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What the death of an oak tree can teach us about mortality

Amid this year’s titanic political and social upheavals, the town of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, found time for quiet mourning. One of the East Coast’s most famous trees, a centuries-old great white oak that spread its serpentine limbs over a cemetery beside the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church, was dying. In October, the tree was pronounced dead; a month later, distraught …

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Black Agenda Radio – 10.05.15

Welcome, to the radio magazine that brings you news, commentary and analysis from a Black Left perspective.

– Lots of Black people in Selma, Alabama, want to rename the Edmund Pettis Bridge after Amelia Boynton Robinson, the Founding Mother of the city’s civil rights movement, who died in August at the age of 110. Ms. Boynton Robinson was a voting rights activist in the 1920s, registered to vote in 1934, invited both Dr. Martin Luther King and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee into Selma, and ran for Congress in 1964, a year before the historic march across the Edmund Pettis bridge, where she was beaten by Alabama police and left for dead. However, the area’s Black Congresswoman, Terri Sewell, and Georgia Congressman John Lewis are said to have collaborated to prevent renaming the bridge for Ms. Boynton Robinson. State Sen. Hank Sanders is part of the effort to honor the matriarch of the Movement in Selma.

– Thousands of protesters from across the country are expected to converge on New York City, October 22nd through 24th, for demonstrations against police violence. The RIseup October campaign is organized by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, founded by Carl Dix and Dr. Cornel West, four years ago. Rev. Jerome McCorry heads up The Adam Project, which deals with prison-related issues in Dayton, Ohio. Rev. McCorry is also the Faith and Social Justice Advocate for the Stop Mass Incarceration Network.

– Pennsylvania prison officials continue to withhold adequate medical care to Mumia Abu Jamal, the nation’s best known political prisoner, who is suffering from the complications of Hepatitis C. The disease brought Abu Jamal to the brink of death, earlier this year, and left him with a painful and disfiguring skin condition. Dr. Johanna Fernandez is a professor of History and Black and Latino Studies, at Baruch College, in New York City, and a close confidant of Abu Jamal. She brings us up date on his condition.

– Later this month, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to dramatically lower the rates that private phone monopolies can charge for calls made by the nation’s 2.4 million prison inmates. Many families wind up paying as much as $14 a minute to stay in touch with their incarcerated loves ones, with the phone companies sharing the profits with the prisons and jails. The Human Rights Defense Center argued on behalf of the inmates. The FCC’s proposed rules would lower the phone rate to between 11 and 22 cents a minute. But, that wouldn’t break up the private companies’ stranglehold on prison phone calls. We spoke with the Center’s director, Alex Friedman.

– The crusading People’s Lawyer Liz Fink died last month, in New York City. Attorney Fink represented survivors of the Attica Prison Rebellion of 1971 and helped win a $12 million settlement for the victims of the massacre of inmates that followed the uprising. Fink also represented former Black Panther political prisoner Dhoruba Bin Wahhad, who said that he would never have been released from prison had it not been for Liz Fink. Lots of freedom fighters are in mourning for Fink, including Zayid Muhammad, the press officer for the Malcolm X Commemorations Committee.

– On the heels of a viral video of last month’s brutal and mistaken police takedown of Black former tennis pro James Blake, the New York City police department has issued new guidelines on reporting the non-lethal use of force against civilians. Cops would be required to document whenever they strike, mace, or take down people. We spoke with Robert Gangi, director of the watchdog Police Reform Organizing Project. He doesn’t think much of Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s press releases.

– Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford says the pace of gentrification appears to be accelerating in America’s cities. Ford calls this commentary, “The Whites Are Coming, The Whites Are Coming!”

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Robert Parry – The Riddle of Obama’s Foreign Policy

Nearing the last year of his presidency, Barack Obama and his foreign policy remain an enigma. At times, he seems to be the “realist,” working constructively with other nations to achieve positive solutions, as with the Iran nuclear deal and his rapprochement with Cuba. Other times, he slides into line with the neocons and liberal hawks, provoking ugly crises, such …

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Todd Miller – The Booming Business of Border Exclusion

The GuardBot – a rolling, rubber sphere with surveillance cameras attached like small, domed ears – was first meant to explore Mars. Now, it’s showing off its ability to locate undocumented people on the blue carpet at events such as the Border Security Expo, the United States’ premier border policing conference. At the primary debate this month, Republican presidential candidate …

mass killing

Karen J. Greenberg – Dealing With Mass Killings in America

Imagine that you’re in the FBI and you receive a tip — or more likely, pick up information through the kind of mass surveillance in which the national security state now specializes. In a series of tweets, a young man has expressed sympathy for the Islamic State (ISIS), al-Qaeda, or another terrorist group or cause. He’s 16, has no criminal …

general

Brian Cloughley – Meet General Joseph Dunford: a Real Threat to World Peace

On July 16, 2015 four US Marines and a sailor were shot dead by an Islamic fanatic in Chattanooga. The New York Times reported that although federal officials were “treating this as an act of domestic terrorism” the killer, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, had been tracked as having “had this week posted at least two Islam-focused writings on a blog, including …

Private Health Care as an Act of Terrorism – Paul Buchheit

The FBI defines terrorism as “Acts dangerous to human life…intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.” Much of the behavior of our current health care system meets that definition. The facts show intention on the part of corporations to intimidate the population by using market strategies to charge whatever they like for their medical products and services, and an effort to coerce the public into accepting the current system …

Wesley Clark Calls for Internment Camps for “Radicalized” Americans – Murtaza Hussain

Retired general and former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark on Friday called for World War II-style internment camps to be revived for “disloyal Americans.” In an interview with MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts in the wake of the mass shooting in Chatanooga, Tennessee, Clark said that during World War II, “if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we …

Israeli-linked SITE Intelligence Involved in Chattanooga Shooting Narrative By Prof. James F. Tracy

News reports of the July 16 shootings in Chattanooga Tennessee already provide some curious features that warrant close scrutiny. Perhaps unsurprisingly, complete oversight of the shooting investigation has been turned over to the FBI. Also, the Israeli-linked SITE Intelligence Group is involved in providing the news frame for alleged shooter Muhammed Youssef Abdulazeez. For over a decade now the FBI …

Climate Change Is a Crisis We Can Only Solve Together – Naomi Klein

This speech was delivered on June 6, 2015, in Bar Harbor, Maine, as the College of the Atlantic commencement address. First of all, a huge congratulations to all the graduates—and to the parents who raised you, and the teachers who guided you. It’s a true privilege to be included in this special day. Mine is not going to be your …