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

Obama cries crocodile tears about what the Republicans in Congress won’t let him do. But he allowed more than $7 billion in TARP money set aside for worst hit victims of the housing crisis to sit, unspent, in Treasury Department accounts, for two years. “No wonder most people think TARP is only concerned with bailing out the banks. The Obama administration has treated it that way.”

 

Obama Administration Withholds Home Foreclosure Aid to Hardest Hit

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Treasury Secretary Geithner sat on the homeowners’ relief money for two years, because his boss wanted it that way.”

The Obama administration’s indifference to the plight of foreclosed homeowners, and total subservience to the banks, is once again on public display. According to a report by the Special Inspector General of the TARP program, the administration has spent only a tiny fraction of the money it was allocated to help those most negatively impacted by the housing collapse. In two years, only a little over 30,000 households have been helped, at a cost of $217 million. That’s only 3 percent of the $7.6 billion TARP is authorized to spend through its Hardest Hit Fund.

No wonder most people think TARP – the Troubled Asset Relief Fund – is only concerned with bailing out the banks. The Obama administration has treated it that way, even though Congress intended a portion of that money to help homeowners recover from the damage the banks had done.

From the day he was sworn in – and even before that, on the campaign trail – Obama has behaved as if the welfare of the banks is all that matters. Tim Geithner, the man he appointed to head the Treasury Department, which in turn runs the TARP program, is a former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. A previous Inspector General of TARP reported, back in the summer of 2009, that the bank bailout might cost as much as $24 trillion – approaching twice the size of the gross domestic product of the United States. $7.4 trillion of that was to come out of TARP and other Treasury Department programs. That’s more than a thousand times more money than the $7.6 billion set aside for the hardest hit homeowners – but Geithner couldn’t even bring himself to spend that paltry sum on TARP’s Hardest Hit Fund, so almost all of the money has been sitting there, doing nothing for anybody, for the last two years.

Obama has behaved as if the welfare of the banks is all that matters.”

Obama apologists will probably claim the president didn’t know that his Treasury Secretary was withholding billions of dollars in aid to the worst hit victims of the housing crisis – which means, they’ll believe anything.

The reason Geithner didn’t spend the Hardest Hit Fund money is because he, like other bankers, believes that helping homeowners in crisis amounts to tampering with “the market” – a euphemism for Wall Street. Obama thinks that way, too. In early 2008, Obama alone, among the three Democratic presidential candidates in the running, rejected out of hand proposals for a moratorium on home foreclosures. He didn’t want to put a cap on mortgage rates, either. Candidates John Edwards and Hillary Clinton supported mandatory or voluntary moratoriums, respectively – but not Obama. He had already made his deal with Wall Street – and he’s kept his promises to the super-rich. Treasury Secretary Geithner sat on the homeowners’ relief money for two years, because his boss wanted it that way.

The Congressional Black Caucus begged Obama to target foreclosure relief funds to areas that were hurt worst by the meltdown – which overlaps with the geography of Black America. That’s what the $7.6 billion dollars in the Hardest Hit Fund was supposed to do. The Black Caucus was shamelessly betrayed by the First Black President. The homes of hundreds of thousands of their constituents could have been saved, but the Obama Team outright refused to spend money lying right there in the accounts. What will the Caucus do? Pretend that it never happened. 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: 20120418_gf_TARPFunds.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05pm EDT


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Less than a year ago, Sudan was split in two after decades of U.S. support for the secessionist South. Newly independent and deeply impoverished South Sudan has now seized much of what remains of the North’s oil fields. The South refuses to return to its borders, despite widespread international denunciation – a boldness that is inconceivable without the connivance of the United States.

 

The West Wants to Take the Rest of Sudan’s Oil

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

South Sudan refuses to return to its borders, and its generals are talking about marching all the way to Khartoum.”

The campaign to chop away more territory from the African nation of Sudan is in full swing. South Sudan, which comprised one-third of the country until becoming independent, last year, seized the oil town of Heglig on the northern Sudan side of the border and is refusing international calls to withdraw. The region around Heglig contains half of Sudan’s remaining oil fields. Most of the country’s oil went to South Sudan when the country was partitioned. But the Heglig fields indisputably belong to northern Sudan, having been awarded to the Khartoum government by a Permanent Court, in 2009. Nevertheless, South Sudan refuses to return to its borders, and its generals are talking about marching all the way to Khartoum.

The European Union describes the South Sudanese seizure of northern territory as “completely unacceptable,” and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his “grave concerns” directly to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir. But President Kiir, who wears a signature cowboy hat given to him by President Bush in 2006, shouted back at the UN chief, “I am not under your command.”

So, who does have influence on South Sudan? That would be, overwhelmingly, the United States, which supported South Sudan’s secessionist movement for more than a generation and steamrolled African and international opinion into accepted the dismemberment of what had been the continent’s largest country. It was an especially bitter pill to swallow for that African Union, whose predecessor, the Organization of African States, in 1964 declared that national boundaries left by colonialists should be left alone. The founding statesmen of Africa feared that tampering with borders would expose the continent to foreign intrigues, as Europeans and Americans stirred up secessionist movements for their own gain.

Green Berets now operate in South Sudan and neighboring Uganda, Congo, and the Central African Republic.”

That time has fully arrived. No sooner had South Sudan declared itself independent, than President Obama devised an excuse to move U.S. Special Forces into the country – one of the poorest on Earth, if you don’t count the oil. Green Berets now operate in South Sudan and neighboring Uganda, Congo, and the Central African Republic. American money keeps the Sudanese army equipped and paid. And President Kiir met with Obamaonly two weeks ago. The official press release on their talks said Obama had expressed concern about the tensions between North and South, and “emphasized the importance of...reaching an agreement on oil.”

Well, it looks like Obama and the cowboy-hatted President Kiir reached their own agreement: to seize the North’s oil fields. South Sudan is a U.S. client state that owes its independence to the U.S. and Europeans and Israel, which was deeply involved in the Sudanese civil war. It is inconceivable that South Sudan would defy the United Nations and the European Union to invade North Sudan and seize half of its oil reserves without the connivance of the United States. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, who has been calling for the head of Sudanese President al-Bashir since George Bush was in office, will pretend that she is “concerned” with the fighting between the two Sudans, and so will Obama. But U.S. client states like South Sudan don’t invade their neighbors without Washington’s blessing. 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: 20120418_gf_DismemberSudan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:59am EDT

After twenty years of grassroots advocacy, the federal government is about to grant low power FM radio station licenses in hundreds of communities across the country. Unlike any other medium, low power radio binds communities together and can further the mission of your arts group or community group, union, neighborhood association or other civic body like nothing else. To find out more, join Black Agenda Report for a Thursday April 26 conference call at 9PM Eastern Time. To get your entry code contact us at radio@blackagendareport.com.

What Could Your Organization Do With Its Own Radio Station?

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Low power FM stations will broadcast to an area 12 miles in diameter. We're talking about neighborhood radio that binds actual neighbors together around their own needs, concerns and objectives...”

What could your not for profit organization, community or arts group, labor union, school, or local church do with its own fully operational low power FM radio station? This is not a rhetorical question, it's a very practical one. Late in 2012, or early in 2013, the Federal Communications Commission will be accepting license applications to operate what could be hundreds of neighborhood FM radio stations in cities and towns across the country.

For most of the last two decades, the Philadelphia-based Prometheus Radio Project, which you can find on the web at www.prometheus.org has led this fight, partnering with local forces to bring the technical knowledge, and doing the watchdogging and advocacy on the national level that got the laws passed and appropriate regulations enacted. And now the licensing window is almost here. It's a moment that's been a long time coming. Corporate broadcasters, and even so-called public broadcasters have spent millions to hire lobbyists and rented congressmen and senators to deny the broadcast microphone to anything or anybody that is not, or isn't owned by a greedy for-profit corporation.

Commercial radio has impoverished our music, by preventing local artists from reaching local audiences. Commercial radio has starved our communities of news by withdrawing corporate support for the gathering and broadcasting of original news, especially local news. Without local artists reaching local audiences, without local news and without the ability of people to listen to and lead their own local conversations, we are NOT communities, we are ONLY markets. Turning our collective relations into exclusively market-mediated relations is in fact the vision of the corporate America.

Do your organization's capacity-building and community building efforts a favor, and find out just what your organization could do with its very own low power FM radio station....”

The fight for the rights of nonprofit community broadcasters to access the radio dial is nothing less than a fight for the rights of people to hear their own voices. It's a fight for the right to own and operate media which recognizes and builds communities, where commercial media ignores communities, instead recognizing only markets to be delivered to its advertisers.

What could your organization do with its own low power FM radio station? Think about it. Low power FM stations will broadcast to an area 12 miles in diameter. We're talking about neighborhood radio that binds actual neighbors together around their own needs, concerns and objectives, the same needs, concerns and objectives that caused you to form your local not for profit organization in the first place.

While individual nonprofit organizations can apply for station licenses, preference will be given to coalitions of two, three and more local organizations, because a wider base ensures more success both at fundraising and at the production of original programming for your local radio station. The minimum financial barriers to application and station startup are not terribly high, either, often in the low to mid single-digit thousands. Do your organization's capacity-building and community building efforts a favor, and find out just what your organization could do with its very own low power FM radio station.

To find out more about this once in a liftetime opportunity, join Black Agenda Report and Prometheus Radio for a one hour informational conference call with Prometheus Radio on Thursday, April 26, at 9PM EST, 8PM CST. That's Thursday evening, April 26 at 9PM Easter, 8 PM Central and 6PM Pacific time. To obtain the number and code, email us at radio@blackagendareport.com. That's radio@blackagendareport.com.

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

Bruce A. Dixon lives in Marietta GA, and is a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20120418_bd_low-power-radio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44am EDT