May 15, 2014 § Leave a comment
I found this both interesting and culturally informative. This is a great country indeed.
Today’s map comes from Ben Blatt of Slate, who used data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. He created several other language maps, too, including each state’s top Native American, Scandinavian, and African language.
May 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
“The U.S. now holds close to a quarter of the world’s prisoners, even though it accounts for just 5 percent of the global population…The cost of America’s prison expansion has been staggering, the study notes. In most states, spending on corrections represents the third highest category of general fund expenditures, ranked only behind Medicaid and education.”
My concern is with the social costs, for any race or class.
“The social costs have likewise been steep, particularly for minorities and the poor. In 2011, for example, about 60 percent of everyone behind bars was either black or Hispanic. Black men under the age of 35 with no high school diploma are now more likely to be in jail than working in the labor market, the report notes.
These trends extend to family life. In 2009, 62 percent of black children age 17 or younger, whose parents had not completed high school, had experienced a parent being sent to prison. Among white children, the rate was 15 percent.”
May 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
A major cause of the industry’s staying power is how deeply it has woven itself into the fabric of our public institutions and channels. What follows are some of the most invisible yet effective ways that the incarceration business embeds itself in our society like a splinter under the skin.
1. Bankrolling Small Towns Eloy, Arizona is a town of 10,500 whose financial health and civic culture basically revolve around the private prison system. It’s home to four CCA facilities, all migrant detention centers, and was paid a total $9 million in construction fees by CCA to build them. That revenue went to updating the city’s waterlines, purchasing more police cars and building a new playground, according to the Huffington Post.
2. Installing Friends in High Places The revolving door between public and private correctional institutions allots the punishment industry an untold degree of influence in public policy without requiring the disclosure of public-private ties.
3. Receiving Secret Subsidies In the construction and maintenance of their facilities, private prison firms have shrewdly secured the spoils of public money normally put aside for civic development projects.
4. Using Loopholes to Avoid Taxes Last year, both the GEO Group and CCA were granted permission by the IRS to restructure themselves into REITs (real estate investment trusts), a designation that lets them escape corporate income taxes. Instead of paying a corporate income tax, REITs dish out at least 90 percent of their taxable income to individual investors in the form of dividends. Investors then have to pay ordinary income taxes on those dividends, or at least that’s what is supposed to happen. Out of fear that the real estate industry had too little actual cash on hand to pay investors, the federal government has permitted REITs to pay their investors in dubiously valued stock rather than cash since 2009.
April 25, 2014 § Leave a comment
I have no forts, no houses, no country. I have no cultivated fields, no silver or gold for you to take — all you can get from me is war, nothing else. I have met your men in battle and have killed them. We are greatly pleased about this. Our men who have fallen in battle have won paradise. God fights for us. We fight by God’s order. If you wish war I am happy; if you wish peace I am also content. But if you wish peace, go away from my country to your own. If you wish war, stay where you are. – the Mad Mullah
In 1910, the “Mad Mullah” of Somalia, a Sunni sheik named Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, gained notoriety for mercilessly killing British service members and their sympathizers among the Somali population. Born in 1856, Hassan studied under local religious scholars and undertook the hajj and studied under Mohammed Salih in Mecca in the 1890s. He returned to Somalia a religious ultra-nationalist, determined to free his homeland from the tightening grip of Italian and British occupying forces.
The Mad Mullah fermented a religio-military revolution, allying with a variety of Somali clans and acquiring weapons from sympathetic regional regimes to battle and eventually prevail over the superpowers of his day.
Source: quotes and text taken directly from article by Oliver Barrett, in Foreign Policy Blogs
A page from modern history. This is part of an article on Foreign Policy Blogs. I am captivated by the quote. His words below, and life, provide insight into the hearts of the zealots, the insurgents, the fierce “underdogs”, the people that never leave a war unfinished. Those who fight with an infinite, deep, passion as if for their own souls – without concern for their own mortality. To right historic wrongs, in their eyes and god’s. Historic not in time, but within the local context.
The above article continues with this question:
“Can studying the decision-making abilities of indigenous leaders like Hassan – and the socio-cultural contexts in which they operate – help the West to get its counter-insurgency act together?”
Why has this not been studied – it seems obvious, no?
“Studying the leadership traits and strategies of indigenous protagonists in history’s little known liberation struggles is not common practice across Western militaries’ academic centers (e.g. war colleges and “think tanks”). Alien, mostly non-white commanders are rarely credited with possessing the same level of intellect and military acumen as their uniformed European counterparts.”
Militarily successful indigenous leaders like Hassan are seen as flukes, outside the norm. The British thought Hassan irrational, a combination of religious fanaticism and brain damage. Hassan simply – and violently - refused the premise of Somalis ruled by non-Muslims. His words do not sound much different than what we hear today, when you listen. His tactics and methods to gain popular support for his call, “his knowledge of human terrain”, are not bizarre.
“The British launched five military expeditions (to include air power) in the Horn of Africa to capture or kill Hassan, and never succeeded. British officers had superior schooling and firepower, including the first self-loading machine gun, but the cunning mullah exploited his home field advantage brilliantly. His intimate knowledge of regional tribes’ history, culture, and aspirations enabled him to build alliances and to ultimately prevail.”
The continued efforts to quell conflicts and democratize the Middle East and northern Africa may not be battles in a war that can be won. Not by direct military engagement alone. However, our interests in the regions will keep us engaged. The tactics we use will be more effective if we too learn and use “the human terrain”. Address the resentment and hostilities that encourage locals to provide a safe haven for leaders (and followers) like Hassan. To start, be prepared – be culturally enlightened and historically educated.
Barratt’s article is intentionally limited to a military discussion about fighting insurgencies. I will add that there are factors outside of cultural and national sovereignty that leave people vulnerable to manipulation, eager to fight. At the core I believe the primary issue is one of socio-economic despair that creates the “underdogs” within populations, provides willing recruits and the overwhelming mass fodder.
I have taken some excerpts, read entire the article at http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2014/04/21/learning-from-barbarian-underdogs/ It is not long and worth reading.
March 27, 2014 § Leave a comment
A preview for a PBS program featuring the Miss Navajo Nation contest. Impressive and inspiring. It is not simply a nice, sweet, affair. But one with deep meaning and importance.
Angela Davis in “The Meaning of Freedom” (With art by Shepard Fairey and music by Fugees, M. Fanti and Arrested Development)
February 18, 2014 § Leave a comment
An exstesive and stellar post. Highly recommended.
Originally posted on A W E S T R U C K _W A N D E R E R:
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ANGELA DAVIS in The Meaning of Freedom.
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“Beware of those leader and theorists who eloquently rage against white supremacy but identify black gay men and lesbians as evil incarnate. Beware of those leaders who call upon us to protect our young black men but will beat their wives and abuse their children and will not support a woman’s right to reproductive autonomy. Beware of those leaders! And beware of those who call for the salvation of black males but will not support the rights of Caribbean, Central American, and Asian immigrants, or who think that struggles in Chiapas or in Northern Ireland are unrelated to black freedom! Beware of those leaders!
Regardless of how effectively (or inneffectively) veteran activists are able to engage with the issues of our times, there is clearly a paucity of…
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