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

Bradley Manning: Another Day in the U.S.A.:, Another Political Prisoner

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

Another day in the USA, another political prisoner.

This week a military judge pronounced US Army Private Bradley Manning guilty of espionage and other offenses. Private Manning admitted turning over 700,000 diplomatic cables and other documents, including a video of bloodthirsty US troops murdering a dozen or so innocent Iraqis for the crime of meeting on a street corner, to Wikileaks, a legitimate international press organization with a track record of exposing corporate and government wrongdoing on six continents. Manning testified in open court that he did this because he believed that the American people and the peoples of the world had a right to know what was being done in their names, and in some cases, what was being done to them.

The military judge acquitted Manning on the most serious charge the Obama administration levied against him, “aiding the enemy,” which carries a potential death penalty. Manning, who has already suffered more than two years in solitary confinement, now faces entombment in the federal gulag for two, three or four decades, under conditions which amount to torture in any civilized jurisdiction on earth. His kangaroo court martial is not yet over. Prosecutors will next produce fanciful evidence of the harm caused by his so-called “espionage,” in order to secure the longest possible sentence under the harshest imaginable.

But “espionage” is the act of spying for an alien interest such as a competing greedy corporation, or a foreign power. Private Manning acted transparently in the public interest. The documents he released expose a vast abyss of treachery, lies, high crimes and murders committed by US civilian and military officials. Clearly the Obama administration, just like all its predecessors, is deadly intent on covering up past crimes, committing new ones on their foundation, and handing off the ability to do the same to its corporate and governmental successors.

Bradley Manning is probably President Obama's premiere political prisoner. He is the unwilling and undeserving captive of the planet's foremost police, prison and surveillance state, in the tradition of Mumia Abu Jamal, of Jamil Al Amin, of Leonard Peltier, of Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, of the Cuban Five, Oscar Lopez Rivera, Russell “Maroon” Shoatz and many, many others. Current US political prisoners run the gamut from old Black Panthers and Puerto Rican independistas under hatches for decades to newly framed environmentalists, government whistleblowers and persons exposing dangerous and inhumane practices in agriculture and food processing.

Like the rest of the US ruling class, the Obama administration fears the truth, fears justice and above all, fears the American people. They won't let a single political prisoner go, and are determined to bury alive as many new ones as it takes to continue their crime spree. Even now, in state and federal prisons across the country, what used to be called common criminals are being converted to political prisoners, as they are confined to solitary for years at a time for possession of what benighted prison administrators deem to be radical political literature, or mere names, like those of Huey Newton or George Jackson. Thus the last shreds of the prison state's supposed legitimacy are crumbling before our eyes..

If the Obama administration's job is to make more political prisoners, then our tasks are equally clear. We must educate our churches, workplaces and communities about them, to organize local and national campaigns to correspond with and support them, and to demand amnesty and freedom for US political prisoners. A good place to start is the Jericho Movement at www.jerichomovement.com.

For Black Agenda Report, 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. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20130731_bd_anotherday_another_political_prisoner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:37pm EDT

Obama and GOP Speak Same Language: Corp Tax Cuts = Jobs

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

There is no jobs creation plan, only a series of corporate tax giveaway programs.”

President Obama went to a low wage warehouse in Chattanooga in the right-to-work state of Tennessee to renew his offer to massively lower corporate tax rates – from 35 to 28 percent – and had the nerve to call it a Grand Bargain for the middle class. Surrounding the president were employees who do backbreaking work for $11 or $12 an hour – and can by no stretch of imagination be considered middle class. Obama praised their cutthroat Amazon corporation bosses as the sort of benign masters that he’s depending on to bring the country back to economic health – once they’ve been properly incentivized with lower tax rates, on the one hand, and outright public subsidies, on the other. Amazon is only invested in Tennessee because the state has given the corporation huge tax breaks that will allow it to undercut other book sellers, forcing them out of business and their workers into unemployment. Amazon’s 7,000 new, low wage jobs come at the cost of lay-offs and bankruptcies among its competitors. It’s the Wal-Mart business model, which is quite popular at the White House.

The Obamas have a special place in their hearts for corporations of all kinds, as long as they’re big. The president told the Amazon warehouse workers, whose jobs are not very good, that he wants to create good jobs in other industries through renewable energy and electric cars and cheap natural gas – that is, “fracking.” Of course, by that he means providing additional government subsidies and tax breaks to corporations. Good jobs, presumably, will trickle down. Obama urged Congress to pass his Fix-It-First program to rebuild bridges and other public infrastructure, while blaming the Republicans for gutting government through “sequester” of spending. But it was Obama who proposed the sequestration disaster in the first place, as part of his earlier Grand Bargain with the GOP, in 2011.

Good jobs, presumably, will trickle down.”

Obama used the Chattanooga visit to re-pitch much of his last State of the Union Address, in which he pledged to work for a public private partnership to upgrade the privately-owned U.S. infrastructure, such as energy grids and ports. That’s a euphemism for spending billions in public monies to subsidize private, profit making corporations. Obama calls that a jobs program.

He also thinks workers should be appreciative of the Free Trade deals whose proliferation has coincided with the destruction of the U.S. manufacturing base and the loss of millions of jobs that really were “good.” Obama promised to call a meeting of the CEOs of the same corporations that sent the jobs overseas, to ask them to do more for the country – as if they haven’t done enough, already. He’s got another program, called Select USA, that offers tax breaks and other incentives to foreign corporations that locate facilities in the U.S. Since so many U.S. headquartered high-tech corporations, like Apple, are actually Chinese companies for purposes of employment, Obama might as well combine his various tax break programs and hand out the goodies to CEOs regardless of nationality. In fact, that’s close to the actual practice. There is no jobs creation plan, only a series of corporate tax giveaway programs.

For workers, there’s the minimum wage, now set at $7.25 an hour. Obama promised, once again, in Chattanooga, to try to raise that to $9.00. But, back in 2008, candidate Obama vowed to fight for $9.50. I guess, somewhere along the way, he lost his incentive. 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: 20130731_gf_ObamaTaxCuts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:08am EDT

What's the Difference Between Teach For America, and a Scab Temp Agency?

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

If you're a public school parent or student, there's none. If you're an educator or other school employee or a friend or relative of any school employee, there's none. If you live in a community where the local public school is one of the last hopeful possibilities that might bind a neighborhood together, there's none.

If you're a school CEO or administrator trying to hollow out your public schools to justify their closing and privatzation, or a mayor trying to justify those campaign contributions, there's no difference at all, either. If you're a hedge fund investor, like the charter school sugar daddies who contribute billions to Barack Obama and a host of black and white politicians in state and local government across the country; there's still no difference.

You have to be a taxpayer --- and let's understand that corporate elites and the wealthy have largely shed the burden of taxation onto the backs of the middle class and the poor in this the era of neoliberalism, to begin to see a little difference.... The Grapes of Wrath era scabs were generally not trained, transported or paid with tax-exempt foundation money.

Teach For America is a big recipient of corporate philanthropy – no surprise about that either, as nonprofit organizations and the deep corporate pockets that sustain them have played indispensable roles in the drive to privatize public education from the beginning. It's only logical that with the elevation of Barack Obama, the first president to emerge from the bowels of the foundation sector, the influence of these outfits has been omnipresent. Consultant tentacles of the Gates, Joyce, Boeing, Broad, Bradley, Walton Foundations, to name just a few of the top players, have been allowed to write federal program guidelines, to define criteria for assessing individual schools and entire districts, to invent their own instant-principal programs, with all salaries, overhead and expenses paid for by tax-exempt donations. Bosses during the last Great Depression usually had to pay for their own scabs, there was no way they could unload that on all the rest of us.

The other big difference between the scenarios that greeted auto and steel workers and fruit pickers 75 years ago is that back then, management usually waited for workers to go on strike before trying to replace them. Now they just lay off real teachers every year and hire TFA scabs.... as this rap from the HBO series “Treme” reminds us...



Davis M., rhyming to a musical collaborator:

Four years at Radcliffe, that's all you know,

a desire to do good and a 4.0.

You're here to save us from our plight, you got the answer cause you're rich and white

on a two year sojourn you're here to stay, Teach For America all the way

got no idea just what you're facin', no clue just who you're displacin'

old lady taught fathers, old lady taught sons, old lady bought books for the little ones

old lady put in thirty years, sweat and toil, time and tears

was that really your sad intention, to help the state of Louisiana deny her pension?



Collaborator:

Hold it, hold it....

First of all the state of Louisiana fired the teachers, not Teach for America



Davis M.:

A scab is a scab is a scab...



Nobody, ever said it better. A scab is a scab is a scab. 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 through this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.



Direct download: 20130724_tfa_scab_is_a_scab.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:17pm EDT

Detroit: The Bell Tolls for All of Us

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Those who would strip away democratic freedoms and privatize the public sphere have always found it easier to mount their offensives against heavily Black regions and sectors of society.”

In Detroit, even the thin gruel of democracy that America advertises to the world, has ceased to exist. Not one of its 700,000 residents retains the political rights of citizens, those rights having been usurped by the agents of Wall Street: Governor Rick Snyder and bankruptcy lawyer Kevyn Orr, the Lone Ranger and Tonto who were the sole authorities empowered to file bankruptcy for the city. Their mission is to render the judgment of capital that Detroit is too poor, in its present demographic composition, for participation in the democratic order, and must be forcibly reconstituted, beginning with a divvying up of its assets. At the end of this process, a “new” Detroit is supposed to emerge, which will have divested itself of enough Black and poor people to allow the reinstatement of some form of electoral franchise.

Or, maybe not. Direct rule by Wall Street, which is the real meaning of the Emergency Financial Manager regime, is not some idea especially concocted for Detroit. It is the political and economic superstructure that the plutocracy envisions for the whole country – for the entire planet, if they can get away with it. Due to the particular racial history of the United States, where Black citizenship rights have always been deemed illegitimate, those who would strip away democratic freedoms and privatize the public sphere have always found it easier to mount their offensives against heavily Black regions and sectors of society. White people with identical interests in democracy and fairness in schools, public services and in the workplace root for the plutocrats when Blacks are under attack, never imagining that the same weapons will soon be turned on them.

Their mission is to render the judgment of capital that Detroit is too poor, in its present demographic composition, for participation in the democratic order.”

Thus, Detroit’s dissolution is perceived as a Black problem – more politely referred to by its euphemism: an “urban” crisis.

However, Wall Street and its mercenary law firms, like Kevyn Orr’s godfathers at Jones Day, are not motivated by petty racial prejudice; they are simply skilled at taking advantage of it, always aiming their daggers at the soft spots in democracy, where Black people live. With Detroit and the other largely Black cities of Michigan, where half of the state’s African American population has been disenfranchised, Wall Street is creating new law and new models for the total subjugation of American society to the Lords of Capital.

Primary elections are scheduled for Detroit, in August. Mayor Dave Bing, who swung wide the gates to the city for the conquistadors, won’t be running for reelection. City council president and former mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. says he doesn’t see any point in running. But, they are irrelevant. The Detroit model for imposing direct rule of the rich can only be challenged by a mass movement of the hundreds of thousands who remain in the city – either by choice, or by no-choice – and by the millions elsewhere in the country who are next on the corporate juggernaut’s quickening agenda. The resistance must choose its tactics from a menu of “By any means necessary,” make the enemy understand the meaning of “No Justice, No Peace,” and show him that we are deadly serious when we say, “We shall not be moved.”

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: 20130724_gf_Detroit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:26am EDT

Tim Wise's July 29 Teach For America Diversity Training IS A Ghetto Pass, Not Harm Reduction. Sign the Petition

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Tim

Thanks for pointing out the error in last week's piece, your Charlotte TFA gig is the 29th, not the 19th, which gives us a little extra time to talk about this. We understand though, if you don't want to talk. You've had my number since last Wednesday and haven't called yet.

You recently told the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy that diversity training for a predatory corporation just results in more black and brown faces in the room. So even if people of color inside Teach For America invited you to do this gig that wouldn't matter. Black military officers, black BP & Exxon Mobil execs want a friendly workplace too. They don't want their bosses looking like out and out racists while they invade countries, run secret prisons, rob the world and pillage the environment. So they sign up internal diversity trainers and they look for ways to appear superficially non-racist even though their core missions invariably devastate communities of color more than anywhere else. It's how the game is played.

Given that, “stamping the anti-racist ghetto passes” accurately describes the service you perform for Teach For America. Who better for the public relations end of it than an ostensible leftist?

The argument that if you didn't consult for TFA somebody else would is precisely the same as saying "because it's there".  That's not a reason.  It's an excuse. 

You say you “...know full well the issues with TFA and their model...” but in 3,000 words you never spell them out. Why? Given the rank dishonesty TFA and its foundation and corporate allies use to push their agenda of educational privatization, if you can't tell us what those objections are it looks like you're doing an Obama, inviting us to read our own views into your silence. Plenty of Obama-supporting liberals are on the corporate school reform and privatization bus. Cut to the chase Tim, and tell us whether you're one of them or not.

TFA is a key player in the bipartisan elite scam of corporate education reform aimed de-skilling and dispersing public school workforces to soften them up for eventual privatization.  The mostly white TFA temps, who get only 5 weeks training to do 2 year terms as missionary ghetto teachers are NOT better than the educators they replace, and nobody ever does this kind of thing with white suburban schools. That's not racist? C'mon Tim.

The TFA model enjoys the blessings of the foundation world, the business community across the country and the Obama administration, whose Race To The Top program is hollowing out public education, closing schools by the hundreds and pushing the drive to privatize along at a record rate.

If you imagine the “harm reduction” of your TFA diversity consulting outweighs the evil of the crusade to destroy public education which you help validate, contribute to and strengthen then you are awfully full of yourself. This is way bigger and more important than Tim Wise.

We at Black Agenda Report have always opposed the drive to privatize education. In the past we promoted your books for free, published your columns, even provided you space to answer one of your critics. Your decision to cash in your anti-racist cred to be TFA's diversity consultant was a decision to step between us and a longtime target. So even though it's not really about you Tim, you can get some too, if that's what you really want.

You can get out of your deal with TFA if you really want to Tim. We hope you do. By the time TFA changes from the inside there won't be any public schools left. But there will still be plenty of business for diversity trainers, even if diversity, rather than reducing the harm that evil institutions do, often gets us more effective evils.

For everybody else, please sign the petition asking Tim Wise not to stamp the ghetto passes of Teach For America at www.blackagendareport.com/tfa. If you've already signed it, forward it to someone else between now and July 29.

For Black Agenda Report, 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. He lives and works in Marietta GA and may be contacted via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.



Direct download: 20130717_bd_tim_wise_tfa_answer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:23pm EDT

Hunger Strike in the Empire of Dungeons

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The inmates insist that they will not end their action without a signed agreement with the force of law, addressing their core demands.”

The number of California prisoners that remain on hunger strike now hovers around 2,500, at 17 prisons, down from 30,000 at the beginning of the action, on July 8. That’s still a lot more than at this point in the two previous strikes, in 2011. Prisoner solidarity activists say the protest is more widespread, this time, largely because authorities transferred lots of inmates around the system, allowing plans for the strike to circulate.

The epicenter of the protest is Pelican Bay prison where more than a thousand inmates are locked in long term solitary confinement from which some will never emerge, unless there is a change in policy. Prison officials made a show of making concessions in response to the 2011 protests, establishing a program that would allow some inmates a chance to get out of solitary. But the state reviewed only 400 cases, and allowed only about half of them back into the general prison population. And, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is suing the state for imposing cruel and unusual punishment, “not a single one” of its 1,000 Pelican Bay clients “has experienced any change in their situation whatsoever.”

The inmates insist that they will not end their action without a signed agreement with the force of law, addressing their core demands. But the State of California is not in the habit of acting in good faith, even with the judicial branch of government, on prison matters, much less negotiating with inmates. Governor Jerry Brown – who some call a liberal Democrat – has twice been threatened with contempt of court for refusing to release 10,000 inmates in order to relieve life-threatening conditions in the prisons. His wardens now claim that gang members in solitary confinement – people who have no means of communicating with anyone but guards – are somehow forcing thousands of other inmates to join the hunger strike. Governor Brown and his wardens continue to claim that conditions are improving in the prisons – even as thousands of inmates testify, with their very lives, that the opposite is true.

Solitary confinement is the ultimate tool of the man-breaker.”

Prisons – especially prison systems designed by diabolical American minds – are meant to break men’s wills, to make them non-persons, groveling masses of flesh. Solitary confinement is the ultimate tool of the man-breaker, narrowing the scope of human activity to the bare functions of processing food into waste. For a person so restricted, the only mode of resistance available is to refuse to eat. California is one of only three states in which prison doctors are prohibited from force-feeding inmates. However, there is a loophole. The State Supreme Court ruled 20 years ago that forced feeding can be used to protect the “custodial environment,” that is, the discipline and security of the prison. If the authorities believe that allowing holdouts to continue their strike until death would be disruptive of the prison order, they could probably get away with forcing tubes down hunger strikers’ noses, like in Guantanamo Bay.

It is way past time that people stop saying that the United States is “moving towards” becoming a police state. It is, in fact, by far the biggest police and incarceration state ever known to man: an empire of dungeons.

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: 20130717_gf_CaliPrisons.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:34am EDT

Why Is Time Wise Stamping the Anti-Racist Ghetto Passes at Teach For America?

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

Tim Wise has made a career as an author and speaker lecturing white Americans on racism. We suppose that's a good thing and that somebody's gotta do it. Mr. Wise is speaking at a major Teach For America event on July 19. How do we reconcile that with a stand against racism? We can't, and unless TFA is gonna pay Mr. Wise to tell them their entire practice and premise is elitist, evil and yes, racist, we're pretty sure he can't reconcile it either.

Teach For America is part of an elite bipartisan scam to privatize public education, starting, and perhaps ending with the inner city. TFA replaces qualified, experienced mostly black teachers who live in the communities they serve with mostly white temps, graduated from a 5 week course who will move on to Wall Street and other lucrative careers after only a couple seasons in the classroom.

Closing public schools and replacing experienced teachers with Ivy League missionary temps isn't something that's being done to wealthy white suburban public schools. It's only the prescribed remedy for school districts full of black and brown youth, and black and brown teachers. President Obama's signature education program, Race To The Top advances the privatization agenda in many ways, and one of these is by encouraging, really forcing, school districts to lay off, fire or reject new applications from experienced teachers and graduates of real teaching programs by the thousands in favor of the mostly white temps from elite schools that Teach For America and similar outfits provide.

There's no proof that TFA's missionaries improve ghetto schools. The truth is it takes years to become a competent teacher. TFA's purpose is to change the teacher workforce to temps not connected to students, their families or communities as a prelude to privatization. The last thing a school privatizer wants is a school full of qualified, experienced teachers deeply connected to the communities they serve with a tradition of collective action (that's what a union -- a real union – is) and who know how to run the joint themselves.

In perspective, it was Teach For America that gave us Michelle Rhee, as well as the current DC schools chancellor Henderson, who used to be Rhee's boss at TFA.

Selectively sabotaging the education of black children, dispersing experienced workforces of organized black teachers connected to their communities sounds like an indisputably racist policy on its face. Chicago teachers sued in federal court on that point and won. Apparently Teach For America needs somebody to stamp the anti-racist ghetto passes of it missionary workforce as they pass through the ghetto, so they've put an “anti-racism” educator and trainer on retainer.

So between now and July 18, we'll be carrying a petition, asking anti-racism educator Tim Wise NOT to stamp the ghetto passes of Teach For America. You can find it on our web site at www.blackagendareport.com/tfa.

We hope you will forward the petition widely and aggressively to all your friends and associates, lest Mr.Wise imagine that is just another unsurprising evil that black folks put up with, like pervasive surveillance. We promise not to share your information with any third parties absent your permission, and we will forward the signers list to Mr. Wise on the 18th.

If this is how “anti-racism education” works – giving cover to organizations and policies that hurt people of color more than anybody else, it might be time to re-think that whole contraption as well.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of theGeorgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.



Direct download: 20130710_bd_tfa_time-wise.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:36pm EDT

Tens of Thousands of California Inmates Join Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Prison is the ultimate surveillance regime, a place where the sense of self, of human agency, and of privacy is systematically crushed, in the name of security.”

About 30,000 California prisoners have joined the hunger strike begun, on Monday, by inmates at the Secure Housing Units at Pelican Bay. That’s more than four times as many as joined Pelican Bay inmates in their first hunger strike, in July of 2011, and two and a half times the number that struck in October of that year. So far, two-thirds of the state’s prisons have been affected.

The Pelican Bay inmates carry a certain moral authority, in that they represent the most long-suffering, intensely persecuted group in the largest and most barbaric prison system in the world – the approximately 80,000 U.S. prison inmates held under solitary confinement. Pelican Bay is the site of more than 1,000 solitary confinement cells, where prisoners are isolated from other human contact for at least 22 and a half hours a day. Around the state, about 4,500 people are held in Special Housing Units, or SHUs, with 6,000 more enduring some other form of solitary. Some of the SHU inmates have not seen the natural light of day for more than 20 years.

The State calls the SHU inmates the “worst of the worst” in order to justify a punishment regime more barbaric, in many respects, than any in recorded history – a massive, multi-billion dollar enterprise whose mission is to destroy the minds of men and women. Inmates are locked away for years on end for possession of literature, or for mere suspicion of political militancy. By far the largest number of SHU inmates are accused of belonging to gangs, and can only be released from solitary by accusing other inmates of gang affiliation – a process that is euphemistically called “debriefing” – thus turning everyone into a potential snitch against everyone else.

Two-thirds of the state’s prisons have been affected.”

Prison is the ultimate surveillance regime, a place where the sense of self, of human agency, and of privacy is systematically crushed, in the name of security. It is no coincidence that the world’s prison superpower, the United States, which accounts for one out of every four incarcerated persons on the planet, is also engaged in spying on every other nation and population on Earth. It is as if the United States is determined to surveil – with the implicit threat to crush – every expression of the human soul.

Both U.S. global surveillance and American prison policies violate international law. The Center for Constitutional Rights has sued on behalf of the Pelican Bay inmates, citing the finding by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture that any more than 15 days of solitary confinement violates international standards of human rights.

California’s inmates aren’t waiting for the UN or the courts to come to the rescue. They’ve issued five core demands, with elimination of long-term solitary confinement at the top, and insist that the hunger strike will not end until California signs a legally binding agreement. The very concept of negotiation with inmates is anathema to the Prison State, whose goal is to reduce human beings to objects, with no rights whatsoever. The Pelican Bay inmates have concluded that, if they are to have any chance to live, they must be prepared to die.

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: 20130710_gf_PrisonStrike.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:28am EDT

The U.S. was a Passive Observer in Egypt – If You Believe the New York Times

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Susan Rice advised him that the coup was about to begin.”

One consumes U.S. corporate media at the risk of one’s sanity. Schizophrenia, for example, appears to be the permanent mental state at the New York Times, which cannot figure out which global reality is operative on any given day. Last week, the Times almost simultaneously painted a picture of two different and contradictory worlds – or, at least, two very different Obama administrations. On Friday, June 5, in the wake of the military coup against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, the Times depicted the Obama administration as totally unruffled by the turmoil in Cairo – as if the U.S. had little stake in the outcome. The Times headline proclaimed: “Egypt Crisis Finds Washington Largely Ambivalent and Aloof.” The newspaper of record gave the impression that Egypt was no longer a “strategic player” in the region and, therefore, the political complexion of its government was nothing for Washington to worry its last nerve about.

By Saturday, July 6, the article had been replaced by reporting on what the Obama administration had really been up to as the coup unfolded. It described President Morsi’s “last hours” in office, awaiting his fate at the hands of an Egyptian military that has been a United States asset for the last 40 years. An Arab foreign minister telephoned to ask if Morsi would accept the appointment of a new prime minister and cabinet, which would make Morsi a mere figurehead. The Arab foreign minister made it clear that he was acting as an emissary of Washington.

Morsi rejected the offer. His top foreign policy advisor stepped out of the room to call the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, and tell her so. But, when he came back, he said he’d been on the phone with Susan Rice, Obama’s national security advisor, in Washington, who advised him that the coup was about to begin.

If there are contradictions in the narrative, they can always be papered over with more lies in the next edition.

So, of course, the U.S. was deeply involved in the events that were swirling in Cairo – it would have been bizarre beyond belief if the superpower had, indeed, been “ambivalent” or “aloof” about the fate of the Arab world’s most populous country. What is amazing, is the ability of an organization as large as the New York Times to accommodate two opposite realities within its own pages, and pass off both as the truth, without shame or even visible embarrassment.

The New York Times and its corporate colleagues are not in the business of providing reliable information, but of rationalizing and sanitizing the behavior of those in power. If there are contradictions in the narrative, they can always be papered over with more lies in the next edition.

However, the lies told by the Times and its ilk cannot alter the reality of U.S. decline; they can only make Americans oblivious to the facts. The United States will get the kind of civilian front men it wants in Egypt: international corporate citizens like economist el-Hazem Beblawy, as interim prime minister, and Mohamed ElBaradei, the darling of the global rich, as a vice president. But the U.S. is also now dependent on Muslim fundamentalists as the foot soldiers of imperialism in Syria and North Africa, even as it double-crossed its Muslim Brotherhood friend, former president Morsi. And the Arab royals of the Persian Gulf have their own plans for the region. The superpower isn’t as super as it used to be – but you won’t find out why in the New York Times.

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: 20130710_gf_NYTEgypt.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:10am EDT

Surveillance in the Service of Corporate Rule

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The greatest fear of the capitalist is a world in which the game is not rigged in his favor.”

The logic of imperialism is that, ultimately, the Empire enters a state of war with everyone in the world, without regard to nationality, social system or reasonable possibilities of threat. Every capitalist yearns to achieve monopoly, to corner all markets, all the time. The capitalist imperial state is the political expression of the monopoly capitalist class, whose ambition is to dominate and profit from every aspect of human existence. Far from thriving on competition, the greatest fear of the capitalist is a world in which the game is not rigged in his favor. The state’s job is to ensure that the fix is always in. Governments controlled by capitalists are obligated to subvert, literally, the entirety of the rest of the planet.

Therefore, it should surprise no one that the United States spies on the citizens, governments and businesses of every nation on earth, including the home population, which is potentially the most dangerous population of all, if for no other reason than proximity.

The U.S. corporate media narrative, which is identical to the narrative of the corporate state, is that 9/11 was a kind of crack in time, the beginning and end of things, the equivalent of the divide between BC and AD. But the advent of al-Qaida did not give rise to the U.S. surveillance regime. The opposite is true. The international jihadist network was given birth by the Americans and their minions in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, at the turn of the Eighties. If U.S. rulers really believed Muslim jihadists posed a serious threat to American empire, Washington would not be in its fourth decade of arming and financing the jihadists, who serve as both foot soldiers and pretexts for U.S. militarism and fascism.

U.S. complaints of Chinese industrial espionage were simply a diversion from America’s own criminal behavior.”

In the June 27 issue of Counterpunch, indispensable political thinker William Blum republished parts of an essay he wrote in the year 2000. Titled “The Inalienable Right to Snoop? Eavesdropping on the Planet,” the piece reminds us that PRISM, the National Security Agency’s omnivorous mechanism for worldwide data mining and the mapping of human social networks, is a direct descendant of the pre-911 NSA system called ECHELON, launched in the 1970s. By the late Nineties, it had become clear to the Europeans that ECHELON was largely preoccupied with stealing trade secrets from European companies, and passing them on to favored American enterprises. German wind power technology wound up under patent to American rivals. French Airbus lost big contracts to U.S. outfits. A 1998 report of the European Parliament found that the U.S. was using its control of encryption software for wholesale industrial espionage against its purported allies. French military intelligence concluded that Bill Gates’ Microsoft was virtually created by U.S. intelligence agencies. 9/11 was still years away, but the U.S. was already treating the whole planet as if it were occupied by enemy peoples.

In this light, it should have always been obvious that U.S. complaints of Chinese industrial espionage were simply a diversion from America’s own criminal behavior. The global surveillance regime is a creature of a moribund empire that not only cannot compete, but refuses to countenance the very idea of fair competition and the rule of law. Osama bin Laden was always a sideshow on the road to American global dictatorship.

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: 20130703_gf_PRISM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:33am EDT