Top Enron Fraudster Will Spend Less Time In Prison Than A Father Who Sold His Own Pain Pills

Sickening. From ThinkProgress:

John Horner had no record of drug-dealing when he was sentenced to a 25-year mandatory minimum prison term for selling some of his own pain pillsto an undercover informant who befriended him and told him he could not afford both his rent and his prescription medication. Horner, a fast-food restaurant worker and a father, had been prescribed the pain medication because of an injury in which he lost an eye, according to a BBC report.

If, as expected, he serves all 25 years, Horner will be 72 when he is released, and he will have spent more time in prison than the former Enron CEO who was convicted in one of the largest corporate fraud schemes in modern history. Last week, the Department of Justice said it is considering a deal to shorten Jeffrey Skilling’s sentence. But even if he serves every year, Skilling will still have fared better than Horner with a sentence of 24 years.

This is what the “War on Drugs” hath wrought. People selling small amounts of drugs to pay for food and rent are facing longer mandatory minimum sentences than banksters who defraud people for millions – sometimes billions – of dollars.

White collar crime has very few to none mandatory minimum sentences, while blue collar crime, particularly drug crimes, have a plethora of mandatory minimum sentences, and disproportionately send low-income people of color off to prison.

If we’re going to have mandatory minimums for drugs, which I absolutely abhor, at least consider a mandatory minimum for financial crimes – say, one year for every hundred thousand stolen and/or defrauded? Remember, Bernie Madoff is the exception in sentencing and not the rule. 

1) Africa’s Population Underdeveloped  

According to the World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa currently has about 910 million people. That number would be much higher if it weren’t for the Europeans and the Trans Atlantic slave trade.
During slavery, the African continent had an abnormal stagnation in population in respect to the rest of the world and there is no causative factor other than the fact that millions of people who were of age to bear children were being shipped to the Americas.
One European scholar gave the following estimates of world population (in millions) according to continents:

Years: 1650 1750 1850 1900
Africa: 100 100 100 120
Europe: 103 144 274 423
Asia: 257 437 656 857

Africa’s population didn’t move at all during slavery. In other parts of the world such as Japan and parts of Europe the population growth allowed large socioeconomic development to occur while the lack of growth stagnated Africa.

2) The European Slave Trade Had Major Effects On The African Labor Force

According to some estimates, between 1445 and 1870 as many as 100 million enslaved African men, women and children left Africa during the Trans Atlantic slave trade. This loss of workers put a major dent in the African labor force.According to Walter Rodney, author of “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa,” the massive hit to the African labor force was made more critical because it was composed of able-bodied young men and young women. Slave buyers preferred their victims ages 15 to 35, and preferably in their early 20s; the gender ratio being about two men to one woman. Europeans often accepted African children, but rarely any older people.For four centuries, the lack of workers slowed further development of the African continent. 

3) The Distortion of The African Cloth Economy And Other Industries

It has already been indicated that in 15th-century Europe technology wasn’t superior to that of other parts of the world. There were certain specific features that were highly advantageous to Europe–such as shipping and (to a lesser extent) guns. Europeans trading to Africa had to make use of Asian and African consumer goods, showing that their system of production was not absolutely superior, Rodney said.He also said that by the time that Africa entered the colonial era, it was concentrating almost entirely on the export of raw cotton and the import of manufactured cotton cloth. This remarkable reversal is tied to technological advances in Europe and to stagnation of technology in Africa owing to the very trade with Europe.In the late 1800s, after accumulating a tremendous amount of wealth from the slave trade, Europeans made technological advances and vital inventions to produce clothes faster and cheaper. Through the initiative,  European countries were able to put the African cloth manufacturing industries out of business.The European cloth industry copied fashionable Africans and eventually replaced them as sellers, establishing a stranglehold on the distribution of cloth around the shores of Africa. This practice repeated itself in other African industries. 

4) Social, Political And Economic Consequences of Colonialism  

Colonialism is the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.The colonization of Africa lasted for just over 70 years in most parts of the continent. The negative consequences of colonialism for Africa sprang mainly from the fact that Africa lost power socially, politically and economically.The power shift from the African allowed direct appropriation by Europeans of the social institutions within Africa. Africans ceased to set indigenous cultural goals and standards, and lost full command of training young members of the society. Thus, the Europeans were able to set up institutions throughout African nations for their own interest.The negative impact of colonialism in political terms was quite dramatic. Overnight, African political states lost their power, independence and meaning — irrespective of whether they were big empires or small polities. Political power had passed into the hands of foreign overlords, Rodney said.With the new political and social power, the Europeans were able to extract the resources from the continent for their own benefit and not a single African state could flourish under colonialism. 

5) African Underdevelopment of Education

Pre-colonial African education matched the realities of pre-colonial African society and produced well-rounded personalities to fit into that society. Specialized functions such as hunting, organizing religious ritual, and the practice of medicine definitely involved formal education within the family or clan. Such educational practices all dated to communal times in Africa, but they persisted in the more developed African feudal and pre-feudal societies, and they were to be found on the eve of colonialism.According to Rodney, as the mode of production moved toward feudalism in Africa, new features also emerged within the educational pattern. There was, for instance, more formal specialization, because the proportion of formal to informal education increases with technological advances. Apart from hunting and religion, the division of labor made it necessary to create guilds for passing down the techniques of iron working, leather making, cloth manufacturing, pottery molding, professional trading, and so on.When the European colonizers came to Africa they introduced a new set of formal educational institutions which partly supplemented and replaced those that were there before. The main purpose of the colonial school system was to train Africans to help man the local administration at the lowest ranks and to staff the private capitalist firms owned by Europeans. In effect, that meant selecting a few Africans to participate in the domination and exploitation of the continent as a whole. It was not an educational system that grew out of the African environment or one that was designed to promote the most rational use of material and social resources. It was not an educational system designed to give young people confidence and pride as members of African societies, but one which sought to instill a sense of deference toward all that was European and capitalist, said Rodney.

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Spenser James, my really good friend, slam poet, and fellow activist from Charleston who is now living in New York, was recently diagnosed with a severe stomach ulcer that is causing them incapacitating pain and the inability to eat. It has been nearly two weeks since they have been dealing with this, and it is taking a hard physical toll on them.

They have no health insurance and are facing enormous costs to get the treatment they need. This treatment includes an upper and lower endoscopy, bacteria tests, a biopsy of the stomach lining, anesthesia, a follow up visit and prescriptions (one of the necessary medications costs over twenty dollars a tablet). The total cost of this treatment will amount to just under eighty-six hundred dollars.

I have already donated as much as I can to help support their care, but there is a lot more needed and they are suffering really badly. In order to help, I am opening up commissions as a fundraiser for Spenser. All proceeds will go directly to them!!! Prices can be negotiated and I can even send you a print of the piece (for the additional price of printing and shipping).

If you don’t want a commission, please consider helping out - even a dollar will go a very long way over time to help them (GOFUNDME LINK), and if you can’t manage that PLEASE SIGNAL BOOST!!!!

Thank you so much!!
Dog Whistle Politics: How Politicians Use Coded Racism to Push Through Policies Hurting All

Two months after 47 million food stamp recipients were hit with $5 billion in cuts, more are on the way as lawmakers finalize a new farm bill. The measure is likely to slash another $9 billion in food stamps over the next decade, depriving more than 800,000 households of up to $90 in aid per month. We look at how politicians have used coded racial appeals to win support for cuts like these and similar efforts since the 1960s with Ian Haney López, author of the new book, “Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism & Wrecked the Middle Class.” A senior fellow at Demos and law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, López argues that “this is about race as it wrecks the whole middle class. This sort of racism is being used to fool a lot of whites into voting for Republicans whose main allegiance is to corporate interests.”

Recommended viewing.
Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today. The justification they came up with was called “marginal-productivity theory.” In a nutshell, this theory associated higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Evidence for its validity, however, remains thin. The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance). Those who have contributed great positive innovations to our society, from the pioneers of genetic understanding to the pioneers of the Information Age, have received a pittance compared with those responsible for the financial innovations that brought our global economy to the brink of ruin.

A sobering look at inequality in the United States that raises a serious question: Where do we go from here?

Over a 2700 year period. Whites and Arabs invade, conquer, take your land enslave you on that land, work you to death making you dig up millions of tons of dirt to get to mineral and metal wealth, melt it down, store up it as reserves into the trillions of dollars in value. They then are rich forever in their system. You then are poor forever under them in their system.

And some Black folk are dumb enough to think that you are gonna out capitalist the capitalist. Delusional. You cannot be lacking in intelligence in life—you cannot win not being smart. Think… They are so rich because we are so poor because they made us poor. Same with education. In most cases Black folk are so mystical and absolutely missing the scientific method because they have ensured your education being dumbed down to the level necessary for them to be over you. You break this. You build your own from scratch…

Arrogant ignorance prevails, however in our communities. While those with the wealth continue their system of wealth accumulation and for Black folk, poverty accumulation. . 

Dr. Tdka Maat Kilimanjaro

It’s funny that most ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ activists will agree with Bernie Sanders: institutional racism and economic violence are parallel issues. The disconnect, though, is the weight given to each issue. He’s obviously more impassioned about the latter, when activists, especially those on the street, know that income inequality is irrelevant if authorities can jail you at will or your body can’t deflect bullets.
7 Reasons Why Capitalism Can't Recover Anytime Soon

As the recession grinds on, politicians in most industrial countries have an incentive to make exaggerated claims about the supposed coming economic recovery. Some say the recession is over. Obama is in the group that claims we’re on “the road to recovery,” while other nations can only spot recovery “on the horizon.” Here are seven important social phenomena that point to a more realistic economic and political outlook.

This is a must read for those who think everything’s going to be just fine.

The owner of both those buildings is Joel Israel who owns 11 buildings in Bushwick. His case is extreme. In both 98 Linden and 324 Central he basically told both families: “I’m gonna come in when you’re not home and repair the entire apartment.” What really happened was that Israel and a team of workers went in and completely demolished them. With hammers they destroyed the entire kitchen, the entire bathroom, started to rip up the floors and then got out of there. When both of those families came home, they saw a completely destroyed apartment.
The Class War Launched by America's Wealthiest Is Getting More Savage

In the ‘50s and '60s, family income was usually earned by a single person. Today, family income normally comes from at least two people.

At the same time, income for the richest soared. In 1979 the richest 1 percent of Americans earned 9 percent of all U.S. income. Now they earn 24 percent of all U.S. income. One percent of Americans earn nearly one-fourth of all the income in the country.

Then came the crashes of 2001 and 2008 and the recessions that followed.

The crash hasn’t changed anything. Things have become worse.

From 1990 to 2005, adjusted for inflation – the minimum wage is down 9 percent, production workers’ pay is up only over 15 years 4.3 percent.

At the same time, the rich get richer:

Corporate profits are up 106.7 percent. The S&P 500 is still up 141.4 percent since 1990. CEO compensation is up 282 percent. Call it transfer of wealth. Or call it class warfare.

Anyone who denies the existence of the class war in this country is either oblivious or on the winning side.
Polite Robber Asks for a Favor: Empty the Till

The owner of a Seattle, Wash., convenience store says the man who robbed him at gunpoint was polite.

Shell station owner John Henry told the police that the man bought a cup of coffee and then asked for a favor - empty the till.

When Henry asked what he meant, the man said, “I’m robbing you, sir.”

Henry offered him $40, but the man took all the money, about $300, apologizing and saying that he had bills to pay and children to feed.

As he left, the robber said that if he ever got back on his feet, he’d pay the money back.

This is one of many desperate stories out there. I’m not going to condone his actions, but it’s goddamn hard to condemn them. Particularly when people like him have been the victims of robbery themselves in favor of bailing out the crooks of Wall St.


Shoot first; don’t ask questions — later, or ever… 

The Noir depictions of police — that would shoot first, without hesitation, at the suspected, or falsely accused, character in the film — was meant to be a fiction. 

For a time, this portrayal became a trope, to be mocked, or to highlight the methods of a cool-headed detective who could resolve the crime — without violence and willing confession of an outwitted criminal mastermind.

Superficial parallels can be drawn with the shoot-first cops of 40s Hollywood films, and In recent videos of the mindless, reactionary, fear-based police violence. However the issue of police brutality is far more complex, is systemic, and ingrained culturally and institutionally. 

The scapegoating must end.

The militarization of police must end.

The reactionary violence must end.

The state-sponsored violence must end.

The executions of people must end.

Justice must start.