Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
Washington Refuses To Call Off Its Dogs in Honduras Coup A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
While President Obama issues vacuous statements claiming to support the general principle of electoral democracy, his own State Department officials blame President Zelaya for provoking the coup.” Nobody in Latin American believes the U.S. is not complicit.
Washington Refuses to Call Off Its Dogs in Honduras
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Washington has bought time for its Honduran puppets.”
The “new face” of U.S. policy in Latin America is just that: a face, a false front. Barack Obama's famous smile is a Greek mask, behind which lurks the same old Uncle Sam that plunged nearly all of Latin America into military and oligarchic rule in the period following World War Two.
The U.S. is trying to run out the clock on Honduras's democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya, ousted in a June 28 coup that could not have happened without Washington's approval and ongoing support. The U.S. is the only country in the Western Hemisphere that continues to maintain an ambassador in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. The American ambassador's purpose there, is to hold the hands of the Honduran generals, to assure them that Uncle Sam has their back. While President Obama issues vacuous statements claiming to support the general principle of electoral democracy, his own State Department officials blame President Zelaya for provoking the coup by exploring the possibility of a referendum by the people on a second presidential term.
Obama seeks plausible deniability for that which is undeniable: U.S. complicity in Zelaya’s ouster. No one in Latin America is fooled. The airplane that was used to kidnap President Zelaya and deposit him in nearby Costa Rica, first dutifully stopped at the airbase in Soto Cano – a facility that is as much a U.S. base as a Honduran one. The U.S. relationship to the Honduran military is like that of a father and child. There may be no purer annex and creation of the U.S. military than the Honduran officer corps, which is led almost entirely by men trained at Fort Benning’s School of the Americas, sometimes called the “School of Coups” or “School of Assassins.” The generals and oligarchs that carried out the coup have literally no reason for existence aside from service to U.S. neocolonialism, without which they would be swept away.
The U.S. relationship to the Honduran military is like that of a father and child.”
Through the most cynical maneuvers and double-speak, Washington has bought time for its Honduran puppets, wearing down Zelaya's domestic popular forces despite their daily demonstrations as time runs out on his presidency, due to expire in January. If the military is still in charge on the ground in November – which is clearly the plan – then scheduled elections can be rigged or cancelled. The coup will have been a fait accompli, despite Obama's lame protestations that Washington had nothing to do with it.
This sends a very loud message to the rest of Latin America's elected leaders; it tells them that a nod from the U.S. ambassador can still bring instant exile, even death. It is a powerful warning to keep one's distance from Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Bolivia, Ecuador and other nations that are forging an independent political and economic path.
President Obama had the gall to describe as “hypocrites” those who urge the U.S. to exert real pressure of the Honduran coup-makers. “The same critics who say that the United States has not intervened enough in Honduras,” said Obama, “are the same people who say that we're always intervening and the Yankees need to get out of Latin America.” But there is no contraction. Everybody knows the Honduran generals are Washington's dogs. Obama needs to call his dogs off. 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: 20090902_gf_HondurasCoup.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:29pm EDT

Outsource It! Privatize It! LA School Reform in the Age of Obama A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Acting on the ideological position that teachers are the root of all evil, and with the full support of the city's Latino mayor, the LA school board has voted to transfer one-third of its schools to private, charter management – including 50 brand new campuses. Corporate outsourcing now passes as education policy.
Outsource It!  Privatize It!  LA School Reform in the Age of Obama
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The LA schools handover may represent the biggest one-shot giveaway of public school property in history.”
The Los Angeles Board of Education has voted overwhelmingly to outsource the operations of about one-third of the district's schools, a huge blow to the very concept of public education in the nation's second largest city. The scheme would allow private charter operators to take control of over 250 schools, including 50 brand new, multi-million dollar campuses. The great giveaway to private contractors was approved by a six-to-one vote, with the enthusiastic support of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Two hundred of the schools to be placed on the auction block are classified as “underperforming.” The 50 new school campuses that are up for grabs were paid for by the public through construction bonds. The purpose was to relieve overcrowding, but now the spanking new buildings are to be put up for bids by private charter companies. That's an illegal giveaway of public resources, say opponents of the turnover. The teachers union agrees, and is exploring legal strategies to block the outsourcing. Under California state law, charter schools don't have to hire union workers.
If it goes through, the LA schools handover may represent the biggest one-shot giveaway of public school property in history. The 50 recently constructed schools alone are the equivalent of a big city school district, all brand new and just out of the box, giving the charter operators a huge, built-in physical plant advantage over the city's traditional public schools.
The transfer of one-third of LA's public schools to charter operation means the city will no longer be able to claim to have a truly city-wide public school system. In this, LA will come to resemble New Orleans, where charter privateers now dominate the school infrastructure, and accountability for the system as a whole is non-existent. Veteran teachers have been replaced, wholesale, by young, non-union novices.
LA will come to resemble New Orleans, where charter privateers now dominate the school infrastructure.”
In New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina blew in the charter school takeover. In Chicago, the driving force was corporate elements of the Democratic Party. Massive imposition of charter schools has led to grossly disproportionate terminations of Chicago's Black teachers, replaced mostly by white youngsters from outside the city.
The corporate world, which cares a great deal about the salaries of its executives and consultants, blames unionized teachers for the decline in big city public schools – an ideological position with no basis in measurable reality. Suburban teachers are just as likely to be unionized as inner city teachers, but we don't see suburban communities describing teachers as the root of all evil. And we can't even imagine a white, suburban district hundreds millions of dollars to build a whole generation of brand new schools – and then turning the buildings over to private contractors to do with as they please. That's inconceivable.
Outsourcing of public education only occurs in overwhelmingly Black and brown school districts, places where, like in Los Angeles, public property and public responsibility to students is put on the private auction block.
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: 20090902_gf_PrivatizeLAschools.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:24pm EDT

Cathy Hughes targets 5 black members of congressA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Black radio's wealthiest woman, who claims that very modest royalties to musical performers will “destroy” what is, in fact, a very profitable industry, will host a fundraiser for Florida Rep. Kendrick Meek, candidate for the U.S. Senate. That's in stark contrast to the “dirty war” Cathy Hughes has been waging against five other members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Radio-One Bashes five Black Reps., Raises Funds for Another
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Cathy Hughes is showing she can use her wealth and broadcast power to help, as well as harm, Black members of Congress.”
Radio-One founder Cathy Hughes is hosting a fundraiser for Florida Black Congressman Kendrick Meek, who's running for the U.S. Senate. The September 15 affair in Washington wouldn't be news, except that Hughes has been using her radio stations to wage a dirty war against five other members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The Black lawmakers on Cathy Hughes' hit list are cosponsors of a bill that would require stations to make modest payments to performers whose music they broadcast. The legislation is opposed by virtually the entire broadcast industry and by the most right-wing Republicans on Capitol Hill, who claim the payments to performers is a “tax.” But Cathy Hughes is also working a phony “Black” angle, claiming the bill, the Performance Rights Act, would destroy Black commercial radio, which in fact is a very profitable business in which Ms. Hughes is the biggest - and one of the richest – owners, with 54 stations. For example, Radio-One's profits were sufficient to give Hughes' son, Alfred, a $10 million bonus. Hughes and her son also operate the cable channel, TV-One.
The congresspeople Hughes has slimed are John Conyers, of Detroit, Hank Johnson, from Atlanta, Bobby Scott, of Richmond, Mel Watt, of Charlotte, and Sheila Jackson-Lee, representing Houston. All except Mel Watt live in districts where Radio-One operates stations. That means these lawmakers are acutely aware of two things: one, Hughes is exploiting her license to broadcast over the public airwaves to threaten their re-election prospects in their own districts and, two, Cathy Hughes does not provide to her radio listeners the most elementary service, news. Like her white corporate counterparts, she just rakes in the money. But unlike her white business peers, Ms. Hughes is able to hide her greed behind her Blackness. She is a corporate profiteer pretending to be a Race Woman.
Like her white corporate counterparts, she just rakes in the money.”
The NAACP has endorsed the Performance Rights Act, while Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson side with Cathy Hughes and the rest of the corporate owners. That's not surprising, since Sharpton and Jackson have radio talk shows, Sharpton on Radio-One, and Jackson on the biggest chain of them all, Clear Channel. Reverends Sharpton and Jackson are captives of these radio corporations, which can throw them off the air in an instant.
We learned of the fundraiser from Lauren Victoria Burke, who runs a very useful web site called Crew of 42, dedicated to the activities of the 42 members of the Black Caucus. Cathy Hughes has caught a lot of flak for trying to bully five of the most popular and progressive lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Apparently, her hosting of a money-making event for Florida Congressman Meek's Senate race – in Washington, DC only ten days before the Congressional Black Caucus's gala legislative weekend - is Cathy Hughes' way of showing she can use her wealth and broadcast power to help, as well as harm, Black members of Congress. But of course, she's really only helping herself. That is as far as her Blackness goes.
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: 20090902_gf_RadioOneMee.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:51pm EDT