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

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Vowing to die, if necessary, inmates at the dreaded “SHU” section of California’s Pelican Bay prison begin a hunger strike on July 1. “Like the strike by inmates in Georgia’s prison system late last year, the Pelican Bay protest cuts across racial lines.” The core issue: a brutal, soul-killing policy of solitary confinement and other deprivations aimed at turning every inmate into a snitch on everyone else.

 

Pelican Bay: Hunger Strike in Super-Max

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Inmate organizers say prisoners have been subjected to solitary and a whole range of deprivations for ten, twenty, even forty years.”

On Friday, July 1st, between 50 and 100 men at the Security Housing Unit of California’s infamous Pelican Bay prison go on hunger strike to protest cruel and unusual punishment. It is a punishment inflicted, primarily, on their minds. At the heart of the protest is solitary confinement, the barbaric torture that deprives prisoners of contact with fellow human beings, condemning them to a kind of “social death” – some for decades.

This is the “dark side” of the American repressive arsenal that Vice President Dick Cheney was so happy to unleash as a weapon in the so-called War on Terror: the stripping down of captive people through methodical deprivation of everything that makes them human. Yet these excruciating mind-destruction techniques are routinely deployed on the domestic front, in the American prison gulag, at places like Pelican Bay.

Inmate organizers say prisoners have been subjected to solitary and a whole range of deprivations for ten, twenty, even forty years. They are most incensed at the policy euphemistically called “debriefing,” in which inmates are pressured to confess to every crime they have ever committed in life. They are then expected to inform on other prisoners, their crimes, conversations and gang affiliations. This information – whether true or false – is then used to throw fellow inmates into the special Hell of solitary confinement. It is a brutal, sadistic cycle of degradation, a bizarre world in which everyone is compelled to “snitch” on everyone else. Prisoners are routinely given indeterminate solitary on the mere word of an informer. The worst section of the SHU is called the “short corridor,” where 200 men languish in the deepest isolation. These are the men at the center of the hunger strike.

It is a brutal, sadistic cycle of degradation, a bizarre world in which everyone is compelled to ‘snitch’ on everyone else.”

One of them is named Mutope Duguma, formerly known as James Crawford. The “call” for the hunger strike was put out under Duguma's signature. It asks that “all prisoners throughout the State of California who have been suffering injustices in General Population, Administrative Segregation and solitary confinement…join in our peaceful strike to put a stop to the blatant violations of prisoners’ civil/human rights.” Like the strike by inmates in Georgia’s prison system late last year, the Pelican Bay protest cuts across racial lines, involving, in the prisoners’ words, “united New Afrikans, Whites, Northern and Southern Mexicans, and others.” The organizers warn inmates to “beware of agitators, provocateurs, and obstructionists” among the prisoner population.

The Pelican Bay hunger strikers vow to die, if necessary, in a struggle against dehumanization. In the San Francisco Bay area, supporters from the outside have formed Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity@gmail.com), to let the inmates know that they are not alone, and “to make sure their voices are heard outside of prison.”

From the inside, inmate Gabriel Huerta reminds us that “Using indeterminate total lock down to extract confessions istorture by international standards as is the use of prolonged solitary confinement.” This is a global, human rights issue.

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: 20110629_gf_PelicanBay.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:56am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

U.S. media show no remorse for falsely reporting that Libyan soldiers were using rape as a weapon of war, although Amnesty International has “not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped.” Yet these same fraudulent journalists are blind to the murder of hundreds of Black Africans – including Libyans – by rebels. A Black neighborhood of Misrata has been emptied by rebels who vow to wipe a nearby Black town off the face of the earth.

 

U.S. Media Imagine Nonexistent Mass Rape in Libya, But are Blind to Mass Murder of Black Africans

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The U.S. corporate media do not search for truth, they search for whatever buttresses the American government’s version of the truth.”

Cynthia McKinney says she now harbors “almost a hatred for the special interest press, because they are actively lying to us.” I feel the same way about the U.S. corporate media, whose incessant, daily lies about Libya are killing people and robbing them of their country. The U.S. press trumpeted the entirely unsubstantiated mega-lie, that Libyan soldiers were being fed rations of Viagra and ordered to engage in the mass rape of Libyan women. It was a total invention of the U.S.-backed rebels in Benghazi and, no doubt, their American and European handlers. Now, even Amnesty International, which has never been a friend of Moammar Gaddafi’s government, reports they “have not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped.” Nothing. The rebels and their foreign friends made the story up out of whole clothe. Such lies were used to justify continued NATO bombing of Libya as necessary to protect the Libyan people – to protect Libyan women from rape by soldiers.

The massed corporate media have far more resources than Amnesty International, or Human Rights Watch, which also found no evidence of rapes. The New York Times and CNN and the rest could have checked the allegation, and exposed it. Instead, they parroted the damnable lie as if it were fact. Why? Because the lie about mass rape conforms to the foreign policy objectives – the war aims – of the U.S. government. The U.S. corporate media do not search for truth, they search for whatever buttresses the American government’s version of the truth. They are whores, mercenaries and propagandists, posing as journalists. In times of war, that makes them complicit in every war crime committed by the U.S. government. The U.S. media are killers, facilitators of the most horrible crimes.

If they had bothered to check the rape allegations, they would have had to contradict Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who falsely accused Col. Gaddafi of using rape as a weapon of war. The U.S. media would have had to discredit Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the shameless, U.S.-butt-kissing prosecutor for the International Criminal Court. Moreno-Ocampo now admits he doesn’t have any evidence connecting Gaddafi to rapes, but he’s indicted him, anyway, for various and sundry “crimes” that are just as illusory.

The rebels have put up signs vowing to “purge slaves [and] black skin.”

These same media pretend not to see that which has been obvious from the very beginning of the Libyan crisis: The rebels use anti-Black racism as a tool of war. They have slaughtered many hundreds of Black immigrant workers as well as fellow Libyans who are Black. Right in front of the eyes of western reporters in Misrata – who have made heroes and saints of the rebels – a whole neighborhood of Black Libyans was ethnically cleansed, the residents sent in hiding with bounties on their heads. Fortunately, the Wall Street Journal saw fit to print this story, probably on the theory that businesspeople need real facts to safeguard their money. Rebels in Misrata are threatening to erase the mostly Black city of Tawergha, just 25 miles south of, off the face of the earth, and to bar the Black Libyans from working or going to school ever again in Misrata. Along the road, the rebels have put up signs vowing to “purge slaves [and] black skin.”

It has taken four months for one major U.S. media outlet to report on the race war the U.S. has instigated in Libya. So, yes, Cynthia McKinney, I hate them, too. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go towww.BlackAgendaReport.com.

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


Direct download: 20110629_gf_RapeRaceLiesLibya.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:48am EDT

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

The world of sports is disproportionately Black, but the world of sports talk radio can be a blizzard of whiteness. Dr. Ball relates an on-air clash of Black realities and white male fantasies. In the Black corner, Harold Bell: “Here was Bell, a ‘native Washingtonian,’ Black, irreverent, well-credentialed in his community if not in the establishment halls of sports radio, alerting the very White Mike Wise to a history of Black DC….”

 

Sports Radio and Apartheid North America

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

Bell was reminding his White antagonists of their real worst nightmare: Not every native loves the natives you’vechosen to love.”

Sports talk radio is the single most listened to radio format by Black men between ages 35-54 according to the latest Arbitron study of Black Radio. To the extent that this is true my own tendency to listen to so much of it is at least partially explained by this overall popularity among my demographic cohort. And anyone who listens to sports radio at all knows just how White, male and conservative sports radio is. In fact, as much as I listen I know to turn the dial as soon as the conversation leaves sports proper because despite the necessity of politics, race, class and history to any honest discussion of sports these usually descend into soft-core racist White male rants against the lesser Black beings making so much money and often breaking those stern morals exhibited by those in sports journalism. But every once in awhile the twice-a-day correctness of the broken clock of commercial radio gets real exciting and even revelatory.

A few weeks ago there was a great on-air exchange between White sports radio host Mike Wise and the Black, DC-native and sports journalist Harold Bell. It was hostile and aggressive. It was great radio. And it was also another shining example of this country’s continuing imposed racial exclusion and separateness. It is, of course, no surprise that this happened in the nation’s capital, the city still referred to as a “colony” and a “plantation” whose politics and media environment has been compared to that of any traditional colony. It was an argument that speaks to the apartheid nature of the country itself and the almost total disconnect that exists between Black and White America, the kind of disconnect that exists between any who are colonized and those who are colonizing them. Always near the settler is the colonized; near and essential to the well-being of the colonizer, but never with the colonizer.

Bell’s target was John Thompson, the now retired head basketball coach at Georgetown University and current host on the city’s other major sports radio station.”

On its surface the argument, which even for commercial sports radio had become quite heated, started when Bell was invited on the Mike Wise Show to discuss his recent article in which he truly took down a legend. Bell’s target was John Thompson, the now retired head basketball coach at Georgetown University and current host on the city’s other major sports radio station. In a long piece filled with Black insider DC sports and media history Bell’s views were summarized in his claim that Thompson’s “secret to success…” is his being “… big and black…” his use of “…profanity and ‘the race card’ to successfully intimidate his players and white folks!” Thompson, said Bell, fabricated and took advantage of racist acts and then used to them solidify himself as an anti-racist crusader and leader of Black people and all humanity. But, said Bell, none of this was real and those who know Black DC know better, from former players to mainstays in the sports, media and political world.

Mike Wise and his White colleagues were incensed. They defended Thompson and dismissed Bell as the fraud. They defended Thompson as one would expect if in fact Bell’s accusations were correct. White men defending their validating native, their accepted super Negro, the one who justifies and even appeases the current relationship. This was what Fanon meant by the role of radio in a colony; its purpose is to satiate the settler and make settlement acceptable. This requires preferred versions of the colonized. And here was Bell, a “native Washingtonian,” Black, irreverent, well-credentialed in his community if not in the establishment halls of sports radio, alerting the very White Mike Wise to a history of Black DC, of Bell’s own pioneering sports radio work which prefigured the current format that now spoke against Bell, viciously, as any colonizer’s media must. But mostly Bell was reminding his White antagonists of their real worst nightmare: Not every native loves the natives you’ve chosen to love.

Charles Mills has said that the “consensual hallucinations” Whites have concocted to protect their delicate settler psyche’s are now beyond their own interpretation. They don’t even know the world they’ve created. This small example from sports radio also demonstrates the larger disconnect that keeps Black America off the agenda for real change in the world and why Black Thought said “the ghetto might as well be the Gaza Strip,” and also why nobody takes flotillas to the hood.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. On the web go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

Dr. Jared A. Ball is the author of I MiX What I Like! A MiXtape Manifesto and can be reached via the web atIMIXWHATILIKE.COM.

Direct download: 20110629_jb_SportsTalk.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:37am EDT

Hip-Hop and Forbes: Parallels of Image and Inequality

 

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

The racial disparities endemic to American life are reflected even in the pages of Forbes, the elite magazine. Hip hop is represented in Forbes’ list of top music money-makers, but with earnings far below pop artists. Similarly, the National Urban League’s annual report shows Black families continuing to earn far less than whites. Spotlighting high profile Blacks in entertainment – and politics – “masks Black suffering while enriching a mostly White, male elite.”

 

Hip-Hop and Forbes: Parallels of Image and Inequality

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

The Blackness on top only masks the deepening levels of Blackness at the bottom.”

The newly released Forbes list of Top 25 money earners in music and the newly released report from the National Urban League of Black inequality in the United States should be paired and used by even the most ardent lovers of hip-hop as proof of one very powerful lesson: The Blackness on top only masks the deepening levels of Blackness at the bottom. Hip-hop, the broader entertainment industry, and the presidency of Barack Obama all, as much as anything else in this country, splendidly demonstrate the point: Heavily promoted Blackness masks Black suffering while enriching a mostly White, male elite.

The Forbes list shows the problem in microcosm. The success of a few rappers hasn’t helped the rest of the hip-hop community any more than the election of the first Black president has helped Black people. And in neither case do the rewards of a select few compare to that which they create for their respective betters. In fact, in each case the respective betters are all mostly housed on Wall Street where each do better than their more highly promoted and meticulously selected blacker representatives. So, for instance, and according to Forbes, the highest earning rap group, the Black Eyed Peas, earned roughly $61 million over the last 12 months. But this is not even half what the top earning band made over that same last year; U2 pulled in about $195 million. And neither amount amounts to much compared to the revenues generated by the owner of the label that owns both of these groups. Vivendi, the parent company of Universal Music Group, was well over $40 billion in 2010.

The success of a few rappers hasn’t helped the rest of the hip-hop community any more than the election of the first Black president has helped Black people.”

As it is below, so it is above. In the macrocosm, according to a recent National Urban League study, the standard of living gap between White and Black Americans has actually worsened during the time of the Blackest face in the highest place, the Obama presidency. So just as the highest earning Black musicians bring in less than has about half of their richest counterparts, Black America’s standard of living is only about 70% that of Whites and dropping. And even when the highest earning rap group is often referred to as “multi-racial” and “multi-ethnic,” and even though it’s fronted by a White woman they still can’t close these divides! Even when the president is Black and fronted by White corporations Black inequality persists, and gets worse!

And for real? As big as hip-hop is globally none of the other 5 Black faces on that Forbes list are strictly hip-hop. Jay-Z and P. Diddy make more of their money through other ventures, Beyonce, Usher and Rihanna are pop singing, sometime actors. Hip-hop isn’t even on the list. It’s as broke as the communities that produced it. But just as it would take the accumulated sum of all those other 5 Black faces on that Forbes list to reach the top White group, the Urban League report shows that the accumulated sum of a Black president leaves Black people still having less than half the access to health care as Whites but still twice the unemployment. And all those top Black musicians still leaves the bulk in hip-hop needing equal pay and health care themselves, just ask the Grassroots Artist Movement (G.A.ME) who have been trying to organize around that for years.

But the real point is that in the end, as Jim Hightower pointed out recently, the biggest thieves walk off with it all with no questions asked, like the hedge fund manager who made $2.4 million an hour last year, or all those major corporations who pay no taxes while we are forced to watch schools close and teachers blamed. It is always a good exercise to compare popularly touted individual success stories with the conditions of the communities they’ve escaped.

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

Dr. Jared A. Ball is the author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press) and can be found online atIMIXWHATILIKE.COM.

Direct download: 20110622_jb_ForbesHipHop.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:10am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It’s been called a “Death Star,” the fastest runner in the global Race to the Bottom, a jobs killer, a big-box plantation. So, swallowing the U.S. Supreme Court, whole, was nothing for Wal-Mart. The trick is to always do evil in the biggest possible way. With 1.5 million female victims, the High Court decided the Wal-Mart employment discrimination case was “too large and too varied to handle in a single class action suit.”

 

Wal-Mart Swallows the Supreme Court

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The ruling further undercuts the potential for masses of workers, consumers and citizens to mount legal challenges to the most blatant corporate abuses through class action suits.”

There is no more dangerous family in America than the Waltons, the billionaires whose patriarch, Sam, incorporated his native sexism and racism into a business model that became Wal-Mart, the largest employer in the United States. Sam’s clan has conquered locally-based business economies in all but a few large metropolitan areas of the United States, and laid waste to small businesses in 15 nations around the globe. Now Wal-Mart has swallowed the U.S. Supreme Court. The corporation has discriminated against so many female employees in so many different categories jobs, the justices threw up their hands and declared, essentially, that the list of victims – 1.5 million of them – was too large and too varied to handle in a single class action suit.

Actually, the ruling was based on what Liza Featherstone – who has been covering the case for much of the ten years it took to get to the High Court – calls a “dry technicality.” But the ruling further undercuts the potential for masses of workers, consumers and citizens to mount legal challenges to the most blatant corporate abuses through class action suits. And when that option is closed, there’s not much left for common people to do but mount something very much resembling a social revolution – which is, of course, what must ultimately occur.

Wal-Mart has learned how to co-opt the Black misleadership class in the big cities.”

Sam Walton’s Frankenstein of a company is a pace-setter in the global race to the bottom, relentlessly depressing prices for those who produce things and wages for those who work. Wal-Mart has been described as an economic “Death Star” that sucks up everything in its path, creating a wasteland where nothing remains but itself. Studies have shown Wal-Martkills three local jobs for every two it creates. When Wal-Mart was forcing its way into Chicago in 2006, community groups and unions warned that neighborhood businesses would be decimated. Sure enough, two years later 82 of the 306 small businesses in the neighborhood were gone. The same is destined to happen in New York and Washington, DC, where Sam Walton’s barbarians are banging at the gates.

Wal-Mart has learned a lot since its beginnings in the Ozark Mountains region, where Black folks were scarce and bible-thumping whites respected authority and patriarchy. Although its Dixiecrat heart remains headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, Wal-Mart has learned how to co-opt the Black misleadership class in the big cities. It buys them out, from purchasing local preachers to sponsoring Tavis Smiley to bankrolling the NAACP. In Chicago, Wal-Mart even hired its own street thugs to denounce the unions for demanding that it provide jobs at a living wage. Black folks need any kind of job, said the thugs. So did the paid-off preachers. Since Wal-Mart is notorious for paying not one cent more than necessary, we can assume that their Black apologists sold themselves cheaply.

The Walton Family Foundation was among the handful of right-wing moneybags that invented, out of whole clothe, a purportedly Black “movement” for private school vouchers, to drive a wedge between African Americans and teachers unions. A decade and a half later, substantial numbers of Blacks think teachers are the enemy and right-wing millionaires are their friends. They may not know it, but they bought that crap from Wal-Mart.

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: 20110622_gf_WalMart.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:07am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

More than ever, the United States is quick to charge other nations with abuse of political prisoners, and to urge indictment of heads of state for doing harm to their own citizens. Yet, the nation with the world’s highest incarceration rate and a justice system saturated with racism claims to have no political prisoners. In fact, scores have been held under cruel and unusual conditions for three and four decades.

 

Four Decades of Cruelty and Inhumanity to U.S. Political Prisoners

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The prison considers their politics to be their crime.”

For almost 40 years, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace have been in solitary confinement at Louisiana’s infamous Angola State Prison, in what is thought to be the longest period of enforced solitude in America’s vast prison gulag. Amnesty International says their treatment is “cruel and inhumane and a violation of the US’s obligations under international law.” Woodfox is now 64 years old, and Wallace is 69. They are two of the original Angola 3, convicted of the murder of a prison guard in 1972. The other member of the trio, Robert King, was released after 29 years in solitary confinement after pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

Under the conditions of solitary confinement, Woodfox and Wallace are restricted to their tiny cells for 23 hours a day. Three times a week, for an hour, they are allowed to exercise in an outdoor cage, if weather permits. For 40 years, they have not been allowed access to work or to education. And there has been no legitimate review of their cases in all that time.

There was never any physical evidence of the men’s guilt, only the very questionable testimony of other inmates, one of whom was bribed by officials and another of whom retracted his testimony. Woodfox and Wallace and King have been subjected to the greatest cruelties Louisiana has to offer because they became political prisoners after entering Angola, when they formed a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party. One prison official says flatly, that “there’s been no rehabilitation” from “practicing Black Pantherism.” In other words, the prison considers their politics to be their crime.

In the cases of those targeted by COINTELPRO, it was the federal government’s lawlessness that led to a lifetime in prison.”

Albert Woodfox’s conviction has twice been overturned by lower courts on the basis of racial discrimination, prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate defense and suppression of evidence. But the U.S. Court of Appeals decided that Woodfox’s fate was Louisiana’s business. Amnesty International demands only that the two elderly prisoners be released from solitary. Woodfox and Wallace, it should be pointed out, became political prisoners after initially being incarcerated for criminal offenses.

There are scores of U.S. political prisoners that have languished behind bars for three or four decades. The National Conference of Black Lawyers has been pressing for their outright release, especially those who were wrongfully imprisoned due to the FBI’s COINTELPRO operation, which sought to “neutralize” and destroy radical political activists and organizations – most notably the Black Panther Party. In the cases of those targeted by COINTELPRO, it was the federal government’s lawlessness that led to a lifetime in prison. Therefore, the U.S. government is obligated to free them. But the United States continues to deny that there is such a thing as a political prisoner within its borders. The Obama administration is always eager to claim that other countries are abusing their political prisoners. It also says it wants to play an active role in the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. But that will require the U.S. to answer charges that it imprisons people for political reasons, holds them under cruel and inhuman conditions, and that racism pervades its criminal justice system.

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: 20110622_gf_PoliticalPrisoners.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:05am EDT

Attorney General Eric Holder will tell you he has a lot of power. But will he use any of that power to stop or even slow down the futile and corrupt War on Drugs, the 40th anniversary of which falls this month? David Simon, producer of the HBO TVseries “The Wire,” makes the attorney general an offer he should not refuse, but probably will....

"The Wire” Producer to Attorney-General Eric Holder – “End the War On Drugs”

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The functionaries of the Obama administration, like those of every preceding regime, live in a different world than the rest of us. The distance between them and us was underscored once again when Attorney General Eric Holder invited several actors from the HBO TV series The Wire to a Justice Department media event intended to highlight the harm that illegal drugs do to children.

The attorney general, addressing the audience and naming the show's producers, said “Do another season of the Wire... I want another season, or a movie,” he said, adding “I have a lot of power...”

Apparently the attorney general is a big fan of the show, but one of those lazy, inattentive fans who doesn't care to look too deeply. Among much else, The Wire depicts the moral corruption and futility of the so-called war on drugs, which has been waged mostly in the nation's poor and black neighborhoods for forty years now. If anything, the show is a stinging indictment of Mr. Holder's predecessors and of the Obama administration which, despite its “Hope and Change” branding, has chosen to co-sign and continued the War on Drugs rather than fulfill the wishes of the comunities swept this president and attorney general into office.

In other words, use your power to end the war on drugs, Simon told the attorney-general, and we'll use ours to make another season of The Wire. 

The attorney general was right about one thing. He does have a lot of power, and even a lighthearted remark from so powerful an individual deserves an appropriate response. That response was not long in coming.

The Attorney-General's kind remarks are noted and appreciated,” replied the show's producer David Simon. “I've spoken to Ed Burns and we are prepared to go to work on season six of The Wire if the Department of Justice is equally ready to reconsider and address its continuing prosecution of our misguided, destructive and dehumanising drug prohibition.”

In other words, use your power to end the war on drugs, Simon told the attorney-general, and we'll use ours to make another season of The Wire. This week will mark the 40th anniversary of the War on Drugs, orginally proclaimed by President Nixon. At a cost by now reckoned in the trillions of dollars, this hypocritical, and futile war has been used as an excuse to selectively over-police and lock up vast numbers of mostly black and brown youth, even though their rates of drug use are statistically no higher than rates of white drug use.

One of the Obama administration's most listened-to promises in Black America was the pledge to do away with the longstanding 100 to 1 difference in penalties between crack and powdered cocaine. But even with the power of the attorney-general's office, the White House and Democratic majorities in both houses of congress, all the administration was willing to get was a reduction in that disparity from 100 to 1 to 18 to 1, and that was mostly achieved by raising the penalties for powdered cocaine. Eric Holder and the Obama Administration have a lot of power, to be sure. They're just not interested in using it for the people, by ending the War on Drugs.

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 based in Marietta GA, where he is also on the state committee of the Georgia Green Party.





In other words, David Simon was saying, end the war on drugs and we'll get right on that sixth season thing.

Direct download: 20110615_bd_the_wire.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:29am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The vilification campaign waged by the West against Moammar Gaddfi is just the latest chapter in a “massive U.S. psychological assault, a vast disinformation operation in which the corporate media act as megaphones for government liars.” In reality, there is no evidence for allegations that Gaddafi ordered his soldiers to rape hundreds of women, but “that does not seem to matter to a corporate media that are bent on glorifying the Benghazi-based rebels.”

 

The West's Obscene Demonization of Gaddafi

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

There is not one bit of hard evidence that mass rapes have occurred.”

The slander campaign against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi has reached way beyond the realm of the ridiculous, and can only be described as obscene. We are now supposed to believe that Colonel Gaddafi, himself, ordered his soldiers to rape hundreds of women.There is not one bit of hard evidence that such mass rapes have occurred, but that does not seem to matter to a corporate media that are bent on glorifying the Benghazi-based rebels and demonizing Gaddafi and his soldiers. Amnesty International, an organization that is decidedly hostile to Gaddafi’s government, admits that it cannot find evidence of mass rapes by the Libyan armed forces. And the man in charge of the United Nations’ human rights investigation in Libya told journalists that “massive hysteria” was behind the rape charge. Nevertheless, the western media repeat the baseless allegations ad nauseam, like young boys telling dirty stories.

The International Criminal Court, which specializes in prosecuting Africans who get on the wrong side of the United States, speaks vaguely of being in possession of evidence, but it turns out that the allegations come from one Libyan woman, who claims that she sent out inquiries about sexual assaults to 70,000 women, that 60,000 of them responded, and 259 reported they had been abused. But when investigators asked this solitary source to show them the questionnaires, as investigative reporter Russ Baker tells us, she could not produce the evidence. And it is a mystery how she could have mailed out and gotten back tens of thousands of questionnaires, when Libya’s postal system had been shut down by the war.

The western media repeat the baseless allegations ad nauseam, like young boys telling dirty stories.”

This war was launched on the basis of an imaginary massacre of Libyan civilians by Gaddafi’s forces – which, of course, never happened – and is now fueled by a campaign of demonization and a depraved indifference to the truth.

Certainly since 2001, the world has been subjected to a massive U.S. psychological assault, a vast disinformation operation in which the corporate media act as megaphones for government liars.

The invasion of Iraq was launched by lies about weapons of mass destruction. When the lies fell apart, American politicians justified the war by saying it was worth it to get rid of the monster, Saddam Hussein. Saddam was so thoroughly demonized that any amount of maiming and death would be acceptable to erase him from the scene. If Saddam Hussein was the Devil, himself, then there could be no limits on military efforts to eliminate him. Now, the same kind of dehumanizing psychological offensive is directed at Moammar Gaddafi, who is depicted in comic-book style as a puppet master of mass rape, so that whatever death and destruction is rained down on Libya by NATO, it will have been “worth it.” This is a profoundly dangerous way for a superpower to behave. It fills the population with a bloodlust that cannot be easily controlled. The U.S. government, with plenty of help from the media, is telling Americans that those who oppose U.S. policies in the world are savages. That's what the white settlers said about the Indians, and we know how that ended.

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: 20110615_gf_LibyaRape.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:52am EDT

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

The hip hop world is abuzz with rapper Lupe Fiasco’s branding of President Obama as biggest terrorist of them all. But Fiasco’s political views are not very different than many other hip hop performers. Rather, the suffocating liberalism of “mainstream” politics and corporate culture prevent radical performers from getting “room to breathe or airtime to occupy.”

 

Hip-Hop and The Weakness of Liberalism

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

Lupe’s remarks only seem controversial or rare because liberals and the Obamatons have made radical critique seem irresponsible or nonexistent.”

Lupe Fiasco, the Chicago-born Black American Muslim super rapper, has called Barack Obama the world’s “biggest terrorist.” On the one hand this is powerfully accurate and proof to many who doubt it that liberated thought can and does exist today within hip-hop. But on another, more prominent, hand it really speaks to the weakness of liberalism that has taken hold of the so-called Left in the last 50 years. It is a weakness that cowers before the persistent anger and radicalism of today’s colonized Black and Brown masses which causes would-be allies of all backgrounds to run for the comfort of liberal assurances that “hip-hop is dead” or is only about mindless self-directed violence and misogyny. So don’t get me wrong. Lupe Fiasco is dope. His latest album is a mainstay in my personal musical rotation, so much so that my daughters now demand that they hear his song “All Black Everything” every morning before school. But it is the broader limitations of liberalness that allow for his thoughtfulness to seem anomalous when actually Lupe’s views are quite mainstream in hip-hop – just not so much in the hip-hop that is mainstream.

I happened to be in a DC hip-hop show crowd as word of Gil Scott-Heron’s death a few weeks back was passed from phone to phone. And without skipping a beat while on the mic Enoch the 7th Prophet in perfect freestyle rhythm made the announcement and shout out to the legendary poet as if to give voice to what many in the room and in similar rooms around the world thought in one way or another; today’s Gil Scott-Heron only lacks the social movement that propels such revolutionary culture to the forefront, but she and we are here! So when, predictably, a few days ago the question again came up as to who in hip-hop would be today’s prophetic poet my response was, “she and he have been here and are everywhere. They just are not given room to breathe or airtime to occupy.”

Hip-hop has had plenty to say about Obama’s fake change.”

Were there a real Left in this country Lupe would appear as he his, a talented but mainstream thinker. Lupe’s remarks only seem controversial or rare because liberals and the Obamatons have made radical critique seem irresponsible or nonexistent. From Mississippi where Skip Coon, truly reminiscent of Scott-Heron, has said that, “David Axelrod is really Ronnie Ray-Gun and Barry Obama can’t be this dumb…” to Arizona where Trebel Army looks at the entire system and says put a “toe tag on that damn thang!” to South Africa where Burni and Wasun have said that, they’ve read so much Mao that they are “half Asian” while “Obama is really half Black and half Reagan…” hip-hop has had plenty to say about Obama’s fake change. But only Lupe has that popular contract, the grief from which – reminiscent of the late scholar Ivan Van Sertima – nearly led him to suicide.

Even in one story about Lupe where hip-hop is described as not having much to say these days the author has to tell the story of Brother Ali, a lesser-known emcee whose career has suffered because of his song, “Uncle Sam Goddamn.” But I’m sure even the whitest liberal will skip that, dig out their Nina Simone, say “Mississippi” instead and claim to be radical.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Jared Ball. On the web visit us at BlackAgendaReport.com.

Dr. Jared A. Ball is the author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press) and can be found online atIMIXWHATILIKE.COM.


Direct download: 20110615_jb_LupeObama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:48am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It was the unkindest cut of all. A U.S. Agency for International Development report claims Haiti, the United Nations and the Red Cross all conspired to exaggerate the death and displacement toll from last year’s earthquake. In doing so, it “calls into question both Haiti's financial needs and the trustworthiness of its government.” There are plenty of Americans who are predisposed to believe the slander – a libel written in oceans of blood.

 

U.S. Agency Sabotages Haiti Earthquake Aid

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The United States Agency for International Development questions how many people died in the quake and how many remain in camps for the displaced.”

As if it were not enough that the United States repeatedly invaded Haiti, propped up dictators, overthrew the country’s first democratically elected president in 2004, and then appointed a government of gangsters, stole Haiti’s sovereignty to make her a protectorate of her worst enemies, then invaded the country again in 2010, under the guise of earthquake relief. After so many injuries to Haiti over so many years, the United States Agency for International Development now insults the living and the dead with a report that questions how many people died in the quake, and how many remain in camps for the displaced.

The timing of the report is quite curious, since the Haitian government is desperate to receive some of the $4.6 billion in earthquake relief pledged by international donors. But apparently, there are some in the U.S. government that want to deny the Haitians that money. The USAID report claims that somewhere between 46,000 and 85,000 people died in the earthquake – probably more like 60,000 – while the Haitian government says 316,000 were killed. That’s about a five to one difference. The International Organization for Migration, which is part of the United Nations and specializes in helping displaced persons, says 1.5 million people were forced into camps by the catastrophe. But the American agency claims less than 900,000 moved into camps. Only a few months ago, in March, the International Organization for Migration went from tent to tent, counting 680,000 people still in the camps. But the USAID report claims only 100,000 Haitians remain in camps. That’s a discrepancy of seven to one. Somebody is just too wrong to simply be mistaken. The question is who, and why.

Why would the Agency for International Development, one of the United States’ principle foreign aid dispensers, hire an opponent of foreign aid to write its report on Haiti.”

Whoever wanted to question the disaster figures compiled by the Haitian government, the United Nations, and even the Red Cross, picked the right man for the job. Timothy Schwartz is an anthropologist who is vehemently opposed to foreign aid – because, he says, such aid is really designed to promote U.S. business interests. What’s important here is not whether Timothy Schwartz has a point about foreign aid – many on the Left would agree him, in general – but why the Agency for International Development, one of the United States’ principle foreign aid dispensers, would hire an opponent of foreign aid to write its report on Haiti. The answer is obvious, given Schwartz's well known views; he wrote a book that denounced aid to Haiti in particular. The USAID, or whoever pulls their strings, could bet on Schwartz submitting a dramatic underestimate of earthquake damage in Haiti. Schwartz would think he was doing Haiti a favor.

The Haitian government is soon supposed to take over administration of the national reconstruction program. By throwing doubt on the actual extent of earthquake damage, the report calls into question both Haiti's financial needs and the trustworthiness of its government. Mr. Schwartz's report is all some people need to hear, to convince themselves that Haitians are trying to scam the international donor community. White Americans, especially, are more than willing to believe such racist slander, and withhold their money from Haitian government control. Which, ironically, would leave most reconstruction decisions in the hands of private U.S. and other foreign business interests and their local elite partners – precisely the end result Mr. Schwartz claims to oppose.

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: 20110608_gf_Haiti.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:09am EDT