Monday, June 4, 2018

NGO Action News-June 1, 2018

Middle East
  • On 30 May, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights issued a press release condemning Israeli forces’ interception of a boat carrying Palestinian passengers as it was leaving Gaza sea port. The Great March of Return committee had announced a day before the establishment of a “boat for freedom and breaking the siege”, carrying patients and injured Palestinians to break the Israeli blockade.
  • On 29 May, Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel informed about their complaint to the Justice Ministry’s Police Investigation Department, demanding an investigation into the excessive force used by Israeli police to disperse demonstrations that took place in Haifa on 18 May.
  • On 27 May, B’Tselem issued a statement denouncing the decision of three Israeli Supreme Court Justices to issue warrants for the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar community’s homes and to relocate the residents.
  • On 24 May, Peace Now issued a press release criticizing the Israeli Defense Minister’s announcement of the expected approval of 2,500 housing units in the settlements. Based on information obtained by the organization, most of the houses will be located in isolated settlements, defined as east of the potential border route of the Geneva Initiative.
  • On 1 June, Amnesty International issued a statement condemning Israel’s illegal demolition and forcible transfer of a Palestinian Bedouin village, as they amount to war crimes.  Amnesty International says that the Supreme Court’s ruling is “extremely dangerous and may set a precedent for other communities that oppose Israeli plans to relocate them to urban centers.”
North America
  • On 1 June, the Health Advisory Council of Jewish Voice for Peace published their June media watch report on recent developments and casualties in Gaza, quoting sources such as Medical Aid for Palestinians, B’Tselem, Gisha and Human Rights Watch.
  • On 29 May, Human Rights Watch issued a report “Bankrolling Abuse: Israeli banks in West Bank settlements.” The report explains the mechanisms contributing to the expansion of unlawful settlements through Israel’s largest banks. The latter’s involvements are said to acquire a property interest in the development projects and shepherd them through completion.
United Nations
  • On 31 May, UN human rights experts expressed grave concerns about an Israeli court’s decision on 24 May to uphold a plan by the Government of Israel to demolish the entire Palestinian Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank east of Jerusalem. The UN experts called upon Israel to respect the rights of the Khan al-Ahmar residents to remain on their lands and to have their status regularized.
  • On 31 May, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl delivered a press briefing on his visit to a health care facility in Gaza. He sent an emergency call for help to save Gaza’s health system and boost UNRWA’s ability to provide care to the patients injured during the demonstrations, in addition to support for mental health and psychological care.
  • On 31 May, OCHA published their humanitarian snapshot on “Mass casualties in the context of demonstrations in the Gaza Strip.” It highlights a total of 128 deaths and 13,375 injuries in the Palestinian casualties since 30 March.
  • On 30 May, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, briefed the Security Council on the situation in Gaza. He warned the region was “on the brink of war” after rockets and mortar shells were fired across the border between Gaza and Israel. Mladenov also told that the Palestinians in Gaza that work will be done to ensure they have a “future beyond mere survival.”
This newsletter informs about recent and upcoming activities of Civil Society Organizations affiliated with the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The Committee and the Division for Palestinian Rights of the UN Secretariat provide the information "as is" without warranty of any kind, and do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, or reliability of the information contained in the websites linked in the newsletter.
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How the “Progressives” in the Black Caucus Have Shrunk to Almost Nothing

PHOTO: Glen Ford /Black Agenda Report
“The Democratic Party is a people-suppression mechanism.”
The “Russiagate” hysteria is only the latest reason to conclude that the Democratic Party is the greatest institutional impediment to creation of mass “resistance” to onrushing war and never-ending austerity under late-stage capitalism. Last week’s vote on the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019 showed, by the numbers, that any legislative “resistance” depends, not on Democratic victory in November of this year, or in 2020, or the cycle after that, but on the formation of an entirely new party. Only 59 Democrats  voted against the $717 billion Pentagon spending bill, whose passage guarantees, not only more war, but new waves of privatization and a painful spiral of doom for what’s left of the social safety net in the United States—an ultimate outcome that is fully understood by the perpetrators on both sides of the corporate duopoly.
“It is the Democrats that are to blame for the strangulation of the majority’s aspirations for a more just, equal, and peaceful society.”
The lopsided vote reveals that there really is no “left wing” of the Democratic Party, just a tiny, ill-defined faction that can be brushed aside even on “bright line” issues of war and peace, guns or butter, and social justice versus police repression. Since it is the Democratic half of the duopoly that claims the allegiance of the vast demographic consisting of virtually all the components of a “progressive” social base in the U.S. -- components representing large majorities of the American people and the near-totality of the Black population -- it is the Democrats that are to blame for the strangulation of the majority’s aspirations for a more just, equal, and peaceful society. Republican gerrymandering of legislative districts concentrates Democrat-leaning voters, but it is the Democratic Party that turns these voters’ progressive notions into mush and dust. Donald Trump didn’t make the Democrats betray the solid progressive majority of their constituents; Nancy Pelosi did, on behalf of the party’s masters on Wall Street. No rescue of “the people” is conceivable under budgets burdened with such military outlays, yet there is only token “resistance” to military spending from the Democrats, and even those that voted against the authorization still scream for war against the Russians, daily.
“Trump didn’t make the Democrats betray the solid progressive majority of their constituents; Nancy Pelosi did, on behalf of the party’s masters on Wall Street.”
The 59 Democrats that opposed the Pentagon bacchanal make up just 30 percent of the 192-member Democratic Caucus in the House -- a smaller group than the 78-member, and wholly bogus, Congressional Progressive Caucus . Only thirteen Black Representatives voted “Nay,” composing exactly the same 30 percent proportion of the Congressional Black Caucus . Yet Black people are the most anti-war, pro-peace and social justice, left-leaning ethnic constituency in the nation, as shown by public opinion polls going back generations. According to a Zogby poll taken weeks before the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, only 7 percent of Blacks supported an invasion “that would kill thousands of Iraqi civilians,” while majorities of whites were willing to countenance such an outcome. Polls also show Blacks are, in the majority, a “socialist”-friendly demographic, and Black millennials are even more socialist-leaning than that. But the Democratic Party reflects none of that demographic political sentiment, because it snuffs it out at the source.
“Black people are the most anti-war, pro-peace and social justice, left-leaning ethnic constituency in the nation.”
The Democratic Party is a people-suppression mechanism. It is, therefore, even more harmful to the Black polity, since Blacks are more left-wing than whites. Overwhelming majorities of Blacks are anti-war, and huge super-majorities of Black people favor a revival of social and economic development spending. But, because the corporate electoral duopoly system offers only a choice between the White Man’s Party (GOP) and the Democrats, the Democratic Party has infested every nook and cranny of Black society. That’s why only 30 percent of the Black Caucus -- a pitiful 13 members -- voted against a monstrous Pentagon-funding measure that will starve the social arms of government and prime the pumps for more war. Here’s the result of the roll call :
“Yeas” (29)
Alma Adams (NC); Sanford Bishop (GA); Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE); Anthony Brown (MD); G.K. Butterfield (NC); Andre Carson (IN); Wm. Lacy Clay (MO); James Clyburn (SC); Elijah Cummings (MD); Danny Davis (IL); Val Butler Demings (FL); Dwight Evans (PA); Marcia Fudge (OH); Al Green (TX); Alcee Hastings (FL); Sheila Jackson Lee (TX); Johnson, E. B.(TX); Robin Kelly (IL); Brenda Lawrence (FL); Al Lawson (FL); Donald McEachin (VA); Gregory Meeks (NY); Cedric Richmond (LA); Bobby Rush (IL); David Scott (GA); Bobby Scott (VA); Terri Sewell (AL); Bennie Thompson (MS); Marc Veasey (TX)
“Nays” (13)
Karen Bass (CA); Joyce Beatty (OH); Yvette Clarke (NY); Emanuel Cleaver (MO); Keith Ellison (MN); Hakeem Jeffries (NY); Hank Johnson (GA); Barbara Lee (CA); Gwen Moore (WI); Donald Payne (NJ); Maxine Waters (CA); Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ); Frederica Wilson (FL)
Not Voting (1)
John Lewis (GA)
“Bright Line” Issues
The effectively “progressive” faction in the Black Caucus is even tinier than the 13 “nay-sayers” that opposed the Pentagon super-budget. On the other “bright line” issues of police repression and militarization of local cops, the Black Caucus’ voting record is damnable -- and the best proof that the Party is the main impediment to Black dignity, safety and political empowerment.
The week before, an even smaller number of Black House members pried themselves away from Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s grip to vote against the Protect and Serve Act , which makes any assault on a police officer (a charge that is attached every time the cops beat you up) a “hate crime.” Only 11 Black Caucus members opposed treating the police as a “protected class.” They were:
Karen Bass (CA); Yvette Clarke (NY); Wm. Lacy Clay (MO); Alcee Hastings (FL); Johnson, E. B.(TX); Barbara Lee (CA); Gwen Moore (WI); Donald Payne (NJ); Bobby Scott (VA); Maxine Waters (CA); Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ)
Black Democrats have learned nothing from the grassroots movement that emerged after Mike Brown was shot down by a cop in Ferguson, Missouri, in August, 2014. Two months prior to Brown’s killing, on June 14, the full House voted on the Grayson amendment  to halt the Pentagon’s transfers of weapons and equipment to local police departments. Only 8 Black Caucus members voted for the amendment and against continued militarization of the police. They were:
John Conyers (MI); Donna Edwards (MD); Keith Ellison (MN); Hank Johnson (GA); Barbara Lee (CA); John Lewis (GA); Bobby Scott (VA); Maxine Waters (CA)
80 percent of the Black Caucus, 30 of the full-voting members, opted to continue the Pentagon program, or abstained, which amounted to the same thing.
On the other 'bright line' issues of police repression and militarization of local police, the Black Caucus’ voting record is damnable.”
So, how tiny is the dependably “progressive” faction in the Black Caucus, as revealed by votes on such “bright line” issues? If we take the 13 “Nays” against last week’s Pentagon measure as a base, and then subtract those members that voted the wrong way on the two key police issues, we are left with even less than a faction -- hardly a grouplet -- that can be depended on to reflect fundamental Black political sentiments. Of the group of 13 from last week’s vote, Karen Bass (CA), Joyce Beatty (OH), Yvette Clarke (NY), Emanuel Cleaver (MO), Hakeem Jeffries (NY), Gwen Moore (WI), Donald Payne (NJ), and Frederica Wilson (FL) all voted to continue the militarization of police in 2014, and therefore fail the “bright line” test as dependable Black progressives (or decent human beings). Some of them also voted this month to make police a protected class, as did Keith Ellison (MN), and Hank Johnson (GA).
That leaves standing only three Black Caucus members: Barbara Lee (CA), Maxine Waters (CA), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), who was not a member of Congress when the 2014 vote on militarization of police occured.
Michigan’s John Conyers, a reliable progressive vote on such issues, has resigned after 53 years in the House. Donna Edwards has been replaced in her Maryland district by Anthony Brown, a Pelosi-sucking hack. The entire Black Caucus class of 2017 and 2016 is worthless: Dwight Evans (PA); Lisa Blunt Rocherster; Val Butler Demings (FL); Al Lawson (FL); A Donald McEachin (VA).
This is not a generational issue. The thoroughly corporate nature of the Democratic Party is the reason that only three Black Caucus members are minimally worthy of the term “progressive” (and, of course, if slavish support for Israel is made a “bright line” issue, then none of the Caucus qualifies.)
The Democratic Party grossly distorts and mangles the political aspirations and sentiments of all the Americans it purports to represent, but especially Black people, who are effectively stripped of any real say in government by the only corporate party the duopoly provides for them.
Anybody that thinks they can transform such a party from the inside-out, is thinking very badly – or a Democrat trying to fool you.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at