Department of Broken Promises: Obama Closes Door on NAFTA Renegotiation

by BAR Managing Editor Bruce A. Dixon

During the campaign Barack Obama's campaign deliberately led supporters to imagine he favored the reopening of the wildly unpopular North American Free Trade Agreement, which most agree has cost millions of jobs, driven down wages in the U.S. and Mexico, increased the gap between rich and poor and driven millions of Mexican farmers off the land, into cities and to the U.S.  But reports from the Canadian press were confirmed by the White House yesterday.  Obama has no intention of renegotiating NAFTA.

Freedom Rider: Viva Hugo Chavez!


chavez salutesby BAR Editor and Senior Columnist  Margaret Kimberley
When it comes to delivering health care and building economic opportunities for the poor, Barack Obama could learn a lot from Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. But with Obama repeating the same false charges that justified a US sponsored coup a few years ago, it seems that the empire and its president have learned nothing and forgotten nothing in their relations with Latin America over the last half century. On this front as many others, the Obama administration seems not to be much of a change from the arrogant imperial politics of the past.


People of Color Beset by Layers of Racial Profiling

LAPD profilingA Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR Executive Editor Glen Ford
Click the flash player below to hear or the mic to download an MP3 copy of this Black Agenda Radio Commentary.
"The 21st century began with a kind of ritual burial of racial profiling. Suddenly, nobody was in favor of it." Then cam 9/11, and racial profiling became a national imperative, the "patriotic thing to do." Both incarnations of racial profiling played out dramatically in New Jersey, where the Turnpike became a symbol of official racism on the road, later repudiated. The state now aggressively uses local police to question people about their immigration status, adding another layer of burden to people of color confronting arbitrarily intrusive police power. 

Black Drug Incarceration Rates Down, White Numbers Way Up

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR Executive Editor Glen Ford
We have apparently reached the end of merciless cycle. After decades of "predatory policing of Black communities, which seemed intended to sweep the streets of as many young Blacks as the prisons could consume, the criminal justice system simply reached saturation point." Black drug incarceration rates are dramatically down, while whites have skyrocketed. On the Black side, "the police whipped on us until they got tired." On the white side, the methamphetamine epidemic could no longer "be swept under the rug."


Raul Castro, Barack Obama, Hugo Chavez: Who Are The Big Men?

leadersA Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR Executive Editor Glen Ford

Click the flash player above to hear or the mic to download an MP3 copy of this Black Agenda Radio commentary.

What does putting "everything on the table" mean, in discussions among nations? Cuba's Raul Castro says he means literally everything, including exchange of political prisoners, as long as talks are held on the basis of equality. Barack Obama claims the next move is up to Cuba, but it appears Raul has already made an authentic offer. Besides, there is something fundamentally wrong when the nation that continues to commit crimes against its neighbor - the U.S. - asks for concessions before it will cease and desist.

Race Cowardice From the Top Down


america's head on raceby Paul Street
Discussions of race in the US, except on the terms of and with the permission of privileged whites are impolite. They are “playing the race card.” Attorney General Eric Holder labeled the national reluctance to engage with itself a symptom of cowardice, forcing his boss to defend him. But the old saying is that it takes one to know one.


Haitians Shun Senate Elections

haiti elections empty ballot boxesby Al Jazeera English

When Haiti held its first democratic elections in the 1990s after decades of occupation and US sponsored dictatorship, optimistic voters waited all night to cast their ballots and turnout was in the 90 percent range. Much has changed in the years since. Haiti's popular president, John Betrand Aristide has been kidnapped and exiled by the United States and France. The country has been brutally re-occupied by a multinational UN force. Lavalas, the party which gets better than 85% of Haitian votes every time it is permitted to compete, is banned, and its militants hunted by the occupiers. Another election, this one for the Haitian senate, occurred last week. By all accounts, almost nobody voted. Since the American press didn't cover it at all, we here reprint this April 20 dispatch from Al-Jazeera.


Hope For The Hopesick: A Lexicon

by Naomi Klein

Righteous language helps us describe the real world in meaningful ways. For many Obama's supporters, the president's determination to keep “looking forward” without prosecuting or even investigating torturers and those who gave the orders is disturbing. His preference for private and parasitic health insurance over public health care is baffling. His reluctance to renegotiate NAFTA or actively push for the right to form and join unions is disappointing. His willingness to give the banks trillions in tax money so they can lend the government back that same money for taxpayers to repay at ruinous interest is transparently corrupt. Naomi Klein helpfully offers Obama fans a new vocabulary to aid us in understanding our predicament.


Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey, Tavis Smiley, and the Impoverishment of Black Media

joyner, havey, smileyby BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

When the Tom Joyner Morning Show was pulled first from Chicago, and then from other markets early this month, Joyner counseled listeners that " radio will never be what it once was, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it."  This message of powerlessness and permanent defeat, of resignation to someone else owning and controlling the black conversation may be all we can expect from Joyner and the rest of the black elite.  But is it the real answer? Does it even address the crucial question of how we might have and own our own black civic conversation?


Avoiding World Conference on Racism Shows Obama's Disrespect For Blacks

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
President Obama’s “fawning, damn near servile behavior when accommodating Zionist demands” to boycott and sabotage the Durban II conference on racism “should have been a deal breaker” in his relations with African Americans. But what passes for Black leadership accepts any and all insults from Obama, who naturally treats them like the spineless creatures they are. Meanwhile, the White House keeps “Jewish leaders” up to date with conference calls on how Obama is protecting Israel from charges that it is an apartheid state, and also ensuring that the United States is not compelled to make amends for its racist past and present.


Freedom Rider: No Better Off with the Democrats

spare changeby BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

A wise political analyst once said that the United States didn't have two parties, just two wings of a single party, the Party of Business. The Bush-McCain wing might have been the oil companies and Wall Street. The Obama wing might be just Wall Street, a distinction without a great deal of difference, unless you include symbolic factors, like the first family's skin color and the ability of the president to speak off the cuff in complete, grammatical sentences.

Eshu's Blues: First Black President of the American Empire


imperial blackfaceby michael hureaux perez

The name on the door, and the family in the White House has changed. We have a president who speaks in complete, grammatically correct sentences. But with more than 800 US military bases around the planet, and spending more on things military than the other 95% of the globe's population combined, America is the same old arrogant bully. Dr. King once said that a nation which spends more on things military than on human uplift is doomed. If he were alive today he might add, no matter the skin color of its leaders.


First Black President Defeats U.S. Antiwar Movement


obama samA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Click the flash player above to listen to or the mic to download an mp3 copy of this BA Radio commentary

The arrival of the Obama administration has crippled the U.S. anti-war movement, which has neither the fortitude nor political depth to confront imperialism with a Black face. The Out of Iraq caucus on Capitol Hill might as well call itself the Out of Action caucus, since it can’t figure out a way to respond to President Obama’s expanding military budgets and wars. National anti-war organizations cling to the fiction that Obama is really seeking a military withdrawal from Iraq. “The anti-war movement has hit rock-bottom because of its failure to challenge this particular president, an imperialist with charm, a warmonger with a winning smile.


US Aircraft and Elite Navy SEALs Defeat Three Somalis in a Lifeboat


somali fishermenA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Click the flash player to listen to or the mic above to download this BA Radio Commentary

The mounting hue and cry in the US press over the menace to civilization posed by Somali "pirates" is yet another Big Lie, to justify the latest chapter in America's imperial quest for African oil and other resources. US missiles and drones in the air, and perhaps US boots on the ground are all but inevitable, ordered to kill near-defenseless African civilians, by America's First Black President.


Obama Slowly Edges Toward Ending Failed U.S. Embargo of Cuba


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
No matter how you measure it, the US embargo of Cuba has been a failure, and worse, a crime against both the US and the Cuban peoples. Instead of isolating Cuba, it isolates the US and its people from Cuban cultural contributions and US businesses from the profits of Cuban trade. Still, the First Black President moves slowly, much slower than hos voters would like, toward the inevitable.

Wired Less: Disconnected in Urban America


Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other telco giants have spent mad public relations money spreading the myth that the digital divide is a thing of the past.  Some heedless and lazy black bloggers have helped spread this lie, but it's still a lie.  Redlining of and denial of service to poor and minority communities has been a core feature of the business models of the cable industry since its start decades ago, and of the phone companies for more than a century.  But in the 21st century, cheap, available broadband internet is as necessary to economic development as paved streets and roads.  Communities without it will become or remain economic, educational, business and social backwaters.

See, hear and read more stories about the digital divide and what it costs communities, families and lives....

Congress Nibbles on Edges of Wealth Gap

wealth and povertyThe normal workings of America's version of the “free market “ have held black family wealth to one eleventh that of white families, on the average, and black family wealth has been much harder hit than that of white families by the collapse of the housing bubble. The economy is anything but race-neutral, and far more than race-neutral measures will be required to correct its imbalances and injustices.

Politics and the Eighth Book of Moses


John Maxwellby John Maxwell
The movement to subjugate women, in the name of religion and the family, is on the march everyplace, including the Caribbean, Jamaica's eminent John Maxwell informs us. Jamaican lawmakers have enacted measures similar to those of their brothers in Afghanistan making husbands in many instances practically immune to charges of raping their wives.


Obama Brand Soars, GOP Plummets on American Illusory Exchange: AmIllEx

obama barkerby BAR executive editor Glen Ford


Barack Obama massacred George Bush at the polls this week - the New York Times/CBS poll, that is. The high marks for the president are being interpreted as signs of an upbeat feeling about the economy - although Obama's popularity and the economy's performance are two different matters. One is largely based on subjective feelings (popularity), while the other (economy) is measured by objective facts. The business of polling is corrupted by corporate manipulation of the "news." "Much polling is an incestuous, closed loop of rehashed feedback whereby the same corporate media that provide the daily narrative and selected ‘facts' to the public later pose carefully crafted questions to determine whether their untrustworthy presentations sank in."


Freedom Rider: Phony Nuclear Disarmament

 nukesby BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

President Obama sent a near-declaration of war to Iran, all wrapped up in greetings for the Iranian New Year. The message may have looked like “a smiley faced video” in which the “president appeared to be very amiable and wished peace, love and harmony,” but was actually “nothing more than a well executed propaganda ploy intended to give him cover on the day he announces his true intentions.” Then he told Europeans, ''As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven.'' Beneath the charm, “Barack Obama repeats the worst, most untruthful and belligerent policies of the Bush administration.”



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