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Obama Shoots the Messengers, Attacks Whistleblowers

by Marsha Coleman-Adebayo

Barack Obama campaigned under a banner of transparency in government, but has proven to be the most secrecy-fixated president of all time. Across the breadth of the bureaucracy, there is a mania to hide the facts from the people. Senior leaders of the Department of Defense intentionally and consistently misled the American people and Congress about success in the Afghan War.” Public employees labor in fear. “These agencies are corrupt and we are still on the bus fighting like Rosa.”

Ignorance is No Excuse

 

by Kevin Alexander Gray

Jeremy Lin may be an ethnic novelty, but there’s nothing new or fresh about the way some folks have reacted to his displays of skill. “One can never underestimate the capacity of people to be ignorant or stupid.”

Cynthia McKinney Tells It Like It Is

 

A Conversation with Gary S. Corseri

The former Georgia congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate discusses the evolution of her worldview: her opposition to U.S. imperial wars (“the attack on Libya was an attack on Africa”); the “Israelization” of U.S. foreign policy; and her assessment of the Occupy Movement – “they’ve given us a way to self-identify.

Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of February 20, 2012

 

U.S. Foments Violence in Syria

Washington appears to be attempting a re-run of last year’s regime change in Libya. “That’s what the drumbeats have been, all along,” said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. The West puts the “opposition” together and arms it, “and then the United States claims we have to intervene to stop the very violence that we perpetrated. That is the absolute playbook for Libya.” At this point, the Syrian regime has to use violence to survive. “It doesn’t seem to me that there is a great deal of choice, here, for Syria,” said Ratner.

Single Payer Activists Ask High Court to Throw Out Individual Mandate

Fifty medical doctors have filed a brief, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down provisions of President Obama’s health care legislation that force Amerians to by private health insurance. “There’s a dire need right now to get rid of, not only the individual mandate, but to get rid of the private health insurance corporations,” said Russell Mokhiber, of Single Payer Action. Obama’s bill “wasn’t an accomplishment for the American people, it was an accomplishment for the insurance industry. They drafted this law. It kept them in the game.”

Newark Daily Protests Link Local, National Struggles

Daily demonstrations begun in June by the People’s Organization for Progress (POP), in Newark, New Jersey, “provide a real opportunity for everyday people who feel that their voices have been heard, that they’ve been drowned out by the Super Pacs,” said Jerome Harris, immediate past president of the New Jersey Black Issues Convention. POP vows to continue demonstration for jobs, education, peace and justice for at least 381 days, the duration of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Chicago Torture Commission Lacks Funds

Standish Willis, the Chicago attorney who drew up legislation that authorized a commission to gain the release of Black men imprisoned on evidence and confessions obtained by police torture, said state funds for the project have been cut in half. That’s barely enough to pay an executive director and an assistant, said Willis. “Without funding, the Commission will die,” and at least 20 torture victims will languish in prison.

Push to Ban Death Penalty in Maryland

Political prisoner Marshall Eddie Coleman, a former Black Panther incarcerated for the last 42 years, is leading a campaign to end capital punishment in the state. Maryland may be “Up South,” said Atty. James Reston, secretary of the Baltimore-Washington chapter of the Jericho Project, but “it has a Deep South mentality.” Seventy-seven percent of the state’s inmates are Black, and four Black men and a white woman sit on Death Row.

Economist Skeptical of Obama Housing Scheme

This has a lot more to do with getting a good photo-op” for the president, than providing substantial help to homeowners, said Dr. Richard Wolff, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts, at Amherst. “We are now in the third or fourth effort. None of the others succeeded. It would be strange for us to believe, now, with an election coming up,” that a $26 billion settlement will solve a $700 billion problem.

Black Power Redefined

Joanne Griffith, a British-born journalist, is on a speaking tour for her new book, Redefining Black Power: Reflections on the State of Black America. “We are looking at activism from different perspectives – from the legal perspective, from the media perspective, and from the emotional impact that the Obama presidency has had on African Americans,” she said.

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Giving Away the Store: The Black Political Class as Bystanders and Looters

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Dr. King once expressed the belief that we might be “integrating into a burning house.” Even that might not be so bad, one supposes, if we were actually fighting the fire. But is America's black political class even committed to fighting the fire at all, to alleviating poverty, to standing up for peace and justice?  Are they only about prolonging their perks and careers? Are they firefighters? Or looters?

“Human Rights” Warriors for Empire

 

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have chosen sides in the Washington-backed belligerency – the side of Empire.” Syria has no choice but to secure every square foot of its territory. “Faced with the certainty of superpower-backed attack under the guise of ‘protecting’ civilians in “liberated” territory, Syria cannot afford to cede even one neighborhood of a single city – not one block! – or of any rural or border enclave, to armed rebels and foreign jihadis.”

Freedom Rider: Greece: Your Money or Your Life

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Greece’s plight proves the Lords of Capital have no more use for democratic facades. The Greeks will be forced to surrender to “the free movement of capital” and take no actions that would “influence the management or control of companies.” For the people’s purposes, the Greek state has ceased to exist. “The sad truth is that citizens of supposedly democratic countries live in dictatorships of, for, and by the rich.”

The 2012 Grammy Awards, Corporate Greed and Cultural Genocide

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

At the same time that the Grammy Awards honored Etta James and Whitney Houston, it did away with most of their award categories, 31 in all. Most of the stricken awards were for Latin jazz and other Latin music, four R&B categories, zydeco, Hawaiian and Native American music. A large group of artists protested outside the award ceremony last weekend, and pledge to continue fighting for the restoration of recognition to to their music, to our music. When we surrender this power to greedy corporations, we are complicit in cultural genocide.

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Mass Black Incarceration: Damn Right, We Charge Genocide

A Black Agenda Report commentary by Glen Ford

The United States resisted signing the international treaty against genocide until 1988 – because it was guilty of the crime, and not necessarily finished. Mass Black incarceration, in both its past and present forms, provides much evidence of U.S. genocidal intent. The bodies have been piling up for forty years – although mainly warehoused, rather than deceased. “The criminalization of genocide was intended to be much more than a kind of legal epitaph for the dead; it was designed, like all laws, to prevent the crime.”

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South Africa Buries Its Freedom Charter

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

In refusing to even consider nationalizing the mining industry, South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, has all but repudiated its most solemn (and fundamentally socialist) document: the Freedom Charter. Created and endorsed by a people’s movement in 1955, the Charter calls for national ownership of minerals, but the ANC government vows that will never happen. Under nominal Black rule, the “ANC has transformed itself into a handmaiden of multinational capital.”

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All Praise and Revolutionary Homage to Pam Africa: Our Daughter of the Dust

by Anthony Monteiro

At last, a song for an unsung heroine of the Freedom Movement. Pam Africa is the irresistible force and immovable object of the movement to free Mumia Abu Jamal. “She fought several of Mumia's lawyers whose liberalism and belief in the system inhibited their capacity to fight for his freedom and to see the possibilities of connecting what goes on in the courts to what goes on in the streets.” Mumia’s live exit from death row “would have been impossible without the movement and without Pam Africa herself.”

God’s Body, God’s Plan: The Komen Foundation Furor and Abortion as Black/Latino “Genocide”

 

by Sikivu Hutchinson

Money and religion make strange bedfellows. The most right-wing forces in U.S. politics have cultivated Black and Latino allies to label abortion rights advocates as nothing less than enemies of God. Yet, “It is precisely because of right wing opposition to universal health care coverage that Black, Latina, Asian, and Native American women are more likely to rely on the wraparound health care services that Planned Parenthood provides.”

Med School Classes Cancelled in Havana

by Don Fitz

Fidel Castro long ago vowed to make Cuba a “medical superpower.” The country’s healthcare system emphasizes preventive medicine and mobilization of the entire population against threats to health and safety. Medicine is more than a career. Imagine that, at the height of the Katrina disaster, the US closed medical schools in Gulf coast states and coordinated their work of attending to medical and public health needs of the poorest in New Orleans.”

Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of February 13, 2012

 

Bank Settlement “Doesn’t Go Far Enough”

The $25 billion bank payout to homeowners announced by the Obama administration “doesn’t go far enough” to address the problem of hundreds of billions in overvalued homes, said Jordan Estavao, of the New Bottom Line coalition. Obama’s new task force on bank fraud is also open to question. “There has been a bank fraud task force set up by the Obama administration in place for the past two years, and they have done very little to bring the law to the banks,” said Estavao. “Certainly, no high level bank executives have indicted, to this point.”

Black Churches Target BB&T Bank

The National Black Church Initiative, representing 15.7 million African Americans in 34,000 churches, announced a seven-year boycott of BB&T, a regional bank centered in the Southeast. “They are not doing anything for the Black community in terms of community development,” and have “foreclosed on hundreds of Black churches,” said Initiative president Rev. Anthony Evans. He predicts BB&T will “suffer loss of at least 40 percent of their profits over the next seven years.”

Restaurant Chain Biased Against Black Workers

Armed with data showing Blacks make $4 an hour less than whites in the restaurant industry, the Restaurant Opportunity Center United brought a class action suit against Darden Restaurants, owners of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse and Capital Grille. Blacks and other people of color are grossly under-represented in higher paid industry jobs, such as bartenders, said Center co-director Saru Javaraman. “Whites have twice the chance of getting front-of-the-house positions.” The Center is also pushing to raise the minimum wage for (mostly female) workers who depend on tips, which has been stuck at $2.13 for over 20 years.

Contraception Controversy is a “Phony Debate”

The recent battle over who should pay for female employees' contraceptives is “really a symptom of a dysfunctional health care system,” said Chicago-based labor activist and writer James Thindwa. “In societies where there is national health care, including Italy, which is heavily Catholic, they’re not having this debate, because the government is paying for health care,” he said. “This is an opportunity for those of us who champion single payer to point to this phony debate.”

Tim Wise: “A Perfect Storm for White Anxiety"

A combination of cultural, demographic, and economic challenges to white supremacy and privilege – plus the advent of a Black president – has created “a perfect storm for white anxiety,” said anti-racist activist and lecturer Tim Wise, author of the new book Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority. “As the economic system is crumbling,” many whites are locked into their own supremacist myths and “really don’t know how to cope.” Whites need to “take personal responsibility” to make the U.S. a better and more equal place, said Wise – and that means “fighting injustice.”

U.S. Imperial Policy Leads to War Crimes

Not a single Marine was sentenced to prison in the 2005 massacre of 24 unarmed Iraqi children, women, men and elderly, in the town of Haditha. “The lesson is that the United States government should refrain from invading other countries in illegal, imperialistic wars that then lead to the torture of prisoners and war crimes,” said Marjorie Cohn, professor at the Thomas Jefferson Law School, in San Diego, California, who has written extensively on the Haditha massacre.

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Black Politics Atrophies Under Obama

 

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Traditional Black progressive and movement politics has been replaced by fear and sycophantism, as Blacks once again circle the wagons around Obama and contort the events of the last three years to justify their unrequited loyalty to the Banker’s President.” Can the proud African American progressive legacy survive another four years of cowing to the corporate servant in the White House?

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