Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
National Wave of Privatization Scandals and Disasters Ignored By Media, Concealed From Public

The total absence of local journalism in many markets, and the fixation of what news reporting there is on a handful of crime and celebrity stories helps conceal from the public the real price of global empire and the Wall Street Bailout, or how the privatization measures widely undertaken by state and local governments to relieve their financial pressure have been a cavalcade of corruption, a cascade of scandal and failure that make the rich even richer and the rest of us... well, you know....

National Wave of Privatization Scandals and Disasters Ignored By Media, Concealed From Public

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

The real costs of the $17 trillion bankster bailout, along with the untold trillions more spent for wars in the Middle East and America's global empire have come home. States and counties can no longer pay for the ordinary functions of government. Cities and towns can't repair streets and bridges, maintain water systems or fund libraries. Since the war and the bailouts are massively unpopular, you could say the ultimate cause of it all is a lack of democracy.

But the solution local and state governments, encouraged by Wall Street and the business class automatically reach for is even less democratic, and far more costly. That so-called solution is privatization of public assets and even the core functions of government.

The public policy information clearinghouse ProgressiveStates.Org has released another update to its ongoing series of analyses on the evils of privatization, including accounts of recent privatization disasters, accounts of some of the true costs of these boondoggles, sweetheart deals and outright thefts, the positive steps some cities and states are taking to undue and prevent future privatizations, along with research tips and talking points for local groups trying to keep public assets functioning and public.

In a political system where the careers of politicians who award and renew the privatization contracts are financed by campaign contributions of the business class, corruption in privatized contracts is automatic and absolute. When politicians sit down to do the deal with contractor/contributors, there's never anybody at the table, or even in the building looking out for the public interest. The result is a never-ending string of privatization-related fraudulent claims, scandals and civic disasters, most of which are ignored by the mainstream news outside the local areas in which they occur.

Thus highway and welfare privatizations in Indiana and Texas, where IBM got itself paid billions of tax dollars to lose records, introduce bureaucratic delays and deny benefits to needy people are practically unknown outside the media markets in which they happened. Likewise with Chicago's 75 year giveaway of its downtown underground garages and parking meters for more than a billion less than their actual worth, a deal the mayor moved through the City Council in only two days. Citizens are of course, suing the city in the attempt to reverse the deal.

But whether we're talking zoos or libraries, custodial services or  youth shelters, , ambulance services, airports, payroll and benefits administration, workmens' comp, elementary and high schools, construction engineering jobs,or entire transit networks privatizations strip assets from the public domain which taxpayers have invested in, sometimes for generations. Privatizations make the assets and their operational data which used to belong to and be operated in the interest of the many, the private property of the few, no longer subject to public scrutiny or oversight. Privatizations are thefts of public assets, pure and simple, which is why they are invariably championed by business schools and chambers of commerce. They make the rich richer, and the rest of us, well, you know.

For more information on what privatizations may be happening in your neck of the woods and how to fight them, visit progressivestates.org.

For Black Agenda Report, this is Bruce Dixon. On the web you can find us at www.blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20091028_bd_privatizations.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:09am EST

State and Local Democrats From California to New York:  The Standup Party, or the Party of Excuses?

For some time now, many have wondered when or if Congress and the president would ever stand up against Wall Street, the insurance companies, the militarists, gentrifiers and privatizing vampires, and what it might take to make them do it. But if Democrats don't stand up at the state and local level for the interests of ordinary people, why should we expect Democrats in Congress or the White House to be profiles in courage?

State and Local Democrats From California to New York: The Standup Party, or the Party of Excuses?

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

When a kidnapper takes hostages and threatens to murder them all unless demands are met, do the good guys arrive and say, OK, OK, we will meet your demands, or maybe half your demands, and you can kill half the hostages? If they do this of course, we have to conclude they are not exactly good guys, and they haven't ridden to anybody's rescue.

When California Republicans earlier this year proposed the cutting of thousands of state jobs, the end of home health care, payless paydays for state and municipal workers, the end to (relative) guarantees of clean water and uncontaminated food and dozens of other vital services, service cuts that cost the literal lives of Californians did that state's Democrats stand up and ride to the rescue? Of course they didn't.

The solution of California Democrats was to propose the same cuts as the Republicans, only a third to half as deep. And that was an initial bargaining position, they were prepared to go higher if need be. They told voters, and the Republicans OK, shoot half the hostages and we can live with it. OK, OK, maybe sixty percent of the hostages but this is as high as we go, absolutely. This is not a heroic picture. This is not a profile in courage. This is not a Democratic party standing up for the interest of ordinary people. It's also nothing new this year, and not at all unique to California. How many of us from Maine to Miami and Mississippi to Montana have held our noses, suppressed our gag reflexes, and perhaps grabbed our ankles while we voted for, or encouraged others to vote for the party of Marginally Less Evil? And how many more times are we prepared to do it?

What does it mean when New York state's first black governor David Paterson, tells reporters at Harlem's paper of record, the Amsterdam News, that although he is proposing the most drastic cuts to health care, to education, to mass transit, mental health and across the entire spectrum of services government is supposed to provide, that it's going to be tough, but at least it's not California. That's not riding the the rescue, and it's certainly not standing up for New Yorkers. It's an excuse, one that makes you wonder if a generation of promises and sweat and hopes invested in a party that can only provide excuses has in fact been a bad investment. It's not that Democratic voters didn't invest enough. Corporations and bankers and the wealthy have money to give, they can fund your career. All poor people can do is vote for you once every two or four years.

It's the end of October in an off-election year, exactly halfway between the last elections to Congress and most state houses and the next one. And Democrats at the state and local levels still have no idea how to produce jobs. Democrats, including black ones have yet to come up with a model for inner-city economic development other than moving poorer residents out and richer ones in, so their friends in the real estate racket can make a few billion and break them off a piece.

California Democrats are in a corner. New York Democrats are at a dead end. On both coasts and everywhere in between bankruptcies and foreclosures are rising, and anger is building as people wonder if Democrats on any level will ever be ready to mobilize their base to rupture the envelope, the change the rules, to do something different. Like fight. Or whether the best they can offer is the excuse that hey, at least they aren't Repubicans. They don't shoot all the hostages. It could be worse. You could live in California, right.

For Black Agenda Report, this is Bruce Dixon. On the web you can find us at www.blackagendareport.com.


Direct download: 20091028_bd_standup_party.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 8:31am EST

Two Studies: Drop-out or Push-out, and the Consequences of Jim Crow Medicine

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Sixties and the decade's aftermath remains a fertile field of study. Researchers conclude that the end of Jim Crow medicine “provided the health care basis for southern Black advances on standardized testing in the 1980s.” But change also brought social disarray, massive school dropouts, and a national public policy of mass Black incarceration.

 

Two Studies: Drop-out or Push-out, and the Consequences of Jim Crow Medicine

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The first wave of Black southern kids born and raised under integrated medicine did dramatically better on standardized tests than older children born into Jim Crow.”

You can’t wrap up the Black experience of the Sixties and put it in a box. Events that seemed like defeats at the time turned into victories, while what appeared as a glorious triumph might actually be a prelude to disastrous defeat. In many ways, the Sixties story is still unfolding. Two new studies shed additional light on those tumultuous times.

Three Chicago-based economists have concluded that integration of southern hospitals in the mid-Sixties provided the health care basis for southern Black advances on standardized testing in the 1980s. In the 1950s and ‘60s South, Black children died before age 5 at many times the rate of white children. Under Jim Crow, public medicine was anything but equal. Blacks were often made to wait until all whites had been treated before seeing a doctor, or were barred from hospitals entirely. Then came the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlawed segregation in hospitals, and the next year the new Medicare program forced hospitals to obey the law or lose federal funds. According to the Chicago study, the first wave of Black southern kids born and raised under integrated medicine did dramatically better on standardized tests than older children born into Jim Crow. Northern Black kids, who had long had access to integrated medical care, did not register such dramatic gains. The southern children made bigger leaps, because they had so much farther to jump. One of the researchers summed it up, this way: “If you were born in 1962 in the South and you are Black, you did much worse on [standardized tests] than if you were born in 1969 in the South and are Black.” But if you were born in the North, “it doesn’t matter when you were born.”

So, from a health care perspective, one can call the Sixties a great success for a certain cohort of southern Black children. And there are myriad other clear victories.

“Blacks have been over-policed, over-arrested, over-charged and over-sentenced.”

But the world that the Sixties created was not necessarily a better one for all Black children. There followed the great white backlash, with its public policy of mass Black incarceration, and accelerated white flight to the suburbs, which some white people blame on the civil disturbances of the Sixties. And, closely related to both mass Black incarceration and increasing segregation and isolation of Blacks in urban centers, is the massive Black school dropout phenomenon.

A new Northeastern University study attempts to put a dollar amount on what dropouts cost society, and themselves.

Every high school dropout costs the nation $292,000 in lost tax revenues, social services, and the cost of imprisoning those who get sucked into the system, according to the report. One out of every four Black dropouts is incarcerated or otherwise supervised by the state on any given day.  Black female dropouts are nine times more likely to get pregnant than Black women that go to college. Black female-headed households proliferate because so many young Black men have dropped out and can't take care of families. The cost is high, but who is costing whom? Since the tail end of the Sixties, Blacks have been over-policed, over-arrested, over-charged and over-sentenced. We have been more pushed-out than dropped-out. So, rather than talk about what  Black dropouts cost society, why not tally what white society is still costing us.

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: 20091021_gf_WhoOwesWhom_.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:53pm EST

Three-Tier Race-Based Construction Industry Wage Scales in Manhattan

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A full-blown apartheid labor regime flourished in the Manhattan construction industry, with Irish immigrant workers at the top of the heap. New York's attorney general is demanding millions in back wages and an end to racial discrimination on the job. “If you give the bosses enough leeway, they'll bring back slavery.”

 

Three-Tier Race-Based Construction Industry Wage Scales in Manhattan

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Irish on top, African Americans a distant second, Latinos at the bottom.”

Racial apartheid has reared its head in New York City’s construction industry. State Attorney general Andrew Cuomo has charged a major Manhattan contractor with creating a three-tiered wage scale, with Irish construction workers on top, African Americans a distant second and Latinos at the bottom. The company allegedly cheated workers of all ethnicities out of overtime, while forcing them to work as long as 70 hours a week.

Attorney General Cuomo is seeking $4 million in back wages and overtime and demanding an end to racial discrimination on the job. Members of the carpenters union found blatantly illegal and racist practices at about ten Manhattan construction sites. The race-based wage scale paid Irish workers $25 an hour; Blacks made about $18 an hour, and Latino workers, most of them immigrants, were paid just $15. According to union organizers, the Irish workers were also upset that Latinos did the same work but were paid $10 an hour less.

It should be noted that these glaring violations of labor and civil rights laws occurred before the Crash of last year, at the height of Wall Street’s housing and office construction bubble, when employment in the building trades was relatively high. The conventional wisdom is that management’s ability to divide workers along racial and ethnic lines by favoring one group over another increases as job opportunities decrease. But here we have blatant workplace crimes occurring at the height of a Manhattan construction boom! The sheer flagrancy of the violations indicates that the white business class feels neither shame, nor fear of prosecution.

“Worker insecurity has become a permanent condition of the American economy.”

There is something in the air, and it’s not the blooming of a new, “race-neutral” America. And the racial environment can only get worse as high unemployment becomes a permanent condition for workers of all races. The fact is, worker insecurity has become a permanent condition of the American economy – a direct and purposeful result of corporate domination of both major political parties. If the business class has its way, all workers will be made to feel insecure all of the time; management calls that a favorable business climate. In a political economy that is guided by the demands of business, job security has no place, and the whimseys and prejudices of management hold sway. If you give the bosses enough leeway, they'll bring back slavery.

Lawlessness runs amok throughout the corporate culture, which rewards the victimizing of others. A study released in early September showed that 68 percent of low-wage workers believe they were cheated out of money by their bosses at least once in the past week, with an average loss of 15 percent of their pay. Blacks are cheated three times as much as whites. Black women are robbed by their bosses more frequently than any other workers.

These are facts of life in the American workplace. A rising tide does not lift all boats. Judging by the crimes committed by employers during boom times, rising tides may even encourage  employers to steal and discriminate with greater enthusiasm.

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: 20091021_gf_ThreeTierWages.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:57am EST

The Phony Fight: Obama and the Insurance Barons

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

If you believe the hype, the president and Big Insurance are going at at each other's throats over health care. But it's a sham battle, “like TV wrestling.” The insurance companies have already won the biggest prize they could ever wish for: 50 million new customers dragooned by the federal government. All the too-late huffing and puffing from the White House is “a hollow threat, for public consumption only.”

 

The Phony Fight: Obama and the Insurance Barons

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The health care battle has devolved into a charade.”

The Obama White House and the insurance industry are putting on a big show for the public, with both sides pretending to be engaged in a battle royal over the shape of health care legislation. In reality, the insurance corporations have already won the war. But for political reasons, it's necessary that the insurance companies and the White House act like professional wrestlers. And like TV wrestling, it's all fake.

The insurance profiteers put out a paper last week, claiming the Senate Finance Committee bill shepherded by Obama’s buddy, Max Baucus, would cause premiums to go up 18 percent or more. President Obama then put on his angry face, and threatened to withdraw the insurance industry’s exemption from anti-trust laws. It sounded like a throw-down of epic proportions, but it’s just sound and fury, signifying nothing, as Shakespeare would say. The health care battle has devolved into a charade; the game has been fixed since early on in the Obama presidency.

Obama made his deals with the hospital corporations, the drug cartels and the insurance companies back in the spring. He promised the insurance racketeers they could have what every gangster craves: a captive market of consumers who would be forced to buy their shoddy products. The so-called “individual mandate” is the biggest prize any monopoly-seeking industry could ever hope for. It's was a centerpiece of Hillary Clinton's health care platform during the presidential campaign. Back then, candidate Obama opposed forcing everyone to buy into private insurance schemes. But President Obama was soon singing Hillary's tune, and it was sweet music to the insurance profiteers.

“The so-called “individual mandate” is the biggest prize any monopoly-seeking industry could ever hope for.”

Obama seemed to be holding out for some kind of weak public insurance “option” that would cover the neediest Americans, while forcing all the rest into the private sector's money-sucking machine. But the president has essentially dropped that public option fig leaf.

The Baucus plan is a naked transfer of hundreds of billions of dollars from the people's pockets to the insurance firms, a transfer enforced by the raw power of the state. It is the diametric opposite of single payer health care, which would draw the largest number of Americans into a single pool dedicated to the health and wellness of all. Instead, privatized national health care converts every citizen into a customer of giant corporations, whose goal is maximum profits.

The Baucus plan, which was nurtured at every stage of development by the Obama White House, is the greatest victory in history for the insurance companies – greater even than Congress's 1945 decision to exempt insurance companies from federal anti-trust laws. That's the law Obama is making all those loud noises about changing – but it's a hollow threat, for public consumption only. Anti-trust laws are designed to prevent monopolies. But President Obama is hell-bent on awarding private insurers an unprecedented monopoly over coverage of every American, and the privateer's profits will be fully subsidized by the people.

Obama's brand of insurance reform will have the same effect as his finance reform: massive transfers of wealth to corporations until the people's ability to pay is broken beyond repair.

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: 20091021_gf_FakeHealthFight.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:34am EST

We Need a Black-Led Movement for Peace, Not a Phony “Peace Prize”
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
When Barack Obama declares he is presiding over 'necessary' wars, then those who seek peace must organize the necessary resistance to his wars.” That responsibility weighs even more heavily on Black activists, who must “reignite a Black-led movement to confront this administration's war policies, at home and abroad.” The date is November 7th. The place is Washington, DC.
We Need a Black-Led Movement for Peace, Not a Phony “Peace Prize”
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
President Obama has expanded on a legacy of death and destruction.”
President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize is as phony as the plastic prize in a Cracker Jack box, full of empty rhetorical calories and poisonous substances. The Norwegian Nobel Committee completed its nominations process only eleven days after Obama took office, and chose him based on their own wishful assumptions of what he might do as president. In the real world, among his first acts was to present to Congress the biggest military budget in the history of the world, to fund a U.S. armed forces that is more lethal and costly than all the rest of the militaries on the planet, combined.
A previous Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., lamented back in 1967 that the United States was the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” President Obama has expanded on that legacy of death and destruction. He now “owns” the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which has justifiably been dubbed “Obama's War.” He refuses to renounce the use of nuclear arms against Iran, and presses relentlessly forward with the militarization of Africa through the steady buildup of the U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM. The United States remains complicit in the ongoing genocide in the Congo, where at least five million people have perished in the corporate scramble for the region's natural resources. The Obama administration mercilessly hammers the people of Somalia, menacing that nation's sovereignty from the U.S. military base in Djibouti and enflaming tensions throughout the Horn of Africa.
Among the president's first acts was to present to Congress the biggest military budget in the history of the world.”
When Barack Obama declares he is presiding over “necessary” wars, then those who seek peace must organize the necessary resistance to his wars. The world has waited long enough – no, too long! – for President Obama to live up to the expectations of the five members the Nobel Prize for Peace Committee, in Norway. The Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations has taken on the responsibility to reignite a Black-led movement to confront this administration's war policies, at home and abroad.
Peace requires that the U.S. join the International Criminal Court, and face the music for its own crimes against humanity. But peace and social justice also require an end to a nationwide U.S. public policy of police containment of Black communities. That's why the Black is Back Coalition demands an end to mass Black incarceration and the release of political prisoners. Peace requires economic security for the people, and an end to bailouts for the banks. On November 7th, the Black is Back Coalition will rally in Washington, DC's Malcolm X Park, and then march on the White House. On November 7th, Black America begins to reassume its historic place in the forefront of struggle. On November 7th, the Black is Back Coalition serves notice that a Black president gets no free pass when it comes to issues of social justice, peace and reparations. For information on the rally in Washington, go to www.blackisbackcoalition.org.
Forget what Barack Obama said at the 2004 Democratic convention. There IS a Black America. And Black is Back.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20091014_gf_ObamaPrize.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:38am EST

bentley ownerA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
A new study shows the corporate news media behave as if their primary audience is comprised of the rich and powerful. Issues dear to the hearts (sic) of bankers in New York and Washington insiders dominate the “news,” while stories about jobs, housing and consumer prices are few and far between. In the Great Recession, “the rich use their media monopoly to starve the public of the fundamental facts of national economic life.”
 
 
Media Tell the Rich Man's Story, Starve the People of Real News
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The very rich, through their media, have been holding a conversation among themselves.”
The Great Recession, or the Financial Meltdown of 2008, or whatever history will ultimately wind up calling the unfolding economic debacle we are experiencing, has been “covered” in a highly skewed and selective manner by the media powers-that-be in the United States. That's the general conclusion of a new study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. The Pew study was, of course, centered on news outlets owned and operated by huge corporations, since that is virtually all that has survived for general consumption in the U.S.
The study found that media coverage of the economic disaster – based on numbers of stories and articles – focused overwhelmingly on banking, the economic stimulus, and the fate of the auto industry. The pattern also reveals that the bulk of this narrow band of topics was examined from vantage points in New York and Washington, where the voices of finance capital and its servants in government are located.
It is no wonder, then, that the prevailing narrative on the nature of the crisis, and proposed solutions to the crisis, are informed almost entirely by the corporate view of the world. In essence, the very rich, through their media, have been holding a conversation among themselvesand serving it up as “news.” Their crisis is all that has mattered in this corporate media conversation. It is, therefore, logical that when the stock market rallies the corporate media world is filled with news of “recovery” and “green shoots” sprouting all over the place. But most people experience the economy through the prism of jobs, housing and consumer prices. According to the Pew survey, these fundamental concerns shared by the vast majority of the population rank as very low priorities in the nation's newsrooms.
Stories about labor issues and worker layoffs in the auto industry made up an infinitesimal two-tenths of one percent of what passed for news.”
While housing foreclosures climbed through the roof and home prices went into the basement, stories on housing represented only six percent of news coverage. The plight of renters is almost totally absent from the news. Unemployment shot from 8.1 to 9.7 percent between February and August – the highest in a quarter century – but merited only six percent of news coverage. The drama over General Motors and Chrysler corporate reorganization was one of the top three topics of news coverage, but stories about labor issues and worker layoffs in the auto industry made up an infinitesimal two-tenths of one percent of what passed for news in the corporate media. Food prices were of even less interest to corporate journalists, who gave the issue only one-tenth of a percent of news coverage. That's one story out of every thousand.
Relentless corporate consolidation of media has resulted in a daily menu of news that is worse than useless to the great mass of people. The rich use their media monopoly to starve the public of the fundamental facts of national economic life. In Black America, where Black-oriented radio still reaches 80 to 90 percent of households, the information void is all but total, with the virtual extinction of local news. As a result, the reality of economic disaster comes without warning. It arrives in the form of a pink slip or an eviction or foreclosure notice, while the television anchorperson blathers on about good times on Wall Street.
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: 20091007_gf_MediaSurvey.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 10:12am EST

the real rioA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The gentry-pursued Black and poor population of Chicago got a reprieve from the Olympic committee last week. Now it's Rio de Janeiro's turn to invent clever ways to clear out the shantytowns so the games may begin without the distractions of poverty. Walls are already going up around the favelas, to keep the dark hoards from spoiling the sports.
 
 
The Olympics and Rio's Black Poor
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The city recently resorted to building walls around the shantytowns.”
For the poor, the Olympics is like Russian roulette. If your city is chosen to host the games, it's time for you to start looking for somewhere else to live. The people of Chicago dodged that bullet, last week, and now the poor residents of Rio de Janeiro have until 2016 to figure out how they will survive the world's biggest traveling urban redevelopment machine, posing as an athletic event.
Losing the Olympics was a victory for the plurality of Chicagoans who didn't want the honor, anyway. Not that the Windy City ever stood a chance. If American corporate media cared anything about elementary journalism, they would have discovered that Chicago was way down the Olympic delegates' list of places to go. If the truth be known, ever since 9/11, the United States has had a reputation of not being very hospitable to foreigners.
Gentrification is moving along at a steady clip in Chicago, without the boost of Olympic madness. Back in 1996, Atlanta wound up showing its backside to the nation and the world, arresting 9,000 homeless residents and displacing as many as 30,000 poor people, many of whom had to leave the city entirely. Now Atlanta's Black elite has taken a look around and discovered that the shrinking African American base of population might not be sufficient to keep a Black mayor in office. Gentrification and Black power don't mix.
There's nothing Rio's elite would like better than to send the favela residents someplace far, far away.”
Now the poor people's pushout machine is bound for South America, which has never had an Olympic experience. When Brazil got thumbs up this time around, there was dancing in the streets of Rio – but that's nothing new. Much of Rio de Janeiro is so desperately poor, they've got to dance to keep from crying. As many as two million people, one-third of the population, live in the hillside shantytowns called favelas, places the police treat like enemy territory and where residents build houses with cement walls six inches thick to stop bullets. There's nothing Rio's elite would like better than to send the favela residents someplace far, far away, and the powers-that-be can be counted on to undertake Olympian efforts towards wholesale favela-removal between now and 2016. In fact, 2016 is two years too late, since Rio is hosting the World Cup soccer games in 2014. So the clock is ticking on the city's poor.
The war against the heavily Black favelas has always been ugly. The city recently resorted to building walls around the shantytowns. Ostensibly, the walls are designed to protect the tropical forest, which is indeed endangered by all those poor people spilling up the sides of the mountains overlooking the city and the sea. But everyone knows the walls' real purpose is to fence the poor in. Some critics are comparing the favela walls to the walls Israel has built to confine the Palestinians.
The Olympics are advertised as agents for peace, understanding and human fellowship. In the real world, the games are occasions for world-class real estate deals and expulsion of the poor and powerless.
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: 200921007_gf_RioOlympics.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:50am EST

US Acheives Deep Penetration of African Armed Forces
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Supporters of African independence are generally pleased that the U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM, has not yet established an official headquarters on the continent, for fear of igniting anti-imperialist passions. But AFRICOM does have a major base on the continent, and more than half the militaries of Africa are at this moment being trained by AFRICOM units.
 
 
U.S. Achieves Deep Penetration of African Armed Forces
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
They are creating African militaries that cannot operate without the assistance of the Americans.”
AFRICOM, the U.S. military's Africa Command, has forged deep ties to a growing number of militaries on the African continent. And, contrary to popular belief and official U.S. proclamations, Africom has established a base on the African continent. The base is located in Djibouti, the former French colony in the Horn of Africa on Somalia's northern border. The huge American base in Djibouti, from which the United States coordinates military actions in the region, including operations in Somali territory, is under AFRICOM command. It is, therefore, a fiction to maintain that AFRICOM has no bases on African soil. The U.S. Africa Command has simply opened no new bases, or relocated its official headquarters from Germany – a move that might ignite a wave of protest on the continent.
But the Americans may not have to stage a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a formal AFRICOM headquarters to accomplish the militarization of Africa under U.S. domination. A massive, U.S.-led military exercise is just winding down in the west African nation of Gabon. Dubbed “Africa Endeavor” the training mission involves military units from nearly 30 African countries under the auspices of the Americans: the U.S. Africa Command. It is by far the largest joint exercise with African militaries, and the third in so many years; the first two involved South Africa and Nigeria.
It is a fiction to maintain that AFRICOM has no bases on African soil.”
The African American who commands AFRICOM, Gen. William Ward, claims the latest exercise in Gabon, which began last week and ends October 8, is designed to improve the ability of armed forces from various African nations to communicate with each other in peace-keeping operations. They are without a doubt learning how to communicate with and operate alongside the United States military. The current focus of U.S. AFRICOM activities appears to revolve around preparing African troops to operate under American command-and-control procedures. In early September, 50 Ugandan military officers were sent to the U.S. military base in Djibouti for training. A spokesman for the Ugandan Armed Forces told reporters the objective was to train Africans to fight with international forces. That is clearly a euphemism for operating alongside the Americans.
If the U.S. can turn the militaries of sovereign African nations into appendages of American forces, operating under American command-and-control, then there is no need to draw attention to the US. military presence in Africa by formally designating an AFRICOM headquarters in, say, Kampala, Uganda, or Monrovia, Liberia. Once the U.S. has subverted the officers corps of Africa's armies and made them dependent on U.S. equipment, procedures and logistics, American military domination becomes a fait accompli.
For its part, the U.S. Africa Command says the military exercises are meant to develop “standard procedures” for the operation of an all-African “Standby Force,” under the African Union. What they are in fact creating is a force that cannot operate without the assistance of the Americans. And, of course, such a force could never resist the Americans in battle. The U.S. will never give Africans the tools to defend themselves from...the Americans.
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: 20091007_gf_Africom.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:27am EST