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Barack Obama, the State of the Union and the Prison State

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

For a generation now, predatory policing, the war on drugs and the prison state have been government's most frequent intersection with young black Americans. The gossip before this year's State of the Union was that the president would now do by executive order all those good things Republicans have blocked him on the last 3 years. Does that include reining in or rolling back the prison state? Should we hold our collective breath?

Freedom Rider: State of the Union: Awful

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Do not expect honesty, accuracy, or even a semblance of reality from U.S. presidents’ reports on the State of the Union. Better to call it the State of Delusion address. So, skip the charade, here are the facts: “The state of the union is not very good for anyone except the ruling 1%.”

Planning for War and Deception: How the Obama Administration celebrates the King Holiday

by BAR editor and columnist Ajamu Baraka

The Americans are playing a deadly and cynical game at the Geneva II conference on Syria, sabotaging the talks in order to set the stage for more warfare and terror. In this sick equation, diplomatic failure is victory: “the U.S. moves closer to their real strategic objective – regime change or the dismemberment of the Syrian state.”

Do Democrats and President Obama Really Want to Raise the Minimum Wage?

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

$10.10 an hour isn't much of a raise, but it's better than a sharp stick in the eye. The truth is that rhetoric about “passing a jobs bill”, “universal pre-K” and raising the minimum wage are things Democrats dust off to reinforce their brand, only when when Republicans are in a position to block them. That makes them branding exercises, not political deeds they intend to accomplish.

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Cory Booker Hits Senate Just in Time to Vote for Private School Vouchers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker began his political career as an advocate of publicly funded vouchers for private schools – a position that put him at the far right of the political spectrum. Today, private school vouchers remain a largely Republican domain, but Booker will find it hard to avoid supporting a vouchers bill sponsored by a senator from Tennessee.

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Solidarity & Sustainability: An Interview with Sokari Ekine

by Peter James Hudson

The Nigerian social activist and writer holds forth on poverty and foreign meddling in Haiti and repression against homosexuals in Africa and the Diaspora. On Haiti: “Some people made a lot of money in the aftermath of the earthquake and a small few are still making money but the poor are being erased.”

Outsourcing Haiti: How Disaster Relief Became a Disaster of its Own

by Jake Jonston

Billions of dollars have been directed towards Haiti earthquake relief – and most of the money has circled right back into the pockets of foreign corporations and NGOs. Hundreds of thousands remain in tents or dangerous dwellings. Yet, “by September 2013, nearly four years after the earthquake, only 7,500 new homes had been built and 27,000 repaired—an incredibly small achievement.”

Richard Sherman—The DB, Muhammad Ali, and the NFL

by Reverend Reynard N. Blake, Jr.

Sherman just made them see

He revealed the fire in his bones

Introduced us to the “Legion Of Boom”

The LOB

On the Night Negroz lost their minds…

by BAR poet-in-residence Raymond Nat Turner

Since that November

Night in ’08, Negroz

Ain’t been straight…

Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 1/29/14

A Black-Green Alliance in Libya?

Reports of intense fighting in southern Libya against the NATO-installed regime indicate that “Green” supporters of the former Gaddafi government could form an alliance with Black Libyans, who have been subjected to murderous ethnic cleansing, said political analyst Eric Draitser, of StopImperialism.com. “As these two forces begin to fight back against these racist and imperialist puppets that run the country, we’re beginning to see a form of mass resistance. What form that ends up taking still remains to be seen,” said Draitser.

NSA is Like J. Edgar Hoover on Steroids

The recent report of the federal Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which described the omnibus NSA spy program as unconstitutional, will make Congress “more responsive to the public outcry” against the Surveillance State, said Carl Messineo, legal director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. “Public opinion polls are clear that a majority of Americans recognize that there has been an unacceptable loss of civil liberties in the so-called pursuit of anti-terrorism,” said Messineo. “This is J. Edgar Hoover’s intelligence program on steroids.”

Sexual Abuse Rampant in U.S. Prisons

A Bureau of Justice Statistics report shows continued high rates of sexual misconduct against inmates in the nations federal, state and local prisons and jails. However, only a very small proportion of cases lead to prosecutions of prison staff, said Chris Daley, deputy executive director of Just Detention International, a watchdog group. Most sexual abuse victims get no medical care, despite the fact that “the vast majority of facilities have medical folks on staff who, within about a 12-hour period, could easily provide both emergency care and collect evidence needed for prosecution” – but that rarely happens in U.S. prisons, said Daley.

NYC Police Commissioner Bratton is “War Criminal of Our Communities”

A father recently took his two daughters to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to hear Angela Davis and watch a film on political prisoners. Instead, the place was packed with “establishment Democratic Party speakers backslapping each other about [Mayor Bill] de Blasio’s election,” including Bill Bratton, de Blasio’s new police commissioner and an architect of stop-and-frisk. “I was aghast that this type of forum” during MLK week “would give a voice to this war criminal of our communities,” said Greg Butterfield, of New Yorkers Against Bratton.

Bring Mumia Home Campaign

The Fraternal Order of Police is spearheading a drive against former NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyer Debo Adegbile’s nomination as head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The LDF helped overturn the death sentence against Mumia Abu Jamal, in the killing of a Philadelphia policeman in 1981. Dr. Johanna Fernandez, professor of history at Baruch College and a member of Mumia’s defense team, said the FOP “distorts race to delegitimize the claims of Mumia Abu Jamal and all people who have been wrongly incarcerated by the state.”

Anthony Monteiro spoke in support of the Bring Mumia Home Campaign. “At some point, white America has to confront itself and its own contradictions,” he said. “It is not Mumia that they fear; it is the truth that Mumia represents.” Temple University has refused to renew Dr. Monteiro’s contract as a professor of African American Studies – in retaliation, many believe, for his political activism.

Amiri Baraka Eulogized by His Son

“My father was – IS – a revolutionary,” said Ras Baraka, in his eulogy for famed poet/activist Amiri Baraka, who died at age 79 in Newark, New Jersey. City councilman Ras Baraka is running for mayor of Newark.

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Black Madness Under Obama: African Americans More Pro-NSA, Anti-Snowden Than Whites and Hispanics

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

A new poll shows “Blacks remain more NSA spy-friendly than whites and Hispanics.” Earlier surveys showed Blacks were the ethnic group most willing to go along with Obama’s threatened air war against Syria. What happened to Black progressivism? “If an individual exhibited such lifelong personality and values reversals, her relatives and friends would immediately suspect an emotional breakdown.”

MSNBC: Cherry Picking News & Issues to Make Toxic Democrats Look Good

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

For the last couple weeks and several more to come, Chris Christie will get more air time on MSNBC than drone murders, gentrification, NSA spying, and network neutrality put together. Why not? He's a Republican, and Democrats are only fighting it out between the 40 yard lines.

Freedom Rider: Richard Sherman and America’s Sickness

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

White NFL fans blow hot and cold when it comes to their feelings about Black players. Idolatry turned quickly to hate when Richard Sherman forgot his “place.” The psycho-fanatic twitter mob “called Sherman a nigger, a thug, a gorilla, and a porch monkey who ought to be lynched.”

America on MLK’s Birthday: The Trifecta of Evils

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

If you think Dr. Martin Luther King would have mellowed with age, you haven’t been keeping track of the “triple evils” that he warned about. “The United States clearly leads the world in all three of Dr. King’s categories of evil.”

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Amiri Baraka: Class Struggle and Cultural Revolution

by Anthony Monteiro

Amiri Baraka, the poet/activist who was laid to rest in his native Newark, New Jersey, last Saturday, came to understand 40 years ago that all art is ideological. “It is the courageous move from cultural nationalism to Cultural Revolution that liberated Baraka, and ultimately us, to understand the democratic and revolutionary possibilities inherent in our artistic and cultural traditions.”

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