Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
Obama's America Joins White Walkout On Anti-Racism Conference in Geneva

The former and present colonizers and enslavers of the world - Europe and its white settler colonies - rose in bogus indignation to denounce the Iranian president's remarks on Israeli racism. But it was a sham and farce, part of the choreographed Obama White House plan to wreck the Durban II international anti-racism conference. "In sabotaging Durban II, Barack Obama succeeded in avoiding coming to grips with grievances registered against the United States, eight years ago."

Obama's America Joins White Walkout On Anti-Racism Conference in Geneva

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Of the 15 nations that either boycotted or walked out of the anti-racism conference, in Geneva, only two – Poland and Finland – were not tainted by or products of colonialism and the slave trade.

What a spectacle it was! Diplomats from the colonizing countries of Europe and the white settler regimes they founded rose in indignation in Geneva, Switzerland, last week, to denounce a Persian leader for racism. Envoys from France, Britain, Spain and Denmark, whose nations are responsible for orgies of rape and pillage that killed untold millions in the centuries-long European war against the darker regions of the planet, pretended that their sensibilities had been assaulted by a speech from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The irate Europeans joined with their brothers and sisters in historical genocide and mass murder, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden – kidnappers of nations, invaders, enslavers of whole peoples – who had boycotted the Geneva conference on racism, commonly known as Durban II. The world is stained with oceans of blood because of these Europeans, yet they have the nerve, the gall, to attempt to demonize the Iranian president for the words he spoke about Israel. Leading the sabotage of the conference was the United States, along with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and, of course, Israel – the European settler colonies that became nations on the bones and stolen land of previous inhabitants.

What a display of unbounded arrogance! Of the 15 nations that either boycotted or walked out of the anti-racism conference, in Geneva, only two – Poland and Finland – were not tainted by or products of colonialism and the slave trade. All the rest are complicit in the death of millions, and most continue to profit from their crimes.

Most of the world considers the slave trade to have been a crime against humanity.”

The object of European and white settler anger, the Islamic government of Iran, has not attacked anyone in several hundred years. Its president told the conference that an entire nation was made “homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering ... in order to establish a totally racist government in occupied Palestine." Most of the world agrees with that assessment – just as most of the world considers the slave trade to have been a crime against humanity. But that verdict is not accepted by the governments of the nations that built fabulous wealth on commerce in genocide.

The walkout in Geneva was all but choreographed by the United States and its Zionist partners, who began subverting the conference from the moment Barack Obama was sworn into office. The U.S. and its allies made sure that President Ahmadinejad’s speech would get lots of corporate media attention. He was the only head of state to address the conference, that day; nobody else came.

In sabotaging Durban II, Barack Obama succeeded in avoiding coming to grips with grievances registered against the United States by delegates to the previous international anti-racism conference, in Durban, South Africa, eight years ago. The U.S. was supposed to report last week on progress made in fighting residential housing segregation, police brutality, the crimes associated with Katrina, and other American racial problems. But it was more important to Barack Obama to whitewash Israel. Now we know who serves whom.

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

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

Direct download: 20090429_gf_GenevaSpectacle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:09am EST

Black Colleges Profiled as Suspected Havens for “Extremists”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Don't let the apolitical facades fool you. Virginia's four Black colleges are hotbeds of "militancy and rebellion" and magnets for "a wide variety of terror or extremist groups." So says a government-funded outfit called the Virginia Fusion Center, which also cautions against the national security dangers inherent in diversity. "While the vast majority of these individuals are law-abiding, this ethnic diversity also affords terrorist operatives the opportunity to assimilate easily into society, without arousing suspicion." Safe, secure communities are uniformly white and English-speaking.

Black Colleges Profiled as Suspected Havens for “Extremists”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Fusion Center appears to believe that Black colleges are by definition hotbeds of militancy and rebellion.”

Those deep thinkers in the Homeland Security Department are paying good money for some very bad advice on what constitutes a threat to American society. An inkling of the kind of madness that passes for research at Homeland Security, is provided by a recent report to the Virginia State Police. The report, which emanates from the basement offices of something called the Virginia Fusion Center, claims that “a wide variety of terror or extremist groups" have ties to the Hampton Roads region of the state. Specifically, the report claims that the area’s two historically Black universities are virtual magnets for terrorists and “extremists” – as are the two Black universities in the Richmond area.

For those who are familiar with the four schools – Norfolk State University, Hampton University, Virginia State University in Petersburg and Virginia Union University in Richmond – the very thought of them as havens for “extremist” politics is laughable. Political action is not what these schools are known for. And that’s too bad. But the Fusion Center, whoever they are, appears to believe that Black colleges are by definition hotbeds of militancy and rebellion. I wish that were true, but it’s not. It appears the researchers at Virginia’s Fusion Center believe that Black institutions are inherently suspect. The Homeland Security Department is paying these guys millions of dollars a year to give vent to their own racist paranoia – and to sic the political bloodhounds on a bunch of apolitical Black students.

The presumption seems to be that dangerous people are not white, and white people are not dangerous.”

The creeps at the Fusion Center see security dangers in diversity, which they believe creates special national security perils. The Hampton Roads region of Virginia has attracted a wide diversity of population from all parts of the globe. The Fusion Center report says, “While the vast majority of these individuals are law-abiding, this ethnic diversity also affords terrorist operatives the opportunity to assimilate easily into society, without arousing suspicion." The statement reveals the screaming racist posing as a researcher. Clearly the report’s authors believe that the safest communities, national security-wise, are those that are uniformly white and English-speaking. Presumably, in such surroundings it’s hard for the “dangerous” people to hide in a crowd. The presumption seems to be that dangerous people are not white, and white people are not dangerous. White communities are the ones that need protecting, while the non-white or diverse communities represent some degree of danger.

This is pure racist crap, and dangerous stuff to have circulating among the police. The logic of the Fusion Report, if taken seriously, would lead the State to aggressively infiltrate the student ranks at Black colleges. They wouldn’t discover much in the way of subversive anything, but it is in the nature of the spy to invent what he can’t find.

Virginia’s crackpot Fusion Center is one of at least 58 such idiot-tanks that have sprung up around the country since 9/11, at a cost of $250 million dollars in public funds. That quarter billion dollar investment has led to the discovery of a single fact: Some white people are not comfortable, in general, with diversity, and are still nervous as hell around Black people.

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

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

Direct download: 20090429_gf_TerrifyingProfile.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:02am EST

European Pirates in Somali Waters

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

 The maritime powers busily looting Somalia's fishery are preparing to formalize their theft. Spain and France, the "biggest thieves of Somali fish" plan to assume responsibility for the fisheries at an upcoming conference. Under cover of preserving order on the high seas, "the French, the Spanish and the rest of the freeloaders are reverting to a kind of piracy of their own, like in the good old days when whites sailed the world and took what they wanted."

European Pirates in Somali Waters

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The biggest thieves of Somali fish choose themselves as protectors of the fisheries.”

The U.S. corporate media treat the world like a big comic book, with America as the super-hero who doesn’t know his own strength, but means well. Much of the time, the corporate media analysis doesn’t even reach the level of comic book – more like cartoons. In fact, just a few nights ago, I saw a cartoon on the Comedy Central channel that provided a much more sophisticated analysis of so-called “piracy” in Somalia, than anything offered by the television evening news.

In an episode of South Park, the eight-year-old kid protagonists set off for Somalia, where they hope to live the care-free life of pirates. A teenaged Somali boy who has become a pirate in order to feed his desperate family, can’t understand why one would want to engage in piracy, if given the choice. At the end of the episode, American sharpshooters kill all the Somalis, leaving the would-be American child-pirates unharmed. The American commander tells his gunmen, “Be careful not to hit the white ones.”

Thus, the cartoon succeeds in describing the life and death struggle of the Somalis and the arbitrary power of the Americans and others patrolling the Somali coast. The Americans here at home are totally ignorant of the true situation in Somalia, while the Americans manning warships and war planes have no problem with killing people they don’t know – people who are made to look like cartoon cut-outs.

Since the early Sixties, U.S. policy in Africa has been to sow chaos in those regions it cannot effectively control.”

It is impossible to discuss lawlessness in Somali coastal waters without confronting the U.S. and European role in destroying the rule of law in the country. The chief culprit is the United States, which encouraged Ethiopia to invade Somalia, in 2006, in order to depose the first government the country had had since 1991. Since the early Sixties, U.S. policy in Africa has been to sow chaos in those regions it cannot effectively control. The Somalis drove the Ethiopians out, much to the chagrin of Washington. With the increase in ship hijackings, the Americans and Europeans spin the situation as one in which they must impose order on Somalia – when, in fact, it is outsiders’ attempts to dominate Somalia that have led to such grave disorder.

We now learn that France and Spain, among the maritime powers most guilty of illegally poaching Somalia’s fisheries, have designated themselves as the guardians of the Somali coast. The French and Spanish have enjoyed a bounty of fishing off Somalia, with no Somali coast guard to keep them from taking as much as they want of the national resource. So, the biggest thieves of Somali fish choose themselves as protectors of the fisheries. France and Spain both base their fishing fleets in the nearby Seychelles Islands.

Any dispassionate observer would conclude that the French, the Spanish and the rest of the freeloaders are reverting to a kind of piracy of their own, like in the good old days when whites sailed the world and took what they wanted. But then, that’s a cartoonish way of looking at the world – or is it?

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

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

Direct download: 20090429_gf_SomaliaPiracy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:24am EST

Obama, Raul Castro and Hugo Chavez: Who are the Truly ‘Big Men?’

What does putting "everything on the table" mean, in discussions among nations? Cuba's Raul Castro says he means literally everything, including exchange of political prisoners, as long as talks are held on the basis of equality. Barack Obama claims the next move is up to Cuba, but it appears Raul has already made an authentic offer. Besides, there is something fundamentally wrong when the nation that continues to commit crimes against its neighbor - the U.S. - asks for concessions before it will cease and desist

Obama, Raul and Hugo: Who are the Truly ‘Big Men?’

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The U.S. holds pose no threat to the U.S., while the prisoners Havana holds may well pose a threat to Cuba.”

U.S. President Barack Obama says the next move is up to Cuba, to improve relations between the two countries. This statement is both typically Obama, and vintage American imperialist. Obama, just like his American presidential predecessors stretching back more than two centuries, thinks the United States has the right to decide when it’s time for other countries to forgive America’s own crimes – even when the Americans continue to commit those crimes. Obama tried to run that game at the Summit of the Americas, in Trinidad, this weekend, when he spoke of setting aside "stale debates and old ideologies." That’s the same language he uses, here in the U.S., when people want to talk seriously about curbing the power of money or creating a single-payer health care system. Obama pretends that everything he says is fresh, rather than stale, even when its old as dirt, or stolen from somebody else. He claims to have no ideology, while practicing imperialism, backed up by the biggest military budget in history, 24 hours a day. Since Obama smiles when he utters this kind of nonsense, he is called a statesman and a cool dude.

But let’s return to Cuba and the “next move.” President Obama has made concessions mostly to Cuban exile families who would like to visit their relatives and send more money, more often. Obama has not undone the historic U.S. economic, political, diplomatic and cultural blockade of Cuba, but only some of George Bush’s more egregious barriers, and mostly for the benefit of Cuban Americans. Cuban leader Raul Castro has offered to put “everything” on the table for discussion, including exchanges of political prisoners. That’s a much bigger concession for Cuba than for the United States. Cuba holds scores of prisoners that Havana says have sought to undermine the state and serve the interests of foreigners, meaning, the Americans. The United States holds only the Cuban Five, Cubans sent to infiltrate exile groups in Florida that were breaking the laws of the United States by carrying out operations against Cuba. Although convicted of espionage, the Cuban Five were not spying on the United States, but instead, spying on rightwing Cubans in the United States. In other words, the Cuban prisoners the U.S. holds pose no threat to the U.S., while the prisoners Havana holds may well pose a threat to Cuba. It is Cuba that would give up the most in an exchange. Yet Obama plays it coy, and noncommittal, while claiming that ideology and the preservation of the imperial big stick have nothing to do with it.

Fidel and Chavez ask only for relations on the basis of equality.”

Raul Castro and Hugo Chavez are the bigger men in this story. Raul would be perfectly justified in demanding that the United States first clear out of Guantanamo Bay, sovereign Cuban territory, before any further talks could be held on contact between relatives in Cuba and Miami, or on political prisoners. Raul could ask, on behalf of his brother, for an apology for the innumerable U.S. attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. Venezuelan President Chavez could demand the same on behalf of himself, for George Bush’s 2002 attempted coup against his government, in which Chavez came very close to being killed. But Fidel and Chavez ask only for relations on the basis of equality. Unfortunately, equality among nations is a pill no imperialist will swallow, including Barack Obama.

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

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

Direct download: 20090422_gf_ObamaSummit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:45am EST

People of Color Beset by Layers of Racial Profiling

"The 21st century began with a kind of ritual burial of racial profiling. Suddenly, nobody was in favor of it." Then cam 9/11, and racial profiling became a national imperative, the "patriotic thing to do." Both incarnations of racial profiling played out dramatically in New Jersey, where the Turnpike became a symbol of official racism on the road, later repudiated. The state now aggressively uses local police to question people about their immigration status, adding another layer of burden to people of color confronting arbitrarily intrusive police power.

People of Color Beset by Layers of Racial Profiling

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

New Jersey was a battleground state on the issue of racial profiling, back in the bad-old-days before 9/11 was used to mask racial profiling behind a veil of national security.”

In 2007, the New Jersey attorney general issued a directive to the state’s police officers, requiring them to question people arrested for indictable offenses or for drunk driving, about their immigration status. In the first six months of the directive, New Jersey cops referred 10,000 people to immigration authorities, although in the end less than 15 percent of those persons were charged with violating any immigration laws. Immigration rights activists have from the beginning warned that giving police the authority, or even duty, to question people about their legal status in the country, was an invitation to massive racial profiling. A new study out of Seton Hall University’s Law School seems to indicates those warnings were well-founded.

The study focuses on 68 cases in which police interrogated people about their immigration status for no apparent reason. None of the 68 had been stopped for drunk driving or carrying false documents. Sixty-five of the people questioned were Latino; the others were a Haitian, a Spaniard and a man from Kazakhstan. Seven of the incidents were in direct violation of the Attorney General’s order that no victims or witnesses to crimes be questioned about their immigrant status. For example, a woman who called police to complain about domestic violence was threatened with being reported to immigration authorities. A man who reported to police the loss of his passport was turned over to Immigration. A man who couldn’t produce a train ticket at a train station was held for seven days by police, and then handed over to Immigration.

Profiling became the patriotic thing to do.”

There are several large ironies, here. New Jersey is number three in the nation in terms of immigrant population, and was a battleground state on the issue of racial profiling, back in the bad-old-days before 9/11 was used to mask racial profiling behind a veil of national security. The New Jersey Turnpike became nationally known as a stretch of road where Black and Latino drivers ran a gauntlet of state policemen armed with racial profiles. The embarrassment finally wore New Jersey officials down and they agreed to allow in federal monitors.

It was a great victory for civil rights forces. The 21st century began with a kind of ritual burial of racial profiling. Suddenly, nobody was in favor of it. Racial profiling was a shame, a national disgrace, a relic of the past. And then came 9/11, and racial profiling – which had never really gone away, but had only become, briefly, politically out-of-season – returned with a vengeance. Now, profiling was the patriotic thing to do. Rather than curtailing profiling by police, state officials, like New Jersey’s attorney general, were ordering them to become more aggressive in demanding proof of immigrant status.

The final irony is that the New Jersey order was a reaction to a triple murder attributed to an undocumented immigrant in a neighborhood of Newark. It is an overwhelmingly non-white neighborhood, whose residents are already effectively profiled by police and government officials of all kinds. It is this institutional profiling that creates ghettos and barrios across America. Profiling is as ancient as Black slavery and Indian-hunting. Now the so-called War on Terror adds another layer of profile, another burden that only people of color must bear.

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

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

Direct download: 20090422_gf_ImmigrantAbuse.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:32am EST

Black Drug Incarceration Rates Down, White Numbers Way Up

We have apparently reached the end of merciless cycle. After decades of "predatory policing of Black communities, which seemed intended to sweep the streets of as many young Blacks as the prisons could consume, the criminal justice system simply reached saturation point." Black drug incarceration rates are dramatically down, while whites have skyrocketed. On the Black side, "the police whipped on us until they got tired." On the white side, the methamphetamine epidemic could no longer "be swept under the rug."

Black Drug Incarceration Rates Down, White Numbers Way Up

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

After three solid decades of merciless, predatory policing of Black communities, the criminal justice system simply reached saturation point.”

For the first time since federal agencies have been keeping racial statistics on drug convictions, there has been a decline in the number of African Americans incarcerated on drug charges. White incarceration in state prisons on drug charges increased during the same period, between 1999 and 2005 according to a new study, conducted by the Sentencing Project, based in Washington. The Black decline in drug imprisonment was significant, at a little over 21 percent. But the white increase was breathtaking, about twice as high as the Black decline, at 42.6 percent.

So, why is drug incarceration moving in different directions for whites and Blacks? Probably for very different reasons, since the two groups are treated so differently by law enforcement. But first, let’s emphasize that the big picture still hasn’t changed: Blacks continue to make up 44 percent of state prisoners doing time for drugs, while whites comprise only 27 percent of drug prison inmates – although whites are 75 percent of the U.S. population. Remember that study after study has shown that Blacks and whites do drugs at about the same rate. It is the difference in law enforcement’s treatment of drug use among Blacks and whites that creates the huge disparities in arrests, charges and eventual incarceration.

With that understanding as a backdrop, it seems logical to conclude that a veritable drug binge occurred among whites from the late Nineties to the middle of the current decade – an explosion of drug sale and use to which the criminal justice system was forced to respond in an uncharacteristically harsh manner. The methamphetamine epidemic among whites was so destructive, so in-your-face, it could not be swept under the rug. White arrests went up dramatically.

The methamphetamine epidemic among whites was so destructive, so in-your-face, it could not be swept under the rug.”

But an increase in white drug imprisonment does not automatically lead to a decline in Black incarceration. It is generally acknowledged that the crack cocaine trade is less of a free-for-all than in decades past, which would account for some decline in Black incarceration. Corporate media managed to find some so-called “experts” who claimed racial profiling is on the decline – but that’s a bunch of nonsense unsupported by any evidence. What may have occurred is, after three solid decades of merciless, predatory policing of Black communities, which seemed intended to sweep the streets of as many young Blacks as the prisons could consume, the criminal justice system simply reached saturation point. They had arrested every young African American male – and increasing numbers of females – that they could wrap their tentacles around, and had finally reached the point of dwindling returns.

If such is the case – if Black drug incarceration rates are on the decline because the system ran out of easily grabbable victims – this represents no victory or turnaround for Black America. It means only that the police have whipped on us until they got tired. And now, with white drug incarceration so dramatically on the rise – now we finally hear murmurings about the need for prison reform. In a racism-saturated society, there are no statistical coincidences involving question of crime and punishment.

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

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

Direct download: 20090422_gf_BlacksPrison.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:11am EST

Anti-War Movement Defeated by Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The arrival of the Obama administration has crippled the U.S. anti-war movement, which has neither the fortitude nor political depth to confront imperialism with a Black face. The Out of Iraq caucus on Capitol Hill might as well call itself the Out of Action caucus, since it can’t figure out a way to respond to President Obama’s expanding military budgets and wars. National anti-war organizations cling to the fiction that Obama is really seeking a military withdrawal from Iraq. “The anti-war movement has hit rock-bottom because of its failure to challenge this particular president, an imperialist with charm, a warmonger with a winning smile.

Anti-War Movement Defeated by Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Obama pretends he wants peace, and anti-war members of Congress pretend to believe him.”

In the streets, on the2009campuses and on Capitol Hill, the anti-war movement is no longer moving anywhere. It has been crippled by the Obama Effect, the deep and wide delusion that imperialism with a Black face is somehow – something else. When a movement disbands itself without coming even close to achieving its objective, that is a defeat. We can now definitively state that, for the time being, the U.S. anti-war movement has been defeated – not by Republicans, but by Barack Obama’s Democratic Party.

A recent article in The Hill, a newspaper that covers Congress, relates a meeting among staffers for Out of Iraq caucus leaders Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters and Lynn Woolsey. They were supposed to come up with a response to President Obama’s announcement that he would immediately send 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, with lots more to come. Obama is determined to leave at least 50,000 troops in Iraq for an open-ended period of time under the guise of “training” the Iraqis, and is rapidly merging Afghanistan and Pakistan into one theater of war, called Af-Pak. Clearly, the Obama administration is expanding its war in Af-Pak, and has no intention of ending the U.S. military presence in Iraq – ever. The staffers for the Out of Iraq caucus leaders spent two hours trying to come up with a position. They failed.

For all intents and purposes, the Out of Iraq caucus has ceased to function. Black Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters have at times shown great courage in the face of stupendous odds. But they will not confront Barack Obama, even when he expands the arenas of war, claims that combat soldiers are merely trainers and advisers, and pushes through a war budget that is bigger than any of George Bush’s war budgets. Obama pretends he wants peace, and anti-war members of Congress pretend to believe him.

The anti-war movement has hit rock-bottom because of its failure to challenge this particular president.”

Another Capitol Hill publication, the Congressional Quarterly, recently ran an article on the low demonstration turn-out and money woes of the anti-war movement. A March 21st rally at the Pentagon drew pitiful numbers of demonstrators, only 3,000 according to police. Organizers claim they can’t raise money these days, and have been forced to cut staff. A spokesperson for ANSWER, the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism Coalition, said the peace movement is seeing the impact of the “promises the Obama campaign made.” Outgoing United for Peace and Justice leader Leslie Cagan says her money people aren’t giving because “It’s enough for many of them that Obama has a plan to end the war and that things are moving in the right direction.”

But Obama has no plans or intention to end his wars except on imperialism’s own terms – which means never-ending war, just like under Bush – a basic truth that United for Peace and Justice refuses to recognize or admit. ANSWER organizers also fail to confront the Obama White House head-on. The Congressional Quarterly article concludes that the anti-war movement is suffering from the results of “its own success.” That’s absolute nonsense. The anti-war movement has hit rock-bottom because of its failure to challenge this particular president, an imperialist with charm, a warmonger with a winning smile. Obama has whipped them, but good. And they will stay whipped, until they stand up like men, like women, like leaders. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20090415_gf_antiwar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00pm EST

Obama Edges Closer to Ending Failed US Embargo of Cuba

No matter how you measure it, the US embargo of Cuba has been a failure, and worse, a crime against both the US and the Cuban peoples. Instead of isolating Cuba, it isolates the US and its people from Cuban cultural contributions and US businesses from the profits of Cuban trade. Still, the First Black President moves slowly, much slower than his base toward the inevitable.

Obama Slowly Edges Closer to Ending the Cuba Embargo

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“President Obama will attend a summit meeting of the OAS, most of whose members now maintain good relations with Cuba and wish the U.S. would lift the trade embargo.”

For half a century, U.S. hatred of the Cuban revolution has driven Washington to commit the full spectrum of international crimes against its small island neighbor: invasion, biological warfare, a relentless campaign of assassination and terror, and the world’s longest trade embargo. Yet the Castro brothers and the socialist government still stand. Forty-seven years ago, when all of Latin America – except for Cuba – was under Washington’s thumb, the United States directed the Organization of American States – the OAS – to expel Cuba, which, of course, was promptly done. That was the same year, 1962, that the U.S. imposed its trade blockade on Cuba. Later this week, President Obama will attend a summit meeting of the OAS, most of whose members now maintain good relations with Cuba and wish the U.S. would lift the trade embargo. Some of them will surely tell Obama so, and in this day and age, the president of the United States has no choice but to listen. The Caribbean Community is also on record against the embargo, as is the General Assembly of the United Nations. Captains of U.S. industry, and their foreign counterparts, have for years lobbied for an end to the embargo, for the simple reason that it’s bad for business, putting American firms at a disadvantage in the global marketplace.

The embargo against Cuba, designed to isolate the revolution, today isolates the United States from the community of nations.

“Cuban leader Raul Castro offered to exchange the Cuban Five or any jailed Cuban dissidents the U.S. wants.”

Barack Obama got ready for his Friday meeting with the leaders of the rest of the Americas by dropping a range of restrictions on Cuba, mostly involving visits Cuban Americans will be allowed to make to the island and the money and gifts they can send.

The older generation of Miami Cubans last week finally bowed to the stability and longevity of the Cuban revolution. Acknowledging the handwriting that has long covered the walls, the far-rightwing Cuban American National Foundation called for a significant loosening of restrictions on Cuban American contact with the island. The old reactionaries stopped short of calling for an end to the embargo, but said the issue was only “symbolic” and no longer “important anymore.”

One of the Cuban American National Foundation’s heroes, the infamous terrorist Luis Posada, moved a little closer to his eventual encounter with justice, when a federal grand jury served up a new indictment against him in connection with bombings at Cuban tourism destinations, back in 1997. One Italian tourist was killed in the terror campaign. Posada has long been wanted by Havana in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people.

But nowadays the Cuban government would be much happier for the return of the so-called Cuban Five, a group of intelligence agents sent by Cuba to infiltrate Miami’s exile groups, where younger versions of Luis Posada planned terrorist attacks on Cuban soil. Instead of being thanked by the FBI for doing the Bureau’s job, the Cuban Five were sentenced to long terms in prison on espionage charges. Cuban leader Raul Castro offered to exchange the Cuban Five or any jailed Cuban dissidents the U.S. wants. Sounds like a good deal. And then the U.S. can end the embargo, and look a little bit less evil in the eyes of the world.

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

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

Direct download: 20090415_gf_cuba.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51pm EST

US Aircraft and Elite Special Forces Defeat Three Somalis in a Lifeboat

The mounting hue and cry in the US press over the menace to civilization posed by Somali pirates is yet another Big Lie, to justify the latest chapter in America's imperial quest for African oil and other resources. US missiles and drones in the air, and perhaps US boots on the ground are all but inevitable, ordered to kill black people, by America's First Black President.

US Aircraft and Elite Special Forces Defeat Three Somalis in a Lifeboat

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

An estimated $300 million worth of Somali sea life is pirated by foreigners every year.”

What a weekend for American foreign policy! The United States Navy, backed up by warships from 20 other nations, knocked off three Somali guys crouching with rifles in a lifeboat tied by a rope to a U.S. destroyer. To hear the U.S. corporate media tell it, the Americans had won a huge victory over the forces of evil. The sole surviving Somali was in custody – a 16-year-old who essentially gave himself up, earlier, after being hurt in a scuffle with the American cargo ship captain who is now celebrated as a hero of the seven seas and defender of United States national honor.

There is something obscene about a superpower whose media and population find great satisfaction, and some sick form of national catharsis, every time they manage to overcome a weak and desperate opponent.

Some dreaded seagoing Somalis began taking up piracy in 1991, when the Somali government disintegrated and there was no one to patrol the country’s coasts. About the same time, and not coincidentally, commercial fishing fleets from around the world took advantage of the lack of a Somali coast guard, to steal every fish they could find in Somali waters. That’s “robbery on the high seas,” the definition of piracy. An estimated $300 million worth of Somali sea life is pirated by foreigners every year. Other kinds of pirates nowadays often leave something behind – the piratical poisonous waste dumpers. They seem to be mafia-connected outfits that dump the radioactive waste from European hospitals into Somali waters, along with heavy metals and dangerous chemicals of all kinds. A survey by the Somali news agency Wardheer News shows that 70 percent of Somalis “strongly supported piracy as a form of national defense of the country's territorial waters."

Having seen their coastal waters pirated by foreigners since 1991, Somalis were then forced to endure the land and air piracy of the Ethiopians and the United States, who collaborated in late 2006 to invade the country and oust the only relatively effective government Somalia had had in 15 years. Occupied by Ethiopia with the backing of the American superpower, Somalis were stripped of the last thing they had on land or sea – their national sovereignty. The foreign super-pirates had taken everything.

70 percent of Somalis ‘strongly supported piracy as a form of national defense of the country's territorial waters.’"

But the Somalis kept fighting back, anyway, driving out the Ethiopians and making the Americans fume with rage. The Somalis refused to roll over and die, or beg. Black U.S. Congressman Donald Payne’s airplane was targeted by mortars when he visited Somalia’s ravaged capital, Mogadishu, over the weekend. Payne opposed the U.S.-Ethiopia invasion of Somalia, but some of the Islamist fighters battling for control of the country may not make distinctions among the foreigners who pass through or over their land – and who can blame them? Barack Obama’s Ambassador to the United Nations, a young Black woman named Susan Rice, is positively rapid when it comes to beating Somalia into submission. She was more gung-ho for the U.S.-Ethiopian invasion than George Bush. Susan Rice is no doubt searching for a military solution to Somali 20090415Piracygfpiracy – which would amount to more piracy by the same foreigners that have driven Somalis to such desperate measures. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20090415_gf_piracy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:54pm EST

Supreme Court Denies Hearing For Political Prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal

US Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Case of Mumia Abu Jamal

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

This is indeed the age when a black boy can become president of the United States. It's also the age when another black mother's son in that same United States can begin his third decade as a political prisoner. Furthermore, it's the age when prosecutors are permitted to deliberately exclude African Americans from jury pools to boost their conviction rates, while the US Supreme Court turns a blind eye to the practice.

The Supreme Court has just refused to hear the argument that Mumia Abu Jamal's conviction should be overturned because the Philadelphia prosecutors' office had a policy of arbitrarily, or to use the legal term, peremptorily removing African Americans from juries. The existence of this longstanding policy is beyond dispute, since recordings of the training sessions for new prosecutors have come to light in which supervisors instructed newbies to routinely violate professional ethics and the rights of accused persons to fair trials before a jury of their peers in precisely this manner. Despite the clear and straightforward evidence of this unconstitutional practice in the Philadelphia prosecutors' office, or perhaps because the evidence is so clear and incontrovertible, the Supreme Court will not allow Jamal's attorneys to make their case in open court. Prosecutorial ethics and the Constitution are one thing, it seems, while politics are quite another.

This is the clearest proof anyone could want that former Black Panther and working journalist Mumia Abu Jamal is indeed a political prisoner. His conviction, his death sentence and his continued incarceration have never been anchored in the purported evidence offered at his trial, and they are, as the Supreme Court has shown once again, quite independent of the law and the Constitution. That's not legal. That's political.

No reasonable or fair minded person believes that contradictory and coerced testimony, long since recanted are a proper basis for decades of imprisonment, let alone the death penalty.

Less than a week ago, an outraged black federal judge threw out the conviction of a white Republican senator on grounds that prosecutors lied and withheld evidence. If the same standard were applied to Mumia Abu Jamal's prosecutors and trial judge, he would have been free long ago. But again, facts and law matter little in the cases of political prisoners.

Europeans, despite their own problems and their own bloodstained history, possess the necessary distance from white America to discern this easily. That's why they have streets and municipal holidays named after Mumia Abu Jamal in France, and why people in a dozen other countries in Africa and Asia know more about his case than many Americans, including many African Americans.

We may have a black president. But we also have black political prisoners, whose incarceration has nothing to do with the crimes of which they were accused and convicted. Some things change more slowly than others.

Those who want to learn more about the case of political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal should visit freemumia.com on the web. That's www.freemumia.com. Mumia Abu Jamal's online commentaries are available at www.prisonradio.com, again that's www.prisonradio.com.

For Black Agenda Report, I'm Bruce Dixon.

Category:general -- posted at: 11:51am EST