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Subscription March 2018

James Forman, Jr. - Crime and Punishment in Black America

Critics of the U.S. criminal justice system such as Michelle Alexander and Bryan Stevenson have assailed the rise of mass incarceration with its disproportionate impact on people of color. The war on crime that began in the 1970s was supported by many African American leaders in the nation’s urban centers. The first substantial cohort of black mayors, judges, and police chiefs took office amid a surge in crime and drug addiction. Many prominent black officials, including federal prosecutor Eric Holder, feared that the gains of the civil rights movement were being undermined by lawlessness. They thus embraced tough-on-crime measures, including mandatory sentencing and aggressive police tactics and what Angela Davis called, the prison-industrial complex. In the face of skyrocketing murder rates and the proliferation of open-air drug markets, African-American officials and community leaders believed they had no choice. But the policies they adopted would have devastating consequences for residents of poor black neighborhoods.

Nomi Prins - The Inherently Unstable Economy

We hear a lot about bulls and bears and the magic of the stock market. The magic is shared by a few. The richest 10 percent own 84 percent of all shares of stock. Remember the days when Republicans prided themselves on being fiscally responsible? Well, they’re long gone. The deficit and the debt are astronomical. The 2008 crash ushered in the deepest recession since the Great Depression. Can it happen again? You bet. Just read the tea leaves. The tax cut just blew a gigantic hole in the budget. The big banks are now sitting on record profits. CEOs are giving themselves huge bonuses. “Draining the swamp?” The economy is led by ex-bankers and Goldman Sachs alumni with the same mentality that led to the previous crash. And there are few checks and balances as deregulators rule government agencies.

This event was presented by the Lannan Foundation. 

Anna Shahnazaryan - Inside Armenia

Land-locked Armenia has had a long history but as a nation state it is rather new. Armenia declared its independence from the USSR in 1991. Left with a legacy of 70 years of Soviet rule, corruption is rampant. The adoption of neoliberalism by elites, as in other countries, has produced massive inequality. Oligarchs dominate the state and the economy. Unregulated mining is causing environmental damage. Water supplies are privatized. The state-run world-famous cognac factory was sold for peanuts to a French conglomerate. Quality health care, extremely expensive, is available for the rich. Education? More of the same. The major media are stenographers to power. Patriarchy and misogyny persist. Gender bias runs deep. Women are seen as child producers for the defense of the nation. Some Armenians, fed up with injustice, leave the country. Others, like Anna Shahnazaryan stay and resist.

Joe Allen - Vietnam

All imperial systems attempt to reinvent the past, engineer history to suit their needs. The United States is no different. Vietnam is a perfect example. A war of aggression was transformed into a "conflict." It was "tragic" and a "mistake." At the other end of the spectrum, the so-called liberal Washington Post called the war a "just cause." That's the range of opinion in describing one of the major atrocities of the 20th century. The sheer savagery of the U.S. attack is forgotten. The war on Vietnam, later extended to Laos and Cambodia, included mass murder from the air and ferocious assaults on the ground. Millions were killed. About the agony and suffering of the victims? Virtually nothing. Reparations? Apologies? No way. And the architects of destruction, the war criminals? Held accountable? Trials? Jail time? Then as now, nothing. This classic from the AR archives marks the 50th anniversary of the My Lai massacre. Historian Jonathan Schell wrote that My Lai, “had come to be the rule, and not the exception, in our conduct of the war.”

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