Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT