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Category Archives: Government Oppression

China and Myanmar face Uighurs and Rohingya that are fighting back after years of oppression – NBC News

Posted: September 18, 2020 at 1:00 am

The confession represented the first testimony from perpetrators corroborating the accounts that Myanmar soldiers shot children, raped women, destroyed villages and dumped bodies in mass graves, as previously described by Rohingya refugees and a United Nations fact-finding mission.

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It also bolstered the criminal investigations against Myanmar aggressors at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which investigates individuals suspected of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. At present, the ICC is examining whether Myanmars military leaders carried out forced deportations by coercing Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh, an ICC member state.

Like China, Myanmar refused to join the ICC, and the courts jurisdiction principally applies only to those who are member states. However, the Court broadened its jurisdictional reach against Myanmar under a novel legal strategy that Rohingyas are victims of a forced deportation in which the crime was completed in the territory of an ICC member state, Bangladesh. This legal approach could be used in a similar way against China.

Authoritarian governments often emulate one another; one can find many similar practices between Myanmar and China. Both governments target and persecute ethnic minorities that do not conform to their artificial ideals. Both vehemently deny the allegations while deploying similar strategies and forms of punishment. Both authorities label their genocidal campaigns internal security matters and reject public criticism from democratic countries. Both governments have justified their actions by claiming that the ethnic minorities are extremists, legitimizing ruthless human rights violations under the guise of counterterrorism.

Relying on the Myanmar lawsuit as precedent, British lawyers representing two Uighur organizations filed a landmark complaint with the ICC this year against the Chinese government. The basis for their claim was also forced deportation committed partially in the territory of ICC member states. A number of Uighurs have been forcibly deported from Cambodia and Tajikistan, both ICC member states, and returned to China to be sent to concentration camps.

The ICC is one of the limited avenues for the Uighur people to pursue accountability in their ongoing struggle for justice because of Chinas immense political and economic clout. While the Myanmar crisis benefited from public condemnation by Hollywood celebrities such as Cate Blanchett and Angelina Jolie, Chinas overwhelming economic influence has resulted in devastating indifference and complicity from the entertainment industry.

Disneys recently released Mulan even offered thanks during the films closing credits to a Chinese government agency responsible for facilitating the internment camps. This complicity contradicts the ideals of those in the music, business and entertainment industries.

And the entertainment industry is not the only entity that is notoriously known for appeasing China. The Organization for Islamic Cooperation mobilized and actively promoted United Nations mechanisms for Rohingyas but it looked away when similar atrocities were committed against the Uighur people, because of Chinas close economic ties with its member countries.

The U.N. Human Rights Council, which passed a resolution establishing the fact-finding mission for Myanmar, has failed to do the same for the Uighur people despite repeated calls from human rights advocates, including more than 50 U.N. experts. Instead, China is expected to soon be re-elected to the U.N. Human Rights Council, making the prospect of any action by the body on human rights abuses against the Uighurs virtually nil.

This is why the ICC offers so much promise, especially because since the forcible transfer originated in ICC member states the ICC could prosecute all the resulting crimes that took place in Xinjiang and other parts of China after the forced deportations. These include torture, enslavement, arbitrary imprisonment, enforced sterilization, enforced disappearances and even genocide.

An active ICC investigation would allow the court to compile a list of names of perpetrators engaged in the atrocities, including those responsible for providing China with the sophisticated technology to create and sustain a police state and develop the internment camps. Once it gathers enough credible information on perpetrators, the court can issue arrest warrants, allowing senior-level perpetrators to be detained whenever they enter any of the 123 ICC member states territory.

Additionally, the confession of the two Myanmar soldiers demonstrates the important role of whistleblowers in ICC investigations, whereby lower-level agents can provide key information for identifying senior-level perpetrators against whom the court can eventually issue arrest warrants.

A successful finding of genocide and crimes against humanity in the Myanmar case would send a message that perpetrators cannot commit the crime of all crimes with impunity and bring some sense of justice to Rohinga victims. It would also be a heartening signal to the Uighur community that the ICC is willing to hold economically and politically powerful nonmember state parties accountable for atrocities committed in part on state parties territories and bring some form of comfort to victims in their pursuit of justice.

Newly revealed evidence demonstrates that the Chinese government is determined to build new more permanent internment facilities, making it that more urgent for the ICC to launch an investigation to help the innocent victims of internment camps like my brother Ekpar. The Uighur case represents a true test of the international communitys commitment to justice and accountability, and the ICC must seize this opportunity to affirm that no government or official may commit atrocities with impunity.

Rayhan Asat is a lawyer at a Wall Street law firm and serves as president of the American Turkic Lawyers Association (ATILA). She is also a senior fellow at the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights and chair of the Women Entrepreneurs Committee at Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs D.C. Chapter.

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China and Myanmar face Uighurs and Rohingya that are fighting back after years of oppression - NBC News

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I’ve seen protests like this before in America, but never in the United States – Miscellany News

Posted: at 1:00 am

This January, I wrote an article about the massive protests that erupted while I was studying abroad in Valparaso, Chile last fall. I had never witnessed social unrest on such a large scale. I had never seen so many people demonstrating together, across an entire country, united by one cause, across party lines and differences of race, class, gender and other identities. I had also never witnessed violent oppression by the state against peaceful protesters.

In my article, I posed the question: Could this level of unity among the people ever occur here, and what would be the results? I also noted that:

In the United States, although we certainly see increased policing, mass arrests of protestors and the criminalization of certain social movements (re: mass incarceration that started during the Civil Rights Movement) it is hard to imagine our military patrolling the streets where we live or the government prohibiting us from leaving our houses after a certain hour.

Reading this now, it is glaringly obvious just how naive I was. At the beginning of June, I moved to St. Paul, MN for the summer. There, I went to protests where we were surrounded by the National Guard. I once again found myself living under a curfew. And I couldnt stop thinking about the uncanny resemblance to the protests in Chile.

There are obvious and important differences between the two movements. One is centered around class inequality, while the other stems from systemic racial oppression. One was sparked by a government spiking a metro fare, the other by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police. Although the inequality in Chile is deep-rooted and the people have been calling for action on individual issues for decades, the sense of a broad, cohesive movement was novel. Meanwhile, the official Black Lives Matter movement is not newit began in 2013. Finally, much of the stratification of wealth in Chilean society is due to the Pinochet dictatorship and its neoliberal economic policies. The dictatorship ended in 1990, so it has been 30 years since the countrys return to democracy. In the United States, however, the structures that oppress, traumatize and kill Black people are hundreds of years old.

That being said, the similarities between the two cases are remarkable. I feel like I could draw a timeline of events for each situation and every stage would match up perfectlyfrom the tip of the iceberg event that sparked the groundswell, to the spread of education about the underlying systemic injustices, to the tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets used on protesters by police, to the installation of a curfew, to the protests spreading across the country and even internationally, to the deployment of auxiliary forces to keep the order (in Chile, the military; in the United States, the National Guard).

Politicians, the media and citizens alike have criticized the violence in both scenarios. However, in both cases, people have been peacefully protesting the issues at hand for decades with little to no change. When peaceful protests fall on deaf ears for so long, people have no other choice. Quite frankly, America does not have the right to tell Black people in this country how they can and cannot protest. And in Chile, a government that took years to reckon with a brutal dictatorship that killed, tortured and disappeared thousands, and has only perpetuated inequalities in the aftermath of Pinochet, also has no right to judge the outrage of the Chilean people.

What should be in the spotlight in both countries is the violence against protesters at the hands of the police. In both cases, the police have used tear gas and rubber-coated steel bulletsruthlesslyagainst largely peaceful protesters. In both cases, the police have arrested and detained people who were simply exercising their right to demonstrate. In both cases, state-sanctioned violence has been used to control, curb and punish those asking for justiceall under the guise of law and order.

In Chile, the massive protests actually led to hope for change: The government agreed to hold a referendum about the possibility of finally rewriting the Chilean constitution. (Originally scheduled for April 26, the referendum was pushed to Oct. 25 due to the pandemic.) The current constitution is handed down from Pinochet, and codifies many of the systems that have produced such stark inequality in Chile, such as the privatization of water. Chileans had been protesting the countrys inequities for 30 years and nothing changeduntil they forced the government to listen.

Americans oftentimes see violence or unrest in places like Latin America and say, That could never happen here. We believe that our democracy protects us from the political unrest that many other countries experience. Some Americans even look down on countries that have suffered through horrible dictatorships and oppression (that the United States oftentimes supported and even established) and call those countries undemocratic and unstable. We forget that our country has also experienced this level of social unrest and protest and is experiencing it again. It should be obvious that our democracy is, in practice, not very democratic.

Many Americans also often look down on places like Chile, where there is extreme repression of protests, violence against protesters and restrictions on freedom of speech and the freedom to demonstrate, and say That could never happen here. We naively believe that the freedoms granted to us in the Constitution will protect us from state-sanctioned violence. And yet we have witnessed violence against protesters this summer again and again, as well as the criminalization of the entire Black Lives Matter movement, exemplified by the prejudicial targeting and arrest of protesters. This should not come as a surprise, as it has happened before. May it serve as a wake-up call to those who have forgotten.

In Chile, a metro fare hike was the straw that broke the camels back. It was finally time to reckon with 30 years of wealth stratification and with a neoliberal government filled with corrupt politicians who care more about their own wealth than helping the countrys poor. Sound familiar? At least Chile has universal health care. On top of extreme wealth inequality, Americans must also reckon with the deep-rooted racial violence that continues to kill Black people. Lets take our country off of its pedestal.

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Firts time ever! Afghan women negotiate with hardliner Taliban; Talk against oppression – The Financial Express

Posted: at 1:00 am

There are four tough women from that country who dared to face the hardliner Taliban across the table during peace talks. (Photo source: IE)

For the first-time Afghan women were represented in the peace talks that took place in Doha recently. The women who had been facing the oppressive rule of the Taliban and fought for gains joined an all-male Afghan governments team of 17 and team of the Taliban with only men.

Who are these women?

There are four tough women from that country who dared to face the hardliner Taliban across the table during peace talks.

Negotiator Fawzia Koofi is a politician and high-profile womens rights campaigner. In her country, she has survived at least two assassination attempts during her career. The latest was in August recently in Kabul.

During the rule of Taliban from 1996-2001, while she was threatened with stoning for wearing nail polish, her husband was jailed, she has told the media before she left for talks.

The Taliban had banned girls from going to schools and women to work and the women used to be whipped lashed in case found guilty of adultery. Things have improved considerably for women in rural areas since the US-led forces toppled the Taliban. And the big cities like Kabul have witnessed huge progress. Women are getting an education at a secondary and high level as well some are now holding elected positions and running businesses.

Ms Koofi is one of the few women who held unofficial talks with the Taliban in 2019 and she knows and fully aware of the issues the female negotiators face.

Another negotiator in the team is an Islamic law expert Fatima Gailani, 66, the former spokeswoman for the Mujahideen against the Soviets in the 1980s and also the former president of the Afghan Red Cross. She has expressed her apprehension about negotiations with the Taliban. Though she has support of the male negotiators in her team, she says The women always have fear whenever there are changes in her country.

Though Taliban claims that womens rights will be protected through Islamic values, Ms Gailani stated that the talks should be focused on common values.

Habiba Sarabi, another lady member of the team too has her apprehensions and wants to see Afghanistan as a `Republic and not Taliban run state. She was barred from working under the Taliban rule and had to flee the country to pursue her passion for teaching.

When she returned to Afghanistan, at 62 years she became her countrys first female provincial governor and has also served as a minister twice.

A former broadcaster and local politician in the eastern province of Paktia, Sharifa Zurmati, is also part of the team.

What are these talks?

This year in February, the US signed a deal with the Taliban in which they agreed to withdraw forces in return for an assurance from the insurgents to hold talks with the Afghan government, which is aimed at ending the war.

Amidst a lot of delays, direct talks finally opened in the Qatari capital Doha on Saturday.

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Women & Worth Virtual Summit Day 2: Reserving a Seat at the Table – Worth

Posted: at 1:00 am

On day two of the summit, we learned about the importance of self-advocating, how to get on a board and why its so imperative for women to get a seat at the table.

On day two of the Women & Worth Virtual Summit, we began with a keynote from Wade Davis, VP of Inclusion for Production at Netflix, who gave a powerful talk on the importance of self-reflection. He discussed how self-reflection can be used to help others, especially in putting an end to systemic oppression. He stated two important things we needed to keep in mind when self-reflecting: to make agreements with ourselves to end systemic oppression and to be disinterested in needing to be right.

Davis opened up about his experience as an LGBTQ+ member of the NFL. He discussed how his identity as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and as a male has affected him. He learned throughout his childhood and when coming out to his mother that the world offered him a certain power. He had to overcome the fear and use his power to help those who are oppressed. He used his identity to become an advocate for women. Once you recognize the power that you hold within your identity, you can use it to help others. Men have been groomed in the sports and corporate world to believe that they belong in that industry. However, there are women and POC who are well-qualified who are oppressed because of the connotation that belief has made. In order to break this barrier, you must identify yourself and see how you can work together in order to overcome this systemic oppression.

Davis also emphasized the value of self-love and how you should overcome your fears and walk toward self-love. He discussed how when youre self-interrogating, change doesnt happen without great risk. Those who are in the dominant group should acknowledge the power they have and use to their advantage and be accountable in the actions they take. Davis concluded his talk by quoting from Lucille Cliftons poemwont you celebrate with me.

Next, CEO of Worth Juliet Scott-Croxford spoke with Anita Bhatia, deputy executive director for resource management, sustainability and partnerships for UN Women, on activating progress for women. Bhatia started by mentioning that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the lives of women around the world and has deepened the already existing social, economic and political inequities that women face. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit three main areasincome, health and security. Because of the pandemic, many women have been out of the labor force to meet family needs. This has affected their earnings, and statistics show that most of them will not go back to the labor force. Furthermore, womens issues, such as reproductive and gynecological problems, are being put on hold. There has also been an increase in violence against women amidst the pandemic, which has impacted their physical and mental health.

Upon receiving a question on what governments can do to better support women, Bhatia mentioned that inclusive fiscal policies would be best. For example, through a digital identification system, the government of India successfully sent 200 million women cash payments. Additionally, providing unemployment insurance and paid leave during the pandemic would benefit women immensely.

Bhatia ended by noting that bringing women to decision-making tables would be the best way to power forward in 2021.

After this session, Emily Cegielski, senior editor at Worth, moderated a panel discussion on advancing careers through self-advocating with panelists Alli Young, founder and CEO of The Forem, Jamie Sears, social impact and corporate responsibility leader at UBS, and Arsha Cazazian-Clement, director of global real estate at Shearman and Sterling LLP.

The panelists began by stating that self-advocating is harder for women, as they are expected to follow social norms by being humble, quiet and not boastful. Additionally, women face more blowback for mistakes and are often said to be too ambitious, as seen by the narrative surrounding Democratic vice presidential nominee, Senator Kamala Harris.

On the topic of moving up the corporate ladder without a sponsor, all panelists mentioned the importance of building meaningful relationships with peers and employers. Young mentioned that though this can be intimidating, building relationships and networking help women build confidence. Sears added that meritocracy alone cant get a worker as far as they deserve; they must know how to build relationships.

When asked for tips and tricks for being the only woman in the room, Cazazian-Clement emphasized the importance of knowing your strengths and weaknesses as well as how to build trust.

The conversation then shifted to how Black women can navigate race and gender in the workforce. In response, Cazazian-Clement highlighted observing if the companys values align with yours and if the company sees your value and potential.

In closing remarks, Sears mentioned that one way women can power forward is through investing in their careers overall, and not just their current jobs. By identifying their own strengths, women can conquer their careers.

Then, Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient, introduced Anna Catalano, board director, Claudia Pici-Morris, board practice consultant at Spencer Stuart, and Breen Sullivan, founder of The Fourth Floor, for a session on how to get on a board. Zalis discussed with the panelists what steps women should take in order to take the next step in their careers. They all talked about the importance of progress and to be continuous in learning from your mistakes. Any experience, whether it is from a public or a nonprofit board, is valuable because of the skill sets you will gain.

All of them mentioned the importance of networking in the industry. The number of women on a board has increased to a little bit over 20 percent. In a field which is predominantly male and has traditionally held women back, now is the time to power forward. When Zalis had asked the women for advice about how to get on boards, Pici-Morris said, Dont underestimate your own network and who you know. Catalano said to highlight what you know how to do and during the interview to ask what the voice around the table is that youre missing that I can fill. It is important to be a part of a board that truly recognizes what you can bring to the tablenot just being a woman at the table.

Sullivan mentioned that, It is a marathon, not a sprint. She advises that you should not wait and start sooner. There are a wide range of opportunities that many women and POC did not have access to because of equity, but now it is a time to get started early. Zalis concluded the talk with the importance of having a good elevator pitch.

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges that women face to this day is not merely being impacted by gender inequity or underrepresentation. For those who are able to find their way in, the toughest challenge lies not only in surviving, but also thriving in male-dominated industries. The session moderated by the CEO and cofounder of The Justice Dept, Jennifer Justice, was a real eye-opener on how women can make their presence and value known, and how to use this to pave the way for other women to join in. If you cant see it, you cant be it, said Justice, pointing out how women like Leona Qi, president of VistaJet, can be an inspiration to others. We need to definitely show up, and we need to make sure to let them know that were here and demand respect. Qi, who leads in an industry where over 90 percent of their clientele is male added. The day that Ill see that half of my clients are women, thats the day that we know that women made it into the boardroom.

Having a passion to deliver, staying focused on what you are good at and showing up for yourself and others were the key points that the panelists pointed out, not only for businesses and industries, but across the board. Kate Pratt, who is the head of sales for Liverpool Football Club,was excited about the prospect of bringing more female figures into a predominantly male-led industry. Sports has evolved so much, and the great thing about it now is that it is so broad and there are so many entry points for women. As a matter of fact, Pratts company offered a free digital classroom series to help foster interest about sports and the business of sports, especially among females.

Its a business imperative. Companies need to represent the customers they serve, added Joy Falotico, president of the Lincoln Motor Company and CMO of Ford. When youre the only woman in the room, and its intimidating, thats what you have to look at and say, hey, Im here not just for myself, but Im representing all these other women. Falotico, who has worked for Ford for over 30 years, echoed Qis emphasis on having a passion and using that passion to drive yourself to be the best that you can be, and focusing on pipeline and mentorship to help other women get in the door. Youre the wedge in the door, and you want to keep it open when youre the only woman, so you can get more people to come through the door with you, Falotico said.

To conclude the second day of the summit, Scott-Croxford wrapped up the discussions with reflections from Amy Wu, founder and chief content director of From Farms to Incubators, and Paige McCullough, who is a board member of girl-empowering initiative tre. Both Wu and McCullough agreed that self-encouraging, networking and an open mindset are vital to succeeding in modern times. Anita Bhatia neatly summarized the key ideas of day two, saying: Womens representation, leadership and economic progress are severely underrepresented. Women are carrying the world on their shoulders for all the work that they do. We should advocate for women to be at the tables where important decisions are made.

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Kashmir protests erupt after alleged cover-up of death in custody – The Guardian

Posted: at 1:00 am

Police in the Indian state of Kashmir have been accused of killing a young man in their custody and then staging his death as an accident.

Protests erupted in the conflict-ridden state after details of the allegations concerning the death of Irfan Ahmad Dar, a shopkeeper, emerged on Wednesday. In response, the government cut off the internet in his hometown of Sopore.

The family of Dar, 23, have alleged he was arrested on Tuesday and then tortured in police custody. Dar was dead within hours of his detention.

According to police, Dar died trying to escape from police custody. Taking advantage of darkness and terrain, he managed to escape, police alleged. They said his body had been found near a stone quarry, but did not state a cause of death.

The police claimed Dar was working for insurgents and that two Chinese-made grenades were recovered from his possession. However, this version of events was disputed by his family and called into question by politicians.

At their home in Sopore, Dars brother Javaid Akbar, who was also detained on Monday but let go close to midnight, said he was assured by police that Dar would be released in the morning.

We should at least be given his body so we can have a proper burial, said Akbar. However, as part of a new policy in Kashmir, alleged insurgents are now given remote burials in forests to prevent large crowds gathering at the funerals in mourning. Dar was buried just under 100 miles away from his family home.

Sajad Lone, a Kashmiri politician who had previously allied with the Indian prime minister Narendra Modis Bharatiya Janata party, said the polices version of events just doesnt add up.

Lone said: They have done a bad job even at inventing a story. The guilty need to be punished.

The death came at a time when Indian government forces are announcing near-daily detentions and arrests of civilians on charges of supporting insurgents, after the removal of Kashmirs semi-autonomous powers in August 2019, which brought the state under the full control of the central Indian government.

It is the second time in recent months that an alleged staged killing has occurred in Kashmir, after it emerged that the deaths of three civilians at the hand of the Indian army in July had been concealed and staged to look like the killing of three armed insurgents.

Both incidents have raised fears in the region of the return of staged gunfights and extrajudicial killings by police and military, which have been a frequent feature of life in Kashmir over the past decades. In 2010, a faked gunfight led to months of demonstrations.

Hasnain Masoodi, a politician from Kashmir, raised Dars alleged custodial killing in parliament on Wednesday and said the oppression and atrocities are not going to fetch any results and would further widen the gulf.

After the unconstitutional decision of 5 August 2019, a story of oppression is being scripted thousands were detained and now the oppression has been [taken] to new levels with fake encounters and custodial deaths, said Masoodi.

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Matthew Braunginn: Just the facts about Citizen Dave and racist dog whistles –

Posted: at 1:00 am

Note: Matthew Braunginn is the host of Madison365s newest video show and podcast, Finding the Warmth of Our Sun.

In a recent column, former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz attacked the newly approved oversight of the Madison police department without offering discourse other than racist dog whistles. No new ideas, no real solutions, just law-and-order rhetoric, which does nothing but perpetuate the racist status quo. I believe it is time for the Isthmus to deplatform him and his no-longer-soft bigotry.

No, this isnt cancel culture. His livelihood isnt being destroyed. Im not asking for him to be locked up and Im not saying he cant state his views. But no one has a fundamental right to a platform like the one he has.

Three of his last four articles, and more going back further during a time of protest, during a time when white supremacist violence has been accosted by militias and the US government across the United States, and specifically in Wisconsin he spent more time denouncing those who fight for freedom than oppressors or racial oppression.

In trying to talk about the cost of police oversight, he fails to mention the millions of dollars the city has spent in civil suits paying out to victims of police violence. Dismissing these victims because the police found themselves with no-wrong doing. And lets be clear, the outside investigation in Wisconsin for police use of force, are still police investigating police. Implying the cost of oversight is too much, while the cost of death is acceptable. All while talking about a budget shortfall, while forgetting to mention that the current police budget is currently $86.7 million, about 30% of the cities annual operational budget.

In Just the facts, he suggests Freedom Incs M. Adams is somehow wrong for calling for an end to the killing of Black people as a solution to broken windows caused by those protesting police violence. This is a simple cause and effect here; if there was no police violence, especially racist police violence, then there would be no protests, then there would be no potential for property damage. Instead, he decides that all Black people must condemn acts of property destruction in protest of death.

Where is he taking responsibility as a white man for white violence in society? I have yet to see him write a series of articles suggesting white people need to get their collective act together to stop white supremacist violence, which has caused more deaths in the US since 9/11 than any other extremist group or ideology.

Anti-racist protesters arent threatening civil war and acting on it, Dave. That is the right.

He talks of needing to have police arrest those that commit gun violence and not violence interruption. Well, first, Dave, police already arrest gun violence and community violence, it seems youre calling for something which is already going on. Secondly, violence interruption isnt a long-run strategy, it is an immediate and long-term one, one that is underfunded and more effective than a police focused one. Not to mention, ignoring the material conditions of Black America and that unemployment and unemployment being the biggest driver of crime, with Black Americans facing the largest rates of unemployment.

He continues to put the burden of ending racial oppression on the oppressed, in suggesting they arent doing it right, and in suggesting well-meaning white folk like him would stop oppression if only the oppressed asked in a way that made him comfortable.

Just end the schtick and say you hate uppity negroes, Dave. How many Black people do you interact with regularly, Dave? And not just ones that make you feel comfortable. How many would truly call you a friend?

The status quo brought us here. Weve led peaceful protests for years. Many lobbied you for change when you had power. Many racial disparities got worse under your leadership. What the hell do you know about ending racism? What the hell do you know about not deepening racism in our society?

Maybe spend less time attempting to be the patriarch to Black folk, and spend more time taking responsibility for your white folks who support a white supremacist President en masse, who are overlooking violent militias killing people, and threatening government officials with armed protests. Collect your people, Dave, because the violence you want to end has a root cause and it aint with Black folk.

Or do you only wish to continue to not take responsibility and continue to tell Black folk theyre doing it wrong with a foot on our neck, and being shot seven times in the back?

Last I checked, the only violence I see you condemning is that caused by a small number of Black folks, or those fighting to end racial oppression. Not police enacting violence with zero consequences. Not white supremacists. Not the US government and its wars of imperialism and occupation. Not the US in being the worlds largest arms dealer. Not the GOP who wont condemn its supporters that cause violence, who in fact encourage and lift those folks up as heroes. No calls for the Madison Police Department or the city to investigate and condemn the Friends of MPD Facebook page, which had people calling to shoot and kill anti-racist protestors after a white supremacist killed two people in Kenosha. Youd rather denounce property crimes as violence, and tell Black folk, and those who have been on the ground organizing to end gun violence, to work to end gun violence the very thing theyve already been doing.

Where are you, Dave, in the effort to end gun violence in Black neighborhoods? Still too scared to be in Black spaces? In fact, you seem to agree Tony Robinson should be dead since you cited nothing wrong was found by police investigating police. So it seems youre okay with some types of violence.

The opposite, or anti-racist word, would be one of understanding, one that sees these issues are ones larger than Black community leaders can respond to it seems you see enough for them to be too large of a problem for cities to address, but why are they small enough for local Black leaders, with far fewer resources than the city to address? As they cant end the poverty, education disparities, criminal justice disparities, that you, Dave helped inflict. The opposite would be one of understanding, where not necessarily having to agree with property destruction, where one understands its roots in violent racist oppression, and calling to end that instead.

Take this as a free lesson. Next time Ill send you an invoice for the service pointing out your racism, especially because it is people like you who perpetuated a world where my father worked himself half to death to end racism and provide you with free advisement which you didnt take. You are the white moderate MLK Jr was talking about in his Letter from a Bermingham Jail, and it is time for you to go quietly into the night as the time for your mediocre voice is over.

This opinion piece reflects the views of its author and not necessarily those of Madion365, its funders, board of directors or staff.


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The US Safety Net Is Degrading by Design – The Nation

Posted: at 1:00 am

Cars line up for food at Utah Food Banks mobile food pantry on April 24, 2020. (Rick Bowmer / AP Photo)

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The pandemic has thrown millions of people out of work while mean-spirited government policies ended emergency Unemployment Insurance benefits. More and more families are left with no choice but to turn to public assistance programs like the dysfunctional Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF).Ad Policy

But built on racist and sexist stereotypes and degrading by design, the harsh TANF program often harms poor people more than it helps, while the more popular food stamps and rental assistance have too many strings and reach too few people.

Rivaling the Great Depression, the twin public health and economic crises have laid bare the dysfunctional safety net. The deepening adversity calls upon us to imagine a strong safety net that will ensure economic security for all. But first, how and why is it that our nations leaders, from the outset, built the system to fail?

The landmark 1935 Social Security Act included both the popular retirement and unemployment insurance programs and the punitive means-tested welfare-type public assistance programs. The latter intentionally stigmatized and humiliated people in exchange for benefits so meager that its almost impossible for recipients to escape poverty. The denial of equal access to people of color and women, the exclusion of immigrants, plus harsh time limits, stiff work requirements, intrusive surveillance measures, and undue state discretion deprives too many people of the income they need to pay the rent and to put food on the table. These are not design flaws. Policy-makers intentionally built these systems to hassle the poor, to make the application process as humiliating as possible, and to prevent people from getting the help they need.

Some 40 years ago, after Republicans and Democrats joined hands to destroy the safety net, things became much harsher. Republican President Ronald Reagan cut the public assistance programs. Democratic President Bill Clinton declared that the era of big government is over and promised to end welfare as we know itpurging millions of women and children from the rolls. And Republican President George W. Bush tried to privatize the beloved Social Security Program. Evoking Reagans welfare queen, the racist and sexist myth that Black women game the system to buy fancy cars and name-brand clothes and pushing Clintons flawed welfare reform to its logical extreme, the Trump administration wants to end the entire safety net. It brutally cuts more funds, cruelly seeks to require work by people seeking Medicaid or food stamps, and to implement the so-called public charge rule to punish immigrants seeking cash support.

Between 1996 and 2018before the pandemicthese stigmatizing and humiliating policies had already reduced the percentage of families eligible for cash welfare from 68 percent to 22 percent. In states like Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, less than 5 percent of eligible poor families get help. All the hassling and threats send a clear message: Do not apply. Fear, exhaustion, and despair further keep too many people away from harsh programs that they nonetheless need to survive. The portion of poor families getting cash help nationwide is the lowest in decades.

We are reaping a bitter harvest of this hardship as 12 percent of all adults in America report not getting enough to eat during the previous week, nearly double that number for Black and Latinx families. One in five renters have fallen behind on rent, and thats true for nearly a third of households of color, many headed by women. Over a quarter of the nations children live in families that sometimes dont have enough food or clothing for school.Current Issue

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As Covid-19 throws more working- and middle-class people into poverty, some for the first time, Senate Republicans and Trump refuse to pass a relief package. This will ensure catastrophic consequences for millions of people living on the brink, sending them to apply for abusive public assistance benefits they never thought they would need. The pandemic recession has exposed the nations deep-seated economic inequality and systemic racism already too well-known and widely experienced by the poor. It has started to open the eyes of others to the stigma and oppression built into safety net programs.

The human consequences have been devastating to people from all walks of life. Mary Reinbold is a single mom of three living in West Virginia who reached the five-year time limit for cash welfare. The loss of welfare forced her to do community service for 40 hours per week for a paltry $301 in monthly cash benefits, plus food stamps and Medicaid for her family. Shes worked on and off, but each time she got a job, welfare reduced her benefits, leaving her to pay 30 percent of her earnings towards rent. When her teenage daughter got a job hoping to save for a car, the state cut the familys food stamps. Her daughter quit. Its a trap with so many obstacles and hurdles that its almost impossible just to escape, Reinbold said. The conservative policies that claim to incentivize people to work have only forced Marys family to quit just while they were starting to get ahead.

Millions more families are now experiencing the red tape, the delays, and the stinginess of our systems. People like Tia Ferguson, a substitute teacher in Ohio who waited for months for unemployment benefits she was entitled to receive, and Thomas Miles, a commercial roofer in Florida, who is still waiting for his. Jeff Quattrone, a now-unemployed artist in New Jersey, applied for housing assistance, but the state lottery allocates just 8,000 vouchers60,000 people applied. Only one in six families eligible for child care get it. This was always wrong, but for essential workers it now creates impossible and unsustainable choices.

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But with these experiences come the need and possibility for something better. Struggling families have a shared view of what we need to do. They are imagining and fighting for a different future. Co-author Tammy Thomas Miles, whose husband is still waiting for unemployment benefits, has been organizing for a better safety net for over a decade, grounded in her lifetime of experience with systems that dont help families, even though their taxes pay for the programs. She radically reimagines governments role and believes that we need a system that doesnt perpetuate stigma and oppression through racist and sexist stereotypes. She fights for a system that provides a solid foundation for everyone and levels the playing field for marginalized people and those down on their luck.

Tia Ferguson joined a community organization, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, to help her navigate the unemployment system. She has since spoken out in a town hall event with Senator Sherrod Brown and Representative Tim Ryan and testified before the House Ways and Means Committee about her struggles. Jeff Quattrone believes that the government intentionally disinvests in crucial programs and deliberately discourages people from applying for needed benefits, while giving huge tax breaks to the rich and corporations. Thats why he supports the House-passed HEROES Act and vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harriss proposal to give $2,000 in unconditional cash assistance to people until the pandemic is over. He adds that we should cancel rent and provide massive housing assistance to families. Reinbold wants to see a universal basic income that provides unconditional cash payments to all families.

All of these bold goals are necessary to ring in a Third Reconstruction that replaces our racial and gender caste system with a just and equitable one. These changes will be made by a grassroots movement of people like Mary, Jeff, and Tia who have experienced the brokenness of these systems and who have the courage and radical imagination to replace the old safety net with something new, bold, and available to all.

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Rick Scott Continues to Sound the Alarm on China – Florida Daily

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U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., continues to sound the alarm about China. This week, Scott applauded President Donald Trump for his warnings and restrictions on traveling to China.

For weeks, Scott has been asking the Trump administration to keep travel restrictions in place on China, even after the pandemic. Scott pointed to human rights abuses as a major concern.

Im glad the administration is heeding my call to recognize the danger every American faces when traveling to communist China. This is a nation that has no respect for human rights, surveils everyone traveling in the country, and will stop at nothing to silence dissidents. There is more we must do to hold communist China accountable, but the administrations decision to issue a new travel advisory to communist China, given the serious security threat, is an important step to protect Americans, Scott said this week.

The latest restrictions from the U.S. State Department advises against travel to mainland China and Hong Kong, stating that the PRC government arbitrarily enforces local laws, including by carrying out arbitrary and wrongful detentions and through the use of exit bans on U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries without due process of law. The State Department also noted the PRC government uses arbitrary detention and exit bans.

Scott has been taking aim at the Chinese government during his first two years in the U.S. Senate and has ramped up the rhetoric in recent months, asking the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to take the 2022 Olympic games away from that nation.

For nearly a year, Ive been calling on the IOC to put human rights first, stand against the genocide of the Uyghurs and the political oppression of Hong Kongers, and refuse to reward the Communist Party of China with the 2022 Games. This is also about the safety of all athletes and attendees. I am disappointed that the IOC would not commit to moving the 2022 Games out of communist China, but this fight is not over. The IOC has to decide whether the Olympics stands for freedom or stands with communist China and their human rights abuses, Scott said.

Scott is also trying to reduce American economic investments in China for many of the same reasons.

Communist China is flouting U.S. laws, defrauding our citizens and harming American investments. Everything a business does in communist China is shared directly with a government that is jailing its people for their religious beliefs, refuses to respect basic human rights and is building up their industrial and military strength in an effort to dominate the world, Scott noted.

So far, Scott has gained minimum leverage against the Chinese regime but his efforts to keep American dollars away from the worlds most populous nation will continue.

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The Economics of Prioritizing Family Ties in U.S. Immigration Policy – Stanford Graduate School of Business

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If you were comparing immigrants to the United States from Algeria and Israel and were asked which group had higher levels of education and skills, youd probably assume the answer is the Israelis. After all, the average Israeli has completed 12.5 years of schooling, compared with 7.6 years for Algerians, according to the American Community Survey.

But youd be wrong. Algerian immigrants to the U.S. are not only better educated than those from Israel, they also have completed more schooling than the average, native-born resident of the United States.

What explains this seeming oddity? Its the built-in bias of the U.S. immigration system, which heavily favors applicants who have family ties in the United States, says Stanford Graduate School of Business economist Edward Lazear. Since there are relatively few Algerians living in the U.S., the immigration process requires that Algerians seeking to enter the country must do so primarily on the basis of their skills.

If this unexpected outcome applied only to immigrants from a few countries, it wouldnt be significant. But recently published research by Lazear found flaws in long-held theories of how immigrants with varying levels of educational attainment manage to migrate to the United States and other advanced countries.

Since the 1960s, immigration was understood to resemble market-driven investment decisions. People would weigh the costs and benefits of migration in much the same way they might choose to change occupations. Highly skilled people living in countries where they are underpaid for their abilities were likely to move to countries where their experience would be better rewarded.

When looking at historic migration within the U.S. from one part of the country to another thats a reasonable theory, Lazear says.

In the first half of the 20th century, for example, millions of African Americans migrated from the South to the industrial centers of the North. The move was expensive both in terms of tangible economic costs and less tangible, but still real, social and psychological costs. Why they were willing to uproot themselves was no mystery: There was more economic opportunity in the North and a perceived chance to escape racial oppression and discrimination. And there were no government policies to restrain their movements.

According to Lazear, some economists have adopted similar models to explain international migration patterns.

But today the U.S. is faced with what he calls an excess supply of potential foreign immigrants. Unlike the past, when market forces held sway, government regulations that ration legal immigration now determine who gets to stay legally.

From our point of view, there are no bad countries. Every country ... produces highly skilled, educated people.

Edward Lazear

In any given year, about 25 million people apply for permanent admission to the U.S., 1 million immigrants obtain green cards, and almost 4 million applicants remain on the waiting list, Lazear says. Who is allowed entry to the U.S. is largely determined by what amounts to a rationing system. Policy rather than migrant desire determines who ends up in the U.S. and how well they do, he explains.

Lazear notes that his findings may seem obvious. But he adds that his argument is based on empirical evidence garnered from 129 countries. The important implication is that we can have any group of immigrants or attainment we want, he says. From our point of view, there are no bad countries. Every country, even those with poor educational systems like Algeria, produces highly skilled, educated people.

Lazear, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to President George W. Bush and has advocated for replacing the current quota system with a skills-based immigration policy. However, he emphasizes that his recent paper is not an argument for any particular immigration policy and it does not contain policy recommendations.

The U.S. radically shifted immigration priorities when the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 changed the allocation system from quotas based on national origin to one that favored family reunification. The effect was swift and dramatic.

The number of immigrants increased by nearly one-third, and they came from a different mix of countries. Immigrants from Asia, for example, quadrupled in the five years after the laws passage, while the share of immigrants from northern Europe dropped. The share of U.S. immigrants from France fell from 4 percent to about 1 percent in the same time period, because relatively few immigrants from France were already living in the U.S.

The use of family ties as an immigration entry vehicle tends to overrepresent some countries and underrepresent others. Algerians are underrepresented among U.S. immigrants by a factor of 10 compared to their share of the worlds population, while Israelis are overrepresented by a factor of three, according to Lazear.

Mexico is overrepresented relative to India as a country of origin, but Indian immigrants are second from the top in educational attainment while those from Mexico are near the bottom. Historically, the best-educated immigrant group were those who came from the Soviet Union to the U.S. in the 1980s.

You might think that immigrants from countries where they are insufficiently rewarded for their advanced education, skills, and expertise would be the most likely to come to the U.S. But Lazear found no such correlation.

Lazears research indicates that the phenomenon he found in the U.S. lower educational attainment of overrepresented groups holds true in Sweden and other advanced countries. Sweden, Lazear notes, is an interesting comparison because its immigration policy is so different than that of the U.S. it is weighted in favor of refugees but the outcome is similar. The general point is that the more overrepresented [groups are], the lower the attainment.

The U.S., he says, can decide what skills and levels of education or other criteria, such as refugee status it wants to emphasize. This isnt about good or bad source countries. Its how many the U.S. takes from each country relative to the pool in that country.

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Australia should think twice before asking desperate people to pick fruit for their freedom – The Guardian

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The coronavirus pandemic and the associated economic crisis has brought many things to light. It has shown the value of care work, as our essential healthcare system and its workforce have been working round the clock to care for affected Australians. It has shown how shortsighted and problematic the political decision to move manufacturing offshore has been, as our global supply chains have been severed and we have had to scramble to remobilise to accommodate the increased demand for protective personal equipment (PPE), hand sanitiser and other health-related products.

It has also highlighted how reliant Australias agricultural sector is on overseas workers, as the pandemic and borders closures saw farmworkers laid off or return to their home countries. The too often unacknowledged fact is that our food is largely produced off the back of migrant labour, with some workers exposed to exploitation and degradation. An ABC investigation this week revealed fresh allegations of sexual harassment of female backpacker workers.

Recently, these workers have started to voice their concerns and frustration through their union, the newly amalgamated United Workers Union (UWU), who have pushed back against the systemic exploitation that became endemic long before the virus showed up.

Yet there have been a number of proposals to bring increasingly vulnerable communities into the industry amid a shortage of workers. Growcom called on the government to allow workers who have been displaced and made unemployed to pick fruit while receiving jobseeker, effectively turning the whole sector into a work-for-the-dole industry. The Northern Territory Farmers Association has suggested that Hecs discounts should be given to university students who agreed to engage in farmwork. Similarly, the interim report of the of the inquiry into the working holiday maker program has echoed these proposals, recommending that year 12 students spend a gap year at home picking fruit before university, allowing fruit-picking jobseekers to be exempt from activity tests, and a number of subsidies and reforms to visa provisions to encourage more temporary residents to engage in farmwork.

Most interesting has been a recently floated solution proposed by the Refugee Council of Australia and supported by politicians from the government opposition and the crossbench, which would enlist the 17,000 refugees who are without a path to residency with an opportunity to work on farms in exchange for a shot a permanency.

There is little doubt that many of the people desperate to build a safe and secure life here in Australia will leap at the chance. However, the fact that the Refugee Council is proposing this solution speaks to the desperation that many who seek the shelter and safety that so many of us enjoy freely must feel. For many of these potential Australians, the choice on offer is often between complying with unacceptable requests in their new country or returning to persecution or oppression in their country of birth. Just as someone who is drowning will clutch at any object that might keep them afloat, it is unsurprising that vulnerable refugees and those who work to protect and advance their interests will look to get permanent residency by any means.

However, we should think twice before conscripting desperate people to pick fruit for their freedom.

From the Afghan cameleers who helped map our nations red centre and Chinese miners who drove the gold rush, Australias uncomfortable history with an interlinked immigration and employment system has long been discussed by scholars and pundits alike. While weve long since abandoned the official discrimination and racial hierarchies of the infamous White Australia policy, the echoes are still quietly reverberating around the edges of our political landscape.

While the current proposal is seeking to solve two problems, by giving people who want to live and work in Australia a real chance at permanency and by filling the gaps in our supply chain, the implications of using a migrant labour force to solve a problem experienced by the white majority could be used as a dog whistle by less scrupulous politicians and campaigners.

However, there is another way to solve the problem that none of the previously mentioned solutions proposes: turn farmwork into secure, safe and sustainable employment.

If the government and farmers worked with farmworkers and their unions to create a sectoral agreement that guarantees fair treatment, wages and conditions across the supply chain, then many workers, regardless of skin colour or residency status, would be more inclined to work in the industry. By creating a fair employment environment, a path to residency for those who need it, and ensuring that both unions and governmental regulators had the capacity and resources to enforce compliance, we could help create a system where farmworkers are treated with respect, dignity and fairness.

Most importantly, we should ensure that it endures beyond the crisis. We should neither take the refugees who work these jobs in a crisis, or the backpackers who will one day return, for granted. We should use this as an opportunity to further deconstruct the systemic oppression that migrant workers face across our supply chains and to build a fair food system.

Shirley Jackson is the senior economist at Per Capita

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