The Link Between Freeway Ricky Ross, the CIA, and the Reagan Administration (How Rick Ross Sold Cocaine for the U.S. Government)

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013 by Bryan Troupe in
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To describe the Nicaragua incident more simply, the Reagan administration and the CIA were not happy with the government that Nicaragua had in place. So, the CIA began to fund a "militia" or anti-communist rebels whose sole responsibility was to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. These anti-communist rebels were called Contras. reference


However, these U.S. government funded rebels were far from heroic.The Contras' form of warfare was "one of consistent and bloody abuse of human rights, of murder, torture, mutilation, rape, arson, destruction and kidnapping". "Contras systematically engage in violent abuses...so prevalent that these may be said to be their principal means of waging war." reference
A Human Rights Watch report found that the Contras were guilty of targeting health care clinics and health care workers for assassination; kidnapping civilians; torturing and executing civilians, including children, who were captured in combat; raping women; indiscriminately attacking civilians and civilian homes; seizing civilian property; and burning civilian houses in captured towns. reference

 


It is now known, from the testimonies of a number of different sources, (including CIA operatives and informants, FBI informants, undercover DEA agents, and drug smugglers) that the U.S. government would routinely send planes filled with weapons to Nicaragua, offload the weapons to the Contras, and then reload the planes with cocaine to be brought back into the U.S. These planes delivered their shipments to different "hubs" around the U.S., the cocaine was then sold to communities (ex. Watts, Los Angeles,), and the money made from these profits were used to fund the Contras with more weapons, clothing, etc. 

Fourteen administration officials were indicted, including then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Eleven convictions resulted, some of which were vacated on appeal. The rest of those indicted or convicted were all pardoned in the final days of the presidency of George H. W. Bush, who had been vice-president at the time of the affair. Below is a list of those indicted/convicted:
  

  • Caspar Weinberger, Secretary of Defense, was indicted on two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice on June 16, 1992. Weinberger received a pardon from George H. W. Bush on December 24, 1992, before he was tried.
  • William Casey, Head of the CIA. Thought to have conceived the plan, was stricken ill hours before he would testify. Reporter Bob Woodward reported Casey knew of and approved the plan.
  • Robert C. McFarlane, National Security Adviser, convicted of withholding evidence, but after a plea bargain was given only two years of probation. Later pardoned by President George H. W. Bush
  • Elliott Abrams, Assistant Secretary of State, convicted of withholding evidence, but after a plea bargain was given only two years probation. Later pardoned by President George H. W. Bush
  • Alan D. Fiers Chief of the CIA's Central American Task Force, convicted of withholding evidence and sentenced to one year probation. Later pardoned by President George H. W. Bush
  • Clair George Chief of Covert Ops-CIA, convicted on two charges of perjury, but pardoned by President George H. W. Bush before sentencing.
  • Oliver North, member of the National Security Council convicted of accepting an illegal gratuity, obstruction of a congressional inquiry, and destruction of documents, but the ruling was overturned since he had been granted immunity.
  • Fawn Hall, Oliver North's secretary was given immunity from prosecution on charges of conspiracy and destroying documents in exchange for her testimony.
  • Jonathan Scott Royster Liaison to Oliver North was given immunity from prosecution on charges of conspiracy and destroying documents in exchange for his testimony.
  • National Security Advisor John Poindexter was convicted of five counts of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, perjury, defrauding the government, and the alteration and destruction of evidence. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that overturned these convictions.
  • Duane Clarridge An ex-CIA senior official, he was indicted in November 1991 on seven counts of perjury and false statements relating to a November 1985 shipment to Iran. Pardoned before trial by President George H. W. Bush.
  • Richard V. Secord Ex-major general in the Air Force who organized the Iran arms sales and Contra aid. He pleaded guilty in November 1989 to making false statements to Congress and was sentenced to two years of probation.
  • Albert Hakim A businessman, he pleaded guilty in November 1989 to supplementing the salary of North by buying a $13,800 fence for North with money from "the Enterprise", which was a set of foreign companies Hakim used in Iran-Contra. In addition, Swiss company Lake Resources Inc., used for storing money from arms sales to Iran to give to the Contras, plead guilty to stealing government property. Hakim was given two years of probation and a $5,000 fine, while Lake Resources Inc. was ordered to dissolve.


Oliver North and John Poindexter were indicted on multiple charges on March 16, 1988. North, indicted on 16 counts, was found guilty by a jury of three felony counts. The convictions were vacated on appeal on the grounds that North's Fifth Amendment rights may have been violated by the indirect use of his testimony to Congress which had been given under a grant of immunity. In 1990 Poindexter was convicted on several felony counts of conspiracy, lying to Congress, obstruction of justice, and altering and destroying documents pertinent to the investigation. His convictions were also overturned on appeal on similar grounds.
Oscar Danilo Blandón Reyes
Oscar Danilo Blandon Reyes, also knows as Oscar Danilo Blandon, was born in Nicaragua in 1952. He headed Nicaragua's agricultural imports under Anastasio Somoza. When the Somoza government was overthrown in 1979, Blandon fled to the United States and raised money for the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN), which was a Contra group. Blandon was also a self admitted CIA operative. 
So, how did Blandon raise money in the U.S. for the FDN (Contra)? It should come as no surprise: He sold drugs and weapons.  According to many sources, including reporter Gary Webb, Blandón sold drugs and weapons to the Crips in Los Angeles. Blandón claimed that the Central Intelligence Agency protected him, allowing him to operate without fear of reprisal.  Blandón was a major drug trafficker, infamously supplying Ricky Ross with millions of dollars worth of cocaine on a daily basis.

In May 1992, Blandón was convicted in US District Court (San Diego) on the federal charge of "conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute." He was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison, but was released due to time servedFollowing his imprisonment, Blandón was hired by the Drug Enforcement Administration and salaried at $42,000. Blandon was not a US Citizen/National, and is the only known foreigner in US history to not be deported following conviction on drug trafficking charges. The INS granted Blandón a green card, despite the criminal convictions, to allow him to work for the DEA. The DEA claims that Blandón is no longer on their payroll.
Gary Stephen Webb
Gary Webb was a Pulitzer prize-winning American investigative journalist and was best known for his 1996 "Dark Alliance" series of articles written for the San Jose Mercury News.  Webb investigated Nicaraguans linked to the CIA-backed Contras who had smuggled cocaine into the U.S. Their smuggled cocaine was distributed as crack cocaine in Los Angeles, with the profits funneled back to the Contras. 
Webb also alleged that this influx of Nicaraguan-supplied cocaine sparked, and significantly fueled, the widespread crack cocaine epidemic that swept through many U.S. cities during the 1980s. According to Webb, the CIA was aware of the cocaine transactions and the large shipments of drugs into the U.S. by Contra personnel. Webb charged that the Reagan administration shielded inner-city drug dealers from prosecution in order to raise money for the Contras, especially after Congress passed the Boland Amendment, which prohibited direct Contra funding.  

 In 2004, Webb was found dead from two gunshot wounds to the head, which the coroner's office judged a suicide. Although it is extremely rare, (to put it lightly), that anyone can shoot themselves TWICE in the head, Webb's death was ruled suicide. 
Journalist George Sanchez states that "the CIA's internal investigation by Inspector General Frederick Hitz vindicated much of Gary's reporting and observes that despite the campaign against Webb, "the government eventually admitted to more than Gary had initially reported" over the years.
"Freeway" Rick Ross
"Freeway" Rick Ross, (real name Ricky Donnell Ross), is best known for the "drug empire" that he presided over in Los Angeles, California, in the early 1980s. It is rumored that the nickname "Freeway" came from Ross' ownership of several properties along the Los Angeles-area Harbor Freeway as well as the existence of a freeway near his childhood home.
During the height of his drug dealing, Ross claims to have sold "$3 million in one day." According to the Oakland Tribune, "In the course of his rise, prosecutors estimate that Ross exported several tons of cocaine to New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, and made more than $600 million in the process between 1983 and 1984."


In 1996, Ross was sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of trying to purchase more than 100 kilograms of cocaine from a federal agent. Later that year, a series of articles by journalist Gary Webb in the San Jose Mercury News brought to light a connection between one of Ross's cocaine sources, Danilo Blandon, and the CIA as part of the Iran-Contra scandal.The decision in Ross's case was brought to a federal court of appeals where his sentence was reduced to 20 years. His sentence was then reduced further due to being a model prisoner, and he was moved to a halfway house in California in March 2009. Ross was released from prison on September 29, 2009.

It was through a friend that Ross was introduced to a connection to purchase cheap Nicaraguan cocaine: two Nicaraguan exiles, Oscar Danilo Blandon and Norwin Meneses Cantarero. Ross began distributing cocaine around $10,000 less per kilo than the average street price, his point of distribution being the Bloods and Crips street gangs. Eventually, Ross purchased his cocaine directly from Blandón and Meneses.

Ross's capture was facilitated by his career-long dealer Oscar Danilo Blandon, who "set up" Ross. Blandón had close ties with the Contras, and had met with Contra leader Enrique Bermúdez on several occasions. Blandón was the link between the CIA and Contras during the Iran-Contra affairGary Webb also interviewed Ross several times before breaking the story in 1996. [Rick Ross interview]

So, to summarize...

To summarize, the Reagan administration and the CIA were involved in trying to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. To do this, it was decided to fund anti-government rebels in Nicaragua called Contras. To fund the Contras, planes filled with cocaine were flown in from Nicaragua to the U.S., delivered to select locations and sold to drug dealers on the street. The money that was made from these drugs was then used to purchase weapons in the U.S. Finally, those weapons were flown back to Nicaragua to the hands of the Contras. 

One of the people that was involved in bringing the cocaine into the U.S. was Oscar Danilo Blandon, who was Nicaraguan born and also a CIA operative. Blandon personally sold Freeway Rick Ross cocaine on multiple occasions, and Rick Ross in turn sold the cocaine all over the U.S. 

This is an extremely brief summary of how the U.S. actually distributed cocaine to its own citizens. There is a lot more that can be discussed as well, such as Freeway Rick Ross only being sentenced to 5 years for his initial drug conviction although being found with millions of dollars of cocaine, Rick Ross being set up while still in prison by Oscar Danilo Blandon, Ross being sentenced back to prison for 20 years after the Blandon set up while Blandon avoided prison time and actually was paid as a DEA informant, the fact that George H. W. Bush was CIA director before becoming Vice President under Ronald Reagan - the same CIA that was involved in bringing planes loaded with cocaine from Nicaragua, etc. 


References
Declassified memos

The following are declassified memos sent to Oliver North, and record that North was repeatedly informed of Contra ties to drug trafficking. 

 In his entry for August 9, 1985, North summarizes a meeting with Robert Owen ("Rob"), his liaison with the contras. They discuss a plane used by Mario Calero, brother of Adolfo Calero, head of the FDN, to transport supplies from New Orleans to contras in Honduras. North writes: "Honduran DC-6 which is being used for runs out of New Orleans is probably being used for drug runs into U.S." [link here]

In a July 12, 1985 entry, North noted a call from retired Air Force general Richard Secord in which the two discussed a Honduran arms warehouse from which the contras planned to purchase weapons. (The contras did eventually buy the arms, using money the Reagan administration secretly raised from Saudi Arabia.) According to the notebook, Secord told North that "14 M to finance [the arms in the warehouse] came from drugs." [link here]

In 1987, the Senate Subcommittee on Narcotics, Terrorism and International Operations, led by Senator John Kerry, launched an investigation of allegations arising from reports, more than a decade ago, of contra-drug links. One of the incidents examined by the "Kerry Committee" was an effort to divert drug money from a counternarcotics operation to the contra war.
On July 28, 1988, two DEA agents testified before the House Subcommittee on Crime regarding a sting operation conducted against the Medellin Cartel. The two agents said that in 1985 Oliver North had wanted to take $1.5 million in Cartel bribe money that was carried by a DEA informant and give it to the contras. DEA officials rejected the idea.
The Kerry Committee report concluded that "senior U.S. policy makers were not immune to the idea that drug money was a perfect solution to the Contras' funding problems." [link here]

In February 1987 a contra sympathizer in California told the FBI he believed FDN officials were involved in the drug trade. Dennis Ainsworth, a Berkeley-based conservative activist who had supported the contra cause for years, gave a lengthy description of his suspicions to FBI agents. The bureau's debriefing says that Ainsworth agreed to be interviewed because "he has certain information in which he believes the Nicaraguan 'Contra' organization known as FDN (Frente Democrático Nacional) has become more involved in selling arms and cocaine for personal gain than in a military effort to overthrow the current Nicaraguan Sandinista Government." Ainsworth informed the FBI of his extensive contacts with various contra leaders and backers, and explained the basis for his belief that members of the FDN were trafficking in drugs. [link here]

On October 31, 1996, the Washington Post ran a follow up story to the San Jose Mercury News series titled "CIA, Contras and Drugs: Questions on Links Linger." The story drew on court testimony in 1990 of Fabio Ernesto Carrasco, a pilot for a major Columbian drug smuggler named George Morales. As a witness in a drug trial, Carrasco testified that in 1984 and 1985, he piloted planes loaded with weapons for contras operating in Costa Rica. The weapons were offloaded, and then drugs stored in military bags were put on the planes which flew to the United States. "I participated in two [flights] which involved weapons and cocaine at the same time," he told the court.
Carrasco also testified that Morales provided "several million dollars" to Octaviano Cesar and Adolfo "Popo" Chamorro, two rebel leaders working with the head of the contras' southern front, Eden Pastora. The Washington Post reported that Chamorro said he had called his CIA control officer to ask if the contras could accept money and arms from Morales, who was at the time under indictment for cocaine smuggling. "They said [Morales] was fine," Chamorro told the Post. [link here]

All links to documents and material can be found here.

Actual audio of Oscar Danillo Blandon below (click links to listen)

July 21, 1990: Conversation outside Bonita Store restaurant between John Arman and Oscar Danillo Blandon in San Diego. Blandon talks with Arman about his work with the blacks in Los Angeles and how much crack has been sold. [link]
BLANDON: These people have been working with me 10 years.
ARMAN: (interrupts)
B: I've sold them about 2,000 or 4,000. I don't know. I don't remember how many.

Blandon and Arman discuss who Blandon's contacts are in Los Angeles. [link]
BLANDON: These ... these are the black people.
ARMAN: Black?!
B: Yeah. They control LA. These are the people that control L.A.
A: I don't like niggers.
B: Well ...
A: They pay cash though?
B: Yeah, they pay cash.

March 7, 1996: Alan Fenster, defense attorney for Rick Ross, asks Danilo Blandon where he was "running his operation." [link]
FENSTER: So you were running his Los Angeles operation, isn't that correct?
BLANDON: Yes. Now remember, we were running, just ... whatever we were running in L.A., it goes ... the profit was going to the Contra revolution. I don't know ...
F: I'm glad you reminded me of that.

Fenster asks about a converation between Blandon and Norwin Meneses, his contact person for the Contras. [link]
FENSTER: He (Meneses) said, "Hey, I'm selling drugs and I want you to help me" ...
BLANDON: Yes.
F: ...in so many words. Is that right?
B: To raise the money for the Contra revolution.

All links to audio, as well as photos and other documents can be found here






















The Birth of the Fictitious "War On Drugs" and Ronald Reagan

Posted: Saturday, October 5, 2013 by Bryan Troupe in
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There may be more African American men in prison today than there were in slavery before the Emancipation Proclamation. African Americans and Latinos have been talking about these issues for years - the school to prison pipeline, the prison industrial complex, The New Jim Crow - but not many in positions of power have taken note. 


The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander lays out these issues in great specificity, showing how the issues of slavery and Jim Crow are even more relevant today. The postings below are directly from Alexander's book, the first chapter of The New Jim Crow. While it is important to know that the War on Drugs started with the Reagan administration, we should also recognize that all of the following presidents - Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr., and Obama - have for the most part continued these policies. This is the first posting of many to come on this issue. 



Michelle Alexander writes, “Since the nation’s founding, African Americans repeatedly have been controlled through institutions such as slavery and Jim Crow, which appear to die, but then are reborn in new form, tailored to the needs and constraints of the time.”

Ronald Reagan came into the presidency with the strong support of disaffected whites, (poor and working class), who felt betrayed by the Democratic Party’s civil rights agenda.

He echoed white frustration in race-neutral terms such as “welfare queens” and criminal “predators”.
When Reagan kicked off his presidential campaign, he started at the Neshoba County Fair near Philadelphia, Mississippi – where three civil rights activists were murdered in 1964. He told the crowd there, “I believe in states’ rights,” and vowed to restore states and local governments the power that belonged to them.

Reagan frequently attacked crime and welfare during his presidential campaign. One of his most often told stories was of the Chicago “welfare queen with 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards, and whose tax income alone is over $150,000.” He attacked the food stamp program with stories such as, “some fellow ahead of you buy a T-bone steak while you were standing in a checkout line with your package of hamburger.” These type of analogies were normally followed up with promises to be tougher on crime and to enhance federal government’s role of combating it. The result was 22 percent of Democrats voted for Ronald Reagan, and 34 percent of those Democrats believed that civil rights leaders were pushing “too fast.”
 
Before Reagan was elected president, street crime was traditionally fought by state and local law enforcement. Once Reagan was elected, the Justice Department announced a decision to cut the number of specialists in half that were assigned to prosecute white-collar criminals and to shift them to street crime detail, particularly drug-law enforcement. In 1982, Reagan announced his administration’s War on Drugs.

At the time that Reagan declared this War on Drugs, less than 2 percent of the nation viewed drugs as the most important issue facing the nation. However, by raging a war on drug users and dealers, Reagan made good on his campaign promise to crack down on the racially defined “others” – the undeserving.


Between 1980 and 1984, FBI antidrug funding increased from $8 million to $95 million. Between 1981 and 1991, DEA antidrug spending grew from $86 million to $1.026 billion. Yet, funding for drug treatment, prevention, and education programs were reduced. The budget for the National Institute on Drug Abuse was reduced from $274 million to $57 million from 1981 to 1984 and antidrug funds to Department of Education were reduced from $14 million to $3 million.


Crack cocaine hit the streets in 1985, a few years after Reagan’s War on Drugs was announced. The Reagan administration took the opportunity to publicize crack cocaine in order to build up support for its drug war. In 1986, Newsweek reported that crack was the biggest story since Vietnam/Watergate, while Time magazine said that crack was “the issue of the year.” Articles featured black “crack whores, crack babies, and gangbangers” simply reinforcing racial stereotypes of black women as irresponsible, selfish “welfare queens” and black men as “predators.” The media also began to use bogus claims that crack was “instantly addictive.” Between October 1988 and October 1989, the Washington Post ran 1,565 stories about crack cocaine and the drug scourge.


In 1986, with the media now eating out of the Reagan administration’s hand, the House passed legislation allowing the death penalty for some drug-related crimes. Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 which included mandatory minimum sentences for the distribution of cocaine, and far more severe punishment for distribution for crack. Crack, of course, was (and still is) associated with blacks, while powder cocaine associated with whites. 

Congress then developed a NEW Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1988 – this one with even more dire consequences. Public housing authorities were able to evict any tenant who allowed any form of drug-related criminal activity to occur on or near public housing premises while eliminating many forms of federal benefits, including student loans for anyone convicted of a drug offense. The act also expanded the death penalty for drug related offenses and imposed new mandatory minimums for drug offenses, including a five year mandatory for possession of cocaine base – whether there was intent to sell or not. This penalty would also apply to first time offenders.

You can buy Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow, here. Please read this book!

Unknown Historical Facts About the March on Washington in 1963

Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 by Bryan Troupe in
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Did you know... that there was only one woman speaker at the March on Washington in 1963? Her name was Daisy Bates; she was former president of the Arkansas chapter of the NAACP and also a longtime board member of the national NAACP. She was allowed to speak for a little over a minute. Here is her entire speech:

Mr. Randolph, friends, the women of this country, Mr. Randolph, pledge to you, to Martin Luther King, Roy Wilkins and all of you fighting for civil liberties, that we will join hands with you as women of this country. Rosa Gragg, vice president; Dorothy Height, the National Council of Negro Women; the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; the Methodist Church women—all the women—pledge that we will join hands with you. We will kneel-in, we will sit-in, until we can eat in any corner in the United States. We will walk until we are free, until we can walk to any school and take our children to any school in the United States. And we will sit-in, and we will kneel-in, and we will lie-in, if necessary, until every Negro in America can vote. This we pledge you, the women of America.

The only other woman to even touch the microphone to speak was only able to utter one word – “Hello” – before the microphone was snatched away. Her name is Gloria Richardson. Richardson was then co-founder of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee in Maryland, which was in the midst of a campaign to desegregate public institutions like schools and hospitals. She went on to be friends with Malcolm X. She is now 91 years old.

In her own words:  I was going to tell them, "You all just sit here until they pass that civil rights bill, even if it is a weak one." And I said, "Hello." And they took [the microphone]…

You can read/listen to her entire interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! here.

Did you know... that Rosa Parks, who launched Dr. Martin Luther King into stardom in Montgomery, also attended the March in Washington in ’63? Rosa Parks also was not allowed to speak at the “monumental” event.

Did you know... that during the March in 1963, the Justice Department tapped the microphone of the speakers? Amy Goodman, an investigative journalist and host of the show Democracy Now! reports that the Justice Department had control over the microphone. If there was a call for insurrection by one of the speakers, then the microphone would be cut and the song “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” by Mahalia Jackson would be played over the loudspeakers. [read/listen here]

Here’s what Malcolm X had to say about the March in Washington a few months after the march happened:

When Martin Luther King failed to desegregate Albany, Georgia, the civil rights struggle in America reached this low point. King became bankrupt almost as a leader, plus even financially, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was in financial trouble. Plus, it was in trouble, period, with the people, when they failed to desegregate Albany, Georgia. Other Negro civil rights leaders, of so-called national stature, became fallen idols. As they became fallen idols, began to lose their prestige and influence, local Negro leaders began to stir up the masses. In Cambridge, Maryland, Gloria Richardson; in Danville, Virginia, and other parts of the country, local leaders began to stir up our people at the grassroots level. This was never done by these Negroes, whom you recognize, of national stature. They controlled you, but they never incited you or excited you. They controlled you. They contained you. They kept you on the plantation. [here]

During this same speech, Malcolm X also spoke of the “Big 6”. The "Big Six” were the six leading civil rights organizers at the time: Martin Luther King, James Farmer, John Lewis, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young. In Malcolm’s own words:

The Negroes were out there in the streets. They were talking about how they were going to march on Washington.... That they were going to march on Washington, march on the Senate, march on the White House, march on the Congress, and tie it up, bring it to a halt, not let the government proceed. They even said they were going out to the airport and lay down on the runway and not let any airplanes land. I'm telling you what they said. That was revolution. That was revolution. That was the black revolution.

It was the grass roots out there in the street. It scared the white man to death, scared the white power structure in Washington, D.C. to death; I was there. When they found out that this black steamroller was going to come down on the capital, they called in ... these national Negro leaders that you respect and told them, "Call it off," Kennedy said. "Look you all are letting this thing go too far." And Old Tom said, "Boss, I can't stop it because I didn't start it." I'm telling you what they said. They said, "I'm not even in it, much less at the head of it." They said, "These Negroes are doing things on their own. They're running ahead of us." And that old shrewd fox, he said, "If you all aren't in it, I'll put you in it. I'll put you at the head of it. I'll endorse it. I'll welcome it. I'll help it. I'll join it."

But the white man put the Big Six ahead of it, made them the march. They became the march. They took it over. And the first move they made after they took it over, they invited Walter Reuther, a white man. They invited a priest, a rabbi and an old white preacher. Yes, an old white preacher. The same white elements that put Kennedy in power—labor, the Catholics, the Jews and liberal Protestants—same clique that put Kennedy in power joined the march on Washington.

It’s just like when you’ve got some coffee that’s too black, which means it’s too strong. What you do? You integrate it with cream; you make it weak. If you pour too much cream in, you won’t even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it’ll put you to sleep.

This is what they did with the March on Washington. They joined it. They didn’t integrate it; they infiltrated it. They joined it, became a part of it, took it over. And as they took it over, it lost its militancy. They ceased to be angry. They ceased to be hot. They ceased to be uncompromising. Why, it even ceased to be a march. It became a picnic, a circus, nothing but a circus, with clowns and all. You had one right here in Detroit—I saw it on television—with clowns leading it, white clowns and black clowns. I know you don’t like what I’m saying, but I’m going to tell you anyway, 'cause I can prove what I'm saying. If you think I’m telling you wrong, you bring me Martin Luther King and A. Philip Randolph and James Farmer and those other three, and see if they’ll deny it over a microphone. No, it was a sellout. It was a takeover. ... They controlled it so tight, they told those Negroes what time to hit town, where to stop, what signs to carry, what song to sing, what speech they could make, and what speech they couldn't make, and then told them to get out of town by sundown.... ["A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn] [listen to excerpts of Malcolm X speech here]



And now you know….

CHILDREN, FOSTER CARE, AND PRISON

Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 by Bryan Troupe in Labels: ,
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Is there a link between children in foster care systems and the prison system of the United States? Consider this...

Within a year and a half of leaving foster care:
      • 27% of males and 10% of females are incarcerated.
      • 33% receive public assistance
      • 37% have not finished high school
      • And a whopping 50% are unemployed
Think that's amazing? Well, also think about this - 3 of 10 of the nation's homeless are former foster care children.


Here's the kicker:
  • Children are 11 times more likely to be abused in state care than in their own home.
  • The overall child victim of maltreatment rate in 2007 was 10.6 victims per every 1,000 children. The rate for state child victim rates? Up to 26.3 victims per every 1,000 children.
  • It is over 5 times more likely that a child dies as a result of abuse in foster care than a child in general population
  • 2% of all child fatalities happen in foster care - which is a horrifically high number considering that out of all the children in the general population, only .4% are in foster care. That's right - .4%.
So, is there a link between children in foster care systems and the United States prison system? 



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First of all, what is wealth? Wealth is what you own minus what you owe. Your wealth is the amount left over, which allows you to start a business, buy a home, send a child to college, or save towards your retirement. (I'm sure most of us already know this, but I simply want to do a quick brush-up for my readers that may need it.)

To be able to succeed in America, the possession of wealth is extremely important. Obviously, without wealth there is no way that families or even communities can become economically secure. Our government and nation recognize this, hence the policies which provide subsidies and incentives for asset building. However, because these rewards and opportunities provided by our nation are not distributed equally, there is an ever widening wealth gap in America. Reform is needed. 

INCOME EQUALITY DOES NOT LEAD TO RACIAL EQUALITY
 In a study done between the dates of 1984 and 2007, data shows the greatest wealth accrued during this period accrued primarily to high income whites. The average middle income white that had an accumulation of wealth of $25,000 in 1984 amassed wealth of approximately $74,000 by the year 2007. Contrarily, the average high income African American that had an accumulation of wealth of $25,000 in 1984 actually saw a decline of wealth by the year 2007. The decline for high income African Americans dropped from $25,000 to $18,000. So, between the years of 1984 - 2007 there is a wealth gap of $56,000 between high income African Americans and middle class whites. [here]


This study places high income individuals as earning more than $50,000 in 1984 and middle income individuals as earning $30,000 in 1984.


LACK OF WEALTH LEADS TO INCREASE IN DEBT
Both low wealth whites and low wealth African Americans experience economic decline and stagnation, meaning they are unable to increase their wealth. Unfortunately, African Americans are more likely to have very low levels of wealth. One in four African American families have no assets at all. 

Families that have low and negative wealth become increasingly dependent on credit in order to make ends meet. If an individual wants to start a business, they now need to take out a loan. If an individual wants to send a child to college or go to college themselves, they need to take out a loan. If an individual wants to buy a home...well you get the picture. 


Low and negative wealth individuals and families now have to use credit as an emergency resource and as a means to make ends meet. One in ten African Americans owe at least $3,600. Sadly, most African Americans have more debt than they do assets. [here]


THE LENDING MARKET PREYS ON THOSE IN DEBT
It is a fact that low income people pay more for accessing credit. Because many of the minority communities are laden with low and negative wealth families, this is open field for predatory lending to take place. This is the reason why there are so many payday lending and check cashing stores in inner city neighborhoods. Low income individuals also resort to more credit card debt as well. All of these sources of lending, of course, give astronomical interest rates, which in most cases is almost impossible for low income individuals to ever pay back in full. 


THE AMERICAN RACIAL WEALTH GAP PART 2 OF 2

Posted: by Bryan Troupe in Labels: , , , ,
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The three factors that make up the middle class are a home, healthcare, and a college education. It can be said that the middle class is what defines the American Dream. The middle class is definitely the underlying force which drives this country. Without the purchasing power and the skilled workers that the middle class provides, the United States would by no means be a global power.


Many may not know that the middle class was actually created by the U.S. in the aftermath of World War II. After the second World War, demand for U.S. products rose to as high as it had ever been. New government programs enabled more individuals to obtain home loans. New programs also enacted reforms targeting discriminatory lending practices and made mortgage interest tax deductible. Minimum wage was raised to the highest than it had ever been in 1968. [here]


That was then and this is now.The structures that provided these opportunities have now either weakened or become obsolete over the last forty years. Because of this, a growing gap between the rich and the poor has emerged. The factors that make up the middle class, (a home, healthcare, and college education), have risen to extraordinary costs, outpacing growth in incomes. Because of this, the American people are finding it increasingly difficult to enter and remain in the middle class. [here]


WHY THERE IS A WEALTH GAP
Obviously, a lack of assets make it difficult to enter into or stay in the middle class. This means that securing a financial position is almost impossible for families, their children, their children's children, and so on. Each generation does not have the ability to pull themselves up. The idea of the middle class is, of course, that security and financial stability transfers across generations. This gives the future generations the head start that is often needed to succeed in life.


As we discussed in Part 1 of this series, low wealth individuals are predominantly African Americans. Also, most African Americans own more debt than they do assets. As long as there is more debt owed than assets owned, there will continue to be a large wealth gap.


Education is a definite way to eliminate the wealth gap. The question is, how will many low wealth individuals be able to afford education?

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This really surprised me. I had no idea that the economic gap between black and white Americans was so large.


A study released by Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) is troubling, to say the least. The study conducted over a 23 year time span shows that the gap between African Americans and White Americans rose by $75,000, from $20,000 to $95,000.


The study doesn't stop there however. The study goes on to state that the results of these figures reflect U.S. public policy.


What are the policies that IASP are referring to?


IASP found that public policies in the US benefited the wealthiest people, through tax cuts on investment income and inheritances, and disadvantaged others through discrimination in housing, credit and labour markets.
"There continues to be a persistence of racial segregation," said Thomas Shapiro, IASP director and co-author of the paper.
Mr Shapiro said that racial segregation operated by limiting the value of property in a community that is primarily African American, in comparison to a community that is predominantly white.[here]

Wow.  Straight Henny and no chaser. A little too blunt and honest for your liking? The stats and facts don't lie. 


This is simply amazing. I will be sure to research this issue a lot further in the upcoming days. Please stay tuned.

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