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.
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.
When the Tom Joyner Morning Show was pulled first from Chicago, and then from other markets early this month, Joyner counseled listeners that "...black 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?
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.
by 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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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....
The 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.
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.
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."
by 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.”
Market Meltdown Stalls Whitening of Harlem: Gentrifiers Go Bust
A Black Agenda Radio interview with Nellie Hester-Bailey, executive director, Harlem Tenants Council by BAR Executive Editor Glen Ford
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The financial crisis has at least temporarily stalled the ethnic cleansing of Harlem by predatory developers and the investment banksters that back them. However, the gentrifiers’ champion, billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, seeks to win another term in office in order to finish the racial and class makeover of Harlem and other non-white communities. He is abetted by a host of “supine” Black office-holders ever eager to displace their own people.
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President Obama pledged the extension of low-cost broadband would be a high priority of his administration. But Verizon, Comcast and other players seek to privatize the broadband mapping process and freeze in place the digital divide forever.
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The US may have its first black president. But it also has black political prisnes, whose prosectuion and incarceration has nothing to do with whatever they may have been accused of or with the law, and everything to do with politicis. Mumia Abu Jamal is one of these.i
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What will black elected leaders do when the first black president bombs another innocent country? When the first black president co-signs for Wall Street parasites and Pentagon predators? The answer is that most will devolve into silence or worse yet, into cheerleaders for empire and privilege. The trappings and institutional gravities of office are for them, stronger than the will of the people and the memory of the movement for peace and justice.
The former leader of Cuba, in his new capacity as journalist, reports on this week’s and previous visits from members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Castro describes the CBC as, “in practice…the most progressive wing within the Democrat Party.” The delegation, which attended ceremonies at Havana’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, where CBC Chairperson Barbara Lee (D-CA), Laura Richardson (D-CA), Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO)and Bobby Rush (D-IL) spoke at an observation of Dr. King’s assassination. One member “said he was sure that Obama will change the policy towards Cuba, but Cuba should also help him.”
“The fact that America has progressed to the point that a Black family can occupy the White House has not eradicated the myriad maladies of race and class that continue to constrain the aspirations of millions of Black people in this nation,” says veteran political organizer Ron Daniels. “The idea of a Black Agenda is not only relevant, it is imperative if Africans in America, as a group, are to enter the ‘promised land’ that Martin Luther King envisioned from his view from the mountaintop in Memphis.” Dr. Daniels praises the National Urban League’s recent State of Black America report on racial disparities for “implicitly making the case for the ongoing need for a Black Agenda.”