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Toward Freedom

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Toward Freedom: a progressive perspective on world events.

Toward Freedom

2 days 56 minutes ago

We've got a piece up today reported by Cyril Zenda on how #BlackLivesMatter protests have found echo in South Africa.

"Thousands of people attended Black Lives Matter demonstrations and vigils in Cape Town, Pretoria, and Johannesburg to protest violence by security forces enforcing the lockdown –and before the start of the pandemic– which targeted mainly impoverished Black communities. Others, including many prominent South Africans, took to various social media platforms to express their solidarity with the protests.

Africa’s biggest economy until last year, South Africa has long provided sanctuary to Africans who have good reason to believe that their lives are in grave danger. Among them are political activists from countries like Zimbabwe and Rwanda, as well as LGBTI people from countries including Uganda.

But all is not rosy for the more than five million immigrants in the so-called Rainbow Nation. African migrants in South Africa are regularly threatened with recurrent bouts of xenophobic violence founded on the belief that foreigners, both documented and undocumented, are to blame for the country’s fast-growing social and economic woes. This violence has also been named Afrophobia, as it is almost exclusively targeted at Black migrants from other African countries.

So while the South African government and ordinary citizens expressed their solidarity with the global movement for the protection and advancement of the rights of Black people, Edward Ndlovu and millions of other Black African migrants within the country’s borders were left wondering whether their own lives mattered."

Toward Freedom

2 days 20 hours ago

Today we've got a story up from Kolkata that looks at independent media in North East India in the wake of cyclone Amphan.

"Amphan brought widespread havoc to almost all of West Bengal and Odisha as well as parts of Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka. There were 86 reported casualties in West Bengal, mostly caused by electrocution or homes collapsing. Outside of Kolkata, rural areas experienced even greater wreckage – acres and acres of farmland in the Sundarbans were submerged by massive floods. Death and destruction also spread to the Paraganas and Orissa, leaving four dead and over 500 homes destroyed.

Even as the raging cyclone took away homes and lives, national media coverage was offhand and perfunctory. Even the governor of West Bengal minimized the effects. Strikingly, his apathetic statements were broadcast, while the horrific impact of the storm was hidden from the world. Mainstream Indian media were more occupied with discussing the 29th anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s death and various celebrities’ quarantining for the COVID-19 lockdown.

The primary source of accurate coverage of Amphan was found on social media, including WhatsApp and Twitter. While the reliability of such sources is constantly questioned, what should really be questioned is India’s increasingly negligent national media."

Toward Freedom

4 days 20 hours ago

Today we've got a short video by Sam Mayfield up on the website.

"On July 4th, hundreds of young Idahoans gathered to march, chant, learn, and sit in front of Boise city hall as a clear reminder to people that Black Lives Matter. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, residents of Boise have joined people from around the country and are taking to the streets in support of Black lives.

'We decided to demonstrate today in protest of a system that refuses to acknowledge or give us the benefits and rights that we deserve,' said one demonstrator. 'There are subgroups of people who don’t want us here, don’t believe that we’re people, don’t believe that we have rights. Don’t believe that we deserve to be in this country. And we are here to say that there are enough of us and you can’t scare us quiet.'

Saturday’s 4th of July action was in part a response to a peaceful rally that turned violent in Boise on Tuesday, June 30, when demonstrators gathered outside of city hall during a city council meeting to call on elected leaders to move funds from police budgets into social services. As young activists –many under 18– gathered, they were confronted by hundreds of heavily armed, unmasked, white supremacists wearing Nazi regalia.

Those gathered in support of defunding the police and re-allocating city funds were documented being punched, spit on, intimidated with guns and knives, stalked, and called racist names.

'Considering this a movement that is not for white folks is a huge privilege because this is a battle for all of us,' said another participant in the July 4th rally. 'It’s not Black vs. non- Black. It’s not white vs. everyone else. It’s everyone versus racism."

The Boise Police Department identified three people involved in the racist assaults in June, and are currently in search of them. At the time of this writing no arrests have been made.

Click here to read this story at Toward Freedom: towardfreedom.org/story/boise-in-the-streets-for-black-lives/

Author Bio:
Sam Mayfield is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and video editor living in the Pacific Northwest.

Toward Freedom

5 days 22 hours ago

Today we've got a new review of The Jakarta Method up on the site.

"Vincent Bevins, an award-winning journalist from the heart of the mainstream and correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and the Financial Times, made up his mind to find out what happened in Indonesia in 1965. It would not be easy, thanks to the official forgetfulness of the American press (among others) and the literal extinction of most of the Indonesian dissenters. Almost no traces had been left behind, not even in cemeteries. Records had been systematically destroyed. Even fifty years later, bystanders feared to talk.

Bevins weaves The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade & the Mass Murder Program that Shaped Our World, then, with great difficulty, a preserved record of mass murder here or there, an exile who managed not to be forced into silence for the sake of extended family members. The facts of these monstrous developments are simpler than one would have thought because they are so close to a pattern worked out at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

The Jakarta massacre was not the first of such post-World War II slaughters, but it became so emblematic that the word Jakarta could be found scrawled on walls in parts of Latin America, ten or twenty years later, as a warning from right wing generals in the pay of US intelligence. The message was: go silent or blood will run in the streets and across the jungles, choking priests as well as peasants, whole communities of indigenous peoples as well as student and union leaders and revolutionary guerrillas."

Toward Freedom

1 week 1 day ago

Today we're sharing a story from Truthout that looks at how sex workers "are uniquely positioned to provide insight into models of community safety and care without police."

From the article: "...sex workers have developed practices for keeping each other safe and providing mutual aid outside the purview of the state, providing models for addressing public health safety without police. Activists say their knowledge and experience should be centered in conversations around defunding the police, redistributing those resources to communities and dismantling police altogether:

'In the face of criminalization and whorephobic violence, sex working people have always sought to create our own systems of support and protection outside of the cops, criminal legal processes and societally accepted channels because most sex workers know those systems will never bring justice and have no interest in listening when harm happens,' said Red S., an organizer with a mutual aid organization for sex workers in Chicago and New York City called Support Ho(s)e, in an email."

Toward Freedom

1 week 4 days ago

Happy to share an investigative story looking at how Black owned & led farming & food projects are building spaces of community autonomy & food justice across the US.

"As global food prices continue to tumble, Hanifa Adjuman is happy to report that the weather in Detroit is 'balancing out.'

While much of Michigan remains on lockdown, the collards, rhubarb, watermelon and Kentucky wonder beans at the Food Warriors’ youth garden are growing at a steady pace. The pandemic has slowed operations and changed farm dynamics, but the demand for local, reliable food has never been higher.

Normally, produce from D-Town Farm – another project of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBFSN), like the Food Warriors program – would be sold at a local farmer’s market. But when the pandemic hit and in-person sales were banned, they began quickly investigating the viability of an online system that would allow people to order food for pickup.

'We will certainly survive though this, and our purpose is always to thrive,' said Adjuman, who said that beyond wanting to buy food, people had reached out during the pandemic to ask how they could get started growing their own food. 'Even though we cannot get together physically, we can take agency and responsibility to begin to learn and pass this information on to one another.'

DBFSN is one of many Black-led organizations across the United States that are working to create spaces for Black people in farming and the food system. They are also working to rebuild a misrepresented relationship between Black people and the land."

Toward Freedom

1 week 5 days ago

Today we've got a piece up by TF board member Gerard Colby for the board of Toward Freedom. It looks at the ongoing rebellion in the wake of George Floyd's murder in the context of US empire all over the world.

"Police brutality at home has the same object as conquests abroad: control by any means necessary to protect the fundamental power base of the status quo.

The lies and excuses for CIA atrocities like the military coups in Iran (1953) against the elected premier, in Guatemala against the elected president (1954), in Vietnam by denying the Geneva 1954 pledge of elections and setting up a puppet regime in Saigon (1956), in Indonesia accompanied by the mass slaughter of the Chinese minority (1965), in Chile accompanied by the assassination of the elected president (1973) and mass executions fly in the face of truth like whiplashes.

Told they were fighting for freedom, Cold War liberals became corporate liberals. Yes, some of them gave away money through their controlled foundations, but whether abroad or at home, most recipients are those favored by the political outlook shared with their benefactors. Control ultimately is not shared and never has been in America except as a vision of democracy won incrementally throughout history by the people, not elites.

When the rich get richer, they get more than riches; they gain more power to purchase our lifetimes and our dreams. That, as they say on Wall Street, is the bottom line of their rule.

Seen in this light, it should not be surprising that many soldiers who experienced the trauma of defending that corporate empire overseas have come home to police our neighborhoods as though they were war zones, often using the bloody firepower, tear gas, surveillance, and psychological warfare they used aboard."

Toward Freedom

2 weeks 1 day ago

We've got a new piece up today looking at Israel's purchase of 50 F-35 fighter jets from Maryland's Lockheed Martin.

"'This move is symptomatic of the cozy political and military relationship between Israel and the US. It is a relationship that all too often has provided political cover for the Israeli government’s aggressive foreign policy and the continued oppression of Palestinians,' wrote Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against Arms Trade in an email to Toward Freedom. 'It suggests that the military strategies will remain closely integrated going forward—this doesn’t just spell danger for Palestinians, it also increases the likelihood of further instability and regional hostilities with Iran.'

Lobbying for increases in U.S. military aid to Israel, including the F-35 budget, has long been driven by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). In March 2019, AIPAC’s CEO Howard Kohr testified to the U.S. House of Representatives, describing Israel as 'an anchor of stability' in the Middle East, referring to 'Iran’s unceasing aggression.'

Increasing U.S. funding for the Israeli military, according to Kohr, 'saves U.S. taxpayer money by helping prevent more costly wars, crises and disasters.' Lockheed Martin in turn stated that the company was 'proud to support Israel and the IAF with the F-35, the world’s most advanced aircraft that provides unmatched capabilities to enable allies to secure peace around the world.'"

Toward Freedom

2 weeks 2 days ago

Today we've got a piece up on what defunding the police could mean in Australia, especially with regards to the rights of Indigenous people.

"Divestment from police and prisons must be in equal measure about investment in the community. Specifically, this means investing in the types of services that are likely to ameliorate the social issues that can compromise personal and/or community safety.

For example, when people suffer a mental health crisis, family members sometimes call 000 for help. In such situations, what is required is a team of emergency response mental health professionals – not the police, who may make the situation far worse.

This is what underpins the concept of justice reinvestment, a strategy to reduce the number of people in prisons through early intervention, prevention, diversionary and other community development programs. Proponents advocate diverting money from the justice system and reinvesting it into these initiatives.

Justice reinvestment is not a new concept in Australia. In fact, it has a special resonance in many Indigenous communities, which struggle with high levels of policing, low levels of infrastructure support and sporadic service delivery, particularly in rural and remote communities.

Justice reinvestment also prioritizes community control over decision-making, which coalesces with Indigenous demands for self-determination."

Toward Freedom

2 weeks 4 days ago

Today we've got a piece up, originally published in The Conversation, that looks how the coronavirus is disproportionately affecting Black people in Brazil.

"Extreme economic inequality is another critical factor shaping the general health of Afro-Brazilians. With the top 10% of the population earning 55% of domestic income, Brazil trails only Qatar in concentration of wealth, according to a 2019 United Nations report.

Few, if any, Afro-Brazilians rank among Brazil’s super-rich. National household survey data shows that black and brown Brazilians make far less money than white Brazilians, even with equivalent educational background. The racial wage gap in Brazil actually outweighs the gender wage gap: White women earn up to 74% more than black men.

Generally speaking, the higher the salary, the less likely Afro-Brazilians are to have a job. Many work in the informal and service sectors, as house cleaners or street vendors. Others are self-employed or unemployed.

During the pandemic, this economic insecurity severely lessens Afro-Brazilians’ ability to socially distance and makes them highly dependent on staying in their jobs despite the health threat."