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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

What can President Obama do to show that he cares, just a little bit, about Black Americans? Since he has done nothing so far in his term, a good a place as any would be to free political prisoners, many of whom have been held for three and four decades. Black lawyers “are calling for the United States to be held to the standards of conduct established by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (HRC) and Convention to End All Forms of Racism and Discrimination (CERD).”

 

Political Prisoners? Black Lawyers Say Obama Could Free ‘Em All

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

This call by Black lawyers to free those this country denies are political prisoners remains as important a bright-line standard as any other.”

With their call this week for president Obama to free all political prisoners the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) have given him yet one more opportunity to actually address a specific concern of many Black and other well-meaning people around the world. And he might as well because, as Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor has written recently, Obama hasn’t done much else for Black America since assuming office.

Instead of championing or even making plain by highlighting and careful simple explanation the plights of Black Americans, Obama is instead only reapplying a very old strategy of preparing a base support of voters. Deploying a national propaganda campaign reminiscent of the early 20th century Creel Commission, Obama has Michael Blake, as he says himself, “crisscrossing the country… taking our stories directly to people about how the African-American community is benefiting from the Obama administration... For those who say we don't have a Black agenda,” continues Blake, “I would challenge them and ask, 'How are our policies not helping the African-American community?”

Well, Ms. Taylor provides as succinct an answer to anyone not living it or not able to look out their own windows. Black adult men are suffering the highest rate of unemployment ever measured, 43%. Twenty-six percent of the Black population lives beneath the poverty line, a line already set so low as to hide how bad it really is. For a family of 4 with a household income of roughly $20,000, “poverty” is too nice a term. These are so-called “Third World” conditions. Besides, as Taylor reminds us, 8% of African America has lost their homes and 21% more are in “imminent” danger of being next. And since, as Ms. Taylor also notes, there has been no real follow up to organize and mobilize by the Obamaton community of liberal leadership many other severe concerns continue to go unaddressed.

For a family of four with a household income of roughly $20,000, “poverty” is too nice a term.”

Among these include the repressive levels of incarceration and the continued political imprisonment of dozens of movement heroines and heroes. So this call by Black lawyers to free those this country denies are political prisoners remains as important a bright-line standard as any other. These lawyers are calling for the United States to be held to the standards of conduct established by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (HRC) and Convention to End All Forms of Racism and Discrimination (CERD). In part and in short this would mean releasing political prisoners who, though not recognized as such, have been demonstrated to have suffered incarceration largely due to the unjust and illegal practices of the FBI and their Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). This systematic and illegal attack on Black activists and those in support of Black liberation now has dozens held in anti-human conditions. Having been there more than three and four decades they are elderly and deserving of relative freedom.

Two new books are either out already or soon to come. One is Marshall Law by Marshall Eddie Conway and the other is Love and Struggle by David Gilbert. These are to be added to existing works on or about political prisoners such as Safiya Bukhari’s The War Before, Jalil Muntaquim’s We Are Our Own Liberatorsand the many works of Mumia Abu-Jamal among others and made the centerpiece of symposia, study groups and classrooms so that we may turn them into living documents of political organization and platform agenda items.

So while many continue to say that Obama is not the president of Black people he can still be challenged to amend his nation’s mistakes on behalf of the Black Americans still at least nominally held as citizens. He has done so little. These political prisoners certainly deserve their release, we certainly deserve them back in our communities and the world deserves to know that if they are not freed that all words emanating from this country regarding human rights are as baseless as the claims it makes to freedom and democracy.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com

Dr. Jared A. Ball is author of the newly released I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press). All proceeds from the book go to support political prisoners. More information can be found online at: IMixWhatILike.com.

Direct download: 20110525_jb_PoliticalPrisoners.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:18am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Public education’s corporate enemies – Democrat and Republican – now wage open warfare against teachers unions, seeking to strip them of collective bargaining rights. But that’s just the beginning. “The billionaires, and the politicians they have purchased, want nothing less than to destroy teaching as a profession.” In the ideal corporate world, most teachers would have the status of temps.

 

The Corporate Dream: Teachers as Temps

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Under the guise of ‘reform,’ the United States is moving in exactly the opposite direction as the rest of the world.”

As Democrats hustle to shovel a billion dollars into President Obama’s campaign coffers – making promises to rich people and their corporations every step of the way – America’s billionaires are spending even more money to seize control of the nation’s public schools. Although super-wealthy capitalists like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, fellow computer mogul Michael Dell, real estate magnate Eli Broad, and the rapacious owners of Wal-Mart, the Walton Family, would like people to think of them as philanthropists, they are nothing more than down-and-dirty investors who hope to reap much more than they sow. This mega-buck mafia's goal is to gain access to the $600 billion per year that taxpayers pump into public schools, and then to profit in perpetuity by shaping the nation’s educational system to their corporate needs. The corporate education project has nothing to do with growing new generations of smarter, socially aware, independent-thinking citizens, but is designed to raid public treasuries through wholesale contracting-out of public schooling.

This mega-buck mafia's goal is to gain access to the $600 billion per year that taxpayers pump into public schools.”

Teachers are the biggest obstacle in the way of the corporate educational coup, which is why the billionaires, eagerly assisted by their servants in the Obama administration, have made demonization and eventual destruction of teachers unions their top priority. Corporations hate collective bargaining, or working people’s power of any kind, but their vision goes way beyond simply neutralizing teachers unions. The billionaires, and the politicians they have purchased, want nothing less than to destroy teaching as a profession. Plutocrats like Bill Gates and politicians like Barack Obama may make noises about respecting teachers' life-long commitment to learning, but their actions prove the opposite. At every opportunity, whenever a real or manufactured educational crisis presents itself, the corporate gang champions charter schools and imports platoons of young, mostly white, inexperienced rookies from programs like Teach for America. Most of these neophytes have no intention of making teaching a career, so they accept low wages, turnover is high, and they have no long term interest in any particular school, or school system, or the profession in general. They are temporary teachers – which is precisely the point.

Just as corporations have revamped the private white collar workforce, replacing full-time, salaried personnel with “temporary” workers – a system in which some managers are officially temps – such are the prospects for teachers in the brave new corporate world of education “reform.”

The billionaires' propaganda machinery claims the corporatization of American education is necessary to make the United States “competitive,” internationally. But teachers in most of the countries that lead the U.S. in learning are highly respected, if not revered, and relatively well compensated. Under the guise of “reform,” the United States is moving in exactly the opposite direction as the rest of the world. The American people are being conned by billionaire hustlers who are stealing the public schools – and the national future – right in front of our eyes.

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: 20110525_gf_TempTeachers.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:03am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Since when does the leader of an empire voluntarily “reset” to become a non-interfering power? Never. President Obama’s speech, last week, was mainly geared to maintaining U.S. supremacy in the Mideast and North Africa following the shock of the Arab Reawakening. Obama chided Arabs and Africans who believe colonialism is the root of their problems. But “if colonialism is a thing of the distant past, then why are the combined militaries of the world’s historical colonial powers, the U.S. and Europe, bombing and strafing their way through Africa?”

 

Obama Claims to “Reset” the Imperial Clock

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The United States is still the boss, even if you think it’s springtime for Arabs.”

When the world starts spinning away and the situation is no longer in control, the first inclination of the control freak is to reset the clock, so that nobody else knows what time it is. The people of the Arab and Middle Eastern world know that it’s way past time to get free of American corporate and military tentacles. Oh no, said President Obama in his speech last week, insisting on the “indispensable role that our country can play – and must play – in the world.” Translation: The United States is still the boss, even if you think it’s springtime for Arabs. Off camera and thousands of miles away, NATO was making Obama’s point, having by then flown over 2,500 bombing sorties over Libya.

Obama chided those who blamed the West “as the source of all ills, a half century after the end of colonialism.” But if colonialism is a thing of the distant past, then why are the combined militaries of the world’s historical colonial powers, the U.S. and Europe, bombing and strafing their way through Africa? The president praised the “moral force of non-violence” among Arab reformers, even as the U.S. and its European allies demonstrated their ghastly capacity for violence against Arabs in the heart of Arab North Africa. Then, as if there were no contradiction, Obama switched to the other teleprompter to assure his audience that the United States “will not tolerate aggression across borders.” That is, unless it is sanctioned or carried out by the United States.

We have a chance to pursue the world as it should be,” but with “humility,” said Obama. As a superpower for the last 65 years and the only superpower for the last twenty, one would have thought that the United States had had plenty of chances to pursue such a world all along. The U.S. and the Europeans of NATO are mainly responsible for the Arab and African worlds being underdeveloped and with only recent histories of self-rule. And yet the U.S. and Europeans are still there, imposing their will. Isn’t it time, Mr. Obama, with all humility, that you allow these countries to pursue their own national aspirations?

The U.S. will be sending in lots of money and political operatives, to subvert the young people's political organizations and create phony “movements” friendly to U.S. interests.”

Obama artfully mouthed non-sequiturs entangled in maddening contradictions. The United States “can and will speak out for a set of core principles,” said the president. And Obama speaks very well – all the while shredding the core principles of international law.

Now that new forces are in motion in Egypt and Tunisia – no thanks to the United States and Europe, which propped up dictators willing to look out for the interests of American and European corporations – Obama promises to “reach the people who will shape the future -– particularly young people.” Translation: The U.S. will be sending in lots of money and political operatives, to subvert the young people's political organizations and create phony “movements” friendly to U.S. interests. And Obama vows to “promote integration with U.S. and European markets.” That's corporate-speak for deeper penetration of the Egyptian and Tunisian economies by American and European multinationals, further tightening the grip of New York, London and Paris.

So, it turns out that when Obama resets the Mideast and North African clock, it's still superpower time, and the Arab spring has not yet sprung. 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: 20110525_gf_ObamaReset.mp3
Category:US Empire -- posted at: 8:53am EST

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Does President Obama really want us to “make him do it,” to organize and agitate and create the conditions that will let him end the wars, cut the military budget, create jobs and address the hyper-incarceration of black and brown youth? Or is the “make me do it” president an urban legend who lives only inside our heads? A recent presidential encounter with Harry Belafonte tells more than some of us may want to know.

Harry Belafonte Explodes the Presidential “Make Me Do It” Myth

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

There is a popular myth which explains President Barack Obama's reluctance to stand up to Pentagon militarists, Wall Street banksters and corporate greedheads. This myth excuses the president for ignoring massive black unemployment and not providing his promised path to citizenship for the undocumented, for not using presidential authority to halt the foreclosure epidemic, or curbing the hyper-incarceration of black and brown youth. The myth of course, is that President Barack Obama really does want to do all these things and more, but if they haven't happened it's because we the people have abandoned our responsibility to somehow “make him do it.”

The myth stems from the apocryphal story of a meeting between African American labor leader A. Philip Randolph and President Franklin Roosevelt back in the 1940s. Randolph laid out black America's list of demands for economic and social justice. In response, Roosevelt said he wanted to do all of it, but that Randolph and the movement of that time would still have to “make him” do these things.

Applied to the Obama presidency however, “make me do it” is a popular myth. It's popular because the president and his lackeys repeat it endlessly. It's a myth because it's not true. Longtime activist Harry Belafonte, who played a key role in the Freedom Movement of the fifties and sixties, exploded the myth in a Democracy Now interview broadcast on May 16.

Belafonte was asked by host Amy Goodman whether he'd used his occasional access to directly share his many critical and valuable public policy insights with the White House. Belafonte replied that his only access to the president has been for a few seconds at a time, not long enough for any substantive discussion. But, he said, at one such event President Obama approached him to inquire when Belafonte and Cornel West were going “to cut me some slack.”

What makes you think we haven't?” Belafonte replied to the president? At this point the brief encounter was over.

Let's pause to think about that. When President Obama cusses out Cornel West and personally demands that historic stalwarts of the movement for peace and justice “cut him some slack” on black unemployment, on foreclosures and the prison state, on torture and the military budget, on unjust wars and corporate welfare, on fulfilling the just demands of those who elected him, our first black president is revealing his real self. Far from saying “make me do it,” President Obama is saying how dare you pressure me to do what you elected me to do.

Harry Belafonte has done a great public service in helping us distinguish the imaginary Barack Obama of “make me do it” from the real Barack Obama, who demands our support, but expects us to “cut him some slack.” Rather than agitating and organizing in our communities to “make him do it” all the real President Obama wants of movement activists is for us to sit down and shut up, until it's time to chase each other out to vote for him in 2012.

By then, there will be fewer chasers, and somewhat less chasing than in 2008. But this will be something that he made us do. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and is based in Marietta GA, where he is on the state committee of the Georgia Green Party.

Direct download: 20110518_bd_make_me_do_it.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:53am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

With insurance companies flush with cash and their shareholders pocketing impressive dividends, rising insurance rates and punitive co-payments have terrorized much of the public into putting off visits to the doctor and postponing important tests.” Such is the “insanity of private health care,” in which insurers are allowed to charge high rates and co-payments “that prevent their own customers from obtaining needed health care.”

 

Study Shows Insured Americans Risk Health to Avoid High Co-Payments

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Self-rationing of medical care under economic duress will certainly result in unnecessary future deaths and a further erosion of overall health in the United States.”

Americans fortunate enough to have health insurance are cutting back on their own medical care, while private insurance corporations are reaping windfall profits. Rising insurance rates and punitive co-payments have terrorized much of the public into putting off visits to the doctor and postponing important tests like colonoscopies and mammograms, because the cash upfront is more than they can afford. This self-rationing of medical care under economic duress, confirmed by the commercial insurance industry, will certainly result in unnecessary future deaths and a further erosion of overall health in the United States, which already ranks 37th in the world. Meanwhile, insurance industry shareholders are clocking big dividends and companies are piling up huge reserves of cash.

The insurance racketeers justify their rate increases, claiming they need to hoard big stashes of cash in anticipation that, when the economy improves, people will start going back to the doctor again. This is the insanity of private health care, a corporate con game in which insurance companies are allowed to rake in fantastic profits charging astronomical rates that prevent even their own customers from obtaining needed health care during economic hard times. The rationale is that the companies will need the extra money when good times roll around and their customers finally have enough cash to visit the doctor and take necessary tests.

We know that preventable illness and death will increase when people are discouraged from utilizing medical services.”

The United States does not have a national health care policy; it has a national insurance corporation profits policy, as well as a national pharmaceutical industry profits policy. But the population at-large, much of whose health care is already rationed by managed-care corporations, is now reduced to rationing its own health care by postponing medical attention. The bizarre, inhuman, totally non-medical logic of the corporate boardroom then demands that insurance rates rise in order to pay for the pent-up health care demands that must inevitably be dealt with at some later date. The insurance companies project that doctor visits will pick up when people’s spending power increases. Of course, there is absolutely no reason to believe that most people’s disposal incomes will increase in the foreseeable future. That’s why people are holding off going to the doctor. But, we do know that preventable illness and death will increase when people are discouraged from utilizing medical services. In other words, the U.S. health-profits system is methodically killing Americans – and rewarding corporations for their role in the carnage.

These are the fruits of the backroom sweetheart deals that President Obama cut with private insurance corporations back in 2009. They have allowed big insurance companies to exceed expected earnings by 30 percent, while undetected tumors fester in the bodies of their customers, who can't afford the co-pay.

The logic of private health care and its Obamacare version, is death. A national single-payer plan, such as was possible in 2009 had Obama not chosen to preserve corporate profits, is the only answer.

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: 20110518_gf_InsuranceProfits.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:54am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared Ball

The monopoly corporations that reap billions through their control over the flow of music through the cultural “marketplace” also accrue the power to define who-is-who and what-is-what in the public mind. This is a kind of piracy on the high political/cultural seas. “If these corporations can define popularity it assures that today’s Belafontes, Robesons or Miriam Makebas cannot.”

 

Who You Callin’ A Pirate?!?!

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared Ball

It’s an absolute inversion of reality for the industry’s lobbyists to describe others a ‘pirates.’”

As a kind of follow up to last week’s commentary on shifting ownership in the music industry there is another recent development worthy of our attention. The last “mainstream U.S.-based” company “accused of employing music piracy as a business strategy,” the company now also described as “the last of its kind,” Lime Wire, has reached a settlementwith music industry’s watchdog the Recording Industry Association of America, the infamous RIAA. This settlement, of more than $100 million, is said to be largely about putting Lime Wire’s owner Mark Gorton into “huge debt” so as to make his a “powerful cautionary tale,” a warning to others who might think of getting rich by making corporate property available to the world for free.

The settlement is seen as a victory for the RIAA who “can now boast that they’ve driven file-sharing services underground and overseas.” It is the musical version of killing off the numbers game to develop state-run lotteries or the suppression of one drug trade in favor of a more harmful and deadly one managed by the pharmaceutical industry. In this case the danger of free exchange, or the threat that corporations may lose their stranglehold over managing popularity and the financial benefit that often follows, is the very “racket” to be controlled. So as one reporter notes, it’s “hard to tell” where any settlement money will go. “In the past” Greg Sandoval explains, “the RIAA has split up big awards with the four member labels.” And as a spokesperson for the RIAA said, “recouped” funds are usually “re-invested” into their “ongoing education and anti-piracy programs.”

It doesn’t take long to notice that nowhere in any discussion of settlements and compensation do artists get mentioned. And why should they? Their art is not their property and these trials have nothing to do with them. They and their art are highly coveted commodities owned by the subsidiaries of the world’s corporate elite. And this is also why it’s an absolute inversion of reality for the industry’s lobbyists to describe others a “pirates.” It is the industry that preys upon the colonized, takes advantage of their talent and desperation to achieve a life most of us have been propagandized to believe possible or necessary. It is the industry that needs this cultural extraction to occur in order to protect their already solidified positions atop the world’s social hierarchy. They too learned the lesson Harry Belafontesays was passed to him from Paul Robeson. “Get them to sing your song,” Belafonte recounts, “and they’ll want to know who you are.” This is about the power of definition. And if these corporations can define popularity it assures that today’s Belafontes, Robesons or Miriam Makebas cannot.

The RIAA who can now boast that they’ve driven file-sharing services underground and overseas.”

Gorton’s lawyer pointed out the hypocrisy apparent in industry claims that the online free exchange of music has cost them dearly. While crying broke these corporations have developed other revenue-generating operations like Internet radio, video game royalties and “ad dollars from YouTube.” It was also mentioned in court how, even amidst all this “theft,” the top three Warner Music executives somehow made more than $100 million in bonuses since 2004. Even this week it was reported that though Universal Music Group’s first quarter is down a whopping .09% since last year its parent company Vivendi’s first quarter is up, due in part to those “other revenue streams,” to $1.36 billion. That’s not bad for a first quarter net income especially when it would likely take the life-time earnings of all the families in the history of all the families of all who hear this commentary to maybe come within a tenth of that number.

So the legalized, institutionalized theft of our cultural expression by the “lords of capital” has now again made illicit the use of new technology to subvert their ability to determine who among us gets to be popular and to what extent artists may benefit from the commercial sale of their art. We’d all be better off bootlegging industry product and sending the artists $5 directly. We all would pay less for the music we want and our favorite artists would make more per sale than they do now. It sounds like a win-win situation to me.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online visit us at www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Dr. Jared A. Ball is the author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press) and can be reached via:IMixWhatILike.com

Direct download: 20110518_jb_Pirates.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:51am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Americans are taking note of a recent study on massive rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but most fail to connect the horror with U.S. policy in Africa. Mass rape is one aspect of a genocide that has taken six million lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo. American proxies carried out Washington's aims of creating chaos for the benefit of multinational corporations.

 

U.S. Policy Led to 2 Million Rapes, 6 Million Deaths in Congo

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is U.S. policy that has unleashed bands of armed men and child soldiers to inflict unspeakable horrors on women and girls.”

What should be the human response to a new study that estimates two million women have been raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo? The natural reaction is horror, anger, and to demand that somebody do something. But of course, one cannot do anything effectively, unless one has some understanding of why this atrocity against womankind occurs at such horrific levels in this particular country.

The study has gotten a fair amount of media coverage since the American Journal of Public Health announced the findings, last week. I suspect that much of the American public reaction has been: Oh, those Africans are incapable of behaving like civilized human beings. It would not occur to these Americans that their own country is the principal perpetrator in the crimes that have made parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo such a hellish place for women and girls. The United States is mainly responsible for the even larger crime of which mass rape is just one aspect: the death of six million people, the largest loss of life in any conflict since World War Two, and the second genocide of Congolese in the space of a century.

The first Congolese genocide came under the Belgians, beginning in 1885. King Leopold brought about the death of fully half the population – some estimate as many as 20 million people. Then it was the Americans’ turn. In 1961, the United States plotted with the outgoing Belgian colonizers to murder Congo’s first elected prime minister, Patrice Lumumba. The Americans then installed Joseph Mobutu as strongman to safeguard multinational mining interests and to act as an American base of operations to subvert independence movements all over Africa.

The United States is mainly responsible for the even larger crime of which mass rape is just one aspect: the death of six million people.”

Mobutu served the Americans well, and helped himself to possibly $4 billion of the Congolese people’s money. When Mobutu left the scene in 1997, Washington switched to what has always been its Plan B for Africa: wherever it cannot rule through its chosen strongman, the U.S. creates chaos.

In 1998, Uganda and Rwanda, America's client states in Africa, invaded the eastern Congo, plunging the country into the chaos of the second Congolese genocide. The United States, through its proxies and its deliberate policy of creating chaos for the benefit of multinational corporations, is complicit in every single one of those six million deaths. It is U.S. policy – not just past, but present policy – that has unleashed bands of armed men and child soldiers to inflict unspeakable horrors on women and girls.

What can Americans do to help the women and girls of Congo? They can demand that Washington call off its surrogates in Rwanda and Uganda who continue to loot the country on behalf of minerals corporations. They can tell the U.S. to stop interfering in Congo's affairs, so that a democratically elected central government could tax the corporations and use the revenue to build a state that can protect its people. And Americans that recoil at the rape of the Democratic Republic of Congo – its women, its resources and its sovereignty – should demand the U.S. pay reparations, not aid, for all it has stolen from that country.

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: 20110518_gf_CongoRape.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:47am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Thousands of dead Africans are testimony to the hypocrisy and cynicism of the Euro-American assault on Libya, perpetrated under the false flag of “humanitarian” intervention. The U.S. aircraft carrier Carl Vinson steamed right past a ship full of dying Africans in the Mediterranean Sea. “The NATO fleet could not be bothered with rescuing otherwise doomed Africans – even though NATO claims the purpose of its mission is to save civilian lives.”

 

Libyan “Humanitarian” War Creates Humanitarian Crisis

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It was totally predictable that the western intervention would put civilian African workers at terrible risk.”

Europe and America’s ghastly military intervention in Libya’s civil strife – supposedly for humanitarian reasons – has created its own humanitarian crisis, especially for Black African migrant workers trapped in that country. Whether by death at sea or by lynching at the hands of U.S.-backed “rebels,” the death toll among migrant workers and their families is certainly in the thousands – although the U.S. superpower and its European allies seem not to care in the slightest. Dead Africans – whether Arab or sub-Saharan, Muslim or Christian – are of no consequence to the rulers in Washington, Paris, London and Rome, who seek to strengthen their grip on the region and its resources by force of arms. In their mouths, “humanitarian intervention” is an oxymoron.

For the 72 Black passengers of a rickety vessel that ran out of fuel shortly after leaving Libya in late March, there was no humanity in NATO’s intervention. All but 11 died from thirst and starvation during 16 days of agony in the Mediterranean Sea. At one point, they passed very close to a NATO aircraft carrier, almost certainly the Carl Vinson. Two warplanes buzzed the stricken ship as the Africans on deck held up their babies to show their distress. But then the planes went back where they came from. The NATO fleet could not be bothered with rescuing otherwise doomed Africans – even though NATO claims the purpose of its mission is to save civilian lives. Clearly, the Black American commander-in-chief did not give his sailors and flyers the impression that Black lives matter. The dead included men, women and children from Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Ghana and Nigeria.

Whether by death at sea or by lynching at the hands of U.S.-backed “rebels,” the death toll among migrant workers and their families is certainly in the thousands.”

At least 800 other refugees from Libya are presumed to have died on the high seas last month. Add to that, many of the 600 onboard a vessel that sunk just off the Libyan coast, this week.

According to the United Nations, about 750,000 refugees have left Libya since the rebellion broke out more than two months ago. But there were more than three million foreign workers in the country at that time, one and a half million of them Black Africans who were relentlessly hounded and hunted by racist lynch mobs. The rebel’s political leadership and their backers in NATO dismissed out of hand an African Union cease-fire proposal that would have opened a safe corridor for refugees to escape. Under the conditions of a civil war that has been nurtured, armed and funded every step of the way by the U.S. and its allies, it was totally predictable that the western intervention would put civilian African workers at terrible risk. At best, NATO is guilty of depraved indifference to human life – as are the western news media that act as cheerleaders for the superpower aggression.

Which reminds us of the U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, in late 2006. The same “humanitarian” interventionists that now hold sway under Prsident Obama, applauded the Somalia invasion as “humanitarian.” Instead, it resulted in what the United Nations called “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa.” The U.S. didn't care about civilians then, and it doesn't now. Washington's cynicism is an affront to the very idea of civilization.

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: 20110511_gf_LibyaRefugees.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:24am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The moral degradation of the Black misleadership class reveals itself in the celebration of Osama bin Laden’s demise. Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, eager to curry favor with the First Black President, wind up endorsing his and George Bush’s War on Terror. “Does Rev. Jackson think Obama deserves a ‘huge psychological boost’ for having killed almost one thousand innocent civilian men, women and children in Pakistan last year with his drones.”

 

Sharpton and Jackson Endorse War on Terror

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Rev. Jackson urges Black people to be vicariously lifted by the ‘huge psychological boost’ that Navy SEAL’s bullets have given Obama.”

Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are two happy preachers. They’re happy because the First Black President – whom one of them works for, and the other one fears – is basking in the glow of Osama bin Laden’s demise. But they are even happier that the bin Laden turkey-shoot gives them a chance to say positive things about a chief executive who has presided over an economic catastrophe for Black people. Both preachers have come to believe that their job is to put Obama in the best light even when days are darkest for the rest of Black America. Sharpton gets paid very well to be a full-time Obama booster, while Rev. Jackson lives in fear that he’ll be shut out totally from the halls of power if he exhibits the least bit of disloyalty. Both reverends have become court jesters for Power, and now, cheerleaders for the so-called War on Terror.

Jesse Jackson said that the killing of bin Laden was a “huge psychological victory.” By this he clearly meant a psychological victory for Barack Obama, who put the hit out on bin Laden,just as he has placed American citizens on assassination lists with no recourse to due process. President Obama badly needed that psychological victory, since unemployment went up last month and now looms as the rock on which his presidency might shatter. Black unemployment shot up to 16.1 percent, more than twice the jobless rate for whites. Public sector jobs, where Blacks are disproportionately represented, are rapidly dwindling, and with them the last connections African Americans have to a secure middle class existence. President Obama has never – not once – given Black folks any indication that he will lift a political finger to address the gross racial disparities that define American life. But Rev. Jackson urges Black people to be vicariously lifted by the “huge psychological boost” that Navy SEAL’s bullets have given Obama.

Both preachers have come to believe that their job is to put Obama in the best light even when days are darkest for the rest of Black America.”

Then Rev. Jackson, who came to prominence as a young disciple of Dr. Martin Luther King, virtually endorsed the War on Terror begun by George Bush and prosecuted with even more lawless ferocity by Barack Obama. The Reverend tells Americans to remain vigilant. "The chapter on bin Laden ends now,” said Jackson, “but not the chapter on terrorism." Either Rev. Jackson has lost control of his mouth, or he was giving his blessing to a ratcheting up of Obama’s hyper-aggressive, illegal, and extraordinarily expensive wars. Jackson either needs to hand in his anti-war credentials right now, or find a good mouth doctor that will stop him from encouraging those who would increase the $1.2 trillion national security budget that is pushing human needs programs into the Valley of Death. Does Rev. Jackson think Obama deserves a “huge psychological boost” for having killed almost one thousand innocent civilian men, women and children in Pakistan last year with his drones, and is guaranteed to kill even more this year?

Rev. Al Sharpton shows that he is as crude and vulgar as his mentor Don King. Sharpton compliments Obama for being “cool under fire” – as if the world is attacking the White House, rather than the other way around. Obama, says Sharpton, “can see the bigger picture.” It does not bother Sharpton that Obama’s bigger picture means bigger wars. Which is alright with Sharpton, as long as he gets a bigger check.

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: 20110511_gf_JesseAlBinLaden.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:13am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared Ball

The same billionaires that own vast natural resources, chemicals and real estate also control the musical culture that surrounds our everyday lives – and use that cultural dominance to tighten their economic and political stranglehold on humanity. The “Big 3” that monopolize the music industry deploy megabucks to produce consumers of both their products and their corporate worldview.

 

The 3 in “The Big 3”: The Music Industry and the Global Order of Things

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared Ball

The music industry is another that is apparently considered by the international business and banking community to be ‘Too Big to Fail.’”

So the “3” in “The Big 3,” or the three largest music companies who dominate international popular culture, was just sold for $3.3 billion. Warner Music Group will now be owned by Access Industries. And just who is that? As they are happy to tell us, Access Industries is a “U.S.-based industrial group with long-term holdings worldwide.” Their “industrial focus” is in “three sectors” which include “Natural Resources and Chemicals… Real Estate” and “Media and Telecommunications.” They are run by Russian-born Len Blavatnik who is said to be personally worth roughly $10 billion. He is a friend and former Warner board member alongside current CEO Edgar Bronfman, Jr. and even bought Bronfman’s Manhattan penthouse for $50 million. The deal is being backed by banking giants UBS and Credit Suisse and each side is assured massive $50-60 million pay days should either back out of the deal before November. Word is also that Blavatnik plans to go after the “4” in “the Big 4” which is EMI and which is currently owned by another major banking institution, Citi. This is no small matter, all the heavy-hitters are in this mix and all protections for all involved are in place.

I have to say it again. From the perspective of those who own it the music industry is fine and what’s to come is going to be even better. For them the future is so bright… I won’t even bother to finish that line. Those who suffered the industry’s abuse in the 1980s know it well and can finish it for me. Which is also the point. The music industry is another that is apparently considered by the international business and banking community to be “Too Big to Fail.” This is why, despite those persistent claims that the music business is dying, major money steps in to preserve maintenance over the world’s popular culture. Yes, Blavatnik and Bronfman are reportedly friends but that’s not why the former is buying the company and assuming the $2 billion debt belonging to his friend the latter. No, as the head of media for Access Industries has said, “The music industry is at an inflection point where digital adoption is rapidly gaining momentum. Warner Music, as one of the most progressive forces in the music business, is well positioned to capture this opportunity for music creation and distribution."

Despite those persistent claims that the music business is dying, major money steps in to preserve maintenance over the world’s popular culture.”

On sports radio this week the one called the sport’s industry’s “Super Agent,” David Falk, discussed the now legendary deal he struck on behalf of Michael Jordan and Nike that resulted in the Air Jordan franchise which he says is still roughly 94% of the athletic shoe market. He talked about the role of advertising and why it was necessary for Nike’s ad budget to be roughly $5-600 million. Because, as Falk said, its this initial investment that yields Nike $20 billion in sales. In other words, Blavatnik’s investment in music is expected to bring cultural returns in the way his investment in Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Business is meant to bring returns in the world of business. Each serve as advertisements and ads serve, of course, as promotion but also as assurances of control over content.

And what is that content? Judging by this week’s list of top 10 songs aired on radio across the country, of which Blavatnik’s new property owns 4, he is getting plenty to assure that no one raises a fuss about a world that makes him and his colleagues awfully powerful. Even with the Warner-owned Lupe Fiasco, who is proof that progressive ideas can be as hot as their opposite, the presence of artists like Pitbull, Wiz Khalifa and the New Boyz do more than erase his potential impact. And besides, as dope as he is, Lupe is only progressive in the musical vacuum created by the forced omission of Dead PrezGodsilla or Kelli Love Jones. It is no different than Obama being seen as progressive in the political vacuum left after the forced omission of Malcolm X, Dr. King or Cynthia McKinney.

Ownership of music and this kind of influence over popular culture is never about money. It is an investment in the advertising that protects against vital questions being raised about how our world is being governed and for whom it is so orderedIf we wiggle to or are distracted by his music we are less likely to raise questions about Blavatnik’s massive holdings in oil or in “the world’s third-largest independent chemical company,” or the “world’s largest vertically-integrated aluminum company.” More importantly, it is so we are less likely to raise questions about a world order that allows for these industries to exist at all or the profit they create to go only to a global handful.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. Online visit us at www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

Dr. Jared A. Ball is the author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press) and can be reached via: IMixWhatILike.com

Direct download: 20110511_jb_MusicIndustry.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:49am EST