The 85 richest people on Earth have the same amount of wealth as the bottom half of the population, according to a new report that highlights growing income inequality as political and business leaders gather for the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Those wealthy individuals are a small part of the richest 1% of the population, which combined owns about 46% of global wealth, according to the report from British humanitarian group Oxfam International.
The study found the richest 1% had $110 trillion in wealth --- 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the population.
That bottom half of the population owned about $1.7 trillion, or about 0.7% of the world's wealth. That's the same amount as owned by the 85 richest people, the report said.
The findings undermine democracy and make it more difficult to fight poverty, the report said.
"It is staggering that in the 21st century, half of the world's population own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all sit comfortably in a single train carriage," said Winnie Byanyima, the group's executive director.
What was the one, most important takeaway from today and Saturday's 50th Anniversary commemoration of MLK's "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom"? The one issue that seemed to make it into the remarks of just about everyone who spoke?
That's what we discussed during the first part of today's KPFK/Pacifica RadioBradCast, along with sound clip highlights from some of the most notable speakers. (Hint: If you didn't hear the fiery remarks of Rep. John Lewis --- the youngest speaker at the original 1963 remarks --- on Saturday, you'll now get to hear them in full.)
UPDATE 7/29/13: The arrestee seen above has now been identified, as 83-year old Robert Plummer, Jr. of Carthage NC. He is, according to We Act Radio, "a Korean War Vet who was one of the first African-American Navy UDT divers (AKA Frogmen, the precursors to the US Navy SEALs)."
When asked about his voting rights concerns in NC, as seen their video posted below, Plummer responds: "I am very despondent on that matter, because that's what I went to war for --- for protection of voting rights. And I can't see us going and saving democracy all over the world when our voting rights are being deteriorated right here in the United States."
He also says his arrest last week was not his first run in with the law. He says he was arrested on the Edmund Pettus bridge with Martin Luther King during the 1965 march for voting rights on Bloody Sunday in Selma, AL. Though, when asked for details by the reporter in the video, he demurred, saying, "I don't want to go back that far. I'm a young man!"
When asked if he was going to keep fighting for voting rights, he responded: "Most emphatically"...
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UPDATE 7/30/2013: I've now spoken to Plummer, to invite him on to my radio show. Unfortunately, he has bible class tomorrow at his church, where he is a Deacon, and won't be able to join me. But he was an extraordinarily pleasant man, with a sharp sense of humor. He confirmed the information above, and added these thoughts during our conversation when I asked why he was willing to be arrested at the Capitol. His reply:
I'm willing to get arrested, because I can see the wheel is turning is turning in an opposite way. We were going in a progressive way, but now it's going backwards. It could still change if our legislators turn another way, and I may have to get real kind of biblical on them. On everything, unemployment, healthcare, voting rights the whole nine yards has been eroded so egregiously.
The good Lord is looking down on us, and saying "why?" And we have no pertinent answer to give to the Lord because we are all trying to abide by the mosiac of laws. Even though the ten commandments were supposed to have been changed with the crucifixion of Jesus, but still, I see a form a crucifixion being done on our poor, disabled, youth, and our middle class.
He also added, as he was looking up the phone number of his church for me on his iPad and his new "32gigabites iPhone", that he is "half way up to speed on what is going on," because, after all, he says, "I'm an old pirate, man."
Last week, The BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernest Canning reported on the lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters, the NAACP and the ACLU in Pennsylvania, together with the Homeless Advocacy Project and the Advancement Project, against the state Republicans' new polling place Photo ID restriction passed into law in March.
The law, unless it's blocked, is set to make it much harder, if not impossible for many previously-legal student, elderly, minority and urban dwelling voters to cast their vote this November.
Canning predicts, however, that, like a similar GOP law in Wisconsin this year, and one in Missouri back in 2006, the new attempt to remove voting rights will be found in violation of the fundamental right to vote guaranteed under Pennsylvania's state Constitution. We'll see if he's correct.
In the meantime, the lawsuit, Applewhite vs Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [PDF] names 11 plaintiffs, the majority of whom have tried to get a birth certificate in order to then obtain their so-called "free" ID to vote from the state under the new law --- only to be told there is no record of their births. Several of those plaintiffs, not surprisingly, were born in the Jim Crow south and are now facing the forces of disenfranchisement again under the GOP law this year even up in the Keystone State in 2012.
Last week, MSNBC's Al Sharpton interviewed the lead plaintiff in the complaint, 92-year old Viviette Applewhite who marched for civil rights alongside Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Georgia, and who has been voting in Presidential elections without a problem for more than 50 years. She has never had a driver's license and, though she says she paid a fee for a birth certificate from the state, she has never received it.
Despite the fact that state officials have been unable to produce evidence of in-person, polling place impersonation --- the only type of voter fraud that could possibly be deterred by polling place Photo ID laws --- Republicans seem more than happy to disenfranchise long-time voters like Applewhite and potentially tens of thousands of others this year.
Applewhite says she believes it's all little more than an effort to stop President Obama from being re-elected, and she fears there are far more people than many realize who will be disenfranchised this year unless the law is overturned.
"Looks like most of the people in my building, they're senior citizens, but they don't have the proper thing to vote with," she says near the end of the interview, "and it's going to be a whole lotta people that's not going to be able to vote"...
Judith Browne Dianis, civil rights litigator at the Advancement Project also appears in the interview above and correctly notes: "This is not about preventing fraud, it's about preventing voting."
She is supported in that contention, ironically enough, by PA's Republican Governor Tom Corbett, seen in a clip above exhorting his supporters to help him keep turnout below 50% during his recent election. Moreever, just after Corbett signed the GOP's voter suppression bill in March, he lied to the media by claiming that it was needed since Pennsylvanians had seen 112% voter turnout in some precincts. Longtime election watchdog Marybeth Kuznick of VotePA, however, told us the Governor's claim was "ludicrous."
For more on the plaintiffs in the PA complaint who are facing disenfranchisement for the first time in their lives --- folks like 59-year old Wilola Shinholster Lee, 72-year old Grover Freeland, 86-year old Dorothy Barksdale and 93-year old Bea Booker --- and why Ernie Canning predicts the new legal challenge will be successful in the Keystone State, see his report from last week right here.
So do either Smith or McCrea have confidence that the same problem hasn't already occurred or won't occur again in the 14 states (including many swing states and even Wisconsin) which use identical computer systems to tabulate votes? Do they think enough is enough and it's time to simply hand-count paper ballots, as per "Democracy's Gold Standard"? You'll have to listen to find out.
We were also joined by Margo Paez, just back from Santa Monica College, with her report on the outrageous pepper spraying of students (and one toddler) there last night; Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report and a remembrance of MLK who was assassinated in Memphis 44 years ago today as we find ourselves still in much the same fight for civil and human rights all of these decades later (hat-tip Tony Sorrentino and Desi Doyen for the really cool, and touching, montage!)...
As several folks have requested, below is a stand-alone version of our brief, but rather powerful tribute to MLK from last night's Mike Malloy Show.
The audio montage was created by producer Desi Doyen and engineer Tony Sorrentino in remembrance yesterday, April 4th, of the 43rd anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination as he was in Memphis to speak in support of the right of workers to organize and unionize.
The news clips and, in particular, the haunting message of Robert F. Kennedy (who would be similarly assassinated just a few months later), were especially poignant last night, as I suspect they will still be for many today and for many years to come as the nation continues to battle, even now, to see King's legacy eventually fulfilled. And so it will be.
When it mattered, was based in terrifying reality, required actual selflessness and extraordinary courage...47 years ago today..."The greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation"...
Dr. Martin Luther King, "I Have a Dream" Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963
Three years ago, BRAD BLOG alum David Edwards first ran this rarely-seen full version of Dr. Martin Luther King's August 28, 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech on these pages.
We're happy to post it in full again today, of all days --- on Martin Luther King Day, and the day before the first African-American finally takes the oath as President of the United States --- as more relevant than ever, including the now-familiar phrase: "the fierce urgency of now".
If you've never seen or heard it in full, or even if you have, we hope you'll enjoy it. Let freedom ring...
"We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest...A time comes when silence is betrayal."
-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Riverside Church, New York City, April 4, 1967