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

Rev. Edward Pinkney Sentenced: Whirlpool and White Racism Imprison Another Black Leader

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

In Benton Harbor, the Whirlpool Corporation was always ‘Massa’ – Rev. Pinkney’s nemesis.”

In sentencing Rev. Edward Pinkney to between two and a half and ten years in prison, the State of Michigan has shown that the Old Jim Crow and the New Jim Crow are the same damn thing – bitter fruit of the white supremacist tree. An all-white jury, presided over by a white judge, under the malevolent guidance of a white prosecutor, based on evidence gathered by a white sheriff, found the Benton Harbor, Michigan, activist guilty of five elections-related felonies. It was the same white power structure that, back in 2007, convinced another all white jury to convict Rev. Pinkney of five counts of elections fraud, resulting in five years probation. A year later, when Pinkney, in a newspaper interview, quoted the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy to the effect that those who had persecuted him would be judged by the hand of God, he was sent to prison – the first American known to have been incarcerated for quoting the Bible.

This may seem like an Old Jim Crow story, about a preacher from a small, mostly Black town who wanted only to help his people through the voting process, but is set upon by backward whites determined to maintain their monopoly on political power. And, it is true; Old Man Jim Crow is alive and well on the banks of Lake Michigan. But it is the New Jim Crow, the Mass Black Incarceration State, that has snatched 66 year-old Rev. Pinkney away to what could become life in prison. The judge and prosecutor said that Pinkney’s 12 past and present felony convictions make him a career criminal, even though each count stems from an elections process. The Old Jim Crow would have unapologetically sent Pinkney to the chain gang for being an uppity Black man, but the New Jim Crow simply piled on a bunch of felonies to put him away as a serial criminal, allowing the system to claim that race had nothing to do with it.

The corporate rulers have Black allies.”

Rev. Pinkney’s life stretches between the old and new structures of Black oppression, one layered on top of the other. But, in Benton Harbor, the Whirlpool Corporation was always ‘Massa’ – Rev. Pinkney’s nemesis. His convictions in 2007 and this year were both rooted in election petitions Pinkney circulated to recall officials considered stooges of Whirlpool, whose world headquarters is located in Benton Harbor, and which has tried to turn the desperately poor, 94 percent Black town into an enclave of luxury and recreation for the rich.

The citizens of Benton Harbor and every other Black city and town in Michigan were effectively disenfranchised, so that appointed emergency financial managers could protect the interests of Whirlpool and the rest of the corporate class. But still, Rev. Pinkney kept circulating those recall petitions that ultimately led to his imprisonment.

Pinkney was once president of the local NAACP chapter, but was ousted when Whirlpool bought off the organization’s state leadership. In the New Jim Crow configuration, the corporate rulers have Black allies – the same ones that collaborate with the police and the mass Black incarceration regime. Their hold on Black America must also be broken, as part of the struggle to destroy white corporate rule – root and branch – and to free all political prisoners, including Rev. Edward Pinkney.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and be sure to sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

 

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

Direct download: 20141217_gf_PinkneySentenced.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:03am EDT

When the System Provides No Remedies to Torture, You Must Overthrow It

When the System Provides No Remedies to Torture, You Must Overthrow It

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Remedies are precisely what the United States refuses to offer to Black people.”

Over the past four months, the world has come to know the name of Ferguson and rendered its own verdict on the U.S. criminal justice system. In addition to protests in nearly two hundred American cities since the non-indictment of the cop that killed Michael Brown, demonstrations were staged in solidarity with U.S. Blacks in at least eight cities in Canada as well as Japan, England, Scotland and Norway. Last week, a United Nations committee registered its objections to U.S. treatment of Blacks. The UN Committee Against Torture’s latest report largely focused on the Obama administration’s failure to punish the torture of detainees in places like Guantanamo Bay and CIA interrogation sites around the world, but it also warned Washington that its policing policies in Black America are not in compliance with international treaties against torture.

The committee’s findings are a great embarrassment to the planet’s sole superpower, which justifies its military adventures around the world by virtue of its claims to moral exceptionalism. Based on two days of testimony by U.S. human rights activists, last month, in Geneva, Switzerland, the committee concluded that solitary confinement, as practiced in the United States, constitutes torture, that some conditions in U.S. prisons also fit the definition of torture, and that when police target African Americans on the street for abuse, beatings, tasering and death by gunfire, they are guilty of torture.

Moreover, if the United States does not provide remedies and compensation for the victims of torture at the hands of its cops and prison guards, then the nation is in violation of its international treaty obligations – which is legally the same thing as violating U.S. law. Not only does the U.S. fail to provide either remedies or compensation for those it tortures, U.S. law does not even define what torture is, or set any standard to measure it. Which shows conclusively that no American government has ever seriously considered doing away with torture – certainly, not torture of Black people.

“Root and Branch”

The UN Committee was clearly quite impressed with the delegation of young activists from Chicago who testified under the banner, We Charge Genocide. The Committee included much of the group’s requests in its report, including investigation of police torture by outside institutions, prosecution of police who torture, and reparations for those who survive police torture in Chicago.

The UN Committee is most concerned that countries establish remedies to torture, in all its deadly forms. But remedies are precisely what the United States refuses to offer to Black people. No punishment for the cops, no compensation for their millions of victims, and no fundamental change in a system born in slavery and genocide. Under those circumstances, there is only one remedy: the overthrow of the system, itself, and the destruction – root and branch – of the Mass Black Incarceration State, which must be the goal of this new movement-in-the-making that still has no name, other than “Ferguson.”

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20142103_gf_TortureUN.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:48am EDT

Bottomless Cynicism and Contempt For Immigrant Communities: Obama's Long-Awaited “Executive Action” on Immigration

Bottomless Cynicism and Contempt For Immigrant Communities: Obama's Long-Awaited “Executive Action” on Immigration

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

Back when President Obama was candidate Obama, he promised the immigrant community, in his own words “a road to citizenship”. But although he swept into office with majorities in both houses of the 111th Congress, the new president and his party ignored this and many more of their promises to what the Democratic party likes to call its “base voters,” the poor and working poor, the black, the brown, the young, the old, promises on the minimum wage, promises to make it easier for workers to unionize, promises to end the war on drugs, to rein in banksters and oil companies, promises to relieve underwater homeowners, to curtailing nuclear weapons and much more.

Instead of delivering his promised “road to citizenship” the president immediately began using his executive powers to do the precise opposite of what he promised, deporting 2 million immigrants, on the flimsiest of pretexts, shattering hundreds of thousands of families.

After two years of not delivering, the president and his party lost their majority in the House. That time, not this one, was the moment for executive action on immigration, preceded by a profound presidential apology for not doing what the president is asking Republicans to do now, namely passing an immigration bill.

It's a measure of the abject subservience of Latino Democrats that they dare not call the president on his current “executive action” on immigration.

But the fact is, President Obama's announced action is a naked attempt to disarm the immigrant movement by arbitrarily dividing communities into legitimate and illegitimate immigrants. It will defer deportation of up to roughly a third of the undocumented, the parents of US citizens, provided they pass background checks and have lived here 5 years already. And being an executive action instead of the legislation the president and his party could have passed in 2009-2010 when they had the majority, it's open to interference by the Congress and totally contingent on the election of another Democrat to the White House in 2016, because after all with only the two capitalist parties, where can immigrants go?

The president's so-called “bold executive action” does nothing to address the US 40 Years War war on drugs, which continues to sprout anonymous mass graves throughout Mexico and Central America. It even contains provisions which will make it easier for employers to recruit hi-tech temps from overseas and deport them when their jobs are over, forcing US hi-tech workers to compete with them in a race for the bottom.

The president's lauded executive action on immigration then, is not a victory for immigrant communities, it's not a concession which their movement has wrung from the powers that be. It's old bone with rotten meat flung to immigrant communities, an expression of the bottomless cynicism and contempt the Democratic president and his party, have for Democratic voters and their communities.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and be sure to subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA and is a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page, or directly via email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20141126_bd_immigration_exec_action.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:12pm EDT

War on the Down-Low: Obama’s Afghan Lies

War on the Down-Low: Obama’s Afghan Lies

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“President Obama never had any intention of withdrawing from Afghanistan.”

It should come as no surprise that President Obama has secretly extended the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan. Empires do not retreat unless they are defeated. This is especially true of U.S. imperialism, which, like no other empire in history, seeks to bring the entire planet under its control. That’s why the United States maintains 900 military bases in 130 countries. It’s why Washington is methodically subverting international law, which it views as an impediment to its goal of global domination. And, that’s why President Obama never had any intention of withdrawing from Afghanistan, the longest war in American history.

Barack Obama is no different than any other U.S. imperial leader – except that he is a more accomplished liar than most. He spoke with forked tongue back in May, when he promised that, after the end of this year, U.S. troops would have no combat role in Afghanistan, aside from hunting down the all but nonexistent forces of Al Qaida in that country and training Afghan government forces. Actually, all Obama really planned to do was a paper-change, reclassifying the 10,000 U.S. troops as “non-combatants” on paper, while continuing to deploy them against the Taliban. He tried to play the same trick in Iraq, but the Iraqis insisted that he pack up all his soldiers and go home, in 2011, as President George Bush had previously agreed.

Obama was determined to stay in Afghanistan, by hook or crook, until at least the year 2024. It was, after all, very much his personal war. In his presidential campaign, Obama characterized Afghanistan as the “right” war – as opposed to the “dumb” war in Iraq. He dramatically increased drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and “surged” 30,000 new troops into battle. He never planned an exit, but was compelled to pretend otherwise in the face of mounting public opposition to the war. If Obama had remained true to his word, at the end of this year U.S. troops would find themselves on the sidelines of the war against the Taliban, and watching America’s NATO allies booking flights back to Europe.

The Would-Be Eternal Empire

Rather than accept a phasing out of the U.S. role in the war, which is a kind of defeat, Obama turned the actual defeat of Iraqi forces at the hands of the Islamic State into an excuse to re-enter Iraq and to renege on the phase-out of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The Islamic jihadists’ victories in Iraq and Syria, hundreds of miles away, provided the excuse for Obama to reboot the U.S. air and land war in Afghanistan. However, it was still necessary to keep the news from the American public until after the November elections.

Obama can now probably coast to the end of his term with a full combat role in Afghanistan, with confidence that his successor will also fight tooth and nail to keep that hopeless war going. Obama is also determined to continue waging a shadow war against Syria, despite the fact that his proxy Free Syrian Army is all but non-existent. Retreat is tantamount to defeat and, since war is all that U.S. imperialism is good at, defeat – even in a far-off place – can mean the end of the empire.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com. And, while you’re there, sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20141126_gf_AfghanWar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:27am EDT

If “The Economy is Recovering” Why Is There a Surge in Homeless Children?

If “The Economy is Recovering” Why Is There a Surge in Homeless Children?

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

For the last three elections now, 2010, 2012 and 2015, corporate media and corporate politicians have ceaselessly assured us that “the economy” whatever that is, is “back on track”, wherever that is.

Despite what corporate media and politicians tell us, the positive indicators of soaring stock market valuations, rising real estate prices and the rigged unemployment figures that don't count the jailed, the recently released from jails and prisons, and those who've given up on finding work or those working part time who desperately want full time hours real life for most real people hasn't got any better since 2008 or 2009.

Last week an extraordinary and shameful study emerged from the National Center on Family Homelessness confirmed it by demonstrating that almost 2.5 million children in the US were homeless at some point during 2013. That's one child in every thirty, in what we're accustomed to thinking of as the richest nation on earth. In the most recent months for which statistics exist, the rate of homelessness among children is spiking, increased 8% nationally from 2012 to 2013, and by 10% or more in 13 states and the District of Columbia. In 2006 one in 50 children were homeless. In 2010 it was one in 45. Now, in the age of Obama, the 2013 number is 1 in 30.

The causes of homelessness among children are not your comforting stereotypes of drug use and mental illness. These are “comforting” because they encourage us to blame the drug-addicted, and pity the mentally ill, and our comfort keeps us from questioning the capitalist system which declares that we must have poverty in the midst of plenty, or wondering why we ourselves are no more than a month or two from homelessness.

America's shameful surge in homeless children is caused by the fact that wages are NOT rising, low income housing is NOT being built, and the stock of available housing is being demolished or cannibalized by gentrifying speculators. Speculators can't make money off stable neighborhoods, so the poorest have to leave wherever they are to make room for something else.

In California, the nation's most populous state 34% of households are paying more than half their annual income for rent, and while the state's minimum wage is $8 an hour, a 2 bedroom apartment at a third of annual income would require tripling the minimum wage to $25.78 an hour. The issue then, is poverty.

Millions of children are not suffering because their parents have suddenly become addicted, or neglectful or lazy or stupid. Their parents, many of whom are working as hard as they can, are simply not able to afford a roof over their heads. This is just capitalism. It may be a scandal, but it's no surprise.

This happens to be just the way that “the economy” works when it's “back on track.” It's time to tear up those tracks.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. 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: 20141119_bd_homelessness.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:43pm EDT

Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton & the Arkansas Two Step

Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton & the Arkansas Two Step

 

Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton & the Arkansas Two Step

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

Back in September, Bill Clinton speaking at a dinner for corporate “philanthropists” seemed to publicly question the effectiveness of charter schools. What should we make of this?

The evidence is long in that the push for charter schools, driven by market fundamentalists has failed to improve the quality of education for most students. Still, the push to privatize is universally embraced by corporate media and the elected politicians of both parties, pretty much like imperial wars, gentrification and bailing out Wall Street banksters. Elite agreement on privatizing public education is so well established that Mitt Romney expressed agreement with President Obama's policies in that regard in their first 2012 presidential debate.

So does Bill Clinton's second thoughts on charter schools offer hope to emabattled communities and teachers in Chicago, Philly and hundreds of other cities? I wouldn't bet on it.

Remember back in 1992 when Arkansas governor Slick Willie Clinton ran for president? His surrogates and spokespeople told everybody who'd listen this was the chance for something they called the Peace Dividend. The recent fall of the Soviet Union, they said meant that a Democrat in the White House would be able to divert some of the vast sums that had gone to the Pentagon into housing, education, mass transit, jobs for youth, getting off fossil fuels, high speed intercity rail. After 12 years of Reagan and Bush it was a message people were more than ready to hear. They didn't call Bill Clinton “The Man From Hope” for nothing.

Of course once elected, the Clintons immediately “discovered” that “all the money was gone” because Reagan and Bush supposedly spent it all plus a lot more so there wouldn't be any peace divided, any extra to spend on those things at all. It was a deliberate transparent bait and switch, a classic Arkansas Two Step.

“There's a lot of Wall Street campaign cash, behind the push for charter schools, and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is not about to see all of it go Republican”

The Clintons and Democratic party leaders knew perfectly well they were never going to spend that money on mass transit, housing, education, jobs for youth, getting off fossil fuels and high speed intercity rail, but they also knew exactly what the Democratic faithful, that party's base vote and the activists who move that base vote needed to hear to get the job done.

It was a lesson the Obama campaign learned from the Clintons. Candidate Barack Obama's surrogates explicitly promised he would tackle mass incarceration and a host of other ills, if only we would shut up, line up and vote. And here we are.

There's a lot of Wall Street campaign cash, behind the push for charter schools, and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is not about to see all of it go Republican. Hillary, Bill and now Chelsea are a package, as Doug Henwood puts it, a dynasty in the making. No matter which one you choose you get all three. They used to call Bill Clinton the “I feel your pain” president, because of his real political talent for convincing people of just that.

The music for 2016 is already playing. Democrats need ground troops, motivated union members and others to staff their voter registration drives and door to door campaigns. Democrats need to pretend to be a party of the people for at least a few paragraphs every couple years. That's the dance. And chances are that Bill Clinton's misgivings on charter schools, or whatever else are just another chorus of the old Arkansas Two Step.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. 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: 20141119_bd_arkansas2step.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:30pm EDT

Ferguson Struggle Has Already Altered Black Politics

Ferguson Struggle Has Already Altered Black Politics

 

Ferguson Struggle Has Already Altered Black Politics

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“They have rejected the counsel of the local and national Black Misleadership Class.”

After Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon notified the National Guard that he might be calling on their services any day now and declared a state of emergency in anticipation of massive demonstrations, he appointed a 16 member commission to study the underlying social and economic causes of Black discontent in Ferguson. At some other time and place, this development might have been highly newsworthy, and some might even think it a hopeful sign for race relations. The press would pour over the biographies of the nine Black and seven white appointees, and speculate about what the governor meant when he said the commission was “empowered.” Empowered to do what – change the economic and social conditions in Black America? But the governor’s commission is irrelevant because the people of Ferguson are organizing to empower themselves, and that might be the beginning of the best news of the 21st century for Black America.

Whatever happens after the grand jury announces it decision on whether to indict the cop that killed Michael Brown, the people of Ferguson have already altered the political landscape. They have rejected the counsel of the local and national Black Misleadership Class, who specialize in diverting and suppressing any movement that threatens their patrons among the rich and powerful. They have seen through the con game run by the so-called Black power brokers, whose job is to head off any possibility of a rejuvenated Black mass movement. The fact that protests in a small town outside of St. Louis have put local, state and national security forces on high alert is testament to the failure of the Black Misleadership Class to contain the growing movement. And, if Al Sharpton and his local Missouri counterparts cannot keep the Black masses under control, then the appointees to Gov. Nixon’s Ferguson study commission have been rendered redundant before they begin.

“Great Leap Forward”

The people now know that the power is in the streets – a lesson that many had all but forgotten over the past forty years, a period in which the underlying social and economic conditions of Black life have scarcely improved in comparison with whites. This period saw the nation devolve into a Black Mass Incarceration State as methodically vicious and relentlessly racist as any regime in history. The Black Misleadership Class sought not only to divert Black people’s attention away from the massive imprisonment of Black youth and the rapid militarization of the police, they actively abetted the Mass Black Incarceration State, funding it in Congress and collaborating in the arrest of millions on the streets of nominally Black-run cities.

The leadership of the new movement that will grow out of Ferguson is not yet known, because it must be born in struggle. But we do know that the accommodationist preachers, corporate lawyers and professional Democratic Party politicians that have neutralized Black politics for the past four decades no longer hold sway among the grassroots. And that, alone, is a great leap forward. We can say with certainty that Michael Brown did not die in vain. His legacy is growing by the day.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and while you’re there, sign up for free email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20141119_gf_FergusonPanel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:51am EDT

#AfterFerguson: Organizing 104 – The Workshop

#AfterFerguson: It's Organizing 104 – The Workshop

#AfterFerguson: Organizing 104 – The Workshop

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

Flanked by a pair of the state's top black cops, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon proclaimed in a blustering Tuesday press conference that state and local authorities, and National Guard troops were more than prepared to curtail and punish what they fully expect to be public demonstrations of grief and outrage when the St. Louis County grand jury officially refuses to indict killer cop Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown later this month. Violence, the governor declared, “will not be tolerated.” except of course official violence against civilians and citizens.

Local residents and grassroots activists expressed their disappointment with their local officials, and have been planning and training for civil disobedience. Concerned individuals and activists in dozens of cities and towns across the nation plan to hit the streets the day after the grand jury decision is reached.

Black Agenda Reports is running a series of instructional primers directed at activists who want to be organizers. Activists are people who just show up, but life changing and society-changing movements are put together quite intentionally by people we call organizers.

Organizing 101 instructed would be organizers to ALWAYS collect the names, phone numbers and email addresses, the essential digits of those who turn out for any meeting, flash mob or demonstration of any kind. This is especially necessary if you used broadcast or social media tp publicize your event, because corporate social media don't allow you to recontact anyone outside their proprietary platforms.

Organizing 102 stressed the absolute necessity of emailing and calling everybody whose digits you collected back within a week or ten days, because new friends you don't recontact will find other things to do. Life is like that.

In Organizing 103 we briefed you in the use of the volunteer card, a tried and true method of singling out the most enthusiastic of your new contacts so they can be enlisted in the callbacks, the evaluation of past activities and the planning of new ones. The volunteer card is the first step in identifying the next layer of organizers and leaders for your movement.

Today's assignment, should you choose to accept it, is Organizing 104.

Organizing 104 will be a laboratory or workshop, and it will take place in your town or city the day after the St. Louis County grand jury verdict is issued. Your Organizing 104 assignment is to use leafletting, social media, personal networks or whatever you've got to assemble a crowd in a public place in YOUR city or town the day after the grand jury verdict is announced, and carry out the procedures outlined in Organizing 101, 102 and 103.

Greet everybody, and pass a sign in sheet to get all the names, phone numbers and email addresses of those in attendance as described in Organizing 101.

Identify the most enthusiastic and capable among the crowd and have them fill out volunteer cards, as explained at length in Organizing 103. Call this group of your new contacts back within the first 2 or 3 days.

And within a week or ten days, call back each and every person who showed up to thank them for participating and invite them to a meeting to evaluate the event or discuss future ones, as described in Organizing 102.

These are essential steps to real time, real world movement building. Successful organizers are all about the digits and the follow-up. So go back and review Organizing 101, 102 and 103 at www.blackagendareport.com, get ready to mobilize on the day #AfterFerguson.

This is Bruce Dixon for Black Agenda Radio. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and subscribe to our free weekly email updates atwww.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA where he serves on the state committee of the GA Green Party. Reach him via this site's contact page, or via email at bruce.dixon@blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20141112_bd_organizng104_afterferguson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:37pm EDT

Organizing 103: Recruting the Next Wave of Leaders & Activists With the Volunteer Card

Organizing 103: The Volunteer Card

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

It's not a movement unless it's organized, and it might never happen unless YOU organize it.

Here's the part 3 of Black Agenda Report's ongoing series of organizing primers. It's Organizing 103... the volunteer card.

In Organizing 101 we counseled those who call meetings, flash mobs, demonstrations and gatherings of all kinds to always, always always pass a written sign-in list and gather the essential direct digits of participants, their names, phone numbers and email addresses. This is especially important if social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or broadcast radio were used in your initial outreach, since none of these corporate “social media” platforms allow you to recontact anybody except through them, and you wanna be the organizer, not them.

In the second installment, Organizing 102, we stressed that every single somebody whose name and digits you collect must, must, must be personally recontacted by phone within a week, and recontacted regularly at least every other week or you risk losing them. New friends you fail to talk to do not remain your friends for long, they may conclude that either they, or you or your cause, are just not serious enough to bother with.

So Organizing 103, today's byte is about identifying and following up the most energetic, the most engaged, the most enthusiastic of your new contacts at meetings, flash mobs, leafleting or other encounters. These are the people, if you spot and engage them promptly and properly whose participation will enable your organizing project to advance to the next level. You're looking for people who will take a piece of ownership, of leadership of your cause, your project, the hands who'll help make that next round of follow-up calls, the heads who'll assist in evaluating what went right and wrong at your last event, and who will help plan the next one. Your job as an organizer is to identify these individuals on the fly at the same time you're doing your meeting, demonstration, courthouse or other leafleting, and collecting the individual digits of those on the spot.

Which of them are the most enthusiastic and ably committed to your proposition? The most obvious of these will approach YOU, asking what else can they do, telling how excited they are and wanting to know what they can do to further the cause. Some others express their enthusiasm but require you to ask them. Do it. Your job as the organizer is to lock down the commitment of those most willing to help. You do this with an instrument we call THE VOLUNTEER CARD.

A freely downloadable example of a VOLUNTEER CARD can be found with the online version of this commentary at Black Agenda Report dot com.

To be maximally effective, the topmost line of your volunteer card must contain a very explicit commitment to help out, something like “YES, I want to help end mass incarceration, or YES, I want to send so-and-so to City Hall, or YES, I want to stop the evictions, privatization of the water, the schools, the atmosphere or whatever. This way the person filling the thing out understands she is making a commitment to help DO something.

Beneath that the volunteer card contains the standard digits, and additionally what the best times to call might be, and asks for some extra relevant yes/no or checkoff options that all the prospective volunteer to tell you how her talents can be matched up with the tasks at hand. Thank the person, collect the volunteer card, and now it is on you the organizer to organize. You must promptly recontact the and activate the volunteer, optimally within 2 or 3 days, with a constructive conversation inviting them into your planning, your outreach and callback efforts, your evaluation or whatever you've got. These volunteers are your next wave of activists and leaders.

Fail to identify them, fail to recontact and engage them, and you fail to be an organizer.

This is Bruce Dixon for Black Agenda Report. This was organizing 103, be sure to download and adapt our volunteer card for your own purposes, and subscribe to Black Agenda Report's free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA, where he is a member of the state commitee of the GA Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page or by email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20141005_bd_organizing103.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:17am EDT

Rev. Pinkney Convicted, Threatened with Life in Priso

Rev. Pinkney Convicted, Threatened with Life in Prison

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Prosecutor Mike Sepic is calling for a life prison.”

Rev. Edward Pinkney, the 66-year-old community activist who has battled for decades on behalf of the mostly Black population of Benton Harbor, Michigan, was this week convicted on five counts of forging the dates of some signatures on a petition to recall the town’s mayor. The Berrien County jury was all-white. So was the judge and the prosecutor. Each of the felony counts carries a maximum five year sentence, but prosecutor Mike Sepic is calling for a life prison term on the grounds that Rev. Pinkney “has at least three prior felony convictions” – all of them stemming from his nonviolent resistance to white supremacy and the rule of the rich.

Rev. Pinkney’s nemesis – the rich entity that rules in Berrien County – is Whirlpool, the giant corporation that once employed lots of Black people in low-wage positions at its Benton Harbor headquarters, but now wants them gone, so that the land on which the town sits on the shores of Lake Michigan can be put to more luxurious and profitable uses. In better times, a park was set aside for community use. But, what Whirlpool giveth, Whirlpool taketh away. The park was privatized and then turned into a golf course where Whirlpool can entertain its executives and visiting operatives of the ruling class. Whirlpool’s money buys local politicians, like the city commissioners that Rev. Pinkney and others sought to recall, back in 2007, a campaign that led to Pinkney’s conviction on charges of “buying votes” – as if a poor Black preacher would try to compete with a multi-billion-dollar corporation in the game of vote-buying. As the legal battle wore on, Rev. Pinkney was sentenced to a year in state prison for the “crime” of quoting the Bible. A white judge claimed that, in Rev. Pinkney’s mouth, the holy scripture becomes a lethal threat. This is how a Black man-of-the-cloth earns a felony record in southeast Michigan.

Back in May, Rev. Pinkney was trying to recall the current mayor, James Hightower – who he calls a flunky of Whirlpool – when a county SWAT team surrounded his house, to arrest the Reverend on new charges.

“Whirlpool’s money buys local politicians, like the city commissioners that Rev. Pinkney and others sought to recall.”

The white corporate fathers’ vendetta against voting rights advocates like Pinkney seems like overkill, since the people of Benton Harbor and more than half the Black population of Michigan have been effectively disenfranchised by an Emergency Manager law that covers every majority Black city in the state. The people can vote for a mayor and city council, but a state appointee holds all the power, and his job is to turn over public assets to private corporations. But, even when the rich effectively hold total power, they still feel it necessary to crush those who question their right to rule – especially if the questioners are Black. Rev. Pinkney calls it a “class war.” In the United States, that has always also meant a race war, in which the full weight of the racist capitalist state is brought to bear. The state piles on multiple unjust felony convictions so that a Bible-quoting community leader is made to appear to be a criminal, deserving of life in prison.

But felony counts are like boxing rounds. Rev. Pinkney is still on his feet, fist in the air. Right on, Reverend.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for free email notification of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20141005_gf_PinkneyConvicted.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:59am EDT

“Peace Through Revolution”: Black Is Back Coalition March and Rally Nov 1 and 2

"Peace Through Revolution”: Black Is Back Coalition March and Rally Nov 1 and 2

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The Black Is Back Coalition held firmly to its founding principles of unity in struggle against imperialism, white supremacy and the rule of the rich.”

The orgy of militarized policing in Ferguson, Missouri, and the forces that had already been set in motion in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s assassination-by-vigilante have changed the tone and substance of the Black political conversation in America – except, of course, among the Black Misleadership Class, whose crisis of relevancy deepens by the day. Having reached the pinnacle of their own narrow and entirely symbolic version of Black Power with the election of the first Black President, in 2008, they have had nowhere to go but down ever since, and nothing worthwhile to say. The silence of the shams.

The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations came together during Barack Obama’s first year in office, in large part to show that there were still lots of Black folks who understood that the struggle for self-determination and a new dispensation for all the world’s people is the real prize worth fighting for. The fact that the new president was Black did not alter in the slightest the demands put forward by the newly organized Coalition at its first rally and march on the White House, in November of 2009.

There have been many marches and rallies and conferences and mobilizations since then. As Obama plugged the world deeper into chaos and war, and a brutal police state tightened its grip on impoverished Black communities across the nation, the Black Is Back Coalition held firmly to its founding principles of unity in struggle against imperialism, white supremacy and the rule of the rich. It was critical that, when the fog and confusion of the Age of Obama finally lifted, at least some Black folks could be identified as having been right all along.

Black is Back!

Well, the fog is lifting, people are once again trying to get in motion, and the Black Is Back Coalition returns to Malcolm X Park, in Washington, for a rally and march on the White House, on Saturday, November 1, under the theme “Peace through Revolution.” Then, on Sunday, November 2, the action shifts to Howard University, for a teach-in where activists and strategists will tackle the problems of organizing for the battles that have already begun. Speakers at the rally will include New York’s fighting city councilman and former Black Panther Charles Barron, Philadelphia’s Pam Africa, a prime mover in the campaign to free Mumia Abu Jamal, Omali Yeshitela, veteran organizer and chairman of the African Socialist Party – and I’ll have a few things to say, as well.

The teach-in will bring together some of the freshest young minds and seasoned veterans of the liberation struggle. So, now you know: November 1st and 2nd is an important time to be in Washington, where the Black Is Back Coalition and its allies will chart a path to “Peace through Revolution.” The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the Hands Up Coalition, United Against Police Terror, Friends of Congo, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, NCOBRA, and both the ANSWER Coalition and the United National Anti-War Coalition have all endorsed the march, rally and teach-in. On November 1st and 2nd, Black Is Back!

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com. And, while you’re there, sign up for free email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

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

 

For more information on the Black Is Back Coalition march, rally and teach-in call: 224-572-9887, 727-821-6620 or visit blackisbackcoalition.org.

Direct download: 20141022_gf_BiBMarchRally.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:48am EDT

Organizing 102: After Getting the Digits of Those Who Show Up, Call Everybody Back Within A Week

 

 

 

Organizing 102: After Getting the Digits of Those Who Show Up, Call Everybody Back Within A Week

 

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

 

“...don't make the mistake of the Million Man March, of Occupy and so many others ...”

 

Back in August, when flash mobs and social-media driven demonstrations of young people were popping up everywhere fueled by universal outrage at the latest unpunished murders by police, I wrote a piece in Black Agenda Report called “Organizing 101: Don't Do Another March or Rally Without Getting The Digits”.

 

The gist of it was that radio and social media are great tools but they are owned and run by and for billionaires not for you and me. They may get you a crowd, but if you cannot recontact that crowd outside of that social media platform or radio station, if YOU can't reach them directly on the phone, by text or email, then they are not your crowd, that list doesn't belong to you it belongs to somebody else, it belongs to Twitter, or Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram, none of whom provide you with this info, they have all the data they need, and if they decide to censor you or your politics tomorrow – which they can – or if your new friends are not monitoring their social media next week you will be cut off from these people.

 

If you want to build a movement, Organizing 101 is when people show up in person at your events, you gotta get those digits so you can contact them when YOU need to. Today we'll talk about Organizing 102, which is calling everybody back within a week. The principle is that a new friend you never call back does not remain your friend for long.

 

So don't make the mistake of the Million Man March, of Occupy and so many others, in the week after EVERY demonstration with new faces, every meeting or action when you were smart enough to get a crowd, and get their digits, you MUST send everybody an email and a text, and make a personal phone call thanking them for coming and strike up a brief conversation about what it all means, what might happen next, and how they might be willing to participate or help out.

 

“It's a media myth that movements are suddenly born out of magical moments when everybody on Twitter or listening to the radio gets outraged and something happens...”

 

You will find, when you make these calls that people will be grateful you stepped out of your life to call them one on one, and some will enthusiastic enough to ask what THEY can do BEFORE you can ask them. When people are especially enthusiastic about what you're doing, you want to put those individuals on a separate list, and invite them help make the next round of phone calls. These are the folks you invite to smaller meetings that plan and do the outreach for your next public meeting or action. That's how circles of people in motion get bigger, how movements begin to grow themselves.

 

It's a media myth that movements are suddenly born out of magical moments when everybody on Twitter or listening to the radio gets outraged and something happens. The crowds that came out in Egypt and places like that were not brought together by Twitter and Facebook for the first time, those were existing networks built methodically by face to face interaction and personal contact. They used social media to activate those pre-existing networks.

 

In the wake of Ferguson, and Beaverville Ohio, and Los Angeles, Miami, St. Louis, the Bronx and wherever else we have to build those networks. Social media are immensely useful, but there is no app for movement building. You can't ride to freedom on Pharaoh's chariot. Organizing 101 is getting the digits of people who show up. Organizing 102 is personally calling, emailing, texting every one of them back to establish the beginning of a relationship. Organizing 103, which we'll talk about in a couple weeks will be engaging them.

 

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and be sure to sign up for our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

 

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. 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: 20141015_bd_organizing102.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:54pm EDT

FBI, NSA and Cops Jointly Track “Outside Agitators”

 

 

FBI, NSA and Cops Jointly Track “Outside Agitators”

 

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

 

When the FBI makes these kinds of noises in public, you can be sure that a national counter-intelligence operation is already fully in motion.”

 

It has only been a little over two months since a white cop gunned down Michael Brown, whose body was left to bake in the summer sun for four hours as if to remind Brown’s friends and neighbors and the whole Black world that U.S. police can do whatever they want to a Black teenager in America in the 21st century. The word “Ferguson” now carries the accumulated weight of centuries of white violence against Black bodies, necessitating a rejuvenated movement against police impunity. Young people, especially are determined that, this time, a price will be paid for police lawlessness.

 

There is, however, little anticipation that any semblance of justice will be forthcoming from the grand jury that is hearing evidence against police officer Darren Wilson, whose very identity authorities attempted to hide from the public in the days after the shooting. The grand jury’s nine white and three Black members are expected to render a decision sometime in mid-November. Given the history of such legal exercises, it will be surprising, to say the least, if the officer is indicted on murder charges, and a minor miracle if he is convicted. Nevertheless, for the thousands that gathered in greater St. Louis over the past weekend, Ferguson has become a watershed historical moment, the possible beginning of a massive campaign to end police impunity and, just maybe, a real grassroots movement for genuine social transformation.

 

Back to the Future

 

The FBI and law enforcement agencies around the country also seem to think this may be a watershed moment. They, too, don’t expect a grand jury to indict Darren Wilson, especially a grand jury under the direction of a prosecutor whose policeman father was killed by a Black suspect. The FBI has joined in discussions with police chiefs as far away as New York and Los Angeles and lots of cities in between, to coordinate a response to possible civil disturbances if officer Wilson gets off scot-free, and to keep track of so-called “outside agitators” who might spread the Ferguson contagion across the country.

 

When the FBI makes these kinds of noises in public, you can be sure that a national counter-intelligence operation is already fully in motion – a program designed to “neutralize and destroy” any possibility of the re-emergence of a militant movement against today’s national security and mass Black incarceration state. Although many of the organizations and individuals that have traveled to Ferguson in support of the local struggle for justice may not yet be clear in their own minds about the political direction that a national movement should take, they have already been targeted as potentially dangerous “agitators” – as threats to national security. Their movements and contacts with fellow activists are being tracked, and individuals and organizations are being sorted out and categorized according to the level of threat they may represent to the state.

 

In the 21st century, just like in the previous one, the merest hint of a movement for justice puts the machinery of political oppression in motion.

 

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and while you’re there, sign up for our free email notifications of new BAR issues, each Wednesday.

 

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

 

 

 

Direct download: 20141015_gf_Ferguson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:47pm EDT

 

 

There Will be a Reckoning, from Ferguson to Gaza

 

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

 

One murder charge against one white cop in one small town doesn’t even begin to address America’s crimes against a whole people.”

 

Thousands are expected to gather in Ferguson, Missouri, this weekend for four days of protest, agitation, entertainment, and training in how to conduct non-violent resistance. A march is scheduled for Saturday, and unspecified acts of civil disobedience are set for Monday. In the classic, Martin Luther King sense of the term, “civil disobedience” involves the breaking of at least some laws, either because the laws are unjust, or to show that a community is prepared to break the rules to make its point.

 

One unjust rule the police will almost certainly not try to enforce this weekend, is the arbitrary requirement that protesters keep moving, or face arrest. It’s commonly called the “five-second rule.” This week a federal judge, acting on a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, ruled the police practice unconstitutional. The Ferguson City police last week handed over responsibility for protests to the county police department, which says they won’t force demonstrators to keep constantly moving.

 

Ferguson has become a place where people tell time by the days since August 9, when 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by officer Darren Wilson. From the beginning, a core demand has been that the white cop be indicted for murder, but a grand jury is not expected to act until at least mid-November. However, by now Ferguson has become an important juncture in the African American journey, one that demands a reevaluation of Black people’s relationship to the U.S. society and State. There may be hell to pay in the Black community if Officer Wilson isn’t indicted, but one murder charge against one white cop in one small town doesn’t even begin to address America’s crimes against a whole people.

 

Revolutionary Internationalism

 

Ferguson was a world story. The scenes of militarized police repression instantaneously called forth images from Gaza and other sites of desperate struggle against white supremacy and unjust occupation. Ferguson made us remember Malcolm X’s admonition to bring United States crimes before international forums, to air America’s dirty linen in front of the whole world, and to join with the legions of other peoples that the U.S. has killed and exploited.

 

This weekend, In the spirit of Malcolm’s revolutionary internationalism, hundreds will gather at the place where Malcolm was assassinated, in 1965 – the former Audubon Ballroom, now the Malcolm X and Betty Shabbaz Center, in Harlem. “The World Stands with Palestine” rally will trace the many parallels between the oppression of Blacks in the U.S. and the plight of Palestinians in their native land under Israel’s system of ethnic apartheid. It is a system that is quite familiar to Black Americans, because it has never gone away here in the United States – and the day of reckoning cannot be delayed any longer.

 

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

 

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

 

Direct download: 20141008_gf_FergusonToGaza.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:49am EDT

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

After Ferguson: It's a New Day. Join the Black Agenda Report Team at NYC's Riverside Church Oct 24, or Support Black Agenda Report With a Donation

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

In fact, the rapid growth of black elected officials seems to have occurred at virtually the same time and roughly the same proportion as the six or sevenfold increase in the number of black bodies in US prisons and jails.

Black outrage at the events after the police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson MO marked the re-emergence of America's prison and police state, their cultures of brutal impunity and naked injustice as the number one issue on the minds of African Americans.

It's not a new story, but these are new times, and new circumstances. There are more black faces in high places than ever before from county sheriffs all the way up to mayors, congresscreatures, even attorney general and the president. Whatever its usefulness, this IS new. But the numbers of black faces in high places seem hardly to affect the fact of black mass incarceration at all. In fact, the rapid growth of black elected officials seems to have occurred at virtually the same time and roughly the same proportion as the six or sevenfold increase in the number of black bodies in US prisons and jails.

If that's not exactly a new fact, it's one that African Americans, especially young African Americans are becoming newly and increasingly aware of, which makes this a new and unique moment in the politics of black America.

This new political moment for black America is why young on the streets of Ferguson MO booed and rejected the dinosaur “civil rights leaders” sent to chill them out and lecture them on how “low voter turnout” killed Michael Brown.

This new political moment is why supporting Black Agenda Report at www.blackagendareport.com is more important than ever. Black Agenda Report will celebrate its 8th anniversary Friday October 24 in Harlem's historic Riverside Church. It's a fundraiser, tickets are $30 for the program or $100 for the program and a reception featuring political prisoner and the peoples first responder Lynne Stewart. The topic we will explore that evening will be After Ferguson: Naming Names, Refuting Shame, Human Rights VS the Police & Prison State and our Black Political Class's Deal With the Devil. If you're anywhere near NYC that night, please join us. And if you're not, please go to www.blackagendareport.com and donate a modest monthly amount of your choice to keep what brother Cornel West calls 'the prophetic voices' alive.

Black Agenda Report has been educating our folks on the realities of the prison state since our founding in 2006. We weren't just talking about mass incarceration before Michelle Alexander, we were the very first ones to interview her and preview her book.

Black Agenda Report was one of the few places you could find a real assessment of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 which reduced the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity from 100 to 1 to 18 to 1, or to question Attorney General Eric Holder's insistence that there should be no retroactive sentence relief for those serving unjustly long sentences.

Black Agenda Report was among the first to point out the vast gulf between the words of this president and attorney general on the one hand, their wishful surrogates on the other hand, and on a third hand the reality that 6 years into the Obama administration a black person is murdered by police, private security forces or vigilantes at least every 28 hours while no federal stats are being compiled on police violence against civilians, that the Bureau of Prisons budget has risen every year under Obama and Holder, and the feds are constructing brand new supermax prisons.

For all of our 8 years, Black Agenda Report has consistently called the Congressional Black Caucus to account, most recently over its abject support of apartheid in Israel, its subservience to corporate donors, and its impotence in the face of rising black poverty.

For 8 years, Black Agenda Report has brought the light and the heat, with news, commentary and analysis from the black left, 4 to six original articles published for the first time anywhere every week, and a weekly one hour radio program. Find it all at www.blackagendareport.com, and for tickets to our October 24 affair in Harlem go to http://events.blackagendareport.com. That's http://events.blackagendareport.com.

For Black Agenda Report, I'm Bruce Dixon

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives in Marietta GA and is a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party.
Direct download: 20141006_bd_after_ferguson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:33pm EDT

US Headed For “China Syndrome” Meltdown in Syria

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The president is in fact apologizing for the CIA’s loss of control over ISIS.”

You know that an American military adventure is going very badly when the conversation turns to the “mistakes” of U.S. intelligence agencies. Usually, Washington starts scapegoating its spies after its wars have failed to achieve their objectives – as happened in Iraq, when the natives failed to greet the American invaders with rose petals and bottomless gratitude, and in Vietnam, where the awesome U.S. war machine slaughtered three million people but still could not subdue a Third World country’s quest for independence. America files all of its failures under the heading of “mistakes” – after the fact.But, President Obama has essentially inaugurated his bombing campaign in Syria with an admission of past “mistakes,” telling 60 Minutes that the CIA “underestimated” the strength of ISIS. What Obama’s admission actually shows is that the real U.S. mission in Syria – the three-year proxy war to overthrow the government of Bashar Assad – is already a failure.

Obama has thus been forced, by failure, to mount a far more conventional – although equally illegal – air war in a desperate bid to rescue his original mission of regime change. The president is in fact apologizing for the CIA’s loss of control over ISISand the other jihadists that Obama and his Arab and Turkish allies sent to bring chaos to Syria. Obama thought his intelligence services could calibrate and control the bloodbath they had spent billions to inflict on Syria; that they could regulate and direct the Islamist fighters’ death-embracing furies, like a well-engineered nuclear reactor. Instead, and inevitably, what Obama and his allies got was a meltdown, a China-Syndrome of holy war that has left Washington’s regime-change-by-proxy scheme in ashes.

U.S. imperialism has been deeply and irrevocably weakened by the revolt of the jihadists.”

Much of the Left in the United States is also suffering from a kind of “intelligence” deficit, failing to understand the magnitude of the crisis now confronting U.S. imperialism in the Arab and Muslim world. Washington’s jihadist foot soldiers have struck out on their own mission. Not only does the U.S. have no force to replace these Islamist warriors, it must now kill enough of them to retain some imperial authority in the region – but not so many as to ignite a general jihad against America and its allies. Plus, under these new and infinitely more complex conditions, Obama must also find a way to bring down the Syrian government.

U.S. imperialism has been deeply and irrevocably weakened by the revolt of the jihadists, which is the logical and predictable result of U.S. policy in the region since the overthrow of President Mubarak in Egypt and the bombing of Libya. In fact, I did predict it, back in February of 2011. No matter what the United States does, the crisis will deepen, directly threatening the viability of the Arab monarchies on which the West depends to control the price and availability of oil.

However, just because the U.S. has no good options, doesn’t mean it has no options at all. Superpowers always have options; they have the immense ability to destroy things: for example, Damascus, the capital of Syria, could be obliterated. But such a crime would be evidence of the weakness, not strength, of U.S. empire.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

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

 

 

 

Direct download: 20141001_gf_ObamaISISmistakes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:32pm EDT

The Black Caucus “Left” Wing Crumbles Before Obama’s War Machine

The Black Caucus “Left” Wing Crumbles Before Obama’s War Machine

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Obama was asking for a do-over to fix his previous policies in Syria.”

The ever-shrinking “left” wing of the Congressional Black Caucus crumbled last week, an early casualty of the new phase of President Obama’s three-year war for regime in change in Syria. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, to which 24 of the Black lawmakers belong, also failed to rally against a Democratic president’s war plans.

The lop-sided House vote was not on whether to authorize Obama to launch attacks against targets in Syria; the White House claims the president is acting within his powers as commander-in-chief, and needs no OK from the Congress. Instead, the administration sought a general demonstration of approval for Obama’s scheme to train and arm so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels. A vote on the $500 million price tag comes later, after the November elections.

In essence, Obama was asking for a do-over, to fix his previous policies in Syria. The United States and its Arab, Turkish, European and, reportedly, Israeli allies have, in fact, been arming and training rebels to bring down the government of President Bashar al-Assad since at least 2011. They have failed, despite having spent mountains of money to subsidize a kaleidoscope of armed groups, each vying for Islamic fundamentalist authenticity and the privilege to slaughter Shiites, Christians, secularists, apostate Sunni Muslims and backsliders of all kinds. It also turned out – to the administration’s apparent surprise – that these jihadists don’t see themselves as mere foot soldiers under an American chain of command. In fact, the best fighters think of the United States as the “Great Satan” – an opinion widely shared in that part of the world. With the rise of the head-chopping champions of ISIS, Obama had no choice but to ask Congress to give him another chance to scour the region in search of that most elusive of men, the “moderate” Syrian rebel, and turn him into a killing machine that can defeat both the Syrian government and ISIS.

Blank Check for Expanded War

Back in 2006, after three years of failure in Iraq, George W. Bush agreed to a timetable for withdrawal from that country. He had little choice, because the Congress was in no mood to continue his war. But last week President Obama, by a vote of 273 to 156, was allowed a second throw of the dice in what may turn out to be an even larger war in Syria and Iraq and who knows where else. The reason that Obama’s wars have such longer shelf-life, is that Democrats will not oppose him, including such luminaries of the Caucus left wing as John Conyers and Maxine Waters, who were among the 23 Black members who gave the president a blank check, last week.

Barbara Lee, the California congresswoman who joined 16 other Black lawmakers in opposing Obama’s new-and-improved war in the Middle East, said, on the House floor: “The consequences of this vote, whether it's written in the amendment or not, will be a further expansion of a war currently taking place and our further involvement in a sectarian war.” There is also another consequence: the total discrediting of a majority of the Congressional Black Caucus, who have abandoned the historical Black consensus on social justice and peace.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com and sign up for free email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

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

Below is a breakdown of the CBC vote on September 17 on arming and training Syrian rebels.

Yes
23

  • Karen Bass (CA)
  • Joyce Beatty (OH)
  • Sanford Bishop (GA)
  • Corrine Brown (FL)
  • G. K. Butterfield (NC)
  • Andre Carson (IN)
  • William Lacy Clay (MO)
  • James Clyburn (SC)
  • John Conyers, Jr. (MI)
  • Keith Ellison (MN)
  • Chaka Fattah (PA)
  • Al Green (TX)
  • Steven Horsford (NV)
  • Sheila Jackson Lee (TX)
  • Hank Johnson (GA)
  • Gregory Meeks (NY)
  • Cedric Richmond (LA)
  • Robert Scott (VA)
  • David Scott (GA)
  • Terri Sewell (AL)
  • Marc Veasey (TX)
  • Maxine Waters (CA)
  • Frederica Wilson (FL)

No
17

  • Yvette Clarke (NY)
  • Emanuel Cleaver (MO)
  • Elijah Cummings (MD)
  • Danny Davis (IL)
  • Donna Edwards (MD)
  • Marcia Fudge (OH)
  • Alcee Hastings (FL)
  • Hakeem Jeffries (NY)
  • Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX)
  • Robin Kelly (IL)
  • Barbara Lee (CA)
  • John Lewis (GA)
  • Gwen Moore (WI)
  • Donald Payne Jr. (NJ)
  • Charles Rangel (NY)
  • Bobby Rush (IL)
  • Bennie Thompson (MS)
Direct download: 20140924_gf_CBCcrumbles.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:13am EDT

Who’s Your Daddy, ISIS?

Who’s Your Daddy, ISIS?

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“ISIS has many, many fathers, all of whom now deny patrimony.”

Let us be clear, if that is possible, about President Obama’s plan to deal with ISIS, the boogeyman of America’s own making. The president last week swore that he would “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State, after having spent three years providing weapons and money to jihadists fighters, including ISIS, in hopes that they would “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Syrian state of president Bashar Assad. So, the Americans set out to destroy one state, in Syria, whose government had never presented any danger to the U.S., and wind up creating another state, a caliphate astride the borders of Syria and Iraq, that openly declares its intention to do battle with the U.S.

Obama assures us that he is assembling a new coalition of the willing to join him in smashing ISIS. It turns out that every prospective member of the coalition was a co-conspirator with the United States in giving birth to ISIS – Britain and France and other Europeans, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates...ISIS has many, many fathers, all of whom now deny patrimony.

Obama appears to be leaving the natural gas-rich nation of Qatar out of his coalition, which doesn’t seem fair, since Qatar was a loyal ally of the United States and NATO just three years ago, when Obama was busy trying to degrade and destroy another state, Libya, which also posed no threat to the U.S. The emir of Qatar worked his gaseous little butt off for Obama, sending money and guns and mercenaries to help the Libyan jihadists that the U.S. wanted to install as the new government.

Once regime change had been accomplished in Libya, Qatar helped the Americans send hundreds of Libyan jihadists to Syria, to put that regime out of business. But, Libya never did get a new state, to replace the one that was destroyed in 2011. Instead, the country is wracked by civil war, that is also a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its friends and Qatar.

Wars Within Wars Within Regime Changes

It seems that Qatar backed the wrong side – the Muslim Brotherhood – after the regime change in Egypt in 2011. The Saudi Arabian royal family hates the Muslim Brotherhood, because the Brotherhood advocate elections, and kings don’t do elections. So, the Saudis bankrolled another regime change in Egypt, putting the military back in charge, and are now fighting a proxy war with Qatar in Libya. Which is why the Saudis blackballed Qatar from participating in Obama’s coalition of the willing against ISIS. (You do understand all this, right?)

Turkey, which is part of NATO, has been a wonderful father to ISIS, allowing the caliphate’s fighters free use of its long border with Syria and Iraq. In return, Turkey gets to buy the cheap oil from the fields that ISIS seized from Syria and Iraq, which makes the Turks somewhat reluctant to try to kill little baby ISIS.

It’s starting to look like Obama might have to take out the caliphate on his own, which is why the president’s top military advisor is talking about putting serious U.S. boots on the ground in Iraq, and maybe in Syria. Meanwhile, Obama is putting together a new army of rebels to continue the job of degrading and destroying the Syrian state – unless, of course, these new fighters just take the money and guns and join ISIS, too.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com., and while you’re there, sign up to get email notifications of new issues of the magazine, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20140917_gf_ISIS_Obama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:36am EDT

Low Voter Turnout Didn't Kill Michael Brown

Low Voter Turnout Didn't Kill Michael Brown

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

It doesn't matter that low voter turnout did not kill Ferguson Missouri's Michael Brown, any more than it killed Trayvon Martin or Troy Davis or even James Byrd back in 1998 Jasper Texas.

What really matters to our black political class is not what we need but what they need. They need their perks, they need their careers, they need to constantly reaffirm and to re-legitimize their privileged status as the imaginary representatives of all the rest of us. Their answers to every question reflect what they need, and not what we need.

South Carolina representative James Clyburn was on CSPAN TV Labor Day sitting alongside establishment historian Peniel Joseph, sagely instructing audiences that while 56% of Ferguson residents turned out to vote in the 2012 presidential elections, less than 10% came out when the local mayor's job was up for grabs. This was Clyburn's and is our black political class's standard explanation for the killing and the circus of official misconduct that followed.

Congressman Clyburn is not stupid, just self-involved and self-interested like the rest of the black political class. He knows that that cities with lots of high ranking black cops and often black mayors, from New Orleans and Atlanta to Philly and Columbia SC, also savagely mistreat African Americans. Clyburn is a man with priorities, and his first priority is his status, not ours. So his answer to everything is simply “vote,” and today's glittering black political class, where he rides near the top, is the end of history, the inevitable fruit of our people's long struggle for justice.

The black establishment figures would all have us believe that low voter turnout killed Michael Brown, rather than the sharp end of a vicious police and prison state that black politicians, black Democrats have partnered with their white colleagues of both parties to build and operate.

Any problems in the lives of African Americans yet unsolved, in their opinion, are because black folks haven't voted long enough, wisely enough or in great enough numbers. For almost a generation, the only cards left in the short deck of our black political class have been appeals to racial solidarity in even numbered years, and the big vote.

Those old enough to recall the 1998 murder of James Byrd by white supremacists in Jasper Texas, who dragged him more than a mile behind a pickup truck will also recall the “nonpartisan” mailing that went out to millions of black households nationwide on the eve of the 1998 election. It was the last two years of the Clinton era, just the last two of the Obama epoch are upon us, and black disappointment had never been heavier. Clinton rode into office with a Democratic majority, promising a peace dividend, some rollback of the drug war and prison state, money for mass transit, housing, and reforms that would allow unions to organize again. Instead he delivered NAFTA, so-called welfare reform, a wave of privatizations, and vast expansions in the numbers of police, prison beds and death penalty offenses.

How did the black political class get out the vote that year? Not with new answers or even new discussions or new demands. Just with pictures. Their nationwide mailer was punctuated with the silhouette of pickup truck dragging a chain.

It's nothing new because our black political class doesn't need anything new. For them, the old stuff is working perfectly well, as long as their own careers keep rolling along.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and be sure to subscribe to our free weekly emails at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

 

 

Direct download: 20140919_bd_blackpolitical_class.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:02pm EDT

Obama and His Head-Chopping Friends

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The Saudi royals are feeling the nearness of cold steel to their own necks.”

President Obama has declared war on ISIS, the renegade jihadists that have turned on their former masters in NATO and the royal courts of Arabia. Nearly four decades ago, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Pakistan spent billions to create, from scratch, an international jihadist network to torment a leftwing government in Afghanistan. The rag tag feudal Islamist raiders that once delighted in beheading young Afghan leftists who were sent to the countryside to carry out land reform and teach village girls to read, now yearn to detach the skulls of Saudi kings and princes from their obscenely rich bodies, and to methodically drive the western infidels from all Muslim territories. This is, indeed, some deep poetry.

Until the advent of ISIS, Saudi Arabia led the world in executions by beheading, often leaving the decapitated bodies on display in public squares. The Saudis have hired American public relations outfits to plant articles in the U.S. corporate press, disavowing any connection between the royal family and its wayward children in ISIS and other al Qaida off-shoots – while, at the same time, stepping up the pace of their own beheadings. In the New York Times, no less, two front men for the Saudi royal family wrote that the King’s regime is best suited to drive ISIS into oblivion – which is yet more proof that the Saudi royals are feeling the nearness of cold steel to their own necks. The logic of jihad inevitably calls for a caliphate and, for the believer, a caliphate trumps a fat king and his 5,000 corrupt little princes, any day. Emirs in the United Arab Emirates also shake in their well-crafted boots, fearing the wrath of the faithful.

Proxy Wars Within Proxy Wars

The royal Arabian fat cats who, along with the U.S., have funded the proxy war against Syria for the last three years, are now embroiled in a proxy war against each other in both Syria and Libya. The Saudis and Egypt’s military dictator Abdel al-Sisi are arrayed against the Emir of Qatar and aristocrats in Kuwait, who continue to fund the renegade jihadists. The United States has sided with their long term partners, the Saudis – who have more oil – and are pressuring Qatar and Kuwait to stop funding ISIS and its friends.

When the oil-rich monarchies are in disarray and at each other’s throats, Washington also panics. That’s why Obama has seemed so indecisive. His options become fewer and fewer. The U.S. wants to get on with regime change in Syria, but ISIS has even bigger plans for regime change in the Arab world, including lopping off the heads of America’s friends. But, Washington will not give up its dirty war against Syria. Instead, Obama is attempting to merge that war with the fight against ISIS, by somehow making stupid Americans believe that Syrian President Assad is secretly allied with the same jihadists that have been beheading Syrian soldiers and civilians since 2011. It’s a very, very big lie, but Americans are incredibly willing to believe anything, no matter how ridiculous, about Arabs and Black people. And, who best to tell such lies, than the First Black President? Just give Obama George Bush’s script and, somehow, it all sounds...different.

Which is so damn sick, it makes you want to – laugh your head off.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Direct download: 20140910_gf_ISIS_WAR.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:37am EDT

Round Two: Fast Food Strike for $15 An Hour

Round Two: Fast Food Strike for $15 An Hour

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“The worst-paying job in America is fast food cook.”

Thousands of fast food workers say they’ll go on strike on Thursday, September 4, demanding a $15 an hour wage. The current national minimum wage is $7.25. Organizers say burger and chicken franchises in more than 100 cities will affected by Thursday’s action, which will include sit-downs and other non-violent civil disobedience tactics.

The fast food workers staged a one-day walkout back in May in 150 localities, with varying levels of success. A national conference brought 1,300 worker-activists to Chicago, in July, to gear up for a second round of walkouts. The organizing drive is paid for by the SEIU, the Service Employees International Union – the nation’s second largest and intensely loyal to President Obama.

The fast food workers must be doing something right. They got a kind-of, sort-of endorsement from Barack Obama on Labor Day, when the corporatist president mentioned the fast food workers movement at a speech in Milwaukee. Obama didn’t endorse $15 an hour – he’s called for a $10.10 minimum – but Obama said that if he worked in the food service industry and “wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest days work,” he’d join a union.

Obama ran for the White House the first time around promising he would endorse organized labor’s “card check” bill, which would have made it much easier for workers to join unions. But, once elected, Obama barely gave lip service to the legislation – which died of neglect – and packed his administration with corporate operatives for the next six years.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, nine out of ten of the worst paying jobs are in the food services industry, which is disproportionately Black and brown. The worst-paying job in America is fast food cook, averaging $9.07 an hour.

In most states, women make up more than half the workers stuck at minimum wage. Studies show that federal taxpayers spend billions of dollars a year essentially subsidizing the profits of low wage industries through food stamps and other assistance to millions of workers who can’t maintain their families on poverty paychecks and uncertain working hours.

McD’s Can’t Hide Behind Franchisees

McDonald’s, the global granddaddy of low wage burger joints, goes into this second wave of walkouts in a very different legal situation than back in May. The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that McDonald’s can’t hide behind its franchise agreements to claim that the local franchise holders are responsible for wages at its 14,000 restaurants in the United States. The decision makes McDonald’s a much better target for nationwide unionization, presumably by the SEIU.

The fast food industry claims that $15 an hour is unreasonable, but a report by the National Employment Law Project shows that “most large, low-wage employers have already recovered” from the Great Recession.” Their employees, of course, have not.

The SEIU is asking workers in its affiliated home health care unions to protest alongside the fast food workers in six cities, including Seattle, where a grassroots movement led by the Socialist Alternative party won a gradual $15 an hour minimum wage, this year.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of new issues, each Wednesday.
Direct download: 20140903_gf_FastFoodStrike.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:11am EDT

Justice Dept Refuses For 20 Years To Comply With Federal Law Requiring It To Gather National Police Brutality Stats

Justice Dept Refuses For 20 Years To Comply With Federal Law Requiring It To Gather National Police Brutality Stats

A BA Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

We're all supposed to be impressed with the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder parachuted into Ferguson MO the other day to wrap his arms around the local top black cop and get briefed on the pending federal investigation into the police killing of Michael Brown. But we shouldn't be.

For the last 20 years, since 1994, Violent Crime Control & Law Enforcement Act obligates the Department of Justice to collect statistics on the extent of brutality and excessive force used by police officers, and to make those findings available to the public. 20 years down the road no such stats exist, because the Justice Departments of the Clinton, the Bush and the Obama administrations have all simply ignored the law and refuse even to try to gather the information. Let me say this again: the Clinton Justice Department defied the law and refused to gather national stats on police misconduct. The Bush Justice Department thumbed its nose at the law and also refused to gather national stats on police misconduct, and now the first black attorney general, who sometimes even utters the phrase “mass incarceration”, which he recently discovered, selected by the first black president who says if he had a son, his son could be Trayvon Martin – Eric Holder and Barack Obama have likewise shown no interest whatsoever in fulfilling their legal duty when it comes to assembling a national database of police misconduct.

 

This should not surprise the president's apologists, who will surely counsel us that he has to be president of all the people, including the police. Everybody knows black and brown people are the disproportionate targets of police violence, so enforcing laws which particularly benefit black and brown communities are something we must not expect. Perhaps after the president leaves office, they'll tell us, he'll speak out more forcefully on this. Maybe the “My Brothers Keeper” initiative can get some charitable dollars to organizations like , or PUSH or the Urban League to help more of our young boys to pull their pants up so they won't get beat down.

Let's get real. The Republicans haven't stopped Obama and Holder from doing this, they stopped themselves. Like every cop on the beat, the Obama administration chooses which laws to enforce, which ones to bend and in what direction, and which ones to ignore. Obama's DOJ has resurrected the century old Espionage Act, not to prosecute spies, but to threaten and to imprison whistleblowers who tell the truth to reporters, and to journalists themselves if they do not reveal their sources with decades in prison, like Chelsea Manning, and on so-called “secret evidence.” So when you think about it, it's entirely logical that a president and attorney general who place such a high priority on protecting their torturers, their bankster friends, and the official wrongdoers of past and future administrations should want to protect the police from scrutiny as well.

It's time to shed some illusions, not just about this president but about the whole political class that claims he or any president can be “held accountable.” Barack Obama and his Justice Department are no more interested in justice than the administrations of ten presidents before him, and uncritical black and brown support has made this president less accountable to black and brown people than any in living memory.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and remember --- Facebook and Twitter don't necessarily show you everything we or similar sources publish. The only way to keep up on the latest Black Agenda Report is to subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20140827_bd_DOJ_scofflaws.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:52pm EDT

Organizing 101: Don't Do Another Ferguson March or Rally Without Getting The Digits

Organizing 101: Don't Do Another Ferguson March or Rally Without Getting The Digits

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

At a meeting I attended last weekend, a lady told me an inspiring story, but not as inspiring as it should have been.

In a social media exchange, somebody asked her if an event on the Ferguson murder was happening nearby. Probably not, she replied, and suggested the questioner put one together. She did just that, starting a Facebook page, and hawking it on Twitter and other social media platforms. With only a few days lead time, a couple hundred people showed up. They sang, they chanted, they felt the strength that only comes from connecting with others in a just cause. And they dispersed.

Did anybody pass out a sign in sheet, I asked? Did you get the digits of the folks that showed up? I asked this because getting those digits is the first lesson in organizing 101, it's what we did before anybody ever heard of social media. Back in the day if we got 4 people, or 40, or 400, we got those digits.

I also asked because Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, causes.com, change.org and other social media platforms DO NOT give the organizers of petitions or events ANY of the contact information on the people you're supposedly “organizing” because the corporate social media business model ain't never been about helping YOU do good, it's about mapping the people you touch, the people you influence and who influence you so they can sell that to marketers.

All the social media platforms can and do manipulate their algorithms and hashtags for commercial purposes, and their systems are private property. If they wanted to squelch your political activism tomorrow, or just show you more cat videos, or if the people who turned out last time simply were not on Facebook or Twitter for a day or two, they might never know about the next meeting or demonstration or even the murder that prompted it.

The answer to my “did you get the digits” question was “no”. Nobody passed a petition, a sign-in sheet or volunteer cards. Nobody got anybody's email, phone numbers or the best times to call.

In fairness it's an easy mistake to make, but a costly one. Remember the Million Man March? Organizers remembered to pass the hat but didn't pass a sign-in sheet, so there was no Million Man Mailing List or phone tree. Talk about missed opportunities. Most Occupy encampments didn't take names or contact info either.

When you have an event, publicized by social media or the radio, like so many of the Troy Davis and Trayvon Martin and Ferguson and other happenings, and you don't get those digits you are completely at the mercy of Twitter, Facebook or the radio station to recontact those people. Radio is a great way to get a crowd, but you rarely have access. Also you may have noticed that whenever radio stations take the lead, they put the Al Sharptons or their local equivalents at the head of the crowd. If you don't want to listen to those guys, you gotta get your own list, so you can get your own crowd. Most people are not already affiliated with any existing organization. That's a piece of Organizing 101 as well.

I'm not saying don't use corporate social media or radio when you can get it. But take it from an old school organizer: if you're depending on Twitter, on Facebook, on corporate social media and the radio to get your crowd and you don't pass a petition, a sign in sheet to enable you to keep in direct touch, or have the most enthusiastic among them sign volunteer cards you ain't got no movement, because YOU cannot MOVE it, only they can, and only when, where and for as long as THEY want to.

You want a movement – every crowd, every meeting, every flashmob – you get those digits.

Next week we'll talk a little about Organizing 102... what to do with them.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and remember --- Facebook and Twitter don't necessarily show you everything we or similar sources publish. The only way to keep up on the latest Black Agenda Report is to subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20140827_bd_get_those_digits.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:34pm EDT

Obama Schemes to Attack Syria, Under the Guise of Fighting ISIS

Obama Schemes to Attack Syria, Under the Guise of Fighting ISIS

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Nobody wants ISIS defeated more than Syria and its soldiers.”

President Obama is preparing to do something horrifically dangerous in Syria and Iraq. The rise of ISIS has crippled the empire’s decade’s old strategy of deploying Islamic fundamentalist fighters to do its dirty work in the Arab and Muslim world. ISIS, the Frankenstein birthed in the cauldron of America’s quest for regime change in Syria, has turned on its U.S., Saudi, Qatari and Turkish masters to establish its own caliphate, to which thousands of other Islamist fighters are flocking. Even U.S. corporate media now acknowledge that the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels that Obama wants to shovel $500 million at, are virtually non-existent. They were always a mirage, creatures of western propaganda. The Islamists were the only force that could challenge the Syrian army on the battlefield, and now that they are rallying to ISIS, or running away, Obama does not know which way to turn.

Certainly, the U.S. can bomb ISIS positions in Syria, and is already making preparations to do so, but that is not the war Obama wanted to fight. Three years ago, when Obama launched his dirty war against Syria, the plan was for Muslim jihadists to shed their blood to overthrow President Assad. Once the filthy deed was done, the jihadists were expected to allow NATO and the corrupt kings of the Arabian peninsula to pick the next rulers of Syria. The CIA was playing Lawrence of Arabia, using the jihadists as cannon fodder, to be cast aside when it came time to split up the spoils.

Such was also the plan in Libya, where NATO and the same gang of royal Arabian thieves funded and armed the overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. The Libyan jihadists have also failed to cooperate with the empire’s scheme.

The global jihadist network that the Americans and Saudis created in the 1980s has declared its independence, and Washington has nothing to replace them. American boots on the ground are unacceptable to both the people of the region and the U.S. public. Obama and his minions say the U.S. and its allies will crush ISIS – but that will be like smothering one’s own child in its crib, and would remove all hope of the U.S. achieving its strategic goal of regime change in Syria.

Watch for the Big Switch

If Obama was serious about wanting to crush ISIS, the best and most logical ally would be Syrian President Assad, whose army has so far prevailed against every flavor of jihadist the U.S. has been able to throw at it, including ISIS in its previous incarnations. Nobody wants ISIS defeated more than Syria and its soldiers, more of whom have died in this U.S.-engineered war than any other group, civilian or rebels. If making the region safe from ISIS were the goal, Obama would coordinate his moves with the Syrian military. But he’s lying – just as the Bush administration lied to make the American people believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. The U.S. goal was not to avenge 9/11, but to invade Iraq. In the same way, Obama is compelled to respond to the defection of ISIS from western control, but his goal remains to overthrow President Assad. And, he will tell any lie, or combinations of lies, to somehow turn U.S. bombs on the Syrian government, under the guise of fighting ISIS. You can bet that the CIA is burning the midnight oil, seeking a pretext to turn this strategic U.S. defeat into an excuse to directly attack Syria. And that’s what makes this moment so dangerous.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20140827_gf_ObamaISIS.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:49am EDT

US Conf of Mayors Ferguson Press Release Shows Complicity, Irrelevance of Black Mayors, the Black Political Class

US Conf of Mayors Ferguson Press Release Shows Complicity, Irrelevance of Black Mayors, the Black Political Class

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

"What's wrong with this press release is that the mayors are elected officials who usually give orders to police departments..."

I got an email Friday from from former NBA star, husband of the detestable Michelle Rhee, and current mayor of Sacramento CA and chair of the US Conference of Mayors Kevin Johnson. It was a 5 sentence press release from Mayor Johnson on the situation in Ferguson MO.

The first sentence expressed "heartfelt condolence" to the family upon the death of Michael Brown. The second sentence urged a full investigation and "applauded" the president's announcement of a federal investigation. The third sentence said that the mayors have "a long track record" of commitment to community policing, and claimed that the mayors try to "identify & implement police department policies which will help prevent such incidents from occurring in the future." The fourth sentence said that they were working with President Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" initiative, and the fifth sentence said that they were the national reps of mayors of cities with over 30,000 people, and gave their Facebook and Twitter info.

What's wrong with this press release is that the mayors are elected officials who usually give orders to police departments. Mayors, hundreds of them black are elected by the people and responsible for what our disrespectful, brutal and occasionally murderous police do. Mayors don't have to wring their hands and offer condolences. Mayors, including black mayors can tell their police departments to refuse federal funding tied to the number of low level drug arrests they make, and actually get the black attorney general Eric Holder on the phone to explain why they need it. But they don't.

Mayors including the black ones don't have to mumble about community policing. They can actually can get Jeh Johnson, the Morehouse man & black head of Homeland Security, or somebody from the Pentagon on the phone and tell them to stop sending mine resistant armored vehicles, machine guns, sonic disruptor weapons, drones and storm trooper gear to their police departments when what they need is more money for jobs, schools and housing. But they won't.

"They don't have answers to poverty or gentrification or mass incarceration or the prison state,..."

Kevin Johnson and the US Conference of Mayors know very well that "My Brothers Keeper" isn't even a government program, that it's almost entirely the private charitable contributions of big corporations, some of the same big corporations that won't pay taxes to support schools and health care and infrastructure for everybody, some of the same corporations that got rich milking Detroit and other big cities before abandoning them. Whatever good it does do can dry up whenever the funders lose interest. They can count too, so they know that My Brothers Keeper's entire budget is onlh a fraction of the yearly INCREASE of the Fedeal Bureau of Prisons budget during every year of the Obama presidency.

The self-referential, self-satisfied, self-justifying press release of the US Conference of Mayors on the occasion of Ferguson is all too typical of our black black political class. They don't have answers to poverty or gentrification or mass incarceration or the prison state, even though its intake mechanism is the police departments under their control. They're not even looking for those answers. They're only looking to get contracts, to get elected, to get congratulated and to get paid.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com. And since corporate social media don't show you everything you need to know , and be sure to subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe, that's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works near Marietta GA and is a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20140820_bd_us_conf_mayors.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Ferguson Unmasks the War on Black America

Ferguson Unmasks the War on Black America

 

Ferguson Unmasks the War on Black America A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford “The military character and mission of the police is more clear today than when the Black Panther Party and others sounded the alarm in the Sixties.” The brave and besieged people of Ferguson, Missouri, have already caused serious complications for the U.S. National Security State. By virtue of simply standing their ground in their own small city, the demonstrators have forced the local, county and state police to show their true, thoroughly militarized colors. Ferguson’s righteous agitators and rebellious Black youth have succeeded in pinning down in one small space the armed forces of racist repression in full view of the corporate and the people’s media, so that the whole world can bear witness to the truth of what another generation proclaimed nearly half a century ago: that, in the Black community, the police are an army of occupation. The military character and mission of the police is more clear today than when the Black Panther Party and others sounded the alarm in the Sixties. Back then, the first SWAT teams were staking out sniper positions on city streets and the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration had only just begun to funnel millions of dollars in surveillance technology, guns, body armor and all manner of lethal equipment to local and state police departments across the country. The term “mass Black incarceration” had not yet been coined, but it was only a matter of time before a permanent, militarized police offensive against rebellion-prone ghettos would cause unprecedented numbers of Black prisoners to flow into the greatest gulag in the history of the world. A Force to Crush a People White America perceived that it was at war with Black people, who no longer knew their place – and so, places of confinement were made for them; fortified dungeons to house millions. Since America tells itself and the rest of the world that it does not make war on its own citizens, and that there is a sharp and Constitutionally defined separation between the military and civilian functions of the State, the war against Black people had to be called something else – a War on Drugs, or simply a War on Crime. Therefore, it was not long before the words “crime” and “drugs” and “Black” came to mean the same thing since, really, there was only one war going on. And, it continues, still. The young people of Ferguson, and greater St. Louis, and all of urban, suburban and rural Black America understand perfectly well that war is being waged against them. The powers-that-be every day of the year make it is crystal clear to Black people, especially Black men, that an overwhelming and lethal force is prepared to crush them – for any reason, or for no reason at all. This is the definition of a war of terror. It requires the aggressor to engage in constant and ever escalating displays of disciplined force – which is what militaries do. By refusing to disperse, the Black people of Ferguson have compelled the police to flaunt their military nature and mission before the eyes of the world. The American National Security State is embarrassed. But it will take a social transformation – that is, a revolution – to disarm the beast. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday. BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

own small city, the demonstrators have forced the local, county and state police to show their true, thoroughly militarized colors. Ferguson’s righteous agitators and rebellious Black youth have succeeded in pinning down in one small space the armed forces of racist repression in full view of the corporate and the people’s media, so that the whole world can bear witness to the truth of what another generation proclaimed nearly half a century ago: that, in the Black community, the police are an army of occupation. The military character and mission of the police is more clear today than when the Black Panther Party and others sounded the alarm in the Sixties. Back then, the first SWAT teams were staking out sniper positions on city streets and the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration had only just begun to funnel millions of dollars in surveillance technology, guns, body armor and all manner of lethal equipment to local and state police departments across the country. The term “mass Black incarceration” had not yet been coined, but it was only a matter of time before a permanent, militarized police offensive against rebellion-prone ghettos would cause unprecedented numbers of Black prisoners to flow into the greatest gulag in the history of the world. A Force to Crush a People White America perceived that it was at war with Black people, who no longer knew their place – and so, places of confinement were made for them; fortified dungeons to house millions. Since America tells itself and the rest of the world that it does not make war on its own citizens, and that there is a sharp and Constitutionally defined separation between the military and civilian functions of the State, the war against Black people had to be called something else – a War on Drugs, or simply a War on Crime. Therefore, it was not long before the words “crime” and “drugs” and “Black” came to mean the same thing since, really, there was only one war going on. And, it continues, still. The young people of Ferguson, and greater St. Louis, and all of urban, suburban and rural Black America understand perfectly well that war is being waged against them. The powers-that-be every day of the year make it is crystal clear to Black people, especially Black men, that an overwhelming and lethal force is prepared to crush them – for any reason, or for no reason at all. This is the definition of a war of terror. It requires the aggressor to engage in constant and ever escalating displays of disciplined force – which is what militaries do. By refusing to disperse, the Black people of Ferguson have compelled the police to flaunt their military nature and mission before the eyes of the world. The American National Security State is embarrassed. But it will take a social transformation – that is, a revolution – to disarm the beast. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday. BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20140820_gf_MilitaryCops.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:54am EDT

Is Democrats For Public Education Just a Toothless, Cynical Sound Byte?

Is Democrats For Public Education Just a Toothless, Cynical Sound Byte?

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Last month at a teachers union meeting the Democratic National Committee's Donna Brazile announced the formation of Democrats For Public Education. Supposedly DFPE will fight against the policies of elite Democrats and Republicans who want to privatize public education. As the daughter of a longshoreman from a family of teachers and a product of public schools Brazile declared herself unafraid to call out those of her own party who are demonizing teachers and privatizing public education, though as a top Democrat she did not use the p-word.

But Donna Brazile didn't call out anybody, not then and not in the month since. Because if she did name names, number one would have to be her president, Barack Obama, and number two would be his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Cabinet appointments are not accidents. Presidents pick appointees with proven commitment and track records of accomplishing the very policies a president wants imposed, and President Obama was deeply in the pocket of the charter school sugar daddies.

As Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan ravaged, savaged and privatized. He fired thousands of mostly black teachers with little or no due process, and handed big chunks of public resources over to the operators of private charter schools. This record and his personal friendship with the president got Duncan appointed Secretary of Education.

Over the last six years, President Obama, Secretary Duncan and their Department of Education have let representatives of the private charter schools, testing companies, and consultants from the Walton Family, Eli Broad, Bill & Melinda Gates and other foundations ideologically committed to running schools like businesses and education like a market write the federal guidelines school districts must follow to receive federal funds – something they call the Race To The Top program. The same consultants have also been allowed to deeply embed themselves embed themselves in the supposedly impartial private institutions officially recognized by the Department of Education which evaluate schools, school districts.

By now the processes of privatization have an institutional momentum backed up by billions of public and private dollars. You can't fight that juggernaut if you cannot name its name and the names of the politicians it buys and rents. But Democrats don't publicly criticize each other much, black Democrats even less, and a prominent black Democrat contradicting the black president is unthinkable, it's just not in their DNA.

So why does DFPE exist? It can raise money, but nothing compared to the vast sums its opponents can. Apart from possible interference in next year's Chicago mayoral contest, its only conceivable purpose is an utterly cynical one. DFPE will house surrogates for Hillary Clinton's 2018 campaign who will give the credulous faithful an excuse to believe that Hillary, unlike Barack, is not on the side of the privatizers and charter school sugar daddies, the same way Obama had unofficial spokespeople everywhere assuring us that he was pro net neutrality, against the Patriot Act, the Iraq war, torture, wanted to renegotiate NAFTA, and whatever else some of us wanted to hear. Democrats For Public Education is just that, the cynical sound byte that some self-deceiving Democrats need to hear.

Teachers unions after all, don't just provide big checks to Democratic presidential candidates, its rank and file activists are the foot soldiers, the door to door and phone canvassers, the flesh and blood of a nationwide street operation which a successful Democratic presidential candidate needs to mobilize the Democratic base. You want to make that happen you've got to tell those foot soldiers what they want to hear, whether your candidate means it or not. That's called a campaign field operation.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and while you're there be sure to subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon used to do campaign field operations, and is now managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a state committee member of the GA 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: 20140813_bd_dfpe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:46pm EDT

America: Young Black Men Have No Right to Life

America: Young Black Men Have No Right to Life

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

They can be arrested for nothing, or shot down in the streets with impunity.”

There are lots of pictures coming out of Ferguson, Missouri, a two-thirds Black town just outside St. Louis, where a policeman shot down Michael Brown, this past weekend. The 18 year-old’s last words before dying were: “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting.” The cop kept shooting anyway. The pictures show Brown’s body in the middle of the street, where it was left for four hours in the baking sun.

Other pictures show Brown’s grief-stricken mother, and his stepfather carrying a sign that said, “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son.” There are plenty of images from the two nights of disturbances in the town, where there isn’t really much to loot. However, I think the most poignant picture shows young Blacks blocking the street in front of the Ferguson police department, their upraised arms signaling surrender, just as young Michael did before the cop administered the coup de grace.

How different that picture would have been in 1966, when young Black people in California responded to murderous police violence with armed patrols of their own, under the newly formed Black Panther Party for Self Defense. The Party declared that Black people had just as much right to defend themselves as white people, including the right to defend themselves from the police, who act as an occupying army. Which is, of course, a self-evident truth.

The Mass Incarceration State

The Black Panther Party’s vigorous assertion of the right to self-defense prompted the U.S. government to double-down on its monopoly on the use of force – first, with a massive campaign of assassination and false imprisonment against Black radical leadership, many of whom still remain behind bars. Then, as the decade of the Seventies began, mass Black incarceration became the universal policy of the United States – north, south, east and west. A new class of Black politicians filled the void that police repression had created. These were men and women who were quite amenable to corporate rule and made comfortable homes in the Democratic Party. Even as the prison population rose to nine times 1970 levels, the Black Misleadership Class blissfully celebrated its own upward mobility.

Meanwhile, the Mass Incarceration State consumed millions of Black lives and consigned most Black communities to Constitution-free zones, where young Blacks could be arrested for nothing, or shot down in the streets with impunity, as was Michael Brown, and as happens to other young Blacks every day of the year.

The people who rule America no longer need Black labor. What they do need is a class that is forcibly anchored at the bottom of U.S. society, who can be scapegoated for whatever is wrong with America, and whose very presence serves as an excuse for massive urban dislocation and the steady erosion of civil liberties. Michael Brown and countless others have died in order to keep America deeply stratified. That’s the only use the United States has for young Black men.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com to sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

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

 

 

Direct download: 20140813_gf_DontShoot.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:10pm EDT

America: Young Black Men Have No Right to Life

America: Young Black Men Have No Right to Life

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

They can be arrested for nothing, or shot down in the streets with impunity.”

There are lots of pictures coming out of Ferguson, Missouri, a two-thirds Black town just outside St. Louis, where a policeman shot down Michael Brown, this past weekend. The 18 year-old’s last words before dying were: “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting.” The cop kept shooting anyway. The pictures show Brown’s body in the middle of the street, where it was left for four hours in the baking sun.

Other pictures show Brown’s grief-stricken mother, and his stepfather carrying a sign that said, “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son.” There are plenty of images from the two nights of disturbances in the town, where there isn’t really much to loot. However, I think the most poignant picture shows young Blacks blocking the street in front of the Ferguson police department, their upraised arms signaling surrender, just as young Michael did before the cop administered the coup de grace.

How different that picture would have been in 1966, when young Black people in California responded to murderous police violence with armed patrols of their own, under the newly formed Black Panther Party for Self Defense. The Party declared that Black people had just as much right to defend themselves as white people, including the right to defend themselves from the police, who act as an occupying army. Which is, of course, a self-evident truth.

The Mass Incarceration State

The Black Panther Party’s vigorous assertion of the right to self-defense prompted the U.S. government to double-down on its monopoly on the use of force – first, with a massive campaign of assassination and false imprisonment against Black radical leadership, many of whom still remain behind bars. Then, as the decade of the Seventies began, mass Black incarceration became the universal policy of the United States – north, south, east and west. A new class of Black politicians filled the void that police repression had created. These were men and women who were quite amenable to corporate rule and made comfortable homes in the Democratic Party. Even as the prison population rose to nine times 1970 levels, the Black Misleadership Class blissfully celebrated its own upward mobility.

Meanwhile, the Mass Incarceration State consumed millions of Black lives and consigned most Black communities to Constitution-free zones, where young Blacks could be arrested for nothing, or shot down in the streets with impunity, as was Michael Brown, and as happens to other young Blacks every day of the year.

The people who rule America no longer need Black labor. What they do need is a class that is forcibly anchored at the bottom of U.S. society, who can be scapegoated for whatever is wrong with America, and whose very presence serves as an excuse for massive urban dislocation and the steady erosion of civil liberties. Michael Brown and countless others have died in order to keep America deeply stratified. That’s the only use the United States has for young Black men.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com to sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

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

 

 

Direct download: 20140813_gf_DontShoot.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:06pm EDT

Long Live Gridlock and Paralysis of Both Big Business Parties

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Since the Left is non-existent on Capitol Hill, and barely evident in the society at large, nothing good can possibly emanate from the executive and legislative branches of government.”

The corporate media, whose job is to create impressions of reality while revealing nothing of actual substance, is full of scorn for the now adjourned 113th Congress, which, according to the New York Times, is “in a race to the bottom” with the previous Congress as the most “do nothing” ever. Media associated with the Democratic wing of the ruling duopoly are especially upset that the Republican faction has not cooperated with President Obama to get something – anything! – done, as if the nation and the world would be a better place if the two big business parties would only collaborate more closely with one another. The current state of congressional gridlock is, according to the pundits, the worst of all worlds.

The truth is, were it not for gridlock, President Obama would have engineered the utter annihilation of what’s left of the social safety net in a Grand Bargain with the Republicans during his first term office. That was his plan from the very beginning, when the new president announced that all entitlements, including Social Security, were on the chopping block. Before his first year was out, Obama had crushed the jellyfish that call themselves progressive Democrats in the health care debate. With his arms spread wide to embrace the Republicans as partners in the Age of Austerity, Obama offered to lead the wrecking crew that would finally demolish Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. But, the Republicans were so consumed with racially fueled fervor to destroy the First Black President, they rejected the Grand Bargain and chose gridlock, instead. Lucky for us! Given the circumstances, it was the best thing that could happen.

We need more ill feeling and deeper paralysis.”

Gridlock has been the order of the day for the past four years, dramatically inhibiting the flow of legislation. Since the Left is non-existent on Capitol Hill, and barely evident in the society at large – and with Black America, historically the most progressive constituency in the nation, now in its seventh year of self-imposed political irrelevance – nothing good can possibly emanate from the executive and legislative branches of government. The only kinds of measures that can sail through the gridlocked Congress are those designed to start a war with Russia or increase the killing power of the Israeli apartheid regime.

Given that we have, mainly, the Republicans to thank for the blessedly constipated condition of Congress, it follows that it is the Democrats, who keep harping on the need to “do something” to get the infernal legislative machinery rolling, who represent the greatest threat to the people’s interests.

In any event, it is definitely NOT in the interest of ordinary Americans for Democrats and Republicans to become more collaborative on the legislative agenda. On the contrary, we need more ill feeling and deeper paralysis in the ranks of the two big business parties. Until a movement can be created that will fight for the overthrow of Wall Street and its duopoly – Long Live Gridlock!

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com to sign up for email notification of new issues of our magazine, each Wednesday.

 

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

Direct download: 20140806_gf_Gridlock.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:33pm EDT

Black Is Back Coalition Holds National Conference in Philadelphia

Black Is Back Coalition Holds National Conference in Philadelphia

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The Coalition has been a singular example of independent Black political action and analysis.”

In November of 2009, the newly-formed Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations marched from Malcolm X Park through the gentrifying streets of Washington to the White House, loudly denouncing the First Black President of the United States. Barack Obama had been in office only ten months, but the militarist and corporatist trajectory of his regime was already quite clear. Obama had retained George Bush’s Secretary of Defense, escalated the drone wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, placed Bill Clinton’s Wall Street operatives in charge of the economy, announced his intention to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, even as he pushed through Congress a health care bill that was largely written by private drug and insurance companies. Like George Bush before him, Obama sabotaged the Durban II World Conference Against Racism, in order to derail demands for reparations for slavery and colonialism. And, only 100 days into his administration, Obama had served notice to African Americans that he would propose no programs to alleviate the suffering of Black America, which had been hit hardest by the economic meltdown.

The Black is Back Coalition was determined that the first politician in history to spend a billion dollars to win the presidency would not get a free pass from all of Black America – even if his father was an African. One of the biggest contingents in that first anti-Obama march and rally was the Newark, New Jersey-based People’s Organization for Progress, “POP” – perhaps Black America’s most dynamic regional grassroots organization. POP’s membership, after much debate, had endorsed Obama in the 2008 election, but that did not stop them from chanting their outrage at his policies at the gates of the White House. The African People’s Socialist Party, whose chairman first proposed formation of the Black is Back Coalition, had reduced candidate Obama to stuttering confusion when they challenged him with the simple question, “What about the Black community?” at campaign stop in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Unity in Struggle

The Black is Back Coalition has since marched loudly and often against Obama and the decadent imperial system that he serves. In yearly conferences and year-round political work, the Coalition has been a singular example of independent Black political action and analysis. As the Age of Obama draws to a close, the Black is Back Coalition is approaching its 5th anniversary and preparing for its Annual Conference, August 16 and 17, in Philadelphia. Affiliated organizations and individuals will gather to assess the state of Black people across the Diaspora, and to map strategy in the perilous months ahead.

After more than five centuries of European dominance of the world, a new epoch is dawning. Black people must fight to shape the contours of this new world, or be consumed in the spasms of the old imperial order’s chaotic demise. In Philadelphia, on August 16 and 17, the Coalition will gather once again to advance Black people’s unity in struggle – and to celebrate the fact...that Black is Back!

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of each new issue, every Wednesday.

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

 

For information on the Black Is Back Coalition Annual Conference, go to http://www.blackisbackcoalition.org/

Direct download: 20140730_gf_BlackIsBack.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:24pm EDT

Obama's Hot War

Obama’s Hot War

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Washington’s policy is the constant fomenting of war for the subjugation of the planet – or the world’s destruction, if the U.S. cannot remain Number One.”

The United States has set the world on fire. It is nonsense to talk of a “new” Cold War, when what the world is witnessing is multiple conflagrations as intense and horrifically destructive as at any period since World War Two. Virtually every one of these armed conflicts has been methodically set in motion by the only power capable of perpetrating such massive, simultaneous mayhem: the United States, along with its underlings in London, Paris and Tel Aviv – the true Axis of Evil.

Washington is embarked on a mad, scorched earth policy to terrorize the planet into submission through relentless escalation into a global state of war. Unable to maintain its dominance through trade and competition, the U.S. goes beyond the brink to plunge the whole planet into a cauldron of death. As Russia is learning, it is extremely difficult to avoid war when a great power insists on imposing it. That was a lesson inflicted on the world 75 years ago, by Nazi Germany.

Whoever coined the phrase “No Drama Obama” should be sentenced to a lifetime of silence. The First Black U.S. President systematically brought swastika-wearing fascists to power in Ukraine to start a war on Russia’s borders. The passengers of the Malaysian airliner are victims of Obama’s carefully crafted apocalypse, a pre-fabricated conflict that could consume us all. Obama methodically and without provocation laid waste to Libya and Syria, and now the jihadists unleashed by the United States and its allies are destroying Iraq all over again and threatening to erase Lebanon and Jordan and even the oil kingdoms of the Gulf. Obama has signed yet another blank check for Israel’s ghastly war of ethnic annihilation in Gaza – a crime against humanity for which the U.S. is fully as culpable as the apartheid Jewish State, which could not exist if it were not part of the U.S. superpower’s global war machine.

Wars “R” Us

Those who say the United States is adrift or has no coherent foreign policy are colossally wrong. Washington’s policy is the constant fomenting of war for the subjugation of the planet – or the world’s destruction, if the U.S. cannot remain Number One.

The Americans have made Africa into a killing field. Somalia and its people have been smashed and dispersed, setting the whole Horn of Africa ablaze. Ethiopia commits multiple genocides under U.S. sponsorship, while Washington’s mercenaries in Rwanda and Uganda grow fat on the bones of six million Congolese. South Sudan thrashes in agony, the result of dismemberment by American, European and Israeli ghouls. The sounds of chaos and mass murder reverberate from the Magreb in the North, through the vast Sahel region, and now deep into West Africa, a direct result of criminal U.S. aggressive war and regime change in Libya.

Obama “pivots” to East Asia with the goal of turning Japan into a militaristic state with an invitation to rejoin, after all these years, the game of global conquest. Poor Afghanistan and Pakistan have no future at all, unless the U.S. leaves their region and allows them to develop an organic partnership with China. But a world based on mutually beneficial relations among peoples has no room for empire – which is why the empire wages war against the world.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com and sign up for email notification each Wednesday, when a new issue of BAR appears.

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

Direct download: 20140723_gf_ObamaHotWar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:30pm EDT

The Big Sell-Out: The Congressional Black Caucus and the Internet

The Big Sell-Out: The Congressional Black Caucus and the Internet

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Ten Black lawmakers have written letters against Internet neutrality, and eight in support of free access to all.”

ColorOfChange.org, which aims to “strengthen Black America’s voice” through skillful use of the Internet, is confronting ten Black congresspersons for representing the interests of giant telecom corporations that are seeking to destroy Internet neutrality. The corporations have purchased the Black lawmakers services, in hopes of making the Internet a toll road on which the rich always have the right of way. The ten congresspersons signed a letter parroting their corporate benefactors’ line: that regulation is bad for the economy. These Black turncoats claim they are for what they call “an open Internet” – which actually means an Internet that is open for the business of providing the best services to the richest customers, while starving the rest of us of vital information on subjects like which of our Black congressmen are selling out to the highest bidder.

We’re always glad when Color of Change names the bad actors in the Black Misleadership Class. In this case, it’s the usual rogue’s gallery of the Congressional Black Caucus: Sanford Bishop and David Scott, of Georgia; G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina; Bobby Rush of Illinois; Corrine Brown and Alcee Hastings, from Florida; Bennie Thompson, from Mississippi; Dallas, Texas, congressman Marck Veasey; Lacy Clay, of Missouri, and Gregory Meeks, the corporate sell-out from New York.

Color of Change also gives credit to those 36 Democratic lawmakers that wrote a letter demanding the FCC protect Internet neutrality. The eight Representatives on the right side of the issue are: Keith Ellison, of Minnesota; Barbara Lee, of California; Andre Carson, of Indiana; John Conyers, of Michigan; John Lewis, of Georgia; Charles Rangel, of New York; and Bobby Scott, of Virginia.

Massive Rightward Shift

The Black Agenda Report team has been tracking the steady slide to the Right in the Congressional Black Caucus since 2002. Back in June of 2006, when the BAR team was writing for The Black Commentator, we reported the massive sell-out to corporations by Blacks on Capitol Hill. Huge telecommunications firms took the lead in buying off Black lawmakers – most notably, AT&T’s successful capture of Chicago congressman Bobby Rush, the former Black Panther, who sold his vote for a million dollars and the promise of a technology center for his district that never materialized.

Internet neutrality was at stake in 2006, as it is today. In an article titled “Black Caucus Caves to Corporate Power,” Bruce Dixon reported that all but 13 of 40 voting members of the Black Caucus sided with the corporations, and against Internet neutrality. In fact, the Black Caucus was deeper in the corporations’ pockets than the rest of the Democratic Party in the House. It seemed to be almost a package deal, with only 13 holdouts.

Because of such treachery, Congress failed to protect Internet neutrality in 2006. Now, the issue is before the FCC. Ten Black lawmakers have written letters against Internet neutrality, and eight in support of free access to all. My guess is that, eight years after the great sell-out, the majority of the Black Caucus remains firmly on the telecommunications plantation.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notification each Wednesday, when a new issue of BAR appears.

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

Direct download: 20140716_gf_CBCinternet.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:01am EDT

Black Is Back Annual Conference in Philly, August 16 and 17

The Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations is having its annual conference 10AM to 6 PM on August 16 and 17 in Philadelphia and you are invited.  

It's all happening at Uhuru Furniture and Colectibles, 832 North Broad Street.  The theme of the conference is 

"Resist US wars and occupations in the US and abroad, and reparations now!"

Hear African Socialist International chairman Omali Yeshitela, on resistance, and Glen Ford on Ukraine and the crises of empire.  See Ron Bobb-Semple as Marcus Garvey.  Meet Pam Africa of the Friends of Mumia, Kamm Howard, and Lisa Davis, and enjoy a weekend of cooperation on the road to something better.

Information and registration at 727-821-6621, or at http://BlackISBackCoalition.org.

Direct download: Black_Is_Black_Intl_Conference_Philly_Promo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:43am EDT

4th of July Fireworks, In Marietta GA, and in Gaza

4th of July Fireworks, In Marietta GA, and in Gaza

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

"This year as always, the Israeli fireworks in Gaza are artillery shells fired from tanks, or air to ground missiles shot from drones..."

The nightly news covered the fireworks in downtown Marietta GA where I live. But they didn't mention the fireworks in Gaza at all, even though some of the fireworks in Gaza took place at the same time. In Marietta they shoot these fireworks off every 4th of July. In Gaza they happen at the whim of the Israeli occupiers.

So many people came to see the fireworks in Marietta that the news broadcast traffic warnings. I imagine people in Gaza, news or no news, mostly tried to hide or flee the areas being fired on, if they could, and if there was anyplace to shelter or go to.

In Marietta the fireworks were crackling red, white and blue sparklers. They flared and glittered and mostly burned out against the night sky before falling harmlessly into the park. They smelled like fireworks, like gunpowder and burning paper. Whole families sat on parked cars and trucks and lawn chairs and curbs to see.

This year as always, the Israeli fireworks in Gaza are artillery shells fired from tanks, or air to ground missiles shot from drones and from the F-16s manufactured at the Martin-Marietta Lockheed plant only a couple miles away from here in Marietta Georgia. Past fireworks displays over Gaza have included white phosporus, a banned substance that self-ignites and burns white hot when exposed to air. But unlike the fireworks in Marietta GA, white phosphorus continues to burn after falling to earth, through walls and rooftops and flesh and bones. Israeli fireworks in Gaza certainly include high explosive rounds, and in the recent past even depleted uranium with lasting radioactive contamination.

"The nation that celebrates its anniversary on July 4 was built with stolen labor on stolen land. Many who did the stealing and their descendants celebrate the notion that their god blessed that theft.."

I don't know what burning schools and libraries or farms and irrigation works or blasted grandparents and aunties smell like, and they don't let people on the nightly news who know these things to tell us. We can only guess.

I suppose things are just different over there in Gaza. But maybe not so much.

The nation that celebrates its anniversary on July 4 was built with stolen labor on stolen land. Many who did the stealing and their descendants celebrate the notion that their god blessed that theft. You can't miss that on the 4th of July weekend, many of the white churches, and even a few of the black ones were ringed with hundreds of American flags planted every few feet. How different is that from state supported Israeli rabbis and politicians waving blue and white flags calling for the expulsion or extermination of Palestinians?

The differences are that (1) genocide and dispossession of native Americans was pretty much complete a dozen decades ago. Our authorities can now afford to manufacture and export the firepower to our allies in places like Israel where similar chores are being undertaken; and (2) that we and the world don't have to allow the brutal and genocidal occupation of Palestine and Palestinians to continue.

We can build and contribute to the global BDS movement, to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel and the Israeli state, until the day that Israel-Palestine becomes not an ethnocracy, only for those with J-positive blood, as Max Blumental puts it, but a state of peace, refuge, equality and prosperity for all who live within its borders.

And maybe back in Marietta GA, we can convert that Lockheed plant, the county's biggest private employer, away from manufacturing instruments of murder to making things that help people live better lives.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web atwww.blackagendareport.com, and be sure to subscribe to our free weekly email updates not on Facebook or Twitter but directly atwww.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That'swww.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a member of the state committee of the GA 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: 20140709_bd_fireworks_in_gaza.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:38am EDT

Coming to America: Mercenary Justice

Coming to America: Mercenary Justice

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

As long as the United States is allowed to act with imperial impunity on the world stage, its uniformed and civilian armed forces will recognize no limitations on their behavior.”

The trial of fourBlackwater mercenaries in the unprovoked massacre of Iraqi civilians in 2007 is probably not the biggest news item of the day for Iraqis, faced as they are with a national crisis of potentially apocalyptic dimensions. However, the events unfolding in a Washington DC federal court should be of critical interest to Americans, who will one day find themselves under the guns of mercenaries licensed to kill with impunity. In fact, it has already happened, in New Orleans, after Katrina.

Two years before the atrocity in Baghdad, Blackwater descended on New Orleans in force in the wake of the 2005 hurricane, setting up a downtown headquarters and deploying its troops in full battle gear, armed just “as they would be in Iraq.” Jeremy Scahill, reporting at the time for The Nation magazine, said Blackwater troops told him that in addition to having been authorized to use lethal force, they were also empowered to arrest citizens. Many of them had flown in straight from Iraq to occupy a great Black American city.

At least five mercenary companies patrolled New Orleans under contract with Homeland Security, including an outfit of Israeli ex-special forces troops under a company named Instinctive Shooting International. Civil liberties activists warned at the time that placing an American city under mercenary occupation is illegal, but neither President Bush nor Barack Obama nor the Congress or the courts have clarified the question of mercenary deployment. Therefore, it is all but inevitable that legions of hired killers and “instinctive shooters” from around the world will again be sent to U.S. cities, with consequences that will rival the carnage at Nisoor Square, in Baghdad.

The Long Mercenary Legacy

Mercenaries have a long history in the United States. The granddaddy of them all, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, founded in 1850, specialized in both raw thuggery and advanced intelligence gathering techniques to make millions defending ruling class privileges and property. The Pinkertons broke scores of strikes and created the first national criminal data base. The State of Ohio outlawed the Pinkertons in 1890, fearing it had become a private army, or an independent militia. By that time, the Pinkerton’s were a larger force than the standing army of the United States. In 1999, after almost a century and a half of service to the rich and powerful, the Pinkerton agency was sold to Securitas Security Services USA, which six years later took part in the Katrina occupation.

However, we must be clear that the driving force behind the explosive growth of killer corporations is the U.S. military, which trains the assassins and sends them on missions of murder around the globe, and later hires them at fantastic salaries through mercenary corporations, which in turn become indispensable to the U.S. war machine. As long as the United States is allowed to act with imperial impunity on the world stage, its uniformed and civilian armed forces will recognize no laws, no limitations on their behavior. Private soldiers and mercenary corporations are only reflections of the government that gave them birth.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. Go to BlackAgendaReport.com to sign up for email notification when we put out a new issue, each Wednesday.

 

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

Direct download: 20140709_gf_Blackwater.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:14am EDT

At the Core of the U.S. Supreme Court, A Cabal of Corporate Hit Men

The U.S. Supreme Court’s concept of corporate “personhood” apparently means that corporate religious rights – corporate gods – trump “the religious or secular beliefs of working people – specifically, working women.”

 

At the Core of the U.S. Supreme Court, A Cabal of Corporate Hit Men

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The Federalist Society, a cabal of corporate conspirators, is always only one vote away from an outright majority on the nation’s highest court.”

The U.S. Supreme Court acted with reactionary zeal, this week, to accelerate the march of corporate power into every nook and cranny of American life. The High Court handed down three decisions that most dramatically affect women, but are mainly intended to buttress the rule of the moneyed classes. In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the justices ruled that private corporations owned by religious fundamentalists have the right to eliminate contraceptive services from employee health plans, thus establishing the supremacy of corporate gods over the religious or secular beliefs of working people – specifically, working women. Thanks to the High Court, overwhelmingly female and non-white home health care employees – who have historically been among the country’s most poorly paid and oppressed workers, often laboring long hours with no benefits, no sick leave, and no security – will find it much harder to unionize. And, the Supreme Court decreed that women considering abortions at the dwindling number of clinics that provide such services will have to run the gauntlet of anti-abortion crazies, who can no longer be kept at a physical distance from the targets of their venomous free speech.

With every passing year, the federal courts become more firmly the domain of right-wing lawyers, whose mission is to set in stone the legal basis for a dictatorship of the rich. These judicial political hit men, including some women and lawyers of color, are chiefly organized under the banner of the Federalist Society. Formed in 1982 at the elite law schools at Yale, Harvard and the University of Chicago, the Federalist Society is most zealous in defending the rights of property and corporations. It now boasts 30,000 lawyers and 10,000 law students as members, including four of the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court: Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and chief justice John Roberts. That means the Federalist Society, a cabal of corporate conspirators, is always only one vote away from an outright majority on the nation’s highest court.

Money’s Unlimited Right to Speak

They are a devilishly clever crew, who revel in using the Bill of Rights as a weapon against the people. “Freedom of speech” was key to the Supreme Court majority’s arguments in the three recent cases. Justice Alito wrote that freedom of speech means workers cannot be forced to subsidize the speech of unions with whom they disagree. The ruling is a boon to corporate investors who want to corner the home health care market, which is projected to grow by 48 percent in the next eight years. Fewer unionized workers means higher profits. The High Court is super-sensitive to the free speech rights of anti-abortion activists, even as it typically sides with the State in creating vast zones where no free speech is allowed for those who oppose U.S. wars and corporate globalization. And, the Court’s recognition of corporate religious rights is based on the same bogus principle of corporate “personhood” that underlay its decision to allow virtually unlimited corporate contributions to political campaigns as a form of freedom of speech.

The Supreme Court’s legal logic grows clearer every year: The people have no rights that corporations are bound to respect.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up to get email notifications when a new issue is published, each Wednesday.

 

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

Direct download: 20140702_gf_SCOTUS.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:15pm EDT

What Black Lobbyists & CBC Members Mean When They Say “We Are Not A Monolith”

What Black Lobbyists & CBC Members Mean When They Say “We Are Not A Monolith”

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

What does it mean when current and former Congressional Black Caucus members like North Carolina's G.K. Butterfield and disgraced former Maryland Rep. Al Wynn, now a lobbyist for one of the firms that represent Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs, sit down for a TV interview with ex-CBC staffer and current corporate lobbyist Angela Rye, and between them in a seven minute interview they declare four or five times that“We are not a monolith”?

When I hear “monolith” I think of the floating, murmuring slab of rock left behind by ancient aliens in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.” But still it's hard to believe people are really confusing black elected officials and lobbyists with artifacts left behind by space aliens. When these folks say “we are not a monolith” it simply means “We're under NO obligation to represent you, and we ain't even tryin' so quit pretendin' like we need to.”

This was pretty much the theme of the June 23 session of Roland Martin's NewsOne Now titled “Has the CBC Sold Out To Big Banks” on TV One. The segment was a response to articles in the Huffington Post, Black Agenda Report, Breaking Brown, and elsewhere charging that CBC members, staff and black lobbyists were leveraging their “civil rights brands” on behalf of telecoms, banksters, gentrifiers, military contractors, Big Ag, Big Oil and so on.

Host Angela Rye led off with a self serving “we're not a monolith” screed bemoaning “the incredibly high and unrealistic standards” that the black caucus are held to, the notion that they should be accountable to the people instead of corporations. Rep. Butterfield, whom Rye says she calls “Dad 3” called the articles a disservice and agreed that “We're not a monolithic caucus.”

Rye pronounced herself especially offended by the charge that CBC members, staffers and especially lobbyists like herself doing the bidding of their corporate masters were “sellouts.” Former congressman Al Wynn, a man so eager to become a lobbyist that he resigned his seat before all the votes were counted in his losing primary election bid, almost sounded hurt as he called the sellout charge pejorative, “...offensive and patronizing.” In a fit of neoliberal logic that could have come straight from the lips of Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney, Wynn declared big banks and greedy corporations like the ones he represented in Congress and now shills for as a lobbyist had senior citizens and pension funds among their stockholders, that they were job creators and essential to the economy. These interests, all three agreed, deserved to have some black faces among their lobbyists and their supporters in the Congress, just as black communities deserved the opportunity to provide some of those black faces.

The two lobbyists and the congressman who is “Dad 3” to one of the lobbyists solemnly pronounced the reporting on the caucus unbalanced, their corporate benefactors essential to the welfare of the nation, and wondered aloud who these reporters actually talk to. And that was it, that was NewsOne Now for the day.

A lot happened in that seven minutes, none of it good, and none of it resembling journalism. Black corporate stooges in and out of government got a chance to publicly reassure and consoled one another, and to wisely inform ordinary people once again that the notion these black faces in high places might actually represent their interests was unrealistic. You've got a black face in a high place. What else do you need?

 

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Direct download: 20140625_bd_not_a_monolith.mp3
Category:Other -- posted at: 10:23am EDT

White Supremacy and the Central Park 5

White Supremacy and the Central Park 5

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

In America, white supremacy means never having to say you’re sorry, in any meaningful way.”

A settlement will soon be finalized, in New York City, that will award five no longer young Black men $40 million for spending between 7 and 13 years in prison for a crime they did not commit. Twenty-five years ago, the Central Park 5 – Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Kharey Wise – were almost universally described in the media in animalistic terms. They were a “wolf pack” that had gone “wilding” on a mad rampage of lust and brutality, raping a 28-year-old white jogger and beating her almost to death. The cops – experts at psychological operations against Black teenagers – coerced confessions from the 14, 15 and 16 year olds, and they were convicted in 1990.

Miraculously, in 2002, the real perpetrator, a total stranger to the young men, confessed to having committed the crime all by himself. Forensic science confirmed his guilt, and the convictions were vacated. Having lost that which could never be reclaimed – their youth – the Central Park 5 sued the police and prosecutors for false arrest, malicious prosecution and a racially motivated conspiracy to deprive them of their civil rights. But, official New York was unrepentant. The billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, insisted that the city had violated no one’s rights. The five Black and Hispanic men should just go on with their lives, and be grateful that they were no longer officially branded as brutal rapists. The police had acted in “good faith.”

The war against Blacks is a permanent feature of social control in the United States.”

Only a morally depraved, irredeemable racist would use the term “good faith” to describe the treatment accorded the Central Park 5. In a sane, non-racist society, the fact that five innocent children had been made to confess to a horrible crime that they did not commit would be viewed as a prima facie case of police misconduct. The onus would be on law enforcement to explain how such multiple miscarriages of justice could have happened in the absence of unlawful behavior by the police. But, in America, white supremacy means never having to say you’re sorry, in any meaningful way – and never relinquishing the authority to behave in exactly the same manner the next time it suits your purposes.

Thus, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to accept a $40 million settlement for the unspeakable crimes committed against the Central Park 5 is more controversial, in white society, than Mayor Bloomberg’s abject refusal to atone at all. It’s not that $40 million will break the city’s budget. New York paid out more than $700 million in settlements or awards from lawsuits for negligence, police abuse and property damage in 2012, and expects to pay more than $800 million a year by 2016. But, what they refuse to relinquish is the right to whip up racial hysteria at will, to treat Black children like wolves and other species of wild animals, to scream that Black bucks are running amuk.

The war against Blacks is a permanent feature of social control in the United States. Although the Central Park 5 were exonerated, and will now be monetarily compensated, their ordeal bore ample fruit for the white supremacist state. In the wake of the fictitious “wilding,” Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg were enabled to impose an even harsher, racially selective police state on Black and brown neighborhoods all across the city, ruining countless young lives.

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: 20140625_gf_CentralPark5.mp3
Category:Other -- posted at: 10:16am EDT

U.S. Funds “Terror Studies” to Dissect and Neutralize Social Movements

U.S. Funds “Terror Studies” to Dissect and Neutralize Social Movements

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

In the language of ‘terrorism studies,’ the human beings involved in these social movements are 'contagions,' as in vectors of disease.”

The U.S. Department of Defense is immersed in studies about...people like you. The Pentagon wants to know why folks who don’t themselves engage in violence to overthrow the prevailing order become, what the military calls, “supporters of political violence.” And by that they mean, everyone who opposes U.S military policy in the world, or the repressive policies of U.S. allies and proxies, or who opposes the racially repressive U.S. criminal justice system, or who wants to push the One Percent off their economic and political pedestals so they can’t lord it over the rest of us. (I’m sure you recognize yourself somewhere in that list.)

The Pentagon calls this new field of research “terrorism studies,” which is designed to augment and inform their so-called War on Terror. Through their Minerva Research Initiative, the military has commissioned U.S. universities to help it figure out how to deal with dissatisfied and, therefore, dangerous populations all around the world, including the United States.

The Minerva Initiative was the subject of an article in The Guardian newspaper by Dr. Nafeez Ahmed, an academic who studies international security issues. The Initiative seeks to sharpen the U.S. military’s “warfighter-relevant insights” into what makes people tick, and get ticked off at power structures, in regions “of strategic importance to the U.S.” Since the U.S. is an empire seeking global hegemony, and sees the whole world as strategic, the Minerva program’s areas of interest involve – everybody on the planet.

Total War Against the Planet

The Minerva project paid Cornel University researchers to find out when social movements reach a “critical mass” of people – a “tipping point” at which they become a threat to the powers-that-be. In the language of “terrorism studies,” the human beings involved in these social movements are “contagions,” as in vectors of disease. Neutralizing them becomes a job for “warfighters.”

The University of Washington is studying “large scale movements involving more than 1,000 participants” in 58 countries, to see how these folks kept their movements going.

So, now you know why U.S. intelligence agencies are tapping the telephones and Internet communications of virtually the entire population of the planet. They are mapping every conceivable human network, sifting through the myriad patterns of human association to find possible vectors of resistance, which are to be identified and eradicated, like a disease. American military and intelligence enlisted academics to study the dynamics of "the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey" – all with the aim of preventing similar “contagions” from spreading.

The United States military sees itself as engaged in a total war against the entirety of planet Earth: all of its people, its social movements and dynamics, are enemy territory, including the people of the United States.

When American rulers say they are defending U.S. national security interests against all potential enemies, what they really mean is they are defending the prevailing capitalist order against any social movement that might oppose it, anywhere on Earth. They want to put the hole planet on lockdown, and have enlisted U.S. universities in their global fascist project.

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: 20140618_gf_TerrorStudies.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:09pm EDT

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Blackwashing, the Reparations Brand, and a Last Refuge For Scoundrels

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Blackwashing, the Reparations Brand, and a Last Refuge For Scoundrels

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

Why is Ta Nehisi Coates suddenly a public reparista, and what does this say about the reparations movement?

Back in the day when black politicians used to fall out of favor, their friends ratting each other out before grand juries and prosecutors combing their personal records for evidence of wrongdoing, the standard thing for the political figure to do was to get very publicly right with Jesus. The church, after all, seems to never turn anybody down.

Nowadays a disgraced black politician is as likely to blacken herself up with a public embrace of reparations in addition to the old confession of religious faith. Like the church, all one has to do to join the reparations movement is to make that confession of faith, a kind of secular Shahada.

Nobody here at Black Agenda Report disagrees with the fundamental justice of the case for reparations. But it's a just cause with a huge problem. Reparations for the descendants of slaves, the victims of historic Jim Crow and the current prison state is an immense political problem. But apart from a single piece of legislation and a few lawsuits over the last 30 years, reparistas seem to take no responsibility for proposing, discussing or advancing even the sketchiest of political roadmaps to bring us to reparations.

I'm a lifelong socialist, somebody who believes political mountains can and must be moved. But when proponents of reparations don't even try to discuss what the needed political coalitions might look like, what sectors of society we need to win over to make reparations happen, or how many years or decades all this might take, are they acting like a political movement, or like something else? What kind of political movement advances no measures, discusses no plans, takes no responsibility for advancing its own just cause? The answer is that movements don't behave like that at all. But brands do.

Brands neither say what they mean, nor mean what they say. Brands are stories, brands are narratives contrived to get specific emotional reactions, to pull real or imagined memories, sights, smells or feelings from a target audience. To do this brands operate outside of and independent from fact and/or logic. Reparations is not a movement, it's a brand.

A centerpiece of the reparations brand is the study bill that Rep. John Conyers has introduced in every one of the last dozen Congresses except the 110th and 11th. In those two Congresses, Conyers, with four decades of seniority finally chaired the powerful House Judiciary Committee with the ability to move the study bill, or at least the discussion of reparations. If reparations was a movement instead of a brand, he would have done just that. But Conyers put the reparations study bill in his desk drawer until Republicans re-took the House and he no longer had that power. Safely back in the minority again in early 2011, he re-introduced the reparations study bill once more.

After five and a half years of the Obama presidency, during which the problems of black America were ignored and in some cases made worse, some of his black enablers and apologists feel the need to get their ghetto passes re-stamped. Wrapping themselves in the reparations brand is their way of asserting fictive allegiance to African Americans along with some imaginary distance from the president. If Wal-Mart and BP pretending to be environmentally responsible is greenwashing, this is blackwashing.

Polls indicate that a majority of African Americans do favor reparations. But in the absence of a reparations movement with discussions of plans and strategies, reparations is only a brand, available for scoundrels to hide behind whenever their ghetto passes need re-stamping. Today it's Mr. Coates. Tomorrow? Well...

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or emailed directly at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20140617_bd_brand_reparations.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:06am EDT

Black Response to the Koch $25 Million “Gift” Should Be a Movement For Free College Tuition

Black Response to the Koch $25 Million “Gift” Should Be a Movement For Free College Tuition

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

Back in the 1860s the first of our historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs were founded with dollars from white philanthropists. In the six or seven generations since we like to think we've come a long way. But have we really? The United Negro College Fund's eager acceptance of a $25 million dollar “gift” from the notorious Koch brothers ought to make us all wonder whether we're really movin' on up, or moving backward, and why.

By the 1960s and 70s, federal tax dollars were a substantial and rising portion of funding at HBCUs. That was real progress, because public funding of black higher education implies a public commitment, rather than dependence on the fickle whims of the wealthy. But college tuition has ballooned one thousand percent since 1978, and federal funding has not kept pace. Today's students are burdened by onerous debt which lenders have used their political influence to compound and make bankruptcy-proof. Higher education is in now danger of becoming an inherited privilege of well-off families, social mobility in the US is at an historic low. Instead of looking for ways to target increased funding to historically black colleges and universities, the Obama administration has made it harder for black families to qualify for college loans, causing thousands of young African Americans to forgo their dreams of higher education.

With historically black colleges and universities in a deep fiscal and strategic hole, accepting $25 million from the evil Koch brothers is not evidence of sagacity, pragmatism or wisdom. It's a decision to dig that hole even deeper.

If the gaggle of politicians, preachers, academics and business types who pass themselves off as our black leadership class possessed a shred of political imagination and moral courage they would study up, they would talk up, they would committeefy and they would help call into existence a movement demanding higher education as a human right and free college tuition for everybody. It's not an impossible dream – other countries, relatively civilized places less wealthy than the US like France and Norway already do this. A movement demanding free higher education and forgiveness of outstanding student debt, funded by taxing the rich instead of borrowing from or begging them is the kind of inspiring vision that could put tens or hundreds of thousands in the streets demanding real change. It could mobilize churches and unions, small towns and big cities, the young and the old, and make no mistake, it's the only way HBCUs will be rescued from this crisis with any integrity. Over half of black college grads are now working in jobs that don't even require a college education.

Begging harder or smarter, or being willing to accept funding from even more devilish devils is not the solution of visionary leaders. It's the refuge of lazy hypocrites and cowards.

Progress, as Frederick Douglass told us, only comes with struggle. Real leaders know how to envision the world as it should be and articulate that inspiring vision to the masses. They know when to demand what is NOT being offered, and how to pick a fight, because we cannot win what we will not fight for.

Education, including higher education is a human right. If we want HBCUs to survive the current crisis, it's time to stop begging and pick a fight. It's time to demand free higher education financed by federal tax dollars, and forgiveness of student loans. If our black misleadership class cannot get with that, it's time to sweep them to the side.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and be sure to subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party.

 



Direct download: 20140611_bd_uncf_vs_picking-a-fight.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:57pm EDT

Obama FCC's "Fast Lane" Proposals Spell The End of the Open Internet

The pending “internet fast lane” proposal advanced by President Obama's FCC chairman and telecom lobbyist Tom Wheeler isn't the end of the world, but it is the end of the internet as we know it. The FCC's proposal establishes the legal right of telecom monopolies to apply “market-based” charges for any kind of internet service they choose, for any reason they might invent.

So-called “fast internet lanes” will be given to wealthy corporations like ABC-Disney, CBS-Viacom, NetFlix, HBO, ESPN, YouTube, Amazon, and Facebook, which can afford to pay millions for the privilege of reaching you. Comcast, the biggest backbone owner and internet provider also owns NBC-Universal, including MSNBC, so they and other telecom monopolies will reserve the “fast lane” for their own content as well.

But under the FCC's current proposal, every other kind of internet traffic may be restricted, throttled, subjected to random tolls and extra charges, as long as these are justified by “market logic.” What kinds of internet content will suffer?

  • Broadcast radio stations that stream their content via the internet will have to pay up, or their listeners on the other end will have to pay to receive them;

  • Internet radio of all kinds has never made money, and will pretty much vanish because neither producers nor listeners will be able to pay tolls for lanes “fast” enough to reach or sustain an audience.

  • Vonage, Magik-Jack and other telephone providers whose calls are routed over the internet will have to charge more or be driven out of business;

  • Those discount long distance telephone cards won't be such a discount any more. They too route calls over the internet, and those companies will have to raise prices steeply to pay tolls or go out of business.

  • Small newspapers, journalistic enterprises, small businesses, community voices and blogs of all kinds will also be unable pay “fast lane” tolls and opinions independent of the owners of corporate media will become difficult to publish and hard to find.

  • Artists who sell their work over the internet will be forced to use just a few middlemen, like Amazon and Apple, which will take an even larger rake off the top and will possess nearly complete control over what is available.

  • Greedy telecom companies will finally achieve their dream of being able to charge for “long distance” or “international” email, or to limit the number of emails you can send, forward or receive without additional tolls.

  • Email listserves which send bulk email to customers and interest groups of all kinds might be forced to pay tolls as well.

Before the 60 day comment period on these new rules began on May 15, the FCC had already received more than 3 million pleas from the public NOT to end network neutrality, the technical name for the principle that all content from every provider should be freely available to all comers over the internet. This should have stopped the FCC and the Obama administration in its tracks. But the White House and the FCC are not listening.

It will take a vigorous and sustained public outcry to stop the FCC from turning the internet, originally designed and built by government employees with billions of your tax dollars, into a privatized corporate plantation, much like cable TV.

It's a political question, but not a partisan one. Democrats and Repubicans, omnivores and vegans, libertarians and socialists, anarchists and independents, artists, small businesses and everyone who believes the people's conversation should not be subjected to the whims of the market and monopolists ought to be in motion these next 30 days.

So send an email to openinternet@fcc.gov before July 15, but also get a half dozen or more of your friends to go down to your local congressman's office. Better yet, call a loud and disrespectful public meeting demanding that the internet be madea public utility, like it is in Taiwan or South Korea. Whatever you do though, do it now, before July 15, before the open internet is history.

 

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and be sure to subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe

Direct download: 20140611_bd_saving-the-internet.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:33pm EDT

CA Supermax Prisoners Win Right To Challenge Solitary Confinement As A Class

A Class Action Against the Torture of Solitary Confinement

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The ruling will force the state to defend its draconian policies.”

Prisoners held for ten years and more in solitary confinement at California’s infamous Pelican Bay supermax have won the right to challenge – as a class – the constitutionality of their treatment. A federal judge in Oakland has allowed five of the inmates to also represent 500 others who have spent a decade in isolation, as well as 1,100 additional prisoners who are confined in solitary for supposed gang membership. Lawyers for the Center for Constitutional Rights are handling the class action suit. The question they are posing is simple: Does ten years in solitary – and even longer, for dozens of inmates at Pelican Bay – amount to unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment?

Nowhere else in the world is solitary confinement practiced on anything like the scale of the United States, where 80,000 men and women are held in isolation on any given day. That’s significantly more than the total prison populations of France or Germany or Japan – a Solitary Confinement Prison Nation within the vast American Gulag.

Any sane and moral person would agree that solitary confinement for weeks and months, much less years and decades, is a uniquely ghastly form of torture that rips at the essence of what makes us human. It is the ultimate sentence of social death. The Pelican Bay inmates’ lawyers believe the recent ruling will, for the first time, force the State of California to defend its draconian policy on its merits. If 12 years a slave is a horror, how should one describe 12 or 20 years of solitary suffering? And, what do you call the people who enforce and defend such sadistic savagery – men with such hatred for their own species that they would torment fellow humans, endlessly?

The jailers’ roles are identical to those of the Nazi Gestapo.”

According to the lawsuit, solitary confinement, as practiced at Pelican Bay, is such a barbarity, it “renders California an outlier in this country and in the civilized world.” If it were not for the two hunger strikes staged by inmates over the last three years, the so-called civilized world would remain blissfully ignorant of the crimes routinely perpetrated against captive human beings by U.S. civil servants and dues-paying members of the guards union.

Under the California criminal justice system, solitary confinement is much more than just a punishment, or a security measure: it is a process. For the 1,100 inmates in solitary at Pelican Bay because of alleged gang associations, the process is designed to turn them into snitches or liars who finger innocent men. Release from solitary is possible only if one admits to gang affiliation and implicates other inmates – who will then be put through the same process. The jailers’ roles are identical to those of the Nazi Gestapo who tortured suspected members of the Resistance until they provided the names of their comrades, or of people they hardly knew, who would then become part of the same torture process.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl says he was tortured by his captors in Afghanistan, locked alone in a cage for weeks, maybe a month. In Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the prisoners exchanged for Bergdahl spent the last 12 years, the maximum isolation time allowed at a stretch is 30 days. So, it seems that by both the standards of the Taliban and Guantanamo, Pelican Bay, California, is the deepest level of Hell.

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: 20140611_gf_SolitaryConfinement.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:09pm EDT

Are We Passing the “Tipping Point” for Black Habitation in the Cities?

Are We Passing the “Tipping Point” for Black Habitation in the Cities?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

In Harlem and elsewhere in New York City, the tipping point has clearly been passed.”

Back in the early Sixties, sociologists began to use the term “tipping point” to describe white response to the entrance of Blacks into formerly white neighborhoods. The raw statistics showed clearly that such “tipping points” existed, although sociologists argued about the dynamics of precisely when white exits turned into sudden, wholesale flight. Certainly, real estate agents and developers understood the phenomenon, having set it in motion in city after city in the Forties and Fifties in order to make a killing in the market. So-called “block-busters” played on racist hysteria, buying up white properties at rock bottom and selling them at inflated prices to Blacks desperate to escape densely-packed ghettos. The churning of neighborhoods generated billions in profits and changed the face of America in a remarkably short period of time. Ultimately, whites’ refusal to share urban space with Blacks created an American racial and economic geography unique in the world, in which the Black and brown poor resided in hollowed out, shrunken, capital-deprived central cities surrounded by a belt of suburban white wealth – the exact opposite of the historical world model of urban development.

America, which invented modern white racism through the establishment of Black chattel slavery, had once again been reshaped through the socio-economic dynamics of white racism.

For more than half a century, racial tipping points referred primarily to the behavior of white people, a predictor of white flight, creating new spaces for Black habitation in the cities. But, racism is irrational, as were the socio-economic landscape created by white racism, with whites traveling ridiculous distances to find racially exclusive environments at affordable prices. The corporate class longed for the centralized amenities that only big cities can provide, and finance capitalists looked forward to trillions in added values if only the Blacks and browns could be evicted from urban real estate.

It is more like a purge, an ethnic cleansing.”

Finance capital, corporate muscle, and the political parties that serve them have set in motion the new phenomenon of Black flight from the cities, and white return. Unlike white flight of the previous era, the current Black exodus is mainly involuntary and economic. In reality, it is more like a purge, an ethnic cleansing based on the reality that, in a racist society, the very presence of substantial numbers of Black people brings down the value of land and other assets.

Today, the question in city after city is, What is the tipping point for maintaining Black populations? How many upscale, mostly white people does it take to make a neighborhood, and ultimately whole cities – like San Francisco – unaffordable and downright hostile to Black habitation? In Harlem and elsewhere in New York City, the tipping point has clearly been passed, as it has in Washington DC, and will soon occur in Atlanta. Blacks are under siege – up against the tipping point – in Chicago. Even in cities such as Baltimore, where Black majorities make wholesale purges impractical – for the moment – targeted Black neighborhoods are rapidly tipping. Outrageously, the governor of Michigan proposes to bring in a steady stream of upscale immigrants to dilute the 82 percent Black population of Detroit.

And yet, there is nothing approaching a national Black consensus on a response – which means the political tipping point may have already passed, and the purge of the cities will continue, without effective Black resistance.

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: 20140604_gf_TippingPoint.mp3
Category:Other -- posted at: 1:00pm EDT

1 Year After Chicago Closes 50 Public Schools, Chicago Teachers Union Report Assesses Lies & Lasting Damage

1 Year After Chicago Closes 50 Public Schools, Chicago Teachers Union Report Assesses Lies & Lasting Damage

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

The privatization of public schools is a public policy whose name is almost never spoken, and which is covered in the media as little as possible, and when some coverage is unavoidable, in misleading ways.

If CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News gave the school closings and privatization story a fraction of the coverage they gave deceptive and dishonest pro-privatization movies like Waiting For Superman and Won't Back Down, the outrage against the move to privatize education would be unstoppable.”

The one year anniversary of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel's closing of 50 Chicago public schools passed last week with only a couple stories in local media and no mention we could find anyplace outside Chicago. This too, is. Corporate media have no interest in revealing the truth, in revisiting the lies and broken promises of privatizers, and most of our black political class, from the National Action Network and NAACP to members of the Congressional Black Caucus, depend on grants, donations and campaign contributions from the privatizers.

The Chicago Teachers Union, practically the only institutional force in that city that honors its obligations to parents, students and communities as well as teachers, released a thoroughly researched report titled Twelve Months Later, The Impact of School Closings in Chicago. Assembled from operating and capital budget documents, position files, vacancy reports, interviews with teachers and a mountain of class size and other data, the report is available at the Chicago Teachers Union web site, www.ctunet.com, that's www.ctunet.com, I'll give the address again at the end. It is a damning indictment not just of Mayor Emanuel and his hand picked Chicago Board of Education, but of similar policies forced upon parents and school communities across the country by the bipartisan drive, called Race To The Top under the Obama administration, to privatize education.

The mayor and his stooges claimed 50 schools needed closing to save money because of low enrollment, and that transferred students would benefit from hundreds of millions in new money spent at the receiving schools – the schools transferred students were sent to. All that turns out to be a lie.

In the real world, the report shows, receiving schools only got a tenth of the “transition money” to spend on those new students, some $230 per pupil. By contrast, new Chicago charter schools got a dozen times as much, $2,770 per student. Only 38% of the receiving schools have librarians on staff, so the libraries in schools which have them cannot even be used for their intended purpose. Receiving schools got computer lab upgrades but only a fifth of them got a tech teacher. They got iPads but no instruction for teachers on how to integrate these into the children's learning. And of course, the shuttered schools and receiving schools are exclusively in poor communities, with a media income of $36K per year, compared to the $53K per year in the rest of the system's schools. In Chicago of course, the poor are almost entirely black and brown.

Among much else, the CTU report points out the creative, community building uses to which some schools were putting their so-called “underutilized” facilities to before the shutdowns, as well as the incredible chasm between the funds Chicago spends on its upper-tier selective enrollment schools – 3 of which got $68K per pupil in capital funds, compared to $3800 in the receiving schools.

The powers that be are not especially creative. The same lies Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Public Schools told the world to justify these closings are being repeated in New York, Philly, Atlanta, Los Angeles and scores of other US cities. By recording, recounting and reviewing these lies, comparing them to facts on the ground, CTU, the Chicago Teachers Union is doing an important service to students, parents, teachers and communities around the country. Read their report, Twelve Months Later, The Impact of School Closings in Chicago at their site, www.ctunet.com, that's www.ctunet.com and keep it in mind when the mayor and school board in your town tell you the same lies.

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 can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20140528_bd_one_year_after.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:42pm EDT

Black Caucus Members Shame Themselves, as South America Warns U.S. Not to Sanction Venezuela

Black Caucus Members Shame Themselves, as South America Warns U.S. Not to Sanction Venezuela

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Even Colombia, Washington’s client state in the region, joined in rejecting U.S. sanctions.”

The U.S. House of Representatives began debating, on Wednesday, a bill to impose sanctions on Venezuela for supposed human rights violations. A similar bill has already cleared important hurdles in the Senate, and it is questionable whether the Obama administration could prevent passage in both Houses of Congress, even if wanted to. It’s all part of U.S. blustering and bullying in Latin America, a continent that refuses to be treated as Uncle Sam’s back yard. Foreign ministers from all 12 members of the Union of South American Nations last week spoke with one voice, declaring that U.S. sanctions would represent "an obstacle” for the Venezuelan people to “overcome their difficulties with independence, and in democratic peace.” Even Colombia, Washington’s client state in the region, joined in rejecting U.S. sanctions.

Unlike the Organization of American States, or OAS, the Union of South American Nations has no role for the United States or Canada, although Mexico and Panama have observer status. The late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez was a prime mover in creating the Union, to allow South Americans to forge their own economic and political ties without interference from the imperial behemoth to the North. Were it not for South American solidarity in the face of constant U.S. threats against Venezuela, the U.S. would be moving even more aggressively to turn the socialist government into a failed state, ripe of plucking.

These overtly racist elements have staged violent demonstrations since February.”

Ever since the defeat of a U.S.-backed coup in 2002, Washington has financed and trained a right-wing Venezuelan opposition centered in the mostly white upper classes of the country. Unable to win victory at the polls, these overtly racist elements have staged violent demonstrations since February, openly vowing to make the country ungovernable. President Nicolás Maduro’s government has been cautious in containing the outbreaks – more cautious than some of his comrades would like. Maduro has called on President Obama to stop destabilizing his country, to join a commission to discuss “peace and sovereignty” – and to call off those American factions that, Maduro says, are out to assassinate him. In his appeal to the U.S. president, Maduro noted that he, like Obama, has “African grandparents.” Hugo Chavez was also proud of his African ancestry.

However, the Black delegation to the U.S. Congress from Florida is nothing for any Black person to be proud off. All three Black Caucus members from the state – Corrine Brown, Frederica Wilson, and Alcee Hastings – signed on as co-sponsors of the Venezuela sanctions bill. Once again, the Black Misleadership Class shames 40 million African Americans with their slavish devotion to the imperial powers-that-be. Venezuela is overwhelmingly a black and brown country struggling to overcome centuries of racist internal rule and national subjugation to the will of the White Colossus in the North. The brown Obama is no better, nor are the sycophants of the Congressional Black Caucus, whose notions of solidarity begin and end with a checkbook.

If Venezuela’s sovereignty and dignity are to be preserved, it will be through their own efforts and the determination of South Americans to run their own affairs, to act in the spirit of Chavez, and the still-living example of Fidel.

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: 20140528_gf_VenezuelaSanctions.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:00am EDT

Molefi Asante Must Go, Say Students and Educators

Molefi Asante Must Go, Say Students and Educators

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Asante has succeeded only in making himself a liability to Temple University.”

What began, last year, as a student and community battle to save African American Studies from a racist Dean of Liberal Arts at Temple University, in Philadelphia, is now compelled to also confront the bizarre and ugly specter of McCarthyism in Blackface. Molefi Asante, who became chairman of the African American Studies Department thanks to the student and community campaign, almost immediately betrayed them by collaborating in the firing of Dr. Anthony Monteiro, a leader of the protests, native Philadelphian and W.E.B. Dubois scholar who has taught African American Studies at Temple for a decade. Asante initially claimed he had nothing to do with Temple’s refusal to renew Monteiro’s contract, but, after university officials pointed at him as the instigator of the firing, Asante admitted that he wanted Dr. Monteiro out so that he could remake the department to more closely reflect his own narrow, cultural nationalist politics. In other words, it was a political dismissal.

Then, on May 8, Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Marc Lamont Hill joined a rally in North Philadelphia demanding Dr. Monteiro’s reinstatement and denouncing attempts to purge the radical Black tradition from Black Studies. Asante went on a witch-hunt, calling Cornel West and Marc Lamont Hill “dupes” and describing Dr. Monteiro’s student supporters, who comprise a racial and political rainbow, as “white communists.” Asante claimed the North Philadelphia community had not attended the rally, when in fact a prominent community leader had organized it. Asante slandered Dr. Monteiro as a “charlatan,” and “low-level purveyor of Marxism and anti-African ideas.”

Asante has succeeded only in making himself a liability to Temple University. The scholars who drafted a letter demanding Monteiro’s reinstatement, with tenure – which was signed by 250 prominent educators – have issued a new statement, They deplored “Dr. Asante’s brazen demonization of student protesters and his deployment of racially divisive attacks,” saying this, “together with previous, well-publicized charges of plagiarism and abuse of authority…make him unfit to make decisions about faculty or lead an academic department.”

Fear is the only card Dr. Asante has left to play.”

The students that Asante verbally abused also say he must be “held accountable.” They rejected Asante’s ludicrous and ahistorical claim that socialism is somehow anti-Black or anti-African, pointing out that W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela were socialists, as was Kwame Nkrumah, the giant of modern pan-Africanism.

The students, who gathered 2,000 signatures of support from their peers at Temple, said Asante had “firmly attached” himself to the right-wing politics of Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover. “Having been thoroughly discredited for his betrayal of Dr. Monteiro and North Philadelphia,” the students wrote, “fear is the only card Dr. Asante has left to play.”

That, and his claim to be super-Black, the ultimate African when, in the real world, he and others like him are ready to betray the struggle at the first opportunity – as they have repeatedly, here and on the continent. Time after time, those who struggle for transformational change find that they must first fight their way through layers of Asantes before they can do righteous battle with the people who actually hold power.

In this case, ironically, it is likely that the people in power will decide that Molefi Asante and his madness are too big a burden for Temple University to bear. They, too, will conclude that Asante must go.

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: 20140521_gf_AsanteMustGo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:06am EDT

Molefi Asante: Portrait of a Redbaiting Bootlicking Rat

Molefi Asante: Portrait of a Redbaiting Bootlicking Rat

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Molefi Asante’s McCarthyism sounds like a relic from another age.”

Dr. Molefi Asante last year regained the chairmanship at Temple University’s African American Studies Department on the strength of a campus/community coalition organized largely by Dr. Anthony Monteiro, a veteran activist-scholar. Monteiro and others linked the fate of African American Studies at Temple with the struggle against gentrification of the surrounding North Philadelphia neighborhood and with larger issues of social justice. No sooner had the battle been won, than Asante conspired with white university officials to terminate Dr. Monteiro’s contract.

Asante’s behavior was typical of narrow cultural nationalists, who wear Africanesque wardrobes and pose as the ultimate Race-men, but ultimately wind up as chief bootlickers, servants and agents of white corporate power.

When Temple University informed Dr. Monteiro that his contract would not be renewed, Asante pretended that he had had nothing to do with it. However, as the campus/community coalition intensified its demand for Monteiro’s reinstatement, with tenure, the administration outed Asante as the instigator of his colleague’s termination. Exposed as a back-stabber, Molefi Asante appears to have lost what’s left of his mind.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Asante lashes out at Dr. Cornel West, probably Black America’s best known public intellectual, and at Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, the Philadelphia native, Columbia University professor, and TV personality, both of whom spoke at a recent rally for Dr. Monteiro. Drs. West and Hill are “dupes,” according to Asante. So is Pam Africa, the sister at the center of so many actions in support of Mumia Abu Jamal. The local community has been “misguided” by Monteiro the Marxist and his white communist allies who, the redbaiter Asante says, are promoting “an anti-African ideological view.”

Spoken like a dashiki-wearing J. Edgar Hoover.”

Molefi Asante’s McCarthyism sounds like a relic from another age. His incredibly poorly written letter reads like a script from a 1950s Red Scare TV show. Dr. Monteiro is described as “skilled at propaganda in the vein of a leftist apparatchik.” Asante attempts to expel Black Marxists – or anybody Black that he suspects of being Marxists, or “dupes” of Marxists, or people like Drs. West and Hill, who are “doing their leftist duties” – from the Black radical tradition, which Asante claims “has always been Black Nationalist.”

This is some shrill and crazy stuff, spoken like a dashiki-wearing J. Edgar Hoover. When Asante says that “Tony Monteiro is a low level purveyor of Marxism and anti-African ideas,” all you have to do is substitute “African” with the word “American” and he sounds just like Ronald Reagan. Asante even attempts to take a swipe at Black Agenda Report, but says he’s waiting “for the ancestors” to give him the wisdom. That will be a long wait.

In reality Asante is just a rat who, as soon as a campus/community coalition got him his job back, ran straight to The Man promising to get rid of these same radicals and activists who’d been giving the university so much trouble about racism and gentrification. He is beneath contempt – and neither a scholar nor a brother.

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: 20140514_gf_AsanteRat.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:10am EDT

Call the FCC – If Obama's FCC Doesn't Restore Network Neutrality, Black Agenda Report Will Die

Call the FCC – If Obama's FCC Doesn't Restore Network Neutrality, Black Agenda Report Will Die

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

“...the neoliberal internet, according to proposals Barack Obama's FCC chief Tom Wheeler is expected to make today, will have fast lanes, slow lanes and dead ends, depending on how much or how little the producers of web content are willing to pay ...”

Neoliberalism is the backward, predatory notion, that every civic, social or human function ought to be governed by and through the market. If the rich can't get richer from something, it probably shouldn't be allowed to happen, or at least it needs to “reformed” so banksters and other parasites can collect their tolls.

Neoliberal education turns teachers into Wal-Mart workers and public school systems into privately owned charters with a trillion dollar marketplace for testing and other contractors. Neoliberal agriculture grants agribusiness firms intellectual property patent rights on crops so farmers can't plant without paying up, and crops that won't grow without expensive herbicides and pesticides. Neoliberal “health care reform” was about subsidizing crappy private health insurance, often with high deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance, no protections against medical bankruptcy, plenty of exemptions for employers and often skimpy actual care, all paid for with public money.

And the neoliberal internet, according to proposals Barack Obama's FCC chief Tom Wheeler is expected to make today, will have fast lanes, slow lanes and dead ends, depending on how much or how little the producers of web content are willing to pay Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other so-called “owners” of the internet backbone, which was originally tested, designed and built by government employees on the public dime and given to them for pennies on the dollar.

In true neoliberal fashion, the regulating won't be done by big government, but by greedy corporations, pretending to be something they call “the market.”

You'll still be able to pay your mortgage and utility bills online, and reach Disney.com, HBO Go, WhiteHouse.gov, local government and CNN, even YouTube, though you might have to pay extra for that. Facebook and Twitter will still be around. But internet radio will die overnight, while blogs, online journalism and oppositional reporting and commentary like Black Agenda Report will be made inaccessible. You might even have to pay to send email, or to see sites and content outside the US.

With the internet a private toll road, those low cost phone cards, which route your phone calls over the internet could see steep price increases, unless they're issued by the same companies that own the internet backbone. Without network neutrality, internet companies could even dictate what kinds of machines or programs you connect to the net with, and refuse connections to those of which they do not approve.

“...Call the FCC today at 1-888-225-5322.... and tell them the internet should be a common carrier, not a neoliberal toll road, ...”

If Obama's FCC chief gets his way, this is what the end of network neutrality will probably look like. Back in 2007, when Barack Obama needed all the Democratic primary election votes he could get, he declared that his administration “...would take a back seat to nobody” when it came to protecting net neutrality. Neutral networks don't care where you access them from, or what you access them with. Neutral networks are common carriers, unable to discriminate for or against content based on who produced it or who wants to use it.

Apparently, President Obama lied. Both his FCC chairmen came in the revolving door from jobs lobbying for the cable and telecom industry, just like George W. Bush's FCC. Corporate media almost never cover stories about their own monopoly power, and this is no exception. And even though more than a million people have already voiced opposition on the phone and email to Congress, the White House and the FCC, all the talk around these proposed FCC rule changes is that they're unstoppable, a done deal.

But that's also what they said back in 2003, when Bush's FCC chair proposed to allow unlimited monopoly concentration of newspaper, radio & TV stations in any US market. Before it was over, members of Congress were being ambushed and cornered by their outraged neighbors in visits home, public meetings were conducted in dozens of towns and cities, and millions more had voiced their opposition. Bush's FCC caved, and Obama's FCC can be forced to do the same.

Call the FCC today at 1-888-225-5322. That's -1888-225-5322 and tell them the internet should be a common carrier, not a neoliberal toll road, and if you're seeing this on the internet forward it your entire email list. Do it now. While you still can.

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

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

 

For Black -225-5322

Direct download: 20140514_bd_fcc.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:12am EDT

Segregation Rebounding: The Political Defeat of School Integration

Segregation Rebounding: The Political Defeat of School Integration

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Court orders were only effective if the judges were diligent and officials were willing to enforce them.”

Fourteen years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregated education unconstitutional, the justices determined that the pace of integration, which was supposed to be proceeding “with all deliberate speed,” was far too slow. In it’s 1968 ruling on the Kent County, Virginia, schools, the High Court ordered that segregated systems must be dismantled “root and branch.” That meant classrooms, faculty, other school system staff, extracurricular activities, and the transportation that took the kids to and from school. This “root and branch” ruling put school desegregation into higher gear. Judges across the country issued orders on how school systems must go about desegregating, some of them in great detail and with close oversight from the court. At the height of judicial desegregation activity, 750 school districts were under court order.

Three hundred school districts remain under desegregation order, today, but some of those communities don’t even know the order is still in effect, many have substantially resegregated, and the Justice Department is sometimes also in the dark, according to Nikole Hannah-Jones, who spent a year researching her authoritative article “Lack of Order: The Erosion of a Once-Great Force for Integration.” The story is part of ProPublica’s series “Segregation Now,” a study of the various forms of racial segregation in the United States.

Some communities don’t even know the order is still in effect.”

The fight for school desegregation badly needed the Supreme Court’s “root and branch” mandate. In 1963, only about one percent of Black kids in the South attended integrated schools. But by the early Seventies, fully 90 percent of Blacks in the South attended desegregated schools. However, court orders were only effective if the judges were diligent and officials were willing to enforce them. When Ronald Reagan entered the White House, his Justice Department actively opposed school integration. So did both presidents Bush. Reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones found that the Obama Justice and Education Departments don’t even have an accurate list of the desegregation orders that remain legally in effect in local districts.

It appears that desegregation has been abandoned for so long in some school districts, that the locals assume the court orders are no longer in effect. No one paid the court order any attention in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, for 30 years. In Gadsden, Alabama, a judge released the school district from a desegregation order, even though nothing had been done to dismantle segregation, one high school was 90-percent Black, and another school was still named for Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest. Nevertheless, the judge said he was satisfied that folks in Gadsden got along better than people in Kosovo or Northern Ireland.

The lesson of the ProPublica story appears to be that segregation was never eliminated “root and branch” partly due to lack of consistent enforcement of court orders over time, and in some cases for reasons that nobody seems to remember. Today, Black students are more segregated than in the Seventies, but all the Obama administration wants to talk about is testing and getting rid of teachers, and turning schools into privately-managed charters – which studies have shown tend to be more segregated than public schools.

The political defeat of school integration appears to be all but complete – except on television shows and in the movies.

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: 20140507_gf_SchoolIntegration.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:08am EDT

Donald Sterling Thinks He Owns Basketball Players, But Really Does Own the NAACP

Donald Sterling Thinks He Owns Basketball Players, But Really Does Own the NAACP

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

For us at Black Agenda Report, the most telling angle on the story of Donald Sterling, the racist billionaire owner of the LA Clippers, was that the Los Angeles NAACP , which had been about to give Sterling a second – not a first but a second “Lifetime Achievement Award” eagerly stepped forward to offer redemption and forgiveness for the small cost of a few more strategic donations from the deep pockets of Donald Sterling.

This won't be the first time Sterling has purchased absolution for his many sins. In 2003 Sterling settled a housing discrimination lawsuit paying $5 million to plaintiff attorneys alone, and in 2006 he was accused again of refusing to rent apartments to African Americans and Latinos. But a steady stream of donations to big-name so-called civil rights organizations amounting at most to a few ten thousandths of his net worth, were sufficient to make it OK in the eyes of those outfits, and in the case of the NAACP, they were sufficient to get him that first “lifetime award.”

Depending on the rich and powerful to pay their bills while pretending to speak for the poor and oppressed is not a mere bug in the way our 21st century civil rights organizations function, it is a fundamental feature, baked into the bones not just of the NAACP, but of the National Urban League, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the National Conference of Black State Legislators, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Al Sharpton's National Action Network and many others of this kind.

In the practice of catching corporate racists with their pants down and extracting a franchise here, a dealership there, a TV show or hefty donations to worthy causes the hunter always gets captured by the game. In Georgia where I live, the Southern Christian Leadership Council got the CEO of Georgia Power to head up their building fund. Residents of Shell Bluff, a poor, mostly black town invited Rev. Joseph Lowery of SCLC to their town to show him their cancer epidemic, evidently caused by adiation from a leaking Georgia Power nuclear plant, while federal agencies refused to fund testing of their air, water, soil, wildlife or persons. Georgia Power is now building brand new nuclear plant next to the old ones with $800 million in loan guarantees from the Obama administration. But all that SCLC could do was tell them, “go vote.”

Wells Fargo had aggressively sold sub-prime mortgages to blacks, and is believed to have engaged in thousands or tens of thousands of the same kinds of robo-signings and illegal foreclosures that Bank of America pled guilty to. So after the bailout, Wells Fargo partnered with the NAACP to do “financial literacy” classes for youth. There are examples like this in any direction one cares to look.

Donald Sterling may imagine he owns basketball players. But he really does own the NAACP, just as surely as Verizon and Comcast, Aetna, Wal-Mart, MSNBC and others own the National Action Network, Rainbow-PUSH, the Urban League, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the rest of our politically bankrupt black misleadership class. 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 can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com or via this site's contact page.

Direct download: 20140430_bd_naacp_sterling.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:48pm EDT

USA: Bad Jobs Country

USA: Bad Jobs Country

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

You will hear no countervailing vision from the Democrats, whose message differs from Republicans only in tone, not in substance.”

A new study shows that the U.S. economy has finally produced more jobs than there were before the Great Recession of 2008. The problem is, they’re mostly bad jobs in fast-food restaurants and low-wage retail. The National Employment Law Project found that there are almost two million fewer good paying jobs than there were back in 2008, but also close to two million more jobs in the low-wage sector of the economy – meaning, most of the new jobs have been bad jobs.

Actually, the change in the jobs picture during the Great Recession was just a speeded up version of what capitalism has been producing in the United States for more than 30 years. It is by design. Every time employers have turned the screws on labor, in terms of wages, benefits and jobs security, Wall Street has rewarded those companies. The Lords of Capital have also richly rewarded the politicians from both parties for removing the remaining obstacles to the direct rule of the rich.

Capital’s global plan is to reduce all workers to a state of absolute insecurity, so that they will accept those bad jobs without complaint. That requires the destruction of what we used to call the social safety net – a term that sounds increasingly quaint in the dog-eat-dog environment engineered into the system by Wall Street.

Make no mistake about it: austerity is the common program of both the business parties. That’s why you will hear no countervailing vision from the Democrats, whose message differs from Republicans only in tone, not in substance.Both answer to the Lords of Capital.

Big Capital’s intentions have been quite clear for decades.”

Barack Obama, the great actor and political chameleon, pretends to commiserate with his Democratic minority and working class constituents. Like his mentor, Bill Clinton, Obama claims to feel their pain. Yet, he is feverishly working to pass trade treaties that will further establish the legal structures of the global race to the bottom – treaties so blatantly biased towards corporations and against every principle of democracy and national sovereignty, that the language must be kept secret.

However, the main problem for American workers isn’t that Wall Street’s economic and social plans are secret – because, for the most part, they’re not. Big Capital’s intentions have been quite clear for decades. The NAFTA trade treaty has been savaging U.S. factory workers and Mexican peasants for 20 years. The Democrats were in power when the banks were set free to loot and plunder 15 years ago. Every employment study has tracked the steady decline of union membership, which the Democrats have done virtually nothing to reverse. That’s quite understandable since finance capital has steadily increased its campaign contributions to Democrats. None of this has been a secret, and no one should be surprised that, as a result, most new jobs are bad jobs. As far as Wall Street is concerned, that’s good news.

What makes the current era different from the past, is that neither of the business parties even bothers to pretend that it has a plan for a good jobs society. That means the people must put forward their own plan, through their own organizations – and learn to avoid the Democrats, whose job is to nip genuine people’s movements in the bud, so as not to disturb the corporate order.

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: 20140430_gf_BadJobs.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:40am EDT

“Chicagoland” Hero Cops Cook Books to Make Murders Disappear, CNN Pretends Not To Notice

“Chicagoland” Hero Cops Cook Books to Make Murders Disappear, CNN Pretends Not To Notice

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

Chicagoland is a fake “documentary” an 8 part miniseries length campaign commercial currently airing on CNN. It's a commercial for Obama's former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, a character many say was only elected mayor of Chicago because Obama personally came back to town to lay hands on him.

Chicagoland is produced by the same right wing hack outfit that produced Brick City, a similar commercial pretending to be a documentary for Corey Booker in his re-election bid for mayor in Newark a few years ago. Rahm Emanuel's bid for re-election is only months away, and like Corey Booker he is reputed to have ambitions beyond City Hall.

Chicagoland is a commercial for a neoliberal vision of America, in which teacher and public employee wages and pensions are driving the city to ruin – a lie; in which throwing public money at big league sports teams is a “job creator” and holds the city together – also a lie. It paints clever tax rules called TIFs an acronym for “tax increment financing” keep wealthy neighborhoods from having to share their property tax revenue with the rest of the city, as good economic development tools. Chicagoland portrays the mayor as a tough-talking character with a soft spot for black young people, whom he scoops at random off west side streets to mentor – if not a lie than surely beside the point. Chicagoland wants us to imagine that an epidemic of violence with no particular cause threatens to swamp the city, but Chicago's cops are the thin blue line succeeding under Emanuel's leadership at holding the murder rate down and making the city safe for all of us. Except that's a lie too.

In the months since the series was filmed, real Chicago journalists, have been question the city's suspect murder stats, and now the answers are in. Chicago's top cop Garry McCarthy, who as police chief in Newark co-starred in Brick City as well, cooked the books to make dozens of Chicago murders disappear the last couple years in a row. Homicides committed on freeways running through the city? Well those freeways are patrolled by the state police, so Rahm Emanuel's cops omit those from their stats. Month-old corpses found in vacant warehouses who died naked and tied to chairs? Gunshot wounds to the head? Cases like these have been classified as “unexplained deaths.” Not once or twice but dozens of times over the last couple years.

This is the same Chicago police department that throws tens of millions in public money out to settle cases where its brutal cops maim, mistreat and kill civilians. It's the same police department that pays a generous monthly pension to former police commander Jon Burge, convicted of supervising the torture and false confessions of dozens.

CNN bills itself as “the most trusted name in news.” It's given big play to “Chicagoland.” But CNN has yet to mention on the air how the supporting cast of its own campaign commercial actually does make the city safer, at least statistically, for us all.

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

 

Bruce A. Dixon is a native Chicagoan now living in exile in the suburbs of Atlanta, where he works as an IT professional and is co-chair of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20140423_bd_chicagoland_murders_disappear.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:50pm EDT

Ford and IBM May Have to Answer for Their Role in Apartheid

Ford and IBM May Have to Answer for Their Role in Apartheid

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The judge rejected Ford and IBM’s contention that multinational corporations are legally shielded from these kinds of lawsuits.”

The United States court system, whose value to anyone but the rich is rapidly disappearing, may yet play a role in the unfinished business of South African liberation. A federal district judge in Manhattan ruled that a group of South Africans can proceed with a suit against Ford Motor Company and IBM for doing business with the white regime during the time of apartheid. The plaintiffs include victims of torture and relatives of people killed by the racist government. They will have to prove, not only that the American corporations knew that their products would be used to oppress and torture South Africans, but that Ford and IBM’s purpose in doing business in the country was to “aid and abet” the white authorities.

That’s a very high burden of proof. However, it’s a better shot than the U.S. Supreme Court gave to a group of Nigerian refugees who tried to sue Shell Oil for helping the Nigerian military to systematically torture and kill environmentalists in the 1990s. The High Court’s interpretation of the relevant U.S. law was that the crimes committed in Nigeria didn’t have a close enough connection to the United States. However, the justices left the door open to other cases that might have a stronger connection to the U.S.

This week, federal judge Shira Scheindlin – the same judge who issued the sweeping ruling against New York City’s stop-and-frisk policies, last year – gave the South African plaintiffs permission to make their case. She also rejected Ford and IBM’s contention that multinational corporations are legally shielded from these kinds of lawsuits. Judge Scheindlin found no basis in law to argue that international laws against such things as genocide, slavery, war crimes and piracy “apply only to natural persons and not to corporations.”

The South African government failed to prosecute perpetrators from the old regime and paid out only paltry reparations to the victims.”

The South African plaintiffs are part of the Khulumani Group, which was created as a response to the weaknesses of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by the new Black government of South Africa. The Khulumani activists say the government failed to prosecute perpetrators from the old regime and paid out only paltry reparations to the victims. Most importantly, the Black government that came to power in 1994 and its reconciliation program provided no redress for the systematic social and economic crimes of apartheid. The Khulumani Group agreed with Frank Meintjies, a South African activist and intellectual who wrote that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission “failed to address the more collective loss of dignity, opportunities and systemic violence experienced by the oppressed.” He continued: “No hearings were held on land issues, on the education system, on the migrant labor system and on the role of companies that collaborated with, and made money from, the apartheid security system” – companies like Ford and IBM.

Thanks to the Khulumani Group’s lawsuit in Manhattan, two U.S.-based multinational corporations may finally have to explain why they gave aid and comfort to South African apartheid.

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: 20140423_gf_FordIBMSAfrica.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:04pm EDT

NAN, NAACP & Other Hypocritical "Civil Rights" Organizations Assert "Constitutional Right" To Conceal Their Corporate Funding Before the FCC

“Leading Civil Rights Organizations,” the headline on a Politics365.com story said, “Challenge FCC Rule Limiting Constitutional Freedoms.”

Good thing, you might think, our traditional civil rights bodies are on the lookout for threats to our constitutional freedoms. At least till you actually read the story. When you do, it turns out that  the NAACP, National Action Network, the National Urban League, the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership, League of United Latin American Citizens, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, and Rainbow PUSH all object to a proposed Federal Communications Commission rule that would force them, whenever they weigh in on matters before the FCC, disclose who they're getting money from. 5

45 years after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, all the mainline national civil rights organizations depend heavily upon donations from broadcasters and telecommunications corporations from Comcast-NBC, AT&T, and Verizon, to Time-Warner, ABC-Disney, Sprint, T-Mobile. Some of their own top executives in recent years have come from these monopoly industries as well, and the deep pockets of broadcasters and telecoms have sponsored their own shadow organizations of minority entrepreneurs and spokespeople.

All of them, from the NAACP and Rainbow-PUSH to LULAC and the Minority Media & Telecommunications Partnership have in recent years backed state and federal legislation that keeps cities and towns from regulating cable networks or laying their own cable. They've all endorsed laws that bar cities and towns from spinning up their own broadband services which might compete with those of their donors or provide services to poor communities, to schools, libraries and small businesses in their communities that their donors do not. Every one of them opposes network neutrality and backs the digital redlining of black, brown and poor communities. Every one of these so-called civil rights organizations in recent years has backed the privatization or outright giveaway to their wealthy donors vast amounts of the electromagnetic spectrum which could and should have been set aside for community broadcasters and the public good. And of course, these corrupt “civil rights organizations” have unreservedly backed each and every proposed broadcaster and telecom merger, from AT&T's failed attempt to buy T-Mobile to the Comcast-NBC deal and they're lining up right now to back Comcast's current attempt to buy Time Warner cable as well.

Whenever the interests of monopoly broadcasters and telecoms clash with the interests of poor black and brown people, these corrupt “civil rights organizations” always side with their funders, never with their people. Disclosing their financial ties to telecoms and broadcasters in the very same forums where they shill for their donors will make their pretense to represent the poor and oppressed even more ludicrous.

Sixty years ago, during the struggle against Jim Crow segregation southern state governments tried to force the NAACP to hand over membership and other lists. Back then, being on such a list could mean losing one's job, one's home or business or one's life. A federal court ruled the NAACP didn't have to hand over their list. This, today's hypocritical “civil rights” organizations claim, as if the nameless and numberless families whose breadwinners lost their jobs, or who were firebombed out of their homes or evicted from plantations like Fannie Lou Hamer are somehow equivalent to what might happen to Verizon and ABC-Disney – is why they should be allowed to hide their donors. This is the “constitutional freedom” the black and brown misleaders of our civil rights organizations have mobilized to protect. It doesn't pass a smell test, it doesn't pass a laugh test, it doesn't pass a hypocrisy test.

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 GA Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20140416_bd_civil_rights_hypocrisy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:20pm EDT

Kagame: Murderer of Millions in Congo and Rwanda

Kagame: Murderer of Millions in Congo and Rwanda

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Thanks to western media, the 1994 bloodbath in Rwanda is almost universally remembered only as a genocide against Tutsis.”

Paul Kagame, the U.S.-backed warlord and dictator of Rwanda, last week accused France and Belgium of complicity in the mass killings in his country 20 years ago. It is true that France and Belgium, along with Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany, are collectively responsible for the extermination of hundreds of millions – of whole peoples – all across the globe. However, in the case of the Rwanda genocide of 1994, the main criminals are Paul Kagame, himself, and his allies in neighboring Uganda and in the United States. After the frenzy of killing was done, U.S. President Bill Clinton and Ugandan strongman Yoweri Museveni then joined with Kagame to launch a war against the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo that has claimed six million lives – the greatest genocide, by far, since World War Two.

Back in 1994, Paul Kagame commanded thousands of Tutsi soldiers who had only recently been part of the Ugandan army, where Kagame served as chief of intelligence. Kagame had also studied at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. His men invaded Rwanda, killing thousands of mostly Hutu civilians, in their drive to reestablish minority Tutsi rule over the country. In the midst of peace negotiations, someone shot down the plane that was carrying Rwanda’s Hutu president, Juvenal Habyarimana, and Cyprien Ntaryamira, also a Hutu and president of neighboring Burundi, a country with virtually the same history of Tutsi domination. The deaths of the two Hutu presidents set off renewed fighting – which the United States did nothing to prevent – resulting in the bloody return of the minority Tutsis to power, and the exile of over a million Hutus. Many tens of thousands of Hutus died before the presidents’ plane went down, and many more were slaughtered by Kagame’s forces afterwards but, thanks to western media, the 1994 bloodbath in Rwanda is almost universally remembered only as a genocide against Tutsis.

The most logical murder suspect is Kagame’s own rebel Tutsi army.”

So, who shot down the presidents’ plane and set off this catastrophic chain of events? Paul Kagame and the United States make the fantastic claim that the Hutus killed their own presidents, in fear that they might sign a peace deal. There is no evidence of such a plot, which sounds counterintuitive on its face. The most logical murder suspect is Kagame’s own rebel Tutsi army,which was formed for the purpose of overthrowing Hutu majority governments in Rwanda and Burundi – that is, to bring down people like the dead presidents.

For 20 years, Kagame has posed as the soldier who stopped the Rwandan genocide, when all evidence and logic point to him being the main perpetrator of the crime. Three U.S. presidents have acted as Kagame’s eager accomplices, using the bloody cloak of Rwanda to carry out a far larger genocide in the eastern Congo, and to justify the bogus doctrine of humanitarian military intervention.

Paul Kagame, like Barack Obama, has an extensive “Kill List,” and sends assassins around the world to knock off his political opponents. His Tutsi regime is the only ethnic minority government left on the African continent – a darker version of apartheid. And yet, for the next several months notables from all around the globe will pay homage to Paul Kagame – a mass murdering thug and assassin – as if he is the savior of Africa.

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: 20140416_gf_Kagame.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

GA Poised To Greatly Expand Predatory Private Probation Industry

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

A bill passed by both houses of the state legislature, landed on the desk of Georgia governor Nathan Deal last weekend. Georgia House Bill 837 is reportedly the result of about $500,000 in lobbying expenses by a single company, Sentinel Offender Services, the new law greatly expands the profitability and the impact of these predatory private probation companies upon the lives of poor families in Georgia.

Back in the 1990s, Georgia farmed out all its misdemeanor probation services to private companies. So when someone gets a DUI or similar offense, or misses a traffic court date and is sentenced to pay a $500 fine plus court costs, and cannot immediately produce the money, that person's case is handed over to a private company which immediately doubles or triples the amount extracted to cover its own costs and profits and interest. Private probation outfits can get the person sent to jail for late payment or non-payment, effectively a punitive tax upon the poor. This is why Georgia now leads the nation in the combined proportion of its residents in prisons, jails and under court and correctional probation and supervision of all kinds, an astounding one in thirteen adults.

Like all privatized government functions, whether its privatized parking, privatized voting machines, or privatized education, the private probation racket needs to keep the prying eyes of the public off itself. Accordingly the new legislation creates a dark zone, specifically shielding local governments and the privatizers from revealing how much money is actually remitted to local governments, how much they keep for themselves, how many cases they handle yearly, per case worker or at any one time, or how long they keep the cases.

HB 837 legalizes the up till now illegal, but common practice of charging probationers for their own electronic monitoring and other costs related to the handling of their cases, forcing the offender and her family to pay for their continuing house arrest. That's why the model is called “offender funded services”. Late payers can be jailed of course, and time spent in jail, under the new law does NOT count toward completion of the probation. Even now, persons are being locked up because they cannot afford the cost of land lines for the electronic monitoring gear.

It's not quite 19th century debtors' prison, a situation in which any creditor could demand you serve time for the crime of not being able to pay. So far the probation companies will be the only ones with this power. But it is a long step backward.

Georgia is one of those states which claims it's reducing the numbers of folks in its prisons and jails not because mass incarceration is unjust or discriminatory, but because it costs the states and counties too much. Funneling increasing numbers into punitive house arrest situations under the supervision of privatized middlemen who extract their profit directly from those on probation is a solution state authorities think they can live with.

Whether you live in Georgia or not, it's time to call Governor Nathan Deal at 404-656-1776 and ask him whether he wants his state to continue to lead the nation in how many residents it has under correctional and court supervision. How many is too many? The present 1 in 13? Is he reaching for 1 in 12? For 1in 10? Politely suggest that he veto HB 837 and look instead for ways to curtail and shrink the predatory private probation industry instead of expanding it.

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 serves on the state committee of the GA Green Party. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com or via this site's contact page.

Direct download: 20140409_bd_private_probations_GA.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:12am EDT

Al Sharpton: King Rat

Al Sharpton: King Rat

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Everything he does is an act of prostitution.”

Al Sharpton is a crook who is always for sale. This is not an opinion, but a fact that is known in great detail to scores of movement activists whose paths have intersected with this talented but totally amoral hustler over the past 40 years. I personally watched him sell out the campaign to elect Jersey City, New Jersey’s first Black mayor, whom Sharpton had pledged to support, in 2001. Sharpton’s price to sow confusion among Black voters was a mere $5,000.

This was only one of countless career transactions by a man whose self-proclaimed role models are the entertainer James Brown and the boxing racketeer Don King. Sharpton has sold out Black New York City many times over through his well-compensated service to billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg. He sold out Black children and the institution of public education in a bizarre multi-city, salt-and-pepper tour with arch-racist Newt Gingrich on behalf of school charterization. The 2009 Sharpton-Gingrich traveling show, chaperoned by Education Secretary and Obama basketball buddy Arne Duncan, marked Sharpton’s rise to “made man” in the Obama organization – a pit bull primed to maul any political dissenters from the First Black President’s corporate agenda.

MSNBC, the corporate megaphone for the Democratic Party brand, provides Sharpton the kind of media platform that substitutes for independent Black leadership in the 21st century. Rev. Al is what he always wanted to be: a celebrity locked in the embrace of the rich and powerful.

Top of the political garbage heap.”

Sharpton will reach what will probably be the pinnacle of his phenomenally corrupt career on Friday, in New York, when the annual convention of his National Action Network will host President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Sharpton’s traveling companion Arne Duncan and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. If Sharpton were part of a genuine, independent Black political movement, the occasion would be an opportunity to confront the president on his global offensive against peace and world order, his militarization and destabilization of Africa, and his plans to step up the pace of the global economic Race to the Bottom through a new wave of NAFTA-like trade treaties. The convention might challenge the Attorney General to explain why Wall Street banks are too big to jail, but Americans can be imprisoned without charge or trial under a system in which the law, itself, is a secret. The National Action Network delegates would be allowed to ask why Black people in Detroit have been disenfranchised with the acquiescence of the Democrat in the White House, and how did it come to pass that President Obama became the greatest deporter of immigrants in U.S. history? The Agriculture Secretary could explain why the administration seemed positively happy to sign a bill that wipes out billions in food stamp benefits to the poor. But, none of this will happen at Sharpton’s convention, because everything he does is an act of prostitution.

In the presence of such monstrous corruption, recent confirmation that Sharpton was an informant for the FBI’s campaign against Italian mobsters in the early Eighties seems very tame, indeed – except that it also tends to confirm other allegations that he tried to rat on Black radicals during the same period. But today, Al Sharpton is at the top of the political garbage heap, the administration’s go-to guy in the sewers. He is King Rat.

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

 

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

Direct download: 20140409_gf_Sharpton.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:54am EDT

Armstrong Williams Wants “Diversity” Favor from FCC

Armstrong Williams Wants “Diversity” Favor from FCC

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Williams claims that he is known to provide broadcast content that reflects a minority perspective.”

The Federal Communications Commission this week dealt at least a potential blow to the monopolists who have sucked every drop of social value out of American commercial television. The FCC ruled that TV stations that sell substantial portions of other TV stations advertizing, are the real owners of the station, and thus are violating rules against multiple ownerships in the same market. The practice of joint advertizing has meant that many stations are little more than shells for getting around the rules against monopolization. The National Association of Black Journalists applauds the FCC action, since shared advertizing agreements usually mean firing the whole newsroom of one of the stations. The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council supports the ruling, because the shared advertizing game only helps the media giants eat up the smaller guys.

One person who’s not happy is Armstrong Williams, the Black rightwing propagandist and hustler who calls himself a journalist. Williams owns two stations that are essentially extra channels for stations already owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, which is the largest operator of non-network affiliated stations in the country. Williams claims that Black people in Flint, Michigan, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, will suffer if he loses his stations there, since he is known to provide broadcast content that reflects a minority perspective. Now, that’s a joke! Armstrong Williams, whose mentor was South Carolina’s rabidly racist Sen. Strom Thurmond, has never uttered or written a word that was relevant to the hopes and dreams of most Black people. In political terms, Armstrong Williams most closely resembles the character played by Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained.

The fact that the owner is Black doesn’t affect the stations’ broadcast schedules and program content one bit.”

But, more importantly, there is nothing on his TV stations that distinguishes them from any other corporate money machine. In Myrtle Beach, it’s a long day of Jerry Springer and People’s Court and Friends reruns, with news at 10 provided by a network owned by CBS and Warner Bros. In Michigan, his station is just another NBC affiliate, spewing the same bland corporate crap. The fact that the owner is Black doesn’t affect the stations’ broadcast schedules and program content one bit. It’s still garbage, of no socially redeeming value. Program-wise, it’s not even Black garbage.

Black people have no reason to be concerned about the survival of television stations that do not substantially serve their interests. It is true that Armstrong Williams has as much right as any white person to get rich from poisoning the airwaves – but that does not mean that we have to help him. And in fact, the airwaves still technically belong to the public. The government is obligated by law to ensure that the broadcast spectrum is put to uses that best serve the public. That means programming that is accountable to the public, including Black people.

There was a time when the FCC at least pretended to take public input seriously. The very fact that, two generations ago, the Black public could challenge the licenses of stations that ignored, abused or simply underserved them, created wondrous opportunities for intra-Black communications – opportunities that have been wiped out by corporate consolidation.

The FCC may well make an exception to its own joint advertizing ruling, on “diversity” grounds. And, that would be a victory – for Armstrong Williams. However, Black people as a whole will have won nothing, and lost a great deal.

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: 20140402_gf_FCC.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:05pm EDT

Latest GM Scandal is Business As Usual, But What Would a Green Jobs GM Look Like?

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

“Endangering the public in these ways is a fundamental feature of capitalism, one that's baked in....”

The latest GM scandal, in which the giant automaker consistently refused to correct product defects that endangered the lives of its customers and their families, ought to remind us of two things.

The first and most obvious is the basic antisocial nature of corporate capitalist enterprises. The drive of corporations to offload their costs onto customers, the public, and the environment by means ranging from special tax breaks and corporate welfare to skimping on safety or poisoning the land, air and oceans is not a bug in the capitalist system that can be rooted out. Automakers do it, companies that deliver water do it. Companies that make building materials & foodstuffs do it, along with mining concerns, retail, you name it, they all do it. Endangering the public in these ways is a fundamental feature of capitalism, one that's baked in.

The second thing this particular GM scandal should remind us of, is the series of colossal missed opportunities coming out of the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies and bailouts of 2009.

For a brief time, the US government became the biggest stockholder in GM, with the power to appoint its operating officers. This is no small thing, because General Motors has a research and development arm about as big as that of France, certainly one of the largest and most able groups of scientists and engineers ever assembled.

A visionary and transformative US president might have used his executive powers with one hand and appointed a real “Green jobs team” to run GM with the other to begin weaning the US economy off fossil fuels. Having GM manufacture and the the post office buy and operate electric delivery vehicles would have enabled GM scientists and engineers to radically lower the cost and increase the reliability of electric vehicles, and begun to force the rest of the auto industry to keep up, follow suit or die.

“The latest GM scandal, with a few more deaths and injuries or a few thousand, are just the cost of doing business. Your cost, that is, not theirs.”

It gets mighty cold sometimes in Detroit, where GM is still headquartered, and heating homes and buildings is the single biggest contributor to atmospheric carbon dioxide. A Green Jobs team at GM could have put those engineers and scientists to work on the cheapest ways to retrofit existing homes and apartments for energy efficiency, using Detroit's large stock of unemployed people and buildings empty and not as exhibit A for building the world we want and deserve.

But instead of a visionary leader in the White House who aimed to stop the rise of the oceans and/or identified with Detroit's unemployed we had slick black corporate hack. GM and Chrysler got huge cash bailouts. They were allowed to largely offload their pension and health care costs onto the workers themselves, and go back to their natural antisocial behaviors, manufacturing fleets and shiploads of environmentally destructive vehicles with as many safety defects as they imagined they could get away with.

The latest GM scandal, with a few more deaths and injuries or a few thousand, are just the cost of doing business. Your cost, that is, not theirs. That's capitalism for you. Who says the system doesn't work?

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce A. 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 co-chair of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

 



Direct download: 20140326_bd_GM_scandal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:14pm EDT

Democratic Compromises, Capitalist “Market Discipline:” The Real Reasons For Unemployment Cuts

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

“A brand is not reality. Brands are particular of symbols, intended to evoke real or manufactured feelings, desires and memories, without the aid of pesky rational thought or analysis. ”

Early this month, the number of unemployed Americans whose unemployment compensation benefits have run out reached 2 million, an all time high. By April the number will be 2.3 million.

To keep the Democratic party's brand alive as standard bearer for the oppressed and unemployed, elected Democrats and their enablers desperately need to blame this on those immoral, evil Republicans, who are also the reason the minimum wage hasn't risen, Medicaid expansion hasn't happened, workers can't organize unions without being blocked by bosses, and food stamps have been cut to unheard of levels.

The problem with all this is that the notion that elected Democrats stand for the people is just a brand. A brand is not reality. Brands are particular of symbols, intended to evoke real or manufactured feelings, desires and memories, without the aid of pesky rational thought or analysis.

The reality is that things like raising the minimum wage or making it easy for workers to organize unions were Democrat campaign promises which the president and his party conveniently forgot or ignored when Obama first took office, and they had solid majorities in both houses of Congress. Now that Republicans are safely in control, the president reminds us at every opportunity that “Americans need a raise,” though he still doesn't mention opening the doors to union organizing.

The reality is that bulletproof single payer everybody-in-nobody-out health care , which the president advocated back when he was a state senator, and many congressional Democrats verbally backed as late as 2008 was swapped out for Obamacare, a complex blanket full of gaps, exceptions and loopholes, one of which is vulnerability to Republican state governments who can block Medicaid expansion. Democrats looking for someone to blame for the lack of health coverage for the poor at their “Moral Monday” gatherings should look at their own party's elected officials as well.

“...the current round of cuts was proposed by elected Democrats, not imposed by Republicans ...”

The reality, when it comes to food stamps and unemployment benefits, is that the current round of cuts was proposed by elected Democrats, not imposed by Republicans. Elected Democrats thought it was better to make a deficit deal than to carry on a sharp struggle in Congress and the public sphere to ensure families could feed and house themselves. Better, they thought, to leave that struggle to you and I.

The other reason, mostly unstated by elected Democrats, for cutting unemployment benefits is that cutting benefits will force more people back to work at lower wages, with longer commutes, less coverage including medical coverage, and more onerous conditions than they might have accepted otherwise. This is called market discipline, and it's working. Profits are still in this, the sixth year of the Obama era, and wages are falling while Democrats who get the bulk of their campaign cash from the same folks as those immoral Republicans, retain their image, their brand, as champions of the oppressed. The system, such as it is, works.

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 co-chair of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20140326_bd_unemployment_benefits_market_discipline.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:43pm EDT

Rwanda’s Formula for Success: Murder Your Neighbors and Steal Their Wealth

Rwanda’s Formula for Success: Murder Your Neighbors and Steal Their Wealth

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Rwanda’s so-called ‘New Economic Model’ is simply pillaging and massacre, theft and murder on a huge scale.”

In the years since 1996, at least 6 million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a direct result of an invasion by two U.S. client states: Rwanda and Uganda. It is the greatest slaughter since World War II, yet only a small fraction of the American public is even aware that the genocide occurred. The public remains ignorant of the ongoing crime – in which the United States is fully complicit – because the U.S. corporate media have successfully covered up the murder of millions of Congolese. More than that, organs like the New York Times act as PR agents for the perpetrators of the genocide, especially Rwanda – as exemplified by a puff piece that appeared in the Times, this week, titled “Rwanda Reaches for New Economic Model.”

The article boosts Rwanda as an African economic success story, a country that is growing at 8 percent a year, even though it has “no oil, natural gas or other major natural resources” and no real industry. The Times takes us on a tour of Rwanda’s fledgling little commodity and stock exchanges, and quotes a government minister bragging that the country’s development plan is to jump directly from an agricultural base to an information economy, “leapfrogging” over the industrial stage of development, altogether.

Uganda became a significant diamond exporter, even though it previously produced no diamonds, at all.”

In fact, the relative prosperity of the minority Tutsi political and business elite, is built on the bones of 6 million dead Congolese and the natural resources looted from their country. Rwanda’s so-called “New Economic Model” is simply pillaging and massacre, theft and murder on a huge scale, in concert with multinational corporations and under the protection of the United States.

A United Nations panel of experts confirmed, in 2001, that both Rwanda and Uganda were building up their own economies by looting eastern Congo’s mineral resources – coltan, diamonds, copper, cobalt and gold – and hauling away timber from Congo’s forests. The investigators found that Rwandan and Ugandan militaries had appropriated Congo’s wealth for themselves to such an extent, that Uganda became a significant diamond exporter, even though it previously produced no diamonds, at all. Ugandan gold exports increased 50-fold between 1994 and 2000. Rwanda increased its gold production 10 to 17 times between 1995 and 2000. Rwanda’s exports of coltan doubled and quadrupled, as did its production of cassiterite, another exotic mineral.

The UN report found Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Ugandan strongman Yoweri Museveni to be accomplices in the systematic looting of Congo, just as a later UN panel found both countries liable for genocidal acts against the Congolese people. Kagame and Museveni have built their economies on the extermination of their neighbors. Yet, the New York Times calls both countries African success stories. This week’s puff piece notes the 20th anniversary of the so-called Rwandan genocide of 1994 – the cause, extend and nature of which is actually in great factual dispute – while making no mention of the much larger loss of life right next store, in Congo, which is the source of the Rwandan elite’s prosperity. And, because the New York Times and its fellow media whores cover up the genocide, the carnage and the looting continue to this very day.

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

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

 

 

Direct download: 20140326_gf_CongoLoot.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:23pm EDT

The “People's Plan” to Save Detroit

The “People's Plan” to Save Detroit

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Detroit is encircled in a courtroom full of corporate barracudas.”

When the state of Michigan disenfranchised the people of Detroit and imposed bankruptcy lawyer Kevyn Orr as emergency financial dictator, the corporate vultures licked their chops in anticipation of a feast. Bankruptcy court is a predatory corporate habitat, the antithesis of anyone’s notion of democracy. Detroit isn’t even allowed to have its own lawyer, but is instead represented by the same corporate firm, Jones Day, that has represented many of Detroit’s corporate creditors. And those Jones Day lawyers answer, not to Detroit’s powerless city government, but to Kevyn Orr, the state-imposed financial dictator. Detroit is encircled in a courtroom full of corporate barracudas – some of whom pretend to be the city’s lawyers.

The grassroots activist organizations D-REM, Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management, and the Moratorium Now! Coalition will go on record before Judge Steven Rhodes’ bankruptcy court on April 3 with their objections to Kevyn Orr’s plans to settle accounts with the city’s creditors. Thousands of Detroit pensioners have already flooded the court’s electronic filing system with objections to Orr’s proposed pension cuts. The activist groups oppose paying anything to the predatory banks that depopulated the city through home foreclosures and ensnared Detroit in fraudulent financing schemes. The Emergency Manager’s plan, says D-REM: “Will not fix the financial problems facing Detroit; benefits wealthy Wall Street bankers and bondholders, while stripping valuable public assets, cutting services, and gutting union contracts; is used primarily against African American communities;” and “removes from power 75% of the elected African American officials in Michigan.”

The activist groups oppose paying anything to the predatory banks.”

The activists say what’s going on in bankruptcy court has little to do with the real causes of Detroit’s crisis, which “results from decades of revenue decline caused by redlining, housing discrimination and deindustrialization.” Detroit’s deep debt is rooted in “misguided and racist decisions by Wall Street bankers and regional corporate elites” – but the poor, mostly Black city is being made to pay.

Since Kevin Orr and the Jones Day lawyers cannot be trusted, the activists ask that Judge Rhodes appoint a trustee to look after the city’s interests. The judge should also call into question the land use and development schemes Kevyn Orr has already put in motion, giving valuable Detroit property away to corporate developers even as the city is starved for funds. They want Judge Rhodes to halt Kevyn Orr’s efforts to regionalize or privatize Detroit’s water treatment facilities – which have long been coveted by corporations. And, the activists emphasize that public transportation is key to the city’s revitalization.

But nothing – nothing! – is as important as democracy, from which the legitimacy of any plan for the city must flow. As D-REM has written: Detroit’s rebirth will be the result of the People’s unrelenting demand for democratic self-governance” and “equal access to and management of the natural and economic resources of the city.” They have formulated a “People’s Plan” for restructuring Detroit. But no bankruptcy court will implement such a plan. Essentially, this is not a legal fight, at all. It’s about breaking the power of Wall Street – before Big Capital plunges the whole country into dictatorship, like Detroit.

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: 20140319_gf_DetroitPlan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:46am EDT

Promises To The Poor, or Promises to the Rich?  Which Ones Does Barack Obama Intend To Keep?

Promises To The Poor, or Promises to the Rich? Which Ones Does Barack Obama Intend To Keep?

 

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

 

 

The most important things about a promise, as David Graber in his book Debt: The First 5000 Years explains, are who makes it, and to whom it's made.

 

Promises made among equals are freely made and freely kept, or freely disregarded when the parties deem it convenient. If your brother in law doesn't repay you the money you lent this time last year you might be disappointed but you're unlikely to involve the courts and the state in your family affairs. On the other hand, if your brother in law borrowed that money from Bank of America, a late payment or a series of them is certain to bring punitive repercussions down on the debtor, backed up by the full force of the state.

 

So the promises which poor men and women make to each other are not at all the same as promises the poor are obliged to make to the wealthy or to the state in whatever sort of society they live. Governments enforce the promises the poor make to the rich, ultimately at gunpoint.

 

But what about when the wealthy and powerful make promises to the poor? Wealthy corporations and the politicians fronting for them invariably promise thousands, tens of thousands of new good-paying local jobs in return for this or that tax break, suspension of environmental regulation, loan guarantee or other piece of corporate welfare. Nobody blinks an eye when it turns out they've lied, and practically no mechanisms exist to restore the public property malefactors obtain in this way. The promises of politicians, both during and after their campaigns seem to have the same character.

 

By the first days of his presidency, Barack Obama made direct promises to see NAFTA renegotiated, to raise the minimum wage in his first months in office, to close Guantanamo, to create a path to citizenship for the undocumented, to make union organizing easier, to cease kidnappings, secret imprisonment and torture, and craft an open, transparent process for the drafting of what became known as Obamacare. The thing of it was, that all these were promises made to poor people. Thus they were of little and soon disregarded. But they were not his only promises.

 

Barack Obama made other early promises as well -- to wealthy interests, to the Pentagon, to Wall Street and London banksters, to charter school sugar daddies, the galaxy of public employees and private contractors euphemistically known as the “intelligence community.” He promised them that no torturers would stand trial, military manpower and budgets would continue to rise, that greedy drug companies and private health insurers would be protected over the public, that so-called “entitlements” would be reined in, and that Wall Street would be protected against the mobs and their pitchforks, and apparently that public education would be privatized. Unlike his promises to the poor, President Obama has striven mightily to keep all these.

 

With a good 33 more months left in the White House, President Obama apparently has a few more promises to make. He'll likely keep some of them. If the first 63 months of his tenure are any guide, and you want to know which promises will be kept, the handwriting is on the wall. The promises made to the wealthy and powerful will get first priority. The pledges made to the legions of ordinary people who made his career possible, not so much. For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

 

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

 

Direct download: 20140312_bd_promises_made_promises_kept.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:19pm EDT

In the Adegbile Affair, at Least, Obama More Honorable than Bill Clinton

In the Adegbile Affair, at Least, Obama More Honorable than Bill Clinton

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Lani Guinier never got a chance to testify on her own behalf before the U.S. Senate.”

This is not your usual Black Agenda Radio commentary. Don’t be shocked, but this week, history requires that we say something good about President Obama – at least, in comparison with his predecessor and political mentor, Bill Clinton. In the case of Debo Adegbile, Obama’s nominee to head up the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the First Black President has behaved far more honorably than did President Clinton, who nominated Black lawyer Lani Guinier to the same position in 1993.

Guinier, like Adegbile, had once worked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She came to national attention by proposing formulas for elections that would avoid allowing majorities to completely shut out minority voters, through a system that would more resemble proportional representation than the U.S. game of winner-take-all. Predictably, the Guinier nomination ran into fierce opposition, just as Adegbile’s, 19 years later. But, Lani Guinier never got a chance to testify on her own behalf before the U.S. Senate. President Clinton withdrew her nomination as soon as the going got rough. Then, adding insult to injury, Clinton claimed that he wasn’t backing off Guinier from fear of losing, but because he had finally gotten around to reading what she had written about voting, and didn’t like it. In other words, Clinton punked out, left his nominee twisting in the wind, and then blamed her for it – a thoroughly dishonorable political performance.

Obama’s behavior was morally superior to his mentor.”

President Obama, on the other hand, stuck with Debo Adegbile all the way through the process. Ultimately, seven Democrats joined Republicans in rejecting the nominee, on the outrageous grounds that the NAACP Legal Defense Fund had been part of Mumia Abu Jamal’s death penalty defense appeal. Obama issued a scathing condemnation of the lawmakers. He called the campaign against Adegbile, who is now a senior counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee, a “travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant.” Obama excoriated those who claim that association with Mumia Abu Jamal’s legal defense is some kind of crime. The fact that the nominee “was defeated solely based on his legal representation of a defendant runs contrary to a fundamental principle of our system of justice,” said Obama.

In most political matters, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are identical twins, both servants of corporate interests. But, in this case, under very similar circumstances, Obama’s behavior was morally superior to his mentor, Bill Clinton. Maybe that’s not saying much, but it should be said.

Back in 1993, Kweisi Mfume, then chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, warned Clinton that his shoddy treatment of Lani Guinier might lose him Black voter support. But, that didn’t happen. Six weeks before the mid-term congressional elections of 1994, Newt Gingrich unveiled his Contract with America, and went on to win control of the House of Representatives. Lots of Black folks thought Bill Clinton was the only thing holding back the Confederate barbarians at the gate. Four years later, Toni Morrison was calling Clinton the “first Black president.” Obama could have gotten away with dumping his nominee for the Civil Rights Division, too. But he didn’t, and that’s to his credit – comparatively speaking.

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: 20140312_gf_ObamaAdegbile.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:05am EDT

Jackson Mississippi Rising? An Alternative To Gentrification As Urban Economic Development?

 

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

 

Nothing, absolutely nothing underscores the political bankruptcy of our glittering black political class more starkly than its abject failure, from the time of the first black big city mayors in the 60s and 70s to the present, from the growth of the Congressional Black Caucus from a handful in 1965 to about 40 at the time of the Katrina disaster and displacement of half the black population of New Orleans, nothing marks their utter uselessness to black communities more than their failure thus far to come up with any model of urban economic development other than gentrification – moving poorer, usually black folks out of urban neighborhoods to bring richer, often whiter residents, upscale shopping, trendy business and tourism in.

 

We can't even come close to blaming this on evil, immoral Republicans. Everywhere we look, black Democrats and their appointees have been the prime movers and shakers in displacing the black communities which provided the very constituencies that voted black mayors and legislators into office. You can look at Brooklyn or Columbus, you can look at Atlanta or Chicago, you can look at Tampa or Philly or New Orleans. In each and every case black public officials took it upon themselves to sell the dismantling of public housing and the razing of entire communities as a process to which there was no alternative.

 

But in Jackson Mississippi last year, longtime radical black activists around Chokwe Lumumba succeeded in winning the mayor's seat. Lumumba died just 8 months into his 4 year term as mayor and will be laid to rest this Saturday. But even before his election, with the negative examples of places like Atlanta before them, the circle around Mayor Lumumba began thinking through not how to govern Jackson Mississippi, but to transform it. It's no secret that there were multiple factions inside the administration of Mayor Lumumba. Some of them wanted to make permanent peace and assimilate into the black contingent of Mississippi's Democratic party alongside Congressman Bernie Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee. But others around Mayor Lumumba wanted not to govern Jackson as it is, and as the black misleadership class does everywhere else –- they insisted and still insist on transforming it.

 

They want to do what the black misleadership class won't –- come up with a model of urban development that is NOT gentrification, a model that develops poor urban areas for the people who live there NOW, not some class of urban pioneers and tourists you might attract later.

 

This conflict will play out on several levels. A special mayoral election will take place within a few weeks to fill the unexpired term of Mayor Lumumba. Most of the candidates jockeying for office are undoubtedly intent on governing Jackson, not transforming it. There may be one exception, but this is not yet clear. What is clear is that the first weekend in May, Jackson will host “Jackson Rising” a conference on HOW to transform a working city for the benefit of those who live there NOW, a conference on what peoples economic development can and ought to look like.

 

These are important questions, absolutely vital questions which our glittering class of black politicians and place holders across this vast country have no answer, and so will never ask. Black Agenda Report will certainly be there, and the eyes of black America will be watching carefully.

 

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. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

 

 

 

Direct download: 20140305_bd_jackson_rising.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:40pm EDT

How and Why Did Chokwe Lumumba Die?

 

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

 

It is imperative that impartial science tell us the exact and incontestable cause of this man’s demise.”

 

When a Black radical dies in Mississippi, one should never accept at face value the state’s word on the cause of death. When that revolutionary Black man dies soon after becoming mayor of the state’s capital and largest city, history and reason compel us to put assassination first on our list of possibilities. And, if that Black man has brought with him to Jackson, Mississippi, a band of fellow revolutionaries from around the state and the nation, united under the banner of Malcolm X, for the purpose of totally upending the old order of race and class, not just in the Deep South, but across the planet, then it is imperative that impartial science tell us the exact and incontestable cause of this man’s demise.

 

Yet, the Mississippi state coroner has refused to perform an autopsy on the body of Chokwe Lumumba, who was elected by a landslide in June and died last Tuesday after checking into a hospital. The coroner says only that the mayor succumbed of “natural causes.” But, the state of Mississippi and its minions have zero credibility when it comes to Black life and death. Common sense tells us that the state is full of people who would love nothing better than to kill its most prominent radical, who was inviting other radicals of all races from around the country to a conference in May, to discuss the nuts and bolts of social transformation from the ground up. The “Jackson Rising” conference – which is still scheduled – is an invitation to a second Reconstruction through participatory democracy and new, cooperative economics. The event is meant to present a clear and present challenge to the rule of money and the hierarchy of race. Mississippi has murdered thousands of Black people for far less reason than that.

 

The state of Mississippi and its minions have zero credibility when it comes to Black life and death.”

 

Mayor Lumumba’s family and close friends sought an independent autopsy, and the National Council of Black Lawyers, of which Mayor Lumumba had been a member since his days in law school, in Detroit, put out the call for funds. Akinyele Umoja, a close friend and longtime comrade in the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, which Lumumba helped found in 1993, and who is also chairman of African American Studies at Georgia State University, says that even if Mississippi agreed to do an autopsy, there’s no reason to believe their findings. “We don’t want to trust them to do it, anyway,” said Professor Umoja.

 

Kenny Stokes, a Black supervisor for the county surrounding Jackson, thinks the mayor was murdered, pure and simple. “I’m not going to sugar coat it,” said the elected official. “I believe that someone killed him…and a lot of other people feel he was killed.”

 

No matter what the independent autopsy concludes, Mississippi is guilty, has always been guilty, and will remain guilty, until it is transformed by the kind of people’s power that Chokwe Lumumba envisioned.

 

The mayor’s funeral is this Saturday. His 30 year-old son, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, is likely to announce he’ll run to fill his father’s seat in a special election on April 8th, so that Jackson can keep on rising.

 

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: 20140305_gf_ChokweAutopsy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:27pm EDT

Gridlock (Once Again) Rescues Social Security from Obama and the GOP

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

 

 

 

Gridlock (Once Again) Rescues Social Security from Obama and the GOP

 

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

 

What saved Social Security – for the moment, at least – was the Republicans continued refusal to join the First Black President in a Grand Bargain.”

 

President Obama now says that he won’t include cuts in Social Security as part of his upcoming budget request to Congress. His apologists on the left, like MoveOn.org, quickly “thanked” Obama for the gesture, grateful that they wouldn’t have to eat another Satan’s Sandwich from the White House kitchen. But the Democratic loyalists should not be allowed to take credit for changing their hero’s mind about Social Security. Obama hasn’t paid them a bit of attention in the past five years, knowing that, every time an election rolls around, they will return to the Democratic Party fold like hungry puppies, or wayward children.

 

What saved Social Security – for the moment, at least – was the Republicans continued refusal to join the First Black President in a Grand Bargain in which the two business parties would work hand in hand, in the spirit of bipartisanship, to dismantle what’s left of the social safety net. Barack Obama fervently hoped that he would go down in history as the man who finally unraveled Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, through a consensus of the two major parties. He repeatedly stuck out his hand to his corporate colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Luckily for the rest of us, however, the Republicans always slapped his hand away, preferring gridlock to a shared victory.

 

And so begins Year Six of the Obama presidency, with another White House assault on entitlements frustrated, not so much by progressives, but by the intransigent, racist Right. Gridlock, once again, to the rescue.

 

Barack Obama fervently hoped that he would go down in history as the man who finally unraveled Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.”

 

We at Black Agenda Report take some pleasure in saying, We told you so. Specifically, back in November of 2010, when the Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives, we concluded that, given the relationship of forces, gridlock was the best we could hope for. “Let us pray for gridlock,” I wrote, “because all else is disaster.”

 

Obama had already handpicked a deficit cutting commission whose job was to create an austerity model that the Republicans and the right wing of the Democrats could agree upon. The more liberal Democrats would be cast into the dustbin of history, along with their favorite social programs. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said those Democrats who balked at Obama’s steady rightward course were “crazy” and “ought to be drug-tested.” The liberals’ feelings were hurt, but of course, they kept coming home like little puppies. They suffered through 2011, when Obama put all entitlement programs on the grand bargaining table – only for the Republicans to ultimately reject the collaboration in favor of overreach and games of chicken.

 

Essentially, gridlock – and its associated drama – has prevailed on Capitol Hill ever since, preventing Obama and the Republicans from coordinating their strategies on behalf of the One Percent. Race plays a definite role in this – and, for once, it has worked in the people’s favor, by keeping natural corporate allies, who share very similar agendas, at each other’s throats much of the time.

 

But, this gridlock on the Right will end sooner rather than later. The people’s domestic programs, international peace, and the viability of the planet, must ultimately be saved by a people movement, or it will not be saved, at all.

 

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: 20140226_gf_ObamaSocSec.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:48am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The electoral scenery must be quite depressing to those who think change must come through the ballot. The system disgorges “a multiracial cast of scoundrels from both major parties coiled up incestuously under the same corporate tent.” However, something different may be afoot in at least three points on the map.

 

A Tale of Three Cities: Newark, Jackson, Seattle

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The vote is hardly worth casting, these days.”

Electoral politics, the arena that half of Black America was barred from entering until only about 50 years ago, has become a vast wasteland, hopelessly polluted by corporate dollars. Black electoral politics is no exception. It’s been only a little over a decade since corporate America got serious about creating a new class of right-wing Black Democrats. Corporate money made Cory Booker a U.S. senator and a household name; elevated the Memphis idiot Harold Ford to national prominence; and totally neutralized the Congressional Black Caucus as a force for progressive…anything. Black mayors are, for the most part, nothing more than vassals of corporate boardrooms – just like most of their white and Latino counterparts. The vote is hardly worth casting, these days, with a multiracial cast of scoundrels from both major parties coiled up so incestuously under the same corporate tent.

That’s why what’s unfolding in Newark, New Jersey, Jackson, Mississippi, and Seattle, Washington, is so rare – and important.

In Seattle, there’s a group of folks who don’t mind working hard and building alliances, all the while telling the world that socialism is the only alternative to barbarism. Kshama Sawant, the newly minted city councilperson, and her Socialist Alternative comrades have forced corporate Democrats to pretend that they really would like to see the city’s minimum wage raised to $15 an hour. Socialist Alternative also demands that the rich pay for an overhaul of public education and transportation – a platform that most people would support, if they thought it had a chance of passing. Kshama Suwant and her comrades believe that people will vote in their own interests if the candidates have proven they are trustworthy.

In Jackson, Mississippi, 66 year-old Mayor Chokwe Lumumba has proven his selfless dedication to social transformation over many decades; as an activist with the Republic of New Africa; in his capacity as a people’s lawyer; and as one of the founders of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. He has now gathered members of that movement for an experiment in radical governance of the biggest city in the belly of the Mississippi beast. Mayor Lumumba and his comrades want to encourage a cooperative economy to build “wealth equity, economic democracy and self-determination in Jackson,” the South, and the nation. So far, there’s already been an unsuccessful attempt to impose a state takeover of local Jackson government, like in Detroit.

In Newark, New Jersey, which Cory Booker made into a playground for corporate educational experimentation, city councilman and high school principal Ras Baraka is running for mayor. He’s the son of the late poet/activist Amiri Baraka, and if even a fraction of the crowd that showed up for his father’s funeral actually works for his campaign, he’ll win. Ras Baraka opposes recent school closings and promises to bring economic development to the neighborhoods. But, when you are the son of Amiri Baraka, the subtext will always be self-determination – and what exactly does that mean when you’re running and governing as Democrat, as are both Baraka and Chokwe Lumumba? The theory seems to be that, since the Democrats don’t really stand for anything, then maybe they can be forced to tolerate some degree of radical Black politics. We shall see how that works out in practice.

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: 20140219_gf_TaleOf3Cities.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:26pm EDT

Online DEA Manuals Show How Feds Use NSA Spy Data, Train Local Cops to Construct False Chains of Evidence

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

One of the least remarked upon chunks of Edward Snowden's voluminous revelations about government spying on civilians has been the fact that the Drug Enforcement Administration, the federal police agency created to fight the war on drugs, has funneled illegal NSA surveillance to local police agencies around the country.

New disclosures now allow us to see online the DEA training manuals with which Drug Enforcement Administration agents are taught to coach local police departments across the country how to lie about their chains of evidence and sources, how to willfully violate the law and cover their tracks in thousands or tens of thousands of cases every year in order to fill the cells of the US prison state with drug defendants.

This is not hype. This is not exaggeration. It's the literal truth. You can read the DEA's own manuals online at Muckrock.Org spelled M U C K R O C K dot org. MuckRock.org is a project funded by the Sunlight Foundation to assist journalists and citizens make and disseminate the results of Freedom of Information Act requests from federal, state and local. Thanks to one such recent request, you can now go to the MuckRock.Org site and view copies of the DEA's own training materials. These materials depict an amoral, out of control police regime respecting no Constitution and no laws. DEA agents are told the evidence is unconstitutionally obtained, and that this has to be concealed from prosecutors, judges and above all from the public, some of which is still under the quaint notion that there are laws even cops and prosecutors must obey. The manuals cynically spell out how DEA agents should coach local police departments to use what they know is illegally obtained information in order to construct false chains of evidence.

This is a literal smoking gun that depicts how the intelligence apparatus seamlessly blends with federal and local cops to prosecute the 40 years failed war on drugs, the greedy front end of the US prison state.

There have been plenty of African American voices who have pooh-poohed the significance of Edward Snowden and his revelations. TV talking heads Joi Ann Reid and Melissa Harris-Perry have called him a traitor and said he ought to be locked up. Congressional buffoons like Rep. Jim Clyburn say he only did it to embarrass the black president, and others insist that his whistleblowing has nothing to do with black life as we live it.

But chronic overpolicing only happens to black and brown people, and chiefly the poorest of those. Blacks and brown people are the majority of drug defendants, charged with stiffer offenses and given longer sentences than white drug defendants. Illegal surveillance, turned into illegal evidence, backed up by an officially condoned web of lies about how that evidence was obtained, have long been a crucial element in the unfolding of the prison state to enclose poor black and brown communities.

If Edward Snowden hadn't told us the NSA was gathering this evidence, and the DEA was using it, we'd never have known. So if Snowden is indeed a traitor he betrayed the cops not us. If he's a spy, he's spying for the people, not for the prison state, which is a problem for some of our black misleadership class.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and view the DEA manuals or make your own Freedom of Information Act requests through Muckrock.org at muckrock.org.

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: 20140205_bd_nsa_dea_manuals_online.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:35pm EDT

Another Black Face on MSNBC: Good News For Joy Ann Reid, Not So Much For The Rest of Us

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR Managing Editor Bruce A. Dixon

“A lot has changed in fifty years, and a lot hasn't, a few things have gotten better and many others have gotten worse.”

Back in 1962, when I was twelve years old growing up on the south side of Chicago, and a black face showed up on TV, I remember my mother going to one of the windows of our apartment and shouting to the neighbors whose windows faced us less than 20 feet away. "Quick, there's one of us on channel 2!" To be fair, sometimes she used the phone for this too, and recall receiving these calls as well as seeing them made.

That's really how it was back in the day half a century ago. We knew we were black, we knew we were here, we knew we mattered somehow, but in the world of corporate-owned television, we had been rendered all but invisible, made to pretty much disappear.

There really were not a lot of black faces on the tube at all, so seeing one was a kind of affirmation, a tangible proof, in a strange way, almost as if the world brought to us by corporate owned broadcasting was more real than our own lives, that we really did exist, that we really did matter somehow in the scheme of things. We were looking for our own faces, our own stories, our own voices in corporate media and public life, and since we'd never even been able to pretend to have these things before they assumed an enormous importance for us that is hard to understand in today's world.

A lot has changed in fifty years, and a lot hasn't, a few things have gotten better and many others have gotten worse. Black unemployment is still double white unemployment, and black wealth remains a tiny fraction of white wealth. Gentrification is still the only model of urban economic development on offer, and the number of black faces in prisons and jails has grown enormously since 1963, the last year whites were a majority in US prisons and jails.

But black voter registration has never been higher, there have never been more black elected and appointed officials on every level from mayors to sheriffs to legislators and generals and even a president. So things are indeed getting better, at least for some of us. Things are certainly looking up for the family and friends of Joy Ann Reid, who's getting her own slot in the MSNBC TV daily lineup, alongside Al Sharpton, Rachel Maddow, weekender Melissa Harris-Perry and the rest of that crew.

Just as Fox News is the propaganda arm of the Republican party, the White House and corporate Democrats, as if any other kind really matter, have MSNBC on lockdown. You don't earn a daily slot on either side of corporate media if you're not a consistent and effective shill for corporate interests – for the privatization of public education, for US imperial interventions and war crimes in Africa, South Asia and the Americas, for fracking, for unfettered police spying, and for only attacking the bad things the other party does. That's Joy Ann Reid to a T, and that's how you earn those slots at Fox or MSNBC and that's how you keep them.

The last real journalist with a daily MSNBC slot was Phil Donahue, who was fired for giving air time to lefty criticisms of the invasion of Iraq. The big boys at Comcast, which owns MSNBC must have a lot of confidence in Joy Ann Reid to use her black face to effectively represent their interests.

A half century ago we imagined that if there were more black faces in more high places, they'd represent our interests. Silly us. We really didn't see this coming.

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

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a 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: 20140205_bd_joi_an_reid.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:04pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

As the Smarter Sentencing Act moves through Congress, President Obama's apologists, fabricators and fans are concocting and spreading a false narrative of him and Eric Holder as a “prison reformers.” In reality, the administration “has placed legal roadblocks in the way of release for thousands” and “has no intention of limiting the scope and powers of the prison state.”

The “Smarter Sentencing Act ”and White House Fakery: Obama Poses as Prison Reformer

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Obama’s legacy to the nation is the shrunken husk of a Constitution.”

President Obama’s spin doctors have been working overtime revising his administration’s historical record on criminal justice issues. On the most fundamental level, the Obama team can fairly be described as the most anti-civil liberties U.S. regime in modern times, having substantially destroyed the principle of due process of law through its preventive detention legislation and unprecedented abuse of World War One-era espionage laws. The Obama Justice Department takes the fascist-inspired position that Americans have no inherent Constitutional right to access to the courts. Due process, in their minds, consists of whatever process the government finds convenient. Obama’s legacy to the nation is the shrunken husk of a Constitution.

However, in the wake of widespread Black outrage at the Trayvon Martin verdict, the administration found it politically advantageous to dress up as criminal justice reformers. Obama and his attorney general mouthed words of sympathy for at least some of the millions locked away in the mostly Black and brown gulag, especially non-violent drug offenders. In truth, the Obama White House is behind the curve on criminal justice issues. Significant numbers of Republicans and lots of corporate think tanks have for some time favored scaling back the U.S. prison system, if only because it is so expensive. But, the Obama team has no intention of limiting the scope and powers of the Incarceration State. How could anyone believe that an administration that spies on virtually all of its citizens, would ever consider seriously scaling back its institutional capacity to imprison an unlimited number of people. Therefore, Obama puts forward only cosmetic and provisional proposals such as selective clemencies and commutations for a small number of inmates – but nothing that strikes at the institutional heart of the system. It is all sham and smoke, cynicism and hypocrisy.

Obama puts forward only cosmetic and provisional proposals.”

As both Margaret Kimberley and Bruce Dixon have reported in these pages, the Obama administration has fought in the courts to keep in prison about five thousand inmates convicted under the old, 100-to-1 crack versus powder cocaine laws. Attorney General Eric Holder’s lawyers argued against making the new 18-to-1 law retroactive, thus revealing the administration’s hard core mass incarceration mentality. While thousands of mostly Black inmates languished unnecessarily in prison, a bipartisan group of lawmakers pressed forward with the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2014, which has just passed major hurdles in the Senate. In addition to making reduced crack cocaine sentences retroactive, the bill would get rid of some mandatory minimum sentences – although the devil is in the details. The legislation has very broad support – just as did the crack cocaine penalties rollback bill – and is part of a growing consensus among U.S. ruling circles that the prison system is too large. Even the right-wing Heritage Foundation has offered a qualified endorsement. The truth is, the Obama administration has exerted no real leadership in this regard, but instead has placed legal roadblocks in the way of release for thousands.

The president didn’t even bother to mention U.S. prisons or the Smarter Sentencing Act in his State of the Union address. Yet, a number of publications, such as the New York Law Journal, erroneously credit Obama as a prison reformer – which is an absolute fiction.

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: 20140205_gf_SmarterSentencing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04am EDT

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

Democrats: Branding and Hypocrisy on the Minimum Wage

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

President Obama and national Democratic party spokespeople now agree that the minimum wage ought to be raised, and the mighty executive pen of the White House will soon force federal contractors to pay workers at least $10.10 an hour. Though this only applies to federal contractors, and can be rolled back if Republicans win the White House in 2016 it IS better than a sharp stick in the eye. It's also something the president could have done five years ago, during his first hours in office.

Back in 2007 and 2008, when President Obama was candidate Obama he campaigned on a promise to put legislation through Congress to raise the minimum wage, and to reform labor law so as to make it easier for workers to organize unions and fight for their rights on the job. Both those cynical promises were immediately forgotten when Barack Obama assumed the presidency, and during the two years his party held a thumping majority in the House with a narrower one in the Senate. The administration has never mentioned easing the restrictions on union organizing again, but once in a while, when their poll numbers get low enough, and as long as Republicans are safely in control of the House of Representatives, they dust off their rhetoric on the minimum wage. This is one of those times.

To tell the truth, $10.10 an hour isn't much, it's such a low floor that it probably can pass the House if leaders ever allow a floor vote. But it's far from a wage that will lift people out of poverty.

The elite bipartisan consensus – that's the president and his spokespeople and Republicans too, agree that the “solution” is not so much raising the wage for what people already DO as “training” which will make them fit for better jobs. But that's a joke as well. The US economy isn't producing “better jobs.” Starbucks is full of baristas with M.A. degrees, and most college teachers are now “adjuncts” which means their advanced degrees enable them to work for poverty wages and few or no benefits. PhD incomes have fallen off a cliff the last ten years as colleges and universities re-organize themselves more to resemble the corporations who rule our society.

Early in his presidency, Barack Obama proposed recalculating social security benefits to lower them, and late last year he signed off on the reduction of unemployment benefits he now wants immoral Republicans to take all the blame for.

It's not hard to see that Democrats only take up the cause of the minimum wage when Republicans are in office, to reinforce their fake brand as champions of the oppressed. When they're in power, and raising that wage is a sure thing, their attention is somewhere else. But once Republicans get the House or the Senate, they talk about “passing a jobs bill”, about “universal pre-K” and about raising the minimum wage, more to embarrass Republicans than with a view to actually accomplishing any of these things.

They are all branding slogans, blatant and shallow hypocrisy, but so far they have worked to reinforce the Democrats' brand as the party of the oppressed. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and serves on the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be contacted via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20140115_bd_hypocrisy_on_minimum_wage.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:06pm EDT

Cory Booker Hits Senate Just in Time to Vote for Private School Vouchers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Booker has never turned his back on the private school hucksters that launched his political career.”

Cory Booker, the new U.S. Senator from New Jersey and the darling of corporate executives, everywhere, may have an early chance to show Capitol Hill his true colors on vouchers for private schools. Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee, has introduced a bill to transfer about 41 percent of federal public school moneys to the states, which could then turn the funds into vouchers. Parents would be allowed to use the vouchers to pay for private schools, or charter schools, or a public school outside their district. It is a formula designed to hasten the already rapid dissolution of public education in America.

Cory Booker began his public career as an advocate of private school vouchers. Along with two prominent Republican soul mates, Booker founded a local New Jersey outfit called Educational Excellence for Everyone. That’s how he first became embedded in the universe of rightwing foundations and think tanks whose pet project at the turn of the 21st century was private school vouchers. They bankrolled Booker’s rise to mayor of Newark and used their media machine to make him a nationally known politician while still in his early 30s. If Booker had not narrowly lost his first bid for mayor, in 2002, he – not Barack Obama – might have had the inside track on becoming the first Black President. As it turned out, both Booker and Obama represent the most corporate elements of the Democratic Party – and the most hostile to public education.

Once he had secured a national spotlight, Booker founded another group, called Democrats for Education Reform. By that time, the term “reform” had become a code word for charter schools and busting the teachers unions. Democrats for Education Reform morphed into a political action committee fueled by contributions from Wall Street fat cats who wanted to get a piece of the school privatization action. As always, Cory Booker was their man.

By 2016, thanks to both Booker and Christie, charter schools will account for more than a third of Newark’s student enrollment.”

Booker and Republican New Jersey governor Chris Christie worked hand-in-hand as preachers of the school charter gospel. Both took credit for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation to Newark schools, and, both made sure that charter schools got more than their fair share of the money. By 2016, thanks to both Booker and Christie, charter schools will account for more than a third of Newark’s student enrollment.

Wall Street is betting on charter schools, because that’s where the most profits can be made. How can a speculator lose, when the public foots the bill while the education corporations reap the rewards? That’s why President Obama, the consummate corporate politician, has acted as chief national booster and bully for charter schools. However, most Democrats draw the line at private school vouchers. Cory Booker would very much like to appear to be a mainstream Democrat – the kind that can win presidential primaries or be tapped as vice presidential running mate. But Booker has never turned his back on the private school hucksters that launched his political career. He will have little choice but to vote in favor of Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander’s school vouchers bill, thus putting himself at odds with most of the Democratic Caucus in the Senate. Booker is likely to start his tenure as Senator in the same place he began his political career – in bed with the most reactionary rich white people in America.

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: 20140129_gf_BookerVouchers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:33pm EDT

America on MLK’s Birthday: The Trifecta of Evils

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The people of the world think the U.S. is the most significant threat to peace.”

When Dr. Martin Luther King died at the age of 39, he was quite clear about who and what was at the root of human suffering. He believed that “racism, militarism and extreme materialism” were the “giant triplets“ of “interrelated” evil that had to be overcome if society was to be transformed. Dr. King said the United States was host to all three resident evils, and that America reigned as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, today.” Forty-six years later, the United States clearly leads the world in all three of Dr. King’s categories of evil. And, we can prove it by the numbers.

It is true that racism is hard to measure, but the effects of racism can be quantified. If a racist government is defined as one that consistently uses its powers in ways that harm a particular racial group, then the U.S. is indisputably the most racist major state in the world. The U.S. prison population is by far the largest on the planet, in sheer numbers and in the proportion of Americans locked up. No other country comes close – which makes the United States the superpower of mass incarceration. America’s police and prison custodial forces dwarf the militaries of most countries – which tells us that militarism is now so deeply embedded in U.S. domestic structures that you can’t tell where the military ends and the police begin. Nearly half of U.S. prisoners are African American, although Blacks are only one-eighth of the total U.S. population. Since Americans make up fully one-quarter of the world’s prison inmates, that means one out of every eight prisoners on the planet is an African American. This could only occur in a thoroughly racist state, whose institutions work overtime to produce the biggest and most racially unbalanced incarceration numbers on Earth. Clearly, America has racism – triple evil number one – covered.

The United States is the superpower of mass incarceration.”

Number two is militarism. The U.S. military budget is almost as large as the military spending of all the world’s other nations, combined. Together, the U.S. and its NATO allies account for more than 70 percent of global weapons spending. At last count, the U.S. spent six times more on war than China, and 11 times more than Russia. In fact, if you count up the U.S. and all of its allies, they are probably responsible for about 90 percent of total moneys spent on war. Therefore, today, 46 years after Dr. King’s death, the United States is not just the greatest purveyor of violence in the world – it is right at the center of just about the totality of militarized violence in the world, today. Which is why a recent international poll shows that the people of the world think the U.S. is the most significant threat to peace.

Finally, the third of the triple evils: extreme materialism. By that, Dr. King meant great disparities in wealth and income. According to the Suisse Global Wealth Databook, wealth is so unevenly distributed in the United States, it no longer resembles a First World country. Of all the rich nations, the U.S. is dead last in terms of material equality.

So, by Dr. Martin Luther King’s measurements, America is in bad shape – more bedeviled by the triple evils than back in his day. In fact, things are much, much worse because...it’s the silence that kills you.

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: 20140122_gf_TripleEvils.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:19pm EDT

US Court of Appeals: The Internet is a Plantation, With Comcast, Verizon, AT&T Its Masters

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

“Network neutrality” on the internet is the idea that anyone can access it, with any device to view or contribute any content. Network neutrality is the foundation of the internet as we have known it. According to the federal court of appeals in DC, network neutrality on the internet is now over.

From this point on, the court has ruled, internet providers can levy extra tolls upon, slow down or , simply ban any content or any users they choose, for any reason whatsoever. Internet companies can now tell you which hardware and software devices, what kinds of computers, phones, programs and applications you may or may not use, and from which locations. The internet is now a plantation, with Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon its masters, and the rest of us serfs or worse.

This is one of those ground breaking, those earth shaking moments that reveal how capitalism works, how greedy corporations have captured the media, the courts and the other two bipartisan branches of government in these United States. This ruling is anything but a surprise. It's what the telecom companies have demanded for years, and what the administrations of President Bush and Obama alike seem determined to give them.

President Obama did campaign declaring he would take a back seat to nobody in fighting for network neutrality. The White House has occasionally, though increasingly feebly renewed that pledge. But Obama's first FCC chief was Julius Genakowski, a former telecom lobbyist who wrote the 1990s laws privatizing the internet backbone, which was built with taxpayer dollars, giving it to telecom companies like Comcast and AT&T for pennies on the dollar. Under this notorious privatizer, the FCC did almost nothing to assert the public right, to advance the public demand for a free and open internet, to head off this disastrous ruling of corporate rights over public property which was clearly in the pipeline. It's not the first time this or any president or Congress has campaigned on the public interest, but governed in the corporate interest, and telecom companies are always big campaign contributors.

This is an emergency. It's time for everyone with a computer, everyone with a cell phone, everyone who uses discount phone cards – those place calls over the internet – to insist, to demand of this president and this Congress that they protect the public's right to communicate with itself, that they protect the free and open internet upon which we all depend. You won't hear Al Sharpton, your other civil rights dinosaurs or the NAACP talk about this because they depend on telecom money.

The first necessary step in neutralizing this awful court ruling the corporations have purchased is a simple one. President Obama must instruct the FCC to reclassify broadband internet as a telecommunications service, so that it comes under existing laws which do preserve a measure of internet neutrality and freedom, and prevent Verizon, AT&T and Comcast from treating the internet like their company town or plantation and us as serfs. The president alone has this power, nobody can stop him if he decides to use it. This is the time.

For more and ongoing information on how to preserve the limited degree of internet freedom we now have, visit the web site of Free Press, at freepress.net. That freepress.net. Sign on to their alert list and let the White House and the FCC know that the internet cannot be a plantation, and you are not a serf.

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

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party.  He lives and works near Marietta GA, and can be reached via the contact page at http://blackagendareport.com/contact or via email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20140115_bd_network_neutrality.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:05pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The United States, which boasts that South Sudan owes its independence to Washington, seems poised to repossess the new nation’s sovereignty. With Sudan’s uniformed warlords locked in combat, the usual American “experts” are calling for the U.S. to assume trusteeship of the country – especially its oil.

South Sudan: When the Empire is Your Liberator, You're Not Really Independent

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The South Sudanese military has broke up into its component warlord parts.”

For decades, the United States and Israel sought to bring about the fracturing of Sudan, which had been, geographically, the largest nation in Africa. Secession of the South was a special project of Israel, whose most enduring and fundamental foreign policy is to spread chaos and dissention in the Muslim and Arab worlds. Sudan, under the political control of the mostly Muslim North, joined the Arab League immediately upon independence, in 1956. Israel has sought to destabilize Sudan ever since, both to strike a blow at “Arabized” Africans and to curry favor among Christians on the continent.

John Garang, who rose to leader of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army, received military training in Israel in 1970, during Sudan’s first civil war. However, Garang favored keeping the South in federation with a united Sudan. In 2005, under a Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Garang became vice president of the whole of Sudan and premier of the southern part of the country. He died in a mysterious helicopter crash six months later. Garang was succeeded by Salva Kiir, who sports a black cowboy hat given to him by President Bush, in 2006.

Dismembering Sudan became a U.S. obsession under Bill Clinton, who bombed a pharmaceuticals factory in the capital city, Khartoum, in 1998, falsely claiming it was a chemical weapons facility. After 9/11 Sudan moved to the top of President Bush’s enemies list. The U.S. and Israel provided arms and training to rebel groups in Darfur, in the west of the Sudan, fueling another front of civil war.

Washington openly bragged that it was the Godfather of the South Sudanese state.”

President Obama entered the White House the year after AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command, came into being, and two years before the South Sudanese were to vote in a referendum on whether they wanted to become an independent nation. With much of Africa now under the sway of the U.S. military, Washington dropped all diplomatic pretense and openly bragged that it was the Godfather of the South Sudanese state that emerged in July of 2011. What was left of Khartoum’s part of Sudan lost most of its oil. China had good reason to be worried, having invested $20 billion in Sudan before it was split, and pledged $8 billion more to South Sudan after independence – but now the Americans were strutting around like they owned the place.

Then came the collapse, as the South Sudanese military broke up into its component warlord parts. Suddenly, the U.S. political class is talking about repossessing the country’s sovereignty. In the pages of the New York Times, Princeton Lyman, the former U.S. special envy to South Sudan calls for the United Nations to assume the role of “protector” of the country, with oversight of the economy and the oil fields (of course). Another establishment foreign policy “expert,” G. Pascal Zachary, calls on the United States to assume “trusteeship” of South Sudan, including control of its military and police. That sounds a lot like Haiti, a country whose independence was stolen by George Bush in 2004 and which remains a “protectorate” of the United Nations – actually, of the United States, France and Canada and any corporation that wants to set up a sweatshop. What the American Godfather giveth, he also claims the right to take away.

So, what have the South Sudanese won? Certainly, not independence. It’s just another oil rich, neocolonial spot on the map of U.S. empire.

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: 20140115_gf_SouthSudan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:04pm EDT

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

What if policymakers wanted to make marijuana safe for taxation and corporate profit, but needed to make sure legalization didn't produce new jobs and economic opportunities for poor and working class communities, or make them lay off any cops and judges, or have to close any prisons or jails? Well, the model in place in Colorado today would be a good start.

Is the End of Marijuana Prohibition the End of the War On Drugs? Probably Not.

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

The forty years of so-called “war on drugs” has been the rhetorical excuse for a nationwide policy of punitive overpolicing in black and brown communities. Although black and white rates of drug use have been virtually identical, law enforcement strategies focused police resources almost exclusively upon communities of color. Prosecutors and judges did their bit as well, charging and convicting whites significantly less often, and to less severe sentences than blacks.

The forty years war on drugs has been the front door of what can only be described as the prison state, in which African Americans are 13% of the population but more than 40% of the prisoners, and the chief interactions of government with young black males is policing, the courts and imprisonment. Given all that, the beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition, first in Colorado and soon to be followed by other states ought to be great good news. But not necessarily.

Ask yourself, what would it look like if policymakers wanted to end the prohibition of marijuana, but not necessarily the the war on drugs. What if they desired to lock down the potential economic opportunities opened up by legalizing weed to themselves and their class, to a handful of their wealthy and well-connected friends and campaign contributors? What if they wanted to make the legal marijuana market safe for predatory agribusiness, which would like to claim lucrative patents on all the genetic varieties of marijuana which can be legally grown, as they already try to do with other crops?

If they wanted to do those things, the system in place in Colorado today would be a good start. In Denver today, low income property owners can't just plant pot in the back yard or on the roof in hopes of making one mortgage payment a year out of twelve, it doesn't work that way. Ordinary households are limited to 3 plants per adult, and for reference only the female plants are good for smoking, and prohibited from selling the weed or the seed. To participate in the marijuana economy as anything but a consumer requires background checks, hefty license fees, a minimum of hundreds of thousands to invest, and the right connections. All this currently drives the price of legal weed in Colorado to over $600 per ounce, including a 25% state tax, roughly double the reported street price of illegal weed.

So to enable the state to collect that tax money, and the bankers, growers and investors to collect their profits from marijuana taxed by the state and regulated in the corporate interest, cops and judges and jailers in near future, in Colorado and in your state as well, figure to be just as busy as they always have been the last forty years, doing pretty much what they've always done... conducting a war on illegal drugs, chiefly in the poorer and blacker sections of town, with predictable results.

The end of marijuana prohibition is not designed to create jobs in our communities, nor is it intended to shrink the prison state. Our ruling class simply does not allow economic growth that they can't monopolize, and the modern prison state has never been about protecting the public from drugs or crime. Prisons and our lifelong persecution of former prisoners serve to single out, brand and stigmatize the economic losers in modern capitalist society, so that those hanging on from paycheck to paycheck can have someone to look down upon and so that they might imagine that this vast edifice of inequality is, if not just, inevitable.

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

Bruce A. Dixon is the managing editor at Black Agenda Report and the co-chair 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: 20130108_bd_legalize_it.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:36pm EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

South Africa appears poised to reclaim its revolutionary legacy from the clutches of the African National Congress, which has “devolved into a fat and corrupt partner of white capital.” As the Age of Obama nears its end, Black America must also awake from the catastrophe of racial symbolism and self-delusion.

Black South Africa Rediscovers Itself – Will Black America?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

With the death of Mandela, the spell has been broken in South Africa.”

African Americans and Black South Africans have shared a special relationship within the larger African Diaspora. Both peoples struggled against entrenched white settler regimes obsessed with racial separation and European supremacy, societies that had grown fantastically rich on stolen land and labor. Gil Scott-Heron expressed the Black American-South African affinity in 1976 when he asked, lyrically, What’s the word in Johannesburg – Detroit’s like Johannesburg, New York’s like Johannesburg, where “freedom ain’t nothing but a word.”

Of course, Blacks have always been the great majority in South Africa, and a distinct minority in the United States. But there are many cities in the U.S. where Blacks are the majority, and yet rich white people still run the place. On both sides of the Atlantic, we have learned that there is no magic in numbers; that people still have to fight for power.

It is also true that long-suffering people who are hungry for recognition as human beings are often vulnerable to the seductions of symbolism. Having no memory of ever holding actual power, they take pride in beholding the trappings of power among notables of their own race – just as poor church congregations clothe their ministers in the finest garments and buy them expensive automobiles.

African Americans thought they’d won something when the corporate politician, Barack Obama, entered the White House five years ago. Vicariously, they were on top of the world, while in reality, Black America’s economic condition had become catastrophic. At the very historical moment when Blacks needed most desperately to defend themselves, they chose instead to defend Obama, the servant of Wall Street. Black America allowed itself to be utterly defeated by racial symbolism and self-delusion – at least for the time being.

Three years from now, the big hangover will begin.”

In South Africa, in 1994, the Black majority did win the right to elect a government that looked like them, although – just like in majority Black American cities – whites still ran the show, economically. The leaders and media of the rich white world declared Nelson Mandela a saint for abandoning the Freedom Charter’s blueprint for nationalization of banking and industry and redistribution of land. Mandela’s party, the African National Congress, devolved into a fat and corrupt partner of white capital, and the security forces turned their guns on Black miners at Marikana, massacring 34 of them. Yet, while Mandela lived, his symbolic aura shielded the ANC. It was not until the first Black president of South Africa was buried that the country’s biggest union, the 338,000-member National Union of Metalworkers, could bring itself to break ties with the ANC. The metalworkers say they will fight to implement the Freedom Charter and work towards creation of a new, socialist party that will represent the interests of working people.

With the death of Mandela, the spell has been broken in South Africa. Symbolism will no longer substitute for real People’s Power. In the United States, three years from now, the big hangover will begin, as Black America is forced to ponder the damage that it has allowed Obama to get away with on the basis of shared complexion. Hopefully, we will begin the historic and necessary process of casting out the Black misleaders in New York and Detroit and Atlanta and Chicago – just like in Johannesburg.

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: 20140108_gf_US_SAfrica.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30pm EDT