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In a conventional court, justice is an adversarial process: Judgment comes from on high and the role of the defendant is to shut up and obey. In Restorative Justice Community Court, there is a larger, more complex understanding of the context in which crime occurs and all participants have a say in how to heal its wounds.In a conventional court, justice is an adversarial process. In Restorative Justice Community Court, there is a larger, more complex understanding of the context in which crime occurs and all participants have a say in how to heal its wounds. (Photo: AJEL / Pixabay)ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

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"Even if you’re the one charged, you will help create the answer."

And the court has now come to order.

The speaker is Colleen Sheehan, the presiding judge of the Restorative Justice Community Court, which opened last week in the Chicago neighborhood of North Lawndale, after several years of intense planning.

This new court – this utterly new idea about the administration, and meaning, of "justice" – is part of the Cook County Circuit Court system, launched as a two-year pilot project with the help of a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. It is also, in the eyes of the many people who have helped to make this court a reality, the beginning of something extraordinary: a movement away from punishment-based judicial proceedings to a system based on . . . healing.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

wisconsincapitolScott Walker and Wisconsin are serving as a model for contemporary state union-busting. Wisconsin Capitol. (Photo: Basharat Alam Shah)

Scott Walker's Wisconsin model for eviscerating public unions is still very much a working model for the right wing. In fact, the Guardian posted an August 30 article on how a coordinated effort to attack public unions is underway in legislatures across the nation. Headlined "Rightwing alliance plots assault to 'defund and defang' America's unions," the report states:

Rightwing activists across the US have launched a nationwide campaign to undermine progressive politicians by depriving them of a major source of support and funding -- public sector unions.

A network of conservative think tanks with outposts in all 50 states has embarked on a “breakthrough” campaign designed to strike a “mortal blow” against the American left. The aim is to “defund and defang” unions representing government employees as the first step towards ensuring the permanent collapse of progressive politics....

The new assault is being spearheaded by the State Policy Network (SPN), an alliance of 66 state-based think tanks, or “ideas factories” as it calls them, with a combined annual budget of $80m. As suggested by its slogan -- “State solutions. National impact” -- the group outlines an aim to construct a rightwing hegemony throughout the US, working from the bottom up.

According to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), a national corporate watchdog organization, the SPN is currently working to weaken the unions that represent first responders who are helping Houston residents get back on their feet after Hurricane Harvey.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

JS 0913wrp opt(Photo: Sharat Ganapati / Flickr)Come mid-October, representatives from possibly as many as seventy predominantly conservative Christian media organizations will be heading to Israel for a four-day "Christian Media Summit" in Jerusalem. As Ha'aretz's Judy Maltz recently reported, the conference is aimed at further cementing ties between Christian conservatives and the Israeli government.

According to Maltz, the Israeli government -- which is sponsoring the gathering of broadcasters and journalists, and paying for the participant's accommodations – is "hoping to explain the country and its often controversial policies to this new target audience."

While many issues will be discussed at the first-of-its-kind Summit, it is possible that high up on the list is solidifying opposition to those promoting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

At the February National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) International Christian Media Convention, in Orlando, Florida, Laurie Cardoza-Moore, founder and president of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN), sharply rebuked Christian supporting BDS. "It is fake theology, like it is fake news!" she said.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

hospitalemergencyThe police abuse and arrest of a nurse at a Utah Hospital is just the tip of the iceberg. (Photo: Hamza Butt)

The National Nurses United association occasionally uses the slogan, "Stop the Violence. Heal America." This slogan became particularly pertinent to the profession when a Salt Lake City nurse was roughed up, handcuffed and arrested in late July for following hospital policy, sanctioned by court decisions. She refused to provide a city police officer with a blood sample from an unconscious patient. In this case, clearly, the police weren't stopping violence but precipitating it -- in a hospital, of all places.

On September 1, National Nurses United strongly condemned the action in a news release:

National Nurses United today criticized the actions of Salt Lake City police officers for assaulting and arresting a University of Utah registered nurse for advocating for an unconscious patient in late July.

In a press conference yesterday RN Alex Wubbels, released a video and described how she was assaulted and arrested and handcuffed by police, even after a hospital supervisor confirmed to the officers she was in full compliance with hospital policy for refusing to allow police to take a blood sample from an unconscious patient without his consent.

“The first job of a registered nurse is always to protect and advocate for her patient, period,” said Jean Ross, RN, co-president of National Nurses United, the nation’s largest union and professional association of RNs, calling the police actions “outrageous.”

“As the videos and news accounts make clear, there is no excuse for this assault, or her arrest, which sends a chilling message about the safety of nurses and the rights of patients,” Ross said.

Hospitals are not immune from violence. For example, personal disputes that result in injury sometimes are extended into the facilities by the feuding parties.

BISHOP DWAYNE ROYSTER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

6096334425 6da6072c3e z opt(Photo: Jason Taellious / Flickr)Today, 60 clergy and faith leaders from a dozen states are descending on Capitol Hill with a single question for their representatives: Will you make a righteous decision for communities of color or will you resign?

Making a righteous decision is making a decision to resist hate. Our nation was built, and has been maintained, on a clear hierarchy of human value. Today, white supremacy shows up in the policies that the Trump administration is pushing, which keep Black and Brown communities down, if not actually out of the country. Between ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for 800,000 Dreamers and putting forth a budget that increases spending for militarization of the border and increased raids, detention and harassment of immigrants by $2.6 billion, President Donald J. Trump is forcing us to choose which of our neighbors can stay: children or their parents. Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reinvigorating the war on drugs, which imprisoned African Americans for doing the same things their white peers did.

People from all races and backgrounds benefit from government services, but congressional Republicans and the Trump administration see communities of color as unworthy of the services afforded to others. The House budget would repeal the Affordable Care Act and restructure Medicaid to cut over $1 trillion from health care and give each of the richest 400 families a tax break of $7 million annually. The president's tax plan includes $5.5 trillion in tax breaks for wealthy elites and big corporations -- so that there's little or nothing left for anyone else.

We could go on, but the point is clear. This is what it looks like when those in power perpetuate a system that serves only themselves. People of faith are building a new movement that includes people of all religions, all races and all income levels and sees every person for who they are -- children of God who deserve fair treatment, safety and opportunity, without exceptions.

2017.12.9 BF chow2(Photo: Laura Owsianka / Flickr)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

Far and wide, young people consider climate change to be the world's most serious issue, according to the World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Shaper Survey of more than 31,000 millennials from 186 countries and territories.

Close to half (48.8 percent) of those surveyed chose "climate change/destruction of nature" as their No. 1 concern. This is the third year in a row that 18-to-35-year-olds declared the issue as their biggest global concern.

The vast majority of survey participants also agreed about what causes climate change -- 91 percent answered "agree" and "strongly agree" with the statement "science has proven that humans are responsible for climate change."

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 07:06

Artist Donates BP Prize Money to Greenpeace

Christian-Slane told the Guardian that his £1,000 donation to the prominent environmental organization was a "symbolic act" of defiance against BP's extraction of fossil fuels.Artist Henry Christian-Slane told the Guardian that his £1,000 donation to the prominent environmental organization Greenpeace was a "symbolic act" of defiance against BP's extraction of fossil fuels. (Photo: Takayuki Shimizu / Flickr)LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch

A growing number of artists and concerned citizens are speaking out against the oil industry's sponsorship of the arts.

The Guardian reported this week that Henry Christian-Slane, the winner of BP's annual Young Artist Award at the National Portrait Gallery in London, donated a portion of his £7,000 prize money to Greenpeace in protest of the multinational oil and gas giant.

The 26-year-old artist and illustrator from New Zealand received the prestigious award for his portrait of his partner, Gabi Lardies.

Christian-Slane told the Guardian that his £1,000 donation to the prominent environmental organization was a "symbolic act" of defiance against BP's extraction of fossil fuels.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

theroadtowealth.jpgThe racial wealth gap is widening in the United States. (Image: Inequality.org)

"Just three years from now... White households are projected to own 85 times more wealth than Black households and 68 times more wealth than Latino households," according to a news release summarizing a report released yesterday by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a progressive Washington think tank, and Prosperity Now, a think tank that focuses on research and solutions for a more equal availability of wealth.

The news release notes,

At a time when households of color make up a growing share of the population and are projected to reach majority status by 2043, their declining wealth is already taking a significant toll on the broader economy. The nation's overall median wealth decreased 20% from 1983 to 2013 ($73,000 to $64,000) -- a period when Black and Latino median wealth went down and White wealth slowly went up.

The report, "The Road to Zero Wealth," released on September 11 is filled with startling findings about the wealth gap between people of color and the nation's white population. It focuses on overall family wealth and assets rather than income:

For several years, politicians, researchers, journalists and the public have focused their attention on growing economic inequality in the United States. Most often, this focus is on income (i.e., the wages earned from a job or from capital gains) rather than on wealth (i.e., the sum of one's assets minus their debts). Income inequality, while stark, pales in comparison to the vast economic divide exposed by examining disparities in wealth. For example, a recent study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that while the top 10% of income earners in United States take in almost 30% of the nation's income, the wealthiest 10% own an astounding 76% of the country's wealth. That means less than a quarter of the nation's wealth is left for the bottom 90% of the American population.

Monday, 11 September 2017 07:12

The Gaping Hole in Trump's Border Wall

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BorderWall 0911wrp optThe US-Mexico border. (Photo: qbac07 / Flickr)How much of our money does Donald Trump want to pour into his xenophobic fantasy of erecting an impenetrable wall on our Mexican border?

The big-businessman-turned-president insists that costs be damned — just build it! That seems to be a very un-businesslike approach — but then, it's not his money, is it? For those of you who do care, one measure of what the total tab might be is that he's now demanding $1.6 billion from Congress to start construction. How much wall will that buy? Seventy-four miles. And how long is the U.S.-Mexican border that he wants to seal off? One thousand, nine-hundred miles long. So, $1.6 billion down, and only 1,826 miles to go!

And let's not even get into the cost overruns, fraudulent billings shoddy materials and other scams that the army of corporate contractors will add to the sticker price of Donald's boondoggle on the border.

All of this reckless spending of our tax dollars for a 1,900-mile barricade of both physical and symbolic ugliness that only an extremist minority of Americans support. Besides being wildly expensive, this Trumpian folly is not needed, won't work, stifles the border economy, crudely tramples on both property rights and sensitive environments, autocratically separates millions of families and communities — and is an insult not only to the people of Mexico, but also to our own people's democratic values.

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Fist68 0911wrp opt(Photo: Melbourne Street Art Avantgarde / Flickr)The NFL national anthem protests – which have now included white players supporting their African American teammates -- are variations on a theme that hearken back to one of the most iconic images in the history of sports; the picture of Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising black-gloved fists on the victory stand at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. The third man on the victory stand, Australia's Peter Norman is too often cropped out of the picture.

Many people know that Smith and Carlos, after finishing first and third respectively in the 200-meter dash, paid a tremendous price for having the courage to protest racial inequality in the U.S. while on the victory stand during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner. Far fewer know that Peter Norman, the Australian runner who won the Silver medal, also paid a heavy price.

Smith and Carlos were sent home by the U.S. Olympic Committee, criticized by a hostile press, received death threats, and was reviled by a good portion of the nation. For years, they had a hard time making a living. Norman, who finished second in the race, also suffered recrimination and punishment back home in Australia for proudly wearing a small badge that read Olympic Project for Human Rights – an organization opposed to racism in sport -- during the medal ceremony.

Norman, who evidently suggested that Smith and Carlos share one pair of black gloves when Carlos couldn't find his pair, was ostracized by the Australian Olympic Committee and punished for decades. Norman was finally given an official apology from the Australian government in 2012; unfortunately it came six years after his death in 2006.

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