Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from an African American point of view.

“Leading Civil Rights Organizations,” the headline on a Politics365.com story said, “Challenge FCC Rule Limiting Constitutional Freedoms.”

Good thing, you might think, our traditional civil rights bodies are on the lookout for threats to our constitutional freedoms. At least till you actually read the story. When you do, it turns out that  the NAACP, National Action Network, the National Urban League, the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership, League of United Latin American Citizens, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, and Rainbow PUSH all object to a proposed Federal Communications Commission rule that would force them, whenever they weigh in on matters before the FCC, disclose who they're getting money from. 5

45 years after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, all the mainline national civil rights organizations depend heavily upon donations from broadcasters and telecommunications corporations from Comcast-NBC, AT&T, and Verizon, to Time-Warner, ABC-Disney, Sprint, T-Mobile. Some of their own top executives in recent years have come from these monopoly industries as well, and the deep pockets of broadcasters and telecoms have sponsored their own shadow organizations of minority entrepreneurs and spokespeople.

All of them, from the NAACP and Rainbow-PUSH to LULAC and the Minority Media & Telecommunications Partnership have in recent years backed state and federal legislation that keeps cities and towns from regulating cable networks or laying their own cable. They've all endorsed laws that bar cities and towns from spinning up their own broadband services which might compete with those of their donors or provide services to poor communities, to schools, libraries and small businesses in their communities that their donors do not. Every one of them opposes network neutrality and backs the digital redlining of black, brown and poor communities. Every one of these so-called civil rights organizations in recent years has backed the privatization or outright giveaway to their wealthy donors vast amounts of the electromagnetic spectrum which could and should have been set aside for community broadcasters and the public good. And of course, these corrupt “civil rights organizations” have unreservedly backed each and every proposed broadcaster and telecom merger, from AT&T's failed attempt to buy T-Mobile to the Comcast-NBC deal and they're lining up right now to back Comcast's current attempt to buy Time Warner cable as well.

Whenever the interests of monopoly broadcasters and telecoms clash with the interests of poor black and brown people, these corrupt “civil rights organizations” always side with their funders, never with their people. Disclosing their financial ties to telecoms and broadcasters in the very same forums where they shill for their donors will make their pretense to represent the poor and oppressed even more ludicrous.

Sixty years ago, during the struggle against Jim Crow segregation southern state governments tried to force the NAACP to hand over membership and other lists. Back then, being on such a list could mean losing one's job, one's home or business or one's life. A federal court ruled the NAACP didn't have to hand over their list. This, today's hypocritical “civil rights” organizations claim, as if the nameless and numberless families whose breadwinners lost their jobs, or who were firebombed out of their homes or evicted from plantations like Fannie Lou Hamer are somehow equivalent to what might happen to Verizon and ABC-Disney – is why they should be allowed to hide their donors. This is the “constitutional freedom” the black and brown misleaders of our civil rights organizations have mobilized to protect. It doesn't pass a smell test, it doesn't pass a laugh test, it doesn't pass a hypocrisy test.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

 

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA and is a state committee member of the GA Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20140416_bd_civil_rights_hypocrisy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:20 PM

Kagame: Murderer of Millions in Congo and Rwanda

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Thanks to western media, the 1994 bloodbath in Rwanda is almost universally remembered only as a genocide against Tutsis.”

Paul Kagame, the U.S.-backed warlord and dictator of Rwanda, last week accused France and Belgium of complicity in the mass killings in his country 20 years ago. It is true that France and Belgium, along with Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany, are collectively responsible for the extermination of hundreds of millions – of whole peoples – all across the globe. However, in the case of the Rwanda genocide of 1994, the main criminals are Paul Kagame, himself, and his allies in neighboring Uganda and in the United States. After the frenzy of killing was done, U.S. President Bill Clinton and Ugandan strongman Yoweri Museveni then joined with Kagame to launch a war against the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo that has claimed six million lives – the greatest genocide, by far, since World War Two.

Back in 1994, Paul Kagame commanded thousands of Tutsi soldiers who had only recently been part of the Ugandan army, where Kagame served as chief of intelligence. Kagame had also studied at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. His men invaded Rwanda, killing thousands of mostly Hutu civilians, in their drive to reestablish minority Tutsi rule over the country. In the midst of peace negotiations, someone shot down the plane that was carrying Rwanda’s Hutu president, Juvenal Habyarimana, and Cyprien Ntaryamira, also a Hutu and president of neighboring Burundi, a country with virtually the same history of Tutsi domination. The deaths of the two Hutu presidents set off renewed fighting – which the United States did nothing to prevent – resulting in the bloody return of the minority Tutsis to power, and the exile of over a million Hutus. Many tens of thousands of Hutus died before the presidents’ plane went down, and many more were slaughtered by Kagame’s forces afterwards but, thanks to western media, the 1994 bloodbath in Rwanda is almost universally remembered only as a genocide against Tutsis.

The most logical murder suspect is Kagame’s own rebel Tutsi army.”

So, who shot down the presidents’ plane and set off this catastrophic chain of events? Paul Kagame and the United States make the fantastic claim that the Hutus killed their own presidents, in fear that they might sign a peace deal. There is no evidence of such a plot, which sounds counterintuitive on its face. The most logical murder suspect is Kagame’s own rebel Tutsi army,which was formed for the purpose of overthrowing Hutu majority governments in Rwanda and Burundi – that is, to bring down people like the dead presidents.

For 20 years, Kagame has posed as the soldier who stopped the Rwandan genocide, when all evidence and logic point to him being the main perpetrator of the crime. Three U.S. presidents have acted as Kagame’s eager accomplices, using the bloody cloak of Rwanda to carry out a far larger genocide in the eastern Congo, and to justify the bogus doctrine of humanitarian military intervention.

Paul Kagame, like Barack Obama, has an extensive “Kill List,” and sends assassins around the world to knock off his political opponents. His Tutsi regime is the only ethnic minority government left on the African continent – a darker version of apartheid. And yet, for the next several months notables from all around the globe will pay homage to Paul Kagame – a mass murdering thug and assassin – as if he is the savior of Africa.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20140416_gf_Kagame.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00 PM

GA Poised To Greatly Expand Predatory Private Probation Industry

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

A bill passed by both houses of the state legislature, landed on the desk of Georgia governor Nathan Deal last weekend. Georgia House Bill 837 is reportedly the result of about $500,000 in lobbying expenses by a single company, Sentinel Offender Services, the new law greatly expands the profitability and the impact of these predatory private probation companies upon the lives of poor families in Georgia.

Back in the 1990s, Georgia farmed out all its misdemeanor probation services to private companies. So when someone gets a DUI or similar offense, or misses a traffic court date and is sentenced to pay a $500 fine plus court costs, and cannot immediately produce the money, that person's case is handed over to a private company which immediately doubles or triples the amount extracted to cover its own costs and profits and interest. Private probation outfits can get the person sent to jail for late payment or non-payment, effectively a punitive tax upon the poor. This is why Georgia now leads the nation in the combined proportion of its residents in prisons, jails and under court and correctional probation and supervision of all kinds, an astounding one in thirteen adults.

Like all privatized government functions, whether its privatized parking, privatized voting machines, or privatized education, the private probation racket needs to keep the prying eyes of the public off itself. Accordingly the new legislation creates a dark zone, specifically shielding local governments and the privatizers from revealing how much money is actually remitted to local governments, how much they keep for themselves, how many cases they handle yearly, per case worker or at any one time, or how long they keep the cases.

HB 837 legalizes the up till now illegal, but common practice of charging probationers for their own electronic monitoring and other costs related to the handling of their cases, forcing the offender and her family to pay for their continuing house arrest. That's why the model is called “offender funded services”. Late payers can be jailed of course, and time spent in jail, under the new law does NOT count toward completion of the probation. Even now, persons are being locked up because they cannot afford the cost of land lines for the electronic monitoring gear.

It's not quite 19th century debtors' prison, a situation in which any creditor could demand you serve time for the crime of not being able to pay. So far the probation companies will be the only ones with this power. But it is a long step backward.

Georgia is one of those states which claims it's reducing the numbers of folks in its prisons and jails not because mass incarceration is unjust or discriminatory, but because it costs the states and counties too much. Funneling increasing numbers into punitive house arrest situations under the supervision of privatized middlemen who extract their profit directly from those on probation is a solution state authorities think they can live with.

Whether you live in Georgia or not, it's time to call Governor Nathan Deal at 404-656-1776 and ask him whether he wants his state to continue to lead the nation in how many residents it has under correctional and court supervision. How many is too many? The present 1 in 13? Is he reaching for 1 in 12? For 1in 10? Politely suggest that he veto HB 837 and look instead for ways to curtail and shrink the predatory private probation industry instead of expanding it.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

 

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and serves on the state committee of the GA Green Party. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com or via this site's contact page.

Direct download: 20140409_bd_private_probations_GA.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:12 PM

Al Sharpton: King Rat

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Everything he does is an act of prostitution.”

Al Sharpton is a crook who is always for sale. This is not an opinion, but a fact that is known in great detail to scores of movement activists whose paths have intersected with this talented but totally amoral hustler over the past 40 years. I personally watched him sell out the campaign to elect Jersey City, New Jersey’s first Black mayor, whom Sharpton had pledged to support, in 2001. Sharpton’s price to sow confusion among Black voters was a mere $5,000.

This was only one of countless career transactions by a man whose self-proclaimed role models are the entertainer James Brown and the boxing racketeer Don King. Sharpton has sold out Black New York City many times over through his well-compensated service to billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg. He sold out Black children and the institution of public education in a bizarre multi-city, salt-and-pepper tour with arch-racist Newt Gingrich on behalf of school charterization. The 2009 Sharpton-Gingrich traveling show, chaperoned by Education Secretary and Obama basketball buddy Arne Duncan, marked Sharpton’s rise to “made man” in the Obama organization – a pit bull primed to maul any political dissenters from the First Black President’s corporate agenda.

MSNBC, the corporate megaphone for the Democratic Party brand, provides Sharpton the kind of media platform that substitutes for independent Black leadership in the 21st century. Rev. Al is what he always wanted to be: a celebrity locked in the embrace of the rich and powerful.

Top of the political garbage heap.”

Sharpton will reach what will probably be the pinnacle of his phenomenally corrupt career on Friday, in New York, when the annual convention of his National Action Network will host President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Sharpton’s traveling companion Arne Duncan and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. If Sharpton were part of a genuine, independent Black political movement, the occasion would be an opportunity to confront the president on his global offensive against peace and world order, his militarization and destabilization of Africa, and his plans to step up the pace of the global economic Race to the Bottom through a new wave of NAFTA-like trade treaties. The convention might challenge the Attorney General to explain why Wall Street banks are too big to jail, but Americans can be imprisoned without charge or trial under a system in which the law, itself, is a secret. The National Action Network delegates would be allowed to ask why Black people in Detroit have been disenfranchised with the acquiescence of the Democrat in the White House, and how did it come to pass that President Obama became the greatest deporter of immigrants in U.S. history? The Agriculture Secretary could explain why the administration seemed positively happy to sign a bill that wipes out billions in food stamp benefits to the poor. But, none of this will happen at Sharpton’s convention, because everything he does is an act of prostitution.

In the presence of such monstrous corruption, recent confirmation that Sharpton was an informant for the FBI’s campaign against Italian mobsters in the early Eighties seems very tame, indeed – except that it also tends to confirm other allegations that he tried to rat on Black radicals during the same period. But today, Al Sharpton is at the top of the political garbage heap, the administration’s go-to guy in the sewers. He is King Rat.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to Black Agenda Report.com.

 

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20140409_gf_Sharpton.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:54 PM

Armstrong Williams Wants “Diversity” Favor from FCC

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Williams claims that he is known to provide broadcast content that reflects a minority perspective.”

The Federal Communications Commission this week dealt at least a potential blow to the monopolists who have sucked every drop of social value out of American commercial television. The FCC ruled that TV stations that sell substantial portions of other TV stations advertizing, are the real owners of the station, and thus are violating rules against multiple ownerships in the same market. The practice of joint advertizing has meant that many stations are little more than shells for getting around the rules against monopolization. The National Association of Black Journalists applauds the FCC action, since shared advertizing agreements usually mean firing the whole newsroom of one of the stations. The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council supports the ruling, because the shared advertizing game only helps the media giants eat up the smaller guys.

One person who’s not happy is Armstrong Williams, the Black rightwing propagandist and hustler who calls himself a journalist. Williams owns two stations that are essentially extra channels for stations already owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, which is the largest operator of non-network affiliated stations in the country. Williams claims that Black people in Flint, Michigan, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, will suffer if he loses his stations there, since he is known to provide broadcast content that reflects a minority perspective. Now, that’s a joke! Armstrong Williams, whose mentor was South Carolina’s rabidly racist Sen. Strom Thurmond, has never uttered or written a word that was relevant to the hopes and dreams of most Black people. In political terms, Armstrong Williams most closely resembles the character played by Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained.

The fact that the owner is Black doesn’t affect the stations’ broadcast schedules and program content one bit.”

But, more importantly, there is nothing on his TV stations that distinguishes them from any other corporate money machine. In Myrtle Beach, it’s a long day of Jerry Springer and People’s Court and Friends reruns, with news at 10 provided by a network owned by CBS and Warner Bros. In Michigan, his station is just another NBC affiliate, spewing the same bland corporate crap. The fact that the owner is Black doesn’t affect the stations’ broadcast schedules and program content one bit. It’s still garbage, of no socially redeeming value. Program-wise, it’s not even Black garbage.

Black people have no reason to be concerned about the survival of television stations that do not substantially serve their interests. It is true that Armstrong Williams has as much right as any white person to get rich from poisoning the airwaves – but that does not mean that we have to help him. And in fact, the airwaves still technically belong to the public. The government is obligated by law to ensure that the broadcast spectrum is put to uses that best serve the public. That means programming that is accountable to the public, including Black people.

There was a time when the FCC at least pretended to take public input seriously. The very fact that, two generations ago, the Black public could challenge the licenses of stations that ignored, abused or simply underserved them, created wondrous opportunities for intra-Black communications – opportunities that have been wiped out by corporate consolidation.

The FCC may well make an exception to its own joint advertizing ruling, on “diversity” grounds. And, that would be a victory – for Armstrong Williams. However, Black people as a whole will have won nothing, and lost a great deal.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20140402_gf_FCC.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 4:05 PM

Latest GM Scandal is Business As Usual, But What Would a Green Jobs GM Look Like?

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

“Endangering the public in these ways is a fundamental feature of capitalism, one that's baked in....”

The latest GM scandal, in which the giant automaker consistently refused to correct product defects that endangered the lives of its customers and their families, ought to remind us of two things.

The first and most obvious is the basic antisocial nature of corporate capitalist enterprises. The drive of corporations to offload their costs onto customers, the public, and the environment by means ranging from special tax breaks and corporate welfare to skimping on safety or poisoning the land, air and oceans is not a bug in the capitalist system that can be rooted out. Automakers do it, companies that deliver water do it. Companies that make building materials & foodstuffs do it, along with mining concerns, retail, you name it, they all do it. Endangering the public in these ways is a fundamental feature of capitalism, one that's baked in.

The second thing this particular GM scandal should remind us of, is the series of colossal missed opportunities coming out of the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies and bailouts of 2009.

For a brief time, the US government became the biggest stockholder in GM, with the power to appoint its operating officers. This is no small thing, because General Motors has a research and development arm about as big as that of France, certainly one of the largest and most able groups of scientists and engineers ever assembled.

A visionary and transformative US president might have used his executive powers with one hand and appointed a real “Green jobs team” to run GM with the other to begin weaning the US economy off fossil fuels. Having GM manufacture and the the post office buy and operate electric delivery vehicles would have enabled GM scientists and engineers to radically lower the cost and increase the reliability of electric vehicles, and begun to force the rest of the auto industry to keep up, follow suit or die.

“The latest GM scandal, with a few more deaths and injuries or a few thousand, are just the cost of doing business. Your cost, that is, not theirs.”

It gets mighty cold sometimes in Detroit, where GM is still headquartered, and heating homes and buildings is the single biggest contributor to atmospheric carbon dioxide. A Green Jobs team at GM could have put those engineers and scientists to work on the cheapest ways to retrofit existing homes and apartments for energy efficiency, using Detroit's large stock of unemployed people and buildings empty and not as exhibit A for building the world we want and deserve.

But instead of a visionary leader in the White House who aimed to stop the rise of the oceans and/or identified with Detroit's unemployed we had slick black corporate hack. GM and Chrysler got huge cash bailouts. They were allowed to largely offload their pension and health care costs onto the workers themselves, and go back to their natural antisocial behaviors, manufacturing fleets and shiploads of environmentally destructive vehicles with as many safety defects as they imagined they could get away with.

The latest GM scandal, with a few more deaths and injuries or a few thousand, are just the cost of doing business. Your cost, that is, not theirs. That's capitalism for you. Who says the system doesn't work?

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce A. Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA and is co-chair of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

 



Direct download: 20140326_bd_GM_scandal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:14 PM

Democratic Compromises, Capitalist “Market Discipline:” The Real Reasons For Unemployment Cuts

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

“A brand is not reality. Brands are particular of symbols, intended to evoke real or manufactured feelings, desires and memories, without the aid of pesky rational thought or analysis. ”

Early this month, the number of unemployed Americans whose unemployment compensation benefits have run out reached 2 million, an all time high. By April the number will be 2.3 million.

To keep the Democratic party's brand alive as standard bearer for the oppressed and unemployed, elected Democrats and their enablers desperately need to blame this on those immoral, evil Republicans, who are also the reason the minimum wage hasn't risen, Medicaid expansion hasn't happened, workers can't organize unions without being blocked by bosses, and food stamps have been cut to unheard of levels.

The problem with all this is that the notion that elected Democrats stand for the people is just a brand. A brand is not reality. Brands are particular of symbols, intended to evoke real or manufactured feelings, desires and memories, without the aid of pesky rational thought or analysis.

The reality is that things like raising the minimum wage or making it easy for workers to organize unions were Democrat campaign promises which the president and his party conveniently forgot or ignored when Obama first took office, and they had solid majorities in both houses of Congress. Now that Republicans are safely in control, the president reminds us at every opportunity that “Americans need a raise,” though he still doesn't mention opening the doors to union organizing.

The reality is that bulletproof single payer everybody-in-nobody-out health care , which the president advocated back when he was a state senator, and many congressional Democrats verbally backed as late as 2008 was swapped out for Obamacare, a complex blanket full of gaps, exceptions and loopholes, one of which is vulnerability to Republican state governments who can block Medicaid expansion. Democrats looking for someone to blame for the lack of health coverage for the poor at their “Moral Monday” gatherings should look at their own party's elected officials as well.

“...the current round of cuts was proposed by elected Democrats, not imposed by Republicans ...”

The reality, when it comes to food stamps and unemployment benefits, is that the current round of cuts was proposed by elected Democrats, not imposed by Republicans. Elected Democrats thought it was better to make a deficit deal than to carry on a sharp struggle in Congress and the public sphere to ensure families could feed and house themselves. Better, they thought, to leave that struggle to you and I.

The other reason, mostly unstated by elected Democrats, for cutting unemployment benefits is that cutting benefits will force more people back to work at lower wages, with longer commutes, less coverage including medical coverage, and more onerous conditions than they might have accepted otherwise. This is called market discipline, and it's working. Profits are still in this, the sixth year of the Obama era, and wages are falling while Democrats who get the bulk of their campaign cash from the same folks as those immoral Republicans, retain their image, their brand, as champions of the oppressed. The system, such as it is, works.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

 

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA and is co-chair of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20140326_bd_unemployment_benefits_market_discipline.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:43 PM

Rwanda’s Formula for Success: Murder Your Neighbors and Steal Their Wealth

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Rwanda’s so-called ‘New Economic Model’ is simply pillaging and massacre, theft and murder on a huge scale.”

In the years since 1996, at least 6 million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a direct result of an invasion by two U.S. client states: Rwanda and Uganda. It is the greatest slaughter since World War II, yet only a small fraction of the American public is even aware that the genocide occurred. The public remains ignorant of the ongoing crime – in which the United States is fully complicit – because the U.S. corporate media have successfully covered up the murder of millions of Congolese. More than that, organs like the New York Times act as PR agents for the perpetrators of the genocide, especially Rwanda – as exemplified by a puff piece that appeared in the Times, this week, titled “Rwanda Reaches for New Economic Model.”

The article boosts Rwanda as an African economic success story, a country that is growing at 8 percent a year, even though it has “no oil, natural gas or other major natural resources” and no real industry. The Times takes us on a tour of Rwanda’s fledgling little commodity and stock exchanges, and quotes a government minister bragging that the country’s development plan is to jump directly from an agricultural base to an information economy, “leapfrogging” over the industrial stage of development, altogether.

Uganda became a significant diamond exporter, even though it previously produced no diamonds, at all.”

In fact, the relative prosperity of the minority Tutsi political and business elite, is built on the bones of 6 million dead Congolese and the natural resources looted from their country. Rwanda’s so-called “New Economic Model” is simply pillaging and massacre, theft and murder on a huge scale, in concert with multinational corporations and under the protection of the United States.

A United Nations panel of experts confirmed, in 2001, that both Rwanda and Uganda were building up their own economies by looting eastern Congo’s mineral resources – coltan, diamonds, copper, cobalt and gold – and hauling away timber from Congo’s forests. The investigators found that Rwandan and Ugandan militaries had appropriated Congo’s wealth for themselves to such an extent, that Uganda became a significant diamond exporter, even though it previously produced no diamonds, at all. Ugandan gold exports increased 50-fold between 1994 and 2000. Rwanda increased its gold production 10 to 17 times between 1995 and 2000. Rwanda’s exports of coltan doubled and quadrupled, as did its production of cassiterite, another exotic mineral.

The UN report found Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Ugandan strongman Yoweri Museveni to be accomplices in the systematic looting of Congo, just as a later UN panel found both countries liable for genocidal acts against the Congolese people. Kagame and Museveni have built their economies on the extermination of their neighbors. Yet, the New York Times calls both countries African success stories. This week’s puff piece notes the 20th anniversary of the so-called Rwandan genocide of 1994 – the cause, extend and nature of which is actually in great factual dispute – while making no mention of the much larger loss of life right next store, in Congo, which is the source of the Rwandan elite’s prosperity. And, because the New York Times and its fellow media whores cover up the genocide, the carnage and the looting continue to this very day.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to Black Agenda Report.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

 

Direct download: 20140326_gf_CongoLoot.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:23 PM

The “People's Plan” to Save Detroit

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Detroit is encircled in a courtroom full of corporate barracudas.”

When the state of Michigan disenfranchised the people of Detroit and imposed bankruptcy lawyer Kevyn Orr as emergency financial dictator, the corporate vultures licked their chops in anticipation of a feast. Bankruptcy court is a predatory corporate habitat, the antithesis of anyone’s notion of democracy. Detroit isn’t even allowed to have its own lawyer, but is instead represented by the same corporate firm, Jones Day, that has represented many of Detroit’s corporate creditors. And those Jones Day lawyers answer, not to Detroit’s powerless city government, but to Kevyn Orr, the state-imposed financial dictator. Detroit is encircled in a courtroom full of corporate barracudas – some of whom pretend to be the city’s lawyers.

The grassroots activist organizations D-REM, Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management, and the Moratorium Now! Coalition will go on record before Judge Steven Rhodes’ bankruptcy court on April 3 with their objections to Kevyn Orr’s plans to settle accounts with the city’s creditors. Thousands of Detroit pensioners have already flooded the court’s electronic filing system with objections to Orr’s proposed pension cuts. The activist groups oppose paying anything to the predatory banks that depopulated the city through home foreclosures and ensnared Detroit in fraudulent financing schemes. The Emergency Manager’s plan, says D-REM: “Will not fix the financial problems facing Detroit; benefits wealthy Wall Street bankers and bondholders, while stripping valuable public assets, cutting services, and gutting union contracts; is used primarily against African American communities;” and “removes from power 75% of the elected African American officials in Michigan.”

The activist groups oppose paying anything to the predatory banks.”

The activists say what’s going on in bankruptcy court has little to do with the real causes of Detroit’s crisis, which “results from decades of revenue decline caused by redlining, housing discrimination and deindustrialization.” Detroit’s deep debt is rooted in “misguided and racist decisions by Wall Street bankers and regional corporate elites” – but the poor, mostly Black city is being made to pay.

Since Kevin Orr and the Jones Day lawyers cannot be trusted, the activists ask that Judge Rhodes appoint a trustee to look after the city’s interests. The judge should also call into question the land use and development schemes Kevyn Orr has already put in motion, giving valuable Detroit property away to corporate developers even as the city is starved for funds. They want Judge Rhodes to halt Kevyn Orr’s efforts to regionalize or privatize Detroit’s water treatment facilities – which have long been coveted by corporations. And, the activists emphasize that public transportation is key to the city’s revitalization.

But nothing – nothing! – is as important as democracy, from which the legitimacy of any plan for the city must flow. As D-REM has written: Detroit’s rebirth will be the result of the People’s unrelenting demand for democratic self-governance” and “equal access to and management of the natural and economic resources of the city.” They have formulated a “People’s Plan” for restructuring Detroit. But no bankruptcy court will implement such a plan. Essentially, this is not a legal fight, at all. It’s about breaking the power of Wall Street – before Big Capital plunges the whole country into dictatorship, like Detroit.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

 

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20140319_gf_DetroitPlan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:46 PM

Promises To The Poor, or Promises to the Rich? Which Ones Does Barack Obama Intend To Keep?

 

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

 

 

The most important things about a promise, as David Graber in his book Debt: The First 5000 Years explains, are who makes it, and to whom it's made.

 

Promises made among equals are freely made and freely kept, or freely disregarded when the parties deem it convenient. If your brother in law doesn't repay you the money you lent this time last year you might be disappointed but you're unlikely to involve the courts and the state in your family affairs. On the other hand, if your brother in law borrowed that money from Bank of America, a late payment or a series of them is certain to bring punitive repercussions down on the debtor, backed up by the full force of the state.

 

So the promises which poor men and women make to each other are not at all the same as promises the poor are obliged to make to the wealthy or to the state in whatever sort of society they live. Governments enforce the promises the poor make to the rich, ultimately at gunpoint.

 

But what about when the wealthy and powerful make promises to the poor? Wealthy corporations and the politicians fronting for them invariably promise thousands, tens of thousands of new good-paying local jobs in return for this or that tax break, suspension of environmental regulation, loan guarantee or other piece of corporate welfare. Nobody blinks an eye when it turns out they've lied, and practically no mechanisms exist to restore the public property malefactors obtain in this way. The promises of politicians, both during and after their campaigns seem to have the same character.

 

By the first days of his presidency, Barack Obama made direct promises to see NAFTA renegotiated, to raise the minimum wage in his first months in office, to close Guantanamo, to create a path to citizenship for the undocumented, to make union organizing easier, to cease kidnappings, secret imprisonment and torture, and craft an open, transparent process for the drafting of what became known as Obamacare. The thing of it was, that all these were promises made to poor people. Thus they were of little and soon disregarded. But they were not his only promises.

 

Barack Obama made other early promises as well -- to wealthy interests, to the Pentagon, to Wall Street and London banksters, to charter school sugar daddies, the galaxy of public employees and private contractors euphemistically known as the “intelligence community.” He promised them that no torturers would stand trial, military manpower and budgets would continue to rise, that greedy drug companies and private health insurers would be protected over the public, that so-called “entitlements” would be reined in, and that Wall Street would be protected against the mobs and their pitchforks, and apparently that public education would be privatized. Unlike his promises to the poor, President Obama has striven mightily to keep all these.

 

With a good 33 more months left in the White House, President Obama apparently has a few more promises to make. He'll likely keep some of them. If the first 63 months of his tenure are any guide, and you want to know which promises will be kept, the handwriting is on the wall. The promises made to the wealthy and powerful will get first priority. The pledges made to the legions of ordinary people who made his career possible, not so much. For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

 

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

 

Direct download: 20140312_bd_promises_made_promises_kept.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:19 PM