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

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

Big Oil ranks among the most profitable enterprises on earth. But capitalist corporations don't pay their own costs – these are borne by the people and their environments. Few have paid a higher price than the oil-producing regions of Nigeria, now among the most devastated and toxic wastelands on the planet.

As Gas Fires Burn, Devastated Nigeria Pays Horrific Price to Ensure Profits of Big Oil

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

Since its nominal independence from Britain in the 1960s, the West African nation of Nigeria has been the scene of a vast, murderous and ecocidal wave of corporate crime. The leading culprits are the continuing corporate criminal conspiracies of Big Oil, including Shell, Texaco, Mobil, Conoco, BP, Total, and others, aided by a succession of compliant military and civilian governments, armies and police forces. The job of capitalist corporations is to maximize profits by externalizing, or shedding their costs onto other entities, and Big Oil has been massively successful in Nigeria.

With most of Nigeria's oil concentrated in the Niger Delta and offshore, Big Oil has extracted conservatively at least $600 billion, more likely trillions in profits. Big Oil's costs are borne by the people, the lands and the waters of Nigeria's oil producing regions, which they have transformed into an impoverished and toxic wasteland where fishermen can't fish, where farmers can't farm, where the very rain and air are poisonous and the water undrinkable, where hospitals, electricity and schools are mostly unavailable. The oil producing regions are crisscrossed by a network of high-temperature, high-pressure, ill-maintained and chronically leaking pipes which annually spill an amount comparable to what BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster did in the Gulf of Mexico. Nigerians have paid this price every year for more than a generation.

But unlike the Deepwater Horizon disaster, homicide and ecocide committed by Big Oil in West Africa gets little notice in the world's media. A December Shell/BP oil spill that the criminals claim was only 40,000 barrels was virtually ignored outside West Africa. A separate offshore gas fire, which initially killed two workers when a rig exploded, has turned a region of open water into a lake of fire up to 1400 degrees Farenheit that is burning well into its second month. While Chevron oil officials claim it will be another month before efforts to put out the fire are successful, even more nearby communities are finding their water undrinkable, their air unbreathable, and local clinics thronged with environmentally induced diseases and disorders.

The profits of Big Oil in West Africa, which now supplies nearly a fifth of US oil imports, has and continue to poison millions of Africans. It has turned their crops, their waters, their environment and even their children into sacrifices on the altar of corporate profit. And this horrendous price is only to bring the oil out of the ground and onto the world market, not the cost of burning it and adding its carbon to the atmosphere, but costs which are also paid by someone other than Big Oil.

The long term survival of West Africa, and of humanity will only be ensured when we stop paying the homicidal and ecocidal cost of Big Oil. We believe that day is coming. 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 a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20120208_bd_big_oil_ravages_nigeria.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:33pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama is leading a general imperial offensive around the globe, and “were it not for the Russian and Chinese vetoes at the United Nations Security Council, the U.S. and its allies would by now have declared the city of Homs or some other parts of Syria as areas to be ‘protected’ by U.S.-led air forces.” History will record Obama as “a man of war – many wars.”

 

Obama’s Proliferating Wars: Empire on Full Throttle Offensive

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Obama is a smarter, more attractive, charming warmonger – and, therefore, even more dangerous than George Bush.”

Barack Obama is running for re-election as a war president, the savior of American empire. His State of the Union address was bracketed, front and back, with praise for U.S. military prowess, including the fantastic claim that the Iraq War – his predecessor’s greatest crime – had made the nation safer. For those who still cling to the illusion of the First Black President as a man of peace, Obama has, himself, repudiated that non-existent figment of the imagination. Obama is a man of war – many wars.

The U.S. is engaged in a general imperial offensive that is designed to accomplish what George Bush set out to do – but failed – in 2003: to isolate Russia and China, the main obstacles to U.S. domination of the planet. In that sense, it is totally logical that Obama would revise and sanitize the Iraq War, since he approved of its imperial intentions, but thought its execution was, in Obama’s words, “dumb.” Obama is a smarter, more attractive, charming warmonger – and, therefore, even more dangerous than George Bush.

Even more than Bush, Obama can depend on a warmongering corporate media to demonize those regimes targeted for removal. CNN speaks constantly of Syrian President Assad as a “butcher” of his own people, a propaganda formula deployed only months ago against Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi – and equally false in both cases. Even the Arab League’s Observer Mission to Syria put much of the onus for the violence on “armed opposition groups” rather than security forces. You have not heard much about this report, because U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar – who largely financed the rebels in Libya – refused to publish the Arab League Mission’s findings. Much of the U.S. corporate media have also pretended that the report never existed, because it does not support Washington’s rational for regime change in Syria. Instead of a one-sided “slaughter,” the Arab League observers reported attacks by armed rebels provoked the Syrian security forces to respond; that armed militants bombed “buildings, trains carrying fuel, vehicles carrying diesel oil” and targeted “police, members of the media and fuel pipelines.”

It is totally logical that Obama would revise and sanitize the Iraq War, since he approved of its imperial intentions.”

It is no secret that these armed groups are supported by Turkey, a member of NATO, by the billionaire royal families of the Persian Gulf, and by the United States. And, were it not for the Russian and Chinese vetoes at the United Nations Security Council, the U.S. and its allies would by now have declared the city of Homs or some other parts of Syria as areas to be “protected” by U.S.-led air forces.

Obama toys with war against Iran, and lies about it without blinking an eye. The president said flat-out to an interviewer, just before the Super Bowl, that Iran was trying to build a nuclear weapon. But his own Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, said only a month ago that Iran is not attempting to build a nuclear weapon. The heads of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies say the same thing. In the Super Bowl interview, Obama said Iran has refused to reject nuclear weapons – when, in fact, the Iranians have done exactly that on many, many occasions. But the President believes in spreading the Big Lie, and the U.S. corporate media are there to transform those lies into gospel truth, through sickening repetition.

So, tell me: Where is the difference between Obama and Bush on issues of war and peace?

There is none, except that Obama is a more talented killer.

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

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

Direct download: 20120208_gf_ObamaSyriaIran.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:21am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama is behaving true to form, embracing corruption only days after denouncing it. The greatest campaign fund raiser of all time has never rejected an opportunity to collect more corporate dollars. He has also never accepted responsibility for breaking a promise. This time around, he’s claiming those devilish Koch brothers made him do it.

 

Obama: “The Devil” Made Me Take the Super Pac Money

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

There is no evidence that Obama wants to clean up campaign financing, only that he finds all kinds of excuses to take the money.”

President Obama is like comedian Flip Wilson’s character, Geraldine: He blames everything on the Devil. The Devil made him do it.

And so, the Devil has just forced Mr. Obama to put together his own infernal Super Pac, the demon-spawn of the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision allowing corporations and wealthy individuals to spend as much money as they like on elections. Only days ago, Obama was calling Super Pacs a “threat to democracy,” but that was then, and now it’s time to make sure that the president has an equal opportunity to join in the corruption. But, don’t blame Obama. The Koch brothers made him do it, with reports that the far-right siblings plan to gather $100 million in Super Pac money. As Geraldine would say, those Koch Devils made Obama do it.

Not that there’s any danger of Obama being outspent in his re-election bid. He’s raised more money than all the Republican candidates, combined. In fact, he’s raised a lot more money from employees of Mitt Romney’s private equity firm, Bain Capital, than Romney has. All indications are that Obama will win the race for Wall Street’s campaign contributions, hands down, no matter who the Republicans nominate, just as Wall Street preferred Obama to John McCain, four years ago.

Candidate Obama opted out of public financing in the 2008 campaign, the first president since Watergate to run without public funding. He had earlier promised to accept public financing, and the limits on spending that go with it, if McCain did. McCain kept his part of the bargain, but Obama was getting more money than he could bring himself to turn down. In fact, by that time, Obama had raised twice as much as McCain, so he couldn’t claim a disadvantage. Instead, Obama’s excuse was that the public financing system was “broken.” But, of course, it was Obama’s withdrawal that definitively broke the system, paving the way for the billion dollar election of 2012.

All indications are that Obama will win the race for Wall Street’s campaign contributions, hands down, no matter who the Republicans nominate.”

In the summer of 2007, Obama explained the difference between himself and all of his Democratic and Republican opponents, when it comes to taking money from the rich and greedy. “The argument is not that I'm pristine, because I'm swimming in the same muddy water,” he said. “The argument is that I know it's muddy and I want to clean it up." But there is no evidence that Obama wants to clean up campaign financing, only that he finds all kinds of excuses to take the money.

The Wall Street crowd loves Obama, and they show it with their checkbooks. He returns their love a thousand times over, by protecting their interests while skillfully hoodwinking the Democratic base into believing that he’s on their side. The most pitiful marks in this hustle are small contributors, who Obama claims are his real base of support. Back in 2008, he even claimed that his fundraising was a better reflection of democracy than public financing, because he had so many small contributors. But it turns out that Obama got almost exactly the same proportion of his campaign funds from the little guys as George Bush did, in 2004.

It’s a rich man’s game, in which the future of the country and the world is purchased cheaply with campaign contributions. It is common sense that the player that collects the most money, has also sold the most influence. This election year, just like last time, the top influence seller is Barack Obama.

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

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

Direct download: 20120208_gf_ObamaMoney.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EDT