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

“The Democrats cynically see the impending disaster as an opportunity to position themselves for the 2018 and 2020 elections.”

At the end of last month, Donald Trump unveiled his military budget, obscenely inflated by $54 billion dollars -- a 10 percent increase that will be paid for with cuts to social programs. There was no organized denunciation from the Democrats, and a few days later, when former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear gave the Democratic Party response to Trump’s speech before the Congress, he had not a word of criticism for Trump’s military budget, but instead charged that the president was “ignoring serious threats to our national security from Russia.”

Russia, Russia, Russia. It is the great diversion, by which the Democrats pretend to lead a resistance to Trumpism, but present no serious opposition to Trump and his fellow Republicans’ gutting of poor and working people’s programs in the service of militarism.

The Democrats are putting up no real fight against Trump’s domestic austerity agenda. Like Barack Obama, they would welcome a Grand Bargain with the Republicans that freezes or shrinks the social side of the budget while continuing to fund multiple wars all over the planet. Indeed, their principal problem with Trump was that he wasn’t bellicose enough; they feared that he might not be eager to play nuclear chicken with the Russians. They are implacable in their battle with Trump, the man, but put up only the most pro forma resistance to Trump’s people-crushing budget proposals.

Do not expect the Democrats to wage an honest fight for the people’s health care interests, either. The Republican plan to replace Obamacare is, as expected, an unmitigated disaster. While Obamacare was festering in its own contradictions, the Republican replacement will likely result in 10 million more uninsured Americans and total chaos at every level of health care infrastructure, resulting in an almost instantaneous social and medical crisis -- and not just for poor people.

Cynical Jockeying for Position

The Democrats cynically see the impending disaster as an opportunity to position themselves for the 2018 and 2020 elections. Although Obamacare is dead, and cannot be resurrected, they will make a show of defending its various parts, one doomed element at a time, even as the private insurance markets that are available to lower income people disintegrate. The Democrats will be glad to let the crisis fester under Republican corruption and incompetence, and then, as the next election season opens, propose some reworked version of Obamacare, probably with weak provisions for a “public option.” What they will not do, as a party, is respond to the crisis with a push for single payer Medicare for All -- a solution the party’s corporate masters will not tolerate. Bernie Sanders, himself, has said he has no plans to submit his own Medicare for All bill to the Senate, this year -- part of his accommodation with the Obama-Clinton party bosses. But, that’s fine; the demand should come from masses of people in the streets, representing the super-majorities that have favored single payer for decades. This is a movement moment, and progressive activists must seize the time. The Democrats, however, anticipated that the Left might take the initiative at this critical point in history. Which is why they created the Great Russian Diversion, to distract silly minds.

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: 20170308_gf_ObamacareRussians.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:16am EST

An Electoral School for Black Self-Determination

The Black political class has “become servants of the Democratic Party and other institutions outside of our communities,” and must be replaced, said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. The coalition will hold a two-day electoral school, April 8 and 9, in St. Petersburg, Florida, to begin a campaign “to unleash a new force of people, and inject them into the electoral process based on a struggle for self-determination.” The coalition last year released a 19-point National Black Political Agenda for Self-Determination with positions on the widest range of domestic and foreign policy issues. Candidates that support the Agenda should get Black support -- even if they’re Democrats, said Yeshitela.

Blacks Need an Anti-War Movement, Not Anti-Russia Hysteria

The Democrats seem to have an objective interest in having us focus on Donald Trump, the person, as opposed to this system, itself,” said Ajamu Baraka, the former Green Party vice presidential candidate, a founder of the U.S. Human Rights Network, and an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report. In this environment, anti-war views are regarded as suspect. “I’m involved in building a Black Alliance for Peace, to try to revive the Black anti-war movement -- the Black anti-war consciousness,” he said. “We think we have a perfect opportunity, now that people are waking up out of this eight-year stupor, to bring the Black community back to where we used to be, as the most consistent anti-war population in this country. But, it’s difficult to do this when our people are getting caught up in this anti-Russian hysteria, too,” said Baraka.

Beyond Black Lives Matter

Despite its success in “changing the conversation about police brutality in the United States,” the Black Lives Matter movement “shows the limitations of social movements that do not advance beyond highlighting injustice,” said Dr. Keeanga Yamahtta Taylor, the author, activist and professor of African America Studies at Princeton University. In a speech at Detroit’s Wayne State University, Taylor said: “Knowledge, alone, of abuse, injustice and oppression” is not enough. “Indeed, mass movements of millions have to be mobilized to stare down the autocratic impulses of the regime in the White House.”

In Praise of Two Exemplary “Jailhouse Lawyers”

Mumia Abu Jamal spent many years on death row before his sentence was reduced to life in prison. The nation’s best known political prisoner has high praise for two other Pennsylvania prison inmates, Craig Williams and Shaun T. Walker, who were kept on death row for years, even after their death sentences were lifted. Williams, said Abu Jamal, is “one helluva jailhouse lawyer -- still making new law.”

Mumia and other inmates “have complained about hazardous brown water for several months, and prison officials have done nothing to fix the problem,” according to a public service announcement produced by the Move organization. “Enough is enough.” Activists are urging the public to call John Wetzel, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, at 717.728.4109, and “demand that inmates are given clean water for showers and personal use.” For more information, go to FreeMumia.com.

Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: one hour.

Direct download: black_agenda_radio_20170306.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:17pm EST

Instead of worrying about where Kellyanne Conway's feet are, or blasting Betsy DeVos's ignorance on HBCUs we should insist that black college presidents start or join a movement for free tuition at HBCUs and public colleges and universities. Millions of college grads of all colors are carry unpayable debt and are frustrated by lack of opportunities. This demand earned Bernie Sanders millions of votes. It’s a mass movement in waiting.

Time For A Movement For Free Tuition at HBCUs and Public Colleges

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Black folks with nothing better to do were up in arms for a day about Kellyanne Conways feet buried in the Oval Office sofa messing with her phone while the presidents and chancellors of historically black colleges and universities crowded around Donald Trump’s desk. Some others have written about Betsy DeVos’s note on HBCUs, which revealed her stunning and self-serving ignorance of their history and origin. But pointing out how disrespectful or stupid key members of the Trump administration is partisan BS that won’t not save a single college education, let alone remedy the desperate situation of our historically black colleges and universities.

Right now, the heads of HBCUs have an historic opportunity to save their institutions by stirring up a movement from below for free tuition for HBCUs and for all public colleges and universities, for loan forgiveness for students at public universities, interest reductions for all students and for getting the federal government out of the student loan business.

Free college tuition is not an impractical pie in the sky. Germany does it. France does it. Norway and a dozen other countries do it. State universities in California and Louisiana did it for decades in the 20th century. It was a cornerstone demand of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign that earned him millions of votes. Free college education is what modern human societies do when they recognize that education is a public good not a private privilege. A nominal tax on Wall Street and reallocation of federal funds that now go to student lenders would easily pay for free tuition.

HBCUs were founded with white philanthropy beginning in the 1860s because the newly freed black population urgently needed teachers and other professionals, and because white colleges rarely admitted black students. Black student access was still being litigated in the US nine decades later, and to this day HBCUs produce a far greater percentage of highly competent black college grads than other institutions.

But the leaders of our HBCUs have largely failed to envision ways to fund their institutions outside of white philanthropy and occasional special government funding directed exclusively at them. The United Negro College Fund has even accepted Koch Brothers money with many nasty strings attached. It’s time to stop digging that hole deepter.

There are historic currents in motion right now. Millions of college grads, not just black ones, are crushed by unpayable student debt and lack of opportunities and they have proven receptive to the idea of free college tuition. It’s a movement waiting to be galvanized. The Trump administration won’t much like it, any more than Hillary did. But free college tuition for HBCUs and public institutions is something that can be accomplished in a decade or so of agitation and struggle. If our HBCU college presidents are truly leaders and not followers, this is the current they can tap into.

Of course the common wisdom is that nobody is more conservative than a black college president. It’s a stereotype some of them will have to violate to save their institutions, and to save the very idea of education as a public good not a private privilege. If the first black president did not save HBCUs, nothing Donald Trump is willing to give out will do the trick either. It’s time to really bargain, to demand what is not being offered. And if our historically black college presidents lack the political vision and intestinal fortitude to do it, maybe we need to start this movement without them.

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

Direct download: 20170302_bd_free-tuition.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:22pm EST

No Justice to be Found in Louisiana

“Louisiana has the most broken public defender system of any state in the country,” said Kristen Clark, president of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which joined with the Southern Poverty Law Center to bring a class action suit charging Louisiana with depriving defendants of their constitutional rights. “They lock people up a alarmingly high rates, and then fail to provide lawyers to navigate their way through the criminal justice system,” said Clark. “Many of our clients have, literally, spent months in jail without any contact with an attorney.” Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the nation.

“They Want to Exterminate Us”: MOVE to Hold Conference in Philly

The MOVE organization will hold a three-day conference, beginning May 5, in Philadelphia, to set the historical record straight on “what MOVE really believes in, who [founder] John Africa is, and why the government wants to exterminate us,” said the organization’s minister of communications, Ramona Africa. Ms. Africa is the sole survivor of the 1985 police bombing raid on the MOVE residence that left 11 members dead, including 5 children, and destroyed an entire city block. In 1978, 9 MOVE members were sentenced to life in prison in the death of a policeman, a confrontation that began with petty police harassment. “They said there were housing code violations,” Ms. Africa remembers. “But, since when has this government cared about Black people living in what they say is substandard housing?”

Good News: Trump Does Not Yet Have an Africa Policy

U.S. military intervention in Africa rose dramatically under President Barack Obama, who established an “Atrocity Prevention Board” at the U.S. State Department “to decide which country has the most important atrocities.” However, according to Kambale Musavuli, of Friends of the Congo, the Atrocity Prevention Board doesn’t consider the genocide in Congo to be much of an atrocity, since the main culprits are Washington’s allies, Rwanda and Uganda, which have been destabilizing the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1996. “Because of U.S. policy to support that invasion,” said Musavuli, “we have lost over six million Congolese.” In light of this history, Musavuli would prefer less, rather than more, attention to Africa from Washington. “What is unclear,” he said, “is whether Donald Trump will continue with the Atrocity Prevention Board, or what his Africa policy will be.”

Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: one hour.

 

Direct download: black_agenda_radio_20170227.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:25pm EST

Black Agenda Radio for Week of February 13, 2017

Trump Pursues His Vision of a Whiter USA

The ban on Muslims is a step towards regulating the ethnic mix of the population.

Sanctuary Movement to Expand Its Resistance

Rather than go on the defensive, activists seek to broaden resistance to state oppression

A Millions March for Prisoners’ Human Rights

Abolitionists to converge on Washington in August to end mass incarceration.

Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: one hour.

Direct download: black_agenda_radio_for_20170213.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:47am EST

Black Agenda Radio for Week of February 13, 2017

Trump Pursues His Vision of a Whiter USA

The ban on Muslims is a step towards regulating the ethnic mix of the population.

Sanctuary Movement to Expand Its Resistance

Rather than go on the defensive, activists seek to broaden resistance to state oppression

A Millions March for Prisoners’ Human Rights

Abolitionists to converge on Washington in August to end mass incarceration.

Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: one hour.

Direct download: black_agenda_radio_20170213.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:27am EST

Black Agenda Radio for Week of February 6, 2017

Protests in Dixie Against Trump’s “White Supremacist Government”

Hundreds gathered in Columbia, South Carolina, to protest President Trump’s ban on refugees and visitors from seven mostly Muslim countries. “We’ve got to put pressure on Republican legislators who support Trump, and the business people that support this rightward movement that’s happening in this country,” said author and activist Kevin Alexander Gray. “The whole idea of having a white supremacist government -- which, in South Carolina, we now a lot about, because this is the ideological home of white supremacy in America.”

One Out of 9 U.S. Inmates Serving Life

Despite “modest” reductions of about 5 percent in the overall U.S. prison population since 2009, the number and proportion of inmates serving life sentences continues to increase. A new study by The Sentencing Project, titled “Delaying a Second Chance: The Declining Prospects for Parole on Life Sentences,” puts much of the blame on politicians and parole boards. “Legislatures have increased minimum sentence requirements that people have to serve before a parole board can even review someone for parole eligibility,” said study author Dr. Nazgol Ghandnoosh. Back in the 1980s, a person sentenced to life for murder could expect to get out in about 11 and a half years, but someone similarly sentenced in the 21st century would be likely to spend more than 23 years -- twice as long -- behind bars. “Parole boards are granting fewer paroles or refusing to increase them, even though they’re seeing people so much later in their sentence,” said Ghandnoosh. Longer actual terms for lifers results in longer sentences for everyone else, she said. More than 160,000 U.S. prison inmates are serving life sentences, 50,000 of them with no possibility of parole.

“Collective Punishment” of Prisoners

Kerry “Shakaboona” Marshall is one of the thousands of lifers sentenced for crimes committed when they were juveniles. Marshall has already spent a quarter century behind bars. He edits a prison magazine and is a correspondent for Prison Radio, but could not reach his editors on the outside because of a lockdown following a fight among a few inmates at Rockview prison, in Pennsylvania. Such “collective punishment,” he told Prison Radio’s Noelle Hanrahan, cuts prisoners off from their support structures. “Without family bonds, it’s hard to return to society, and it’s hard for prisoners to maintain connection with their lawyers to present a proper defense for their legal appeals,” he said.

Mumia Interviews Eddie Africa, of Move

The nation’s best known political prisoner, Mumia Abu Jamal, introduced his worldwide audience to fellow inmate Eddie Africa, sentenced, along with eight other members of the Move organization, to 30 to 100 years in the 1978 death of a Philadelphia police officer. Nearing 70, Eddie Africa urges young fathers in prison to maintain close contact with their children. “Use this time to talk to them, write to them, so they don’t go the path their parents went,” running with gangs.

A Plan for Community Control of NYC Police

The Campaign for Community Control Over the Police, a coalition of 26 anti-police terror organizations, will hold the first of several “Open House Conferences” on February 18, at Manhattan’s All Souls Unitarian Church. The coalition has developed a four-tier proposal to rein in the cops, beginning with mandatory residency in the precinct in which they work. “That way, they have a vested interest in the community, their children go to the same schools, they shop in the same stores, and they will actually care about the community, rather than act as an occupying army,” said Campaign outreach chairperson, Bro. Shep Olugbala, in an interview with Black Agenda Radio producer Kyle Fraser. Precinct commanders would be elected by the neighborhood, just as “you have sheriffs who are elected by the community” in smaller towns. An elected Community Police Control Board would have subpoena powers and the right to hire and fire police, and an elected special prosecutor, “totally independent of the district attorney’s office,” would “investigate and prosecute allegations of serious criminal conduct by police officers,” said Olugbala.

Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: one hour.

Direct download: black_agenda_radio_20170206.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:33pm EST

#ProgressiveHypocrite of the Month for February 2017: Former Clinton-era Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

#ProgressiveHypocrite of the Month for February 2017: Former Clinton-era Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

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

Progressives” is the name Democrats call themselves when they need to draw attention away from the greedy and murderous one percenters who actually call the shots in their party.

Lazy, hypocritical progressive followers protest the unconstitutional machinations of Republican administrations like those of George W. Bush and Donald Trump while they ignore excuse the same crimes when committed by Democrats like the Clintons or Barack Obama. But Black Agenda Report does not bestow its coveted #ProgressiveHypocrite of the month award on mere followers. We pledge that each and every month our #ProgressiveHypocrite awardees will be leaders in their fields, major players whose recognized game inspires and enables the ordinary hypocrisy of countless partisan Democrats – or as they call themselves, progressives.

Thus we are proud to announce as Black Agenda Report’s very first #ProgressiveHypocrite of the month, for February 2017 is Madeleine K. Albright.

Madeleine Albright got her start as the protégé of notorious cold warrior Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was her dissertation advisor at Columbia. As Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor Z-big put Albright on as his special assistant. The next time a Democrat occupied the White House she was UN ambassador in Clinton’s first term and secretary of state in his second. Madeleine Albright famously asserted in a 1996 60 Minutes interview that although the US blockade of Iraq which she vigorously championed killed a half million Iraqi children that “...it was a hard choice but it was worth it...”

After the Clinton administration Albright founded a global consulting firm which became ASG, the Albright Stonebridge Group, representing and advising multinational corporations on six continents on how to enter and dominate local markets, how to privatize public land and public institutions like post offices and electric grids. The fixers at Albright Stonebridge help privatize water and sewer systems and chunks of the natural environment like the broadcast spectrum so outfits like Google and Facebook can own the internet in India and Africa. ASG claims credit for engineering the entry of WalMart into China and Thailand. Albright’s crew has global reach. They can make your corporation’s taxes in Mexico go away. They can rig the regs for Big Pharma in Brazil, they can prevent unfavorable laws affecting your profits in China or Japan and they can negotiate your bribe to the murderous Saudi royal family.

Albright mentored Susan Rice, the bare knuckled champion of vulture capital in Africa and of the US bomb and invade countries for their own protection. For her valued service to the one percent of the one percent, President Obama awarded Madeleine Albright the Medal of Freedom in 2012. She campaigned for Hillary alongside Cory Booker declaring there was “a special place in hell” for women who failed to support other women.

Now at the dawn of the Trump era, Madeleine Albright has been trotted out as the avatar of concern and compassion for Muslims who will be affected by the Islamaphobic policies of Donald Trump. She declared earlier this week that “...there are tears in the eyes of the Statue of Liberty...” and that she would “register as a Muslim” to protest Trump’s evil policies. We at Black Agenda Report recommend that Madeleine Albright register as an Iraqi toddler in the year 1995, when the blockade she championed killed half a million Iraqi children, mostly Muslims.

Thus for her inspirational hypocrisy in the service of Democratic – I mean progressive opposition to Donald Trump we name Madeleine K. Albright the #ProgressiveHypocrite of the month for February 2017.

This is Bruce Dixon for Black Agenda Radio. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, Black Agenda Report on Facebook and @blkagendareport on Twitter.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a co-chair of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20170201_bd_progressive-hypocrite_feb2017.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:40am EST

Democrats, Including Bernie Sanders, Won’t Fight for Medicare for All

“Because Obama had used the trick terminology ‘universal health care’ to describe his program, the public became confused and demoralized about the whole subject of government health care.”

Democrats will tell you that the Republicans are the reason the U.S. is the only industrial country in the world that does not have universal, government-provided health care. But, that’s not true. Despite their legislative majorities, the Republicans are not strong enough on their own to defeat a concerted campaign for a Medicare for All program, which is supported by overwhelming majorities of the public, including a very large percentage of Republicans. The U.S. does not have a single payer health care system because corporate Democratic leadership, most shamefully under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, have confused the public about what is, and what is not, “universal” health care. They have offered counterfeit, private industry-based schemes – “Hillary-care” in 1993, Obamacare in 2009 -- and fraudulently called them universal health care, when in fact these were bait-and-switch schemes designed to prevent the successful passage of a genuine single payer health program.

The numbers tell the tale. When Bill Clinton first ran for president in 1992, two-thirds of the public – 66 percent – told pollsters they supported a “national health insurance plan financed by tax money.” The Clintons instead responded with a secretly-hatched “managed competition” plan that continued to rely on private insurers and took more than 1,300 pages to explain. “Hillary-care” died ignominiously in Congress.

“Corporate Democratic leadership have confused the public about what is, and what is not, ‘universal’ health care.”

By late 2006, an amazing 69 percent of Americans were telling pollsters they agreed with the statement that “it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that all Americans have healthcare coverage.” Barack Obama was getting ready to make his run for the White House. He claimed to want something he called “universal health care.” Most people assumed he meant a single payer, Medicare for All-type program, but instead, Obama dusted off an old Republican private insurance-based plan devised by the far-right Heritage Foundation and later adopted by Republican Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

Not only was Obamacare unpopular on its own merits, but because Obama had used the trick terminology “universal health care” to describe his program, the public became confused and demoralized about the whole subject of government health care. By 2016, only 44 percent of the people had a positive reaction to the term “single payer health coverage.” However, nearly two-thirds of those polled -- 64 percent -- liked the idea of Medicare-for-All, which is a form of single payer. Medicare for the elderly is probably the nation’s most popular social safety net program, and younger folks would like to be part of it, too, including lots of low-income Republicans. Even Donald Trump used to be for it.

Medicare-for-All is an idea whose time has come -- again! And, with Obamacare being dismantled and a health care emergency looming, one would think the Democrats would seize the time to push for a truly universal health care plan with such broad support. But, corporate Democratic leadership -- just like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama -- do not really want single payer health care, because their fat cat contributors oppose it. Therefore, they will urge the people to waste their energy on trying to salvage some aspects of Obamacare.

Bernie Sanders will help them do it, because he’s still sheep-dogging for corporate Democrats.

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: 20170201_gf_MedicareForAll.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:43pm EST

Black Agenda Radio for Week of January 30, 2017

Obamacare is Doomed; It’s Time for Single Payer

Instead of attempting to salvage the doomed and fatally flawed Affordable Healthcare Act, progressives should seize the time and push for single payer health care, said pediatrician and political activist Dr. Margaret Flowers. “Eighty percent of Democratic voters want a single payer health care system, and now polls are showing that even Republicans, particularly those with lower incomes, are moving into majority support for National Improved Medicare for All.” The push, however, must come from the people, not the Democrats. “Even Sen. Sanders has backed down and is saying, Let’s protect the Affordable Care Act now and we’ll fight for single payer later,” said Flowers. The HOPE campaign -- “Health Over Profit for Everyone” -- begins February 1.

On Reparations, It’s Not a Question of “If,” but “How”

There’s been a substantive change in H.R. 40, the Reparations legislation Rep. John Conyers has introduced every year since 1989. Originally, the bill called for a study of whether Black Americans had been injured by slavery and Jim Crow. But now, according to Kamm Howard, chairman of the legislative committee of N’COBRA, the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, the bill “begins with the focus that reparations are due, and how does this government engage in reparative initiatives.” He said the 2001 United Nations World Conference on Racism, in Durban, South Africa, made clear the enslaving nations’ “obligation to make repairs” to descendants of the victims. Howard helped Rep. Conyers’ staff reframe the legislation.

Will Democrats Help Trump Renegotiate NAFTA?

“If President Trump wants to enact a renegotiated NAFTA, he’s going to have to work with the Democrats to figure out how to build a majority” on Capitol Hill, “which will be comprised of most of the Democrats and a handful of Republicans,” said Lori Wallach, director of Global Trade Watch for Public Citizen. President Bill Clinton pushed the NAFTA corporate trade deal through Congress against the wishes of majorities of Democrats. “The reality is, you will never get a majority of the Republicans in Congress to change the old NAFTA,” said Wallach. NAFTA might not end in a renegotiation. “If President Trump continues to be so disrespectful to other world leaders,” Mexico or the U.S. might simply withdraw from NAFTA.

Courtrooms as Political Forums

Veteran Black activist Efia Nwangaza had been looking forward to a jury trial on charges of blocking a Greenville, South Carolina, intersection two years ago to protest a Missouri grand jury’s failure to indict the cop that killed Michael Brown, in Ferguson. However, Greenville authorities dropped the charges the day before her trial, depriving Nwangaza of the opportunity to put on a political defense. “The purpose of the demonstration was to call attention to police impunity and their slaughtering of us from one end of the country to the other,” said Nwangaza, director of the Malcolm X Center for Self-Determination and a leader of the state’s Stop Mass Incarceration Network. With the courtroom venue no longer available, Nwangaza and her defense team will now bring the issues before a people’s tribunal and “strengthen the cause that has been advanced by the Uhuru Movement for Black community control of the police.”

Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: one hour.

Direct download: black_agenda_radio_20170130.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:09pm EST

Flint’s 1000-Plus Days Without Safe Drinking Water

“Residents have been fooled ‘too many times’ and will never trust the water again.”

Flint, Michigan, a city that used to be famous for producing cars but gained notoriety almost three years ago for its poisoned water supply, last week marked its 1000th day without clean drinking water. Nevertheless, the 100,000 mostly poor, predominantly Black residents of Flint have been informed that the current levels of lead in their water no longer exceed federal limits. That would be good news – if you could believe it, and if lead were the only problem with Flint’s water. Mona Hanna-Attisha doesn’t believe the water is safe for drinking. She’s the pediatrician who helped blow the whistle on skyrocketing rates of lead in the blood of Flint’s children, after state emergency financial managers forced the city to draw its water from the heavily polluted Flint River. Dr. Hanna-Attisha says the federal regulations are too weak to protect young brains and bodies from stunted development.

Gina Luster, a community organizer in Flint, warns that, even if lead levels are down, the there’s plenty of other harmful stuff in the water. Her advice is, “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.” Luster says she and other residents have been fooled “too many times” and will never trust the water again.”

Nine people have so far been criminally charged in the poisoning of Flint’s water, eight of them state employees. But no one at the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which has broad powers over the whole country’s water supply, has been charged with a crime. The EPA, however, is on President Donald Trump’s hit list -- not for failing the people of Flint, but for sometimes getting on the wrong side of Trump’s friends in polluting industries. The Trump administration has frozen all EPA grants and contracts, which put in question $100 million that Congress allocated to help Flint replace and repair its water infrastructure. Michigan’s two Senators, both of them Democrats, got worried when they heard about the freeze from news reports. Neither the White House nor the EPA could say for sure whether Flint’s money had been tied up by the freeze. Plus, the money doesn’t exactly have Flint’s name on it. The $100 million is supposed to be awarded to “a municipality that is, or has been, the subject of an emergency declaration due to lead contamination. The bill doesn’t mention Flint by name. However, the funds should eventually find their way to Flint, since it’s the only city in the country that fits that description.

Multiply that by 3,000

But, when it comes to lead poisoning, Flint is anything but alone. An investigative report by the Reuters news agency, in December, showed that children in nearly 3,000 communities across the country show lead levels in their blood at least twice as high as kids in Flint. In more than 1,100 neighborhoods, kids tested four times higher than children in Flint. At the peak of the contamination of Flint’s water, 5 percent of children tested had high levels of lead. However, in some neighborhoods in South Bend, Indiana almost one-third of the kids had high lead levels. Pennsylvania is the state with the most census tracts with lead-contaminated water. Thirty-six percent of the kids in Warren, Pennsylvania tested high for lead.

So, if Flint needs $100 million to tackle a lead problem that is, supposedly, close to under control, how much money is needed to make the water safe in 3,000 other communities across the country?

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: 20170125_gf_FlintWater.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:26pm EST

Black Agenda Radio for Week of January 23, 2017

Irrationality Reigns: After All the Lies, Some Folks Still Believe the CIA

Ajamu Baraka, the Green Party’s vice 2016 presidential candidate, said he is appalled at the spectacle of “progressives” and even self-styled radicals “parroting the Democratic line that the Russians are a threat” to U.S. democracy. This new McCarthyism is “a strange diversion” and “a demonstration of the irrationality of politics in the U.S,” said Baraka, who is also an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report. It represents “the complete abandonment of critical thought, embracing the State and propping up the intelligence agencies as authoritative sources even after the years of deception, disinformation, and psychological operations that we know is the modus operandi of the CIA. It is absolutely bizarre.”

Blacks Should Stop ‘Hitch-Hiking’ with the Democrats

Black people made political alliances “with whoever came along -- like a hitchhiker,” said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. “When you catch a ride as a hitchhiker, you’ve got to go wherever the driver is going. That’s what being with the Democratic Party was about, and we are determined that that mess is over.” The Black is Back Coalition makes alliances based on the principles of Black self-determination and opposition to imperialism – which is why it has held together since the first year of the Obama administration. “Trump is president because of the crisis in the imperialist system,” said Yeshitela.

Poor People’s Campaign Tackles MLK’s Unfinished Work

The scourge of poverty has increased since the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968 was interrupted by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said Willie Baptist, a veteran of the welfare and homeless movements, and now an organizer of the 21st century version of the campaign. “Poverty has gotten worse, with huge sections of the middle strata being rendered homeless and a good section of the poor rendered superfluous,” said Baptist, now based in New York City at the Union Theological Seminary’s Kairos Center. Changes in technology are “not just saving labor, it’s actually eliminating labor,” he said. “The world’s productive capacity totally outweighs its purchasing capacity. As a result, you have poverty in the midst of plenty.”

Afro-Colombian Leader Beheaded

Rightwing paramilitaries are suspected in the murder of Emilsen Manyoma, a leader of a network of Black and indigenous community organizations. “Her assassination was a response to the work she was doing, defending the rights of Black people,” said Charo Mina-Rojas, an Afro-Colombian political activist who reports that over 200 Black and indigenous leaders were killed last year, despite a peace agreement between the government and FARC guerillas. Blacks and natives in Ms. Manyoma’s region are under pressure from coca producers and illegal mine operators and their gunmen.

Where Did All the Black and Latino Teachers Go?

Back in 2002, 27.2 percent of the teachers hired by the New York City public schools were Black or Latino. By 2012, the proportion had shrunk to 11.6 percent. What happened? “When you look at what’s been going on for the past 15 years, you see a picture that requires people to point to the real causes of the disappearances, and to change those policies,” said Sean Ahern, a political activist who teaches juvenile prisoners at the giant Rikers Island jail. Ahern blames the drop in minority teachers on “mayoral control” of the schools, “high stakes testing, school closings, charter school push-ins” -- essentially, the whole program of so-called “reform” that was pushed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and championed by the Obama administration.

Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: one hour.

Direct download: black_agenda_radio_20170123.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:38pm EST

Is It Time To Revoke John Lewis’s Lifetime Civil Rights Hero Pass?

Is It Time To Revoke John Lewis’s Lifetime Civil Rights Hero Pass?

 

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

Sheroes and heroes are people who take risks, who make great personal sacrifices to perform difficult and important duties for others. By that standard John Lewis and the six hundred who walked that bridge in Selma Alabama 52 years ago are heroes whose actions helped pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Let’s agree on that.

But long should that hero pass last? How many years, how many decades do you get to to boast and roast and toast and coast before you need to do something else even mildly heroic to keep your status current?

It’s not like Lewis has lacked new chances to serve the people this last half century. He’s represented a metro Atlanta district in Congress the past 28 years. Ruled by black mayors and the black political class since 1973, Atlanta has billed itself as “Black Mecca” though for more than half of black Atlanta there’s been little to celebrate. Black mayors have relentlessly gentrified the city, starting with the Carter Presidential Library in the 80s, the Olympics in the 90s, and after that demolition of public housing, privatization of the land under it, and the BeltLine project which steals $150 million annually from Atlanta’s public schools to build yuppie housing and shopping destinations. Marquee “development” projects have driven a six figure number of poorer black residents from the city. John Lewis never says a mumbling word about any of this. John Lewis never publicly contradicts the black Atlanta mayors who crack down on the homeless, who line up for the privatization of public property, public transit and public schools. Perhaps being a Legendary Civil Rights Hero puts him above all that.

Supporting Hillary Clinton last year, Lewis spoke out against free health care and free college tuition which many countries grant their young people, explaining that “free stuff” was just not the American Way. Lewis was also an early member of the Democratic Leadership Council, which irretrievably locked that party into subservience to its one percenter donors.

Sometimes members of Congress can undo historic wrongs. Lewis blew one such chance when he doubled down upon the expulsion of the descendants of black freedmen from the Cherokee nation in which they had once enjoyed voting rights.

John Lewis calls himself a pacifist and never misses a chance to lecture on the supreme utility of nonviolence. But the US Navy is building a ship with his name on it, a “fleet replenishment oiler” to resupply warships on deployment. Isn’t this an “honor” a pacifist should reject? And shouldn’t our Apostle of Non-Violence vote against every arms giveaway, sale and Pentagon budget? John Lewis doesn’t. Like most other members of the Black Caucus Lewis votes to fund mass surveillance and re-arm the apartheid state of Israel with depressing regularity.

It’s time to ask whether Civil Rights Hero status from 52 years ago is really enough to cancel out or ignore all this, and what purpose John’s Hero status serves today. John Lewis is in the news now because he called Big Cheeto’s presidency “not legitimate.” But why?

Is it because Lewis fears Trump will pursue more than 6 bloody wars, that he will deport millions of innocents, expand mass surveillance and militarized policing? Is it because Lewis knows the Donald will help greedy banksters stay ut of jail and he’ll enable hedge fund parasites to gentrify, plunder and privatize public education, nature and the commons? Probably not, because these are all Obama policies which Trump is expected to double down on.

John Lewis’s problem with Trump is that the CIA and FBI, which helped assassinate King and cover it up says that Russia helped elect him, and Lewis believes it. Big Cheeto did a Twitter fight with Lewis the other day and some of his followers called Lewis the n-word.

So now the Obama/Hillary liberals are flogging John Lewis’s tattered sainthood as hard as they can, to have a #NotMyPresident message that draws attention away from the many matters on which Republicans and the Obama/Hillary liberals agree. The old Civil Rights Hero does not oppose Trump for any reason which might lead to questioning past, present or future Democrats. Lewis is warming up the crowd for Obama’s exit and the entrance of whoever the Democrats run next.

This is what happens when there is no time limit on those Legendary Civil Rights Hero credentials. Time to revoke them.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at Black Agenda Report dot com, or follow us on Twitter @blkagendareport. Thanks for listening.

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 email at bruce.dixon@blackagendareport.com, or via Twitter at @brucedixon.

Direct download: 20170118_bd_civil-rights-hero.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:34pm EST

An Ever-Smaller Circle of Billionaires Controls the Planet’s Wealth

“Billionaires must be made extinct, one way or the other.”

The world is being strangled, smothered and starved to death by billionaires – 1,826 of them, by Forbes magazine’s count. The ever-deepening concentration of wealth that is both the logic and the inevitable result of capitalism has reached such depraved proportions that eight of the richest people on the planet now own as much wealth as the bottom half of the entire human race. The very existence of such concentrated private wealth is a crime against humanity, and incompatible with any notion of civilization. Indeed, how can a society call itself civilized, when half the value of all of humanity’s labor -- which is what those fortunes actually represent -- is at the disposal of eight men?

Clearly, the world needs a revolution, to throw off the dead weight of these billionaires. Last year, the Oxfam organization calculated that it took 62 of the world’s richest people to equal the wealth held by the bottom half of humanity. This year, it only takes eight. According to Oxfam’s latest study, the way capitalism is going, in 25 years we could be talking about a few trillionaires controlling the wealth of planet Earth. However, I doubt that we will ever see an Age of Trillionaires if only because global society would shatter and explode from the sheer magnitude of the accumulated theft of human labor and natural resources.

The billionaires must be made extinct, one way or the other, so that the multitudes can restructure the world into a survivable place. The 500 richest people on the planet cannot be allowed, 20 years from now, to pass on $2.1 trillion in inheritance to their privileged children -- the equivalent of the entire yearly economy of India and its 1.3 billion people.

The Last of the Super-Rich

The United States has by far the highest concentration of billionaires – 536, followed by China, with 251. Russia is way down in sixth place, with only 77 billionaires, behind Britain, Germany and India. But, of course, billionaires live anywhere they want to -- which really means they live nowhere at all. Home is where their money is, and every billionaire is a fully globalized citizen, with no loyalties except to his class.

The existence of billionaires should be seen as a measure of the sickness of the capitalist system, now in its last stages. Of the eight richest billionaires in the United States, six made their fortunes from the telecommunications industry, whose political influence now rivals that of Wall Street. Not only are the Silicon Valley fat cats obscenely wealthy, but they control the information systems that he rest of us depend on to understand what’s going on in our world. That makes people like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg very dangerous. The good news is, young people around the world understand the nature of the threat to human freedom posed by these information system tycoons, who got rich through monopoly and market manipulation, just like the other capitalists. They too, must face expropriation, so that the saga of human equality can begin.

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: 20170118_gf_Billionaires.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:03pm EST

Black Agenda Radio for Week of January 16, 2017

The Democrats: Serving the One Percent, Blaming the Russians

The Democrats are using the Russians as a scapegoat to avoid confronting “the rightwing Wall Street-captive party that they’ve become,” said activist and educator Paul Street, author of several books on President Barack Obama. Essentially, Democrats are saying, “It’s not that we’re a rightwing, corporate, neoliberal party beholden to the nation’s unelected dictatorship of money and empire. It’s not that we abandoned the working class and the causes of social justice and peace decades ago.” Speaking at the Open University of the Left, in Chicago, Street said Donald Trump did not ride to victory on a “big rust belt rebellion of the white working class.” The real story “is that the Democrats lost those voters to non-voting.”

When Capitalism Gets Sick, the Democrats Get Mean

The Democratic Party’s sharp turn to the right is its response to the “existential crisis at the core of capitalism,” a global phenomenon that has left the ruling class and its servants with “hardly any space to reform the system,” said Dr. Anthony Monteiro, the Philadelphia-based Duboisian scholar and activist. With “no room to maneuver,” the capitalists resort increasingly to war and repression. “Monopoly capitalism must be undone, the banks broken up, a large part of them nationalized,” said Monteiro. “In other words,” there must be “a profound and fundamental end to the neoliberal order, globally; a retreat from empire and war; and a seizing of the military budget and turning it towards economic development, jobs and a green economy.”

Political Prisoners Under Pressure in Indiana

Khalfani Malik Khaldun, serving time at Wabash Valley prison, in Indiana, said officials have carried out “a series of raids on targeted political prisoners,” including himself. Khaldun was told by “top brass” that they consider him to be the facility’s “most influential” inmate and are pressuring him to use that influence to “stop the proliferation of meth, a synthetic drug spreading throughout the prison.” Otherwise, “they had orders to put me and ten of my comrades in solitary confinement,” where he is now housed. Khaldun said prison officials “are making me out to be running some form of drug ring, in an attempt to destroy my political credibility as an activist on the inside.”

Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: one hour.

Direct download: black_agenda_radio_20170116.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:47pm EST

Obama’s Last Presidential Lies

“Obama spent his first term sabotaging every effort to create mandatory limits on emissions.”

Barack Obama has spoken to the nation as president for the last time. Hallelujah! The man I dubbed the “more effective evil” now gets a chance to make millions for himself, after spending eight years defending the wealth of the bankers and the rest of the One Percent.

Obama is going out like he came in: telling lies, with great style and skill. So many lies. He said he favored giving unions “the power to organize for better wages.” He said the same thing when he was campaigning for his first term, promising to support the “card check” bill that would have allowed workers to rebuild their union membership. But he betrayed organized labor and did nothing to push the bill in Congress.

The outgoing president pointed out that “the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t just vanish in the Sixties” – that these effects continue to plague Black people. But 100 days after first taking the oath of office, Obama told reporters that he would not consider programs targeted at Black communities -- that Blacks would have to depend on a rising tide to lift all boats, even though no such tide has ever risen for Black people in America.

Obama said the U.S. has “led the world...on the promise to save the planet.” That’s an outrageous lie. The U.S., China and a few other powerful countries have been the problem, not the solution to climate change. Obama spent his first term sabotaging every effort to create mandatory limits on emissions.

“On his watch, no federal charges were brought against any killer cops.”

The First Black President acknowledged that many Americans are “convinced that their government only serves the interests of the powerful.” But, he didn’t take any of the blame, even though it was under his administration that Wall Street bankers were deemed “too big to jail,” or even to indict. In the same dishonest fashion, Obama declared on Tuesday that “We need to uphold laws against discrimination...and in our criminal justice system” -- when, on his watch, no federal charges were brought against any killer cops, except one who had already been indicted by local authorities.

Obama got downright cocky in defense of Obamacare, the rightwing Republican health program that Obama adopted as his own. The president said: “If anybody can put together a plan that is demonstrably better, I will support it.” But don’t bet any money on the letter and spirit of Obama’s promises on health care. Back in 2003, when Bruce Dixon and I asked him if he favored a single payer health care system, Obama answered that he favored “universal health care for all Americans” and intended to introduce or sponsor legislation toward that end.” He kept saying that for the next five years, until he was elected president, and then proceeded to isolate and crush supporters of single payer, to the delight of the insurance and drug industries, which no longer had to fear single payer. Obama is sneaky, that way.

Finally, Obama bragged that the U.S. has “taken out thousands of terrorists, including bin Laden.” What he didn’t say was that his administration presided over the jihadist takeovers of Libya and much of Syria and Iraq. The truth is that tens of thousands of jihadists have been trained, armed, financed and protected by the United States and its allies – not under Bush, but under Obama, making him fully responsible for the deaths of half a million people in those three countries, alone. Not to mention Obama’s other wars. But, I’ve run out of time. The good thing is, so has Obama.

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

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

Direct download: 20170111_gf_ObamaByeBye.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:54pm EST

Black Agenda Radio for Week of January 9, 2017

Rally in DC for Black Self-Determination

Self-determination is the “missing ingredient” in contemporary Black politics, said Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations. The Coalition will hold a rally on January 14 at Freedom Plaza, on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, to advance “an independent Black agenda for our people, and not have us joined at the hip to the Democratic Party.” The time is ripe for a Black self-determinationist strategy, said Yeshitela, because “the Democrats, the Republicans, and the electoral process, itself, have fallen into disrepute.”

Reforming the Green Party

“We have to take our movement away from the non-profits, and the only way we can do that is if we can transform the Green Party into something more like the working class, socialist parties overseas,” said Georgia Green Party co-chair Bruce Dixon, speaking on a telephone call-in with party members across the country. “All of these parties are based on membership dues,” with their officers accountable to the membership -- something our current Green Party does not do,” said Dixon, who is also managing editor of Black Agenda Report. Some members warned that a dues structure might discourage involvement of low-income people, while others cautioned against “infiltration” of the Party by other groups. The Green Party garnered only about one percent of the vote in November.

Judge Orders Hep-C Cure for Mumia

A federal judge ruled that, within three weeks, Pennsylvania prison officials must begin administering a Hepatitis-C cure to the nation’s best known political prisoner. Atty. Bob Boyle, of Mumia Abu Jamal’s legal team, told BAR producer Kyle Fraser: “This judge ruled that the 8th Amendment guarantees people in prison adequate health care under the ‘cruel and inhuman treatment’ clause.” Boyle said “upwards of 40 percent of the prisoners in the Pennsylvania system have chronic Hepatitis-C,” and could benefit from the ruling.

Mumia Abu Jamal suffered a near-death crisis in mid-2015 due to complications from the disease. When told of the judge’s ruling, he urged activists to “spread the word, because this is not what the Commonwealth wants people to know about -- that they engage in unconstitutional medical practices designed, not to cure, and not even to treat,” a deadly illness. “Here we have a cure, and the government of Pennsylvania refused to give it to thousands of people for years, until they got to the brink of death.”

Rev. Edward Pinkney Appeals for Help

“I was convicted with absolutely no evidence, no witness, no confession, no crime scene, by an all-white jury,” said human rights activist Rev. Edward Pinkney, serving his second stint in prison for helping Black people in Benton Harbor, Michigan, effectively exercise their right to vote. “I was given the death penalty for a 68 year-old man: 30 months in the prison system, with absolutely no evidence.” Pinkney has already served 25 months of his current sentence. “I am an innocent man, threatened, tried Nazi-style and convicted in an effort to isolate and silence me against the power of the land-grabbing, job outsourcing, blood-sucking, criminal Whirlpool Corporation, that has its headquarters in Benton Harbor. I need the people’s help,” said Pinkney. He can be contacted at the Muskegon state prison, inmate #294671.

Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: one hour.

Direct download: black_agenda_radio_20170109.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:19am EST

Obama’s Pardons Distract from the Horror of Mass Black Incarceration

“The system is deliberately racist, brutal, arbitrary and malevolent.”

President Obama, a master of public relations, now has bragging rights for having granted clemency to a record number of federal prisoners – 1,176 of them, at last count, more than those set free by the past 11 presidents, combined. Looking at the number from a different angle, Obama released only one out of every two thousand of the nation’s 2.3 million prison inmates, the largest incarcerated population in the world, both in raw numbers and in the proportion of U.S. society living behind bars. In other words, Obama’s clemencies, like all other presidents’, are statistically meaningless and morally and politically distractive. But, of course, that’s what Obama’s good at – distracting people.

The incompetent, lazy and white supremacist corporate media forget, or never reported, that for several years the Obama administration delayed the release from prison of five times as many inmates as he pardoned: about 6,000 federal prisoners convicted under the old crack cocaine laws. A federal appeals court wanted to let them out, ruling that they were covered by a prison reform bill, but President Obama successfully argued to keep these men and women in prison. Several years later, Obama staged a huge public relations extravaganza, releasing many of these same inmates, supposedly out of the goodness of his heart. It was two years too late. Some never got out.

The Brennan Center for Justice released a study last month that concluded the U.S. could set free 39 percent of its prison population with no threat to public safety. The Brennan researchers argue that you can’t make a dent in the mass incarceration system unless whole categories of prisoners are made eligible for immediate release. They say 25 percent of the prison population should, instead, have been sentenced to drug treatment, community service, probation or a fine. Another 14 percent of inmates have already served enough time in prison, and are no longer a risk. Together, that comes to almost 40 percent of the prison population -- one and a half million people, about half of them Black.

“Not Even a Half-Way Measure”

Prison reformers seem to think the system can be made more rational and fair. They don’t seem to understand that the system is deliberately racist, brutal, arbitrary and malevolent -- it is not meant to be fair, and it cannot be reformed. Former Black Panther Sundiata Acoli turns 80 this month. He has been in a New Jersey prison since 1973 and first became eligible for parole in 1992, but was turned down by the parole board, which set his next parole hearing for 15 years from now, when Sundiata Acoli will be 95 years old.

This system is pure meanness and race-hate. The Brennan Center’s proposal to release almost 40 percent of prison inmates is, itself, not even a half-way measure. As the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations points out in number five of its 19 point platform on Black self-determination, the United States would have to release 80 percent of its prison population -- four out of every five inmates -- just to bring the incarceration rate down to 1973 levels. And, remember: the U.S. was already the worst mass incarceration state in the world back in 1973. Even the release of four out every five inmates does not change the essential nature of American mass Black incarceration. There can be no compromise with such an evil.

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: 20170104_gf_ObamaPardons.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:29pm EST

Black Agenda Radio for Week of January 2, 2017

Obama, Trump, Clinton, Bush – They All Serve the Same Masters

When Donald Trump recently stated a willingness to escalate the arms race, it caused a great media stir. But President Obama set in motion a trillion dollar nuclear weapons upgrade with barely a peep from the corporate press. “It really shows that it’s the U.S. system, it’s the Pentagon as a military institution, and corporations that must expand or they suffocate,” that are the source of endless war policies, said Sara Flounders, of the United National Anti-War Coalition. “Although the media always acts like there is a choice, that there are huge differences” between the candidates of the two major parties, “both carry out the interests of U.S. corporate power.”

Haitians Take to Streets to Defy U.S. – and Americans Should Do the Same

Jovenel Moise, the rightwing candidate that elections officials claim won 55 percent of the vote in a four-way presidential race, “is the individual that the United States understands will continue the plunder, the pillaging that they’ve been doing in Haiti,” said Daoud Andre, a Brooklyn-based Haitian community activist and radio host. Charging the November 20 vote was rigged, tens of thousands of Haitians have engaged in nearly daily protests. U.S. progressives should take note, and “not take on Donald Trump from a defensive position,” said Andre. “I think we have to go back to the militant movements of the Sixties, movements for people to take their destinies in their own hands. We cannot be afraid of a clown. These are paper tigers.”

Obama’s “Legacy”: A Boon for the Rich

“We are in a ‘post-hope’ era,” BreakingBrown.com publisher Yvette Carnell told Counterpunch Radio host Eric Draitser. “He saved the financial industry and neutralized working people’s politics, especially Black politics, and left us far worse off than we were before he came.” The outgoing president “was a creature of Wall Street and finance capital from the beginning,” said fellow guest Pascal Robert, a lawyer and frequent contributor to Black Agenda Report. “He had complete control of the Senate and the House” but “expended no political capital to push a jobs agenda at any time in his presidency.”

Milwaukee Cops Pressure Panther Feed-the-People Program

Activists and parents say Milwaukee police hit a 10 year-old girl in the face while targeting a community feeding program operated by the Revolutionary Black Panther Party, last week. “This is the first time since the 1960s that they have attacked a Black Panther food program,” said Dr. Alli Muhammad, Chief General Commander of the RBPP. The police seem angered that the Panther group held an armed march -- legal, under Wisconsin law -- and organized an African Holocaust Human Rights Tribunal, the week before. “It appears that they are trying to intimidate the people, to make them afraid to support us,” said Dr. Muhammad.

Mumia on the “Magic of Black Music”

The nation’s best known political prisoner noted the passing of Sharon Jones, lead singer for Dap-Kings, and British pop star George Michael. “It was in the magical realm of music that Black folks found their closest vision of freedom -- to be, to become, themselves,” said Mumia Abu Jamal, in a commentary for Prison Radio. Of George Michael, he said: “Black musical beats and rhythms liberated him, freed him to be his self, because in Black music one finds that yearning for freedom.”

Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: one hour.

Direct download: black_agenda_radio_20170102.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:58pm EST