A group of SJA members will be attending Left Forum this weekend. If you are unsure of what that is click this link http://www.leftforum.org/. Also, our own club member, Kevin Young, will be speaking on a panel along with two Stony Brook University Professors, Michael Zweig of the economics department and Michael Schwartz of the sociology department. They are set to present at 10 am on Saturday Morning. The title of their panel is Creating Leverage: Non-Electoral Strategies for Change in the Obama Era. We will, mostly likely, be reporting back with pictures and some summaries of topics from the forum.
We plan to discuss the pitfalls of the United State’s public education system.
Topics to be covered:
1. public education, pre-school to high school —- including discussion of government funding and the recent push for charter schools (I think the charter school issue is definitely something we should address, since it’s so central to current educational policy)
-What are the historical roots of unequal educational access?
-What role does current policy play?
2. public higher education, focusing on New York state — including Cuomo’s recent budget proposal
-Plans to further privatize SUNY/CUNY
-Ongoing efforts to defend public ed. [RSU folks, could you help out here?]
3. militarization of schools and colleges, and the ways that working-class youth and youth of color are funneled into the military due to lack of options
4. the “school-to-prison pipeline” affecting (mainly) blacks and Latinos — How does it function, and how do we fight it?
Asmaa Mahfouz & the YouTube Video that Helped Spark the Egyptian Uprising
Asmaa Mahfouz (Arabic: أسماء محفوظ, born February 1, 1985) is an Egyptian activist and one of the founders of the April 6 Youth Movement. She has been credited by journalist Mona Eltahawy and others with helping to spark mass uprising through her video blog posted one week before the start of the 2011 Egyptian Protests. [ wikipedia]
Three weeks ago today, 26-year-old Egyptian activist Asmaa Mahfouz posted a video online urging people to protest the “corrupt government” of Hosni Mubarak by rallying in Tahrir Square on January 25. Her moving call ultimately helped inspire Egypt’s uprising. “I, a girl, am going down to Tahrir Square, and I will stand alone. And I’ll hold up a banner. Perhaps people will show some honor,” Mahfouz said. “Don’t think you can be safe anymore. None of us are. Come down with us and demand your rights, my rights, your family’s rights. I am going down on January 25th and will say no to corruption, no to this regime.”
ASMAA MAHFOUZ: [translated] Four Egyptians have set themselves on fire to protest humiliation and hunger and poverty and degradation they had to live with for 30 years. Four Egyptians have set themselves on fire thinking maybe we can have a revolution like Tunisia, maybe we can have freedom, justice, honor and human dignity. Today, one of these four has died, and I saw people commenting and saying, “May God forgive him. He committed a sin and killed himself for nothing.”
People, have some shame.
I posted that I, a girl, am going down to Tahrir Square, and I will stand alone. And I’ll hold up a banner. Perhaps people will show some honor. I even wrote my number so maybe people will come down with me. No one came except three guys—three guys and three armored cars of riot police. And tens of hired thugs and officers came to terrorize us. They shoved us roughly away from the people. But as soon as we were alone with them, they started to talk to us. They said, “Enough! These guys who burned themselves were psychopaths.” Of course, on all national media, whoever dies in protest is a psychopath. If they were psychopaths, why did they burn themselves at the parliament building?
I’m making this video to give you one simple message: we want to go down to Tahrir Square on January 25th. If we still have honor and want to live in dignity on this land, we have to go down on January 25th. We’ll go down and demand our rights, our fundamental human rights.
Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has refused to step down from his post, saying that he will not bow to “foreign pressure” in a televised address to the nation.
Mubarak announced that he had put into place a framework that would lead to the amendment of six constitutional articles in the address late on Thursday night.
“I can not and will not accept to be dictated orders from outside, no matter what the source is,” Mubarak said.
He said he was addressing his people with a “speech from the heart”.
Mubarak said that he is “totally committed to fulfilling all the promises” that he has earlier made regarding constituional and political reform.
“I have laid down a vision … to exit the current crisis, and to realise the demands voiced by the youth and citizens … without undermining the constitution in a manner that ensures the stability of our society,” he said.
He said he would stick by his earlier announcement of not seeking re-election in September, though he did delegate some powers to Omar Suleiman, the vice-president.
“I will remain adamant to shoulder my responsibility, protecting the constitution and safeguarding the interests of Egyptians [until the next elections].
“This is the oath I have taken before God and the nation, and I will continue to keep this oath,” he said.
Mubarak said the current “moment was not against my personality, against Hosni Mubarak”, and concluded by saying that he would not leave Egyptian soil until he was “buried under it”.
Mubarak’s comments were not well-received by hundreds of thousands gathered at Cairo’s Tahrir Square and in other cities, who erupted into angry chants against him. Pro-democracy protesters had been expecting Mubarak to resign, and their mood of celebration quickly turned to extreme anger as they heard the president’s speech.
Yesterday, we held a well recieved and informative event to benefit the suffering people of Gaza. The speaker included Ann Wright, a retired colonel of the US Army and of a US state department; She resigned in opposition to the Iraqi war. Other reasons included her dismay: of the “US lack of policy in North Korea, the US curtailment of civil liberties at home, and the US lack of effort in the Isareli-Palestenian peace process”.
The illegal and immoral Isreali blocade of economic goods has been going on for 43 years in the city of Gaza. It has been supported by Spain, France and Norway other than the United States, to force a revolution against the democratically elected Hamas (considered a terrorist organization) government.
Just last June, Israel announced that it will ease it’s blockade. However, in an article published in the BBC news, Jon Doninson reports that there has still been “no change in the exports leaving Gaza (which is none), that frails the Gaza economy.
There is 1.5 million people in Gaza, Israel only allows 20% of the products they need to survive to enter the city. Forcing residents to dig tunnels to transport goods into the country. Israel has demolished whole factories and negates any repair to occur to their sewage infrastructure.
In addition, to the economic blockade, Israel opereates a Maritime blockade the eliminates any humantarian goods to enter Gaza by sea.
The Free Gaza Movement and Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms for Humanitarian Relief (IFF) organized a Flottila of six ships carrying medical supplies, reconstructional goods, food, water, and 150 passengers. Three of those passengers were American one of them was Ann Wright. On May 30, 2010 the flottila arrived 40 miles off the shore of Gaza and was was met by Isareli force under an illegal raid to the Mavi Marvala, carrying only goods and unarmed passengers.
The economic and maritime blockade is working but at what costs. (to be continued)
UN: No change in Gaza despite easing of Israel blockade
By Jon Donnison BBC News, Gaza City
The UN says there has been “no material change” for people in Gaza since Israel announced it was “easing” its economic blockade of the Palestinian territory.
In June Israel said it would lift some of its restrictions on Gaza to allow in more food and consumer goods.
The move followed international pressure after the deaths of nine Turkish activists aboard a flotilla of ships trying to break the blockade.
The head of UN operations in Gaza said few people had noticed any difference.
“There’s been no material change for the people on the ground here in terms of their status, the aid dependency, the absence of any recovery or reconstruction, no economy,” the UN’s John Ging told the BBC.
“The easing, at it was described, has been nothing more than a political easing of the pressure on Israel and Egypt.”
‘Elephant in room’
There are now more Israeli products allowed into Gaza. But virtually all exports are still banned, which has devastated Gaza’s economy.
And the blockade on people remains. It is still extremely difficult for Palestinians to get Israeli permission to leave Gaza.
Mr Ging accused Israel of ignoring demands from the international community to lift the blockade.
A spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry said the UN was missing the point.
“The UN refuses to talk about the elephant in the room,” said Yigal Palmor.
“Why are there any problems in exporting and sometimes importing goods into Gaza? Why is the border blockaded? Because the territory has been overtaken by a declared terror movement.”
The blockade was originally tightened in 2007 after the Islamist movement Hamas came to power in Gaza. Israel as well as the US and the European union regard Hamas as a terrorist organisation.