Analysis: Tracking the NEA’s and AFT’s $43 Million in Donations to PACs, Advocacy Organizations, Nonprofits — and the State Engagement Fund? (The 74)

The 74 Million is an independent news blog dedicated to the 74 million primary and secondary students in the United States.  A lot of their coverage tends to be skewed towards rhetoric around “school choice,” and so I’m a little bit skeptical.  But there also seems to be a strong racial justice core to their reporting.  The most interesting and useful coverage I’ve seen have been Union Reports like this one, which shed light on the connections between teachers unions (NEA, AFT) and shady groups like Democratic Super- PACs and the so-called “State Engagement Fund” described below.

I guess, what is so disappointing about characterizations of America’s largest Teachers Unions in purely vehicles for cashflow (not that this isn’t an accurate portrayal, because I think it is) but it ignores the humanity of the teachers these organizations purport to represent.  I don’t think the problem is with unions as such, but certainly the way the AFT and NEA seem to be operating at the highest levels is gross and tends to feed into the stories we have been told for generations about unions’ corruption, mob connections, racism, sexism and so on.  Do teachers need to remake their unions and union culture before they can remake their schools, communities and society?

Mike Antonucci’s Union Report appears most Wednesdays; see the full archive. The National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers are known as labor unions, advocates for teachers and public school employees, and political powerhouses. But they also are grantmaking institutions. During the 2018-19 school year, the two national teachers unions directly donated $43.1 million […]

Source: Analysis: Tracking the NEA’s and AFT’s $43 Million in Donations to PACs, Advocacy Organizations, Nonprofits — and the State Engagement Fund?

Paper Cranes to Fort Sill – In Solidarity with Detained Asylum Seekers

Dream Action Oklahoma (affiliated with United We Dream, the nation’s largest immigration youth-led network) is organizing a coalition of groups in Oklahoma for a large peaceful protest at Fort Sill on Saturday, July 20, 2019. This past March, Tsuru for Solidarity, a direct action, nonviolent project of allied organizations within the Japanese American community, gathered in Crystal City, Oklahoma in collaboration with pilgrims from allied national organizations and networks. Crystal City, a former WWII internment camp in Texas, housed over 2,000 persons of Japanese ancestry. The gathering was to protest conditions at the nearby South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. 30,000 tsuru(origami cranes) were strung on the fences surrounding the detention center to demonstrate solidarity with those detained, including unaccompanied children separated from their families. Last month, the Dept. of Health and Human Services announced that up to 1,400 unaccompanied migrant children would be transferred from Texas to Fort Sill, Oklahoma—another former WWII internment camp that held 700 persons of Japanese ancestry, including 90 Buddhist priests. Tsuru for Solidarity has been invited to participate and a Buddhist memorial service will be part of the day’s events. Fort Sill, a military site, is a historic concentration camp that was used to imprison indigenous people forcibly removed from their lands. It is a place where native children were forcibly taken from their families and placed in re-education schools. It is a site where over 700 American men from the Japanese American community, including 90 Buddhist monks, were imprisoned during WWII.  Concentration camps are used to indefinitely detain minority groups in violation of human and civil rights and without due process. Fort Sill is being prepared to once again become a concentration camp. Concentration camps are now being used across the U.S. on a scale not seen since the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans. It’s time for us to reclaim our moral center and our human commitment to one another. We are interconnected. What happens to one of us affects all of us. Speak out, show up, and get involved. Please join us in this movement.

Source: Paper Cranes to Fort Sill – In Solidarity with Detained Asylum Seekers

Tsuru For Solidarity June 2020 Direct Action in Washington DC

Tsuru for Solidarity is a non-violent, direct action project of Japanese American WWII camp survivors, descendants, and allies fighting to end detention sites and support front-line immigrant and refugee communities that are experiencing injustice and oppression.

Source: Tsuru For Solidarity June 2020 Announcement – Tsuru for Solidarity

It’s Register to Vote Day in the U.S.A.

What better way to celebrate the ongoing criminal investigations of the Trump Administration (now with Congressional support!  wow!) than by registering to vote/ updating my address for voting by mail?

One of the most encouraging facts I’ve absorbed recently about the charred and broken American political system is that the number of actual voters is increasing.  Obviously voting alone is not going to get us out of the mess we’re in, but it helps.  And voting by mail increases the likelihood that your ballot will actually be counted properly, since paper ballots cannot be hacked or otherwise altered without leaving some concrete evidence behind.

So, in addition to supporting your local labor union, joining a wildcat strike, worker action, be sure to register to vote and vote.

https://www.usvotefoundation.org

The High School Course Beijing Accuses of Radicalizing Hong Kong (NYTimes.com)

Pro-Beijing officials say a course that teaches critical thinking has created a generation of rebels. Students and teachers say it has made them more engaged with society.

Source: The High School Course Beijing Accuses of Radicalizing Hong Kong

I am just beginning to dive in to some of the details of this ongoing series of actions in Hong Kong.  But I am excited to have been able to use a bilingual interview with an activist (Agnes Chow Ting) spokesperson for the “Scholarism” group in Hong Kong for one of my English expression classes.  Scholarism eventually merged into the Demosisto group which is I believe at the center of the current actions.  It was a bit of a sensitive issue in class because there is one student who is Chinese in that class and I wasn’t sure how she would react.  Japanese media (and as a result, my students) tend to focus on the unrest as a means to criticize the Chinese government in a kind of superior jingoistic fashion.  And my Chinese student has often But I think I made it clear that the reason why I brought this text into the class was out of respect for the Chinese student activists and their connecting politics with their education in a meaningful and powerful way.

Exactly what is the connection between education and radical politics in this situation is still something I want to investigate.  Obviously the connection that this NYTimes headline suggests of a 1-to-1 process of “radicalization,” doesn’t ring true because it ignores the underlying contexts of that education as it takes place.  Anyway, more soon…

八月六日 And America’s Cult of (Military) Superiority

August 6— It’s an overcast and windy morning. There was an occasional drizzle on my way into work.  The school and the city just observed the anniversary of the first nuclear carpet bombing.  74 years ago today this city was reduced to smoldering, irradiated rubble in carpet-bombing targeting civilians, designed to strike terror and hopelessness into the hearts of the Japanese population and win the Pacific War ahead of a Russian invasion of the Japanese mainland.  It was a unique bombing only in terms of the type of weapon used.  Otherwise, it is I think fair to say that bombings like these continue into the present day, initiated by the American Executive, left unchecked by the Congress and largely ignored by the American populace.  These bombings still target civilians and kill tens of thousands of innocent people every year in places like Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Somalia.  End the American Capitalist Death Cult!

Portrait of Sadako Sasaki - a young girl who became the symbol of the innocent lives lost in the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and to the brutalities of World War II.  Artwork by Joëlle Jones.

Portrait of Sadako Sasaki – a young girl who became the symbol of the innocent lives lost in the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and to the brutalities of World War II. Artwork by Joëlle Jones. From Red Flag Magazine: https://redflag.org/magazine/issue-6/wish-upon-a-crane/

 

***

 

This piece I found on consortiumnews.com was written in June by William J. Astore. It’s a great summary of America’s obsession with “air supremacy.”  Astore calls the American Military Industrial Complex a “cult,” as do the authors of the “Eyes Left” podcast, which I highly recommend.

 

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/06/10/the-american-cult-of-bombing/

 

NC judge throws out voter ID and income tax constitutional amendments from News & Observer

North Carolina’s voter ID and income tax rate constitutional amendments were thrown out by a Wake County Superior Court judge who said the General Assembly is unconstitutionally elected due to gerrymandering.

Source: NC judge throws out voter ID and income tax constitutional amendments

Twitter Version: If you’re not an “activist” judge, you’re not doing it right.

Kudos to NC’s Liberal Establishment for answering the legislature’s nonsense from last session.  The framing of this as a “democracy” issue by the chief justice is really wise and will hopefully be an important signal for other citizen activists and politicians in Raleigh who can hopefully free the current government from the thrall of capital.

Eyes Left is creating a socialist, anti-war military podcast | Patreon

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Source: Eyes Left is creating a socialist, anti-war military podcast | Patreon

This is the best new podcast I heard in 2018, and I didn’t catch it until the very end of the year, after one of its creators appeared on another show I love called, The Antifada.

I have gotten a lot of guff from my fellow lefties in the past about my pacifist views– pacifism is naive, it’s too idealistic, what about Hitler, Pearl Harbor, blah blah blah. . . or more compellingly, recently what about antifa– how can I square my desire to punch a white supremacist with avowed pacifism?  The creators of “Eyes Left” have done an excellent job of helping me think through these issues, by making some of the philosophical and historical underpinnings and context of socialist anti-war thinking available in convenient, timely audio packets.

I have now listened through their entire back catalog, and it is all superb– their voices are those of authentic, insiders.  But while they often specifically address their podcast to a military audience and don’t shy away from jargon, they give explanations when necessary and explicitly reject the macho bullshit veneer of the military.

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Spenser Rapone, one-time West Point cadet, now “Other-than-Honorably-Discharged” podcaster.  Solidarity!