White People the Criminal Justice System is Racist Makes them Like it More. Awesome. 

In Memphis, a teacher punched a five-year-old girl in the face.

Good news is, LA says they are trying to shut down the school to prison pipeline. Bad news is, they are arming Compton school PD with AR-15s. What could go wrong?

Mothers are still be arrested for letting their kids play in parks and for swearing in front of them. (Newsflash: If you put your kid in a car, you are risking their life far more than any of this bullshit.)

Baltimore Jimmy Johns workers are now IWW.

Also in Baltimore, an out of control judge ordered a pro se defendant to be tased in court.

One could argue that a dildo is even more dehumanizing than this very life-like Japanese sex doll. But as a human and a sapiosexual, I’m finding the claims about it being a legit girlfriend replacement a little incomprehensible and (frankly) sad.

They better send a whole crap ton of those dolls to Brazil considering that women need virginity tests before they can get a job.

Sooo. That whole Affordable Care Act thing. How is it that hospital CEOs are seeing massive pay increases? Almost as big as the insurance premium increases we have been getting.  Hmmmmmm.

Finally, a Honduras morgue director is reporting that at least 5 of the children deported back to Honduras are now dead.

    


How Consumers Choose Their Corporate Masters

Protester with Boycott BP signNonprofit Quarterly has a piece about how nonprofit nursing homes outperform for-profit ones. It got me thinking about the categories that we put organizations into and the criteria by which we judge an organization’s worth.

Here we have for-profit vs. nonprofit. The evaluation looks at outcomes for patients, as it should. But we don’t have much about how the workers are treated. Nursing assistants are absurdly low paid. The median wage is $11.97 per hour. In Minnesota, a main argument against the minimum wage was that nursing homes would have to close if they were forced to pay their workers $9.50. In New Jersey, nursing home workers cannot afford health insurance.

Those nonprofit nursing homes may have better health outcomes and they keep higher levels of staffing. But that doesn’t mean that they treat their employees well or pay them a living wage. It doesn’t mean that the people who work there have any autonomy or democracy in their workplace.

What about food labels? I’ve written before about how workers are ignored in the movements for a better food system. Nothing about an organic or free-range label tells you how the humans are treated. A label of local doesn’t tell you much when people haven’t even decided how far away local actually is. How much does fair trade tell you really? Fair in comparison to what?

The Human Rights Campaign has an annual Corporate Equality Index. It measures things like whether or not a company has a sexual orientation discrimination policy or offers same-sex partner health benefits. HRC has consistently given Wells Fargo a 100% human rights rating, presumably encouraging GLBT people to bank there. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo is a major investor in private prisons and their racist, predatory loan practices were a key driver in the foreclosure crisis.

What about pressure campaigns against giant companies? There are multiple current campaigns against Coca Cola. Each of them run by a different organization. When one organization wins something, they wrap it up and congratulate Coke and tell everyone they can start buying from them again. No thought to the other campaigns that keep going. No thought to how the greenwashing may actually keep a company in business.

Boycotts? What happens if I boycott BP, but I’m still buying gasoline from Exxon or Shell? Is that really helping anybody? What about boycotting Starbucks, but still buying coffee from another chain whose workers don’t have a union? What if your local indie coffee shop treats their workers like shit too? What about boycotting Walmart but still buying from Target, which is just as anti-union?

I’m not saying we should give up trying to make ethical choices. I’m not saying you are a shit if you ever buy anything from someplace that does horrible things. There is no way to avoid completely interacting with organizations that, in a better world, would not exist. But can’t we at least get it together enough to evaluate them in a way that isn’t so disjointed, that is based on more than just some narrow set of issues? Can’t we look at purpose, size, democracy, profit, community involvement….everything? And can’t we be smarter about what kinds of things we boycott and what we offer as alternatives?

Don’t tell people to leave Wells Fargo for Bank of America. Don’t just find any old credit union either. Don’t care only about environmental issues and ignore workers. Don’t assume that nonprofit means anti-capitalist or that people are treated well. Don’t start a campaign to boycott one organization in an entire sector that runs the same way. What is the point in that?

Consumer choice can help. I feel most hopeful when I am surrounded by co-op people who are trying to build the new world inside the old. But not all decisions that are made out to be ethical are. And we aren’t going to consumer choose our way into a revolution, especially not if we are just choosing between Walmart and Target.

    

Things You Might Have Missed

Dirt track at Hagerstown SpeedwayI watched dirt track racing this weekend. Apparently, that’s a thing. A very loud and surprisingly fun thing. You can make a race car out of anything.

Very much looking forward to seeing how the amazing Andrea Bowen takes Garden State Equality past the gay marriage fight. Andy has actually gotten me to help call people for an advocacy day, so you know she can make pretty much anything happen.

I think many people forget that a lot of chains are actually owned by locals who just wanted a small business of their own. Though it sounds like McDonalds is trying to get rid of those people. In any event, when a franchise owner basically comes out in support of a union for fast food workers, that’s news.

Moving on up the chain of evil corporations, a bunch of memos have been released showing Chiquita’s support of the death squads in Colombia.

Setting aside the Obama apologism and apparent belief that the CIA is or should be salvageable, this isn’t a bad summary of the torture investigation history.

Where is the nationwide torture investigation of US police? Like the ones in New Mexico that like to anally rape people for kicks.

Or these cops who went to the wrong house and dragged a woman naked out of her apartment.

Those cops will not be punished in the slightest. Meanwhile, a five-year-old has sexual misconduct on his record for pulling down his pants at school. You read that right. A five-year-old.

Looks like people in Colorado are staying home to get high instead of going out and getting in car accidents. Seriously though, the chicken littles are just going to look sillier and sillier as drugs are legalized and the world doesn’t fall apart.

If you are trying to help things fall apart, then you’d be better off sending in some aid. Perhaps you can send USAID to pretend to humanitarians working for an AIDS organization in Cuba.

Or maybe you can NGOize a small country that has been pummeled by natural and political disasters so that NGOs and contractors can make gazillions of dollars and thwart any chances for autonomy or democracy or justice…

Or you can just sell out to the highest bidder while still patting yourself on the back for being a good guy.

At least with Chiquita, nobody really pretends they aren’t evil.

In Delhi, The Hindu did an investigation of the reported rape cases. One of the things they found is that many of the cases were controlling parents who filed rape charges against the man that their daughter eloped with. Authoritarian parenting at its worst. Happens here too.

Leo Hollis calls out the bullshit that is “startup urbanism” for the gentrification that it actually is.

DC has now been added to the list of cities where a posh building agrees to provide affordable housing, but has the poor people use a separate door. The twist here is that they claim the low-income tenants wanted it that way in order to preserve their community. Can’t really blame them for not wanting to deal with all the douchebags that live in places like that. It is tragic to see how the neighborhood relationships break down with gentrification.

And finally, Victoria Law has a new piece on compassionate release.

    


Marijuana Decriminalization Isn’t Stopping Arrests in DC

An ounce of weedDCist reports that “between July 17 and July 31, 26 people have been arrested for marijuana-related crimes that don’t fall under the new decriminalization law.” Fourteen of those people were arrested for consumption. Presumably they were actually caught smoking in public. Police aren’t supposed to stop people for the smell of weed anymore. But I’m not exactly going to be shocked to find out that isn’t how things are playing out.

Of the other twelve people arrested, only one of them was arrested for having more than an ounce of weed. Eight were arrested for distribution. Presumably those eight sold to undercovers or were actually seen transacting a sale. But again, I wouldn’t be shocked to find out that wasn’t the case. Three of the arrests were for intent to distribute. Meaning that three people were arrested in those couple of weeks despite having less than an ounce and nobody having witnessed them sell anything.

Too many people believe that quantity is the determining factor when police and prosecutors are deciding whether or not to go after someone for intent. But quantity is just one thing they might use to argue that you were intending to distribute. For example, one of the cases that we heard when I was on grand jury duty involved a minuscule amount of marijuana. But they were prosecuting the kid for intent because it was divided up into a few different baggies.

I’ll give you three guesses what the race of the accused was.

Just kidding. We all know who gets arrested for petty drug crimes in DC. Marijuana decriminalization was supposed to be addressing that disparity. But considering that the MPD clearly states on their website that “selling any amount of marijuana to another person” is still a crime, their reminding us that they still intend to arrest people for marijuana, and their long history of targeting – I think we can expect the bullshit to continue.

    

On the BRICS Bank and Missed Opportunities

BRICS summit photo opYou have probably heard about the new BRICS bank. There were a lot of celebratory posts on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. I can’t say that really surprised me. But I am a little disappointed.

I can understand why people would be happy to have any challenge to the World Bank/IMF, US/European chokehold on the world economy. It is lovely that there isn’t only one game in town. But it isn’t as though the BRICS bank is based on better principles. It isn’t as though their development projects are going to be beacons to social justice.

But it isn’t actually the BRICS bank I want to talk about per se. I was listening to Patrick Bond in this interview about the bank and the “inter-imperial rivalries” that it is an outgrowth of. It got me thinking about missed opportunities.

Everybody knows about divide and conquer. I hear plenty of people talking about how we are divided. Just try googling “divided working class.” But rarely do I hear people talk seriously, and strategically, about divisions between elites.

And there are a lot of divisions between elites. Many revolutions are less insurrections by the oppressed than they are disputes between elites. Sometimes, like in Colombia, the people who were dragged into the disputes were screwed when the elites decided to ban together. But other times, like in Mexico, people were able to exploit the rifts between elites and make some changes. Not perfect changes, obviously, but they got something.

It isn’t just applicable to war. How do the old car companies feel about Google now that they are getting into the car game? Why do Google and Facebook care whether or not the cable companies win on net neutrality? How do you think former Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and AIG people feel about being losers in the game they were playing with Goldman Sachs?

I’m not suggesting we spend all our time trying to figure out what these people are doing. Our efforts need to be focused on building at the community level. But that doesn’t mean that we cannot keep our eyes peeled for opportunities that may come up because these greedy, ego-maniacal, sociopaths are constantly at each others throats too. And so are a lot of the local thugs – politicians, developers… – in our towns.

Looking to exploit those rifts would be a lot more productive than cheering when someone who is mildly less of a dick gets a little bit larger piece of the power cudgel with which to beat us.

    


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