roundup: i wish Obama would listen to MLK

I'm going to try a more organized format for my roundups. And maybe something else to call it other than roundup.

Howard Zinn on Democracy Now: I Wish Obama Would Listen to Martin Luther King"
Some U.S. soldiers forced to ration water due to shortage
Homeless advocate caught eye of police Homeland Security coordinator
New York moves to be added to list of states cooler than California. Assembly passes gay marriage bill
Guns may be allowed back in national parks as part of credit card legislation
UCSB professor investigated for being critical of Israel

Historian and peace activist Howard Zinn is interviewed my Amy Goodman. One of the topics discussed is how Obama, like many, commends Martin Luther King on the civil rights movement, but does not take into account his ideas on peace and poverty. Zinn discusses how Martin Luther King, along with historical figures including Mark Twain and Helen Keller were radicals, yet history rarely mentions these parts.

Instead of Theodore Roosevelt, tell them about Mark Twain. Mark Twain—well, Mark Twain, everybody learns about as the author of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, but when we go to school, we don’t learn about Mark Twain as the vice president of the Anti-Imperialist League. We aren’t told that Mark Twain denounced Theodore Roosevelt for approving this massacre in the Philippines. No.

We want to give young people ideal figures like Helen Keller. And I remember learning about Helen Keller. Everybody learns about Helen Keller, you know, a disabled person who overcame her handicaps and became famous. But people don’t learn in school and young people don’t learn in school what we want them to learn when we do books like A Young People’s History of the United States, that Helen Keller was a socialist. She was a labor organizer. She refused to cross a picket line that was picketing a theater showing a play about her.

He goes on to say that presidents can't be relied upon. The people have to push leadership to get things done. On a side note, this is exactly what happened with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal. History class would have you think he did it out of the goodness of his heart. It's true that he had more compassion to the labor movement than many other presidents, but it was organization and strikes that brought upon the New Deal. The same thing happened with the Civil Rights movement.

AMY GOODMAN: When Barack Obama was running for president, asked in the debates who would MLK endorse, who would Dr. King endorse, he said, “None of us.”

HOWARD ZINN: Yeah, that’s true, because King believed—and this actually is one of the themes of our people’s history, is that you cannot depend on presidents, and you cannot depend on elections and voting to solve your problems. People themselves, organizing, demonstrating, clamoring, they are the only ones who can push the President and push Congress into change. And that’s what we have to do now with Obama. We have to point to what Obama said in the course of the campaign, when he said we not only have to get out of Iraq, we have to get out of the mindset that brought us into Iraq. Obama, himself, has not gotten out of that mindset yet. And I think we, the people, have to speak to him about that.

I think too many people think electing Obama was end game. They have to realize it was just an opportunity, one that has to be taken advantage of.

The reports were shocking enough when it was revealed that soldiers in Iraq had shortages of body armor and unshielded hummers, but now reports come out that some are forced to ration and steal water leading to cases of dehydration. Some have gotten sick from drinking tap water. Camps have also had issues with water, with filthy water coming out of showers and sinks. Another shocking issue mentioned in the story, but not elaborated on, is how some of these camps look more like shopping malls, where "[y]ou can eat Subway, Burger King, you can buy a $1,200 Oakley watch, but you can’t have clean water to brush your teeth with? What's the real priority here?" Is it really appropriate for corporations to be making money off soldiers that are putting their lives in danger for the country? Another example that corporatism has gone too far where these companies see these troops as simply another market.

Another example of the "War on Terror" being used to target activists. In Fresno a homeless advocate was sent a letter from a Homeland Security coordination team with the Fresno police for taking pictures around the City of Fresno Corporate Yard, where belongings of homeless people were brought after a cleanup effort. The letter advised him to contact them next time he plans on visiting the grounds.

The New York state assembly passed a same-sex marriage bill. The bill will now move to the senate for a vote. New York governor David Paterson said he would sign the bill.

The amendment is bad enough, allowing loaded guns to be taken into national parks but how could a such a thing be attached to credit card legislation, something it has nothing to do with? Just another example on what's wrong with our legislative process. Completely unrelated things like this should not be grouped together.

Professor William Robinson has been targeted by the Anti-Defamation League for criticizing Israel's position on Gaza. Noam Chomsky states, "The course structure is up to the professor. Charges of “anti-Semitism” are part of the ADL’s long-standing strategy to equate any criticism of Israel with anti-Jewish bias."