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

Obama's FCC Intends To OK Unlimited Concentration of Radio, TV, Newspaper Ownership in Top 20 Markets

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Imagine a US media landscape even more viciously unfair, more drastically tilted to favor greedy, irresponsible and immensely powerful media corporations than the one we already have. It would be quite a feat of imagination, but the Obama administration's FCC has done it for us, and intends to make it real.

The Federal Communications Commision is now considering a measure that will remove the few remaining limits on how many radio and TV stations and newspapers giant media companies are allowed to operate in a single market. Apparently, President Obama believes that we need even fewer wealthy corporations to control what we see, hear, and are allowed to broadcast to each other.

It's no surprise that broadcast media are not reporting this story. Corporate media never cover stories that reveal the extent of their own vast power and privilege in our supposedly “democratic” system. What is shocking, however is that President Obama's FCC Commissioner Julius Genakowski intends to push this measure through in what amounts to a secret meeting, with little or no chance for public input and not even the least pretense of transparency, before Xmas.

Bush's FCC tried the same thing back in 2007. They were stopped by two factors. The first was a federal court ruling that said shrinking the number of companies that own newspapers, TV and radio stations would lessen the already scant presence of media owners who were women and minorities. The second factor was a firestorm of public disapproval. The American people, left, right, black, brown, and white simply don't believe that a handful of giant media entities should have even more control over what they see, hear and can say to each other.

It's hard to understand at first glance, why the Obama administration would try something this blatantly evil, that flies directly in the face of federal court orders and explicitly kicks sand in the faces of many who supported him in 2008 and 2012.

But let's take another look. Suppose the Obama administration convinces a segment of minority media owners to accept some crumbs and withdraw their objection to fewer giant companies owning more of our media universe. A move like that would take the federal court and minority broadcasters out of the picture, and with them, most of the black and Latino advocacy organizations like the NAACP, who really don't answer to ordinary black and brown people on the street, but who do pay very close attention to what black and brown business people like the minority broadcasters have to say.

With the federal court out of the way, most of the traditional advocacy organizations sidelined, and corporate media not reporting the story anyhow, the Obama administration may think it can deliver to Fox Media, to Rupert Murdoch, to NBC-Universal, to Disney and CBS what the Bush administration could not ---- the legal license to lock down and monopolize the top 20 media markets by owning multiple radio, TV and newspaper properties. What George W. Bush could not deliver for Big Media at the expense of the people, Barack Obama intends to.

The US political system channels almost all grassroots activism into electing corporate candidates. Most of the preachers and others who marshaled support for the president's re-election all the while swearing to hold his feet to the fire are off somewhere right now not paying attention, simply because the election is over, and getting out the vote is all they every do, all they've ever done. It's time for something old school, something completely different. If Dr. King were around today, he'd say it's time to make some noise, time to disobey some unjust laws, until the law, and things in general get better.

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 state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He can be contacted via this site's “contact” page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20121128_bd_fcc.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:06pm EDT

Obama and GOP Play Tag Team on Entitlements

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is a choreographed beat-down of the American majority by corporate Democratic and Republican thugs, aided by shrieking corporate media banshees screaming, Watch out for the cliff, Watch out for the cliff!”

It seems that every breathless moment of corporate media news is choreographed to convince Americans that austerity is as inevitable as tomorrow’s weather. The objective of this con game is to gut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The two principle parties engaged in negotiations – the White House and congressional Republican leaders – are both agreed that entitlements must be put under the knife. The “grand bargain” that both Obama and the GOP seek has already been made, in principle. Austerity is the common language and goal of the talks, and nobody that counts in the discussions is defending entitlements.

There is only one problem: the vast majority of Americans oppose cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

This is the great difficulty facing both Obama and the Republicans: the fact that the public favors the maintenance and even expansion of the meager U.S. social safety net. The disagreement, the great debate, is not between Republicans and the White House, who both agree on putting entitlements on the chopping block. The disagreement is between strong majorities of the American people, who want no tampering with the three entitlement programs, and Obama and his Republican friends, who are hell bent on so-called entitlement “reform.”

This is not a fight between the two parties; it is a choreographed beat-down of the American majority by corporate Democratic and Republican thugs, aided by shrieking corporate media banshees screaming, Watch out for the cliff, Watch out for the cliff!.

Corporate Democrats and Republicans can abandon the pretense of a great ideological divide, and return to their shared mission of cutting entitlements.”

The “grand bargain” was struck back in the summer of 2011, when both sides agreed on roughly $4 trillion in cuts. The agreement only unraveled because a presidential election was drawing near, and the two parties needed to pretend that they were separated by vast political differences. Now that the election is over and the verdict is in, corporate Democrats and Republicans can abandon the pretense of a great ideological divide, and return to their shared mission of cutting entitlements. Both hide behind the phony “fiscal cliff” to convince the public that the pending theft of entitlements is an unstoppable act of nature, rather than a conspiracy of corporate henchmen, against the clear wishes of the majority of Americans.

Robert Reich, the liberal former Labor Secretary in President Bill Clinton’s administration, says that Obama is not behaving like a president who is serious about facing down the Republicans. If he were, Obama would let the Bush tax cuts die at the end of this year, and then have Democrats introduce new tax cuts for the middle class. The president could dare the Republicans to hold middle class to tax cuts hostage to cuts for the rich. In that kind of facedown, Obama would likely win.

But Obama is not trying to outmaneuver Republicans; he and the GOP have teamed up to stampede the public – the suckers in this game – into giving up their entitlements. As David Swanson puts it, we are not witnessing the making of a grand bargain, but a “grand catastrophe.”

Minneapolis Congressman Keith Ellison, the Black co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, says he and the other 75 members “are not going to allow the most vulnerable Americans to shoulder the burden of this fiscal problem.” But the left wing of the Democratic Party can only stop the forces arrayed against entitlements by actively opposing their own president, who is playing austerity tag team with the Republicans. And the so-called progressives don’t have it in them.

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: 20121128_gf_FiscalCliff.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:15am EDT

Stevie Wonder Disgraces Himself with Concert for Israeli Military

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

One of Black America’s most beloved artists has signed, sealed and delivered his vast talents in service to the murderous military of a racist, criminal regime.”

Say it ain’t so, Stevie Wonder. The music superstar is lending his name and talents to one of the most unworthy causes in the world: a salute to the Israeli Defense Forces, in Los Angeles, on December 6. Stevie Wonder will help raise millions for an Israeli war machine that is already funded by U.S. taxpayers to the tune of billions of dollars a year. It is a shame and a disgrace that one of Black America’s most beloved artists has signed, sealed and delivered his vast talents in service to the murderous military of a racist, criminal regime. It’s an even bigger shame that there will likely be no punishment for Stevie Wonder from his many fans, in this, the Age of Obama.

Even a generation ago, in the 1980s, Stevie Wonder could not have expected immunity from mass condemnation for helping throw a party for a racist government – for any amount of money. Back in 1985, the South African regime tried to blunt the global anti-apartheid movement by inviting American entertainers of all races to perform at Sun City, the white regime’s version of Las Vegas. Sun City was built in Bophuthatswana, a poverty-stricken black bantustan. Lots of U.S. entertainers, including some Black ones, allowed themselves to be bought off by the white regime’s deep pockets. These included Tina Turner, The O’Jays, Dionne Warwick and Ray Charles. Famously, while Blacks outside the Sun City venue loudly protested his appearance, Ray Charles ostentatiously patted his back pocket, signaling that he was all about the money.

Other entertainers came together under the banner of Artists United Against Apartheid, to shame those that sold themselves to racists. Little Steven Van Zandt brought together 50 artists to record “I ain’t gonna play Sun City,” which was also made into an award-winning video. The cast included RUN DMC, Jimmy Cliff, George Clinton, Afrika Bambaataa, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Bobbie Womack, Kurtis Blow…and those are just some of the Black ones.

Entertainers came together under the banner of Artists United Against Apartheid, to shame those that sold themselves to racists.”

Funds raised from “I ain’t gonna play Sun City” went to a host of anti-apartheid organizations around the world, including Washington-based TransAfrica and the American Committee on Africa.

Sun City still exists as a tourist attraction in Black-ruled South Africa. The Black population that had been forced out of their homes to make room for the resort were given back title to their land.

Stevie Wonder, himself, recorded a song condemning apartheid. Titled, “It’s Wrong (Apartheid),” the song includes these lyrics directed toward the white leaders of South Africa.

The pain you cause in God's name
Points only to yourself to blame
For the negative karma you will be receiving…”

By selling his good name and great talents to the Israeli Defense Forces, Stevie Wonder is contributing to Israeli apartheid – a system that some describe as even worse than that practiced by the white South African regime. Decent men and women seek to boycott and isolate Israel and its military, while Stevie Wonder helps it throw a party. In his own words, Stevie is earning himself some very “negative karma.”

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: 20121128_gf_StevieWonder.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:01am EDT

The Other Black History: The Maroons and Zumbi dos Palmares

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

Informed and aware citizens, especially black ones, are not what the US empire wants or needs. So the history most of us are taught in school and the media amounts to a truncated stub of active disinformation, often with more gaps and distortions than truth. Even black Americans know little about the slave trade or slavery in the rest of the Americas.

The transAtlantic slave trade was conducted more than 300 years with wind-powered ships sailing between Europe, Africa and the Americas. The shortest hop along the prevailing winds from Angola and West Africa was to Brazil, and that's where almost half the millions of Africans who survived the Middle Passage are thought to have landed. Slavery in Brazil and the Caribbean wasn't like slavery in North America. Africans in North America were cruelly treated, but were so expensive to import that masters had to ensure they survived and reproduced in captivity. But in the Caribbean and Brazil slaves were so cheap and plentiful masters worked entire populations to death every few years and imported new ones.

North America also had free whites in the back country, along with a dense network of roads, and by the 19th century, railroads. The troops that put down John Brown's rebellion in the 1850s were dispatched by rail and received orders by telegraph. In Jamaica, St. Kitts, Cuba, SurinameGuadeloupeHaiti, Trinidad. Spanish Florida and the vast interior of Brazil there were few free whites, even fewer roads and never any railroads at all, and thus greater opportunities for Africans who managed to run away. Maroons, as the runaways were called often eluded capture long enough to establishfarms, villages and settlements. In Colombia, Spanish Florida, Brazil and elsewhere they made common cause with Native Americans. The most famous and long lived maroon settlement was the quilombo of Palmares in northeastern Brazil, which successfully repelled Dutch and Portuguese military expeditions for about a hundred years.

Eighty years along in 1678, the Portuguese governor offered to leave Palmares alone if they would relocate, and also apprehend and return future runaways, a deal often extended to troublesome maroon settlements. Some of the leaders of Palmares took the deal and those who followed them were soon re-enslaved. The faction that continued to resist was led by a young man named Zumbi.

Born free in Palmares in 1655, Zumbi was captured by the Portuguese at the age of 6. After learning Portuguese and Latin he escaped returning to Palmares at 15, and in a few years later was a respected warrior and leader. Zumbi led the fight against the Portuguese till 1693 when he was severely wounded, and survived another two years on the run until he was betrayed, captured and beheaded on November 20, 1695. His severed head was publicly displayed in Recife, to prove to slaves that he was mortal and really dead.

But the memories of Palmares and of Zumbi never died. They've been celebrated by Brazilians and Africans around the world ever since. November 20 is a now a national holiday in Brazil.

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 state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20121121_bd_zumbi_dos_palmares.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:06am EDT

Cory Booker: The Second Coming of Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

He is ideologically committed to the privatization of public education and to government that serves the rich.”

Now that Barack Obama is a lame duck who can’t run for the top office anymore, it’s as good a time as any to speculate on who will take his place as the Black politician that rich white folks feel they can truly trust. One name stands out: Cory Booker, the 43 year-old Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, whose rightwing background and connections are far deeper and more intensely ideological than Obama’s. Indeed, if there had been no Barack Obama, Cory Booker would have been Wall Street’s choice as the First Black President. “He’ll be our second,” said a New York hedge fund partner, quoted in a recent Bloomberg News article.

The Lords of Capital love “Cory,” and call him by his first name. That’s how he raised $7 million to win Newark’s City Hall for the second time, in 2010. He has since amassed more than $250 million from wealthy capitalists, including the founder of Facebook, mainly for the Newark public schools. They’re willing to pile all this cash on Booker’s plate because he is ideologically committed to the privatization of public education and to government that serves the rich.

Booker’s national career began in September of 2000, as the key speaker at a Manhattan Institute power luncheon, a launching platform for new stars on the Right. The rookie Newark city councilman had already been vetted by the far-right Bradley Foundation for his efforts on behalf of vouchers for private schools. Railing against wealth redistribution, Booker won the hearts of the rich reactionaries, who bankrolled his first run for mayor, in 2002. Booker lost, barely, but won with even more corporate support in 2006.

Mayor Booker was of great service to his corporate-minded soul mate in the White House, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama’s reelection campaign. But, one thing Cory Booker cannot abide is anyone bad-mouthing his rich people. So fiercely loyal is Booker to the rich, as individuals and as a class, he recoiled against the campaign's criticisms of Mitt Romney’s private equity firm, Bain Capital. “I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity,” said Booker, on NBC’s Meet the Press. Of course he wouldn't – Booker’s entire career is a creation of private capital.

Booker won the hearts of the rich reactionaries.”

Booker may run against New Jersey’s Republican governor Chris Christie in 2013. If so, it will be a contest among political friends. Booker appeared with Christie and Louisiana Republican governor Bobby Jindal earlier this year at a “summit” meeting for supporters of school privatization.

We had Cory Booker’s number when he first ran for mayor in 2002, his pockets crammed with cash. Back then, we wrotethat Booker’s “impressive education served only to teach him the quickest route to the houses of the wealthy. The Young Frankenstein is now plugged in to power, lacking only the national profile that Newark's City Hall would provide.”

Ten years later, Booker has both the national profile and access to hundreds of millions of Wall Street dollars. And he fully intends to become Obama the Second. You can’t say he hasn’t earned it. By the age of 30, Cory Booker had put together a rich white ruling class fan club of his own. This guy is a world class opportunist, and a rightwing ideologue, too: just the kind of Black man that Wall Street loves and needs.

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: 20121121_gf_Booker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:33am EDT

Evacuate Guantanamo – It Belongs to Cuba

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Washington’s illegal occupation of Guantanamo Bay is now 111 years old.”

As the world witnesses the latest chapter in Israel’s occupation and blockade of Palestinians, it is important to remember that the United States has also been engaged in many of the same violations of international law against one of its own neighbors – and for an even longer period of time. The U.S. embargo against Cuba is seven years older than the Israeli seizure of the West Bank and Gaza, in 1967, while Washington’s illegal occupation of Guantanamo Bay is now 111 years old, predating Israel’s 1948 formation out of Palestinian land by nearly half a century.

Guantanamo Bay was seized by the United States during the Second Cuban War of Independence from Spain, which the Americans prefer to call the Spanish American War. The United States intervened in that war in 1898, with the purpose of making Cuba into a U.S. colony, as it did to Puerto Rico and the Philippines. In 1901, the United States Senate passed the Platt Amendment, which demanded that Cuba lease naval bases to Washington. Guantanamo was signed away in perpetuity under the point of a gun, although it is a principle of international law that treaties concluded under military occupation are not valid. After the Revolution, the Cuban constitution repudiated all agreements made “under conditions of inequality.” But the Americans remained. They turned one of Cuba’s most precious natural resources, Guantanamo Bay, into a curse on the lips of the world, as a prison camp for desperate Haitian refugees, and then as a nexus of American international criminality and torture.

Most Americans know Guantanamo’s recent, shameful notoriety, but few are aware that the U.S. presence there has always been a crime against the Cuban people – a crime that goes back more than twice as far as the 1960 embargo.

In Latin America, it is the United States that has been a direct and constant threat to the sovereignty and dignity of its neighbors.”

But Cuba does not forget. When the United Nations voted 188 to 3, last week,to condemn the U.S. embargo, Cuba submitted to Washington a “draft agenda” aimed at normalizing relations. At the top of the list, of course, is “the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial blockade.” Also included among the “fundamental topics” for any “respectful dialogue” is “return of the territory occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base.” The Cubans insist on their removal from the U.S. list of “terrorism-sponsoring countries”; an end to U.S. immigration policies that single out Cuba; compensation for economic and human damages inflicted on Cuba by the United States; a halt to “radio and TV aggressions” against Cuba; and that the U.S. stop financing subversion inside Cuba.

The Cubans say release of the Cuban Five, imprisoned for infiltrating right-wing Cuban exile groups in Florida, is “an essential element” of meaningful talks.

U.S. media pundits worry that Washington has lost its ability to act as a mediator in the Middle East, because it has for generations protected the expansionist, hyper-aggressive and thoroughly racist Israeli regime. And this is true. But in Latin America, it is the United States that has been a direct and constant threat to the sovereignty and dignity of its neighbors, through centuries of gunboat diplomacy, invasions, the colonization of Puerto Rico and the near-colonization of Cuba. The occupation of Guantanamo Bay is part of that imperial legacy – a game in which Israel is a relative – although extremely dangerous – upstart. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

Direct download: 20121121_gf_CubaUS.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:21am EDT

Occupy Movement Finds Mission Combating Disaster – and Disaster Capitalism

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

After the natural disaster, comes disaster capitalism.”

The Occupy Wall Street movement has rediscovered a reason for existence: service to the people. Hurricane Sandy provided the remnants of Occupy with a social service mission, and they responded with remarkable speed and efficiency, bringing aid and a semblance of relief infrastructure to battered neighborhoods in New York and New Jersey. The purpose was humanitarian but, simply by virtue of focusing on those neighborhoods of greatest need, Occupy Sandy illuminates how economic and political power shapes the geography of pain, even in natural disasters.

The Occupy activists have been most vital to the minority residents of New York public housing and places like ocean-swept Far Rockaway, Queens. New York’s subway system may have made a miraculous recovery from the worst damage inflicted in its history, but public housing tenants were largely left to fend for themselves. In Coney Island, until recent days there was no sign of FEMA or the Red Cross or much of a local government presence at all in the waterless, powerless, lightless high rise public housing projects. Residents have been forced to defecate in buckets, and then to carry those buckets down many flights of stairs in the darkness. Many of the elderly have been trapped in their apartments.

The Occupy movement's rescue efforts have served to point up the political and economic nature of the disaster.”

Occupy Sandy’s hubs for distribution of supplies and services have been a “godsend” to afflicted neighborhoods – in sharp contrast to the calculated callousness of New York’s billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg. The city only launched its so-called “restoration centers” this Tuesday, two weeks after the superstorm hit. Four were opened in Far Rockaway, Staten Island, Coney Island and the Gravesend neighborhood. Three others, in Red Hook, Breezy Point and Throgs Neck-Pelham Bay, will not be operational until later in the week.

Even New York’s corporate media, which are notorious for their fawning treatment of the mayor, have noted the glaring absence of aid to the poor – a logical extension of Bloomberg’s relentless gentrification of the city. The Occupy movement's rescue efforts, which have been competent and efficient beyond even the activists’ own expectations, have served to point up the political and economic nature of the disaster.

On the New Jersey shore, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, quickly showed itself to be more concerned with people control, than service to the people. Hurricane victims found themselves treated like “prisoners” in a freezing tent city set up in Seaside Heights. The encampment is surrounded by armed guards who demand ID, even to use the showers. One displaced person said, “We honestly feel like we’re in a concentration camp” – an indication of what FEMA anticipates as its future national security mission.

Some Occupy movement activists believe their role in areas worst hit by Sandy has only just begun. After the natural disaster, comes disaster capitalism, as corporations and their servants in government transform afflicted neighborhoods into profit centers for new development – minus the poor people that used to live there. After Katrina, you don’t need a weatherman to read the warning signs, and know that a storm of human displacement is coming. 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: 20121114_gf_OccupySandy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:28pm EDT

Score at United Nations: Cuba 188 – U.S. 3

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

On Cuba, as with foreign policy in general, Barack Obama represents the continuity of U.S. imperial policy.”

For the 21st year in a row, the United Nationals General Assembly has nearly unanimously condemned the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, now in its 52nd year. The vote was 188 to 3, with only Israel and the tiny Pacific island of Palau siding with the United States. Two other mini-states in the Pacific, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, abstained from the vote. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez noted that President Obama came into office talking about a new beginning in relations Havana, but “the reality of the last four years has been characterized by a persistent tightening of the economic, commercial and financial blockade.” On Cuba, as with foreign policy in general, Barack Obama represents the continuity of U.S. imperial policy, from Eisenhower through George W. Bush. The First Black President is no different than his predecessors when it comes to Cuba, the island nation that refuses to buckle under to Washington.

The Castro brothers, Fidel and Raul, have not only born witness to U.S. decline in the hemisphere and the world, they have contributed mightily to the humbling of the Yankees. Not content simply to survive America’s unremitting hostility over the course of two and a half generations, Cuba has been an icon of resistance to U.S. imperialism around the world. The people’s of southern Africa owe Cuba a huge debt for helping defeat Washington’s allies, the racist South African military, in Angola, in 1988 – a watershed event that hastened the demise of the white regime.

Washington earned the hatred of vast sectors of Latin American society, while Cuba’s prestige continued to grow.”

The Cuban revolution’s impact on Latin America cannot be overstated. After the 1959 revolution, the United States pushed one country after another into military dictatorships, under which hundreds of thousands were massacred and disappeared. The U.S. and its fascist friends declared war, not just on the Left, but on Latin American civil society itself, in a crusade to prevent another Cuba from happening in the Americas. As a result, Washington earned the hatred of vast sectors of Latin American society, while Cuba’s prestige continued to grow. One by one, the U.S.-backed dictatorships collapsed, allowing Latin American politics to come alive, again. The people of South and Central America had shared the collective nightmare of rule by Washington’s fascist proxies. They also shared a determination to never again be dominated by the superpower to the North. Majorities in every Latin American country knew exactly what the Cubans meant when they spoke of the dangers of U.S. imperialism.

Earlier this year, at a summit meeting of hemispheric leaders, the United States found itself totally isolated on the question of Cuba. Even the president of Colombia, Washington’s closest ally in the region, declared there could not be another summit without Cuba’s presence. Rather than isolating Cuba, the 52 year-long embargo has resulted in the isolation of the United States, in the western hemisphere and at the United Nations General Assembly. Maybe that’s what the future will look like: the U.S., despite all its weapons, one day all alone except for pariah states like Israel, while the rest of the world gets on with the business of living.

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: 20121114_gf_CubaEmbargo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:45am EDT

California NAACP Sells Out to Big Ag on Genetically Modified Foods

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

We at Black Agenda Report have been pointing out a long time now that what used to be black and Latino civil rights and civic advocacy organizations have turned a corner and become mouthpieces for their corporate funders.

We called out the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation in 2006, and the National Conference of Black State Legislators in 2007, along with Bobby Rush and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus for siding with AT&T, Verizon and their telecom industry benefactors over their communities who need cheap and ubiquitous broadband. By 2008 we added the Urban League and NAACP to the list, along with Al Sharpton and his National Action Network for joining the corporate crusade to first cripple, then privatize public education. In 2009 and 2010 we've pointed to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's receipt of millions in donations funneled through execs at Georgia Power as its reason for not opposing the placement of leaky nuclear reactors in poor, mostly black Georgia town where most families already have a case or two of cancer.

The list of betrayals of these kinds of outfits of their supposed constituents to their funders is routine and nearly endless. But in California the state NAACP reached a new low in putting the profits of its donors over its supposed responsibilities to the people.

With very little money to spend, local activists succeeded in placing a measure on the California ballot this Tuesday which would have required all genetically modified foods, with a few key exceptions, to be labeled as such. Most of the industrialized world already has laws and regulations like this, which is why much of the stuff on US supermarket shelves cannot be sold in Europe or Japan or even many places in South America. The people in these places call much of what we see in stores every day “frankenfood”. They may be on to something.

Genetically modifications of foodstuffs have never been about increasing yield or enhancing nutrition. They are purely about expanding profits. Genetically modified seeds can be patented and farmers charged yearly royalties for seed they used to save and plant for free each year. They require lots of profitable herbicides and pesticides – in fact some of the genetic modifications make the plants produce their own herbicides and pesticides, which of course we eventually consume.

It's not a subject discussed much in media and not a place where Big Agriculture wants to go. So what do the swells at places like Monsanto do? The same as the nuclear industry, the telecom industry and the people who want to privatize education. They dropped a big check on the California NAACP, and sure enough that august body took a stand against California's Proposition 37.

Never mind that black children are more likely than anyone else to suffer from juvenile onset diabetes, and that studies in other countries have shown clear links between GMO foods and diabetes in children. The so-called leadership model of the modern civil rights organization in this post civil rights era is to front itself as the representative of and obtain its moral legitimacy from the oppressed, but take its funding and its orders from the oppressors. That's why we call them the black misleadership class.

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. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and is a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20121107_bd_california_naacp.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:41pm EDT

America and the Politics of Genocide in Africa

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The genocide in Congo is the deliberate result of American and British policy.”

On Tuesday, the vast majority of African Americans cast their votes for a man whose hands are soaked in the blood of millions of Congolese. Barack Obama, like his predecessors George Bush and Bill Clinton, has pulled the strings, paid the cash, and sent the weapons that Uganda and Rwanda have used to cause the deaths of six million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo since invading that country in 1996. Various organs of the United Nations have repeatedly found America’s two top allies in Black Africa complicit in the Congo genocide, and on every occasion, the U.S. and Great Britain have protected the mass murderers. And why not? The genocide in Congo is the deliberate result of American and British policy. Uganda and Rwanda are merely henchmen, who commit mass murder in return for a cut of Congo’s vast stores of mineral resources. Western businesses are the ultimate beneficiaries.

The International Court of Justice found Uganda guilty, in 2005, of killing and torturing Congolese civilians and plundering the country’s resources. Congo asked for $10 billion in reparations, but Uganda has paid nothing. Why should it? Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, was Ronald Reagan’s favorite African dictator and has served U.S. African policy, ever since. Uganda does not act on its own, but as a military asset of the United States. The same goes for Rwanda, which has been repeatedly cited for virtually annexing the eastern Congo in close collaboration with Ugandan forces. Rwanda President Paul Kagame acts as a puppet for U.S. policy in Africa, in return for lavish American military and economic aid and free rein to plunder and kill in the Congo.

Rwanda and Uganda are immune from international law because they do Washington’s bidding, sending troops wherever they are needed to buttress U.S. interests in Africa.

What is a samurai without a lord and master?”

Last week, Uganda pitched a kind of puppet tantrum, threatening to pull its troops out of so-called peace-keeping duties in Somalia. Museveni’s government is angry, because yet another United Nations report has been leaked, showing that Ugandan and Rwandan military officers are directly in charge of the so-called rebels that are wreaking havoc in Congo. This is not a Congolese civil war, but a continuation of a 16-year aggression by its two neighbors, financed and directed by the United States and Britain.

Uganda’s threat to pull out of Somalia has proven to be emptyAfter all, what is a samurai without a lord and master? Uganda’s value to the United States lies in its willingness to kill other Africans on orders from Washington. A Uganda withdrawal from Somalia would amount to going on strike against its employer, the United States – a very dangerous thing to do. Besides, who else is going to employ the Ugandan and Rwandan mercenaries?

By the time the Uganda delegation got to New York, there was no more mention of leaving Somalia, much less a Ugandan disengagement from the U.S. Special Forces units that President Obama sent into the Great Lakes region, last year. Uganda had temporarily forgotten its place as a servant in the neocolonial scheme of things. But, in truth, the Ugandans and Rwandans need not worry about the U.S. cracking down on their genocidal activities in Congo, because that, too, serves America’s purpose: to control Africa by drowning it in chaos and blood.

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: 20121107_gf_UgandaCongoSomalia.mp3
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