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

Wearing a strange smile, Barack Obama announced that he wanted a government that the size of Dwight Eisenhower’s – the ultimate logic of having accepted the Republican premise that the nation’s greatest problem is debt. Far from “winning the future,” Obama asked the country to join him in a “return to an era before Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and the great social movements that brought some level of civilization to a savage and brutal America.” New census data show African Americans have already slid halfway to the Fifties. “Black America has already been pushed back at least a generation, to a point somewhere before 1984.”

 

Black Economy Disintegrates As Obama Welcomes Return to the Eisenhower Era

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

There can be no fair sharing between rich corporations and individuals who might lose a few tax breaks and deductions, and people who already have next to nothing.”

Who could have imagined that a Black U.S. president in the 21st century would invite the nation to “cut domestic spending to the lowest level it’s been since Dwight Eisenhower was President.” But that’s what Barack Obama offered this past Monday night, asking the public to endorse trillions of dollars in permanent cuts that will, indeed, bring us back to the Fifties. Barack Obama was smiling as he asked the nation to embrace a return to an era before Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and the great social movements that brought some level of civilization to a savage and brutal America. He was confident that his most loyal constituency, Black America, would accept being Shanghai’d into his backwards time machine. “While many in my own party aren’t happy with the painful cuts,” said Obama, “…enough will be willing to accept them if the burden is fairly shared.”

But of course, there can be no fair sharing between rich corporations and individuals who might lose a few tax breaks and deductions, and people who already have next to nothingAnd Black people have already been in the time machine, having lost 53 percent of their meager household wealth between 2005 and 2009. According to the Pew Research Center, Black median household wealth fell from one-tenth to one-twentieth that of whites in just four short years, the largest racial disparities since the Census Bureau began tracking such data, a quarter century ago. Thirty-five percent of Black households have zero wealth, or negative net worth. How can there possibly be fairness in shrinking the government to a size that cannot possibly be of support to the one-third of Black households that own nothing, or less than nothing?

Obama was confident that his most loyal constituency, Black America, would accept being Shanghai’d into his backwards time machine.”

The Black middle class, which is employed disproportionately by the government, is at the edge of oblivion. Obama’s “Grand Bargain” with the Republicans, if they will only take it, would push hundreds of thousands of Black families into the abyss. The nine percent of Blacks that owned stocks in 2005 lost 71 percent of their portfolios by 2009. Whites lost only nine percent of their stock holdings. Bye-bye, Black capitalism.

Black America has already been pushed back at least a generation, to a point somewhere before 1984. And what does Obama propose? That we revert to an Eisenhower-era government.

His smug confidence that his Black base will remain loyal, is well placed. African Americans are more concerned with Obama’s fortunes than their own – or, to be more precise, confuse and conflate their own fortunes with his. Back in January of 2010, the same Pew Research Center that just detailed the scope of the economic catastrophe that has befallen African Americans, found that Blacks were under the illusion that they were better off than at any time in the last 25 years. That same month, Black unemployment hit a 25-year high. Subsequent surveys by other polling organizations confirmed that Black people, far more than any other group and despite all the evidence of their own eyes and ears, are filled with confidence in their own and the nation’s future. I call it “The Obama Delirium Effect.”

Barack Obama is counting on this delirium to neutralize Black people’s historical political senses. That’s why he uses his presidential pulpit to ask his supporters to drink the potion and to look forward to waking up back in the days of President Eisenhower. Obama has got to be one of the most cynical men on Earth. 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: 20110727_gf_ObamaPulpit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:21am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Obama campaign has succeeded in placing it’s Black pit bull in MSNBC’s prime time slot, where Al Sharpton will more than fulfill his promise to never say anything critical of the First Black President. MSNBC ejected a mildly leftish analyst to provide Sharpton with a megaphone to keep African American politicians and activists on the Obama reservation, where they can do no harm to Wall Street’s rulers – a perfect position for an “eminently buyable man.”

 

Is Sharpton Move to MSNBC Black “Progress”?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

All we will get from Sharpton is a demand that Blacks build a “wall” around Obama to keep him safe and secure in the White House for another term.”

Is Rev. Al Sharpton’s move to a prime time slot on MSNBC television a good thing for Black people? There was a time, two generations ago, when the placement of just about any Black personality in front of the TV cameras was assumed to be a pure plus – that is, unless that person somehow embarrassed “The Race” in full view of white people. But that was before whites with power learned how to put Black faces to corporate use. They discovered that there were plenty of African Americans that were so eager to be on television, they would say anything. These aspiring anchors would read news copy full of racist code words like “forced bussing” without complaint – glad to get the check and to be on the tube. The news didn’t really get better, in terms of its treatment of Black people and the issues that mattered most to the African American community. In fact, it’s generally gotten worse. But the presence of Black faces on the screen created the illusion that television’s news content was now friendlier, and more relevant, to Blacks.

Lots of Black folks are still playing that face-counting game, and for them, MSNBC’s decision to put Al Sharpton out front at 6pm is a sign of Black progress, maybe even a kind of coup. Look at Reverend Al! He used to take it to the streets to challenge authority, and now he’s the authority, holding down a prime-time spot. That must be good for Black people, right?

Wrong. MSNBC’s choice of Sharpton over the leftish young Turkish American Jenk Uygur is a net loss for everyone outside the orbits of power. Al Sharpton is President Obama’s paid pit bull, whose main mission is to maul and mangle any Black politicians and activists that might consider leaving the Obama reservation. He has beenbankrolled by billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is running Black and brown folks out of the Big Apple as fast as hyper-gentrification will allow. Sharpton – always buyable and never trustworthy – has completed his biggest deal yet with Power, Wall Street power, and the power of a White House that serves Wall Street. He is nestled in the bosom of the rulers, and will savage anyone that tries to mess with his sugar daddies: Obama and Bloomberg.

MSNBC’s choice of Sharpton over the leftish young Turkish American Jenk You-gur is a net loss for everyone outside the orbits of power.”

So, how do Black people, or anyone else seeking to understand reality, benefit from having Obama’s pit bull and Mayor Bloomberg’s pet taking up space on the MSNBC set, every night? Who will be better off when Rev. Al hosts Obama administration officials, or even the president, on his show? Rev. Al is not going to put forward any questions worth asking – that would violate the terms of his service to Obama and Wall Street. No, all we will get from Sharpton is a demand that Blacks build a “wall” around Obama to keep him safe and secure in the White House for another term – no matter how much of the social safety net he signs away forever.

The young Turkish American host, Jenk Uygur, showed that he could be counted on to confront the Obama administration on questions of policy. That’s why he was replaced by the mercenary, Al Sharpton.

So, we will have our Black face at 6pm. Some African Americans think what’s most important is to have Black role models on TV, for the sake of the children. That’s what’s so scary: Al Sharpton, the eminently buyable man, a role model for Black kids. 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@BlackAgendarport.com.

Direct download: 20110727_gf_SharptonMSNBC.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:15am EST

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

If you’re longing for the definitive movie about A Tribe Called Quest, you may have to wait a couple more decades. The Sony-produced Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest is a “flippant approach to a group, to a time, to a cultural expression that today so desperately needs some thoughtful reflection.” This shallow piece of cinema proves the truth of a line the rap group wrote back in the day: “Industry rule number 4080: record company people are shady”

 

Beaten Rhymes and Strife: The Instinctive Travels of A Tribe Called Colonized

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

The film encourages no deeper appreciation for the legends and no deeper understanding of why so few today who are like them could become as big as they once were.”

A documentary film about the legendary rap group A Tribe Called Quest should be a very big deal. A film about them should be as wide-ranging as this collective of talent. And the film should be as powerful as the time and culture that produced them. Most importantly, it should educate and inspire its audiences as did the group themselves. Instead it’s just another film that mirrors so much of what remains wrong in general; the story of truly dope Black people produced by a far less dope White one and, of course, now owned by Sony whose music wing currently assures that nothing like A Tribe Called Quest ever again even approaches a radio broadcast or video screen. Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest is a film for its times capturing the low end of a theory that has been so ravaged by marauders at midnight that its rhymes are beaten and stripped of their content like, as you’ve no doubt guessed, a wallet left in El Segundo.

What should be colossally ironic is that the film comes from Michael Rapaport, whose film career has, as kind of bookends, the underground interracial love affair of Zebrahead (1992) and the most appropriate portrayal of the super-wigger television executive in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled (2000). Its this role that seems to be best representative, the White boy who assumes himself to be more authentically Black than Black can be and who, like Quentin Tarantino in another of Lee’s films Girl 6 (1996), can make the quintessential Black movie – or at least the quintessential movie about a seminal Black rap group. And it is just another reminder of how little power the colonized have over themselves, their art or their image.

A Tribe Called Quest deserve better. Never mind that the film may indeed be a low budget affair, it felt more like watching a student’s final film exam, or the film of someone with privilege and access who just one day picks up the closest thing resembling a camera and says, “Hey! I want to make a movie about my favorite band!” They have only ended up just recently, and seemingly, to have reconciled struggles over the group’s on-screen depiction and the all-important money splits. In a now famous email front man Q-Tip received by mistake and then read live on MTV, executives openly looked to deny the band producer credits and equal pay. But worse of all is that after more than two decades in the game and legendary status the band’s inability to control its image and the financial and social capital they generate leaves us with what is ultimately a flippant approach to a group, to a time, to a cultural expression that today so desperately needs some thoughtful reflection. The film encourages no deeper appreciation for the legends and no deeper understanding of why so few today who are like them could become as big as they once were.

It is just another reminder of how little power the colonized have over themselves, their art or their image.”

For instance, the film only quickly passes by the political and cultural shifts of the late 1980s into the 90s, never fully developing that context out of which A Tribe emerged. The group members are never shown on camera responding in-depth to those shifts and their involvement in them. Through direction their encouraged responses to the dashikis they once wore were dismissively described as the off-brand move of nerds. Maybe, but in a rare Dutch television documentary on the group from the 1990s currently posted to the website of DJ Premier these very same men discuss that time as one of revolutionary political and cultural shifts building off of movements in the streets and universities to reclaim an African past and to build a more radical future.

Or how is it that you make a documentary about the group who to this day has one of the most memorable and referenced anti-industry lines in rap music history and they are not asked to discuss, nor is any investigation made into, “industry rule number 4080, record company people are shady”? In fact, quite the opposite. Record exec Barry Weiss is so warmly involved in the film that he is even give free run to haphazardly opine on the personality flaws of Tribe front man Q-Tip. No. Instead it is far sexier and marketable to Sony’s audience to focus the film on the internal beef between group mates and to waste other opportunities to interview legends like De La Soul by having them only to quickly comment on the demise of their fellow Native Tongues.

So the group that made songs named after Steve Biko and asked “What’s a Black nation without Black unity?” has its answer in a film made about them; a community without control and without proper honor. But shoot, it’s almost that time anyway, so if you want a truly good documentary on hip-hop, go back to last year’s release from Dream Hampton on the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and Black August.

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

Dr. Jared A. Ball is an associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore and is the author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press). He can be found online at: IMIXWHATILIKE.COM.

Direct download: 20110727_jb_TribeCalledQuest.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:12am EST

Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney addressed a crowd of 450 people at Atlanta's Shrine of the Black Madonna on the US war in Libya.

Direct download: 20110724_ATL_libya-report_7_cynthia_mckinney.mp3
Category:US Empire -- posted at: 7:35pm EST

Lucy Greider-Bradley is a longtime Atlanta activist who traveled to Libya in June 2011.  She reports on her experiences under NATO and US bombardment.

Direct download: 20110724_ATL_libya-report_6_lucy_greider_bradley.mp3
Category:US Empire -- posted at: 7:11pm EST

Ramsey Clark a former US Attorney General during the administration of Lyndon Baines Johnson, has been in the storm a long time.  A frequent traveler to Libya and throughout the African continent, he offered the Atlanta audience a unique perspective born of his decades in the struggle for human rights.

Direct download: 20110724_ATL_libya-report_4_ramsey_clark.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:56pm EST

Rev. Derrick Rice is pastor of Atlanta's Sankofa United Church of Christ, and has also visited Libya recently.  Sankora UCC can be contacted at http://www.sankofaucc-atl.org

Direct download: 20110724_ATL_libya-report_5_pastor_sankofaUCC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:44pm EST

The NOI's Akbar Muhammad, besides being part of the Dignity delegation in June 2001, has visited Libya on several occasions.  He addresses the audience in the importance of Khadaffy's contribution to the struggles of African Americans, Africans in the Diaspora, and the cause of continental unity and solidarity against western imperialism.

Direct download: 20110724_ATL_libya-report_3_akbar_muhammed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:36pm EST

Diane Mathowitz is a longtime Atlanta activist representing the International Action Center

Direct download: 20110724_ATL_libya-report_2_diane_mathowitz.mp3
Category:US Empire -- posted at: 4:52pm EST

This event was held at the Shrine of the Black Madonna in the West End neighborbood of Atlanta.  

In this segment, a local grad student offers a brief summary of Libya's history in the 20th century.

Direct download: 20110724_ATL_libya-report_1_background.mp3
Category:US Empire -- posted at: 3:19pm EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The drought that threatens more than ten million lives in the Horn of Africa has been made vastly more deadly by U.S. and Ethiopian use of food as a weapon of war. The Americans last year forced the collapse of cooperation between aid agencies and Shabab resistance fighters in Somalia. And Ethiopia, a center of the drought, has virtually sealed off its rebellious Ogaden region from outside observers and aid providers, including the International Red Cross, in order to conceal its brutal, collective punishment of ethnic Somalis.

 

U.S. and Ethiopia Kill Somalis With Food Weapon

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Ethiopian government has blocked the International Red Cross and other aid agencies from carrying out relief work in the region.”

At least 10 million people are in danger of starvation in Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Somalia, under the worst drought conditions in 60 years. This should be taken as fact. But when it comes to which humans are to blame for relief supplies being unavailable to the victims, don’t believe a word that the United States government says. Washington is not only the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, it is also the biggest liar on the planet, none of whose words can be taken at face value.

The Americans claim the Shabab Islamist fighters made the drought crisis worse by preventing international aid agencies from distributing food relief. But only last year, in February 2010, the New York Times was running a headline, “UN Officials Assail U.S. for Withholding Somali Aid.” We explored that story in Black Agenda Report. Back then, United Nations officials charged the U.S. with imposing conditions that made it “impossible” to deliver tens of millions in food aid to hungry Somalis. The Americans refused to allow food to be transferred from warehouses in Kenya, claiming it might enrich the coffers of the Shabab, who controlled about half of Somalia. The U.S. finally let some food pass through, but only on the condition that aid workers not pay any fees at Shabab checkpoints around the country. Aid workers on the ground said that following U.S. orders would make them “look like spies.” Apparently, they were right.

It was a clear case of the United States using food as a weapon of war, starving the people of Somalia in order to destroy the social base for the resistance to U.S. proxy rule over the country. We do know that the relationship between the Shabab and international aid agencies fell apart, at that point, so one could conclude that Washington succeeded in its mission. Starving people are now paying the price.

A look at the map of the drought-stricken areas shows that the Ogaden is a center of the crisis.”

The U.S.-backed puppet government in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, waited until this week to declare a drought emergency in Somalia. Kenya, another American puppet, refused to allow Somalis to enter a brand new – and empty – refugee camp. Ethiopia may be the worst case. Not only did it bring on what was then Africa's “worst humanitarian crisis,” according to the UN, by invading the country in late 2006, at the instigation of the United States – Ethiopia has virtually sealed off its vast Ogaden region to outside observers, and a look at the map of the drought-stricken areas shows that the Ogaden is a center of the crisis!

The Ogaden is populated by ethnic Somalis who have been fighting their own guerilla war against the Ethiopian dictatorship, whom they charge with using food as a weapon of war. Of the 10 million people at risk of starvation, a huge portion live – or are now dying – in the Ogaden. As the dependable Thomas C. Mountain reports from nearby Eritrea, the Ethiopian government has blocked the International Red Cross and other aid agencies from carrying out relief work in the region. The Obama administration, which now gives the Ethiopian dictatorship more money than any regime in Africa, could force the doors to the Ogaden open with one phone call. But it won't, because Ethiopia and the U.S. are on the same mission, and there is nothing humanitarian about it. 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: 20110720_gf_SomaliaDrought.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:14am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

There was a time when much of the public clamored for justice to rain down on White House illegalities, through impeachment. But then came Barack Obama, who made George Bush’s crimes his own and “then proceeded to out-Bush Bush, especially when it came to wielding imperial power and doing away with what’s left of due process and the rule of law.”

 

Impeachment: If Not Obama, Who?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

With Obama, we get a continuity of George Bush's crimes, plus a whole host of new ones.”

One thing about of the Bush administration that makes me something very close to nostalgic, is the number of people who, back then, wanted to impeach the president. It was exhilarating to hear Americans full of righteous emotion, willing to use up their last Aladdin’s lamp wish for the pleasure and privilege of seeing George Bush indicted by the House and put on trial before the Senate. For the vast majority of Black folks, the impeachment of George Bush would have been the best thing that’s happened since 1965, a genuine “Free at Last” moment. Hell, nothing could beat that but the election of a Black President to succeed Bush…

Which is what happened, and that’s the problem. We did get a Black successor to George Bush – and what did the new guy do, but move most of Bush’s luggage right back into the White House. Barack Obama then proceeded to out-Bush Bush, especially when it came to wielding imperial power and doing away with what’s left of due process and the rule of law.

Bush attacked nations that hadn’t done anything to the United States, and was arrogant enough to strut around and brag about it. But Barack Obama does Bush one better: He gangs up with the old European colonial crowd to set loose the war dogs on poor Libya, which hadn’t said an angry word to the Americans in years, and then denied that all that bombing and rocketing constituted making war, at all. In fact, said Obama, as he reloaded his weapons, there were no “hostilities” between the U.S. and Libya, since no Americans were getting killed. So, now we have the Obama Doctrine: no dead Americans, no war.

Unlike during Bush's crime spree, there is little clamor for Obama's head outside the racist Right.”

There has to be a multitude of impeachable offenses connected to the war on Libya, alone, but they’re just the latest in a long list of high crimes and misdemeanors racked up by the First Black President. An organization called Voters for Peacehas compiled a list of items that would send Obama packing if there was such a thing as justice and constitutional law in this country. He is guilty of:

Ordering military attacks on sovereign nations without Congressional authorization.

Issuing Executive Orders for the extra-judicial assassination of U.S. citizens in violation of guarantees of due process.
Presiding over military, paramilitary and intelligence service use of torture in violation of prohibitions against cruel and unusual treatment.
Ordering and attempting to assassinate foreign heads of state.
Obstructing justice by failing or refusing to investigate credible allegations of torture brought against the previous administration.

Thus, with Obama, we get a continuity of George Bush's crimes, plus a whole host of new ones. Call it Bush-Plus. But, unlike during Bush's crime spree, there is little clamor for Obama's head outside the racist Right. If Michelle keeps Barack in check and there are no sexual indiscretions, it looks like he'll have a record-breaking term in office, in terms of breaking the law. And Black Americans, by clinging to Obama, will lose the distinction of being a people that cherish justice most of all.

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: 20110720_gf_ImpeachObama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:11am EST

Porn and Mail: New Media, Same Old Sh!t

 

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

Every “groundbreaking moment” in the corporate consolidation of the internet represents a loss to the world’s people and their children. Media corporations have initiated a “Copyright Alert System” to keep track of the “creative” properties that the moneyed classes have usurped from the truly creative among us. “This agreement between internet service providers and the television and film industries, is about assuring that only they can determine what is considered legal or sanctioned communication.”

 

Porn and Mail: New Media, Same Old Sh!t

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

Twenty-five percent of all internet traffic is porn, email, and search engines, only 3-4% goes to news and only 1-2/10 of a percent go to political blogs.”

It may be an emerging technology but the internet isn’t changing a thing. I don’t mean literally of course. The internet is changing the primary format of communication and it is certainly changing the way our brains work, the way synapses grow, and has definitely impacted our ability to concentrate or to stay focused. But I mean the big stuff. “Cyber Utopians,” as onewriter calls them, must be going through the kind of withdrawal now being suffered by Obamatons. The real and big change they thought was coming just isn’t.

And as if to remind everyone of all this earlier this month the keepers of ideas have initiated the “Copyright Alert System” to let you know when your network is being used to illegally download their stuff. This, as they say, will allow eventually for a “safe and legal” internet experience for us all. Of course, as a subset of intellectual property rights, copyrights are about ownership and control of thought and the “safety” desired is simply the protection for big business to subjugate the limitlessness of the internet to corporate controlThis agreement between internet service providers and the television and film industries, is about assuring that only they can determine what is considered legal or sanctioned communication. Hence, this becomes, in the words of a music industry lobbyist, a “groundbreaking agreement” that “ushers in a new day and a fresh approach to addressing the digital theft of copyrighted works."

The agreement does not currently add any “new laws or regulations” nor does it carry threats of account termination for those warned by this system of illegal trafficking of copyrighted materials. In fact, their claim is that the new Center for Copyright Information will use these warnings to spread the gospel of copyright’s importance. And, of course, it is. The new center is another front for the major music labels, film and television studios and is designed to promote an ideology of copyright, one based on the mythology of copyright protecting artists who now so emboldened feel free to produce more art which in turn benefits us all. Aside from the pure nonsense that artistry is suppressed absent copyright protection is the basic fact that artists rarely if ever own their own copyright. So this is just recycled branding and defense of the already well-defended.

The new center is another front for the major music labels, film and television studios and is designed to promote an ideology of copyright.”

More importantly, this is about assuring that “new” media technology succumb to established social norms and order. These warnings can easily morph into greater ordering of the internet’s content. Existing research already suggests we are headed there, where a “Googlearchy” is emerging that more than replicates media consolidation elsewhere. Here, as Matthew Hindman explains, since 25% of all internet traffic is porn, email, and search engines, only 3-4% goes to news and only 1-2/10 of a percent go to political blogs, it is actually easier for media giants to gobble up more of what little space is available. Major newspapers have more of their market locked up online, roughly 30%, than in print where they still only have about 20%. And as we’ve shown before the internet does nothing to change the range of popular topics covered in online news and very little of that news deals directly with Black people and other so-called “minorities.”

Most importantly, the newer medium has had zero impact in changing our most deeply-held attitudes towards one another. As said by the previously-referenced author and internet critic Evgeny Morozov, new media technology often “only aggravate existing social problems.” But, to prove his point he, well, proved his point! Morozov’s example was taken from a leading conservative economic newspaper and their reasoning behind a claim against providing the war-torn Sudan with computers. Given that, according to Morozov, they only know a “culture of pervasive corruption” computers would be useless since Sudanese are more accustomed to, he says, “staging ambushes than typing on laptops.” Computers and the internet won’t stop African corruption any more than they will stop the Western imperialism that encourages it or the binding Euro-centricity with which even the White Left tends to interpret the rest of the world.

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

Dr. Jared A. Ball is an associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. and is author of I Mix What I Like! A Mixtape Manifesto (AK Press). He can be found and reached online at:IMIXWHATILIKE.COM.

Direct download: 20110720_jb_Copyrights.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:56am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A U.S. Marine task force is about to be deployed in the war against Somalia, where American drones are stepping up their predations. For the second time in four years, U.S. aggression threatens the lives of multitudes in the Horn of Africa. “A United Nations spokesman describes the food and refugee emergency in Somalia as the ‘worst humanitarian crisis in the world,’ with millions at immediate risk.

 

World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis in Somalia: U.S. Sends in the Marines and Drones

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Whenever the U.S. rachets up its armed interventions in Somalia, disaster follows.”

Even as U.S. militarization of the Horn of Africa has contributed massively to the threatened starvation of millions, the Americans have announced an escalation of drone attacks against Somalia and the establishment of a Marine task forcefor the region. A United Nations spokesman describes the food and refugee emergency in Somalia as the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” with millions at immediate risk. Not coincidentally, the epicenter of the disaster is the area where Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia meet – which is also a focus of U.S. Special Forces, surveillance and logistics activity.

The Americans blame the al-Shabab resistance for exacerbating the drought emergency, but for at least two years the Americans have used food as a weapon of war in Somalia, in an effort to starve out those who might be supporting the Shabab. The U.S. has armed an array of militias operating near the Ethiopian and Kenyan borders, making normal agricultural pursuits all but impossible, and the current world-class catastrophe, inevitable.

Whenever the U.S. rachets up its armed interventions in Somalia, disaster follows. Four years ago, after the Americans instigated an Ethiopian invasion of Somalia to overthrow an Islamist government that had brought a semblance of peace to the region, it set off what the United Nations then called “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa – worse than Darfur.” Today, many of those same refugees are confronted with the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet – once again, largely courtesy of the United States.

The Obama administration has upgraded Somalia and Yemen as hotspots in its endless war-making.”

The original crime – the one from which all the other horrors flow – was the theft of Somalia’s government, and the crushing of its people’s dreams for peace. The American proxy aggression, largely conducted through Ethiopia and now Kenya, and much of it directed from Djibouti, the actual headquarters of the U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM – is the root cause of the social disintegration of Somalia, which has pushed much of the population to the edge of extinction. These are the crimes against humanity that international courts should be prosecuting. Instead, the International Criminal Court has become a tool of the aggressor, and even proposes to deploy the U.S. military as its deputies, to enforce its warrants: justice turned upside down.

The newly activated Marine task force will augment America’s stepped up drone attacks against the Shabab, an escalation of Obama’s second shooting war in Africa, and war number 6, globally.

In addition to the Marines and the drones, the U.S. recently committed $45 million to equipment and training for the Ugandan and Burundian soldiers that are all that props up the puppet Somali government in Mogadishu, the capital.

The Obama administration has upgraded Somalia and Yemen as hotspots in its endless war-making, claiming al-Qaida operatives in the region are even more dangerous to the U.S. than their counterparts in Afghanistan and Pakistan – which essentially tells us that al-Qaida isn't really all that relevant to why American is spreading war and misery all over the planet. What is clear, is that the world's greatest humanitarian threat lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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: 20110713_gf_SomaliaCrisis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:59am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

With no help from the Mossad, the Israelis created a “no-fly” list that stymied hundreds of Palestinian solidarity activists from reaching the city of Bethlehem, on the West Bank. “Social networking – or Internet organizing, if you will – made it easy to put the trip to the West Bank together – and just as easy for the Israelis to thwart it.” That’s the problem with Internet organizing: “Everybody sees who you are and what you're up to.”

Organizing in a Fish Bowl: Limits of the Web

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is inevitable in an Internet age that dissenters will create their own ‘no-fly’ lists, or even their own ‘preventive detention’ lists, simply by using the technology.”

When Israel blocked hundreds of people from all around the world from flying to Ben Gurion International Airport to attend a “Welcome to Palestine” event in the West bank city of Bethlehem, it didn’t have to use its intelligence services to compile a targeted “no-fly” list. A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry bragged: “We didn’t need the Mossad” to find out who was planning to attend the Palestinian solidarity gathering, because “it was all out there in the open.” The Israelis simply tracked the would-be travelers through very public social networking and other sites on the Internet to find out who was planning to make the trip. The Israelis culled 342 names from the Internet, stopping almost all of them at airports in Europe or sending them back from the last stop, in Israel. The West Bank has no commercial airport of its own,

Social networking – or Internet organizing, if you will – made it easy to put the trip to the West Bank together – and just as easy for the Israelis to thwart it. And therein, lies one of the contradictions, or great weaknesses, of Internet organizing. Everybody sees who you are and what you're up to. Which bring us to some recent remarks by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who back in May described Facebook as “the most appalling spy machine that has ever been invented. Everyone should understand,” said Assange, “that when they add their friends to Facebook, they are doing free work for United States intelligence agencies, and building this database for them.”

Obama’s operatives are just as eager to use the Internet to find and suppress dissent as they are to use it to raise money for his reelection.”

Assange is not claiming that Facebook is run by the CIA or the FBI, but that the spooks have access to its records. And we should note that the owner of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is no political progressive. He’s a huge friend and financial benefactor of Newark, New Jersey, mayor Cory Booker, who is backed by every rightwing moneybag in the country. Ralph Naders' recent novel to the contrary, there is no billionaire on the planet that can be trusted with a roadmap to the doorsteps of virtually everyone who might be – or is friends with people who might be – political dissidents.

Not that government spies need any help. They've got a great friend in the White House. As Internet activist and lawyer Glenn Greenwald told the recent Socialism Conference, in Chicago, President Obama has embraced George Bush’s hostility to civil liberties “as his own, and in many cases extended far beyond where George Bush and Dick Cheney ever dreamed of.” Obama’s operatives are just as eager to use the Internet to find and suppress dissent as they are to use it to raise money for his reelection.

It is inevitable in an Internet age that dissenters will create their own “no-fly” lists, or even their own “preventive detention” lists, simply by using the technology.

Black Agenda Report would not exist without Internet technology, and we certainly don’t want to discourage our readers and financial contributors – heaven forbid! But if you’re reading or listening to this commentary, you’re already on some kind of list that is being sliced and diced by the authorities. When all is said and done, we need to create the biggest possible list, the Mother of all Lists – with many millions of names – and dare them to come get us all.

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: 20110713_gf_SocialNets.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51am EST

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

It is always good when white Americans with resources discover that their government is one of the “bad guys.” The plight of accused Wikileaks secret cables provider Bradley Manning has, apparently, awakened lots of folks to the oppressive side of the U.S. state. However, Black, Brown and Red political prisoners were rotting in the American Gulag for 40 years before Manning joined their ranks. “So much could be learned were his treatment put in the context of, for instance, the Scott sisters or the even longer-standing cases of Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Sundiata Acoli or the Move 9.”

 

Bradley Manning, Political Imprisonment and the Myopia of the Left

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

Until there are flotillas headed to Pelican Bay and ‘flytillas’ to Pine Ridge, claims of solidarity with the rest of the world will remain as hollow as claims of progress here.”

As long as we continue to allow the United States to function as an empire, it will. And as long as it treats many of its own “citizens” as “subjects” it is likely to impose that same status on those abroad. And to the extent that domestic struggles and the punished survivors of those struggles are ignored, efforts to change the country’s impact in the world will suffer. Until there is massive unrest and protest aimed at the treatment of the Indigenous, Black, Brown and poor, until there are flotillas headed to Pelican Bay and “flytillas” to Pine Ridge, claims of solidarity with the rest of the world will remain as hollow as claims of progress here. It is unfortunate the extent to which this political disconnect exists. And one need only look at the example of Bradley Manning, the accused and imprisoned deliverer of government secrets to Wikileaks, and the ways in which his case is so rarely connected to pre-existing cases of political imprisonment and torture, to see how far that gap really is. So much could be learned were his treatment put in the context of, for instance, the Scott sisters or the even longer-standing cases of Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Sundiata Acoli or the Move 9. Failure to do so hampers a deeper understanding of this country, its impact in the world and what it will take to change it.

Earlier this month at the Socialism 2011 conference in Chicago constitutional and civil rights lawyer Glen Greenwald gave an impressive talk that explored the consequences of Barack Obama’s increasingly imperial presidency and the shortcomings of the progressive political Left. According to Greenwald Obama’s track record on civil liberties and the so-called “war on terror” demonstrates a strict continuation of Bush and Cheney policies and yet so much of the Left obediently defends the man and his party. Greenwald also pointed out, importantly, that because of the president’s deft use of “symbol… packaging… [and] rhetoric…” he is able to disguise what is becoming an increasingly serious threat to civil liberties and human rights. For Greenwald the mission creep and shifting of targets from so-called “terrorists” to U.S. citizens is becoming too easy, conducted under too much secrecy and leading to an end of privacy and supposed claims of intellectual and political freedoms. But, despite his principled and accurate concern over these shifting targets Greenwald himself demonstrated a dangerous myopia, one that continues to threaten the development of progressive movements that he and those like him wish to see.

Greenwald (and others like him) should now then apply that same standard to the dozens upon dozens of political prisoners whose imprisonment pre-dates that of Manning’s by decades.”

Greenwald said that he was among the first to investigate and write about Bradley Manning and Wikileaks because they had been described vaguely by the New York Times as threats to national security. This, said Greenwald, was enough for him to become suspicious and think that Manning and Wikileaks deserved some assistance. But, being the principled man he is, Greenwald (and others like him) should now then apply that same standard to the dozens upon dozens of political prisoners whose imprisonment pre-dates that of Manning’s by decades. Following the same logic applied to Bradley Manning would greatly help the existing movement to free political prisoners get more attention and more resources. Who better to assist in the uncovering of the real inner-workings of this society? And who better than they, those who have long been considered threats to national security, to develop analyses needed to make real change? Perhaps this would help other well-meaning people like David House, founder of the Bradley Manning Support Committee, from having to admit, as he did last week, that it was the Manning case that awakened him to what this country could do.

The brave prisoners now risking their lives to stop the daily torture they suffer in Pelican Bay and prisons around the country are the antecedents of Bradley Manning. And the specifically political prisoners who continue to exist as such also continue to illustrate the national mooring to an imperialism that Greenwald and others seem somehow new to. And this is why we support the work of those like the Black is Back CoalitionThe Jericho Movement and the Freedom Archives for their consistent reminder of the “other wars,” those waged against domestic liberation struggles and the captives that remain as a result; those whose liberties were first to be taken before those now slowly being dwindled.

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

Dr. Jared A. Ball is an associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. and is author of I MiX What I Like! A MiXtape Manifesto (AK Press). He can be reached online at: IMIXWHATILIKE.COM.

Direct download: 20110713_jb_PoliticalPrisoners.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:49am EST

The nation's largest union, the NEA just endorsed President Obama's re-election campaign, despite the fact that under its Race To The Top program, the Obama administration has waged a relentless jihad to purge organized teachers from their workplaces.  Does the NEA suffer from Stockholm Syndrome, in which the abused sympathize with their abusers instead of themselves?  What does this say about the real relationship between Democrats and organized labor?

Democrats and Labor: A Murder-Suicide Pact

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

When the father of former black Republican congressman J.C. Watts observed not long ago that an African American voting Republican was kind of like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders, he could have been speaking for labor and all people of color as well. It's not recorded what the old man had to say about Democrats. But if old Mr. Watts is still around the current antics of corporate funded Democratic governors in California and New York and elsewhere, and of our corporate funded Democrat in the White House might cause him to compare that Republican Colonel Sanders with the Democratic Popeye's.

Labor and Democrats have had this bargain for a while now. Democrats get all of labor's cash contributions ---- not nearly what the corporations give, but still a substantial amount. Labor also mobilizes tens of thousands of volunteers in dozens of states to knock on doors, to staff phone banks and to canvass precincts for Democrats on every level. A disproportionate number of those volunteers, and of union members are black and brown, of course.

To understand what kind of bargain this is, let's look at what labor gets for its money, its manpower, and its selfless dedication to the Democratic party's cause.

In California, the state legislature for the fifth time in recent years passed a bill that would compel growers to recognize farmworker unions whenever a majority in any workplace signed union cards. Democratic governor Gerry Brown, the recipient of vast quantities of union money and union volunteer labor, did exactly the same thing his Republican predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger did the last four times. He vetoed it. On the other coast New York's Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo, similarly blessed by the unions in his campaign, wages war upon public workers, slashing their pay, trying to raise their retirement age and two-tier their pensions to divide younger against older workers.

Barack Obama campaigned in 2007 and 2008 promising to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, to re-evaluate NAFTA, to walk a picket line with striking workers as the president, and to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. He was rewarded by the support of every large union in the country.

But like every other corporate Democrat, President Obama abandoned the promises and instead played the part of the Democratic Popeye's to the Republican Colonel Sanders. President Obama froze the pay of federal workers and saddled GM's auto workers with their own underfunded retiree health plan.

But President Obama's longest running campaign against the right of working people to organize and fight for equity and democracy has been against public school teachers. Banksters, hedge fund speculators and the Obama administration want to privatize public schools, turning them into low-cost holding tanks for the poor on their way to prison or minimum wage jobs at McWal-Marts. Organized teachers, when united with organized parents, are a major obstacle on that road and have been savagely attacked by the Obama administration's Race To The Top program.

So did the chickens of the National Education Association, the nation's largest remaining union do last week? You guessed it.... they endorsed Popeye's fried... or rather Obama's re-election campaign almost 17 months before the election.

The character of relations between labor unions and Democrats is clear. Corporate funded Democrats agree to take labor's money and volunteers, and to try their best to undermine and kill those labor unions. The suicidal union leaders in their turn agree to continue to fund and enable the assault upon them. NEA's endorsement is only the latest ratification of this deal. The bargain between labor and Democrats is truly a murder-suicide pact.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20110706_bd_labor_murder_suicide_pact.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:29pm EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The African Union found the spine to reject execution of an arrest warrant against Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi issued by the International Criminal Court, which appears to have an “Africans only” indictment policy. The AU’s chairman calls the court’s prosecutions “discriminatory” because they ignore the West’s crimes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. China has hosted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, another ICC arrest target.

 

African Union Says 'Up Yours' to International Criminal Court

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The AU decided, finally, that it can stand up to the International Criminal Court.”

The African Union is asking all of its 53 members not to buckle under to the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The International Criminal Court, or ICC, has never indicted anyone but Africans, and many consider it to be a tool of the United States. The Obama administration gives constant lip service to the Court, even though the U.S. is not a member of the ICC and has refused to make its own policies and military answerable to any outside authority.

The African Union, meeting in Equatorial Guinea, said the ICC indictment against Gaddafi for alleged “crimes against humanity” complicates the task of bringing about a cease-fire in Libya. Twice, high level African delegations have attempted to forge a cease-fire, that would protect immigrant workers and refugees and allow for humanitarian aid to the civilian population. Both times, the rebels and their American and European backers rejected the African initiative out of hand – a display of western arrogance that was deeply humiliating to the African Union. The insult still stings. Although the African Union can’t do much to stop NATO from bombing an African nation at will, the AU decided, finally, that it can stand up to the International Criminal Court and its attempt to arrest Gaddafi, a former chairman and great benefactor of the African Union.

The current AU chairman, Jean Ping, spoke for many member states when he said that the ICC “was discriminatory” in its prosecutions, and only went after Africans, disregarding crimes committed by the West in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. For that reason, the AU recommended that its members not cooperate with the execution of the warrant against Gaddafi.

“’The whole world favors’ putting Bashir on trial, said the bureaucrat.”

Without doubt, the International Criminal Court is as Eurocentric in its view of the world as are the governments in Paris, London and Washington. So is the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, who had the nerve to chastise China for ignoring the ICC indictment against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Bashir has travelled in Africa and the Middle East on state visits, and went to China for high level talks, last week. Navi Pillay, the Human Rights Commissioner, whined that she was disappointed with China for not arresting Bashir – although China, like the United States and Russia, is not a member of the International Criminal Court.

Nevertheless, Pillay showed herself to be a true servant of the West. “The whole world favors” putting Bashir on trial,” said the bureaucrat. Most of the continent of Africa does not want to put Bashir on trial. Isn't Africa part of the world? China does not want to put Bashir on trial. And one out of every five people in the world is Chinese!

Navi Pillay is herself from South Africa, whose president, Jacob Zuma, is trying to engage the Russians in arranging a Libya ceasefire. But Human Rights Commissioner Pillay thinks the whole world revolves around Paris, London and Washington. So does ICC chief prosecutor Luis Morena Ocampo, who wants to deputize the United States military to enforce the criminal court's arrest warrants – regardless of what the African world or the Chinese world or anybody that is not European or American thinks. It's sad to say, but at this point in history, the UN serves the Empire.

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: 20110706_gf_AUvsICC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:42am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

National Public Radio gave new meaning to the term “whitewash” when it portrayed the merciless beating of a Black Boston cop by white officers as a case of “inattentional blindness.” Any fool could see it was a violent case of racist profiling – but not the white fools or their Black proxies at NPR. It takes hip-hop perceptions and skills to illuminate the willful national “blindness” that everyone sees through except the perpetrators.

 

The 4th of July, Hip-Hop and National “Inattentional Blindness”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by editor and columnist Jared Ball

The framing of this story by NPR is indicative of the national blindness to the treatment of its colonized inhabitants.”

Say what you want about the level of resistance to this country’s wonderfully constructed image and mythology, that which it creates about itself or those it holds in check; but hip-hop is a leading force in that fight. In fact, without hip-hop very little of the symbolism or artistic expression of radical resistance to the brutality this country can impose on its own would be known or felt. Without hip-hop so much of what I heard described recently as “inattentional blindness” would pass without recognition. So as another celebration of the 4th of July passes for some of us it is hip-hop that best represents in this moment the sickeningly still-relevant question of Frederick Douglass; “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?”

National Public Radio (NPR) again recently demonstrated that the real national pastime is not baseball, nor is it football. In fact, it is no game at all; it is the collective disavowal of racism’s origin, function and impact. White supremacy remains so powerfully unnamed in its relationship to power that its complete removal from even its most obvious displays is almost laughable. NPR’s story was the retelling of the 1995 case where Michael Cox, a Black Boston police officer, was mistaken for a criminal and viciously beaten by his White colleagues. But NPR’s focus was not the continuing cycle of police violence against Black people, no. In an almost ironic twist NPR’s focus was research into a condition known as “inattentional blindness” or the inability to see even the most shocking events around you due to intense focus on something else.

Instead of investigating the routine abuse of Black people by the police NPR chose to recast this story with a focus on the fact that one officer is said to have run right past a group of his fellow White cops beating a defenseless Black man without seeing a thing as a case of “inattentional blindness.” He was so keyed in on a subject he was chasing that he was momentarily incapable of seeing the beating. What makes the NPR piece nearly ironic is that were this story told by The Onion or had it once been a sketch on the Chappelle Show the humor in the framing of the story would be obvious. But it is indicative of the national need to have as its national pastime a national “inattentional blindness” to the ways in which its oppressed communities suffer.

It is often hip-hop, the maligned, misrepresented angry – yet poetic – responses that reminds the world of the fakery in the stars and stripes.”

The framing of this story by NPR is indicative of the national blindness to the treatment of its colonized inhabitants. It is the oft-described invisibility of Black suffering which is a political necessity to the stability of social order that demands non-sight of the unsightly, of the wretched. And it is often hip-hop, the maligned, misrepresented angry – yet poetic – responses that reminds the world of the fakery in the stars and stripes. Skipp Coon said, he’d “rather see it ablaze” than salute it. Killer Mike, a la Michelle Alexander, is reminding us that prisons are “new age slavery” and a la Malcolm X suggests we all get a “shotgun” and that, a la the misrepresented Magnificent one, says he will “burn this “muthafucka down!”

And like Mike is Jasiri X denying the blindness by retelling the story of Jordan Miles, another of the more recent innocent victims of police violence; another national pastime to which Pharoahe Monch suggests the response be to “Clap… and [he] don’t mean applause.” It is also the journalistic work in hip-hop, from DaveyD to FreeMix Radio where such artistry is reported in connection to the political activism that also seeks to deny the imposed blindness to as, Kwasi Seitu reports, the continued “coon hunting” by police in cities like the nation’s capital. No room for inattention here. In fact, quite the opposite.

As we go to press artists and activists are gathering in New York City to raise further protest to this past week’s police violence against people gathered at the Pete Rock/Smif-n-Wessun album release party. The press release for the event calls for the police to stop seeing hip-hop gatherings as “a crime waiting to happen.” But in the eyes of a country whose national pastime is the “inattentional blindness” to Black suffering gathering crowds of Black people are indeed potentially threatening criminal acts.

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

Dr. Jared A. Ball is an associate professor of communication studies at Morgan State University and author of I MiX What I Like! A MiXtape Manifesto (AK Press). He can be found online at: IMIXWHATILIKE.COM.

Direct download: 20110706_jb_HipHop4July.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:01am EST