News Release Archive - Media

Should Negative Things About the U.S. be Taught?

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On Thursday Trump attacked the work of Howard Zinn, whose books include A People’s History of the United StatesUntil his death in 2010, Zinn was repeatedly featured on accuracy.org news releases.

KEVIN KUMASHIRO, kevin@kevinkumashiro.com,
Kumashiro is former dean, University of San Francisco School of Education. His books include Teaching toward Democracy.
He said today, “Here we go again. Yesterday’s attacks by the Trump administration on efforts to raise awareness about the historical and systemic nature of race and racism are not new.

“Divisive, un- or anti-American, biased, inflammatory — for decades, such were the claims made about efforts to teach a more accurate and complete history of the United States. From the multicultural curriculum of the Civil Rights era and the ‘people’s history’ by Howard Zinn, to recent struggles to include ethnic studies curriculum and the 1619 Project in schools, scholars and educators have long argued that curriculum is irresponsible, misleading, and undemocratic when it fails to include the experiences of marginalized groups, as well as the dynamics, systems, and ideologies that caused or perpetuated their disenfranchisement. Such inquiry is particularly important to make visible the many ways that race and racism are invisible, normalized, obscured, or rationalized, including in the curriculum itself. Not surprisingly, it is this whitewashed curriculum that often gets framed as objective and neutral, whereas efforts to raise awareness about the discomforting realities of race and racism get framed as, in Trump’s words, ‘toxic propaganda.’

“Two weeks ago, the White House directed against using taxpayer dollars to support ‘divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions’ — and by explicitly flagging trainings about ‘critical race theory’ and ‘white privilege,’ demonstrated once again the easy tendency to conflate studying racism with being divisive or weakening the nation. Yesterday, at the White House History Conference, Pence warned that, in schools, ‘some are seeking to erase our history.’ Trump attributed this erasure to ‘decades of leftwing indoctrination’ by the likes of Zinn and others, even threatening to withhold funding from California schools that teach the 1619 Project. Earlier that day, Education Secretary DeVos praised the ‘1776 Unites Curriculum’ for its more positive portrayal of the experience” of African Americans in the U.S. when “compared to the 1619 Project, and Trump echoed this praise and suggested that the government should support the creation of more such ‘pro-American’ curriculum.

“Our country cannot become more just and democratic without illuminating, addressing, and healing from its long legacies of injustices, including imperialism, colonialism, and racism, which means that continuing to deny or ignore the legacies and systems of racism that have defined the United States for centuries will only perpetuate the problems. The battle over what story about the United States gets taught in schools, and who gets to tell that story, is what makes education, at its core, one of the main sites of ideological struggle for any democratic society — and is, therefore, a battle that the general public must engage.”

See talk by Howard Zinn at MIT in 2005: “The Myth of American Exceptionalism.” “Democracy Now” played a clip from an interview with Zinn Friday morning that talked about overlooked heroes in U.S. political history, like Mark Twain, who was the Vice President of the Anti-Imperialist League and Helen Keller, who was a socialist.

How Racists Have Manipulated the Post Office

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Commondreams reported recently: “Postmaster General Urged to ‘Immediately Step Aside’ as North Carolina AG Backs Probe Into Campaign Finance Fraud Allegations.”

CLARENCE LUSANE, clusane@igc.org
Lusane is author of $20 and Change: Harriet Tubman, Andrew Jackson, and the Struggle for a Radical Democracy (forthcoming from City Lights Books) and The Black History of the White House.

He said today regarding Trump’s repeated attacks and statements about the Postal Service and mail-in balloting: “Regrettably, the Post Office has been used politically before by past administrations to disrupt efforts at racial justice or black progress. In the 1830s, President Andrew Jackson, Trump’s favorite predecessor, sided with local officials in South Carolina who stopped the mail distribution of abolitionist materials. … Jackson, who had been a slave trader and a slaveowner … proposed federal legislation that would ‘prohibit, under severe penalties, the circulation in the Southern States, through the mail, of incendiary publications intended to instigate the slaves to insurrection.’ …

“In the early 20th century, the postal service went after Nashville black activist Callie House. In 1894, she founded and led the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty, and Pension Association that sought to win pensions for African Americans who had survived slavery. The movement grew to over 800,000 according to researcher Mary Francis Berry. Like other organizations of the period, she used the mail to solicit and receive donations for her movement. Unhappy with the effort by this black group, Postmaster General A. S. Burleson charged her and other Association leaders with using the mail to commit fraud in 1915. The U.S. government argued that since black survivors of slavery would never receive a pension, her campaign was criminally misleading. After her arrest and nearly year-long imprisonment in 1917-1918, the organization faded.

“Perhaps, most famously, the same law used to go after House was used against Pan-Africanist leader Marcus Garvey. Long under scrutiny by U.S. law enforcement for his strong advocacy of black repatriation to Africa, the newly formed Bureau of Investigation searched for a means to destroy him politically. Garvey’s Black Star Steamship Line, funded in part by mail solicitations, was in financial trouble, and this became an opening for his enemies. Using informants and perjured witnesses, Garvey was charged with mail fraud and convicted. He was sent to prison in 1925, although he was released and deported two years later.”

Journalism’s Gates Keepers

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TIM SCHWAB, timschwab2020@gmail.com, @TimothyWSchwab

Available for a limited number of interviews, Schwab just wrote the in-depth investigative piece “Journalism’s Gates Keepers” for Columbia Journalism Review. He writes: “Gates’s generosity appears to have helped foster an increasingly friendly media environment for the world’s most visible charity. Twenty years ago, journalists scrutinized Bill Gates’s initial foray into philanthropy as a vehicle to enrich his software company, or a PR exercise to salvage his battered reputation following Microsoft’s bruising antitrust battle with the Department of Justice. Today, the foundation is most often the subject of soft profiles and glowing editorials describing its good works.

“During the pandemic, news outlets have widely looked to Bill Gates as a public health expert on covid—even though Gates has no medical training and is not a public official. PolitiFact and USA Today (run by the Poynter Institute and Gannett, respectively—both of which have received funds from the Gates Foundation) have even used their fact-checking platforms to defend Gates from ‘false conspiracy theories’ and ‘misinformation,’ like the idea that the foundation has financial investments in companies developing covid vaccines and therapies. In fact, the foundation’s website and most recent tax forms clearly show investments in such companies, including Gilead and CureVac.”

Schwab writes that he examined “twenty thousand charitable grants the Gates Foundation had made” and found “$250 million going toward journalism. Recipients included news operations like the BBC, NBC, Al Jazeera, ProPublica, National Journal, The Guardian, Univision, Medium, the Financial Times, The Atlantic, the Texas Tribune, Gannett, Washington Monthly, Le Monde, and the Center for Investigative Reporting; charitable organizations affiliated with news outlets, like BBC Media Action and the New York Times’ Neediest Cases Fund; media companies such as Participant, whose documentary Waiting for ‘Superman’ supports Gates’s agenda on charter schools; journalistic organizations such as the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the National Press Foundation, and the International Center for Journalists; and a variety of other groups creating news content or working on journalism, such as the Leo Burnett Company, an ad agency that Gates commissioned to create a ‘news site’ to promote the success of aid groups.”

Schwab scrutinizes NPR’s coverage and writes that “since 2000, the Gates Foundation has given NPR $17.5 million through ten charitable grants—all of them earmarked for coverage of global health and education, specific issues on which Gates works.”

Earlier this year, Schwab wrote the piece “Bill Gates’s Charity Paradox” for The Nation which documents how the Gates Foundation has given hundreds of millions of dollars to companies it is invested in, including Merck, Unilever and Novartis. It also documents how the Gates family and Foundation’s assets continue to grow, “raising questions about the long-term influence of billionaire philanthropy” in politics.

Trump in Kenosha

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President Donald Trump is scheduled to travel to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, where Jacob Blake was shot repeatedly by police in the back.

DENNIS J. BERNSTEIN, dennisjbernstein at gmail.com, @burn_stick
Bernstein is the executive producer of the program “Flashpoints” and just wrote the piece “Don’t Expect Justice for Black People in Kenosha if Sheriff Beth Has His Way.

KEVIN ALEXANDER GRAY, kevinagray57 at gmail.com, @kevinagray
Gray is a civil rights organizer in South Carolina. He co-edited Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence which scrutinizes the impunity of perpetrators of violence to African Americans in U.S. society.

He is also author of Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics, which connects various issues, such as the drug war, to issues of oppression of African Americans and police violence. The book also lists Confederate and other memorials.

Many of his writings — including his essays “Rolling Back the Police State,” “What It Feels Like to be Black in America” and “Back to the Jim Crow Future” are available at Counterpunch and The Progressive.

Major Post Office Hearings Today

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The House is having hearings with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Monday, see here for livestream. The following two analysts have done extensive research on the issues and are available for interviews:

CHRISTOPHER W. SHAW, christophershaw.ca@gmail.com, @chris_w_shaw   

Shaw is a historian and author of Preserving the People’s Post Office. He recently had an op-ed in the Washington Post: “Postal banking is making a comeback. Here’s how to ensure it becomes a reality.

He said today that since taking office, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s “actions have targeted the agency’s civic role and jeopardized voter participation in the 2020 election.

“People are starting to wake up to the need to regard the Postal Service not as a government agency that should emulate a business, but as a great public institution — enshrined in the Constitution — that has been under constant attack for decades, now accelerated under the Trump administration.

“The Postal Service is an essential public service offering a whole range of social benefits that are now under threat. By offering universal service at uniform postage rates, the U.S. Mail has bound the nation together for more than two centuries. By connecting every corner of the United States — no matter how remote — the Postal Service provides a crucial lifeline for low income Americans and residents of rural areas who otherwise would not receive affordable delivery. Post offices are centers of community life and local identity. Special postage rates for news and nonprofit organizations facilitate democracy and the public interest. Americans depend on the Postal Service for the delivery of 4 million critical prescription medications every day.”

LISA GRAVES, via Evan Vorpahl, evan@truenorthresearch.org, @itstruenorth

Graves is the executive director of the policy research group True North. She was recently on an IPA news release: “Behind the Attacks on the Post Office,” that scrutinized the conduct of DeJoy and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. A month ago, she wrote the brief “The Billionaire Behind Efforts to Kill the U.S. Postal Service,” about Charles Koch.

She said today: “Congress must insist that the mail sorting and delivery capacity be restored to the pre-Louis DeJoy level of this spring and machines that were removed be restarted or repaired. Congress must also restrict the power of Steve Mnuchin to interfere with the timely delivery of mail, including medicines and ballots, and provide the funding requested by the prior Postal leadership.

“Never before in the past century has the Postal Service leadership been held by such partisans as DeJoy and Mike Duncan [chairman of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service], both of whom have financially aided not just the political campaigns of President Trump but also Senator Mitch McConnell. Never before has the Postal Service faces such a grave risk from the privatization pressures unleashed by billionaire Charles Koch.

“Congress should scrap the stacked and packed current Board of Governors, and take measures to ensure to restore its political independence and integrity and make sure future appointees are genuinely devoted to preserving and expanding the vital public service our Postal Service and its dedicated public servants provide.”

Biden: An FDR or Deficit Hawk?

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BRANKO MARCETIC, branko.95.m at gmail.com, @BMarchetich
Marcetic is author of the book Yesterday’s Man: the Case Against Joe Biden. See his recent pieces at In These Times and  Jacobin.

He said today: “Last night and since April, Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his advisors have insisted the former vice president is planning what New York magazine in May called ‘an FDR-sized presidency.’ These claims have been amplified by a hopeful liberal press.

“Over the past week, however, Biden and his team have signaled they will not be following through on this promise. Last Saturday, Democratic congressional aides told the Hill the party likely wouldn’t push forward with Biden’s public health insurance option should he win, and would instead pursue tweaks to Obamacare, a claim the Biden campaign didn’t correct. Meanwhile, the Democratic convention featured hard-right Republican John Kasich assuring conservative viewers Biden wouldn’t ‘turn sharp left and leave them behind,’ in a four-day program targeted chiefly at Republican voters.

“Even Biden’s promise in his DNC speech last night to ‘protect Social Security and Medicare’ should be viewed with caution. A President Biden could try, as he suggested in 2018 and in private in 2014, to means-test Social Security and claim he is ‘protecting’ it from insolvency, without having technically cut it.

“Wall Street has happily highlighted similar, earlier signals. One financial advisory firm called the Biden-Bernie Sanders unity task forces ‘a very successful effort by Biden and his team to control the narrative and policy direction,’ while the chairman of another celebrated that ‘his pick of Harris reinforces’ that he won’t move left. Biden is now outraising Trump among Wall Street donors, with some of them giving the campaign policy advice, with one reportedly telling his staffers to match any big federal spending with budget cuts.

“Longtime Biden advisor Ted Kaufman has now told the Wall Street Journal Americans shouldn’t expect more spending should Biden win, warning that ‘what Trump’s done to the deficit’ means ‘we’re going to be limited.’ This appears to directly contradict Biden’s claim in May that he wanted something ‘a hell of a lot bigger’ than the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus and that massive public investment was the only way out of a deficit.

“All of this signals not just a narrowing of Biden’s ambitions, but the alarming prospect of austerity during the Covid recession. Biden is uniquely susceptible to budget-cutting dogma. He quickly became a fiscal hawk after entering the Senate in 1972, introducing the Federal Spending Control Act five years later to potentially put all federal spending programs on the chopping block, and musing that Reagan’s 1980 victory was ‘more consistent with the budgetary thrust that a guy like me … has been going for.’

“From the 1980s on, Biden has called for and introduced legislation aimed at slashing federal spending, including by cutting Medicare and Social Security. He voted three times for a balanced budget constitutional amendment, and as vice president, repeatedly made deals with Mitch McConnell and other Republicans to choke off government revenue and make drastic cuts to programs.

“By no means does this make Biden worse than President Trump, who has cut taxes for the rich while seeking massive cuts to these and other vital social programs, and recently proposed to do so again if he’s re-elected. But it’s a reminder that socialists, progressives, and rank-and-file Democratic voters must organize to hold Biden’s feet to the fire right now and after his prospective win in November, and be willing to take to the streets whether it’s a Republican or Democratic president who implements austerity.”

Twelve U.S. Billionaires Have a Combined $1 Trillion

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12 Top Billionaires imageOMAR OCAMPO, via Olivia Alperstein, olivia at ips-dc.org, or Bob Keener, bobk at ips-dc.org, @IPS_DC
Ocampo, a researcher for the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, just co-wrote the report “Twelve U.S. Billionaires Have a Combined $1 Trillion,” which states: “For the first time in U.S. history, the top twelve U.S. billionaires surpassed a combined wealth of $1 trillion. On Thursday August 13, these 12 held a combined $1.015 trillion.

“This is a disturbing milestone in the U.S. history of concentrated wealth and power. This is simply too much economic and political power in the hands of twelve people. From the point of view of a democratic self-governing society, this represents an Oligarchic Twelve or a Despotic Dozen.

“The Oligarchic Dozen are Jeff Bezos ($189.4b), Bill Gates ($114b), Mark Zuckerberg ($95.5b), Warren Buffett ($80b), Elon Musk ($73b), Steve Ballmer ($71b), Larry Ellison ($70.9b), Larry Page ($67.4b), Sergey Brin ($65.6b), Alice Walton ($62.5b), Jim Walton ($62.3b), and Rob Walton ($62b).

“Since March 18, the beginning of the pandemic, this Oligarchic Dozen have seen their combined wealth increase $283 billion, an increase of almost 40 percent.

“Elon Musk has been the biggest pandemic profiteer, seeing his wealth triple from $24.6 billion on March 18th to $73 billion on August 13, an increase of $48.5 billion or 197 percent.

“Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos was worth $189.4 billion on August 13, up $76 billion or 68 percent since March 18.

“Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was worth $95.5 billion on August 13, up $40.8 billion or 75 percent since March 18.”