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

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

What media call "philanthropy" for the public schools are actually seed monies to establish a private "market" in publicly-financed education - an enterprise worth trillions if successfully penetrated by corporate America. Cory Booker, one of the "New Black Leaders" financed by the filthy rich, is key to creating a "nationwide corporate-managed schools network paid for by public funds but run by private managers."

Cory Booker: A Clear and Present Threat to Public Education

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Booker remains determined to make Newark the national showcase city for corporate education."

Eight years ago, when Cory Booker made his first bid for mayor of Newark, New Jersey, I exposed him in the pages of The Black Commentator as a product of the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation and its network of right-wing think tanks. Back in 2002, Booker was a one-term Newark City Councilman and advocate of publicly-funded vouchers for private schools. Millions of dollars in contributions from his many friends on the Right allowed Booker to vastly outspend the incumbent mayor - but he still lost. I like to take a little credit for Booker's defeat, the first time around, for having warned Newark voters that Booker was a Trojan Horse for corporate right-wingers who were determined to privatize the public schools.

Booker won his second attempt to capture Newark City Hall, in 2006, and former Mayor Sharpe James went to prison for corruption. There wasn't too much Mayor Booker could do to privatize Newark's schools, since they've been under the control of the State of New Jersey since 1995. Then, last year, Booker got very lucky. New Jersey elected Chris Christie, a fiercely reactionary Republican, as Governor. Cory Booker - still the same Trojan Horse for the rich right-wingers that have funded his career - had found a political partner in his mission to turn over the public schools to corporations. Booker was already tight with the Black right-wing billionaire, Oprah Winfrey. It was on Oprah's show that fellow billionaire Mark Zukerberg, the FaceBook owner, announced a $100 million gift to Newark schools, to be administered jointly by Booker and the Republican Governor.

"Booker is still the same Trojan Horse for rich right-wingers that have funded his career."

Booker has since gotten commitments for another $40 million from Microsoft's Bill Gates, a New York hedge fund manager, and an educational investment corporation. Cory Booker is rolling in the dough and poised to make his right-wing dreams come true.

Just as I warned, back in 2002, Booker remains determined to make Newark the national showcase city for corporate education - only now, he's got the cash. And he is now part of a full-blown network of capitalists whose mission is to turn American education into a market, for power and profit. The billionaires are circling public education like birds of prey, seeking to transform charter schools into an interlocking, national, for-profit business, worth trillions of dollars. That's what the hedge funds are after, and that is the mission of Booker money-bag John Doerr and his California-based New Schools Venture Fund, whose goal is to "build an entirely new sector of public education" through private investment. They want nothing less than to create a nationwide corporate-managed schools network paid for by public funds but run by private managers.

Cory Booker and Newark are central to this project, as was Washington, DC, where the viciously anti-union schools chief, Michelle Rhee, will soon be fired after the recent defeat of her Cory Booker-like boss, Mayor Adrian Fenty. The Wal-Mart family and other super-rich right-wingers attempted to take over the DC system through millions in contributions with political strings attached. Oprah Winfrey is using her television platform to boost Michelle Rhee for superintendent of Newark schools. Rhee also has the backing of the Obama administration, through Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Booker, Fenty and Obama. Corporate Trojan Horses, all of them, and deadly enemies of public education.

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: 20100929_gf_CoryBooker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:26am EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Rwandan strongman Paul Kagame is threatening to withdraw his forces from United Nations peacekeeping operations if a UN report persists in blaming his army for massacres of Rwandan and Congolese Hutus. "The regime's defense is that it 'saved' millions from death in Rwanda, and then crossed into Congo to 'save' millions of Hutus there, too - presumably, from other Hutus.

Rwanda Scrambles to Deny UN Report on Congo Massacres

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Rwandan Tutsi rebels, attacking from Uganda, initiated the slaughter in Rwanda that left hundreds of thousands dead, and then invaded the neighboring Congo to exploit its mineral resources."

On October 1st the United Nations will officially release a report on massacres of Hutus in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mass killings were alleged to have been carried out by the Rwandan army following Rwanda's invasion of Congo in the mid-Nineties. A draft of the report that was leaked to the press a month ago charged Rwanda with carrying out hundreds of mass killings of both Rwandan and Congolese Hutus - crimes that could rise to the level of genocide. The Rwanda Tutsi regime of General Paul Kagame then threatened to withdraw its forces from UN peacekeeping operations in Sudan, Liberia, Haiti and Chad. That prompted the UN Secretary General to allow a month for concerned nations to respond to the report.

The pro-government Rwandan press has been busy attacking the researchers who drew up the report as part of a mapping project to pinpoint the sites of military actions and massacres of civilians in Congo and Rwanda. Rwanda's media defendershave been especially frantic in their attacks on Christopher Black, whose article, "Who Was Behind the Rwandan Genocide?"was published in Black Agenda Report. Mr. Black is also a lawyer for a Hutu general on trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Based largely on the UN's research into the times, places and victims of mass murder in Rwanda and Congo, Mr. Black concludes that Rwandan Tutsi rebels, attacking from Uganda, initiated the slaughter in Rwanda that left hundreds of thousands dead, and then invaded the neighboring Congo to exploit its mineral resources.

"Uganda and Rwanda coordinated their invasion of the Congo with their military and political ally, the United States, for the benefit of multinational mining corporations."

Black's version of the conflict gives context to the UN's report that Rwanda's Tutsi army in the Congo slaughtered Hutu civilians, both Rwandan Hutu refugees and native Congolese Hutu. And he further charges that Uganda and Rwanda coordinated their invasion of the Congo with their military and political ally, the United States, for the benefit of multinational mining corporations. Black says he is in possession of a letter from Rwandan strongman Paul Kagame that shows Kagame's ultimate objective in seizing power in Rwanda in 1994 was to invade the mineral-rich Congo. The Hutu refugees that fled Kagame's forces into the eastern Congo, and the native Hutu Congolese population, got in the way, and were massacred.

The pro-government Rwandan press dismisses the Kagame letter as a "fabrication," and contend that the UN researchers that documented the massacres of Hutus are aligned with lawyers for Rwandan Hutus charged with war crimes.

The regime's defense remains that it "saved" millions from death in Rwanda, and then crossed into Congo to "save" millions of Hutus there, too - presumably, from other Hutus. Yet researchers have found that three and a half million "excessive deaths" occurred in Congo after Kagame's invasion. I suppose we are to believe that these must have been people that Kagame's army couldn't "save," most of them Congolese.

In a few days we will find out if the United Nations has weakened its report on Rwanda's killings in the Congo, in order to mollify Paul Kagame's government. That would not be surprising, since UN researchers have been reporting the massacres to their bosses for years, with no effect.

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@BlackAgendaReportcom.

Direct download: 20100929_gf_RwandaCongo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:08am EDT

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball

She was young, Black, female, a dynamic political activist and Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate from Maryland. Yet the corporate media and even many of those Blacks that gathered to mark Natasha Pettigrew's death in a bicycle-car collision were oblivious to her political passions and commitments - a life arbitrarily edited by post-mortem omission.

Natasha Pettigrew and the Recipe for Omission

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Jared A. Ball

"Natasha knew that change could not come from an electoral business as usual."

Natasha Pettigrew died last week from injuries sustained after being hit by a car while riding her bike.  She was 30, Black and a Green Party candidate for the U.S. senate in the state of Maryland.  The absence of fortune in her killing can never be matched but is certainly rivaled by the absence of fortune in that simple bio; a Black woman running for office as a member of the Green Party.  This unfortunate combination of natural and political selection was and is a recipe for omission.  This recipe? Start with being a woman, Black and a member of an alternative political party.  Then add one part Black people who love and are bought by Democrats; add a strong helping of White people who won't accept Black leadership (even Obama didn't get a majority of the White vote and certainly won't if there is a next time); add a dash of Whites who will accept Black leadership but who are often corny Green Party types too few in number to begin with; add most young people who love only manufactured popularity; and stir in a media environment, be it Black, White, mainstream or "progressive," who all shun third party politics and we are served up the powerful but bland dish of omission.

As a young Black woman without the political rock star pedigree earned or borrowed from a previous generation's struggles and who put her own law school work on hold to run for office on the Green Party ticket Natasha was by nature and choice destined for obscurity.  And she knew it.  She was killed preparing for a triathlon so she was no slouch incapable of readying herself for great feats.  In her own statements, including a personal challenge to this commentator to work harder, Natasha was clear that a fight was necessary to prevent further national political backsliding and that this would not be easy.  She knew the obstacles which include the fact that the Green Party gets no media attention other than to be discussed as "spoilers" or as the hopeless fringe.  But Natasha also knew that change could not come from an electoral business as usual. 

"Natasha was clear that a fight was necessary to prevent further national political backsliding and that this would not be easy."

She wrote of the "stark contrasts" between the White Fells Point area of Baltimore and the rest of the city which she said would become her "mission" to address.  She wrote of the obvious contradiction between a $100 million juvenile detention center being built in Baltimore while many are homeless and the school system "vies for first place as the worst performers alongside [the mostly Black] Prince George's County."  And she concluded that none of this could be addressed by the existing political structure, noting that it is the Green Party whose platform best represents the true interests of her community.

At the vigil that followed a few days later some of the ravages of this recipe of omission were on display.  As dozens gathered in a parking lot which sat adjacent to the place where Natasha was killed many of the mostly Black participants knew nothing of her Green Party campaign and the well-meaning White folks who showed up remain too distant and corny to have closed those gaps.  The lovers of dead Black people known as NBC, Fox and CBS were on hand but of course knew nothing of her political campaign, knew nothing of her admiration for Cynthia McKinney who they also failed to recognize at the vigil and simply continued a pattern established by their print cohorts The Baltimore Sun and Washington Post of offering time to Natasha only after being killed.

We need a new recipe for the Natashas of the world, especially now at a time when the fraudulence of the Democratic Party as an element of change is more obvious than at any other time in U.S. history.  Natasha and we deserve it.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Jared Ball.  Online go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com

Jared Ball can be reached via email at freemixradio@gmail.com.

Direct download: 20100929_jb_GreenObit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:52am EDT