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

newton's lawsby BAR communist Jared Ball
 
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We are constantly told that media fairness and effective access is always just over the horizon, awaiting the maturation of new technology. Yet we never arrive at the technological Promised Land. The internet, for example, will not cure what ails Black-oriented radio. It is quite possible that “the next generation of the internet will be less open than the already less-than-free medium that it is now.”
 
The Titans of Technology: The Internet, Radio and Our Newton’s Laws
by BAR communist Jared Ball
Dr. Huey P. Newton wrote that advances in technology do not improve social relations.”
Sir Isaac Newton once gave name to pre-existing universal laws of motion. His three laws can be summarized as nothing changes course without force, the size of what is to be changed determines the force required to change it and change comes to all involved in achieving it. There are, of course, political equivalents whose laws are equally universal and also pre-date another Newton who later gave them name and Black political relevance. Dr. Huey P. Newton, whose birthday was February 17, once wrote that he “studied the law to become a better burglar” and, extending the political equivalent of the other Newton, added that advances in technology do not improve social relations. They, in fact, intensify or worsen them. Advances in technology, he noted, are developed by exploiting the very workers who are then further suppressed by those advances. These laws are worthy of application to all forms of study, even those of mass media and especially their interaction with Black America. They are, in fact, what should be our Newton’s Laws.
For example, FMQB, an online media industry trade publication, reported this week that newly developing digital broadband internet technology is no immediate threat to established terrestrial radio. Simply put, the internet is a “one-to-one” communication technology where each individual listener comes at a cost of and to limited bandwidth. Radio, on the other hand, is a “one-to-many” technology allowing a set cost for broadcasting that is relatively fixed regardless of how many people tune in. The titans of technology have not quite figured out how to scale their economies so as to reach as many online as they do over the air. For the moment, it seems, radio as we know it is safe.
Consolidated ownership and advertising, payola-driven content and no news all mean that radio is a mess and needs change.”
But radio as we know and experience it is a real-life horror show. Consolidated ownership and advertising, payola-driven content and no news all mean that radio, and particularly that targeting Black people, is a mess and needs change. Many hope and even already claim that the internet is a positive solution. But here we are given information that says the internet is not prepared to take over radio’s popularity and we already have research, like that from the Pew Research Center, which shows that incremental increases in internet usage do not translate into more diverse sources, topics covered or broader ranges of frames of interpretation. The digital divide keeping Black people offline is still an issue and those following the struggle over net neutrality have every right to be concerned that the next generation of the internet will be less open than the already less-than-free medium that it is now.
The problem for the titans of technology, of course, is that control over mass media is for the purpose of having control over access to masses of people to assure their political and economic dominance. Right now even titans like AT&T cannot afford to supply enough broadband to their 9 million IPhone users and CBS denies international access to its internet streams in an attempt to protect its limited network. None are prepared to cover the hundreds of billions of dollars necessary to service an online audience that comes anywhere close to the 235 million listeners that still tune in to radio. The full media migration online is far from complete. However, we cannot afford to confuse migration with improvement. That is, the existing power struggle over radio is also migrating, carrying with it the old rules over who rules.
Our Newton’s Laws, while they demand that advanced technology will only heighten existing conditions, also demand active and aggressive response. Black Agenda Report has already called for the establishment of a News 4 The People Coalition to challenge Black radio to provide its audience with more politically relevant information. We need at least that much to honor the man whose laws we should by now adopt as divine commandments.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. And online go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR columnist Jared Ball can be contacted atfreemixradio@gmail.com. 

Direct download: 20100223_jb_titans_of_tech.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:19am EDT

Obama's nuclear night
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
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The Obama administration is preparing another huge corporate giveaway – this time to an industry that has been moribund for 30 years. “Nuclear power was all but dead because private capital saw the industry as a bad risk.” But, with Obama's proposed $55 billion in loan guarantees, “Wall Street can prepare to process billions of dollars in new loans, knowing it doesn't stand to lose one cent because the public is taking all the financial risk.”
 
Another Corporate Bailout: Obama Goes Nuclear
A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Glen Ford
Obama is determined to pull off a nuclear resurrection.”
Opponents of nuclear power have now joined the ranks of those who are bitterly disappointed with President Obama, who is proposing to triple loan guarantees to the nuclear power industry. Barack Obama has long been allied with nuclear power, as have his two closest confidants, political advisor David Axelrod and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. The Chicago-based Exelon corporation, the biggest nuclear power operator in the United States, was a major Obama campaign contributor. Obama’s support for nuclear power has never been a secret. If environmentalist Obamites were surprised by their president’s all-out push for nukes, they have only their own self-delusions to blame.
Back during the campaign, when Obama was getting huge checks from Big Nukes and Big Coal, environmentalists were giving him a political blank check for no other reason than Obama wasn’t George Bush. But it turns out that regarding nuclear power, Obama is worse than George Bush – three times worse. By boosting federal loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors from $18.5 to $54 billion, Obama is attempting to bring back to life an industry that has been all but dead for almost three decades. More than just a bailout, Obama is determined to pull off a nuclear resurrection.
It turns out that regarding nuclear power, Obama is worse than George Bush.”
The demise of U.S. nuclear power is generally dated to the partial meltdown at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island plant in March, 1979. But nuclear power has always been a failed business model in the U.S. Construction costs consistently run amok, at three, four and five times advertised. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that loans for nuclear plant construction have a more than fifty percent chance of never being repaid. Environmental opposition to nuclear power is not the reason the industry has been moribund for 30 years. Nuclear power was all but dead because private capital saw the industry as a bad risk. So Wall Street helped elect a president who would put up the people's money. With public dollars reviving the industry, Chicago-based Exelon's stock should shoot through the roof. Wall Street can prepare to process billions of dollars in new loans, knowing it doesn't stand to lose one cent because the public is taking all the financial risk.
The public is also taking all the risk for the health hazards of nuclear power. Private industry will not insure against accidents, which could amount to hundreds of billions of dollars in damages. The public will ultimately pay for any cleanup.
Late-stage finance capitalism, like nuclear power, can only exist as a parasite on the larger society. The people pay all the costs: financial, safety, and health. The investment class puts up no money unless guaranteed a payback plus big profits. This isn't about the environment. It's about Wall Street stealing the people blind, through their bought-and-paid-for servants in the Congress and the White House. It's really a crime story.
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: 20100224_gf_ObamaNukes.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:16am EDT

sean bell murder protest

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
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In an age of pervasive racial profiling and militarized policing, impunity is the order of the day in local law enforcement. When summary execution and casual sadism pass for justice at the street cop level, where is the appeal of last resort? Certainly not the Obama Justice Department.
 
Obama Justice Department Joins the Sean Bell Murder Whitewash
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Police can organize instant firing squads or shove objects up people's rear ends, with near impunity.”
Twice in the space of a week, in New York City, the criminal justice system has proven incapable of protecting non-white citizens from a predatory police force. This past Monday, an officer was acquitted of shoving a police baton up the rectum of a young man who had been smoking marijuana. Two other officers got off on charges of covering up the sodomy attack – one of them was quoted as telling the victim, “You liked it, you liked it.”
The previous week, federal officials announced that the cops that fired 50 bullets at Sean Bell and two unarmed friends on the morning of Bell’s wedding, in November, 2006, would not face federal charges in the killing. The policemen had already been acquitted, in April of 2008, on charges ranging from manslaughter to reckless endangerment, a verdict that provoked a series of demonstrations resulting in the arrest of 200 people, including Bell’s surviving friends, his parents and fiancée, and Rev. Al Sharpton.
Sean Bell's death reached into the presidential campaign. Barack Obama, visibly ill at ease with the subject, tersely advised that, “The judge has made his ruling, and we're a nation of laws, so we respect the verdict that came down." Obama then counseled that “resorting to violence...is completely unacceptable and counterproductive."
Hillary Clinton's response was more sensitive to deeply felt Black anger. “My thoughts are with Nicole and her children and the rest of Sean's family during this difficult time,” said Clinton. She continued: “The court has given its verdict, and now we await the conclusion of a Department of Justice civil rights investigation.”
They concluded that unleashing a 50-bullet fusillade against unarmed men, resulting in death, was not a violation of anyone's civil rights.”
That investigation has succeeded only in federalizing the whitewash of Sean Bell's killing. The Obama Justice Department, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York all concluded that unleashing a 50-bullet fusillade against unarmed men, resulting in death, was not a violation of anyone's civil rights.
The Obama administration's refusal to seek justice for Sean Bell through the civil rights statutes should cause us to review the history. The feds began to prosecute killers on denial of civil rights grounds because southern white law enforcement agencies and juries refused to mete out punishment to racist murderers. Federal prosecutors felt compelled to take the civil rights route because entrenched racism made justice an impossibility in the state courts. More than two generations later, in the age of mass Black incarceration, a police state exists on the streets of New York and all our major cities. Police can organize instant firing squads or shove objects up people's rear ends, with near impunity. The circumstances cry out, just as forty-plus years ago, for federal intervention. But even the horrifying facts of the Sean Bell case are not enough to move the Obama administration's Justice Department.
Sean Bell's family will pursue civil damages. The victim of police sodomy has already filed a $440 million lawsuit against the city. There's a chance that both will win significant damages. But there is a lesson, here, for the victims of police abuse: You might eventually get some money, but you'll never get justice.
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: 20100224_gf_SeanBell.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 11:15am EDT